Build of the week - The Brawler Protector

Note: First of all, thanks to everyone who donated. I'm really surprised with the amount raised so far and it's a great feeling to see that you guys value what I do so much!

Kerensky certainly had an eye for
The Protector has a special place in my heart. Its hardpoint layout is like a "best of" collection of the standard variants; the K's torso missile hardpoints, V's double ballistics, standard arm energy hardpoints and its unique feature, that single lonely energy harpoint in its left torso. These hardpoints make it probably the most flexible heavy mech in IS arsenal. It be a decent LRM boat thanks to its 30 missile tubes, a great brawler thanks to its abundant E, B and M hardpoints and a good sniper thanks to its high mounted E hardpoint, which allows it to peek over the ridges. Even though it can be many things, I think it does one thing better than the rest. The Protector is undisputedly my best brawler ever since it got its hitboxes fixed. At 2.4 K/D ratio obtained over 450 matches(mostly solo) makes it my most successful brawler. Why is it so though?

The Protector is one of the easiest mechs to manage incoming damage and after a short "getting used to" period, it's one of the tankiest mechs in this game. The logic is really simple, stare at your enemy and your CT sucks in everything. Slightly turn left or right and your exposed side torso takes all the damage. Now, you may be thinking "Hey, that's called torso twisting Sherlock!", but with the Orion you don't need to twist as much. You can sway 20-30 degrees and your side torso takes it over from your CT. During this, almost 90% of the incoming damage is handled by a single side torso and the test by CT. The other ST takes little damage, because the protruding CT structure completely blocks it. This is both good and bad. Good, because you have more control on incoming damage than any other mech. Bad, because if you're careless you will quickly lose side torsos and your weapons along with them.

Other Orions do not benefit as much from this. Just like an Atlas, they lose their bite when their ballistic torso gets stripped. The Protector can circumvent this with its high-mounted left torso energy hardpoint, usually with a PPC or an LPL. This was the starting point for me when I was building a Protector brawler. It had to have heavy weaponry in both of its side torsos to have redundancy. It had to have weapons allowing me to "dump and twist", significantly reducing my time on target. With these in mind, let's take a look at the result:

It has 2xML on arms, an AC20 in right torso and an LPL in left torso. STD300 for decent mobility and 16DHS to ensure you will outcool anything you come by. The DHS' in left torso act as critical buffer, saving your LPL from getting prematurely critted. It has 30 damage alpha that is dumped in 0.6 second and a ~40 damage alpha that is applied in 1 second.

This is a relatively slow brawler, so you should be really careful with your positioning. Stay with your team during the initial skirmishes and resist the urge to go in. If you get focused by many mechs, you won't die but you will quickly lose your sides. If you want to use your AC20 and MLs effectively, you should seek engagement on even ground since they hang quite low. My suggestion is to hold the sides of a chokepoint, taking occasional potshot without taking aggro. If you feel like the enemy line is wavering, or your team wants to push, you can take the lead and use your durability to break a stalemate. Make sure your team supports this action first though.

This build can fight pretty much anything and everything. That is of course provided they're in range of your AC20. The AC20+LPL combo is surprisingly heat efficient and can keep on pumping damage for a really long time. If you add ML's to the mix, things get hotter but those are more like backup weapons. This build can take on pretty much every IS mech one on one at close range, but poptarts will tear you apart if you get caught out of position. I've found it surprisingly effective against clans as well. Since their weapons have longer durations, they have to stare at you to apply damage. You on the other hand, dump your 40 damage alpha, look away, let them spread damage on you while you twist and do it again. Avoid engaging Dire Wolves alone head-on though, their firepower will shred your side torsos apart in no time.

So, there you go. This is my most fun brawler of them all and surprisingly with no SRMs. I will be experimenting with SRMs on Protector now that they register properly, but I doubt there's a more efficient build with SRMs.
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About Rak

I'm an engineer who likes to write extremely long articles about games that border simulation and mainstream.
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