Last Updated: 2-May-2016

And now it is time for the most deformed of mechs – the Hunchback!



The Hunchback was the OG medium mech, with quite a bit of history behind it. Of course, it started with the insane 140KPH small laser swayback, but the chassis has gone through a few evolutions with different variants standing out. The Medium Laser 4P, LRM 4J, Gauss Grid Iron, AC/20 4G, and brawling 4SP have all seen their days in the sun, so the Hunchback is a decent chassis to pick up as there’s always something of relevance.

The HBK-4P stands out from the rest of the Hunchback variants thanks to its focus on laser weapons and its fit into the meta, but there are a few other decent options. The main other variant that’s really worth getting is the HBK-4SP, which (ton-for-ton) is one of the most tanky mechs in the game. The third choice is a bit tougher, since the HBK-4J and HBK-4G are pretty even in terms of viability, but very different in playstyle. If you want to just lay back and spam LRMs (ugh) you can take the HBK-4J, but the HBK-4G has the best AC/20 in the game so I’d kinda recommend that instead. The HBK-4H is a decent skirmisher and the Grid Iron isn’t the worst, but I wouldn’t recommend them.


Chassis-Wide Information


  • Pretty sweet quirks across the board, even if none of them have the craziness they used to. It’s enough to keep it relevant.
  • An excess of weapon hardpoints (mainly energy) make it able to boat weapons pretty effectively, mainly limited by tonnage.
  • Asymmetrical loadouts and high weapon mounts in the side torso(s) and head let you poke over and to the side of cover effectively.
  • All the variants get 2 modules slots by default – this isn’t a huge deal, but it’s a nice bonus that the Hunchback gets over most other chassis.



  • RT on all but the HBK-4SP is massive, and no matter how much you quirk its armor, it’s still going to go bye-bye very quickly and neuter (or nearly neuter) most builds.
  •  Lack of jumpjets and a relatively low engine cap make it not-terribly-maneuverable, and it’s not great at shielding. The only thing keeping the chassis from being squish-as-fuck is the quirks.


Generic Tips

  • On the RT-centric mechs, you want to shield with your left side as best you can. It won’t truly stop a determined enemy, but you may at least slow them down.
  • Since you’re not very tanky, you never want to be front line on any of the builds. Just stay behind your allies and shoot around them, staying alive for as long as you can while doing damage whenever possible.
  • As such, you need to be careful with your trades – precision matters more on Hunchbacks than on most mechs, you gotta focus down the same component if you want to win.



If you’re not familiar with my Inner Sphere Master Guides, each pretty much follows the same formula. Each variant gets its own section; within that section I try to include at least two main builds, each with a few variations on the core principle (if applicable).

Each build has one paragraph about the build itself – going over anything I feel is relevant to understanding it such as quirks, tonnage issues, how it fits the meta, my general feeling about it…just whatever. And then there’s a paragraph about using the build, going over tactics, tips, and whatever I feel is relevant to that, including links to L2P guides, on occasion.

I may miss a build that you like, or my builds may differ slightly from what you find works best for you because our philosophies may differ – I strongly encourage that you experiment for yourself to see what works best for you.

The modules are listed in order of which one is most important and the consumables I’ve listed are the ones that are generally the best, but while leveling the mech you may want to swap the less important consumable out for a UAV. That is, if you can afford to use consumables at all (they aren’t necessary, just nice, and if you’re low on C-Bills they’re not necessarily worth it).

On with it!



This is the original “good” Hunchback, and while it may not have as much of a specialization as the HBK-4SP, it retains an edge in most situations. It gets 10% to energy heat gen, 15% to energy cooldown and laser duration, with an extra 10% to medium laser duration. It also gets 18 armor and 12 structure on the RT, and 20% to accel/decel and torso twist speed.

Build 1:

This is the most modern build for the Hunchback chassis in general, and it works really well. You don’t have the range of most laser vomit builds, but the mounts, DPS, and alpha are all high enough to make up for it. My favorite thing about it is the crazy low duration though – your range may be an issue, but trades are a breeze with the high mounts and low exposure times. I do wish I could pull a bit more damage out of it, but it’s only a 50 tonner and I don’t want to use an XL.

This mech is all about hill-humping, with maybe a bit of right-sided corner-peeking thrown in. You can’t really play it as a sniper or staying out of the main engagement, but you can at least make sure that the enemy doesn’t get good shots back on you by changing positions frequently and only exposing for as long as it takes to do a burn. I recommend setting up an extra weapon group for just your top 3 lasers (should be the head laser, large pulse, and one more medium laser) so that you can get the safest burns possible if necessary, and this is also nearly heat neutral. For more on Laser Vomit, check out the guide.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: Medium Laser Range, Large Pulse Range, Large Pulse Cooldown

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

This is a more traditional style of build, taking advantage of the Medium Laser’s efficiency and maximizing your ghost-heat-less damage in the process. You can still do a lot of the same things, but sacrifice some ranged power for extra skirmishy brawl style ability.

Weapon Modules: Medium Laser Range, Medium Pulse Range, Medium Laser Cooldown

It’s hot and it’s vulnerable, but it’s damn powerful. Definitely not to my liking, but you might like it.

Weapon Modules: Medium Laser Range, Large Pulse Range, Large Pulse Cooldown


Build 2:

A drastic change from most Hunchback builds, this one uses ER Larges to maximize its damage and general beastliness at extreme range. The quirks are hardly the best for these weapons, but the mount locations are what make it shine. You can also swap out the ERLLs for regular Larges if you don’t feel you’re getting enough out of the range.

This build plays similarly to the Laser Vomit options, but at a much longer range and duration. Instead of focusing on low exposure times to reduce incoming damage, you’re focusing on just staying outside of the enemy’s optimal range, and ideally escaping their notice in the process. It’s important to not get left behind by your team on the rotation, but you’re fast enough to keep up in most conditions.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: ER Large Range, ER Large Cooldown, Medium Laser Range

Consumables: Cool Shot, Air Strike

I would recommend using Larges on the XL version in particular, as you can use the Mediums with regular Larges better than you can with ERs. The ranged nature of the build makes the XL engine less of a risk than in the other shorter range builds, but still…I don’t feel great about it.

Weapon Modules: Large Laser Range, Medium Laser Range, Large Laser Cooldown



It may not be as solid as the HBK-4P in the pub queue, but the HBK-4SP’s doubled structure makes it the only Hunchback to fit into the competitive scene. Its offensive quirks are pretty great too – it has 10% to energy cooldown, missile velocity, and SRM spread, 15+5% to medium laser heat gen, and 30% to missile cooldown. And for agility, it gets 50% to accel/decel, 40% to turn rate, and 35% torso twist speed. If it had better hardpoints (and maybe more free tonnage), it would be absolutely broken with those quirks.

Build 1:

The DPS is pretty sweet in a full brawl thanks to the crazy missile quirks, you’ll be able to sustain it thanks to the durability, you can deal damage as you close with your medium lasers, and the flamer just helps you further shut down enemy mechs. It’s just a really sweet package, and one of the best medium brawlers in the game right now.

This is the brawliest of the brawler Hunchbacks. Since the main shortcoming is its fragility, you can’t just barge in to the middle of the enemy team guns blazing. You have to be more subtle, find mechs who are overextended or isolated, use safe paths to flank them, or just use your team as meatshields as distractions while you DPS the shit out of the red doritos.

Mech Modules: Seismic Sensor, Radar Deprivation

Weapon Modules: SRM6 Cooldown, Medium Laser Range, SRM6 Range

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

This build completely abandons the ranged assistance of the medium lasers and the brawling utility of the flamer to get moar damage. It’s a really sweet deal to be honest, but I’ve found it to work better for comp than PUGs. If you feel up to it, you can also retain the flamer.

Weapon Modules: SRM6 Cooldown, Small Pulse Range, SRM6 Range



This is the Hunchback, the one that defines the chassis. It gets 15+10% AC/20 cooldown, 25% to ballistic range and velocity, 15% energy heat gen, and 10% energy range. It also gets 18 armor and 12 structure in the RT, 30% turn rate, 35% torso twist speed, and a special 25% reduction in incoming crit chance.

Build 1:

The AC/20 is obviously the pivotal point of the build. Your medium lasers are there as backup, but serve more as bonus firepower than a core element of the build. If you manage to heat up, you can just stop using them temporarily and rely purely on your 20. You might not even notice much of a drop in your effectiveness, the AC/20 is so good. This should be plenty of ammo, but if you find yourself running low, you can drop the engine and add a half ton.

The mech may have some very impressive DPS after quirks, but its RT armor and structure quirks are weaker than they appear – it still gets blown off easily because it’s what people will just naturally shoot at. As such, you have to be careful in your pokes and play conservatively after your RT starts to get damaged.

Mech Modules: Seismic Sensor, Radar Deprivation

Weapon Modules: AC/20 Cooldown, AC/20 Range, Medium Laser Range

Consumables: Cool Shot, Air Strike

This is a purely lesser version of the Shadowhawk lefty build, but it’s still pretty cool.

Weapon Modules: AC/20 Cooldown, AC/20 Range, PPC Cooldown


Build 2:

This is a pretty generic dakka build, focusing on the high, if unreliable, DPS of the UAC/5. The ammo is actually a bit light, and the speed is much compromised by having to take on such huge weapons, but it can definitely be worth it since it stays relevant at longer ranges than the AC/20 build.

You definitely want to stay in the back with this one, using your team as meat shields. You’re also going to want to focus on supporting already-focused targets rather than picking fights, as your DPS may not be enough to out-do enemy alpha strikes. But you can also abuse enemies that are lacking in range, and get some safe hill-humpy bursts off.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor, Target Info Gathering

Weapon Modules: UAC/5 Cooldown, UAC/5 Range

Consumables: Artillery Strike, UAV

It is considerably slower (and hotter I guess), but it picks up some sorely-needed ammo and improves it crit-padding. If you like the build but find yourself running dry, try this one out.



It’s been toned down from its prior craziness, but the HBK-4J remains one of the better LRM mechs in this game. It gets 20+15% LRM10 cooldown, 10% to missile heat gen and velocity, and 15% laser duration. To go along with that, you get 12 armor and structure, 35% accel/decel, 15% turn rate, and 40% torso twist speed.

Build 1:

The cooldown quirks on your LRM10 makes it pretty silly to take anything else (unless you’re like me and hate LRMs). The weirdest thing about the build, in my opinion, is that I decided to put the TAG in the head rather than a Medium, and I decided to do that because that way it can get over just slightly higher cover. And since you have an XL engine, you can’t zombie anyways.

Anyways, you can do one of two things with this build. The first is to just sit in the back like a bitch, spamming LRMs until you run out of ammo, just wasting a significant bit of your firepower completely and piggybacking off of all the work that your team is actually doing. The other way is to play more aggressively, not only breaking out the lasers when you get the chance but also actively looking for a chance. As long as you don’t charge into the enemy team, this always leaves you with the option to pull back and play like a bitch after you lose a bunch of armor and start worrying about your own survival. Just saying.

Mech Modules: Target Decay, Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: LRM10 Cooldown, Medium Laser Range

Consumables: Cool Shot, Air Strike

Just a little bit worse in pretty much all ways, but it doesn’t die as easily!


Build 2:

Not the ideal build for the quirks, but…with the quirks, it can be a pretty baller brawler (though nowhere near the majesty of the HBK-4SP). It’s hot as hell, sometimes, but the heat gen quirks really do help. Plus you can poke a bit, certainly more effectively than most brawlers.

For the first bit of the match, this build plays a lot like the HBK-4P, just poking at short-medium range with your high-mounted lasers. But then, once everything starts to kick off, you can shift into 11th gear and let loose your ~2 second cooldown SRM4s, just decimating pretty much everything that gets close enough.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: SRM4 Cooldown, Medium Laser Range, Medium Laser Cooldown

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

Sometimes, bigger launchers are better. But in the end, that decision is yours to make.

Weapon Modules: SRM6 Cooldown, Medium Laser Range, Medium Laser Cooldown


Grid Iron

The Grid Iron is simply not doing great these days. It does have 20+10% Gauss Cooldown, but that’s just not enough to make a mech good these days. There is also 10% to energy range, laser duration, and missile velocity, and 15% to missile cooldown, but those aren’t great either. Defensively, it has 25% extra structure across the board and an extra 18 armor and 12 structure specifically on the RT. And in terms of agility quirks, it gets 60% to accel/decel and 10% torso twist speed.

Build 1:

This build is obviously meant to take as much advantage of the Gauss cooldown quirk as possible, but it just doesn’t wow you. As far as single Gauss Rifle mechs go it’s great, but it’s not enough to make a mech. It does have some backup weapons, but they don’t do enough.

This is a pokey mech that will stay at long range 90% of the time, only closing when it is necessary to get better shots. Your ammo is limited, so be careful to hit every shot you take, and while you never want to be in front, feel free to close in to bring your lasers to bear when you see an opportunity. Protect the shit out of your Gauss Rifle through torso twisting and, if they start camping your spot, please remember to reposition instead of losing trades.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: Gauss Rifle Cooldown, MPL Cooldown, MPL Range

Consumables: Air Strike, Cool Shot


Honorable Mentioons

I prefer this on the HBK-4G due to its range and velocity quirks, but it does get a bit of extra structure here (might be outweighed by the HBK-4G’s crit quirks) and an extra 5% to cooldown. All that being said, it’s arguably a better build for the Grid Iron than the Gauss Rifle, so I’d try it out if you did opt for the Grid Iron. And of course, you can get an extra ton of ammo by dropping the engine and DHS upgrade.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor, Target Info Gathering

Weapon Modules: UAC/5 Cooldown, UAC/5 Range

Consumables: Cool Shot, Air Strike

It’s not really…what’s the word…oh yeah, good. But you can do it.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: AC/20 Cooldown, MPL Range, MPL Cooldown

Consumables: Cool Shot, Air Strike


While I do think it is the least-good variant, it’s not exactly bad. It does have 15+5% AC/10 cooldown and 20% to ballistic range, energy cooldown, and energy heat gen. And that goes along with the 18 armor and 12 structure on the RT, the 15% accel/decel, 10% turn rate, and 35% torso twist speed.

Build 1:

This mech is not quite a brawler, but it’s certainly not viable at medium range. It’s at that really awkward stage where it wants to be something it just isn’t, and honestly, it’s not very impressive in its own right. But you do get some decent DPS out of the AC/10, and your alpha doesn’t suck.

Your AC/10 and 3 high mounted lasers are your primary weapons, and thanks to their heavy quirks, you can sustain their fire for quite some time. But you are terribly vulnerable because not only do you have to be at mid-short range, but you have to stay exposed for a while in order to maximize your DPS (a la dakka). When the brawl kicks off, you can do a bit more work, but still. Sub-optimal by far.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: AC/10 Cooldown, Medium Laser Range, Medium Laser Cooldown

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

It gets a bit of extra firepower, but isn’t stronger enough to justify the XL engine for me.

It’s inferior to the HBK-4G, but the ability to torso-mount the lasers is nice.

Weapon Modules: AC/20 Cooldown, Medium Laser Range, AC/20 Range


Pilot Skills

I’ve figured that this is the best skill order for pretty much any mech, and so I’m just going to customize it for mechs that have to emphasize unusual pilot skills. Like with the Centurion, the Hunchback emphasizes torso movement, and so I’m placing those up on the list from the normal order, but other than that it’s mostly the same as the normal progression I recommend.

Basics: Cool Run – Heat Containment – Twist Speed – Twist X – Hard Brake – Kinetic Burst – Anchor Turn – Arm Reflex

Elites: Speed Tweak – Fast Fire – Quick Ignition – Pinpoint

Then just master it. I would pretty much always hold onto the HBK-4G and HBK-4P, and then get the Grid Iron if you want, or if not, get the HBK-4J. Or if you hate LRMs, like me, go for the HBK-4SP. But hey, get and keep whichever ones you want!


And that’s that. I hope you enjoy your mech, let me know if you have any questions, and as always glhf