Battletech Mech Overview: Crusader

The third of the main fire support heavy mechs (along with the Catapult and the Archer), the Crusader is the most multi-role option. At 65 tons, it tends to run a mix of LRMs, SRMs, and a few support weapons – with usually smaller LRM launchers and bigger SRM launchers than the archer. What makes the Crusader weird is that it usually mounts the SRMs in the legs. Beyond just being weird, this can be a real issue when trying to make use of partial cover – those weapons only fire at level 1 rather than the usual level 2 height of a mech, so can get blocked by lower terrain.

1st Caonpian Cuirassiers Crusader. Credit: Jack Hunter

The Crusader is almost always a well armored 4/6 chassis. A few variants either have jump jets or upgrade to 5/8, however that’s not common. Very few variants have torso weapons, with most LRMs and support weapons in the arms, and SRMs in the legs. This can cause some issues with ammo layout – especially with a standard fusion engine it’s not uncommon for the only crits in side torsos to be ammo. Being one of the older mechs in Battletech, the Crusader has ended up with an awful lot of variants – so there are definitely exceptions to everything I’ve said above.


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 stock Crusader is armed with a pair of LRM 15s, a pair of SRM 6s (mounted in the legs), two medium lasers, and two machine guns. Ten heat sinks is adequate at range firing the LRMs, but definitely inadequate at closer ranges – firing both medium lasers and SRMs will generate 14 heat + movement, so if the crusader moved it will be slowing down the following turn. This Crusader also very much dislikes crits – the left and right torso only have a single crittable component – a ton of LRM ammo each, and the center torso has a ton of SRM ammo and a ton of machine gun ammo. Unusually you actually want to get crit in the center torso, as a single engine crit is bad but survivable, unlike the side torsos. Ordinarily I’d say 1,317 BV for a well armored heavy mech is reasonable, but the ammo explosions turn this into a walking bomb.

My rating: D


The SLDF upgrade to the Crusader, the big changes are a switch to double heat sinks, swapping the SRM 6s to a set of four streak SRM 2s, and adding Artemis IV to the LRMs. It definitely doesn’t have any heat issues, especially given that the streaks won’t fire if they miss – if you’re sitting at 7 hexes for the LRMs you can reasonably fire everything, as the hit chance on the SRMs at long range will be low enough you’re unlikely to overheat. That said, even adding CASE to both side torsos doesn’t really mitigate ammo explosion concerns that can easily take out half your firepower or knock you unconscious from pilot damage. 1,533 BV is still too much to pay for a mech that has nothing but ammo in both side torsos.

My rating: D

Crusader. Credit: Rockfish
Crusader. Credit: Rockfish


A fairly simple upgrade to the 3R, this drops the SRMs to 4-packs and completely gets rid of the machine guns to add 4 heat sinks. It’s now neutral at a run when firing the close range weapons, a much better place to be. Those sinks also go into the side torsos, so now a crit only has a 1/3 chance of killing you rather than a 100% chance. At 1,338 BV it’s a pretty simple choice to take this over the 3R, though I would still not take this over other mechs that are less likely to spontaneously explode.

My rating: C


This is pretty much the same thing as the 3D, except dropping the LRMs down to 10s and keeping the SRM 6s. It’s 1,290 BV, so a little cheaper, but if you’re deciding between these succession wars variants it comes down to whether you want long or short range firepower. I don’t think I could say that either one is better than the other.

My rating: C


This drops both LRMs and SRMs in size, while retaining the machine guns, to fit a set of jump jets and a handful more heat sinks. Not enough to really make use of the jump jets and still fire weapons, and overall firepower goes down, plus you’re still covered in ammo bins. 1,297 BV is not meaningfully cheaper than other variants, so unless you badly need a jumping crusader for some reason, leave this one at home (take a Catapult instead).

My rating: D


Like the 2R, this one is upgrading to double heat sinks. While it does that, it trades the SRM 6s down to a pair of streak SRM 2s and adds two more tons of LRM ammo. Eight shots per launcher was already adequate for most games, especially given the close range secondary armament, so I don’t feel like adding more ammo was particularly useful. At 1,407 BV I’m not sure that this is worth it over the 3D or 3K, given that you’re up to 6 bins of ammo to have explode (with both side torsos still not having any padding). Sure, it has CASE, but that’s still pilot hits and potential secondary ammo explosions for even more pilot hits.

My rating: C-

Wolf’s Dragoons Crusader. Credit: Jack Hunter


This continues to love trading a SRM 6 for a streak SRM 2 (a bad trade). This does swap the medium lasers for medium pulses, so this is most useful as a LRM caddy that can defend itself a bit. 1,309 BV leaves it in line with the rest of the Crusaders, and the torsos with nothing but LRM ammo are also in line with the rest of them. Or, well, scattered across the battlefield after exploding like the rest of them.

My rating: D


This is a 3K with medium pulses instead of medium lasers. A touch less heat sinking, but that’s fine as the 3K was slightly oversunk. 1,268 BV is in-line with the 3K. I think this edges it out slightly, but not by enough that I’m not rating them the same.

My rating: C


See: CRD-4D. Why this has a separate datasheet and MUL entry is beyond me – it’s the same mech.

My rating: These variants are all close enough to identical; why did they make one that’s actually identical?


Finally, something different. The first variant with an XL engine, this also adds a set of jump jets for a 4/6/4 movement profile. Each arm contains a MRM 30, and spread across the torsos are two medium lasers and two medium pulse lasers. It also runs a c3 slave, which is one of the best ways to make use of MRMs. They only have a 3 hex short range (and with a native +1 hit penalty you don’t want to leave short range), but have a 15 hex long range. A fast mech with c3 will let this Crusader stay at range but still be reasonably accurate, and it does have the potential to do a ton of damage when it hits. 1,463 BV is a little higher than previous mechs, and I definitely wouldn’t take this without c3, but in a c3 lance it can do work.

My rating: C, B in a c3 lance

Crusader. Credit: Jack Hunter


Back to LRMs and streak SRM 2s, this time adding jump jets and an anti-missile system. Side torso ammo is reasonably crit padded so you won’t die to the first crit, but there’s still a lot of it and with the XL engine you will die to the first ammo explosion. 1,408 BV isn’t meaningfully different to most of the other variants – nor is this mech meaningfully different.

My rating: C


I think my brain is starting to cook looking at mechs that are pretty much the same. No XL engine, it keeps the SRM 6s, but in this case the left torso is completely devoid of anything to be crit (so they’ll transfer to the center torso), and the right torso has nothing but ammo. At 1,446 BV this is a little more expensive than most previous variants for no real difference in firepower and the same fear of crits.

My rating: C-


This speeds up to a 5/8/4 movement profile (why? Give me that 5th jump jet please), and drops the LRMs down to 10s while retaining the SRM 6s and medium lasers. It sinks 28 heat, which is 2 more heat than it can generate with a max distance jump, firing every single weapon it carries (despite how you’ll likely not be firing both LRMs and SRMs at the same time due to very different range bands). If it was a 5/8/5 that mostly delivered a pair of SRMs and had some bonus LRMs it would be interesting, but only jumping 4 is nowhere near as useful. 1,498 BV continues to get a little more expensive without any real increase in capability.

My rating: C-


Another variant that does weird things, it’s slowed down to a 3/5, but does pick up five improved jump jets. Weapons have also changed significantly from other variants, with light PPCs and MML 7s in each arm, and streak SRM 4s in each leg. While it’ll struggle to close range for the SRMs at 3/5/5, even with the jump jets, it does carry c3 slave, so if it can get within 9 hexes will be able to do substantial damage –  and the long ranges of the LRM ammo and light PPCs means it has something to do while closing in. Of the four tons of ammo for the MMLs, I would take one ton of LRMs, one ton of infernos, and two tons of regular SRMs – 8 turns of LRM fire is more than enough, 17 turns would be excessive. It’s also dropped in cost compared to previous variants, down to 1,373 BV. I wouldn’t run this outside of a c3 lance, but in one it can be reasonably effective.

My rating: C-, B in a c3 lance

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


Fuck to missiles, fuck to ammo explosions. This is an inner sphere Nova, mounting six medium lasers in each arm and moving 5/8/5. For shits and giggles it has a flamer in each leg, assuming anything survives the 60 damage it can do. Unlike the Nova, because these are regular old short range inner sphere lasers, they’re very heat efficient – firing all 12 will generate 32 heat, and this sinks 34. As a little bonus it carries a c3 slave, and as it wants to get nice and close for those medium lasers (and has the speed to do so) it makes for a good durable spotter. The downside of being a 5/8/5 that can do a heat neutral 60 damage? 1,890 BV. If it was a little cheaper this would be a great mech, as is it’s simply a good mech.

My rating: B


One of the most modern variants of the Crusader, the main weapons are four re-engineered lasers and four MML 3s, with mobility upgraded to 5/8[10] through use of a supercharger. The re-engineered lasers are useful if you know you’ll be going up against laser reflective, hardened, or ferro-lamellor armor, but otherwise I’m not a huge fan of them at medium size, and MML 3s are not a lot of missiles. I wouldn’t bother with LRMs for them at all, just carry SRMs and infernos. A compact gyro lets this fit three tons of ammo in the center torso; two for the MMLs and one for the anti-missile system. Case II means an ammo explosion isn’t instant death, but it’s still very much not good to have happen in your center torso. I’d be much happier if it all moved to one of the sides. 1,681 BV is not the most expensive crusader out here, but it’s not cheap, and I’m not a fan of this in 90% of situations.

My rating: C-


I’m back in the land of a couple LRMs and a couple SRMs, though this one moves the SRMs out of the legs to make room for stealth armor. Which is great. Stealth armor is cool. However, speed is dropped down to 3/5/3, which makes it very hard to position this well. It’s a big more survivable than say, a 3D, but it’s not doing any more damage (and is actually going to generally do less, as it struggles to get into good range for the LRMs that make up its primary damage). At 1,749 BV I’m giving this a hard pass.

My rating: D


This is armed like the 6M, however instead of being slow as molasses it’s a standard 4/6/4 and gets rid of c3 for an anti-missile system. It accomplishes all this by using both an XL engine and an XL gyro. I don’t love XL gyros, but I don’t hate them as much as some people do – they’re still only in your center torso, and a crit there is going to be bad no matter what. Increasing the chance of a gyro crit from 40% (assuming no crit padding beyond the engine) to 50% isn’t that big a deal. I’d run the exact same ammo mix as in a 6M, with this focusing on trying to get close to unload SRMs out of both the MMLs and streak 4s. With something else in your list to open up big holes in mechs, this can do a good job of fishing for crits. 1,502 BV is dropping back down to be less expensive for a decently armed heavy.

My rating: B-

Crusader Battlemech
Crusader Credit: Perigrin


This trades the light PPCs for large lasers, and in doing so drops the streak SRMs entirely. While the lasers do a bit more damage than the light PPCs, especially as they can close to point blank, I don’t like losing the streaks for them. 1,434 BV is not enough cheaper than the 7M for me to think this is worth it.

My rating: C-


The 7W goes all-in on MMLs, and moves them out of the legs entirely. Each arm has a single MML 9, and each side torso a MML 5. Having different sized launchers does mean there’s a ton of ammo (well, 10 tons), with it stored in both arms and side torsos. CASE is there for campaigns, but won’t matter in normal play – if a new SRM 9 bin goes up in your right arm (198 total damage) you’re losing a side torso and the XL engine loss kills you. There’s a lot of crit padding in the arms, but its still a 1/6 chance if you get crit in the arm of having an ammo bin explode, and getting hit in the arms is fairly common. That said, this is only 1,221 BV. That’s very cheap for something that can put out 28 SRMs.

My rating: B-


Another of the 5/8 Crusaders, this time without jump jets, the 8L is another variant that strips all the weapons out of the legs; this time without putting any in the torso. Each arm has an MML 7, a plasma rifle, and an ER medium laser. While I like this weapon loadout – plasma rifles are fantastic, being a hybrid of a PPC and AC/10 that ends up better than both, the crusader just doesn’t have enough heat sinking to take advantage of the weapons. The two plasma rifles alone max out your sinking even when not moving, so trying to fire either the MMLs or medium lasers will overheat you. The best option at shorter ranges ends up being to fire the MMLs and one of the plasma rifles, in which case you have way too much ammo – and at medium ranges I’d much rather be firing the plasma rifles than MMLs shooting LRM ammo. At 1,701 BV it’s not bad for a well armored 5/8 if nothing else – even if it’s not making fully effective use of its weapons, its still going to be making people unhappy.

My rating: C+

Kell Hounds Crusader. Credit: Jack Hunter


Whoops someone let Steiner design a mech. It’s a Crusader so it has LRM 10s in the arms, of course. However, and much more interestingly, it has a heavy gauss rifle. Heavy gauss does 25 damage at 6 hexes. Now, that doesn’t line up perfectly with the LRMs, as they want to be at 7 hexes and the gauss drops to only 20 damage at that range, but the heavy gauss alone is enough to make this a terrifying threat, given that 4/6/4 mobility is often going to be enough. 1,698 BV is even on the lower end of what mechs carrying heavy gauss tend to cost.

My rating: A


Back to being the same thing as all the other Crusaders. An XL engine and gyro let this mount Artemis IV for the LRM 15s, upgrade the leg SRM 6s to streaks, and retain the machine guns. It’s dead on 1,600 BV, and is pretty much the same as all the other crusaders like it. Even with the machine guns I would put this as my favorite of the standard LRM/SRM Crusaders.

My rating: B-


A rather substantial departure from most Crusaders, or indeed many mechs, the 9BR upgrades the engine to 5/8, straps on triple strength myomer, and puts a claw on each arm. For guns it has LRM 10s in each arm, two medium lasers in each leg, medium pulses in each torso, and a small laser in the head. To fit all this you’ve got both an XXL engine and an XL gyro. While I’m forgiving of the XL gyro, coupling it with an XXL engine is not great – this thing will fall apart QUICK if someone punches through the armor. It does, however, move at 6/9 with the TSM turned on and throws out a pair of 20 damage punches (assuming you didn’t fire the LRMs, which why would you if you’re in fisticuffs range). Unfortunately, the XXL engine is what makes this mech “work” – it sinks 26 heat, and firing all the medium lasers/pulse lasers generates 20 heat. At a run, the XXL engine generates 6 heat, so as long as you keep running, TSM will stay on. Firing the small laser and both LRMs generates the additional 9 heat you need early on to get the TSM turned on. If you move at a walk, or don’t move at all, there’s no way to punch and keep TSM turned on, which pairs poorly with claws hitting at +1. They’re hard hits, but they aren’t very accurate. 1,653 BR is solidly in the realm of other Crusaders that function (like the 8S) cost, so this is more of a meme than a quality pick.

My rating: C for actually winning, A for fun


Another variant with both an XL gyro and XXL engine, this doesn’t do anything interesting with it. It has LRM 15s without artemis, and non-streak SRMs. It has light PPCs. It has machine guns. It costs 1,612 BV. I’m looking at this datasheet and I don’t understand why it exists.

My rating: D


Steiner is back again with an upgrade to the 8S. This swaps the heavy gauss for an improved heavy gauss – instead of doing 25 damage at short range, 20 damage at medium range, and 10 damage at long range, the improved version just does 22 damage at every range. Huge improvement in gauss usability, though you do trade out the jump jets to take it. 1,642 BV is a hair less, so pick and choose depending on how you like being able to jump – personally I like the jumping a little more.

My rating: A


Surprisingly this is the only clan tech upgrade to the Crusader, and it didn’t come about until the ilClan era. It maintains all the same weapons, though now using clan versions – LRM 15s with Artemis IV, ER medium pulse lasers, streak SRM 6s, and heavy machine guns. I wish the MGs were gone and it used regular medium pulses, but clan LRMs are such great weapons that it overcomes those and is just a solid trooper heavy. Does a bit of everything – not as good at throwing LRMs as something dedicated to it, but can fight up close better than a dedicated missile boat. It’s also one of the Crusaders upgraded to 5/8, and is using a clan XL engine, so side torso loss isn’t instant death. The downside is that all the fancy weapons push it up to 2,264 BV. Much higher than any other Crusader, and in competition with more specialized clan heavies and inner sphere assaults.

My rating: B

Crusader. Credit: Jack Hunter

CRD-3R Crael

The only unique variant, coming in at a whopping 1,204 BV, the Crael dumps all its LRMs and has four SRM 6s, some medium lasers and machine guns, and claws. It’s doing 10 damage punches, which won’t take a head clean off, but will give you crit chances, and that many SRMs always causes problems (to both of you – this mech runs hot). Is it a great mech? Nah. Especially not in later eras. But it’s cheap, the ammo is all in the center torso (which is the most padded location, as putting it in either side torso means there are only 2 slots preventing it from cooking the whole mech), and punching people is fun.

My rating: B-


There are a lot of Crusaders, and most of them are very similar. They’re almost all rated a C, they almost all have LRMs in each arm, and have SRMs in each leg. The ones that work well are also the interesting ones – whether that’s a big pile of medium lasers, some claws, or a heavy gauss rifle. Every single crusader that runs missiles in the legs could’ve gotten at least a half-grade bump up simply by moving them to the torso – they’d have better firing arcs and crit pad the ammo, which is often one of the only things in an otherwise empty torso.