I've got a Hunch...

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I've got a Hunch...

PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 2:51 am

BlueFlames
Posts: 448
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 3:24 am
Location: SSX Vault 12
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.

Re: I've got a Hunch...

PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2016 2:54 pm

BlueFlames
Posts: 448
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 3:24 am
Location: SSX Vault 12
You know what sounds like a terrible idea? Putting an XL engine in your Swayback and taking it out while the matchmaker is allowing teams to drop with six assault mechs.

And yet for some reason, I decided to run this ridiculous thing last night. It was disturbingly consistent. Every time I took it out, I'd get 700 damage and usually managed three kills. If I died, it'd be to a torso shot, but only after all three torso sections got stripped of armor, front and back, and were down to their last few hit points of internal structure. It was kind of disgusting how long this thing could survive in a fight, when it had no business doing so. Coupled with the high damage-per-unit-time, 400-meter optimal range, and heat efficiency of the trio of large pulse lasers, this mech's inexplicable endurance translated to really nasty damage numbers. All you've got to do is remember to start shielding with your weapon side, if your shield side gets soft.

It's got me thinking about what else you can do with the HBK-4P that you're never supposed to do. I think the next taboo to break is single heat sinks (or something with a little more reach). Hell, if I'm willing to put an XL engine in a Hunchback, then where does the madness stop?

Re: I've got a Hunch...

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2016 4:15 pm

BlueFlames
Posts: 448
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 3:24 am
Location: SSX Vault 12
BlueFlames wrote:It's got me thinking about what else you can do with the HBK-4P that you're never supposed to do. I think the next taboo to break is single heat sinks (or something with a little more reach). Hell, if I'm willing to put an XL engine in a Hunchback, then where does the madness stop?


PissBoiler.jpg
Am I hunching wrong?
PissBoiler.jpg (573.83 KiB) Viewed 4712 times


Oh yeah. We're going to do this. Not only did I put together the standard heat sink build, but I bought a second HBK-4P to do it.

My one concern is that, while this build has similar damage potential to the LPL build, that 100 meters of lost range puts you in SRM range. Jenner IIC's are scary at that range.

Re: I've got a Hunch...

PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 1:04 pm

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Chimera
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Never been a fan of the Hunchback myself, though I'd be interested to see where this goes.
Pain is weakness leaving your body.

Re: I've got a Hunch...

PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2016 5:19 pm

BlueFlames
Posts: 448
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 3:24 am
Location: SSX Vault 12
The Piss Boiler has been a bit of a frustration over the past month, and the reason why is the success I've been having with its three-LPL, double heat sink-equipped cousin. The three large pulse build is a consistent performer. If that build gets less than 500 damage and two kills, then we either steamrolled the enemy team in under four minutes, or I got caught way out of position and was punished for it.

On the other hand, the Piss Boiler is lucky to get a 500 damage game, and I don't fully understand why. It's got the same engine as the three LPL build; it's alpha strike deals similar damage, and 29 single heat sinks together have a greater dissipation rate and heat capacity than 14 double heat sinks. I noted the range difference, but within 300 meters, the six medium lasers should perform similarly to the three large pulse lasers. I think that the factor having a greater impact is actually the difference in burn time. On the HBK-4P, large pulse lasers have a 0.57s burn time, and medium lasers have a 0.68s burn time. A tenth of a second isn't huge, but at closer range, there's a greater need to shield against incoming fire, so I'm either waiting out the burn and taking more meaningful damage or I'm twisting away, while the medium lasers are still burning and dealing less damage as a result.

Now, I've tried dropping heat sinks to upgrade the medium lasers to medium pulse lasers, but losing six single heat sinks gives up the capacity and dissipation rate advantages that this mech has over its double heat sink counterpart. MPLs also necessitate getting even closer to your target, so I'm not certain that the improved burn duration would translate to much. The only remaining weapon options are a six small pulse build or a nine small laser build, and in the solo queue, I don't want to be stuck in a mech that relies that heavily on the rest of the team pushing aggressively (because they won't; because they suck).

In any case, the Hunchback's XL-taboo can be broken, if you're good at shielding against incoming damage, but single heat sinks are still a bridge too far for this chassis. The XL revelation will hopefully bear more fruits in the future, though, as I'm now experimenting with some HBK-4G builds that weren't previously possible due to the weight of a standard engine.


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