Battletech: Expanding on the Starter Boxes: Clans and Mercenaries

Greetings Ristars and welcome to part two of the grand mistake that was choosing to review every mech CGL sells right now. This article will focus in on the Clan Star packs and the mechs contained within them. For a brief primer, the Clans are an insane, eugenics supporting, Mongol empire cosplaying, tribal honor cult from deep space descended from the last pan-human army the setting had. Their mechs are, on an individual level, comically better than Inner Sphere ones, with Light Mechs that can outfight IS Heavies and some of the most horrifying imaginable Heavy and Assault mechs. Their guns do more damage, more efficiently, to a longer range, for less weight. Their heat sinks are better than IS ones, their XL Engines are considerably less of a liability, they carry more armor, they cannot be insta-gibbed by ammo explosions, they are significantly faster, and all of their components weigh less, letting them cram more firepower into each mech. The price they pay for this is in points, both PV for Alpha Strike and BV for Battletech. Clan Lights cost more than IS Assaults, and their Heavy and Assault mechs can cost nearly as much as entire lances of Inner Sphere mechs. Playing Clans you will be outnumbered, probably by a lot, but you can expect to go into 5v8 or 5v12 fights and come out the other side. They are a lot of people’s favorite faction in the game, and have some truly iconic mechs, with the Clan Invasion considered a golden age of Battletech by many (Though I prefer 3025 myself).

Force Packs

In pricing terms, the higher individual prices and quality means that each 5 mech clan box is roughly equal points to 2 4 mech IS boxes or 1 6 man ComStar box, meaning the rough price per force is fairly stable. Another thing to note is that compared to IS mechs, the quirks of Clan mechs means that most of them have FAR more variants individually than IS mechs, and those variants massively change the role that those mechs fill. An individual clan mech can be a missile support boat one game, a laser light show the next, and an autocannon infighter the next. I will mostly be talking about the Prime variant of each mech, which is considered the “Default” in universe. Talking about each and every configuration would drive me into fits of cyclopean madness as I write about the 23rd version of the Thor. Speaking of that name, Thor, most Clan mechs have 2 names, with the Thor also being the Summoner. One name that the Clans themselves use, and one that the Inner Sphere uses. I will be attempting using the Clan names throughout this article, but you will hear both out of long term fans of the franchise. Let us get on with actually talking about the boxes.

Clan Ad-Hoc Star

This box contains a Fire Falcon, a Kodiak, a Hellion, a Howler, and a Pack Hunter. This box is odd as most of these mechs are specific to individual Clans, rather than being available generically to all of them. This fits with the name implying a mix of clans and salvaged assets, but its important to note in case your group uses strict Faction rules. The Fire Falcon is a solid light mech, with insane speed, good weapons, and thin armor. It is pretty well designed, though it can overheat if you are not careful. The Kodiak is essentially a Clan Atlas. It is horrifying beyond all reason at close range, and due to the longer range of Clan weapons it can reach out a little further than the Atlas can with those short range weapons, but it still is vulnerable to being kited. The Hellion is a fast, reasonably armored, and well armed light mech. The first in the category of “Horrifying Clan Lights that can win 1v1 against IS heavies”, or HCLTCWAIH, it carries a lot of gun for its speed and can do decent damage at medium range and closer. It could potentially lose a long range fight, but its speed makes that not a problem. The Howler is a slightly odd mech, being very light, fast, and fragile, but carrying long range missiles that make that less of an issue. It can use its speed to run away from anything bigger than it, and is mostly vulnerable to light mechs chasing it down. An important thing to remember is that Clan LRMs have no minimum range, so closing in with a Clan LRM mech does not make them unable to defend themselves. The Pack Hunter looks bad ass, has thin armor, high speed, and a huge gun for its weight. It makes efficient use of its heat sinks and due to jump jets can be frustratingly hard to catch. A personal favorite. Overall this box is fun, if oddly fragile. As a Force its got a huge jackhammer of a mech surrounded by a swarm of fast, maneuverable jerks, a couple of whom can chase down and engage at close range to support the Kodiak, and the others are good at providing long range covering fire for the Kodiak as it advances. Overall a fun box, and a fun force to play on the table.

Clan Command Star

Clan Wolf Shadow Cat. Credit: Jack Hunter

This box contains a Dire Wolf, a Mist Lynx, a Shadow Cat, a Stormcrow, and a Summoner. This is a good mix of mechs. The Dire Wolf is one of the most horrifying, unspeakable, threatening, destroyer of worlds style assault mechs in the game. Its armor is thick, it is slow and ponderous, and it carries more guns than entire IS assault Lances. It can engage at short or long range, bracket fires well with more efficient short ranged weapons being able to swap in for more heat intensive long range ones, and can generally be expected to pulverize anything it chooses to shoot at. The Mist Lynx is an alright light mech, a bit generic. It can spot pretty well with its Active Probe, and can defend itself adequately against other light mechs. The Shadow Cat is a speedy medium mech, with adequate armor and a couple of big, scary long range guns. It also carries an Active Probe, and can do as much damage as an Inner Sphere Awesome at long range while being slippery and difficult to catch. The Stormcrow is a solid workhorse Clan Medium, with the speed of a light mech and the guns of a heavy. It can fire all of its weapons without overheating, and can be expected to perform well no matter what situation it ends up in. The Summoner is one of my all time favorite mechs, going back to my childhood. It has a pretty well rounded set of guns, if a hair underwhelming for a Clan Heavy. It is fairly mobile, and has enough heat sinks to use its jump jets and fire all of its guns without building any heat. Its autocannon does not have enough ammo, and it generally is underwhelming compared to the Timber Wolf or Nova Cat. Overall this box is pretty good. The Dire Wolf alone nearly justifies the box in sheer power, and the other mechs contained within act as decent support for it, capable of covering its flanks and keeping it alive.

Clan Elemental Star

Ok so this is a weird one. Elementals are genetically engineered super soldier infantry wearing suits of power armor, almost equivalent to a Spartan or a Space Marine. They have a different set of rules than mechs, and come 5 to a base. That 5 man Point is roughly equivalent to a single mech, and has a mess of special rules attached to it. I highly recommend using Elementals, as they are cheap (for Clantech), can help you fill out a force, and they do a horrifying amount of damage if they are used well. The box has 5 stands of them, and if you use all 5 stands you can really gum up a board and make your opponent tread carefully, as Elementals essentially act like Land Mines, horrifyingly powerful if a mech gets too close. To help them get close, they can hitch a ride on any Clan Omni mech, and use them as a troop transport. This box is a bit expensive for what it is, but a good pickup to support a pre-existing Clan force.

Clan Fire Star

Clan Wolf Fire Moth. Credit: Jack Hunter

This box contains a Cougar, a Fire Moth, a Kit Fox, a Nova Cat, and a Warhawk. The Cougar is a HCLTCWAIH (see above), and can outfight a lot of larger mechs. It is, however, rather slow (for a clan light mech) and has somewhat thin armor. Its main strength is in its guns, which are very potent for its weight class. The Fire Moth is speed. It is fast, fast, has good guns for its weight, fast, has comically thin armor, is fast, is a great transport for Elemental armor suits, and is fast. It is damn near the single fastest mech in the entire game, running at a gargantuan 20 hexes a turn with its MASC system enabled, letting it get exactly where it wants to be. If you get hit by a stiff breeze you will fall over, but it is an excellent spotter and can squirm away from most things that can hurt it while being very difficult to hit because, as I may have forgot to mention, it is fast. The Kit Fox is another favorite of mine, being another HCLTCWAIH, carrying a huge amount of gun for its size and weight. It has even thinner armor than the Cougar, though it is slightly faster. Overall it suffers from the LBX AC-5 not being a much better weapon than the base AC-5, which as you may remember from last time is shockingly bad as a weapon. It is best used in hit and run attacks. The Nova Cat is a better version of the Black Knight, having good armor, adequate speed, and a terrifying array of energy weapons. It is still under-sinked, though the amount of weapons it CAN fire without overheating is still horrifying compared to the Black Knight or Flashman. 50 points of damage out to insane ranges while only building up heat from its movement is excellent. The Warhawk is frustratingly close to being awesome, er, Awesome. It carries 4 Clan ER PPCs with a Targeting computer, giving it 60 points of potential damage in 15 point groupings, giving it 4 chances per turn to roll the Head and instantly kill any mech in the game, with an accuracy bonus to boot. Its cardinal sin though, is being under-sinked. It can only sink 40 heat, out of the 60 that the PPCs can generate, meaning that it will have to not fire one of them, and can only fire in the 2-3-2-3 pattern that the Awesome can, meaning that the tonnage of the 4th PPC is entirely wasted. The option to push the big red button and do a ton of damage is always there, but it is massively frustrating that it is not designed to use 3 PPCs instead while being heat neutral. I still love how it looks, and it is still a Clan assault mech, but it frustrates me. Overall this box is pretty confusing, containing an excellent spotter but no indirect fire, a pair of overgunned light mechs, and one of the most frustrating assaults in the game to me personally. Still an alright box, but I would look for variants on a couple of these mechs rather than using them stock.

Clan Heavy Battle Star

Clan Wolf Beta Galaxy Cauldron Born. Credit: Jack Hunter

This box contains a Turkina, Crossbow, Ebon Jaguar, Huntsman, and Kingfisher. A pretty solid mix of mechs. The Turkina is a very solid assault mech, being jump capable, well armored, very well armed, and actually carrying enough ammo, a bit of a rarity for Clan mechs. It is pretty easy to get good use out of a Turkina, with the lack of minimum range on most Clan weapons letting it be happy up close or hanging back without having to change its weapons. The Crossbow is a rough equivalent to an Inner Sphere Catapult or Archer, carrying a pair of LRM-20s. The lack of minimum range on Clan Missiles lets it be content hanging back or charging into close combat as the situation demands. It is reasonably fast and reasonably well armored, with its only real sin being a slightly thin amount of missiles and a lack of energy based backup weapons, though 12 rounds per launcher should be alright for most games. The Ebon Jaguar is another personal favorite of mine, a strange and awkward fighter jet cockpit with legs and guns. It carries good armor, good speed, and a mostly alright mix of weapons, suffering from the dread LBX AC-5 disease, but almost being an acceptable use for it, using it to try to roll critical hits on locations that its Gauss Rifle has stripped the armor off of. The Huntsman has a huge list of weapons, special equipment, support gear, and special rules. It is under-sinked and complicated, but as a mech it is decently fast, does decent damage, has decent armor, and can definitely get some work done with its support equipment if it is allowed to. Overall not one I would recommend to new players, but an interesting choice for more experienced players. The Kingfisher is pretty great. It is a fast, well armored assault mech that carries a potent mix of weapons, including the almighty Clan Large Pulse Laser, and can be counted on to act as a rock solid anchor to a force. It has no XL engine, and one of its pulse lasers is mounted in the Center Torso, meaning that it can potentially continue to fight after losing both arms and both side torsos. Overall this box is quite good. All of the mechs here aside from the Huntsman are simple to use and very dangerous. Genuinely recommended this box to a new player in person the other day, it is a great starter.

Clan Heavy Star

Kell Hounds Warhammer IIC. Credit: Jack Hunter

This box contains a Stone Rhino, a Hunchback IIC, a Warhammer IIC, a Supernova, and a Marauder IIC. A quick note about IIC mechs – they are upgraded versions of Inner Sphere mechs. They tend to fill the same role and be heavier than their IS inspirations. Spoiler: by and large the IIC mechs are some of the scariest Clan mechs. The Stone Rhino is a big, scary clan assault mech. It is durable, with particularly thick rear armor. It carries a pair of Gauss Rifles matched with a pair of Large Pulse Lasers. This is a dangerous combination, letting it build a relatively low amount of heat while laying down a horrifying 50 damage barrage almost every turn. It is quite slow, which is partially compensated by jump jets. Be aware though that over-using its jump jets will quickly spike its heat if firing all of its weapons. A personal favorite of mine, if not quite as abominably powerful as a Dire Wolf. The Hunchback IIC is a one way ticket to the great Mech-lab in the sky. It has ascended beyond the mere need for things like “Well balanced armor” or “Speed” or “Coming back alive” and mounts a stupendous, unimaginable 2 Ultra AC-20s. It is capable of, in the right situation, at point blank range, pulling out a 94 fucking damage alpha strike, and therefore is the best method of converting moving mechs into abstract scrap yard art. It is slow, it will die fast, it only carries enough ammo to shoot 2 and a half times with its main guns. Take this mech if you want to send yourself and your opponent to god, same day shipping. It is terrible but quite possibly my favorite mech in the entire game, as putting one down on a table sends a fucking message. The Warhammer IIC is a solid Clan assault mech with a decent long range punched backed up with a terrifying barrage of pulse lasers at close range. It will rarely disappoint you, and can be counted on in most situations to perform well. The Supernova is a pretty solid Clan assault. It is slightly thin on the armor for its weight, and has one more large laser than it should, but it is still capable of putting out a 50 damage long range alpha, which I am noticing is a bit of a trend for Clan assaults. It can also jump, which is always nice upside on an assault mech. The Marauder IIC is the fourth assault mech in this box, and another very good one. It has slightly light armor for its weight, but makes up for it with 3 ER PPCs that it can mostly sink the heat from, giving it a pretty reasonable punch at long range while maintaining that damage up close. Overall this box is a screaming deal, with 4 assault mechs, all of which range from decent to awesome. It also contains the screaming demon that is the Hunchback IIC, which can possibly be the best mech in the box in experienced hands. Highly recommended.

Clan Heavy Striker Star

Mad Dog (Vulture). Credit: Rockfish
Mad Dog (Vulture). Credit: Rockfish

This box contains a Gargoyle, a Hellbringer, a Mad Dog, a Dragonfly, and an Ice Ferret. The Gargoyle is a mech that you should never take the Prime version of. There are several very solid variants of the Gargoyle which make it a fast, flexible assault mech that can get where it needs to and lay down some heavy fire. The stock version is not that. The Prime Gargoyle carries a terrifying, assault mech grade armament of….. two LBX AC-5s, two small lasers, and two SRM6. There are Inner Sphere medium mechs with vastly more gun than this. The Prime Gargoyle is a complete waste, only ever take the A variant or just, any other variant of this mech. The Hellbringer is a nutty and terrible mech. Unlike the Gargoyle, there is not a variant that saves this one. As a heavy mech with armor as thin as a lot of Clan Light mechs, it does carry a huge and eclectic range of weapons, but it lacks enough heat sinks to make any use of them. It is iconic and looks awesome, but the stats for this mech are an absolute let down. The Mad Dog is also somewhat underwhelming in its stock form, though far better than the Hellbringer. It is a bit undersinked and could do without its medium pulse lasers. Its armor is also fairly thin, and it does not have nearly enough ammo, with only 6 rounds for each launcher. The Dragonfly is an underwhelming medium mech. While it is incredibly fast and can really move with its jump jets, it is somewhat undergunned by Clan standards and has somewhat thin armor. It is much less disappointing than the other mechs in this box, but is still merely mediocre. The Ice Ferret is, refreshingly, actually decent. It is very fast, has a mediocre amount of armor, and good guns that it can actually fire all of. If you can use its speed to maintain a good standoff range to skirmish with its ER PPC, it will perform well. This box on the whole is a massive disappointment, as it is full of iconic Clan invasion heavy mechs that a ton of people really love, but it just falls short in terms of actual gameplay use. It is great at roasting your pilots alive and making sure they do not come back home, so there is that.

Clan Striker Star

This box contains a Conjurer, Horned Owl, Incubus, Piranha, and a Vapor Eagle. The Conjurer is a solid medium mech, with great speed and almost ok heat management, as well as the almighty Clan Large Pulse Laser. It can get good use out of its gear and wants to get up close and personal, which its speed makes easy. The Horned Owl, aside from looking exactly like a Zaku, is basically just a light mech variant of the Conjurer, and is best used in the exact same way, using its speed to get up close and lay the pain down on someone with its pulse lasers. It does have half the armor, but it is a Light mech after all. The Incubus is a fast light mech build around a large pulse laser, which I am noticing is a trend in this box, and performs similarly to a Horned Owl with the exception of it carrying a battery of Machine Guns, which lets it crit seek and try to crit components which all of these large pulse lasers have stripped of armor. The Piranha is a crit seeking demon of a light mech, being fast, lightly armored, and carrying a horrifying 12 Machine Guns. This means that if there is an open location anywhere on a mech, if the Piranha can get close to it it is very likely to crit it. Also it can massacre entire battalions of infantry on its own, which is nice upside. The Vapor Eagle is, guess this, a fast, maneuverable medium mech built around a Large Pulse Laser and a ton of Machine Guns. It is quite good, and can somewhat act as an anchor around which the rest of this star can maneuver. This is genuinely probably the best Force Pack they have made, not in terms of tonnage or points, but in terms of how every single mech contained in it has the exact same game plan, and they all can work together to dogpile and destroy mechs with terrifying speed. All of these mechs support each other beautifully and encourage an aggressive, high risk playstyle. Genuinely cannot recommend this one enough, it is the single most cohesive force you can buy out of a single box.

Clan Support Star

Clan Wolf Linebacker. Credit: Jack Hunter

This box contains a Linebacker, an Arctic Cheetah, a Battle Cobra, a Black Lanner, and a Night Gyr. The Linebacker is a fast little jerk of a heavy mech, making good use of its speed with a pair of good long range weapons. It is best used in hit and run attacks, as its armor is slightly thin and it will slowly build heat over the course of a fight if you are not very careful with it. The Arctic Cheetah is a good spotter, being a fast light mech with thin armor and support equipment, including an Active Probe. Its guns are alright for shaking other light mechs off of it, but it is still best used to support other mechs. The Battle Cobra has a badass name, and also is pretty alright, being a fast medium mech with a pair of Large Pulse Lasers, which as you can tell by my constant ranting throughout this article are in fact very good. It has slightly thin armor and not quite enough heat sinks to fire forever, so it is best used in hit and run attacks. The Black Lanner is a decent medium mech. It has adequate armor, decent long range and short range weapons, and enough speed to make good hit and run passes at slower mechs. The Night Gyr is a rock solid heavy, one of the better ones that the Clans have. It has enough heat sinks, nearly enough ammo, good weapons, and thick armor. It is slow by Clan standards, a fact which Jump Jets can compensate for. It will very rarely let you down, and can act as a good anchor around which the rest of a force can maneuver. Overall this is a pretty good box, if somewhat boring. All of the mechs here are good, and they, well, act as a good secondary purchase to support other, more specialized mechs.

Wolf’s Dragoons Assault Star

Kell Hounds Mad Cat. Credit: Jack Hunter

Ok so this one requires some explaining and me spoiling some 30 year old lore. The Wolf’s Dragoons are an Inner Sphere mercenary unit composed of Clan Mechwarriors sent in 50 years ahead of the invasion to scout the Inner Sphere and report back on what was going on there to the rest of the Clans. During the invasion they backstabbed the Clans and joined up with the Inner Sphere, and are interesting as they use a mix of Clan and Inner Sphere mechs with a Clan organizational scheme, meaning that they use Stars of 5 mechs rather than lances of 4. This box contains a Timber Wolf, a Blackjack, and Annihilator, an Archer, and a Rifleman. As we already covered the Blackjack, Archer, and Rifleman in the last article, we will only go over the Timber Wolf and Annihilator here. The Timber Wolf/Mad Cat is THE Battlemech. It is iconic of the brand and is incredibly distinctive and recognizable. On the tabletop it is a force of nature, crashing into enemy formations like a tidal wave and leaving a field of severed limbs and pulverized wreckage behind it. It is fast, thickly armored, and carries a horrifying amount of gun. It can go where it wants and kill whatever it feels like. Yes its LRMs do not have enough ammo, and yes it is outperformed in specific areas by a handful of other Clan mechs, but the specific blend of speed and firepower that it carries is hard to match. Its DPS drops quite a lot once the LRM ammo dries up, so you want to only fire those on easy shots, using Lasers for any less likely shots. It also has a stunningly large amount of variants, so if the Prime disappoints you for whatever reason, there is a Mad Cat somewhere buried in the variant list that will not disappoint you. The Annihilator is a genuinely weird mech. It is tied for slowest mech in the entire game with the Urbanmech (To my knowledge, if there are any 1/2 mechs out there let me know), moving a pitiful 2/3. It also has thin armor for its 100 ton weight, so it can not take much of a beating. What it has is guns, guns, and more guns. The stock version carries 4 LBX AC-10s, which means that it can crit seek like nothing else and has a really solid chance of pinging pellets onto the head of anything it shoots, injuring the pilot. Its other variants all share the theme of having 4 huge guns, and all of them can do a ton of damage. On balance I think the Annihilator is kind of bad as its incredibly slow movement speed makes it basically impossible NOT to out maneuver. The box on the whole is pretty good though, as the Archer and Blackjack are both very dependable, the Timber Wolf is excellent, and the Annihilator and Rifleman have their niches, no matter how narrow they are.


The Clan Force Packs are, just like the Inner Sphere ones, mostly good. A couple of them are less good than others and the Heavy Striker Star is a straight up dud, but most of the rest are very good. I was particularly impressed with how cohesive and well thought out the Striker Star was, and I hope that going forwards they make every force pack be a cohesive, stand alone force like that is. Clan tech is slightly controversial, with a lot of people seeing it as the point where Battletech jumped the horse and became horribly imbalanced, but if you play with Battle Value they are pretty balanced against Inner Sphere, with Inner Sphere getting a lot more mechs to compensate for their worse mechs. Both factions are viable and fun, and it honestly comes down to whether you prefer quantity or quality, and which lore you like better. Although everyone should experience playing a game with a Hunchback IIC. No other experiences in this game come close to that.