One of the best parts of Into the Breach is the moment when you unlock a new squad and get to experience it for the first time. Learning how each mech operates and learning the combos they can achieve together as a team is satisfying, and it’s great when you discover a particular pilot or subweapon that brings the squad to the next level. With fourteen different squads in the game, it’s natural that certain ones will begin to stand out as particularly suited to your playstyle or being the most fun to master. I originally thought I’d want to do a tier list of all the squads once I finished the new Advanced Edition content, but these days I don’t find myself to be creatively inspired by stuff I don’t like. The idea of assigning an order to “lower tier” mechs that I really don’t care for that much seemed exhausting. So instead, I’ve decided to share my top five: the squads worth talking about, the ones that get me hyped to play the game again and again. Please note that these are my personal top five and I am not trying to create a definitive tier list of which squads are the best mechanically – I’ve chosen these because I enjoy them the most, not necessarily because of any community consensus. With that out of the way, you won’t want to mist my number five pick!
#5: The Mist Eaters
One of the new Advanced Editions mech squads, the Mist Eaters are the second squad in the game to be focused on a playstyle emphasizing smoke. If I were to be making a full tier list, the Rusting Hulks would be near the bottom for me. They create a hazard on the battlefield that they themselves are not immune to, so as the match goes on it becomes more and more difficult. The Mist Eaters get around this problem thanks to the Smog Mech’s Nanofilter Mending subweapon. Whenever a Mist Eater stands in smoke, they disperse the smoke as well as healing 1 point of HP. This prevents the smoke from stopping your own squad from attacking, encouraging you to freely spread it around so that the Vek have fewer safe spaces to attack from.
Something you’re going to learn about me in this article is that I love mechs that specialize in relocating enemies, putting them into different positions on the battlefield. The mech that handles this role in the Mist Eaters is the Control Mech, which has the ability to make an adjacent unit move a few spaces to a new position. So you can, for example, take a Vek attacking a building and move it over to where it will attack one of its allies instead. Or you can place them on a dangerous tile such as a lightning storm and dispose of them entirely. There are some limitations to this ability – you can’t walk a Vek into water or down a chasm, for example. But being able to grab your opponents and move them to a different space has so many valuable applications. Put them in smoke, use their body to block an enemy attack, use their body to block a Vek spawning point, move your own allies to help them reach a space they don’t have the movement for – I love messing with the battlefield in this way.
Part of what keeps the Mist Eaters at number five is that while I do enjoy having a smoke strategy that works, the low lethality of the Mist Eaters can make it difficult on later maps when you’re dealing with a lot of Vek at once. In my first run with them I lucked out and ended up with the Rusting Hulks’ Storm Generator, which causes smoke to deal damage to enemies. That chip damage in the smoke was essential to making the Mist Eaters work well for me, and a playthrough with them lacking that advantage demonstrates the limitations of temporarily stopping Vek rather than actually removing them from the battlefield.
That’s number five out of the way! But can you hazard a guess as to what number four will be?
#4: The Hazardous Mechs
The first time I played this squad, I had no idea what the hell I was doing. Two of the three mechs in the squad damage themselves when they attack. Those same mechs can often hit tiles you don’t want them to when dealing with enemies, making them as dangerous to your buildings as they are to the Vek. But while the Hazardous Mechs are as destructive to themselves as they are your enemies, they’ve got the tools to deal with that in the form of the Acid Mech’s Viscera Nanomachines. As long as you get a kill with your attack, it will heal your mech’s HP a bit. And the great thing about the way this healing works? It still functions after the mech takes enough damage to destroy it. This means that your Leap Mech or Unstable Mech can kill themselves with their attack and as long as they also kill the Vek, they’ll survive the blow. And since the Acid Mech can inflict foes with acid to make them easier to kill, this means that you can make self-damage moves without having to worry about taking out one of your mechs.
I love the Leap Mech in particular because I’ve found the Hydraulic Legs to be such a versatile tool when playing as this squad. It’s technically a melee attack but you’re actually jumping from one tile to another without crossing the space in-between, which prevents the Leap Mech from getting trapped behind enemies or obstacles – you can even use the leap to escape from webbing! A lot of prime mechs struggle with range, but the Hydraulic Legs don’t have a range limit – as long as there is a viable tile to land on (including water or lava!), the Leap Mech can target it and use its ability. I’ve rarely had a turn where the Leap Mech can’t find some way to contribute because it can almost always reach a Vek thanks to this unique weapon.
So why number four? While I do appreciate how much of a turnaround I was able to make on the Hazardous Mechs once I fully understood their functions, squads that frequently have to put their own buildings in danger aren’t ones I love to play as. Careful positioning can reduce the number of times that the Unstable Mech backs into a building but in some situations, the only angle of attack available is still going to cost you something. I prefer squads that can avoid these types of situations as much as possible, hence why my top three are more likely to work around that issue.
Speaking of number three, I’ll think you’ll find this next squad to be the bomb!
#3: The Bombermechs
Another Advanced Edition squad, the Bombermechs were the first ones I tried and honestly it was all downhill from there. The Bombermechs may sound like a squad that is focused on explosive damage, but actually the bombs they employ are more valuable for their combo potential with other mechs. The core of this squad is the Bombling Mech, which plants one or two little Walking Bombs on the battlefield. The Pierce Mech and the Exchange Mech can then utilize these bombs with their own abilities. The Pierce Mech shoots a projectile that passes harmlessly through one target to then damage a second, pushing both in the process. Firing through a bomb guarantees the enemy will take damage. And the Exchange Mech swaps the position of an adjacent target with any other unit on the map, so you can put a Walking Bomb somewhere dangerous and then swap it out with a Vek.
Three squads in, you may be learning that versatility is really important to me. I love when the tools provided by a squad give me lots of useful functions to choose from depending on the situation. The Pierce Mech, for example, doesn’t just benefit from shooting through bombs – you can use the passthrough on its projectile to shoot a Vek through a building, something that not many mechs can accomplish. The Exchange Mech falls into my favorite mech category, “mechs that move stuff,” and it feels so good to exchange a Vek into a position that will ultimately kill it or trick it into killing one of its allies. And the Walking Bombs planted by the Bombling Mech, while primarily useful for setting up combos, do still have other functions. They can blow up and damage adjacent tiles if you like, but one of my favorite things to do with them is to clean up the enemies with my other two mechs and then plant bombs on the Vek spawning tiles, preventing more foes from emerging.
The Bombermechs are a great squad and what keeps them from the top spots come down primarily to nitpicks as well as a lack of experience. Because they’re new, I haven’t had as many opportunities to play the Bombermechs as I have the other two squads on this list, so I don’t know how much they’ll hold up as I continue to play. This squad also struggles a bit to deal damage, with the Pierce Mech being your primary weapon as the Walking Bombs actually have very little firepower to them. Using your tools carefully can eliminate Vek in other ways, but so much of the effectiveness of this squad comes from managing enemy numbers by blocking spawn – if you have one turn where the Vek numbers grow too significant, they’ll start to struggle.
Getting impatient about squad number two? Just chill out, because it’s time to see who they are!
#2: The Frozen Titans
Even compared to the Hazardous Mechs, the Frozen Titans probably have the award for “biggest change of heart” when it comes to Into the Breach. My first playthrough of the game I struggled so much to figure out how to use them effectively, and I never really grasped them well enough to complete the game on Normal difficulty. I hated the way the Ice Mech’s Cryo-Launcher always froze it in a block of ice, rendering it useless the next turn, and the Mirror Mech’s annoying two-sided Janus Cannon always seemed to be hitting one of my buildings. It wasn’t until I took a break for awhile and came back to the Frozen Titans that they really clicked – and when I finally started seeing the full range of possibilities, I realized exactly what I had been missing. The supposed disadvantages of each mech are in fact intentionally designed to be used in conjunction – more than any other squad, the Frozen Titans will only truly work if you understand how to utilize them as a whole rather than as just three individual units.
It’s great when the Janus Cannon can actually hit two enemies, but often that second cannonball is landing somewhere you don’t want it to. That’s where the Ice Mech comes in – put it in the path of the cannonball and freeze it solid, then the cannonball will break it out of the ice, readying it for the next turn. The Aegis Mech can fulfill a similar purpose by using its shield – for only one mech reactor, the Aegis Mech can generate a shield around itself when it attacks, which can then be used to safely block the Mirror Mech’s projectiles. This idea of using the Ice Mech in its frozen state to block attacks is also useful for dealing with enemies – you can freeze one enemy while also blocking the attack from the second enemy, allowing their blow to free the Ice Mech from its prison. Ice also has a secondary function beyond freezing enemies – when a building is frozen, the ice serves as a makeshift shield, preventing the damage to the building underneath. So if you have an enemy you can’t reach with your Cryo-Launcher, you can freeze the enemy’s target instead to protect it from harm.
The Frozen Titans are an incredible squad and, in my brain, probably the most well-designed squad in terms of the interplay between their abilities. But being impressed with their design doesn’t necessarily make them my favorite. It took a long time for the Frozen Titans to click with me, whereas the squad in the number one spot immediately worked for me with no troubles at all. So while I appreciate what the Frozen Titans bring to the table, there’s only one squad in Into the Breach which perfectly gels with my playstyle, one squad that was my go-to for beating the game on Hard difficulty without even breaking a sweat.
So here it is, my number one hottest mech squad in Into the Breach:
#1: The Flame Behemoths
The core strategy of the Flame Behemoths is pretty straightforward: set stuff on fire. Enemies who are burning take damage on their turn before they attack, which means an opponent with only one HP left will simply die before it can actually cause any problems. When determining your positioning and what problems you need to address, you can ignore those Vek. This is basic principle behind the Flame Mech – push a 2 HP enemy like a Hornet out of the way one time and you’ve effectively neutralized that threat. And because fire doesn’t harm buildings, you can use the Flame Thrower (after an upgrade) to shoot Vek through buildings without having to worry about damaging your grid. The Flame Mech also deals damage to enemies that have already been set on fire, so for the stronger foes you can light them up with your Meteor Mech first and then damage them with the Flame Thrower in order to wear them down.
Remember how I love mechs that move stuff? My absolute favorite is the Flame Behemoths’ Swap Mech, which literally just switches places with a unit up to four tiles away (once upgraded). There is nothing more satisfying than flying over the water and swapping places with an alpha Vek, immediately drowning one of the most dangerous threats that can materialize on the field. Because the Swap Mech flies, you can hover over holes or lava and flip positions with grounded Vek to put them in hazards they can’t survive. You can swap something into a lightning storm or an air raid. You can switch the Swap Mech out of webs and put a Vek there to get attacked instead. You can swap a Vek over a spawn point to make them take the damage from blocking instead of your mech. And in keeping with the core strategy of the Flame Behemoths, you can switch a Vek into a burning tile to set them on fire. The possibilities with the Swap Mech are incredible and it’s so fun to find just the right position to flip in order to really throw a wrench into the enemy’s plans.
I think a big part of why the Flame Behemoths work for me so well is because they don’t struggle with the issues that held back the other mech squads on this list. They may not do big damage but setting enemies on fire puts them on a timer – you don’t have to do big damage when everything is slowly burning to death. Most of their abilities are not harmful to buildings, making it safe for the Flame Behemoths to attack from positions that are usually impossible or dangerous for other squads. There’s versatility in how you deal with foes – both the Flame Mech and the Meteor Mech can set things on fire without moving them if that’s the path you need to take, but they can also move foes out of the way and both can affect multiple Vek at once with their abilities. And having my favorite example of my favorite mech archetype in the form of the Swap Mech seals the deal.
If you’re a fan of Into the Breach and would like to share your own favorite mech squads in the comments, I’d love to hear about which ones work the best for your playstyle!