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Mechwarrior skills and classes (v1.8)
By Lavikon
Description and evaluation of mechwarrior skills, abilities and classes.
Suggestions on how to spec your pilots and which mechs to put them in.
[Updated to v1.8]
This guide presumes you are already somewhat familiar with the game and the terminology. It won't go into too much detail on each topic or explain every detail.

The goal of the first half is to summarize the main advantages and disadvantages for each skill and ability and to make the information easily readable.

In the second half I will give some recommendations. They're a good place for you to start, but you shouldn't feel the need to stick with them. The game allows for a vast variety of play styles and most are viable.

I will likely do some minor tweaks, and certainly try correct any information I get wrong.

Changelog (DD/MM/YY)
30/04/18 Added a changelog and some basic tips.
01/05/18 Minor fixes
06/05/18 More tips
08/05/18 Spelling and grammar fixes
01/07/19 Updated to the reworked Skill system
23/12/20 Updated for 1.8
Mechwarrior titles
A MechWarrior with no abilities is called a recruit. As first of their skills reaches 5, they'll receive a title based on that skill. They keep the title until they receive a their third ability.

The following table shows the all the titles your mechwarriors can have:

Gunnery 8
Piloting 8
Guts 8
Tactics 8
Gunnery 5
Piloting 5
Guts 5
Tactics 5
Basic tips
Just a few things about your MechWarriors, if you're not too familiar with the game yet:

MechWarriors can die!
If they get incapacitated, it's more likely than not that they die. Also, if the Mechs head gets destroyed it is almost certain that they die. Your main character is immortal however.

You only get 3 special abilities!
You can get 2 of the rank 5 abilities (aka Expertise) and one rank 8 ability (aka Mastery).

The Expertises limit which Mastery you can have!
Once you get 2 skills to rank 5 you will lock out all other abilities aside the Mastery Abilities from those 2 skills.

There is no limit how you can level your skills!
The abilities are limited, but you can still level up all skills normally. You can even get ranks 8-10 in another skill outside your two first chosen expertises before you choose which one to master. Or get a mastery before choosing a second expertise.

There is no level cap!
So you can get rank 10 in all skills, but it will take you a long time, and will increase the salary of your pilots. But this is definitely something you want to aim at with your main character.

Remember to use all your pilots!
Keep swapping your Mechwarriors around from mission to mission to ensure they gain experience evenly. You also should make sure to have a spare Mechwarrior or two in your barracks. You never know when one or more might get stuck in med bay for a while.
Gunnery is pretty straight forward. The higher the skill, the higher the chance to hit is.
+2.5% increase per skill level


Allows you to target multiple enemies

Used for:
  • stripping evasion points off from multiple targets
  • finishing off weak enemies
  • utilising weapons with different ranges to their full potential

Useful for:
+ Mechs with multiple long or medium range weapons
+ Mechs with many weapons with different ranges (e.g. SRM+LRM)

Useless for:
- Mechs with only short range weapons
- Mechs with only one long range weapon

Breaching shot
Single shots ignore Cover and Guarded

Used for:
  • negating damage reduction effects
  • finishing enemies taking cover or bracing
  • combining with multi-target

Useful for:
+ Mechs with a hard hitting weapon (like AC20 or LRM20)
+ Mechs often using multitarget

Useless for:
- Mechs with only short range weapons
- Mechs with multiple weak weapons (like SRM2 or LRM5)


Gunnery is useful for all mechs with ranged weapons, so even LRMs and SRMs benefit from it. And I presume it also applies to support weapons, but purely melee oriented builds can ignore gunnery. You should try to hit some of the crucial values in other skills first, but any spare experience is well spent on gunnery.

Recommended Investment:
Piloting doesn't really make your mech move or turn faster. The speed is up to the engine on the Mech and there's no piloting tricks to help with that. What Piloting helps with is mainly melee. Think of it as your mechwarriors martial prowess rather than racing skill.
+2.5% melee hit chance per level

But wait, there's more!

Piloting also gives you:
  • higher max evasion (lvl 6 and 10)
  • higher "unsteady" threshold (lvl 4 and 9)
  • longer sprint distance (+20% at lvl 7)
(Unsteady status: no sprinting, evasion and negates guarded status)


Sure footed
Gives you an extra point of evasion when you move and become "Entrenched" after a normal move
(Entrenched status reduces stability damage taken by 50%)

Used for:
  • getting more evasion after moving
  • getting "entrenched" after moving

Useful for:
+ Most Mechs really
+ Light Mechs especially

Useless for:
- Support Fire Mechs
- Mechwarriors with "Bulwark" ability

Ace Pilot
Mechwarrior can shoot before moving

Used for:
  • Tactical flexibility
  • Tactical withdrawal
  • Tactical use of reserved turn with reversed actions next round

Useful for:
+ Most Mechs really
+ Light Mechs especially

Useless for:
- None, really


Piloting is useful for your short ranged melee mechs and light mechs relying on the extra evasion points. The abilities are especially useful for lights too.

Recommended Investment:
4 for all Mechs.
7+ for Light Mechs
Guts affects your pilots health, both the maximum amount of injuries they can receive as well as how likely they are to survive after incapacition from injuries. Mechwarriors with very high guts might even survive the destruction of the cockpit if they are very lucky.

Likelihood of death from incapaciation: 90%-(5%*Guts)

The real benefit of guts is in the other bonuses:

Guts also gives you:
  • higher max health for your pilot (+1 at lvl 4, 7 & 10)
  • higher recoil compensation (-1 at lvl 5 & 8)
  • higher heat threshold (+15 at lvl 6 and 9)

Recoil is a feature on AC weapons where subsequent shots receive an accuracy penalty.


Gives you additional 20% damage reduction when "Guarded" or in cover.
(Guarded / cover = 20% damage reduction from the front & sides)
These bonuses stack up to 60% total which is very significant.

Used for:
  • reducing damage taken
  • increasing the value of cover
  • holding and defending a good position

Useful for:
+ All Mechs

Useless for:
- Light Mechs (you rather not get hit at all)

Coolant Vent
Remove 50 extra heat this round. For the next three rounds gain an extra 8 heat per round. 4 round cooldown.

Used for:
  • dumping excess heat off avoid imminent shutdown or damage
  • allowing you to Alpha Strike twice in a row on less efficient Mechs

Useful for:
+ Mechs that aren't heat efficient
+ Close-combat Mechs
+ Players having trouble with heat management

Useless for:
- Well balanced Mech builds


Guts is useful for all sorts of mechs, but especially ones meant to take a hit rather than relying on evasion. It will keep your pilots alive and helps to keep your mechs firing.

A loss of a veteran pilot can be very significant and hard to replace and that extra HP can make all the difference in not losing all the accumulated XP.

Recommended investment: For all mechs!
4 (+1 hp)
6 (+15 heat)
7 (+2hp)
Tactics works in very different manner to gunnery which was a straight up percentage increase every level. It's more like Guts where the extra benefits are the main interest instead of the linear percentage boost. Tactics doesn't actually have a percentage boost to anything and doesn't even give you anything until the 4th level.

Tactics gives you:
  • Indirect fire penalty reduction (lvl 4, 7 & 10)
  • Mininum firing rande reduction (-45m at lvl 5 & 8)
  • Better Called Shots & Called Shots Mastery (lvl 6 & 9)

The indirect fire penalties reductions only helps with LRMs and the minimum range improvements are only helpful on select weapons. The actually important thing here is the Better Called Shots and Called Shots Mastery:

These numbers do vary a bit, based on Gunnery. And shooting from the side CT maybe lower %


Sensor lock
Reveal target until the end of current round, remove 2 points of evasion and reduces its accuracy.

Used for:
  • Identifying enemies without line of sight
  • Getting rid of evasion points
  • Reducing enemy accuracy
  • Designating targets for Fire Support Mechs and massed LRM volleys

Useful for:
+ Light Mechs

Useless for:
- Heavy Mechs
- Support Fire Mechs especially

Master Tactitician
Piloted Mech gets +1 initiative, and reserving a turn removes a stability damage bar

Used for:
  • Much greater tactical flexibility
  • Additional reduction of stability damage
  • Guaranteed First Strike tactics on same tier Mechs
  • Bullying lighter Mechs on their "turn"
  • Reserved turn+high initiative double action fun time

Useful for:
+ Most Mechs really

Useless for:
- None, really


Tactics is a little bit trickier skill to evaluate. It is crucial for Fire Support Mechs with LRMs, due to the minimum range and indirect fire penalty reductions. The abilities on the other hand don't really benefit your Fire Supports.

The Better Called Shots upgrade however is almost alone worth the investment for any pilot. Going all the way to Mastery is a long road however with little of interest on the way. Same applies to Master Tactician. But these together with the Precision Shot form a devastating combination.

Recommended investment:
2 for saving XP for other skills early on
6 for better called shots for all pilots
7+ for Fire Supports
Skills Summary
Useful for all mechs
Always a safe choice to dump extra XP into
+ Multi-target is a very solid ability
+ Breaching shot works well with multi-target and strong weapons

Good for melee and evasion, mainly light mechs
Get lvl 4 on all pilots
+ Sure footed is a solid basic skill for all mechs
+ Ace Pilot offers some extra tactical flexibility

Good for survivability and fringe benefits like heat threshold
Get lvl 4 (+1 health) early on
Get lvl 6 (+15 heat capacity) or 7 (+2 health) later on all pilots
+ Bulwark is very useful for all mechs
+ Coolant Vent is useful for close-combat alpha strikes

Excellent for LRMs, Called Shots and advanced tactics
You can skip it early on, but invest heavily later
Get lvl 6 for Better Called Shots on all pilots
+ Sensor lock is situational, but very useful to have (1 per lance recommended)
+ Master Tactician is allows more control over initiative and tactical choices
Mechwarrior skill builds
Some combinations of skills work better together than others.
Same goes for the abilities and these 2 don't always go together.

Like the benefits of tactics being great for Fire Support Mechs while the abilites themselves benefitting mostly Light Mechs and scouts. Of course you could make a light fire support mech, but it wouldn't really excel in either task.

Here's a quick rundown of the Ability Combos:

Recon / Scout
Piloting + Tactics

[-/8/-/5] & [-/5/-/8]
This combination works well for light Mechs. As the Mechwarrior titles imply, these skills offer the abilities most beneficial for scouting. Both masteries are valid here. Recon is easier to train, but Scout offers more utility late game. Both excel at melee.

Skirmisher / Flanker
Gunnery + Piloting

[8/5/-/-] & [5/8/-/-]
Here we have another good light mech pilot, but even better for the more mobile mechs among the mediums. As the name implies, this class is about flanking and harassing the larger enemy mechs and dealing with the enemy scouts. Either class works. With some extra Tactics Skirmisher makes a decent Fire Support.

Lancer / Gladiator
Gunnery + Guts

[8/-/5/-] & [5/-/8/-]
This is your standard heavy/assault mech pilot. Especially the Lancer. Get them to a good spot and fire away, letting your guarded status and armor take the hits. The Gladiator is more close-combat orientated and the Coolant Vent skill is quite situational and useless for well balanced Mechs. So the Lancer is clearly superior. And with extra Tactics the Lancer is a great Fire Support pilot.

Brawler / Outrider
Guts + Piloting

[-/5/8/-] & [-/8/5/-]
For the Melee Mech with tons of support weapons, this combination offers the best benefits. Especially with mobile mechs. The brawler can handle hot running mechs to deliver more burst damage. The reverse of this class, Outrider is rather terrible at melee since Ace Pilot only applies to shooting. It is a very flexible class however with strong defensive abilities.

Sharpshooter / Stiker
Gunnery + Tactics

[8/-/-/5] & [5/-/-/8]
Again the class name is pretty descriptive, at least for the Sharpshooter. Striker refers to first strikes. This is the Mechwarrior for your Fire Support Mechs armed with LRMS, or other long range weaponry. However you'll probably do better with a lancer or a skirmisher that has some extra tactics. That's because you can't use the Sensor Lock and attack with the same Mech.

Sentinel / Vanguard
Guts + Tactics

[-/-/8/5] & [-/-/5/8]
Avoid this combination early game. Tactics takes a lot of investment and only shows its value late game. And even then the Sentinel is one of the worst classes in the game. Vanguard however is one of the best classes late game depending on your tactics.
Building your Lance
There are some missions and tactics that use very different builds for a lance. Some missions can be done easily with lightly armed and "well-armored" light mechs, but usually a well balanced lance is what you want and that's what I'm going to help you with.

Abilities you want in any lance:
1 Sensor Lock (optional, not on your Fire Support Mech)
Rest is up to you really

Well, that's pretty easy to do, right?
Not much of a guide if I left it at that though, huh?

So usually you would have a scout mech, a fire support mech and 2 short/medium range mechs, the heavier the better, really. But you could go for 1 spotter and 3 snipers for a long range lance or go for 4 medium range versatile mechs.

Here's a couple handy example Lances:

The Blitz
4 Strikers / Cavalry Mechs
A great fast strike lance for assassinations and recovery missions

The Cavalry
2 Cavalry Mechs
2 General Assault / Snipers
A versatile and mobile set-up for variety of missions requiring mobility

The Usual Suspects
1 Scout / Striker
2 General Assault
1 Fire Support
A Versatile and balanced mix of mech will serve you well in almost any situation.

The Artillery
1 Scout
3 Snipers / Fire Support
A lance that uses superior range as it's main defence.

Striker is fast, mobile mech with devastating alpha strike above it's weight class (e.g. Jenner).
Cavalry is similar to striker, just heavier, usually medium mechs.
Sniper is a mech with long range main armament, like PPC or AC5.
Fire Support is usually a less armored Mech with main armament of LRMs.

For more detail on Mech types and roles, I recommend this guide:
Building your Crew
Since your Lance can vary from mission to mission as different missions may require different tactics, it's more important to have a versatile mix of Mechwarriors in your Barracks rather than the "Perfect Lance". Especially since a little bit of bad luck can cause take a pilot out of action for a good while, and a whole bunch of bad luck will get you stuck with fresh recruits.

Once you get additional mechbay space and spare mechs, you should also get some spare mechwarriors. And it's never too early to start training and planning their skill sets. Without the barracks upgrade you can have 8 mechwarriors so lets work with that.

First lets see who should pilot which types of mech.

My recommendations:

Light Mech (Piloting+Tactics)
  • Scout [-/5/-/8]
Medium mech (Gunnery+Piloting or Guts)
  • Lancer [8/-/5/-]
  • Skirmisher [8/5/-/-]
  • Vanguard [-/-/5/8]
Heavy & Assault Mech (Gunnery+Guts)
  • Lancer [8/-/5/-]
Firesupport Specialist (Gunnery+Tactics)
  • Skirmisher [8/5/-/-]+Tactics
  • Lancer [8/-/5/-]+Tactics

  • Fire support can be piloted by any class really, they just need a high Tactics and Gunnery skills, though Gunnery abilities are recommended.
  • Flankers and Skirmishers are good in Light Mechs too.
  • Recons and Scouts are decent in Medium Mechs too.

Right, so we can easily see Lancers are pretty good. They should be your standard Mechwarrior and form the core of your crew. Give one or two some extra points in Tactics and you got Fire Support covered too. And you could easily swap one Lancer for a Skirmisher [8/5/-/-] if you like more mobile and evasive play than bracing and using cover. Or if you have trouble with taking a lot of stability damage.

You want at least one or preferably two Scouts, but no more, even if you want to field a lance of lights only. So we want a Skirmisher or a Flanker to fill in that Lance. And if we take one skirmisher and give them some points in tactics, we have an excellent Fire Support specialist too, especially for mobile Fire Support Mechs. The second Light Mech pilot is recommended so you'll have a replacement ready.

I personally used to prefer Scouts over Recons as Master Tactician offers better value late game. Of course getting 8 in Tactics is a big investment compared to steady flow of useful bonuses from Piloting, so you should still aim for lvl 7 in piloting. However, Scouts make good Fire Support pilots when lights aren't needed and the value of that extra point of initiative increases later on in the campaign.

This is also why Vanguard is a solid option, too. especially since with the ability to reserve giving an additional way to recover stability, Sure Footed is no longer quite as strong.

So what we would end up with is:

My recommended crew
2 Scouts / Vanguards
2 Skirmishers (1-2 with Tactics)
2-4 Lancers (1-2 with Tactics)

These warriors should form the core of your crew with optional Recons, Flankers and Gladiators as replacements.
Moving from early game to late game
So previously we've looked at most skills and abilities in isolation and from the perspective of early game. And trying to get the best possible start. Those things will serve you well throughout the game, but if you want to dig deeper and become a Master Tactician yourself, then this is the section for you.

Evasion is crucial in the early game and remains important later on too, but its value gets severely diminished later on when massive amounts of LRMs come around. Hit percentage is no longer about hitting or missing, but rather how many missiles will hit you. And I assure you, some will certainly hit. Head hits, rare occurrences early game, become annoyingly common when swarms of LRMs are pounding away at your Mechs.

Not to mention your own team of Mechs get heavier and less mobile, and those evasion counts of 4 and 5 become something the enemy lights have, just to annoy you. You won't have evasion and if you do, the enemy will have the numbers to spare a turn to Sensor lock those away. Well, that's not entirely true, and this is where Jump Jets come into play. They give you significantly more evasion and allow you to more further than regular walking speed would.

Evasion is still among your worst enemies, but no longer your strongest ally.

Concentrated Fire
Early on it's possible to finish off mechs pretty quick. They're lights and mediums after all. Concentrated fire is always good, but spreading the love with multi-target to strip some evasion of other targets with your non-utilised weapons, or those with low hit chances, was pretty easy decision to take. It cost you little and could help you score 2-3 kills in a round rather than just the 1 or 2.

Later on concentrating your fire on not just a single enemy, but calling your shots too in order to make sure you can score that kill becomes way more important. And you won't have low damage or non-utilised weapons because you customise your mechs. And low to hit chance weapons are better fired at the target too or not fired at all to save heat.

Early on initiative is usually either 4 or 3 and 1 for turrets. Maybe the odd tank has initiative 2. So you're mostly fighting on even terms and initiative doesn't seem like a significant factor. Reserving turns serves you well, especially moving to that initiative 2, or 1 if there no turrets around. You can move your Mechs in unison and not worry about what the enemy might do while you make your moves. Knocking down an enemy and moving it down in initiative is nice too as you're likely to get to knock it out before it gets back up.

Well, that's going to change as heavy Mechs appear. You're going to start losing your control, and as your own mechs get heavier, they get lower initiative too.

Once Assault Mech appear, the iniative 1 starts to get very busy and this is where the master tactitican starts to shine allowing you to be on initiative 3 or 2, and moving in unison before your enemies.

What does does this mean for the value of skills?
Well, Piloting and Evasive Movement loses much of their value for one, same with Multi-Target, while Tactics and Master Tactician actually gets significantly more important. Injuries due to head hits become more common, so Guts becomes more important as well. Although that can and should be mitigated with cockpit mods.

On the other hand experience gained increases so previously hard to reach skills become more accessible. This means Scout becomes stronger than Recon and the easily dismissed Vanguard can challenge the dominance of the Lancer and Skirmisher. Lancer/Skirmisher still remains the best Fire Support with extra tactics.
Tips & Tricks
So, here's a few tips and tricks I've learned worth mentioning.

Crew tips
  • Light mechs benefit most from evasion (piloting skill and abilities)
  • Heavy (& assault) mechs benefit most from guts
  • Fire Support Mechs benefit from high Tactics skill, but not the abilities really
  • Light Mechs are best for use of Sensor Lock

  • Later on in the campaign your mechs get heavier so going lancer early on is not a bad idea
  • Later LRM spams cause injuries through head hits so high guts is recommended
  • Get Cockpit mods as soon as possible

  • Set your finances to generous or extravagant early on to boost your Morale
  • For Argo get the lounge and Hydroponics, ignore rest of the morale upgrades
  • For events, try choose ones that boost morale, like playing for fun, helping people etc.
  • When you hit Morale 40-45, set finances to standard and events will get you the rest
  • When you hit Morale 48-50, set finances to low to save money and to keep events useful
Mech Tips
  • Small lasers are the most efficient weapon of all
  • SRM are the most efficient weapons at medium range
  • LRM are the most efficient weapons at long range

  • SRM4 is the most efficient SRM, but SRM6 is still great
  • LRM5,15 and 20 are equally efficient (1t=3heat = 1 heat sink)
  • LRM10 just weights 1 ton more, while gets no heat benefit

  • AC5 is just 2 ton heavier than AC2, has only a little less range, but much more damage
  • AC10 is less efficient than AC5, but can kill a mech with one headshot
  • AC20 is the most efficient AC and has best one-shot kill ability

  • PPC has stability damage, M Laser has efficiency, L Laser has neither
  • S Lasers are a really good back-up weapon for all mechs
  • If you have 4 or more support slots, use MGs

  • It's good to have one longer range weapon as a back-up for brawlers
  • For long range mechs, keep a pair of M lasers and/or S Lasers
  • Don't be afraid to melee, AI rarely if ever conter-attacks

  • 1 ton of armor = 80 points of armor
  • Max armor and HP are determined by Mech tonnage

  • More jump jets means more range, not sure how the JJ heat works tho
  • Jumping gives you more evasion than walking and usually allows you to move further
  • Jumping is the best way to move Heavy Mechs in combat
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Riashan Jan 11, 2021 @ 6:02pm 
Where is my game data. No saved game and have played 215 hours. Why can"t I get a Steam ticket placed Not buying anything else unless I get my HELP From STEAM!!!
Lavikon  [author] Nov 28, 2019 @ 1:57pm 
Thanks, I will look into it, but it'll take a me while since I'm very busy at the moment.
Maybe I'll have some time in a couple weeks, maybe not until mid January.
gunner Nov 28, 2019 @ 5:54am 
@Lavikon, Nice guide really helps, Now that Patch 1.8 is out, perhaps an Update is needed since Piloting Skill Tree has changed?
Reliks Nov 21, 2019 @ 11:34pm 
Awesome guide
Lavikon  [author] Nov 3, 2019 @ 3:37am 
Not a bad idea, but I wouldn't rely on having a dedicated tank in the team, since you can't really taunt or draw fire. And being focused down isn't really desirable. Not to mention more chance of head hits. If you're just concerned at keeping your commander alive, well, he can't actually die, just be out of action for a long time. That being said, Outrider is still a very versatile class.
TheAlaskanInquisition Nov 3, 2019 @ 12:25am 
I am thinking that having a commander with Outrider would be best for tanking. That way he takes minimal damage and minimal stability damage. Then, just load the rest of the lance with Lancers or Strikers depending on the need.
jonathanhunt Jun 30, 2019 @ 3:46pm 
Thank you!
Angelis Death Jun 19, 2019 @ 5:28pm 
Looks like a update edit is needed!
Yanismen May 17, 2019 @ 8:53am 
Спасибо за подробный разбор механик, очень информативная статься, спасибо вам!:cozybethesda:
Lavikon  [author] Mar 3, 2019 @ 9:19am 
@deiga Yes, I really should.