Firestarter FS9-H is a Light-class 'Mech in Battletech.
A dedicated close combat 'Mech, the Firestarter 9-H is equipped with two Medium Lasers, four Flamers and two Machine guns. Between its armament and its Jump Jets, the 9-H is well equipped to go toe-to-toe with - and shut down - heavier BattleMechs.
Thanks to its high number of available weapon hardpoints and good free tonnage for a light 'mech (16.5), the Firestarter is a very versatile combat machine.
With six energy hardpoints, the Firestarter can mount a respectable array of medium lasers for safe hit-and-run attacks. Heat will likely be an issues with laser-heavy builds, though. Other energy weapons quickly become problematic due to their tonnage; two large lasers is possible with sacrifice of armor, and so is a single PPC. While these weapons allow the Firestarter to safely chip away at enemies from a fair distance, their damage potential is always going to be quite low. As with most light 'mechs, the Firestarter is best off using its mobility to get the best out of shorter-ranged alternatives.
While the Firestarter does have two ballistics hardpoints, as with many lighter 'mechs any attempt to use them is likely doomed to failure. The lightest autocannon, the AC/2, weighs six tons on its own and requires at least a ton of ammo. It can hit from extreme ranges, but its damage output is paltry. Anything heavier is quickly going to chip into tonnage that should be used for jump jets, armor, or other weapons. If you have a very good improved version of an AC/2 or AC/5 lying around (preferably one that does great stability damage), you could give it a go, but ballistic weapons just don't play to the Firestarter's strengths.
One exception to this is if you have the correct DLC, using a UAC/5, one ammo bin, and a set of Flamers and Small Lasers can give you a 'mech which can fire one devastating shot as it closes in, then use the melee weapons on the next turn to finish off the target. Works best with the + variants which reduce the tonnage of the weapon.
The Firestarter is tied for the largest number of support hardpoints of any 'mech in the game, and if you're not afraid to get in close with the enemy, these can provide fearsome damage potential. A 120 damage alpha strike from small lasers is competitive well above the Firestarter's weight class, especially if you combine it with melee attacks for an extra 45. For raw damage output, a heavy small laser array backed up by some medium lasers is therefore the best route to go, so long as you can keep heat in check.
Flamers are the Firestarter's calling card when stock, but being limited to four shots makes them rather much of a waste of tonnage. In hot biomes, it is quite capable of costing enemy 'mechs turns as they remain shut down, but it won't kill anything and will quickly lose its effectiveness as the flamers run dry. Best to leave these weapons behind.
The third option is to add a large number of machine guns. It will cost some tonnage and carry the risk of exploding ammo, but it also allows for some very interesting shenanigans. Machine guns, like missile launchers, make multiple small attacks with each firing. Their damage output is considerably lower than small lasers, but each of these shots has separate chances to score critical hits, blowing up ammunition and causing pilot injuries. If you're looking to salvage an enemy 'mech from a mission, the Firestarter is a fantastic 'headhunter' 'mech, in which a pilot with a good rank in tactics (also useful for scouting, a role the Firestarter is good at) can use precision strikes to stack pilot injuries on enemies very quickly. With called shot mastery (rank 9 in tactics), the chance of scoring a head hit with a precision strike from the side (minimizing CT damage) is 17% per shot, and with six machineguns, you've got 30 shots going out!
As with many 'mechs that depend on their mobility for survival, the Firestarter benefits greatly from the inclusion of jump jets into its build. It can fit up to six of them, but four is usually sufficient unless you're heavily reliant on them for hit-and-run attacks with support weapons. The heat generation of jumps makes these less viable with heavily laser-focused loadouts, but machine gun builds should include them.
- The Firestarter is a dangerous 'Mech for its tonnage, carefully timed attacks with its Flamers can shut down any 'Mech and leave it open to punishment from your other forces. The FS9-H also makes a decent light 'Mech hunter-killer.
- The Firestarter is a surprisingly brutal melee attacker. Mounting a full compliment of 6 small lasers or 6 machine guns, you can use your speed and advanced initiative tactics to close into melee range, and absolutely decimate them, with the highest potential damage in a melee alpha of anything below 65 tons. A common setup to complement this is the inclusion of jump jets, not normally found on Firestarter models. These give the extra mobility required to make the most of this high-risk, high-rewards setup.
- Firestarter is one of the 'Mechs you can acquire rather early and you can actually make it medium-ish. It has surprising weapon tonnage and equally distributed energy mount points which can be filled with 6 Medium Lasers. You'll only need to add a minimum of 4 Heat Sinks, some Jump Jets for an occasional obstacle and also redistribute armor a bit (less on rear and head as head hits are rare early in the game) and you've got yourself a solid 150 alpha damage at considerable distance that can sustain just enough rounds both in heat and taking a beating to make a difference.
- I found having 2 med lasers to be enough for a range weapon until you can get into melee range, as its speed is pretty good. Atacking small lasers or MGs will make it devastating in melee against light mechs, or against the rear of bigger mechs. a rear melee attack will cause a lot of dmg together with the support weapons, and can 1 shot most light-med mechs. Against heavier mechs you might need more than a single attack, but its armor can survive some dmg, if you get plenty of evasion and use cover properly. You can keep using it even up to having some heavy mechs, as it can easily be as useful as a good medium mech if used properly!
- For a light 'mech, the Firestarter is not particularly fast on its feet. It'll outrun the Panther and Urbanmech and keep pace with Commandos, but that's about it. This means that it can be rather difficult for versions without JJs to bring their weapons to bear on the enemy (especially very short-ranged support weapons) without assuming suicidal risks in the process. Initiative games and careful planning are therefore a must when using the Firestarter.
- I found it to be really useful early to mid game whit 4 medium lasers and 4 mgs whit 1 ton of ammo and one heatsink. max out armor on the front and you have a really fast mech whit 100 dmg on range or a 160dmg closeup strike who can take a beating thanks to the armor and speed. this is actually a high ini medium mech.
- For a light brawler mech that is well suited for drawing fire and disabling larger mechs; dropping all of the jump jets allows you to have almost maximized armour as well as 4 medium lasers and 5 machine guns plus one bin of ammo. You don't get much in the way of heatsinks but the lack of jump jets means that heat remains manageable, even through repeat alpha strikes.