Howdy everyone and welcome back to our coverage of Rec Guide 33. Last article we went over the new tank variants included in this PDF, and today we will be going over the various mech variants included. Rec Guide variants tend to be the best ones on any given chassis, with a few notable exceptions like the Awesome 11V. An important thing to note about Rec Guide 33 is that a sizable portion of this book is really “Rec Guide: Loki II”. There are 5 variants of the Loki II included in this PDF which we we’ve covered over in our Mech Overview: Loki and Loki II.
So, other than the Loki II, we have a pretty good spread of variants in here, so let’s get started.
The Gyrfalcon is a mech that I have a lot of love for, it being one of the ridiculous Jade Falcon bird mechs that were all over the marketing for MechWarrior Dark Age back in the day. The Gyrfalcon is the medium mech of that line, 55 tons, and generally has a bit of a fire support identity. The Gyrfalcon 5 is pretty similar to a Clan Rifleman, with 2 UAC5s, 2 ER large lasers, and a theoretically good movement profile of 5/8/7. I say theoretically good because, while it is fast, 5/8 is probably the second worst movement profile in the game from a BV perspective. You get charged extra because of the boosted TMM from running 10 hexes, but will have extreme difficulties actually moving 10 hexes to take advantage of it. The Gyrfalcon 5 is a much less bad example than a lot of other mechs, because it can jump 7 and get the same TMM as running 10, so on this mech the 10 hex MASC run is just a waste, instead of actively sabotaging the mech like it does for the Executioner F. That said, this middling fire support medium mech comes in at an unreasonable 2151 BV, and is probably not worth your time. It also, hilariously, only has enough ammo to fire it’s autocannons 5 times before running out. I’d avoid this one.
Blood Reaper 3
The Blood Reaper is a mech with a cool ass name and a cool ass design. It is a 70 ton clan heavy mech, and the Blood Reaper 3 seems to be an all purpose generalist type mech. Normally I like a generalist, but the Blood Reaper 3 costs 2856 BV. For that BV you get 2 Clan ER PPCs, 2 improved heavy medium lasers, 2 SRM-6s with Artemis V, a targeting computer, and a bunch of coolant pods to help keep heat under control. It moves 4/6/4, which is ok, but over all I am just massively underwhelmed. You are spoiled for choice when it comes to good Clan heavy mechs in the IlClan period, and this just doesn’t do anything that makes it stand out to me. If you really like how the model looks, everything here does have a -1 to hit bonus, so it isn’t the worst thing ever, but I am just not excited by it.
I am going to start this one off by saying I am very, very biased. The Hatamoto-Chi is one of my absolute favorite mechs in all of BattleTech. I love this dumb Samurai Megazord looking motherfucker to pieces. Even aside from my biases though, the HTM-30T is a pretty fucking good assault mech. For 2196 BV you get a 3/5/0, 80 ton assault mech with a very simple armament of 2 heavy PPCs and 2 SRM-6s. 2 Headchoppers and some SRMs for inferno and crit seeking duty is already not really that bad on rate at 2200 BV, maybe a little high, but the HTM-30T carries Ballistic-Reinforced armor, and quite a lot of it. Ballistic-Reinforced armor halves damage taken from all non-energy weapons. Energy weapons are the most common in BattleTech, but this gives the mech significantly improved protection against high bore Autocannons, Gauss Rifles, and ATMs, which are some of the highest threat weapons in the game. In a lot of games this will give you some incidental value, saving you from a brawling mech with an AC-20 or some random Gauss/missile fire. In some games though this can completely blow out your opponent if they heavily invested into Gauss/ATM spam. At base you have a mech that is very similar to an 8Q Awesome in damage output, and you pay an extra 400-500 BV for much better close range teeth, added utility from Inferno SRMs, and the ability to completely shut down any missile boats or Gauss boats on the enemy team. I actually really like this mech, even though it is an expensive assault mech, due to the sheer blowout potential it has.
The Naga is an extremely funny and extremely stupid mech. It is an 80 Omni-Mech, but it has 2 Arrow IV systems hard-wired into it as fixed equipment. The only things that the variants get to do is decide how much ammo they carry and what their random close range defensive weapons are. The Naga is fast for an assault, 5/8/0, and has pretty thin armor. Ideally, this will be nowhere near the enemy, sitting on the other side of the map and removing entire hexes with AOE damage. Artillery is very powerful in BattleTech, and even though the Naga isn’t the cheapest or best source of it, it is a very on-theme type of artillery for a Clan force and it won’t really hurt you too bad in terms of BV. The Naga T is 1885 BV, and carries 2 improved heavy medium lasers as backup weapons. It does have an interesting bit of equipment in the form of a Light TAG.
For those unaware of how Arrow IV artillery works specifically, you normally fire standard missiles that deal 20 damage in 5 point clusters to anything in the target hex, and 10 damage in 5 point clusters to anything standing adjacent to the target. However, you can instead load Homing missiles, which have a lot of text in their rules but basically hit anything that has been marked with a TAG unit like a long range, indirect fire AC/20, and then also do their normal splash damage. The Naga T is clearly designed to be more proactive with its Arrow IVs and be able to use homing ammo without a second unit having to be a spotter. It has 10 shots for each Arrow IV launcher, so it should have enough ammo for any fight you are bringing it to.
Having played a lot of games with artillery recently, artillery is very potent if used correctly and can easily swing games. I love the idea of the Naga T as a self reliant and speedy goober slapping people with danger close artillery fire, but you are still probably better off taking a separate spotter and a dedicated, cheaper Arrow IV piece, like an Arrow IV Demolisher tank. If you have some extra BV or the scenarios you play tend to favor faster units and longer ranges, the Naga T isn’t that bad of an upgrade over a slower Arrow IV piece. Just really think about whether you can spend that BV better somewhere else.
I am unsure how to feel about the Spartan N4. The Spartan is one of those weirdo assault mechs from the 90s that was loaded up with advanced tech but didn’t really make great use of it. There have been a lot of variants since it was originally published, and the N4 in particular is probably the mech from this Rec Guide that I am the least confident in my opinions of. For 2108 BV you get an 80 ton mech with a 5/8/0 movement profile, and just an unpleasant mix of features. It has Stealth Armor, which is awesome, but it only has one long range weapon in the form of a single Clan ER PPC. It has Reinforced Structure, which is incredibly, unreasonably strong for the BV, but it loses a lot of that extra durability by using an XXL engine. It has 3 medium X-Pulse lasers and 2 Streak SRM-2s, which are excellent at close range, but the Stealth Armor encourages it to stay at medium and long range to get the best use of it. Nothing on this mech feels like it is really working together.
Much like the original Spartan, it just feels really unfocused. There is a lot of advanced tech in here, but there is a huge lack of synergy. It isn’t designed to do anything well, and nothing works together. It won’t lose you a game on it’s own like a PXH-99 (save him) or anything like that, but you would be better with basically any other decent trooper mech.
Have I ever told you the tragedy of Darth Mauler the Iconic? I thought not, it is not a story the Rec Guides would have told you. Darth Mauler is one of the most iconic assault mechs in all of BattleTech, showing up on the cover of Mechwarrior 2 Mercenaries and having a special place in my heart, having been one of my absolute favorite mechs as a child. It has huge missile racks, a barrel chest, giant water-pipe laser arms, cool fins, and great big stomper legs.
It also sucks. Like it really sucks. The stock Mauler is one of the single worst assault mechs in the entire game, bar none. It barely functions, has low damage, a high price, and is made of fiberglass, match-sticks, chewing gum, and fucking Tannerite.
Meanwhile the Mauler 4R from this book is one of the best assault mechs in the game, for the price.
For 2050 BV, you get a 3/5/0 90 ton assault mech with reasonably standard, assault mech grade armor, and an IS XL engine. XL engines aren’t really a good thing, but in my experience they are much less bad than people make them out to be. Normally by the time you are losing a side torso your assault mech has already probably died in about 6 different ways. And the weapon load is well worth the drawback. You get 2 Clan large pulse lasers, 2 Clan LRM-15s, and 4 light AC/5s with 80 round of ammunition. This is a monstrously efficient spread of weapons, and it can fire everything except for the LRMs without building any heat at a dead run. Clan LPLs are probably the best weapons in the game, and 4 LAC5s with that much ammo can just load precision ammo and laugh your ass off at anything with a +2 or higher TMM.
The Mauler 4R reads to me as a counter argument to the dominance of the hyper-mobile jump 5/jump 7 Clan abominations that most people agree are the best mechs in the game. For significantly cheaper than one of those, you get an assault mech that will completely maul (heh) them. Everything has a to hit bonus, and everything costs as little BV as possible. 2050 BV is dirt cheap for 40 points of damage that will in practice has a -2 to hit bonus against anything that isn’t standing still. It is slow and you are unlikely to get to pick your fights, but the Jumpbominations are usually going to end up in range of you if they want to engage with a significant part of their damage. Against anything that isn’t trying to hop around and build TMMs, the 4R is still an assault mech and has some pretty good and accurate damage that it can use to smack around most other assault/heavy mechs that are around the 2000 BV price point. The price is far and away the best part of this mech, something like a Regent or an Alpha Wolf will still kill the hell out of it, but it is a good bit cheaper and has an excellent set of weapons for dealing with fast movers.
The Mauler 4R probably isn’t the best mech for 1v1ing other assault mechs, or for doing assault mech linebreaking things, but it is probably one of the best anti-movement mechs in the game for the price. It is best used hanging back and chipping in with a few other fire support type mechs, and deleting any miserable unfortunate mediums/lights that try to harass the gun line. If your opponents force is highly mobile, the 4R will also make an excellent piece to hold an objective, because anything that has to get within 5 hexes of it is going to have a real bad time if it is operating under the “Speed is Armor” philosophy of BattleTech. Armor is Armor. If you like to run lots of assault mechs and hate getting stung to death by little bastard mechs that you can’t hit, get a Mauler 4R. Maybe 2.
Thunder Hawk TDK-7Z
We just had an excellent variant of one of the worst assault mechs in the game, so it’s only fair that we now have one of the worst variants of one of the best assault mechs in the game.
The Thunder Hawk is a mech that I bring up a lot in various mech overviews as a yardstick against which all other long range assault mechs have to be measured against. The best Thunder Hawk, the 7S, carries 3 gauss rifles, 2 medium lasers, and fuck all else for 2440 BV. This is levels of efficient fire support that very few other mechs can measure up against. There is nothing better to have sitting back in your backline, deleting any motherfucker that gets into its line of sight.
The TDK-7Z is god’s worst Thunder Hawk. It is frustratingly close to being good but falls short for one major reason. For 2419 BV, it carries 3 Thunderbolt 20 missile launchers and 4 ER medium lasers. Thunderbolt launchers are a weapon I direly want to love but holy hell every mech that mounts one sucks. The Thunderbolt Scorpion from last article is the first time I have ever seen a Thunderbolt unit I haven’t disliked. Let’s start with the many sins of the Thunder Hawk 7Z.
First of all, it can’t fire all 3 Thunderbolt launchers without overheating. It doesn’t overheat by a ton, but it does mean you can’t just hold the trigger down and fire constantly like you can with the better Thunder Hawks.
Second, and far and away the most important, is that the Thunder Hawk 7Z’s main plan is to blow up. It has 10 crit slots of explosive ammo, no CASE, and an XL engine. It has really monster thick armor on the front torsos, but if anything gets behind it and crits it it is very likely to just blow up immediately and leave a smoldering crater as it takes 600 fucking damage from it’s ammo cooking off.
Third, it is directly competing with the other Thunder Hawks. The Gauss Thunder Hawks have longer range, shorter minimum ranges, 100% uptime due to not overheating, roughly the same cost, and the same thick armor. It doesn’t do anything to stand out against the other Thunder Hawks. It’s only real advantage over a stock Thunder Hawk is that it can Indirect Fire, which isn’t really that good on a weapon that doesn’t have splash damage.
On it’s own terms it isn’t the worst way to use 2400 BV, but it is far from the best. I can’t in good faith give it an F, because it really isn’t that bad, but it really isn’t that good either. Use either the Stock or 7S Thunder Hawk instead. Even a bad Thunder Hawk is still a better assault mech than a lot of other assault mechs, but that is more down to most assault mechs not being very good.
That is all of the non-Loki II mech variants from this Rec Guide. The Loki II variants are all very, very interesting, but we will have to get to those later. Overall, as far as Rec Guide variants go, most of these aren’t very good. The Mauler 4R is a standout fantastic record sheet, but most of the rest are somewhat underwhelming. For some of them it is more an issue with the identity of the chassis on the whole, like the Spartan, or its an issue with the weapons they carry, like the Thunder Hawk. The Loki II sheets, as a spoiler for later, are mostly fantastic, and overall I really liked this Rec Guide. Lots of great tank variants and a good chunk of pretty decent mechs. Get this and finally have a Mauler that performs the way that it looks like it should.