The magic of the AC CicadaCDA has always been one of my favorite (U)AC5 platforms. While some people preferred to slap 2xPPCs or 3xERLLs on it and proceeded to sniping from the edges of the map, I preferred a more brawly style with the ACs. The thing is, when you can comfortably mount the AC5 on a very mobile platform with ECM, it suddenly becomes an annoying beast that you just can't catch or hurt.
Unlike the AC2, the AC5 as a single weapon still delivers a good punch. When you augment it with some lasers, it suddenly becomes a heat efficient killer. The only problem with the single AC5 is the excessive face-time needed to apply damage. On heavier and slower 'Mechs this is a serious problem as you will always get outtraded when staring at your targets with an AC5. That's why even though the AC5 is a good weapon, it's a good idea to go for heavier ACs or multiple AC5s which allow you to quickly dump damage and back off to cover.
The CDA-3M gets away with it because of its small profile, speed and of course ECM capability. You can afford to stare at your targets and they will have problems returning fire because hitting a fast and weaving Cicada while your 'Mech is shaken by AC5 rounds is not easy. With its ridiculous torso twist range and speed, it's also a steady AC platform despite its speed and maneuverability. Lastly, the enemy will have trouble finding you because of your ECM. Even if they spot you, they will probably keep looking becase nobody expects a tiny Cicada to deliver such punishment.
UAC5 madness!I've been using the standard AC5+3xML build regularly for a long time (I even made a video about it in 2013!) and it's been performing well. Though the CDA-3M has just gotten a UAC5 jam rate quirk (-5% for a final 10% jam chance) which suddenly turned it into a DPS monster. I thought while my friends are having a blast with it after I shared it with them, it would be a good time to bring this build out to the wild.
There it is:
At first glance it seems a bit underwhelming. It's a bit slow for a Cicada. Though, it all suddenly clicks when you actually drop with this 'Mech. The UAC5 is simply devastating. With the reduced jam chance the constant barrage of shells quickly disorients and weakens the enemies. The 5 damage bullet is a great killer with instant damage applicaton and the three accompanying medium lasers allow you to farm even more damage.
Also, don't forget to bring the UAC5 cooldown module as it WILL reduce the double-tap times as well, allowing you to dump shells even faster.
The playstyle is also unique. There are three gameplay styles mixed in. The first one is a "peek-a-boo!" style, where you find yourself a good corner, come around it, blast someone until they return fire or your UACs jam, and promptly retreat back to cover. Find another corner and repeat. The second one is the "non-stop running" style where you use the relative invisibility the ECM gives you and just "roam" around while shooting at targets of opportunity on the move. The torso twist speed and the range will help you stay on targets.The third one is the "puncher in the pack" style where you stay with your teammates and augment their firepower. Pretty much no one will focus a Cicada over an abundance of dangerous 'Mechs and you will be able to snatch kills and rack up lots of damage in the mean time.
Lights? Not a problem
You might think this thing would be vulnerable against other lights. Then, you'd be forgetting about the UAC5. The lights can't afford to stay under your gun and absorb 5 damage bullets forever, so in a continuous encounter you will most likely end up victorious if you don't botch your aim. Currently the only exceptions to these are the Firestarter A and S, with the latter being ridiculously overquirked. A competent S pilot will make quick work of your CT before you have enough time to apply UAC5 damage. Though at least A's can be avoided and be kept at range with some awareness. Other lights simply can't stand a chance, the Raven will get absolutely devastated because of its large side profile and legs while the Jenner's CT will quickly melt. I'm not even mentioning other lights.
That being said, your main targets with this build should be bigger 'Mechs with easily targettable hitboxes. Exposed assaults and slow heavies are especially susceptible to the ticklemonster as they will have great difficulties reacting fast enough to your harassment.
This is a low-level solo match, but it still properly demonstrates the perks of this build: the freedom the ECM gives you, the sheer DPS and its mobility. It was still a close match though. I will try to get better footage from the group matches.
Yes it's an effective build, but playing with the Ticklemonster (or the Ultracada as some call it) is just pure fun while being extremely annoying for your opponents. They won't outright die in two blasts, but they'll slowly melt away and there's pretty much nothing they can do about it.