Battletech Mech Overview: Archer

Welcome back to another Mech Overview as we finally approach the end of the starter box contents. This week we’re looking at the Archer, a 70 ton heavy mech that shares a lot of role with the Catapult. Broadly, the Archer does the same fire support role but is a little better armored with more secondary weapons. It’s also much less cool, as it isn’t the first heavy ‘mech you get in MW4 Vengeance.

As with the many of the other classic ‘mechs, there are 29 variants that have been created over the years, many with minimal differences from each other. These mechs have all been reviewed based on a standard F through S scale, which you can find described on our landing page here (along with all the other ‘mech reviews).

Battletech Archer. Credit: 40khamslam

Variants

ARC-2R

The stock Archer variant, this is almost good. A pair of LRM 20s is a lot of firepower, it’s well armored, has adequate ammo, and it can fire a pair of medium lasers in either the front or rear arc. Where it falls apart is having no additional heat sinks, so even standing still firing nothing but the LRMs will rapidly overheat. I’d consider this pretty decent if it swapped the rear medium lasers for a pair of heat sinks, but with insufficient heat sinking I have to recommend avoiding this. 1477 BV is too much to pay for a mech that can’t do anything without overheating.

My rating: F

Perigrin note: The 2R is bad, but I wouldn’t say it is F bad. Probably a D- though.

ARC-1A

A primitive version of the 2R, this is no better. Cheaper at 1269 BV, but still can’t shoot the LRMs. And it’s slower. And less armored.

My rating: F

ARC-2K

While better than the 2R, I still don’t like this variant much. It trades the medium lasers, some missile tubes, and a bit of armor for a pair of large lasers. While this does mean the pair of LRM 15s can fire without overheating, the large lasers will overheat the mech if they’re both fired – and generally they share a similar range bracket to the LRMs, so you’d wish you’re firing both. At 1356 BV this is a hair cheaper than a Catapult C1 with the same ability to shoot LRMs, making it mostly a question of whether you want a bit more armor or the jump jet mobility.

My rating: C

Hastati Sentinels Archer. Credit: Jack Hunter

ARC-2Rb

The royal Star League upgrade of the stock Archer, this adds quite a bit of capability. While it loses one rear firing medium laser, it picks up double heat sinks and adds Artemis IV to the LRM 20s. CASE protects the ammo, which is spread across both side torsos, so while there’s decent risk of an ammo explosion, that happening won’t completely cripple the mech. Artemis pushes the reliability of the missiles up quite a bit – an average cluster roll is 16 missiles instead of 12, and the minimum is 9 instead of 6. It can fire both front medium lasers and the LRMs at a run without heating up, which is a bit excessive, but as a mech with only engine heat sinks there’s no real way for it to sink less. It did go up to 1705 BV, but I think this is very capable at that price.

My rating: B

ARC-2S

This is another catapult-equivalent, carrying a pair of LRM 15s at 1393 BV. It carries the same mix of front and rear facing medium lasers, but also adds a pair of SRM 4s. It runs a bit hot firing everything front facing, and can only fire the LRMs without heating up if it stands still. It still ends up as a good way to bring a bunch of armor with a good mix of long and short ranged weapons.

My rating: B-

ARC-2W

What if you took the stock archer, did nothing to alleviate the heat issues, and took away some armor? Oh, and threw an ammo bomb in the center torso. It drops to 1338 BV with the same pair of LRM 20s as the 2R and the SRMs of the 2S, but really makes me question the Wolf’s Dragoons mech designers.

My rating: F

Perigrin Note: I have no shortage of mean things to say about the 2W, it is genuinely one of the single worse mech variants in the game. It overheats it’s pilots and kills them and also it is less rugged and not any better at the Archer’s actual fucking job of shooting LRMs at thing.

Legion of Vega Archer. Credit: SRM

ARC-4M

This is a 2Rb with an extra rear facing medium laser and 1 less ton of ammo. It still has 12 turns of shooting both LRM 20s, so I’d say this is better in most games, but it’s not a huge difference. Still costs the same 1705 BV.

My rating: B

ARC-4M2

Take a 4M, up the BV to 1742, and trade the medium lasers for ER medium lasers. It’s a wash. If you’ve got the extra 37 BV, take this. Otherwise, take the 4M. They’ll both work pretty much exactly the same.

My rating: B

ARC-5CS

If 40 missiles aren’t enough, this variant has 60. Four LRM 15s, all with Artemis IV, means it puts a lot of missiles out and has the heat sinking to do so. Armor is slightly but not significantly lighter, though the presence of an XL engine does make it much more vulnerable to crits or losing a side torso, and it doesn’t have CASE to protect it. With two tons of ammo in each leg, this variant needs to be extremely cautious of getting kicked. That said, at 1609 BV it has more firepower than a 2Rb/4M for cheaper.

My rating: B-

Perigrin Note: XL engines are not a huge deal on fire support mechs, as ideally they should be far enough back that they are not going to take enough damage to lose a whole side torso. Also, this mech is way more likely to die from an ammo explosion compared to losing a side torso, there is a lot of ammo in it and the legs get hit more than you would think.

Northwind Highlanders Archer. Credit: SRM

ARC-5R

Similar to the 2K, this upgrades the missiles with Artemis IV and the lasers to ER versions. While it’s not heat constrained firing the missiles, it can’t shoot both missiles and lasers at the same time, despite them having the same range bands. At 1672 BV, I would take one of the other variants – either a 5CS for a bit less, or a 4M for a bit more.

My rating: C

ARC-5S

Instead of upgrading this Archer’s ability to damage its primary target, this variant upgrades the close in defenses – the medium lasers are replaced by medium pulse lasers, and it picks up a pair of streak SRM 2s. It only has a pair of LRM 15s, giving it the same firepower at range as a 2K or 2S, but with an XL engine making it brittle. At 1353 BV it costs about the same as those, so you’ve got a reasonable choice of whether you prefer durability or support weapons. For my BV, I’m choosing the 2S.

My rating: C

ARC-5W

Instead of any lasers at all, the secondary weapons on this variant are replaced with SRM 4s (along with too much ammo). An XL engine means it doesn’t need to lose any armor to do this, and there’s enough heat sinking to fire everything, but I’m not a fan of how much risk there is for ammo explosions taking out the entire mech. Despite having CASE, a side torso ammo explosion will still kill it. 1337 BV is cheaper than the stock 2R, and it can actually fire the missiles, so it’s not all bad.

My rating: C

Perigrin Note: The 5W also has a Narc launcher, so if any mech is idiotic enough to close in to Narc range the 5W can hit it and get a little extra value on it’s missile attacks.

Archer Battlemech
Archer Credit: Perigrin

ARC-6S

Another of the many variants with a pair of Artemis IV equipped LRM 20s, this one uses a light engine instead of an XL. With only 2 crit slots in each side torso instead of 3, it’s much less brittle than the XL engine some of these variants use. It does carry far too much streak SRM 2 ammo, but otherwise at 1694 BV it’s pretty similar to the 2Rb/4M/4M2.

My rating: B

ARC-6W

Finally, something unique! Instead of LRMs, this has an absurd alpha strike with 8 rocket launcher 20s facing forward, and two RL 10s facing backwards. Each can only fire once, but it’s an awful lot of missiles at short range. It’ll heat up like mad when you fire it (but at least you don’t have any ammo to risk a heat explosion on), but it’s a potential 160 points of damage. 1405 BV is still on the cheaper end, and while I don’t really think this is good it’s at least fun.

My rating: D

Perigrin note: This mech absolutely rips in the same way as something like the 8th edition version of the Deathstrike in 40k. It will usually not accomplish a ton and act as kind of a mediocre hull, but every few games you will get an easy shot at close range and just absolutely annihilate some 3000 BV clanbominaton with 160 points of damage. I love this thing.

ARC-7C

Jumping far ahead in the timeline, this dark age era variant is what happens when you want a mech to look like an archer, but cost as much as a clan mech. It’s armored like a standard archer, but has a larger XL engine that pushes it up to a 5/8 profile. All the weapons are upgraded to clan grade, with a pair of ER medium lasers facing forward and a pair facing the rear, as well as Artemis V equipped LRM 20s. Artemis V is a huge boost to firepower, the equivalent of a targeting computer, but this mech ends up costing far too much, especially as the medium lasers have a targeting computer. At 2408 BV, you’re spending a ton on a mech that still has an IS XL engine. A 4M2 has roughly the same weapons, though is slower, but a 3/5 pilot would give it the same accuracy at only 2090 BV, or a Crossbow Prime at 3/5 is the same speed with clan missiles for 2195 BV.

My rating: D

Ryuken-Yon Archer. Credit: Jack Hunter

ARC-7L

Stealth armor trades mobility for durability here. While it drops down to a 3/5, the stealth armor gives it additional protection at long ranges, and it has enough heat sinking to comfortably keep the armor turned on while firing both LRM 20s. It also picks up a couple jump jets, and while jumping 3 hexes isn’t a lot it does give it a bit of additional positioning ability. At 1920 BV it’s far from the cheapest archer but it brings some interesting options without sacrificing firepower.

My rating: C

Perigrin Note: 3/5/3 is a great movement profile for a long range fire support mech, it can jump well enough to get into position but it doesn’t waste too much BV on speed. The Stealth Armor is super cool because the 7L should outrange most mechs and have no difficulties getting that stealth bonus. The price is a bit too high for what you pay, but it is a really well designed mech, just unfortunately expensive.

ARC-7S

This is a 6S that drops one medium laser to upgrade the other to an ER medium, and swaps the rear facing ER small laser for a small pulse laser. It also drops the hand actuators, which generally won’t matter. At 1658 BV, it saves you 36 BV over the 6S for a functionally identical mech.

My rating: B

ARC-8M

By dropping from LRM 20 racks to LRM 15s this has enough room for a single ER large laser and trio of ER mediums, making it sort of similar to the 2K. Unlike that mech, it has enough heat sinking to fire the ER large laser and both LRM racks, so this mostly comes down to a question of whether you’d prefer to have the 8 damage from the ER large or an additional potential 10 damage from the larger missile racks on other variants. If we’re assuming 9s on the cluster table (roll a 7+2 for artemis IV), either variant would put out 32 damage. At 1759 BV it costs about the same as a 4M2.

My rating: B

Archer. Credit: Rockfish
Archer. Credit: Rockfish

ARC-9K

Stepping away from big LRM racks (but not from missiles), this carries four MML-5 launchers. MMLs can fire either LRM or SRM ammo, so you gain a lot of flexibility in exchange for a loss of pure damage. With only 20 total missile tubes this is less ranged damage than any other variant so far, but the SRMs bring that damage back up when you get close, as they don’t have the minimum range issues that plague inner sphere LRMs. The light PPCs this carries instead of medium lasers disappoint me, as they have a minimum range. Finally, this variant carries a c3 slave. While I think this works OK even without it, it becomes very good in a c3 lance, as it lets you use the SRMs at much longer range than you’d otherwise be able to. 1391 BV is also very cheap compared to many other archers.

My rating: B+

Perigrin Note: This is an A grade mech. C3 is some nice upside, but the main thing is that these weapons are incredibly good together. It is more accurate to say the medium lasers were replaced by the MMLs, and the light PPCs are swapping in for one of the LRM racks. This mech has 20 LRMs at long range, combined with 15 damage from light PPCs. That is 35 potential damage, and because of math it actually has slightly higher average damage per turn than a mech firing 2 LRM-20s, though in practice this is a bit of a wash between the two power wise. Once a poor bastard closes in though, the 9K is an absolute monster. Compared to the Archer standard of 4 medium lasers, the SRM profile on the MML has twice the potential damage, 40 compared to 20, and will average somewhere around 20-24 damage worth of SRMs landing, meaning that on average it defends itself about the same and it has the chance to roll hot and just unmake someone with SRMs. MMLs are incredibly good because they can chip in at long range and obliterate someone up close. The minimum range on the light PPCs is totally irrelevant because the actual close in defense comes from the MMLs. This is probably my single favorite Archer.

My rating: A+

ARC-9KC

It’s the same as the 9K but switches to a c3 boosted slave and trades one light PPC for an ER medium laser. It’s the same mech in 99% of situations, and at 1361 BV saves you 30 BV.

My rating: B+

Perigrin Note: Trading a light PPC for an ER medium kinda sucks, but the swap to a boosted C3 system means it will be better in some games. I would only take this over the 9K if you really want boosted C3 though.

ARC-9M

Although this variant slows down to a 3/5, it also carries 5 improved jump jets, giving it fairly unusual mobility. Because it needed to drop down to LRM 15s, it loses some damage potential and doesn’t make up for it with secondary weapons. At 1811 BV, I’d only take this if I know I’m playing on a map where I’m going to need the jump capabilities.

My rating: C

Archer. Credit: Jack Hunter

ARC-9R

This carries a pair of extended LRMs, which have a minimum range of 10 hexes. They’re bad. This mech is bad.

My rating: F

ARC-9W

Another stealth variant like the 7L, this carries a void signature system. Void signature makes the mech harder to hit if it stands still, but does generate 10 points of heat and makes the mech carrying it less accurate. While in theory a long ranged mech is a decent choice for this, the reduced accuracy makes the LRMs less effective and the archer will have more trouble staying in effective range. The paired ER large lasers this also carries are mostly useless, as it only has the heat capacity to effectively fire them if the void signature system is turned off and the LRMs aren’t shot at the same time. The fancy technology adds up, pushing this up to 2004 BV, quite a bit more than any other archer that isn’t mounting clan technology.

My rating: D

Archer C

This is a very simple upgrade to the 2R, swapping the weapons out for clan versions and adding heat sinks. Clan LRMs are much much better than inner sphere ones, weighing half as much and having no minimum range, so this solves almost every problem the 2R has, and as it doesn’t do anything crazy it also doesn’t cost a ton at 1811 BV. The only real problem is that it doesn’t have CASE so is at risk of an ammo explosion.

My rating: A

Perigrin Note: Sorry Jack but I am gonna have to disagree here. For roughly 350 more BV than a C4C Catapult, you get a mech with 2 incredibly expensive clan lasers pointing backwards, giving it only roughly twice the front aspect laser firepower compared to a C4C, and the Archer C isn’t any better at LRMs than the C4C. Not having a minimum range is nice but LRM mechs really should be hanging back, if you are consistently getting screwed by the minimum range you need to bring better escorts and pick better firing positions. The Archer C does have better armor, but I am much less concerned about armor on a backline LRM mech than I am on a frontline mech. I genuinely kind of hate this mech. In addition, if you are really committed to getting 2 Clan LRM 20s, the Stormcrow D is only 52 BV more, has similar if slightly thinner armor, moves 6/9 instead of 4/6, and, while it does have less backup weapons, it has a huge amount of ammo and is pretty fast, so it should be able to make much better use of the lack of minimum range on those LRMs. There are just better mechs at everything that the Archer C is trying to do.

My rating: F

Archer C 2

Another relatively straightforward upgrade, this time to the 2S, this archer carries medium pulse lasers, Artemis IV equipped LRM 20s, and streak SRM 4s. It’s durable, has great firepower, carries CASE, and only overheats by a little if it’s shooting absolutely everything. I’d have liked to trade one ton of SRM ammo for another heat sink, but that’s not a big issue. 2167 BV is high, but unlike the 7C I think it’s worth it.

My rating: A

Perigrin note: This one is actually pretty good. Maybe not A good, but good.

Special Variants

Wolf’s Dragoons Archer. Credit: Jack Hunter

ARC-2R Rubinsky

Swapping out the LRMs for SRMs and a hatchet turns this very much into a brawler. At 70 tons, the archer is heavy enough for the hatchet to be a potential head-chopper, and it carries enough armor while not being terribly slow that it should be able to get into range to do so. The 24 SRMs it carries can do monstrous things at close range (see Peri’s comments on the 9K above), and as all it has in the hatchet arm is a medium laser you don’t lose much when you’re going in for a chop. At 1411 BV, I think this is a pretty solid hidden brawler.

My rating: B+

Archer Wolf

Yet another fairly expensive clan refit, this has a pair of LRM 20s with Artemis IV and a pair of ER large lasers. It also carries ECM and an anti-missile system, making this relatively more durable than other archers. It doesn’t have quite enough heat capacity to fire everything, though it can fire both LRM racks and one large laser without concerns, spiking the second laser on a turn when it has a high chance to hit and isn’t concerned with the -1MP penalty. 2365 BV is the most of any archer other than the bad 7C, but this is much more effective than that version. I would generally prefer the C 2 variant instead if I’m looking at spending over 2000 BV, but this wouldn’t disappoint me.

My rating: B-

Perigrin note: This one makes pretty good use of the Clan tech that is inside of it, but 9 times out of 10 I would rather spend 2400-ish BV on a Timber Wolf.

Conclusion

The archer is an extremely B rated mech. While there are some real stinkers and a few particularly good variants, mostly this is an effective but not stand-out mech where you’re messing around with exactly which secondary weapons you want. I don’t think it’s usually something to build a force around, it’s an effective missile boat with a few options that make it function as a brawler, particularly given that it’s well armored.

Perigrin note: The Archer is an extremely C rated mech. I agree that it is easily best used as part of a force after you have already added a couple of mechs, but the more expensive Archers are just not particularly good compared to other LRM/fire support mechs. There are a few really good ones, but they tend to be on the cheaper side.