Are there BattleMechs out there that are ugly as sin but you still get real joy from playing them? Is there a go-to ‘Mech for you that your friends taunt you about, but you just know how to get it to work? What BattleMechs out there play better than they look for you?
Jenner – I don’t know why, but for some reason, I always get Jenners to work well. They look ugly, I don’t like the design that much from an aesthetic standpoint, and you might wonder at how I can get an overheated low-armor unit to work so well. I wonder it about it too! But I do. Sometimes I just get them to play like a musical instrument. I get a devastating impact from them at times, and in my most recent run on MegaMekNet, I had a couple that had a lot of surprising kills they had ratcheted up. From Hunchbacks to an Archer, the Jenner can sometimes be a master of taking out things on the battlefield way above its tonnage. At least for me.
UrbanMech – I once hated the UrbanMech with a passion. It’s 2/3/2 and stupid, since you are always at a disadvantage firing with it. If you walk, they get +0 to hit you, run at most it’s +1, and jump +1. That’s while you get +1/+2/+3 respectively to hit with it. It’s a small ‘Mech, with just one big weapon. And it looks like a giant trashcan. It’s just not a good design, right? Okay, fair. But in mixed forces, with a lighter unit on unit battle, this thing shines a lot more than I thought it would. You can camp it on top of a great long range vehicle (such as Hunter Light Tank) and it gives you a powerful zone of control of the battlefield. Very few similar units want to move in. It’s incredibly low Battle Value gives you the ability to toss one into your force easily in a game where you choose forces by BV. In the last five years, I have totally reversed my views on the thing. It’s not the best ‘Mech in the world, but it doesn’t suck.
Watchman – The Watchman might be designed for a cheap role to fill up spots on local militias, but I’ve found it to be a revelation. You don’t see them much in forces online or against folks in real life. They don’t have much of a reputation. But I have always gotten yeoman’s work from them. Since they don’t have an XL engine, they are cheap and durable. They have maximum armor, a solid 5/8/5 movement, a good weapons payload with a large laser, two mediums and two machine guns, and the requisite CASE. The solitary note of disagreement with the design that I have is that is that I’d like double heat sinks rather than 12 singles. Other than that solitary issue, it’s a virtually perfect design, and I love playing with them.
Flashman – First of all, let’s just get this out of the way now – I think the Flashman is one of the worst looking BattleMechs ever designed. It looks like the designer took a pencil, cut off the eraser bit, and then used that as the inspiration for it. Ugh. And the weapon design is nothing special right? Just some large and medium lasers. But then it happens. My peach-colored Flashman miniature takes the field and suddenly it starts to push folks aside. Its laser payload is no joke, and the larges give it range, and sometimes it feels like it has medium lasers that go on forever. And in long battles, I don’t have to worry about ammunition or worry about an explosion – nope. It just works better than you’d think.
What are some BattleMechs that may look bad and feel foul, but which play really strongly for you?
Flashman always seemed one of the rare mechs with no real weaknesses in 3025 era play, where half the fun is your MG ammo going off after expending 2 rounds.
My “plays better than it looks” mech has been the Dragonfly/Viper, a very uninspiring design that gets work done.
I had nothing against the looks of these machines you profiled. Their all unique in their appearances, giving them a character would be missed if someone was looking page of numbers, weapons and dots.
The Jenner is nimble machine, it may be thin on arm in it original 3025 variant, but it can dish it out more than many designs. With enough of them, say lance of 4 you can dominate a battlefield of contemporaries if you know what your doing. Despite it odd looks, it earns place on my force if should need field one with Dragon theme.
UrbanMech in unique, it may be hated, it may look usual. It appearance can grow on you, Duane Loose did a good draw creating this thing’s appearance. I had a friend use one these things in a city fight and win against combat vehicles, by just hopping along the roof tops climbing ever higher to nail a powerful VTOL. Another time, RAC/5 variant was used to everyone’s surprise at time taking down number of opponents. It maybe not so pretty in some guy’s eyes, but it’s cool in mine.
I’ve always love the Flashman, i hated Chris Lewis’s rendition of it in TRO 3025 Revised. I thought it uglified the the ‘Mech. Dana Knutson who first drew it in TRO: 2750, did a better job, which was one i always think of when it’s comes to this Mech. I was not fan of something that was suppose to be extinct in 3025 suddenly come be in production in lesser form due to need Revise the old TRO. It stole uniqueness of the machine, but that’s my opinion of it.
One that suprised the heck out of me was the TR-1 Wraith. Fast as blazes for a Medium, good armor, pathetic weaponry. A Medium Scout Mech? Played it, and I really dig it. Best upgrade is to refit with Clan ER lasers and a C3 Slave. (Even with the occasional “glitch” from the refit in game play.”
For level 1 play, Thunderbolt TDR-5SE. Thunderbolts look goofy with that offset head, big orangutan arms attached by a flimsy shoulder joint, and an oversized forearm-mounted large laser. 5SE is a beast though: well-armored, jumps, and 17 heat sinks. Any mech that competes with just about any other up to 10 tons heavier than it is gets high marks.
IMP-2E is rather ugly, too, but it completely dominates a level 1 game.
The Mackie. It’s a bathtub with legs and crotch lasers, but damn if it isn’t beautifully heat-balanced, tough as all hell, and cheap for a Star League assault design.
I’ve been playing a lot of Alpha Strike lately with my Battletech group here in Houston, and a particular standout design for me has been the Komodo; squat and hunchbacked with its bulbous head jutting out in front, it looks like someone melted a Lancelot and folded it in half. But man, with a 5/8/5 (or 10j in AS) move, 10 medium lasers, and the heat sinks to deal with all of them, it has been a pretty amazing killer for me. In one of my last games, it blew apart two Venoms and a Trebuchet when the rest of my company just wasn’t getting in done.
Grasshopper. It looks nothing special and with the SRM module taking up half it’s face you have to wonder how the pilot can see any of it’s right flank. (came with the Hunchback, another golden ugly) but having a centerline large laser means that as long as it’s standing upright it ALWAYS has a large laser to play with. Its jump jets also helps its maneuverability in urban zones.
The Hunchback to me is in many ways the big brother of the Urbie. Almost as stupid looking but hits twice as hard.
One of the things I like about this game is that the aesthetics of a design have no bearing on its functionality–the butt ugliest model with an excellent record sheet will mechanically trump any bit of so-called “pretty kit” designed for looks rather than substance.
The War Dog is definitely this for me. Let’s not mince words: it’s ugly. It’s lopsided. It’s an egg with hooves. And yes, it is definitely inefficiently designed–3055 was kind of a strange year. It also has an absurd five tons of Gauss rifle ammo in reserve. Forty shots is more than you’ll be able to take in any two average games put together, so with me the War Dog does great simply trundling about behind partial cover or in forests and planting inconvenient Gauss hits at long range. It doesn’t need good To-Hit numbers, it’s got 40 Gauss slugs to go around–at some point, it’s going to do something horrible to someone by sheer weight of fire. Anyone who wants to come close to play will be reminded of the War Dog’s other close-range toys, which are tons of fun when the Gauss is also included at close range, because you can.
The UrbanMech is already covered here, but I’ll just reiterate: the stats look dumb on paper and it’s basically an upgunned R2 unit, but if you put it in the right terrain–cities, broken hills, connected valleys–it becomes the cutest little biped tank destroyer you’ve ever seen (and I mean that in the sense of the role, not that its sole purpose is destroying tanks).
The Cataphract will never be an elegant machine, especially its mini (which looks positively lumpy compared to the Caesar), but there’s a reason the Davions kept it after they took the factories in the 4th war. On paper it looks weird, not well armored and underarmed, but if used as its name suggests–heavy cavalry–the Cataphract can work wonders. I often use it as a flanking machine, taking it on wide maneuvers around enemy lines to hit my opponents in the side or rear. It arrives fashionably late, but by then most enemy units have committed their heavier hitters further to the front, and the Cataphract can either bully the fire support or take back shots at its leisure.
The Apollo has hips that could pass an Avanti aircar, making it look like the world’s most uncomfortable linebacker, but it’s never failed to serve me as a solid, effective, and above all cheap medium fire support ‘Mech. Almost every Apollo I’ve used has managed to fire its launchers nearly to empty by the time it was either taken out or the game ended, and usually it had battered at least one other ‘Mech to bits by then. I’ve yet to turn one down when I get them via random assignment. The Apollo also has the notable quality of not squishing easily for a medium missile boat, even though it lacks CASE by default.
The Blood Kite, oh man, the Blood Kite. It’s hideous. It’s a chunky, clumsy, misshapen armory of a ‘Mech and it will kill you. 3/5/3 with the heat sinks to jump and fire three Clan ER larges all day is already gold in my book. Add in the opportunity to fire 45 LRMs and two of those ER larges, or 45 LRMs, 12 SRMs, and an ER large at close range? Allow me to politely remind you that the Blood Kite will kill you. Oh, and it has 15 tons of armor. It plays like an exceptionally angry Stalker or Salamander, let down only slightly by the shortage of SRM ammo on board.
There’s many others I could list, but these are a few of the ugly ‘Mechs that I feel should not be judged solely by their covers. Unless it’s the Blood Kite, because there is no way you can look at that many gun barrels and missile racks and not feel like something terrible is bound to happen to someone in the near future.
Storm Crow- is a holy mess aesthetically, but for me medium (omni)mechs don’t get any better.
Stalker – I know some people like it’s appearance. I don’t, (looks like a broken shuttle with legs…) but I’ll take one in the Succession War era.