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Author Topic: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!  (Read 1766 times)

MarauderD

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Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« on: 07 October 2021, 11:08:46 »
So my search-fu is weak enough that I couldn’t find a thread like this even though I’m fairly certain this exists somewhere.  As a new player to Alpha Strike with exactly one match under my belt, I wanted to get some input from the community on their experience with the Alpha Strike point system.  Two questions for folks:

1.  What mech or mechs have you played a game with or against did you find to be a good value for the points?
2.  Why did it seem to you to be a great value?


MarauderD

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #1 on: 07 October 2021, 11:16:21 »
I'll start by giving my own answer:

1. Awesome-9Q:  54 points for a skill 3 Pilot.

2. It was a good value in our game because it was an easy center for my battle line--8 Armor, 6 Structure made it sturdy, and the 4/4/4 damage brackets made it easy to use at any range.  I also think the ECM made me feel secure that if I had 3-6 mechs supporting the Awesome, at least some of them would be protected from C3 or Narc shenanigans.  (There were none in my match).  Also, it is on the IS-General list for all Eras after Clan Invasion, so you can justify it for all 5 major houses, which is a bonus (I've got one painted as DCMS and another as Marik Militia)

Link to MUL:  http://www.masterunitlist.info/Unit/Details/179/awesome-aws-9q

DevianID

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #2 on: 08 October 2021, 02:52:52 »
So with how value is calculated, all mechs are 'balanced.'  Player skill has a much bigger role than individual unit selection.

For example, the 14 pip awesome 8q (39 points) as mentioned is a great 'anchor' in a position where you dont want to move much, and trades exceptionally well versus other TMM 1 mechs.

However, when examining the bell-curve for hit rolls, something quick like a 10 pip dragon 1N (38 points at skill 3), at long range, hits on 8s versus the awesome's 10s.  At this range, the dragon does 5 pips for every 3 the awesome does, so the dragon will have done 15 (killing the awesome) by the time the awesome has done 9 pips (leaving the dragon alive).  If you close the distance with the dragon however, then at medium range the awesome now kills the dragon.

So what I see is a lot of players closing with their fast long range mechs to get better hit numbers, not realizing that they are brawling with a skirmisher and thus they trade very poorly.  In a similar way, if you take some skirmishers and some brawlers, you likewise shoot yourself in the foot as the enemy just kills your brawlers on better to hit numbers, as skirmishers take time to stack damage as they stalk the long range zone--thus the skirmishers didnt really support the brawlers and vice versa, you just handed your forces to the enemy piecemeal.

Unit selection and role assignment are critical in making a mech work.  If you know your playstyle, it helps pick mechs you are less likely to use incorrectly.  For example, keep all your mechs with similar range and speed so they are more likely to keep pace and support each other.  Dont overbuy pilot upgrades on mechs you plan on putting in very close proximity of the enemy, as at point blank even a skill 4 pilot will hit most shots on a TMM2 target, and the cost of skill upgrades doesnt scale with damage at the point blank range profile.

I like griffin 1Ns for skirmishing as my great value.  31 points, 10 pips, no point blank to encourage long range play, and a TMM2 with option to jump if drawing too much fire.  A whole unit of such skirmishers will trade very well at long range as long as you have enough room and time for maneuver.  On turn/space limited games, the Treb 5s is a brutish beast for me with 4 damage at 33 points and 8 pips, and a TMM of 2 to make to slow long range TMM1 mechs--Treb Ss will make sure your games finish on time one way or another!

worktroll

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #3 on: 08 October 2021, 03:06:17 »
I think PV does a far better job of balancing than BV2 does, to the extent I'd be using it to balance TW games (admittedly, I'm only playing AS at the moment, when I can play.) By virtue of rolling everything up at a coarser level, I can't think off hand of any of the traditional BV2 abusers that isn't a high value unit in terms of PV.

So it does come down to you pay for what you get; and as DevianID says, then it depends on how you use what you have.
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Elmoth

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #4 on: 08 October 2021, 04:46:29 »
As said, the points of Alpha strike seem to be fairly OK to mech capabilities. You ar eunlikely to see the complaints about the value in AS as you are likely to see people complaining about the BV of CBT.

I tend to see mechs with higher long range values over their own short range values (like the griffin) benefiting the most from skill upgrades. keep the range open and shoot with good (well, better than your opponent's) to hit numbers. It is slow work, though since the to hit numbers are not THAT great anyway unles you pay an arm and a leg for the skill upgrades. And then they will close the range on your top skilled mech and trash it if they are any smart.

OTOH short range brawlers can even be downgraded to noobs with skill 5 if you only care about short range. For mechs that you want to hit at mod range skill 4 is OK. Skill 3 is better, of course (you hit TMM2 targets on 7+, TMM1 at 6+) but sometimes points are tight and you need to economize and here is a place to do it.

Spotters for your (IF# mechs) do not need skill since they will not be shooting. So if you Locust is there to be your spotter, reduce its Skill level. Yes, noobs are there to look and report, not to act as heroes. This is how they learn form their peers and survive to become veterans themselves.

I found that in dense tables jumping mechs are a must. In open tables (most non-hex tables) not so much.

Indirect fire is powerful. As is high TMM. In a medium skill environment, my jenners tend to survive better than my battlemasters in the end.

MarauderD

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #5 on: 08 October 2021, 09:36:50 »
Indirect fire is powerful. As is high TMM. In a medium skill environment, my jenners tend to survive better than my battlemasters in the end.

Interesting observation there.  My group is still in the beginner stage--but I can definitely see how that would come to be true--big scary things were focused down with regularity as soon as they came into medium range. 

MyndkryM

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #6 on: 08 October 2021, 12:06:36 »
This tread is AWESOME (pun intended)  >:D

While I haven't had the opportunity to play AS yet....I do enjoy force building and theory crafting :)

DevianID and Elmoth....your posts now has me really thinking about where I'm spending PVs. I've been typically building forces with the idea of "Hey.....this MAD-11D is the company commander, so of course that mech needs to be a skill level 2!!!" Yet, I'm also coming to the conclusion that mech role, lance special abilities, movement type, and TMM really need to be more involved in my decision making.

Hope this tread gets some more input from experienced AS players!!!!

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worktroll

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #7 on: 08 October 2021, 13:53:20 »
Yet, I'm also coming to the conclusion that mech role, lance special abilities, movement type, and TMM really need to be more involved in my decision making.

As a relatively new AS player with only a few games under my belt, this is what I'm discovering very much, and still working through all the formation abilities to see how they work. And it's all dependant! If playing with woods, then "Maneuvering Ace" is superior to "Speed Demon", for example.
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Elmoth

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #8 on: 08 October 2021, 14:18:45 »
Also, take in mind that medium range is THE range unless you specifically and actively search to avoid it. Ther eis a reasonnwhy the firepowr at medium range vounts double that of the firepower at the other 2 ranges in value. Medium range innAS is so large that ir dominates engagements easily and is where everybody will be shooting most of the time.

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #9 on: 08 October 2021, 14:24:33 »
Also very true, although I'm considering doing what some other have, and halving the distances. So an 8" move is 4", and long range is 21". This won't make medium range less lethal, but means you'll spend more time able to maneuver if you want to keep the range open, or use terrain to flank, etc.
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* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

MarauderD

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #10 on: 08 October 2021, 15:25:04 »
Also very true, although I'm considering doing what some other have, and halving the distances. So an 8" move is 4", and long range is 21". This won't make medium range less lethal, but means you'll spend more time able to maneuver if you want to keep the range open, or use terrain to flank, etc.

During my first and only match, 80% of it happened at Long range.  We hovered between 21" and 12", and called the game after the first turn spent with both sides firmly in medium range.  The halved ranged for movement and firing fit the board well, and let us do some maneuvering that felt meaningful.

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #11 on: 08 October 2021, 17:13:29 »
Starting the conversion on a Dire Wolf D, with paired HAG-40s. 9/9/5 is going to be scary ...
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
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* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

DevianID

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #12 on: 08 October 2021, 23:17:25 »
At 62 points before skill upgrades, the direwolf will be interesting.  Keeping it at medium range to exactly 1 enemy every turn is ideal to maximize the 9 damage while minimizing incoming shots, though its speed makes that tricky.

For halving distance, you halve everything: movement and range.  So you play the same game on less space, and can thus increase your terrain density without needing more terrain pieces.  Thats my default, and 5 inches for 5 MP on a timberwolf feels rights, as does 21 inches for a long range LRM.  Mapsheets work well for this scale too.

ActionButler

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #13 on: 09 October 2021, 07:06:21 »
Indirect fire is powerful. As is high TMM. In a medium skill environment, my jenners tend to survive better than my battlemasters in the end.

This can’t be overstated.

A high TMM is one of the most valuable stats in AS, in my experience. To the point where I’ve experimented with removing other modifiers to prevent light mechs from being nearly unkillable.
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Scotty

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #14 on: 09 October 2021, 12:50:58 »
High TMMs are prices very aggressively in AS and high damage units that also have high TMMs have a double premium to pay in PV and they're still very good.
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Kibutsu

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #15 on: 14 October 2021, 10:48:27 »
Marauder II 5B. 51 points, full armor and structure, 4 damage at all ranges, TMM2 if it jumps. What's not to love? It's also a cheap purchase if you're calculating C-bills for a merc force etc.

MarauderD

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #16 on: 15 October 2021, 10:32:50 »
Marauder II 5B. 51 points, full armor and structure, 4 damage at all ranges, TMM2 if it jumps. What's not to love? It's also a cheap purchase if you're calculating C-bills for a merc force etc.
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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #17 on: 16 October 2021, 18:12:23 »
It is worth noting that since you don't pay for moving and shooting (the +1 for walk or +2 for run) in Alpha Strike, having stock 5 pilots for Inner Sphere and 4 for Clan is pretty accurate. That goes a long way because you can get some more points for other units. Creates more opportunities and widens the spectrum in unit/pilot choices, even extends the game a bit more.

I play mostly 3025. Some of the best units I've ever used have a high TMM. I'm such a fan of the Quickdraw for this reason alone.
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Elmoth

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #18 on: 17 October 2021, 09:18:47 »
Yes, the quickdraw and other mechs that in classic battletech are bad shine as good choices in alpha strike Another is the centurion, and the Locust, that is very survivable in AS for its TMM

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #19 on: 19 October 2021, 06:43:19 »
I'll add some personal favorites in here for a mix of objective play and just duking it out.

36 PV - The Thunderbolt 5S is the standard by which I judge just about everything. I love it's PV to armor to movement to firepower.

30 PV - The Loki D is a fun wild card that people don't expect. If I remember correctly HT doesn't really factor into PV making it's HT2/2/2 really nasty while also keeping costs down. Even if it does, it's still extremely cheap at 30 PV and can really cause some havoc.

34 PV - The Hierofalcon A is extremely powerful for movement based objective play like CTF style game modes because of it's host of improved jump jets. Being able to carry along things like Gnome BA is icing on the cake.

51 PV - The Gargoyle J for many of the same reasons as the Hierofalcon, but if it were built like a refrigerator. Extremely mobile assault with high damage is really fun and has performed well for me repeatedly.

Elmoth

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #20 on: 19 October 2021, 06:51:01 »
For particular.mechs I really like the Jenner F. You lose the OV1 value, but gain 2 points of armor. That mqkes a VERY fragile mech (D model) into a mech that has the tmm3 and can take a hit or 2 before going down. Its speed is fast enough sp it can gain the back of the enemy troopers and sometimes shot them for 3 damage. The same is somewhat true of the locust  but since locusts are.only damage 1 to start with and have only 2 armor and structure, it is more difficult to pull out

Wolverine K is also a very good mech at 35 points. And the coassic tbolt is a slab of armor.

In general, for troopers look at mechs that have LOW long range. That saves you some points and you will be shooting at.medium anyway, so no need to pay for long range stuff, because you will be skill 4 (so you are not gonna hit anyway at long) and you will be advancing towards the enemy.

The victor, with its 4 at medium is a great mech. As is the quickdraw, both so maligned in classic.
« Last Edit: 19 October 2021, 06:53:49 by Elmoth »

MarauderD

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #21 on: 19 October 2021, 12:07:28 »
Wolverine K is also a very good mech at 35 points. And the classic TBolt is a slab of armor.

The victor, with its 4 at medium is a great mech. As is the quickdraw, both so maligned in classic.

I've got a Wolvie and Tbolt painted up as Sword of Light, so I'll have to try playing in 3025 next time (I played Dark Ages Era for our first match). 

Looking forward to painting the new Victor Mini, will have to give it a go in AS per your recommendation. 
« Last Edit: 19 October 2021, 15:04:55 by MarauderD »

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #22 on: 19 October 2021, 13:17:55 »
The victor, with its 4 at medium is a great mech. As is the quickdraw, both so maligned in classic.

I always find this fascinating in comparison between CBT and AS just how much a mech can change in translation.  Some mechs were seemingly punished (KGC only hits as hard as a Crusader!?) While others went Super Saijan compared to their last iterations (as those listed)  The lack of nuance between mid range (Large Laser, AC10) and Short Range (Medium Laser, SRMs, AC20) made an immense difference for several models.
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Elmoth

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #23 on: 19 October 2021, 14:39:38 »
The design decisio to have everything reach up to medium range (except small lasers and mg) has that effect. I would have made the short range larger and have some weapons like Ac20 and ML weapons reach only to that distance, but that is not how this works. And that has this effect you mention, yes.

Elmoth

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #24 on: 21 October 2021, 06:57:03 »
Ah, another one. LAMs. LAMs are good in Alpha Strike. their rules are way simpler than those of CBT, so theu are usable and also good. The classic trio (wasp, stingr and phoenix hawk) have a TMM of +4 (2 base +1 airborne +1 LAM) when in airmech form and do not crash nor do other weird stuff that CBT LAMs do. They also have a +2 to their target number to their attacks in Airmech mode, but that is easily solved with elite pilots, since they are basically the fastest mechs on the board, substituting for hovers and WiGEs if you are only using mechs to play.

So they are fast (difficult to hit) fragile and need elite (or veteran) pilots, but they are cheap so you can afford that. I am specially enamoured with the Stinger LAM at 36 points with a skill 2 pilot zooming around.

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Re: Alpha Strike Mechs: Great Values for the points!
« Reply #25 on: 21 October 2021, 07:21:13 »
A key difference is that in Alpha Strike the majority of your accuracy comes from the pilots.   So high TMM mechs are great against militia, or green forces, but really start to wither against Veteran, or Elite level pilots.  At that stage, armor starts to take over, just because the hits are becoming so reliable for both sides, and the mediums and heavies start to take over.

The mechs without a long range damage bracket are bargains at the lower skill levels -- because no appreciable damage is likely before both sides close to medium range, but then are suddenly at an enormous disadvantage against sniper type mechs when the skill levels become better. 

Over Covid times I participated in a double blind Zoom game where I played a Green Motorized infantry force (planetary militia), supported by a single Lance of Warrior House Lu Sann, and a pair of green demolishers.  My opponent had a fairly standard Federated Suns force all mech force, all skill 4.  The Lu Sann force leader was in a Marauder MAD-R, and was skill 1.  He managed to do more damage than 12 infantry stands, the Demolishers, and two out of three other mechs -- COMBINED.   His secret?  He could hit opponents reliably in the long range bracket, and no on else on the board could.   Frankly no one else could reliably hit things at middle range, either.

This was my experience in the final year of Kibitsu's campaign as well.  The elite pilots didn't belong in the biggest mechs.  They belonged in mechs that could hit at long range, even if they were lighter throw weight.  My best skilled pilot was in a Dervish for the vast majority of the campaign (four years!), but racked up kill after kill with his reliable damage at any range, and had the job of hunting down and killing speedy, high TMM mechs in every battle.  You don't need an Atlas to kill a Locust, but you do need a highly skilled gunner. 

And of course Lance SPAs are a huge help.  Sniper from Fire Lance, Lucky from Battle, even Blood Stalker from Pursuit really takes the edge off of trying to swat those bug mechs.  Add those onto a skill 2 pilot, and you solve the TMM problem, and the "good value" mechs start having to play a very different game, trying to stay out of line of arcs, and making a lot more use of cover and jumping every turn (making their own fire less effective).   A highly skilled pilot in a light mech hunter role is a huge boon to any Company in Alpha Strike.

If you are playing where the opponent is aware of the power of the higher TMM mechs, then you can change the balance of power dramatically just by sticking a skill 2 pilot in a Longbow, which is in turn placed into a Fire Lance.  Skill 2 + Sniper = will hit a 3 TMM mech on a 7, at Long Range!   Running an entire Company of Veteran, or even Elite level pilots will force you to downgrade mech weight dramatically in order to meet an agreed upon Points Value, but that doesn't mean that your force is worse!  The sweet spot seems to be around Veteran (average skill 3) with a solid Lance SPA.  Too many Green pilots or troops makes you vulnerable to getting chewed up while missing a ton (although it is hilarious when you roll a "10" with those Demolishers).  Too many elites and you run the risk of just running out of armor before you can grind the enemy down. 

In our current Jade Falcon campaign, one player managed to roll a skill 0 Stormcrow pilot.  This avatar of death costs a whopping 79 points, nearly an entire Inner Sphere Recon Lance that is opposing them.  He is indeed a brutal opponent, but his Stormcrow still only has 6 armor, and 3 structure, and a hit is a hit.  You don't get extra damage for hitting very easily, as opposed to just barely, so it is possible to go into overkill doing this, in the sense that you are wasting points by being "too accurate".

I favor one or two Aces, or a lance of much higher quality than the rest of the company.  The lower skill pilots have the role of going forward and doing what they can at medium range -- so I favor poor pilots inside of heavily armored mechs for this.  The more skilled pilots I prefer in the longer ranged sniping and missile boating roles, but you need one or two skilled pilots to be light mech hunters.  Most of the campaign where I was a Company Commander, I put the better pilots into the medium mechs, and then would flexibly hunt lights, snipe at range (every unanswered 1 or 2 points of damage adds up), or generally engage as needed. 

So I found the flexible medium mechs, the heavies without long range emphasis but good armor, and the ultra fast lights to be the best values overall, with the caveat that pilot skill levels and SPAs are ultra important in Alpha Strike, especially on the extreme ends of poor quality and high quality.

 

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