Welcome to a new series here on Sarna I’m cleverly calling “Bad ‘Mechs.” It’s a deep dive into some of BattleTech’s least appreciated, least effective, but most awesome designs. You might think some of the ‘Mechs are completely undeserving of the Bad ‘Mechs title but don’t worry–even bad ‘Mechs have a story to tell.
We’re going to kick things off with one of my favorite Bad ‘Mechs, the Assassin: a light ‘Mech hunter that was often no better than the light ‘Mechs it was ostensibly designed to hunt. Despite being born of corporate fraud to having the tightest cockpit of any ‘Mech in the Inner Sphere, It took over four centuries for the Assassin to finally meet its end, and man, what a wild ride that was. Let’s take a brief trip down memory lane and remember the Assassin.
Waiting in an underground parking garage, Jenson couldn’t help but feel the clandestine nature of his business was entirely appropriate for a ‘Mech called “Assassin.” Maltex Corporation would never officially condone his actions, but Jenson knew the project was in trouble. Maltex could try to woo SLDF procurement officers with performance reports that stank so bad that even he could tell they were bullshit, but none of that would matter.
Money talks. Money gets you noticed by the right people. Not the official kind, or the kind that cared about budget estimates and cost projections; anyone who could put two and two together knew there was no way Maltex could produce the Assassin at the same price per unit as a Stinger. The unofficial kind. The illicit kind. The kind that gets exchanged underground in the middle of the night.
Which is exactly where Jenson was, and exactly where his contact would be in the next 45 seconds.
Sure enough, a black hovercar approached the parking spot where Jenson was standing. No words were exchanged. The black tinted window rolled down, an arm wearing a pinstripe sleeve poked out, and Jenson handed it the briefcase. Then it sped off back up the ramp and into the cool, damp night.
Jenson let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. The project would be saved, the Assassin would get made, and he’d make his Maltex overseer a very happy lady.
To understand the Assassin, one has to understand the heady days of the Star League. With one central, major military power, the military-industrial complex had just one place to turn to for funding, and it was often easier to bribe one’s way to a new ‘Mech contract than to create a quality product. Star League procurement was sensationally corrupt at its height, with corporations greasing palms more often than a thirteen-year-old after midnight.
Hence, we get the Assassin, a ‘Mech that fulfilled a niche that never really existed to begin with. Maltex Corporation marketed the Assassin as a replacement for the Stinger and Wasp, proposing it as a cheaper and more cost-effective alternative. They managed to convince Star League procurement of this through false budget reports and overly optimistic service life projections–the actual price of the Assassin was over twice that of the Stinger or Wasp it was meant to replace.
Costs aside, much of the Assassin‘s marketing centered around how the ‘Mech would out-perform its intended replacements, and in this regard, the marketing wasn’t too far off. With greater speed, jump capacity, armor, and weapons, the Assassin could dictate the terms of engagement with either the Stinger or Wasp, assuring victory in the hands of any competent pilot. This led to the Assassin‘s undeserved reputation as a light ‘Mech hunter.
Even when the Assassin was introduced, several Star League-era light ‘Mechs could outrun, out-shoot, or outlast the Assassin. The Commando offered nearly as much armor and speed but far surpassed the Assassin in firepower. Both the Mongoose and Hussar could outrun the Assassin, and even the humble UrbanMech had immense firepower and armor in comparison, albeit at the cost of near-immobility.
A century later the Assassin was falling behind in most areas. The Draconis Combine’s new Jenner equaled the Assassin in speed but far surpassed it in firepower. The Valkyrie could out-trade LRM fire with the Assassin until both their ammunition bins ran dry, at which point the Valkyrie‘s tougher armor would carry the day in a direct engagement. The Panther‘s PPC could blow holes in the Assassin‘s armor while enduring what little return fire it could muster.
But the Assassin would lead a charmed life. The chassis wouldn’t see large-scale engagement until 2980, when the Free Worlds League repelled a Fed Suns assault on Rochelle during the Third Succession War. Taking less damage than their slower comrades (which was probably better explained by selection bias than any true durability on the Assassin‘s part), the Assassin‘s reputation remained intact even as spare parts meant that House militaries fielded fewer and fewer Assassins as the Succession Wars dragged on. By the time the Clans invaded, there were very few Assassins left.
Maltex would later attempt to revive the chassis during the FedCom Civil War. The ASN-30 variant replaced the missile weapons with an LB-X AC/5 while the medium laser was upgraded with an extended range model. However, during those combat-heavy years, Maltex found that performance was the only metric that truly mattered to Lyran military procurement in the middle of a war, and the lightly armed Assassin simply couldn’t compete on the modern battlefield.
Hellespont Mech Works would attempt to field a further upgraded ASN-99 with Stealth Armor and a sword, but by then the Assassin‘s luck had run out and no new variants have been produced since the Jihad.
The Assassin leaves a complicated legacy, proving that with the right connections even a bad idea can become a highly profitable reality. But time has a way of ending lies, and so time eventually caught up with the Assassin and ended it.
Don’t think the Assassin deserved to be a Bad ‘Mech? Let me know in the comments, and also let me know what next Bad ‘Mech deserves a showcase.
And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.
The Assassin is a great intro to bad mechs!
I think the Charger should be added on next! 5 Small Lasers on an Assault mech? Steiner tactics at its finest!
I also nominate the Charger.
Imagine an Ostscout being able to solo your 80ton assault mech. yeah, the original Charger is a Bad Mech. XD
Black Watch. One of the single worst ‘Mechs ever built. Ugly, awkward weapon loadout and has a j-pin. Just a deathtrap. And they ruin good Crockett chassis’ to build it!
I second this motion.
Other mechs I could see making this list:
* Banshee: Another under-armed assault mech, but not to the same degree as the Charger
* Scorpion: The reason quad-legged mechs never caught on in the Inner Sphere. Doubly so for the LAM variant.
* Matar: It couldn’t even move. It’s called Amaris’ Folly for a reason.
* Locust: Okay it’s not really fair, but in video game adaptations of the series, there’s a reason this has the reputation of being “that mech that exists solely to die in droves”
* Blackjack BJ-1X: While later variants are pretty decent, this one just sucks.
* Firestarter: Unless you’re killing infantry, you’re not going to win any one-on-ones with this.
* Hunchback IIC: WITNESS ME!!!
* Argus: aka The Heaviest Light Mech
* Helepolis: Okay this one isn’t really fair since it was one of the first fire support mechs ever, but there’s a reason that the vast majority of subsequent designs for that role are missile-based if they’re made for indirect fire.
The Banshee is kinda interesting in the Battletech PC game, since it’s hilariously undergunned for a 95-ton mech, but it also has like 4 Support Weapon slots, so if you’re feeling silly you can kit it out as a melee mech and kill stuff in one punch.
I can see most of these, but the Scorpion and the Banshee? The Scorpion’s got thin armor but it’s fast and carries a good weapons load, and while the default variant of the Banshee is pretty mediocre it has some excellent introtech variants. The 3M might not be BV efficient but it brings two PPCs on a well-armored platform with good heat sinking, and the 3S makes the Atlas look under-armed.
The Scorpion is a weird combination of too fast for its size (at 6/9 with a standard engine, it shouldn’t be heavier than 50 tons), but not actually fast enough to get away with being as lightly armored as it is (particularly as it’s not jump-capable), decently well-armed but without the heat sinks to use it properly, and bad weapon placement (only partially forced by the quad chassis that doesn’t have arms and can’t torso twist) that puts both weapons fixed-forward in one side torso and the SRM ammo in the *otherwise empty* and frighteningly lightly-armored other side. It would be a good light mech hunter-killer, except that the narrow and immovable arc of fire of its guns means that it’s really hard to even get a shot against a canny mobile target in any terrain that provides decent cover — light mechs, especially jumpy ones, can disengage when they lose initiative and jump in to harass its defenseless flanks and rear when they win.
(I saw a Scorpion get destroyed in Round One one time when it took two PPC hits to the LT, and a crit into the only thing there was to crit in there. It was a Banshee 3M that did that, come to think of it…)
i take offence to the locust nomination, I piloted a locust for the longest time in mw1 and could easily take2-3 battlemasters from fully operational to absolute trash all in one go. so its not a bad mech, it just take skill and experience to piolet
I totally disagree. Neither the Assassin, nor the Charger Arena bad Mechs. The Assassin might not be the best duelling Mech, can be quite effective as a part of team. It also excels against slower heavy tanks.
The Charger might be underarmed for an assault Mech, but it is quite fast, and has decent armor. Thus, it is very effective as a close assault vehicle. In fact, in the BT games, I used a Charger 1A1, I have a win-to-draw-to-defeat-ratio of 8:0,5:1. Thus, I use the Charger in almost every BT game since 2016.
The Charger isn’t just underarmed for an assault mech, it’s underarmed for a *light* mech. And more than just anemic damage output, it has a pitifully short range. It’s only “fast” by assault mech standards. Its armor isn’t terrible, but it’s not good, either.
A Dragon has the same speed profile and the same armor factor, but carries actual guns.
But it’s that combination of pitifully short range and not actually fast that’s the real killer. I kited one with a Stinger one time. It’s not even a challenge to do it with a Phoenix Hawk. And those make better scouts, too… the Charger is not even good at what it’s supposedly built to do.
The 1A5 is a pretty solid machine… specialist, but good at what it does. The 1A9’s kind of fragile, but not terrible… it’s basically an overweight Catapult. The 1L… well, I’m not sure taking the armor off to fit a real gun onto it was a good plan, but at least it can win fights against Stingers, and at least put up a fight against a Phoenix Hawk. But I suspect the 1A1 only exists because they wanted to use that 400-ton-rated engine for *something*, and didn’t want a 4/6 piece of suck sharing the Atlas’s “biggest mech evar” spotlight.
That’s mostly because the Charger’s player didn’t use it properly. A Charger can be a great part of almost any Mech Lance, but it is generally a poor duelling Mech. I won a duell against a Clan Vulture C in a Charger 1A1, though.
The Charger’s strength are its physical attacks. A Charger can tear a leg off almost any enemy Mech with two or three kicks, and it is able to make a up to 56-points-of-damage-charge. That’s quite powerful, even in later timelines.
As for the Assassin, it can outmaneuvre Wasps, Stingers, and Locusts with ease. If it loses the initiative, it will just jump away, if it wins the initiative it will be able to close in or to snipe at its opponents. A single Assassin can easily kill up to two to three Wasps or Stingers and walk of pretty intact. Basically, that is what it is made for.
Totally agree, Charger is one of the best mechs to have in a lower BV force because of the types of opponents it will face are just slow enough for it to kick to death
The funny part about your comment is the Dragon, which outclasses or is even with the Charger in Every way, is also a bad mech. Rear weapons rarely get put into play in a faster mech, if youre in any way competent, its mostly ammo based (its AC/5 in particular should always have been swapped for a Large laser or PPC), and it’s over engined unless its design philosiphy was going after predominantly medium mechs.
I didn’t know what the Charger was until MW5 and this was my reaction:
*Appears on Radar*
Oh no an assault mech!? But this is only a level 6 difficulty mission!
*Sees silhouette in the distance*
Oh my Davion, is that a Highlander.
*Acquires lock on*
Wait…WTF…are those ALL small lasers?
except the charger was still in production by the combine.
Kind of wonder what would happen if an ASN variant designed for melee walked off the assembly line.
As for the next bad ‘mech, I nominate the Champion.
I second this.
that was the ASN-99. a Light PPC, 2 SRM2’s, Stealth Armor, and a Sword.
are ya trying ot get a rise outta me calling my favorite Medium Mech bad, Sean? Hmm? Hmmm? HMMM???????
good article though. Oh BTW, dunno if you caught it, though you did feature it in your “coming soon” post.. but uh, the Assassin has fresh art and a redesign, via CGL… done by me. :P
also, the highest cockpit thing? Not so much any more! (thank goodness! Fixed and double checked with the man, Duane Loose, himself)
I have, and I do love your work on the new Assassin. And also, meant to say “tightest,” which I have since corrected :P But it also used to be high!
True! So much confusion over the cockpit (same with the Commando, and the placement of the Dervish’s lasers, among other stuff). Didn’t help that Duane intended it to have twin cockpits like an Attack Chopper…. and then the rules got solidified that that idea got yeeted! After which he said he intended the front bit to be the canopy. But… Brent, Alex, so many others interpreted it as the top, and well, now every time someone paints it “wrong” another Urbie gets it’s partial wings! :P
There’s one other variant you missed. The ASN-23 from 3050. It rips out the SRM 2, upgrades the medium laser to a pulse, and adds Artemis IV to the launcher. The 3050 Assassin is an ok bug hunter or harasser unit, but in order to truly do it justice, it needs a light or XL engine, plus endo steel, and double heat sinks. Upgrade the main gun to an ER Large, add anothe laser or two, and add more armor. That makes the Assassin capable of living up to its name.
As for other bad designs, I’ll add in the Jackal, the Hollander, the original Grand Titan, the Falcon, the Hornet, the Kuma, the Exterminator, the Sentinel, the Hermes, and the 3025 era Victor to this list, off the top of my head. Oh and the Targe. IS 40 tonners in general seem to have issues until the later TROS.
Never thought too much of the assassin. My vote would be the Lancelot.
OK, the downgrade of the lancelot is less than good. and even the 01 has severe armor allocation issues. That doesn’t change the fact they are fast and well armed.
I’ve gotten mileage out of the Steiner Assassin as a helo hunter in a fast campaign force, and the Alice unique is a very respectable scrapper with *all* the electronics
Finally, don’t forget that once upon a time the SRM 2 was the only weapon capable of loading old-rules inferno rounds. Being able to take away the majority of most designs cooling made it an invaluable team player.
You know, I find that for all the hate the 3025 Lancelot gets (canonical and IRL), it actually stacks up pretty well compared to its competition. Armor placement might be less than optimal, but worst case if you have holes in the front chest you can show your back and flip 2 large lasers, or be less worried about lights for the same reason; losing initiative isn’t as scary with this mech. No ammo to cook off, has no ‘dead’ range, has enough heat sinks to use its close range firepower safely.
I truly prefer it over any 3025 Rifleman (though I do have a soft spot for the 3C variant). It find it outperforms the Dragon or Champion in direct group encounters, and out survives them too: ammo under ‘weak’ armor is worse than just ‘weak’ armor on its own. And in 3025 it’s cheaper in C-bill or BV(2) than the Black Knight big cousin.
Interestingly its not hard to justify using one in a campaign: unlike most of the Star League chassis the DC got from Comstar, the Lancelot’s 02 model was canonically manufactured at Luthien Armor Works for years. I picture these ‘less popular’ mechs ending up in Legion of Vega regiments and the like with the ‘iconic’ Dragon going to the rest of the respected DCMS.
I hate to ask, but do you have a link/know which product the design is? Also kinda wondering if this means it’s still around. The Assassin might not be great, but it’s always been a good looking mech, would be a bummer if the design went extinct completely.
Love it! Who doesnt love bad mechs? I nominate the Ostscout. Completely useless. Why would you design a battlemech without weapons? To scout? Just use jump troopers.
The assassin definitely is a bit of a stinker. The Vulcan works well in combined arms as suport. The assassin never works well.
The only problem with the Assassin is the weapons load out. Replacing the missile systems with a three more medium lasers and 2 more heat sinks lets the Assassin keep pace with the Jenner, out jump it, and still bring an equal number of mediums to bear. However, no such variant was made, almost like the designers wanted the Assassin to stay undergunned, and so the stigma remains.
The Quickdraw is a great example of a bad Mech. Somehow meant to be a replacement for the Rifleman, it fails in that role. As well as many others.
In the fire support role, it’s outgunned by cheaper & lighter, if less mobile ‘Mechs like the Trebuchet and Whitworth [which so happens to be nearly half the price of the Quickdraw in C-Bills]. The Dervish matches its movement curve AND beats it at long-range. As a brawler it suffers from a sensitive heat curve, poor armor, and mediocre firepower. It leverages none of the strengths of the Heavy platform and resembles nothing so much as an over-inflated Medium ‘Mech. It also possesses some of the most disappointing alternate configs, with the 3049 5M being perhaps the worst in the entire ‘3050 Upgrade’ TRO.
And for the cherry on top? The Quickdraw looks boring. It’s not particularly ugly, just boxy and unappealing with a generic ‘man-shape’ that speaks more of design by committee than of either aggression or speed. It’s uninspired. It’s what you use when you don’t have much else, poorly filling a gap in your lance while you wish for something better.
You FINALLY articulated why I don’t like the Quickdraw! Thank you!
Ironically an Assassin was my MVP during the early stages of one memorable career campaign in HBS’ Battletech, eventually getting a COIL-upgrade that saw it able to punch above it’s weight and make for an excellent scout/harasser when paired with heavier ‘mechs…
The quirks in HBS’ game really turn the Assassin into something great. I’ve kept mine with a large coil & double heat sinks fighting almost to endgame multiple times.
You can actually make a decent introtech Assassin, but you have to be willing to sacrifice a few things. I ditched the jump movement and the missiles. The LRM-5 never amounts to much on its own, and the SRM-2, while useful for potentially carrying Inferno loads, is better off as something else.
Go up to four medium lasers, bring it up to 13 SHS, and 7 tons of armor. At this point, it’s essentially a flightless Jenner that runs cold at walking speed (with more armor), but that’s not exactly a bad thing. It’s murder on light mechs, and great for rushing in to take out lightly-armored support vehicles like LRM and SRM carriers before they can do a lot of damage.
Jenner does this… four med max armor… can’t remember if it jumps too… 3025 variant… used to call it armored Jenner.
JR7-F. It ditches the SRM (which it hasn’t got the heat sinks to fire anyway) and its ammo to beef up the armor, otherwise identical to the JR7-D. 7/11/5, 10 HS, 4xML, and 112 armor. It’s a pretty solid machine — fast, jump-capable, and decently well-armed and -armored for its size. It’s a little short on heat sinks, but you can’t have everything, especially in 3025. I’d rather have the jump jets than the extra HS you could trade them in for.
The combination of fast, well-armored, and ammo-free makes it very survivable. We got one out of initial random generation in a Succession Wars-era merc game, and ran it for years. It was one of only six mechs, out of our original 16, that survived through the entire campaign.
(The others were a Javelin 10F, Phoenix Hawks 1K and 1D, Quickdraw 5A, and a Marauder that started life as a 3R, but I ripped the autocannon out and replaced it with two more MLs, four more HS, and absolute max armor. Note that once I was done with the Marauder, the Quickdraw was the only one of the lot that had any ammo. I had a plan to swap its SRM for another ML and armor, but never got the Quality high enough to do it. None of the mechs we lost were ammo-free. Don’t do ammo, kids. It’ll kill ya.)
If they just pulled the SRM 2 and replaced it with 2 medium lasers it would be a great scout mech/bug hunter. Seriously, a LRM 5 to hit what can’t hit you, moves at 7/11/7 and if you get two close can put 3 medium lasers in your face.
This is another case of why. Just like the Shadow Hawk that has one more heat sink than it can use. Pull the SRM 2 on it, put in 2 medium lasers and now you have an AC 5, LRM 5 and 3 medium lasers with 3 jump jets and 12 HS. I can stand still and alpha, run and fire everything but the LRM 5 or jump and fire all 3 medium lasers.
Adding M-Lasers makes every crap Mech valid at some point.
The Assassin suffers from “throw a SRM 2 on it” syndrome. If you have the heat sinks to use two medium lasers instead then it provides the same crit seeking that is always used as an argument. If you can’t realistically use the two medium lasers because of other weapons then it doesn’t help. In the case of the Assassin and Shadow Hawk they make them useful and much more efficient mechs.
You could pull the SRM 2 from the Thunderbolt, but I wouldn’t put two medium lasers in, I would add heat sinks.
The SRM 2 doesn’t even crit-seek well even compared to another single weapon, because more than half the time it only hits with one missile anyway.
That is my favorite (and recommended) mod to the stock Shadow Hawk!
Keeps its skirmishing weaponry while giving it a LOT more bite when targets are close.
All due respect to the Grey Death Legion fans out there, but I often feel that Mr. Keith’s love for the Shadow Hawk is the only reason the stock model was ever treated as strong.
You’ve GOT to do the Cicada. The only mech of the Assassin’s weight class that’s WORSE than it is, and even it has a marginally-useful variant with a PPC.
Great series idea, though I really don’t think the Assassin deserves to be on it! It’s certainly a niche mech, but I wouldn’t say it’s a bad mech, and it serves well as a bug squasher. It’s a 7/11/7 than is fast enough to catch most light mechs, and engage them at any range including close combat (it can punch with its left or kick even after shooting). It runs pretty cold most of the time even when firing everything it has. It’s got the armor to withstand any light mech’s counter fire, and can jump anywhere around its intended victim (usually behind it), and unload into the targets back. Great mech, even stock, but it’s a light killer and 40 ton objective grabber/harrasser, not a brawler.
Good write-up. I nominate the Clint. Granted, later variants become pretty nasty, but the -2-3T? Nah. It’s agile, and has decent reach, but the AC/5 is a dealbreaker for a ‘mech at the low end of the medium bracket. There’s just so much more one could do with that tonnage.
I freaking love the Clint.
The AC/5 is decent if you play with the expanded ruleset and can rapid-fire. It is only decent though, and I have been demolished by smaller mechs more times than not.
Don’t know why, but I keep coming back to field that bugger despite a horrible win/loss record with it.
Nice, and accurate from what I’ve seen of the design. I would like to nominate the worst Omnimech, the Strider. There are arguments to having a standard over an XL engine, as well as arguments to save critical slots by going standard on the armor and internal structure, but if you are going to spend the money on an omni, you need to have double heatsinks to offer the greatest flexibility, as well as having CASE being optional not fixed.
Sure, I know the Firestarter Omni gets flak for its fixed equipment, but at least it can handle its weapon load.
On the topic of bad mechs, The Jackrabbit would be nice
And so, I finally signed up, and only for the sake of saying “thank you”. A very good article.
And I want to offer a Chimera. She has an interesting appearance, but that’s literally all (my humble opinion). The K2 version has great potential, although the XL engine and gyroscope give it the survivability of a piece of glass. Other… Well, in the 1S version, I replaced the ER large laser with a regular one, removed all jump engines, and replaced the machine gun with a light PPC. It turned out something interesting.
Perhaps THIS fur should be called “light hunter”? Because he is not very suitable for other roles (I think so).
I’ll stick to the ol’ Techreadout 3025 for now,and nominate the Clint. Sure, it moves, vut its heavy weapon is limited in shots (AC5+1t ammo) and those 4.5 tons of armour HURT.
The Hatchetman also stinks bit…Its main gun isn’T too bad, but the armour and slow movement means that even in city hunting, medium mechs will often dance around it. And whilst it can catch up to heavies, its armor is way too think to shed off fire as it gets closer for the axing.
The classic ShadowHawk…NO heat, but NO firepower.
The Rifleman. No armour, No heatsinks, Low ammunition.
JagerMech. Again, low armour, low firepower.
I nominate the Hoplite.
(Though i really love the HOP-4Bb picture from Historical: Operation Klondike and i more often than not choose style over firepower.)
But this ones loadout did never make sense to me. In the 50t to 60t weight range, i can´t think of any mech, that can´t outperform it. If it had some jump jets, maybe i would give it a chance, but…
Eh. Some details wrong here.
1. Not cheaper individually than Stinger or Wasp, but its lifetime was expected to be over twice as long. Like all 20-tonners, Stingers and Wasps have had short life expectancies since the first day they walked out of their factories. If your Stingers or Wasps last an average of five years, if your Assassins last twelve then you’ve about broke even. The post-Clan invasion extinctions rates of STG-3Rs and WSP-1As in the House militaries compared to the mush slower decline in ASN-21s since the Maltex factory was destroyed in 2835 is pretty convincing evidence that Assassins far outlive the roughly 12:5 lifetime ratio. Thus, the Assassin was the better investment of Star League dollars (or later, C-bills)
2. The warfare of Star League was different than later eras where one mech dueled one mech or a mixed lance battled a mixed lance and we can compare one-to-one. In Star League times you’d have a battalion or two of these guys going against a battalion or two of periphery Stingers or Wasps. In that kind of warfare, the Assassin does its professed job well. No single Assassin is all that much to worry about but the combination of many produces a serious threat to Periphery light mechs (mostly Stingers, Wasps, and Locusts.) Its not until the homogenization of forces in the Succession Wars that the Assassin becomes a poor complement to bigger mechs like Phoenix Hawks, Griffins, Shadow Hawks, and Wolverines, or lighter mechs with more punch like Panthers, Valkyries, and Jenners. But for the age it was designed, it was fine. Times changed and the Assassin’s role didn’t fit later times. Judging it by 3025 or 3050 standards isn’t a fair assessment of its 2676 qualities.
You know, I wrote about both these facts when this was a forum thread. Sad to not see these arguments incorporated into the news article. I mean c’mon, you compared the Assassin to Mongooses, Hussars, and Commandos, mechs that would be very rare in the periphery where Assassins were expected to operate. Your argument is that its a bad mech because it wouldn’t do well in a job its not meant to do anyway, several hundred years later, while for a hundred or so years it did exactly what it was supposed to do very well.
There are many worse mechs out there. Compare to the Charger CGR-1A1 that appeared a mere 11 years earlier with a similar en masse bug-hunting role. Its slower, more expensive, and arguably even less survivable than the Assassin (medium mechs eat CGR-1A1s three meals a day while ASN-21s could run away.) Similar introduction date, similar role, and the Assassin is miles better.
Nice! I’ve been thinking of collecting the 12 worst Mechs I can find to build a Company of Rejects. I’m looking forward to following this series of articles for ideas.
It’s called an Assassin, not because it’s a stealthy killer, but because it’s twice as Ass as anything else.
“Star League procurement was sensationally corrupt at its height, with corporations greasing palms more often than a thirteen-year-old after midnight.”
Take a look at the Griffin. For most variants, destroy its right torso and it’s little more than a left-hook on legs
I think more than half of the DFAs I’ve committed in the 35+ years I’ve been playing this game have been with Griffins missing their RTs…
The Assassin is not a bad mech – in fact it is the best scout mech and raider in TRO 3025 combining a superb movement profile with a versatile weapon set. It’s great at skirmishing and anything from it’s tech era that can actually catch it won’t much enjoy trying to fight with it
The only problem with the Assassin is the failure of imagination that some players suffer from that leads them to think “not good at killing other mechs” equal useless.
It fits the “mobility is life” principle. Where the higher survival rate given by moving to get as many modifiers as possible to avoid getting hit. Your accuracy suffers too, but the other guy has it worse.
In Chess terms it’s a knight, it’s weird, moves all over the place and then takes you by surprise.
3025 era mechs are a diverse bunch, half of them are weird, bad or absolutely terrible and often the good ones aren’t really that great to begin with.
The Assassin lacks that punch you might expect on a medium mech. The LRM is a 2-3 point weapon, the SRM is OK-ish if you do decided to use inferno missiles and it’s got the ubiquitous medium laser. Ideally it would need a steady long range 5+ damage weapon and something good enough to make light mechs think twice before trying to close.
The way BT was first set up was that lower end mechs usually do one thing really well and everything else poorly. For lights and mediums that means speed and speed is reserved for the lights really, mediums are faster than heavies, but lack the payload to stay the fight, hence the phoenix hawk vs the Centurion. One is a light mech that happens to carry a bigger gun, the other is an underweight heavy.
in 3025 games the Assassin ends up being a plinker, trying to snipe until somebody takes aim at them and then they start to hop around to stay away from incoming fire. The only useful role they have in general is to punish that mech that strayed outside mutual support and suddenly finds an Assassin poking at its back. If you are unlucky, it’s right behind you, kicking and punching, throwing lasers and SRM’s into your back.
It’s not a great mech, not even a great niche mech, but in 3025 nobody excels anyway.
When in doubt strip the weapons and drop in a Gauss rifle and a laser of some sort for closer in work. Then just make sure that you keep it at long range and rapidly jumping from ambush to ambush.
It might not be a good mech by any means but as long as a mech can mount a weapon that can do massive single point damage at range then its “serviceable”.
I took an ASN-99 chassis and outfitted it with a Large Laser;Medium Laser;LRM5;SRM2 & CASE with 7.0 tons of armour and 10(20) h/s. BV: 978.1
“Star League procurement was sensationally corrupt at its height, with corporations greasing palms more often than a thirteen-year-old after midnight.”
Sarna, eyebrows were raised. Pretty funny though.
That was a brilliant line
I will leave this for you guys. I love the ASN even though its a bad mech and have made many custom designs. This one has to be my favorite!
ER PPC, Sword, T-Comp
XL 280 Engine
7 JJ”s which amounts to 15+7 =22 heat. You have 12 DHS so you can remain heat neutral
T-comp is great for phantoming out the +2 for moving full speed down to a +1 so you can scoot and shoot a bit more only +2 to shoot for jumping. Called shots are also nice w/ this custom build! what do you guys think? Is it possible for the ASN to be good??
Oh man, the Assassin is one of my favorite bad mechs. It has nothing for firepower, nothing for armor and to top it off it’s a 40 tonner so it’s automatically cursed because rare is the 40 tonner that can amount to a lot just because you can’t mount enough armor to whether hits, can’t mount a big enough engine for SPEED!!! and can’t mount enough weaponry to do something in any combination.
I will say this though, the one real upside the Assassin has for all of its faults is its jump range. They might not fly but they can most assuredly fall with style. They might be outran by a lot of mechs, but they can jump with the best of them. Which is probably another reason why it is called a light hunter, thinking about it objectively.
Admittedly one of the reasons why it has become my favorite is because of HBS Battletech and how it originally had a very good chassis ability to let it ignore three evasion pips, which makes it super useful for light hunting. Plus of course there’s all the mods out there that have custom refits of it, like one from BTA 3062 which has endo, ferro, xl engine, Light PPC and dual MML 5s. Now, that is prohibitively expensive for a mech like the Assassin but that might be as close as it can get to good. Though the MML5 seems to be tailor made for the chassis considering it will give it the same LRM damage but give it a far better short range punch.
Anyway enough talking about my favorite bad mech, if you want a recommendation for one, the Cicada is the classic case of a bad mech. Over-engined, under armored, 40 tons, and with no substantial weaponry regardless of loadout. It is a very, very bad mech even with its nominal good side of speed. It’s a terrible mech to pilot but oh so interesting to talk about, especially with some like minded fellows trying to make it uh, serviceable at the very least.
The Assassin is a great Mech! In Battletech, it’s jumpjets are fantastic, and it’s load out makes it a great skirmished, both Table and HBS. In Mechwarrior Online, My Assassin-DD ( Dark Death ) variant has 108 Kills, with deaths being only slightly more. It runs ECM, 2xMRM 10’s, 2xMed Lasers, and a Machine Gun. Runs at 113 kph, 4 jumpjets, and 12 Double Heat Sinks. It’s a great raider/skirmisher/light killer. I get at least one kill with it, maxed match of 5 kills with it. If that’s a bad Mech, then what’s a good Mech? Lol.
The Assassin might be a poor mech, but it’s a marvel of design and achievement compared to the “what where they thinking” Exterminator …
Nice work here, the Assassin is a terrible mech.
My List of Bad Mechs has this gem in it…
Mauler (1R) – An expensive (11m c-bills) 90 ton mech that spends 24 tons on the most anemic weapons the Inner Sphere has available. Owners will feel confident that their very slow mech is protected by about the same amount of armor as a 55-ton Wolverine. To add insult to injury, this slow moving mech is equipped with a delicate XL engine snugly wrapped around three tons of volatile ammunition in each poorly armored side torso.
Also, the Dracs used up all the DHS they could have been putting in Panthers and Atlases on them, but they’re *still* woefully under-sinked. Also they use Ferro-Fibrous, but not Endo Steel, which is always a mistake for a new-build mech.
My “fixed” Mauler uses ES instead of FF, and rips out the quad AC/2s and replaces them with another pair of 15-racks, which provides enough tonnage to de-XL the engine, beef up the armor, and add a couple more DHS. The result is a pretty scary fire-support mech that’s not really anything at all like a Mauler.
I completely agree that the Assassin is a great way to start the Bad Mechs series. Every time I see an ASN-21 I go out of my way to destroy it out of pity for how underwhelming it is. The only way it lives a little longer on the field is if there’s an Urbanmech. Kill the egg!
And with that, I nominate the Urbanmech for the next Bad Mech entry. “Here’s my idea for a mech. make a light mech that moves at Assault Mech speeds, armed only with an AC/10 and a Small Laser.”
“And what pros support the construction of this mech?”
“It has 360 degree torso twist, making it better to use in a city!”
I see where you are coming from…but I am not sure the Urbie is that bad.
The thing about the Urbanmech is that it is cheap, even the Locust has a higher sticker cost. At under 1.5 million c-bills the Urbanmech is capable of holding its own against more costly mechs such as the Panther.
The problem is that heavy tanks can be even more deadly and inexpensive than the Urbanmech. The Axel sports an AC20 and an LRM rack, while being faster and cheaper at the same time.
Bombardier. Apart from it’s speed and double sinks, it’s a much worse Archer. Completely ammo-dependent, has less ammo per launcher than the machine it was supposed to replace and who introduces a combat vehicle with a wholly proprietary launcher/ammo system without an option to revert to the LRMs EVERY other missile boat was using at the time? Current 21st century military doctrine is to reduce ammo variety so the troops won’t end up dry when supplies get tight. The technological “geniusses” of the Star League were amazingly stupid the day they cooked up the Bombardier. Instead of improving on the Archer, they created an overall worse alternative.
Thank Primus that thing went extinct.
Yeah, the only reason I even use it in my C* Lvl II is because it’s the only LRM boat with a C3i rig, and I so want to yank everything else for a couple of ER Meds.
I apologize for my English – I use a translator .
You ‘re right – I ‘ve always considered Assassin garbage myself – he runs and jumps well , but is hardly able to effectively fight back .
But… here in the BattleTech game from HBS, I got a container in which there were ASN-21 and Coil-L. This pair is just made for each other – this weapon generates damage from the range of movement , and the Assassin runs further than even jumps .
I removed all the standard weapons and put only 1 of this gun , and added armor for the remaining weight .
As a result , Assassin has become GREAT ! I love him now . The combination of its unique module that ignores 3 chevrons of evasion and Coil-L with a range of 450 meters.
If earlier my untrained pilot had a problem getting into a light mech, now it’s a difficult task to save at least something from him.
One shot at 3 chevrons on Firestarter from a safe distance and now only a CT without armor , head and legs remained from it . One shot at 4 chevrons on the Panther ‘s CT and she ‘s a corpse . Assassin began to fully justify its name in this version .
In this game , what happened was that Maltex Corporation failed . P.S.
I think that if you put a trained pilot in an Assassin in a Scout or Scout build with a pumped piloting skill , the result will be more destructive and … murderous :)
The LCT-1M Locust should get its own mention. The epitome of “your scientists were so focused on whether or not they *could*, they forgot to stop and ask whether or not they *should*.” It’s not the ‘light firesupport’ role that boggles the mind. It’s the fact that a kid with a wrist rocket can one-shot the ‘mech.
I feel like the PPC + AC/5 Banshee deserves a look, simply because it’s firepower is comically anemic for its weight class.
The Avenging Angel Vindicator was pretty bad, even if the -1R is a solid JOAT.
The Shadowhawk, especially the down-armored variant, suffers from the same issues the ASN does – it just has that AC/5 to actually reach out and touch someone, that the ASN lacked.
But my nominee for Champion Terrible Mech: The Arrow-IV Equipped Catapult. Awful as a concept. The thing about stand-off ranged weapons: you don’t need Battlemech maneuverability anymore, so spending the Cbills on anything beyond a tracked chassis is just burning money.
To be honest, the ‘Mechs that carry A4s do have one thing going for them: it’s much easier to combat drop a ‘Mech than a tank. If you’re needing to put down a unit with integrated artillery and can’t afford to land your dropship, a Catapult isn’t the worst way to go. Heck, the Catapult is the only one that has jump jets so you don’t have to waste time/resources on external drop packs for ‘Mechs like the Thunder Hawk-KMA, O-Bakemono or Naga.
As for bad ‘Mechs… hm. Never been particularly fond of the Exterminator. Maybe it was the lostech that crippled it, but it feels like it wants to be a Jenner with LRMs. The Chameleon and Null-sig might have helped, but the firepower just feels anemic for a headhunter.
Gotta mention the 3025 Wolverine. The most comically under-gunner 55 ton mech of its era. Sure, it has good mobility, but it has less firepower than a Whitworth.
I don’t know what it is about 3025 55 tonners, but they almost all universally suck.
The Griffin has two long-range weapons that are slow to fire and both on one side of the mech. The Wolverine is, as you said, almost comically under-gunned compared to designs even 5 tons lighter, and the Shadow Hawk is even worse off in that respect. If it weren’t for non-canon artificial buffs to the AC5 and the punching power, the Shadow Hawk would have been the most useless mech in HBS’s Battletech game.
Mobility doesn’t mean squat when you can shoot a bigger gun or more missiles. Give me a Trebuchet or a Centurion any day.
The SHD-2N version isn’t bad though,it swaps the AC5 for a Large Laser,ups the LRM5 to an LRM10 whilst also upgrading the SRM2 to an SRM4. It retains the Medium Laser and the 12 heatsinks and increases the armour too. (H) 9; (CT) 22/7; (LT/RT) 17/5; (LA/RA) 18; (LL/RL) 17/17 BV: 1238.
I have a few bad Mechs to nominate, and I’ll say why from a viewpoint of their dangerous thinking concepts.
Griffin – the 1N and 1S variants have a few big design flaws which really do like them to careful K to survive, those being that their weapons are located in such a way that damage becomes a serious danger. The 1N has all its weapons on one side, and the 1S does little to correct this mentality block.
I’d also suggest the Hunchback IIC as well. It’s a powerful glass cannon, but I just can’t help but visualise the silly notion that if one of these Mechs fired both Ultra AC-20s at once, it would blow itself into its back from the recoil. A silly thought, but not entirely unmerited.
The Assassin is a perfect mech to start this series. A mech that has little to offer except speed, and even that is debatable. All in all, the Assassin is all hype.
I feel that the next mech covered should be the original Charger. You would be hard-pressed to find a worse concept. An assault mech that is outgunned by most medium and even some light mechs. A bad idea all around.
Yep. Awesome concept and art, terrible build.
On the topic of future entries, I kind of have to just say “anything with an Autocannon”. Between the weight and the ammo dependency, they always seem to fall short of what you could do with the same tonnage spent on Energy weapons and Heat Sinks. Gets worse as they get smaller, with the 20 and 10 being somewhat usable, but the 5 and 2 are just incredibly disappointing.
The Assassin – bad rep maybe. Best stand up fighter? Maybe not. The stock model could use a touch of tweaking, but still extremely useful. I preferred the simple mod of removing the SRM2, adding a second ML, and glueing an extra ton of armor on it. Still more average firepower, more staying power, less stuff inside to go boom, and heat is acceptable alternating jumping with running. Alternatively, ditch the SRM for a second LRM – not much ammo, but hell of a harassing unit, and still all 3025 tech.
Even suggesting it couldn’t beat a Valkyrie or Panther is flawed. The smart pilot knows his ‘mech is nearly twice as fast as a Panther; – it jumps or backpeddles rearward faster (while keeping it’s front facing the enemy) then a Panther can run forwards, even in open terrain. The Assassin could even choose to whittle away at medium range with it’s LRM for better hitting odds – At extreme PPC range, plus the Panther moving, plus the Assn. Speed and or jumping, and possible terrain, the Panther would need a 12 (or more) to hit; Assn. Wears it down. The Panther attempts to dissengage? Back hit. End result, death by 1000 paper cuts.
The Valkyrie? The Assn. (Especially dual laser, up-armored) closes instead of long range dualing. Better protected now, it uses speed to stay either to the rear or at least off-side the Valk’s target arc for it’s own laser. And being nearly 50% more mobile, it can circle that Valk as easily as a Valk can circle a Rifleman (at least until the Valkyrie pilot learns the Rifleman can flip it’s arms [God rest your metal armed soul Justin Xiang Allard]
Some of the other light Mechs mentioned, including non 3025 Standard? Mongoose – barely faster ground speed, but the Assn’s Jump Jets still gives it better mobility to snipe at it. Hussar? A bit less then 25% faster. The reach on it’s single weapon is still under the LRM, and like the Panther’s PPC; other then standing still, will miss. With as much armor as some pathetic 5-10 ton armoured vehicles, 2 salvos of LRM might drop it; let alone a single mild “alpha strike” from the Assn. Commando? Sure it could turn an Assn into scrap close range. Still, armor of a Locust, speed of a Wasp with it’s wings pulled off (or the humble Flea) and the smart Assn. Pilot still pulls it down.
All it needs is plenty of room to roam. Superior scout, or light Mech killer. Twice the price of a Stinger? Sure, 3+ times the survival odds. It’s called an Assassin, not a Lineholder, Hunchback or even Hetzer (all of which it would run out of ammo on, but still get away and make them need new paint jobs for at the very least.
Agreed by far on the OG Cicada as among the worst. Same armor and speed as the “lowly” Locust, smaller weapons loadout then a Locust, all at twice the size and more then twice the price (roughly 1.5mil for a Locust, 3.7mil on a Cicada. Only thing it can do is commit murder/suicide by a full 12 hex charge. Even simple modifications can’t help it.
Jaggermech, unmodified can go on the list, but adding optional Flack rounds can help a bit; or all kinds of options by 3050 with DS heat sinks, some large lasers instead of the AC/2s and a bit more armor. Of course, then its a Rifleman, but who’s counting. If you really want to keep your extreme range ACs, paired PPCs and more armor works. Then at least you can blast a butterfly off of a Mech’s shoulder at 3/4 of a kilometer; which could stop it from flapping it’s wings and causing a blizzard on Tharkad.
3055 -58 era- Fireball anybody? Sure, as a scout it would be great with it’s speed. However, that it was specifically designed to kill Elementals. It has single SRM2, that would only piss off a single target and have a full Point fire back; and an MG that would take into an Elemental Point’s own range of Small Lasers to be eaten alive. Can do the classic ‘strip out everything it carries for Mediums and give it DS Heat Sinks’ but c’mon man, who thought up that weapon load for it’s goal?
The Assassin is a ‘bad mech’? Not so much, but then an issue I’ve seen with some responders and many players I’ve dealt with is that they use their mechs incorrectly. That Firestarter? Yeah, it will come off second-best in a straight -up duel with another mech–that’s not its job. Its job is to make life toasty for infantry (not Elementals, or Battle Armour-equipped), and non-fusion equipped vehicles. Realistically, the lion share of defending units a mech is likely to encounter will be infantry, which, most mechs are woefully ill-equipped to deal with. The Scorpion? Puleeeze, I fought more straight up duels with a Scorpion and earned victories than I care to count. Why? The wily pilot knows his machine and knows what it can and cannot do. Treat a Scorpion the same as a WW-2 assault gun and understand how to go hull-down with it, and you will survive. There’s also that ability to crab-scoot, which many players aren’t ready for. I can move in another direction without turning, and keep my weapons aimed where they need to be while I redeploy.
Back to the Assassin, playing with the stock version, I have enough speed to dictate the terms of the engagement, and can quit the field nearly at will, as I have enough speed most machines cannot close the range on me. One pilot of mine did work on his unit when SL tech became available, in addition to putting a hand manipulator on the arm missing one, he installed an XL Engine, and the standard DS Heat Sinks which come with, and then doubled up the Medium Lasers, upgraded to an SRM-6 and an LRM-10 for his loadout, and added more armour (the mech is thin-skinned). Easy, peasy, and a nasty surprise. That machine was his baby, and he took very good care of it.
Had a good laugh, thank you!
Can’t wait to read mor of “bad mechs”!
I have a friend who is an absolute killer with fast mechs and the Assasin is his favorite as it is the only +10hex mover with jump jets in 3025 that has long range armament. It also kicks harder than the Spider and the Jenner.