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Author Topic: Clan Vs Inner Sphere  (Read 963 times)

Zeruel13

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Clan Vs Inner Sphere
« on: 14 January 2021, 01:20:23 »
So my brother and I have both really been diving into Alpha Strike and at first we had played a lot of IS vs IS games as we first dipped our toes in. I had enough clan mechs from regular BT at the time to play one side but not enough for the two of us to split up for a meaningful sized game so we stuck to IS only for the longest time and all was good.

Enter the Kickstarter and a whole wack of new Omnis dropping off at my front door. We started trying a few clan vs clan games and that was great too. Then we started to dabble in clan vs IS, and this is where the trouble started. I don't necessarily think either of us is a tactical genius but we've both been table top gaming well over a decade now running the whole gambit of games available out there. So our first game or two we found it was really uphill for the clan player. We're both pretty analytical people so off we were to trouble shooting and figuring it out. We've both played IS and Clan switching it up, we've tried fewer clan mechs with much better pilots, we've tried more average skill three pilots and more mechs, we've tried to play the range game, we've tried playing hardier mechs, swarms of faster mechs, lots of elemental support and the list goes on. We've easily got about two dozen clan vs IS games under out belt now and Clans have not won once yet.

Has anyone else found this to be true? I think there's a few factors here. First it feels like the XL engine for clans probably takes away more internal structure that it should in a lot of cases. I mean a Dire Wolf and an AS7-D Atlas for all their disparity in weapons are both still 100 ton mechs and that means regardless of tech base before you factor in XL Engines they both have the same armour and internal structure. so that translates to 10 armour and 8 internal as we can see from the AS7-D. Now give that Atlas an IS XL and it's internal structure gets cut in half from 8 to 4. Give that Dire Wolf a Clan XL and you go from 8 to 5, only 1 extra point!? I mean the survivability difference in regular Battletech between an IS and Clan XL is so night and day compared than that.

Next I think the set range values for all units being the same really hamstrings the Clans. Somehow this same AS7-D is doing 5 damage out to 24", the Dire Wolf Prime is doing only 1 more? In standard Battletech that Atlas has 1 weapon to bring to bear outside of 9 hexes, literally every single weapon the Dire Wolf Prime carries can hit that Atlas before any of its firepower is in range, but do to the conversions and state based ranges being the same for both, the Atlas is suddenly hitting that Dire Wolf for roughly equal damage at the same range. Now sure if everything is point costed appropriately that's a non issue right? You'll just get more Clan mechs in general than you would have in regular BT but all's fair, but is it?

This leads to my third point, I think the point cost formula is deeply flawed. It hit me today in our latest game. I was running a Shadow Hawk 5D, solid 4 damage at short and medium, 11 hit points total for 39 points. It kind of struck me comparing this to my brother's Cougar A. Both of our mechs moved the same, had the same TMM and had pretty comparable short and medium range damage. the difference were he had a 4 damage at long, but I had roughly double his hit points and could jump and I was only 2 points less than him before pilot! If you do the math there's almost no way he ever comes out on top. Two hit from me and he's dead, he requires 3 to hit me. Sure theoretically he could get a hit in at long to make the engagement roughly even once we hit medium but with 24" medium ranges on a standard 4'x6' with my 10 move I'm easily in medium on turn two so he gets one chance, and first turn I just jump so before pilot if looking at comparable cost he's needing 11s to hit me, so really that one turn of long range is really a crap shot anyway. After every we've played the sheer number of hit points the IS puts down always out attritions the Clan's extra damage and range no matter how we try to math out the number of mechs to pilot skill ratios. It seems the points just way overvalue damage, especially long range damage compared to armour.

Am I alone in thinking that? For context we play multiple attack rolls using the Pilot die method you can see the guys from DFA using on youtube. We've done a couple other house rules, like adding a Critical die which is another off coloured die with the role and only if your pilot and crit die are both 6s and you hit do you get a through armour crit, we found the increased odds of critting otherwise also really hampered the clans so this was our fix for multiple attack rolls while keeping the original crit odds form the all or nothing base rules.

We've debated a few things we think could fix this issue. First we're talking about maybe letting all clan mechs start with a 3 skill pilot without any cost. That might swing it too far the other way but it's next up on our list of things t try. I also mentioned I think the universal range brackets really hurt as well. I almost feel like there should have been two different brackets one for IS tech base and another for clan tech base, and I guess you'd have to figure out mixed tech somehow then too but we mostly play all pre-Jihad so that rarely if ever comes up for us. I was thinking what if Inner Sphere was something like 6"/24"/42" brackets like now but Clans got 8"/30"/50" brackets, would that make it better. Clan might get a turn of firing at medium while IS was still slogging in at long.

I dunno, just my musings I guess, sorry about the essay but would love other's opinions and feedback on the mater.

FenderSaxbey

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Re: Clan Vs Inner Sphere
« Reply #1 on: 14 January 2021, 04:02:32 »
While I've only played one IS-vs-Clan game of Alpha Strike with similar results, this debate has also been going on in the DFA Wargaming community as well. They've played several games and have drawn similar conclusions. The structure penalty for XL is way too severe, especially for Clans and light fusion. I'm for reducing the penalty while other suggest accounting for XL/light engines on the crit table (maybe using the 5 and 9 for additional crit chances or similar).


As for the ranges, I've heard of some folks extend S/M/L for Clan mechs, but IMO, this should already be accounted for in their damage values and is less of an issue.


I do like and agree with your idea of shifting the skill base for Clan PV to 3. Clan mechs are super expensive regardless of the scale and they don't ever seem to perform like their PV/BV should indicate. Additionally, note that medium range damage counts twice for PV and lots of Clan mechs have some decent L damage. It kinda hurts them when compared to an IS mech which will tend to have *much* lower long range damage while mostly comparable medium range damage (within a point or two in a lot of cases).

ianpelgrim

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Re: Clan Vs Inner Sphere
« Reply #2 on: 14 January 2021, 12:15:45 »
I Think That Alpha Strike is one of the better games concerning point values. The comparison between the cougar A and shadow hawk 5d is correct the cougar A has long range, more damage and indirect fire That more then accounts for the loss in hit points. It does make it a more difficult to use mech but worth it's points.
The guys from dfa wargaming use house rules that i think alter the game enough that their results are no use in this discussion. In the guerrilla miniature games channel the clans have won more then half of the battles using standard rules.
To win more with clans use tough Lights with no long damage as infighters with elementals as support so You can keep your fragile long range mechs as the vulture at long range. And keep your pilots between 3 for the close range mechs and 2 or 3 for the long range mechs.




FenderSaxbey

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Re: Clan Vs Inner Sphere
« Reply #3 on: 14 January 2021, 14:47:09 »
I think your point about DFA is mostly valid but while I enjoy GMG's batreps, they also get quite a few rules wrong when they first start playing a particular game. Understandable given their breadth of content. That being said, I'll try and get a few more games under my belt (we play RAW for the most part) and see how it shakes out myself.

Kerfuffin(925)

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Re: Clan Vs Inner Sphere
« Reply #4 on: 14 January 2021, 14:57:05 »
Cutting everything in half back to CBT ranges like they do in DFA could help, it generally gives clanners more control over the range game by leveraging their XL engines speed. Not being at medium range in one turn of movement helps with that.

The GG guys get so much wrong in AlphaStrike.

ianpelgrim

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Re: Clan Vs Inner Sphere
« Reply #5 on: 14 January 2021, 16:02:56 »
I think the dfa house rules put too much emphasis on long range combat. I think their battle reports are fun and their scenario's and dice rolling ideas  are great. But their house rules on range and movement not.

Zeruel13

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Re: Clan Vs Inner Sphere
« Reply #6 on: 14 January 2021, 16:19:10 »
I don't mind the range cut that dfa does, I mean cutting range and movement keeps it all relative so nothing mechanically changes other than effectively doubling your table size without needing double the space, basically means you're playing on 8'x12' board essentially. Sure it's easier to leverage long rage I guess because you have more room to just keep backing up but I'm not a fan of it because it also just means the first couple turns neither of you is really doing anything. I really don't like how they change the range modifiers to 0/+1/+2/+3 though, anything that changes numbers like that really skews the point costs, I think it really de-values better pilots since 2D6 rolls aren't on a linear curve. I think that would work if we were just rolling a D12, but not 2D6.

My brother and I decided as much as it will slow down the game a little we're going to drop their pilot die mechanic and just start rolling an attack roll for each point of damage. We also talked about giving every single formation (so lance/star) SPAs based on the formation average skill level, so a regular unit gets 1 skill up to 2 cost, veteran and elite skill get up to 2 skills to hand out to a combined cost of 4 and a heroic/legendary unit gets up to three skills worth up to 6 combined. We're thinking in general this means the Clans are going to also have a greater number of skills and access to certain ones the average IS Lance won't have access to like Sniper for example. The higher proliferation of better skills among the clan force might also give enough of an edge to curb our trend I think. After our next game I'll list everything we settled on for rules and forces and do a little bat rep here.

Also yeah I can't get through GG battle reports, they just get so much wrong it tends to frustrate me a little lol. Not that I fault them, they're just starting out in the game so rules mistakes are to be expected plus they play so many different games on a weekly basis it must be a nightmare to keep it all straight in your head. I only get a chance to game maybe twice a week, sometimes less with current covid conditions so I'm maybe playing 7 or 8 games a month, most of them Batletech or Alpha Strike maybe one gam of 40K and one game of Infinity, so it's a little easier for me to keep it all straight.
« Last Edit: 14 January 2021, 16:21:59 by Zeruel13 »

FenderSaxbey

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Re: Clan Vs Inner Sphere
« Reply #7 on: 14 January 2021, 16:29:57 »
I think the dfa house rules put too much emphasis on long range combat. I think their battle reports are fun and their scenario's and dice rolling ideas  are great. But their house rules on range and movement not.


Seems to me they're still mostly fighting at medium and extreme range has never accounted for more than plink damage IIRC. The range and movement just gives you more table space when its limited, something I tend to use because of limited space. I don't think either of those things impact the difficulties using Clan units in Alpha Strike, though.


I didn't want to hijack this thread and turn it into "my issues with a how a particular Youtube channel does things". Sure, if you think that it impacts that balance, it's definitely relevant, but otherwise I think we should stay on topic.

ianpelgrim

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Re: Clan Vs Inner Sphere
« Reply #8 on: 15 January 2021, 03:39:50 »
If you tell us what units you use and versus what enemy units we can help you set up a working game plan using clans with the models you have.

theagent

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Re: Clan Vs Inner Sphere
« Reply #9 on: 25 January 2021, 14:03:15 »
There might be some aspects of Alpha Strike that are being missed:

  • Part of it is because of some of the slimming down that Alpha Strike does on critical & internal hits.  For example, a Dire Wolf's Clan XL engine means that if it loses a side torso it's generating 10 extra heat per turn (see the next point as to why that's an issue) & if it loses both side torsos it's dead in the water.  In contrast, the Atlas could lose both side torsos & be mostly inconvenienced at being forced to turn around & fire backwards at its opponents (as it only has left the rear-facing MLs)...but (barring prior leg damage) it still has the option of moving & firing without any extra heat.  Had it been the -K model with XL engine, though, losing a single side torso means it's dead in the water.  So yes, Clan XL engines may not be as fragile as their IS counterparts, but they are fragile.
  • I'm going to assume you're talking about the Dire Wolf Prime vs. one of the other models.  One of the primary assumptions about the game Alpha Strike is in its name:  that you're going to "Alpha Strike" (i.e. fire every weapon possible) each turn...in this case, "possible" meaning without overheating, because tracking heat is greatly simplified in the game.  The baseline assumption with every conversion is that overheating is an option, but will be used very sparingly due to the potential downsides.

    That describes the Dire Wolf Prime to a T.  Yes, it has a loadout that outranges a lot of the AS7-D's loadout.  And yes, 4 Clan ELLs, 4 Clan MPLs, 2 Clan UAC/5s, & a Clan LRM-10 is some impressive firepower... until you worry about heat.  In tabletop, a Dire Wolf Prime that runs & fires every single weapon will automatically shutdown...because it only has 22 DHS, & with movement its maximum heat generated is 74 points (74 - 44 = 30); at long range, it's going to be limited to 3 of the ELLs & the LRM-10 if it wants to avoid heat issues, at close range it's better off with all 4 MPLs & 2 of the ELLs instead.  Alpha Strike is actually more friendly to it, as its OV 3 attribute means that it can boost itself up to 9 damage points at Short/Medium range & be just shy of shutting down (although it's going to suffer a +3 penalty & lost all 6" of movement until it cools down).  Granted, it might be worth it to pump up the damage a bit...but just like in tabletop, using the full OV value means that you leave yourself open to a turn of fire from the Atlas without being able to reply (although it might be worth it if that extra damage from OV lets you have the chance for a critical hit).
  • Technically, this is more of just an issue with Clan vs. IS tech, as (unlike what sometimes happens) the BV for the SHD-5D & Cougar A are also remarkably similar (1684 vs. 1697), but their armor/structure ratios also favor the -5D (170/91 vs. 105/58).  If you limit your playing area to the typical 1 or 2 mapsheets in tabletop, the Cougar's range advantage over the Shadow Hawk disappears, & it's going to have to rely a lot more on terrain & luck with the dice.

    That being said...although the Jumping gives you that extra TMM boost, it also penalizes your base skill when used.  Assuming you're using Skill 3 for both pilots (Regular for Clan/Veteran for IS), that means the -5D needs a 9+ to hit the Cougar at Medium (6/36 = 16.67% chance to hit), but the Cougar only needs an 8+ to hit (10/36 = 27.78% chance, nearly twice as good).  And this is where the Cougar pilot plans their moves.  As long as they move at least 1" on the table, they get their TMM 2 modifier.  So there's no benefit for the Cougar to close the distance against the Shadow Hawk, especially when it can fire at Long Range & the Shadow Hawk can't.  So at worst, the Cougar does some "Electric Slide" moves on its side of the map, & depending on how fast the Shadow Hawk tries to close the distance & if you're starting from the long edge, the Cougar should have at least 2 turns to fire without being shot at, & then can spend its time keeping the range as far as possible depending on initiative (maybe getting another turn or 2 of firing before it's being shot at).  Sure, 11+ isn't the best of odds (3/36 = 8.33% chance), but it's still a possibility.  A single successful shot is all it takes to leave them pretty much equal in health left over (6 for the Cougar, 7 for the Shadow Hawk), at which point once you hit Medium Range it's just a contest to see who can get 2 shots in a row to kill the other...or for the Cougar another shot to go internal & have the chance of critical damage on the Shadow Hawk.

That's the key in Alpha Strike & CBT:  Play to your unit's strengths.  Your opponent has no Long-range value?  Keep at Long Range as much as possible.  Your opponent is weak at Short and/or Medium?  Get as close as you can to maximize your shots.  You're a speed demon compared to your opponent?  Use that speed to get within your best range, then only move enough to maintain your TMM & keep to your best range band.  You're kind of a slowpoke?  Find an area where you can put terrain features behind you to prevent a faster opponent from shooting you in the back, & let them come to you.  If you have special abilities like IF#, LRM#, SRM#, or AC#, load your unit with alternate ammunition & use them.  Precision AC ammo is great against fast (10"+) units; Swarm/Swarm-I LRMs are great when enemy units are clustered together; Semi-guided LRMs work well if you have a TAG-equipped partner; Inferno SRMs are nasty against anybody; critical hits from Armor Piercing AC ammo can be nasty against targets with lots of armor; Thunder LRMs can leave some nasty surprises for units to step in.