So here’s an interesting tidbit I just found out about in MechWarrior Online. In a recent video from No Guts No Galaxy, Sean Lang discussed how PGI is working on “multiple MechWarrior projects,” one of which is the Dragon’s Gambit for MechWarrior 5 and another is mostly likely MechWarrior 6. In that same video, Lang also discussed some new Legendary ‘Mechs coming to MechWarrior Online, noting that they were both assault ‘Mechs. Most interestingly, he noted that light ‘Mechs apparently suffer from poor sales, with light ‘Mech packs selling far below medium, heavy, and assault ‘Mechs.
You could argue that light ‘Mechs simply have less battle impact in a competitive game like MechWarrior Online so players are far less likely to spend money on them. You could also argue that light ‘Mechs are far more difficult to pilot, what with their extreme speed and poor armor making them prone to running into walls or blowing up when they get hit by 18 PPCs. Or you could argue that the average BattleTech fan prefers to stomp around in a big hulking heap of metal rather than something relatively nimble.
Any of these hypotheses could be correct, or perhaps it’s a combination of two or even all three. And being unable to let any good hypothesis writhe on the vine, I set out to determine which is it through a number of polls on various BattleTech Discord servers.
I asked a very simple question: “What is your favorite class of ‘Mech?” My hope was to discover if MechWarrior Online’s distaste for light ‘Mechs was something that was felt across all BattleTech communities, or if there was something specifically going on in MWO. The results were surprising, to say the least.
We’ll start in the Star League Discord server–a diverse place with loads of Pride flags and references to Canopian cat people. My kinda place. Anyway, my impromptu survey initially started with very interesting results, with medium-class ‘Mechs just edging out heavies. And rather than lights, it’s assault-class ‘Mechs that are the least popular, with light ‘Mechs comfortably in third place.
Next, we head to the Focht Hyperpulse server, which is also a diverse place but there are fewer Canopians and more Canadians. Once again, we get a very interesting result. This time, heavy ‘Mechs come out well ahead, followed by mediums and then lights. Assaults are once again in last place as the least preferred ‘Mech class.
Finally, I did another poll in the Sarna Discord server, perhaps the best place on the web outside of Sarna itself. I thought here we’d get a much more representative cross-section of BattleTech fans, but even here I was surprised by the results. Heavies are once again in the lead, but medium ‘Mechs managed just to squeak out ahead of assaults. Lights, finally, are dead last by a margin of two to one.
From my brief and very unscientific research, we see that heavy ‘Mechs are most likely the most popular class by a fair margin. It’s actually neck and neck between light ‘Mechs and assault ‘Mechs for who comes in dead last.
I’m as surprised as anyone. I would have expected assaults to be top of the heap as everyone seems to love their Awesomes and Atlases, but they’re actually as maligned as Locusts and Stingers. Meanwhile, mediums and heavies are far and away the most popular classes, which is slightly curious. You’d have expected to see more medium ‘Mechs being sold in MechWarrior Online, and a campaign with drop limits centered around heavies in MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, but instead you have lots of assault ‘Mechs being sold in MWO and an end-game in MW5 that basically requires the Steiner Scout Squad.
Perhaps there’s a bit of a disconnect between the data of these polls and what people really spend their money on. Perhaps people want assaults in PGI’s games because those games are designed around assaults being the most effective ‘Mechs. And perhaps with this data, they might decide to refocus things to favor mediums and heavies in MechWarrior 6. We can only hope.
But one thing is clear: light ‘Mechs are certainly the most maligned class. They’re tied for the least popular class in BattleTech, they’re not purchased in abundance in MechWarrior Online, and they’re mostly beginner Mechs or used for niche roles in MechWarrior 5.
And that sucks, because I think light ‘Mechs are the best.
Think about it. For the price of one Atlas, you can have a demi-company of Locusts. You could even stack them two in a ‘Mech bay thanks to their narrow profiles, allowing you to stuff twice as many inside a DropShip. They rely on speed and stealth for protection, meaning you’re either a write-off or pristine, with very few repairs needed after a successful mission. Light ‘Mechs can still bring plenty of firepower to the table, as anyone who’s ever faced a lance of Panthers can attest. Plus, they’re cute! who hasn’t looked at a Locust or a Kit Fox and thought this thing looks freakin’ adorable?
I can hear your argument even now. “But Sean, there’s no great BattleTech heroes that ever piloted light ‘Mechs,” you complain erroneously. For indeed, there are loads of great light ‘Mech pilots!
The son of Morgan Kell and Salome Ward, that man who would eventually become the Khan of Clan Wolf-in-Exile spent the vast bulk of his career piloting a Wolfhound he named “Grinner.” That Wolfhound would get a Clan-spec upgrade after his capture by Clan Wolf, which would later be dubbed the Wolfhound IIC. At various points throughout his career, Phelan would also pilot a Kit Fox, a Mercury, and a Solitaire.
Fox Patrol‘s founding member, Ferraro found a long-abandoned Kit Fox on her home planet of Jerangle. Once a Kell Hounds ‘Mech, it had been left abandoned in the jungle for decades. Ferraro would repair the Kit Fox, which she dubbed “Kagekitsune,” and used it to drive off a pirate gang to save her hometown. She’d eventually go on to found Fox Patrol where she pilots Kagekitsune to this day.
The former Khan of Clan Ghost Bear spent most of her career in a custom Fire Moth armed with an ER large laser and a trio of ER small lasers. With little armor protecting her from enemy fire, Aletha relied exclusively on the Fire Moth‘s ludicrous speed to outmaneuver foes.
The brother of Justin Allard and renowned commander in the Kell Hounds mercenary unit, Allard piloted a Valkyrie until a battle with the Genyosha on Styx. Afterward, he was given a new Wolfhound which he piloted until his death.
MechWarrior Zane proved to be an instrumental figure during Clan Nova Cat‘s Abjuration in the 3060s. His visions provided guidance and warning to the Nova Cats, allowing them to survive during a tumultuous time in the Clan’s history. Zane started his career in a Jenner IIC 2 but later transferred to a Pack Hunter provided by Clan Wolf-in-Exile.
Liaison officer to Wolf’s Dragoons during the mercenary unit’s contract with House Kurita, Tetsuhara’s family Panther was called “Katana Kat.” After the ‘Mech was transferred to Testuhara’s brother, he’d pilot a DRG-1N Dragon.
A MechWarrior in The Fox’s Teeth of the Seventh Crucis Lancers, Grey served in the Third and Fourth Succession Wars, the Ronin War, the War of 3039, the Clan Invasion, the FedCom Civil War, and the Jihad. Grey piloted a Stinger, then a Hornet, and finally an ALM-8D Fireball.
As you can see, there are plenty of great and noble figures who can get the most out of their light ‘Mechs, and you can too! Just trade in your Atlas for a bevy of Commandos. You’ll be glad you did.
And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.