- You have to have ballistics. It could be tempting to use those high mounted energy and missile hardpoints and be a 100T Stalker, but then you're going to be running too hot to be of any use. Ballistics allow you to keep firing no matter what. Please no pure LRM builds.
- UAC5's are face-wreckers but I think quad AC5 is a much better choice. UAC5's absolutely wreck for the first 1-2 seconds, but afterwards jamming hurts your DPS a lot. Especially if your free arm jams you get really bad trades. AC5's give you a stable and reliable damage output. If you want UACs, making separate arms of 2xUAC5 and 2xAC5 might be a good comprimise.
- You don't need to be fast like a brawler Atlas (relatively speaking). Anything between 50-60 KPH is still acceptable. Your hardpoints are pretty high mounted and you don't have a barn-door profile so you can perfectly trade well while being slow. 25% torso twist speed also helps immensely. Atlases need bigger engines to twist better and close range faster. I am yet to try STD340+ Crabs so I don't know about their viability yet.
- AC2+AC5 combos are okay. It'll suck at close range, but at mid-long ranges it's a good damage farmer. Just don't get into staring contests with Gauss+LPL/LL 'Mechs.
- Artemis is almost mandatory because you'll mostly be shooting at the limits of your SRM range.
- Frontload that armor. It's hard to reach a Crab's back if it's actively trying to avoid something due to the twist speed and range.
- You can safely remove armor from the arms. They get a +17 armor bonus and they rarely get hit. I use 55 armor without any negative consequences.
More to follow as I finish mastering these beasts. Now, let's get to the builds themselves:
With quad energy and missile hardpoints, I struggled to find a decent build for this 'Mech. How do you make use of every hardpoint while still staying viable? How do you even keep those missiles and lasers cool? I went through dual AC20s, dual Gauss, Streaks, quad-LLs but nothing felt good. Only extremely brawly builds with lots of SRMs were close to feeling right. But those builds sacrificed big ballistics for ASRMs and wielding dual (U)AC5s was hurting its survivability in brawls (by forcing you to stare).
Then I decided to leave one arm empty. That extra 10+ tonnage allowed me to bring a decent amount of heatsinks and backup lasers while also upping the engine. I've been really enjoying the results so far.
I like having weapon redundancy over having a shield side, but you can easily switch the AC20 to the left arm if you're a fan of the latter. DO NOT fire the lasers in close combat. They're there in case you run out ammo or to help you apply some damage at range in the positioning phases. Just keep pumping damage with the AC20 and ASRM6'es. Make sure you pick the biggest and meatiest target so they'll soak every bit of those SRMs in.
Six ballistics, what do we do here? Do we go crazy with ballistics or do we take advantage of the quirks and slap AC20s in there? Well I found out you can do both, but the latter makes this variant a beast in close-mid range.
My absolute favorite is the 2xAC20 2xLPL build. With this 'Mech not only you get a 27% decrease (with the CD module) in AC20 cooldown, you also gain a speed bonus. It's a bit silly not to take advantage of that.
It doesn't have a great heat efficiency, but 12 DHS is enough to help you keep those AC20's in use even when riding the heat limit. Just make absolutely sure that you're sufficiently staggering those 20's in brawls so you won't have accidental shutdowns. The LPLs augment your damage greatly and allow you to trade from cover and reach mid ranges. If the ammo is not to your liking, you can drop to STD300.
What if we go crazy with the ballistics? That means we have to use (U)AC5s and AC2s. AC2s are pretty bad weapons, but if you have a lot of them their DPS is still decent. Plus they can be used as suppressive weapons at range.
When I saw this variant I immediately knew what to do. Quad ballistic hardpoints = quad AC5's. It doesn't get more dangerous or optimal than that. That's basically an AC20 firing 58% faster. The problem is how do you fill the rest of the tonnage? Do we fill those other 6 hardpoints at all?
I opted to fill them with the same thought train I followed with the 0000. It's just that this variant can still do great at range while retaining the same punch at close range. Because of its ranged capabilities and the ridiculousness of AC5s, this is my favourite Crab so far. Though, I'm still not happy with the build below. I haven't fiddled with it much and "optimized" it, 000B is my deadliest KGC with this build so far.
Again, refrain from using the lasers unless absolutely necessary to keep the heat managable. When you're riding the limit, fall back to your AC5s. If you're not elited, you'll still be heating up slightly while firing 4xAC5s though. Keep that in mind.
More on Crabs (a full review) as I master them!