Battletech Mech Overview: Cataphract

Welcome back to the Inner Sphere Heavy Battle Lance with this Mech Overview of the Cataphract, a 70 ton heavy mech. A very ugly mech, this was one of the first new mechs designed since the Star League. While you’d think this means they can look at experience and design a good mech, in practice that is a funny joke.

Cataphract. Credit: Benjamin "Porble" Wendt
Cataphract. Credit: Benjamin “Porble” Wendt


Most cataphracts share the same 4/6 movement profile, with a few of them either going a bit faster or having jump jets. For a heavy mech it’s moderately armored – the most armored variants are at parity with a thunderbolt, and many variants are comparable to well armored medium mechs like the bushwacker, though with more arm armor. They’re also all ugly looking, with a gigantic cockpit window that looks designed to get shot (and based on how many I’ve headshot in MW5, that’s pretty much what happens).

Perigrin: The Cataphract is an incredibly ugly mech, and I mean that as a positive. The identity of the Cataphract as an ugly, dependable workhorse makes it one of my favorite mechs, and I really need to paint more of them.


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 and our general methodology).


A fat raven, this carries EW equipment. In most games the primary role of this would be fucking with and artemis and c3, so if you’re not facing that it’s not useful, especially given the short range of this early EW equipment. Carrying a PPC, AC/5, and pair of medium lasers, this is armed like a medium mech. It’s also armored like one. Fortunately, at 1,258 BV, it’s priced like one as well. I can’t see any reason to actually run this mech.

My rating: D

Perigrin: The CTF-0X is closest in role to a 3E Banshee. For about 200 BV less than that mech you get the same speed and guns, half as much armor, and EW equipment. The EW equipment is potentially really funny and can completely blow out someone running a C3 network or messing with specialized missiles. The issue is that you generally want EW equipment/ECM on something fast and set up for close ranged combat, and this is neither of those things. It isn’t the worst thing ever and it can probably beat a Griffin or Vindicator in a fight, but it isn’t fantastic by any means.


With an AC/10, PPC, and four medium lasers this is much better armed than the 0X, though most of the time it’s just going to be firing the AC/10 and PPC. Two of the medium lasers are pointless and shoot to the rear, but firing the front lasers, PPC and AC at the same time will overheat it. Only 10 rounds of AC ammo is not great, but as this is too slow to build up TMM effectively while still being armored like a medium mech that isn’t a huge concern, as it’s likely to die quickly. At 1,316 BV there are much better options.

My rating: D

Perigrin: I am a little less offended by this mech, but it does have one very serious issue, its armor load. The weaponry is perfectly fine, similar to a 3Mc Banshee, which is a good thing to be, but it is so slow and so brittle that it dies shockingly quickly once your opponent decides to fire at it. In it’s original 3025 context it isn’t that bad, but once it is fighting actual mechs with vaguely competent designs it is a bit of a failure. If you get one in a campaign, pull the rear lasers off and sticks some more armor on the torso, that is literally the only issue with this mech, shame it completely kills it.

Legion of Vega Dragon Cataphract. Credit: SRM


Someone with a brain looked at this variant, as it’s both properly armored for a heavy mech and doesn’t have rear facing weapons. An AC/10, large laser, pair of medium lasers, and SRM 4 all face forwards, and while firing everything will overheat quickly, dropping the large laser is stable at a run. It also carries two tons of AC/10 ammo, so you can take precision ammo. All this for 1,344 BV is not bad – while it’s slow, it’s actually usable.

My rating: C+

Perigrin: This is basically what I said up above. The 2X is one of the best intro-tech heavy mechs in the game and will put up a pretty decent fight against anything in it’s 1350ish BV price range. As a medium range battleline/objective securing mech, it will do pretty good work. It ain’t nothing flashy and it probably won’t win a ton of 1v1s, but it is cheap, rugged, and reliable, and is a good enough use of 1350ish BV if you want to use the miniature.

My rating: B-


The last of the prototype variants, this is the best armored yet and carries a large laser, pair of AC/5s with a lot of ammo, and LRM 5. To accomplish this stunning amount of firepower it drops to only moving 3/5. Even at the discount price of 1,216 BV this is assault mech slow with medium mech firepower.

My rating: D

Perigrin: The 4X is an idiot mech and I mean that as a good thing. You can easily load precision in here and annoy people at extreme ranges for a really budget price. The 4X is really a budget assault mech, it has pretty thick armor for a mech this cheap and has decent range. I really don’t hate this mech, the damage is somewhat low but, speaking from personal experience, cheap, slow AC/5 caddies are actually pretty good if you can walk them up onto a hill or into a woodline and have them stand still and slap away at offending lights/mediums with precision ammo.

It isn’t really worth your opponent’s time to come and kill a CTF-4X because it has relatively low damage and has so much fucking armor, so it can merrily sit and plink away for an entire game, and if your opponent gets pissed off about it for some reason, the 4X is so cheap that you can probably get it a buddy or two for the same price as whatever is trying to kill it. The CTF-4X has about 20 damage worth of gun, give or take a bit from the LRM, and you can easily squeeze two of these in the same space as a more advanced fire support mech, and you will probably have similar DPS and 2-3x as much armor. It isn’t a star of a mech and it isn’t really that good, but 1200 BV is dirt cheap and there are way worse ways to spend it.

My rating: C


The first production variant, this swaps from a standard fusion engine to an XL engine and fits jump jets for a 4/6/4 movement profile. It’s still armored like a medium mech though. Which is great with the XL engine. An ultra AC/5 and LB-X AC/10 make up the primary armament, and pairs of medium lasers are useful in the front and useless in the back. At 1,325 BV this continues the trend of being cheap, and also continues the trend of not being a good mech.

My rating: D

Perigrin: Mech very bad. The CTF-3D is one of the only mechs that is at a substantial risk of dying to losing a side torso with an XL engine in it. It is slow, poorly armored, and makes appallingly bad use of the advanced technology that is within it. One of the worst mechs in the game for the price, does middling damage and then dies.

Cataphract. Credit: Jack Hunter


Medium pulses replace medium lasers, but still face both forward and backwards, and an ER ppc replaces the ultra AC/5. Jump jets are traded for MASC and this has enough heat sinks to fire both all the forward weapons and one of the rear weapons at a run, which is too much. It’s still underarmored, and the MASC pushes this up to 1,545 BV, but at least these guns might do a bit of damage before it dies.

My rating: C

Perigrin: In my opinion this is actually worse than the 3D, because it doesn’t have the decency to be cheap. It’ll do marginally more damage for a significantly higher price, and it dies just as fast.

My rating: D-


Swapping the PPC to a plasma rifle and the front mounted lasers to ER mediums doesn’t fix the 3L, as all this variant really manages to do is cost more at 1,664 BV.

My rating: D

Perigrin: Once again, this is substantially worse because it costs even more but doesn’t fix a single issue with the 3 series Cataphracts.

My rating: D-


This variant pays 2,002 BV to fit stealth armor, a gauss rifle, and ER PPC. Not awful, but its still over 2000 BV to do 25 damage. At 4/6/0 it doesn’t have the mobility to keep range open with the stealth armor, nor does it have good close range weapons to use the stealth armor to keep it alive while it closes in.

My rating: D

Perigrin: The 4L has the unfortunate combination of slow speed, stealth armor, and exactly enough gun. It has enough gun that your opponent isn’t willing to ignore it, which is how a slow Stealth Armor unit usually survives. It doesn’t have the speed to use it’s stealth armor proactively, once something decides it needs to die it will be closed in on and will die. Add on to all of this that you can get a ton of legitimately very good assault mechs, like the Mauler 4R, for around 2000 BV. Way too expensive for what you get.


Another stealth armor variant, this one instead carries a plasma rifle, light AC/5, and pair of ER medium lasers. And it goes back to being armored like a medium (though thankfully at least a well armored medium). 6 Improved jump jets have it moving 4/6/6, which is fun I guess, but it has very little damage and still costs 1,742 BV.

My rating: D

Perigrin: This is way better than the 4L, but still costs way too much for what you get.


Mostly back to being a normal mech, this variant carries reflective armor in a reasonable heavy mech amount and has an ER PPC and gauss rifle as primary armaments. Backing it up are a pair of small variable speed pulses, which are more accurate and do more damage at closer ranges. It still insists on a pair of rear facing medium lasers, and costs 2,090 BV. This continues to be too much BV for the lack of damage on a slow chassis, especially with an XL gyro.

My rating: D

Perigrin: I actually quite like this mech. Energy weapons are far and away the most common weapons you run into on a Battletech table, so the reflective armor is a huge bonus. The rear firing medium lasers are a complete waste but the damage is honestly fine overall. I wouldn’t take this in every game, but if you have a regular opponent who loves to spam PPCs or lasers at you this will do pretty well into that force.

My rating: C-, B against an energy heavy list


I feel like I’m hallucinating or something, because this trades the VSPs on the 5L for medium lasers and a couple heat sinks for jump jets and spikes the cost up to 2,322 BV. Bad.

My rating: F

Perigrin: Mech bad.

Cataphract. Credit: Rockfish
Cataphract. Credit: Rockfish

Custom Variants

CTF-2X George

This is very much a prototype mech with a prototype ER Large Laser (18 heat for 8 damage, no thanks), an AC/10, two medium lasers and an SRM 4. It also crams 3 prototype double heat sinks in, but don’t let these make you think the whole mech has DHS – the 11 in the engine are still single, so it sinks 17 heat. You may note that this is less than the ER large laser generates. While it’s only 1247 BV, it’s staggeringly incapable of using its guns.

My rating: D

CTF-3X Sara

So the 2X variant is my least-disliked stock variant, and this generally upgrades it. It’s adequately armored, carries a RAC/5, ER large laser, pair of ER medium lasers, and streak SRM 4, all firing forwards. It has enough heat sinks to fire without melting. It doesn’t have a stupid XL gyro. At 1,734 BV it’s more expensive, but this is an entirely functional mech that while not flashy isn’t painful to look at.

My rating: C+

Perigrin: Mech is fine. RACs are stupidly fun but this isn’t a great caddy for one, RAC5s are actually best used when a mech has no other weaponry, as you have to take a turn off from shooting to unjam it and they LOVE to jam. I would actually rate the Sara a bit lower, it really just doesn’t do enough to justify 1700 BV.

My rating: D+

CTF-5MOC Naomi

Another variant with stealth armor, this is finally well armored. It carries a heavy PPC and plasma rifle as main weapons, and has four rocket launcher 10s, so once a game you’ll have a real solid alpha strike. At 2,028 BV this is still more expensive than I’d like to pay for a generalist mech, but it’s a reasonably durable brawler that uses the stealth armor + jump jets to get in range.

My rating: C

Perigrin: This mech is really solid, it does good damage out to a good range, has stealth armor to protect itself, and ramps up in damage as it gets closer. The big problem here is that 4/6/4 is just not good enough on a 2000 BV mech that is built around Stealth Armor and close range weapons. It isn’t a total disappointment but it also doesn’t completely suck.

My rating: D+


I do not like this mech. Most variants are basically slow medium mechs, which is a good recipe for getting exploded without accomplishing much, and the fancier ones rely too much on stealth armor or XL gyros for my taste.

Perigrin: Basically all of the advanced tech Cataphracts suck horribly. The 2X and 4X are far and away the best variants of this chassis, the 2X is just a solid heavy weight intro-tech trooper and the 4X is a dirt cheap fire support piece. Even those are both merely fine and inoffensive rather than being properly good. The Cataphract is a great example of what the overwhelming majority of Battletech mechs look like. For the most part for this series we have been looking at a lot of very iconic and popular mechs, ones that have gotten extensive variant support throughout the games lifespan and everyone knows about. As we leave the realm of the iconics and start trudging through the majority of mechs, most of them look like the Cataphract. A small handful of variants, most of them very suboptimal with maybe a single good one if you are lucky.

The Cataphract does have the advantage of looking super weird. If, like me, you are just enamored by this ungainly death trap, take a 2X or 4X and let it fade away into the rank and file of your list.