Battletech: Mech Overview: Nova (Black Hawk)

Howdy and welcome back to Goonhammer’s Sisyphean attempt to cover every Battlemech in detail. One of the biggest problems with the Clan tech base is, in my opinion, their medium mechs. In Inner Sphere forces, the main workhorses are medium mechs, acting as BV efficient, versatile list filler. Most are not spectacular, and very few are really flashy, the tech-base just doesn’t have room to make them flashy. Meanwhile, over in Nicholas Kerensky’s fun time family petting zoo, they probably have too much room to make them flashy. Clan medium mechs are incredibly expensive, commanding the same BV costs as Inner Sphere assault mechs, and tend to be very fragile for their cost, with most not quite moving fast enough to offset their thinner armor compared to the actual assault mechs they are competing with.

That said, the Nova really feels like a mech made by someone who understands Battletech. The Nova, or Black Hawk if you are in the Inner Sphere and like getting massacred over a happy meal toy (actual lore), is an iconic clan Omni-Mech, weighing 50 tons and currently being sold in the Clan Invasion starter box. It has the same movement profile and similar armor to a basic GRF-1N Griffin, which is not a terrible defensive profile, though not incredible either. 5/8/5 is one of the better movement profiles to have in this game, as it hits several breakpoints and generally lets you get where you need to be without wasting too much weight on engine. The Nova also uses a Clan XL engine to save weight, giving it a lot more room for weapons than the Griffin. So, lets talk about those variants.

Clan Wolf in Exile Nova (Black Hawk). Credit: Jack Hunter


One thing to keep in mind before I continue is that the Nova is an Omni-Mech. This means that all of it’s variants have identical armor and speed, and have some equipment that is hard-wired into the mech that all variants share. On the Nova, that hardwired equipment is 4 extra heat sinks and 5 jump jets. We will only be talking about what weapons each variant carries below, as that is the primary difference between Omni-Mech variants.

Another fascinating thing about the Nova specifically is that the plastic model can easily be used for 3 different mechs. There is an Inner Sphere knockoff called the Black Hawk-KU, and a weird dark ages variant that isn’t an Omni-Mech called the Black Hawk (Standard). We will not be covering all of those other mechs today, but it is pretty cool that you can use the model for this Clan mech for an Inner Sphere one if, like me, you prefer the IS techbase.


The Nova Prime is the third best way in Battletech to get a one-way ticket to the Great Father. The Prime is an infamous meme mech. With a mighty heat sinking capacity of 36 and a price of 2663, the same price as actual Clan Assault mechs, you might think it would have some very powerful weapons. Multiple Clan ER PPCs, a battery of Large Pulse Lasers, maybe some SRMs.

No, the Nova Prime instead has decided to spend all of that BV on 12 fucking ER medium lasers. That is a total heat generation of 60. The Nova Prime overheats to 4 points shy of an automatic shutdown with a running alpha strike. This is bad for a number of reasons. The first is that each Clan ER medium laser deals a 7 damage hit. This is pretty good for a weapon that light, but it means that unlike other suicide wagons, like the Hunchback IIC, the Nova Prime has a much smaller chance of getting lucky and landing a single huge hit somewhere important. In addition, if you simply choose to fire only half of the lasers and not cook your pilot, you are wasting the BV from the ones you are not firing. You do get a discount on weapons you can’t safely fire because of heat issues, but it is not nearly enough to fix the problem.

That said, it does a hilarious amount of damage and a lot of people are very, very fond of it. I give it a D-, it costs a huge amount and just doesn’t ever do enough before it either overheats or is murdered by more cost effective mechs. It also is just less funny as a suicide mech than something like the Commando 4H or Hunchback IIC.


A little bit better, the A is what you would think the Prime is. Costing 2422 BV, it carries two Clan ER PPCs, two Clan medium pulse lasers, and 2 anti-missile systems. The frustrating thing is that it only sinks 28 heat, but firing both PPCs builds up 30. This annoys the hell out of me every time I see it on a mech, because if I am paying the BV for a huge and expensive gun like the Clan ER PPC, I want to be firing it every turn I can. That frustration aside, this is a significantly better mech than the Prime. While it is less efficient than something like a Thunderhawk when it comes to getting long-range headchoppers on the table, it is a good bit more nimble and mobile, without falling into the “Fast Sniper” trap that so many mechs do. I give it a C-, it is an OK way to get a pair of Clan ER PPCs into a list.


One of my personal favorite variants of the Nova, the B is very cheap for a Clan medium mech, coming in at 1515 BV. For weapons it carries a Clan large pulse laser, a UAC/5, an ER small laser, and a couple of machine guns. None of these weapons are particularly fancy or incredible, and its alpha strike damage is much lower than either the Prime or the A. It is still capable of dealing 20 damage on its own though, which is an important break-point as that is the point where it can start to knock mechs over. The reason I am so fond of this variant is that it carries a Clan LPL, my personal pick for overall best weapon in the game, and, due to it’s low price for a Clan mech, it fits into Clan-themed lists easily and gives you a lower cost option. It isn’t that great in the grand scheme of medium mechs, I would much prefer a TR-1 Wraith, but it is cool and will do pretty well in most forces. C.


The Nova C is a weird one. I kind of like it and also kind of hate it. Coming in at 1450 BV, it is even cheaper than the B. For weapons, it carries a gauss rifle, a small pulse laser, and an SRM-4. This is a very light spread of weapons for a Clan medium mech, but it isn’t terrible. Gauss is gauss. C.


The Nova D is a variation on the B, and I like it less. Costing 1450, it carries an LBX-5 autocannon, and an LRM-20. I am not a big fan of LBX autocannons as a general rule, and, while Clan LRMs are very powerful, I feel like I would rather have the LPL personally. C-.


The Nova E carries an ATM-12 and 3 ER medium lasers. ATMs are really fun, powerful weapons that inflict good damage at most ranges. I personally like them a lot. The price is a bit high at 2078, but not enough to completely kill the mech for me. C.


The Nova F is effectively the same as the E, just swapping the ATM for a HAG-20. I do not like HAGs. They are inconsistent, overly expensive LRMs with extra steps. 1976 is too much to pay for this. D.


The Nova G is a weird one. Costing 1822 BV, it carries a Protomech AC/8, two improved heavy medium lasers, and seven ER small lasers. All of these weapons are tied in to a Targeting Computer. All of these weapons have very short range, which seriously hurts on the Nova. 5/8/5 is decently mobile, but it isn’t really fast enough for a mech with an effective range of about 2 hexes. It will do a lot of damage if it can get in close, but managing to get in close is going to be pretty hard. C-.

Clan Smoke Jaguar Black Hawk. Credit: Jack Hunter


The Nova H is the second best way in Battletech to get a one-way ticket to the Great Father. Someone looked at the Nova Prime and decided it was far too sane. Costing 1832 BV, the Nova H carries ten fucking heavy medium lasers. If it fires all of them while running, it builds 72 heat. It can only sink 40. It will instantly overheat itself to automatic shutdown, which is fucking hilarious. It isn’t good. It is quite bad. But it will do over 100 points of damage before instantly shutting down. That is one of the highest alpha strikes in the game. I give it a D, but it is probably an A+ in terms of sheer stupidity and fun. It embodies the entire Clan mindset and style of war. It is built purely for incredibly short fights and lacks any foresight or escape plan. I love it.


The I is basically a mixture of the A and the H. Costing 2224, it carries one ER PPC and 5 improved heavy medium lasers. The best part about this mech is that it actually has enough heat sinks to fire all of the improved heavy medium lasers. This means that it can plink away with it’s ER PPC at long range, then swap to the improved heavy medium lasers at short range to do some hellish damage. I like this mix of weapons, even if it is a bit too expensive for me. B-.


The J costs 2295 BV and is sorta ok. It carries a Clan ER PPC with Capacitor, which is sorta mediocre, and a streak LRM-15, which is pretty good. It is sort of unremarkable honestly, I am not a huge fan of PPC Capacitors and for 2295 BV I just feel like this mech is not worth it. D.


The K costs 1932 and is sorta ok. It has a Clan ER large laser, a RAC/2, and a pair of ER medium lasers. This is fine, its not remarkable really, the RAC can exploit holes that the large laser makes but in my opinion the Clan ER large laser is really mediocre for it’s BV and a RAC/2 really isn’t a great weapon compared to a Clan LRM 20 or something like that. Not a fan. D+.


The Nova L is the fourth best way in Battletech to get a one-way ticket to the Great Father. Carrying 2 Plasma Cannons and 2 improved heavy large lasers, it, as with all of the funny Novas, overheats massively when it tries to use it’s guns. It also carries the Plasma Cannon, which is one of the worse weapons in the game. D-.


Costing 1597, the Nova R is a weird dark ages variant. It carries 4 medium RE lasers and 6 AP gauss rifles. This is a weird spread of weapons that does sort of ok damage at pretty short range. It also have a supercharger, which lets it run 10 hexes. This is a genuinely nice addition to a mech that is this short-ranged. I like it actually, it’s pretty cheap, decently fast, and hits reasonably hard. B.


The S variant of the Nova carries on a bit of a trend of pretty decent S variants. It carries 6 medium pulse lasers (which it can actually sink almost all of!) and 4 machine guns. It also carries an active probe and an anti-missile system, if you are into that. 6 MPLs is a pretty frightening amount of damage. Costing 2056 BV, this is a pretty good mech. It does good damage at short-mid range, and I like it. B+.


The Nova T is a weird gimmick thing. It is similar to the Prime, but it swaps all of the ER medium lasers with medium chemical lasers. Chemical Lasers basically build much lower heat than normal lasers, at the cost of having to use ammo as if they were autocannons. The stat-block of the medium chemical laser is identical to an inner sphere medium laser, just building 2 heat instead of 3. This means that the Nova T can actually fire all 12 of it’s medium lasers, which rocks. For 1579 BV, I really quite like this mech. 60 damage is a respectable amount of damage for that price. This is probably the best of the cheap Novas. It really can’t do anything at long range, so you need to be careful and keep it out of line of sight on it’s way in, but it will do good work once it gets there. B+.


The U is a weird deep space version for boarding enemy space ships. It kinda sucks at anything other than boarding space ships. You will take this if you are boarding space ships. Rating N/A, its so hyper specialized that I really don’t know what to say.

“Samson Furey”

This is a special character variant. It is a barely edited variation on the A configuration. It drops the AMS and medium pulse lasers for some ER medium lasers and extra heat sinks. It is ok. Not really much to say here, it is kinda gonna function basically exactly the same, it shoots ER PPCs ok. It does no longer overheat while standing still and shooting, so that is an improvement. C+.

Northwind Highlanders Nova/Black Hawk. Credit: SRM


The Nova is a pretty decent core platform. It has decent armor and decent movement. Most variants just completely fail to make good use of it’s stats and movement. There are some decent variants, though basically all of them cost too much. I do not like Clan medium mechs overall. They just suck for their price and you are almost always better upgrading to a Clan heavy mech. The Nova puts up a decent show for a Clan medium, with some budget friendly variants and some that earn their price tag with menacingly high damage.

Also it is shaped like a friend and I love it. Cherish the weird gunpod chicken walker thing.