Battletech: Mech Overview: Grendel (Mongrel)

Howdy and welcome back to Battletech. On Goonhammer. Goontech. This week we are covering one of the lesser known mechs from the Clan Invasion box set, the Grendel. The Grendel is the mass production version of the Mongrel (which is another name you will occasionally see used for it), functionally identical (literally sharing a wiki page and variants) but slightly aesthetically different. As the Grendel is an Omni-Mech, all variants are built with the exact same armor and movement abilities, with the only differences being weapon loadouts. Omni-Mechs also are more modular in universe and are far, far superior to normal mechs in campaign play, but in standard pick up games they are functionally just a series of identical mechs with weapon swaps, showing far less variety than Inner Sphere mechs and their variants and being much easier to compare to each other, because relatively few things change between variants.

Clan Smoke Jaguar Grendel. Credit: Jack Hunter

The Grendel is a 45 ton medium mech and is blindingly fast and mobile, having a movement profile of 7/11/7. It’s armor is nothing to write home about, around the same level as the Vindicator. Speed is the main aspect of survivability with the Grendel, as while the armor is thick enough to save it from dying to a single hit from most things, it is still not really designed to be hit more than a couple of times a game. The value of jump 7 in particular is massive, as that is the breakpoint where, while jumping, you take a +3 penalty to all of your attacks, but the enemy has a +4 penalty to attack you, making it probably the strongest jump value in the game. The Grendel seems best used as a better, faster Vindicator, jumping around where it is needed and skirmishing with the enemy, not really exposing itself to much return fire. All variants share this skirmisher identity, but they all go about it in slightly different ways.

I am going to be pretty harsh to the Grendel below, as despite it’s badass name and cool look, it suffers from a bad case of being a clan mech, and from a worse case of BV inflation. It is bluntly just paying an insane amount for its mobility, and while it is very, very mobile and hard to catch, if you are not super skilled with the game or end up on a fairly open map, you are going to struggle to take good advantage of that. Almost all Grendel variants cost more than mid to high grade Inner Sphere ASSAULT MECHS! In my games and with my play style, this is not a worthwhile trade of speed VS armor. You can feel free to accuse me of Spheroid bias in the comments below. The greatest sin of the Grendel as a chassis though is that a lot of it’s variants cost nearly as much as a fucking Mad Cat B, the Gauss and large pulse one, or more! Even within the Clan’s hyper elite, high speed society, most Grendels fall behind the price curve pretty hard.



The Prime variant of the Grendel is mostly a laser carrier, carrying an array of lasers that ramp up in damage as it gets closer. Specifically, it has a single ER large laser, 3 ER medium lasers, an ER small laser, and a streak SRM-6 to crit seek and give it something heat efficient for when it needs to cool off. Speaking of heat management, it manages just fine, not perfect but much better than a lot of mechs. At 2290 BV it is far too expensive, Convincingly losing every fight it will ever have with a Mad Cat B, which is armed for a similar role, has a headchopper, and is hilariously cheaper at 2224. D.


The Grendel A carries 2 LRM-15s, a single medium pulse laser, and an ER small laser. At 2031 BV this is an appalling rate to pay for two LRM-15s, with a basic C1 Catapult giving the same LRM output for 1399 BV. LRM mechs do not need to be particularly fast to do their job, and frequently enjoy standing still on a hill somewhere in the backline, so this is straight up a bad LRM boat. D.


The Grendel B carries 2 medium pulse lasers, an ER medium laser, an ER small laser, and an Ultra AC/5. Clan pulse is very good, but the UAC is a bit of a waste of this mech and at 1903 BV I can’t recommend this over, for example, a Nova B, which costs 1543 for a very similar weapon loadout. While it is faster, and therefore tougher, I don’t think you gain much for the 400 extra BV you spend on it. Save your BV. D+.


Wraith. Credit: Rockfish
Wraith. Credit: Rockfish. Also known as “The Cooler Daniel/Grendel C”

The Grendel C is a lot cheaper, at 1465 BV, but it has a pretty anemic weapon loadout, with one LBX-10 autocannon and one ER medium laser. It also has an Anti-Missile System, which is cool and all. The issue is the fact that this is charging 200 more BV for lower total damage and worse to-hit bonuses than a basic TR1 Wraith, which has the exact same movement profile, more armor, and looks substantially cooler. D.


The Grendel D carries a Headchopper, which is cool. It costs 2212 BV, putting it in comparison with the Mad Cat B again just like the prime. It carries an ER PPC, an ER medium laser, a medium pulse laser, a small pulse laser, an SRM-6, and the hopes and dreams of the pilot. The Mad Cat B also has a headchopper, a gauss rifle. It also carries additional long range guns, namely a Large Pulse Laser and an LRM-10, as well as similar backup weapons. It is slower, but it will still kill this thing. Sniper type mechs like this with a headchopper/long range weapons want to sit in a woodline and snipe all game, swatting the occasional light mech or harasser off with it. Loading a sniper mech up with tons of movement just raises the price beyond reason, and investing this heavily into short ranged weapons encourages this fragile, fast long range skirmisher to jump next to enemies, which is remarkably bad. D.


The Grendel E is similar to the Grendel A, carrying the same backup weapons but swapping the LRMs for two ATM-6s, and reducing the price to 1806. This is less terrible deal than the A, and I kinda don’t hate it. ATMs really benefit from a mech that can rapidly close and rapidly disengage, as that lets them get the best use out of their flexible, variable ammo loads. It honestly isn’t that bad, because the sheer damage output of 2 ATM-6s unloading HE into the back of a mech is easily worth the extra price over a similar Inner Sphere mech, a 48 point alpha strike on a mech that moves 7/11/7 is genuinely good for unmaking the rear torso of a heavy or assault mech. B-.


Its bad.



Ok but seriously though, the F costs 1997 and carries an ATM-6 and two Plasma Cannons. Plasma Cannon sounds cool and I can hear someone thinking “Wait, don’t you like Plasma Cannons?”. I like Plasma RIFLESwhich have a confusingly similar name but are not the same weapon. The Plasma Rifle deals 10 points of normal damage and 1d6 points of heat damage, meaning that you can mess with your opponent’s heat management with it, making it a pretty powerful tool against certain mechs. The Plasma Cannon increases that heat damage to 2d6, which sounds awesome, but it does 0 actual damage.

None. Literally no conventional damage at all, it removes exactly 0 pips of armor from the opponent. The Grendel F in particular is even worse about it, because a mech can, at most, take 15 points of heat damage in a turn. So despite having a theoretical cap of 24 heat damage per turn, you can only ever do 15. On top of that, because the heat damage is random, you could also do 4 heat damage and dunk yourself into the core of the earth having accomplished nothing. The F is a mech that, at best, does 15 points of heat damage to the opponent, who, if they are smart, will just not fire any weapons that turn, and then does less than half the actual damage of the E variant.

Now, Crowd Controlling a mech and preventing it from firing for a turn is usually good, but the same job this NINETEEN HUNDRED AND NINETY SEVEN BV mech does can be done just as well if not better by a pair of 594 BV Javelin JVN-10N light mechs.

F. No, I get to make the rating rules here. F-. F–.


Ok this is more like it! Actually taking advantage of the high speed that the Grendel has and not ending up as a weird bad sniper, the G carries 4 medium pulse lasers, 5 micro pulse lasers, and a Watchdog CEWS, which messes with the electronic warfare rules. At 2209 it is very expensive, but it carries a Supercharger, letting it boost it’s run speed to 14 hexes. A mech that jumps 7, runs 14, and carries that much pulse laser is a very, very threatening light mech hunter. Reminder that the reason Pulse Lasers are good for hunting light mechs is that they get a to-hit bonus, reducing the impact of speed and movement on the hit chance, which removes the main defense of light mechs, that being their speed. Even if the opponent doesn’t have a bunch of speedy lights for this to eat alive, it can jump behind an assault mech and do horrible things to it’s back armor with all of those pulse lasers, similar to the E. I like it. I give it a C+ in general, but if your opponent has a lot of Wasps, Spiders, Stingers, and similar light Inner Sphere dorks this thing is going to feel like an A+, outspeeding, outmanuevering, and destroying whole lances of them on its own.


The H is cheaper than the Prime at 1965 BV, and changes up the loadout slightly. By which I mean it makes it worse. It removes one ER medium laser, and downgrades the streak SRM to an SRM-4. In exchange, it adds a few heat sinks and changes the ER large laser out for a heavy large laser. Heavy lasers are bad. They hit like a train, the large one hitting for 16 damage, but they put out an ungodly amount of heat, with the large one putting out 18 fucking heat. On top of that, they hit at a +1 accuracy penalty. Don’t take mechs with heavy lasers. Improved heavy lasers, a different type of weapon, are sort of ok because they don’t have the accuracy penalty but they still put out an unholy amount of heat and cost too much BV. D-, avoid.


The I is a cheaper Grendel at 1675. It gets cheaper by carrying not nearly enough gun. It has a Protomech AC/4, which is a super weird oddball weapon that is considerably worse than a single clan ER medium laser while weighing 4 times as much and costing half the BV. It’s other weapons are a plasma rifle (not a plasma cannon, see above), which is ok, and a ER medium laser, which is a better main gun than it’s alleged “Main Gun” grade Protomech AC/4. It is sort of comparable to a Clint 3-3T in role, being a mid-long range skirmisher, but while it is very fast you can have a pair of Clint 3-3Ts for 127 more BV than this, which will have more total armor, be able to disperse force in multiple places, and can carry precision ammo for an accuracy bonus, while being a bit slower and having marginally worse range on it’s backup weapons. Avoid this mech. D.


The J costs 1811 BV and carries 3 streak SRM-6s, two improved heavy small lasers, and an ER small pulse laser. My distaste for ER pulse lasers aside, this is an incredibly potent short ranged alpha strike, about the same as the E variant, but, due to the differences in damage cluster rules between ATMs and SRMs, the J is much better at crit-seeking and finding gaps in armor, but the E has long range skirmishing capacity that the J doesn’t have. I’d say this is a wash, there is only a 5 BV difference between these two. I give it a B- as well, it will be better than the E if you have a lot of long range can openers like gauss rifles or ER PPCs, but worse if you do not.


The M is very simple. Costing 1744 BV, the M carries a RAC/2 and an ER large laser. It suffers from a critical shortage of RAC/2 ammo, only carrying a single ton, meaning that at full fire rate it can only fire for 7 turns, and then will get one turn of half-fire rate fire before running out of ammo completely. This can be extended to 9 turns by firing 5 shots instead of 6, but that really cuts in to your DPS. This is really bad endurance, with most mechs that have a similar amount of ammo being considering very underloaded. The combo of the RAC and ER large laser is theoretically nice, using the ER large laser to punch holes and the RAC to exploit them as it is for all intents and purposes an insanely long range SRM-6 in terms of damage output. The issue is the lack of endurance holding it back, and the fact that, as it is set up as a sniper, it is best used standing still on a hill, a situation which the Grendel is fucking appallingly bad. The Grendel wastes it’s most important asset, its speed, if it stands still like that, and it has to fall back on its kinda terrible armor instead.

F, do not use this mech.

If RACs sound fun, because they are giant mech sized miniguns, consider a Rifleman 8D, which is around the same price at 1777 BV, slower at 4/6/4 but still fast enough to jump onto a hill and stay there, and carries two RAC/5s, which is about six times the damage potential, as well as enough ammo to fire for 10 turns and much better armor.


The Grendel T is a nice breath of sanity in an otherwise unsound and unstable mech. It costs 1936 BV, which is a pretty big amount but at least isn’t over 2000, and it carries a large pulse laser, two improved heavy medium lasers, an improved heavy small laser, an ER small laser because for some reason they decided that having two types of small laser on the same mech wasn’t confusing, and an SRM-6. All of these weapons have some pretty serious damage output, with the large pulse laser being a good long range skirmishing tool and the improved heavy medium lasers being a heat efficient source of 10 damage hits at close range. Because it has a basic SRM-6 instead of a streak one, it can load inferno ammo to let it mess with it’s enemies heat or hunt elementals if you need to, and the variant makes great use of the speed to get it’s short ranged lasers into position, and is not being pulled in a few weird different directions with a mix of short and long ranged weapons, as it is clearly being encouraged to jump in close, unload, and then jump back out to cool off. This is an IlClan variant, and much like most IlClan variants, it is a pretty competently designed mech. I give it a C+, it isn’t terrible and while it is still too expensive for my taste and too fragile, it has a use case in some forces that a lot of the other Grendels simply lack.


On balance, considering all variants, the Grendel might be one of the most dogshit mechs in the game. It is overcosted, and even it’s best variants are just ok and inoffensive. Compared with the Goshawk, it is slightly faster but just so much worse at killing things and so overcosted. The 7 hex jumping ability that I raved about at the start of the article actually is the albatross around the neck of this variant, as it adds a BV multiplier that just makes most of the variants here completely not worth it. The mechs that really enjoy jumping 7 are either way cheaper and more efficient before jumping 7, meaning that the BV multiplier doesn’t hit them very hard, such as the Wraith or Spider, or are just so huge, expensive, and idiotically strong that the boosted price doesn’t matter in the face of their extreme power, such as the Phoenix Hawk IIC 8, which has its jump 7 and cost of 2881 BV mitigated by being a big stupid assault mech with several headchoppers. The Phoenix Hawk IIC 8 still isn’t particularly good, but I would take it over a Grendel for 600 extra BV.

And that is kind of the whole problem, right? The Grendel in it’s capabilities is not on average that bad, it fights well enough for its weight and is pretty zippy, it is just completely murdered by BV costs. It is probably the worse victim of the increasing BV cost of Clan Tech that I have seen in this game, as most variants are about 200-400 BV from being pretty nasty. It also suffers from a severe identity problem on some variants, carrying long range sniping weapons that encourage it to stand still at long range, but with the movement of a fast skirmisher.

Skirmishers generally carry short ranged, BV efficient weapons, and use their speed and maneuverability to get in close where they can remove the downside of short range and instead just beat people to death with massively under-costed weapons. Snipers generally carry expensive, long range weapons with terrible BV efficiency but a high per-shot damage and really good range, and have to abuse that range by standing at a distance to get their BV’s worth out of their weapons. Snipers are also encouraged to stand still, as this will give them better accuracy on their high damage, massively expensive guns, because missing with a 412 BV Clan ER PPC feels a lot worse than missing with a 178 BV AC/20. Trying to make a fast sniper is generally not fantastic outside of campaign play, where they have a role keeping up with other fast moving mechs and providing fire support. It both pays for the boosted, giant move speed of a skirmisher, while also paying a huge premium for long range, expensive sniping weapons, and both sides of the mech end up causing an imbalance in the mech that rips it’s practical gameplay value apart. This only matters when playing with BV, because the main downside of long ranged weapons, their high BV cost, goes away completely when you stop using BV.

If you really want to use the mech because you think it looks cool, or because it came in the starter box and you want to use it, take an E, a J, or a T. All of those, notably, actually use the mech’s speed and maneuverability to get close and knife fight, rather than trying to be a weird mobile sniper.

Cheers, and have a good rest of your day.