’Mech Manual: Nova Prime

The Nova was the first OmniMech designed by Clan Hell’s Horses. It was introduced in 2870. The designers wanted to have relatively streamlined production, so they avoided making use of special materials for its internal structure or armor. The Prime configuration makes the Nova into a mobile skirmisher that is able to unleash a devastating medium-range alpha strike.

The design propagated to all of the Clans, but production stopped in 2921 when Clan Ghost Bear captured its production facility. Despite that, enough models remained in use that it was still serving in the frontline forces of all of the Clans in 3050. MechWarriors from the Inner Sphere codenamed the design the Black Hawk when they first encountered it, and that name has remained in common usage since then.

Production of the Nova resumed in 3073 in the Clan Jade Falcon Occupation Zone, and the Nova Prime continues to be used by several factions including most of the Inner Sphere Clans into the Dark Ages.

Read This First

  • You can only fire 7-8 of your lasers each turn to avoid building up heat
  • You have a lot more firepower than durability, so use your mobility to be a difficult target
  • Be careful of fast flankers, you can’t fire to your rear or torso twist

Nova Prime

  • Role: Skirmisher
  • Tech Base: Clan (2870)
  • Chassis: 50 tons
  • Movement: 5 / 8, XL
    • Jumping: 5
  • Armor: 160
  • Heat Sinks: 18 (36)
  • Weapons:
    • ER Medium Laser × 12
  • Design Quirks:
    • Combat Computer
    • Narrow/Low Profile
    • No Torso Twist
  • Cost: 11,586,250 C-Bills
  • Battle Value: 2,663


The Nova Prime has good mobility. It has a roughly average 5 walking MP and 8 running MP for a medium ’Mech and then includes 5 jump jets that are fixed on the chassis. It can achieve a +3 target movement modifier either running or jumping.


With 95% of the maximum armor for its 50-ton chassis, the Nova has above average durability for a medium ’Mech. It utilizes a Clan XL engine that increases its fragility since it is more likely to suffer engine hits, but losing a single side torso is not enough to take it out of a fight. The Nova Prime configuration does not carry any ammunition or explosive components. Finally, the squat nature of the Nova chassis provides it with the Narrow/Low Profile quirk that can turn some hits into glancing hits that deal reduced damage.


The Nova Prime’s arsenal is composed of only ER medium lasers. It has a half dozen mounted in each arm. Those dozen Clan tech lasers give it the ability to deal a maximum of 84 damage out to 15 hexes. The lasers do not have any minimum range, so the Nova Prime’s maximum damage output is available for their short-range bracket of 5 hexes or less.

Maximum and Expected Damage

As with most Clan designs, the Nova Prime has a big firepower advantage over contemporary Inner Sphere ’Mechs, but roughly the same durability. In order to get the most out of it, a MechWarrior should take advantage of mobility and range advantages by staying at the far end of medium range. That will allow it to make efficient use of its own firepower while minimizing the damage it takes in return.

The Nova Prime’s lasers are evenly split between its two arms. Unfortunately, it suffers from the No Torso Twist quirk, so it is unable to get even one arm pointing behind it. If a MechWarrior is not careful, that means fast-moving opponents can potentially avoid return fire by getting into the Nova’s rear arc.

Maximum Damage for Firing Arcs

With only the medium lasers, the Nova Prime does not have any dependence on ammunition.

Heat Management

The Nova’s numerous lasers generate far more heat than its heat sinks can dissipate. Firing all of the lasers generates 60 points of heat, and it can generate up to 5 more with its movement. To deal with that heat, it has 18 double heat sinks and benefits from the Combat Computer quirk to reduce the generated heat by 4 extra points. That still leaves it with the possibility of overheating by 20 points just from weapon heat. In order to not build up heat, a MechWarrior can only fire 7 or 8 of the lasers at a time.

While it can be tempting to fire everything, doing so leaves the Nova nearly immobile, suffering from a +3 penalty to shooting, and with at least a 28% chance of shutdown (58% chance if it had run or jumped). That tradeoff is only worth it if the MechWarrior is either confident that the extra 4 medium lasers will be enough to eliminate its target or uncertain whether they will survive a few more seconds of battle.

Heat-Adjusted Maximum and Expected Damage


The Nova Prime is not designed for brawling. It has full actuator sets in both arms, but any punch requires giving up on a dozen medium lasers in exchange for only 5 potential damage. A kick from a Nova deals 10 damage and is a better choice than a punch if it does find itself in a brawl.

OmniMech Chassis

The Nova is an OmniMech, so it can be easily re-configured with different sets of weapons and equipment between missions. It has 16 tons of pod space with a large number of available critical slots thanks to not needing to allocate any to its internal structure or armor. The fixed jump jets in its legs and center torso do limit its flexibility a bit. Four of the Prime configuration’s heat sinks are pod-mounted.

Capacity16.0 tons
Head1 slot
Center Torso1 slot
Right Torso6 slots
Left Torso6 slots
Right Arm8-10 slots
Left Arm8-10 slots
Right Legnone
Left Legnone

As an OmniMech, the Nova Prime can carry a unit of mechanized battle armor. With all of its weapons in its arms, it does not lose any firepower while serving as a transport.

Cost & Upkeep

The Nova is a frontline Clan OmniMech, but it does not take advantage of many advanced construction options. Both the armor and structure use standard materials. The engine is an expensive XL model though. Because it is a Clan design, it can be especially expensive for Inner Sphere forces to acquire and maintain a Nova.

When using the Warchest Point system, these are the expected costs for the Nova Prime:

ActionClan CostInner Sphere Cost
Purchase1,000 SP2,000 SP
Armor Repair50 SP100 SP
Structure Repair100 SP200 SP
Reconfigure13 SP25 SP


The new plastic Nova miniature is included in the Clan Invasion box set.


More ’Mech Manuals

By Scott Boehmer

A game enthusiast and software engineer.

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