"The Large Laser mounted by most 1B models is nothing to sniff at, but it lacks the close-up impact of the SRMs it replaces. Best to keep these units at range for flanking and spotting." - Yang Virtanen
The Commando COM-1B is a Light-class 'Mech in Battletech.
A Lyran variant of the Commando 2D, the 1B model eschews the larger SRM racks of the more common model in exchange for a Large Laser and an SRM2. This gives the 1B a longer attack range, as well as less reliance on resupply during protracted battles. Since single large source of damage are more effective mech-killers than massed small attacks, the large laser makes the Commando 1B a marginally more effective mech-killer from the front or the rear, but at the cost of losing a large amount of the threat it can pose to enemy stability and to an enemy mech's flanks.
The COM-1B compares favorably to its stablemate, the COM-2D, by exchanging two of the latter's missile hardpoints for energy hardpoints and adding on a support hardpoint to boot. Energy weapons are by far the best weapons for most light 'mechs since the ubiquitous ML offers high damage-per-ton and light 'mechs are more capable than any other of buying themselves time to cool off by maneuvering. Support weapons are also easier to use on light 'mechs since they can close on enemies more quickly than other 'mechs.
- The stock build is a mixed bag; the LL can poke at enemies from far out, which keeps you pretty safe, but at that range the ML and SRM2 (and its ammo) are wasted tonnage, while at close range the LL's poor damage-per ton compared to MLs makes it suboptimal and the armor sacrificed to mount it sorely missed.
- Replacing the SRM2 with another ML will free up a ton by dropping the ammo, which can be invested into armor, JJs, or support weapons, whichever you fancy. The only real reason to keep the SRM2 is if you have a big LRM 'mech that brings enemies from the edge of instability to the edge of falling over in a single salvo, in which case the SRM2 can let the COM-1B deliver the final little push to knock them over, but if stability damage is your thing the COM-2D does the job better.
- The LL is very useful for poking from a safe distance over the duration of a fight, but its weight means that it comes with a lot of trade-offs. If you really don't want the Commando to ever get close to the enemy, replace the SRM2 and ML with an LRM5 and a ton of ammo; these weapons work together a lot better and even allow the COM-2D to still inflict a little stability damage, but they still don't offer much of a punch between them.
- If you're brave and are fine with throwing the Commando into the thick of the action, replace the LL with two MLs and invest the three tons you saved into armor, JJs, or some support weapons. If you plan on using support weapons anyway, drop the SRM2; you can deliver stability damage with a punch instead, whose damage will be helped by the support weapons. For the best tonnage efficiency, a 3xML + 2xSL build is quite effective at carving up both the sides and rear of poorly maintained 'mechs and destroying lighter vehicles early in the game (use melee hits for this if you can). Even with armor turned up to max, you can find room for a couple of heatsinks or even JJs with this build, and if you're willing to sacrifice your rear armor (no one should get behind your light 'mech if you play it right), you can go ham with six JJs or a mix of JJs and heatsinks. Heat problems may ensue, but you can use hit-and-run tactics or scout part-time to mitigate those.
- You can carry machine guns in the support hardpoints if going for crits (or headshots) is your thing. In this case, consider the COM-1B a viable short-term replacement for the LCT-1V you start the campaign with. However, be on the lookout for a Firestarter that can do that job much better.
- Flamers weigh a ton each and are extremely limited in ammunition. Carrying only two of them isn't usually enough to rapidly drive an enemy 'mech to the brink and hence isn't worth the weight. Consider two SLs instead for more consistent, usable firepower.
- Unless you're going for an all-laser build, space for JJs is difficult to find. One JJ will help in negotiating otherwise impassable obstacles, but don't plan to use it to generate any evasion. In combat, you'll want at least three JJs with four preferable; if you can afford the tonnage or are willing to sacrifice some firepower, it improves the versatility of the 'mech a lot.
Even if you're looking to use a Commando and manage to salvage one early in the game, it's unlikely to last past the mid-game as it simply doesn't have the tonnage to keep up in the later, high-challenge missions. In the early game, though, it's a decent option if you're looking for a scout that packs more of a punch than the Spider (at the expense of mobility, admittedly) and don't yet have a Jenner or Firestarter to take over the role.
- Like any other light 'mech, evasion is king if you're looking to survive for any length of time. The Commando is a little handicapped in this regard as it is only as fast as a Firestarter and lacks the latter's tonnage to mount JJs. Pilots without many points in the Piloting skill will find it difficult to keep up four evasion chevrons every round while keeping an angle to fire at the enemy at the same time. Because of this, hit-and-run tactics are of great importance for short-range Commando builds. Long-range Commandos can skimp a little on evasion if you've got a buddy to take the return fire instead.
- Since stock Commandos (and probably most custom builds) lack JJs, terrain can also become a difficult problem to deal with. You may find yourself having to regularly sprint to get the Commando safely to where it needs to go, which of course means that it isn't contributing to the battle for that turn. You can lean into this somewhat: build the Commando with all the MLas and SRMs you can pack into it, which will run hot; alpha strike until it heats up; then sprint away to disengage and cool off. Again, this is less of an issue for LRM and direct-fire long-range builds, if you can get the latter onto a high ridge line or similar early.