BattleTech: Mech Overview: Banshee

Howdy and welcome back to Mech Overview. My story with the Banshee begins at a young age, where I rolled a 3E on an RAT and my opponent got a Devastator. He beat my entire ass. From then on I perpetually had in my head that the Banshee was a terrible mech; one of the worst assault mechs in the game. I barely ever got the chance to play BattleTech though. When I started very heavily and constantly playing this game a couple of years ago, I took a Banshee to a game because it had come in a box with a Centurion, a mech I really liked. I had painted them up as pirates and was introducing a new player to the game, so it seemed like a great time to use it. In my mind, the Banshee was terrible, but it was big, intimidating, and canonically a common pirate king mech. He would kill my big assault mech easily and feel cool, therefor wanting to continue playing the game. The Banshee proceeded to kick massive ass that game, punching off heads and refusing to die. It turns out that when you play the game on the table instead of in your head, the quality of mechs shifts around quite a lot and the Banshee is fucking awesome.

Banshee. Credit: Rockfish
Banshee. Credit: Rockfish

God damn look at this sexy motherfucker. The Banshee is an ugly slab of metal with a shit-eating grin and some big “I am going to beat you to death… and then beat you to death again” energy. It doesn’t quite have the skull-faced menace of the Atlas but I am a way bigger fan of the overall silhouette that the Banshee has and the jack-o-lantern jagged smile is still awesome looking. I am heavily disappointed that CGL has only given us updated art and an updated model for the 3S/5S/12S Banshee here, not the classic 3E.  Don’t get me wrong, this design rocks hard and I love the head in particular, but it isn’t a good representation of a 3E. The 3E has two hands, no missiles, and no extra lasers, so it has a hunched, predatory look to it that the SRM pack and extra PPC arm messes up badly. The MW5 Banshee looks fucking awesome and has the 3E variant, completely with the ability to beat the hell out of people with your bare hands. I have five 3E Banshees painted up in the same scheme so that I can run a whole mob of them to go beat people to death.

This is not going to be an unbiased article. I use a Banshee in almost every single game of BattleTech that I play. I run entire lances of Banshees as components of forces. I am the Banshee’s strongest soldier. If there is one Banshee fan on the planet, it’s me. If there are no Banshee fans, I have been beaten to death after landing a 10 damage head punch. I have an unquenchable thirst for more Banshees and for more Banshee miniatures. CGL please release a plastic 3E; I’ll singlehandedly end up buying like thirty of them. I need a lance of Banshees in each color scheme I have painted up.

Non-S Variants

The Banshee is a tale of two mechs. There are the reject Banshees and the S series Banshees. The S series are all more conventional assault mechs with significant firepower and a juggernaut role. Non-S Banshees (or as I call them, the Badshees), are typically lightly armed for their weight and are anything but conventional, with weird designs and strange use cases. We will be starting with the non-S Banshees, as it is a smaller category and is where the design originated.

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, the name of the box you can buy to get any of the mechs we have covered, and our general methodology).

The Ten Commandments of the Badshee

Non-S Banshees are unconventional mechs and you can’t use them like you use anything else. I make extensive use of this category of mech and they all share a number of traits and tactics that will allow you to get the most out of the King of Trash, our lord and savior the Banshee. Badshees are very effective but only if used with the right mindset.

  1. Thou Shall Not Treat the Badshee Like a Conventional Assault Mech. Most Badshees can’t just hang back and trade fire with other assaults and heavies; they will slowly lose. The 3Mr is an exception to this.
  2. Thou Shall Punch. Badshees are big, 95 ton motherfuckers who have 10 damage punches. You have entire PPCs for fists; you need to make sure that the enemy is being introduced to the Kansas City Special by any and all Badshees in your list. Badshees should at all times be maneuvering to get into close combat with enemy assault mechs, where they can punch them.
  3. Thou Shall Tank. The Banshee is a big, scary looking motherfucker with a ton of armor. The model is terrifying looking and fucking enormous on the table. S-series Banshees earn that menace. Badshees usually don’t, other than the 3Mr. Badshees are very cheap for 95 tonners and comparatively low threat. The more firepower that the enemy spends shooting your Badshee, the less firepower they can spend on your backline.
  4. Thou Shall Load Precision Ammo. Precision ammo is awesome in general and it makes all of the Badshee autocannons much better.
  5. Thou Shall Shoot. Most Badshees have at least one PPC. Literally always shoot the PPC if it is theoretically possible to land a hit, even on 12s. You lose nothing doing so. Don’t overheat unless you have a good shot, 8+ or better. Single wildcat PPC shots add up over the course of the game.
  6. Thou Shall Hunt in Packs. Badshees are cheap, really cheap for assault mechs. 1v1 an Atlas or Daishi will win. You simply need to have a pair of Badshees, or a Badshee and a medium mech buddy, to dogpile them and beat them to death. All mechs are equally vulnerable to getting hit by four 10 damage punches a turn, and that will kill the overwhelming majority of 3/5/0 assault mechs at shocking speed.
  7. Thou Shall Buy Piloting Skill. Piloting is cheap to increase. Taking a Badshee to 4/4, 4/3, or 4/2 will massively increase their ability to hit physical attacks while not costing too much. This is a huge force multiplier, as when punching you double the damage per turn of most of these mechs.
  8. Thou Shall Charge. Banshees are heavy motherfuckers and deal 10 damage per hex traveled on a charge. Threaten to charge constantly and remind your opponent of how you can hit them for 60 damage if they allow you to get close. The threat of the charge in itself is valuable, as it will draw fire into your Badshees and away from the part of your list that does the killing at range. The execution of the charge is even more valuable, and can often kill or cripple enemy mechs outright if one is allowed to land. Charge at every available opportunity. Badshees do more damage as a projectile than as a combat unit.
  9. Thou Shall Hide. Badshees will be drawing fire, this is intentional, but you need to spend their armor wisely. Hiding behind terrain while drawing attention to the fact that the big punch murderer is coming will sometimes get your opponent to misposition trying to get shots on it. If they enter the terrain to come deal with you, approach at full speed and beat the hell out of them while they are bogged down in terrain and can’t easily escape.
  10. Thou Shall Manipulate. Most Badshee warfare is based on deception. Play up the threat of your big chunky son, paint blood spatters on its fists, name each and every Badshee something terrifying. Paint skulls on them; glue spikes to them; make each Badshee a pirate lord in their own right, come to destroy everything your opponent loves. Track the kills of each Badshee and paint tally marks on them, and let your opponent know.

The path of the Badshee warrior is paved with failures and dejection. Your faith will be questioned with every enemy assault mech. Remember, they may have gauss rifles and heavy PPCs, but you have two of the most powerful guns to ever grace the inner sphere and a size 243 metal boot to kick ass with. Steel your heart against the temptation of lesser mechs, so called “good” mechs. They are optimal, dependable, boring. Badshees are exciting; they reward aggressive play, bold deceptions, and psychological warfare. Crack the cockpits of your opponent’s 3000 BV clanbominations with a steel fucking fist, reduce their pilots to a bleeding, twitching, screaming ruin, and cackle as their advanced technology fails to save them from the sheer, unmitigated savagery of the Badshee.

1E

Okay so hear me out: I think the 1E, despite being a primitive tech mech, is actually kinda decent. Costing 1458 BV the 1E is built with primitive technology, but actually manages to not completely suck for once. It moves 3/5/0 and carries a PPC, an AC/5, a small laser for some fucking reason, and a pair of medium lasers. It has very thick armor and, unusually for a primitive mech, it carries enough heat sinks to more or less never overheat in standard conditions. This is actually a really solid assault mech and is currently my pick for the best primitive mech in the game. It is pretty heavily outshined by other Banshee variants, but you can take one into a game and not completely hate yourself, something which isn’t true of most primitives.

RATING: C-

3E

The OG (original gorilla) Banshee, the 3E is a meme mech and has been for a long time. For 1422 BV you trade the medium lasers of the 1E to go from 3/5/0 to 4/6/0. This is a pretty big deal, it is way easier for a 4/6/0 mech to get a +1 or +2 TMM than it is for a 3/5/0 mech, which has to move in a straight line over open ground to manage it. Only carrying a PPC and an AC/5 is rough though, that is genuinely low damage and normally I would complain, but the BNC-3E has the benefit of carrying assault mech grade armor, keeping it alive for a shockingly long time. The 3E also has assault mech weight, throwing 10 damage punches and dealing up to 60 damage on a charge attack if it has a good run up. All 3 of your ranged weapons are heat negative, so you have no reason not to shoot every turn forever. The weapons are also all mounted in the torso, and combining this, its heat neutrality, and its big punchies, the 3E can just run up to a motherfucker and start punching the hell out of them while plinking away at distant targets with its long range guns.

If you compare the BNC-3E with a stock 6R Warhammer, at long range they both do 15 damage per round. The BNC-3E does 15 every round, while the Warhammer alternates between 20 and 10 every other round to keep heat from building up. The BNC-3E has higher uptime, thicker armor, and excellent physical attacks, so you can easily win a fight against a Warhammer if you can get in close to it.

All in all the BNC-3E is a cheap blunt object of a mech; it is ugly, obsolete, but it’ll still kill you dead if you ignore it or write it off. For a 3025 mech it ages great; a 10 point punch is always a 10 point punch and it can easily outnumber and out-ton modern assault mechs 2 to 1.

Rating: C. Reminder that we are grading against every mech in the game; a C is a very high score for a 3025 mech.

3Q

Breaking from the alphabetical order for a moment, the 3Q might be my favorite Banshee variant. In my experience this idiot box nearly always makes its BV back even though it really shouldn’t. For 1394 BV you trade the AC/5 and PPC out for an AC/20 with six(!) tons of ammo. This is enough that if you load precision ammo you get twelve shots, more than enough to last an entire game! Precision AC/20 shots are one of the scariest fucking things in the game, hitting shockingly often and ripping fast moving mechs apart. The reason you don’t see many of them is that precision ammo for an AC/20 only gives two shots per ton, and basically no mechs have enough ammo to make good use of it. The 3Q does have enough ammo. The left torso is entirely ammo crits so the 3Q sometimes explodes in a spectacular fireball, but the good armor and reasonable speed means that it should get to use at least some of that ammo before it dies.

The 3Q combines incredible point blank threat with an AC/20 and two 10 damage punches with a bargain bin price and good armor. The 3Q draws a ton of fire, no one wants any Banshee in their face punching them and the 3Q adds an AC/20 to the equation, tearing chunks out of enemy mechs if it is allowed to. It is a gigantic fire magnet, eating incoming fire like nothing else because a smart opponent only needs to get within three hexes of one of these a single time to never do it again. The 3Q is cheap for how durable and big it is, so it is also just a good value piece to slot into a list to try and get lucky with the AC/20. Compared to a basic 4G Hunchback, you pay 300 more BV to double the durability and double the punching damage. This is a good trade off; Hunchbacks are very prone to blowing up on their way in and the 3Q is much more resilient.

The 3Q is an exaggerated version of the 3E. If you can keep it out of sight and then lunge onto an opponent, it will probably kill whatever it jumps. Lots of fun; take one and try it out!

RATING: C+

3M

The 3M is one of the first attempts to “fix” the Banshee. For 1595 BV you swap the weaponry out for two PPCs, two medium lasers, and a small laser for some fucking reason. You don’t gain heat sinks so your ranged DPS is the same without significant overheating, but the medium lasers do really help when you are at punchbot ranged. Overall a mediocre assault mech; the base Banshee has price on its side but this is around the BV of a pretty good IS heavy and it will probably lose that fight. Not much better or worse but it is more expensive.

RATING: C-

3MC

Coming in at 1487 BV the 3MC trades the AC/5 and five of the heat sinks for an AC/10 with two tons of ammo. This is a simple change to the base 3E, but the removed heat sinks force the mech to drop the PPC every other turn to stay at low heat, keeping the DPS the same. AC/10s are quite good with precision ammo and two tons is a good amount to have though. Once you get up close this is significantly better than the 3E for roughly the same price and performance at range. Really solid little mech.

RATING: C

3Mr

So the 3Mr is kinda just really good. For 1801 BV, typical good IS assault mech BV, you get a 4/6/0 dork with some good guns. It carries two ER PPCs, two ER medium lasers, and a small laser for some fucking reason. This is sorta middling for 1801, but the 3Mr manages heat incredibly well. It can either fire both PPCs, or one PPC and all the secondary lasers, without building any heat at all. This is a do-everything assault mech, perfectly happy in both long range firefights and close range slug fests. It is most similar to the Catapult K2K, but it trades 5/8/0 movement speed for 4/6/0 and costs 100 more BV to add a significantly higher amount of armor and structure on top of two big meaty assault mech hands that can punch the hell out of people. This is probably the best of the non-S Banshees, as it has much better damage than the others that is far more consistent, and 1801 honestly isn’t a lot of BV to pay for a 95 ton 4/6/0 assault mech. The guns are good, the durability is great, and it has 100% uptime with no explosive components or XL anything. Fantastic mech.

RATING: B+

11X

Canonically a series of prototypes and costing 2030 BV, the 11X is theoretically cool but practically mid. It has a lot of armored components and modular armor, a neat piece of tech that grants an extra ton of armor to a location at the cost of slowing the mech down. The issue is with the weaponry. It carries a silver-bullet gauss rifle, which is in practice an overcomplicated and too-heavy LRM-15, as its primary weapon. It also has two bombast lasers, which are terrible very bad no good weapons. It is very tough but for the price the other Banshees will outcompete it.

RATING: C-.

S-Series Variants

Banshee. Credit: Jack Hunter

The S-series don’t need a tactics section or introduction. They are simply the best assault mechs in the game. They are slabs of titanic durability, unstoppable power and phenomenal wrath. Chthonic deities come to smash enemies into fragments. Ton for ton and BV for BV, an S-series Banshee is almost certainly the best assault mech you can get in any given era.

3S

The 3S Banshee is the best Intro-Tech mech in the game. For 1751 BV the 3S brings you a 3/5/0 95 tonner with the same thick armor belt as the 3E, but with a fuckton more guns. You carry two PPCs, an AC/10, an SRM-6, four medium lasers, and two small lasers for some fucking reason. All of these guns point forwards, and it manages heat great, able to plod forwards firing both PPCs and then drop them at point blank range to unleash unholy murder with all of its other guns at the same time. A short range heat neutral alpha strike of 42 damage is a lot for 1751 BV and 20 long range damage is pretty solid for that price. The 3S is cheap, effective, and dead simple. For the price you genuinely can’t do better when it comes to a low tech juggernaut, the mech is nearly perfect.

RATING: A+

5S

The 5S is the “improved” 3S for the Clan Invasion, and much like basically all of the Clan Invasion Inner Sphere mechs it is riddled with “New Toy Syndrome” and bad decisions. For 2065 BV you get a 4/6/0 mech with an XL engine, which sucks for durability on something this expensive. For weaponry you have a gauss rifle, two ER PPCs, an SRM-6, two small lasers for some fucking reason, and four medium lasers. They did fuck it up though, because two of those medium lasers now point backwards for no goddamn reason. In addition, the 5S can only sink 28 heat, and two ER PPCs build 30 heat when fired together; 31 when you add the gauss rifle. This isn’t the worst possible heat management, but it does suck to go from pretty good heat management to sorta bad heat management. Overall a downgrade for a higher price, but still honestly better than a lot of assault mechs. It makes sense as a counter to the Clans, with the longer ranged weapons and reduced focus on short range capabilities. It isn’t really that bad, gauss plus one and a half ER PPCs isn’t bad for every turn. I just think that the 3S is a better mech.

RATING: C+ 

6S

Somewhat resembling a Badshee at first glance, the 6S comes in at 1889 BV and if you want it, you want it. It is 4/6/0 with a light engine, much better than the 5S’s XL. For guns it carries an LB10-X autocannon, a small laser for some fucking reason, and a heavy gauss rifle. The HGR is a phenomenally powerful weapon and this is a pretty affordable caddy for one. It is a hard weapon to use, but 25 damage is a fucking LOT to put into a single hit location. I use these all of the time and while I consider the 3S much stronger on balance due to how much easier it is to use, nothing puts the fear of god into an opponent like the sheer threat of a heavy gauss rifle.

Oh god I grew up and became a Lyran. How the fuck did I get here? I was always such a Marik fan as a kid but every mech I like now is some cheap slab of assault mech with as much armor and big gun as possible.

Eh, glory to the Commonwealth! Germany comes for us all at some point.

RATING: B+

7S

Costing 2126 BV the 7S is canonically an upgrade to the 5S and yeah, this thing is better. The 7S is 4/6/0 with a light engine, much more durable than the XL that the 5S comes with, and carries an ER PPC, a gauss rifle, four ER medium lasers that all point forwards, and an SRM-6. Wait, where the fuck is the small laser? All Banshees are supposed to have a small laser in the head. For some reason the 7S just doesn’t and I have no idea why. The armor has been shifted off of the torso and towards the limbs, which is bad. Most Banshees have insanely thick rear torso armor and pretty thick torso armor overall. The 7S is merely average in those categories, but that isn’t too huge of a deal in the long run. It manages heat well, is more durable than the 5S, has good damage at all ranges, and is a worthy successor to the 3S. I like it less than the 3S because the 3S is so cheap, but if cost weren’t a factor it would be a significant upgrade.

RATING: B+

8S

Hey kid, do you like huffing paint and street fighting in the alleyway behind a Golden Corral? Do I have a mech for you.

The 8S is 2408 BV of screaming, incoherent rage. It is a 4/6/0 mech with an XL engine and TSM. This lets it get moving to 5/8/0, and the weapon load is basically perfect for micromanaging your heat, with an ER large laser, an LB10-X autocannon, a snub nosed PPC, two ER medium lasers, two medium lasers, an ER small laser, a small laser for a good fucking reason for once, ECM, a C3 slave, and the best fucking part, a goddamn hatchet. The 8S hits for 38 damage with that hatchet when it has TSM active. This is one of the best close combat mechs in the game in terms of the raw damage that it puts out and it deals significant damage with its guns.

The 8S is a PCP-addicted chimpanzee, a ridiculous apex predator of a mech. It will murder the hell out of anything that makes the mistake of standing anywhere near it. It is a mad, unstoppable berserker and your opponent should be scared of it. I have seen an 8S Banshee kill multiple Clan heavies over three turns before getting put down like a rabid animal. Fitting that it is the 8S, seeing as 8 is Khorne’s holy number. Either this is the first mech in your force that your opponent kills, or it will murder half of their BV on its own. Buy piloting skill for your exalted champion of Khorne, since it is already really expensive so you might as well double down and make your hatchet hit on a 2+ base.

RATING: A-; fucking terrifying but very expensive.

9S

The 9S is 2496 BV of hate. At that price you get a thickly-armored 3/5/0 mech with a light engine and XL gyro. XL gyros suck, but it isn’t a dealbreaker. For guns you have a gauss rifle, heavy PPC, light PPC, three ER medium lasers, a standard medium laser for some fucking reason, and an SRM-6. All of these guns are mated to a targeting computer and that is pretty spooky. The 9S is a bit behind the Thunder Hawk when it comes to sheer long range damage, but has much better backup weapons and that targeting computer is a big deal. This will win a lot of long range slug fests due to the increased accuracy, and it defends itself really damn well up close due to all the backup weapons. I have no further notes, the 9S is just a damn solid assault mech.

RATING: B+; premium long range assault mech with solid close in damage.

9S2

The 9S2 is more of a remix of the 9S than anything else. For 2426 BV you get a 3/5/0 mech with a gauss rifle, heavy PPC, two light PPCs, an ER medium laser, and a targeting computer. This is a slight upgrade at long range at the cost of a significant drop up close, but the 9S2 does carry a boosted C3 slave unit. This is potentially a very scary long range combat mech if it is networked into a good C3 setup. It has the same light engine and XL gyro as the 9S. The choice between the two more or less depends entirely on whether you are going to use C3 or not. The 9S is better on its own, but the 9S2 can get very scary in a good network.

RATING: B- in isolation; A- in a good C3 network.

12S

The 12S is the best IS assault mech in the game. Like, no caveats and ignore if I have ever said this before. The 12S is a fucking monster. This abomination can 1v1 any mech of equal or lower BV cost and have a very high chance of winning. When the only sin of a mech is, “I can’t fire all three of my big guns every turn” you have something good.

For 2592 BV you get a 4/6/0 assault mech with a Clan XL engine. For weapons we have two ER PPCs, a gauss rifle, four Clan ER medium lasers, two Clan ER small lasers, and an SRM-6. It sucks that it can only sink 28 heat and can’t just hold the trigger down all the time, but oh no you just need to alternate between two ER PPCs and four heat efficient Clan ER medium lasers every other turn. It hits like a freight train and that BV is just unfair for what you get here. It is just a phenomenal battleline type assault mech. This mech was built by someone with a very developed understanding of what makes a fantastic assault mech. If you want a big bastard that hits hard, the 12S is the platonic ideal of the assault mech.

RATING: S-. Straight up an S-. I originally thought those PPCs were Clan grade and this was an S, but with the IS PPCs in mind there are a few really high end Clan assaults that pull ahead.

Special Character Banshees.

That is the end of the mass production ones, now we just have a few oddballs to clear up.

3S “Reinesblatt”/”El Guapo”

For 1678 BV you get an interesting variation on the 3S. It moves 3/5/0 and carries an AC/10, a large laser, an LRM-10, four medium lasers, two small lasers, and a hatchet. While it isn’t as impressive as the hatchet on the 8S, it is still 19 damage and that is a fucking lot to do with a melee attack. On balance I think the 3S is a much better mech, but El Guapo isn’t a bad mech by any means; just less optimal. Think of it as a fat Orion with a hatchet and that will set your expectations straight.

RATING: B-; still fantastic.

5S “Vandergriff”

For 1853 BV the Vandergriff is an odd one. It moves 4/6/4 and carries two ER PPCs, two medium lasers, an SRM-4, and an LB10-X. This is a solid increase in mobility but I think the 5S is the better mech. Losing the gauss rifle sucks.

RATING: C

5S “Sawyer”

Tom Sawyer over here has a way better idea. For 2094 BV you drop a PPC and a heat sink compared to the standard 5S, but go up to 4/6/4. You also get your right hand back, allowing for those two regular accuracy 10 damage punchies. Rock solid upgrade to the 5S; slight BV increase but it gets better physical attacks, much better mobility, and reduced heat issues. The XL engine still sucks but the Sawyer is a good upgrade if you really want a 5S.

Rating: B-

Conclusion

I am sad to see the day that I am actually done writing the Banshee article. I fucking love this thing, it is the gold standard to which I measure all other mechs. The S series are conventionally awesome assault mechs and the Badshees are perfect if you have the right flavor of brainworms. I am still going to mention the Banshee in every article at some point, but now I’ll have something to link to every time that I do. Cheers.

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