So the Jaegermechs turned out to not be my cup of tea. They just didn't offer the agility that I've grown accustomed to in medium mechs. Not wanting to go straight back to my Crabs, since that would be too big a swing in the opposite direction too quickly, I opted to start working on the Wolverines that had been sitting in my mech bay for a while.
Wolverines generally function similarly to the Hunchbacks, with most of their weaponry located in the right arm, and the left side free for shielding. The Wolverine benefits from being five tons heavier, providing extra pod space and higher armor caps, and a higher engine cap. Most of these benefits are all naturally addressed in the specific builds. I'll note that I rarely use big XL engines in the Wolverines, though. The side torsos are quite large, and most of the builds typically have enough tonnage to allow for a large enough standard engine. Plus, if you mount an XL engine, you can't use your entire left side as an ablator, which is one of the chief benefits of asymmetrical mechs like the Wolverine.
It's worth noting that the other differentiating factor separating the Wolverine from the Hunchback is that the center torso hit box of the Wolverine sticks out a bit more than the Hunchbacks, so it can be harder to effectively shield your CT. The strategy remains the same, but be aware of how much front and rear armor you have left on the CT, so you know whether to twist further and risk your rear or twist less and risk your front.
Prior to the recent rework of the Inner Sphere quirks, the 6K benefitted from enormous specific quirks for the large laser. While those megaquirks are gone, it still has duration, range, and heat generation quirks for energy weapons, so a large laser build remains pretty appealing. I've gone through a few iterations of this build, and an easy swap is to drop a couple of heat sinks, in favor of a 300-rated standard engine. Either one of those builds is good for side-peeking against targets at mid- to long-range. The smaller engine and more heat sinks allow for better performance in a close-range brawl, since despite the sub-optimal weaponry, you'll get quite a few shots off, before having to back off to cool down.
Since the quirks on the 6K are no longer specific to the large laser, you can also opt for mid-range laser vomit. I've spoken at length about combining large pulse lasers and medium lasers before, so I'll not add any more here. I'll note that this is one of the few Wolverine builds where I actually make use of the head laser hardpoint, so this one has a little bit of fight in it, if it loses the right arm.
Like the CRB-20, the WVR-6K has a stupid-high engine cap for its size. Even though I don't like how squishy the Wolverine is with an extra-light engine, I had to put an XL375 in it at least once. The firepower is unimpressive for a 55-ton mech, and the huge investment in the engine only nets you about 30kph beyond engines in the 275-300 range. That said, when a Wolverine shows up with the light mechs on an extreme flanking maneuver, it's a little unnerving for your opponents. It's fun to try, if you've got an XL375 lying around, but it's not effective enough for me to recommend it as a primary build.
Yeah, I bought the hero variant. Don't judge me.
The Quarantine, garrish paint notwithstanding, is a pretty good variant. It doubles-down on the asymmetry of the Wolverine, with missle hardpoints in the right torso, instead of the customary left torso location. This allows you to use those hardpoints without worrying about losing them in a bid to shield the weapons on your right arm.
The natural first thing to do, then is mount the beefiest SRM launchers available and back them up with medium pulse lasers. Range is not this mech's friend, so get used to moving around behind cover and picking the right moment to strike. When it is time to strike, you're going to be deadly with this build. You can burst a lot of damage, prior to your heat level building up too high, and when it does, you can fire the SRMs exclusively to continue dealing damage, while cooling. Four tons of ammo might come across as a touch excessive, but the SRMs really are your primary weapon, so it's best to take some excess to ensure that those launchers will be fed through the entire match.
Because there is only a 3.5 ton difference in weight between the standard 275 engine and a standard 300 engine, there are some pretty easy trades to be made, in order to gain some maneuverability. Downgrading the lasers to normal medium lasers, and dropping a jump jet or half a ton of ammo makes room for the larger engine. Alternatively, the SRM6 launchers can be dropped to SRM4's, along with one of the heat sinks, and a jump jet or some ammo for the last half ton. There's also some creative armor-shaving possibilities to save half a ton toward the bigger engine. The mobility can be worth it, though I really like how hard the STD275 build punches.
A slightly different train of thought to explore is to see what you can do trading the STD275 for an equivilant XL engine. It's a more complicated trade than the ones listed above. I think this gives up too much durability to brawl effectively, but being able to swap the three medium pulse lasers for two large pulse lasers gives you some reach that the other build lacks. This one might be worth some more tinkering to turn it into a dedicated mid-range build, but I leave that as an exercise for the reader.
Speaking of reach, let's just go for something completely different. This one is a proper sniper/poptart build that is intended to use range and mobility to make up for the squishiness of its XL engine. PPC and UAC5 projectiles travel at the same velocity and to about the same effective range, so they make for a strong pairing. Up close, the UAC5 can belch out enough damage to put up a servicable defense, but it's not ideal, and a proper brawler will pick off one of your side torso sections in a hurry, so try to stay aware of your surroundings, when sniping with this build.
I try not to say this about too many chassis or variants, but the WVR-7D is bad. If you own one, and you want to get its basic skills filled out, it's going to be a grind. If the variant ever goes on sale, and you're considering getting one, don't. The problem owes to its hardpoints not allowing for the use of large weapons or clusters of small weapons. The ballistics arm has lower arm and hand actuators, leaving insufficient room for an AC20 or dual UAC5's. The only energy hardpoint is in the head, so you can't mount a PPC or any type of large laser. Both of the missile hardpoints are in the left torso, which you're probably using to shield your right arm, and are each limited to ten tubes, so you can't even take the lazy route of making a LRM boat out of it. Basically, you can mount a whole bunch of secondary weapons to back up no primary weapons. It's bad.
Nevertheless, I got a WVR-7D for free, so it was the third Wolverine for which I had to unlock basic skills, so that I could continue leveling the other two variants.
I had my best luck with the underappreciated AC10. The rate of fire on the AC10 is noticeably faster than with the AC20, so over time, it can deal a similar amount of damage, under several assumptions. Chief among those assumptions is that you are putting shells into your target as fast as you can, which means turning to face your target more frequently, in a mech that is primarily characterized by its ability to shield its weapons between shots. As compared to an AC20-toting HBK-4G, you wind up either having to face your target much more frequently, losing the benefit of your ablative left side, or you fire less frequently than you otherwise could, giving up the AC10's potential damage over time. This build really only works when your targets are consistently distracted by something more threatening, so that you can face-tank without dealing with the normal consequences.
Alternatively, if you've got sufficient crit slots for an AC10, then you've got sufficient crit slots for a gauss rifle. This doesn't work any better than the AC10 build, though. The recent increase in the gauss rifle's recycle time significantly impacts its ability to put out damage over time, and finding tonnage for the heavier gauss rifle leaves little room for ammo, where normally you want some extra for your primary weapon. You could try dropping ferro-fibrous armor and upgrading the engine to an XL300 to make room for more ammo, but even with enough shots to last the match, I think you'll be disappointed.
Another long-range option is to double-up on AC5's. If you're a crack shot with the AC5, then this build might actually work out well for you. I have trepidation about both the XL engine and stuffing ammo in the torso (a risk I've tried to mitigate with the heat sinks mounted in the right torso), but the AC5s provide for the damage over time that the gauss rifle lacks, without giving up much in the way of range. It'd be nice, if there was room to double-up on UAC5s, since the WVR-7D gets a jam chance reduction quirk, and that is possibly the most annoying thing about this build--there's an obvious upgrade path that's been blocked off.
I don't have the WVR-7K or WVR-6R. The 6R has the same double-ballistic arm of the 7D, except where the 7D had a UAC5-specific quirk, the 6R has a normal AC5-specific quirk, making it the better candidate for a long-range ballistic build. Both the 6R and 7K also have three missile hardpoints, if you'd like to make an SRM brawler, without spending MC on the Quarantine. It's also worth noting that the WVR-7K comes with double heatsinks and an XL275, which drives up the initial C-bill price, but spares you the mandatory double heatsink upgrade and provides a pricey engine that you might want to put to use in lighter mechs with smaller side torso hitboxes.
If you've got a set of Hunchbacks that you enjoy, then you can safely give the Wolverines a pass. The difference in armor capacity between a 50-ton mech and a 55-ton mech is pretty insignificant, and the higher engine cap of the Wolverine rarely amounts to much, since the sweet spot is a standard engine between 275 and 300, leaving it running just as fast as a Hunchback with a 250 to 275-rated engine. Even the Wolverines' hardpoint configurations are closely matched by Hunchback variants, except that in the case of the ballistics variants, the Hunchback provides those hardpoints in locations with the crit slots to make them useful.
Now, if you don't own Hunchbacks or you found yourself wanting a slightly stockier version of the energy and missile variants, then the Wolverine might be for you. It's also a good chassis, if you're tired of queuing for a game in a heavy mech, since it's one of the largest medium chassis available and being able to burn one side of your mech without (major) consequence gives you more of a margin for error than a more symetrical medium-weight chassis might.
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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