Howdy social generals of the Lyran Commonwealth, and welcome to another mech overview, this time on the Griffin. The Griffin makes up half of the Beginner Box, along with the Vindicator that we covered recently. The Griffin is one of the iconic mechs of Battletech, being one of the “55 ton trio” along with the Wolverine and Shadow Hawk. Out of those it is, in my opinion, probably the best out of the box. That said, I am quite fond of some of the variants for the Wolverine and Shadow Hawk, and all of them end up being pretty similar once you are using their better variants, though the Griffin might still edge them out due to the sheer number of variants that the mech has due to its status as the most iconic of the three. Even outside of the trio, the Griffin still has an unusually high amount of variants, which increases the chances that you will be able to find one that fits in with your force.
The Griffin Chassis
Most Griffin variants share a few traits. It tends to be rather fast for a mech of its weight, with most being 5/8 and a few being 6/9. Basically every variant can jump as well, which is a huge boon on something that is already pretty fast for its size. It also carries decent, though not max, armor on most variants. Its heat sinking is pretty mediocre in most configurations, and its weapons are a bit lighter than normal, though most variants carry PPCs or other energy weapons that are very weight efficient. An interesting downside is that the Griffin tends to carry most or all of its weapons in either its right arm or right torso, making it pretty vulnerable to having that right torso blown off, and it is easier to render combat ineffective as a result. I’ll mention it when a variant has weapons on the left side as well, as that is a genuine advantage of those variants. Sometimes you take a Heavy Gauss Rifle to the back and lose a side torso, so it is better to have weapons on either side to avoid getting randomly blown out like that.
The 1N Griffin is a pretty solid mech. Coming in at 1272 BV, it is a little pricy for a 3025 medium mech. It carries a PPC and an LRM 10, in the right arm and right torso respectively. These are pretty solid weapons, though it doesn’t have the heat sinks to fire both of them, having only 12, which does still mean it can fire its PPC at a run without building heat. With a 5/8/5 movement profile and decent (though not fantastic) armor, it is pretty durable due to high TMMs and an alright ability to take a hit. It has one major, glaring issue though, which is that all of it’s weapons have minimum ranges. This means that it is usually forced to use its mobility to run away constantly, which is generally not fantastic in Battletech without Jump Jets, and the Griffin not being able to fire its PPC while jumping without overheating is pretty crippling, as it means that you can either walk backwards if you are in the perfect situation, jump and start cooking, or turn and run, possibly leaving your back open. Walking backwards would be fine if you played on maps with no/little terrain, but it gets much worse the more terrain you have on the map. I am not a huge fan of the 1N, but it is not particularly bad or disappointing, just underwhelming.
The GRF-1A is bad and disappointing. This is understandable, as it is a “Primitive” mech, one of the early prototype mechs that would eventually become the BattleMechs that we know and love. It is slower, 5 tons heavier, cannot fire its prototype PPC while standing still without building 3 heat, it has a smaller LRM rack, and it is oddly tougher, with more armor and structure points than the 1N. It does only cost 1024 BV, but there are much better uses of 1024 BV out there. I would avoid this mech unless you are deliberately bringing something terrible for a campaign, or are playing a game set at the dawn of the BattleMech, for some reason.
The GRF-1S is awesome. It costs 1253 BV, and has identical movement and armor to the 1N. Where it differs is that the GRF-1S carries a Large Laser and 2 Medium Lasers in the right arm, and downgrades the LRM to an LRM-5. It also upgrades from 12 to 16 heat sinks, allowing it to fire all of its lasers at a run without overheating. This is all a fantastic combination of traits, as it removes the minimum range issue from the 1N while also increasing its damage potential and the amount of hit rolls it is making, which improves the probability of getting at least one hit. You lose some range, but as the Griffin is fairly mobile and fast, this isn’t a huge issue and you will rarely not be able to find targets you can close in on and bully. It also moves the LRM-5 to the left torso, which means it is much less likely to lose absolutely all of its weapons, though 1 LRM-5 is not likely to make much of a difference. I strongly prefer this variant to the stock 1N, but I have gotten into arguments with PPC stans about how it is never a good idea to swap a PPC for a Large Laser for any reason, so there is apparently an argument to make there.
The 1DS is baffling. Costing 1285 BV, it is stuffed to the gills with advanced technology. It has the same movement and armor as the 1N, but has an XL engine to save weight, an LRM-20 and Large Pulse Laser for weapons, and a comically, hysterically overkill 14 Double Heat Sinks. This mech can generate 21 heat with a jumping alpha strike, and can sink 28 for some fucking reason. It also has CASE despite the fact that it carries an XL engine, which makes the CASE totally pointless because your mech dies anyway when the ammo blows up, as you still lose the location that the ammo was in (if you’re running campaign play this does end up being useful, as repairs are cheaper). This all comes together to create a mech that carries two weapons I like, LRMs and LPLs, while still being kind of terrible due to it horribly wasting all of it’s advanced tech with strange design decisions, which is why it is barely more BV than a 1N. I’d still rather have a 1DS over a 1N, but this is a severely confusing mech from a design perspective, and I would love to interrogate the game designer who built this and try to figure out why it is making such terrible use of its cool advanced tech. I kept looking and looking to see if I missed something, but I didn’t, its just kinda bad.
Making a complete 180 from the baffling 1DS, the 2N is fantastic and easy to understand. Costing 1606 BV, it is a pretty expensive mech, but it is well worth it. The 2N carries thicker armor while maintaining the same movement profile as the 1N, and significantly upgrades the weapons. It carries an ERPPC, 2 SRM6s, one in either side torso, no XL engine, and 11 DHS, letting it sink 22 heat, which lets it more or less shoot whatever it wants most of the time. It is still a victim of the Right Side curse though, as all of its SRM ammo is in the right torso. It also carries ECM, if you are up against equipment where that matters. This mech is a fast brawler, capable of sniping away with its ERPPC as it closes in to start blasting SRMs and jumping around wildly. This is one of the better IS tech mediums in my opinion, being fairly hard to kill and capable of getting wherever it needs to be to get good shots. It will rarely disappoint you.
The 3M is pretty similar to the 1DS, though much less confusing. It costs 1521 BV, and has marginally higher armor than the 1N. It has an XL engine and carries an ERPPC and LRM20 in the right arm and right torso. It also has a Small Laser in the left torso for some reason, which it will basically never use and doesn’t protect from the Right Side curse due to the XL engine ensuring that the mech dies before that matters. It has 13 DHS, and can sink 26 heat, which is exactly the amount it generates by jumping and firing the PPC and LRM, so it is a pretty simple mech to use, just maneuver for the maximum TMM, hang back around 5-7 hexes, and shoot all of your weapons every turn. I am somewhat underwhelmed with the 3M, as it mostly just plays like a better 1N. All of these sorts of sniper mechs are better off not worrying as much about speed, as they will often want to hang back in the woods and not move super fast anyway, which is why I like the 2N and 1S more, as they are loaded with short ranged weapons that IMO make better use of their speed.
The 3N is weird. It costs 1560 BV, and kinda wastes the BV. It carries an ERPPC and an Enhanced LRM-10. Enhanced LRM sounds really exciting, until you realize that it is just a heavier version of an LRM with a shorter minimum range. Seeing as Clan LRMs are lighter and have no minimum range, you can see why this is underwhelming to me. It has slightly more armor than the 1N and has better heat sinking, but in my opinion it is just not worth the price increase over a 1N. Enhanced LRMs kinda suck and they confuse me severely.
This thing fucking rocks! The GRF-4N costs 1591 BV and is an absolute stroke of Taurian genius. It carries the same armor as a 1N, swapping the weapons for a Plasma Rifle and 3 ER Medium Lasers. I am very fond of the Plasma Rifle, as IMO it is a pretty awesome upgrade to a PPC. The best part though, is that this mech carries a Light Engine, which is a better version of an XL engine. The weight they save with this they spend on upgrading its movement to 6/9/6. A mech with no minimum ranges, that moves that fast, with those weapons and that armor profile is remarkably good, and this will probably be my go to Griffin from now on. Cannot recommend this variant highly enough.
This one is even better! The GRF-4R costs 1412 BV, and is a bit nuts, especially for that price. It uses an XL engine to boost its speed, but it isn’t a 6/9/6. It is a 6/9/9 through the use of Improved Jump Jets. Improved Jump Jets allow it to jump up to its full running distance, and with 9 hexes it can build some pretty insane TMMs from jumping like that. It carries a Snub Nosed PPC, an MML-5, and an ER Medium Laser for weapons, which is a pretty solid set for a mech of this price. It has 11 DHS, which is mostly enough for what it wants to do, and it would break the Right Side curse were it not for its dastardly XL Engine. This is a very, very good mech, bordering on being cheesy due to how powerful Improved Jump Jets are in the game for their price. Legitimately a better mech than the 4N that I just raved about, because I don’t use Griffins much so I am learning about these as I research this. I’ve already hit a “I don’t want to play with you anymore” point with the 4N. The 4R would be a better mech even if it costed the same amount as the 4N, and being cheaper it is just better by a landslide. Praise Blake and pass the Jump Jets.
Sort of acting as a weird mix of the above, the 5K costs 1390 BV. It is a pretty weird mech, being a 5/8/8 with Improved Jump Jets, and having a superior Light engine rather than an XL engine, but it seems pretty undergunned as a result. It carries a Light PPC, an ER Medium Laser, and an LRM-10. This is an ok mix of weapons, but is pretty light for something this big. It also has a super weird armor scheme, with really heavy armor on the legs and CT at the cost of the side torsos being oddly thin. Improved Jump Jets are really good, and this is a decent mech, but it is very underwhelming compared to the 4R.
The 5L is a sneaky one. It costs 1781, which is really rather expensive, but it carries a lot of good equipment. It has Stealth Armor, which makes it hard to hit outside of short range. Its movement is the standard 5/8/5 and it has thicker armor than a 1N. It carries a Plasma Rifle, 3 Medium Lasers, and an MML-5, which is a pretty nasty mix of weapons. It carries 14 DHS, which is easily enough for it to fire whatever weapons it wants to. It has an XL engine, which is bad, and is monstrously expensive. If you really want a mech with stealth armor, this is a decent choice, but the price tag is enough to make me balk a bit.
The 5M is somehow even more confusing than the 1DS. It has standard 5/8/5 movement, decent armor, and a price tag of 1224 BV. This low price is justified though, as it carries a Light Gauss Rifle, an LRM-10, and a Small Laser. These weapons are capable of generating 6 heat, though in practice that will only ever be 5. Add in jumping and you get 10 heat, just the perfect amount to sink with the 10 free single heat sinks, right? So this thing has 13 DHS, giving it a monstrous 26 heat capacity while only generating 10 fucking heat. The Light Gauss Rifle is IMO a worse weapon than a basic PPC, so you are basically just getting a slightly shittier, slightly cheaper version of the 1N. It even has an XL engine, just so you are more fragile than you should be for no reason at all. I cannot recommend this variant, it is abysmal.
The 6CS is a Griffin variant, that is for sure. It costs 1695 BV, on the higher end for Griffins. It has the standard movement profile of 5/8/5 and the same sort of weird, thin side armor armor layout as the 5K. It also carries an XL engine, which sucks, but the actual draw of the mech is its C3i system. C3i is a better version of the C3 system, which basically allows you to pay extra points to network your mechs together, letting them measure ranges from their closest ally instead of from themselves. This is very powerful, and C3i is even better because it is impossible to shut down the network, as every mech is a master computer that can run the network on its own. It carries a decent set of weapons to take advantage of its C3, namely an ERPPC, an LRM-15 with Artemis, and 2 ER Medium Lasers. 12 DHS are enough to work with, and the mech is overall solid, though you are only getting the best value if you run this as part of a C3 unit.
The 6S is nearly the same mech as the 6CS. It costs 1461, which is much cheaper, and carries the exact same weapons as the 6CS. It trades out the XL for a Light engine, and drops enough heat sinks to be slightly annoying. 10 is not quite enough for this mech, and it has to think about heat a lot more than the 6CS. It is much cheaper and if you are not using C3 it is probably just better, it just feels weird to have 2 mechs be so close to each other in stats. Its armor is slightly better though actually, which is a nice upside.
The 6S2 is confusing. It is basically the same as the 6S, costing much more at 1870 and losing an ER Medium Laser and the Artemis, while trading the LRM-15 for a Clan LRM-15, which is better in every way. It does this to add a Boosted C3 Slave and a Targeting computer. Tcomps are really nice, and C3 is really nice, but this is a lot to pay at 1870. For that price you could get a reasonable Clan medium mech, and C3 really spikes the price of mechs if you choose to use it. Its probably a good choice in a C3 force, and it is by no means bad to have an ERPPC+Tcomp combo, but it seems like a bit of a waste of BV to me.
Costing as much as most Clan Mediums at 2131 BV, the GRF C is a bit of an expensive letdown IMO. It carries a Clan ERPPC and a a Clan Streak LRM-10. Streak LRMs are LRMS that don’t roll on the cluster table, all 10 missiles hit every time it hits. It has the same monstrous 6/9/9 improved jump jet movement profile as the 4R, and it has decent armor. So why am I not particularly fond of it? For one, it has only 11 DHS, or 22 capacity. Originally I complained about how this meant you could not jump and fire your PPC without overheating, but Improved Jump Jets produce less heat than normal ones, which I did not know at the time. 2131 BV is just so goddam much BV though, and you could have your pick of high end Inner Sphere assault mech for that price. It is not worth the amount you spend on it, no matter how spectacular its stats are.
The first of the special character mechs, Sparky is a lot of fun. It costs 1449 BV, which is a decent amount. It has thicker armor and the same movement as a 1N, and has one extra heat sink, carrying 13. The big draw of this mech is that it trades the LRM-10 of the 1N out for 6 medium lasers spread all around the mech, defeating the Right Side curse entirely and making Sparky an excellent bracket firing mech, trading out its long range PPC for a battery of nasty nasty lasers within 3 hexes. I don’t know if it is better than a 4R, which it is slightly more expensive than, but it is definitely fun.
GRF-1E2 “Sparky 2.0”
Sparky 2.0 is a pretty substantial glowup. Costing 1862, it is pretty damn expensive, but every part of the mech has been improved. It has the same movement, but with a Light Engine that frees up weight for a lot of upgrade. First of all, the weapons have been replaced with an ERPPC, 2 Medium Lasers, 3 ER Medium Lasers, and a Targeting Computer. The combination of all of these weapons and the Tcomp means that it is a very dangerous mech, capable of doing a lot of damage to anything that gets in range of it. It has also improved to 14 DHS, giving it a heat capacity of 28, which is enough for it to more or less shoot however much it wants. This is a very good mech, but once again the BV cost is very, very high for what you are getting, and I would personally rather have a 4R.
Near as I can tell this mech only has rules for Alpha Strike, though I could be wrong. I cannot find a record sheet, but it is allegedly a 1DS that downgrades the LRM to fit a hatchet. This is somehow more confusing than the 1DS already was, and if it had a record sheet I could find I would still not recommend it.
Costing a too high 1820 BV, Francine is a decent mech. It has standard speed and decent armor. It carries a Snub Nosed PPC, an LRM-15 with Artemis, 3 ER Medium Lasers, a Light Engine, and a Small Laser pointed backwards for some reason. It breaks the left side curse, having a decent amount of gun in its left arm. This mech is alright, but it is super not worth 1820 BV, and I would avoid it.
GRF-6S “Francine II”
Somehow even more expensive, Francine 2 Electric Boogaloo is 2223 BV. This is a shitload to spend on an IS medium mech, so what do we get? Well, it gets rid of the random backwards laser, as well as the Artemis. It does this to free up tonnage for a Supercharger, which allows it to run 10 hexes, at the risk of damaging its engine if it leaves it on for too long. This is nice and all, but the bigger draw IMO is that it carries Reflective Armor. Reflective Armor halves all incoming damage from Energy weapons. Considering as a huge portion of this game’s mechs mostly use energy weapons, and you can see that this is a massively powerful bonus. That said, it is still far, far too expensive for me to consider, seeing as I could have nearly any IS assault I felt like, or a solid Clan medium like the Goshawk. I cannot recommend a 55 ton mech that is this expensive.
Christ there are a lot of Griffins in this game. The general takeaway of this article is that, unless you need something specific, I recommend just taking a 4R in all cases. The 4N is also good, but on sheer cost efficiency the 4R is just a better mech than any of the other ones in this article, in my opinion. Unlike with some of the other mechs where there is a debate, I really see no debate, just take a 4R and enjoy flying 9 hexes and then blasting someone with a sawn-off PPC.