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Author Topic: ProtoMechs of the Week: 2-Ton Special  (Read 2007 times)


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ProtoMechs of the Week: 2-Ton Special
« on: 01 December 2014, 00:12:31 »
Welcome, all, to this first installment of the new ProtoMech of the Week series! As part of my ongoing project to turn ProtoMechs into a more understood weapon of war, these articles will take an in-depth look at the different designs available to players. These will - for the most part - be presented in chronological order by their in-universe introductory date. There will be a few exceptions, for example, the limitations of 2-ton ProtoMechs mean that I will be attacking the Harpy and the Erinyes in one go.


The Harpy has the honor of being the first ProtoMech ever conceived, joining the ranks of the legendary Mackie and Elemental Battle Armor. Unfortunately, it comes nowhere close to being as performing as those solid designs were at their inception. Coming in at 2 tons, the Harpy is as light as ProtoMechs come. Interestingly enough, this weight band would come to be shared with Assault Battle Armor designs - but the Harpy predates even the Spheroid Kanazuchi, with the Harpy first appearing a year earlier in 3057. It would take a total of 10 (or 7 real, non-BattleTech) years before Clan players would have access to the more popular alternative.

Having two wildly different units share the same weight-band begs for comparison. And initially, things look rather good for the ProtoMech. Both the ProtoMech and the Assault BA chassis require 700 kg to be put aside for their Internal Structure, Pilot and Cockpit. It would cost a 2-ton Protomech 10 fewer kilograms to move at 2/3, and jump jets weigh 50 kg each instead of the staggering 250 kg that Assault BA have to pay. When combined with a lack of movement caps (unlike the BA and its max of 2 MP), the ProtoMech seems like the more attractive choice.

I hope I didn’t get your hopes up - things go downwards from here on out. A 2-ton Proto can carry up to 18 points of armor, the same amount as an assault suit, and also has an additional 8 points of internal structure. This semblance of durability is just that - an illusion. The ProtoMech suffers from having multiple hit locations. While this theoretical battle armor could take 15-point hits without breaking a sweat, the ProtoMech would crumble with the first shot. Armor also costs double the weight for ProtoMechs than it does with BA, with each point of armor weighing 50 kg as opposed to 25.

Weapons are where things are at their worst. Although ProtoMechs can potentially field larger and heavier weapons than battle armor, a 2-ton ProtoMech will suffer no matter what it chooses to carry. Battle armor missile tubes weigh roughly 10 times LESS than ProtoMech ones. Weapons like ER or Pulse lasers not only weight more for the Proto, but demand a costly 250 kg per heat sink fee. Even Machine Guns and AP Gauss Rifles are affected, both weighing 2.5 times more on any ProtoMech design than their BA counterpart.

This all suggests that the ProtoMech should be used more offensively, as an aggressive unit meant to be on the attack and to carry the initiative. I find this idea to fit the Jaguars rather well, although I can’t help but feel like their last stand on Huntress could have hugely benefited from some solid Assault BA designs instead of the Harpies they were stuck with.


From TRO:3060

The Harpy can trace its roots directly to the Elemental, and one can see exactly how the Jaguars wanted to improve on the impressive combat suit. The Harpy has a movement profile of 3/5/3, giving it the same hopping ability as the slightly smaller “toads”, while its ground speed is greatly improved. Its armor is slightly tougher, with 11 points as opposed to 10. Looks good, right? But as I noted earlier, armor is is spread out, with a 2(head), 4(torso), 1(arms), 3(legs) layout. This means the Harpy has a roughly 45% chance of getting cored out by a 7-point hit, and will only rarely survive through more punishment than the basic Elemental suit. Weaponry was streamlined quite a bit. The missile launchers unfortunately had to be dropped, while the modular weapon mount was replaced with one of the Elemental’s basic options: a Machine Gun, armed with 20 shots. The resulting ProtoMech, fell flat on its face. With few actual advantages over the BA, the Harpy was relegated to anti-infantry operations where certain abstract notions, such as its imposing size and presence, would give it a small niche.

The first variant emerged in 3063, and without a doubt managed to make the ProtoMech even worse. A swap over to an ER Micro Laser forces the need for a single (heavy) heat sink. This weight was drawn straight from the armor, dropping it down to 1(head), 3(torso), 1(arms), 2(legs). A 5-point hit can now destroy the machine, and 7-point hits to the arms or head will still transfer over to core out the torso. Better pray for those 3's and 11's.

Next we have the Harpy 3, which came out in 3065. This variant actually attempts to push the chassis to its limits - the jump jets are dropped, and the engine increased to allow it to move 5/8. A Light Machine Gun increases range compared to the older standard model, and ammo is halved to 10 rounds to increase the armor to 12 points. This armor *is* rearranged, though, to 2(head), 3(torso), 2(arms), 3(legs). This is something that annoys me…a 5-point his can still core out the ProtoMech, while the standard Harpy can at least manage to survive that much. It's still better than both previous Harpy models in my eyes, able to reach higher movement modifiers while carrying more armor and having greater range. The LMG won't win any wars, but if you're using Harpies to deal damage you have greater problems on your plate.

The final variant is the Harpy 4, presumably a Society design due to its late appearance of 3069 and place in certain RATs. And honestly, I would have expected better out of them. Much better. The old movement profile is retained, but a ProtoMech Myomer Booster is added for a full one hex of running MP. The absurdity of it all is most apparent when you realize that a 4/6 engine would weigh the exact same amount. The Light MG with 10 shots is retained, a good choice if any, while armor returns to the same amount and layout as the original. I imagine this might be a sort of simple refit for forces that have the basic Harpy engine on hand and cannot make any others, but seriously...yeesh.


From TRO:3075

The Erinyes simply expanded on the questionable legacy of the Harpy. Meant to act as a “proof of concept” design, Falcon scientists quickly decided they wanted the ProtoMech project to become “officially” abandoned. Apparently this meant making as terrible a ProtoMech as possible without making it readily apparent to the Warrior Caste. Movement is increased from the Harpy's 3/5/3 to 4/6/4, while the single weapon is switched to an SRM-1 tube with 5 shots. Armor is then dropped down to 10 points, with a point sacrificed from the legs. These changes aren’t necessarily a bad idea. An SRM-1 is probably the best weapon for a 2-ton ProtoMech (with the LMG probably the only contender IMO), and decreasing the ammo load as much as possible while cutting back slightly on armor to increase the movement profile is a good idea in my eyes. Still, investing 200 kg into jump jets when they could go towards a larger engine is probably what hampers the design the most.

The Erinyes 2 was the first product of Falcon scientists gaining full, unmonitored control of the ProtoMech program in 3064. Sharing many similarities with the Harpy variants, it shares the 5/8 movement profile of the Harpy 3 (good) and the 8 points of armor (and its layout) along with the ER Micro Laser of the Harpy 2 (bad). It's a safe bet to avoid using this variant. The interesting thing is that this variant appears to be a transitional model - just between the Harpy 2 and the Harpy 3.

The final variant, emerging with the Society rebellion in 3072, is the best of the bunch -  it is the exact same as the Harpy 3, but has a better armor layout of 2(head), 4(torso), 1(arms), 4(legs). It's the toughest of the 2-tonners, able to survive through an ER Medium to either arm, a 10-pointer to the legs , and can withstand a pesky 5-point hit to the torso or legs without losing the location (funny how I'm praising this as if it's an incredible feat...). The only downside it has when compared to the Harpy 3 is its inability to take an SRM to an arm without losing it, but I find the pros outweigh this single con.


Unfortunately, not much can be done with 2-ton ProtoMechs. There is still some room for improvement, such as sacrificing more armor (or the jump jets found on both the basic Harpy and Erinyes) to fit in larger engines. With enough motivation, they could be brought up to 8/12 speeds (or even 6/9, if one isn't willing to sacrifice too much armor). Weapons will always be limited, but avoided lasers is a great way to go. After that, it's a matter of choosing your targets with extreme caution. Five MG or LMG-armed Harpies will tear through an infantry point, but you have to be fully ready to lose a ProtoMech with each of these engagements. If your opponent is massing infantry, it can be cost effective - otherwise, it's a toss-up that depends more on the dice than anything else. Using these ProtoMechs to ambush an opponent can pin down enemy armor or delay their forces, but in all honesty, even then they will continuously flop when compared to battle armor, heavier ProtoMechs, or even certain varieties of infantry.

MUL Links
-Erinyes: NOPE
-Erinyes: NOPE
« Last Edit: 09 December 2014, 21:32:31 by GreekFire »
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Re: ProtoMech of the Week: 2-Ton Special
« Reply #1 on: 01 December 2014, 00:20:20 »
The greatest advantage for a Protomech over a battlesuit at the same tonnage is pretty much exactly one thing at tactical scale in BattleTech - a Protomech point functions as five units in terms of battlefield presence, and can attack multiple different enemies even if it isn't necessarily advisable.  This makes their speed at least moderately useful and increases their utility in the spotting role over suits or conventional infantry.

That's really the best thing I can say about 2 ton protos.  They're not good.
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Re: ProtoMech of the Week: 2-Ton Special
« Reply #2 on: 01 December 2014, 01:58:21 »
The 2-ton Protos have some utility in urban terrain. They can hit an LRM carrier or other  poorly armored support vehicle quickly, then flee through the buildings where faster units can't follow. But that's something that any Protomech can do, and most would do it better. I guess the low BVs might be in their favor, but you're really getting what you pay for.
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Re: ProtoMech of the Week: 2-Ton Special
« Reply #3 on: 01 December 2014, 02:15:01 »
They make more sense in universe, the Harpy as a proof of concept and the Erinyes as a bit of Scientist Caste misdirection, but really all the do is define the limits of ProtoMech technology.


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Re: ProtoMech of the Week: 2-Ton Special
« Reply #4 on: 01 December 2014, 04:21:19 »
I guess if you are resource poor, you start small and then go bigger.  Wonder if the scientists used them to scare small warriors in their sibko's at night.


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Re: ProtoMech of the Week: 2-Ton Special
« Reply #5 on: 01 December 2014, 09:13:35 »
If weren't not for the expense, they'd be good infantry support units. Unarmored infantry would fear them sort of. With Erinyes being better of the two with better armor, speed and using SRM with inferno rounds ruining their day.

Aside from using it in a scout formation, 7 unit points aren't something to sneeze at.  I think it would maybe fair better with ATOW rpg usage, being more effective.  I think these are more fluff machines that has stats, to show where scientist were experimenting with all concepts of ProtoMech technology.  Which is what scientists do, experiment.
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