Dealing with the Assault overpopulation — Brutal LRM edition


Another assault 'Mech release, another leaderboard event and yet again, the solo queue is an absolute shit show. Running lights and mediums feels like taking a bicycle to break the siege of Stalingrad. Massive assault deathblobs with up to 6 assaults per team means there's just too much firepower and armor on the battlefield. Suddenly, classes which trade firepower for speed get very diminishing results. Your single AC10 and a bunch of lasers won't matter when there's 3 assaults shooting back at you whenever you show up.

At times like these, you either have to stop playing until everyone elites their shiny new assaults and the leaderboard event is over or you join the horde by bringing a punchy heavy or assault. Me? I prefer to reach for my crutch and troll them a bit.

Enter LRMs

See, these "low-skill" and universally hated weapons can be pretty useful at these times. I actually think having a decent LRM boat on your team is beneficial to gameplay in most matches. LRMs are pretty good at breaking static gameplay and force the enemy to do something. Suddenly they can't just sit on a hill and dump alpha after alpha, they either have to move and seek cover or make a move for the LRM boat. Seeking cover means taking themselves out of combat and it essentially removes firepower and tonnage from the enemy side. This means breathing room for your team and the rest of the visible enemies take more damage. These little advantages start adding up and may even decide the outcome of a match.

They're also brutally effective on big assaults which have large surface area. Assaults are too slow to take cover without taking too much damage. Constant explosions and screen shake obstruct their view and make it very hard to aim properly. It's just a very frustrating experience. We've all been there.

Perfecting our weapon

Naturally, I reached for my trusty CPL-A1 (6xALRM5) trollboat. However in the next match I got manhandled so hard by the assault horde that I had to reevaluate my method. See, the A1 relies on a very simple method to pump damage. Jump jet, acquire lock, start firing and land at least 50-60 damage on target with advanced target decay before you lose lock. Rinse and repeate and hello 900 damage 5 kills match. Easy. This is the best method for a self-sufficient LRM boat.

This time though, the games devolved into such a static trench warfare that every time I jumped the experience was like this on the enemy side:

I got really punished for showing myself even momentarily. I got whacked and whacked every time I crossed their sight. It wasn't a good experience. Plus, ALRM5's were not cutting it with that much armor on the field.

Naturally I tried to solve the problem with more tankiness and firepower. So I reached for my tested and tried laserboat+LRM boat combo Timber Wolf (3xLRM15+3xERML+4xERSL) but the result was the same. Too much face time even for a timby. Also 3xLRM15's didn't feel like they were doing much. Also no Artemis meant that I had to stare longer for locks. Meh!

Next, I tried to reduce my exposure. A HBK-4J barely needs to show itself to shoot LRMs, plus you get a head TAG for faster locks. Perfect! However, the next match revealed that while it did decent damage, it just lacked the punch to hurt those MAD IICs in a reasonable time. We had to go bigger without increasing face time.

Lastly, there was an increased presence of ECM on the field. The MAD IIC with the ECM seems to be very popular and I had a lot of trouble acquiring decent locks.

The birth of the truly self-sufficient LRM boat

So, I decided to remove the need to show myself completely. Why not sacrifice a missile slot for a NARC? NARC needs only a brief moment of exposure and afterwards you're free to lurm for a solid 39 seconds (Enhanced NARC module). This is enough to completely wreck a MAD IIC without even getting a scratch on your 'Mech. Plus, you mark that target for your whole team to focus and lurm on. Win-win!

Well, the downside is the loss of a missile hardpoint. So we have to opt for bigger LRM launchers. It also costs you tonnage. 4 tons on the IS side and 3 tons on the Clan side! Clan heavies like TBR can cope with it, but IS mediums and heavies just can't handle this tonnage. You have to go bigger and badder.

Another consideration is that we want to expose ourselves as little as possible. So the NARC launcher should be mounted as high as possible to ensure that. Something to think about. It's not worth to eat dual gauss to your face just to NARC something.

Unleash the Frakenlurm builds!

To be honest, this idea excited me a lot. I did a lot of weird things in the Mechlab before, but nothing like this! Can we come up with a self sufficient LRM death machine?

Feeling bad about wasting an assault slot with an LRM boat, I focused on Clan heavies first. MDD was the first one that came to my sight, since it had numerous missile hardpoints. The loss of one shouldn't affect it much right?

You can get the NARC on the top mount, which is a plus. However this 'Mech didn't turn out to be the lurm monster in my mind. It gets very hot and it's a very squishy 'Mech in overall. If we're running a heavy, we might as well do it on the other end of the heavy spectrum right?

Then we must turn to our trusty Summoner. Break its pro MLG ERPPC+Gauss build and mutilate it with a shoulder mounted NARC and 4xLRM10's. Now we have monster cooling and enough jumpjets to take us to the moon.

This 'Mech never has a shortage of locks to lurm at but . . . with only 4xLRM10's you just tickle those MAD IICs. The spread is horrible and before you do a respectable amount of damage, the ammo runs out. BOO! Plus, no weapons to fend for yourself. We apologize to the SMN for mutilating it this badly and turn to our trusty Timber. Which has been through a lot of my weird builds unlike the Summoner.

It doesn't even flinch as I remove the laser vomit from it. After two tries with different amount of LRMs, I settle on this build:

And it feels pretty good! LRM20 has been buffed with less dispersion recently so I decided to use it. With Artemis it's even better. Considering we're constantly unleasing a 40 alpha of them this is quite a damage pumper too. It can get around with a single JJ, it tanks well, it has decent speed and you can defend yourself with 4xSPL which puts a good hurt of pretty much anything. This build is also quite simple to run, you can get by by using only two groups!

Here's a demonstration to some sweet Nightwish song:

So we found a sweet spot. But as I always like to do, let's turn this to 11 shall we? I bring you, the blotter of son:

I never put LRMs on my HGN-IICs, but it had to be done. Not going to lie, once I done it, it felt so good. A little guilty but also good. Raiding the fridge at 3AM good.

See, what you see is a two different 'Mechs bolted together. On one hand we have a pure WTF lurmer Mad Dog with 3xALRM20s. On the other side we have an Adder bolted on to the arm with UAC10s and 2xERMLs. What happens when you combine both? Pure destruction and chaos.

Not going to lie, this 'Mech does pretty well. However, as expected it has problems NARC'ing people. To fit 2xALRM20's in the RT I had to move the NARC to the arm, and it sits pretty low. So you have to expose yourself a lot to NARC. However when you get all of those weapons working, the damage you rack up is insane. Showering a MAD IIC with 3xALRM20's on chain fire while beating on them with a UAC10 and 2xERML feels so good.

The downside to this 'Mech is its inherent sluggishess. Also, this is where I noticed that even ALRM20 wasn't cutting it. I needed a lurm boat that hit harder. We need those sweet IS LRMs.


Now if you want hard hitting lurms, this IS the 'Mech to do it. Ridiculous missile quirks? Check. High missile mounts? Check. Available tonnage? Check. Decent mobility? Check. ERLL for added farming? Heck yes.

This thing is absolutely ridiculous. It eats other assaults for breakfast. Then you drop on Crimson, the enemy goes tunnel and you become a sad panda. All worth for the next facewrecking match though.


So this was my last night in a nutshell. Why did I do this? I don't know, it was fun trying new things and making them work. I butchered many 'Mechs but some of those Frankenmechs turned out to be pretty good. I got also a lot of praise from NARC'ing from both teammates and the enemy.

Now perhaps you understand why I oppose the new skill system and its respec penalty as well. Last night would have cost me a lot in the new skill system. PGI please don't kill my enjoyment!
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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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