Battletech: Alpha Strike Special Pilot Abilities A-M

Howdy “loyal” citizens of the Free Worlds League and welcome to Alpha Strike. Alpha Strike recently got its new starter box so a lot of people are playing it for the first time, and are moving on to the Commander’s Edition and being confronted with the fact that Alpha Strike’s rules have a lot more going on on the force construction end compared to Classic Battletech. The force construction rules are one of the coolest things about Alpha Strike, because they force you to you consider the role of your units and how they fit together as a holistic whole. Most of the formations you can build grant Special Pilot Abilities, or SPAs. In addition, you are allowed to spend points on some SPAs for one unit per 12 that you have in your force. I’ll be going over the SPAs, because its important to know what they do and roughly how “worth it” each of them is, as they wildly range in quality and some of them are massively more powerful than others.

I’ll give each one a letter grade and a brief summary of what they do, neither of which is really meant to be exhaustive or cover everything, as Alpha Strike, much like Classic Battletech, is a large game with a lot of edge cases and places where bad abilities could be good and good ones could be bad. I’ll go in the order that they appear in the book. This first article will cover letters A through M, because my god there are a lot of SPAs in this book.

Animal Mimicry

So starting out we already have a really weird one. This basically lets any 4 legged mech act like an animal, which allows them to both pass through difficult terrain faster than normal, but also they can hand out a really nasty debuff to units that move within 6 inches of them on a roll of 8 or less on 2d6. That debuff halves their movement, halves their TMM (Target Movement Modifier) (rounding down), and gives them a +1 penalty to hit the Animal Mimicker until the next shooting phase. It costs 2 points, and is mostly held back by the fact that there are not a ton of 4 legged mechs in the game, but it is potentially incredible on them. Overall I’d give this an A-, really good but held back by the limited selection of units to use it on.

Legion of Vega Battlemaster. Credit: SRM


Antagonizer is another weird one. This is an MMO style taunt. It allows the bearer to force enemy units within 6 inches to make a check, which, if they fail, they are forced to move towards it as fast as possible on the shortest possible route, and forces those units to make their attacks exclusively against the bearer. This is phenomenally good, because Alpha Strike is mostly a game of positioning and movement, so taking away the movement choice from your opponent is incredibly powerful. You can still shoot the enemies that you have pulled out of position with your entire team, and you can roll to apply this debuff every single turn. Antagonizer also makes your unit more resistant to other psychological SPAs, which is a nice bonus. This costs 3 points, and is well worth it, probably another A-.

Blood Stalker

Sounding like a prestige class in an RPG, Blood Stalker is a mixed bag. You must select a chosen enemy unit at the start of the game, and get a -1 bonus to hit that specific unit. However, you are at a +2 to hit any unit that is not your designated unit. If you cannot see your chosen unit at the start of the turn, or the chosen unit is dead, you get to designate a new unit. This is not a good SPA on its own at 2 points, probably a D+, because in practice it is very easy for your opponent to punish you for using it. However, you can get it for free with a pursuit lance, and this ability is vastly improved by being free, probably a B there.

Cluster Hitter

Cluster Hitter is situational. It grants +1 damage with a few specific weapons, namely anything with the FLK, LRM, SRM, or TOR keywords, but only if the bearer doesn’t move. This is nice on LRM boats and basically nothing else. Not moving is not a great strategy in Alpha Strike, because standing still is frequently death. LRM boats can stand still and still fire, as well as being able to ignore line of sight with a spotter. It’s a nice bonus to stick on a LRM boat, and would combo well with some other SPAs, but I don’t think it is worth spending a limited SPA slot and 2 points on. D+.

Combat Intuition

Combat Intuition is the devil. It is probably the best SPA in the game, and it fundamentally breaks the core rules of Alpha Strike. If you win initiative, a unit with Combat Intuition can move and shoot immediately, in the movement phase, applying all damage immediately. This breaks the sequence of play, and means that you can finish off a weakened enemy without allowing it to fire back at you, as, if your target dies to a Combat Intuition attack, they do not get to fire in the shooting phase that turn. It does have a 3 turn cooldown after it is used, but even so this is an insanely brutal ability. On top of that, it is available easily and for free from Command Lances, so expect to see this one a lot in your games and be ready to play around it. 3 points isn’t enough for this, A+++.

Cross Country

Following up from the best SPA in the game, we have a pretty mediocre one. Cross Country allows a tank to travel through terrain that it would normally be forbidden from travelling through. Mediocre and a bit of a waste of 2 points and an SPA slot. D.


Demoralizer is the debuff half of Animal Mimicry without the difficult terrain bonus. However, it can be taken on any unit, not just a 4 legged mech, so it is considerably more available. It also gives a bonus to resist other psychological SPAs, which is a nice benny. It costs 3 points and is still an A- due to greater availability.

Battletech Stinger. Credit: 40khamslam.


Dodge gives a +2 penalty to anyone who tries to hit you with a physical attacks. Against a player who really likes melee this could be useful I guess, but Close Combat happens a lot less in Alpha Strike compared to Classic Battletech, so this is mostly just a waste of 2 points and a slot. D-.

Dust Off

Dust Off makes it slightly easier for airborne units to land in difficult terrain. I haven’t played with Aerospace fighters or VTOLs very much, but I can’t imagine this comes up very much because like, why would you want to land your fighter in the middle of a game? 2 points and a confused C because it could be good on transport helicopters I think?

Eagle’s Eyes

Eagle’s Eyes grants the RCN keyword and increases the range of all sensor type abilities by 2 inches, auto-reveals hidden units within 2 inches, and gives a +2 bonus to avoid minefields. I am unsure of how good this is, but 2 inches is pretty damn short and you don’t see a ton of minefields. Situationally good for 2 points, B if your games regularly have hidden units and minefields, F otherwise.

Environmental Specialist

This one has a lot of text to explain something fairly simple. You reduce the penalties from one specific environmental condition, chosen at the start of the game. It’s pretty good in games with environmental conditions, but in games without it is literally worthless. B in a game where it comes into effect, F otherwise.

Crab. Credit: Rockfish
Crab. Credit: Rockfish

Fist Fire

On top of having a hilarious name, Fist Fire is basically just HBS Battletech’s melee mechanics. You get to add half of your mech’s short range damage value to all physical attacks the unit makes, whether with fists or a melee weapon. It unfortunately cannot be used on DFA’s and Charges, and cannot be used with the Street Fighter SPA, which sucks. This could be situationally awesome for mechs with good melee weapons and good speed, but is kinda mediocre on most other mechs. For 2 points, its a B- if you have good melee weapons, and a C- otherwise. Its always nice to have that extra damage when you really need it, but it probably isn’t worth the slot unless you have an axe.

Float Like a Butterfly

Float Like a Butterfly is basically the inverse of the Lucky SPA which we will get to later. You can spend between 1 and 4 points on this SPA, and for each point you can, once per game, force an enemy to reroll an attack roll against you. This is very good at preventing low-probability hits from destroying your more valuable mechs, but I am unsure it is worth more than some of the other SPAs on this list. Comes in at a B+ for me.

Forward Observer

Forward Observer lets a unit spot for indirect fire for multiple other units instead of just one, and allows it to attack while spotting without generating a penalty. Pretty good for 1 point, a solid B+, you will always want this if you have Indirect Fire in your list.

Golden Goose

This SPA is 3 points to give your aircraft a bonus to hit when attacking ground targets. It’s pretty good if you have aircraft that is intending to attack ground targets. A solid B.


This SPA is 2 points to allow your aircraft to strafe multiple places/strike multiple targets. Its also a pretty good ground attack buff, but Golden Goose is probably just a bit better. B-.


Headhunter is kickass from a game design standpoint. It gives a scaling bonus to your side’s initiative for each command unit your side kills, capping at +3 to your initiative. If your opponent hasn’t designated command units, then the most expensive unit in each of their formations is considered the commander of that formation. This is badass, and it encourages you to dive the enemy HQ units, which is fun, and initiative bonuses are really strong in Alpha Strike. The problem is that, if the Headhunter unit dies, you lose the bonus. For 2 points I give this an B+, but it is easily one of the more fun SPAs in the game.

Legion of Vega Vindicator. Credit: SRM

Heavy Lifter

Heavy Lifter allows mechs to carry more cargo. Like, for unloading ships. This is for campaigns and flavor, and the idea of a legendary mechwarrior who is just really good at loading cargo is hilarious. F.


Hopper allows a unit to ignore its first MP crit for 1 point. This is ok, but I don’t think it is really worth the SPA slot. It is worded like the mech is hopping on one leg in the rulebook, which is hilarious. C-.

Hot Dog

Hot Dog makes your mech count as if it was 1 point lower on the heat scale, and lets them keep going when they should have shut down. It costs 2 points and is alright if you love using overheating mechs, a C.

Human TRO

I love the flavor on this one but it is insanely situational. It lets you see what variant the opponent is using if you are using the Concealing Unit Data special rule, which is a fun special rule. It also lets you get one free through-armor critical hit once per game, which is a cool ability, but its weird to quantify because of how random crits are in Alpha Strike. Overall this gets a B in a game with concealed units, and a C+ otherwise.

Iron Will

Iron Will makes you less likely to be effected by Psychological SPAs. This would be good were it not for the fact that the Psychological SPAs give you this bonus as part of their effects, so this is a strictly worse SPA than Demoralizer. It is 2 points cheaper at 1 point, but I don’t think that particularly matters and there are better SPAs to spend 1 point on, I give this a D-.

Grasshopper. Credit: Rockfish
Grasshopper. Credit: Rockfish

Jumping Jack

Jumping Jack gives a -1 to hit bonus while using jump jets for 2 points. This is incredibly good, and really helps even out the odds when you are jumping. I rate this pretty highly because I have gotten good use out of it, but I admit that there are a few better SPAs on this list. B+.


Lucky is an SPA you will be seeing a LOT of. It comes free in an empowered form on the most common formation, the Battle Lance, and even spending points on it is pretty good. It costs between 1 and 4 points, and for each point spent you can, once per game, reroll a to-hit roll. This is very good and will really smooth things out, salvaging easy shots that you got unlucky on. B+ if taken alone, A+ in a Battle Lance.

Maneuvering Ace

This SPA costs 2 points and reduces the speed penalty for moving through woods. This can be nice to have depending on terrain. You can also take this on aircraft to make their control rolls easier, which is probably good? Overall I’d give it a B+ on a heavily forested map, or a C on a more normal map.


Marksman is interesting. It costs 2 points and lets you trade half of your damage and your movement for a Through Armor Crit if you succeed your to-hit roll by 3 or more. The amount of caveats on this SPA tells me that it was probably overpowered at some point in development. In its current state, I think it is around a C+, solid but restricted.

Melee Master

Melee Master costs 2 points and lets you add half of your Size to your melee damage. This allows an Assault Mech to punch for 6 damage, or potentially do a titanic amount of damage if they have a melee weapon. Situational, but fun, a solid C.

Melee Specialist

Melee Specialist costs 1 points and gives -1 to hit with all melee attacks. This is a nice melee buff and is best used stacked with other SPAs. Solid C.


Multi-Tasker is 2 points and has a lot of text, but it essentially says that the unit can split its fire, dealing half of its damage value at a given range to two targets, rather than having to do 100% of its damage to one target. This is potentially awesome, but needs to be put on some sort of clan assault mech monster with 8 damage to really get great value. I rate it a B.