To be honest, I did not buy my Thunderbolts with many expectations. After the Project Phoenix release I didn't really see anyone doing well in them. As dictated by the "meta", most people were either trying to use the 9SE as a poptart, 5SS as a PPC hill-humper or the 5S as a 2xPPC 2xAC5 boat. Thunderbolt seemed to be sub-par in all these roles. What's worse, people were cramming XL's in TDR's to get the tonnage and this didn't really help the TDR as it seemed to lose side torsos easily. The owners weren't impressed and neither was I as an opponent. They seemed to share the same fate with Awesomes. They were perfect for a case study.
As such, I instantly assumed they must have been old school brawlers. Why not? Without delving into specifics, here's why;
- Big, bulky arms blocking the side torsos.
- Mostly torso mounted weaponry allowing arms to be used as shields.
- Decent speeds and torso/arm response even with lower rated STD engines.
- Bigger but not unproportional torso allowing you to dictate damage spread better.
- No unfixable model faults; like protruding CT(Orions, Dragons), unnecessarily wide and fat(Awesome, Quickdraw) torsos or weird hitbox problems(Locust, Raven legs).
. . . on top of these TDR had these "generic" advantages;
- Mostly high mounted weaponry allowing for hulldown shots. Especially useful against opponents with low mounted weaponry(like the Atlas, Cataphract, Orion).
- It's in the sweet-spot of the heavy bracket, not too slow like the Orions or underarmored like the Dragons/Quickdraws.
- No one takes them seriously.
. . . and these disadvantages;
- Laser heavy weaponry with missiles. None of which are too effective these days and require serious effort to make them effective. Also a strict heat management.
- No CT mounted weaponry and easy to hit side torsos means you will be out of fight if you don't pick your fight carefully.
- Torso hardpoints mean it's harder to bring weapons onto enemy.
To be honest, it's hard to find flaws in the Thunderbolt's design and specifications. It is pretty much a perfect brawler. In the end, it all depends on its weapons systems and their usage.
. . . will be continued in part II.