Kitfox first impressions review

Cuteness overwhelming

If you've been eagerly waiting for Clan 'Mech releases for C-Bills like me, then you probably know the Clan lights are considered one of the worst 'Mechs of the package. You can even come to the same conclusion yourself by just looking at their most important statistic for a light: their speed. Clan lights are painfully slow at 97.2 KPH without and 106.9KPH with speed tweak. That's way outside what's considered "light terroritory" which changes from person to person, but I'd put it above 130 KPH. Most mediums with modest weaponry can easily reach above 100KPH(with a standard XL300) and can be rigged to reach 130KPH if you're really feeling like chasing lights with a skyscraper.

With the most negative stuff out of the way(unfortunately there are more to come), let's talk about the Kitfox. First, I really think this is the cutest 'Mech design ever. It looks completely harmless and friendly, and if you kill one on the battlefield then you should feel bad. Second, I must say I've been really impressed by this little bugger. Setting my expectations to an absolute minimum helped, but so did spending a healthy amount of time getting used to it.

The first thing I learned was that this is a "blob" 'Mech. When you split from your group and go on an adventure behind the enemy lines with your friendly IS light 'Mechs, expect to be left to die a horrible death as soon as you're discovered. The speed is just not enough to get away from dangerous situations. You've probably heard "Clan lights are actually mediums!" phrase before and that is indeed true. Your best bet is to stick to the main group and try to be the side kick of heavier 'Mechs. You can't afford to be noticed or primaried.

Before I move on, I want to draw your attention on another issue that this 'Mechs suffers; scaling. Take a look at these pictures('Mechs are to scale):

Front profile comparison

Side profile comparison(slightly angled)

Remember, Kitfox and Spider are 30 ton 'Mechs and the Jenner is a 35 ton 'Mech. What this comparison tells us is that the Kitfox is simply oversized for its tonnage. It's taller, wider in both directions and has bulkier legs and bulkier arms.  It also tells us why Spiders are so annoying to kill, they're packing a lot of armor into a very small profile. Even the 35 ton Jenner is smaller than the Kitfox. This 'Mech is both oversized and slow, that's the worst combination you could have in a light 'Mech. Speed and profile are their best defenses and in this 'Mech you can't use them.

You feel this "oversized" issue with every hit you take. Laser scratches that you shrug off with Spiders and Firestarters take off your health in 5-10% chunks and it just melts under any kind of LRM fire. It's not uncommon to lose components without warning. Cheese whales will one shot you, other lights will eat you alive. If there's a "cookie" 'Mech in this game, it's not the Locust but it's the Kitfox.

Even so, this 'Mech is quite tanky for a light. Clan XL's allow you to lose one side of your 'Mech, a perk that IS lights don't enjoy. Being so bulky and big also means it's easier to consciously spread damage, just like the Thunderbolt(pretty much the only thing it's good for). Its hitboxes are not that bad too — when angled sides and arms block a lot of damage. If you put LRMs on your arms, they almost completely block your side profile. Its front hitboxes also have a balanced surface area, although CT area is a bit bigger than others(typical for a light 'Mech).

The Kitfox hitboxes. Image taken from Sylvian Le Fabre's thread on official forums.

So far, not good. It's slow, it's big, it's squishy. Then why did I say I was impressed by this 'Mech?

Building your Kitty

When you get into the Mechlab and start building for this 'Mech, you realize it's very versatile. There are a lot of awesome combinations you can pull off ranging from PPC snipers to pulseboats, ECM and triple AMS support to SRM facemelters, proper LRM boats to non-machine gun ballistic brawlers —something IS lights can only dream of. This 'Mech allows you to comfortably field and experiment with every Clan weapon other than the heaviest of their ACs(you can still mount them, but you won't have enough weight for backup weapons). This 'Mech reminds me a lot of my Timber Wolf, minus its amazing speed and survivability.

So this is a versatile 'Mech, but how much? Let's take a look at its omnipods:

Its flexibility is immediately apparent. If you want to max out each weapon type, you can go from 4xM to 3xB and 4xE, plus the odd hardpoint you get from other types. Even if you keep the ECM arm, you still have access to extra E and M hardpoints of your choice. You can also keep the S torso omnipods to have access to 2xB hardpoints with only a slight disadvantage to your torso twist.

The Kitfox has 14.5 tons of pod space with full armor and taking into account that the Clan weapons weigh a lot less than their IS counterparts, you can easily do heavy-hitting builds that leave even IS mediums in envy. This 'Mech can indeed be considered as a hybrid between IS lights and mediums, something the Blackjack has shown us there are a lot of potential for.

Unfortunately, arm hardpoints are quite low. Right arm hardpoints are slightly higher than left arm, but you still have to expose your whole upper torso and a bit of your legs to shoot. Torso ballistic hardpoints on the other hand, are mounted extremely high. There are some good choices like C-UAC5 or dual C-UAC2 that can capitalize on this advantage. 

Playing with your Kitfox

Playing with the Kitfox is surprisingly fun once you first get demolished in your first a dozen or so matches. After trying to imitate IS light gameplay and getting totally dismantled, I tried playing it like a fast medium —sticking together with bigger 'Mechs and being their sidekicks. Always near them, but constantly poking at the enemy. I immediately realized how much this 'Mech gets ignored when it's standing near a more dangerous or juicy target, let's say a Dire Wolf or a Centurion. What people still don't realize is, the Kitfox packs a good amount of firepower that can quickly cripple a medium or a heavy. When ignored, you can quickly rack up damage and kills. If you also have ECM mounted, it's literally ghost mode as long as there are other 'Mechs nearby.

Being sneaky and opportunistic really pays of with this 'Mech. Unlike Commandos and Spiders which are seriously hurt by their tonnage and hardpoints(in Spider's case), going above 600 damage and a couple of kills are not uncommon. If most things goes right(or wrong in your team's case), you can even carry and get like 5+ kills and 800+ damage rounds with it, the potential is definitely there. The trick is to keep this 'Mech from getting primaried. As soon as someone decides "Ok, this Kitfox is going down." and actively hunts for you, you don't last long.

What to do with it

I think I still have a long way to go before I can say my builds feel "just right", but I've found a few builds that allowed me some exceptional results. Before presenting you some builds, I want to talk about which weapons seem to go better with this 'Mech.

Most people seem to just get ECM, load up 3xC-ERLL's and go perch on a hill with this thing. It works fine on maps like Alpine, but pretty much everywhere else it's a bad idea. At two seconds per beam, this type of gameplay exposes you a lot to return fire. I had more success with low "face time" weapons like pulse lasers, small lasers, SRM's and LBX'. I especially had a great time with the C-ERPPC, it gives you range and punch and allows you to take snapshots and go back immediately into cover. It's great at quickly killing 'Mechs with weak armor or open internals. Same goes to the C-LPL and C-MPL, they're easy to keep cool and still dump a lot of damage in short time. I haven't really tried LRM's since they're really not my thing(you have to devote too much tonnage to them, and if the enemy brings an ECM 'Mech, you're basically dead weight), but you could easily slap on 2xC-LRM15's, 5 tons of ammo and backup lasers. It's a 30 ton 'Mech that makes the 55 ton Trebuchet cry in that regard.

Alright here's a few builds that I found fun during last three days, but consider these as just suggestions rather than something optimized. All the omnipod switching craziness means most of the builds have a lot of room for improvement.

This is a support build that is designed to sit inside your main group, give ECM cover, shoot down missiles and be all kinds of annoying for the inevitable LRM boats on the other team. ERPPC and 2xERSL are surprisingly easy to keep cool, allowing you to keep taking potshots with the ERPPC for a long time. I know a lot of you are thinking 3xAMS and 2.5 tons of ammo for it is waste of tonnage, but it actually feels nice helping your team out. You can easily remove them and replace SL's with ML's and use the rest on getting two more heatsinks.

Look at all those weapons! C-LPL allows for range, 2xERSL and 1xStreak4 pumps damage at close range and MG's annoy your enemies and do crits. Plus, you get a lot of mobility from those five jumpjets. This build is impossible to do bad with.

I've been recently running this medium range variation and having good results as well.

This one is all about close range DPS and is really good at pumping damage. The downside is if there's a blob vs blob standoff, you can't poke as much compared to other builds above.

I can post a lot more, but I'll probably do it in another post. These are just a taste of the things you can do with this 'mech.

Note: Since Kitfox CT omnipods don't have any hardpoints, these builds are completely interchangable between variants. You can safely sell your unwanted variants to preserve mechbays after you elite them.


It's still unknown whether PGI will introduce lights which will be on-par with IS lights when it comes to survivability and speed. In all other weight classes, Clan 'Mechs pretty much dominate IS counterparts in current balance.  It might simply be a design decision to keep IS lights superior and the possible introduction of MASC could make Clan lights more viable in classic light roles in the future.

Despite their disadvantages, Clan lights can still find their niche by capitalizing on the sheer versatility and firepower of the Clan weaponry. Kitfox is incredible in this regard, you can use it in various roles very effectively. If you want to enter the world of Clans, the Kitfox is a great starter 'Mech.
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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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