The Mamba is one of a small handful of ships in E:D that needs no introduction. I promised myself that I wouldn't dive too deep into the Mamba, primarily because it would just sound like I'm beating a dead horse. What more is there to say about the Mamba that hasn't already been said? It's fast, powerful, and (somewhat) affordable. How can I add onto this?
Well, I can start by saying that both the Type-9 and the Mamba represent my failure to engage with specialized ships. I knew they were good at their roles. I knew that it was difficult to surpass them, and yet… neither particularly stuck with me. I didn't hate these ships at all, I wouldn't even call them bad, but I feel with both that they just didn't really click with me. This is not the first time this has happened: it happened before with the Adder, again with the Eagle, and again with the Cobra III, but the difference here is that I actually liked these ships.
So why did I stop flying them? And why did I sell my Mamba? Let's talk about it.
Once again, this is purely an opinion thread, not aiming to stoke fires or bash others' preferences. If you have differing opinions, or ideas I should try, I'm open to suggestions, and regularly reading the comments. With all that out of the way, let's begin.
TL;DR: I bought the Mamba, outfitted it, flew it, loved it, then stored it away in my shipyard and… well, forgot about it. While I genuinely loved the huge hardpoint, speed, tough armor and surprisingly good shields, the Mamba suffers from only having 6 internal compartments, relatively poor stock handling, and some (key word: some) heat management issues. The Mamba was the 2nd truly specialized ship I flew, after the T9, and while I enjoyed my time with it, it failed to make a lasting impression, which comes from a combination of missed opportunities and my own lack of dedication to the engineering grind.
I noticed I've been starting with flaws more than I have strengths lately, so let's switch things up and talk about what the Mamba does very, very well.
No matter which way you look at it, it's common knowledge that the Mamba is a deadly warship – and I don't disagree in the slightest. In addition to the fabled huge hardpoint, you carry 2 large and 2 small hardpoints, which I've found compliment the weapon nicely. The large hardpoints have poor convergence when fixed, at least for me, but this is entirely mitigated by simply using gimballed weapons.
The Mamba has some impressive core internals, with a C6 Powerplant and distributor. You can comfortably power your weapons, shields, and even utility mounts – but be smart about it. When dealing with plasma accelerators (which, while powerful, happen to be my least favorite weapon in the game) your power budget can get uncomfortably tight. As such, I would strongly recommend Bi-Weaves so as to partially offset the need for SCBs, thereby lowering your power consumption considerably.
The armor and shields are tough on their own, but there's little room to improve them. This brings up my first and most glaring issue with the Mamba: you only have 6 internal compartments (for reference: a Sidewinder also has 6 internal compartments), and no restricted slots. If you're lazy like me, you're probably going to carry at least a docking computer, and that leaves you with only 4 slots (after a shield) to fit reinforcements. This simply isn't enough, and there's no excuse: the Mamba is a big ship, and I'm sure there's room in that bloated chassis. In combat/bounty hunting, at least for me, I've found that Quantity typically beats out Quality, and while the Mamba has some large modules, the fact still stands that you only have a few of them – which almost completely defeats the point.
At least on paper, the Mamba doesn't really offer that much of an advantage over the Fer-De-Lance, and while I believe this was intentional – choice comes down to preference and skillset, as opposed to one being "better" – I still believe this could've been handled a little more precisely. I would be willing to forgive the module and handling issues with the Mamba if it had some real competitive advantage over the FDL, but both on paper and even in Practice… it doesn't. The theoretical DPS of the Mamba is only a little higher than the FDL, and while the ship is somewhat faster, this comes at a very noticeable cost to maneuverability*, price, and module size. Simply put: the pros don't balance out the cons. The Mamba doesn't need to be better than the FDL necessarily, but it does need to be an equal, otherwise Zorgon Peterson completely missed the point.
*I've never flown a FDL. This is speculation.
Even with that said, I'd argue that I'm just nitpicking here: there's actually some pretty easy fixes for this issue, which range anywhere from "just make the Mamba faster/more maneuverable" to "make the small hardpoints medium" to "just add another internal module, even a Class 1." Obviously these are just examples, and not actual suggestions, but you get my point.
However, I will NOT forgive this next issue: Fuel.
There is no goddamn reason for the Mamba to have a Class 3 fuel tank. I can barely get to the next couple of systems with 8 tonnes of fuel, and I am not wasting hundreds of thousands of credits just to move my Mamba 30 light years. I now have to choose between carrying a scoop and transferring my modules over later, taking the "economic" approach, which more than doubles a journey's runtime, or – and this especially bugs me – stop to refuel every 2 jumps. I'll complain about this with the Vulture too, but at least with the Vulture your mass is substantially lower (meaning higher jump range), and you have 7 modules and a C5 restricted, as opposed to the Mamba's measly 6 modules – meaning that it isn't so much of a chore to carry a little extra fuel, bring a scoop, or even just get to your destination in one jump. No courier service is needed!
Obviously that above complaint is a massive nitpick. I'm almost certain that it bothers me more than it does most other folks. But, it still bothers me, and it's unnecessary. It doesn't matter how justified it is in the lore: bad design is bad design. Zorgon Peterson isn't getting off easy just because it's a fictitious company!
Remember how I mentioned that cost started to be a problem when I bought the Krait? After the 50 million credit mark for ships, that problem is only exacerbated: the Mamba was one of the most expensive ships I owned. For that reason, I never even considered buying composites, as my wallet would have a stroke. Military grade composites cost a whopping 45 million credits before a discount, which is 4/5ths the price of the chassis – and reactive surface composites are even worse, at 3x the cost of military! This all comes before weapons, modules, utilities, etc. The point is clear: the Mamba is not cheap.
As a minor sidenote, while a Class 6 distributor is adequate, I can't help but long for the Class 7 distributor of the Krait. What can I say? I love long firing cycles.
While the speed is impressive, even at Stock, the maneuverability left a little to be desired. Before anybody even says it, yes, I am aware that engineering can mitigate this issue, but here's the problem: placing an over-reliance on engineering to fix problems means that there's something deeper wrong with the ship. Engineering is a grind – a bad one, at that – and I don't have that much time to get materials, even with the so-called "material farms" I keep hearing about. I barely log on once a day, if that, and so spending that whole time farming materials when I could be doing something fun instead just feels like a happiness-killer. It burned out my motivation once, and I'm sure it would do so again.
I'm sure the engine issues are fixable – but the point is that they shouldn't need to be fixed in the first place. I would be more forgiving if the issue was fixed with just 1 or 2 levels of engineering, because that's really, really easy. Nope! Apparently I need G5 Dirty Drag Drives to "really bring out the good in the ship." If you're telling me I need to put in a whole day's worth of grinding just for a ship to "get good," I would much rather just accept the flaws and work with them. It isn't worth the grind to me.
All of my gripes aside, that's not to say I didn't have a blast flying this ship. I felt powerful. I felt like I could take on anyone. So why did I stop flying it? Worse still, why did I sell it?
Well… I bought an Orca. And then I bought a Vulture. 2 ships that I had much much more fun in. After realizing one day that I wasn't really going to fly my Mamba anymore, I did the sensible thing: I sat down, stripped it for parts, and sold the chassis. Frankly, I don't regret this decision: the Mamba isn't just sitting in my shipyard collecting dust.
In conclusion, the Mamba is not a bad ship, in fact it's not even a good ship: it's a great vessel. It's also not the vessel for me. The Mamba was my first combat specialized ship, and while I did enjoy it, I came to appreciate the Vulture so much more for raw combat. All in all, I feel like there were more than a couple of missed opportunities for the Mamba, but that's not to say it doesn't have a LOT of potential. In the right hands, I know exactly what a Mamba is capable of – and I know better than to mess with a Mamba pilot. I know there's at least 7 of us!
Thank you once again for reading my review, and I'll be looking forward to reading the comments. Next time, we go over the Orca, the ship that finally convinced me to sell my Mamba's chassis – and convinced me to give Piracy another chance.
Stay Safe, and Fly Dangerous. o7