I had a Twitch stream running in the background, while I was doing some other work today, and I heard something unusual: PPCs. When I switched tabs, I saw the player I was viewing was using a Hunchback IIC-A build similar to this
. It proved to be a nasty little sniper, and it got me to wondering if I could reproduce it with the Inner Sphere Hunchback 4P.
Let's put some stuff on the table, right away: You lose the targeting computer and--more importantly--the jump jets. If you value PPCs only in their ability to enable jump sniping, then this entire exercise is a pointless endeavor. You're also going to give up a lot of range, because it's not feasible to mount enough heat sinks to support ERPPCs on the Inner Sphere chassis. That said, the 540-meter optimal range of a regular PPC is nothing to sneeze at, so if we can make a reasonable copy with the 4P, then it will have a purpose.
The first question to address--and it's one that we'll revisit later--is the choice of engine. The IIC build was running an XL275. Given the reduced vulnerability of Clan XL engines, that's not a bad choice for the IIC chassis, but for the Inner Sphere version, we've got to consider the combination of the IS XL engines' squishiness and the IS Hunchback's massive right torso. My first instinct was to look at standard engines.
Specifically, I went with a matching 275-rated engine
. If you've clicked the link, then you've seen the problem. The armor shave is reasonable, but giving up seven heat sinks to keep the speed and mimic the armament of the Clan variant leaves this build running way too hot. My 4P is mastered already, and this build was only viable on exceptionally cold maps.
So, less engine, more heat sinks
seems to be the natural next step. This works quite a bit better. The added heat capacity of the three additional heat sinks doesn't amount to much, but the additional dissipation makes it easier to ride the line, once you've fired your first few volleys. My problem is with the mobility. If you are accustomed to larger mechs, then the STD250-equipped Hunchback will probably feel pretty nimble, but I've been working on my Shadowcats and Panthers in my free time lately, and the speed of a fast medium is intoxicating.
How do you get that speed back, without giving up the heat sinks? Note the empty crit slots. Yes, what you do is make a poor life decision
. You can rationalize it by saying the right torso gets huge durability quirks (but the left torso doesn't). You can convince yourself that 8kph may one day be the difference between being in the right position and being in the wrong position, and that two extra small lasers will help defend your squishy Swayback, when it is out of position. I think the truth of the matter is that the STD250 build hits the right mix of durability and heat efficiency, and it will only feel slow if you're coming to it directly after playing in much faster mechs, making the XL275 build a big sacrifice in exchange for nothing of significance.
An additional consideration: In the current environment, the added range of the PPCs is probably not worth giving up the damage potential of large pulse lasers, especially on a mech with a big laser duration quirk. There's word that PPCs will be running cooler after the April patch, which may make the choice of LPLs over PPCs a less obvious decision, but right now, these are builds you take because you like PPCs, not because you want a super-optimal mech.