Updated 14-Mar-2016

Been meaning to add this one for a while, and now’s a good a time as any. Welcome…to the Blackjack Master Guide.



The Blackjack has had a lot of ups and downs during its time in MWO. For a time it was a great budget AC/20 med, but then SRMs and Laser Vomit knocked it on its ass for a while. It took some pretty special quirks to bring the BJ-1X into fashion, and since then another quirk pass has made all the variants stronger than ever.

In particular, the BJ-3 has taken over as the king, with the best combination of energy quirks, mounts, and jumpjets! The BJ-1X is close behind in second place (some would argue that it’s even better than the BJ-3) thanks to its numerous hardpoints, high max engine, and decent quirks. The Arrow is next up, effectively serving as a lower-mounted version of the BJ-3. Then we have the BJ-1, which is a pretty ridiculous AC/2 mech thanks to absolutely insane quirks, followed by its flightless clone, the BJ-1DC. That being said, even the worst Blackjacks are absolutely stupendous.


Chassis-Wide Information


  • Really nice defensive quirks (50% extra structure across the board) make this chassis an insane tank. And really nice offensive quirks make this chassis a total badass. Really this thing is just blessed by the hand of PGI all around.
  • High mounts let you hill-hump rather safely – not without risk because the mounts aren’t Stalker level, but they’re pretty much Jager level – plus some variants can be run asym!
  • Lack of any arm actuators gives you plenty of slots, allowing for either heat sink spam or ferro.
  • It’s not particularly XL safe, but it’s not terribly vulnerable to getting side-torso’d either and can twist well enough.



  • Awkward engine caps all around (235 on most variants which keep you from taking the 255 sweet spot, and 295 on the 1X keeps you from taking the 300 sweet spot).
  • 45-tonners don’t naturally have an excess of space and armor, so…even though the quirks are ridiculous, the results aren’t as insane as they could be.


Generic Tips

  • You may be quirked to all hell defensively, but you’re still a medium mech (durability is still roughly the same as an unquirked 55-tonner by the numbers) and as such you can be taken out pretty easily. As such, don’t overextend and focus on flanking from positions that have easy access to cover and an escape route.
  • Almost all builds can make good use of hill-humping thanks to movement quirks, jumpjets, high mounts, etc. Focus on that stuff if possible, leaving the rest of your mech in cover.



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!


Blackjack BJ-3

The BJ-3 has 5% energy cooldown, 10% energy range, 10+20% PPC Heat gen (with a 10% generic component) and 50% PPC velocity, in addition to the 50% extra structure that all Blackjacks get. Its big advantage is having a number of high-mounted energy hardpoints and jumpjets.

Build 1:

These LPLs go out to 438m optimal, which is pretty sweet. This build is fantastic for any sort of hill-humping and right-side corner-peeking, and can play it at all sorts of ranges. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s only 45 tons which is just ridiculously efficient for comp, CW, and PUGs.

Despite having a really nice alpha strike, it’s not quite going to be a front-line mech. It can poke with the group just fine for sure, but if you manage to get a good wide angle on the bad guys and are able to hill-hump or even sort of poptart, you can do as much good for your team in disruption as damage. For more on this sort of build, check out the Laser Vomit guide.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: LPL Range, LPL Cooldown

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

The speed is kind of a detriment, but the quirks are great and it can really make it work with a 270m range. This is one of the places where the awkward engine cap comes into play – if it was a 250 or 255 it could be really badass.

Weapon Modules: MPL Range, MPL Cooldown


Build 2:

This is the build meant for the BJ-3 by the quirks, and it really does work for it. The poptart style isn’t the best in this meta, but it can keep it up really nicely and the velocity helps nail those shots. Plus, the convergence is obviously good and the mounts are nice and high…it’s just fantastic.

For the most part, this plays like an ordinary poptart. Again, you don’t want to just stick with the main force (though straying too far could go poorly), as your flanks are annoying and effective as hell. Don’t let the enemy cut you off, but take those wide angles and poptart/coner-peek/hillhump the shit out of the enemy team. For more on Poptarts, check out the guide.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

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

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

This gives up the high mounts, asymm, backup weapons, and some heatsinks, but it is a bit more durable. If you are having trouble with the XL vulnerabilities, may as well give it a go.

I prefer this to the original, but I can understand why someone would be hesitant. It looks super hot, but the 30% heat gen quirk is crazy good for this. You can even alpha-strike if you think you’ll have time to cool down!

Weapon Modules: PPC Range, PPC Cooldown

This maxes out the heatsinks for ERPPC madness. Not particularly a fan myself, but they’re still very powerful. Can also run it symmetrically if you fancy that sort of thing.

Weapon Modules: ERPPC Range, ERPPC Cooldown


Blackjack BJ-1X

A favorite of many, the BJ-1X has 10% energy cooldown, 10% heat gen, and 10% range, in addition to 10% accel/decel and the half-again structure that all BJs get.

Build 1:

The build we all know and love, this has some great short/med range damage (325m Med Lasers) with the agility to pull off crazy pokes. Sometimes. But it’s pretty great, and the damage can tear apart most any mech it sees.

As a skirmisher, you want to skirt the edges of the brawl without entering it full-on, or do aggressive poking if there’s no brawl going on. It’s important to stay moving as much as possible in this mech; if the enemy doesn’t know where you’re going to poke from you can do a lot to force them into a defensive position. Keep your aim steady for the full beam duration to make sure you can really open up your target, and just keep up the DPS.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: Medium Laser Range, Medium Pulse Laser Cooldown

Consumables: Cool Shot, Air Strike

I prefer this version to the original – it’s not as good at short range, but it is way better at the mid-range stuff.

Weapon Modules: Medium Laser Range, Large Laser Cooldown

Here’s what we were trying to do on the BJ-3 (sort of). It’s got dat 270m range and it’s got crazy deeps and it’s just so happy right now.

Weapon Modules: MPL Range, MPL Cooldown


Build 2:

Here’s your typical Large Laser IS mech. And oh boy is it good. It’s optimized for the crazy pokes at long range and has some nice alpha strike damage to back it up at shorter range. Really, this is just such a solid build all-around.

This is a typical laser vomit build, but unlike its competitors like the Enforcer and Wolverine, its mounts are nice and high and it’s really easy and pleasant to play. Just poke like mad and keep up the long-range DPS. For detailed info on playing Laser Vomit, check out the guide.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: Large Laser Range, Medium Laser Range

Consumables: Cool Shot, Air Strike



The Arrow’s quirks are very similar to the BJ-3’s, with 10% heat gen, 10% range, and 20% duration instead of the 5% cooldown and an extra 20% MG RoF quirk. The main difference for meta builds is that the Arrow’s hardpoints are pretty low, but it has 30% accel/decel, 20% turn rate, and 30% torso twist which help it out a lot (and of course 50% extra structure).

Build 1:

So yeah, it’s a lot like the BJ-3 build. This version gets a hefty bit of extra mobility through quirks and a slightly larger engine, but it has much lower hardpoints which I find unappetizing.

This plays a lot like the BJ-3 build above, with the main difference being that it focuses more on general low-mount poking as opposed to hill-humping and the like.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: LPL Range, LPL Cooldown

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

So yeah, triple ERLL is a bit wimpy, but the Arrow pulls it off pretty nicely with the crazy duration quirk.

Weapon Modules: ERLL Cooldown, ERLL Range


Build 2:

This is the sort of build that would be really cool if MGs were at all worth it. Still, it puts out a sizable bit of damage, and the MGs aren’t useless or anything, just not as valuable as, like, other weapons… The main downside is that you have to just face the enemy for days to do any damage, but in a mass brawl that can work.

This build wants to be a brawler most of the time (otherwise the MGs go to waste), but a lot of the time you might want to stick to the ~300m range instead of full committing, just for the sake of living longer. But if your teammates are full committing, don’t hesitate, just go in balls out. When using the MGs, remember that you don’t have to stare at the enemy the whole time, and if you need to shield you’re allowed to. But if you’re not in trouble just jam those triggers!

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: MPL Range, MG Range

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

Pretty similar in most ways to the original, but gets a fair bit of extra power and range from the XL. Try both, and see which works better!

Weapon Modules: LPL Range, MG Range

This skimps a little bit on ammo because it’s going to try to be out of MG range for most of the fight anyways. It’s better than the previous ones most of the time since you won’t be focusing on brawling, but it loses a bit of the novelty.

Weapon Modules: LL Range, LL Cooldown


Blackjack BJ-1

The BJ-1 comes in with 15+20% cooldown and 5+20% heat gen for AC/2s, along with 20% ballistic range, 30% ballistic velocity, and 10% energy range. That’s all on top of 17° of extra torso twist (which was already higher than most of the other BJs) and a 30% boost to torso twist speed and those structure quirks. Really spectacular stuff.

Build 1:

It looks ridiculously hot, but it’s basically heat neutral with just the AC/2s and most of the time that’s all you’re using. And it’s also the first time I’ve enjoyed using AC/2s. They fire super-fast, they fly super-fast, and they’re nice and high mounted to boot. Was really surprised by the effectiveness.

You should be basically holding down the AC/2 buttons for the whole game, adding in the Mediums whenever you have the heat and the enemy is within range. Keep your AC/2s trained on the weakest component as much as you can to get the most out of the crits, and never be on resting heat!

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor, Sensor Range

Weapon Modules: Medium Laser Range, AC/2 Range

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

I cooked this version up when I was worried about the previous build’s heat, but it ended up being unnecessary. But if you are having heat troubles please try this one out.

Weapon Modules: MPL Range, AC/2 Range


Build 2:

This is an old-school brawler style of build, focusing on high precision with ballistics and low-duration energy weapons. It’s almost a skirmisher in today’s meta, focusing on skirting the brawl rather than committing most of the time.

You can’t really lead a charge in this mech, but you can follow up like crazy. Before any full commit, focus on rotating with your team, poking as long as the enemy’s tail is within range, or doing little jumpsnipes if they’re not rotating (and in range of course). Even after a brawl kicks off, you can go in full-blast if you like, but often staying on the edges is more rewarding as long as you can land your AC/20 shots reliably. Just don’t let the enemy get out of your sight.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

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

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

This version runs a bit hotter and has a bit longer duration, but also gets more damage which is pretty swell.

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

Having an XL engine in a brawler is a bit ballsy, so you may want to drop down to a STD210 for your peace of mind.

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



This variant’s quirks are remarkably similar to the BJ-1, but more generic. It’s got full generic 25% ballistic cooldown and heat gen, but then skips velocity for 20% ballistic range, 10% energy range, and 15% laser duration. It’s got 60% accel/decel and 45% torso twist speed, with the structure buffs on top of all that.

Build 1:

It’s…a bit hot. But it’s not too bad at all, really. The low-duration 365m Medium Lasers will serve you nicely, and the AC/5 is just a huge help to all of that, as it will fire more than once each second after modules and fast fire. Which is…pretty swell.

This is definitely a skirmisher, and kind of plays like a massive UM-R63. Your Mediums are the big burst for sure, but the sustained DPS out of your AC/5 is just incredible, and you can keep it up for a long, long time. Try to stick out at around 400m for most of the game, keeping up the DPS as much as possible and either repositioning as you cool off or just continuing the dakka if you’re not getting beat back. The playstyle is definitely one of the more unique ones, but it’s still pretty badass.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: Medium Laser Range, AC/5 Cooldown, Medium Laser Cooldown

Consumables: Cool Shot, Air Strike

Meh. It’s got the range, but the duration is largely redundant and the BJ-1X does the whole thing better.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor, Target Decay

Weapon Modules: MPL Range, MPL Cooldown


Build 2:

This sacrifices the jumpiness of the BJ-1 AC/20 builds for a fair bit of extra firepower. It’s not an altogether unwelcome trade, and the BJ-1DC’s extra acceleration quirks will help compensate for that lack, but in the end it’s not worth it in my opinion. But maybe the sheer damage potential is good for you.

This build plays almost exactly like the BJ-1’s AC/20 brawler, with the main difference being the inability to do faux poptarting. Instead, you’ll want to play more to the medium-range power, poking whenever you have the heat for the full alpha.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

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

Consumables: Cool Shot, Air Strike

Really not a “brawler” anymore, but it’s arguably a better build. I’m not a huge fan for a few reasons (partially because of how ugly-ly it fits which isn’t a good reason but I can’t help it). I hate that you have unused slots, and only 25 Gauss rounds, and it’s slow, and the only way to fix any of those issues is to drop a billion heat sinks.

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


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.

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

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

Then just master it. Honestly, I think all 5 (maybe just 4) are worth mastering, but get a smattering and stick with whatever you like.


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

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