The Adder, or, as I will be calling it throughout this article, the Puma, is a really deeply fascinating light mech. It is explicitly designed in universe to be able to match or exceed the average Inner Sphere medium mech in firepower and armor, and win fights with heavier mechs while being cost and tonnage efficient. As a matter of fact, the Puma might be one of the best mechs in the game at converting tonnage into damage and, with a few exceptions, is even reasonably BV efficient. It is also absolutely adorable, and is shaped like a friend.
Look at that little guy, he is so thrilled to be here. He is so happy and excited to come and massacre some dirty Spheroids. I love him and I would die for him. The Puma is one of my favorite mechs, I am not biased, and I will hear no slander of my precious boxy PPC child.
Anyway, the Puma is an Omnimech, similar to the Mad Cat. That means that it is a base chassis with fixed armor and movement, with each variant just changing around the heat sinks and weaponry. The Puma is a bit odd in that it does have a single weapon that is hard-mounted to the frame, a single Flamer mounted in the head, which is present in every single variant. It moves at 6/9, faster than the medium mechs that it was designed to fight, but fairly slow by light mech standards. It’s armor is fairly thick for a light mech, resembling the armor of 45 ton Medium mechs like the Vindicator, though it is thinner in the side torsos than I would like. This is not a mech that wants to get in super close, and most variants are built with that in mind. The big thing the Puma has is guns, with 16 available tons free to be filled with them, which is a hell of a lot on a mech this small. It was designed to be able to kill or cripple most Inner Sphere medium mechs, and most variants deliver on that with force. Lets start things out with the Prime.
The Puma Prime has what I am going to call from here on in this series “Puma Syndrome”. This is a terrible sickness that effects some mechs, mostly Clan ones, where they pay an extortionately large amount for a gun they cannot fire due to heat. It costs 2083 BV, an extremely high price to be paying for a light mech. It carries 2 Clan ER PPCs, which is a terrifying amount of gun, but it can only sink 22 heat, meaning that, if it fires both PPCs in a given turn while running, it will overheat by 10. It also pays an extreme tax in the form of a targeting computer on both of those weapons. I am usually a huge fan of T-Comps, but here it leads to the BV spiking far higher than is healthy, and I would rather have had extra heat sinks. I give it a C, its a spooky amount of damage if you can manage the heat, but there are less intensive mechs that give similar performance for a similar price.
This is more like it! The Puma A comes in at 1437 BV, and carries 2 LRM-20s and a pair of small pulse lasers. It carries 12 shots for each launcher, and runs ice cold at a maximum heat of 21 out of 20, in the unlikely event you are firing every weapon at a run. This gives very similar damage output to the Prime at an extremely discounted price. The overall damage is slightly higher on average per turn, but you do lose the ability of the Prime to punch holes in enemy mechs. I generally find this to be a more consistent mech. It is 600 BV cheaper, can indirect fire, and carries the same long ranged firepower as an Inner Sphere Archer, which is an actual heavy mech. Highly recommended. Easily an A.
This is another decent variant. It comes in at 1422 BV and carries a LBX-5 Autocannon, a Clan Large Pulse Laser (my vote for the best weapon in the game), and a pair of ER Medium Lasers. It builds 23 out of 20 heat with a running alpha, which is pretty decent, and it is decently flexible. The LBX gives it decent anti-infantry/helicopter firepower, though only having one ton of ammo is somewhat annoying. The LPL is a fantastic weapon, and the Medium Lasers are nice backup for it. Overall this is a decent mech, not quite as good at the A variant but still solid, C+.
The C is like the A, but worse. It comes in at 1372 BV, which is slightly cheaper, but downgrades the LRMs to 15s, trades the 2 small pulses for a medium pulse, and adds a NARC beacon. NARC’s are potentially good, but I generally would recommend the A as the better LRM variant. C+.
The D is probably the most similar to the IS mediums it was supposed to fight. It comes in at 1255 BV, a pretty low price for a Clan mech. For that price you get an ER Large Laser, a UAC-5, and 2 Streak SRM-2s. This reminds me of the Enforcer, and it is probably slightly better than the Enforcer while having nearly the same weapons. For it’s price this is a decent mech, though I would rather save a bit of BV and get an actual IS medium mech. It lacks the Accuracy tricks of the B or the overwhelming firepower of the A, but it slots in to a nice place in most forces. C+.
This is an absurd little mech. It comes in at 1272, a low price for a Clan mech. At that price, it carries 2 ATM-9s with 2 tons of ammo each, and 4 micro pulse lasers as emergency weapons. This is incredibly good for the price. ATMs are heinously destructive, with an ATM-9 carrying HE ammo doing, with enough luck, 27 damage per turn in 5 point clusters. It will likely come up to a bit less than that, but that is still very, very good. I’d load this with either HE and Standard or HE and ER, depending on your preferences with ATMs. For its price this is similar to an A, and is a fair deal cheaper. I give it a B.
Winning the award for the strangest variant, the H costs 1453. It carries 2 Heavy Large Lasers and a targeting computer. This offsets their inaccuracy. It overheats by 6 while running and firing both lasers, which is much less than I was expecting. Its still not great, but the extra heat sinking makes it much easier to deal with than the Prime. The range is pretty short on the heavy lasers though. I am unsure how I feel about this one. I struggle to say it is particularly good, but it is definitely not terrible. It is a close combat version of a mech that is pretty strictly designed to be a sniper, and it will find itself being ripped to pieces by dedicated close combat mechs if it can’t do some spectacular things with those lasers first. Probably a C- due to oddness, but 1453 is very cheap for 2 weapons that can one hit kill on headshots, so keep that in mind.
This is another brawling/close combat variant. It just has many, many more problems. It costs 1575 BV, so more than the H, and it overheats by an incredible 17 heat with a running Alpha. This wouldn’t be a huge deal if it had a varied weapon load it could swap in and out, but it does not. It carries 4 ER Medium Lasers, 2 SRM-6s, and 2 Improved Heavy Medium Lasers. This is a lot of damage, but unlike the H it will badly overheat trying to use it. The H also will open huge holes in the enemy and deal some serious damage with the threat of headchopping. All of this mech’s weapons are best used at point blank range, and it bracket fires fucking terribly. This is a mech that will have trouble surviving the way into close combat, doesn’t have the chance to instant kill, and lacks mobility hard with no jump jets. I genuinely see this as a bad mech. D-, it does a lot of damage but its insanely under-sinked and under-armored for what it is trying to do.
This is an odd duck. It costs 1222, which is very cheap, and carries a HAG-20 and 4 AP Gauss Rifles. While this does make it murder on legs against any sort of infantry force, it is fairly specialized in that direction. The HAG-20 is a pretty scary weapon, but it is let down by having to use the Cluster Hits table. It’s damage output is by no means bad, particularly for the price, but this one needs to get 2 reviews. It gets a B if you are playing against someone who likes to use infantry, but a C- otherwise. If you do find yourself fighting dirty, honorless spheroids who use such underhanded tactics as “combined arms” and “manpower advantages”, it is pretty damn good at protecting heavier mechs from infantry.
God this thing is awful. It costs 1281, which is in line with the other budget Pumas. It is let down hugely by its weaponry though. It carries a Rotary AC-2, which is actually a fairly efficient and decent gun for its BV cost, but it is a bit of a letdown in terms of overall damage by Puma standards, and it can jam up, disabling it for a turn. Where it goes wrong though, is in the next weapon, an ER Large Pulse Laser. ER LPLs are not nearly as good as standard ones. You gain 1 hex of extra short range, and in exchange you gain 3 heat, a BV hike, and you lose one of the things that make pulse lasers so good. Instead of a -2 to hit, an ER LPL only gets a -1. There is no world where this is a good trade. The mech does have a Laser AMS, which is cool I guess, but it is just carrying such an underwhelming set of main guns. Take one of the other 1200 BV Pumas and leave this one at home. D.
The L is interesting. It adds 6 jump jets, which is very welcome on any mech. It costs 1738 BV, making it a bit pricy by Puma standards. It carries 4 Streak LRM-5s, which are fun because all 5 missiles will hit every time it hits, no cluster table required. It also carries 2 ER Medium Lasers and an ECM. This is overall a solid range of weapons, but in my opinion the extra price over the A is a deal breaker for an LRM mech. It is by no means terrible, and the Jump Jets can be completely vital on some maps. I give it a C+.
Holy fucking machineguns Batman. The S costs 1427 BV, and is carrying a bizarre set of weapons. It carries 16 fucking machineguns, 4 Medium Pulse Lasers, and an ECM and Active Probe. This is unholy slaughter given accursed flesh if there is infantry in the enemy force, but even discounting that this is an immensely threatening mech. I know I gave the short ranged Pumas a bad rap up ahead for the lack of mobility and armor, but Clan MPLs are fantastic and 16 machine guns is 32 damage, giving this mech a horrifying potential alpha damage of 62 damage if it can get close enough. If there is an open hit location on the enemy mech, this should find it and crit it. I would still give it the same B into infantry and C- otherwise as the J, but there is the chance that this mech absolutely fucking rips it with machine guns, Which is worth something.
The T is expensive at 2182 BV. This is the same price as a damn good Inner Sphere assault mech. For that price you get even more Puma Syndrome than the normal Puma. It carries 2 ER PPCs plus Capacitors, which is a scary alpha of 40, but the heat output is insane, with a running alpha building 20 fucking heat. It does have a Coolant pod which lets it merely build 9 heat for one turn once per game. The Capacitors encourage you to fire one and then the other, with a single 20 damage hit each turn. This still builds 5 heat per turn at a run. I am not a fan of PPC Capacitors in general terms, and for 300 ish less BV you could get an Awesome 9Q, which has the same alpha damage, only builds 4 heat per turn and can drop to a 30 damage, then 40 damage, then 30 damage firing pattern and stay heat neutral instead of a 20 then 20 then 20. It also would have several times as much armor and would give up speed and cluster size. I see this as being entirely worth the tradeoff. I cannot recommend a light mech this insanely expensive, spend your BV on an actual assault mech or a decent clan heavy. D-.
The TC is just an S that kept taking it’s medication. It comes in at 1247 BV, and carries 10 machineguns, a small pulse laser, and a LPL. The LPL and SPL have a Targeting Computer, which is nice, but generally this is a bit of a waste as it still doesn’t really want to get in close, and has a much lower alpha once it does close in. C-.
The Puma is an interesting little mech, and has a lot of fun variants that mix things up. My general recommendation is to take a Puma A unless you have a specific plan. The A is probably my favorite LRM boat in the entire game, maybe after the Trebuchet. The J and S are likely better into infantry heavy forces, but the A is pretty damn consistent. The E might be better if you prefer ATMs to LRMs, but I am a huge fan of LRMs. Generally this is a good little mech, and as long as you keep it behind your bigger, scarier mechs, it can get some good work done. Not a super flashy mech, but it has that one trait I love more than anything, consistency.