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Published January 8, 2013

So, you've thrown some money at Mechwarrior Online and you want to buy yourself one of these snazzy hero mechs that all the cool kids are talking about. But which do you pick? They all give you a rather spiffing 30% boost to the cbills you earn (5% better than even Founders mechs get),  so you can get to be Mech Romney that much sooner. Which one is going to suit your play style the best, though? Have no fear, themittani.com is here, and we're going to go through the currently available crop to help you choose. In all cases we’ll provide the specs and cost of each mech, with the dollar value being given as an approximate figure depending on which MC pack you buy.

Yen-Lo-Wang

 

3750 MC (~$18)

50 Tons
AC 20 
2 Medium Lasers 

Standard 215 Engine
Top Speed 69.7 kph

10 Single Heat Sinks

The first hero mech that MWO players got to see was this little gem.  In Battletech canon it's piloted by  Justin Xiang-Allard who's half Capellan by birth. The Capellan Confederation is basically space China, and Yen-Lo-Wang is the Chinese god of death. So naturally, his mech has a great big imperial Japanese sunburst on it.

No, I don't get it either. 

Anyway, aside from a incongruous paint job, the YLW boasts an arm mounted AC/20, a couple of lasers in the centre torso AND ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE. See, in tabletop that big left arm has a massive claw on it for battering the hell out of people in hand to hand combat, but as we don’t HAVE hand to hand combat in the game, it was a bit of an odd choice for the first hero mech. Oh, and that arm mounted autocannon can't traverse left and right, so it's like a Catapult or Stalker arm pod. You can torso twist a little faster than the other centurions, and fit a slightly bigger engine than all the Centurions but the 9D, but honestly, this thing is in general worse than the Centurions you don't have to pay cash for. A pair of ballistic mounts and a pair of laser mounts means that it's really difficult to find a configuration you can recommend to people, but I guess a gauss rifle in the arm and a pair of medium pulse lasers is about as good as it gets. Really wouldn't bother with this one unless you're swimming in credits and you've been hit on the head. 

Fang

 

4500MC (~$22)

60 Tons
AC/10 
2 Medium Lasers 
SRM 6 

Standard 300 Engine
Top Speed 81 kph

11 Single Heat Sinks

Fang is a bit of an odd duck, in that it’s very very similar to the DRG-1N in terms of it’s hardpoint layout and standard equipment, except it costs more than twice as much to buy with MC. For the extra you pay you’re getting a different paint job and that 30% boost to cbill earnings mentioned earlier, and I’m not especially convinced that makes it worth it. You can stick a gauss rifle or a UAC in the arm, fill the energy slots with medium lasers and put a big 360 XL engine in it and go hurtling around unloading at people, but you could do that with the DRG-1N. Or the -1C. Or the -5N. 

As heavies go there’s nothing especially WRONG with it, it’s just there doesn’t seem much point in paying real money to get a mech that’s practically the same as one you can buy with cbills - and this is probably why it took me three days of asking around to find anyone in the Word of Lowtax that had even bought one to get the screenshot above. And Fang's brother, up next, manages to make it look even less appealing.

Flame

4500MC (~$22)
60 Tons

AC/2 
Medium Laser
ER Large Laser
LRM 5

Standard 300 Engine
Top Speed 81 kph

16 Single Heat Sinks

Silly paint job and deranged stock loadout aside, Flame isn't a bad robot at all. A pair of energy mounts in each arm, a side torso ballistic mount and a missile point in the centre torso gives you a lot of options for how to kit this thing out - it’s a bit like a baby Atlas-RS. With the biggest engine you can cram in, this thing is faster than most mediums and can punch a fair bit above its weight. If you're wanting a heavy then the Flame isn't a bad choice at all, and pretty much eclipses the Fang given they were both released together. It's a bit of a shame really that it's outclassed by the final mech on offer.

Ilya Muromets

5250MC (~$25)

70 Tons
2 AC/5
AC/10
2 Medium Laser
Small Laser

XL 280 Engine
Top Speed 64.8 kph 

16 Single Heat Sinks

Take a Cataphract. Add some back story about it's pilot being some kind of crazy person seeking revenge for someone stealing the factory they make Cataphracts in, sprinkle with three ballistic hardpoints across three locations, throw in a decent max engine size and give it a name that will cause everyone to just call it the Marmoset. Congratulations, you just made the best hero mech in MWO. 

It’s TECHNICALLY possible to jam three gauss rifles into this thing, providing you’re willing to run the smallest sized XL engine you can fit. However unless you’re willing to start stripping armour off it like there’s no tomorrow you’re going to be packing only one or two tons of ammo, and you’re going to be doing 32.4 kph. Or to put it another way, you’re going to be dead. What you CAN do though is jam 3 UAC/5s into it and spit out damage at an absolutely obnoxious rate. Or you can put a pair of gauss rifles in there and have similar punch to the infamous gaussapult. With damage done and kill assists now providing the majority of your match winnings and with the 30% boost to earnings, the Marmoset is both fun as hell and extremely profitable. Yes, it’s a bit pricey, but if you’re just going to buy one hero mech, I’d make it this one.

Conclusions

So far PGI has done a good job of making the hero mechs interesting but has steered well clear of making them clearly superior to other options available in the same weight class that don't require actual money. Some in the community raised concerns when the Yen-Lo-Wang was launched that it's faster torso twist speed was an indication that PGI were willing to introduce an element of pay-to-win to the game. So far the other hero mechs have proved this wrong.

It's still really tricky to say if the hero mechs are worth the cost at the moment. The Marmoset and Flame are undoubtedly a lot of fun, and the cbill boosts can really help you rack up the cash fast. If you're finding yourself wanting to play MWO and you're cash rich but time poor, you could do a lot worse. On the other hand, with repair and re-arm costs currently out of the game, you're going to find yourself making cbills in every match you play, and if you've got the time to throw at it you'll probably find yourself swimming in cbills anyway, so the only reason to buy one of these is if you really, really like the paint job or hardpoint layout. Personally, I've got a Marmoset and I can wholeheartedly recommend it - the Yen-Lo-Wang can go and stand in the corner with a dunce's cap on though.

Fil5000
I've been writing words on the internet for years at www.tatp.org, but until I came to themittani.com, no one bothered to read them. I like robots, space and the internet and am therefore perfect for the MWO desk.

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