IS laser vomit special: The BLR-3S and the BLR-1G

Barfing with extreme prejudice
Since their release, the Clans have been riding the wave of the new meta, the laser vomit. Capable of delivering massive alphas in just about one second, any kind of exposure to the laser vomit is lethal. Yet, the IS side didn't really participate in this meta. They still relied on their superior brawlers and ballistic boats instead.

Indeed, the ingredients of the laser vomit meta is missing from the IS side. There is nothing comparable to the godly C-ERML and C-LPL combo. Any kind of attempt to replicate the Clan laser vomits with ML+LPL combo is just futile; it's harder to sustain and on top of that lacks range and punch. LL lands somewhere between the C-ERML and the C-LPL, but at 5 tons it completely ruins any chance of bringing both a lot of heatsinks and a decent engine.

At least it was the situation until IS quirks entered the picture. With the new quirks, is it possible that the IS can have its own laser vomit? So far the Banshee-3M has been the choice of those who preferred pure laser builds. It's reasonable mobile (with both STD and XL builds), survivable thanks to decent hitboxes and shield arms and the best of all, gets a -15% LPL heat reduction. With dual-quad LPL builds, it's absolutely a killer. Still, the ghost heat still haunts the harder hitting 4xLPL builds and if you bring backup MLs or MPLs, it tends to heat up really quick. Thunderbolt-5SS is also another popular alternative, but it lacks the survivability as it's a bad hill humper and its heat generation is still a problem. Could there be an alternative to the almighty Banshee and the Thunderbolt?

Note: This guide was written before the second quirk pass sneak peek. The 3S remains largely untouched except it loses its -20% MPL heat generation quirk and gets a -12.5% general quirk. The 1G quirks remains completely untouched but it gets additional quirks. Also the IS LL/LPL ghost heat limit has been upped to 3 (temporarily) which opens the way for harder hitting (but hotter builds). I'll post an update in the coming days to cover these.

Enter BLR-3S

It turns out, there is. When it was first released, I didn't even consider buying a BLR-3S. At 11.5M C-Bills it was prohibitively expensive and I already owned three BLRs that I barely used. There was no point. Yet, after the quirkening things have changed a lot for the Battlemasters. Especially the 3S was catching my eye every time I checked BLR quirks. In the end my curiousity outweighed my brain telling me "DON'T DO IT BRO" and I decided to part with 11.5M C-Bills. I'm glad I did.

Let's take a look at the quirks of the 3S:
+14 LA/RA armor
-10% Laser Heat Reduction
-10% MPL Heat Reduction
-10% Laser Cooldown
-10% MPL Cooldown
+10% Laser Range
+10% MPL Range
-12.5% Missile Cooldown
Do these look similar? Indeed these quirks resemble the so feared quirk-monster that is called the 5SS. In fact they're not only similar but flat-out better,  although the 5SS beats the 3S in the range category (40% range bonus instead of 20%). Only the CDA-2B has the same MPL quirks and we all know how nasty that 'Mech is.

Note: In the second quirk pass the heat generation reduction quirk is unfortunately trimmed down to -10%.

A solid chassis

BLR-3S (left) and BLR-1G (right)
twist range comparison
The 3S is also unique in the Battlemaster category as well. It's the only BLR with 6 chest lasers without the limited torso twist. It has a full 80° torso twist range compared to 60° of the 1G and the 3M. It helps immensely when torso twisting (you can't torso twist fully in a 1G for example) and also when tracking targets at close range.

The placement of the lasers is also another plus of the BLR. All of them are at cockpit level and the top two hardpoints are even higher than the cockpit. You can also freely distribute heavier lasers to the top spots (PPCs on the other hand must use the lower ones). This means the BLR is an excellent hillhumper and it will outtrade pretty much anything given proper cover. Only the Stalker comes close, and even then it lacks the close-range survivability of the BLR.

What you see is what you hit, the E hardpoint placement is fantastic on the BLR
Another advantage of the high-mounted weaponry is being blocked is almost a non-issue. You can shoot over most 'Mechs so if someone decides to block you, or you can simply use them as a meat-shield.

The build

With these being said, let's get down to building this 'Mech.

One of the things that annoy me the most about the BLR is its arm hardpoints. They are mounted so painfully low that you can't properly use them half of the game. It's better to ignore them completely when making a pure laser build. Plus, the gorilla arms of the BLR are going to be completely expendable. It's something even the best Clan 'Mechs envy as most of their weaponry are arm mounted and attempting to tank with the arms will most likely result in a loss of firepower.

Next comes the question of XL vs STD. In my opinion the BLR has balanced hitboxes. Stare at anything and your CT takes most of the damage, but twist and arms and side torsos take over. I even noticed the legs tanking a bit when maneuvering at full speed. The damage spread is both predictable and manageable. This means if you know what you're doing, and with some luck your match isn't a straight up brawl without a trading phase, the XL is pretty safe. After all, we'll be hillhumping and therefore incoming damage will be kept to a minimum. If we're caught in a bad engagement, there's a high chance that we'll be able to get out of there with the speed. XL engine will also allow us to maximize the speed and the DHS amount. I really can't stress how important the speed is with this 'Mech, but more on that later.

Let's take a look at the build now:

Modules: Radar Deprivation, MPL Cooldown and Heat, LPL cooldown

21 dual heatsinks cooling 4MPLs and 2LPLs, which deliver a 46 damage alpha. The armor is frontloaded for the most part, being in-line with the intention of "not being in the thick of it". The most striking feature of this build is the XL395 engine. It was an engine I thought I'd never need, but here we are. After some time in the Mechlab it was clear to me that only XL395 allowed me to keep full armor while maxing out the heatsinks and using all the available tonnage. A drop to XL390 frees up 1.5 tons, but you can't use it as you only have 1 critical slot left. A jump to an XL400 is possible, but you need to free up 2 tons either by removing heatsinks or armor. Neither seemed "optimal" to me. If this odd engine is a deal-breaker for you, jump to the 1G section.

Why is it so special?

Now, let me tell you what makes thing so good:

1) Heat efficiency: The MPL's generate -20% less heat, while the LPLs generate -10% less heat. Considering it has 21DHS cooling them, the situations where you'll be heat-blocked will be extremely rare. It even keeps up with ballistic builds for a good while on hot maps. Which brings us to the next very best thing about this 'Mech: 

2) Damage capacity: The damage capacity(sorry, I made it up myself!) is how much damage you can do before you shutdown. It's directly influenced by the heat efficiency of a build and it tells us how devastating the 'Mech is. 

On a heat-neutral map, this 'Mech ovearheats in 14 seconds. Which is pretty normal for a laser IS assault. BUT (a big one), it alphas 5 times during this time, delivering a total of 230 damage. Now this is unusual for a laser 'Mech.

Let me elaborate how insane this is. For example, your average laser-vomit Timberwolf with 2xC-LPL and 4xC-ERML overheats in about 6 seconds and it can only alpha two times during this, delivering about 108 damage. A BNC-3M "refrigerator" build with a 2xLPL and 6xML overheats in 15 seconds while delivering a puny 156 damage. The 3S does 1.5 times more damage than the Banshee and more than 2 times more damage than the Timber Wolf. If you don't believe me, try it out yourself in the MWO heat simulator! (BLR-3S TBR-PRIME BNC-3M please note that actual in-game heat is a bit different and hotter)

3) Damage application: The whole 46 damage alpha is delivered in just 0.67 seconds. First, this makes aiming a breeze. You don't need to worry about holding the beam. Even slight scratches hurt a lot since so much damage is delivered in such a short time. Second, that's a ridiculously low face-time for an assault. You can arrange your pop-ups such that you only expose yourself for ~1s. This allows you to outtrade anything. Factoring in the ping, this won't allow your enemy to return fire in most situations. You'll be mostly safe against gauss builds, since they need to be charged and aimed properly first.

4) Speed: At 83 KPH you can keep with your mediums and heavies, quickly reposition and GTFO when needed. You won't be one of those vulnerable and slow assaults that has to be protected. You'll also have a godly torso twist speed which helps with tanking immensely. This 'Mech is ridiculously responsive with a huge engine.

All of these makes this 'Mech an exceptional second-line damage pumper. I rocked the group queue with this thing many times and breaking 1000 damage is not uncommon if the match lasts longer than 3 minutes. It's also an exceptional killer thanks to its damage application. You can precision cut components at will. In good hands it can single handedly carry against good teams.

The not-so-good

Disadvantages? Of course, everything has some. Here are some of its biggest flaws:

1) Range: No doubt the biggest disadvantage. With the quirks and a range module, the MPL has a range of 286m while the LPL has a range of 402m (without the range module). This roughly puts this 'Mech into the "close-medium range" bracket. You can use your LPLs to scare of long range shooters, but you'll still be helpless again those builds utilizing C-LPLs and Gausses. Therefore you must find a way to engage inside your effective range (I'd say <600m). You certainly have the speed to pull it off.

2) The XL engine: An inevitable and huge disadvantage. Some people will notice you have an XL (because of your speed) and will actively try to get one of those sides. Also if you twist "too much" and one of your sides get cored, people will also instinctively focust it down. If you're too concerned, you can drop down to a STD340 and trim some armor from the arms. That'll allow you to take about 19DHS and run at 71.4 KPH.

The XL will also suck when your team doesn't have tankier assaults/heavies and you are suddenly forced to take the first line. Most team in the group queue will make short work of you in a matter of seconds.

3) Rear hitboxes: The Battlemaster has a protruding rear-CT. At a 90° angle, your back can be easily hit. You should be careful by not overtwisting the torso. 

The gameplay

This is your average hill-humper with some added survivability on even ground. Find an elevation, slightly pop your head up, dump the damage and go back down. If you're engaging on even ground, dump your alpha, twist and WAIT until your opponent alphas on your arm and then twist back and dump your alpha again. 99% of the people will be happy to shoot your arm, but 1% will actually wait until you show your torso again. This is the advantage of the BLR of STK as twisting and shielding is something the Stalker is absolutely horrible at since it has a gigantic side torso and little T-Rex arms.

Your natural habitats will be ramps on HPG/Canyon/Crimson and hills on forest/frozen colony/Alpine/Terra. Try to hide your 'Mech as much as possible while firing. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be amazed at how much damage this thing can deliver.

If the enemy team is relentlessly pushing, try to fight a retreat. Standing your ground with this thing won't work. Just reposition while shielding (and occasionally shooting back) and let your teammates get some aggro.

Some more general tips:
  • High mounted hardpoints+high ground equals to absolute devastation for enemies with low(ish) hardpoints (Dires, Timbers, Wubverines, King Crabs, Orions . . .). Try to capitalize on this as much as possible. The top of the platform in HPG, the middle in Canyon, the spot under the ring in Tourmaline are good example spots.
  • You can also fight from low ground (the ramps on HPG for example), but you'll be more vulnerable to the type of 'Mechs I counted above.
  • The 3S with wubs is a precision cutting machine. Try to aim at specific components and you'll realize it's incredibly easy to tear them apart. It makes Wubverines cry.
  • Avoid side peeking as the lasers are distributed for vertical peeking. 
  • If you have problems getting the LPLs to the top hardpoints, follow this guide. You absolutely need them in the top hardpoints.

An alternative: The BLR-1G

If the range of the 3S build is bothering you, the 1G can do pretty much the same thing with a tiny bit less damage. 1G has massive bonuses to MLs, one of them being -20% laser duration which makes the ML behave like an MPL with more range. So if you do this:

Modules: Radar Deprivation, ML range and cooldown, LPL cooldown

You will get:
-20% Heat Generation for MLs
-20% Duration for MLs (down from 0.9s to 0.72s, MPL is at 0.6s for reference)
+20% ML Range (351m with the module)
-10% Heat Generation for LPL
-10% Duration for LPL (down to 0.6s)
+10% Range for LPL
While the same build on the 3S has:
-20% Heat Generation for MPLs
+20% MPL Range (286m with the module)
-10% Heat Generation for LPL
+10% Range for LPL
It's pretty much the same, same heat cost for both but you can mount an extra DHS and make your LPLs harder hitting with the reduced duration. ML and LPL ranges will also be similar at 402m for the LPL and 351m for the ML (with the module). The durations are also similar at 0.67 (LPL) and 0.72 seconds which synergizes them even more. In addition, the extra heatsink makes a huge difference. With about one second pause after the fifth one, you will be able to alpha for a 6th time with this build, bringing your damage capacity to 252 damage. Overall, this is an alternative to the 3S that lends itself more to ranged engagements.

The biggest disadvantage is the 60° torso twist range. Don't even think of getting into brawls with this thing. You also won't be able to torso twist properly and it is much less survivable overall. Tracking targets at close range is also a pain with a lot of legwork needed. Being caught alone with a light is mostly a death sentence.

Unfortunately there's 0.5 ton of unused tonnage and one critical slot left in this build. You can sacrifice a heatsink or even mount a smaller engine to be able to do something with it, but it's never going to be as useful as another DHS. Just take comfort in knowing there's nothing that can be done about it.

A demonstration

I have tens of screenshots with great damages and kills against good teams, but I'm not a fan of scoreboard screenshots. It doesn't tell you much about the circumstances of the match, or how you played the build. Therefore, I'm just going to give you an example video. A video where my team is getting absolutely demolished while I ride the heat limit and use the 3S to its limits. It has an unfortunate ending (I could have done a lot more), but I think it'll show you how capable this 'Mech is when you stick to the rules above and abuse its advantages.


These two Battlemasters are one of the deadliest but underrated 'Mechs in the IS arsenal right now. I'm not saying replace your BNC or Dire with one of these as they have their own roles, but having at least one in a team is a great asset for those trading phases. Plus, the carry potential is enormous in capable hands. You just have to accept the risks of bringing an XL engine with it.

I think this also delivers my promise of "investigations into XL Banshees". It took a while, but I've been checking out different XL BLR builds ever since I finished that BNC article. Over the months, I slowly narrowed my builds down to these. The thing is, putting big weapons in arms really suck for the BLR since they hang so low. Banking on the chest lasers is one of the best ways to utilize the potential of this 'Mech.

It was a long article, but I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it. If you feel like helping me out, you can donate (always appreciated) and you can follow me on Youtube/Twitter/Twitch to stay up-to-date.
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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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