’Mech Manual: Nightstar NSR-9J

The Nightstar was born from the flames of destruction as the Star League died. While fighting against the Rim Worlds Republic, the SLDF requested a new command ’Mech that would be more durable than the Marauder MAD-1R and MAD-2R. The new design was rushed into production and served well during the fighting to liberate the Terran Hegemony.

The Nightstar gains 20 tons on the Marauder. That allows it to benefit from considerable increases to both armor and firepower, but that comes with the tradeoff of a reduced top speed.

Following the end of the Amaris Civil War, the Nighstar was quickly lost. Both of its factories were destroyed early in the First Succession War and the remaining models had either left with the SLDF as they went into exile or been put into caches by ComStar. In the late 3050s, the design was put back into production by the Federated Commonwealth. While it has been made available to mercenaries, the Lyran Commonwealth and Federated Suns have prevented most other nations from being able to field it.

Read This First

  • Ideally, you can fight your enemies at about 14 hexes while protected by woods or partial cover
  • You lack the speed to be able to use movement defensively, so focus on using what little MP you have to accomplish objectives or get to more ideal ranges
  • You carry far more ammo than you could use in a single battle, so feel free to take those hard-to-hit shots
  • At the end of each turn, look ahead and adjust your targeting system to match where you expect enemies to be

Nightstar NSR-9J

  • Role: Juggernaut
  • Tech Base: Inner Sphere (2767)
  • Chassis: 95 tons
  • Movement: 3 / 5, XL
  • Armor: 293
  • Heat Sinks: 14 (28)
  • Weapons:
    • Gauss Rifle × 2 (ammo: 56)
    • ER PPC
    • Medium Pulse Laser × 2
    • Small Laser
  • Design Quirks:
    • Command ’Mech
    • Good Reputation
    • Variable Range Targeting
    • Difficult to Maintain
  • Cost: 20,159,978 C-Bills
  • Battle Value: 2,399


The Nightstar NSR-9J is a 95-ton assault ’Mech, and it has the movement profile to match that. It gets 3 MP when walking and 5 MP when running. That gives it at best a +2 target movement modifier when running in clear terrain, so a MechWarrior in one cannot rely on maneuvering to be a difficult target. Instead, it should either find a good firing position with some protection or focus on using its limited speed to move towards objectives or to get enemies in range.


The Nightstar makes the most of its increased tonnage to be more survivable than the Marauders that it was intended to replace. It carries the maximum amount of armor for its tonnage. It does not carry any explosive ammunition, but its arms are vulnerable to gauss rifle critical hits. Those weapons occupy 58% of the critical slots in either arm. While the Nightstar will generally survive such a hit, the damage will bleed into its torso and have a chance of damaging additional systems. The loss of either side torso will take the ’Mech down due to its Inner Sphere XL engine.


The Nighstar’s armament resembles the Marauder that it evolved from. For the NSR-9J, the arm weapons are two gauss rifles while the torso mounts an ER PPC. Those weapons are backed up by two arm-mounted medium pulse lasers and a small laser that sits just under the cockpit. The three primary weapons can all be fired at a range of 22 hexes and are both in medium range starting at 14 hexes. The minimum range of the gauss rifles mean that the expected damage output of the Nightstar does drop off starting at 2 hexes.

Maximum and Expected Damage

The Nightstar benefits from the Variable Range Targeting quirk. This allows a MechWarrior to get better accuracy at either long or short range at the expense of making targets harder to hit in the opposite bracket. Because the firing mode for the quirk is decided at the end of the previous round, a MechWarrior needs to anticipate enemy movement to ensure they get the most benefit possible. Since the ER PPC and gauss rifles have similar ranges, a MechWarrior should generally pick the quirk’s mode based on those three weapons.

With a gauss rifle and pulse laser in each arm, the Nightstar benefits from a wide firing arc. Only the PPC and small laser are restricted to only firing forward. Compared to the Marauder, it does lose out on the ability to flip its arms or rotate its torso gun.

Maximum Damage for Firing Arcs

The Nightstar relies on a supply of gauss slugs for its two largest weapons. The NSR-9J carries an over-abundant supply of ammo though with a total of 56 shots available. That is enough to fire both arms 28 times which is more than double what would be needed in most engagements. Unfortunately, gauss rifles don’t have the ability to make use of alternate ammo types, so the Nightstar is just left with more than enough standard shots.

Heat Management

Under normal conditions, the Nightstar NSR-9J cannot overheat. It has 14 double heat sinks and can only generate 28 heat points when firing everything and running. Only in exceptionally hot environments or when suffering from damage to its engine shielding will heat ever be a problem.

Heat-Adjusted Maximum and Expected Damage


With its weapon mix, a Nightstar’s MechWarrior should generally try to avoid being at point-blank range. In the event they do find themselves there, then they do have a lot of weight to throw around. Even though the gauss rifles suffer from a minimum range, firing them and the medium pulse lasers will generally be more effective than punching for 10 damage. Instead, a Nightstar can kick for 19 damage while still making use of its weapons.

Other Capabilities

Like the Marauder, the Nightstar benefits from the Command ’Mech quirk. This gives it the ability to make its entire side in a battle more effective with a bonus to initiative rolls.

Cost & Upkeep

The Nightstars use of state-of-the-art Star League technology pushed up its price tag. It costs more than twice as much as a Marauder MAD-2R or even an Atlas AS7-D. That high price tag is primarily due to the XL engine that frees up the tonnage for its weapon systems. In addition to its high upfront cost, the NSR-9J will need 2-3 tons of gauss slugs to be reloaded after each engagement.

The Nightstar’s quirks are a mixed bag for its cost of ownership. Difficult to Maintain means it is more difficult to repair, but Good Reputation increases its sales price if it is ever sold.

When using the Warchest Point system, these are the expected costs for the Nightstar NSR-9J:

Purchase1,900 SP
Armor Repair95 SP
Structure Repair190 SP
Reload20-30 SP


The new plastic Nightstar miniature is included in the Inner Sphere Heavy Battle Lance force pack.


More ’Mech Manuals

By Scott Boehmer

A game enthusiast and software engineer.

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