|Rule #1 of Wave 3 owner's club, you don't talk about the Shadow Cat.|
The Light the Clans deserve
Let's face it; the Arctic Cheetah is the first "true" light of the Clans. Previously the Clans were stuck with "medium wannabe" lights which sported a massive armament but lacked the mobility to go up against the best IS has to offer. No more. The Arctic Cheetah is a fast, extremely mobile and well scaled light. On top of that, it showcases the effectiveness of Clan XL on lights. The best of all, it can boat energy weapons which are the real goodies of the Clan arsenal. It is simply good.
. . . and I'm totally fine with it! The Clans deserve a good light and they got one. I normally despise overpowered/broken stuff, but the base ACH hardly falls into that category. It still has to deal with blazing hot Clan lasers or condemn itself to still hot but low range SPL builds. Ever since the hit registration fix early in July the lights are easier to deal with now that the damage registers more reliably. There are no bugs or hitbox issues that prevent it from being dealt with.
What is it then?
I feel like the only problem with the ACH is that it's simply too tough. It takes a stupid amount of damage and attention to bring down. Whole teams chasing an ACH for minutes at the end of a round is not a rare sight. Most of the ACHs I've killed reliably tanked until sub 20% area which is unheard for a light. Most of the IS lights start falling apart at the 60-70% area. It's not rare to hear someone frustrated by seemingly undying ACHs on our TS.
So we have a light that can persist on the battlefield and won't be forced to flee at the first sign of retaliation unlike the IS lights. Obviously when the chassis is so forgiving and survivable, it's not hard to survive until the end of the round with it, therefore racking up great damage. See, it's not that the C-SPLs are broken or anything else, it's just it being silly tough lets it farm damage while tanking like a boss.
Why is it so tough?
Two factors influence its toughness. First, it's a ridiculously well scaled 'Mech without any geometry faults. It sits somewhere between the Spider and the Firestarter in comparison. It has one of the tiniest torsos in this game, even smaller than a Spider's. Focusing the CT or the ST is almost impossible against a light like this and the ACH won't give up before shedding its arms and torsos. Considering the Clan XL also allows a torso to be blown off before dying, trying to take this thing out by shooting center mass is simply futile. Its limbs are slightly on the chubbier side compared to the Spider though, but still not as big as the Firestarter's.
The second and the biggest factor is its quirks. I'm listing the extra structure buffs it gets below (max amounts):
- Legs: +15 structure
- Arms: +8 structure
- Side torsos: +7 structure
These are absolutely massive buffs for an already well designed light. Compared to this the Spider and the Firestarter get none. Zero. Especially that +15 structure buff makes this a very tough light to leg, the "go to" tactic to get rid of a light. It essentially has the unquirked leg health of a 10 tons heavier Cicada all the while having a smaller leg.
See, pretty much each 'Mech comes with a weak spot in MWO. Be that an oversized/bad hitbox leg, torso, arm; they will quickly fall if you keep working on these spots. These buffs essentially makes this 'Mech a "weak spot free" one. The arm and ST buffs make an already tough chassis almost uncrackable.
My solution is simple: remove extra structure buffs or minimize them. The ACH already enjoys the perks of being fast, the ability to boat Clan lasers and having a full complement of JJs and ECM. I understand PGI wanted to ensure this thing excelled in as many areas as possible, but too much is too much. Remove the extra structure buffs and let its owner try to leverage its other advantages to do damage, rather than simply running in and face tanking entire teams. The extra structure bonuses seem to be copy pasted from the Mist Lynx but in comparison the MLX is such a trainwreck that even giving it Atlas armor wouldn't increase its popularity.
It also lends this 'Mech a huge advantage in 1v1 combat against other lights. Against a Spider you shoot the legs, against a Firestarter you shoot the legs, against a Jenner you shoot the CT . . . what the hell do you shoot when you're against an Arctic Cheetah? Go for the legs and it's going to out leg you. Go for the torso and he'll leg you before you even bring its armor down to red. Going for the arms seem to be the best way of dealing with it since it'll curb the incoming DPS but you'll still need to kill it somehow. When I'm in a top-dog IS light, I simply avoid them. There is no chance of winning against a mildy competent ACH pilot. Heck in even in heavier 'Mechs I think twice before engaging one.
Its tankiness is especially problematic in CW. I've already witnessed battered Clan teams whipping out their Arctic Cheetah trap card at the end of a close match and simply wipe the floor with the IS. In the days of FS being ridiculously good, many Clan players complained that the light rushes were very hard to stop. This is despite them having access to SSRM30 and SSRM36 builds that basically two shot IS lights. How are the IS supposed to deal with this? With SSRM2 boats? Please, they might as well chase them with flamers. Heavy ballistics seem to be the only answer but good luck hitting an ACH consistently with your AC20. Now think about what is going to happen once the paywall is removed the ACH floodgates are opened.
The ACH is a good light 'Mech and this is great news for the Clans. However, it seems like PGI took it a bit too far with unnecessary structure buffs. Toning these buffs down slightly would make the ACH more vulnerable and level out the playfield for the lights.