Guide to Skill Points?

Thread in 'MechWarrior Online' started by Gneckes31, Apr 4, 2018.

  1. Gneckes31

    Gneckes31 Well-Known Member

    I hate to admit it, but i'm still pretty clueless as to what I should spend my SP on. Any help would be much appreciated.
  2. Excalibaard

    Excalibaard 101 010 Staff Member

    This is a guide I'm still working on. Metamechs has a workable (though outdated) one.
    I will have a flowchart that describes which trees will be most worth it to invest into based on parameters in your build. Though, each skill tree is often only an incremental change, a lot of subjective factors will come into play.
    If there are specific questions before I can finish the guide, feel free to ask :)
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  3. CarloArmato

    CarloArmato Professional Potato Carrier

    IMHO, you should go for anything that will let your mech shine compared to others AND to stack the quirks with the skill nodes you are going to unlock.

    General rule of thumbs:
    • Firepower is a must have, BUT:
      • if your build has mostly hot weapons, get most or all the heatgens and avoid cooldown, unless you have very cool weapons like Gauss rifles.
      • if your build is slow to charge / cooldown / high alfa, you can safely ignore some cooldown and focus on range and / or heat gen
      • Always skill the improvements for the weapon you are mounting with very few exceptions:
        • If you only have Rocket Launchers, ignore missile boosts
        • I always ignore Gauss charge nodes, with only one exception so far (my Iron Grid "Tonberry" with heavy gauss)
        • Projectile velocity boost is kinda negligible, unless the base projectile speed is really slow.
    • Survival is a nice touch, especially if your mech has armor / structure quirks
      • Armor / Structure quirks stack togheter with nodes: roughneck HPs will reach crazy levels.
      • Since MGs are now extremely scary due to very high crit chance and/or damage, armor is more than often better than structure
    • Agility: I tend to ignore it, unless you are a light / very fast medium and/or you need additional acceleration deceleration.
      • IMHO Speed tweak is no more a must have, unless you are very fast or you have a greater chance to dodge shots / spread damage with the additional speed. Speed tweak on heavies and assault IMHO is useless: better skill up in firepower for additional cooling or survivability to be tankier (you can't dodge shots anyway). The only case is when you are using a brawler: if that is case, maybe "half" speed tweak could actually become usefull.
    • Jump Capabilities: LOL. Useless.
    • Mech Operations: worth only for the cool run nodes. Everything else in mech operations is not as good as it, but could come in handy, so you either skill in operations for the cool run and take whatever will come in handy mid way or do not skill it at all.
      • Cool run is always better than all the heat gen nodes in the firepower tree (no math here 'cause I'm lazy and it's a whole another topic). Combine both in very hot build (less than 40% heat).
      • Heat containment only increases the maximum amount of heat, so it's nearly useless.
      • Hill climb is a welcome addition to heavies and assaults, but it's not mandatory
      • Speed retention is a nice touch to lights, but not mandatory (if you lose a leg, you will be dead anyway most of the times)
      • Improved Gyros is useleful, but most of the times only a couple of nodes will be enough. I ignore it because I'm gonna take all the node I need while going for anything else, really.
    • Sensor system: I tend to ignore it, except if I have nodes to spare OR I'm using a long range build which could be used in open ground with little cover OR I have ECM / stealth fitted.
      • Advanced zoom is a no-brainer / must have on Long Range build and it's worth only 4 nodes. Get it.
      • Radar depravation deprivation is very usefull and the 3 nodes on the left branch will suffice most of the times.
      • Seismic sensor is usefull, but I personally skill it only if I already took the radar deprivation nodes.
      • ECM will be greatly improved with the 2 skills nodes, I'll leave the math to someone else (TL;DR version is that with ECM equipped you can be targeted at 540 meters, 270 with both nodes)
    • Miscellaneous: I only skill consumables
      • Is the mech hot? Then skill Coll shots
      • Is the mech slow and / or short ranged? Then skill Air Strikes
      • Is the mech fast and brawler? Then skill UAV
    Here are a couple of examples:
    UM-R60L "Hipster" (2xSNPPC, 2xMG, 1xJJ, XL180)
    Ac/20 Cooldown − 10 %
    Ballistic Cooldown − 10 % (ignored by MGs)
    Ballistic Range + 20 %
    Ballistic Velocity + 20 %
    Energy Range + 10 %
    Heat Dissipation + 13 %

    Base Armor (CT) + 20
    Base Armor (LA) + 10
    Base Armor (LL) + 14
    Base Armor (LT) + 14
    Base Armor (RA) + 14
    Base Armor (RL) + 14
    Base Armor (RT) + 14
    Decision making...
    • Hot short build (firepower: heat gen, range [stacks with quirk], could use some projectile velocity; consumables: coolshot, not sure about airstrike or UAV yet)
    • Huge armor quirks (must skill most of armor nodes)
    • Not fast for being a small light mech (can't engage at range and can't get close very quickly, but can move easily in urban environments and possibly poptart or dodge shots: airstrike and probably half speed tweak)
    Final Skill tree here (I really use this one)


    HBR-F "Hell Quirk" (2xcHLL, 5xcERML)
    Quirk: only -10% heat gen

    Decision making...

    • Med range laser vomit (very hot, long waiting time between alpha strikes. Must stick with team mates and no ECM, hence no speed tweak needed... Maybe get some radar deprivation)
    • Kinda squishy (could use some armor)
    Final Skill tree here
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
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  4. Excalibaard

    Excalibaard 101 010 Staff Member

    Hey Carlo, guides are open for everyone ^^ If you want to share your views in the guides section you're welcome to take some workloadoff my shoulders ;)
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  5. CarloArmato

    CarloArmato Professional Potato Carrier

    Yeah well, I'll give it a try
  6. Dagonus

    Dagonus Moderator Staff Member

    I like the gauss charge nodes. Sometimes those are the difference between "Okay I'll have him lined up and..." <out of charge> or actually getting to take the shot. If you're really good at timing that, you can probably get away without it , but if you aren't great at that, having the wider window to hold your shot is helpful.

    Misc are also work grabbing the cap assist if you can spare some points on a light or very fast medium. It really only comes up in 2 (maybe 3? does it count for picking up/putting down batteries?), but I just make a point to vote for those when I have mechs with the 4 points spent there. It is not generally the best use of skill points though, but if you have 4 lying around, it is not the worst expenditure. I maintain the cap system should change but that's neither here nor there for this thread. .
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  7. CarloArmato

    CarloArmato Professional Potato Carrier

    Exactly why I don't bother skilling it: I pretty much always shoot right after charge is completed, with the only exception of the Grid Iron build I've quoted. In fact, you can see here that there is only 1 instance when I do actually wait long enough to make the gauss charge node useful (I avoided team damage)

    On other mechs, I rarely lose the charge.

    About cap nodes, actually they could prove usefull for invasion mechs because you can choose when to use the so skilled mech, so those nodes won't be wasted, but since I was mainly considering QP, I actually never bothered skill into them and still prefer kills / damage / squirrel bait over cap.
  8. Excalibaard

    Excalibaard 101 010 Staff Member

    My limits for investing heavily into a tree are based on asking myself a specific question for each tree. I'll post my Version 0.1 of the guide I was/am working on here (no examples or flowcharts yet).

    @CarloArmato hit me up about that guide, maybe we can collab.


    90% of the time, it's advised spend your skillpoints to improve strengths of your mech rather than fix weaknesses. A Sun Spider will always be fragile for its size, no matter how many points you put into Survival. However, since it's very good at offense and mobility, it's worth it to spend a lot of skill points at improving offensive capabilities in Firepower, and its agility in the mobility tree, such that you can deal more damage before you die.
    Another example is when your mech has a 20% cooldown quirk for a certain weapon. 10% cooldown reduction from nodes equates to a 11% DPS increase normally (100/90), but a mech with an innate 20% cooldown quirk will get a 15% DPS increase from the same nodes (80/70), meaning the same nodes are almost 1.5 times as good. This applies to every stat in the game. If you have armor quirks, you want armor skills. If you have laser duration quirks, you want laser duration skills.

    The only reasons to spend skillpoints to fix a weakness, are specific on the type of build: If you have a mech with only (close range) torso weapons or a large need to torso twist incoming damage, then you will want to invest into torso speed, regardless if the torso twist speed is low or high for that chassis. Some people might say that this also applies to builds which have very bad heat efficiency, where you invest skill points to fix that. However, I prefer to interpret that as 'improving the strength of your heat dissipation'. You can't fix a truly hot build with just skills. You add heatsinks to prevent it, and then improve their efficiency.

    As such, each build will have different trees they want to invest in. If you have no quirks to use as a step in a direction, ask yourself the question displayed at the top of each tree. If he answer is yes, you'll get something out of it.

    Nodes and trees are color-coded for their tier:
    Tier 1 are excellent trees and nodes, always get these when relevant.
    Tier 2 are good pick ups, get them if they're available without many other nodes in between.
    Tier 3 are OK, you can pick it up if they're directly adjacent to your tree build or for personal preference.
    Tier 4 are baaaaaaad. Avoid unless you meme, or have a very strong personal preference.

    "Do you have a loadout consisting mainly of one or two groups of similar weapons and/or strong offensive quirks?"

    First, look for easily reached nodes that improve your relevant quirks. Cooldown quirks make Cooldown nodes better, Heat quirks make Heat Gen nodes better, due to additive percentages as explained earlier.

    Then, focus on improving your main weapons. Pick your weapon type below and mix&match the nodes according to their combined tiers going by the importance of that weapon type in your loadout. This is the most variable tree and there are very few 'wrong' ways to go about it.
    • [*]Missiles
      • Missile Rack - Free ammo! Equip less ammo in your main build and stick it in other equipment. 'Saves' 1t per 5t of ammo, so missile-centered builds will often get about 2t to spend elsewhere, which is better than FF at 0 slots.
      • High Explosive - The sheer amount of missiles fired by most launchers means there is a high chance to crit with a few missiles. Increasing that crit damage by 15% makes them very effective for finishing opponents -- much like the LB-X AC).
      • Velocity - Missiles are SLOW. All types benefit greatly from faster velocities, which make them able to hit mechs easier during engagements with a lot of cover and from longer ranges. Especially good for MRM.
      • Cooldown - Due to the great DPS/ton that many missile weapons have, even small mechs will be able to bring an incredible amount of DPS. Since Cooldown nodes basically multiply a mech's DPS, that makes this a very good combination.
      • Missile Spread - Depends. With Artemis, this is a no-brainer, as it reduces missile spread radius from 75% to 70%. This means the area of damage is about 13% smaller, meaning the average damage to a single component is about 15% higher at non-point blank ranges. Without Artemis, reducing the radius from 100% to 95% is in comparison outright terrible. Recommended only for SRM+A, LRM+A and ATMs.
      • Heat Gen* - Missiles are middle-of-the-road in terms of Damage/Heat. Individual launcher heat can add up over time. Get these on the way to Velocity nodes or if Operations is insufficient, but leave them alone otherwise.
      • Range - Only considerable for SRM and MRM. Extending the effective range of these weapons can catch people off-guard and open new options for engaging (maybe you can now hit people from cover where normally your missiles would explode before hitting the target). LRMs have plenty range and ATM optimal damage range stays the same, so this is a waste of skills in that case.
      • Laser Duration - All lasers greatly benefit from these skill points. Lowering the duration of a laser increases their damage-per-tick significantly, meaning you'll generally deal more damage to the intended component. Invaluable for sweeping legs of lights or for destroying any other high-priority components quickly. Additionally it is a small DPS increase for lasers with long duration, as they start their cooldown earlier.
      • Range - Lasers are effectively being used well past their optimal ranges. Because they instantly reach the target, they are not held back by being difficult to aim. This means that increased range often equates into a flat damage increase during a match. For example, a regular ML at 400m deals 52% damage without range quirks, and 71% with.
      • Heat Gen* - Just as with PPCs, lasers are hot. If operations are insufficient to help alleviate your heat issues, these are a good investment.
      • Cooldown - Cooldown can be useful for pulse lasers to increase their significant DPS, or for Heavy lasers to reduce their downtime. Firing more often makes lasers also hotter though, so arguably only somewhat useful in most cases.
      • Velocity - I shouldn't have to explain this. Lasers have no velocity.
      • Flamer Ventilation - Flamers are kind of a niche weapon on their own, but reducing the 'jam' duration isn't doing anything to help you to overheat a mech, it just means you can re-engage sooner after your flamers get too hot. Too situational.
      • Magazine Warp - Same reason as Missiles, it's free ammo, leaving you to spend tonnage in other ways with the same efficiency as an FF upgrade.
      • Cooldown - The only multi-rating I'll be giving in the guide.
        • Regular AC/LB-X AC will benefit greatly from this skill, as they're very cool weapons with tremendous DPS potential, AC2 and AC10 especially.
        • UACs and Gauss rifles are worse, as the former are quite hot and jam, during which the cooldown reduction is ineffective. Can still be used to improve the great DPS when not jammed. The Gauss has bad DPS and a charge up mechanic that is extra time between shots that can't be reduced.
        • RACs and MGs gain absolutely nothing from this, as these weapons have a 'Damage per Second' stat, instead of a cooldown between shots.
      • LBX spread - Much better than the missile variation. No artemis to combine with, but twice the value per node and LBX spread works differently. Instead of quickly reaching max spread like missiles, LBX spreads like a cone. This means these nodes increase the range at which they are effective as well as improving damage to single components.
      • RAC/UAC jam duration - Jams suck. UACs and RACs have unparalleled DPS for a short time, but once they jam you can't do anything, whether you like it or not. On average, combining double-taps and jam time, they end up at similar DPS as their regular variants. By reducing the jam duration, they surpass them also in average DPS and you're less screwed if someone tries to push you while you're jammed.
      • Velocity - Debatable from preference. Most autocannons have a decent velocity for their ranges and are faster than missiles. AC5 and AC20 can feel a bit slow, and perhaps Gauss can be even faster for long range sniping with ERLL, but it's really not a necessary stat. It also means you'll have to take some kinda bad Heat Gen nodes.
      • Range - Flip side of the velocity nodes argument. Ballistics have a good match of range and velocity. Increasing range makes it hard to hit your shots at the new optimal range, unlike the instantly traveling lasers. You need to combine it with Velocity, but looking at the total point investment at that point... not worth it.
      • Heat Gen* - Not really all that useful for the coolest weapons in the game. UAC and RAC benefit from this the most, and it's obviously useless for MGs and Gauss rifles.
      • Gauss Charge - So, this Gauss-specific skill is honestly just bad and you should only consider it if you have trouble aiming. It doesn't speed up the charge, just extends the duration you can keep max charge. The longer you keep it charged the longer you wait before the weapon goes on cooldown, so you really just want to fire as fast as you can, making absolutely no use of this at all.
      Quick note about PPCs: they're significantly less supported in this tree than other weapon systems. No weapon-specific skill makes going into this tree significantly less favorable.

      • Heat Gen* - PPCs are the hottest weapon in the game in terms of Heat per Second. Making them less hot is very important, and the Operations tree alone will almost never be enough.
      • Velocity - A velocity increase will help PPCs a lot. 1200 is adequate, but makes hitting the same component with these pinpoint weapons quite difficult at their intended longer ranges. Your minimum range gives you an above-average incentive to stay at these ranges. Giving the enemy less time to anticipate helps this weapon to surpass lasers at these ranges.
      • Range - Since cERLL outrange the ERPPC, range skills can help the ERPPC regain some ground in Faction Play, or help HPPCs reach out further. Regular PPCs and LPPCs probably don't deal enough damage to put out enough pressure from increased ranges.
      • Cooldown - PPCs are just too hot to make good use of these skill points in most cases. Normally nice to combine with quirks for better DPS but if you overheat in a few shots anyway it's significantly less useful than with other weapons.
    *Clan Heat Gen nodes suck a LOT in comparison to the heat efficiency gained from the operations tree (IS Heat Gen generally breaks even, albeit requiring more points). Instead of investing points in these, try to adjust the build to incorporate more heat sinks.

    "Do you have armor/structure quirks, or multiple AMS equipped?"

    Generally you want to go exclusively for the type that you have quirks for. Reinforced casing is nice for structure mechs, as it reduces normal crit chance from 10% to 2%. Armor is generally more effective than structure as open components risk being crit and draw enemy fire, and is recommended if you have no or only small quirks.
    1. Armor: stay on the left-most of the tree, don't bother with the nodes on the right.
    2. Structure: go straight through the middle, get at least 1 AMS node to reach all casing and structure nodes.
    3. Both: Get everything except for the 2-3 nodes that don't work towards an area of the skilltree.
    [Will post examples for Armor, Structure, and Both.]

    Small investment for AMS mechs: only 5 points nets you both improvements.

    "Do you have a close range build and/or do you have a need for speed?"

    Then there are three options:
    1. Bee-line for Speed Tweak through the right-middle taking all torso pitch (advised for lights)
    2. Go left-side to pick up Torso Speed and maybe half of Speed Tweak (advised for brawlers)
    3. Go right-side to pick up Kinetic Burst / Hard Brake / Anchor Turn (advised for mechs which have to rely on leg turning due to small torso arcs, for example the Stalker. Lights can also make use of quick turns and acceleration/deceleration to dodge fire.).
    Speed Tweak 'saves' the most tonnage of all nodes, you can run a slightly smaller engine and lose little top speed. Whether this extra speed is really necessary, depends on the mech.

    "Do you have at least 4 jumpjets?"

    Then you CAN invest into this tree with spare points, but even with full lift power you only get 0.6 extra jumpjet of thrust. Not really worth it beyond 12-jumpjet memes.

    "Do you overheat often, even on cold maps? (Or: do you have heat mgmt below 1.4 / 2?)"

    Then you mostly want COOL RUN. On mechs without jumpjets, Hill Climb can also be nice, everything else is garbage.

    Heat Containment is much more niche, as most alpha builds that avoid ghost heat will not overheat from a single alpha and all that HC does is raise the limit of overheating, NOT improving the heat dissipation so you can fire again faster. It's therefore only good for mechs that can alpha multiple times in succession, to reach just that single extra use without overheating. However, the increase is so marginal that simply overriding shutdown ought to be plenty.

    "Do you have ECM or strong opinions towards lock-on missiles?"

    Bee-line for ECM enhancement nodes.

    If you're here for the missiles:
    • If you like lock-on missiles: get Target Decay and maybe some Sensor Range
    • If you don't like lock-on missiles: get Rader Deprivation (and Target-Info Gathering to see where they're hurt). Radar deprivation is a Tier 1 skill with 100% which makes people lose lock every time you walk behind a hill. Anything lower is significantly worse, but still decent.
    Small bonus for snipers, get Advanced Zoom for just 4 points.

    "Do you use consumables often?"

    Always get the one-point-wonder Consumable Slot for just one point.

    From there, you can choose to improve your favorite consumable. UAV Duration is often better than the strike node when going purely for Coolshot improvements. Just take a single UAV with you.

    Scouting mechs can also pick up some extra NARC enhancements here while boosting consumables as a scout, other lights can also get Capture Assist nodes in the rare cases capturing matters and you have spare points. Only as an easy investment after consumable boosts.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
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  9. Dagonus

    Dagonus Moderator Staff Member


    Wouldn't it give you a functionally higher heat cap, allowing you to possibly fire twice before needing a cooldown or similar?
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  10. Excalibaard

    Excalibaard 101 010 Staff Member

    Technically, yes that could be possible. However, since most alpha builds are hot enough that they can't fire twice even with heat containment, it's niche at best.

    If anything, if your alpha is so cool that you can fire twice/thrice after getting HC, you're either using Gauss (so you can still be effective at 99% heat) or you're not bringing enough alpha. The whole purpose of a build like that is that they don't sit in the open while waiting for their cooldowns, rather they hide and 'cool down'.
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  11. CarloArmato

    CarloArmato Professional Potato Carrier

    Everything OK, with only a couple of doubts

    I'm not willing to math right now to prove it, but as far as I can tell both heat gen and cool run scale the same way: -2% heat gen (4 nodes) means you produce -2% heat (like a -2% heat containment) AND you also have the indirect effect that you have to dissipate X heat -2% of said heat (so you indirectly have -2% cool run, despite the heat bar will drop down at the very same speed). That's the reason why I said you should only skill cool run if the build is not heat efficient (minus 50%), but right now I feel like I should actually put some numbers togheter and come up with a more precise rule of thumb.

    I would add that this is one of the last thing to skills: the bonus is so small that even if sometimes is a pleasant bonus, it should be skilled last: +4% torso twist won't probably help you tank like a +1% to armor.
  12. Excalibaard

    Excalibaard 101 010 Staff Member

    Usually reducing the initial heat of a weapon is good enough for most builds, hence I have the '15 DHS rule' where only the builds that heavily invest into heat dissipation will consider investing in this tree.
  13. Dagonus

    Dagonus Moderator Staff Member

    Okay. I like checking for my "second shot" temp so that I know when I can either pop out again or can defend myself adequately as I continue to fall back. I like my Alphas to hit somewhere in the 60% mark so that by the time the cooldown is done, I'm halfway to second alpha anyway.

    I'd offer to help, but I don't know the math behind the game well enough to calculate that all out. That said, I'd be incredibly interested in seeing those numbers if you put them together.
  14. Excalibaard

    Excalibaard 101 010 Staff Member

    They're not exactly the same, as Heat Gen nodes influence the values by Heat*(1-Quirk-0.075*N) = H(1-x), and Cool Run influences by Diss*(1+Quirk+0.02*N) = D(1+y). (1-x) is not the inverse of (1+x).
    Time=Heat/Diss.Rate = H(1-x)/D(1+y). As x approaches 100%, Time will approach 0, but as y becomes 100%, Time will become 0.5. Only with infinite dissipation you will get the same result as 100% heat reduction.

    However, for purposes such as MWO where you don't go near the limits, dividing by 1.1 and multiplying by 0.9 (in the 'extreme' case of x=10% or y=10%, meaning 13/14 heat gen nodes or all dissipation nodes without quirks) is very similar in outcome.

    I've made an excel sheet to calculate the difference in time to dissipate all generated heat, depending on the amount of heatgen and coolrun nodes picked up, and the relative percentage of time reduction per point invested when compared to the Minimum Total Point Investment.
    The cool run nodes are actually more efficient with skill points in most cases, unless you pick up heat gen along the way to other important nodes.

    4 coolrun nodes costs at least a 13 point investment, but has the same reduction in time-to-dissipate as 10 (!) heat gen nodes, so only if you can get 10 heat gen nodes without 'wasting' more than 3 points elsewhere, or if you have heat quirks for your weapons (for example a 10% heat reduction on PPCs) heat gen is worth it over operations. Granted, wasted nodes in firepower usually have more useful stats than wasted nodes in operations.

    Note that these calculations are for INNER SPHERE. Clan heat gen nodes are WORSE than coolrun.

    2 or 4 coolrun nodes are ideal, and for heat gen any that you can pick up without spending more than 3 nodes total outside your usual route. If anyone is interested in the excel file (@Dagonus ?) I can share it in the discord.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
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  15. I am usually running something like this (minus two nodes some where) for ballistic or missile builds.

    Swap in laser duration for vomit build.

    I tend to trim out from operations or auxiliary if I think I need velocity or target decay.

    Ammo nodes are free tonnage.

    Free tonnage can be used for cooling or more weapons.

    Heat nodes lead to more shooting.

    Cool down nodes lead to more shooting.

    More shooting is more fun.

    Full disclosure, I tend to run more mechs with locked heatsinks than armor/structure quirks.
  16. skribs

    skribs Min-Max Maniac

    Not every hot build is a high-alpha build. This can be nice on energy builds to give you an extra alpha before hitting the heat cap. It can be very good for lights to avoid shutting down.
  17. skribs

    skribs Min-Max Maniac

    Here is the tactics I use for picking out skill points on most Mechs. It's probably not remotely near what everyone else does, but it works for me.

    Completely ignore the Auxiliary Tree. I personally don't use cooldowns. I have enough trouble buying things as it is, and I see the game as largely an economy game. My goal is to own and set up as many Mechs as possible. Spending 40k on a consumable doesn't seem to benefit that goal. But this is a subject for another thread.

    Before I put any skill points in, go into the test grounds. Specifically, I always go to Crimson Strait. This will help me test my DPS, as well as help me test my efficiency.
    • If I can kill the Atlas without overheating, and then plow through the Jenner, Centurion, and Cataphract without stopping, then my build is cool and I don't need to worry about heat.
    • If I can core the Atlas without issue, but need to monitor my heat in order to finish it off, and/or if I can use my long-range weapons while closing in on the other 3 Mechs and switch to my short-range weapons up close, then I consider it medium heat. For example, if I am in a Mech with HLLs and SPLs, I may be able to core the Atlas with the entire array, but have to use the SPLs only in order to finish off the Atlas. Then I may use the HLLs to kill the Jenner, and then get one HLL shot in on the way to the Centurion, before I have to cool down on the way in and switch to my SPLs again to core it and destroy it. In this case, I consider my build to be warm, because the heat is fairly easy to manage with a little discipline, but I can't just roll through the four.
    • If I can't even core the Atlas without watching my heat, or if I overheat on my way to one of the other Mechs, or if I can't kill them before I run into them because I can't get off another shot...then I know my build is hot.
    Now I know what to do with my Mech.

    My first step in actually placing skill nodes is to go into the Firepower tree, and sometimes Sensors and Survival as well, to boost whatever equipment I have placed in the Mech.
    • If I have lasers, go into the Firepower tree and pick up all of the Laser Duration cooldown boosts.
    • If I have missiles, pick up all six missile nodes
    • If I have ballistics, pick up the magazine boost
    • If I have RAC/UAC or LBX, pick up the Enhanced RAC/UAC or LBX Spread nodes
    • If I have Flamers, get the Flamer Ventilation
    • If I have AMS, go into Survival to get the AMS Overload
    • If I have ECM, go into Sensors to get both Enhanced ECM
    • If a weapon system is not my primary, I may skip some Firepower nodes that require too many nodes to get to. For example, if I have 4 SRMs and just 2 small lasers, I won't worry so much about Laser Duration.
    • I will not bother with Jump Jets UNLESS I am in a Mech that specifically wants to get on top of buildings and shoot down like a rooftop sniper.

    Heat management is my next priority, because if I am offline, I cannot shoot, move, lock targets, jump, or torso twist.

    • If I am Cool, then I won't worry about this and will move on to the next step.
    • If I am Warm, then I will grab any Heat Gen nodes that are in easy reach. If there are a lot of them, then I will be fine with those. If they are a reach based on the Firepower nodes I already have, then I will go into Operations. While in Operations, I will get Hill Climb, and I will prioritize Speed Retention in alpha builds, or Improved Gyros in sustained damage builds (usually Dakka)
    • If I am Hot, I will just go for every damn cooling or heat gen node available in both skill trees

    My next stop is sensors. I get a lot of sensor boosts on almost every Mech, because information is very important to me:

    • Target Info Gathering is important to me for anything where I can choose where I want to hit. In other words, anything but a Streak Boat. It's more important for me in brawlers, lights, and skirmishers. For sniping, I'm generally happy if I hit the enemy, let alone a specific component.
    • Target Decay is important for LRMs and for brawling, because it helps know whether the enemy is circling around cover or trying to juke.
    • Target Retention is important for dealing with Lights in any build...or for being a light
    • Radar Deprevation is good for sniping, but also for brawlers to use cover easier to close distance
    • Seismic Sensor helps you not get snuck up on
    • Sensor range is about the only node I don't go for. The very first Sensor Range node is one I will usually ignore
    This leads to my philosophy:
    • Get everything but the advanced zoom if I am in one of the following: Laser Vomit, AC brawler, skirmisher, machine gun build, or light.
    • PPC or Gauss build, get Advanced Zoom and that's about it.
    • LRM build, make sure I get Target Decay, and maybe seismic and/or range, but not worried about the rest. Sometimes I'll get Radar Dep so I can be the better LRM boat in a duel.
    • Dakka build, somewhere between a brawler and a PPC build

    Once I have my sensors, it's time to look elsewhere.

    It is at this point that I will decide where to venture off. Here are some things I consider:

    • Are most of my weapons in my torsos? Do I have no lower arm actuators? If so, go for the torso side of the Mobility tree
    • Am I in a light, a skirmisher, or in any Mech in which speed is important? If so, go for the leg side of the Mobility tree
    • Do I want to put any into Survival? Unless I'm in a tank build (which is rare) I opt out of the survival tree.
    • Do I want more DPS? If so, get more nodes in Firepower, and possibly Operations
    At this point I will probably fill in anywhere from 91-98 nodes (usually not more than that). For example, I may go down into Operations and get all the Quick Ignitions (even if they're not needed) and grab more than I need from Agility. Usually Survival is blank.

    In most cases, by this point I will have 5-8 extra points spent, and will need to whittle down at a tree to get rid of things I don't need. This is when I'll take off things like Cooldown or Range from a laser build, that extra leg of Survival I don't really need, or those Quick Ignitions in the Operations tree.

    Sometimes I'll deem something so important that I'll remove things from my primary trees of Firepower and Sensors in order to get it, but that's not very often.

    So, following this, I might end up with this build for a Hunchback 4P (the laser variant):
    This build gives me:
    • All 4 laser duration boosts, plus some heat generation boosts that were easy to grab
    • Speed tweak to help sneak up on people, along with torso speed and torso pitch to help me shoot other Mechs up hills or that are circling around me
    • Lots of heat containment and the ability to power up real quick
    • The ability to track enemies behind cover or behind me, to duck behind cover and not be tracked, and to see enemies that are walking around me while I'm cooling down

    Now, I don't use this philosophy on all my Mechs. I usually do something different for tanks, and sometimes I don't have much left after Firepower and Operations and/or Sensors. However, It's a design system that has worked pretty well for me so far.
    schnaetz and Shock like this.
  18. schnaetz

    schnaetz Benefactor

    I just started to play again after 2 years and was overwhelmed by the skill system as well. I did not feel comfortable playing without beeing able to min/max this thing. So thanks a lot!
    skribs likes this.

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