Battletech: Why Goonhammer hates Clan Mechs

Howdy and welcome back to a slightly different Battletech article. As you may have noticed, in our Mech Overview series, I tend to give poor ratings to the majority of Clan mechs that we have looked at so far, with each Omni-Mech only have 2 or 3 variants out of a list of a dozen or more that I actually think are worth using. Seeing as the general, accepted wisdom for the last 30 years of Battletech is that Clans are massively, unbearably overpowered, this is a slightly controversial opinion. I genuinely believe that by and large the majority of Clan Omni-Mechs are worse than the lower tech, inferior Inner Sphere versions for a variety of reasons. Note that I am specifically mentioning Omni-Mechs here. The only Clan mechs we have covered so far have been Omnis, and Omnis have a lot more problems than the Clan standard mechs, which are by and large actually quite good. So, what makes Clan Omni-Mechs so miserable?

All your eggs

The first major issue with Clan Omnis is price. Sheer, unmitigated price. On average a given Clan Omni will cost around twice as much as a reasonably similar Inner Sphere mech in the same general role. I have extreme difficulty justifying any mech that costs more that 2000 BV in any force I build. The reason for this is pretty simple.

This was the first shot of the game.

This is a photo of a record sheet for an Awesome AWS-9Q, a 1875 BV Assault mech that I had upgraded to a 3/4 pilot for a total cost of 2475. It died to the first shot fired in that game to a random gauss rifle. I generally play 10,000 BV games, so that was a full quarter of my points going off the table to random chance. I have also had a game where an Adder fired it’s head mounted Flamer and one shotted another AWS-9Q with a ridiculous through armor critical that hit the Gyroscope twice. Battletech is a game where you really, really don’t want to sink all of your BV into a small handful of mechs.

In addition to random TACs and Headshots, the biggest and most consistent risk to single, expensive mechs is gravity. You have to check to see if you fall over every time you take 20 points of damage, and a 3000 BV mech falls over just as easily as a 1000 BV mech, and it hurts a LOT more to have to get up and take pilot injuries on the 3000 BV mech. In addition, if you have less mechs than your opponent, more fire is going to go into each individual mech in your force, increasing their chances of having to make a fall over check every turn.

On top of all of that, there is only so much armor that can be mounted on a mech of a given tonnage. Armor also happens to be basically the cheapest part of the mech, so two mechs of radically different prices can have the exact same amount of armor. Clan Omnis tend to mount 2-3 Inner Sphere mechs worth of gun at the high end, but only 1 Inner Sphere mech worth of armor. Omni-Mechs end up being very, very fragile for their cost compared to equal BV split between a couple of Inner Sphere mechs. In a fight between one Omni and two Inner Sphere standard mechs of roughly equal size, my money is nearly always on the Inner Sphere mechs and it is 100% on the Clan player to figure out how to not end up fighting 1v2.

The 90s never end

Clan Wolf in Exile Timber Wolf (Mad Cat). Credit: Jack Hunter

The second overwhelming issue with Omni-Mechs is that they are, ironically, much less flexible than standard mechs. Due to their lore, Omni-Mechs have fixed armor, land speed, structure, and some weapons/equipment between all variants. This means that if there is an issue with the base variant, like the Executioners MASC or the Cougar’s poor armor, every single variant will share that exact same issue. With a lot of Omni-Mechs, choosing a variant becomes “Which variant copes with the problems this mech has the best?”, rather than “Which of these variants fits my force best?”. With standard mechs, you can find ones that are faster, more thickly armored, jumpier, or have radically different roles and equipment, far more than the difference between Omni-Mech variants.

A lot of the more iconic and popular Omni-Mechs, and all of the ones we have covered so far, are from the initial Clan Invasion from the early 90s. The majority of them have some major, major issues with their designs, and being tied down to a set of stats penned 30 years ago with a much weaker understanding of the game makes them struggle in comparison to newer mechs. While the original crop of 3025 mechs from the dawn of time, like the Thunderbolt, Atlas, and Warhammer, can get new variants that have been completely redesigned to function well in the modern game with much more coherent designs, Omni-Mechs are restricted to just swapping in some fancier guns and suffering with their problems with no ability to truly fix the issue. A handful of them, like the Mad Cat and Nova, are actually coherent enough designs to function pretty well with new equipment, but others like the Executioner, Gargoyle, Shadow Cat, Cougar, and particularly the Hellbringer just can’t be fixed into a truly good mech without a substantial redesign.

Just because you can

Battletech Dire Wolf. Credit: 40khamslam.

Doesn’t mean you should. Clan Omni-Mechs can afford to take a huge amount of weight saving technology, which means that they have a lot more internal tonnage to fill with weapons. This means that the designers are, well, tempted to load these mechs up with huge amounts of gun, even when that gun is just adding BV to a mech without really helping it do the thing it is good at. If your mech is built around long range firepower, then the random machine guns, small lasers, and SRMs are just wasted BV, as in an ideal scenario your mech shouldn’t be trying to get close enough to use them. The low opportunity cost of including these weapons on a mech, if you are not thinking with BV in mind, tends to lead to a lot of random spare weapons on Clan Omnis driving up their cost.

This is the root cause of the “All eggs in one basket” problem, because when you can cram so much stuff onto each mech, it becomes very tempting to design each mech as a one-man army with enough firepower to theoretically kill the entire enemy force, blind to the durability issues that this causes. Most of my favorite Omni-Mech variants are ones that mount gauss rifles, because gauss rifles are so heavy that it reduces the amount of extra space that the designers have to cram random stuff I don’t want into my gauss mech, and those gauss variants tend to be very, very cheap compared to the average price for the chassis.

I only have two hands

Lyran Commonwealth Masakari/Warhawk. Credit: SRM

The next major issue to consider for Omni-Mechs is that they can only be in one place. If you are playing a game with objectives, or simply need to spread out over a wider area due to a large table size or some other consideration, Omni-Mechs struggle. Your single 3000 BV monster Omni-Mech can very seriously threaten anything around it, but it can’t be everywhere and if the enemy avoids it, that BV is wasted. If you have 2 1500 BV mechs, you can spread them out so that no matter where your opponent goes, you have a mech there to project threat onto them. As for objectives, well, an Omni-Mech can only hold one, but 2 standard mechs can hold 2.

2 standard mechs can also make more physical attacks in a turn, but that is unlikely to be a deciding factor in most games, its just a nice bonus. And if you have no need to spread your mechs out in a given game, you can just deploy both 1500 BV mechs next to each other, and have the same 3000 BV as the guy with the Turkina or Daishi, more than likely with more armor and slightly lower damage.


I hope this is a good explanation for why we tend to go against the grain and give poor scores to most Omni-Mechs. I direly want them to be good, but the lack of armor, lack of board presence, and lack of decent, transformative variants really badly hold them back in more structured play. They are still the ultimate weapons in campaign play for a few reasons, but for standard pick up games they are generally woefully inadequate. There are a few really good Omni-Mechs that come later in the timeline, but the majority of those don’t have plastic models yet and are lower down on the priority list for a mech overview. Also, I have a rampaging, out of control Spheroid bias, and I will not be silenced. Glory to Marik.