The return of the "solo-proof" Timber Wolf

Source: Lordred
Dear readers, I have been sinning. I've been running an LRM Timber this morning and having a massive amount of fun despite the ECMgeddon going on out there. "What drove you to this madness?!" you might ask; well, it's about a build I discovered last year just after the Clans were released. You can read this article to get a background.

An interesting concept

It's basically a mild laser vomit TBR married with a lot of lurms. I call it "mild" because it only has ERMLs and ERSLs instead of the usual LPL and ERML combo. This build was so broken before that the TBR-C is still the 'Mech with highest average damage that I own. Back then the ERMLs and ERSLs were cooler and had more range. You could alpha them over and over again without overheating all the while jump jetting and spamming LRMs all over the place. I was getting 900+ damage matches with little effort. It was both hilarious and ridiculous.

Unfortunately, this is not the case anymore. ERMLs run pretty hot and the ERSLs are not the half-a-ton monsters they used to be. Coupled with other changes (TBR JJs being fixed in the omnipods) the build in that article doesn't work anymore. You can't even build it due to fixed JJ changes (check out the smurfy link and look at the right torso). It was fun while it lasted. It was a truly different gameplay style and I loved it.

What made it so fun though? It was just a lurm boat right? Sit back and lurm away? Well, not quite. In fact, it had a ridiculously aggressive playstyle that involved a lot of close range brawls and harassment. There were three ingredients in that build that made it a ridiculously effective one:
  • Streaming C-LRMs with no minimum range: This is the key ingredient. It had 3xC-LRM15s. The LRMs were not used as the primary weapon for killing but for weakening, screen shaking and the psychological effect of "being lurmed". The streaming aspect of the C-LRMs intensify these effects. I didn't alpha these. Instead, I kept chaining them to get the most out of them in this regard. I also didn't use Artemis because that tonnage was best used in the department below.
  • Laser vomit alpha: 4xERMLs and 3xERSLs delivered 43 alpha combined at 220m range. This is comparable to your average LPL+ERML laser vomit builds out there, but the range is considerably lower and the alpha heat is a bit higher. Still, you could alpha these over and over before overheating.
  • JJs and mobility: I abused the JJs as much as I could to get off LRM shots and laser alphas in the air. It's so hard to take down a TBR that does this and the longer you live with this build, the more your damage output gets ridiculous.
You get the idea. Basically acquire a target, chain LRMs and get that constant screen shake going and tear your opponent apart with laser alpha all while jumping around like crazy. An LRM boat with fangs. The best thing about this build was that you didn't need to be present at a location to rack up damage. You could still do damage while changing positions or retreating. People hated it.

The problem is, after a year's worth of nerfs, the build above doesn't work anymore. The JJ thrust has been nerfed, the JJ heat is in (so you can't cool down in the air anymore), the Clan lasers had their ranges nerfed, their heat jacked up and on top of it TBR now has negative quirks for everything. It was sad to see it go because TBR was the only 'Mech that could pull it off. The Warhawk can do similar ridiculously hard hitting and heat efficient LRM+Laser builds, but it's not as mobile.

After a year, I randomly decided to take a similar build and make it work in the current state of balance. In a brilliant move, I briefly played it on the night of the AHC/SCH release and as expected it didn't work. As usual instead of putting me off, it pissed me off instead. 

"What do you mean it doesn't work? It WILL work!"

The solution process started by looking at the old build first. My original build had 4xERML+3xERSL+3xLRM15+19DHS+1JJ+6T ammo+CAP. A very tight fit that can't be done anymore. Though with some 'Mechlab-fu and torturous testing,  it's possible to get close. It took me a while of painful experimenting but I think I finally got some alternatives for replacement:

The hot

Due to the extra heat we have now in the game, the numbers of ERML and ERSL are the other way around. Otherwise, it's pretty much the same. The firepower is two points lower, but when it's doing so much alpha (86) a point or two less doesn't matter at all.

This is still a very hot build despite 19 heatsinks. However it still packs a monstrous damage output at 21 DPS — that is until you hit the heat cap. You can alpha this two times while streaming LRMs, but that's about it. Afterwards you'll need to stop using LRMs and fall back to your small lasers if pressures, which defeats the purpose of this build. We must make this cooler!

The cold

Six SPLs pack quite a punch while being ridiculously cool. A C-SPL does almost as damage as the C-ERML (6 vs 7) while having exactly the half of its heat. This makes it a great complement to the LRM15s in this build and lets you alpha over and over again without worrying about overheating. You can actually transfer this build to the Prime to lose the CT jump jet. You can then get another DHS or more ammo according to your preference.

The trade-off is of course, the range. The SPL has only 165m optimal range (181m with the module) which only makes it useful at close range and forces you to get close. Still, in your regular queue matches you're still applying that 22 DPS anywhere from ~100m to 300m, which is enough. The extra JJ also helps a lot in getting around. This build is ideal if you're a very aggressive player (I prefer this).

And the compromise

This is basically the build above but with longer range bite. It can be seen as a compromise but the SPLs and the MLs synergize poorly (range, duration, burn time) and can be rather annoying. Still, you can opt for this build and its variations if you want to be able to return fire at range. Even two MLs might psychologically force an opponent's head down. I personally haven't tried this yet but it definitely shows promise.


This build can be really fun with all the lurming and high damage numbers, but it can also be annoying if you come up against an enemy team with a lot of ECM. Which happens more often than not these days. You can still fight back with your lasers and bring those LRMs to bear inside the CAP range. Though when you get it right I must admit it's a bit addicting. As the name implies, this wreaks havoc in the solo queue where coordination is low and LRM boats are often ignored in favor of more dangerous meta stuff running around. This is definitely one of my dirty pleasures.
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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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