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Published May 16, 2013

How do you decide what a robot is worth?

It's a thorny problem. On the surface, it's pretty easy, as each stock mech has a C-Bill value that's determined by its chassis weight and the components and upgrades it carries, but as anyone that's been playing the game more than ten minutes knows, that doesn't tell the whole story. Number of hardpoints, positions of hardpoints, overall chassis layout, arm movement range and speed; the list goes on and on. Still, at least the conversion from CB to MC is nice and simple - every MC you spend on a mech is equivalent to 2500 CB (or thereabouts), so it's easy enough to work out how much CB you'd make in an hour of play and from there decide if you'd rather spend the cash or the time. Whether or not you value your time more than your money is another question entirely, and not one that I propose to delve into here.

Hero and champion mechs confuse this completely, of course. With only one champion in game to purchase at the moment, it's very difficult to nail down exactly what pricing structure they're going for with them. The DRG-5N(C) is priced 25% above the MC cost of the stock -5N, so it seems reasonable to assume the JR7-F(C) will be similarly priced above the -F, but we’ve no way of knowing at this stage. With heroes, it's straightforward: 75 MC per ton of robot. Eagle eyed viewers will have noticed that this is completely different to the pricing scheme for standard robots - so how do you know if a hero mech is worth your hard earned cash?

As an experiment, I tried to work out what the C-Bill costs of all the hero and champion mechs would be. I took the closest chassis to the robot concerned, fitted it out as closely as possible to the hero type using mechromancer, took the cost from the cost tab, and then added on the costs of any components I was unable to fit. For example, I took the Stalker 5M as the basis for the Misery, added the weapons I was able to from the stock Misery, and then added the cost of the gauss rifle. Now I realize that this is not taking into account any of the nuances I listed above - its a purely mathematical exercise. Nevertheless, I think it gives an interesting starting point for some more questions about the value of hero and champion mechs. I've included the Jenner-7F(C) at the price point I expect it to occupy, but I've left it down at the bottom of the list as it's purely speculation at this point.

As you can see, there are three mechs that are strictly speaking "better" value for money than the standard 2500:1 CB:MC ratio, and they honestly weren't the ones I was thinking of as being good value for money. Pretty Baby, X-5, and the Champion Dragon all have two big things in common though - they have XL engines and double heat sinks, which push the CB-per-MC ratio way up. You objectively get more for your MC with those three, so the 30% CB boost and unique paint (or, in the Dragon’s case, the XP boost) are just icing on the cake.

The Death Knell, Heavy Metal and Ilya Muromets are all just below the 2500:1 ratio, but close enough that it’s reasonable to justify the difference as being the paint job, hardpoints and C-Bill boost that you’re paying a premium for. The HM and Marmoset are personally my favorite of the hero mechs, so it’s gratifying to know I haven’t paid massively over base price for them, and I do actually own the Death’s Knell and quite like it, so that’s nice as well. Here the HM and TDK come with double heat sinks, and the HM and Marmoset come with XLs, which again helps them up the price scale.

Down in the doldrums we find the Wang, Misery, Flame, and Fang - all three come with standard engines and single heat sinks, so no chance to boost the C-Bill numbers there. I’ve even been generous to the Misery by basing it off the 5M, which comes with double heat sinks as stock - strictly speaking, I should knock another 1.5m off the CB cost there and push it right to the bottom of the rankings. For these four, you really, really have to consider whether the bonus, paint job, and hardpoints are worth the premium that you’re paying. In the case of Misery, you could buy a Stalker 5M, a month of Premium and still have change for the MC cost, or you could buy any two stalkers. A Wang would net you a Cent A and some premium time, and for the cost of Flame or Fang you could buy the Champion Dragon and a DRG-1C.

None of this is to say you shouldn’t buy these mechs at all - if the hardpoint loadout or the paint job is something you’re willing to dump cash on, then go for it. But do so knowing that you’re, strictly speaking, getting worse bang for your buck than you are with stock mechs. In the case of the Fang, you're getting basically the same layout as a -1N, and Misery is (in the current meta) best configured as a large energy boat so you may as well have the 5M. The Wang's relative worth versus other Cents is debatable - the Cent AH that it replaced when it launched arguably had better hardpoints (in that it had missile ports in the left torso), and while the three ballistic slots in the arm is unique to the chassis, it's hard to make effective use of that when ballistics are so heavy. That arm is a big, inviting target as well. Of all of these "lower value" heroes, the Flame has the most interesting layout and it's easier to justify the poor CB:MC ratio.

Fil5000
I've been writing words on the internet for years at www.tatp.org, but until I came to themittani.com, no one bothered to read them. I like robots, space and the internet and am therefore perfect for the MWO desk.