Bad ‘Mechs – Icestorm

Bad 'Mechs - Icestorm

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

“Star Commander, I have the target in sight. Grid coordinate zulu-alpha-three-six-three. Fire for effect, over.” 

Clan Ice Hellion MechWarrior Liam waited for several tense moments, but there was no scream of incoming shells and no explosions on the enemy encampment. “Star Commander, I repeat, I have them marked with my TAG. Grid coordinate zulu-alpha-three-six-three.” Still, no artillery sounded. Liam noted with dismay as several Galleons discharged their infantry who began setting up gun emplacements.

Running a self-diagnostics on his communications systems, Liam was disquieted to see his Icestorm‘s computer report ‘100-percent operational’. “No fire on target, Star Commander. What is the delay?”

Liam endured another few moments of silence as he tried to burrow his Icestorm further into the snowy berm that was all that stood between him and the rebels fortifying their location. He felt exposed—his Icestorm’s speed was its only real defense. Spotting for allied artillery forced him to do something terribly dangerous for any light ‘Mech: stop. Every Hellion knew that speed was life. Without it, he was as much a target as the armored vehicles his TAG designated.

Finally, Liam’s radio crackled with Star Commander Janise’s voice. “Um, apologies MechWarrior Liam. There will be no artillery.” 

Liam could no longer hide his frustration. “What in Kerensky’s name are you talking about?!” 

“It has come to my attention that artillery is un-Clanlike tactics,” Star Commander Janise announced. “Apparently, it causes too much collateral damage to be considered honorable.”

Liam scanned his surroundings through his ‘Mech’s 360-degree visor. Everywhere he looked was just more tundra. Not even a surat to be found, save for the encampment roughly 500 meters from his position. “Star Commander, there is nothing here but snow and enemy contacts. Perhaps we can debate the honor of artillery after we’ve eliminated these rebels?”

Neg, MechWarrior,” Janise sighed. “You are to engage targets of opportunity and return to base.” 

At that, Liam slammed his fist on his command console, causing his viewscreen to flicker briefly. “Star Commander, my position is exposed. If I were to engage, I do not believe my Icestorm will survive.” 

“Are you saying you lack the bravery of an Ice Hellion warrior, quineg?” Star Commander Janise’s response was filled with taunting disbelief.

Neg, Star Commander,” Liam replied, stone-faced. “I will do my duty.” 

“See that you do, MechWarrior.” With that, Liam’s radio went dead, leaving him cold and alone in his Icestorm’s cockpit. He scanned the enemy encampment, noting the three Galleons and what appeared to be light autocannons in fixed emplacements. He could outrange the Galleon’s inferior lasers and he could simply run around the fixed guns, but he knew it wouldn’t take many hits to put his Icestorm down. 

“Let speed be my ally,” Liam muttered as he brought his Icestorm up to its full nine-meter height. He kept his TAG system painting the enemy encampment in case the officers at base changed their mind about the novel concept of zellbrigen, and then brought his Icestorm up to a trot, then a full run. Stationary, he could hide his 25-ton ‘Mech behind snow and ice, but there was no hiding the trembles soldiers could feel as his Icestorm charged headlong at their position.

Light tracers whizzed past his ‘Mech as the soldiers began firing well beyond their weapon’s effective range. Green beams soon followed as the Galleons rotated their turrets. Liam began to weave through the snowy banks as he pushed his ‘Mech to its full speed of nearly 200 kph, rapidly closing the distance between his machine and dozens of enemies. He fired his laser, lighting several soldiers and melting the barrel of a towed autocannon. He followed that up with a pair of short-range missiles which hit one of the Galleons on the side, knocking a tread off its wheels.

Incoming fire soon rivaled the downpour of snow from the sky, with pings ringing off his cockpit from small arms. A Galleon got lucky and scored a hit with a small laser, but it was enough to reduce the armor protecting his left side by half. Liam turned his Icestorm just in time to prevent an autocannon round from taking his leg off at the knee. 

As he made another strafing pass and blew up a tent with another pair of missiles, Liam’s luck ran out. One of the Galleons’ medium lasers managed to strike his Icestorm’s hip, locking the leg and sending him hurdling toward the ground. The last thing Liam thought before his cockpit slammed into the snowy dirt was how pointless his loss was compared to a few artillery rounds.


The Icestorm is a perfect example of what can happen when a weapon’s requirements are changed without informing everyone down the military procurement chain. At best, you wind up with a weapon that doesn’t meet the new battlefield requirements. At worst, your weapon is obsolete before a warrior even has a chance to wield it. 

Compared to the standard of Inner Sphere technology following the First Succession War, the Icestorm is a perfectly respectable reconnaissance unit. Its armament matches that of the Wasp, it’s more than 33 percent faster than the Locust, and it mounts Target Acquisition Gear as standard, making it the perfect spotter ‘Mech for friendly artillery. Icestorms could quickly close on enemy positions, paint targets for destruction, and then extract without any risk of being caught by pursuers. 

Icestorm by Hordwon on Reddit

However, the Icestorm is not an Inner Sphere BattleMech; it’s a Clan BattleMech produced shortly after the events of Operation KLONDIKE. This tumultuous time in early Clan history formed what would become the Clan rules for zellbrigen, or honorable combat. In addition to adopting a dueling format for most warfare, zellbrigen prohibited the use of weapons of mass destruction, liberally defining these weapons to include large air-dropped bombs and artillery. The existence of systems that could accurately apply these weapons—such as the very TAG that came standard on the Icestorm—wasn’t enough to dissuade Clan leaders horrified at civilian casualty statistics following the conquest of the Pentagon worlds. 

One of the slowest Clans to adopt the rules of zellbrigen was Clan Ice Hellion. The Hellions famously relied on smaller, faster ‘Mechs and swarm tactics to engage heavier foes, which was directly contradicted by zellbrigen‘s rules for dueling. The Hellions would eventually adopt a modified form of zellbrigen that allowed entire Stars to engage a single target, and then once that target was wounded, the Star would bid against itself for the honor of finishing it off. The Hellions also relied on its smaller ‘Mechs to spot for its artillery, mitigating their ‘Mechs’ lack of firepower with firepower from afar.

Icestorm by Bishop Steiner

Perhaps it’s this reluctance to adopt zellbrigen that explains the Icestorm‘s existence. The rules for zellbrigen would have percolated amongst the Clans following the end of Operation KLONDIKE in 2822, but the Icestorm‘s arrival in 2830 implies that either the Hellions were not yet aware of zellbrigen or were simply ignoring it. The death of ilKhan Nicholas Kerensky in 2834, however, enshrined zellbrigen into the soul of the Clans, and it seems highly unlikely that the Hellions would have been able to drag their feet on zellbrigen past this event.

With little firepower or armor, extreme speed, and sophisticated targeting sensors, the Icestorm was designed to locate the enemy and pound them into the dirt using artillery. Clan trials made finding the enemy unnecessary, and Clan rules of engagement prevented the use of artillery, rendering the Icestorm almost completely redundant. 

Prior to their absorption by Clan Goliath Scorpion, the Icestorm could be found in most Hellion Galaxies, although they were increasingly relegated to garrison and solahma units after the advent of the OmniMech. Multiple examples found their into the Clan Wolf touman thanks to their many victories over the Hellions, and by the time of the Jihad, Icestorms could also be found in Clan Hell’s Horses and the Escorpión Imperio

Icestorm via Camospecs

Desperation during the Jihad era led Clan Wolf to press their Icestorms into front-line units. The original Icestorm—based on the Star League‘s Cameroon—carried a single ER Medium Laser, an SRM-2, and TAG to complement its 10 single heat sinks and 190 kph top speed. The Icestorm‘s speed is its armor and certainly not the mere 3.5 tons of Compound Alpha Standard begrudgingly covering its standard chassis. The Icestorm 2 upgraded the armor to ferro-fibrous and replaced the single heat sinks with doubles. Its armament was also completely replaced by two Heavy Medium Lasers (one in the arm and the other in the right torso) and a single ER Flamer mounted in the head. A Light TAG replaced the original TAG to retain the Icestorm‘s capacity as an artillery spotter, something Clan Wolf did with increasing frequency as the rules and norms governing warfare lapsed during the Jihad. 

By the ilClan era, the Icestorm is mostly extinct. Perhaps a few still exist within the Clan Homeworlds, or in Brian Caches, or being piloted by an ancient former Hellion still serving in the Scorpion Empire, but the Icestorm had long been surpassed by various OmniMechs almost two centuries ago. Even if the plans were found and factories restored, it would be hard to argue for the Icestorm‘s resurrection.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

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About Sean

Hooked on BattleTech at an early age, Sean honestly can't remember whether it was the cartoon, the serial novels or the short-lived TCG that did him in. Whatever it was, his passion for giant shooty robots never died, so now he writes about the latest and greatest in 'Mech related news.

28 thoughts on “Bad ‘Mechs – Icestorm

  1. Steel Shanks

    I forgot this Mech even existed… For good reason apparently. This is indeed a terrible Mech. Bad armament, bad armor, pretty good speed… Still, terrible Mech.

    Artillery is King of the battlefield though… Clanners learned that again on Tukayyid… 5-20-3052.

  2. Salty Mariner

    Even ignoring the zellbrigen fluff, this is a ‘Mech screaming for Endo Steel, FF Armor, or a reduction to ‘merely’ a 275XL engine – IMO, 11/17 is not hugely different from 12/18, any of these gives it extra tonnage to add armor and change the weapons loadout. The SRM-2 is especially useless on a ‘Mech which absolutely can not punch holes in armor, between its paltry main weapon and the fact that it can’t hang around enemy ‘Mechs for more than a turn to get more than one shot.

    The XL engine is a blessing and a curse on a ‘Mech with such little armor. It allows the Icestorm to move at blistering speeds, but makes it easier to destroy the ‘Mech with even a single side torso hit.

    I don’t know – a better idea off the top of my head is to make it a TAG designator with good anti-personnel weapons. Infantry is all the Icestorm can really stand up to, anyway. It could be a quick response anti-infantry ‘Mech which can also call in artillery. The SRM-2 could then be loaded with Inferno missiles to actually put it to good use.

    The same complaints about durability and weak weaponry could be registered against other light, badly armored Inner Sphere ‘Mechs like the Locust, Wasp, and Stinger, except that the Icestorm has a costly 300XL engine, which makes it 3x more expensive than a (slightly) better-armored Locust.

    1. Salty Mariner

      *yes, I said “other… Inner Sphere ‘Mechs,” I know it’s a Clanner. Poor choice of words.

      1. Kage

        Clan XL Engines only take up 2 slots in the side torsos, the destruction of which would not immediately destroy the Icestorm as it would with IS XL Engines. Really the only fault with the design is not further investing in weight saving materials after investing in the substantially more expensive XL Engine.

      2. Kage

        Clan XL’s only have 2 slots in the sides, which wouldn’t destroy the mech out right with the loss of one side. Really the only fault of the design is not investing further after already investing in the significantly more expensive XL.

        1. Anon

          Correct me if I am am wrong, but would two engine crits not mission-kill a ‘Mech with standard heatsinks?

    2. bubba hotep

      cost is still a factor, even in the clans. All that stuff is great in a void, but for a second line mech makes little sense.

    3. John Campbell

      The difference between 17 and 18 isn’t much. 18 lets you, in theory, generate a +5 TMM, but you’re only rarely going to have the straight-and-clear path you need to actually do it in practice.

      However, I find that having 2 spare MP instead of only 1 to deal with turns or terrain makes getting the +4 a lot more reliable. If you’re not going to be able to get to a +5 anyway, why not do +4 at a walk and make your TAGing that much more effective?

      1. Charon

        I rather like and agree with dropping the engine just one class, especially if Ferro can be added in exchange. That smaller engine is cheaper/less resources needed, so with Ferro it’s even cheaper. Since they abhor artillery, remove the TAG and repurpose it… TAG out for different electronics, a Targeting Computer, the saved 1.5 for engine allows a single weapon, a clan ER Large Laser. It would make a heck of a bug/scout killer, skirmisher, and even able to snipe away any standard IS light and have a chance at mediums too

  3. Patrick Rich

    The way I see it, the Icestorm is a next generation Wasp that traded jump jets for crazy running speed and the ability to spot artillery. If it were an Inner Sphere mech, it probably would have been very successful in that role. It’s failure as far as I can see is that it’s an artillery spotter tied to the Clans, who almost never use artillery in their war doctrine. The Icestorm’s real failure is that it was so specialized that it couldn’t adapt to, and was completely incompatible with zellbrigen.

  4. Flashfreeze

    There’s an old saying that with armored combat vehicles, you have mobility, firepower, and armor: pick two.

    It would be the ice Hellion way to pick mobility twice…

  5. Klortik

    this is a highly specialized and obscure mech, and clearly a bad one in anything outside of it’s intended purpose. tack on it being a clan mech that is designed to use Artillery? oof, this never had a chance. the Innersphere however would love this mech, minus the XL engine.

    (FYI i don’t have Technical readout 3060) i put a IS version together using REMLAB. 9/14 move speed with a base engine makes it unbelievably hard to hit, but it’s armor is paper thin, with only 8 ticks of armor in the CT anything larger then a Large Laser would most likely mean that you near oneshot this thing. a locust could just muder this thing with enough luck.

    TL;DR mech is good at it’s one job and the Clan’s don’t like that job.

  6. Niven

    That jihad refit is pretty ballsy. Putting so much firepower on such a lightly armored mech *and* using heavy lasers as the main weapon of a mech that’s expected to be constantly running shows either extreme confidence in Wolf pilots or extreme callousness towards their survival.

  7. Eric Karau

    What IS it about the Clans and artillery? In the real world in combat it’s a weapon that can often decide the outcome of a battle: I don’t see many real REAL combatants complaining about it being either honorable OR dishonorable! Other than that, the Icestorm DOES suck in a firefight!

    1. Steel Shanks

      I think it’s like Archers and the ancient Greeks. The Greeks hated archers, made fun of them, called them “un-manly”, dishonorable, etc. But for every damned campaign, ye saw them hiring a crap ton of Cretan Archers and Rhodian Slingers… Same with Clanners. The artillery was hated/dishonorable, until needed during the Jihad, then opinions started to change a bit. It’s still not used like it should be, but the Greeks never did use archers to their fullest extent either …

  8. John Campbell

    It needs to lose the SRM 2. The Clan version is marginally better than the IS version, but the Clan alternatives are *way* better. Another Clan Cheese ER ML and a half-ton of desperately-needed armor would be a huge improvement. It could probably even get away without DHS to handle the extra heat. It would just need to take a turn of not firing now and then to dump the excess heat. Given that its primary defense is being able to reliably generate +4 TMMs at a walk, it’s probably not going to be firing every turn anyway.

    Other than that, it’s not super-optimized, but not really a bad ‘mech. It’s just a specialist at a job that the Clans are too up themselves to let it do.

    1. Charon

      Exactly the way to improve it. Is just ML kinda cheap? Sure, but light things can’t use much more anyways, use what’s efficient, especially when clan ER Mediums nearly match Sphere Larges. As a scout hunter killer it would excel as well as spotting.

    2. Owl

      IMO, the design could do with another half ton from somewhere going into the weapons.

      With another half ton, you could slap on an ER Large Laser ala the Hussar or stack on 3 LRM-5s with one ton of ammo and turn it into a long range sniper, making it operationally safer. ER Mediums do the job I agree but the margin of error is very narrow. My preference is for the Laser, higher chance of punching holes in something and making it go kaboom instead of trying to sandpaper it to death.

  9. John Campbell

    Also, error in the story: The Icestorm is a 25-tonner, not 20.

    And, seriously, it moves 12/18 and has a Clan ER ML. If you’re letting Galleons shoot at you at all, you’re doing it wrong.

  10. Charon

    Well, I don’t normally jump on the “this isn’t a bad mech” bandwagon too much, I have to say it isn’t terrible, just in a terrible place. It says over 33% faster then a Locust, looks like 50% to me, same amount of gear and armor total. That engine should be prohibitively expensive (or, high resource) for such a little Mech, but it does what it does. As it’s been pointed out, even a half weight clan SRM2 is somewhat silly, when a second ER Med would do far better damage and range and take 1/2 ton more armor. I know, only Meds on any mexh, let alone a scout is borung, cliche. I get it, but it works better.
    As far as no other advanced construction, I also get that, construction was started directly after the Pentagon wars when resources were very low, however in the 200+ years since retrofitting it with Ferro should have been easy. Additionally, and this may be a stretch, but if Artillery were completely taken away (and given the number of clan 3050 Mechs with TAG, I find that hard to truly believe) in the 220 years since creation, SOMEBODY should have figured out how to at least unbolt the pointless TAG and put something else in there. The second ER Med? Upgrade the SRM2 to a 6 even? A flamer, or pair of MGs and 1/2 ton of ammo to slaughter unarmored infantry? Something would fit.
    So Ferro retrofit, ditch the TAG and SRM2, add LRM 5 and a flamer or ER Small for infantry, or the Multi ER Med. Either way, with or without TAG if the Clans don’t want them I would have been happy to buy them from the Sharks.

    1. Charon

      Of course just Meds is kinda cheap, but especially when clan ER Mediums nearly match Sphere Larges, they get the job done. With even 2 MLs as a scout/Bug hunter/killer it would excel as well as spotting, let alone DSH and three of them

  11. Eric Karau

    In the canon of this mech’s history, it says that it’s LACK of special capabilities is what keeps this design in front-line units instead of being in second-lines units! Is that the same reason one sees the Hunchback IIC in front-line units?

    1. Steel Shanks

      I don’t think so. Hunchback IIC is to either “Go out in Blaze of Glory,” or “Return with Ultra AC20 kills.” There’s no coming back if yer in an Icestorm lol … Yer just dead. Even with a second ER Med Laser. I’m assuming “cost effective” is why it’s still up and running.


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