Battletech: Mech Overview: Viper (Dragonfly)

Howdy Ristars and welcome back to Mech Overview. This week we are looking at the Viper and or Dragonfly, depending on your politics. The Viper is a small dorkus of a clan mech with horrible old artwork and an excellent modern redesign. It makes up part of the lighter end of the Clan Heavy Striker Star box, and is in roughly the same weight class and role as a Jenner or Cicada. It is also fairly cheap for an Omni-Mech, which has me paying attention. I love me some Clan medium mechs, so let’s stop wasting time!

Viper. Credit: Rockfish
Viper. Credit: Rockfish

For some reason the new design makes me think of hit 1999 video game Battlezone II. I have no idea why this design makes me think of hit 1999 video game Battlezone II.

Chassis

The Viper is a medium Omni-Mech massing 40 tons. It has reasonable armor for a mech it’s weight, not thick by any means but around the same level as a Jenner or one of the better Cicadas. It is better to think of the Viper as a light mech that started stress eating more than as a medium mech. To add on to that, it has a movement profile of 8/12/8, which is really zippy and maneuverable. It isn’t a speed demon in the same way as a Fire Moth, but it is also infinitely more likely to survive to come home. It has 16 points of CT armor, so it doesn’t instantly die when a PPC tags it, but it would be best to avoid anything loading a precision AC/20 or multiple large pulse lasers.

The main “downside” of the chassis is that it only has eight and a half tons of pod space, which is if anything an upside because it keeps designers from cramming too much expensive stuff in it and pushes the Viper towards the very efficient and lightweight parts of the Clan arsenal, while also not letting it mount enough of them to drive BV up too high. Overall this is a pretty decent chassis for a speedy little high tech dork. At base it carries Elementals pretty well, has access to low weight high damage Clan guns, and has enough armor to not worry about always exploding on the way out.

Variants

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 ‘mech reviews, the name of the box you can buy any of the mechs we have covered in, and our general methodology).

Dragonfly Prime

The Viper Prime is dead simple. Coming in at 1450 BV, it carries an SRM-4, an anti-missile system, 2 medium pulse lasers, and 2 machine guns. This is fine. It is an ok spread of weapons. It is a little pricy for a light mech but has decent range, middling damage, and really isn’t much more expensive than any of the better Inner Sphere lights and 40 tonners. It’s fine™.

RATING: C+

Viper A

The Dragonfly A is a mech that teenaged me would have loved but current, jaded, BV obsessed me despises. It costs 1989 BV, a fuckload for something this light, and carries 5 ER medium lasers and an SRM-6 with Artemis IV. This is an ok amount of gun but not for that price. That is some serious BV. It can do a lot of damage but not as much as a lot of mechs that are nearly as fast and cost quite a bit less.

RATING: D

Dragonfly B

The Viper B is a fast sniper, the obligatory “but what if we put an ER PPC on it?” config that every omni-mech has. It costs 1830 BV and carries an ER PPC, 2 small pulse lasers, and a flamer. This isn’t great, if you want a fast ER PPC with legs, take a Pack Hunter. It costs much less and is probably the best of the “Speedy ER PPC Sniper” Clan mechs.

RATING: D

Viper C

Oh god oh fuck oh shit the Infantry Guy is back. Costing a bargain bin (for a Clan mech) 1344 BV, the Dragonfly C carries 2 ER medium lasers, 3 flamers, an active probe, and 4 machine guns. Let’s have a brief talk about machine guns. They have a max range of 3 hexes, with a short range of one hex. They do 2 damage. They have 200 shots per ton of ammo. You can feed a machine gun for 200 straight turns on a single ton of ammo.

The Viper C has 3 tons of machine gun ammo.

The Dragonfly C has 3 fucking tons of machine gun ammo.

This is dumb as hell, this is insane, was the person who designed this configuration ready to wade into a swarm of infantry, slaying them by the hundreds, the thousands, the millions, drowning underneath them as they keep coming. They are more like a natural disaster than a group of men, foul, fearless, implacable and unstoppable in their numbers, an ant colony made of men and guns. Only he would stand ready to meet this tide. The rest of the Clans laugh at him, they call him a mad man, a paranoiac. But he knows they will eat their words. One day his Sibko will be drowning in infantry, their cockpits split open and their flesh ripped from bone by the teeth of those savage, ungodly infantrymen and he will step into the horde like an angry harvest god, reaping men like wheat for hours on end with his machine guns, pulverizing them until the rivers run red and his mech stands alone, crimson and resplendent over the graves of millions.

 

Then he will take a critical hit to either side torso, take 1200 damage from ammo explosions, and lose half his torso like a prat. Thank god for Case, at least he will have half of a mech when he is carried back into camp on a salvage truck.

RATING: F

Dragonfly D

The Viper D is weirdly expensive. It costs 1779 BV, and carries an LRM-5, a streak SRM-6, 2 ER medium lasers, and an ER small laser for some fucking reason. This just… It seems way too expensive for what it is? Like, not in the badly designed sense, in the “I am not sure what the BV system is doing here” sense. It isn’t really worth it at this price, if it was closer to the Prime I would like it better.

RATING: D+

Viper E

Finally, the ATM one. There is always an ATM one. I like the ATM ones. The Dragonfly E comes in at 1561 BV and carries an ATM-6, an ER medium laser, and 2 ER small lasers. It has all 3 tons of ammo for it’s ATM, and I would load 2 HE and one ER or Standard, personal choice. The Viper is fast enough to make decent use of the HE ATMs, and this isn’t a terrible price to pay for something this fast with that kind of gun. I like it.

RATING: B-

Dragonfly F

Oh shit oh fuck oh great Kerensky save me the Infantry guy hit phase 2 of his boss fight. Costing 1689 BV the Viper F carries 3 ER medium lasers and 8 fucking heavy machine guns wired up into 2 machine gun arrays. Arrays basically let you roll all of the machine guns as one weapon, it is a super weird bit of tech. It only has 1 ton of ammo, but that should be enough for a full length game. The infantry guy is back for season 2 after getting pulverized by an ammo explosion and has decided that killing fast is better than killing for a long time. The Dragonfly F has a lot more play than the Viper C, heavy machine guns are innately better weapons and the Dragonviper F has enough speed to actually get in range to use them, and this thing will cause unholy terror to any infantry on the table, brutalizing the hell out of them while blasting it’s theme song and pretending there is honor to be won in slaughtering unarmored losers who can barely fight back. Unless you are playing against someone who has figured out what Sniper Rifles do to infantry balancing in BattleTech. If you see 30 snipers in an infantry unit, you have my permission to let infantry guy out of his box, foaming and rabid to go brutalize those abominations with it’s holy firepower.

RATING: D+

Viper G

OH GOD HE HAS TURNED THE WHEEL ON IT’S SIDE AND GAZED UPON THE TRUE NATURE OF REALITY!

HE HAS SEEN THE ALL CONSUMING EYE (I?) AND IS BECOMING ONE WITH THE GODHEAD!

The Dragonfly G comes in at 1574 BV and carries a single medium heavy laser, 4 AP gauss rifles, and a plasma cannon. Also a light active probe, if you care. So hear me out, this is a lot of BV but the plasma cannon has some genuine uses for overheating mechs on something this fast, it can easily dart over to any gunline type mech, say a Warhammer or Nova Cat, and overheat it. AP gauss rifles are actually really good weapons, with good range, acceptable anti-mech damage, and the same horrible effectiveness against that foul, hideous scourge on the galaxy, the blighted and squamous Infantryman! The medium heavy laser kinda sucks because it has an accuracy penalty, but overall the package here isn’t terrible if you are expecting infantry, it still has uses against things that have some FUCKING HONOR and will FIGHT ME LIKE KERENSKY INTENDED, even if it’s expected targets aren’t present.

RATING: D+

Dragonfly H

Oh hey the bad heavy laser one. I am starting to see patterns in the white spaces between sentences. I mean between the various Omni-Mechs from the Clan Invasion. They all tend to have the Gauss one, the PPC one, the Pulse one, the ATM one, and the Heavy Laser one. The Viper H comes in at an unreasonable 1732 BV and carries 2 medium heavy lasers, 2 ER medium lasers, 2 small pulse lasers, and an anti-missile system, for spice. This is sort of ok but heavy lasers are bad. Improved heavy lasers rock because they don’t have the accuracy penalty, which is what completely kills the usefulness of heavy lasers. The Viperfly is fast enough to get into short range with them, but like, use a better variant with better guns.

RATING: D

Viper I

WHY THE ACTUAL FUCK IS THIS ONE ALLOWED TO BE BETTER???

Did it eat it’s veggies growing up? Was it good at sports? Did it paint the whole fence without complaining and give it’s cookies to the local poor children? The Anisoptera I is 1580 BV and carries 3 medium heavy lasers, a targeting computer, an ATM-3, an anti-missile system, and an active probe because yeah why not. It only has one ton of ATM ammo, which should always be loaded with HE, and this kinda rocks? The T-Comp cancels the accuracy penalty on the heavy lasers, so this beautiful bewinged boy gets to do 30 damage at short range, plus up to 9 from the ATM, without penalties. I love him. I would die for him. One of a very short list of good heavy laser variants. I have no clue how the fuck this is cheaper than the Viper H, this is just straight better. I know it is because basic Clan ER medium lasers are stupid expensive in BV, but still, this thing rocks. It is a better Jenner. Use it, cherish it, surrender your heart, soul, sinew, precious vital fluids at the altar of the Dragonfly I.

RATING: B-

Dragonfly J

Wow this boy is cheap. Weirdly cheap. Hey, Clan mech designer man, are you ok? This is less than 1300 BV, are they feeding you enough, or is this a form of protest to get your rations back? Costing 1259 BV, The Viperidae J carries 3 ATM-3s and 4 ER micro lasers so you can tag the back of whatever you are shooting with something rude before the missiles hit it. ATMs are good, this is very cheap, it has enough ammo, and it is damn fast. This is one of the better Elemental caddies in the game. It lacks the raw speed of a Fire Moth P, but it has jump jets, better armor, and a bit more range on it’s guns once it is supporting it’s toad children that have emerged from it’s loving embrace. I like it a lot, it would make good list filler if you really want a star/nova but don’t want to have to downgrade one of your heavies.

RATING: B-

Clan Jade Falcon Kappa Galaxy Dragonfly. Credit:: Jack Hunter.

Look at this bird. I love him. He looks pensive and reflective. There is hesitation in his pose, perhaps a hint of apprehension. He is brooding and dark, like a sky full of of suspiciously green clouds. Possibly fine, but also possibly about to rip the roof off of a Price Chopper. He doesn’t know that he is the right man for us, doesn’t trust himself.

Viper K

God those fucking infantrymen with their boots and their helmets and their big guns and their ability to wear pants without dying of heat stroke. I hate them, I hate them so much. I’ll kill them all. Not just the men, but the field guns, and the dragon cavalry too!

The Libelle K comes in at 1545 BV and carries 2 ER medium lasers, a TAG, 3 AP gauss rifles, Angel ECM, and an active probe. This is a pretty decent set of weapons for a spotter, and the Clan tech-base has a lot of great things it can support. There are a lot of Arrow IV’s bumping around that love something fast with TAG, and even just basic semi-guided LRMs will get a good boost in effectiveness if something like this is TAG’ing targets for them. It also has acceptable anti-mech armament and can still unmake any miserable dishonorable little insect that don’t know their place.

I like it well enough, I wouldn’t take it unless you have something for it to spot for though. It isn’t quite killy enough without making use of it’s TAG.

RATING: D+ in isolation, B- as a dedicated spotter

Dragonfly L

Coming in at a reasonable 1417 BV, the Viper L carries some interesting guns. Namely, 3 Streak LRM-5s, and a pair of ER micro lasers in case you want to piss off a Blitzkrieg or something before it deletes you. Streak LRMs are very good, and this will consistently convert all of it’s ammo into damage given a long enough game, but it is an agonizingly slow damage dealer compared to a lot of other mechs. That said, for the price this really isn’t that bad when it comes to damage output. It is similar to a Banshee 3E in damage output, and while it is much less durable it is also much faster. It is ok, just not incredible. There are both better Dragonflys and better Streak LRM losers.

RATING: C

Viper M

Why do you have to go and ruin a perfectly good medium mech. Coming in at a criminal 2054 BV, the Viper M carries 2 ER medium lasers, 2 medium pulse lasers, and a micro pulse laser in case you see any fucking worms that walk outside of your perfect metal shell. All weapons are tied in to a targeting computer, which is why this costs more than a lot of assault mechs. It isn’t good, the weapons are fine but they just don’t do enough to justify how extreme the price is here. Take a different Viper. Viper M can sit here in the corner and be lonely. It can think about what it did for a while, and no watching Clan Spaniel until it learns how to behave.

RATING: F

Dragonfly R

Oh hey this doesn’t cost nearly as much as I was expecting! Neat. Coming in at 1335 BV, the Viper R carries 2 ER medium lasers, a NARC launcher, a light tag, and a Bloodhound active probe. The Bloodhound actually does something, unlike the generic active probe. It can see through and cancel out a variety of tricksy spheroid technology, and has a genuine niche in doing so. NARC launchers are situationally great if you have enough missiles that can make use of it, and the ER medium laser is a perfectly fine weapon. It is a bit expensive just for it’s own damage output, but with a very good friend, possibly a roommate, it can act as a pretty good support piece. Anything with an LRM or SRM can load NARC compatible ammo, and plenty of good Clan mechs have random LRMs or SRMs on them somewhere.

RATING: C-, higher with something to support, maybe a B-.

Viper T

Costing 1704 BV, the Viper T carries 2 ER medium lasers, 2 ER micro lasers for any vandalism that you feel like, a streak SRM-4, an active probe, and an anti-missile system. This is fine, but too expensive. I don’t have a ton to say about it and it is just kinda there. A perfectly mediocre config, not quite bad enough to be terrible, but bad.

RATING: D

Viper. Credit: Rockfish
Viper. Credit: Rockfish

Oh god he is front facing.

Dragonfly U

Wait the Viper U isn’t an underwater variant? The hell? I had a whole bunch of fish puns lined up for this one. This is bullshit. I wanted to make fun of the underwater mechs. I was going to say “If you have a bone to pick with Atlantis (your choice which one), take this one!”. I hate it here. Why can’t these naming schemes just be consistent?

Coming in at 1417 BV, the Dragonfly U is actually intended for deep space boarding, which is dumb as hell. It carries 2 ER medium lasers, an ECM, an anti-missile system, a little itty bitty adorable hatchet so it can go chop chop chop and cut up spheroid barbarians, and a liquid storage tank that does basically nothing but can theoretically hold any liquid. I am not saying you should fill your Viper U up with Glogg, but an axe wielding short king with a full metric ton of high grade Christmas cheer in it’s belly just feels appropriate, you know? It can do a little choppy, as a treat. It does only do 8 damage with it’s hatchet so it completely sucks at melee but like, god this is such a weird little mech. I love it.

RATING: D-, but I love how weird it is.

Viper Z

Taking the Viper name and the whole snake motif seriously, this mech is a small fragment of Lucifer, the light bringer, the Sharmat, the devil itself. This is a FUCKING Society mech. So brief rundown because this is the first (I think) Society mech we have covered, there was a story arc in BattleTech a while ago where the home Clans discovered that their scientists had formed an ancient cabal/conspiracy dedicated to the advancement of science at all costs, and were withholding technology from the idiot dumb warrior losers because they didn’t respect science hard enough. They called their secret society……. The Society. The Clans then exploded into a series of purges and anti-intellectual murder that lasted too long and gave us the most overpowered, miserable, loathsome pieces of shit in the entire game. Society technology is bullshit, you should ban it and never think about it. Let’s go over it.

The Dragonfly Z costs 1692 BV and carries several pieces of bullshit equipment. Let’s go one by one. Starting off with the normal gear, it has 3 improved medium heavy lasers, a light TAG, and a laser anti-missile system. These are all pretty good, love improved heavy lasers, and LAMS is potentially awesome in some games. The problems begin now. The first problem is the NOVA CEWS that it carries. This counts as a C3i computer, an ECM, and an active probe all at one. It can be re-linked on the fly, and builds a little bit of heat. This is really fucking annoying because it is C3 access on a Clan mech, which really shouldn’t be allowed to have C3 access. The Viper Z is also fast as hell and can spot for other mechs with NOVA CEWS, which are far more terrifying and horrid than it can dream of being. I hate it.

The next weapon, and one that isn’t a huge issue here but is a cataclysmic issue on some other mechs, is an iATM. Improved Advanced Tactical Missiles are the devil. They are the missile form of electronic Satan. Whatever line developer wrote these sold his soul to put these in a canon product. They are ATMs, with Streak. Also Inferno ammo. Which streaks. Oh and also Stun ammo, to debuff the opponent. It only is an iATM-3, so it mercifully can’t streak 15 heat onto an enemy mech. The big thing is that I talk a lot about how awesome ATMs are because they are potentially very high damage and are really flexible and powerful. Imagine iATM-12s. That is 36 points of damage to your mech every time it fires. It isn’t at the mercy of the cluster hits table, it just hits with more damage than most alpha strikes.

The Viper Z itself isn’t a problem in isolation, but if you allow it more and more society tech will creep into your games like a foul infiltrating force. Soon you will be up to your eyes in Boggart IIs and Turkina Zs. Ban this. Ban Society tech, and pretend you don’t know what it is. In 3 weeks a man will approach you on the streets asking where he can find some iATMs. Tell him he is wrong, there is no such thing, it isn’t real and it can’t hurt you.

RATING: A- but please god ban Society tech before you see what an SSSSS mech looks like

Conclusion

The Viper is a pretty solid medium mech. It isn’t great and it isn’t terrible, it is just somewhat there. One of those real background work-horse type designs. It won’t impress you unless you need to squish some fucking honourless insects back into their place. Even at that there are better mechs for that purpose, like the Piranha. Dragonflys are a decent thing to have on hand, they shove elementals, look cool, and can chip in some damage sometimes. I wish there was a variant that just had 4 medium pulse lasers and a light TAG though, I would use the hell out of that mech.