Bad ‘Mechs – Vulcan

Bad 'Mechs Vulcan

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

“You’re gonna be fine! I’m tellin’ ya, Dex has got you covered with a real Star League ‘Mech. You’ll eat this Drac dropout for breakfast.” 

Tychon’s words didn’t do much to assuage Vic’s growing unease. He needed this fight to go well--Dex had promised to have his arena license reinstated if he could beat Matsumoto’s Panther in an underground (and highly illegal) duel. Dex had even offered his own ‘Mech for the fight. All he had to do was win. 

And yet, something didn’t feel right. It wasn’t the fact he was dealing with perhaps the lowest rung of Solaris society. Vic was used to shady characters like Tychon. It was the fact that Dex had offered his own ‘Mech. Never mind the fact it was supposedly from the days of the fabled Star League--everyone said that, and everyone forgot that there were just as many shambling junkpiles in the Star League as there were today. Nobody at this level lent their ‘Mechs out, especially when they were already doing a huge favor. Least of all kingpins like Dex.

Vic crossed his arms and looked out the hoverlimo’s window. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” he said, half under his breath. 

It didn’t take long to reach the makeshift arena on the outskirts of Nowhere. A crowd had already gathered in the bleachers, protected by a sparking net that looked like it couldn’t stop a fly let alone an autocannon shell. Vic knew that civilian casualties weren’t uncommon at these fights. He’d already written half of them off.

The hover limo parked right next to the gantries where two dark colossi stood. One was a Panther, but the other was a ‘Mech that Vic had never seen before. It was taller than the Panther, but far more gangly, with long, thin limbs and a cockpit that seemed to erupt from the machine’s wide shoulders. Vic could make out the muzzle brake of a light autocannon and a right arm with the telltale scorch marks of flamer, but it was too dark to make out the rest. 

“Get suited up, hero,” Tychon mocked as he tossed Vic his beat-up neurohelmet. “Time to put on a show.” 

The next ten minutes were all downhill. Vic was dismayed to find out that his “Star League” ‘Mech had just a 60mm autocannon as its main armament. The flamer might be useful if he could get close, but he only had a single medium laser and a piddly machine gun when his autocannon’s ammo bin ran dry. Worse, he had no hands, so close combat brawling was out too.

The jump jets were a bonus and the ‘Mech felt reasonably nimble after taking it through a five-minute shakedown, but he was hardly confident his firepower would surpass his opponent. 

The other five minutes proved his suspicions correct. The Vulcan, a name he’d only discovered after cycling through his diagnostic displays, had less armor than the Panther. That discovery was made apparent after Matsumoto’s PPC sheared off his left arm at the shoulder. The arm only contained his machine gun, but it was an arm down when he’d barely pockmarked the Panther’s armored hide.

Vic fired with his autocannon, scoring minor hits across the Panther’s chest. Meanwhile, Vic’s damage display showed several red areas where previous PPC blasts had ruptured his wiry ‘Mech’s armor. His only hope was to close the distance, get underneath the PPC’s minimum range, and use his flamer to force Matsumoto into shutdown.

Kicking his Vulcan into gear, Vic charged forward in a slight zig-zag, firing his autocannon wildly as he went. Most of his shots missed, but Matsumoto’s did not. Another PPC blast removed his right arm, while a second punched through the Vulcan’s chest to nick the engine shielding. Immediately, the Vulcan’s normally temperate cockpit became a veritable sauna and his forward momentum slowed to a crawl.

Vic couldn’t hear it, but the crowd roared as the Vulcan seemed to stagger forward after a mortal blow. A few more defiant plinks from his autocannon merely bounced off the Panther’s scowling feline face as the crowd jeered. Then the Panther let loose a flight of SRMs. Three erupted all around the Vulcan’s cockpit, but one slipped right through the rents in the 40-ton machine’s armor to touch off the remaining autocannon rounds. The resulting explosion killed both Vic and 46 fans who were cheering right up until the shockwave blew the bleachers apart.

Vulcan : Bad 'Mechs a Sarna Tale | Battletopia Stories
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Vulcan 3025

The bizarrely-shaped Vulcan is a ‘Mech made purely by necessity. In the closing years of the Amaris Civil War, the Star League Defense Force found itself fighting in the highly-populated urban centers of the Terran Hegemony. Ill-equipped for urban fighting, Alexander Kerensky ordered MatherTechno Incorporated of the recently liberated Northwind to produce a ‘Mech made to combat dug-in infantry--the most common threat faced by ‘Mechs when fighting in cities.

What MatherTechno came back with was quickly nicknamed the “Scarecrow” by SLDF MechWarriors. Tall and wiry for 40 tons, the VL-2T Vulcan also came with an odd assortment of weapons designed specifically to root out infantry. Its primary weapon was a 60mm Armstrong Autocannon/2, which was supported by a Firestorm Flamer and a Sperry Browning Machine Gun. The ‘Mech’s most powerful weapon, a single Medium Laser, was most often reserved for light-armored vehicles. 

The Vulcan‘s first combat action came during Operation Liberation, the battle for Terra. Primarily assigned to the SLDF’s Volunteer Regiments, the Vulcan quickly earned a reputation for being an effective city fighter. However, with only five tons of armor and an arsenal of light weapons, the Vulcan was vulnerable to other ‘Mechs or even heavy armored vehicles. In cases where the Vulcan found itself overmatched, a top speed of 97 kph and six jump jets theoretically allowed clever pilots to escape, but after years of bitter fighting, few Vulcan pilots opted for retreat during the Terran liberation.

Vulcan 3058

As MatherTechno’s first and only ‘Mech, the Vulcan also suffered from other design flaws beyond its armament. Without hands, the Vulcan was especially vulnerable to the sort of melee combat commonly found in urban settings. It also made the Vulcan less useful in non-combat scenarios and made it difficult to extract itself from rubble without damaging its Machine Gun or Flamer. The light autocannon was supposed to be a multipurpose weapon, but it was most often employed against hardened structures where the Flamer and Machine Gun proved ineffective. 

After Terra fell, the Vulcan temporarily found itself a weapon without a war. Luckily, MatherTechno soon found itself flooded with orders as every Great House frantically built up its arsenal in preparation for what would become the Succession Wars. This resulted in the proliferation of the Vulcan across the Inner Sphere, although their numbers would dwindle after MatherTechno’s factory was destroyed in the first few months of the First Succession War.

With its factory destroyed, MatherTechno was forced to sell the design to be produced under license by both Coventry Metal Works and Nimakachi Fusion Products Limited. This made the Vulcan most numerous in the Lyran Commonwealth and the Free Worlds League. In contrast, House Liao had the fewest number of Vulcans after the planet Sappho--where the majority of the Cappellan Vulcans were stationed--was lost to House Marik during the Second Succession War

Vulcan CCG

House Davion had a large stockpile of spare parts keeping its Vulcans operational, which were mostly the VL-5T variant. Introduced a year after the VL-2T, the 5T sacrificed the 60mm autocannon in favor of three additional Medium Lasers, two more tons of armor, and two extra heat sinks. This version of the Vulcan was far more effective at engaging ‘Mechs and other armored targets and proved instrumental in the retaking of Kentares IV during the First Succession War. 

It wasn’t until the recovery of the Helm Memory Core that new Vulcan variants started to be produced. The VT-5M from Nimakachi Fusion Products replaced the autocannon with a Large Pulse Laser, upgraded the laser to a Medium Pulse Laser, and upgraded the heat sinks to doubles. An endo steel chassis was used to make room for the additional firepower and an extra heat sink. Production of this variant would run from 3052 until 3069 when Nimakachi’s plant on Tematagi was destroyed by a pirate band known as the Order of the Faithful, a group unwittingly controlled by the Word of Blake.

The VT-6M, produced just before the factory was destroyed, upgraded the 5M’s arsenal with an ER Medium Laser and a Light Gauss Rifle with two tons of ammo. Only 30 examples of this variant were produced before the factory’s destruction and most of those were captured by the World of Blake.

Vulcan 3050 Update

With the Word of Blake’s de-facto takeover of the Free Worlds League, the VT-6C arose from the ashes of Nimakachi’s plant. This variant replaced the VT-5M’s lasers for an ER Large Laser, an ER Medium Laser, and a C3i Computer, and replaced the single Machine Gun with a trio of Light Machine Guns linked in a Machine Gun Array.

On the Lyran side, the VT-5S replaced the reliable Pitban 240 engine with an Extralight version, added ferro-fibrous armor and CASE for additional protection, and MASC for a temporary top speed of 129 kph. The lighter engine also allowed the Armstrong autocannon to be replaced by a much larger Ultra Autocannon/5. Unlike the Marik variant, the 5S would remain in production and even see a sub-variant upgrade produced during the Jihad. This variant--called the VT-5Sr--replaced the Ultra AC/5 with a Plasma Rifle and two additional heat sinks.

Following the Jihad, the Vulcan faced stiff competition from various OmniMechs sporting anti-personnel configurations, and the Republic disarmament meant that most militaries preferred to keep these adaptable designs over a dedicated infantry fighter like the Vulcan. With sales collapsing, Coventry and Nimakachi held a technical summit to redesign the Vulcan for the modern era. The result was the VL-7T. This entirely revamped Vulcan was armed with a Plasma Rifle, Heavy Machine Gun, Heavy Flamer, and an ER Medium Laser. A 240 XL engine and light ferro-fibrous armor allowed for the additional armament, all of which was linked to a Targeting Computer.

Vulcan RGilClan v30

Cheaper than competing OmniMechs, the VT-7T is the perfect design to defeat all sorts of armored infantry. The Targeting Computer ensures locks are maintained on squirrely targets such as Elementals, while the tried, tested, and true trio of Flamer, Machine Gun, and laser ensure that lightly armored and unarmored infantry can be cut down in droves. Today, the VL-7T is one of the top-selling ‘Mechs for both companies in no small part due to the prevalence of infantry on the modern battlefield.

However, that may not be the case forever. As infantry losses mount due to the deadly design, commanders may rethink their tactics to favor ‘Mechs once again. When that happens, the Vulcan will undoubtedly fall back on hard times.

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.

76 thoughts on “Bad ‘Mechs – Vulcan

  1. Bishop Steiner


    But also mostly true.

    It’s basically an IFV, but the rules make the AC2 a worse, long distance MG, instead of fulfilling the same role a Bushmaster does today.


    1. O4rfish

      Can it really be called an IFV if it has no dismounts? A Bandit seems much more like an IFV.

      1. Bishop Steiner

        a lot of captain literals here. What do IFVs do after dismout? Support the Troops with heavy (for infantry) weapons. Which is the same role the Vulcan is designed for.

        1. Owl

          But his point matters. You don’t have dismounts so you can’t be called an IFV. Your idea is more commonly called an assault gun. So rather than “literal”, it is more accurate to say you used a description on a vehicle it is not supposed to be used on.

    2. Owl

      That’s not the correct term for it lol. IFVs are not vehicles that fight infantry, they are vehicles that carry infantry.

      1. Kage

        Infantry Fighting Vehicles are designed to both carry and fight infantry, as opposed to Armored Personal Carriers which are only designed to carry infantry, and Assault Guns which are only designed to fight entrenched infantry, a design which mostly went extinct with the rise of the Main Battle Tank though which might see a resurgence with the US Army’s new M10 Booker.

        1. Owl

          The main targets for their guns are other vehicles and entrenched positions, infantry are targets of opportunity. The reason for the creation of the IFV was to fight alongside tanks. A tank force with IFVs as opposed to APCs is 50% more likely to prevail over an APC equipped force because the IFV can actually contribute significant damage to enemy vehicles.

  2. zoozle

    I’ve started to really appreciate the Vulcan a lot more, especially when MegaMek reminded me that infantry need to feel fear, too. Maybe I just have a softspot for Mechs at the “unoptimized” weight brackets, but I think the VT-5T is a super underrated design. The VT-2T is DEFINITELY a trashpile, though. XD

  3. Stretch5678

    My biggest beef with this design is the single machine gun.

    Any design that mounts only a single MG is wasting potential: even if you just give the gun a half-ton ammo bin, that’s still a full ton that could be replaced with a flamer that would do the job better, and not risk exploding. What’s especially egregious here is that that ONE MACHINE GUN has a FULL TON of ammo, and that extra half-ton could have easily been used to give it a twin.

    Rant aside, I do like the VT-5M. It’s nice for hopping over buildings and ambushing things with a volley of accurate Pulse Laser shots to the rear armor.

    1. Flashfreeze

      Amen to that, a single MG with an entire ton of ammo is honestly just asking to be subjected the whims of the Ammo Explosion Fairy.

      I also agree on the general use of the VT-5M. One tweak I rather like involves pulling out the MG, giving enough room for a small pulse laser, which fulfills a similar “I dislike infantry and prefer them as a red mist” role as the MG, improves the Vulcan’s odds slightly against anything at that range, and leaves you with a bit of extra room to put a few more bits of armor on.

    2. Club

      In game terms Flamer > MG, I agree

      If you’re talking realism, Flamers set things on fire. “We had to incinerate the village to save it” is sort of frowned on.

  4. Steel Shanks

    No… Besides the first model, the 5T, 5M, and 6M are great Mechs, and kill both Lights, infantry, and vehicles quit easily. They’ll even keep other Medium Mechs on their toes.

    Yes, the 2T is an absolute disaster, but that’s only ONE variant… Vulcan is Not a Bad Mech…

    1. Gagnrath

      It’s a bit fragile in most of its other variants for it’s bv and utility. If you constantly keep in mind that you’re dealing with something extremely vulnerable it’s ok, but you’re basically always looking for ways to keep it from getting hurt without compromising it’s ability to do anything all the time. Which is really not a good fun mindset to play under.


      I think it’s fair to judge bad mechs on their base variants (the 2T in the Vulcan’s case).

      Most of the mechs that are a complete dumpster fire in their initial iterations end up having later versions that use the design rules to improve the design into something that’s at least usable. If you limit the series to just “mechs that started out as horrible designs, and then every subsequent variant also sucked”, this would probably be a very, very short lived series.

    3. Onomato Poeia

      Oh look it’s Steel Shanks and his predictable and unoriginal comment on a bad ‘mech again.

      You do realize it’s all lore based, right?

      1. Owl

        And in lore, they kill infantry in droves. Do note that all the comparisons inevitably start pitting it against tanks and mechs, which is seriously not its design focus. It is designed to root out infantry hiding in buildings. An example of this happens in the book Wolves on the Border where a Wolf’s Dragoons infantry infiltration squad took over a Comstar HPG generator to transmit the withdrawal message to the scattered Dragoon companies and dependents.

        If a Vulcan starts to fight against tanks and mechs, then the commander is the one that screwed up. Its main target should be SRM or LPPC infantry.

      2. Steel Shanks

        Yeah… And using the Lore I named 3 Vulcan Variants that are good, compared to 1 that sucks.

        Who pissed in yer Cheerios mate?

    1. SM

      The Vulcan is my favorite of the classic 40 ton ‘mechs, I love the way it looks, I like the lore behind it and I love piloting one in MWO, MW5 and HBSBT.

      I think the design (VL-2T) suffers due to an unfortunate collection of bad choices. The 40 ton bracket is a bad spot for ‘mech design, the AC/2 is infamously bad, under-armoring always hurts and the fact that the Firestarter simply exists makes the Vulcan question its stated role. It also doesn’t help that players overwhelmingly favor ‘mech vs ‘mech combat, usually on small maps, which depreciates the value of ‘mechs designed for a combined arms ruleset.

      The later variants actually look decent, I haven’t really had a chance to explore them, but I’m willing to bet that they’re solid filler units for scout or skirmisher lances.

    2. John Campbell

      Most of the really bad ‘Mechs boil down to one of two issues: Bad Weapons Systems (Vulcan, Mauler, JagerMech, Hatchetman…), or Too Fast For Its Size (Charger, Banshee, Cicada, Scorpion…). Then there’s a smaller group of just completely inexplicable design decisions, like the Hoplite with its 16 HS on a ‘Mech that can only generate 7 heat, or a lot of the 3050 variants in the Bad Use Of Recovered Technology subcategory.

      1. Owl

        This one just happens to be “wrong usage for a specialist mech”. Do remember that this is a pure anti-infantry mech that is really focused on infantry killing, not taking out tanks or mechs with its puny armament. Its main target are SRM infantry hiding in buildings that often pop out to slap 2 point missiles into the mech, not AC/10s or PPCs, hence the weak armour. I mean, note the entire post above, it all but pits an anti-infantry mech into fight comparisons with mechs. Obviously it’s going to lose badly.

        1. John Campbell

          As several other people have already pointed out, it’s a specialist ‘mech that’s *bad at its specialty*, because it dedicated a stupid amount of its tonnage to a *different* specialty, which it is *also* bad at.

          Seriously, if you want the Firestarter, you know where to find it. It’s way, way better at killing infantry in job lots than the Vulcan. And, incidentally, it will also kick the crap out of a Vulcan in a straight-up fight, because it didn’t dedicate a fifth of its weight to a super-long-ranged BB gun that’s basically useless in the tight urban alleyways of the typical anti-infantry fight, and even worse against armored targets. You want a specialist infantry-fighting ‘mech? Rip the AC/2 out of the Vulcan and replace it with half its weight in machine guns and the other half in armor. Maybe replace the ammo with another medium laser for some firepower that doesn’t require you to get into the infantry’s range… because, seriously, a heavy weapons platoon can rip through a Vulcan’s tinfoil armor in a surprising hurry.

          And, fundamentally, killing infantry is not a job that you need a dedicated BattleMech for. All it takes it is a couple of spare tons on a general-purpose ‘mech, and you’ve got something at least as good at the job as a Vulcan — and there are lots of the old designs that do that. I count seven of the original 14 ‘mech designs (9 out of 16 if you count the Chameleon and the Merlin).

          Or, better, just use ICE tanks. A lot of them pack a machine gun or two specifically for this purpose. You can load them up with Infernos, too, and not have to worry about those low heat cookoff thresholds. A lot of the SRM tanks have more bins than they need, so you don’t even have to choose between anti-armor and napalming infantry.

          Also worth noting: Burst-fire weapons don’t work again infantry inside buildings. They just act as ordinary direct-fire weapons that get 1/10th of their ordinary aleady-crappy damage value, *after* the building’s damage reduction. The only really effective way to root infantry out of Heavy or Hardened buildings is to drop the building on them. (Or send friendly infantry in after them.) And the Vulcan’s plink-guns aren’t getting that done in any kind of hurry.

          1. Owl

            Agree on the tanks but this game is about Mechs, so they’ll end up in roles totally unsuitable for them just to “be a mech”.

          2. Owl

            IIRC you’re supposed to set the Hex the infantry is in on fire. Units like that caught in a fire have a 50/50? chance of instantly dying. Saves you a lot of trouble to shoot them for 28 points of damage when a fire hex might kill them regardless of HP.

      2. JMcMillen

        A lot of the bad 3050 variants can be attributed to manufacturers not being experienced with the new technologies. Over time, many of those mechs got better variants as they began to figure out what did and did not work.

        1. John Campbell

          A lot of them seem to be specifically, “The Free Worlds League hasn’t fought a real war in a generation, and forgot how to do it.” There are a bunch of designs with Ms in their designations that look good on paper, until you realize that they’ve got like, a minute of battlefield endurance, and then they run out of ammo and have to go home.

          Hunchback 5M is the worst offender, where they double-heat-sinked it but didn’t take the (now massively excessive) extras out, so they had to get the tonnage for the CASE out of the ammo bin, on a ‘mech where the ammo was already kind of tight. So you end up with a ‘mech that can alpha strike and run *with two engine hits* and only gain a point of heat. But it can only do that for five turns, and then it runs out of ammo for its main gun.

  5. Craig

    Yes it’s a bad mech or a “heel” mech but it’s “fast enough” (stinger / wasp) to scout, or stay away from Mechs that will clobber it.

    Dump the MG for 3 small lasers, still effective against infantry and the same range. The one thing this Mech has is some heat flexibility, unless it’s jumping every turn.

    Also I’d replace the AC2 with a light AC5. Still a threat to vehicles and can take potshots at Mechs.

  6. Outlaw

    Totally agree, a good amount of the variants just don’t work and the only two that shine are the 5T and 5M, though i have to admiy the 5M has its own set of problems.

    1. Craig

      I think the easiest way to tweak this mech if you’ve got it as salvage in a video game or whatever and you’re stuck with it, is to use the 5T or 5M as a general template. Keep it simple and use cheap weapons.
      – Suck-Session War Era: 4 Medium lasers and 3 heat sinks. Throw in a small laser. Fill up the armor.
      – Suck-Session War Era Idea 2: Downgrade engine to 200, 5 jump jets. 5 Medium lasers, 7 heat sinks.
      – 3050 Era: Endo steel, double heat sinks. 7 medium lasers, 2 extra double heat sinks.
      – 3050 Era Idea 2: Downgrade engine to 200, 5 jump jets, 5 medium lasers, one large laser, 4 DHS.

      When given a crap mech that has at least mobility, make a cheap Grasshopper out of it – lasers and heat sinks. 33 alpha strike and jump every turn? Street racers call that a “Sleeper.”

      1. Clavius

        It is worst idea ever: cram as many ML as possible, armor up to max, and fill the rest with HS. Extremely boring, especially remembering that there are a lot of such stuff already.

        1. Craig

          The only reason the Battlemaster is loved at all is 6 medium lasers and 18 heat sinks. Its overweight engine allows less weapons than an 80 tonner or a 65 tonner could have. Yet the modern consensus on the thing is practically universal love. Yes yes mobility plus 85 tons plus physical attacks is interesting but pit it against a Stalker. Be honest (they both have ammo explosion issues).

          And considering how lethal the combo of maxed out lasers and heat sinks is, I disagree – there are practically no mechs that really take the concept all the way.

          Even the Grasshopper could drop the LRMs and jump jets, giving it six MLs and one LL plus the heat sinks.

          The Komodo uses an XL engine but mysteriously does not have enough HS to fire everything. You could do better without the XL, endo steel gives you 20 tons plus jump jets.

          The Blackhawk-KU and the Penetrator both use 14 DHS against WAY more heat.

          The Clan Omni Nova / BH can barely fire ONE of its laser arms.

          The customization of BT is why we’re here. MLs are the best weapon in the game. Eventually someone’s going to use them.

          1. John Campbell

            85 tons is actually optimal for 4/6 with a standard engine. The sweet spot for 4/6 is a plateau ; 75, 80, and 85 tons all have exactly the same tonnage available for payload. But 85 gives you more IS and armor capacity, you still get 1-ton JJs, and the bigger engine can hide one more HS (which is actually surprisingly valuable for energy boats stuffed full of DHS). And they kick a little harder.

            It’s true that you can slow it down and get more tonnage for weapons and heat sinks, but that’s trivially true of anything that’s not already both very slow and very small… actually, I don’t think you can even legally have a BattleMech that small anymore. But that’s a real trade-off between mobility and firepower. BattleMaster’s only got one gun that reaches more than 9 hexes, so the speed is definitely useful for getting into range.

            Last time I had a chest-to-chest slugging match between a BattleMaster and a Stalker, I lost it. (I was driving the Stalker.) That was some serious dice BS, though. I’d shot off basically everything I could shoot off the BattleMaster without managing to actually *kill* it. I stripped literally every point of armor off the front of the thing (including the head), blew off both arms, the left torso (without hitting the SRM ammo), critted out one of the front lasers in the RT, and then kicked a leg off it. It critted its own engine and gyro when it fell down on its no-front-armor, and the MW took his fourth point of damage from failing the ride-it-down check with a missing leg. He made the consciousness check, though, and then proceeded to *stand it back up*, on one leg with a gyro hit (he needed, and got, a 12) and then shot me in the LRM ammo with his one remaining ML.

            But it was a two-on-two fight. We also both had a Nightsky, the old misprinted version of the 4S with only 11 SHS, which had been bouncing around on Mountain Lake playing laser tag while the assaults slugged it out on the woods on the original BattleTech map. Until he through-armor critted me and awarded me two free engine hits. At that point his Nightsky decided mine wasn’t a threat anymore and jumped away to go help the BattleMaster, and I, with a ‘mech that was already running way hot because it didn’t have enough heat sinks to begin with and then I’d just taken 10 points of unexpected heat on top of that, with nothing much to lose, jumped full to stay with him and alpha striked. I landed the LPL and an MPL, and put them both into his head. And then went straight to “do not pass go, do not make an avoid roll, just shut down now”.

            So while he was gloating over his victory, I went, “Um, so, my Nightsky’s heat is down to 8 now. It just came back online. I’ve only got 1 point of net heat dissipation, but I still move 6/9/6 to your 1-hex hop and then roll boxcars or fall down again… and I’ve got a 10-hex gun.”

            Best Grasshopper (L1, anyway) is the one that dumps the LRM rack to upgrade the LL to a PPC and add another ML. MLs are efficient, but range-deficient. PPCs can reach out and touch someone, and they deliver damage in big lumps, but they’re hot and have a minimum range. So combine them… get as many PPCs as you can reasonably carry and sink, and as many MLs as the PPCs’ heat sinks can handle. And you just don’t ever fire both at once unless you really, *really* need something dead and don’t care how hot you’re going to be next turn.

  7. Terminator

    The -2T is trash. I’d call it hyper-specialized in a very niche role, but even in its specialty its unimpressive. It kills 6d6 infantry a turn, but a lot of 3025 designs rock a pair of MGs that’ll off 4d6. The difference is those other ‘Mechs can handle other roles as well, whereas the Vulcan is hopeless against anything more menacing than a Vedette tank. Compare it to the Firestarter, which I remind you is a 5 ton lighter machine, and the difference isn’t even funny (20d6 worth of bodies, or approximately 1d3 infantry companies/turn). Hell, before Total Warfare’s anti-infantry rules, the basic Locust and Stinger variants outperformed the Vulcan in the varmint-removal capacity.

    That’s not to say keeping PBIs honest isn’t a needed or valuable role on the field, but the Vulcan isn’t noticeably better at it than the average ‘Mech, while being utterly useless at anything else. The root issue, of course, is the primary armament. Because for rooting out dug-in infantry in close urban quarters, obviously the weapon of choice is a long-range peashooter. Rather than an SRM rack with infernos to literally smoke them out of hiding or something.

    That said, while the bar is lying on the floor, some of the variants still improve the Vulcan’s lot in life considerably. The -5T is an uparmored Fire Javelin, and that’s a great thing. I can’t say I’ve had great luck the -5M, being too thinly armored to hang around in IS pulse laser ranges of anything, but if I need a light gauss harrasser, the -6M provides, while the -5Sr does the same for plasma rifles. If the -2T had had access to a plasma rifle instead of an AC/2, people wouldn’t be so fast to make fun of it, that’s for sure.

  8. WestRider

    I can’t really say that the Vulcan, as a chassis, is bad, but the -2T, unquestionably, is absolutely terrible. For a specialist Mech to mount some generalist gear can be fine. For a generalist Mech to mount some specialized gear can be fine. But for a specialist Mech to devote that much tonnage to a *different* specialty (especially one that’s kinda marginal at best) is basically guaranteed fail.

  9. Eric Karau

    I’m not sure about the Vulcan; does it handle infantry well enough? How does it fare against Elementals as well as other Battle-Armored infantry, not to mention other Mechs? At least the later versions pack more of an offensive arsenal compared to the originals and have better speed, agility, and armor protection too.

    1. Craig

      Idea: replace the AC/2 with LRM-5, use the 4 tons difference for 8 small lasers. It’ll now slightly outgun a point of elementals at point blank. Even better use an SRM-4 instead of the LRMs. Because who needs armor or medium range when fighting Elementals? Get in there and mix it up!

    2. Clavius

      Vulcan was designed way before any BAs, so, of course, it does not. But IMHO 5M version does it well.

  10. Dwagonzahn

    This is actually a genuinely Bad ‘Mech for once. And I say that knowing more than a few diehard fans of the design. Me? I hate the look, it’s more often than not an active liability in BT3062, and the ultimate example of “I’ll use it because I have it.” starter mech in MW5. (it can however, become an absolute rockstar in MercTech MW5 and PirateTech BT2018)

    For 3025 combat, Anti-Infantry duties are still much better handled by vehicles. If you have to use Mechs for the job, the Firestarter is VASTLY SUPERIOR in this role, while being cheaper, just as fast, and just as deadly against lightly armored units.

    For the Clan-Invasion era, Elementals LOVE seeing mechs like the Vulcan, because they’re always one bad piloting roll or bad movement away from being jumped on and converted into a big net loss despite their weaponry’s intended deterrence factor. (though to be fair, the Inner Sphere was not even remotely ready for anything the Clans threw at them pre-Luthien)

    Light mechs (and later, Protomechs) are much better at scrubbing Elementals off the field and providing highly evasive spotting for indirect fire, aerospace strikes and heavy artillery. (the things that really spank Clan battle tactics)

    Vulcans seem to hit their sweet spot in the Jihad and early Republic era thanks to the sheer degree of asymmetrical warfare and small units tactics employed there…but as usual, the less said about the Blakist Tantrum Era, the better.

    I will say this though: The new ilClan 30 art for the Vulcan looks fantastic.

  11. Chahdresh

    Proposal: instead of “Bad Mech”, you could have a “bad weapon” article and just list the designs murdered by spending too much weight and space on said bad weapons. Think how many articles on this list would fall into those categories!

    Nominated weapons include the AC/2 and AC/5 to start.

    1. Terminator

      I don’t think there’s enough legs for a series like that. The list of unquestionably bad weapons is a pretty short one:

      (Ultra) AC/5
      (Streak) SRM-2
      (Improved) Heavy Small Lasers
      Hatchets and other melee weapons
      Bombast Laser
      Blazer Cannon
      Heavy Machine Guns

      Total Warfare rescued the flamer and small pulse laser from ignominy by giving them a useful role in anti-personnel. And out those, I think only the hatchets have enough material to write more then three paragraphs without repeating themselves or going off-topic.

      1. Clavius

        I wonder what’s wrong with good half of this list, especially (S)SRM2, HSL, hatchets and HAGs.

        1. John Campbell

          The SRM 2 just does underwhelming damage for its weight and heat, and the weight and risk of the ton of way-more-ammo-than-you-need you have to carry around to use it, and most of the time it only hits with one missile anyway, so it doesn’t even crit-seek well. They’d get better if you used them in stacks so you could spread the cost of that ammo across three or four weapons, but SRMs just get more heat-efficient as they get bigger, so if you’ve got more than one, you should be using 4- or 6-packs instead. They used to have the exclusive ability to throw Infernos, but that stopped being a thing in like 2001.

          I wouldn’t say the Streak 2 is really *that* bad, because it mitigates some of these problems because it always hits with both missiles, and you don’t eat the heat if it doesn’t hit. And at least in the 3050s there is an excuse to just use stacks of SSRM2s, because the bigger Streaks aren’t available yet. But they just make the way-too-much-ammo issue worse. Streaks in general can make managing your heat kind of awkward, too.

          As for Hatchets, the current rules make them not much more than dead weight. In most circumstances, they’re inferior to kicking, which all ‘mechs can do without wasting the tonnage. They were maybe worthwhile when they gave you kick damage to the punch table, but on the full-body chart, with a worse modifier than a kick… ehn. (And, no, “you can totally still use the punch table if you eat a stupidly huge attack modifier so you just miss anyway” doesn’t count.)

          1. Clavius

            SRM and SSRM does well on tanks, because you won’t get you main gun jammed (you have 2-4 of them).
            As for Hatchets, I completely disagree, because IIRC they do not cost any BV and wasted tonnage isn’t so important (for me personally, at least), but main thing is that they can hit torsos/arms and more importantly head location and with -1 bonus. Kick is cool thing, but risky enough and legs often have enough armor to withstand few kicks.

          2. John Campbell

            Base Hatchet BV is damage*1.5. (Times some other multipliers… the Hatchetman’s costs 18.495 BV.) I don’t like using BV efficiency to judge whether things are good or not, in any case, because it doesn’t actually tell you if the thing is good, just which way the BV system is broken.

            But Hatchets no longer have any better chance of hitting the head than anything else (and actually the same chance as putting *both* punches into the head), and focus-firing the legs is more useful than scattering hits all over the ‘mech. (You can even work the positioning to pick a *specific* leg.) A lot of ‘mechs — especially the older ones, like the Warhammer, that were designed to park in the pond in the middle of the map with their leg heat sinks in the water — have disproportionately weak leg armor, and taking a leg off, or even doing actuator damage, will often mission-kill a ‘mech, and will certainly cramp its style.

            Tangentially, after a rash of head-punting-off in our games, my group has gotten hilariously paranoid of moving anywhere where an enemy ‘mech could plausibly move to an adjacent hex a level higher.

          3. Clavius

            Well, I do not see any sense them, how do you tell that something is good/bad without telling how much you will pay for it?
            Moreover, if we’re going that munchkin way.

        2. Terminator

          John covered the SRMs just fine. The streak version still can’t compete in the damage-per-ton department, but if you’re playing IS tech before 3060, you can get acceptable results from welding multiple SSRM-2s together and pretending it’s a -4 or -6 launcher. If you weren’t planning on using alternate ammos, a pair of SSRM-2s is a perfectly suitable trade for a six-pack, and it even comes out the same in tonnage and crits, making it an easy field refit. But the extra heat generation means you’ll be dumping these setups the instant a real SSRM-4/6 becomes available.

          As for the others:

          AC/5: Terrible weight to damage output. Unlike the AC/2, it has no other redeeming qualities that might suggest it for specialty uses, this weapon just underperforms across the board. The ultra variant weighs more and has a chance of self-destructing so it can suck twice as fast.

          LRM-10: Inherits all the worst traits of the LRM family-it marries the heat efficiency of the -5 to the weight efficiency of the -20. Switching one out for two LRM-5s saves weight at the same heat. It causes your average damage clusters to go from 5-1 to 3-3, but that might be viewed as a side benefit.

          Heavy Small Laser (and Improved variant): Compared to the ER Small at the same tonnage, this generates 50% more heat, at 50% less range, all to deal 20% more damage-one whole freaking point. And it comes with either a to-hit penalty or an explosion hazard, depending which version you’re stuck with. The ER laser will do more damage just because it hits way more often.

          Hatchets and other melee: Like I said, these weapons not only could sustain an article, but should get one to properly plumb the depths of abject failure on display here. But the short version is that the number of times in the average engagement you’ll say “I’m glad I have this hatchet!” will be absolutely dwarfed by the number of times you’ll find yourself saying “I wish I had more guns/armor/heat sinks/jump jets/ammo/anything that would be useful right now!”

          Bombast Laser: Like the heavy small, it’s a hot, inaccurate weapon that falls short simply because you can’t get it to connect with the target. Remember, kids: If you miss, damage equals zero!

          Blazer: Heavy, hot, and shorter ranged than you usually find at this weight/heat load in the energy category. While an energy headcapper is an interesting idea, especially in 3025 where normally that’s solely the reserve of the shorter ranged AC/20, the heat is just painful. Unfortunately, by the time it exits the prototype stage and become available in any reasonable number, it has to go head-to-head with the heavy PPC, which is simply a superior weapon.

          PACs: The /2 and /4 are comprehensively outclassed by LRM and even ATM launchers, which do more damage at longer ranges for less weight. The PAC/8 at least has a niche because it has better damage clustering than a missile launcher will give you, but it only deals 1 more damage than an ERML. And for the 6.5 tons a loaded PAC/8 costs you, you can ship two ERMLs and 4 DHS for the same net heat load, 50% more range, 75% more damage, and no ammo restrictions, and save half a ton to boot. Protos, which have quadruple heat sinks, find the lasers even more attractive. Even vehicles, which are the worst at dealing with energy heat, have a weak use case, since for 6 tons you can load a medium pulse laser with better range and pulse goodness, plus again no ammo limits.

          HAGs: At long range, they’re outperformed by LRMs. At short range, a lot of other things beat them out. At least ATMs have the very long and very short range brackets where they can beat out the LRMs.

          Heavy Machine Guns: 25% less damage by tonnage than regular machine guns, with 33% less range! And they’re worse at crit-seeking! Machine gun arrays will get you better damage groupings! Critical space is only reason to ever look at these! So terrible they jammed my exclamation point key!

          1. Craig

            Free Range Discussion Warning
            What about Autocannons having an artillery role? Indirect 45 degree aiming at a hex (likely on the next map), as in not at an actual target directly.

            As a mech or anything else really does not take up the whole hex, this is not a guaranteed hit – could be damage split, could be hit or miss, TBD

            I’d roughly estimate that a direct-fire range is half the indirect range. AC2 could therefore be light artillery to 48 hexes.

            Would require two things: gunnery roll to hit the hex at all (miss according to normal artillery rules), and probably, to not have moved that turn (ie. sight it in for 10 seconds).

            Would add an element of usefulness to the AC2 and AC5. Would also allow defensive Jagermechs and Blackjacks to lay down a barrage on those marauding and incoming Drac Jenners, maybe get a lucky hit or two.

            Depending on the rules used, may also allow AC10s and AC20s to ‘lightly sprinkle’ enemies at 500+ meters. This would be if AC’s are truly a stream instead of a single round. You’re not going to hit a moving mech with every round as it’s only 1/4 of the space anyway, but maybe in a rolling barrage / fighter strafing way it’ll do 2 or 5 points of damage.

            Because who needs ammo!

    2. Owl

      AC/2s have a sort of role that isn’t quite covered in the TT but does so in lore. The DCMS in the BT universe is stinkingly Jenner heavy, like, they can throw whole lances of them into the field to overrun the enemy. The AFFS counters this with weapons like the AC/2 where they will pelt the Jenners from long range by focusing the fire of whole lances like Blackjacks and JaegerMechs onto individual machines. They have to bring the Jenners down at long range because once they get into medium range, the Jenners would Alpha their SRMs and M.Lasers and those things have a huge overbite. Basically, anything with an AC/2 functions like a sentry gun in a wide open field, they would gang up on light mechs from far away but anything heavier or anything that can match their range, they’d have to run.

      AC/5s now… that one I’m still scratching my head on.

      1. John Campbell

        Sure, if you pretend the AC/2 doesn’t suck, then ‘mechs with AC/2s seem a lot better. But what actually happens is you get one free volley, maybe two, at a Jenner as they blaze through your range, which mostly misses because if they’ve got less than a +3, they’re doing it wrong, and the shots that hit won’t actually breach even a stock Jenner’s crap armor. (And gods forbid it’s a JR7-F, which can just eat a Vulcan’s entire magazine and keep coming.) And then the Jenner’s in medium laser range, and it cuts you apart because you’ve got crap for armor too and, unlike the Jenner, don’t even have the firepower to be a glass cannon.

        And even best-case here, you’re talking about a strategy where you’re committing a lance or more of medium or heavy ‘mechs to kill *one* light. And then its buddies kill you all anyway.

        And it works a whole lot better with LRM boats anyway. A single Trenchbucket can throw more long-range firepower than a lance of Blackjacks, and it only loses three hexes of maximum range.

        1. Owl

          You complaining to me about the lore? I don’t write that stuff you know? The references to the lore are in the Blackjack’s background. I did say that it isn’t covered in TT.

          1. Lowfyr

            But the main reason the Blackjack worked against light mechs used in big numbers were not the AC/2s but the 4 medium lasers in each of them. Because of that the first thing they did with new Blackjack variants was removing the AC/2s.

        2. Omnomnymous

          But there is optional rules which let you tandem fire the AC/2 twice in a round as if they were ultra, with some disadvantages.

          1. John Campbell

            And the AC/2 has the advantage that it’ll barely do any damage when it explodes!

            It still counts as an ammo explosion, though, so you still eat the 2 MW hits.

            Also, the Vulcan carries the ammo in the same location as the gun, so there’s a chance that the gun blowing up will chain into a full ‘mech-obliterating ammo explosion. Which would at least have the advantage of reducing the number of Vulcans in the world.

  12. Argus

    Okay, the VL-2T is bad. Mostly ruined by the AC/2. But also the speed is not perfect for its weight class (should be 7/11), too much Ammo and not enough MGs for an anti-infantry Mech. You can´t always use the Flamer.
    The Autocannon doesn`t really fit to the mission profile.
    But to say a few good things it may be used as a scout, a pyro mech and can pass over medium bridges.

  13. JustSomeGuy

    The 2T’s AC2 does give it the ability to immobilize vehicles which, while useful, doesn’t make up for the lack of armor it sorely needs once it closes in to handle infantry.

    The 5T is pretty great, and my common mod for it is to remove half a ton of ammo, one medium laser, and the flamer to be replaced with 2 small lasers and 2 more MGs. Done this way it’s a good close in brawler and anti-infantry platform. You can even keep the flamer if you want, I just generally find the MGs to be enough.

    Sucks that it doesn’t have hands, but it is as fast as the bug mechs while carrying twice the loadout, and it can still charge and kick just fine. Just need someone else (infantry?) to load the salvage.

    1. Pyro

      I typically pull the MG and ammo, and install a second flamer and another half-ton of armor (2 points each leg, 1 point each side torso, 2 points center torso) It gets rid of the potential for ammo explosions, retains effectiveness against infantry, and extra armor never hurts.

      Upgrading that configuration to SLDF technology once it hits the market is dead simple – you just replace the SHS with DHS and go to Ferro-Fibrous armor (with 134 of 170 possible armor points) – and it’ll run cold even if you jump while firing everything it has.

      Optional upgrade of basic SLDF upgrade: Replace the flamers with small pulse lasers. SPLs are also good against infantry, more accurate, and run slightly cooler. Pull the 12th DHS and plug in a TAG where the old MG ammo bin used to be. It still runs absolutely frosty, and can now spot for artillery.

      1. JustSomeGuy

        Mostly been playing the Succession Wars recently, and flamer’s heat cost is too high for that period IMO. Firing everything on your build you get 18 heat before movement (2 for run, 6 for jump) with 12 SHS. Flamers and MLs have same heat, so while running you can fire 3 of either, or 2 while jumping and be heat neutral. Add 1 more for non-aim-affecting heat buildup. My build has same heat scale awith 3MLs while running or 2 while jumping. The SLs can then be fired at minor heat increase or heat loss if replacing an ML.

        Targeting Infantry: Assuming all hit, you have 4+8D6+2 (from 2 MLs) of toasty infantry per turn. With my MG build you’d get 6+6D6+5 (3ML+2SL), which is still comparable. Max 48 damage, Avg 30 for flamers vs Max 47 Avg 29 for MGs. Of course if they’re in hard cover, flamers win since they can burn them out.

        Against buildings you’re looking at 14 pts assuming you use both flamers to try and light them up, or 20 if you focus MLs. Compare to 25 for the MG build. Against mechs/vehicles it’ll be the same; either 14 pts plus heat (assuming dmg+heat rules in effect) vs 25. Individual hits is 4 vs 9 for critseeking. While the MG build can go up with a single hit thanks to crits, generally I’d choose more added damage. I normally also keep all MGs and the ammo in a side torso along with a couple heatsinks. It’s somewhat safe, albeit does require better facilities to initially modify.

        Once you get into Lostech your build gets about perfect. Ice cold while jumping and firing everything. For mine, I’d consider sticking with SHS and Ferro, especially if it’s early in the 3040s. I expect my Vulcans to get pretty beat up, and using SHS leaves the DHS supplies available for the big guns. Ferro allows for CASE and, as a Merc, paying a bit more after every mission is preferrable to losing a mech to an explosion.

        Overall, your design gets better in the 3040s+ but I’m cheap!

  14. Kantoken

    I started out with collecting a few ‘mechs from TRO 3025, it was basically all I knew about the Battletech universe. Then I got older, learned about the extensive lore, but in the end, always returned to 3025. Setting myself the goal of getting every ‘mech from that TRO, I never got around getting the Vulcan. It just didn’t do it for me. No good weaponry? Armor only in theory? Yes it is a quickboy, but can’t really do anything with it.

    Then I met a player who would bring in vehicles and infantry almost as often as other people would bring in meta bullsheit. That changed the game. For its BV, the Vulcan is a cheap solution to the problem of (light) vehicles and infantry.

    Is the Vulcan a bad ‘mech? Yes. Does it have its place? Also yes. Are there other ‘mechs who can do the same but more effective? Also yes. Is there anything else that has this distinctive look and if painted up properly can look downright scary? No.

  15. Z3r0_

    Okay this one I agree with. So what if it’s an “anti-infantry mech”, it does that job poorly. The big problem is that fucking autocannon, it takes up way too much weight. Give it a battery of SRM launchers instead and it’d be good at its alleged job, but nope!

  16. Eric Karau

    One of the things that make the Battletech/Mechwarrior universe believable is that Mechs are not perfect: they are in many cases the result of centuries of trial and error in trying to find out what works and what doesn’t! When the Clans were formed, did they start using OmniMechs? No; OmniMechs had to be invented using the same process of trial and error! The difference between the Clans and the Inner Sphere is that the Clans didn’t all but destroy their technological base like the Inner Sphere did: it took a technological miracle to restore the Inner Sphere’s technological base and save it from destruction from the Clans, thank you SO very much Gray Death Legion Helm library computer memory core!

    1. John Campbell

      Don’t ever use the words “Clans” and “believable” in the same sentence. The way their society is set up, by now they should have devolved to hitting each other with bones in a trial of possession to determine who gets the best cuts of raw meat, not taking over the Inner Sphere with cheesy munchkin tech.

      1. Craig

        I’m guessing that you haven’t read the Thurston books?

        He took the illogical structure (scientists with all the power) to its logical conclusion – parallel armies outside the clan structure.

        And let’s face it – half of clan society is apparently fighting “bandits” all the time, so much that there’s specialized units (solahma) to use up their old warriors.

        I’d say the Clans have been appropriately explored as to how their peculiarities would “pan out” but most of the fiction is not going to care, because most of the fiction is concerned with big stompy robots fighting each other – clans versus IS is always going to take center stage.

        It would be interesting to read stories about the rebels who reject clan structure but as it has little to do directly with the IS we probably won’t see much of it.

        Ter Roshak you could say, was an internal rebel who stood up to the system and rebelled.

  17. Clavius

    Well, I see that many people prefer to think that good mech is fast medium mech loaded with MLs… Well, everyone plays his own game. But I’d like to say few words in defense of Vulcan 2T and AC/2 in particular.
    1) AC/2 really can be an AP weapon, just use flechette rounds. Yes, this isn’t perfect, but in this case Vulcan hasn’t to get in close to 15+ pts of damage from average rifle platoon. And still can kill 4/8 infantrymen per turn.
    2) Vulcan can be pretty good VTOL hunter, because it’s hard to keep your VTOL safe somewhere beyond range of AC/2 with flak rounds.
    I agree that Vulcan 2T isn’t perfect mech, even isn’t good one, but at least it is useful.

  18. Michael

    Something I’ve toyed around on the Vulcan is replacing the AC2 with a LL. This gives you a decent main gun and a few tonnes for extra armour. It runs a bit hotter if pushed, but it can always use hit and fade tactics to cool off. I’ve also try a PPC in place of the AC2, but the lack of point blank accuracy and generating heat every time you shoot it really hurts the Vulcan.

  19. Tanderaan

    The worst ‘mech is the article’s author who gets paid for essentially rephrasing the Sarna wiki article with the listed variants. ChatGPT much?

    1. Sean Post author

      For the record, Chat GPT isn’t used for anything I write. Also for the record, the Bad ‘Mechs series was mostly created to force Eldon to make funny drawings of ‘Mechs, not for me to write about ’em.

      1. Tanderaan

        I didn’t mean it was literally used but rather it’s much the same.

        However, the fail short stories are funny I will give you that.

        But the variant list does not differ in anything from just reading the wiki.

  20. Derv

    Good thing Battletech isn’t Mechwarrior 1v1, right Sean? I feel like a lot of these mechs you choose you ignore their intended purpose and set it in a deathmatch context of another mech. That’s not exactly being honest to new people coming into the franchise. I understand it’s mostly meant to entertain, but it does give an out of context impression.

  21. Vermonster

    Hands down the worst 40 ton, and none of them are good. There is never a valid reason to mount an AC/2 on a mech and few enough on a vehicle.

    The best use is in a meme lance. A Vulcan, Whitworth, and Panther, led by a blue and white gingham Assassin. Deploying from a yellow Leopard with the fighter bays converted to jump infantry. Team Oz.


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