Friday, 9 August 2013

MechTalk - Highlander


Originally built during the Star League era for both Regular and Royal Armies of the SLDF in 2592, the Highlander is an extremely versatile city fighter.  Built around it's ability to outpace faster 'mechs in urban environments by simply jumping over buildings to keep pace, the Highlander featured a devastating array of weapons for all ranges of combat as well as being the only 'mech of it's weight at the time to mount jump jets.

After the self destructive Succession wars the Highlander design lost a majority of it's Star League equipment and designers had to redesign the chassis to fit the more heavier house equipment and armour of the period, seriously reducing it's capabilities of previous centuries.  Still it maintained it's jump capability, allowing it to continue to perform the infamous Highlander burial technique, considered something of an art form to some pilots, it allowed Highlander pilots to literally jump and squash lighter 'mechs via death from above.

With it's arrival in Mechwarrior Online we are sadly unable to perform the burial technique, but we can still bring 90 tons of pain to the battlefield.  The Highlander is the second heaviest 'mech in the game and fully capable of tearing foes apart with it's mix of ballistic, missile and energy weaponry.  Most models mount at least 1 gauss rifle backed up either by LRM or SRM or a mix of both, rounded out with PPC's or lasers.  Popular builds involve simply using a Gauss Rifle and 2 PPC's to perform high damage alpha strikes with relatively little heat build.

Advantages

The Highlander is unique so far in that it's the only 90 ton assault to mount jump jets. It's ability to use jump jets makes it a capable jump sniper, coupled with it's long range weapons the Highlander can easily pin down opponents with withering fire.  Because of it's varied mix of hardpoints the Highlander can pretty much mount all the big guns in the game and thus give a pretty solid punch with any combination you so choose. 

Highlanders can also work well as missile boats, snipers and brawlers making this a great 'mech for users who want to experiment with different builds while getting used to using jump jets on such a large battlemech.  It also goes without saying that the Highlander has a generous amount of armour allowing it to weather firestorms and still come out kicking.

Disadvantages

Speed is never a key point for any assault 'mech unless it's the Charger and here like any assault 'mech the Highlander struggles.  It's large centre mass means it is an easy target when out in the open and sustained fire from a few coordinated mediums can quickly bring the beast down.

Another weakness is the 'mechs right torso which is a prime target in early engagements due to the fact that the energy weapon and ballistics hardpoints are located on that side of the 'mech.  Removing this torso will pretty much cripple a Highlander leaving it stranded with only missiles to support it.

Tactics

Highlanders might be 90 tons of pain, but remember the 'mech is designed around a support role, primarily sniping in it's basic configuration.  Always move with your lance or other assault 'mechs so they can draw the fire and you can back them up with high damage ranged fire.  Your jump jets allow you to quickly scan an area visually before making a move also, so don't worry about going in blind when attacking.

When attacked in close quarters remembers to keep that Gauss rifle firing, it generates very little to no heat and can do tremendous damage.  Any light pilot will do well to avoid your front as you could pretty much 1 shot kill them with alpha strikes.  If you are concerned about ammo or heat you can always remove the jump jets if you aren't proficient with them, but this will come at the cost of manoeuvrability.  Maps such as Canyon network and Tourmaline will become difficult for you to navigate if you do remove them.

XL engines are a consideration if you prefer using the 'mech as a LRM boat or long ranger support, but don't expect a massive speed increase here.  The aforementioned right torso weakness will also mean death for you if you do mount an XL simply because the centre mass is so large a target on assault 'mechs.

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