‘Mech Weak Spots Guide

You can find a more recent version of this guide as a PDF file here (highly recommended!)



Being efficient with your damage is an invaluable skill in MWO. While 'Mechs eventually go down if you just aim for the center mass and just keep pumping damage, being inefficient with your damage also means your enemy will have more time to retaliate and damage you. If you don't aim for their weak spots, experienced opponents might even turn tables completely by working on your weak components instead. This is indeed the best weapon of the skilled players and one of the best parts of this game; killing stuff takes time and therefore knowledge and consistency is rewarded over "who shot first".

In this guide, I will talk about the art of killing your opponents and the weak spots of your opponents. While doing so, I’ll give you as much relevant info about the ‘Mech as possible such as their threat levels, expected builds, its advantages and problems. After reading this guide, you will have a general understanding of the capabilities of each opponent you face and you will have an idea where to put your damage depending on the circumstances.

I decided to create this guide because as I bought more and more ‘Mechs and played with them, I realized that only after playing with one you truly experience the advantages and drawbacks of a chassis. I’m also lucky enough to own almost every ‘Mech in the game (C-Bill releases) and a good amount of hours clocked in with every chassis and variant. I also understand that not everyone has the chance to collect as many ‘Mechs as I could, so I’m hoping this guide will be useful for those people. Even if you’re an experienced player with your own routines about disposing of opponents, it might still be interesting to read about how others do it.

Lastly, if you have any suggestions, feedback or you’ve found grave grammar errors (English is not my first language after all) feel free to send them to rakgitarmen@gmail.com or leave them as a comment on my blog.

In these series of articles, I will talk about the core of combat; the art of killing your opponents and talk about the weak spots of your opponents. Before I begin, make sure you have the following covered:
  • You have your mouse sensitivity lowered to a comfortable level, where you can aim smoothly but not so much that you have problems torso twisting or tracking fast targets.
  • You have a decent build optimized for your desired gameplay style. By this I mean having good close, mid or long range builds. 
  • You have decent FPS. Ideally your FPS should be as high as your monitor refresh rate. This is important because more FPS means more information for your brain to process and therefore faster reaction rates. Lower your settings or your resolution if necessary.
  • Turn down some settings. Especially effects and particles may lead to some nasty sparkles to appear, which will block your vision and confuse you.

Part I — Where to aim for specific 'Mechs

I will begin with the light 'Mechs and make my way up to the assaults in consequent posts. I will also be using the excellent hitbox images Tamerlin made on the forums. Seriously take your time and thank him in that thread, his work is amazing. 

Lights

Lights are one of the hardest 'Mechs to deal with, simply because dealing with them require good timing and consistency. Due to their speed they can change directions quickly and their tiny hitboxes make damaging them difficult, especially with lasers. However when they get hit, remember that every scratch hurts.

Locust


The Locust is the lightest of lights and it practically has no armor on paper. However it makes up for this with its ludicrous speed and acceleration/deceleration. A Locust pilot abusing these can dance going back on forth right in front of your average MWO pilot and still be nigh invulnerable to lasers. However, the Locust can only survive when he's making use of these advantages and even then a well placed shot or a well held laser burn can still ruin their day. 

The Locust actually has great hitboxes (after a second pass by PGI). The sides are dominated by STs, while the front is by CT. However, if you're aiming for the upper torso center mass, it will also inevitably spread damage to the sides. My take:
  • Shoot its legs and take away its mobility. Though remember that they get +16 leg internals which brings their leg health to 40, a respectable value. If your opponent is using his mobility well, I'd say go for the legs.
  • Take your time and aim well. Seriously, do you have a Gauss? Just take your moment and time your shot instead of just dumping in the general direction. All it takes to bring a Locust is a well aimed shot. Hold your fire and wait for your moment.
  • Otherwise, there's not much to it. It's a 'Mech relying on not getting hit and when you take your time to land a good shot, it'll go down or disengage regardless of where you hit it.

Commando


The Commando is one of the easiest 'Mechs to kill or disable even more so than the Locust. It has a lot of surface area for its tonnage so it tends to soak up damage really well. I also find it easy to focus individual components.
  • Do you see that massive rear CT hitbox? Try to shoot its back! The Commandos just can't afford to show their back to their opponents. 
  • A good COM pilot will have to split his CT armor almost 50-50 between front and rear due to this, which will weaken its CT as a whole. Go for the center-mass for easy CT corings.
  • If you don't have time to get rid of it, go for an easy disable with arms. They're very easy to take down.
  • Legs are a personal matter, but with the quirks they have a total of 48 leg hitpoints which are pretty considerable. I'd rather go for the torsos.

Mist Lynx


This is another freebie. Unlike the Commando which can run at ludicrous speeds and be annoying to catch, the Mist Lynx is slow. A fatal flaw for a light 'Mech with little armor. On top of this, its arms and legs are ridiculously big; another fatal flaw. You might think the JJs can save this thing, but being slow and having lots of JJs is also a bad combination. As you use JJs, you slow down. With a lot of JJs, you end up going straight up with no forward speed soon after, which makes killing it very easy.
  • Go for the limbs. Take off its arms to get rid of its weapons and then let it wander around. It's your mascot now.
  • Go for the legs if they're using JJs.
  • I usually don't bother with the torso, unless it's already legged.

Spider


The Spider is one of the most hated 'Mechs in MWO. Just google "MWO spider" and feast upon the tears of many opponents raging about it being "invulnerable". Being narrow, having nearly perfect hitboxes and skinny limbs are a huge part of the reason why. Though historically wonky hit detection of MWO also amplified their effectiveness.

Anyway due these properties, the Spider is very hard to take out by going center-mass unless you can simply shower it with a massive alpha. Though it has one, big weakness:
  • Legs, go for legs! The Spider one of the few lights that doesn't get any extra leg hitpoints and it desperately need them. The legs make up for a huge part of its profile and the fact that this being a 'Mech relying on JJs makes it even worse, as jump jetting 'Mechs tend to take more damage in legs. Spiders are ridiculously easy to leg and most experienced Spider pilots will flee if they realize you're focusing their legs.

Kitfox


The Kitfox is an oversized 'Mech. However, this doesn't mean that it's easy to take out. In fact, it's one of the most annoying lights you can come up against. They're easy to disable, but very hard to take down due to their Clan-XL engines.

As you can see, its frontal profile is dominated by its CT and leg hitboxes. Though from the sides, their arms and STs make up the bulk of their profile. While you can easily focus their CT from the front, you will find it extremely difficult to kill if you don't have a good frontal angle. A good KFX pilot on its last legs will let you pop a side and afterwards abuse its JJs to tank with their legs and shield with the dead side to make their death as painful for you as possible.
  • Just go for the legs. Seriously, unless you can quickly dump a massive alpha into its CT, it's not worth the hassle. The KFX legs are absolutely huge and will pop without much difficulty. Afterwards you can ignore the immobilized KFX (they'll still be a bitch to kill) and focus on higher priority targets.

Adder



The Adder is very similar to the KFX in regards of hitbox behaviour. It's has the same flaws and advantages. Though the Adder doesn't have JJs, which makes it easier to kill after legging.
  • I favor taking STs off first. They're very easy to hit from an angle and will pop without much difficulty. Afterwards the Adder will lose a lot of heat efficiency which will make life very miserable for its pilot.
  • Legging is as always, very useful here. The Adder's legs are very chubby. The best of all they can't make their good leg hard to hit by abusing JJs like the KFX.

Jenner

These hitboxes are old. Check out Mu0nNeutrino's post on Reddit for the updated ones.

The notorious "walking CT". Despite the recent hitbox fix, the Jenner is still one of the easiest 'Mechs to take out. Still, with its low profile and ridiculous mobility a good pilot will attempt to hide it as much as possible.

The Jenner is a bit like the Locust when it comes to hitboxes. Legging it is often difficult but they'll go down in no time if you can hit its torso.
  • Relax, take your time and focus that CT. A Jenner can't afford face-time with its opponents so a good Jenner pilot will attempt to shoot while jump jetting or rely on stationary hillhumping/cornet peeking. 
  • If they're JJ'ing they won't be very accurate so simply torso twist, absorb and seek a CT shot when they land.
  • If they're hillhumping/peeking they rely on catching your off-guard. Time your shots just like the Locust if you must kill it quickly.
  • Otherwise, just shower with whatever you have. Most of your damage will go to the CT anyway.

Firestarter


Now this is one of the most annoying 'Mechs to take down. As you can see, the hitbox distribution is just perfect. On top of that it doesn't rely on arm hardpoints, so it can't be defanged. It has no apparent weaknesses and therefore we must fall back to the usual anti-light measures:
  • Generally go for the legs. They have no extra leg armor/internals and just like the Spider, they make a up the bulk of the side/front profile. 
  • The torso tends to distribute damage very evenly unless you can punch through with a lucky Gauss/AC shot. I'd avoid it unless it's already cored somehow.
  • The arms can be taken out relatively easy for reduced damage output.

Panther



Again, a very balanced design just like the FS. Despite being slow, its torso tends to distribute damage very evenly and a PNT will always make you work for it. Its legs also have extra structure which will make the usual measures harder. Though, it's not without its weaknesses:
  • Right arm. Take it off! It's absolutely huge and houses almost all of its firepower. After it's gone it'll be harmless.
  • The rear profile is dominated by the rear CT just like the Commando.

Raven


The juiciest of the juiciest for me. The Raven is a great hillhumper due to its small frontal profile and will make your life miserable if it's allowed to have a comfortable nest. But when pressed upon, it'll pop very easily. It's notoriously easy to leg and has a huge side profile and is easy to take out either way.
  • The sides are completely dominated by the STs, especially near its roots. I favor taking them out from its sides simply because it's more reliable and require less effort than legging. 
  • The whole area between its legs is CT and the best of all, it's unaffected by torso twisting. You can just shoot between the legs from whatever angle.
  • Legging is the fall-back option and works every time. This is especially useful if you think the Raven can escape.

Mediums

The mediums are known for their balance of firepower, mobility and protection in the Battletech universe. They're also cheap to manufacture so they form the bulk of many armies. In MWO however, they're in a bit of a tight spot. Most of them have scaling issues and in addition, they can rarely take advantage of STD engines due to massive loss of firepower and mobility. Therefore, many of them are riddled with fatal weaknesses.

Cicada


The Cicada is basically a light on steroids. Sitting at the bottom of the medium category with 40 tons, it's also decently scaled (still a big jump from 35t lights though). Their legs are pretty slim and they get extra leg structure from its quirks, so legging is often difficult. They also have great torso twist ranges, which makes them excellent platforms to shoot on the move. Therefore if you come up against good pilots abusing this property they can be very annoying to bring down.

Fortunately, they're not without weaknesses. First of all, the Cicada has a protruding nose which is completely covered by the CT hitbox. If you look at the image above the frontal profile is balanced, but when you consider the protruding part at an angle, it actually dominates the profile and STs are pretty small in comparison. The arms are pretty small and rarely block any damage.
  • The easiest way to take it out; aim for the center mass and shoot the CT. The Cicada CT will suck most of the damage you throw at it, especially from an angle (which is the common case).
  • If the CDA pilot is a rookie one (those who tend to stare at you and not move much), then I go for one of the STs to take it quicker.
  • Legging is an option, but as I said, the legs are slim and they get extra structure too. It'll take a while.

Blackjack


This is a 'Mech that is a frequent sight in the queues nowadays. Why wouldn't it be? It has godly laser quirks, excellent mobility, great geometry, hitboxes and it's one of the best scaled 'Mechs in this game. The Blackjack is truly an example of a 'Mech done right.

As you can see from the picture above, the hitboxes are well balanced. The centerline only slightly protrudes around the cockpit area, but it doesn't comprimise the CT much at an angle. The STs are dominant in the middle-low area of the 'Mech while the CT dominates the upper part. Therefore the shots to the middle of the 'Mech tend to be distributed evenly between torsos. The arms also tend to block damage from the sides. The legs of the Blackjack are again very slim and since the Blackjacks tend to be very fast, they're hard to target individually due to animation. On top of this, the quirks give massive structure bonuses to its STs.
  • The Blackjack doesn't get any structure bonuses for its CT, so it's the easiest way to take it out. Since the BJ doesn't have lower arm actuators, they also have to stare directly at you when they fire, making it easy to core them. The best way to ensure you damage the CT as much as possible is to shoot the cockpit area, where the CT hitbox is the largest.
  • Legging is another option, but it's really hard unless you're packing big ballistics that can strip armor outright.

Vindicator


The Vindicator is a superb tanker, but the good things about it ends here. It's grossly oversized, chubby, has problems dishing out damage and its limbs tend to fall off at the slightest breeze. It'll make you work for it, but in the end it'll only be slightly difficult than clubbing a baby seal.

It's not apparent in the picture above, but the Vindicator torso has quite a lot of depth. This gives it a quite a lot of surface area which the poor 45 tonner has no way of compensating. It'll soak damage like a sponge soaks water.
  • The easiest way of taking it out: leg it. Its legs are absolutely huge — especially from the sides. It's one of the easiest 'Mechs to leg in this game. The Vindicator relies on what mobility it has to spread damage and as soon as you you take it away, it's a sitting duck.
  • You might try taking a side for an XL check as well. Though, due to good hitboxes it'll be hard to focus one down. Fortunately the sides are very easy to focus from behind so you may try that instead.
  • You can rip off its arms if you want to amuse yourself with a head laser Vindicator pet.

Centurion


Once upon a time, the Centurion was one of the tankiest in this game. Not only it had shield arms, but it also had a very narrow CT hitbox strip. You had to go through its arms and sides before reliably damaging its CT. It also had a nice little bug where an invisible part of the arm hitboxes remained on the model even after they're destroyed, greatly reducing the damage taken. It was almost a tankier 'Mech than an Atlas and I loved it. The only way to take it down before it tore you apart was to go for its legs.

The Current Centurion is but a shadow of its former self. Its CT hitbox is unnecessarily enlarged in the middle, taking away its durability and brawliness for better XL suitability. The invisible arms are also unfortunately gone. As it is, this is one of the easiest mediums to take out and disable.

You have two main ways of dealing with a Centurion:
  • You can take off its right arm. An armless Centurion is also a harmless one since most sport a big AC there. The quirks give substantial structure to its arm (16 structure for RA, 16 armor for LA), but it's still a very big and easy target. This is especially a great choice when you don't have the time to for the kill, but you also need the Centurion neutered. Also as a light.
  • Go for the massive CT. Anything you dump in the center of the torso will go directly to its CT. It's impossible to miss and as a Centurion pilot, I will hate you for doing this.

Hunchback


Now this is an unique opponent do deal with. The unique feature of the Hunchback is well, it's hunch. It's also the place where it's weaponry is stored in (except the J and the SP). Most Hunchback pilots will mount STD engines to prevent premature deaths to STs as well, making this 'Mech a very tough opponent to bring down. 

The Hunchback is another one of those well scaled 'Mechs. Its torso is quite narrow with balanced hitboxes, making it hard to focus anything but its right torso. No matter how you approach this thing, it'll make you work for it.
  • Always go for the Hunch first. It's best to disable the HBK as quickly as possible rather than going for a kill. Otherwise you risk taking tons of damage in return, since these things pack a punch. If a HBK pilot understands you're targeting their hunch, they'll most likely to disengage and try to find someone who shoots center mass instead anyway. The best thing about targeting the hunch first is, sometimes you get easy XL kills from greedy pilots. Especially Grid Iron's are a pleasure to pop, since most tend to bring XLs and Gauss tends to explode at the slightest damage.
  • If the HBK is twisting well, targeting the hunch might be a bit hard. In these situations just don't give into the temptation of dumping damage as soon as possible, but wait for him to show his hunch instead. You can also trick them into turning to you by shooting your secondary weapons and when they face you to answer, dump your primaries on the hunch.

Trebuchet


This another 'Mech which is as rare as a unicorn and for a good reason. The Trebuchet, despite its relatively narrow torso and slim legs, is another oversized 'Mech. It can be a very fun and effective SRM brawler at good hands, but its geometry and hitboxes are so bad that even an experienced gamer will easily fall in the hands of an opponent who knows where to shoot.

The Trebuchet is pretty much a big Spider. It's fast, agile, responsive and has great air time with JJs. However, it has a ridiculously designed CT hitbox that houses a black hole that sucks every single bit of damage thrown in its vicinity. Seriously, I have tens of hours in some of my Trebuchets and they're the only 'Mechs where I took side torso armor off to make free tonnage. They're so ridiculously hard to ST. Another weakness is its huge arms (more so with the latest dynamic geometry update) which house almost all of its firepower. It's not hard to leg either. I especially find it amusing that PGI chose to give it extra structure in it quirks rather than CT.

  • Definitely go for the CT at every chance. No matter the angle, its CTs will take guaranteed damage. 
  • If the Treb is causing nuisance by jump jetting all over the place (a sign of a good pilot), simply take its legs. They're not hard to hit and will mean an immediate death for its owner.
  • Again you can take off its arms if you need some incoming fire trimmed really fast.

Enforcer


I must admit, I don't have much experience fighting against this and it's simply because there have never been many of them around. It's weird, because its owners usually express nothing but praise for it. The Enforces are also know for their wonky hitboxes that sometimes refuse to take damage in most peculiar ways, but this might have been fixed with the latest netcode fix. I am yet to kill enough amount of Enforces ever since to judge the difference.

The biggest feature of the Enforcer is that it's a narrow 'Mech with good scale. This makes it immediately tanky. Another feature is the huge protruding "bullseye" in its central area. 
  • I usually go for the central bullseye where the CT hitbox becomes larger. Alternatively you can just shoot its head since the Ct hitbox is also larger there and it's visible from every direction.
  • If you're fighting a 5P (the dakka version), you might want to take out its arms instead. The damage output from this is simply outrageous and may actually kill you before you crack its CT.
  • I don't suggest legging as they're not very large and get substantial additional structure (+12).

Griffin


This is another tough nut to crack. The Griffin is tall, but it's not chubby. It also has great hitbox distrubution and mostly useless shield arms that offer a great buffer. On top of this, the Griffin is a highly mobile 'Mech with great agility offered by its quirks, jump jets and the ability to mount bigger XL engines. It won't go down without a fight no matter how you approach it.

The Griffin is one of those 'Mechs that actually has a depressed CT (not emotionally). The CT is just a big hole in its center area which is hard to hit from the sides. This allows the Griffin to respond well to torso twisting and tank a good deal of damage even with an XL. Against a good pilot, it's mostly a matter of dumping damage until something breaks.
  • As always, legging is the fallback option for those 'Mechs with good hitboxes. I recommend you to do this, unless it's a 1v1.
  • However legging takes a while and the Griffin usually packs a hell of a punch. In the meanwhile if it's in range, it might simply out DPS you with SRMs. Instead, you might want to go for the ST for a quick kill. I suggest going for the right torso, where its missiles are stored. The extra missile pod that appears here enlarges the ST surface area greatly.

Shadowhawk


The Shadowhawk was the first 55 tonner we got and it indeed boosted the popularity of the mediums quite considerably due to its compatibility with the poptart meta. However, as the poptart meta became less and less effective, the SHDs popularity also waned.

Just take a look at the hitboxes, it's a mess. In order to save this 'Mech from the Hunchback syndrome, the developers chose to enlarge its CT while shrinking its LT hitbox considerably. Therefore, the Shadowhawk is not a good tanker. It's still somewhat decent at a ranged support mode, but it's rarely seen at close ranges due to how easy it is to get rid of these.
  • The centerline, shoot it. I don't care where, just shoot it and see how quickly it falls. Funnily enough, the area between its legs is a massive CT hitbox and is unaffected by torso twisting. 
  • The Shadowhawk is also notoriously easy to leg. This is how competitive players get rid of them in matches.
  • The rear CT hitbox is also big. Try to get shots in from behind when you have the chance.

Wolverine


The Wolverine is the chubby brother of the Griffin. They share a very similar hardpoint layout, hitboxes and size, but the Wolvie is simply chubbier. This makes it a great damage sponge.

Before the quirks, this 'Mech was quite harmless compared to the Griffin. However, the quirkening brought many presents for it and made two of its variants absolute monsters. Even so, they remain easy to disable and take out.
  • Take the right arm. It gets +18 extra structure, but it's such a massive arm that it's still easier to disable it that way first. Otherwise you risk dying yourself in the process. A Wolverine with that arm is a Wolverine without the will to live.
  • Legs. The Wolverine's legs are among the biggest and worst scaled legs in this game. It's a good option if its pilot is twisting well and protecting the arm, you simply take away its mobility and deal with it that way.

Kintaro


Ohh the Kintaro. Now THIS is a rare medium and with very good reasons. Not only this 'Mech is absolutely huge for a medium, just take a look at that surface area of the torsos. It is a medium with the torso of a heavy. Therefore, this 'Mech tends to soak much more damage than it can handle.
  • Shoot the shoulders. They're big and juicy and more than likely will result in an easy XL kill.
  • Otherwise there's not much to be said. The Kintaro is simply a death trap when it meets a 'Mech with a big alpha.

Ice Ferret


I don't own an Ice Fridge and I haven't played it. So my advice here comes solely from my experiences as an opponent. That being said, it's a little goaty 'Mech that is hard to kill. It has a big fatal flaw though;
  • What puny firepower the Ice Fridge has is concentrated in its arms. They're not very small either, so a great way to start handling one is by taking out its arms. 
  • Afterwards you can try going for legs to take away mobility, since CT'ing it seems to be pretty hard to do and it has a clan XL. At 140 KPH with this geometry it's hard to focus down specific parts.

Nova


The Nova is a humongous 'Mech. Not even huge, it's humongous. On top of that, its hardpoints are low mounted; forcing it to come out to do damage. This is one of the juiciest opponents to encounter and one of the most fun 'Mechs to kill.

Just take a look at the image. It falls apart wherever you look at. You can reliably CT, ST, blow off arms and legs.
  • That being said, it houses a lot of firepower in those arms. So it's a good idea to get rid of them if you can. I usually go for one of the side torsos first if the arms are not cored already. Afterwards the Nova loses a lot of heat efficiency and firepower and is easier to handle. 
  • Go for the CT if the Nova is not torso twisting. Anywhere near the vertical centerline and it's an easy kill.
  • If the Nova is being uncooperative and using JJs a lot to prolong its death, go for the legs. 

Stormcrow


Remember me talking about the old Centurion? The 'Mech that was a pain to kill? Well, there it is, reincarnated! The Stormcrow with its weird shape, great hitboxes and high mobility is absolutely a pest.

This is a 'Mech you usually have to peel off first to get the kill. It somehow manages to spread damage naturally even with mild torso twisting. Since its head is right above its legs, people also aim there which leads to a lot of damage spreading to the legs as well, increasing its tankiness. From the sides the arms tend to block incoming damage.

However, its tankiness is also its curse. The Stormcrow's hardpoints are spread all over the 'Mech and they fall apart as it takes damage. The arms are easy to tear off which leads to much of its damage potential being neutered. Being a chicken walker with highly arced legs with stiff animations, I also don't find it particularly easy to leg.
  • It's actually easy to CT if you aim for the nose. This is especially easy to do against laser SCRs since they tend to stare at you.
  • The legs are also vulnerable, but don't aim for the lower parts. Instead, try to hit the upper legs near the joints for more consistent damage.
  • If it's one of those SCRs with 4 or 6 energy arms, go for the arms first. 
  • I wouldn't go for the STs particularly if they're not already cored. The CT yields the best results followed by legging.

Heavies

The Heavy class is without a doubt the most popular of them all. They can be as fast as mediums while packing more armor and considerably heavier weaponry which makes them the most "no fuss" class of them all. They're the Swiss knives of MWO arsenal.

However as the 'Mechs get heavier, their TTK also increases. Due to the increased armor stripping legs and arms become increasingly difficult while the torsos get enough armor to soak ridiculous amounts of damage at the hands of a good pilot. Therefore, knowing their weaknesses start playing a more important role than fighting against fragile mediums and lights, which honestly despite their weaknesses are always susceptible to easy legging and CT corings.

Dragon

Train.Wreck.
The Dragon is simply the train wreck of MWO 'Mechs. Being one of the iconic 'Mechs in the BattleTech universe, it was chosen by PGI to be one of the first 'Mechs present at the release of the closed beta. However, being iconic due to looks mostly means bad news for their MWO versions and oh boy PGI did get it wrong, so wrong.

The Dragon's problems are two fold. First, its size is absolutely gigantic for its tonnage. For a 'Mech that is only 60 tons and sits only 5 tons above the rather excellent 55 tonners, the jump in size is ridiculous. It eclipses most other heavies in both height and width, it's even comparable to some assaults (for example the Awesome, which has its own scaling problems). Though, it'd have been still mostly acceptable if its weaknesses ended there. As you may have noticed, the Dragon sports a massive nose. This gives it a massive profile from all directions and a huge amount of surface area which its poor 60 tonner armor (7.5 tons) has difficulty covering. As a result, this is one of the juiciest opponents you will encounter and it won't take much effort to bring a Dragon down.

As a side note, it might be surprising to hear, but the Dragon was never completely irrelevant in MWO. There has always been a healthy amount of players piloting this 'Mech. Some played it due to lore reasons but some also saw some good qualities in this thing. For example along with the Quickdraw, it's the fastest heavy in MWO. When equipped with an XL360 engine it can be very responsive as well, giving it the feeling of a medium 'Mech but with heavier weaponry. Some variants also have favorable hardpoints such as high mounted energies or ballistics. It can be effective, but it'll take a lot of blood, sweat and tears which also makes it the go-to "anti-crutch" 'Mech — a 'Mech you take just to find out how well you can do in it. 1N with its ridiculous ballistic quirks is now excluded from that category though.


Your typical Dragon pilot.

Anyway, let's try to kill it!
  • Right now the fastest way to get rid of a Dragon is not by focusing its nose, which gets a massive structure quirk, but focusing one of its side torsos. Almost 99% of the Dragons (Flames with AC20s will be STD) you'll meet will be equipped by XL engines so we'll use it to our advantage. To ensure maximum damage to STs, target the area where the nose fuses to the torso.
  • Shooting the CT is your second option. Frontally, the whole nose is CT but from the sides try to shoot the upper part of the nose for maximum damage. 
  • The rear CT hitbox is absolutely massive. Any damage you will do here will directly transfer to the CT. 
  • If you're fighting a 1N: The 1N with its 50% AC5 cooldown is a very dangerous opponent, but obviously it's nothing more than a glass cannon. If you come across one you'll have to handle it differently than the others. If it's shooting you, try to tear its right arm off to ensure you cut the incoming damage as fast as possible. You can also go for a side to take it out outright, but doing so you give it more time to damage you which may result in you dying (it does 10 damage every 0.6 seconds!). 

Quickdraw


The Quickdraw is a train wreck on a smaller scale. While the faults of the Dragon may be explained by the fact that PGI was inexperienced with 'Mech design and scaling at the beginning, the Quickdraw came so much later that I still don't understand why PGI designed it this way. Anyway, the Quickdraw is another badly scaled 'Mech. I think it suffices to say that it's considerably bigger than an 80 ton Zeus while being as tall as a Victor.

Not only that, but it also has a weird hitbox distribution. Its upper torso looks balanced, but its hips are completely CT which greatly enlarges its frontal CT surface area. The random damage these extra surfaces attract add up considerably during a match. Not only that, but it also has a weird "ST belt" that links up both side torsos. I am yet to discover the purpose of this, perhaps to balance the upper hitbox distribution. Though the biggest problem with its hitbox distribution is that the protruding central CT part is 100% CT hitbox. This means torso twisting is less effective as the CT will take damage no matter the angle. As someone with lots of QKD matches I can say that the QKDs hitboxes behave weirdly and just won't react like you want them to.
  • This is another "open buffet" 'Mech like the Dragon. As it's a huge 'Mech, focusing a torso component is only trivial. Though the fastest way to kill one is simply shooting the CT. The upper part of the torso is an ideal target as the head is big and completely covered with CT hitboxes. You can also shoot its hips if it insists on torso twisting as this area is unaffected by torso twisting.
  • Leg it. Seriously, this is one of the easiest 'Mechs to leg in MWO. Leg one and you take away its only defense, its ridiculous mobility. I actually try to leg one if I'm not in a hurry as it ensures it will die no matter what.
  • Caution, don't shoot the arms. They don't hold many hardpoints and they're designed as shields. 

Catapult


Surprise! The Catapult is another oversized 'Mech and it's known for its tendency to get straight out cored. Fortunately its variants favor long ranged builds that mostly keep it away from the heat of combat. 

Since they lack lower arm actuators these 'Mechs have to stare at their targets to do damage which means they have to expose their huge frontal CT hitboxes. The missile variants need to stare at their targets to keep locks. This means the Catapults are always at a disadvantage when trading. Also before saying "just shoot the CT you fools!", I want to point out that the STs are actually a valid target from a side angle. 
  • Shoot the CT you fools! Seriously from the front it's impossible to miss and will absolutely ruin a CPLs day. From the sides shoot the edges of the nose.
  • From a side angle and if I have a decent alpha, I try to go for the sides for a quick kill. Shooting the base of the torso will transfer the damage to STs and considering 99.99% of the CPLs out there run XL engines (why wouldn't they?) it mostly results in a fast kill.

Thunderbolt


Easy times end here. The Thunderbolt is an absolute horror to deal with. It's a well scaled and sturdy design with great hitboxes. Before the magical quirks were bestowed upon them, nobody cared about their tankiness but after PGI married great laser quirks with tankiness, these things are one of the most dangerous 'Mechs out there.

Why is this 'Mech so tanky though? First of all, it has no geometric flaws. No nose, no protruding parts that enlarge its surface area. Second, its hitboxes are amazing. The CT (where people aim at) is a narrow strip in the middle which is really hard to focus down. Against a moving and twisting TDR you keep spreading damage to the sides. Well, we shoot the sides then right? Wrong. Due to the big ST hitboxes and it being a laser boat with big heat reduction quirks, these things have enough spare tonnage to run around with STD engines and still do 80+KPH. It also has arms that shield its STs while twisting. It hardpoints are also redundant. Did I mention each ST gets a +15 structure bonus as well? Oh you blew up its left torso and got rid of 3xE hardpoints? Well too bad, it still has 4xE on the other side. The worst of all, once you work on it for 5 minutes and get rid of its STs you've only made it more tanky. Now it has huge dead STs shielding its narrow CT because dead components only transfer 50% of the damage they receive to the CT!

TL;DR: This is the biggest time waster of all the 'Mechs in MWO. It'll make you work for it and you need an immense amount of firepower to get rid of it.
  • Apart from trying to peel components off, I've been experimenting with targeting the CT directly lately with mild success. If its staring at you, with a stable aim you should be able to focus down its CT. From the rear the CT hitbox is much bigger and occupies the middle area.
  • You can try to leg it, but keep in mind that in total each leg has 90 hitpoints. Good luck getting rid of the legs before the TDR blows you to pieces. Not to mention by focusing its legs you're giving it a free ticket to stop twisting and target you freely.
  • Seriously, if you don't have a big alpha, don't bother with a TDR unless necessary. Focus down weaker targets and leave it to someone that can deal with it.

Jagermech


Jagermech is a strictly ranged support 'Mech and for a reason. It has amazing ballistic boating capability, but in turn it has to mount XL engines. By just taking a quick glance at the image above, you can see that this thing has massive STs. Therefore you really don't want to get too near an enemy which will exploit this weakness in an instant.

Again, this is a well scaled 'Mech but it's only trivial to take out due to its XL dilemma. Therefore I highly recommend you to dispose of any Jagermechs you encounter as fast as possible before they can dish out the terrible terrible damage they're capable of doing.
  • Pick a side torso, focus on it and profit. The JM will either disengage immediately or simply die. There's not much else to fighting it.
  • People with ridiculous builds (quad UAC5s, Dual Gauss etc) tend to shave off a lot of leg armor. It has big, chubby legs so I suggest tapping them to see if they're underarmored. It makes for hilarious and easy kills.

Cataphract

Note that I edited this image to reflect its current approximate hitboxes.
War Cataphract, huh yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, oh hoh, oh
I would call a Cataphract easy kill, but it's not a challenging one either. Its torso surface area is huge due to its width, which means it's almost in the "open buffet" category of the 60 tonners. Though, it tends to get cored in the CT more often that not. Coupled with its low mounted weaponry, this is usually a low to moderate threat on the battlefield. After the 3D got hit by massive poptart nerfs and the rest received silly quirks, these things are rarely seen on the battlefield.

  • Focus down the CT, it's the easiest and fastest way. Its hitboxes are similar to the TDRs, but the CT strip is considerably larger and the CTFs torso twist slowly.
  • You can go for the STs, but don't bother unless you're certain it's an XL build. Most CTFs mount STD engines these days. If you go for an ST for disarming, make sure you target the right torso where the ballistic hardpoint is housed.
  • If it's a Gaussphract, definitely go for the RT. It'll more than likely be an XL Gauss Phract and Gauss explosions make for spectacular kills.

Grasshopper


This is the Michael Jordan of the heavies. Armored, fast, mobile and they pack a good punch. Unlike the general sentiment that they are too big, they're actually scaled pretty well for their tonnage. As I pointed out in the review, the whole "it's huge" thing comes from the height of this thing. It is indeed one of the tallest 'Mechs in this game together with the Banshee. Though when you look at its limbs and torso you realize it's nothing but a case of this.

Unfortunately while being workable, the hitboxes are not very favorable. The front is dominated by the CT hitbox which is bad news because this is an energy boat which demands face time. I only shudder to think what if they gave this one the TDR treatment because just like the TDR, it can mount big STDs without a problem. It'd have been a 'Mech that could hold its own against the best Clan laser boats.
  • Shoot the CT. It's big and wide. Though if the GHR pilot is good, he'll give you a hard time by twisting and jumjetting at the same time and being annoying overall. When that happens, resist the temptation to dump damage immediately and wait until he exposes his CT again before firing. Two solid alphas to its CT from any 'Mech will ruin the GHR pilot's day.
  • Shoot the rear CT. It protrudes rearwards and is visible from a wide angle.

Orion


The Orion is tough. When a fresh Orion appears out of nowhere and starts dissassembling your 'Mech, you know you're in trouble. In one on one situations it's one of the most stubborn 'Mechs to die and a well built Orion will brawl the heck out of anything including its idol, the Atlas.

However, when was the last time you felt threatened by one? What?! You don't remember? As an Orion enthusiast, me neither. The thing is, the Orion requires impeccable positioning to get into favorable fights and in the current day's meta which favors mid-long range builds that usually means these things are peeled, stripped and crippled before they get into range. By telling you that, I also revealed its greatest weakness: it's mobility. Due to how fast it loses STs most Orions pack a STD engine in them with the STD300 being most common. With that engine it only manages about 71 KPH and a silly torso twist rate which means it just can't dictate the terms of combat like other heavies. Once it commits, it commits without a way to disengage.

Taking a look at the hitboxes, you will see that this pretty much has the TDRs tested and patented "You will not get my CT unless you peel my sides off" hitbox distribution. The CT strip is a bit larger, but then again you have more armor to compensate and on top of it, the overall width of the 'Mech is actually smaller than a TDR. So you're packing a lot of armor into a smaller volume which increases its tankiness. Unlike the TDR though, the 'Mech has a very large protruding CT. It's almost like a nose. The sides of this nose are completely ST, which means that even when slightly angled towards an opponent, the ST on that side soaks most of the damage. This creates a dilemma where if you torso twist, you risk of being disarmed by premature ST loss.
  • I suggest a quick disarmament by blowing off the RT first. Most Orions pack a ballistic there and with the B and the hardpoints in the arms gone, it'll be harmless. Afterwards you can switch to a more dangerous opponent or go for the CT to finish it off.
  • If the Orion is fast, definitely go for an XL check by targeting the STs. Especially the recently popular 3xERLL+Gauss build utilizes an XL engine.
  • Otherwise if you have a big alpha and if the Orion pilot is not twisting well, go for the CT for an easy kill. It's not hard to focus if the target is not twisting.

Mad Dog


"The 60 tonner with the firepower of a 100 tonner" is how I would describe this thing. Especially 6xSRM builds are absolutely devastating at close range with good amount of weapon redundancy. It's definitely bristling with firepower. The design is also very compact with a very narrow frontal profile and overall scaling but then you notice the nose and the good things end there.

This is essentially a mini-Dragon but on a much smaller scale. If you look at the hitboxes the frontal profile is very balanced but as soon as you get an angle, the profile is dominated by STs (just like the Orion) which gives this 'Mech its Achilles' Heel. See, the Clan XLs lets you lose one ST before dying. One more, and you're dead. It's so easy to remove STs from this thing that the clan XLs become almost a liability for it. Then again, good pilots turn this to their advantage by letting one side blow up and use that side as a massive shield. It's only a last resort attempt though.
  • Pick a side and work on it. Frontally, shoot the missile pods on the sides but from the sides you can also shoot the big nose. It's mostly covered by ST hitboxes. Repeat it for the other side. 
  • Don't bother shooting CT but if the MDD is staring at you, it might be an option if you don't want to go through two STs.

Hellbringer


This is a pretty tanky 'Mech for its tonnage. The frontal profile is dominated by STs and the CT becomes a very narrow strip near the middle which makes targeting difficult. It also responds very well to torso twisting. It's again, scaled well. A HBR won't go down without giving you a good fight, but it doesn't mean it's a particularly difficult 'Mech to deal with.

It's main weaknesses include having a very vulnerable LT, which houses the ECM and 3xE hardpoints. The RT is usually used for ballistics and especially the Gauss or it's left empty to be used as a shield side. A Gauss explosion here is not very hard to cause and will ruin the day of your opponent.
  • Get the LT first (shoot the big square). The loss of ECM and 3xE hardpoints will seriously cripple the Hellbringer. At this point your opponent is either completely disarmed with a head lasers, or left with what ballistic weapons he has in the RT which won't pose a grave threat (unless it's 2xUAC5s) Afterwards pop the other side torso and you're done. Don't bother directly coring this 'Mech.

Summoner


I'll be bold and claim that the Summoner is the tankiest Clan 'Mech. This slippery bastard is an absolute pest at good hands and will make your life a misery if it decides to kill you.

Interestingly, this 'Mech is rather chubby for its size and tonnage. It has huge limbs and a relatively flat and wide torso. It also has a protruding CT just like the Orion but not as big. Similarly the sides of this protruding part is also covered by ST hitboxes, so it responds to torso twisting just as well as the Orion. On the other hand this is an extremely mobile 'Mech with plenty of jump jets, a plethora of acceleration bonuses and even a slight speed boost. When it all comes together, I feel like its weaknesses work for it. In overall this is pretty much an Orion on steroids that jumps all over the place with a good amount of armor. I regularly tank this thing down to low 20%s and even tanked to 5-6% on several occasions.

Bro, do you even tank?
Though it's advantages are also its weaknesses when it comes to firepower. What little firepower this thing has is housed in those huge arms that tend to fall off at the slightest breeze. It's an easy 'Mech to disarm.
  • Shoot the legs if you're not in mortal danger. Its chubby legs get additional structure from quirks, but as I said they're chubby. They act like damage sponges and will soak most of the damage you throw at it. Without its mobility it won't tank as well.
  • Again, the CT is actually pretty large. If your opponent is not twisting much and is staring at you, just go center mass.
  • Go for a disarm first if your opponent was foolish enough to put every weapon in the arms.

Timber Wolf


The mighty Timber Wolf will form about 50% of the Clan heavies you will fight. PGI did a wonderful job modeling this thing and even though it looks very similar to the Catapult, it doesn't inherit its weaknesses.

The CT hitboxes are simply magnificent. Despite the 'Mech having a huge aircraft nose, this nose isn't huge in diameter. That allowed PGI to keep the CT hitbox in check unlike the CPL and the DRG. The sides though, are a different story. Now at 75 tons the sides have a lot of armor, but the nose structure fusing into a traditional humanoid shoulders inevitably causes some problems with the surface area. As a result, the TBR is prone to lose STs and they can be reliably targeted from any angle. Some TBR builds try to turn this into advantage by utilizing the left side as a shield side, because the RT is completely covered by the nose when looked at from the left.

A good TBR pilot won't let you peel you its sides easily by utilizing JJs and its amazing torso twist speed to absorb damage with other parts as well. Surprisingly arms also tend to tank well.
  • My method is simply taking a side torso off (LT is easier since most people shield the right side) and then concentrate on shooting the CT and the destroyed LT. Yes, you'll do 50% less damage shooting the destroyed LT but you will still do damage and will steadily drain its CT armor.
  • As always, some pilots don't even torso twist. In this case just get the CT.
  • Shooting the legs or the arms are not advisable unless you're in a monster DPS 'Mech. The TBR will kill you before you finish.

Assaults

The Assault. These 'Mechs are the embodiment of firepower and resilience in the BattleTech universe. Whenever one of these pop up, you know pain is coming. In MechWarrior though, not all of the Assaults are considered "dangerous". These things are slow and sluggish and require more than your average pilot skill level to do well in. A Dire backed up by with its team may rip the other team apart, but a Dire caught alone in the open ground is simply a damage farm opportunity. The best way to deal with these hulking beasts is to engage them with multiple 'Mechs and confuse their pilots. 

One thing to note is that you should avoid targeting limbs when playing against an Assault. Their arms and legs hold a ridiculous amount of armor and unless you see that they're horribly underarmored, it's a bad idea to waste your damage and heat on these. Though it's never a bad idea to tap the legs of an opponent armed with ridiculously heavy weaponry (6xLL Stalkers, LRM boats, 4xGauss Dires). I've personally witnessed assaults with 30 or so leg armor.

Awesome


We're starting out with another one of the "failed" 'Mechs of MWO, the Awesome. The poor Awesome never managed to find its place in any meta during its whole MWO career and is mostly piloted by pilots who just want some challenge (aside from the LRM boats). The main problem lies in its bad geometry. Whenever a forum thread about the AWS pops up, there's guaranteed to find a person using the term "it's a barn door". It is indeed a very wide 'Mech and even looks somehow fat. Its width makes it a great damage sponge and people will immediately focus the poor AWS whenever it pops up, knowing it's just an easy kill.

The current AWS hitboxes are somewhat side-heavy. That means the AWS tends to shed its side torsos under fire rather than getting straight out cored. This is probably because during the last hitbox pass, the side hitboxes were enlarged to cover the sides of the protruding CT part. Funnily enough, the AWS got quite a lot of extra CT structure during the quirkening, when it actually needed a huge boost to its side torsos. Therefore stripping its STs first is a very good way of disposing of this 'Mech.
  • Pick a side torso and blow it off, preferably the RT because the right arm usually houses quite a lot of weaponry while the left arm tends to be a shield arm. You'll see that the ST blows up pretty quickly. Afterwards just pump damage in its CT until it falls. Though beware, the extra structure in its CT and the side-heavy hitboxes will mean that it'll take a while to put it down.

Victor


The Victor (specifically the Dragon Slayer) once used to be the premiere meta 'Mech that everyone feared. It was highly mobile, with great torso twist, suitable hardpoints for meta, speed and the best of all, jump jets (with broken animations) that gave enabled it to tank a silly amount of damage. Then, something happened and the Victor completely disappeared from the game save for the rare champion sightings. What happened? Where did all the "Victor enthusiasts" with hundreds of hours in this thing go?

Well, see, PGI nerfed the poptarts. Jump jets, PPCs, ACs, and the Victor's mobility all got nerfed. With its meta compatibility gone, this 'Mech was revealed for what it is; a mediocre brawler with serous scaling issues. While it still has a very niche use as an XL Assault brawler, this 'Mech is so hilariously easy to deal with that only a few brave above average MechWarriors dare running this thing anymore.

Again, the VTR is oversized. It has big limbs, a tall profile and a wide torso, Its poor 80 tonner armor has problems covering these weaknesses and when PGI gave this 'Mech little to no quirks at all, its fate was sealed. Its frontal hitboxes are decent (except the wide CT area at the top) but its rear hitboxes are a total disaster. The whole rear is covered by the CT hitbox. It's not a good thing considering brawlers tend to get shot from all directions when in the thick of the battle.
  • Shoot the CT and aim for the part right below its head. It's hard to miss and you'll absolutely ruin a VTRs day doing this. Whenever you have the chance go for its rear for easy CT corings.
  • Shoot its legs! With those gigantic legs, the Victor is one of the easiest Assaults to leg.

Zeus


Now, the Zeus is an 80 tonner done right. Not only it's a very compact 'Mech with very few geometric weaknesses, it also gets tons (literally) of extra armor to boost its tankiness to legendary levels. The standard variants receive +17 armor in STs and +15 CT armor while the 5S receives 20 armor+10 structure in its CT while the sides get +13 armor and +7 structure. You don't get the significance of these numbers until you compare the end results with the 100 tonners; the Zeus is tankier than an Atlas or a Dire. It is the second most tankiest 'Mech in numbers behind the HGN-732B (with its whopping 149 CT armor) but considering the Zeus' compact design, we can say that it's probably the toughest nut to crack in this game.

The hitboxes are amazing as well. When you take a look at it, it's hard to find a weakness. The CT is a thin strip in the middle while the sides make for the bulk of the frontal profile. This is a great combination for brawly 'Mechs that run with STD engines because it ensures the side torsos will give up before the center.

Fortunately, the Zeus is a 'Mech that usually struggles to put out damage due to meager quirks and the hardpoint layout. The 6T and the 5S are the ones to look out for with that massive SRM arm but these 'Mechs are usually pretty battered before they throw themselves into a brawl. The reliance on STD engines also ensure these 'Mechs always remain somewhat sluggish.
  • Shoot the LT first. Aim right below the shoulder. This is important because by getting rid of its LT, you also get rid of 80% of its firepower (unless it's a 6T/5S), A stripped Zeus is not a big threat anymore can be ignored when in presence of bigger threats. Otherwise just keep shooting the head area to ensure maximum damage to the CT.
  • When dealing with a 6T/5S, you may want to remove that huge SRM arm first to cut the damage output considerably.

Stalker


The Stalker is another phallic iconic Battlemech. It's also a great design that comes with unique advantages and disadvantages. It's great design kept it relevant despite the balance and meta shifts over the years and it's a regular sight on the battlefield.

Its unique geometry also comes with unique hitboxes. The side profile of a Stalker is completely covered by ST hitboxes. This means that this is a 'Mech that punishes you for torso twisting and will shed its STs as soon as you take damage from the sides. On the other hand the CT is a very narrow strip in the middle, but it becomes larger towards the top and the bottom. The protected CT hitbox makes the Stalker a very annoying opponent; the destroyed sides become shields that reduce the incoming damage by 50% and it takes ages to put one down. However on the other hand it's very easy to disarm.
  • If you don't have a good angle (if it's not directly engaging you), just pop the sides first.
  • If you have a good angle from the front, shoot the top of the nose for maximum CT damage. It's possible to outright core Stalkers this way. If it starts twisting shoot the area between its legs to keep damaging its CT.
  • Most Stalkers run around with reduced leg armors and its legs are absolutely gigantic. You can try legging one.

Battlemaster


The Battlemaster is pretty much a flattened Stalker with arms. It's also more mobile and the hardpoints are similar. Being a humanoid 'Mech, the BLR is also much harder to disable than the Stalker but it's not a hard 'Mech to take down.

The biggest advantage the BLR has over the Stalker is its balanced torso hitboxes. It responds to torso twisting well but its CT hitbox is much more vulnerable. The gorilla arms help blocking a lot of damage while twisting compared to the tiny T-Rex arms of the Stalker though. Still, the CT strip is pretty wide and the sides of the protruding CT part are also counted as CT hitboxes so even while torso twisting, this 'Mech will take a good amount of CT damage. Unlike the Stalker though, the BLRs tend to move pretty fast and their speed will prevent most opponents from focusing components.
  • Focus the CT, it's the fastest way. A BLR has a huge CT surface area and even with twisting there's no way to protect it reliably. You should aim right below the cockpit where hitbox has the most width. Shoot between the legs if you don't have a good angle on the CT.
  • Most of the current popular BLR builds (especially 1G and 3S) utilize XL engines. If you have a good alpha you can go for an XL check.
  • The BLR's leg size rivals the Stalker's. Since most BLRs rely on mobility to spread damage, legging one means they'll be sitting ducks afterwards. Each leg has 108 health though.

Highlander


The Highlander is a beast. Both in the lore and in MWO, it's a very dangerous foe. It's a classical brawler on the paper but it can also be utilized in a ranged side-peeking configuration by utilizing its excellent right side hardpoints that lends itself well to AC/Gauss+Laser combinations. Most of the HGNs you encounter will be of this type. Once upon a time, the HGN sat at the absolute top of the food chain when the poptart meta was at its peak. It could do everything the Victor could do, but with a STD engine instead of an XL, giving it tremendous tanking potential by having a huge 300-400 damage buffer. Combined with very strong jump jets at the time, it was a ridiculous beast which outclassed the current Dire Wolf in many aspects.

Even though in the face of many nerfs now it's in a similar position as the Victor (a mediocre brawler), some recent buffs to PPC speed and Class I jump jets resulted in some resurgence. Especially the uparmored 732B (which is the most heavily armored assault in MWO right now) is quite popular. Its only problem is and has always been is its limited mobility and heat efficiency because of the low engine cap. Once a HGN hits its heat cap, its damage output is reduced dramatically. Here's to the hope that PGI will finally give the HGN what it deserves with the upcoming balance pass.

The Highlander doesn't suffer from geometry problems. It doesn't suffer much from scaling either —I'd even put it in the sparsely populated "well scaled" category. Its torso is wide with well defined hitboxes. The hitboxes are somewhat CT heavy and most deaths indeed occur from CT corings but it's nowhere near XL safe. The thing is, the width of the torso allows its opponents to focus down a component with ease. However this is a 'Mech that responds really well to torso twisting. Though due to the limited engine cap, the torso twisting is not exactly responsive and your opponents will exploit this to time their shots.

  • Take its right torso. The best place to aim for is the well defined rectangular weapon pod area. Most of its ranged and hard hitting weapons are on its right side (Heavy Metal excluded) and if you can take it down, the HGN will practically be useless. Whatever missile weapons the HGN is left with can afterwards be either evaded or safely tanked.

Banshee



This right here, is the single most scary IS Assault in my book. At 95 tons and ridiculously tall, it's a hulking behemoth that vaporizes everything with its furious gaze. Unlike its undergunned and overengined counterpart in BattleTech, it's blessed by an abundance of high mounted energy and ballistic hardpoints in MWO by based PGI. It can also mount really big engines rather comfortably which makes it a very responsive and mobile assault. Over time it become some kind of a mascot of my unit as well. We (and I) can't get enough of this thing.

The Banshee is again, well scaled and has no geometric flaws. It has gorilla arms that hold no weaponry (with exceptions) which give it a huge damage buffer. Its torso hitboxes leave something to be desired and especially the CT hitbox is quite big towards the middle, coincidentally where most people aim at. It's almost like PGI thought "Welp, this 'Mech is too good. Let's mess up its hitboxes a bit!". Fret not though, despite the obvious sabotage attempt (heh) the BNC still tanks beautifully mostly thanks to the big engines it mounts which gives it a responsive torso twist speed. The 3M especially is great with big alpha pulse laser builds that lends themselves well to "dump alpha-twist-dump alpha" style that makes this 'Mech shine. Even so, this is not a good face tanker and its survivability is closely tied with how much its pilot torso twists, which may not even be possible with some DPS builds (like 3xAC5 3E).

  • The easiest way to get rid of one is by working on that big fat CT hitbox in the middle. It's impossible to miss and will soak most of the incoming damage. Time your shots well and resist the urge to dump your alpha to its arms while its torso twisting.
  • On the other hand quite a few BNC builds utilize XL engines to take advantage of that sweet sweet mobility. If you think the BNC is moving faster than it should, you can also go for a quick XL check by shooting a side torso.
  • Just as a caution because I've seen many try this against me; never ever try to leg this thing in a 1v1 situation. It's impossible and you'll be shred to pieces before you're done.

King Crab

I want to believe
This weaponized saucer mounted on legs is the IS' answer to the mighty Dire Wolf; it's one of the so-called Clan busters. Whether it busts Clans or even its contemporary Dire Wolf is a whole another matter though. Despite the initial hype the upper part of the player base never really picked it up. It doesn't mean this is a bad 'Mech though. With an abundance of ballistics, energy and laser hardpoints this thing can rip anything to pieces in a matter of seconds when built correctly.

The KGC is unique in the sense that it possesses a very unique geometry in the MWO arsenal. It has a long, wide and flat torso. The Dire on the other hand is rectangular from all directions. This geometry gives the King Crab the least surface area of many Assaults when viewed from the front. At first I thought this property would make it the tankiest Assault ever in MWO. Oh boy I was wrong, so wrong. The thing is, you rarely face threats head-on in an assault. Most of the time you're being focused from multiple targets with a primary among them you're facing. The amount of surface area it presents on the sides is absolutely horrendous and the worst of all, in order to give it a crabby look, the arms are reaching towards the front which leaves the sides completely uncovered.

It does not fare well from the front either, despite its favorable profile. The problem is, PGI gave this 'Mech traditional well defined humanoid 'Mech hitboxes. This doesn't go well along with the width of its torso well and the result is a pretty squishy assault that relies on massive DPS rather than impenetrable armor. When a torso has a shape like this, I think it's better to go with Stalker or Timber Wolf style hitboxes where the STs are stretched into the central area to take some pressure off the CT. I'm getting ahead of myself though, let's go back to killing it rather than saving it.


A quick sketch of my dream KGC hitboxes
  • This is another "open buffet" 'Mech. You can shoot either CTs or the STs, they're equally easy to focus down.
  • That being said, I prefer to pop a side off first. It's much easier (especially if its twisting) and this ensures you remove DPS from this 'Mech as quick as possible. Half a KGC is barely a threat and can be dealt with much easier without the risk of it tearing your face off. Plus, the amount of XL King Crabs out there are outrageous. There's almost a 50-50 chance of getting an XL kill.

Atlas

The manliest of the manliest
The Atlas is the ultimate brawler in MWO. When something must absolutely be manhandled, you send in the Atlas to show them who's the boss It's big, it's tanky and at capable hands it can mow down an entire team in a brawl. Unfortunately, getting this 100 tonner into brawls is the problem. Even with the maximum engine it'll be stripped by the ~meta~ 'Mechs before it gets into position. Therefore you'll find most of the competent Atlases hiding and waiting in an ambush because once an Atlas commits, there's no turning back.

The Atlas is a big 'Mech, it's really huge. Fortunately it has great hitboxes for a brawler. The CT is a very thin strip in the middle while the STs make up most of the frontal profile. This ensures it tanks the hell out of anything with little effort. In most cases they'll refuse to die before they shed both of their side torsos first. It's because the tested and tried method of "just shoot the middle torso" doesn't work with this 'Mech. The damage is inevitably spread to the both sides.

With a very simple trick though, the Atlas can be dealt with with minimum hassle:
  • Shoot the head! The head is huge, visible from almost all angles and it's 100% CT hitbox except the tiny little left eye. 
  • You can try popping a side (people go for the RT default) but be aware, each torso holds a big punch. You can get rid of that AC20 but 3xASRM6'es are more than enough to ruin your day and vice versa.

Gargoyle


Mr. Gargles is the black swan of MWO. Most hate and despise it but some love it and make it work. With the recent addition of the 6xE hardpoint RA it has managed to elevate itself from being "worse than the Commando" to "this actually feels good" levels and became a laser powerhouse. It has pretty big flaws though. Anemic free tonnage and low mounted hardpoints make up the bulk of its problems.

The Gargoyle is surprisingly narrow for its tonnage. It's tall, but narrow. Combined with its high speed and responsive torso, it's actually hard to focus components on this thing when its steaming around. At a first glance its hitboxes are also balanced but as you encounter it more and especially play with it, you realize something. There's something horribly broken with the CT of this thing. It. Sucks. In. Everything.
  • You get the idea. Don't bother with the sides and just aim in the general direction of its CT and watch that CT turn red after the first alpha. Aim for its head for maximum damage application though. If the Gargoyle has not tucked its tail between legs and fleeing already, dump a few more alphas there and get rid of it. Just make sure you absorb its laser alphas well. These things may be fragile but they're in no way defenseless.
  • Its arms fall off rather easily. It has 90% of its firepower in its arms so this is obviously something you can use against it if you need to cut down incoming damage fast.

Warhawk


Whenever my team meets a Warhawk, it goes like this:

— Holy shit incoming Dire, everybody focus Delta!
— That's a Warhawk . . . 
— Oh nevermind then. Everybody focus the Nova!

Jokes aside, the Warhawk excels at doing one thing; being a mobile damage pumper. With its high speed and amazing heat efficiency it can quickly rack up damage but it's a very squishy 'Mech. The thing is, the Warhawk is as big as a Dire Wolf while being 15 tons lighter. It's scaling is out of whack and you definitely feel that fragility as you pilot this thing. Therefore its damage potential is balanced by its inability to persist on the battlefield. Coming with 20xDHS right out of the factory also takes its toll on this 'Mech. Its entire left torso is filled with DHS and building this 'Mech is like playing Tetris in the 'Mechlab.

It's a pity, because this 'Mech has amazing frontal hitboxes. The CT is again a very narrow strip in the middle while the sides dominate from all aspects. Unfortunately the massive surface area due to scaling means the ST armor just can't sustain the amount of damage it takes. The STs dominate the side profile completely and every bit of damage you'll take from this direction will be tanked by your ST and arm. Being known as a 'Mech that pops sides easily is also bad news for a 'Mech with clan XLs. Some people won't bother coring your CT but will go for your sides solely. However when a side pops, that side also becomes a huge damage shield because you can't see the CT or the other ST from the shield side. Warhawks utilizing this strategy are quite stubborn to go down but losing a side reduces their threat significantly.
  • Dealing with a WHK is an interesting matter. Taking out the LT means a big hit to heat efficiency and usually a loss of ballistic hardpoint on the left arm. Its laser arm is its right arm he'll be left with lasers but no DHS to cool them down. Taking out the RT means getting rid of its lasers but the RT/RA also stores most of its ammo so you cripple its ACs/SRMs. So whatever ST you pick, you're guaranteed to cause big problems for the WHK pilot.
  • If you want to go for the CT shoot above its head where the hitbox is the biggest.

Dire Wolf


One Assault to rule them all. When you see a Dire staring at you, you know you messed up. The Dire Wolf is the pinnacle of firepower in MWO. It can have up to 6 ballistic hardpoints and up to 15 energy hardpoints. It has 50.5 tons of free space with full armor and indeed people go wild with this thing. From laser/Gauss vomits to UAC monsters, this is a priority target whenever it pops up. Fortunately it sacrifices mobility for podspace and it's easy to overwhelm.

The Dire Wolf is slightly bigger than a Warhawk and its hitboxes are similar with one exception; it has a massive bullseye CT hitbox in the middle. Therefore unlike the Warhawk, it's very susceptible to fast CT corings especially since it's really bad at torso twisting. That doesn't mean the STs are safe though, they're visible and vulnerable from every angle, but the arms help a lot with tanking while twisting. 

Dealing with a Dire needs some caution:
  • There's no 'Mech that can trade efficiently with a well built Dire, keep this in mind.
  • The best way to engage one is making sure you're not its primary target. If it's looking at your direction it's best to avoid giving it a target and wait until it gets distracted by your teammates. 
  • If a teammate is engaging a Dire you immediately get out and shoot the Dire as well. Use every opportunity while the Dire is distracted to damage it.
  • Its CT should be your primary target whenever possible. Though if you don't have a good angle start working on an ST immediately. This is especially useful against experienced Dire pilots who attempt to twist while using JJs. Half a Dire may live longer but it's much better than dealing with a whole Dire.
  • Bait Dires into firing by faking a pop up (you get out of cover briefly and back in again while it's Gauss is charging and its lasers are firing) and then dump your alpha while it's on cooldown. This is also useful against UAC Dires because you can force jams doing this.

Conclusion

I didn't want this to be a simple "shoot here!" guide and I tried to cram in as much useful info as possible. I hope it was an enjoyable read and hopefully it helps you deal with your opponents in a more efficient and faster manner. It's also the articles I've ever written.

Lastly, I would like to thank Tamerlin again for his excellent work on hitbox localization. I couldn’t have done this without his amazing diagrams.

If you’re willing to help me test more ‘Mechs, you can find a link to my tip jar on the side bar on my blog.
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11 comments:

  1. loved it!! is this blog still active?

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  2. It is. I've just been on a hiatus due to IRL stuff. I'm glad you liked the guide.

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  3. Really good guide! It helped me get a grip on the WHKs. I noticed my STs were melting away and after noticing the profile view on your guide for the WHK, I noticed why.

    Changed my tactics and decided to face tank the damage more my exposing more my CT (100 armor on CT helps) and torso twisting slightly (not completly like I was originally doing).

    Survability increased dramatically. If you dont have this on Steam you should post it on the Community Hub! Keep it up!

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  4. Great work, great attention to detail, will definitely help in future battles.

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  5. Nice guide! Loved the additional info on each mech

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  6. Nice guide! Loved the additional info on each mech

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  7. excellent guide. TY for this, keep updating.
    how about a table with the mech/prefered target?

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  8. just got into a toe to toe with a kodiak. wish i knew where it's freaking cockpit was....too much armor to handle

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