At last, we are looking at one of the most iconic mechs in all of Battletech, the Atlas. When you say “Battletech Mech” to someone, either the Mad Cat or the Atlas immediately spring to mind. With it’s grinning skull face, tremendous size, and sheer brick-shithousery, the Atlas is a massively intimidating mech to face down. The model is gigantic, the stats are potent, and it makes a fantastic centerpiece for any force. An important note before we continue is that there are 3 versions of the Atlas, the Atlas, the Atlas II, and the Atlas III. We will only be covering the base Atlas in this article, but the model could reasonably be used for an Atlas II.
As you can see, it is a big, ugly, mean looking bastard of a mech. That appearance is canonically designed to strike fear into the hearts of anyone who is on the receiving end of the great Steiner wall of steel that is an Atlas. I have always loved the Atlas, but I rarely actually use it for a variety of reasons. Atlas’s tend to be very slow and very heavily armored, and several early variants suffer from a lack of long ranged damage. This tends to make them complete fire magnets, and unlike a 3S Banshee or an 8Q Awesome, 3025 Atlas’s lack the ability to clap back when they start taking fire. Later variants correct this, but the slow speed never stops being a major issue. 3/5/0 is just not great for a mech that wants to be used proactively, so Atlas’s tend to be more defensive and reactive than active. Atlas’s are also 100 ton mechs, so getting them to go much faster than 3/5/0 is pretty difficult. Let’s go over some variants, in a slightly different order than usual because of annoying naming conventions with the Atlas specifically.
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 of our other ‘mech reviews).
Starting out weak, the AS7-D suffers very badly from being one of the protoplasmic ooze mechs of Battletech. Costing 1897 BV, Atlas’s start expensive and stay expensive. The AS7-D carries an AC-20, 4 medium lasers, two of which point backwards, an LRM-20, and an SRM-6. This is a shockingly disappointing weapon set for 1897 BV, short ranged and with 92 BV of medium laser pointing in the wrong direction. A single LRM-20 is just not enough long range defense on something this expensive and slow. The Atlas does have very thick armor, but the lack of significant long range defense means it is just going to get shot to death and fall over constantly. If you want a big, scary as hell, terrifying assault mech, go for a 3S Banshee. The 3S is the same speed, costs less BV at 1751, has thinner but still very thick armor, 2 PPCs, an AC-10, 4 medium lasers that point the correct direction, an SRM-6, and 2 small lasers. You get the same expected damage up close and have actual ability to fight back at medium-long range, and all of your weapons point forwards. The AS7-D struggles to find a niche for itself as an overly expensive target of a mech, which will very often find itself kited to death by machines that cost half as much. Do not use the AS7-D.
Costing 1787 BV, the AS7-A is a weird one. It trades the weapons for 2 forwards facing medium lasers, an AC-5, an LRM-10, and 5 SRM-6s. That is a genuinely terrifying amount of SRM, but once again for the price and at this speed a mech that only has an LRM-10 and an AC-5 to shoot back at anything with even a moderate amount of ranged damage is just not good. It is funny as hell to slap someone with 30 SRMs, but it isn’t good on something this slow. Look into the Arctic Wolf if you just want to spray SRMs at someone.
The AS7-D-DC is an AS7-D that trades some ammo and the two backwards lasers for a Command Console. Command Consoles are actually really good if you are playing a rules variant where they do anything, but the AS7-D is not a good thing to put a command console on. Get a Cyclops instead.
Dr Atlas is a pretty great upgrade. Costing 2101 BV, the Dr trades the AC-20 out for a Heavy PPC, the SRM out for a Streak SRM-6, and adds an ECM and a C3 slave. This is quite a lot better, as the addition of a Heavy PPC gives it some actual long range teeth and keeps people from just kiting it out forever. It is still pretty damn expensive for what you are getting, but it is nowhere near as bad as the other AS7-D’s. It is merely a mediocre assault mech, rather than a bad one.
So the K variant of the Atlas was the result of the glorious Draconis Combine looking at the Atlas and deciding to make it bad but in a different way. The AS7-K comes in at 2175 BV and makes a lot of changes, some good and some bad. For weaponry, it carries an LRM-20, a gauss rifle, 2 ER large lasers, 2 medium pulse lasers, and an anti-missile system. This is a pretty good spread of weapons, but the AS7-K does have a couple of major issues that hold it back. For one, it only has 20 single heat sinks, so it runs pretty blistering hot, and you will rarely be able to fire both ER large lasers at the same time. The second issue is that it has an XL engine. Inner Sphere XL engines have a very bad reputation for lowering the durability of a mech, and while I personally think they are less bad than people make them out to be, it is still noticeably easier to shoot the engine out of an AS7-K. The K also has a lot of ammo and a lot of explosive gauss rifle, and no CASE to protect you from losing the whole mech to an explosion. The lack of durability, mediocre heat management, and general early Battletech mechitude of the AS7-K just make it one of the least exciting advanced tech upgrades in the game. Take a Thunder Hawk if you want a long ranged gunline type assault mech.
Ok but what if the AS7-K was marginally faster though?
The AS7-K2 costs 2160 BV and upgrades the engine so that it can move 4/6/0. This is a decent upgrade, but 4/6/0 is still not a fantastic movement profile. For equipment, it carries a gauss rifle, 2 ER large lasers, 2 streak SRM-6s, and an ECM. It does upgrade the heat sinks to doubles, but then drops down to only the 10 that come free with the mech. So you have the exact same heat issues as the K. It isn’t good. The K2 isn’t better in any meaningful way, and it upsets me that it is so massively expensive for something with no merit other than it’s durability, which it sabotages by having an XL engine and a ton of explosive components. Skip this.
Ok but what if the K2 could jump though?
Costing too much at 2346 BV, the K3 trades the streak SRM-6s of the K2 for enough jump jets to move 4/6/3 and a streak SRM-4. Its fine, but it doesn’t jump 4 hexes for some unknowable reason and also it has the same heat sinks, meaning it overheats even harder than the K2.
Costing 2153 BV, the K4 upsets me. It carries 2 ER PPCs, a RAC/5, 2 SRM-6s, and an ECM. It uses an XL engine to move 4/6/0, and it only has 13 double heat sinks, giving it a heat capacity of 26 heat with a running long range alpha strike heat of 36 heat. Overheating by 10 just to fire 2 ER PPCs and a RAC/5 is bad. It’s bad. I hate it here. Why do these mechs cost so fucking much? Just buy Banshees, invest in Banshees, all hail the Banshee, our master and our lord.
Costing 2158, the District of Columbia here is the same as an AS7-K, just with one fewer medium pulse laser and less LRM ammo. It has a Command Console, which is really good if you are using the optional rule that makes them really good. A +2 bonus to your initiative roll is nothing to sneeze at. The K is still not a fantastic mech, but this is a lot better than the AS7-D-DC.
My god, can it be? An Atlas without major problems? Costing 1849 BV, the AS7-RS has the same armor and heat sinks as the AS7-D, but trades the weapons out for an AC/10, 2 large lasers, an LRM-15, and an SRM-4. This is considerably better. It doesn’t have major heat issues and while the range on AC/10s and large lasers isn’t super long, it is definitely better than the AC-20 and medium lasers that they are replacing. No significant notes here, I would literally always rather have an RS instead of an AS7-D. It is also an introtech mech and it is so much more functional as an assault mech that it isn’t even funny. Still too expensive, but you are paying for all of that armor on this mech, and it is quite tough.
The AS7-S is an AS7-D with double heat sinks and 2 extra guns that shoot backwards.
So with that out of the way, why the fuck would I pay 1929 BV for an upgrade to a mech that already had perfectly fine heat management, that only adds more heat sinking, that costs more because it is spending BV on 2 backwards firing SRM-2s. This is hilarious, its funny as hell, they fixed exactly 0 of the problems with the AS7-D and have the gall to have it cost more BV. Rear firing weapons should straight up be free in terms of BV, they are such a waste. This mech costs nearly 2000 BV and yet only has a single and heavily unreliable weapon that has a short range longer than 3 hexes. This is terrible, the Atlas is such a shittily designed mech, it is a big fucking target that is going to try to waddle into range of someone and die horribly on it’s way in. If one of the Atlas’s with only an LRM-20 for ranged defense kills one of your mechs, you deserve it. It is pathetically slow, easy to evade, and can’t hurt you at all if you simply walk backwards. On top of that, even against unaware, new players, the thing looks scary as hell so they are not going to want to get close to it. I would rather have a 1000 BV Hunchback instead, which also has pure short ranged damage but has the decency to be 4/6/0 and cheap.
The S2 is still not great. It costs 2378 BV, firmly in Clan mech price range, and carries a heavy gauss rifle, 2 ER large lasers, an LRM-15 with artemis, and an ECM. It also has enough heat sinks for once, almost heat neutral and all of it’s weapons have similar range bands, so, decent work. It just isn’t exciting, it doesn’t do anything cool or exceptional. For this price you can have a mech that carries 3 gauss rifles, or a mech with Clan grade weapons that will beat the hell out of this, or a mech that carries similar damage but can maneuver circles around the poor Atlas. It isn’t bad, its just so mediocre for the price. Buy an Awesome instead, the Awesome is just better at being a ranged combat unit.
Costing an identical 2378 BV, the S3 is a weird sidegrade. It trades all the guns for a standared gauss rifle, 2 PPCs, an LRM-15 with artemis, an ECM, an anti-missile system, and 3 small lasers. It’s fine, I like it a bit more than the S2 just because I find standard gauss to be much easier to use, but like, it is a bit of a wash in terms of which is better. Pick your poison between cool lightning guns or the heavy gauss rifle.
The S3-DC trades the ECM and small lasers for a command console. This is probably the best of the DC Atlas’s, and I would take this instead of any of those. It is a long ranged platform with enough heat sinks and a ton of armor, so it will keep that command console nice and safe for a good long time, hanging back and buffing all of your dudes. This is actually a good command console caddy, and I recommend using the command console special rules, getting a buff for taking a command mech is fun and thematic.
Rating: B- if you are using the command console rules, C- otherwise.
Wow we had too many nearly functional Atlas variants in a row, let’s scale that back a bit. The AS7-S4 is a miserable, overpriced, incompetently designed mech that does not understand how to be a decent assault mech. It costs a staggering 2568 BV and comes equipped with stealth armor, 2 ER PPCs, a gauss rifle, and 2 medium X-Pulse lasers. This is a downright pathetic weapon spread for a mech this expensive, being matched or exceeded by a wide range of heavy and assault mechs that cost nearly 1000 BV less than the S4, that are faster than the S4, that don’t fucking overheat trying to do their jobs like the S4. It builds 9 heat per turn running and firing both PPCs and the gauss with stealth armor on, and while sitting still it still overheats by 7 if it wants to use that stealth. Stealth armor is broadly overpriced and painful to use, it is never remotely as good as you think it should be and I have yet to find a single mech that uses it that I don’t completely despise. I despise any mech that overheats when firing it’s longest range weapons and nothing else, because I see it as appallingly, unbearably fucking terrible design to build a mech that can’t even fire all of it’s primary weapons without overheating. They are never worth their BV and the AS7-S4 is a poster child for an overpriced waste of advanced technology. Get a mech that is actually good, like an Awesome, a Thunder Hawk, a Regent, a Banshee, just any fucking semi functional assault mech that exists in this game.
The AS7-C is an AS7-K with one less medium pulse laser and a C3 slave. It is not better.
The AS7-CM is an AS7-K with one less ER large laser and a C3 master. It is not better. Doing a C3 lance that is just Atlas’s is funny though.
Rating: F is for funny
The AS8-D is annoying because it has forced me to use the full legal name of every Atlas variant. The 8D is an advanced variant that actually might be worth looking at. Costing a fairly expensive 2432 BV, the AS8-D carries a deeply menacing mix of weapons, with a RAC5, 2 light PPCs, a snub nosed PPC, 2 MML-9s, and some small lasers that don’t matter. The MMLs are a little light on ammo, with only 1 ton per launcher, but you shouldn’t run out too fast unless you are stuck in close or at long range for the whole game. The AS8-D has a bit of an overheating feature, and I say feature rather than problem because the 8D has TSM. This means that once it has built a bit of heat, it starts moving 4/6/0 and now its punches do 20 damage and its kicks hit for 40. The weaponry is a touch light with a lack of headchoppers, but all the weapons it carries are quite good and once every few games someone will walk too close to this thing and you will get to beat the fuck out of them with 20 damage punchies. My only real issue is that I wish we had dropped the small lasers for a couple of extra tons of MML ammo, MMLs are incredibly good weapons that are good at all ranges and having to ration your ammo like you need to with this mech is annoying. The mech is fine, potentially really good if you get your hands on someone, but fine even if it is kept at range.
Costing 2668, the AS8-K carries a gauss rifle, 2 ER large lasers, 2 rear firing ER medium lasers because god is dead, an MML-5, and a streak SRM-6. The interesting part is that it has a heavy duty gyro and ballistic-reinforced armor. The armor halves all damage taken from missiles and ballistic weapons, and the gyro can take an extra hit before being destroyed. Don’t get me wrong, ballistic-reinforced armor is incredibly fucking strong in the right local meta, and there will be games that this thing completely clowns on because the entire enemy force can’t kill it, but the best use of the damage reducing armor is to let lighter units survive more than they should, not to make the heaviest units disgustingly resilient. The problem is that energy weapons are much more common in most local metas, so a lot of the time your special armor won’t do anything, and 2668 is just a lot to spend. Also it has an XL engine, which I somehow missed until now. Spending a ton of BV to make the most durable mech possible and then putting a fucking XL engine in it is the height of comedy. It is the ultimate answer to something like a Thunder Hawk or Annihilator though, it’ll completely clown on either of those mechs and it won’t be even vaguely close.
Costing only 10 BV less at 2658 BV, the KE trades the streak SRM-6 and two rear firing medium lasers to not have an XL engine anymore. It also no longer has enough heat sinks to fire all of it’s long range weapons without building heat. The heat isn’t that bad to manage, but still, come the fuck on.
God is dead and every Atlas sucks! Costing 2789 BV, the 8S is a full Clan-tech rebuild of the Atlas. It is still on the slow side at 3/5/0, but it carries a Clan XL engine, which is a lot tougher than a standard XL, and has packed all but 2 of it’s crit slots with all kinds of random bullshit. For weapons we have an improved heavy gauss rifle, which is a massive improvement over the normal one, 2 Clan grade ER large lasers, 2 rear firing Clan ER medium lasers that are still a total waste and I wish I never had to see one again, an LRM-5, a streak SRM-6, and an ECM. This is a pretty menacing load of weapons, but two of them shoot fucking backwards and are a complete waste of 216 BV. Yeah 2 Clan ER mediums are 216 BV, this thing would be a better mech if it just didn’t have them. There is some math and rounding and stuff that happens with heat loads but that is still just a waste. Defensively it is just an Atlas, so it is pretty tough but also slow and with a tendency to draw fire. If you want a heavy gauss rifle get a 6S Banshee, that mech is basically a HGR on legs. The Atlas is just a worse version of the Banshee. Just use a Banshee.
C variants tend to be highlights of a chassis but this is not one of them. Costing 2340 BV, the Atlas C is the same as an AS7-D, just with a Clan LRM-20, a Clan streak SRM-6, and a Clan Ultra AC/20. I adore Clan UAC/20s, but the Atlas C doesn’t carry nearly enough ammo or nearly enough speed to actually use it. Skip this one. Also they didn’t upgrade the medium lasers, which is very funny.
Atlas C 2
Costing 2736 BV the Atlas C 2 is good. Like, it is actually a good mech. I am surprised too. The C2 is a better update than the C, carrying a frightening weapons load of a Clan ER PPC, a Clan LBX-20, 2 Clan ER large lasers, a Clan streak SRM-6, and 2 Clan medium pulse lasers that actually point FORWARDS! It has enough ammo, and has pretty good heat management. It is also the same defensively as a standard Atlas, and the longer range of Clan weapons goes a long way towards making the 3/5/0 movement hurt less. This is a functional, if unremarkable, assault mech. Which is a LOT better than most Atlas’s manage.
Atlas C 3
Costing 2606 BV, the C 3 is a meme mech. It has a gauss rifle, 2 Clan ER large lasers, and an Arrow IV missile artillery piece. Arrow IVs are tons and tons of fun to use, but 2606 is a hilariously overkill amount to spend on artillery. Considering that artillery has a range measured in entire map sheets instead of hexes, putting one on something this tough is ridiculous and silly. There is no reason to build an Arrow IV mech that is also built to withstand frontline combat, and the Atlas C 3 might be the only one I know of that actually does. If you somehow manage to fire all 20 Arrow IV missiles, it can just wade in itself to finish off anything that survived the bombardment, so if you play a lot of very long games there is possibly some value here. It is incredibly dumb though.
Rating: C- but a very funny C-
The Samsonov is fun. It costs 1884 BV and is a standard Atlas defensively, and for weapons it carries an AC-20 and 2 PPCs. This lets it defend itself much better at mid-long range than a single LRM-20 does. I like it, it is a very simple mech, basically an Awesome that trades one PPC for a slight price hike, an AC-20, and a boatload more armor. No notes, mech is fine.
Pew Pew lasers. The Danielle costs 1986 BV and carries 6 forwards firing medium lasers, an LRM-20, and an AC/20. This is scary at point blank range but will be outranged and kited to death just like all the other short ranged Atlas variants.
The Jurn is an odd duck. It is an AS7-K that costs 2052 BV and trades out the weaponry for a hyper-velocity AC/10, a snub PPC, a Thunderbolt 15, 2 light PPCs, a command console, an active probe, and some sensor dispensers that I am sure do something. This is a weird mech with weird weapons, weird gear, and a weird role. I don’t hate it. Not great though.
The Jedra costs 1971 BV and carries an XL engine, 2 light gauss rifles, 5 ER medium lasers, and 2 SRM-4s. It’s fine. I dislike light gauss rifles but they exist for a reason here. It just isn’t anything of a mech, it is sort of fine but has nothing to make it stand out.
The Atlas sure is one of the mechs of all time. This is a case where an iconic and awesome mech is deeply let down by game mechanics and bad variants. The Atlas has an identity as the toughest, hardest, biggest, and best mech, but it never lives up to that. The best Atlas’s are merely good, not great or fantastic the way the best Awesomes or Battlemasters are. Atlas’s are either pathetically short ranged or weirdly undergunned for the price, and while they are not unusable you are better off with another assault mech. Invest in Banshees, the Banshee is our new god, all will shiver and bow their heads in fear as it takes it’s place as the new king of all mechs. Ia Ia, Banshee Ftagn!