Briefly after the introduction of Clans, we realized that combining the highly tonnage- and slot-efficient cER Medium Laser with the relatively heat efficient cER Large Laser or cLarge Pulse Laser led to some pretty extraordinary builds in terms of both damage and range. Our new Timber Wolves were alpha striking almost twice as hard as they ever had with Gauss Rifles and PPCs, and it wasn’t even hotter. A series of nerfs to all of the problematic laser weapons ensued, toning down the devastation, but the builds and their descendants remain some of the best out there to this day.
Soon, this style of play even pervaded the Inner Sphere (particularly after quirks were added to the mix), and these builds have solidified themselves as among the best as well, though they took a different form – similar damage levels but generally at a lower range and duration.
Note that I am counting Laser Vomit (a mid-range build) as being distinct from Laser Sniping (boating Clan and IS ER Large Lasers) or using short-range lasers in a brawl.
- cER Medium Laser
- cLarge Pulse Laser
- cER Large Laser
- Large Laser
- Large Pulse Laser
- Medium Laser
- Incredible alpha strike: laser weapons tend to be very efficient in terms of tonnage and slots for the raw firepower, with the cost of high heat and relatively low DPS.
- Very forgiving: hitting the wrong component or even entirely missing your target mech at the start of the burn can be corrected with ease.
- Low skill required: no need to lead mechs or juggle distinct weapon systems.
- Easy to build: it’s almost formulaic, just take as many of the specified weapons without breaking ghost heat, and then balance out with heatsinks.
- Great range: these builds may be surpassed at short range and fall off at long range, but they dominate the mid-range and remain effective across the spectrum.
- Can be very hot: this is the main drawback to using any kind of energy weapons.
- Vulnerable while firing: shooting requires not only high exposure time, but high face time, meaning that you will get shot back, and you won’t be able to shield those shots.
- Try lowering your mouse sensitivity if you’re having trouble: hitting your target mech and component is only effective if you manage to keep the laser focused there for its duration. A lower mouse sensitivity will help you avoid making overcorrections and will otherwise stabilize your aim.
- This may seem to directly contradict the last tip but, when trading, you don’t need to expose for the full beam duration. If you can avoid being shot back by ducking behind cover early (and you know this), don’t be afraid to do so. This isn’t always the case, as sometimes you need to focus more on dealing damage than receiving it (particularly if you’re healthy), but if you manage to figure out when and when not to do this, it should serve you well.
- Trade intelligently: note that I use the word “intelligently” instead of “conservatively” or “cautiously”. That’s because, while sometimes you do need to be conservative or cautious or defensive, sometimes you need to be aggressive, reckless, brutal. Your objective, however, should always be for your trades to be “worth”. This can mean a few things. Usually it means that you’re dealing more damage than you receive, but sometimes there are exceptions to this, such as taking a bit more damage than you deal, but if your damage is more effective, like if it kills a mech or takes out their weapons. Another good rule to keep in mind is never to trade against a firing line, as you’ll usually take more damage while exposing than you do total. The thing unique about laser vomit in terms of trading, is that usually you’re looking for free trades. With laser vomit, you can’t always expect that (though obviously you should style try), so you sometimes gotta eat the damage and make sure that you wreck them in the process.
- If you’re on resting heat, take every opportunity to deal even the tiniest amount of damage, such as if you’re running through cover where there are incremental gaps. Any damage is better than no damage.
- cLarge Pulse Lasers do more damage per heat than cER Medium Lasers, which do more than cER Large Lasers (though of course cER Large Lasers are more heat efficient when you get a bit outside the cER Medium Laser optimal range). When running hot, prioritize accordingly. Similarly, for Inner Sphere the Large Pulse Laser is more heat efficient than the Large Laser, which is more heat efficient than the Medium Laser, which is more heat efficient than the ER Large Laser.