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[Guide] Centurion 101 – A Guide For New Players


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#1 Alistair Winter

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 02:48 AM

[Guide] Centurion 101 – a guide for new players
A lot has changed since I first wrote this guide. I've learned a lot more, I've changed my attitude to the game and the meta in MWO has changed significantly. My original guide (see below in spoiler brackets) contained a number of different builds for each variant, with different advantages in term of costs, playing style and sheer fun factor. In the 2014 edition of this guide, let's take a completely different approach.

TL;DR - Scroll down to part 3.




Part 1: Why you should not pick the Centurion.

This is an important question. Today, the matchmaker doesn't really make sure that both teams have an equal amount of assault mechs, heavy mechs, medium mechs and light mechs. It doesn't even add the total weight of all mechs on both sides. In any given match, you will either be at a weight advantage or disadvantage. In other words, taking a medium mech over a heavy mech doesn't mean that the enemy will also have that extra medium mech instead of a heavy mech. Or to put it differently, if you pick a medium mech, there's a chance your team will be lighter than the enemy, because you didn't pick an assault mech. If you pick an assault mech, there's a chance your team will be lighter than the enemy, but there's nothing you could have done to prevent it.

So the question becomes: what can the Centurion do better than any other mech?

You shouldn't only compare your Centurion to other medium mechs. You should ask yourself: why am I using this Centurion instead of a Highlander or Jagermech or Jenner? What unique advantages does the Centurion offer, that may make it a better choice than any of those mechs. The answer, for most players, is... the Centurion offers very limited advantages, and there are very few reasons why you should pick the Centurion.

Is the Centurion one of the best snipers in the game? No. The Jagermech, CTF-3D and Highlander are better.
Is the Centurion one of the best light mech hunters in the game? No. The Shadowhawk is much better for that, and even the Kintaro. Even a Jenner is better suited for hunting down light mechs than the Centurion.
Is the Centurion one of the best long range support mechs in the game? No. The Stalker and Jagermech are far better.
Is the Centurion one of the best brawlers in the game? No. If you like brawling, absorbing damage in order to deliver damage, pick an Atlas.

Don't pick the Centurion to perform a role that you can do better with other mechs. At the moment, there's nothing to gain from this. Perhaps Community Warfare will one day offer some kind of incentive for using a medium mech instead of an assault mech. Today, that is not the case.

Part 2: Why you should pick the Centurion.
There are a select few things that the Centurion does better than most other mechs. As a medium mech, you have a small number of significant advantages over heavy mechs. Number 1 is speed, number 2 is agility. Of course, you're a smaller target, but the Centurion is so big that it makes little difference. Many people will tell you that the Centurion offer the unique advantage of being a good 'zombie mech', which means you can keep fighting after losing both arms and both side torsos, and still do damage with the CT medium lasers. Well... that's a pretty small advantage, in my book. If you compare the percentage of matches in which you had a major impact at full health (90+%) compared to low health (no arms, barely any weapons), I think you'll find that it's better to focus on not getting beaten half to death, instead of being great at fighting after being beaten half to death.

So what is the Centurion great at?

Speed combined with firepower and agility. More than any heavy and assault mech, the Centurion can quickly change positions, take out targets that are vulnerable (due to being damaged or just isolated) and get back to defend before the enemy can exploit the opening. However, you don't want to go too far. There's a point of diminishing returns, where extra speed means you have no more firepower, agility or armor than a light mech. In which case you might as well go with a light mech. For example, the CN9-D with the biggest engine can go 135+ kph, but then it has less firepower and less agility than a Jenner, with only slightly more armour. The extra armour doesn't help too much, because you're a bigger target without jumpjets. In other words, you need to find the perfect balance of speed, firepower and agility that no other mechs can match.

Your job is to:
  • Exploit any weakness in the enemy team. Isolated team members, vulnerable mechs, LRM boats without support. Get on those guys, and disappear when you encounter trouble.
  • Protect the weaker parts of your own team. You can help chase away light mechs, you can quickly move to protect an unguarded flank.
  • Stay busy and do damage! If you spend the whole match looking for easy kills or crunchy light mechs, then you're probably wasting a lot of time that could be spent doing damage.You need to keep doing damage, while being ready to do the two above jobs. Keep firing that AC10, PPC or AC20, don't just wait behind the wall of friendly assault mechs.
Part 3: Good CN9-builds for 2014

This is where I tell you what builds I use for my Centurion when I want to get serious, when I'm not just playing for fun and with ambitions of mediocrity. If you want more fun builds, scroll down to the spoiler bracket.

My general recommendations:
  • Use SSRMs, not SRMs. SRMs currently have serious hit registration problems, and it takes a lot of skill to use them effectively. With a big ballistic weapon and lots of SRMs, you'll most likely be at a serious disadvantage against a good light mech pilot in a fast mech. You're never going to be a premium light mech hunter, but with 2-3 SSRMs and 2 medium lasers, you can help teammates scare off enemy light mechs. Which is your job. If you want to hunt light mechs, pick another mech.
  • Use an XL engine. It took me a while to accept this, but the extra survivability of an STD engine is wasted because it basically turns you into a slow medium mech with less firepower. A slow medium mech with less firepower is basically a horrible heavy mech. There are a few exceptions to this point. A few.
  • Don't strip off too much armour. Many skilled players will target your legs, because the Centurion can deflect a lot of punishment with its arms and side torsos. So without leg armour, you will lose your legs. Some people strip armour of the arms and run around with only torso weapons. This used to be a great idea when 3 SRM6 in the torso was a force of destruction. Today, that is rarely the case.
My builds.

CN9-YLW. Either go with XL300, AC20, 2 Medium lasers and AMS, or XL280, AC20 and ER large laser. This mech excels at close range, as its primary advantage is an insane torso twist. At long range, the torso twisting ability is less useful, and so is the ability to carry an AC20.

Most people like the 2 medium lasers and AMS with the bigger engine. I prefer the ER LL because it gives me something to do at long range, where the AC20 is ineffective.

CN9-A. XL275, AC10, 3 SSRMs, 2 Medium lasers and BAP. You only have 30 shots with your AC10, so don't waste any shots. This is a versatile build, jack of all trades, master of none.

CN9-D. XL340, UAC5, 2 SSRMs, 2 Medium lasers. Plenty of ammo, so spam that UAC5 at your heart's content and keep doing damage throughout the match. A max speed of 121 kph should make it very easy for you to stay out of trouble from enemy heavy mechs, while your weapons should be enough to take care of enemy light mechs.

CN9-AL. Though it only has 2 SSRMs, the 4 energy weapons combined with high speed makes this mech a moderate threat against both light mechs and heavier mechs. I don't usually have BAP on it, but you can always swap a DHS and some armour for a BAP at the cost of heat efficiency.

As an alternative, try the STD engine and SRM4 build for extra survivability and higher damage, at the cost of speed and accuracy against light mechs.

Part 4: Centurion vs Shadowhawk
The Shadowhawk (SHD) is widely considered the best medium mech at the moment, and also one of the best mechs in the game overall. When you're choosing the Centurion over the Shadowhawk, you should probably take a look at what the SHD does better. First of all, it's high mounted ballistic weapon, jump jets and arm-mounted energy weapon makes it a much better sniper and poptart. Second, its ability to carry 4 SSRMs with a much bigger engine than most Centurions makes it a better light mech hunter.

One of the few advantages the Centurion has, is the huge and "useless" left arm. Use this to block enemy fire, that's what it's there for. Another advantage is the low-slung, arm mounted ballistic, which makes it easier to hit moving enemies at close range, but harder to snipe. Whenever you're making a Centurion build, consider whether there's a Shadowhawk who does the job better.

Looking at my builds above:
CN9-YLW: Much better torso twist than any SHD. A unique advantage for an AC20 mech.
CN9-A: More missile hardpoints than the SHD-5M, more energy hardpoints than the SHD-2H. It' only advantage over the SHD-2D2 is the arm mounted ballistic, useful at close range, and a very slight increase in torso twist. In other words, its only advantage is at close range.
CN9-D: Same as above.
CN9-AL: 4 energy weapons offers unique abilities that no SHD can match. Arguably a better light mech hunter than most SHD, except the SHD-2D2 with 4 SSRMs, but the CN9-AL is more versatile than the SHD-2D2 due to the energy weapons which are great against both light mechs and assault mechs.

Thanks to everyone for your comments and constructive criticism.

Note: The spoiler contains the previous, outdated version of the guide. Read with a pinch of salt or two.



Spoiler

Edited by Alistair Winter, 24 December 2013 - 07:01 PM.


#2 oldradagast

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 12:59 PM

Still trying to figure out what to do with Medium mechs, but this is a very nice guide to a chassis that doesn't see as much play as it probably should. Thanks for the work that went into this.

#3 Liev Andropov

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 08:08 AM

Wow, very interesting builds! I'll have to give a few of these, notably the AL variants, a shot.

Oh, and everyone who ever buys a CN9-D should really give the LBX-10 a shot at some point, hopefully after you have speed tweak. With that and SRMs your ability to distract and spread mayhem as a 107kph shotgun is unparalleled.

#4 Alistair Winter

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 01:08 AM

View Postoldradagast, on 28 May 2013 - 12:59 PM, said:

Still trying to figure out what to do with Medium mechs, but this is a very nice guide to a chassis that doesn't see as much play as it probably should. Thanks for the work that went into this.

Well, there aren't too many Centurion builds that are realistically on par with the pimped out heavy and assault mechs out there. With an AC10, a couple of medium lasers and an SRM launcher, you can't really go toe to toe with a Highlander with AC20, a couple of large lasers and three SRM launchers, assuming both pilots are equally skilled. The speed advantage isn't that significant. In other words, some of these builds are fun, but not really world beaters. Especially now that SRMs are nerfed. But Centurion builds are more powerful than many people think, as you say.
Thanks for reading.

View PostLiev Andropov, on 29 May 2013 - 08:08 AM, said:

Wow, very interesting builds! I'll have to give a few of these, notably the AL variants, a shot.
Oh, and everyone who ever buys a CN9-D should really give the LBX-10 a shot at some point, hopefully after you have speed tweak. With that and SRMs your ability to distract and spread mayhem as a 107kph shotgun is unparalleled.

Oh yeah, that sounds like a lot of fun. The LBX is definitely underrated.

#5 Padic

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 09:27 AM

One thing you might want to include in your quite is that, even once a Centurion's arm has been destroyed, the chunk of shoulder that remains will still absorb a significant fraction of incoming damage. So a Centurion pilot can still twist to the side to try and catch damage on the shoulder nubs - even if the arm is destroyed.

This piece of information might also give us hints as to where we should allocate our armor. Arms continue to provide partial shielding to the mech body once their destroyed, but our legs are still a weak spot. So I suggest Centurion builds de-armoring the left arm slightly, to increase armor in the legs.

#6 Alistair Winter

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 09:29 AM

View PostPadic, on 30 May 2013 - 09:27 AM, said:

One thing you might want to include in your quite is that, even once a Centurion's arm has been destroyed, the chunk of shoulder that remains will still absorb a significant fraction of incoming damage. So a Centurion pilot can still twist to the side to try and catch damage on the shoulder nubs - even if the arm is destroyed.
This piece of information might also give us hints as to where we should allocate our armor. Arms continue to provide partial shielding to the mech body once their destroyed, but our legs are still a weak spot. So I suggest Centurion builds de-armoring the left arm slightly, to increase armor in the legs.

Interesting. I thought PGI said that damage taken to a damaged component will be transferred to the nearest component. Is your point from personal observation, or has it been mentioned by PGI somewhere?

#7 Padic

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 09:40 AM

There's a discussion going on down in the Mechs&Loadout forums.

http://mwomercs.com/...age-allocation/

The thread is pretty hostile towards the balance implications of how the damage transfer seems to be working, but the results seem unambiguous, at least.

TL;DR: 50% of damage is transferred. If an AC20 round hits your destroyed arm, only 10 damage worth will be transferred in towards the side torso.

#8 Liev Andropov

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 12:25 PM

Also, in the thread there's a bit indicating an in-game stacking effect regarding damage transference. So if your arm is gone, and your side torso is gone, and someone hits you in your arm, only 25% of that damage ends up transferring to your CT because it gets halved twice.

#9 Padic

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 12:38 PM

View PostLiev Andropov, on 30 May 2013 - 12:25 PM, said:

Also, in the thread there's a bit indicating an in-game stacking effect regarding damage transference. So if your arm is gone, and your side torso is gone, and someone hits you in your arm, only 25% of that damage ends up transferring to your CT because it gets halved twice.


Right. Which is still worse for your CT than having the intervening Side Torso in the way, but much better for your CT than taking the hit on the chin directly.

#10 thepartisan

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 02:04 AM

I rec' this based purely on this :

View PostAlistair Winter, on 28 May 2013 - 02:48 AM, said:

  • Never lead the charge. Whenever the two teams meat, the medium mechs have the speed to engage the enemy first, and it’s tempting to attack when several nice targets expose themselves. You have to remember, however, that it’s not your job to shield assault mechs from enemy fire, it’s the other way around.
  • Never walk alone. The Centurion is a team player. While able to dance around many heavy and assault mechs, you’ll often be intercepted by packs of light and/or medium mechs if you cause too much trouble. Depending on what engine you have, there may even be heavy mechs out there with superior speed, armor and firepower. Whether you’re scouting or fighting, always keep your friends nearby.
  • Learn how to block incoming shots. The one distinguishing feature of the Centurion is its durability and its left arm with a built-in shield for absorbing damage. When you’re not shooting, you should be blocking, by twisting your torso to keep your shield between you and your enemy.


#11 Gremlich Johns

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 01:36 PM

my CNT-9A is a lot of fun to use. I use the LBX-10 on it

#12 Alistair Winter

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Posted 05 August 2013 - 03:20 PM

I don't use streaks anyway, but now that they hit a random location, the combination of Streaks and LBX means that you're basically showering your damage all over your target, unable to focus on any specific location.

#13 grml666

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 12:08 AM

First of all, don't ever try to play a Centrurion if you're drunken.

In my opinion the biggest advantage is the ability to spread the damage over the arms and side torsos. I am using a std275 (~89kph without speedtweek) in a CN9-A, compared with 3x SRM6 (5t) and 2x Medium lasers.
It’s a very fast and durable harasser built that can hold a lot of damage, Even if your arms and side torsos are down your able to use the two medium lasers in the center torso. If you’re getting familiar with torso twists and ninja play style the lack of range (270m) will not be a problem.

At the moment I try to master the standard variants for a CN9-D built, with a XL350 (~124kph), 2x Medium pulse laser, SRM4+SRM6 (2t) and 2x Machineguns (1t). Have you tried this built? Because I am a big fan of lights and it should be a fast durable striker.

#14 Rakona

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 07:43 AM

While I like and approve of all most everything you've said, I feel that your builds are flawed by their use of C.A.S.E. You could fully armor the legs of each and store the ammo there, or in some instance's, put the ammo in the right torso (normally last to go) and just use one unit of case, and the other half ton back into armor. You're a Centurion, and shaving that much armor off is a bad idea in my opinion. I can understand your possible retort to 'good players shoot a Centurion's legs', and that's why I don't totally reject your use of the mod, but putting it into the torso of an XL Engine mech is simply a waste. If they hit it enough to explode the ammo, you're engine is already gone and you're not twisting enough.

All in all, I enjoyed the read though, and thought it to be useful.

Quote

The one distinguishing feature of the Centurion is its durability and its left arm with a built-in shield for absorbing damage.


This. I'm praying they don't **** up the Centurion's hitbox's with the ******* 'touch up'. Its the only thing that really makes the mech viable, and quite frankly, I'd be very happy if they just left it alone, but I doubt I'm that lucky to have my favorite mech, one that is hardly used, be left alone. They will try to improve it and **** up its durability, I can almost promise that. (no offense PGI, but when one adjusts things, other things get lost, just how it works, no mistake of yours).

Edited by Rakona, 03 December 2013 - 07:44 AM.


#15 Draconis March

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 08:56 AM

The fact that this guide doesn't have the zombie build (almost unanimously accepted as the best Centurion build out there) makes me very dubious of the entire thing. Also, case doesn't do jack when you have an XL engine.

#16 grml666

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 09:47 AM

It's a STD Engine 275, 3x SRM6 in the left torso, case and 5x SRM Ammo in the right torso. Max Armor but 33 in both legs and 14 in the head. 89,1 without speadtweek.

I don't like to store my ammo in the legs, because when I am playing lights and have to go 1vs1 against a healthy assault most of the time I am going for the legs. It depends to the loadout and if there is the propability for stored ammo. Usually it's the weakest point resp. the lowest armor with ammo inside.

#17 Sable Dove

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 04:37 PM

The tips you give are solid, but most of your builds are not so great. Aside from the AL and the Wang, there is no reason to ever put weapons in the right arm. Most competitive Centurions use the right side to block, while cramming as many SRMs in the LT as possible and a pair of ML in the CT.

Just about the only reason to ever use the RA is with the CN9-AL (because you can put a pair of ML in there), or with the AC/20 Wang. The arm just gets blown off too easily to justify putting a significant amount of weaponry in it unless you can use the AC/20.

CN9-A

CN9-D

CN9-AL

CN9-A is easily the best, and the -D is overall the worst. AL at least can make use of the right arm without a huge investment. Even with {Scrap} hit registration on SRMs, the Centurion is generally best when stuffed with as many SRMs as possible, and the CN9-A is best in that regard.

#18 iamunkle

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 10:49 PM

so as of last patch, cent got its ct widened 10% if i recall correctly, as well as its hitbox fix...

havnt used the cent for a while since trying to grind through my phoenix mechs,


my YLW is the main breadwinner and favourite mech as i always finish games with so much red an orange internals i shake my head in amazement. if pgi has effed the cent up...lol, ...

*pauses for a moment*

im lost for words.

#19 Artgathan

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Posted 05 December 2013 - 09:31 AM

Just a point to note: no medium (the Centurion included), is able to out-maneuver any Heavy / Assault mech. An Atlas with a 300-Engine can turn at a rate of roughly 44 degrees / second, meaning that if you're any further than 50 metres from it, the Atlas can track you just by turning (not even torso twisting. Just by mashing A / D they can keep up). To be able to evade (IE: run faster than the Atlas can turn) at 100 metres, you would need to be running at 266 kph.

The guide is OK; the builds are sub-par. CASE? No one really uses case except die-hard "lore" junkies. It's useless in-game. Put the ammunition in the Head / Legs. A 10% risk of explosion is hardly enough reason to justify wasting 5% of the mech's tonnage that could be devoted to thicker armor / more heatsinks.

That said, I've used builds similar to those posted and they're pretty good for their respective roles. As I dig more and more into MW:O though, I find that Mediums in general do better as fire-support mechs (since they can lower the size of their engine and just grab more weapons).

#20 Aleski

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 04:12 AM

What do you think about that on the Classic YLW build?

http://mwo.smurfy-ne...23e3a524a5c207b

You had the FF armor, and you can have max armor. And i remove the case and put the munitions in the legs and cockpit.

A little amelioration of your build =)


I have to try the 2xUAC/5 build! But i think it's a better idea to use a XL255, it's an engine that you can use on all of the spiders variants for example. At the price of a XL engine, it's good if you can use it an other mech too!





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