Welcome to another Mech Overview. Today we are taking a look at the Locust, a small, pathetic, somewhat loathsome little mech. The Locust is what is generally referred to as a “Bug Mech”, a vague category of basic Inner Sphere light mechs named after various bugs. The Locust, Wasp, and Stinger are the classic trio, and most count the much larger Spider and Cicada as Bug Mechs too. Bug Mechs are, in general, the platonic ideal of the light mech. Small, maneuverable, annoying little bastards with basically no armor and a set of short ranged guns that they have to put themselves into extreme danger to use. I am a huge fan of Bug Mechs, though I will admit that the Locust is far and away the one I use the least.
The Locust itself is defined mostly by being fast. Very, very fast. Most variants move at least 8/12/0, with some going even faster. It rarely has Jump Jets, which hurts its practical maneuverability quite a bit, but on the right map they can really move and make things happen. Locusts are very valuable during any mission where you need something to do objectives or scout things out, as they will basically always be the first mech on the objective. They also, unfortunately, tend to be the first mech to die after being shot off of an objective. Locusts have a bit of a reputation as pilot murderers, as the severe lack of armor and extremely short ranged weapons carried by most variants combine to create near suicidal play patterns. A mech that is seriously threatened by a single medium pulse laser being encouraged to get as close as possible tends to lead to a lot of destroyed mechs.
One of the keys to understanding how to use Locusts, or any extremely fast and brittle light mechs, is to accept that it won’t spend every turn shooting. The Locust is extremely fast, and it has to use that speed to build such high TMMs that it cannot be hit. If it stands still, or just moves a shorter distance to stay in range, it will probably die. Instead, run in, staying as far as you can away from the enemy while still getting an OK shot, and then next turn, run directly past the enemy and into the distance. This will build TMMs up and will encourage your opponent to chase the Locust, which is a win, as any mech spent chasing a locust is not shooting something more valuable. The next turn, you try to dip out of line of sight and turn around, and get ready for another pass. A critical mass of Locusts doing this is profoundly annoying to deal with and to fight, and even one or two doing this can just turn the whole game into such a clusterfuck that your opponent might make a bad call involving your cheap, cheap, shitty Locusts.
Anyway, lets do the Mech Overview thing and talk about some Variants.
The 1V is the basic, vanilla locust. Costing only 432 BV, around the same price as a single Clan ER PPC, it is about as shitty as mechs come. It carries a single medium laser and a pair of machine guns, encouraging it to get dangerously close to the enemy. It has barely adequate armor, able to just about survive a single hit from most weapons, though with only 10 points in the CT and 8 almost everywhere else, it is still heavily threatened by anything that does 10 or more damage. It is not a particularly good Locust. I give it a D+, its not a complete failure but there are better variants.
This is the same mech as the 1V, but with much better weapons. It costs 553 BV, about 100 more, and upgrades the weapons to carry 2 medium lasers and 2 small lasers. Most of the time when you see a basic intro-tech Locust, it will be this one. I give it a C, it is not one of my preferred mechs in this price range but it is still dirt cheap. It is good filler, as you can usually squeeze one into your list with other, more valuable mechs if you need to meet a minimum mech allotment for a mission or format.
It is exactly the same as the 1V, but it has Triple Strength Myomer. This is extremely funny, as it can kick for 8 damage for only 474 BV, but it is still basically a 1V. Not a fan, D+.
Taking the crown of the mech with the lightest armor in the entire game, to my knowledge, the 1M is an elaborate suicide machine, but I have heard people argue it has a role before. With a staggering single ton of armor, all locations only have between 1 and 3 pips of armor. Literally any weapon is a game ending threat to this thing. The reason for the extremely light armor is that this Locust mounts 2 LRM-5s, making it an extremely light and unbelievably fragile fire support mech. For 424 BV it is very cheap, and I have heard people argue in favor of this mech before, saying that it has the speed to run away from anything that tries to catch it while staying at long range with it’s missiles. I personally don’t agree with that stance, but I have heard it often enough that I felt the need to relay it here. I personally give this mech an F, I am not fond of fast moving LRM mechs in general and this is just all of my problems with them rolled into a single, comedically extreme example.
The 1S is a somewhat misguided attempt to fix the 1V. Costing slightly more at 440 BV, it trades the machine guns and a single ton of armor for a pair of SRM-2s. It isn’t great but it does basically the same thing as the 1E, with thinner armor and more range. I see this as basically interchangeable with the 1E, pick which you value more between range and armor. C.
Meanwhile the C is casually just kind of a little murder machine for a number of reasons. Costing 672 BV, this is one of those Clan Tech refits I am usually pretty fond of. It trades all of the weapons on the basic 1V for a Clan grade medium pulse laser and a pair of Clan grade ER small lasers. This is a pretty awesome upgrade, giving the Locust much better range and a to-hit bonus. It doesn’t change any of the internals or armor, just the weapons, so this is in my mind a straight upgrade. There are some other light mechs in this price range I like a bit better, but this is still a decent Clan medium pulse laser on legs for its extremely low price. I give it a B.
The 1Vb costs 642 and is another decent upgrade. It carries a medium laser, two medium pulse lasers, and two small pulse lasers. This is a decent little laser light show, doing quite a bit of damage if it manages to sneak up behind someone and backstab them. It does carry an XL engine, which I would normally complain makes it more fragile but the Locust is already made of tissue paper and the rights and liberties of the citizens of the Capellan Confederation, so it really doesn’t make a practical difference. Its got more raw damage than the C but less range, so pick your poison. It’s about the same quality at a B grade.
The 1V2 is a great example of someone in universe understanding how the game of Battletech works. Costing 568, the 1V2 carries the same everything as the 1V, but swaps the machine guns for 4 RL-10s. RL-10s are single shot missile packs that do damage equal to their designation. That is 45 points of alpha strike damage, hit rolls and cluster hits table rolls allowing. The Marian Confederation has the right idea with this one. The single shot nature of the RL-10s doesn’t matter very much, as the Locust will usually only get a few opportunities to shoot anyway over the course of a game. Even after it has used them, it is nearly the same as a basic 1V, just losing the machine guns that would frequently get you killed if you tried to use them. This mech has the potential to do something batshit crazy and hit like a freight train once per game, and I personally think that fast light mechs carrying Rocket Launchers are a fantastic way to spend the last few BV in a list. I give it a B+, it makes a great guard for missile boats like the Catapult or Archer and can just unmake a heavy mech’s rear armor sometimes. Use it.
The 3D is a 1M, but with some actual armor. Its still not much armor, and it is still made of explodium, but there are worse things to spend your BV on. Like the 1M. I give it a D+.
The 3M asks the bold question “What if we removed armor from the 1E to add a bunch of specialized equipment that will barely make a difference, and then replaced one of the two medium lasers with two small lasers, giving it a mighty, might 4 small lasers?”
It’s bad, don’t use it. It is a waste of 522 BV compared to most of these other Locusts. Just take a 1E. D.
Once again trading away armor, the 3S is just a 1S, but with streak SRM-2s instead of normal ones. In my opinion this is not worth having about half as much armor protection as a 1V. It is cheap at 483, but just invest in one of the better Locusts. D.
The 3V is the same as a 1V, except it trades a half ton of armor and a half ton of machine gun ammo for a second medium laser. It is fine at 490 BV, but I would rather have a 1V2 if I wanted to up gun a 1V. C-.
The 5M is an interesting little goober. Costing 719 BV, it is very expensive (for a locust). It can fucking move though, moving at 12/18/0, being one of very, very few mechs with a walk speed higher than 10 hexes. For weapons it has an ER medium laser and 4 ER small lasers, which kinda sucks and I wish it just had 3 ER medium lasers. It is incredibly, unreasonably fast, and for that reason alone some people might want it. I give it a C, like most other Word of Blake mechs, it is kind of overpriced, but fundamentally decent.
The 5M2 is a weird compromise between the 5M and the 1Vb, carrying an ER medium laser and two medium pulse lasers. It is less fast at 11/17/0, which is still incredibly fast, and honestly I like this better than the 5M. Still a C though, at this price range, 693 BV, you can just get better light mechs.
Why are there so many 5Ms? The 5M3 is extremely funny, costing a massive 929 BV and moving 9/14/0. It carries a single ER large laser and two ER medium lasers. I am generally not a fan of super fast sniper mechs, but this one almost gets a pass just for sheer comedy factor, being basically a sprinting ER large laser on legs. 929 is way too much to pay for this, but it would be incredibly annoying to catch and stop from shooting at you. Probably a D in practical use, but a B-ish in fun factor.
The 5S isn’t very good. It carries 2 MML-3s, and while I am normally a huge fan of MMLs, this mech manages to completely fuck it up by only carrying a single ton of ammo. MMLs only are worth it if you have both LRM and SRM ammo on the mech, as the MML can fire both types of ammo. With only one or the other, this is just strictly worse than a mech carrying either LRMs or SRMs. Avoid this, the BV is 509 but that doesn’t really matter, this is just such a waste of a mech. F.
The 5T is a weirdo mech with 6 light machine guns linked into two machine gun arrays, and an ER medium laser. At 520 BV this is sort of ok, but super super weird. Machine gun arrays basically link machine guns together into a single weapon. I wouldn’t use it, but it will do unholy things to any infantry on the field. D+.
The 5V is a nice compromise between trash and good tech. It carries similar armor to the 1V, while trading the weapons for two RL-10s and a pair of ER medium lasers. For 665 BV this is a generically good Locust, having a decently good up front punch with the RL-10s and decent skirmishing ability with the ER mediums. I like this one, it is a nice, dependable little light mech. C+.
The 5W is a weird one. It costs 695 BV and carries 2 ER medium lasers, a TAG, and a C3i system. It also can move 12/14(18)/0, that extra 4 hexes of movement speed coming from a MASC system. MASC tends to drive up the cost of mechs pretty high, but here it really isn’t that bad. I can see this mech having some use in a C3i force, as it is incredibly fast and could easily spot for other mechs. Probably a B- in those forces, not the best spotter but not the worse.
The 5W2 is just a 5W with a normal C3 slave unit instead of a C3i unit. It is exactly the same amount of good, just pick whichever one uses the same C3 system as the rest of your force.
Also known to exactly me and no one else as “The Fast”, the 6M is incredibly fast, moving 14/21(28)/0. It uses MASC to propel itself up to that 28 hex speed, which is completely batshit insane. It carries 2 ER medium lasers and an ER small laser. It costs 956 BV, which is just a lot to spend on something this fragile, and I can’t unironically recommend it, but if you ever just want to rip across the table in 1-2 turns, this mech is fucking hilarious to use. D for actual use, A for enjoyment/fun factor.
The 7S is an odd duck, basically a Clan-ish tech version of the 1V. It moves 12/18/0, which, as stated above, is very fast. It also carries a Clan grade ER medium laser and a pair of machine guns. It is neat, but in my opinion it is not worth the 709 BV. I give it a C-.
The 7V carries exactly enough advanced equipment for me to need to explain it. It moves 10/15/0 and costs 585 BV. It carries two MagShot gauss rifles and a medium X-pulse laser. MagShots sound really cool, but are actually basically just machine guns with longer range that can explode and kill your pilot (instead of the machine gun ammo exploding, so six of one and a half-dozen of the other). The X-pulse laser is interesting, being an Inner Sphere pulse laser with the same range as a normal Inner Sphere medium laser. For 585 there are worse things to use BV on, but it isn’t really great. I give it a C-.
The 7V2 is basically the same as the 7V, but swaps the weapons. The price increases to 634 BV, and it changes the weapons out to a light PPC and two ER small lasers. I guess this is an ok way to get a fast light PPC into a list, but as I went into in the Mech Overview on the Grendel, I generally think that light, fast sniper mech are doomed to fail due to being over priced for their firepower, and this is no exception. It really doesn’t do enough damage to matter and costs a bit too much. That said, at 634 it really isn’t that expensive, and you can 100% do worse. I give it a C.
I need to use the 6M Locust more. Not because it is good, but because I paid for the whole battlemat and I want to use the whole battlemat. Overall the Locust is basically fine, it is very cheap and cheerful and fills holes in a list pretty well. I recommend going for either the C or the 1Vb for consistent, game long damage, or the 5V or 1V2 for burst damage. I still prefer the Wasp though, the lack of Jump Jets on any Locust variant kind of kills the mech for me. I prefer my mechs to have JJs in general, and that goes double on light mechs. The Locust can get bogged down in a swamp, forest, or river way worse than a Wasp, Stinger, or Spider, and will sometimes have trouble getting out of line of sight of things.
It is very, very fast though, and sometimes that is exactly what you need. Take one in a city map to get the real Kool Aid man experience as you try to maneuver it through the streets. Trust me.