Bad ‘Mechs – Sentinel

Bad 'Mechs - Sentinel

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

“Shit,” Private Enzo cursed at the red blinking light on his Sentinel’s command console. “The missile launcher is jammed again.” 

“Again?” Enzo’s lancemate, Corporal Fritz-McCarrol, maneuvered his Crab close to where Enzo’s Sentinel stood on the firing range and brought its cockpit to within a few meters of the Defiance Streak SRM-2’s exhaust port. “Doesn’t look broken to me.”

Enzo frantically flipped several switches and turned even more knobs, but the red light continued to blink tauntingly. “I don’t friggin’ know, Fritz. It’s the third time today. I don’t know how I’m supposed to qualify for live rounds if I can’t get a missile to come out of the damned tube.” 

To onlookers, the two ‘Mechs then seemed to engage in a strange dance, where the Sentinel kept contorting itself in an attempt to clear the jam, while the Crab tried to peer into exhaust ports and heat sink vents to diagnose the problem. It was all in vain, and the Sentinel eventually straightened, then slumped its shoulders as its pilot mentally admitted defeat.

“The hell are you two doing?” Lieutenant Silva’s bewildered voice inquired from the firing range’s protected observation tower.

The Crab pointed to the Sentinel’s chest. “His launcher’s jammed,” said Corporal Fritz.

“Again?” 

“Yes sir,” the two MechWarriors groaned. 

Lieutenant Silva rubbed the bridge of her nose. Private Enzo was the newest member of her lance, and as expected, he had a lot to learn about the weapons he would soon be employing on behalf of the Star League Defense Force. The first and most valuable lesson was that Star League Procurement didn’t always provide the most reliable tools. The second and equally valuable lesson was to enact field repairs quickly with whatever was currently available.

“Have you tried hitting it?” She suggested. “Works on the tri-vid player.” 

The Crab and the Sentinel looked at each other for a moment. “No sir,” Enzo said. 

“Try it,” then the radio crackled as Lieutenant Silva changed frequencies to explain to the range officer why two of her ‘Mechs were standing on the range without firing.

Fritz placed his Crab’s hand over the Sentinel’s Streak missile launcher like a carpenter readying a nail as he balled the ‘Mech’s other hand into a fist. “How hard do you think I should hit you?” 

Enzo brought his Sentinel’s arms up and pushed the Crab away before it could strike. “You shouldn’t! At least not there. That’s the launcher. The ammo feeder is more in this area.” Enzo brought the Sentinel’s hand up and made a small circle over his ‘Mech’s right breast. Or at least, where it might have been if the Sentinel had a more humanoid torso. 

Without warning, Corporal Fritz brought his Crab‘s first down onto the Sentinel’s torso in roughly the area indicated. Enzo’s damage display revealed armor had been shattered over the impact area, but the red light continued to blink stubbornly. “Try it again.” 

Another impact, harder than the last, shook Enzo around in his cockpit. More armor had been shattered under the Crab‘s fist, yet still, the red light blinked. “One more time.” 

This time, the Crab‘s fist missed and put its knuckle straight through the Sentinel‘s ferroglass cockpit, but luckily not far enough to crush its pilot. Enzo’s neurohelmet protected his face from the many shards of ferroglass that came pouring over him, but the rest of him was clad in the SLDF’s standard-issue cooling vest and shorts, which offered much less protection.

“Uh, whoops?” Fritz offered. Enzo didn’t reply. He couldn’t; his radio had been smashed by the Crab‘s finger. But he did note with some satisfaction that the red light on his mangled command console had finally gone dark. 


Sentinel STN-3M TRO 3050

While BattleMechs would reign as the king of the modern battlefield ever since the Mackie, infantry remains the backbone of most militaries. Protecting infantry from the tyranny of ‘Mechs became an increasingly difficult task throughout the 25th century, and by the 27th century, the Great Houses were requesting dedicated infantry support ‘Mechs.  

Before the SLDF had even thought to demand a dedicated infantry support BattleMech, the Lyran Commonwealth contracted Defiance Industries to produce just such a machine in 2651. Unfortunately for the LCAF, Defiance Industries’ board of directors was controlled by the Terran Hegemony, who informed Star League procurement of a new ‘Mech with a rather unique mission profile. The Star League charter prevented any House army from obtaining new weapons before the Star League Defense Force, which led Defiance Industries to produce two versions of the Sentinel in 2652: the STN-3L for the Star League Defense Force, and the STN-1S for the Lyran Armed Forces. The STN-3L was armed with state-of-the-art weapons largely unavailable to the Great Houses, while the STN-1S made do with technology that was already several generations old. 

Sentinel TCG

The SLDF jumping military procurement orders to ensure Terran Hegemony dominance was hardly new by the 2600s, and it would be several years before the Lyran Commonwealth would argue its way to an upgrade package that brought its STN-1S Sentinels up to the STN-3L standard. However, by then the Star League had accepted deliveries of the STN-3Lb model, which made all previous Sentinels obsolete. 

Being first in line for every new ‘Mech did produce some issues for the Star League. In the Sentinel‘s case, initial production models would consistently overheat during field maneuvers even if they weren’t strenuously engaged. Star League technicians first blamed the problem on faulty Pitban 240 fusion engines, but later analysis revealed a design error in the Sentinel‘s 10 single heat sinks reduced their heat dissipation well below their expected cooling rate. 

The heat sink issue was resolved relatively quickly with Defiance providing a free refit package and redesigning its future production. 

Another problem that would take longer to fix was an issue with the Defiance Streak SRM-2‘s automatic reloader. Defiance had swapped the Defiance A-1 Small Laser on pre-production models for the Defiance B-1A model, which was more robust but also necessitated moving the missile feed mechanism by half a meter. If the pilot were maneuvering the Sentinel at its top speed of 97.2 kph it could cause missiles to shift position in the belt and block the feeder. Sentinel pilots quickly learned that jostling the loader could clear the jam, which was best performed by slamming the Sentinel‘s right fist against its chest.

Sentinel TRO 3050U

However, this solution presented a new problem for Sentinel pilots. Opposition forces quickly learned to target Sentinel pilots slamming their chest as it meant an ammunition jam, forcing Sentinel pilots to retreat from the front line before attempting to clear the jam. 

Ironically, it was the Succession Wars that eventually solved the Sentinel‘s missile loader issue. As Streak missiles became Lostech during the Succession wars, Defiance Industries was forced to produce the downgraded STN-3K variant which instead used a standard SRM launcher less prone to jamming. 

The original STN-3L came equipped with some of the most advanced weapons the Star League could produce. A Kawabata Weapons Industries Ultra Autocannon/5 accompanied a Defiance Streak SRM-2 launcher to provide adequate support for infantry in almost any battlefield scenario. A single Small Laser gave the Sentinel another anti-infantry weapon not reliant upon ammunition. A Pitban 240 engine gave the Sentinel a speed of 97.2 kph, which was deemed more than sufficient for fast response on the front lines. Ten heat sinks kept the ‘Mech cool in all but the most dire battlefield conditions, and 5.5 tons of Valiant Lamellor standard armor gave the pilot decent protection. A StarLink/Benicia Model AS829G communications package allowed the Sentinel to maintain comms with multiple units, making it an excellent choice for a sub-commander overseeing infantry maneuvers.

Sentinel Shrapnel

By contrast, the Steiner’s STN-1S came armed with a Defiance Model F Autocannon/2 and a Coventry Quad-Rack SRM-4—both easier to procure but far less potent than the STN-3L’s armament. The 1S models would all eventually be upgraded to the 3L, but not before the Star League Royal STN-3Lb put the initial 3L to shame. No expense was spared on the 3Lb, with an Extralight engine and endo steel chassis offering enormous weight savings and seven tons of ferro-fibrous armor providing ample protection for a 40-ton ‘Mech. Its armament of a single Gauss rifle, Medium Laser, and Small Laser gave the 3Lb a potent punch for its size. 

Defiance Industries would remain remarkably untouched throughout the dark days of the Succession Wars, but as the Inner Sphere‘s technology decayed, Defiance found itself unable to procure either Ultra Autocannons or Streak missiles. This led to the downgraded STN-3K model. Armed with a Defiance Type J AC/5 and a Holly SRM-2 rack, the STN-3K was actually somewhat more durable than the 3L with six tons of standard armor and even had an extra ton of ammunition for its autocannon. This proved fortuitous as Succession Wars supply lines were rarely stable, which gave us both the STN-3KA and STN-3KB models. The 3KA replaced the autocannon with a Large Laser, three more heat sinks, and two tons of additional armor, while the 3KB replaced it with a PPC and three heat sinks.

No new Sentinel variants were produced until the War of 3039 and the STN-3M. Supplied by ComStar to the DCMS as part of Operation ROSEBUD, the STN-3M retains the Ultra AC/5 but uses a standard SRM-2 and Magna Mk II Medium Laser over the original Small Laser. House Kurita was initially pleased with the “new” design but later soured after learning the Streak missile launcher had been replaced by one manufactured by the Magistracy of Canopus. Even still, the 3M proved effective against confounded Davion forces facing advanced munitions for the first time in centuries.

Sentinel Rec Guide IlClan 14

The Sentinel would see a slight resurgence following the Clan Invasion. Many STN-3M models would be upgraded to the STN-C standard, removing the medium laser for access to C3 networks. Davion Sentinels saw their Ultra Autocannons removed for a then-new Rotary Autocannon, an Extended-Range Medium Laser, and seven tons of ferro-fibrous armor. During the Word of Blake‘s occupation of Hesperus, Defiance Industries produced the STN-5WB model. Equipped with a weight-saving light engine, it was equipped with two Light Autocannon/5s (albeit with a single ton of ammo between the two of them) and three ER Medium Lasers. In the modern era, the STN-6S leverages Defiance Industries’ access to Clan-spec technology, including a Clan 240 XL engine and a Clan ER Medium Laser. It’s still armed with an Inner Sphere-grade Ultra AC/5 but replaces the Streak launcher with two Thunderbolt 5 launchers.

One could argue that the most modern iteration of the Sentinel is in response to the proliferation of modern battle armor—something that previous versions didn’t have to contend with. The current STN-6S and even older 3L models provide adequate support to combined arms formations, but the Sentinel finds itself competing in an increasingly crowded market. 

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.

48 thoughts on “Bad ‘Mechs – Sentinel

  1. Eric Karau

    Nice mech, if the missile launcher wasn’t so prone to jamming; otherwise it would be a decent design.
    Now, if they could only up the firepower more….

    Reply
  2. ClerkTechGB72

    I believe this article fails to argue its point if not disprove itself. The Sentinel isn’t a “Bad Mech” – an early model had an ammo problem which produced a symptom that drew negative attention. Aside from that, if it’s used according to its design purpose and range of capability there’s nothing wrong with it.

    With that, I believe the well for “Bad Mechs” is nearly dried up. We’ve now seen several articles like this which don’t really argue for “Bad”. They simply describe the Mech’s origin, highlight a disadvantage, and then recount a generally positive, noteworthy history.

    The “Bad Mech” theme has gone fallow and we should migrate to more fertile ground. I propose ending/suspending the “Bad Mech” series and begin a new one. Try “Iconic Mechs”, “Classic Models”, or “Timeless Designs”. These themes not only have a lot of material to cover, they are also much easier to argue in favor of their headline.

    Reply
    1. Kantoken

      I believe this comment fails to grasp the idea of the “Bad Mech” series. The Sentinel is absolutely a “Bad Mech” – an early model had an ammo problem which produced a symptom that drew negative attention. Aside from that, if it’s used according to its design purpose and range of capability there’s nothing wrong with it. You know, like every other ‘mech. But since there’s a ton of lore in the Battletech universe, examples like this make the ‘mech fall into a specific category: bad.

      With that, I believe the well for “Bad Comments” is nearly dried up. We’ve now seen several articles like this which all have replies and comments that say that it isn’t a bad mech. They simply describe the Mech’s origin, highlight a disadvantage, and then recount a generally positive, noteworthy history.

      The “Bad Comment” theme has gone fallow and we should migrate to more fertile ground. I propose ending/suspending the “Bad Comments” series and begin a new one. Try “I propose a ‘mech that I find is bad”, “Classic Bad Models”, or “Timeless Bad Designs”. These themes not only have a lot of material to cover, they are also much easier to argue in favor of their headline.

      (Sorry, I had to, no offense meant)

      Reply
      1. Jeremy M Ward

        Now this is one I can agree with. The Sentinel 3L is really a technology demonstrator that became a front line mech. It’s underarmored and only slightly better then it’s other 40 ton peers of the time. The Royal variant of course takes care of this, but until the 3060s roll around the Sentinel is simply outclassed by other 40 tonners like the Daimyo.

        Reply
  3. Joseph

    I know some people are going to complain about how the sentinel isn’t a “bad mech,” but what I want to focus on is how good the art and short story are for this article. I think they are some of the best we’ve had in a long while.

    Reply
  4. Samuel Crosbie

    It’s a bad mech. The 40-ton weight class seems to have a lot of them. Doesn’t mean it isn’t a fun mech, and the revamped visuals look amazing. It’s just the weight class sucks overall, IMHO. Hell, a clan version with a LPL, maybe a couple er-mediums and a SPL and heat sinks and armor would have been good, bit the Peregrine did that. Maybe we are nearing the end of originality with mechs?

    Reply
    1. Dwagonzahn

      Best I can tell, the reason 40 ton mechs have so many stinkers boils down to two things:
      1) Unfavorable math for engine weight efficiency due to the power:weight ratio being made intentionally simple to facilitate a PnP/tabletop format.
      2) Mathematically poor/awful weaponry frequently being forced onto 40 tonners as as primary weapons. (especially Autocannon/2s, Autocannon/5s, and LRM-10s)

      These problems show up on heavier mechs (Jaegermech and Mauler being the most notorious examples) but 40 tons is a notorious sour spot in the tonnage spectrum due to them having the worst of both worlds for Power:Weight efficiency while having the most limited tonnage for weaponry while still being shoehorned into the “medium mech” role.

      When your engine and weapons weigh too much for their effect something has to give elsewhere, be it in ammo/cooling, protection, or speed.

      If there’s any bright spot here it’s that LosTech helps them out tremendously due to how it skews the math, and XL Engines in particular are fine on mechs expected to rely on mobility for defense than raw armor protection.

      Reply
      1. Terminator

        40-tonners, at least at the 6/9 category most of them graviatate towards, do better than any light ‘Mech in terms of tonnage efficiency. Not the best, but anything out of the those optimal weight brackets suffers. The problem is that just by sheer happenstance, all of the 3025 era 40 tonners are cursed with godawful loadouts.

        The Assassin spreads itself too thin with mis-matched missile launchers, and the SRM-2 is a stinker. The Whitworth uses a pair of LRM-10s, the worst LRM launcher, and is also slow and poorly armored. The Cicada, on the other hand, is grossly overengined and just barely squeaks out the tiniest margin of performance advantage over the basic Locust. The Clint, Sentinal, Vulcan, and Hermes II all coincidentally settle on the same pattern of light autocannon plus a few small backups, creating four variants of critically undergunned init sinks.

        If you look for variants that carry useful weapons, there are perfectly serviceable 40-tonners, even in 3025. The CDA-3C, VL-5T, and HER-2M variants are all vast improvements over their original configurations.

        Reply
        1. Dakkath

          I’d argue that the sentinel 3KA also falls into the useful 40-tonner list. 6/9 with a large laser and some supplemental weapons and enough heat sinks to alpha every turn isn’t bad for just under 900bv

          Reply
          1. Terminator

            It’s usable, but it’s a bit hard to love when you have the Wolfhound -1A looking at you from the 35 ton category doing the exact same shtick but better. I suppose “second option if a Wolfhound isn’t available” isn’t the worst thing, but it’s still my first choice.

  5. zoozle

    I love the design of this mech regardless of how undergunned, underarmoured, and how 40-tonner it is. I love the idea of havinga cheap one with a LAC/5 with specialty ammo and MPLs for bullying light mechs and vehicles.

    Reply
  6. Steel Shanks

    IlClan design is great, looks fantastic…

    That being said, yeah Sentinel IS a bad Mech… Even without the weapon jams, etc. it’s still incredibly under gunned. The Davion version has a RAC5 with a single Med Laser… RAC 5’s are beasts, but come on! Even the Dracs PPC version isn’t great. It’s not even great for the Mission it’s designed for! No, Sentinel is a bad Mech…

    Reply
    1. Will D

      Its not a bad mech, per se, it’s in an unfortunate spot. The 40 ton weight class, just like the 60, and to a lesser extent 80 tonners are simply mathematically gimped by the system to calculate tonnage for internals for structure, gyro, and engine. They are all outclassed by a mech with the Exact same loadouts that are 5 tons lighter. You can theoretically turn a Jenner, for instance, into a mech that has all the weapons of an Assassin, but has more armor, or weapons. You can make a Griffon into a better version of the Rifleman or Quickdraw. An Orion can have the weapons of a Zeus, but more armor.

      Reply
      1. John Campbell

        None of this is true, except that the Quickdraw would be better served by being a 55-tonner. That’s only because of the jump jets. 60 tons is the sweet spot for a non-jumping 5/8 with a standard engine, but 60s take full-ton jump jets and 55s take half-ton, which is enough to more than make up the difference at 5/8/5.

        The Rifleman, on the other hand, doesn’t jump, and it’s only 4/6, so it should actually be heavier. The sweet spot for 4/6 with a standard engine is a plateau across 75–85. The Rifleman’s real problem, though, isn’t its weight; it’s that they tried to cram too many big guns into it, so it can’t use half its firepower without baking to death and doesn’t have enough armor or ammo.

        That plateau also means that, no, an Orion has exactly the same tonnage to work with as a Zeus. The Zeus is slightly more robust, though, as it has a bit more internal structure. The Zeus’s problem, again, is a bad weapons loadout. It’s like an oversized Shadow Hawk — it has a gun for everything, but none of it works together. And you get to choose between the undergunned S and the overheating T.

        40 is actually the sweet spot for 7/11 with a standard engine. An Assassin has a half-ton more available to work with than a Jenner. The Assassin’s problem is a bad weapons loadout.

        (See link in my name for tables. I did all the math for this 25 years ago.)

        Reply
  7. gRik

    Thanks for the good article. I enjoyed reading it.
    However, regarding the Sentinel’s SRM2 launcher jamming (Ammunition Feed Problem), I believe that this is a problem that occurs in the downgraded STN-3K and not in the SSRM2 equipped by the STN-3L (deployed by the SLDF).

    The reason why I think so is that only the STN-3K entry in TRO:3039 has a description of SRM ammo jamming, and the STN-3L entry in TRO:3050U has no description of SRM ammo jamming. And because the Quirk table for Sentinel in the BattleMech Manual lists “Ammunition Feed Problem (SRM 2),” not SSRM2.

    Reply
  8. Brad

    I guess my main question is: What is needed for a “good” infantry support mech? Do the common weapons load-outs and movement profile of the Sentinel make it a good fit for that role? Because something with that little firepower that is this ammo-dependent doesn’t look very impressive after 3025.

    Reply
    1. Steel Shanks

      Infantry Support Mechs are like Infantry Support Armor in modern war doctrines from WWII to today. Lighter, swifter, mobile, light guns, that can clear infantry, and harass larger targets. Can the Sentinel effectively do that? I don’t think so… The AC5 is it’s best weapon, but it will run dry. One light laser to fight infantry? Pretty terrible. Then ye got yer SRM2… If I was the Infantry Commander I would not want a Sentinel backup lol.

      Now, ye upgrade the SRM to a SRM4, get a Med or ER Med Laser on it, with the Ultra AC5, that is better… But what do ye lose to accommodate that? Decrease Engine? Just XL smaller? Lose Armor? Nah… Just have another Mech do it.

      Reply
    1. Sean Post author

      Both the TRO 3050 and 2075 images gave the Crab a left hand. It has since been retconned to have two clampers as it’s “hands” because that makes way more sense for a Crab.

      Reply
      1. Will D

        I first thought “No, this is absolute bullshit” as I bought all the original sourcebooks as they came out (a puppy may have mildly ruined my 3025 first edition…) and don’t remember that at all. Journey to the wall o’nerd later… Turns out, no, this is absolutely true and 30ish years of “The Clamps” propaganda starting with MW2-mercs wore on my memory.

        Reply
  9. John Campbell

    The Sentinel’s problem is not so much that it’s a bad ‘mech, as that the AC/5 is a bad *gun*, and the UAC/5 only marginally better. The SRM 2 is also a bad gun, and the Streak 2 only marginally better. Small Lasers… aren’t bad guns, exactly, but the extremely short range means that you’ll usually get more use out of another half ton of armor, if you’ve got the capacity for it.

    It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when the Succession Wars-tech 3KA is a better ‘mech than the Star League-tech 3L, but that’s where we are.

    Reply
    1. Terminator

      In what universe is a fire-support ‘Mech that barely produces more firepower than a Wasp not a bad ‘Mech? It has one job, and it fails at it. That’s like saying the Charger isn’t a bad ‘Mech, the VOX 400 engine just has a terrible power-to-weight ratio. Yeah, we know. That’s WHY the Charger is bad.

      The -3KA and -3KB models both manage to outclass the more advanced -3L because the Kuritans realized that if your main gun is crap, instead of throwing more tonnage at it you should just pull it and replace it with something that’s worth a damn.

      Reply
      1. Owl

        Charger? Overengined and undergunned?
        There can only be one answer.
        RAMMING SPEED!!! lol

        Use the Charger as a physical melee attack mech and it kind of sorts itself out. Especially ramming.

        Reply
  10. Wait What

    The bit about Draconis Combine mechwarriors disliking the Magistracy-made SRM is pretty funny. “Don’t like the SRM launcher that works just fine? We have a better one made in your Rasalhague district.”
    The original and Succession War variants are just barely well-armed enough to be an irritant, but need support from lancemates far too much to excel in that role.

    Reply
  11. Salty Mariner

    Several comments have mentioned that 40 tons is a cursed weight class, at least by 3025 standards.

    40 ton mech designers have a tough road. If the mech has decent speed for a lighter medium mech and decent armor, it’s going to be undergunned. If it has good armament and armor, it’s going to be slow as molasses for a 40 tonner, etc.

    This mech’s problem is that it has speed and room for weaponry, but as everyone in here says, it wastes that tonnage on everyone’s favorite, the AC/5. No mech should waste 9 tons on an AC/5 + ammo, especially not a lighter mech like this one. Use it on, say, an LRM-15 or 4 LRM-5s.

    Reply
    1. Owl

      Disagree. The Cicada and the Assassin both don’t use AC5s yet have the same problem. The problem is the engine, it’s at the spot where the weight climbs up massively. Just going down 5 tons would give you the same performance with a lighter engine and going up 5 tons would give you more usable tonnage with the average speeds of the 45 ton category. 40 tons is just a bad spot that is neither here nor there.

      Reply
      1. John Campbell

        The engine is the Cicada’s problem. At 8/12 with a standard engine, you shouldn’t be heavier than 35 tons. 40 @ 8/12 gives you less payload than a Locust.

        The engine isn’t the other 40-tonners’ problem, though. The Assassin is actually right at the sweet spot for 7/11 with a standard engine. Whether going 7/11/7 with a standard engine is a good idea in the first place is questionable, but if you’re going to do it, 40 is the weight you want to do it at. The Assassin’s problem is that they gave it a crappy weapons loadout. The SRM 2 is the biggest problem… it’s just a terrible weapon. Replacing it with another 5-rack would double the Assassin’s effectiveness as a light harasser. Replacing it with a couple medium lasers (or an ML and another ton of armor) would make for a decent mobile skirmisher.

        40 @ 6/9 is not as efficient as 45 or 50, but it’s not terrible, either. The problem of most of the other 40-tonners isn’t the engine; it’s that, for some inexplicable reason, they keep making the same stupid weapons decision. The Sentinel, Clint, and Hermes II are all just variants on the same bad ‘mech, and the problem all of them share is that AC/5. The Sentinel is probably the worst of the lot, because it backs the crappy AC/5 up with an also-crappy SRM 2. The Clint at least has medium lasers and jump jets. And the Vulcan doubles down on the bad decisions with an AC/2.

        The Whitworth actually isn’t terrible. Its only real problem is that it uses less efficient LRMs than it could have. (See discussion under the Yeoman.) But it’s an adequate, if unimpressive, light fire support ‘mech.

        Again, tables in the link in my name.

        Reply
  12. Flashfreeze

    Infantry-support work is a good idea in the supposedly infantry-heavy Succession Wars, but the Sentinel is trying to do it with the wrong loadout. Infantry support with an armored unit is often a mix of suppressing the enemy and providing an anchor point for your own infantry, neither of which an AC/5 and SRM-2 are ideal for.

    Ironically, a Firestarter would actually a better infantry support ‘Mech as its dual MGs will keep enemy infantry suppressed, and by its very nature it projects a 90-meter “Do not cross” bubble for those same infantry. This gives your own groundpounders a tidy little six-hex diameter space to play in.

    If you want to provide infantry support cheaply and without having to slow down a fast ‘Mech, then you could consider mimicking the British tank doctrine of the 1930s. Which is to day, you could provide the grunts with an Urbanmech on standby. It’s not fast, but neither are they, and that AC/10 is an excellent anchor weapon for relatively cheap. If you want to up the suppression factor, you can pull the superfluous 11th heat sink (and even the small laser) and swap it for MGs or a flamer.

    Reply
    1. GreaterChickenOfTzeentch

      British tank doctrine would be better served by using the original “infantry support ‘Mech” (at least by timeline) in its designed purpose as an anchor: The Hoplite. LRM-5 for indirect fire against light targets or smoke cover, illumination, mines for flank defense, etc. AC/10 for the same reasons as the urbie: low heat, reliable, cheap, shares ammo with common field guns, can be rearmed for AA if needed, good at dropping buildings. Especially good at the building thing since all missiles from an adjacent hexes hit if the launcher does and 15 points “one shots” a Light building. It also comes in an LRM-15/PPC flavor to help out with Charon’s point below.

      Yes, the base Hoplite is over-sinked, but it was also designed to be fighting in an infantry-rich environment, where Flamers and Infernos are extremely common. Also, given its Hegemony heritage, it seems to be designed for a nuclear battlefield, since it can easily sink the extra heat it would build for being at the outer edge of a nuclear blast.

      Reply
  13. GM

    As always I came here to see the comments claiming it’s a good mech provided you pair it up with 3 Timber Wolves and make a sacrifice to the gods of luck before every roll.

    Reply
  14. Terminator

    The Sentinel is my pick for the worst of the 3025 40-tonners, and that’s stiff competition. But the Sentinel’s combo of weak firepower, weak armor, and lack of jump ability clinch it in my eyes.

    Even if you look at in in=universe, where the AC/5 is regarded as a useful weapon, the Sentinel is still an absolute trainwreck. The -3L originally presented to the Star League has two primary weapons that are both susceptible to being taken out of action by ammo jams. On top of that, despite it’s pathetic firepower it still overheats because its heat sinks work at at best 40% capacity (max heat generation on the -3L is 7, so the greatest possible dissipation is 6). My pet theory is that even the Sentinel knows what a colossal failure it is and wants to end itself. But this is a ‘Mech that can render itself totally combat ineffective (as opposed to just mostly combat ineffective) without the enemy needing to shoot at it. The SLDF should’ve sent the Sentinel back to Defiance with a note that says “Do better”, not greenlit it for production.

    Yes, the SLDF procurement department are the fine men and women responsible for such catastrophes as the Charger, the Assassin, the Quickdraw, and the Vulcan, but at least those ‘Mechs, for all their shortcomings, work. They’ll show up and engage the enemy to the best of their (limited) abilities, at least until enemy fire takes them apart. The Sentinel can’t even manage that. And that’s why it’s an absolute flaming dumpster fire.

    Reply
  15. AlanthePaladin

    I love the modern design; this is one of the mechs I looked at and said “This is going to be one I want in my lance for style alone.” Then I looked at the stats and loadout and said “regardless of my better judgment.”

    I don’t remember where I read this, but I thought Defiance mostly used these as part of the Hesperus Factory militia units. Scouting out against enemy units and within the easiest resupply you could ever hope for was ideal for this mech. Thats what I would use the Sentinel for, rapid reaction defense missions with easy resupply. Familiarity with the terrain would help make up for the lack of jump jets while playing into the range of the AC/5, PPC or Large laser they come equipped with.

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    1. Flashfreeze

      Quirks of the math. 40-tonners hit a bad intersection of “inefficient engine weight ratings at their size” with “awkward maximum armor values,” and a dash of “do you have any space for a decent gun in there.”

      35-tonners are a measure more efficient (and fall into the light category, gaining a few minor benefits there if logistics are in play) and 45-tonners get enough space to actually cover for at least one of those three issues mentioned above.

      Reply
    2. John Campbell

      They keep putting AC/5s on them, is the biggest reason. The Sentinel, Hermes II, and Clint are all actually just minor variations on the same bad ‘mech.

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  16. Eric Karau

    If ANY 40-tonner should make the ‘bad mechs’ list around here it should be the Dragonfly/Viper OmniMech!
    Only what, a little over 8 tons of pod space available? What can you do with THAT?

    Reply
    1. Steal Wool

      Carry a Clan ER PPC and jump 8 hexes, and still have 2 tons to mess around, with full armor coverage.

      Oh, and carry a squad of Elementals.

      The Viper/Dragonfly is actually at the Pareto frontier for 8/12/8. Its main sin is most configurations don’t boat enough to overheat properly when you do win initiative, walk 7 and turn once into someone’s rear arc. (After jumping 7-8 and keeping your heat down the rest of the time.)

      Reply
  17. Cahron

    Well, I’ll throw a few cents in, and to start I’m not sure why people still complain about every bad mech not being one, if you don’t like them, don’t read them maybe?
    Since many of these are “In universe” they make sense just fine, and having been playing since the original 3025 and buying 3026 TROs, I get the automatic drawbacks to 40 tonnes in general, mostly it was the engine ratios of course, but mostly that if your lances were made up of lights and mediums, you wanted a medium that could actually fight… Not a 40 tonner. That said…
    The AC/5 has always been rather a waste of weight, an LRM-15 with extra ammo, a PPC or even Large Laser with more heat sinks are all more effective, if not efficient. Of course, if every mech just used the most effective weapon, you would have essentially the same mechanism just scaled up every five tons. The Sentinel really was rather pointless, being not much more then a slight Hermes II mod, or Clint without jump jets but was for showing tech. It should have had Endo Steel or something to make it stand out from the previous models, hence just one reason for it being “Bad.” As anti-Infantry, it’s weapon choices, a basic small laser, a jamming Streak? Bad. Instead of wasting half a ton on streak, upgrading the small to a small pulse laser is much more efficient at killing infantry, bad choice. The idea of using the AC/2 instead s actually not so terrible, it didn’t work out on table top games for the Vulcan, but for in-universe, it makes sense. It’s basically the same 25 or 30mm auto gun used on so many IFV’s in real life, Bradley’s, BMPs etc. But, in game only doing 2 damage has little point, other then being able to do it across the map, and infantry taking extra damage in the open. Really, a Machine Gun (.50 cal or 7.62) would cut down infantry better, and they do get bonuses, but due to in game mechanics, they are limited to 90 meters, just like the flamer and Sm. laser, a range that infantry can usually hit you first from. These things make it less the mech’s fault, more rules. Switch the AC/5 for a PPC allows more damage, no ammo, and the PPC can hit infantry platoons or Mechs all day, but real life? Multiple rounds sent off, spreading across a 30 meter area of explosive 90mm autocannon, sending waves of concussion force, fragments and shrapnel SHOULD shred them far better then one super hot ion burst. That’s just… Rules vs Reality.
    So, Sentinel? Bad mech with issues, less then optimal for it’s task. Switching out that heavy auto cannon would make it better. The AC/2 to snipe with (4 times as many bursts as an Ultra AC/5) would make space to upgrade the streak 2 to an SRM-6 which is great for neutralizing conventional armor. Then upgrading the small to a pulse for infantry, and still getting a Medium laser to use for anti-mech along with the SRM-6. All of that, without major changes to mission profile, internal structure or design would make it… Okish? An Ultra AC/2 might be even better, but with special munitions a standard AC could do better vs. Infantry. We have Flak AC ammo, but Fragment middle rounds, simply apply Frag rules to AC ammo as a Special Munition,came the “real world” point of using Autocannons vs Infantry could actually apply? Just that final thought.
    Great article writing, loved the art, thanks folks!

    Reply
  18. Charon

    I think I’ll take this rant a bit further… From my personal, real world experiences crewing M1 family tanks, real vs. Rules also has the allocation of ammo by ton flaw. In a real load out we might carry almost all Sabot and some HEAT rounds. In game usually depicts most AC ammo like Sabot rather then HEAT (which could be ‘standard’ now that Armor Piercing was added) declaring it depleted uranium rounds cycling through almost machine gun like. We would normally carry one or two each of MPAT and Canister type rounds as well, MPAT being proximity fused for targeting low flying aircraft and helicopters (in game VTOL and Conventional aircraft) A canister round is essentially a giant buckshot round, which might be likened to LBX autocannon, though those are said to use sub munitions. Either way, if an MPAT is closest to Flak, Canister to Fragmenting, an auto cannon COULD be made excellent for anti-infantry with just a bit of work and realistic, scenario based tweaking. Of course, there’s per ton allotment issue. That’s not even taking into account newer AMP rounds…
    Since people mention the LRM-5 thing constantly, and I’ve used that easy switch out too, I should ask how many have actually tried the mass LRM5 builds, I tried decades ago, when I first saw, ‘oh, an Archer can fire 50 missiles per turn instead of 40 for the same weight’ and scrambled to make mechs in every weight class from 20 to 100 tons to be the ultimate fire support mechs. Only to find out, they sucked. From 20 ton mechs I called Sling and Dart (before the terrible 25 ton Dart [Bad Mech worthy?] to 35, 50 ton and up models, every Mech carrying mass LRM-5’s did less damage. Rules again, and laws of average. Firing so many launchers had more miss, and fewer per salvo actually connect. Sure, if you only have one LRM 10 or 20, it might miss completely, but the average damage scored per turn whether on computer simulated or table top never made up for so many LRM5s either missing, or only scoring a single missile hit.
    That may be off topic, but not really as so many keep saying the mech would be better just throwing 4 LRM5’s and barely any ammo to share on there. Now, back to Sentinel, in this case, in universe and rules? An LRM15, three tons of ammo would likely work better for support. Similar or better damage and range, indirect optional and one ton each of ammo like standard, fragment for infantry, and maybe Thunder to set a line of killing mines quickly. The small pulse instead of standard small, and regular SRM-2 (due to Inferno carrying restrictions, especially back then) and… Not so bad mech anymore. Give it Endo to represent it’s “advanced tech” for a medium laser, and/or upgrade the missile launcher, slightly better even.
    Take care all!

    Reply
  19. GreaterChickenOfTzeentch

    The Sentinel (original), Jackrabbit, and Pike are all infantry support units that use a small AC as the primary weapon. Often, SRM-2’s are the backup weapon, though the Sentinel originally had an SRM-4. For some reason, the AC/2, even on the related Vulcan, was viewed as an ideal infantry support weapon in-universe.

    I understand that it might allow you to pick off insurgent snipers without destroying an entire building or destroy fortifications from outside return fire range when used en-masse, plus it’s a passable weapon for making “lawn darts” out of aircraft. However, there are other things that can do that. Maybe to represent *WHY* there is an in-character preference for the AC/2, perhaps they should give it the same bonus as the MG for infantry-killing, then suddenly it all makes sense. SRM’s already make sense for their variant ammo loads and the 2’s (even the 2 Streak) make sense under the old “2 packs only, including Streaks” Inferno rules.

    Reply
  20. Eric Karau

    I take it AC/2 would mean 20mm. caliber like the Vulcan cannons used by US fighters! Some of the other calibers, like AC/10 and AC/20, well the autocannon rounds would be HUGE! Like large rounds used by heavy and assault tanks of WWII and MBTs of the present! The way it sounds here is that the AC/2 in any of it’s incarnations is apparently a pee-wee weapon in universe!

    Reply
    1. Charon

      By my understanding, AC/2s are 20-30mm normally (like many IFVs and Aircraft) AC/5 75-90MM (like many WW II) AC/10 105-120 (like modern MBTs) and AC/20 around 155mm. What also is tough to swallow is how range decreases with size, other then PERHAPS the AC/20, since when the game was made some tanks had a snubs nose 155mm like the Sherman if I remember correctly, that actually was short range and more for destroying obstacles

      Reply
  21. Eric Karau

    No wonder Mechs like the Hunchback and the Hunchback IIC go through the ammo of their autocannons not in minutes but SECONDS! Energy weapons sound a lot more practical even though they go through a LOT of power in using them!

    Reply
  22. Eric Karau

    Are there ANY variants of the Sentinel that are actually GOOD? Like be versatile in all areas of combat, including dealing with battle armor, successfully? And doesn’t a have a missile launcher that jams and requires the Mech version of the Heimlich to un-jam it?

    Reply

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