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Basic Guide To The Thunderbolt

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#1 RavensScar


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Posted 24 January 2014 - 01:54 PM

First things first: I started on Thunderbolts shortly after they were released for C-Bills. I think they're a great chassis, but they are *extremely* quirky. There's not a great deal of info about them on the forums at present, so I thought I'd slap my own findings down in the hope that it will help anyone else who's thinking about starting on them.

I'm not a 'pro' player - I only drop solo or in a pair, so this guide isn't about uber-competitive builds. Hopefully, however, it will help you get started.

Why should I play a T-Bolt?
Firstly, the Thunderbolt is not a meta monster. If that puts you off, BoomJags and GaussCats are over there ->

That out of the way, what it *does* do well is tank damage. With a standard engine (and it runs a standard very comfortably,) it can be bloody hard to put down.

It's also very versatile. The 3 variants are each unique with their own strengths and weaknesses. This isn't a Victor where you've just got a different number of ballistic slots. Each variant plays quite differently.

So, why shouldn't I play this thing?
Piloting a Thunderbolt is downright weird.

The cockpit is off-centre. In fact, it's pretty much slap-bang on top of the left shoulder. This means that the left-torso weapons feel like they're on a centreline mount. On the other hand, the weapons in the right arm feel like they're in another county. More on this later.

It also has side-torsos the size of a small city. If you want to run a back-line support build, you might get away with an XL. Anything else, I wouldn't even think about it.

The Thud can also be a complete pain in the backside to build. On most variants, the hardpoints are spread in a pretty slap-dash manner across the entire mech. Like 'em or loathe 'em, the 'Phract's 4MLas AC/20, and the CPLT-C1's 4MLas LRM40 (etc) are popular for a reason. I haven't come across any real 'go-to' builds that fit the Thunderbolt variants in the same way.

In short - be prepared for some duff matches and quite a few headaches before you find that build!

General Piloting Tips

Firstly, and I believe this to be true of all heavy mechs, the Thunderbolt really benefits from finishing the Elite tree so you have Speed Tweak and the double Basics. It's certainly no medium, but with these unlocked, the chassis feels fairly nimble with good acceleration and particularly good arm movement.

As previously mentioned, the offset cockpit means this mech handles pretty strangely. All the variants have 3 LT energy hardpoints that feel like they're firing from the centreline. In addition, the LA weapons on the 5S almost feel like they're on a hip-mount. Unfortunately, this means that the RA weapons are massively offset from your direct line-of-sight. Embarrassingly, on more than one occasion I have lined up a perfect shot with the LT energy, and ended up putting the RA energy into the back of a nearby friendly. For this reason, I would recommend avoiding grouping the LT and RA as far as possible.

Interestingly enough, I believe the offset cockpit makes targeting the Thunderbolt difficult as well. 'Aim for the head' is the usual tactic for taking down mechs - if you don't get the headshot, you're at least damaging the CT. This doesn't work on the Thud. Aiming for the head generally damages the LT - so be prepared to lose your LT and LA! However, the CT is both pretty damn small for a heavy, and lacking in any real focus-point. I believe this significantly enhances the Thunderbolt's survivability.

It's also worth noting that it is possible to expose your LT and LA weapons (and therefore your cockpit) *without* exposing your CT. Unfortunately, this is not an easy trick. Equally, the opposite is also a problem. Being right-side dominant (like 60-something percent of the population) I tend to favour leading with my right-hand-side, and therefore often approach an opening from the left. In the Thud, this means I have exposed my RA, RT and CT before I can even see around the corner - not ideal!

So - onto the variants:





So there we have it - hopefully this will offer some hints and ideas for anyone thinking of trying out the Thuds!

I'm sure there are plenty of Thunderbolt pilots out there who will disagree with everything I've just written, so any other ideas, tips or tricks will be gratefully received. :-)

Edited by RavensScar, 24 January 2014 - 02:07 PM.

#2 GhostWalkn


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Posted 03 February 2014 - 09:10 PM

I agree with a number of points. If you run an XL engine on the TDR, not only do you have a *huge* backside, the missle hardpoint is on your side torso, and will more often than not go first (unless they get your arms, but at least you're still standing)

Running an XL engine, you will *always* have SRM or LRM or SSRM. Keep that in mind, because I frequently lose my arms first even though I run the XL.

The offset piloting takes a little getting used to. I only run the first variant, but my arms have AC5s and an ERPPC. It's really easy to just peek from a corner and get some AC rounds fired, but you have to completely expose your mech if want to use the energy arm (and the missle pack is crucial). In this case, you *may* want to pack some strong lasers in the side torso (3 hardpoints). This would basically mean the near-half of your mech would have all the firepower (provided you have a couple AC5s as well)

But if you do that, you'll also save your missle side torso from being exposed as frequently. This seems to be the best bet to make the TDR competitive. Use 3x medium lasers, and twin AC, opt for an STD. Stick to medium range keeping your right torso under cover to have the most survivability.

I like this information, but I opted to make the TDR a team support brawler instead of a sniper. Because my SRM6x2 are so important then, I just opted to have the XL engine outright. My ACs go through a lot of ammunition, and an ERPPC is my highest heat generating weapon but it's helpful for brawler strikes and pumping additional heat at range. Triple Small lasers top off the brawling potential without exacerbating the plasma cannon. Because of the heavy weaponry, it's a pretty slow mech, alone I'm highly vulnerable.

On that point my AC5s are my first weapon, and to keep them up and running, if they begin taking damage I'll begin to expose my whole mech and apply more PPC pressure if I must, or just get close and dirty.

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Edited by GhostWalkn, 03 February 2014 - 09:18 PM.

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