Howdy loyal citizens of the glorious Capellan Confederation and welcome to another Mech Overview, focusing on the game stats of different mechs and their variants and how to best use them. Mechs are obviously the main draw of Battletech, and everyone will be strongly drawn to one mech or another, for one reason or another. That said, it is not always obvious how to best use a mech at first glance, and the designs or roles can sometimes be unintuitive. On top of that, for a lot of mechs they have variants that are considerably better than others, or that radically change the mech into a completely different role than it normally fills.
The Vindicator as a Chassis is a completely different animal than the Mad Cat, which we looked at last week. Where the Mad Cat is heavy, the Vindicator is light. Where the Mad Cat is expensive, the Vindicator is cheap. The Mad Cat is fast for its weight, and the Vindicator is rather slow for its weight. This isn’t a perfect comparison as they are different weights, but as a rule it applies to most Inner Sphere mechs. Inner Sphere mechs are cheaper, slower, and under-gunned compared to Clan ones. In my opinion this actually makes the Inner Sphere mechs better, as it lets you fit either a large number of mechs, or much heavier mechs, than your opponent.
The Vindicator is not an Omnimech, so the majority of its variants are a bit more transformative than the Mad Cats, and it also has far less variants as in-universe it is harder to make one, and out of universe the Vindicator has never been a particularly popular mech. The fact that the current Beginner Box has a Vindicator on the cover is strange, as it has never really been an iconic mech the way that the Griffin, which it shares the box with, is. I adore the Vindicator for a number of reasons, but it isn’t an icon of the game. There also isn’t really any nice divide between the different versions the way there was between the different Mad Cats, which split into nice categories. The base chassis of the Vindicator is a rugged, slow medium mech, built to sit in the middle of a battle line and trade blows, and it is a bit lighter than you would expect from a line combat mech at only 45 tons. Most Vindicators can jump, which helps their otherwise limited speed, and they all tend to carry a single big gun and a scattering of backup weapons. It is generally a cheap mech aswell, most sitting in the low 1000s for BV, and in universe they are mostly used by the Capellan Confederation, which doesn’t have the money or industrial base for bigger, more expensive mechs. It has less variants than the Mad Cat at only 13 (that I am aware of(there are technically 14 but 2 of those are identical)), and a few of those variants are pretty transformative. Let’s start with the TRO:3025 OG.
The VND-1R variant is a pretty decent little mech. It has a 4/6/4 movement profile, which is pretty underwhelming for a 45 ton mech, though the jump jets help a lot. It has enough armor on its torso to not get crited by a Gauss or CERPPC, and has much thicker back armor than most mechs its weight do, which helps it deal with faster mechs that can get behind it. Although the armor is on the whole a little low, for its weight it’s not bad. It carries a PPC, an LRM-5, a Small Laser, and a Medium Laser. Of note is that the Medium Laser is in the head, so you are extremely unlikely to lose it to a crit and can generally count on it always being there as an emergency weapon. Its weapons are clearly set up to hang back, and as long as something heavier than it is moving forwards and taking fire, that isn’t hard. The VND-1R is in a perfect butter zone where it is cheap and weak enough that your opponent will feel bad committing significant firepower to it, but powerful enough that it can’t just be ignored. It comes in at 1024 BV, which makes it very easy to fit into any force, and it will consistently earn that BV back by hanging back and slapping people with the PPC. This is in my opinion one of the better line holding medium mechs in the game, and it is good to take just to fill a slot in a list if you have some BV to burn. Glory to the Capellan Confederation.
This mech is identical to the 1R in every way, including price. The only difference is that the Medium Laser was moved to the left arm, rather than staying in the head. This means it is easier to destroy the Medium Laser, but it also has a much larger firing arc and can be used to shoot light mechs that get directly behind the mech. Overall a personal preference choice between this and the 1R, I personally slightly prefer the “Vong”. Glory to the Capellan Confederation.
Explictly designed to compete with the Phoenix Hawk, the VND-1AA kinda sucks horribly. It upgrades the engine to give it a 5/8/5 movement profile, and doesn’t change the weapons at all. Where does it get this tonnage? Armor, it strips most of the armor. Carrying only 4.5 tons, an amount that would be mediocre and upsetting on a 30 ton mech, the VND-1AA dies to a stiff breeze. It is still slower than the Phoenix Hawk, which moves at an impressive 6/9/6, and it will lose a fight against one nearly 100% of the time. It comes in at 966 BV, which is a total rip off considering that you can get an entire Centurion for 945 or a Phoenix Hawk for only 80 more BV at 1041. This mech is best avoided and will consistently disappoint you, and even in universe it is considered a failure of a mech. Glory to the Capellan Confederation.
VND-1SIC/ St. Ives Blue
The VND-1SIC is a production version of the St. Ives Blue, which is a custom mech of a specific special character. This is the thing I mentioned above where a single variant goes by 2 names. This variant is identical to a standard VND-1R, except that it trades its PPC for a Large Laser, and uses the saved weight to upgrade the LRM from a 5 to a 10. In my opinion this is a fantastic trade, as you lose 2 points of damage and a bit of range from the PPC to gain 3-5 damage from the LRM depending on cluster rolls. You also no longer have a minimum range on your main gun, so you can fire more lasers at anything that gets close to you. This variant also makes much better use of it’s heat sinks than the 1R, as the 1R can only build 4 heat with its close range weapons, out of a capacity of 16, while the 1SIC builds 12 heat at close range, and 12 at long range, and with 15 capacity it can freely run and jump without having to concern itself with heat. It comes in at 1020 BV, so nearly the same at the 1R. Overall a fantastic mech, and while I personally think it is much better than the 1R, a lot of people seem to really hate the Large Laser compared to the PPC, so the choice between the two variants comes down mostly to personal preference. Glory to the St. Ives Compact.
Identical to the VND-1R aside from carrying a Machine Gun instead of a Small Laser, and replacing a heat sink with a single ton of ammo. Overall a much worse mech due to this increasing the amount of ammo in the mech, which increases its likelihood of blowing up in a cataclysmic fireball. It is slightly cheaper at 1008 BV, but overall I would avoid this variant. Glory to the Capellan Confederation.
This is an upgraded, higher tech version. The PPC was upgraded to an ER PPC, the mech was given Double Heat Sinks, and the lasers were both replaced with a single Medium Pulse Laser. It carries far, far more heat sinks than it needs, being capable of generating only 25 heat while jumping and firing all of its weapons, while being able to sink 30 points, so it is a bit of a bummer that those heat sinks were not replaced with some weapons. All of these upgrades are good though, and for a mech carrying an ER PPC it is dirt cheap at 1105, barely an increase in price over the 1R, and overall will act as an improved, better version of the 1R in basically every situation you can imagine, with its longer range in particular making it much better at sitting back and sniping than the 1R is. Glory to the Capellan Confederation.
This variant exists for a single scenario pack called Necromo Nightmare. This mech has an AI control unit in it, and trades the LRM for 2 ER Medium Lasers. This variant has no BV information, and was designed for narrative play in that specific scenario. You should go play Necromo Nightmare by the way, its a short little narrative campaign designed to be run by a GM for a group of players either in the wargame or RPG, and it goes hard. It has zombie-protomechs, shit rocks. Glory to the B̸̨̖̠͎̞͊̓̊̈́r̴̬̬̟̎̃͗̕ô̷̩͕̂̓k̴͙͂͜ͅe̶̦̟͔͂̈́̚n̶͙̬̯̺͇̿̔̎.
This dark age variant is an odd, odd mech. First of all, it carries a Battlemech Taser, which is something that I generally point to as an example of over complicated rules in this game and can be a bit weird to figure out and use. It also carries heavier armor, a compact engine, a compact gyro, a supercharger which allows it to sprint at the risk of damaging its own engine, and it carries a Clan ER PPC as its main weapon. It also has Actuator Enhancement Systems, which basically make its weapons more accurate. It is shockingly expensive at 1814, and is genuinely not worth the BV. I wouldn’t bother with this, and it is the platonic ideal of an overcomplicated Dark Ages mech. Glory to the Capellan Confederation.
This is another high tech version. It replaces the weapons on the 3L with a Snub Nosed PPC, an ER Medium Laser, and a MML-5. MMLs are hybrid launchers that can shoot both SRMs and LRMs, and can take special ammo for either. They are fantastic weapons as, when you are within minimum range with the LRMs, you can switch to SRMs and blast people, and after they back off to get away, you can re-engage with the LRMs. It comes in at a price of 1045, cheaper than the 3L, which already wasn’t much to pay for an upgrade. Overall I like this variant more than the 3L, but this is definitely a variant built for close combat first, and the 3L is much better as a bombardment/sniper style mech. Glory to the Capellan Confederation.
This is a good version of the 1AA. It upgrades to a 5/8/5 Movement profile by using an XL engine, which is a downside. However, it also carries Stealth Armor, which makes it much more annoying to hit, which combines wonderfully with its innately higher speed to let it stack some pretty massive hit mods and become frustratingly difficult to do anything about. It carries an ER PPC, an LRM-5, an ER Medium Laser, and a Medium Pulse Laser, which is a good spread of weapons overall. It has enough heat sinks to shoot the ER PPC or the lasers with it’s stealth armor active without having the heat climb up too high, and overall is a pretty good stealth mech. It is significantly more expensive than any of the Vindicators that we have seen so far though, at 1411 BV, which is a substantial price hike. Stealth armor is very very powerful though, and it is substantially faster, so in my opinion it is still worth using if you want to stack some hit mods and be annoying. Glory to the Capellan Confederation.
The 5L is a pretty neat variant. It carries slightly more armor than the 1R, as well as TSM. TSM basically gives a bonus to melee damage and movement speed provided that you can micromanage your heat to get the maximum value from it. In terms of weapons it carries a huge range to make micromanaging your heat level easier. It has an ER PPC, 2 Medium Pulse Lasers, 2 ER Medium Lasers, a Small Laser, a Small Pulse Laser, and most importantly, a Sword. The Sword on the 5L can hit for 12 damage provided the mech is at its TSM point, and that is a lot of close combat damage on a mech this small. It also can throw standard punches with the same force as a Banshee, and with the speed increase from TSM it has a decently easy time getting into close combat. It is pricy at 1484 BV, and it is a finnicky mech to use, but you can get pretty good use out of it and it still carries a lot of weapons for it to smack people around with. Glory to the Capellan Confederation.
Being overall very similar to the 5L, the 6L is an odd mech. It carries the same TSM and Sword as the 5L, differing mostly in weaponry. It carries Stealth Armor as well, so it can be frustrating to hit as it closes in. The mech carries a Plasma Rifle, 2 Rocket Launcher 10s, 2 ER Medium Lasers, and its Sword. This mech has a much harder time micromanaging its heat compared to the 5L, and will not be getting the same consistent value out of its TSM and Sword compared to the 5L, though at range it is much better due to Stealth Armor being incredible and the Plasma Rifle being a better weapon than an ER PPC in my opinion. It also carries a Targeting Computer, so the Plasma Rifle and Medium Lasers are all fairly accurate, which helps. The main thing that kills this mech is its price though. At 1815 BV you could have an actual assault mechs, or a low end Clan mech. It has some interesting tricks but is mostly just a more expensive, less efficient version of the 4L and 5L, as it attempts to do the gimmick of both mechs, but ends up being worse at each gimmick while also costing much more than either of those mechs. Stick to the 4L for stealth and the 5L for melee, the 6L is just a worse mech for trying to split the difference. Glory to the Capellan Confederation.
I forgot that this one exists and it was not in the original upload of this article, sorry!
The VND-7L is the latest and greatest Vindicator, being an IlClan variant from the new RecGuide books. These IlClan variants tend to be very functional, high quality mechs that excel at what they try to do. Almost all of them are either the best or close to the best variant of their chassis, and the 7L is no exception. It carries a Clan ERPPC, an LRM5, a Small X-Pulse Laser, and an IS ER Medium Laser. This is a pretty good spread of weapons, and I am particularly fond of X-Pulse lasers, even small ones. It also has Heavy Ferro Fibrous armor, so it carries a lot more than the other Vindicators, and has a reinforced internal structure, so once the armor is gone, it takes half damage and gives a -1 penalty to your opponents crit rolls, meaning that it is immune to the Limb Severed/3 Crit result, and will take far less crits in general. It is in all ways an upgraded Vindicator, and you do pay for that. It comes in at 1566 BV, not the most expensive mech here, but definitely one of the pricier ones. It should generally be worth it though, which I generally don’t say about advanced tech upgrade versions of mechs. All of the IlClan variants tend to make good use out of a mixture of advanced and simple tech to create some nightmarishly good mechs for the BV cost, and the 7L fits into that category perfectly. Highly recommended if you have the spare points in your list to fit it, it does everything the 1R does but significantly better. Glory to the Capellan Confederation.
In conclusion the Vindicator is a pretty solid medium mech, with some good variants. For my money the best is the 1SIC for being a cheap, efficient line mech. After that though, the 3Lr is the next best for not being much more expensive and being a lot scarier up close. The 4L makes a decent argument for itself due to Stealth Armor being very, very powerful, though the significant increase in price is a bit off-putting to me. You can’t really ever go wrong including a Vindicator in a force, and unlike some other medium mechs, particularly other 45 tonners, it will rarely disappoint you or find a situation it can’t meaningfully help out in. Glory to the Capellan Confederation.