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Published February 28, 2013

Welcome to an occasional feature in which the themittani.com staff tear apart builds we've seen in the wild that seem to serve no useful purpose. We will do this for two reasons - firstly, because we are horrible Internet bullies who hate everyone we see running any build that is less than completely minmaxed; secondly, and most importantly, because understanding why a robot is bad goes a long way to helping to understand how to make a robot good. And the world needs more good robots.

Some ground rules then. First up, we're not naming and shaming anyone here. If you happen to recognise your build in one of these articles then by all means leave a comment about how we just don't understand and how your special snowflake gets all the kills and all that sort of thing, and we can engage in a lively and spirited debate about why you're wrong. If possible please pepper said comments with anecdotes about all the times you beat some goons, how terrible we are and how we can only win through strength of numbers, as that always serves to reinforce a good argument.

Next: the working assumption will always be that the player was attempting to do something useful with their Internet gundam, but for whatever reason wound up with a lemon. And yes, some of this is going to be subjective (and where possible we will note this), but there are some chassis, weapons and builds that are objectively worse and better than others for the same role. Yes, there are. There ARE. Not every opinion is equally valid, despite what forums and comment sections have led you to believe.

Also: we will take "I don't care it's fun!" and "It works fine for me, you must just be bad." as given responses to every single one of these critiques. If you're having fun in your build and don't care about it being objectively bad then that's great - by all means continue, and ignore these articles. Fun is important and doesn't have to be synonymous with optimal, but it's also subjective. Trying to tell you what you should and shouldn't enjoy is going to make people even angrier than they are at us having opinions at all, so we're not going to try. By the same token, it's not a useful basis for discussion. Therefore we will assume a hypothetical scenario where all players involved in a game are of equal skill, and are trying to be as effective as possible, and view the builds through that lens. I'm sure you enjoy your XL engined Atlases and your Spider 5K with a UAC, and I'm sure you've got kills in them before. I've gotten 8 assists and a 300k match payout from a Death's Knell with four flamers before; it doesn't mean it's a good idea, or that I should be proud of it (although I am, obviously), or that I was a useful member of my team. A good pilot can make anything dance, especially against less skilled opponents. It doesn't mean the build is good.

Now please note that all of these builds will be done based on mechs we have observed and I’m trying to recreate them without the full knowledge of how exactly it was all laid out. I’ll be charitable and put ammo into the legs and other sensible places, and unless I know otherwise I’m leaving the front/back armour balance as per the Mechromancer defaults. Finally, I’m assuming engine size based on the top speed I observed the mech doing at full throttle WITHOUT speed tweak.

With all of those premises out of the way, on to our first build!

Randomised Atlas


Mechromancer Link: Randomised Atlas

Now the first challenge here is to work out what the pilot was actually shooting for. This is a mostly long range biased mech, but even then mixing direct and indirect fire is a bit of an odd choice. As is choosing a loadout that necessitates four different types of ammo being loaded. It’s unusual to see a D-DC without an ECM as well, but I guess if you're going for something that sits at 500m+ that's a nice to have rather than a need to have.  Lets assume then that the pilot was building a fire support mech and critique from that basis. 

First up - an LRM 20+10 fires the same number of missiles as 2 LRM 15s but weighs a ton more and will fire the missiles in two volleys per shot (one volley of 26 and another one of four). Two LRM 15s would fire in a single volley, giving your targets less chance to get behind cover after they get the incoming missile warning.

What I find the most perplexing is that you're going to need probably need five different fire groups to manage all of this effectively, which on most occasions is something you don't really want to be doing. MWO is not a simple game if you want to play it well, and having to keep awareness of where you are, where your team is, where the enemy team is, if you're under fire, which of your components is damaged so you can shield it with others, your current speed and direction, and which way your torso is twisted is a significant load on your brain. I realise there are some that ascribe to the school of thought that having three or fewer weapon groups means you're some kind of cheese monster - to those people I say "jog on". Even if you can do literally every other aspect of mech piloting on a subconscious level (spoilers: there's a very good chance you can't) then managing five different weapon groups is still taxing and offers very little in the way of real tactical benefit. I guess you could lump some of these weapons together, but while the AC/5, PPC and Large Laser all have similar range, they have completely different firing properties. The Streak doesn't mesh well with anything else, and the 180m minimum range and the lock requirement for LRMs means you can't really stick them with anything else either.

Basically this mech is trying to do too many things at once, and as a consequence it does nothing well. Lets see what we can do to make it a bit more effective in the fire support role:

Mechromancer Build: Missiles Are Fun

There. The PPC pair lets you disrupt all the ECM you want at range, and three LRM15s with Artemis means you’re going to be raining down 81 points of damage with nasty clustering on anything within line of sight. You’re not going to be able to keep up sustained fire with this thing, but that’s ok because you shouldn’t be standing in the front lines with it. And with that engine you're not going to be anyway.

Your MO with this thing is to stand behind the main advance, dump PPC shots into people at range and unload LRMs into targets you are SURE you're going to keep inside sensor range. If possible, you'll want to put advanced sensor range and advanced target decay modules on it as well. This is to pick stuff up further out so you can start the ppc dance sooner, and so you have less chance of one of your 45 missile death rains slamming into the ground because your target got behind a hill. Because you have Artemis, you can be utter death to lights inside of about 300m too, so expect them to come running straight at you. If you're planning on dropping solo and can't rely on someone to watch your back and deal with things that get inside your minimum range bubble, you may want to consider dropping the PPCs for large lasers and fitting an ECM and some extra heat sinks. Like this:

Mechromancer Build: Witty Name Here

Personally, I don't think this is a great use of an Atlas. If you're wanting to go LRM crazy, then the Stalker is way more fun to do that with - the Atlas really, really shines when it's up front and spewing direct damage and generally being a threat the enemy can't ignore. However, I completely accept that if you’ve thrown millions of cbills into an Atlas you may want to try out a bunch of different things with it before you splurge on another robot, so there it is.

That's it for this round kids. Come back next time where I point and laugh at your dual ER PPC Jenner.

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.