I hate when people ask what my favorite mechs are – everyone knows that there can be only one.



The Highlander has been my absolute favorite since MechCommander 2, and when it ended up being an actually amazing mech in MWO (when it was released at any rate) I was pleased beyond measure. Sadly, its status as best mech has faltered with age, but it remains viable to this day as one of the better IS mechs.

The top Highlander variant is easily the HGN-732B – it is, in most respects, identical to the original HGN-732, but has crazy defensive quirks that make it the tankiest mech in the game, by the numbers. Next up is going to be the regular HGN-732, which sacrifices those defensive quirks for additional offensive ones and a speed quirk. Pretty good quirks actually, but the loss of crazy armor does make it the less favored choice. Our third variant to round out the chassis is going to be the HGN-733C – for a few months it was the best mech in the game, but now it’s just woefully inadequate when compared to alternatives like the Banshee and Mauler. I’d say the HGN-733 is the next best after that, with the Heavy Metal coming in shortly behind and the HGN-733P bringing up the rear.


Chassis-Wide Information


Jumpjets are the big thing for the Highlander, which is one of the two IS assaults capable of jumping at all. This strength is made less special by the shoddy performance of the Highlander’s jumpjets, and by the fact that there are 2 superior Clan Assaults which can jump but…it’s still an asset.

Large arms and decent maneuverability make shielding very effective, but wide blocky torso segments will punish you if you’re lax.

It’s an Assault mech, with all that comes with. It’s got plenty of tonnage and hardpoints, and while the HGN-732B may have gotten the most durability quirks, they all got some so it’s pretty tanky.



The jumpjets suck. Class 1’s got nerfed hard back when the Highlander was the big thing.

Boxy hitboxes mean that you can spread damage well against people with mediocre aim, but if they have good mechanics they will be able to pinpoint components effectively, reducing your effective durability.

The firepower of a Timber Wolf and the speed of a Dire Wolf isn’t a great combination, but it is pretty typical of IS mechs I suppose.


Generic Tips

Shield shield shield shield shield shield. Almost all Highlander builds are capable of quickly firing off a shot and immediately twisting to shield return fire. Practice it and don’t stop.




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 variant with the most defensive quirks (145 total armor available for the CT), which add up to make it the single tankiest mech in the game (by the numbers). It also has some modest offensive quirks such as 7.5% ballistic cooldown and 10% laser duration, and the 10% torso twist speed helps with shielding, but that’s really not the focus.

Build 1:

It runs very cool, it has pretty much the optimal weapons for the Inner Sphere within the current meta (though I would have liked an extra gauss), and it’s not even that slow. Plus, it runs incredibly cool which allows for some sweet DPS.

Corner peek allllllll day. Stick your right side out for just long enough to get a shot off, back off and twist to the right as soon as your lasers end (or maybe even a bit before), rinse, and repeat. You’ll have to reposition occasionally of course, based on where the fight is flowing and how badly you’re getting shot back, but this general method can net you some seriously nice trades. Plus, unless it’s a high-damage opponent shooting back, they’ll feel like their weapons aren’t doing shit against your godly armor. You can also use your jumpjets in this process to make it a cross between corner peeking and poptarting. For more on Gauss Vomit, check out the guide!

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: Gauss Cooldown, Large Laser Range

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

Since the heat is just so gentle on the original build, this version lets you take better advantage of the heatsinks for a potentially useful boost in range. I’m not sure how much I like it, as the range isn’t usually necessary, but when it comes in handy it really does come in handy.

Weapon Modules: Gauss Cooldown, Gauss Range

I had high hopes for it, but I just feel that it doesn’t offer the utility of the Gauss version. Obviously it has more DPS, but it’s less precise and requires way more exposure time. If you prefer it, good, but I think it is inferior.

Weapon Modules: AC/5 Cooldown, Large Laser Range



This is the HGN-732B’s more dangerous but less durable brother. It has reduced durability quirks, but makes up for that with a Gauss Rifle specific cooldown quirk and a 5% bonus to speed.

Build 1:

Yes, it’s identical to the build for the HGN-732B, so I’m not going to talk about it much. The main thing worth point out is that this is more maneuverable and lets you shoot your Gauss Rifle more often, but you may need to be a bit more careful when playing it as it has about half the defensive quirks and no torso twist speed quirk.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: Gauss Cooldown, Large Laser Range

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike


Build 2:

It may not be meta anymore, but I would be remiss not to discuss it in an article about the Highlander! This dominated the meta for a long time before ghost heat, and for good reason. 45 pinpoint damage may not seem that impressive these days, but even the modern king of PPFLD only does 50 pinpoint (with 10 splash). It’s worth noting that the HGN-732B can do this build too, but this is the OG.

The ghost heat from firing 3 PPCs at once is intense, but if you know that you’ll have time to cooldown, it can still be very worth it. Otherwise, focus on your Gauss + 2xPPC combo with an added PPC a half second later if you have the heat. Go for a mix between corner peeking and poptarting, depending on your and the enemy’s positions, and otherwise you can check out the PPFLD guide for information on playing this sort of build.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: Gauss Cooldown, PPC Range

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

This sacrifices a couple heatsinks for a major boost in speed, a half ton of ammo, and an extra jumpjet. The loss of heatsinks is tragic, but depending on how you play the mech it could be worthwhile.

This accepts the worst bits of the previous variants, but manages to squeeze a standard engine out of the deal. Probably the least pleasant version to actually play, but you’ll find that your survivability rockets up.



This mech found itself in the spotlight between the HGN-732 and VTR-DS eras, and has survived better than either of the builds (though the HGN-732 has once again surpassed the HGN-733C). Quirk-wise, it finds itself in almost the exact place as the HGN-732, but with a lesser AC/20 quirk instead of Gauss.

Build 1:

This mix of DPS and PPFLD was once the pinnacle of fashion. Now…it’s really not. That’s not to say it’s bad – you can still put out crazy damage in it if you get lucky with jams and tank damage well, but it is held back by its subpar maneuverability and can’t break things nearly as well as its modern counterparts such as the Banshee or even Mauler.

Corner-peeking is perhaps the wrong phrase to describe what this mech does, as it implies pulling back after taking a shot. This will want to stay out there as long as it can, basically until it starts getting nailed too hard or its UACs jam. But for the most part, the mech does better when accompanied by a push of some sort, so that it won’t get focused as hard while it’s exposed. That being said, during the poking portion of the game, it does act as a PPFLD build and you can check out that guide for tips on playing it.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: UAC/5 Cooldown, PPC Cooldown

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

Is running this build a good idea? Probably not. Is it really fun as long as you don’t get side-torso’d? Hell yeah. At over 67 KPH, this can actually keep up with most teams and stay relevant throughout the fight. But if you’re losing, you gon’ die quick.

This build has an AC/20. That’s pretty much the extent of the complexity of the change. It plays at a shorter range than the UAC version, but also as more of a PPFLD mech. It’s an odd combination

Weapon Modules: AC/20 Range, PPC Cooldown



This is one of the most brutal missile boats that the IS even has access to. It has a nice 10% missile cooldown quirk to round it out, but otherwise its relevant quirks are pretty much the same as the HGN-732 and HGN-733C.

Build 1:

Yup, that’s a LRM boat. Almost on par with the Mauler version, actually, though the lesser quirks and tube counts put a damper on that. The ghost heat does sort of require you to fire 2 and 2, but that just means more cockpit shake…yay.

This really is a full-on LRM boat. You’ll want to stay away from the front lines, LRMing with your team’s protection (though it’s on you to stick with them). Try to shoot your lasers every once in a while.

Mech Modules: Target Decay, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: LRM15 Cooldown, Medium Laser Range

Consumables: Cool Shot, Air Strike

You can hold your head a little higher if you run this build instead of the full LRM boat. With this, you’ll want to focus on lasering the dudes you see and letting the LRMs fly when you have extra heat to spare or are too damaged to really poke.

Weapon Modules: Large Laser Range, LRM10 Cooldown


Build 2:

This is pretty much the pinnacle of fast (over 67 KPH!) and durable assault mechs, and it pairs that with some really sweet short-range weapons. Unfortunately, this usually doesn’t quite work out, but it can be a hell of a lot of fun when it does.

For the most part, this plays as a brawler with a couple of unique bits to it. The Large Lasers are very much usable at range, but due to how wimpy your ranged firepower is and the need to be healthy when you start brawling, you are often better off using them on targets of opportunity (if there’s a lone mech in the open, for example) rather than going out of your way to trade. Other than that, focus your efforts on safely closing on the enemy teams by flanking, or rotating, or maybe just waiting for the gap to naturally close. Once the brawl starts in earnest, try to stick to your SRMs, using the lasers to finish off components or maybe if you’re just running cool. There is a bit of ghost heat on the SRMs, but for the most part that doesn’t play into things, though having a specific weapon group consisting of 3 SRM6’s can be useful as it doesn’t break ghost heat and is pretty much heat neutral for when you’re running really hot.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: SRM6 Cooldown, Large Laser Range

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike


Heavy Metal

This mech was good for about a week, as it was released a week (or maybe 2) before the rest of the Highlander variants, at which point it got rekt by the HGN-732. Still, it’s not…the worst mech. Its greatest significance in the game at this point is that it has a build-in warhorn.

Build 1:

It’s not a great mech for the build, but it’s pretty much the best build for the mech. Your wide arm mounts require you to be pretty exposed to make this work, but it works…alright. Relative to the Awesome. Your weapons are also all arm-mounted which makes shielding a challenge, but the 30 extra armor per arm makes spreading damage a bit friendlier.

Plays a lot like the Gauss Vomit builds on the HGN-732 and HGN-732B so you can refer to those and the guide for the most part. Other than that, just try to avoid having your weapons clip the ground.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: Gauss Cooldown, Large Laser Range

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike

Lots of jumpjets, bigass engine (68.3 KPH), and plenty of ammo! Too bad you die ridiculously fast.



This has always been my least favorite variant. Its hardpoints just don’t feel suitable for anything. Quirk-wise, it’s got some decent PPC velocity, energy range, and laser duration going on, but everything else is just the same defensive and mobility stuff you get on the other variants.

Build 1:

This was once a really nice build, but these days it’s just goddamn inadequate! Still, it’s probably your best bet for a build on this chassis, and the 10% range and 20% velocity quirks put the PPC up to a 650m optimal at 1320m/s, which isn’t bad. Still hot as hell, though, even without the ghost heat (2 at a time, folks). Be careful about your ammo though, could run out at any time.

Yet another asym corner peeker! Unfortunately, in order to avoid ghost heat you need to fire your PPC’s in groups of 2, which prolongs your exposure time, but it’s still going to be more pinpoint and less vulnerable than a Gauss Vomit. The problem is going to be accuracy and heat, rather. DPS is going to suffer, and you really need to be conscious of your range if the teams start to close. Also, if a light mech gets on you, start yelling at your team for help or just run into the middle of their formation and cross your fingers that somebody notices. For more on PPFLD, check out the guide.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Seismic Sensor

Weapon Modules: PPC Range, PPC Cooldown

Consumables: Cool Shot, Artillery Strike


Build 2:

This is probably the meta-friendliest HGN-733P build. It uses a decent amount of large lasers (though 4 is probably my second least favorite number for them, behind 1) to get an OK alpha, and backs that up with some utility LRMs.

All of your attention should be on Laser Vomit in this mech, firing 2 by 2 into the enemy, or all 4 at once if you’re running cool and/or focusing on trades so don’t want to increase your exposure time and vulnerability. For more on general Laser Vomit play, check out the guide. The LRMs that you’re packing serve two purposes. The first is that they provide extra damage when you have the heat to spare, though should never be chosen over the lasers if you have the option for either. The second is as a backup tactic for when you’re too damaged to poke again but still have your weapons, in which case you can sit back and play a LRM boat, taking laser shots of opportunity when they present themselves.

Mech Modules: Radar Deprivation, Target Decay

Weapon Modules: Large Laser Range, Large Laser Cooldown

Consumables: Cool Shot, Air 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. Honestly, right now the HGN-732B is the only relevant variant, but if you find that you enjoy a different variant as well go for it.


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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