Bad ‘Mechs – Phantom

Phantom Bad Mechs

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

“MechWarrior Donovan! Report to ‘Mech bay 12 for your new assignment.” 

Donovan immediately excused himself from his Starmates and left the mess hall heading down the corridor that would lead him to the ‘Mech bays. They’d only just been discussing his mysterious assignment, a new ‘Mech design that would replace his aging Mist Lynx. Donovan would miss what was a fairly rare design for a Clan Wolf MechWarrior, but he was told that its replacement would be bigger and better.

And larger it certainly was. The squat, boxy design had none of the elegance of his old Mist Lynx, with a hunched back that extended into a shroud that nearly enveloped the cockpit. The right arm ended in what appeared to be a medium laser, while the left arm had five missile ports--half as many as his Mist Lynx

Donovan was examining the strange ports and lenses that dotted the ‘Mech’s torso when his commanding officer, Star Commander Rachel, appeared with his neurohelmet. “Donovan, good. You will be trained on your new ‘Mech for the rest of the day. This design is called the Phantom by our scientists, and it was made with direct input from Khan Phelan Ward himself.” 

“A design made by Khan Ward? I have heard of his custom ‘Mech, Grinner. This must share its firepower, quiaff?” 

“Well,” Star Commander paused and looked away while she ignored the expected answer to Donnovan’s inquiry. “It is faster and better armored than the Mist Lynx, that is certain, but its available pod space is somewhat less than you are used to.”

“A Mist Lynx is no Timber Wolf,” Donovan said with a chuckle. “How much less pod space?” 

“Approximately 25 percent,” Rachel replied, and Donovan grimaced. “There is more. That lens on the left side of the ‘Mech is for your Targeting Acquisition Gear, and the domed ports on the right contain an active probe and ECM equipment.”

Donovan stared blankly at his Star Commander as she seemed to mentally review a prepared speech. “The Phantom is designed to ensure accurate op-for assessment and to prevent ambushes at the binary and trinary engagement level. Additionally, its high speed allows it to designate targets for artillery bombardment and escape before opposing forces can effectively engage.”

Donovan continued to stare at Star Commander Rachel silently for several seconds. Then, “Star Commander, what is ‘artillery’?”

“This has not been made clear to me,” stated Rachel, flatly. “I am told that Khan Ward has plans to integrate Inner Sphere military tactics with Clan doctrine, and this ‘Mech is the result.” 

“I see,” replied Donovan. “Can it jump?” 

“Neg. But it can outrun a Mist Lynx by more than 30 kilometers per hour.”

Donovan gave a critical sniff. “Well, we cannot argue with the wisdom of a Khan, quineg?”

Rachel smiled, hopeful that this meant Donovan was at least open to the idea of a radical change in tactics. Those hopes were dashed as the rest of the afternoon was spent trying to convince Donovan that he was meant to merely observe his opponents using the Phantom’s advanced sensors rather than engage them himself. Only after he’d run headlong into the blast zone of an Arrow IV impact did Rachel seriously consider requesting a return of his old Mist Lynx

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Phantom 3055r

The Phantom is a bizarre ‘Mech by Clan standards, but in hindsight, that was perhaps to be expected from the highly unconventional Clan Wolf. The Phantom takes the idea of the heavy scout to its extreme, eschewing almost all firepower in favor of maximum speed and armor. It is the quintessential team player, requiring assistance from other units (be those complementary ‘Mechs, artillery, or Elementals) in order to have an impact on the battlefield. 

This flies in the face of traditional Clan doctrine which emphasizes individual battle performance over all else. Even nonconformist Clan Wolf MechWarriors required some time to adjust to the Phantom‘s intended mission profile. They would have just five years to learn completely new tactics between the Phantom‘s introduction in 3052 and its trial by fire during the Refusal War, where light Stars led by Phantoms would harass Jade Falcon units and designate targets for artillery strikes.

However, the Phantom‘s efficacy was debatable. Although an admirable Elemental delivery ‘Mech with a top speed of 151 kph, its lack of firepower made it a mediocre ambusher, with other, older ‘Mechs able to fulfill the role of a high-speed harasser better. The Viper and Ice Ferret are both just over 10 kph slower than the Phantom, but with two and three tons of additional pod space respectively, both are able to mount much higher-damage configurations while maintaining a similar armor profile. Furthermore, both the Viper and Ice Ferret continued to develop new pod configurations for decades, with both receiving variants that mounted similar advanced electronics. 

Phantom 3055U

While one could argue the Viper is mostly found in the Ghost Bear touman, the Ice Ferret had been in production by Clan Wolf’s ‘Mech factories for over a century by the time the Phantom was introduced. Given the Ice Ferret‘s similar design, it’s a complete mystery why Clan Wolf commissed the Phantom to begin with, but it’s doubly baffling why both ‘Mechs remained in production simultaneously for decades. 

Clan Wolf factories on Arc-Royal would continue to produce both the Phantom and Ice Ferret throughout the Jihad, although production would cease temporarily after the planet was struck by Word of Blake forces. In the Clan Homeworlds, the one factory building Phantoms would exchange hands several times, causing the Phantom to proliferate among the Home Clans. It has reportedly replaced the Fire Moth due to its similar speed but heavier armor.

Phantom Prime CCG

The Phantom‘s end was thought to have come with the arrival of the Wulfen, an advanced light ‘Mech featuring stealth armor and an even higher top speed. However, demand for the Wulfen far outstretched supply, and Clan Wolf was forced to continue supporting Phantom-equipped Galaxies. With the invasion of Terra looming, Clan Wolf reached out to Clan Sea Fox to increase production of the older, heavier design. In return for retooling a Bloodhound factory to produce Phantoms, Clan Sea Fox was given the ‘Mech’s design schematics. The obsolete design is now freely available to any willing to pay Clan Sea Fox’s price. 

The Phantom‘s primary configuration exemplifies its role as a heavy scout. Its armament of one ER Medium Laser, one ER Small Laser, and a single LRM-5 launcher would be considered anemic even for an Inner Sphere light ‘Mech, but its arsenal of electronics (including TAG, ECM, and an Active Probe) makes it well-suited for armed reconnaissance or spotting for distant artillery. Six tons of ferro-fibrous armor is adequate for a ‘Mech of its size, but the Phantom‘s true defense is its blistering top speed of 151 kph.

Phantom Alt Config C CCG

It wasn’t long before Wolf MechWarriors began demanding more of the Phantom‘s six-and-a-half tons of pod space. However, with such limited pod space available, the Phantom‘s most threatening configurations typically feature groups of smaller weapon systems. The A and C configurations, for example, offer significant short-range punch multiple batteries of ER Small Lasers. Other configurations, such as the B, D, and F, mount more mid-range weapons such as SRMs and ER Medium Lasers.

Some even mount weapons originally intended for non-’Mech units. The E configuration sports an ATM-3 and eight Micro Pulse Lasers, while the G configuration has a ProtoMech-scale AC/4. The L configuration features three AP Gauss Rifles and a Plasma Cannon, both with a ton of ammunition.

More recent configurations utilize advancements in weaponry to help the Phantom punch above its weight. The I configuration has an Improved Heavy Large Laser and an ER Medium Laser tied to a Targeting Computer (with a Light TAG providing artillery with targeting data). The K configuration ties a single ER Large Laser to a targeting computer but manages to provide the primary configuration’s entire electronics complement with the Watchdog CEWS. And the R config mixes Inner Sphere and Clan tech with two IS-grade Medium Lasers, two Heavy Medium Lasers, and an SRM-6

Phantom ilClan Recognition Guide

Although the Phantom‘s popularity wanes in the Wolf Empire, its availability from the largest network of arms merchants the Inner Sphere has ever seen practically ensures the ‘Mech’s survival for many decades to come. It’s yet to be seen how populous the Phantom has become within the Home Clans or if the traditional emphasis on individual combat performance has resulted in the Phantom being relegated to second-line units. Perhaps even more potent Phantom configurations have been produced (using powerful yet light weaponry) that have yet to be observed in the Inner Sphere. Only time will tell.

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.

30 thoughts on “Bad ‘Mechs – Phantom

  1. Steve

    The C, D and H are mean little configs, the odd duck is honestly the Prime but it kind of makes sense because the Clans rarely concentrated their EW equipment together onto a single platform, you’d have one ‘Mech with a TAG and another with a Probe and ECM and so on, but on the Phantom its all brought together.

    But then this goes out of the window with the C, E and H are all close quarter maulers with tons of small weapons, the D is a well armed generalist.
    Not a bad ‘mech, just a bad prime config

  2. Craig

    360XL -> 16.5 tons
    315XL -> 11.0 tons
    As a 35 ton mech it might be slightly better and cheaper, with ~1 ton more to play with. I guess it’s the Clan Assassin – slightly better as a lighter Mech, about a +4 defense modifier in both cases. As mentioned the C and H are good especially with those extra heat sinks. Would be a great Flanker in a fight with initiative (ie. multiple vs. multiple) because this is a BACKSTABBER.

  3. Bryan "Pharaoh" Farrow

    Found a slight typo:
    More recently configuration utilize recent advancements

    Great article as usual, I look forward to these every month, thank you.

  4. Eric Karau

    The Phantom is a nice design, if low on firepower. But Clanners, NOT knowing WHAT artillery is? Do they really have SUCH a bias against artillery that they don’t tell their own warriors WHAT it is? They hate it THAT much?

    1. Michael

      I wouldn’t say so. The same book that introduced the Phantom also introduced the Naga, an AIV carrier from the 2900s. There are also a couple of other AIV platforms amoung the clans, but they are seen as less honourable as they don’t work well in duels. They would be used as a “punishment” mech for unfavoured warriors.

  5. George Spelvin

    > The Phantom takes the idea of the heavy scout to its extreme
    > heavy scout

    Where have I heard that before?

  6. Chris

    I know it is played for laughs that Clan mechwarriors would not know what artillery is given their preferences when it comes to combat, but Clan Wolf did develop and deploy the Naga Omnimech, so the joke does fall a bit flat here. Clanners being aghast to they point they may declare a Trial of Grievance that they are to be used as mere spotters for Arrow IV bombardments? Absolutely. Clanners being totally ignorant of what artillery is, bit of a stretch. Other than that criticism, good write up, nice to shine some light on a usually marginalised Clan design.

  7. Stretch5678

    Configs I and K subscribe to the Pack Hunter school of thought: a nice big Clantech hole-puncher on a very mobile chassis.

    It’s hard to argue with simplicity.

  8. Steel Shanks

    Man, the ilClan Redesigns all look so good, really dig that art. Except the head on the Trebuchet, I like the HBS / PGI head design better…

    Phantom… Yeah, Idk … Prime looks pretty bad. Never fought one on Table Top so. Does remind Me of the Inner Sphere’s Assassin though.

  9. Doug

    If Clan Wolf needed a better scout, it would have been easier to tweak the Ice Ferret. The Phantom is indeed trash and completely unnecessary. Much like the Linebacker, another Wolf debacle, this thing is too fast for its size. Good article, you should do one on the ultimate clan Spruce Goose of mechs: the Executioner.

  10. Eric Karau

    What’s wrong with speed? It can mean a BIG difference in combat, and it can prevent you from finding all about the hereafter in person when you’re being shot at!

  11. T

    Here’s how this works. Everything is deadly when it’s drilling through your rear torso.

    Everything is durable when it can generate a huge movement modifier and still hold up to the occasional gauss rifle lucky hit.

    Tiny payloads are apocalyptic when Clan small lasers weigh half a ton and deal 5 damage each.

    Fighting clanners in the late eras where they may actually use artillery? Boy it sure is annoying when that TAG carrier can pick and choose where it wants to be at will.

    If we fret too much about efficiency, the game turns into a homogenous soup of samey units and is extremely boring. Living at the extremes is sometimes good. And when its clan tech, you actually can find a good niche there. Is the Phantom particularly good? Not really. Is it bad? Definitely not.

  12. Eric Karau

    I think the Executioner/Gladiator Assault Omni is scary as Hell! That kind of design going into combat makes it valuable! I fit it out with a Gauss Rifle in the left arm and an ER PPC and Large Pulse Laser in the right arm! OUCH!!!

  13. Marco

    TBH this is a terrible Clan mech but an excellent Inner Sphere spotter – as article stated, if we use clan mentality of prioritizing individual battle prowess then sure, it’s bad but once you use not a group of warriors but an actual army one or two could effectively run entire artillery coordination by themselves making job easier for main army.

    I like it, my main experience with Battletech is HBS game and running 4 artillery trucks or missile boat mechs with a fast, armored spotter while remaining 5-7 mechs serve as an armored fist works wonders and an excellent spotter is always valued by me personally.

  14. Michael R.

    It’s funny reading these as someone who started off with TRO 3025. (Don’t worry, I’m laughing at myself, not going all grognard on you.) I look at it and I’m like, man, that’s an AMAZING scout! It’s got incredible speed–I mean, a top speed of 151 KPH! That’s incredible! And great armor for its class! And the armament–I mean, a Clan ER Medium is essentially an Inner Sphere stock large laser, AND it has LRMs and a backup weapon! And it can call down accurate artillery! For 3025 that’s incredible! Then I look at other Clan scouts–oh, right, yeah. Not 3025 any more, is it? Might as well be saying the Stinger would be great at the Battle of Verdun.

    Really, though, this is a good summary. I mean, like the article says, what makes the Phantom a bad mech isn’t the mech itself, which may be a bit anemic for the time but overall is solid, but who it’s designed for. This being sold to an Inner Sphere power? It’s a perfect artillery spotter and a valued unit member. The Clans? Yeah, definitely a bad fit. Which, I mean, I know the article made that point, but I feel it’s a very important point to make.

  15. Kyle

    The Mist Lynx does not compare favorably to the Phantom. The Mist Lynx A, which is the spotter version, is even more anemically armed than the Phantom and still doesn’t manage to mount ECM. Even the Mist Lynx Prime is inferior as a scout Mech. It only carries an Active Probe, yet its armament is equivalent to the Phantom at best, with the Phantom having superior speed and armor. For a long campaign I’d rather have the LRM5, ERML, and ERSL of the Phantom than the LRM10, Streak4, and 2 MGs of the Mist Lynx. The lighter armament of the Phantom Prime was likely intentional to discourage Clan Warriors from seeking fights when they should be scouting. Even the best Inner Sphere scout Mechs like the Raven and Raven 2 with the best tech available arguably only match or slightly exceed the capabilities of the Phantom as a scout and EW mech. Also, the Phantom is only 10kph faster than the Ice Ferret and Viper if you’re comparing their walk speeds, the Phantom is over 20kph faster than those Mechs when running.

  16. Eric Karau

    The Ice Ferret/Fenris seems like a perfectly good OmniMech design, a medium mecha as fast as a Locust and better armed and protected! Why the Wolves wasted their time and resources on the Phantom is really surprising, as the Clans abhor waste!

  17. Cavgunner

    The first comment of the article itself should state “complementary” not “complimentary.” The Phantom is a mech that brings useful abilities to its team, it isn’t a mech that says nice things.

  18. Phantom KTO

    So now my favorite IS ‘Mech AND my favorite Clan ‘Mech have both been featured. I’m kind of starting to wonder if I just like bad ‘Mechs.


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