After the winter events, I've been sitting on a pile of C-bills and pondering what my next chassis selection should be. I had pretty quickly settled on a heavy mech with ballistics capability, since I've been playing a lot with my energy-focused mediums (particularly the Crabs) lately. After cobbling together a lot of hypothetical builds for Marauders and Jaegermechs, I found that the chief quantitative differences were a few points of armor and a few KPH of top speed. Ultimately, the deciding factors are that the Jaegermech is currently available for C-bills, and its high arms better enable hill-peaking in the early stages of a match (even if they are worse for shielding the side-torsos in a brawl).
Now, I'm actually not going to have a whole lot of time to dedicate to MWO for a little while, so I don't have time to test any of the builds I've cobbled together, but I figure that I'll share some of them anyway, in case anyone else is looking for something to do with the chassis. It's also an opportunity for more experience Jaeger pilots to warn me if I'm setting myself up for failure with garbage builds. That caveat in mind, onward!
Pretty much all of the builds that I highlight will have a Standard 290 or 300. Again, the side torsos look too wide for an XL engine to be truly appealing. The 300-rated engines offer a decent top-speed, but scaling back to a 290 was a nice sweet-spot in terms of tonnage for weaponry. Until I've played the mech, I can't really comment on how much of a sacrifice that is, since really, it's torso twist speeds that matter more than a couple of KPH difference in top speed. Likewise, some of the builds with projectile weapons and short-duration lasers might be more favorable for a big XL engine than I'm giving them credit for.
First up is a dual-AC5 poker. I've been playing a couple mechs with PPCs lately, and the AC5 has similar range and speed to a PPC, making for an easy transition between weapon systems. While two AC5s do much less damage per-volley than a pair of PPCs, the autocannons have a much higher rate of fire and generate far less heat, allowing for more sustained damage, if the other team isn't diligent about returning fire. The four medium lasers are kind of a meh backup that are only there to ensure you have something to contribute, should your ammo bins run dry.
Then there's the brawly alternative. This swaps out the two AC5s for an AC20 and upgrades the medium lasers for medium pulse lasers. You've got no reach at all, but you'll crush anything that you can sneak up on or ambush. The pulse lasers' short duration and the IS AC20's single-shot volley means that you can easily do full damage and twist to shield your weapon arm, with minimal face-time on the enemy.
You're going to see a theme of AC20s showing up on the other builds in this post. I find the 60+ ton mechs to be better platforms for the IS AC20 than the medium mechs in MWO. There's a lot more emphasis on mobility in MWO than in MW4, and because armor values are double their tabletop values, you need to carry more weight in ammo for autocannons for them to be viable in a match. If you want to accommodate a large autocannon with enough ammo and a reasonably powerful engine on a chassis of 50 tons or less, then you've either got to give up secondary weapons, really aggressively shave armor or both. The heavies don't have to give up nearly as much.
Let's keep with that aforementioned theme then, and mix an AC20 with SRMs. The same notes about range and shielding mentioned in the second JM6-A build apply here as well, except that you have no delay between pulling the trigger and being able to twist.
I've iterated on this build quite a lot, for not having played it, largely owing to the fact that it's got too much ammo to cram into the usual places (legs and head). Ultimately, I elected to push the SRM ammo into the left arm, since the Jaegermech's arms tend to be smaller and draw less fire than those of other mechs. Previous versions of this build dropped a half ton of AC20 ammo, in favor of keeping the SRM ammo in the left torso, with CASE protection. If you're worried about it still being short on ammo, then the eleventh heat sink in the engine can be dropped in favor of another full ton of ammo.
Maybe we want a little more reach than the AC20 with SRMs provides. Redesigning to that end, I favored swapping the AC20 for an AC5 over swapping the SRM launchers for LRMs. LRMs just spread their damage all over their target, making them a really inefficient use of tonnage. With a steady hand, the AC5 lets you place your shots in a more deliberate manner. To make up for some of the lost short-range firepower, the SRM battery is composed of four SRM4 launchers, which in addition to firing more missiles, should offer a slightly tighter spread than a battery including SRM6 launchers.
In this instance, I did opt to keep SRM ammo in one of the torso sections, with CASE protection, since SRM launchers are on both sides of the mech. To reduce the chance of an ammo explosion, I mounted the two additional heat sinks in the torso with the ammo, instead of in the engine, so that critical hits have something else to affect, besides the ammo bins.
The JM6-DD benefits from a UAC jam chance reduction quirk, which makes it natural to upgrade one of the JM6-S builds. This drops two of the medium lasers (which it has to do anyway, owing to fewer energy hardpoints) to free up the necessary tonnage to upgrade the AC5s to UAC5s. Now, I've done this without adding ammo, which could be problematic, if you're going to frequently double-tap the UAC5s. It seems reasonable that the heat sink in the engine could be dropped and a half ton of armor shaved, in order to make room for more ammo or an ammo bin and CASE.
My second JM6-DD build couples the largest available autocannon with the largest available laser. The large pulse laser provides this build with a little more range than the other AC20 builds presented, but demands the most face time. It's also one of the few builds that completely stacks its weaponry on the right side, so make sure to shield with your left in this mech, or you could quickly find yourself toothless.
This is another build that went through a lot of iteration. It actually started as a 6MG build, which would use two large pulse lasers to cut through armor, and then use the machine guns to finish off open components. First, I traded the large pulse lasers and an MG for medium pulse lasers and an AC10. Then, I dropped two more MGs and the medium pulse lasers for an AC20 and a large laser (for a little bit of reach). Feeling that would potentially require juggling too many disparate weapon systems, I dropped the MGs and upgraded the laser. I might try any or all of those variations, since it's rare to have a mech with enough ballistics hardpoints to make a meaningful cluster of MGs, while still having enough available tonnage to have other ballistics options available.
High-mounted energy hardpoints, anyone? So the uncreative thing for me to do is shove PPCs into the arms. This build pairs ERPPCs with small lasers for backup, though if you drop a couple of heat sinks and switch to ferro-fibrous armor, those small lasers can easily become medium pulse lasers. Those would be better paired with normal PPCs to aid in heat management. Basically, it's my Grasshopper 5H with a smaller engine, so I won't tread that ground again.
A more interesting alternative is to hybridize the PPC Grasshopper and the AC5 Jaegermechs. Dropping a PPC allows you to remove heat sinks, freeing enough weight for an AC5 and ammunition. You can also put both of these weapons onto a single arm, allowing you to use the other side to shield, should something approach for a close-range fight. Incidentally, if you find yourself more frequently fighting at medium range, as opposed to long range, and you want more punch from your ballistic weapon, you can downgrade the medium pulse lasers to medium lasers and swap the AC5 for an AC10.
That's all I've got for the time being. I can't give any concluding thoughts on the chassis as a whole, since I've yet to actually play the damn thing. When I do get to put some time in on these builds, though, I'll be sure to report back, if something plays differently than I expected, or if I wind up favoring a build significantly different from what I've posted here.
A cult classic goes online! Futuristic warfare in 100 tonne death machines where the screams of your enemies can't be heard over the sounds of explosions!
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