Last Updated: 16-May-2016

Welcome back to today we’ll be discussing the Firestarter.



Since its release, the Firestarter has been a strong mech. Starting with the Ember, and now evolving into the current favorites (FS9-A, FS9-S, FS9-H), it has maintained a position as one of the top light mechs in this game, and with the quirks it has surpassed every challenger. It is absolutely a great mech worth picking up for anyone, whether or not you pilot primarily lights.

The Firestarter is one of the few chassis so blessed as to have many chassis available and multiple viable ones. The best one is easily the FS9-S, which may have gotten a bit weaker lately, but is still very strong. Next, you have the FS9-A which has absurd DPS and brawling potential in addition to the greatest build flexibility of the bunch. The FS9-K is almost on par with the FS9-A, which puts it in third, but its builds are pretty much all taken care of by the FS9-A. As such, you might prefer the Ember Hero mech, as its playstyle may be niche, but it’s effective and different. Last up is the FS9-H, which is currently the “why bother” variant.


Chassis-Wide Information


  • Hitboxes are above average for a light mech. You don’t have the problematic CT of a Jenner or legs of a Raven. The hitboxes aren’t Spider-level, but that’s pretty much necessary from a balance perspective
  • An assortment of other assets also play a part in making it as strong as it is: jumpjets, the ability to shield (to an extent) with arms, and a large quantity and variety of hardpoints on all variants are the ones that stand out in my mind.
  • There also aren’t a whole lot of glaring weaknesses, and most of the next section will be a bit nitpicky.



  • It has a movement archetype of “small” rather than “tiny”, which makes it less maneuverable on slopes than its Jenner counterpart, as well as a number of other light mechs. This is one of the factors that contribute to it feeling a bit more sluggish than its main competitor, the Jenner, such as having a slightly lower engine cap and a higher cockpit (puts you further away from the ground zipping along beneath you).
  • Torso pitch values are atrocious, which plays a larger part in some variants than others. Also, the torso twist range of motion is lower than the Jenner (this roughly equalizes when you add on the arms’ ability to yaw, but it leads to a decrease in your firepower if you have torso mounted weapons).
  • Weapon mounts are universally low, which isn’t as huge a deal in a light as in a larger mech, but it means that you don’t get to poke as safely as you would be able to in a mech like a Jenner. In addition, it has a pretty tall silhouette in general which makes it a bit easier to hit.
  • Extra actuators means less crit slots means less heat sinks. This is probably the most annoying thing about the chassis from a building perspective, and makes it difficult to optimize many builds, forcing you to take some without ferro, which is just a damn shame.


Generic Tips

  • Be erratic when you’re under attack. Tap your jumpjets every now and again, do rapid course changes while you’re in the air (briefly, mind you, don’t actually go airborn for more than a half of a second if you’re taking fire), and just try to throw enemy aim off while you zip towards cover.
  • Sometimes it is worth slowing down to get a fully accurate shot off with your beams, but only when you are absolutely sure that no enemies are looking at you, which is very rare. Other than that, keep moving at warp speed.
  • Sometimes you can’t contribute in a poke-off, so when that happens do three things. Look for places that you could get a shot in without taking return fire, scout out other places where enemies might be (and report the results to your team), and stay the fuck alive until you get a chance to get into the fight. That last bit is super important.
  • One of my favorite lines is “if you find yourself in a fair fight, you both failed”. This applies particularly well to light mechs, make sure you’ve always got back-up and try to pick on the enemies who have none.
  • If it’s a reasonable option, go legs. Obviously, shoot wherever is damaged and wherever you can see as top priority, but if you can work over an enemy’s legs, that’s where most of your damage is most effective, particularly as a Firestarter.
  • Avoid streak boats. If they’re heavily damaged, finish them quickly, if not, run away. The same goes (to a lesser extent) for high damage weapons like AC/20s, Gauss Rifles, and PPCs, because one lucky shot can put you out of the match.



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 mech’s huge heat gen reduction for the Med Pulse is a big part of what popularized the Medium Pulse Laser. Since then, it’s been nerfed to a total of 15% (10% generic, 5% MPL), but it’s still pretty great. It’s only other quirk is 15% flamer range.

It’s a pretty straightforward loadout, as most light builds are. 5 Medium Pulse Lasers with only 11 DHS may seem hot, but with the quirks it’s incredibly manageable. Plus you get decent range (almost 250M after modules), and high DPS, while matching the alpha of most ML pokers.

In the poke phase, you will be playing a bit conservatively, since it’s not even worth getting any poke in past around 350M in my opinion, and that’s when you’re pretty sure you won’t even get shot at back. Keep mobile and looking for the opportunity to get a full burn, but mostly just stay fresh for the main engagement. Once that starts, you can get a bit more aggressive. Stay out of the way of both teams, and try to hit people’s legs and backs whenever possible, causing damage and disruption and staying around your maximum range if possible so that you can escape quickly. With the pulse lasers, you can almost always afford to get in the full burn, but if you’re really scared, you can just hit them with the start of it before twisting and it will still do decent damage.

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

Weapon Modules: MPL Range, MPL Cooldown

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

While I do not agree with it personally, very smart people have told me that running only one jumpjet on a light is suicide. This uses your torso mounts to make a full shield arm and save about half a ton for that extra jumpjet. I don’t think it’s worth it personally, as the torso pitch is really bad, but it’s an option.

This one is a bit too hot, but it’s not bad.



With 8 hardpoints, it’s certainly the most unlimited variant. 5% energy heat gen and 10% range (with an extra 15% added for flamer range…) do a fair bit to help too.

Build 1:

Thank God these things don’t have ghost heat. What with the range and heat generation quirks that the FS9-A got for the SPL, it is just the best thing to do with the mech. The heat is pretty good, even after that quirk got nerfed, and the real thing that holds it back is of course the range. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried hitting a Firestarter at 150M, but it ain’t hard. At any rate, it’s still very powerful and has the highest straight-up DPS of any of the Firestarters.

This will play just like any other light mech for the majority of the game, sure, but every once in a while something magical will happen. You will get the chance to jump onto an isolated mech who is incapable of defending itself (the best is Dire Wolves who can’t twist fast enough to get you off their back) and it will die. Best performed with a wingmate. Results may vary. But anyways, in the main fight play super sneakily, come up on an unsuspecting enemy and just start laying into them. You’ll usually get two alphas off before they respond meaningfully, and then you can either keep it up and kill them or run off and do it to someone else. This may sound similar to the FS9-S, but it’s a lot harder to get away because of your short range, so it’s usually better to stick around and finish them off unless you’re somewhere with easy access to cover, like a city.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: SPL Range, SPL Cooldown

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

You gotta make sacrifices for extra jumpjets, but try it out. You might find that you prefer this.


Build 2:

A lot of people tend to just stop at the Small Pulse build, and for good reason. For a while, it was the only build worth running on this thing thanks to the quirks. But after numerous nerfs and meta shifts, I think that this is a somewhat superior build. Your Medium Lasers have a 324m optimal range, and it wouldn’t be a waste of time to poke from up to 500 meters. Couple all that with loads of heat sinks, some jumpjets, and some heat gen…and you’ve got a sweet mech! Plus, you can build it on either side without issue.

Unlike the other builds, you get to start putting out damage very early in the match. You can move out to hit an enemy’s flanks right off the bat in most matches, finding odd angles to poke from. If they start to return fire, you’ll want to reposition and/or wait until your bigs engage, but usually you can just glide across the battlefield, popping up frequently to add damage when it’s an option. Keep up the DPS, and don’t stray too far from your team – you might have trouble if you get jumped by enemy lights.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: Medium Laser Range, Medium Laser Cooldown

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

This is a bit less reasonable, but I still think it’s quite good. It plays a lot like the old-school Raven builds (stay at long range, poke constantly, don’t get shot back), but with more firepower, lower mounts, and jumpjets. All in all, I think the Ravens are probably a bit better, but this can definitely make it work.

Weapon Modules: Large Laser Range, Large Laser Cooldown



It has 8 energy hardpoints, just like the FS9-A, but they have a slightly different arrangement. Unfortunately, the quirks aren’t quite as useful. It has the same 10% range, but 10% duration instead of the FS9-A’s 5% heat gen. Which actually isn’t bad at all, just a teensy bit less sustained firepower.

This build is a lot like the FS9-A’s version. The duration, in this case, is even a bit more useful than the smaller amount of heat gen on the FS9-A. The main difference revolves around that Left Arm – being able to achieve 6 arm-mounted lasers is fantastic, but you lose a half ton when you armor it up, and the arm mounts aren’t as useful at medium range. It’s still fantastic though, and you can really make it work.

For the most part, it plays just like the FS9-A’s Medium Laser build, so you can read that bit if you’re interested. The main differences are the arm mounts and the laser duration, so you can poke a bit more aggressively and a bit more vertically.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: Medium Laser Range, Medium Laser Cooldown

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike



This mech hasn’t been great for a long time, but the flamer buffs coupled with its latest quirks have given it a rather unique role. It has 15% to flamer range, 25% to MG rate of fire, and 10% to laser duration.

Build 1:

The build is just weird, dude. It’s plenty agile, with max engine and a couple jumpjets, and it has the best flamer/machine gun setup in the game. But those weapons just don’t do as much to the enemy team as actual weapons would. And 2 Med Pulses are…I don’t want to say pathetic…but yeah it’s kind of pathetic. Still, if you can sit on someone’s ass for a little bit, you can absolutely screw their day up.

You can scout and do all the usual light stuff in the early game, but it’s very important that you don’t get shot (at least, not much). As such, you’ll want to stay out of the main engagement until you feel confident that you can sneak up behind an enemy big and start unloading. Your primary targets are mechs that are damaged, hot, or both. The Med Pulses help you shave off the last bits of armor if necessary, but your MGs can just destroy them after that. It’s not an easy playstyle, and I don’t enjoy it much, but give it a go and see what you think.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: Flamer Range, Med Pulse Cooldown

Consumables: Artillery Strike, Improved UAV

It’s not a huge difference, but you do pick up jumpjets and ammo if that’s something you find yourself needing more of.

Weapon Modules: Flamer Range, Medium Laser Cooldown


Build 2:

This is more of a classic Ember style of build (the actual classic build’s listed below). It gives you a pretty reasonable laser alpha, coupled with the insane MGs that the Ember is known for. The lasers are a bit weak (roughly equivalent to 5 medium lasers instead of the usual 6), but there’s no huge issues with heat or range, and at short range you can tear mechs apart.

The build plays a lot like a typical light mech – stay at around 300 meters or more for most of the fight, poke whenever you have the opportunity, and try to not get hurt. When you see an opportunity, move to jump on an enemy and start ripping into them with your MGs. The opportunity can be one of the teams pushing, or a super-damaged mech, or just finding a mech that seems a bit isolated. You’re a bit slow for a light, so try not to overcommit, but don’t play too safely.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: Medium Laser Range, Machine Gun Range

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

Everyone had their own little flair on it, but this was the basic idea. Medium Lasers for most of your damage, MGs to back it up, just like the main build. I think it’s a bit too weak by modern standards, but it’s still pretty ok.

This is an alternative way to increase firepower from the main build’s Large Laser. A bit better in a brawl, a bit worse at range.

Weapon Modules: Medium Pulse Range, Machine Gun Range



10% Medium Laser heat gen (with a 5% generic component) helps this variant a bit, but it’s just not good enough. It also has 15% flamer range. I guess.

There’s no really uniquely good builds that work on this variant, but I’ll go over a couple that at least sort of matter.

It’s actually pretty okay, if you don’t have an Ember. It mixes the medium laser pokes with the flamer’s utility and the MG’s heat-less DPS. In other words, it’s not good at anything, but it sorta has enough to make it ok. It plays just like the classic Ember build – stick to your Medium Lasers for most of the game, using your torso weapons whenever you get the chance. So yeah, you can refer to the Flamer/MG/Laser build on the Ember for the most part.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: ML Range, Flamer Range

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike


It doesn’t have the pure arm mounts (or duration) of the FS9-K, and it doesn’t have the weight efficiency of the FS9-A, and it has no range quirk at all. The only thing it has going for it is that it has the highest (by 5%) heat gen quirk for Medium Lasers of all the Firestarter variants. Still, it’s a pretty good build.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: ML Range, ML Cooldown

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike


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. Only the FS9-S is vital, but the others are quite good as well if you enjoy them.


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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