Okay, you’ve purchased every Technical Readout, researched every Mech and its associated variants, and you just haven’t found a Mech with the mix of weapons and capabilities you are looking for.
It is a frustrating problem to have. Welcome to the club. The solution is somewhat easy and can be summed up in three words: Design Your Own. Before you start slinging weapons and armor on a chassis, you need to understand the various dimensions that you have to set up before you start constructing. First: What do you want it to do? Here is a non-inclusive list of the different “roles” that Mechs perform:
- Backstabber (Fast Mech, designed to get into the rear arc of an enemy and shoot them in the back)
- Brawler (Specializing in close combat)
- Juggernaut (unstoppable force)
- Missile Boats (Major armorment is missile racks. Long range fire support.)
- Scout (Spotter for the big boys. Fast, lightly armed and armored)
- Skirmisher (gets into contact with enemy, not as close as Brawler)
- Sniper (reach out and someone in another ZIP Code)
There are other types, and there can be a blend of some types, such as a “Brawling Recon,” or a “Medium Range Missile Boat.” Just remember, the more roles you try to have one Mech do, the less effective it will be in all of them. Second: Weight Class. Remember, Light 20-35 tons, Medium 40-55 tons, Heavy 60-75 tons and Assaults are 80+ tons. Some Mech types are better in some weight classes more than others. Backstabbers are generally Lights, sometimes Medium Mechs. You might be able to create an Assault Backstabber, however I doubt that would be an efficient use of your BV. Now that you have those two parameters set, the question is, do you:
- Build a new unit from scratch, or
- Modify something that already exists, but is close to what you want to do?
If you modify a unit that already exists, a simple replacement of weapons might be all you need to do. For example: I have an Unseen Locust that I lost the “ears,” or the SRM2 pods that on the sides years ago. So, I stripped every weapon out, then saw I had enough room for a Large Laser. So, I now have the LCT-8L, which moves at 8/12/0 and is an excellent Backstabber. To start from the ground up, might take some inventiveness, some Green Stuff and a lot of spare parts. You could use any Mech and just say, “That Mauler is actually my GLT-372Z Guillotine.” If you like modelling, take the legs of a Warhammer, the torso of an Annihilator and the arms of a RAC-5 Rifleman, and you have just created the “RPR-12F Reaper.” I see a lot of players accidentally put the torso of a Crab on the legs backwards. I did it on purpose and called it a Lobster.
That’s what I like about Battletech, customizing is the name of the game. You can fit just about anything anywhere. Now for the hard part. Can you give it a flaw? How about some personality? Can you purposefully make it less than 95% optimized? When out on the periphery, you don’t have access to all of the possible parts you want. You have what you have, and that’s it. Like they did in Apollo 13, “Here are the tools and materials the astronauts have to work with. How can we fit this (square CM air scrubber cartridge) into this (round LM air scrubber) with these tools and materials and make it work?” A couple of years ago, I experimented with an Annihilator that had four RAC-5s. No CASE. I got a stiff wind in my kilt every time I fielded that one. How about a 50 ton 10/15/0 Medium Mech that if it runs through a Vibrabomb minefield, it will set off mines set up to 70 tons instead of just 50? An interesting personality trait. I don’t personally play Clan, for the simple reason is their Mechs don’t have the same personality and quirks as the IS Mechs. Everything in the Clan Mech is specifically designed to deal the largest possible amount of damage in the least possible time. Their weapons are weigh less, generate less heat, their weapon ranges longer, their Mechs are stronger and faster. If I beat Clan with IS tech, and our commanders skills are about the same, the victory is sweeter for me because I was fighting with one foot in a bucket.