Recently having gotten an updated plastic model in the Alpha Strike, the Wraith is possibly one of the coolest looking mechs in the current model range. It is an interesting mech in that basically every single variant wants to be jumping constantly with absolutely no breaks. There are several variants, but they have much less variation between them than on something like the Puma or Griffin. This is honestly more standard of the majority of mechs in this game, the ones that they decided to put in the starter boxes and work on getting out in plastic earlier are the more iconic ones with more variants. Most mechs have between 2 and 5 variants, the 10-20 variant ones are the exception.
The Wraith Chassis
All Wraiths jump, most of them jump really far, and the general theme of the mech is using pulse lasers to reduce the penalty from constantly jumping. The old, pre-rec guide piece of art for this mech didn’t have it jumping for no reason. The Wraith is somewhat of the platonic ideal of what I like to call “Little Bastard” mechs. An LB is a mech that wants to be constantly jumping and annoying your enemy, rarely killing anything on its own but always requiring a disproportionate amount of force to take down. I would compare it most strongly to the Griffin or Phoenix Hawk in that respect. So, what do you gain over just taking of one those mechs instead?
Simple. It looks cool as hell.
The Wraith has been one of my favorite mechs aesthetically for basically my entire life. It has a strange rounded and smooth look that to my knowledge is shared by basically no other mechs in the game. Add onto that its hunch and insect like vibes, and it is a damn good looking mech.
So what is the point of this random diversion about the aesthetics of the mech? Simple, Battletech is sometimes just a game where you want to take a mech that you think is cool as shit and make it work. I originally called this mech a “Worse Griffin” here in the first draft, but upon more reflection and a closer examining of the mech, my initial assessment was incorrect. I seemed to remember all of them being 6/9/6, when in actually most of them are 7/11/7. This is a huge difference. Anyway, tangent aside, lets look at the variants.
The TR-1 variant is a pretty solid medium mech. It comes in at 1287 BV, a fairly average amount for a moderately high end IS medium. It has an XL engine, which is a huge bummer as usual, though its armor is thick enough that it shouldn’t have too many durability issues, especially with a movement profile of 7/11/7. Jumping 7 hexes is really good for building hit mods, a +4 TMM is pretty brutal. It carries 2 medium pulse lasers and a large pulse laser. This is a pretty decent set of weapons, if perhaps a hair light for a 55 ton mech. The -2 to-hit bonus from pulse lasers does a decent job offsetting the penalty this mech will be taking from jumping every turn. It is fairly short ranged, but with that kind of movement profile it is going to be really hard to get away from the TR-1. It has enough heat sinks to jump its full distance and fire its LPL and one MPL while only building one heat, which is pretty solid. It can also just fire everything, jump away for a turn and cool off, then jump back in and do it again. This sort of jousting style is usually seen in mechs substantially lighter and less armored than the TR-1, like Locusts and Spiders, and it can bully the shit out of that kind of mech, because it just does it better. I generally really like the TR-1, but not in isolation. It needs a lancemate in a tougher, slower mech to act as an anchor around which the TR-1 can maneuver, something like an Orion or a higher end Banshee that can provide enough threat to make the opponent not want to turn around to deal with the TR-1. Overall a C- alone, but a B+ if it has some support. Its main sin is a lack of range.
The TR-2 is literally identical to the TR-1, except that it swaps the large pulse laser for an ER PPC. This spikes its cost to 1485. This is a little too high for this sort of mech, but you do gain a substantial amount of range, at the cost of a bit of heat efficiency and accuracy. Overall anything that trades an LPL in for an ER PPC is generally a bad upgrade in my opinion, but seeing as it still has the two MPLs for short range, and it does correct the TR-1s main problem, this is probably a better mech to operate independently, and is much less reliant on the rest of your force. It will generally want to buzz around the edges of the field, taking potshots when it can with its PPC, and jumping in on weakened mechs with its pulse lasers. Still obnoxious to hit and much harder to pin down than the TR-1, because it can engage while running away much better with the PPC. Overall a C+.
The TR-3 is honestly a spooky mech. It trades the Medium Pulse Lasers of the TR-1 for ER Mediums instead, and drops a jump jet, bringing it down to 7/11/6, and uses the spare 2.5 tons to add a C3i system. This spikes its base BV slightly to 1310, but it in practice will usually cost more. C3 systems add a cost multiplier to BV when in use, but are very, very powerful. Basically, every mech in a C3 network measures range from the mech in that network that is the closest to the target when shooting. This frequently will let you count as being at close range, and can be massively powerful if you build a force around it. Losing that point of jump MP hurts really bad though, and it is enough to make this mech a lot worse than the TR-1 unless you are running C3. The TR-3 is a really fantastic spotter mech for a C3i network. It is decently tough, has good short ranged weapons, and can stay on top of any mech you want to burst down like nothing else. Its a D+ on its own, basically just a downgrade to a TR-1, but it is probably a B+ or A- in a list built to take advantage of C3.
Yeah near as I can tell they just skipped the TR-4. Anyway, the TR-5 is the new variant from RecGuide 25, and is just weird as hell. It comes in at 1581, which is a bit pricy, and it has a bizarre movement profile at 6/9/7, which basically means it walks 6, runs 9, uses a Supercharger to allow it to sprint up to 12, and can jump 7 with the use of Improved Jump Jets. Considering the Wraith basically wants to spend the whole game jumping, the Supercharger is mostly wasted BV on this mech, but it is still a pretty good mech for the price. It upgrades the Pulse Lasers from standard pulse to X-Pulse, which basically means more heat and more range. The extra range is a huge help, and the extra heat is mostly mitigated by extra heat sinks and the lower heat buildup from Improved Jump Jets. Overall this is a really nice upgrade to the TR-1, though I am unsure if it is worth 300 BV compared to the jump some other mechs get with that much extra BV. Probably a B overall.
The first of the named/special character versions of the Wraith, the Alexander has some substantial differences. It comes in at 1816 BV, quite high but honestly average for these sort of “hero” mechs. First of all, it is carrying considerably thicker armor, and a 7/11/9 movement profile. It gets there with a Partial Wing, which is a funky piece of equipment that basically gives it 2 hexes of jumping for free with no heat. Jumping 9 hexes is straight up abusive in terms of hit mods, and it can get wherever the hell it feels like. It carries a Snub Nosed PPC and 2 ER Medium Lasers as its weapons, and it manages its heat alright. No Puma Syndrome on any of these Wraiths so far, which is nice. It also upgrades to a Clan XL engine, meaning it can actually keep fighting after losing a side torso. This is a huge bonus to its durability overall. All in all this is an incredibly expensive mech, in the same bracket as actual assault mechs. It is undergunned compared to them, but the sheer hit mod might let it win that fight. I’d give it a B- with the caveat that this is the sort of mech that I dislike using personally. These sort of low armor high speed incredibly expensive medium mechs take a decent amount of skill to use, and you are 9 times out of 10 going to be better served with something of the same price that is heavier, slower, and more protected.
Hailing from an April fools TRO called “Royal Fantasy” that I could have sworn was non-canon, both Sarna and Master Unit List assure me that this mech is canon. It comes in at 2051 BV, far too much to spend on a Medium Mech in my opinion. It carries noticeably less armor than any of the other Wraiths. It does have Ferro Lamellar armor, which reduces incoming damage by 20%, which is nice and all but it is just offsetting the thinner armor, not adding any extra durability (except for rendering it immune to LBX fire and cutting SRM damage by 50%). It has a movement profile of 7/11/7, once again paying a big BV tax for the ability to sprint. For weapons, it carries 4 Clan grade ER Medium Lasers and a Hatchet. Unfortunately, its Hatchet is only 11 points of damage, just short of being able to knock heads off, which is a tragedy. It also carries a Clan XL Engine, which is nice for the same reasons as on the Alexander. Overall this is just an overly expensive waste of a hero mech, and most actual 2000 BV mechs will wipe the floor with it as it buzzes around stinging them with no to hit bonus on its standard lasers and desperately trying to get any meaningful value out of it’s hatchet. Overall a D+, still carries 4 CERML, which is pretty decent, but it is so, so incredibly expensive for that firepower.
In conclusion, the Wraith is a zippy jousting style mech in most variants, and is pretty efficient at it. I am a huge fan of Pulse Lasers of all kinds, and I would rather have them than almost any other weapon. Its incredible mobility makes it fantastic for any scenario where you are using objective markers of any kind, and it has enough armor and guns to bully most other mechs in its speed/mobility bracket around. The Wraith comes with a huge recommendation, and might be in the running for my favorite stock/primary variant of an IS medium mech. I would generally just take a TR-1 and bring something that can support it, but if you want something more independent, I would recommend the TR-5.