Howdy and welcome back to Goonhammer’s Mech Overviews. This week we are covering an obscure omni-mech in the starter boxes, the Pouncer. The Pouncer doesn’t really have the star power of something like the Thor, Mad Cat, or Nova, and I am not going to lie, before the Alpha Strike box was announced I had completely forgotten that it existed. Also, when I first saw it in the box contents, I thought it was a new model for the Cougar. All I am saying is that the Pouncer is a strangely obscure little mech to put into a starter box, and I am fascinated by it. So, lets go over it.
The Pouncer is an Omni-mech, meaning that all variants have a few shared traits, with more or less the only changes being the weapon loadout. The Pouncer is a 40 ton medium mech, though it is firmly in “overgrown light mech” territory rather than being a real, proper medium mech. It has a weird movement profile of 6/9/5, not fantastic but it does jump at least 5 hexes, which is good enough most of the time and lets it get enough TMM while jumping for it to be worth it. The big problem with the Pouncer is it’s thin armor, roughly the same amount as the Panther, which is a very similar mech in terms of role. The Panther is a 35 ton light mech, so this is a pretty disappointing amount of armor. A gauss or CERPPC shot to anywhere on this mech is probably going to cripple it, and that is not a good thing once you see the price tags on most of these variants.
Yeah it is going to be another one of those Mech Overviews. There are good Clan Omnis I swear! Just not many in the starter boxes.
Rockfish is a psychopath and painted light caustics on this Sea Fox one. I hate how good this looks. Also, the Pouncer is very friend shaped, just like the Puma, and I love it. It looks so happy to be here and is just a pudgy little friend of a mech. It looks like it is waiting for it’s big brother (the Linebacker) to get off the Xbox so it can play Brute Force. I have a huge soft spot for these tiny hunched chicken walker clan mechs.
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 other Mech Overviews). We assume that you are playing in IlClan with no restrictions on unit availability.
The Pouncer Prime comes out swinging, or more accurately, drunkenly stumbling in our general direction. Costing an eye watering 2557 BV, the Prime is intended to basically just be a sequel to the Puma Prime. It carries 2 ER PPCs, an ER small laser, and a targeting computer. it only has 12 double heat sinks, so it overheats badly. Firing both PPCs while running is enough to trigger the +1 to hit and -1 MP penalties from heat, which is fucking abysmal heat management. For context, for LESS BV, at 2440, you can get a Thunder Hawk 7S, an actual honest to god 100 ton assault mech with 3 Gauss Rifles that it can fire for 11 straight turns before it runs out of ammo, with 4 times the armor, no heat problems at all, actual backup weapons, and 50% more damage on each alpha strike. The Pouncer Prime suffers from Grendel Syndrome and is far too fast and fragile for it’s weapon payload. I give this mech a straight up F, even if we are only looking at Clan mechs there are Mad Cat and Thor variants at this price point that are nearly as fast, can jump just as far, and can actually fire their weapons every turn without sautéing the pilot.
The Pouncer A really wants to be a Catapult C1, but sucks at it. Costing 2081 BV, the Pouncer A carries 2 LRM-15s, 4 ER medium lasers, and an ER small laser. It does carry twice as much ammo as a C1, and the clan lasers are a LOT better than the basic inner sphere ones, but it is only marginally more mobile, it is part of a class of mech that doesn’t want to get close anyway, and costs 600 more BV. If you don’t want to include an IS mech in your force, consider the Puma A. It is doing the exact same thing as this mech, but does it better.
The Pouncer B really badly wants to be a Mad Cat, but doesn’t really understand it is too young/light to pull off that look. It costs 1836 BV, and carries 2 ER large lasers, an LRM-10, and 2 SRM-4s. It doesn’t cook itself but the damage and mobility are both pretty unexciting for this price. There is a Banshee with a 25 damage heavy gauss rifle for cheaper than this mech. I am not a huge fan of ER large lasers, both Clan and IS, due to their lack of BV efficiency compared to AC-10s or LPLs, and the lack of headchopping capability compared to CERPPCs or Gauss. As main guns they are firmly unexciting, and the Pouncer B is an unexciting, fragile little mech made of glass that costs as much as better armed mechs with 3 times the durability and marginally less mobility.
Costing 1653, dangerously cheap by Pouncer standards, the C is a bit of a wallflower, blending in with other mechs and generally being boring. It carries a UAC-10, 2 ER medium lasers, and 3 ER small lasers. This is sort of unexciting, but at least it doesn’t cost more than actual honest to god high end IS assault mechs. I love me any AC-10, with the UAC-10 being my second favorite after the basic AC-10. It soaks up a ton of tonnage with a BV efficient gun, so the designers weren’t able to cram it full of expensive garbage. It is still made of glass and has that awkward movement profile, but at least it has a clearly defined role as a mid range (5-10-ish hexes) skirmisher that tries to use it’s comparative mobility to win fights. I don’t personally like it, but at least it is actually sticking to a theme.
Spiking back up to 2246 BV, the Pouncer D saw a Nova Prime smoking in a Denny’s parking lot once and decided that it wanted to be just like him when it grew up. Carrying 6 ER medium lasers, an ER small laser, a targeting computer and 2 streak SRM-6s (just to put the fear of god/ammo explosions in you), the Pouncer D builds 40 heat firing all of it’s weapons at a run, while only sinking 24. This is not good. You could drop 2 of the ER mediums to get it down to a reasonable amount of heat (as the streaks don’t build heat if they miss), but you are still paying for those 2 extra lasers and, more importantly, you are paying the targeting computer multiplier for those 2 extra lasers. I mean, much like it’s role model the Nova Prime, the Pouncer D can do some good damage if it manages to get lined up right, but has such severe heat problems that I urge you to consider other mechs.
Holy shit this one doesn’t completely suck at everything it tries to do. Good job little buddy! Costing 1632, the Pouncer E is an ATM caddy. We love ATMs here. It carries 2 ATM-9s with 2 tons each of ammo, not enough for the full range of ammo types, but loading just HE and ER will do you just fine in most games. It also has 2 ER micro lasers and an ER medium laser. ATMs are very good, and even if this is a slightly sub-par ATM caddy, it is still mobile enough to control the range it fights at against most IS heavies and mediums, and ATMs give it a good option no matter what the range is. It kind of acts like a miniature Stormcrow E, having the same ATMs but unfortunately not being as awesome as a Stormcrow. I like this, it wouldn’t be my first choice to throw ATMs at someone, but it wouldn’t make me actively hate myself the way most Pouncer’s do. Still not great, but much better than it’s competition.
This is a difficult mech to understand, but it has it’s heart in the right place. Costing a bargain bin 1308 BV, the F is designed entirely to kill infantry. It carries a plasma cannon (NOT a plasma rifle, the plasma cannon only deals heat damage, no regular damage), 2 heavy flamers, 2 ER flamers, an ER medium laser, and an active probe. This is an incredibly situational mech. On the one hand, it is pretty godawful at killing other mechs, and will consistently lose a fight with most other mechs in it’s price range. But, it is unholy murder on legs against unarmored infantry, roasting dozens of them to death every turn, and heat damage weapons are pretty damn good at killing Battle Armor and maiming tanks/protomechs. So if you have a local meta that is full of these support units, a Pouncer F can be game winning. There are other mechs that also do anti-infantry work very well, but this is by no means a bad one.
In addition, taking a Pouncer F as a crowd control piece could be potentially interesting. It will fairly easily hit the cap of +15 heat damage to any mech it gets close to, which can really seriously fuck with most people’s heat math and badly overheat an unwary opponent. The reason heat-damage mechs are powerful is that they force your opponent to make a tough choice. Either don’t shoot/shoot fewer weapons this turn, or overheat badly and possibly die as a result. Even if your opponent chooses to play it safe, that is a mech basically not shooting and wasting it’s BV on that turn. If that enemy mech is more expensive than the Pouncer F, then the Pouncer F basically removed all of that BV for a turn from your enemy. If you can do this several times in a row to something expensive, like a Dire Wolf, a Highlander, or a Hellstar, this could win you the game on its own. I prefer to use a pair of intro-tech Javelin 10N’s for heat damage personally for around the same price as the Pouncer F, but the F has a lot more ammo and can actually do physical damage as well as heat damage every turn, so for the first time in this article, there is actually a super legitimate reason to use it over similar mechs. In addition, while most of the other Pouncer variants so far have been obviously a “little brother to”/”shittier version of” a more established omni-mech, the Pouncer F is doing it’s own thing and is strong and independent. This is huge for the Pouncer, and I am so proud of it for finally finding a decent weapon loadout. I hope it does well in it’s future endeavors.
The Pouncer G is another puzzling little creature. Costing 1808 BV, the Pouncer G is getting a huge discount due to heat. It carries 3 improved heavy medium lasers, 3 medium pulse lasers, and 4 SRM-4s. You could easily split the SRM ammo between Inferno and Standard missiles for flexibility, which would let it act as a debuff/crowd control piece when needed just like the Pouncer F. It can only sink 24 heat, but it has a pretty obvious firing pattern built in to it. If you are further than 3 hexes away, you fire the pulse lasers and one or two of the improved heavies, just to prod at the enemy and try and open up some of the armor. Once you get within 3 hexes, you hit the gas and start firing all of the improved heavies and one or two of the pulses, trying to open up hit locations with the big 10 damage hits from those heavy MLs. Once you have ripped the armor off of a hit location or two, you switch over to firing all of the MPLs and the SRMs at the same time, trying to find those armor-less locations and crit the hell out of them.
This is a scary little mech. It is still kind of awkward in terms of movement but it genuinely has a good game plan. While 1808 BV is very expensive, it is actually capable of doing some scary things if it is not focused down, and god help you if a Pouncer G gets behind you. I continue to be surprised, maybe the Pouncer has cleaned up it’s act and gotten it’s life together.
Yeah these later variants are a lot better. The Pouncer H comes in at 1784 BV, basically the same as the G, and carries 4 heavy medium lasers, a heavy small laser, and 2 streak SRM-6s. It also has a targeting computer, which just removes the penalty to hit from the heavy lasers, which is a pretty good deal. 4 heavy mediums is 40 potential damage, and the Pouncer H is actually heat neutral while firing all 4 at a run. Once you get a hit location or two opened up, you can just drop one of the heavy mediums and start firing the streak 6s, fishing for critical hits just like the Pouncer G.
Honestly I prefer this to the G. The G does have pulse lasers, and therefore has a longer threat range while the H is only really good within 3 hexes, but the damage that the H can put out is higher and more consistent. You do lose access to special ammo types for the SRMs, but the average cluster roll of 4 SRM-4s is about the same number of SRMs hitting as 2 streak SRM-6s on average. I like it. It is still fragile as all hell and has to get distressingly close, but the damage might be worth it if you can make good use of the mech.
ER large pulse laser.
Ok so the I costs 1781 BV and carries an ER large pulse laser and an LRM-20 with Artemis V. Artemis V is a lot better than Artemis IV, because Artemis V actually gives a -1 to hit bonus.
So the reason ER large pulse lasers suck so hard that I actively despise them is as follows. The basic Clan large pulse laser is basically perfect. 6 hexes of short range, with the same range bands as an inner sphere PPC, it has the same damage as an inner sphere PPC but gets a -2 to hit bonus and has no minimum range. This means that the CLPL is hitting the same at 12 hexes as the PPC is at 6 hexes, and within 6 hexes the CLPL is hitting way the fuck more often than a PPC because of how insanely powerful -2 to hit is in Battletech. The CLPL is insanely overpowered for it’s BV cost, because that to hit bonus is just not factored in to the cost nearly as hard as it should be.
So, what does the ER LPL do to “upgrade” the CLPL? For the same BV, it adds a single hex of short range, a single extra hex of medium range, and 3 extra hexes of long range. Long range doesn’t matter because nothing ever gets hit at long range without using SPAs and optional rules. in exchange for this god-stopping, uber mega power of a single hex of extra range, the ER LPL cuts the to hit bonus in half, down to only -1. This sucks shit. The only ranges at which the ER LPL is actually better than the normal CLPL is at exactly 7 hexes away, and at exactly 15 hexes away. At 7 hexes away the CLPL is taking a +2 penalty from range and is then removing it with a -2 bonus, leaving it at a net 0 penalty. The ER LPL takes no range penalty from short range and adds a -1 bonus, giving it a -1 bonus. At 6 or fewer hexes, the CLPL is taking no penalty from short range, and adds a -2 bonus, giving it a -2, while the ER LPL is still only at a -1. At 8-14 hexes, the CLPL has a net 0 from the range and to hit cancelling each other out, while the ER LPL has a +1 penalty due to it having a +2 from range but only a -1 from accuracy.
ER LPLs are dogshit weapons and I hate them with a burning and violent passion. They are an abysmal use of BV that could have been a CLPL, and anyone who tries to argue that being better at exactly 2 ranges out of 15 possible ranges is worth being worse at the remaining 13 ranges is a sicko or is trying to talk you into taking a worse mech so they can crush you. Do not trust ER LPL stans, do not listen to them, barricade your doors to keep them out. They are coming for us all, to drown us in BV inefficient weapons. They are Wolf Empire apologists and we must stand against them, lest they conquer us all.
Ok so honestly the Pouncer I isn’t that bad. ER LPLs suck but Art V is pretty great and an ER LPL is still better than not having an LPL, even if I do wish that it was just a standard LPL. 1781 is too much to pay for this, but it is not unplayable.
The Pouncer T is the “cooler Daniel” version of the Pouncer F. Coming in at a cheap (for a Pouncer) 1573 BV, the Pouncer T carries 2 plasma RIFLES (not plasma CANNONS, which are much worse) and an ER small laser. Plasma rifles do reasonable damage out to a reasonable range (both being the same as a basic IS PPC), with no minimum range and 1d6 extra free heat damage. I love plasma rifles, IS PPCs are already really good weapons and removing the minimum range and adding random incidental heat damage to fuck with your opponent’s heat math is awesome. The Pouncer T is a cool mid-range skirmish mech and if you drive it well it can be a bit of a menace in a multiple-mech fight. I wouldn’t try to 1v1 enemies with it, it is by no means a duelist and it just doesn’t have the damage to down anything quickly on its own, but as a partner for another mech that can take advantage of the enemy playing carefully around heat damage/overheating due to heat damage, it can do scary spooky things. Luv me plasma rifles, simple as.
Thank you, whatever random CGL writer made this variant. The Pouncer W costs 1751 BV and carries 2 CLPLs and an improved heavy medium laser. It has enough heat sinks to manage it’s heat pretty damn well, and CLPLs absolutely rock. This is another variant that leans into the Pouncer’s strength as a mid-range skirmisher, not getting bogged down as a sniper or putting itself in danger as a short range brawler. I love CLPLs and while this isn’t the cheapest or toughest CLPL carrying mech, it has some play and if you are good enough at maintaining a range of 5 or 6 hexes it will murder a lot of other mechs in its weight class and role.
So have yall been playing Armored Core 6?
The Pouncer X is a wild, bizzare mech that is very, very un-clan like. Costing 1455 BV it carries a lance, like, a melee weapon lance, 7 improved heavy small lasers, a plasma CANNON (the bad one), and a Laser AMS. It also has a MASC system to let it run up to 12 hexes for short bursts. Lances are weird melee weapons. They deal the same damage as a kick at a +1 to-hit penalty, and have a small chance (10+ on 2d6) to do a point of damage straight through armor to the internal structure, triggering a critical attempt at a -2 penalty, similar to a tandem charge SRM or armor piercing autocannon. This is cool and all but I don’t think it is that good, particularly on a mech that is only 40 tons and only deals 8 damage with the lance. It has a clear game plan of getting up in someone’s face as fast as possible and stabbing them point blank while shooting a million 6 damage small lasers at them, but like, this isn’t really a good plan on something this fragile. It is cheap though, and very, very funny.
RATING: F, but a very funny and potentially awesome F.
The early Pouncer variants kind of suck, but there are several actually usable versions of this mech. It is always going to be very fragile and prone to detonating if a good light mech hunter with precision ammo ACs or Clan pulse jumps on top of it, but several variants have legitimate play. I am proud of the Omni-mech that the Pouncer has become with these newer, more modern variants, and I know that it will go on to do great things in the forces of anyone who bought the AS starter set.
Also I really need to paint my Pouncer and use it for some games. It can have a little gameplay, as a treat.