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The Way Of The Dragon [Advanced Guide]

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#1 Dan Grommel


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Posted 20 November 2012 - 06:51 AM

Disclaimer: This is supposed to be a little guide to the dragon chassis for experienced players. If you are new to the game I strongly recommend to stay away from the Dragon as it isn't easy to pilot and the setups I'm suggesting here are very pricey.

I know a lot of people tend to put Gauss on the Dragon and build their setups around that. Some also mix this with a variety of lasers and run around the battlefield as mid-long-range skirmisher/supporter/sniper. I tried this myself but it always felt like I wasn't using the mech to its full potential. So I tried to get away from the gauss and started using a variety of autocannons. After some mixing, trial and error I finally got a few setups that were netting me great success and much more kills and damage per round then any gauss setup got me.

To achieve this I build my setups around the idea that using all available slots on the given chassis is better then just using a limited selection of big guns. Call it OCD but I'm doing this with all my setups and it does me well.

For the Dragon in particular this results in a combination of AC(s), SRM(s) and medium sized lasers depending on the vartiant.

I also found out that every Dragon chassis requires three key "upgrades" to work in the way I want:
Endo-Steel, Double Heatsinks and a XL300 Engine. Any smaller engine wouldn't allow as many double heatsinks loaded and thus the 300 is already the smallest and cheapest engine possible to run the Mech because you need every slot you can spare for those DHS.

The Builds:

Here are the setups I currently run with great success, again ES, DHS and XL300 are mandatory for all of them:


RA: Ultra AC/5 (2t Ammo in legs)
CT: SRM 6 (1t Ammo in leg)

368 Armor (Max everywhere, except legs), 5 Extra DHS outside engine, divert as you please.

44 Firepower, 1.17 Heat efficiency.

This one runs very hot and is the most difficult one to pilot. I suggest using the Torso Pulse Lasers in an extra group for emergency firepower and mainly use the arm-weaponery and srms in longer fights. If you feel uncomfortable with the jamming/unjamming of the Ultra-AC/5 I suggest to downgrade to AC/5 and add extra ammo for the SRM6. This is currently my favourite and most successful variant. If you can manage the heat and jamming it is extremely good.


RA: 2 AC/5 (3t Ammo in legs)
CT: 2 SRM4 (2t Ammo in leg/one arm)
LT: 1 ML
LA: 1 ML

368 Armor (max everywhere, except legs), 1 Extra DHS

40 Firepower, 1.29 Heat efficiency.

This on was orignially inspired by my shredder/shaker Atlas DC build. Correct weapon grouping and use of chainfire with the ACs and SRMs will make your targets shake from constant fire giving them a very hard time fighting back. Hence I suggest 4 weapon groups: 1 - both Lasers, 2 - ACs in chainfire, 3 -SRMs in chainfire and a fourth for alpha punch.

Having the 2 lasers in one group isn't optimal as they aren't in the same section but I found even more groups too hard to handle in a combat situation and having the "shaking" ability is just too good to not make use of it. Also with the weapon grouping I suggested this setup will never overheat unless you use the alpha punch button too much.


RA: 1 AC/10 (3t Ammo in legs), 2x MG (1t Ammo in LA)
CT: SRM 6 (1t Ammo in leg)

400 Armor (1 plate missing in each leg), 2 Extra DHS

41 Firepower, 1.33 Heat efficiency.

Oh yea LOL MGs. This is my OCD to use all slots striking. They are of limited use in the current patch but they are supposed to recieve a buff soon™ and for now they can at least help a little if you stripped off the armor of an enemy mech and spamming internals with them. And hey they look cool and the stream of bursts adds to the fear factor. I tried playing around with AC/2s but they are just not working for me so this is infact the most solid setup I could come up with for the 5N and it works for me quite well. It doesn't really shake people much but the AC/10 and MPL combination packs a nice punch to the spot. Weapon grouping is rather easy here: one group for each arm, extra group for the srm and MGs. MGs can also be grouped with all other weapons as ammo is not an issue and you don't have to mind the extra button for them all the time then.

Piloting Advice:

Now that we have those setups. How do we use them?

The beauty of all of those builds is that they can be used in a rather similar way. We now have a heavy mech that runs 81 kph (without elite skill), packs a lot of firepower from the arms with added close range punch from the torso weapons. It's flexibility and mobility are its two biggest strengths and any Dragon Pilot should make use of those two.

Obviously we still shouldn't run infront of an Atlas and take it on face to face but with our speed it is rather easy to flank around assaults or even engange them in a turning-fight on open ground with good chances of success. However seeking a fair duel is not the way of the Dragon. Using situational awareness the Dragon should use its mobility to commit and add extra firepower to the fights where it is needed most on the battlefield, help to overpower the present hostiles and then re-deploy into the next hot-spot. If the Dragon gets primaried and takes too much damage it can - again making use of its great speed - disengage and seek the chance for another run or commit elsewhere.

Before all that though the given setups offer limited scouting and long-range harrasement/sniping abilties with the arm mounted autocannons. So untill the acutal fights start to evolve a Dragon pilot thus can and should get ahead of the friendly force and start looking for hostiles and not hesitate to take a few AC-shots here and there at long range. You will be surprised how many LRM boats can be driven off their spam-spots by a few AC-rounds to the face. Again Shaking and the impact noise help a lot here.

On a final note: Being one of the fastet-non-lights around the Dragon should also be always ready to go back home to defend an attacked base or go on and start capping the hostile one if the tactical situation suggests it. Being a heavy and having all that punch gives it good chances to overcome whatever lone hostiles it might encounter mid/late-battle around cap zones.

If you read this far I hope this guide gave you some suggestions how to use the Dragon. I can only recommend it as it is my current personal favourite and easily the mech I have most success with. If you agree or disagree with anything I said here feel encouraged to share your thoughts.

#2 Volts


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Posted 20 November 2012 - 07:34 AM

Nice post.

I agree with the strats laid out, especially regarding 'no fair fights'.

Took me a while to figure out how to best play this mech, and it's definitely through use of its mobility and never picking a fair fight.

Will check out your build idea's when I get back home!

#3 SniperCzar


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Posted 20 November 2012 - 07:47 AM

I've always been a fan of the XL360+AC10+ERPPC combo. You can even fit Endo, Ferro, and DHS on it and still have enough slots for ammo.

#4 Dan Grommel


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Posted 20 November 2012 - 09:27 AM

View PostSniperCzar, on 20 November 2012 - 07:47 AM, said:

I've always been a fan of the XL360+AC10+ERPPC combo. You can even fit Endo, Ferro, and DHS on it and still have enough slots for ammo.

I'm not saying sniper/long range skirmisher setups like that won't work, but you are limiting the mech in flexibility a lot.
While you are getting a nice ranged alpha punch you won't have a lot damage output over time. And once the pesky jenners swarm you it is game over unless someone else kills them off for you.

In a group the sniper setup is more viable to do but I'd still feel like I'm using the K2's somewhat gimped ******* brother.

#5 SniperCzar


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Posted 20 November 2012 - 09:43 AM

View PostDan Grommel, on 20 November 2012 - 09:27 AM, said:

I'm not saying sniper/long range skirmisher setups like that won't work, but you are limiting the mech in flexibility a lot.
While you are getting a nice ranged alpha punch you won't have a lot damage output over time. And once the pesky jenners swarm you it is game over unless someone else kills them off for you.

In a group the sniper setup is more viable to do but I'd still feel like I'm using the K2's somewhat gimped ******* brother.

I don't actually use that build as a sniper setup unless I'm in a pinch. Most of the time I'm in close circlestrafing mediums and legging lights (hence the ERPPC, no minimum range). Bear in mind this thing hits for 20 pinpoint damage on some poor Jenner's leg assuming you can aim well, and I have a hard time overheating this build even when I'm repeatedly alphastriking. If you take your time and aim your shots, the single ERPPC heat isn't going to be an issue (puts out less heat than two LLs) The fact that I can back off, sit back and pick off weakened stragglers after I've started taking heavy damage is really just an added bonus.

#6 Dan Grommel


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Posted 20 November 2012 - 09:59 AM

Well if you are able to pull that off and having fun with it by all means keep doing it. I fear however that many people can't for ping issues alone. At least with mine (160ish) it's not very viable to go up close against lights with gauss/ppc.

#7 CocoaJin


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Posted 20 November 2012 - 10:05 AM

Im currently working toward my XL, havent decide on the 300, or if I want a bigger engine for more speed...ive seen speed work to great affect for Dragons in Closed Beta.

Right now, Ive settled on the 1C...Torso mounted 2x Large Laser, Arm mounted LPL and Med laser...ES and DHS. I'll wait until I free up more tonnage with the Xl Engine to finalize the build.

As of right now, my biggest issue is keeping the thing from getting focused while PuGing. Generally, my teams lack the skill, experience and advanced mechs to allow me to play force multiplier behind front line brawlers. I very quickly find myself armless and/or quickly lose my RT mounted weapons due to crits well before Im cored.

I havent went with ballistic mounts yet because I dont feel I can get enough bank for the tonnage right now...each of my large lasers are basically AC/10s with much better easy of use and only 2/3s the tonnage. Dont get me wrong, Ive grown to like ACs...especially the UAC/5, but until I free up more tonnage, it was easier to boat lasers.

I think in the end, I'll have an UAC/5 and 1-2 tons ammo, I'll likly make the left arm 2x MPLs, leave the torso 2x LL and make everything else DHS...especially so I can pad my LT Lasers from crits. I may even add a SRM.

#8 Dan Grommel


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Posted 20 November 2012 - 10:43 AM

I toyed around with large lasers too but they don't work that well on the dragon imo. You are sacrificing way too much for too little gain. Sticking with what I said in the guide: Lots of smaller weapons and using all slots works better on the dragon then using few large ones and leaving slots unused.

Think of the 1c for example: You might squeeze 2 large in the arm but instead you can also have 4 medium pulse and have 2 tons left for DHS. You gain easier usability due to their short bursts opposed to the long beams you have to keep on target from the LLs. And you only sacrifice range which you don't really need on a mech with that speed.

#9 ElcomeSoft


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Posted 20 November 2012 - 11:54 AM

2 LL + Gauss
Endo Steel
12 DHS

Absolute monster. I tend to stay back early on, use my range to keep me out of harms way and mobility to get to the right spots. I can hold me own in 1v1 against anything up to 65 tons with the exception of a Gausscat or an AC/20 Cat that's closed in on me. I can take on Lights and Mediums with impunity. Take out almost anything in a sniper fight.

Lights are a bit of an issue, granted but I'm not sure I'd be much better at anti-light work unless I stuck Streaks in. Assaults? Most Assaults I try to avoid. I'll throw stuff at them from a distance, flank, dodge, weave and put alpha strikes into their back.

Heat management? 2 LL's are very well handled by the 12 DHS and the Gauss is pretty much heatless. I can engage in long, protracted battles if necessary (and it can be as you're closing the distance or sniping with impunity).

Mobility, lethal at any range for long and short engagement times, Can live without the FF but for a build that I love to play, it's worth the extra cost.

I only ever PUG. I have not Elited the Dragon, nor do I use any extra modules. I usually score between 400 and 800 damage per match, win or lose with my record high being 1,007 with this build.

#10 Ragor


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Posted 20 November 2012 - 12:08 PM

@OP: Great post, thx for sharing.
Regarding Dual AC/2:
Took me a very long time to get a hang on them.
But once I got it I use them on nearly all my builds, even my AS7-D(F).
Honestly, me is really glad that most players never get used to them. (on both ends :) )
But on long range they are a pain like nearly no other weapon, on short range they are simply brutal and devastating.

Edited by Ragor, 20 November 2012 - 12:09 PM.

#11 Ashvins


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Posted 20 November 2012 - 08:13 PM

So on my 5N I went with the following set-up

3 AC/2
1 ton ammo for the srm and 3 tons for the AC/2's

I've also thought of 2 alternatives for the 3 AC/2 ,
1) 2 UAC/5 3 ton's ammo
2) 2 AC/5 4 ton's ammo and 1 additional SHS.

The dual AC/5 or UAC/5 give more burst damage than the AC/2's potentially up to 10 or 20 dmg but lack the range of the AC/2's. The Ultra's have to possible drawback of a jam also, IMO all 3 are good builds just depends on whether you like more burst or sustained damage.

#12 Zanathan


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Posted 20 November 2012 - 09:44 PM

As Dan pointed out the builds above will be a tad painful for those on higher pings (I average 250-350ms) and having experimented with the AC's I had to sadly give them up unless I want to stick with just sniping.

Also with lights and even mediums, I rely heavily on SSRMs (again due to ping issues) and they are central to my builds.

Otherwise very good advice for those that can utilise it.

#13 Tenzan


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Posted 20 November 2012 - 11:53 PM

It's a very underestimated Mech. I hit 984 damage on a twin LB 10X K2 recently and still didn't get top damage, that went to the Dragon that killed me, 1018 damage with just a Gauss and a pair of Medium Pulse Lasers. Shows what it can do in the right hands.

There are several of us in our outfit that run Dragons and it's become a bit of a running joke when someone gets top damage in the match with one; "Wow, Dragons really suck! No one should play one of these!" ;)

I have a twin AC/5, 2 x SSRM, 2 x MPLAS version with an XL 300 engine that I use for general grouping and then one I call The Gimp just to prove a point; LB 10-X, 2 x MLAS, ERPPC. Supposedly gimpy mech, with gimpy projectile weapon and gimpy energy weapon. It's surprisingly effective if you learn to pick your fights.

Best advice I can give; at the start of a match if something is shooting at you and it isn't a light, evade and re-engage when they choose another target. You need to try and stay alive into the second half of the match when your speed and firepower can be most effective :D

The downside is you have a reputation for an easy target, EVERYBODY will pick on the Dragon first.... unless you are standing next to a Wang :D

#14 Dan Grommel


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Posted 21 November 2012 - 12:07 AM

Yea, people tend to switch to dragon a lot for primary target because of the cb reputation of being an easy kill. It's not anymore.

With the very, very small side torso hitboxes it is practically immune to side-torso-xl-engine-coreing. Plus if you're doing it right, you're staying on the move with a 300+ engine and thus it becomes even harder to hit any specfic armor section for the enemy.

Another piece of piloting advice comes to my mind here: Another big plus of the Dragon is the Torso Twist Speed with the large engines. After fireing your weapons and during cooldown you should exploit this to make it even harder for the enemy to hit anything specific on your mech through turning the torso randomly around till you can line up the next salvo. Also watch your own armor sections carefully. My playstile sometimes tends to "use" up my frontal armor quicker than my back armor :D When that happens and I have back armor left I try to specifically show it to the enemy. Works well to add some staying power in prolonged fights.

Edit: And lol yes: My Dragons crack the 1k damage per battle barrier more often then any other mech in my bay. Mind I have cat, hunchy and atlas elited.

Edited by Dan Grommel, 21 November 2012 - 12:09 AM.

#15 CocoaJin


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Posted 21 November 2012 - 12:20 AM

No XL yet, but I did swap out all my LL for 4x MLs and slotted an UAC/5. With the new jam mechanic, its a lot easier to field the UAC/5 now, and I find I like it, but the 4x MLs just dont feel like they lay down enough damage nowadays as custom mechs are ebcoming more an dmore common.

I just dont see them burning through armor fast enough, poor FPS and latency issues are still making engaging fast units, especially lights, lack luster. I also find Im frequently being focused down as my team evaporates in front of my eyes(cant hang back and force multuiply when my front-line gets crushed and now the front-line is all of a sudden me!

This new patch seems to have my CT getting blown through way easier than I remember. My arms are surviving way more...only because Im getting cored so easily(not from ammo explosions).

Im hoping a few more skill boosts(I only have three of them in my 1C) and the increase in speed from an XL will help later on.

Anyhoo, Im dedicated to a Draconic Combine themed hangar, so this Dragon is gonna have to do. Though, I suspect Im going to be running my current Cicada and future Flea a lot more. Frankly, a ballistics build Cataphract is also calling my name.

Edited by CocoaJin, 21 November 2012 - 12:21 AM.

#16 Kmieciu


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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:06 AM

Dragon is a fast mech. It`s the one who saves the base from being capped by a heard of Jenners.
That`s why I use 2xSSRM 2xMPL and a Gauss. Missiles and lasers against fast mechs, Gauss against slow of stationary mechs.

And when ramming gets reintroduced the GaussDragon is going to be a light mech`s worst nightmare.
Do you want to play "Ram and Gauss" with me little Raven?

#17 Sandra McCrow


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Posted 21 November 2012 - 09:10 AM

Just tried cataphract... first non-light mech since wipe I bought... and feels odd. Thanks for the guide - I will really give dragon another thought. Such a bulky mechwarriorish shape... and such agravity!

Edited by Sandro Mc, 21 November 2012 - 09:10 AM.

#18 Dendrobium


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Posted 01 December 2012 - 07:56 PM

Favoriting this guide. I picked a Dragon at random from the list and I've been screwing with it since. Only started yesterday but, it's been driving me nuts on how to best utilize the mech. I've had some good luck points but, I always run across being focused and heat. I took care of the heat but, at the expense of getting rid of weapons. I was just about ready to give up on this mech until I found this guide. I love the speed of the mech and, I can see the potential of it once I started using it. Just couldn't fine tune the set up to work for my style.

#19 Therius


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Posted 02 December 2012 - 02:48 PM

Im working at my Dragon 1N right now and only the DHS are missing, but im thinking about 2 things.

1. Replacing the 2 AC/5 for and UAC/5 <-Same Dmg but Jammingchance


2. Using the free weight for an PPC instead of 1 ML, which would add another Midrange Weapon with good dmg but more heat as downside. Also there would be another free ton from the Med-Laser for Ammuntion.

Math: 2 AC/5 are 8 Tons and 4 slots each the Medlaser is 1 Ton and one Slot vs UAC/5 with 9 Tons and 5 slots and a PPC with 7 Tons and 4 Slots = 1 Free Ton for Amuntion oder other Stuff (Like another DHS or Maybe a Tag and DhS if the second ML is replaced)

What are your thoughts on this? It would make the Dragon a choice for counter ecm with the Tag or you can use PPC/ML as secondary Weapons

OMG. too much errors i should sleep XD

Edited by Therius, 02 December 2012 - 02:50 PM.

#20 beniliusbob


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Posted 03 December 2012 - 12:30 PM

I love the triple AC/2 combo on the 5N. That's 12 DPS up to 700 some metres on a mech that can go well over 80kph. By the time I run out of ammo, my enemies are either dead or have no core armour - so it's easy to charge in with 2 medium lasers and an SRM6.

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