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Author Topic: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination  (Read 6816 times)

Lagrange

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LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« on: 01 October 2021, 18:47:12 »
(Edit: a flaw was found: LAMs cannot carry or use C3 because these are incompatible with aerospace fighters, and all equipment must be compatible with both aerospace fighters and battlemechs.  Updates below.)
(Edit2: Shifting to 50 tons, per Monbvol's suggestion.)
(Edit3: Removing AES since it was illegal and bumping up the speed)

Dropships are annoying from a force design standpoint because they are expensive (with a ruinous x28 price multiplier), fragile due to severe armor limits, and irreplaceable since they are the only unit capable of carrying a Battlemech to orbit.  Every other unit (ASF, smallcraft, combat vehicles-carried-by-smallcraft, battle-armor-carried-by-ASF) except for exotics like super heavy vehicles has a surface-to-orbit story which does not require a dropship. 

LAMs could change that, if they could provide a sufficient substitute for Battlemechs.  That's tricky for at least two reasons, which ... appear addressable.  Below, I'll outline that, but my primary curiosity is: Did I miss something?  What's the best way to counter the design below? (without using the same design?)
  • LAM pilots must learn both Aerospace and Battlemech piloting and gunnery.  This can be addressed by teaching pilots just Aerospace piloting and Battlemech gunnery.  As an implication, the pilot will be capable of piloting in aerospace mode which is good enough for surface-orbit transit.  The lack of Aerospace gunnery has only minor implications since aerospace fighters are much better at aerospace combat anyways due to LAMs paying a ~30% mass penalty for internal structure, jump jets, and conversion equipment relative to an aerospace fighter.  The combination of Aerospace piloting and Battlemech gunnery in AirMech mode with AirMech MP is exactly what we are optimizing for, as this combines high maneuverability in ground operations with good gunnery. Battlemech mode will essentially be a wasted capability under this plan.
  • LAMs pay a 10% overhead for conversion equipment and are restricted to about half the mass of normal Battlemechs.  This makes them into inherent lightweights amongst larger Battlemechs, suffering in both armor and firepower. 
    • On the defensive side, this can be significantly compensated for by imposing a very high target movement modifier.  As an extreme example, a LAM moving 27 in an AirMech mode can impose a +7 modifier to ranged attacks and takes half damage from hits with a margin of success of 0 or 1 with the low profile quirk.  This is not always possible of course, but imposing a +5 modifier routinely appears reasonably possible.  An unreliable variable additional target number can be imposed by tuning one or more of the Angel ECM suites to ghost mode.  Since ghost mode is an area effect operating as a lance here is beneficial, ideally imposing a pilot skill roll with a +4 modifier on each enemy making them suffer an additional +1 to hit modifier for every 2 points of margin of failure.  These numbers are high enough that even a targeting computer/pulse or targeting computer/flak design has some significant difficulty hitting.  Furthermore, the fact they are airborne makes area effect weapons targeting hexes ineffective. 
    • On the offensive side, the most effective approach appears to be TAG-based artillery.  It's easy to design a heavy omni aerospace fighter which can have a configuration with 2 Arrow IV launchers and homing ammunition.  These could land or fly near the battlefield providing steady off-board artillery support to LAMs which use the off-board firepower to compensate for their relatively weak carried weapons.  A LAM with 8 arrow IV rounds on call per turn is quite capable of doing very serious damage to even assault battlemechs.  The biggest issue with TAG is hitting since an AirMech suffers a +3 or +4 target modifier and an individual unit can attempt to designate a target only once per turn.  An actuator enhancement system can improve accuracy (even if a targeting computer cannot), the TAG could be an accurate weapon (2 point quirk), and we can use variable range targeting (2 points) to improve the odds of hitting at long range.  Furthermore, all the members of a lance can attempt to designate a target and if any of them succeeds, the arrow IV rounds are not wasted.  Altogether, actuator enhancement system, quirks, and lance tactics can combine to significantly overcome accuracy problems.  In the typical case, the target number is 8=4(base)+3(movement)+4(long range)-1(AES)-1(accurate weapon)-1(variable range targeting, long) or 9 if using flank speed.

Code: [Select]
Fast Mantis Angel

Mass: 50 tons
Chassis: Standard LAM
Power Plant: 250 Fusion
Cruising Speed: 54 kph
Maximum Speed: 86.4 kph
Jump Jets: Improved
     Jump Capacity: 240 meters
Armor: Standard
Armament:
     1 TAG
Manufacturer: Unknown
     Primary Factory: Unknown
Communication System: Unknown
Targeting & Tracking System: Unknown
Introduction Year: 3145
Tech Rating/Availability: F/X-X-X-F
Cost: 8,162,000 C-bills

Overview
Offensively, the design is oriented around the use of TAG.  Four of these can TAG 4 times with a target number of 7+TMM from a range of up to 15 with one or more hits  succesfully delivering a large number of Arrow IV missiles.

Capabilities
The keystone of ground operations, in airmech mode it can cover up to 36 hexes in a round imposing a +7 target movement modifier.  The design is compact (allowing two to be stored in a bay, 1 point), low profile (halving damage from near hits, 2 points), an extra accurate TAG system (2 points), Variable Range Targeting (2 points) and is easy to maintain (1 point).  The design also has a systemic cooling flaw (3 points), no ejection system (2 points), a bad reputation as a death trap (1 point), exposed actuators (1 points) and weak legs (1 point).  The design can take off and return to orbital transport bays, eliminating the need for dropship-based mech transport.   It's intended for use against difficult ground-based targets after air defenses have been eliminated.

Type: Fast Mantis
Technology Base: Inner Sphere (Experimental)
Tonnage: 50
Battle Value: 1,333

Equipment                                          Mass
Internal Structure                                    5
LAM Conversion Equipment                            5.0
Engine                        250 Fusion           12.5
Walking MP: 5
Running MP: 8
Jumping MP: 8
AirMech Cruising MP: 24
AirMech Flanking MP: 36
Safe Thrust: 8
Max Thrust: 12
Double Heat Sink              10 [20]                 0
Gyro                                                  3
Cockpit                                               3
Armor Factor                  168                  10.5

                          Internal   Armor 
                          Structure  Value 
     Head                    3         9   
     Center Torso            16        24   
     Center Torso (rear)               7   
     R/L Torso               12        20   
     R/L Torso (rear)                  4   
     R/L Arm                 8         16   
     R/L Leg                 12        24   


Right Arm Actuators: Shoulder, Upper Arm, Lower Arm, Hand
Left Arm Actuators: Shoulder, Upper Arm, Lower Arm, Hand

Weapons
and Ammo              Location  Critical   Heat    Tonnage
Improved Jump Jet        LL        2        -       1.0 
3 Improved Jump Jet      RT        6        -       3.0 
Angel ECM Suite          LA        2        -       2.0 
3 Improved Jump Jet      LT        6        -       3.0 
Improved Jump Jet        RL        2        -       1.0 
TAG                      RA        1        0       1.0 
A variant exchanges the Angel ECM suite for a Bloodhound probe.
Code: [Select]
Fast Mantis Bloodhound
Cost: 7,505,750 C-bills
Battle Value: 1,205
Bloodhound Active Probe          LA        3        -       2.0   
And another variant exchanges the Angel for a Medium X-Pulse Laser
Code: [Select]
Fast Mantis Laser
Cost: 6,482,000 C-bills
Battle Value: 1,439
Medium X-Pulse Laser        LA         1      2.0

This is meant to operate as part of an overall force consisting of LAMs, aerospace fighters, Battle armor, a couple smallcraft with cargo and light vehicles that can use mobile field bases to repair units.  Transport to/from a jump point could be provided by a dropship that does not land, a warship, or possibly a space station for a slow approach.  Details on the overall force composition are here

If quirks are not in use (very reasonable), then accuracy declines such that TAG from medium range is probably desirable.  On the upside, opponents cannot benefit from the anti-aircraft targeting quirk.  The more significant issue is that the loss of the compact quirk would double the number of required transport cubicles.
« Last Edit: 03 November 2021, 15:42:24 by Lagrange »

Joe Ego

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #1 on: 02 October 2021, 03:44:15 »
Here are a few ideas, but I am mostly unfamiliar with aerospace rules and could be completely wrong.

  • Your dropship(s) - Something has to get you to orbit from the jump point. You will also need a lot of fuel. I do not know the relative vulnerability or level of support provided by orbiting vs grounded dropships.
  • Fuel - You arrive, you fight, you return to orbit. How often do your LAMs return to orbit? How much fuel do you need and where do you get it?
  • Resupply, especially ammunition - Arrow IV is relatively expensive by weight, especially if your not killing 1 target per missile. Your support aeros will be returning to orbit frequently. (see Fuel)
  • Availability - Your support aeros are not available on demand. (see Resupply and Fuel)
  • Fragility - A heavy ground force cannot be maneuvered around if they already hold important terrain or decide to take it from you.
  • Sustainability - Your LAMs are lost if they cannot return to orbit. Your enemy can probably repair many of your mission kills.
  • Weather - Your support aeros cannot operate effectively in all conditions.

So, assuming the enemy commander has a reasonable combination of skill, awareness, and forces, he could do a few things. He could engage your support aeros with interceptors unless you bring even more for CAP or split your support which reduces your Arrow IV availability. He could engage your orbital force when you withdraw to orbit for resupply. He could engage your ground force (assuming you've also brought infantry, vehicles, etc that don't return to orbit every day) when your support and/or LAMs withdraw to orbit for resupply. You will also have to carry more fuel for the many small craft that deliver your ground forces -- I do not know if that is more or less fuel efficient than a small number of dropships.

If your intent is to hold or acquire a target instead of destroying it then you will have a very difficult time against a heavier, more durable opponent who knows how to spread out for the artillery while supporting each other against backstabbing LAMs. 20 points from a direct Arrow IV hit is significant, but probably not as devastating as you would hope. A flight of Transits may be more effective.

At some point your opponents will adjust and do things like acquire a lot more anti-aircraft platforms and aerospace interceptors. Maybe this is where the fiction of the game breaks down and we all realize our forces should be 50% vehicle, 30% mech, and 20% aerospace. And then someone points out that's actually how the armies are fluffed but we enjoy our big stompy robots too much to play a company of Saracens supported by a lance of Commandos.
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Lagrange

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #2 on: 02 October 2021, 10:42:29 »
Thanks for this, a good critique is very helpful.

Your dropship(s) - Something has to get you to orbit from the jump point. You will also need a lot of fuel. I do not know the relative vulnerability or level of support provided by orbiting vs grounded dropships.
W.r.t. transport, there are a few responses.   
  • It might be a warship instead of a dropship if you are in that sort of game.  Warships are quite expensive, but warships with dropships are substantially more exorbitantly expensive.
  • It might be a space station instead of a dropship.  Using a cheap space station for invasions is a rather sedate process.  You need a jumpship with a naval repair bay which jumps in system out of detection range.  Then, the space station uses it's station keeping drive to go in-system.  Overall, assume it requires a factor of 4 or more time.  On the other hand, the cost of transport may be much cheaper.
  • It might be a 2/3 dropship which just doesn't land and saves on the cost of big engines to land.
The level of force support provided by a dropship for ground forces should generally be zero because being in range of opposing ground forces is a really bad idea given the incredibly high cost and value of dropships.  The only caveat I can think of here is a dropship providing air-to-ground capital weapons fire against an opposing force lacking aerospace assets.
Fuel - You arrive, you fight, you return to orbit. How often do your LAMs return to orbit? How much fuel do you need and where do you get it?
The LAMs would need to return for maintenance which seems to imply once/day.  The fuel required is somewhat less than a ton per unit.  Overall, fuel costs need to be budgeted for, but tonnage-wise it's like losing 15 point of armor so it's amortized by other supply costs.
Resupply, especially ammunition - Arrow IV is relatively expensive by weight, especially if your not killing 1 target per missile. Your support aeros will be returning to orbit frequently. (see Fuel)
Arrow IV ammunition does 100 points of damage/ton.  If 73% hit (corresponding to targets imposing an +3 to hit modifier with 4 chances of hitting), that's still dealing 4.5x armor weight in damage.  Overall, it certainly needs to be accounted for, but the cost seems amortized by the need for other supplies.
Availability - Your support aeros are not available on demand. (see Resupply and Fuel)
Well, they could be.  When the LAMs descend they could scout out a nearby landing field that the aeros could land on.  From there, the aeros could provide artillery support fire on call as long as the LAM's mission continues. 
Fragility - A heavy ground force cannot be maneuvered around if they already hold important terrain or decide to take it from you.
The claim here is that the heavy ground force can be annihilated.   Compare for example 4 heavy ASF with 2 AIVs each + a lance of Mantis LAMs (~$69M, BV 19508=16628+2880 (for the TAG)) vs. 8 Masakari Cs ($204M, 23984BV) on highly broken terrain such that WIGE movement doesn't really work.  The LAMs can still basically function as VTOLs with a move of 13.  If the Masakari Cs are walking, they have a +4 to hit penalty after taking into account targeting computer (-1), pulse lasers (-2), and target movement (+5) + low profile (+1). If the LAMs decide to trade fire at medium range, this becomes a +6 to hit penalty.  In return, the LAMs are looking at just a +5 to hit penalty (+3 move +1 target move +2 range - 1 AES). The LAMs deliver an expected 160*.73=117 damage per round.  The 8 Masakari Cs deliver about an expected 32 damage/round.  It's a tough fight, but I'd give the advantage to the LAM force.  The key differentiator here is the 'if any LAM TAGs, all the arrow IV missiles hit' while the Masakari Cs are stuck living with their individual misses.  Having the Masakari Cs spread out is not a good plan, because Arrow IV homing missiles only apply AoE damage in one hex anyways, implying the more maneuverable LAMs can choose to accept less incoming fire from a spread out force.

The above is meant to be an intentionally-difficult scenario for the LAM force.  Is there a more difficult one?
Sustainability - Your LAMs are lost if they cannot return to orbit. Your enemy can probably repair many of your mission kills.
There's an interesting caveat in that the enemy force, unless they specialize in LAMs, either cannot pilot or cannot gunnery a repaired LAM.   

More generally though, you lose your mission kill units when you do not control the battlefield afterwards.  If you do control the battlefield afterwards, a mission kill LAM can be returned to orbit using cargo aboard a smallcraft.  Even for more conventional forces, you need some extra units to recover battlefield salvage according to the Strat Ops rules.
Weather - Your support aeros cannot operate effectively in all conditions.
What weather are you thinking about here?

So, assuming the enemy commander has a reasonable combination of skill, awareness, and forces, he could do a few things. He could engage your support aeros with interceptors unless you bring even more for CAP or split your support which reduces your Arrow IV availability. He could engage your orbital force when you withdraw to orbit for resupply.
These tactics seem to apply at least as well against a more conventional landing dropship approach?
He could engage your ground force (assuming you've also brought infantry, vehicles, etc that don't return to orbit every day) when your support and/or LAMs withdraw to orbit for resupply.
Against a landing dropship, hitting forces while units are in maintenance downtime seems like a fairly similar tactic, except that the landed dropship is at substantially higher risk.
You will also have to carry more fuel for the many small craft that deliver your ground forces -- I do not know if that is more or less fuel efficient than a small number of dropships.
I'm actually wondering if we can get away with infantry and LAMs with AIV aerospace support.  Unless you are doing something pretty unconventional like underwater combat, this seems reasonably adequate?  Investing in smallcraft for transporting combat vehicles is fairly expensive in both cost and transport tonnage.
If your intent is to hold or acquire a target instead of destroying it then you will have a very difficult time against a heavier, more durable opponent who knows how to spread out for the artillery while supporting each other against backstabbing LAMs. 20 points from a direct Arrow IV hit is significant, but probably not as devastating as you would hope. A flight of Transits may be more effective.
This I'm skeptical about---a spread out force of heavies can be targeted piecewise by the LAMs and if you are delivering 8 Arrow IV missiles to a single target in a round, there is little need to backstab. 
At some point your opponents will adjust and do things like acquire a lot more anti-aircraft platforms and aerospace interceptors. Maybe this is where the fiction of the game breaks down and we all realize our forces should be 50% vehicle, 30% mech, and 20% aerospace. And then someone points out that's actually how the armies are fluffed but we enjoy our big stompy robots too much to play a company of Saracens supported by a lance of Commandos.
Investing in 100% aerospace forces does seem like a reasonable counter.  That's enough to potentially target a dropship in orbit while overcoming whatever defenses it may have.

Joe Ego

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #3 on: 02 October 2021, 14:37:39 »
The level of force support provided by a dropship for ground forces should generally be zero because being in range of opposing ground forces is a really bad idea given the incredibly high cost and value of dropships.  The only caveat I can think of here is a dropship providing air-to-ground capital weapons fire against an opposing force lacking aerospace assets.

I should have clarified: non-combat support. How is an orbital platform more or less effective at supporting operations? Things like repair and resupply. What do the rules say about the fuel and O2 costs of keeping a dropship in orbit? What sort of defenses are needed against interceptors and how much fuel & O2 do they require? A grounded dropship with a company of Partisans and maybe some aeros for CAP seems like a cheaper solution.

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When the LAMs descend they could scout out a nearby landing field that the aeros could land on.  From there, the aeros could provide artillery support fire on call as long as the LAM's mission continues.

That could result in a significant ground footprint with supporting small craft, support staff, and maybe infantry. This isn't just vulnerable to aerospace attack. A strike from a small force of hovertanks or VTOLs could be very effective. Maybe you're facing WoB/Comguards and a lance of Hussars came over the hill and disabled the small craft carrying your fuel supply.

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The above is meant to be an intentionally-difficult scenario for the LAM force.  Is there a more difficult one?

Enemy interceptors disrupting your support aeros: trading a Warhawk for three Avars or Bashkirs seems appropriate. Though I still believe Warhawks are very durable and even 8 Arrow IV hits do not guarantee a kill. A Mantis, on the other hand, becomes much easier to kill when its mobility is reduced. I admit to never playing with TAG/Arrow IV and I haven't used a LAM in 20 years. Reading further, I can see how spreading in this situation is a poor choice for the Warhawks.

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I'm actually wondering if we can get away with infantry and LAMs with AIV aerospace support.  Unless you are doing something pretty unconventional like underwater combat, this seems reasonably adequate?  Investing in smallcraft for transporting combat vehicles is fairly expensive in both cost and transport tonnage.

I imagine this could work, though you have to allow for the possibility of strikes by highly mobile enemies as I noted above. You would also find it tempting to include additional support equipment or specialized small craft (MASH, exoskeletons or something for ammo reloads, specialized air or anti-vehicle defenses). You might have to make a lot of hard choices to avoid the situation where a Union with modified bay configurations isn't a better choice.

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Investing in 100% aerospace forces does seem like a reasonable counter.  That's enough to potentially target a dropship in orbit while overcoming whatever defenses it may have.

A 100% aerospace defensive force would be a poor choice against anyone who invades to take your planet. They just show up with more Jagermechs than Thunderbolts.

I think you are playing in a weird place where the tactical rules say this could be effective but it really depends on your opponent's choice of forces. I think it is possible to find at least an equilibrium in the tactical realm. The campaign and strategic rules may (or may not) say this is effective and I think that is where I have the most questions and concerns.
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Lagrange

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #4 on: 02 October 2021, 15:39:02 »
I should have clarified: non-combat support. How is an orbital platform more or less effective at supporting operations? Things like repair and resupply. What do the rules say about the fuel and O2 costs of keeping a dropship in orbit? What sort of defenses are needed against interceptors and how much fuel & O2 do they require? A grounded dropship with a company of Partisans and maybe some aeros for CAP seems like a cheaper solution.
An orbital platform has far better security, because it's quite difficult to sneak up on.  The time required to reach it may be more or less than the time to walk to a grounded dropship---it varies.  Fuel use is zero if in orbit and 1.84 tons/day if maintaining station just outside the atmosphere.  O2/food is 200 man-days/ton if in quarters or 20 man-days/ton if in bays.

I think we need to pin down the footprint when thinking about force mixtures to consider different choices.  The 4 heavy aeros and 4 Mantis LAMs could all fit into a Leopard CV for example.  Something modestly larger would provide a smallcraft for cargo transport and some infantry.  On the other hand, having 4 ASF for CAP and 12 Partisans would take up 2100 transport tons, suggesting it's an adjunct to something on the Overlord scale?
That could result in a significant ground footprint with supporting small craft, support staff, and maybe infantry. This isn't just vulnerable to aerospace attack. A strike from a small force of hovertanks or VTOLs could be very effective. Maybe you're facing WoB/Comguards and a lance of Hussars came over the hill and disabled the small craft carrying your fuel supply.
If the footprint stays lightweight, you can just takeoff to avoid a hovertank/VTOL raid.   Also, the fuel costs here aren't that great---you expend approximately no fuel while grounded and can even potentially create fuel by cracking water.
Enemy interceptors disrupting your support aeros: trading a Warhawk for three Avars or Bashkirs seems appropriate.
Since grounded aeros function as vehicles, they can probably use Air Defense Arrow IV ammo?  Reserving a ton of ammo for that seems like a potentially quite potent counter to raids of this sort.
Though I still believe Warhawks are very durable and even 8 Arrow IV hits do not guarantee a kill.
I agree--it could easily take two hits.
A Mantis, on the other hand, becomes much easier to kill when its mobility is reduced.
I agree, but I don't see an easy way to cause reduced mobility except through difficult-to-stick accumulated damage.  Note that the lance can stay pretty effective even with several members having reduced mobility---they can stay at long range while the others function as C3 spotters at medium (or short depending on opponent) range.
I imagine this could work, though you have to allow for the possibility of strikes by highly mobile enemies as I noted above. You would also find it tempting to include additional support equipment or specialized small craft (MASH, exoskeletons or something for ammo reloads, specialized air or anti-vehicle defenses). You might have to make a lot of hard choices to avoid the situation where a Union with modified bay configurations isn't a better choice.
There are fair points here.  I think addressing them really requires spelling out the details of a full force.
I think you are playing in a weird place where the tactical rules say this could be effective but it really depends on your opponent's choice of forces. I think it is possible to find at least an equilibrium in the tactical realm. The campaign and strategic rules may (or may not) say this is effective and I think that is where I have the most questions and concerns.
Yeah, thanks for your help here.  I am not yet convinced that there is a good counter, but it does seem the other details of a designed force are necessary for a convincing case.

Giovanni Blasini

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #5 on: 02 October 2021, 15:48:51 »
LAMs are fine as beachhead units.  Trying to use them exclusively without DropShip support on your planetary invasion is risking throwing a LAM away whenever it takes damage sufficient to breach a location or prevent it from converting to fighter mode.

For a raid, it might be OK.  But just like when I was thinking of staging a raiding LAM force off a Quetzalcoatl class JumpShip, you’re hampered by a LAM’s inability to carry cargo.
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Lagrange

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #6 on: 02 October 2021, 19:10:26 »
LAMs are fine as beachhead units.  Trying to use them exclusively without DropShip support on your planetary invasion is risking throwing a LAM away whenever it takes damage sufficient to breach a location or prevent it from converting to fighter mode.

For a raid, it might be OK.  But just like when I was thinking of staging a raiding LAM force off a Quetzalcoatl class JumpShip, you’re hampered by a LAM’s inability to carry cargo.

The point about breaches seems particularly important given that hull integrity fails on 1-in-6 hits.  This convinces me that some ground-based maintenance is needed.  What about the following:

4 Mantis LAMs
4 100 Ton 5/8 Aerospace fighters with 2 Arrow IV launchers containing 5 tons of homing ammo and 1 ton of air defense arrow ammo.
1 200 Ton smallcraft with 2 light vehicle bays and an infantry bay.
1 200 Ton smallcraft with a 105 ton cargo bay and an infantry bay.
1 50 ton 1/2 wheeled vehicle with a mobile field base, a MASH, and a field kitchen
1 50 ton 1/2 wheeled vehicle with a mobile field base and a set of 4 battle armor bays.

The force consists of 4 LAM pilots, 4 ASF pilots, 6 smallcraft crew, 8 vehicle crew, 21 techs (i.e. 3 squads), 5 medicals, 3 cooks, 24 battle armor troopers, and up to 7 others (fitting in the infantry bays).  The total transport tonnage is 1300=2 smallcraft + 4 ASF + 2 ASF/Battlemech bays, all units can be maintained normally with a fair bit of tech time left over, and there is a substantial cargo reserve for supplies (... or loot).  All of this has a cost of ~100M, not including transport.

When landed, every unit can board other units and leave very quickly.  Or grounded ASF can also defend against airborne opponents using the air defense arrows while light ground forces can fall to TAG + homing rounds.

Infantry deployment is slightly tricky, since LAMs can't carry infantry in AirMech mode.  Instead, the LAMs can be used to eliminate ASF defenses from the ground with homing rounds, and then the ASF can omni switch to carry the infantry for an airborne insertion.

Joe Ego

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #7 on: 02 October 2021, 21:21:49 »
Since grounded aeros function as vehicles, they can probably use Air Defense Arrow IV ammo?  Reserving a ton of ammo for that seems like a potentially quite potent counter to raids of this sort.

Maybe we're misunderstanding each other. I believe a logical counter is for the Warhawks to bring their own air support to the battle, specifically to focus on disrupting or destroying the Arrow IV carriers. Air Defense Arrow IV can only be carried by "ground- or naval-based units" (per Strategic Operations) which I suppose could technically include a grounded aero, but the interceptors are intended to engage the airborne Arrow IV platforms.

Interceptors should be effective against the artillery carriers (when they're in the air). Interceptors also appear to be relatively inexpensive. I will note I have no experience with aerospace operations outside of operating some low flying dropships in MegaMek.

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I agree--it could easily take two hits.
Which is fine if you are only able to launch two because your other craft are engaged by interceptors.

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I agree, but I don't see an easy way to cause reduced mobility except through difficult-to-stick accumulated damage.
That's the whole tactical game. Increase your odds of hitting, decrease theirs, and avoid getting your units piled on. Effective countermeasures to the LAMs are limiting their movement and giving yourself more shots at them. Effective countermeasures to the support aeros are your own interceptors.

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There are fair points here.  I think addressing them really requires spelling out the details of a full force.Yeah, thanks for your help here.  I am not yet convinced that there is a good counter, but it does seem the other details of a designed force are necessary for a convincing case.

Defining your goals is also helpful. The concept and your outlined force appear effective for fast strike and destruction. I believe it would be less effective in a campaign setting where your opponent is aware of your presence and can engage on his own terms.
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Daryk

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #8 on: 03 October 2021, 13:55:11 »
Don't forget that every vehicle/'mech/ASF/etc. needs a full tech team of 7 (consisting of 1 Tech and 6 AsTechs).  I usually fill out the AsTechs with infantry, and I think you have enough tonnage to squeeze a few more infantry bays in there...

Lagrange

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #9 on: 03 October 2021, 22:01:02 »
Interceptors should be effective against the artillery carriers (when they're in the air). Interceptors also appear to be relatively inexpensive.
If there are many interceptors, then the right approach is probably to deploy the ASF with an anti-ASF weapons mix before even trying to force a landing.  If there are just a few, then having two of the ASF swap an arrow IV in favor of an ERPPC with a PPC capacitor and a bunch of shorter range weapons should be reasonably effective.  I agree that this is a vulnerability which would need to be dealt with.  I'm just not emphasizing it much, because this seems like a vulnerability for all invasion strategies.  In particular, interceptors are even more dangerous against a landing dropship.
Don't forget that every vehicle/'mech/ASF/etc. needs a full tech team of 7 (consisting of 1 Tech and 6 AsTechs).  I usually fill out the AsTechs with infantry, and I think you have enough tonnage to squeeze a few more infantry bays in there...
It depends a bit on how much damage you expect to take.  This force mixture is for maintenance and moderate damage only---you would certainly need more tech teams and more mobile field bases to deal with heavy damage.  Adding the rugged quirk to units would also greatly reduce maintenance requirements. 

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #10 on: 03 October 2021, 22:42:27 »
If there are many interceptors, then the right approach is probably to deploy the ASF with an anti-ASF weapons mix before even trying to force a landing.  If there are just a few, then having two of the ASF swap an arrow IV in favor of an ERPPC with a PPC capacitor and a bunch of shorter range weapons should be reasonably effective.  I agree that this is a vulnerability which would need to be dealt with.  I'm just not emphasizing it much, because this seems like a vulnerability for all invasion strategies.  In particular, interceptors are even more dangerous against a landing dropship.

Small craft are even more vulnerable, with smaller fuel reserves, less ability to take damage, low comparative firepower, and sluggish handling when compared to aerospace fighters.

It seems to me this entire strategy counts on using a large number of small, essentially expendable units in your landing operations, from the LAMs, to the fighters, to the small craft, to the vehicles and infantry they're carrying.
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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #11 on: 03 October 2021, 22:51:26 »
Is there a particular reason for this concept of operations? Dropships are pretty much the only game in town for getting bulk loads out of gravity wells.

It's like attempting an amphibious invasion without using dedicated amphibious assault ships. Yeah, you can helo or V-22 a raid and get some equipment to shore using a fleet's normal complement of boats and such, but...

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #12 on: 04 October 2021, 08:01:01 »
Small craft are even more vulnerable, with smaller fuel reserves, less ability to take damage, low comparative firepower, and sluggish handling when compared to aerospace fighters.
If we are designing things, Small Craft could have similar fuel reserves and similar armor to heavy ASF.  There is no inherent need for them to have firepower if they move in convoy with aerospace fighters that do.

W.r.t. maneuverability, the relevant comparison is with dropships (the alternative) rather than aerospace fighters, since that is what we are trying to eliminate.  Dropships are generally worse than smallcraft at maneuvering.
It seems to me this entire strategy counts on using a large number of small, essentially expendable units in your landing operations, from the LAMs, to the fighters, to the small craft, to the vehicles and infantry they're carrying.
Exactly.  Using multiple small, redundant, cheap, expendable units is the win over using a large, irreplaceable, expensive unit.

Is there a particular reason for this concept of operations? Dropships are pretty much the only game in town for getting bulk loads out of gravity wells.
If the cargo comes in chunks of 100 tons or less then smallcraft are fine for lifting things out of a gravity well.   That's not everything, but it is most things.
It's like attempting an amphibious invasion without using dedicated amphibious assault ships.
A more apt analogy seems to be attempting an amphibious invasion with amphibious landing craft rather than an amphibious assault ship.  Actually landing with an amphibious assault ship is not a strategy as far as I can tell.  Their standard MO is to standoff in the water and support the landing craft.

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #13 on: 04 October 2021, 12:20:01 »
Well. The problems are;

Transport: As the others said, you LAM needs to be delivered from the zenith or nadir. What does you do? Bring a warship to the orbit? That already makes the whole force far, far expensive than x28 multiplier and already makes dropships far cost efficient option. Even if you have done that, spend a dropship collar by spend 10,000 tons and bring a dropship with 10,000+ tons would be far, far cheaper than put the bays and cargo holds with the same tonnage.

Resupply, repair and return: Basically, even a partially broken LAM means you cannot recover it as well as have to abandon its pilot(who is the precious asset already). That makes non-combat damage even worse, and you must leave everything otherwise can be recovered for no problem. Have to fly to the orbit in order to get the supply, or rely on orbital drop capsule, while without any techs to assist the job, means you can't wage war in the first place.

Infantry: Sure I don't like to bring the infantries on the armored combat, and it is the tanks and aircrafts who should fights in TW rules, but you can't win a war by does nothing more than simply kill your enemy. You have to occupy the target territory, and with this you need at least some platoons of battle armors at worst. Even in 31th, who truly win the war is the infantry, not armor. Perhaps Clans will not agreed on this, but it does not means they are not have their own infantry and you have to deal with them as well if the prize is the crown of a world.

Seize the things: Even if you are the clanner, how to get any isoria? With inability to transport anything but (functional and usually undamaged)LAM's own body?

WiGE, not VTOL: It is a serious problem as well. While WiGE move is very good, and it is the only meaningful(and also unique) feature of LAM, but it is basically the hovercrafts that is able to ascend more than 1 with some penalty. It can't move through the forest unless you ascends, after all. Not to mention that you can't go backward. I think that they are good as the harrasser but if all units of your force are have to use WiGE move then it surely a juice opponent.


Perhaps the only faction that is able to utilize LAMs like that is the Blood Spirit. Yes, the Clans, who despise LAMs. They even had Arcadia dropship, to drop the protomechs without being intercepted by the enemy aerospace assets due to their awful reputation. For them, LAMs may launch a star of LAM and hope that they won a trial and return without any other's help.

Other than that, all they are suited for is the concealed raids, assisting special ops or recon duty. Even without various flaws of LAMs, you can't wage war without a dropship at all.
« Last Edit: 04 October 2021, 13:58:07 by PuppyLikesLaserPointers »

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #14 on: 04 October 2021, 12:42:55 »
Also, even if you bring some other assets, it is actually efficient to bring one or more dropships to transport these all instead. Small crafts are usually too slow, as much as '2/3 dropships that stay in the orbit' on your idea. They brings too, too low amount of supply and units as well.

Just think about this - will six small crafts can transports enough cargo than even a single dropship?

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #15 on: 04 October 2021, 13:35:41 »
If we are designing things, Small Craft could have similar fuel reserves and similar armor to heavy ASF.  There is no inherent need for them to have firepower if they move in convoy with aerospace fighters that do.

W.r.t. maneuverability, the relevant comparison is with dropships (the alternative) rather than aerospace fighters, since that is what we are trying to eliminate.  Dropships are generally worse than smallcraft at maneuvering.Exactly.  Using multiple small, redundant, cheap, expendable units is the win over using a large, irreplaceable, expensive unit.
If the cargo comes in chunks of 100 tons or less then smallcraft are fine for lifting things out of a gravity well.   That's not everything, but it is most things.A more apt analogy seems to be attempting an amphibious invasion with amphibious landing craft rather than an amphibious assault ship.  Actually landing with an amphibious assault ship is not a strategy as far as I can tell.  Their standard MO is to standoff in the water and support the landing craft.

Amphibious assault ships run the gamut. Most have a wet dock that carry the actual landing craft or a large transport helo complement. That's arguably the equivalent of dropships with the wet dock as the dropship collar. LSTs can also beach themselves directly to offload tanks onto the beach.

The amphibious equivalent to your LAMs are probably amphibious tanks/AFVs, but those are largely used to swim *to* the beach. I suppose they could swim off it if they needed to, but it's not a normal mode of operation.

Once again though, the question is why? It seems like there's a specific reason to this and it's not just a thought exercise, because as the latter we've established it's vaguely possible but largely impractical.

Just to throw more obstacles out there: You have a massive duplication of effort: Unless you plan to have dedicated shuttle runs, you'll need at least one small craft per mech. Mech bays are where mechs basically live in terms of maintenance and the only way of easily transporting them quickly and securely - cargo needs to be loaded and secured. Each company of 12 mechs will require a dozen small craft to transport the mechs, possibly with additional small craft bringing the supplies, ammo, and techs (because the quarters are also the tech living areas).

Fighters are straight up out of luck. At 150 tons and 2 crew per bay, a 3/5 Small Craft doesn't have enough tonnage left over for crew quarters, armour, or fuel.

Conceptually, it could work like WW2 airborne assaults with gliders and paratroopers, but without dropships which are both transport and mobile field base, your force is dependent on having on-planet allies to stay in fighting shape for longer than maybe 48-72 hours

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #16 on: 04 October 2021, 13:44:52 »
Not to mention that mechs and tanks are can be dropped from the orbit as well, if you REALLY wants to keep safe your dropships from the initial attack. You eventually needs at least one dropship to continue.


Also, aerospace units are not able to have special ammunition - all you can have is the standard Arrow IV ammunition(although there is no answer which one is the special ammuniton, or in some instance homing round is the standard one), and every other should be armed as the bomb(and only if it is available as the bomb).
« Last Edit: 04 October 2021, 13:46:55 by PuppyLikesLaserPointers »

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #17 on: 04 October 2021, 13:52:04 »
If we are designing things, Small Craft could have similar fuel reserves and similar armor to heavy ASF.  There is no inherent need for them to have firepower if they move in convoy with aerospace fighters that do.

That only helps them when maneuvering from orbit to atmospheric flight, and back to orbit.

What it doesn't do is help them transit from a jump point to a planet.  Using the Sol system as an example, a small craft is going to, at best, use 1.84 tons of fuel per burn-day to maintain 1G of thrust.  A continuous 1G flight, with turnover and deceleration, takes 10 days from Sol's jump point to Earth, meaning it takes 18.4 tons of fuel to accomplish per small craft.  Any smaller amount of fuel, and the trip is compounded, with a 0.1G acceleration, at .184 tons/burn-day, taking 5.152 tons of fuel, but also taking, as I recall, roughly 28 days.  That compounds your supplies and life support requirements considerably.

The only way around that is to go with a Primitive JumpShip or a full-blown WarShip to make your transit for you.  The former is limited in jump distance, with the two canon examples of the type we've seen limited to 15 light-years (Aquilla) or 20 light-years (Conestoga) per jump.  WarShips, obviously, don't have that issue.  However, both are considerably more expensive than DropShips with standard-core JumpShips, the paradigm you're trying to avoid.  Case in point: an Aquilla class costs around 5.7 billion C-Bills.  Conestogas cost 12.1 billion C-Bills.  Even stripped-down corvettes like the Nightwing and Vigilant cost 4 billion C-Bills as a starting price.

Suddenly, the 812 million for a Tramp JumpShip and 321 million or so per Overlord class DropShip isn't looking so bad.

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W.r.t. maneuverability, the relevant comparison is with dropships (the alternative) rather than aerospace fighters, since that is what we are trying to eliminate.  Dropships are generally worse than smallcraft at maneuvering.

Yes.  In the exact same way that small craft are worse than fighters.  Neither are going to be able to dictate the engagement against aerospace fighters, since in terms of initiative both react more slowly than aerospace fighters.  It doesn't matter if your small craft reacts quicker than a DropShip if it still loses out on reaction speed to the aerospace fighter.


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Exactly.  Using multiple small, redundant, cheap, expendable units is the win over using a large, irreplaceable, expensive unit.

Except, you know, to the expendable people you're throwing away with those multiple small, redundant, cheap expendable units.  I suspect most of them would prefer to be in a vehicle that's more likely to survive fire to the planet, on the planet, and then back away from the planet again.

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If the cargo comes in chunks of 100 tons or less then smallcraft are fine for lifting things out of a gravity well.   That's not everything, but it is most things.A more apt analogy seems to be attempting an amphibious invasion with amphibious landing craft rather than an amphibious assault ship.  Actually landing with an amphibious assault ship is not a strategy as far as I can tell.  Their standard MO is to standoff in the water and support the landing craft.

Which goes back to what I was saying earlier: this entire plan is predicated upon the idea of having WarShip support to bring these small craft to the planetary "beachhead".  Without them, they're targets waiting to be picked off by the defenders.
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Giovanni Blasini

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #18 on: 04 October 2021, 13:55:42 »
Just to throw more obstacles out there: You have a massive duplication of effort: Unless you plan to have dedicated shuttle runs, you'll need at least one small craft per mech. Mech bays are where mechs basically live in terms of maintenance and the only way of easily transporting them quickly and securely - cargo needs to be loaded and secured. Each company of 12 mechs will require a dozen small craft to transport the mechs, possibly with additional small craft bringing the supplies, ammo, and techs (because the quarters are also the tech living areas).

He's planning to dump standard BattleMechs entirely and believes an entire invasion or raid can be accomplished with LAMs, aerospace fighters equipped with full Arrow IV launchers, and whatever vehicles and infantry can be carried aboard small craft.

So, this idea isn't just replacing DropShips with small craft and, evidently, WarShips in lieu of the DropShip/JumpShip paradigm, but also replacing the standard BattleMech entirely with LAMs and heavy ASF with Arrow IVs.
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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #19 on: 04 October 2021, 17:07:02 »
...
It seems there are to many incorrect assumptions (LAMs only, transport options, mechbay repair only, LAM movement, etc...) to address.  Reading the thread and the rules on LAMs would help.

Amphibious assault ships run the gamut. Most have a wet dock that carry the actual landing craft or a large transport helo complement. That's arguably the equivalent of dropships with the wet dock as the dropship collar.
I think you mean 'transport bay' rather than 'dropship collar'?  The wet deck is essentially a big transport bay with launch/recovery options, right?
LSTs can also beach themselves directly to offload tanks onto the beach.
Huh, you're right.  These are in the 5K ton range and apparently some of them are still in service.  I wasn't aware of that class.  These seem to be a disfavored minority though.
...as the latter we've established it's vaguely possible but largely impractical.
I'm not following any establishment of impracticality.  I gave a force mixture here which seems reasonably practical?
...you'll need at least one small craft per mech...
Nah, mobile field bases are fine for basic work for all the small units.
Conceptually, it could work like WW2 airborne assaults with gliders and paratroopers, but without dropships which are both transport and mobile field base, your force is dependent on having on-planet allies to stay in fighting shape for longer than maybe 48-72 hours
As long as you can reasonably travel to/from an orbital base, this seems fine?
Also, aerospace units are not able to have special ammunition - all you can have is the standard Arrow IV ammunition(although there is no answer which one is the special ammuniton, or in some instance homing round is the standard one), and every other should be armed as the bomb(and only if it is available as the bomb).
Is there a rules quote for that?
That only helps them when maneuvering from orbit to atmospheric flight, and back to orbit.
I do agree that you need transport to/from a jumppoint as well.  There are 3 interesting options here, as discussed above.  (I'd lump primitive jumpship in with warship since they are basically the same cost-wise.)
Yes.  In the exact same way that small craft are worse than fighters. 
I agree that ASF are needed to counter ASF.   Luckily, we have ASF.
Except, you know, to the expendable people you're throwing away with those multiple small, redundant, cheap expendable units.  I suspect most of them would prefer to be in a vehicle that's more likely to survive fire to the planet, on the planet, and then back away from the planet again.
I disagree here.  Do you want to ride in the #1 priority target?  And if you aren't riding in the #1 priority target, do you want it to be risking deadly fire knowing that you'll be doomed if it's shot down?
Suddenly, the 812 million for a Tramp JumpShip and 321 million or so per Overlord class DropShip isn't looking so bad.
There's an interesting design point here, so let's work with it. 

Take a standard overlord.  Reduce the speed to 2/3.  Remove all the weapons and all the crew that implies.  Reconfigure the transport bays to have 10 smallcraft and 36 fighter bays.  Call this the highlord for clarity.  You can now support 5 instances of this force with a reserve of 6 ASF dedicated to highlord protection.   The cost here is plausibly less than the previous overlord force, the combined arms aspect of ASF, dual-use ASF, LAMs, and infantry is more comprehensive, you have significantly more cargo tonnage available in the holds of the smallcraft, the highlord is safer due to orbital placement and the 6 dedicated ASF (an overlord's ASF have many other duties), and the effectiveness of the fighting force in mech combat is plausibly a fair bit higher.

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #20 on: 04 October 2021, 18:17:18 »
I think you mean 'transport bay' rather than 'dropship collar'?  The wet deck is essentially a big transport bay with launch/recovery options, right?

No. It's a floodable dock in amphibious assault ships where dedicated landing craft are kept and loaded. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Well_dock. Without it, a modern amphibious assault force would have a lot of trouble moving bulk equipment to the shore.

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I'm not following any establishment of impracticality.  I gave a force mixture here which seems reasonably practical?

I meant on the logistical side. For example, without any fighter bays on the surface, you can't recover and repair any ASFs that burn off too much fuel to return to orbit or are damaged in a way that prevents them from returning to orbit. Well, at least without an airbase under your control in the area of operations at least.

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Nah, mobile field bases are fine for basic work for all the small units.As long as you can reasonably travel to/from an orbital base, this seems fine?

"Reasonably travel" sounds an awful lot like a continuous stream of shuttles moving between your orbital base (which won't always be situated conveniently relative to AO, given that it's in an orbit and thus circling the planet at thousands of meters a second) at a predictable interval.

Once again though, what's the purpose of this force/exercise? It's clearly more than just a thought experiment if you've got designs to use with it.

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #21 on: 04 October 2021, 18:36:31 »
It seems there are to many incorrect assumptions (LAMs only, transport options, mechbay repair only, LAM movement, etc...) to address.  Reading the thread and the rules on LAMs would help.

I would argue that I'm reasonably familiar with the current rules on LAMs, as I one of the people who wrote those rules on LAMs and was the first person to propose AirMechs use WiGE movement rules, as well as that LAMs in 'Mech mode get a heat dissipation benefit equivalent to having a BattleMech partial wing.

But, by all means, which LAM rules should I reread?

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Is there a rules quote for that?

Tactical Operations, page 353 and 356 cover two restrictions. PuppyLikesLaserPointers may well know of others.  I rarely use artillery in my home games, and don't use it at all on aerospace fighters, so I'm not as well-versed on the restrictions there.

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I disagree here.  Do you want to ride in the #1 priority target?  And if you aren't riding in the #1 priority target, do you want it to be risking deadly fire knowing that you'll be doomed if it's shot down?

Do I want to ride in the fragile landing craft that's more easily destroyed, and the loss of at least some of which are guaranteed, or the more heavily armored DropShip(s) that are more likely to be able to survive an attack?  ???

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Take a standard overlord.  Reduce the speed to 2/3.

Why would I do this?  That's making the Overlord more fragile, as it has less thrust to conduct evasive maneuvers.

Quote
Remove all the weapons and all the crew that implies.  Reconfigure the transport bays to have 10 smallcraft and 36 fighter bays.  Call this the highlord for clarity.  You can now support 5 instances of this force with a reserve of 6 ASF dedicated to highlord protection.   The cost here is plausibly less than the previous overlord force, the combined arms aspect of ASF, dual-use ASF, LAMs, and infantry is more comprehensive, you have significantly more cargo tonnage available in the holds of the smallcraft, the highlord is safer due to orbital placement and the 6 dedicated ASF (an overlord's ASF have many other duties), and the effectiveness of the fighting force in mech combat is plausibly a fair bit higher.

The Highlord is no safer for orbital placement.  It's almost guaranteed to get butchered by planetary defense fighters, because it can't maneuver worth a damn, can't defend itself, and will then leave its small craft and aerospace fighters stranded.  It's got more thrust than a standard JumpShip, sure, as well as more armor and SI, but that's only going to prolong the inevitable if it gets attacked.

Maybe the small craft have the fuel to get back to the jump points, but any passengers are going to be using 50 kg of life support consumables, food, etc. per day, since they're not in dedicated quarters that offer some degree of recycling.  That's going to add up fast.

Also, doesn't introducing your modified DropShip defeat your purpose of not using DropShips?
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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #22 on: 04 October 2021, 18:58:43 »
  • On the defensive side, this can be significantly compensated for by imposing a very high target movement modifier.  As an extreme example, a LAM moving 27 in an AirMech mode with the Low Profile/Narrow quirk can impose a +8 modifier to ranged attacks.  This is not always possible of course, but imposing a +6 modifier routinely appears reasonably possible.  These numbers are high enough that even a targeting computer/pulse or targeting computer/flak design has some significant difficulty hitting.  Furthermore, the fact they are airborne makes area effect weapons targeting hexes less effective. 
Setting aside that you're needing to use a Quirk to get that number, one thing I do want to note is that AirMech WiGE movement requires you to use Turn Modes - unlike the vehicles in TacOps, it's not optional.  So, a LAM moving 27 in AirMech mode has to move 4-5 hexes before it can turn a hex facing (depending upon how you round 8 MP - I'd argue you'd round that up to +2).  AirMechs have a lot of MP to burn, but AirMechs also need to burn a lot of those MP, so you're not often going to get 27 hexes travelled.  That 27 MP flank movement also includes the need to make sideslip rolls when turning.
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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #23 on: 04 October 2021, 19:42:37 »
Is there a particular reason for this concept of operations? Dropships are pretty much the only game in town for getting bulk loads out of gravity wells.

It's like attempting an amphibious invasion without using dedicated amphibious assault ships. Yeah, you can helo or V-22 a raid and get some equipment to shore using a fleet's normal complement of boats and such, but...

This is sort of what I was thinking.

If your not using Dropships, how are your forces getting out to the Jumpship?
How are they getting into the system for that matter?
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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #24 on: 04 October 2021, 19:48:55 »
Dropships are annoying from a force design standpoint because they are expensive (with a ruinous x28 price multiplier), fragile due to severe armor limits, and irreplaceable

Pretty sure this is only an issue for "some" of the canon dropships.
If your custom designing a LAM then you can custom design a DS to avoid many of those issues.

You don't need a Lee class to move Overlord levels of units safely.
You can bulk up the armor/SI but keep the same engine & have a much more durable transport.
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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #25 on: 04 October 2021, 20:19:45 »
No. It's a floodable dock in amphibious assault ships where dedicated landing craft are kept and loaded. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Well_dock. Without it, a modern amphibious assault force would have a lot of trouble moving bulk equipment to the shore.
I think we're actually agreeing then.  'Dropship collar' (~= docking collar) was what was confusing me.
I meant on the logistical side.
I believe a couple mobile field base vehicles handles this?
Once again though, what's the purpose of this force/exercise?
Primarily, I'm curious.

I would argue that I'm reasonably familiar with the current rules on LAMs...
That was a response to PuppiesLikeLaserPointers. 

I'm reading the IO rules for LAMS which modify WIGE movement in a number of ways including the ability to just be up in the air like a VTOL.  Used that way, the LAM has something akin to a 9/13.5 movement (since each move costs double) which is terrain-agnostic.  Sideslips may happen, but at least you don't crash.
Tactical Operations, page 353 and 356 cover two restrictions. [
I see a restriction on ADA, but not a general restriction to any non-homing ammo.
Do I want to ride in the fragile landing craft that's more easily destroyed, and the loss of at least some of which are guaranteed, or the more heavily armored DropShip(s) that are more likely to be able to survive an attack?  ???
The overlord has about 200 points of armor on a facing.  The smallcraft have about 100 points of armor on a facing.   They are more fragile than the Overlord individually, but with 10 of them they can take 5 times the abuse than an Overlord could.  They also just aren't as valuable to destroy, since doing so doesn't cripple an invasion nearly as much.  5 times the aggregate armor and lower priority for the opposing force suggests to me the landing craft are more survivable than the Overlord.
The Highlord is no safer for orbital placement. 
Well, it's completely invulnerable to overrun by ground based forces, which isn't minor.  An Overlord on the ground is extremely vulnerable to artillery for example. 

W.r.t. enemy aerospace forces, it's obviously vulnerable but plausibly similar to the Overlord.  It has less weapons and less speed, but can stand off further and has effectively more aerospace fighters to defend it.  If we had just 4 lances of LAMs with their accompanying aero/smallcraft with 12 ASF defending the highlord, would you agree that it's better defended against aerospace fighters than an Overlord?
Also, doesn't introducing your modified DropShip defeat your purpose of not using DropShips?
That's not quite the purpose---I'm just curious if there is another way to design forces.  Having DropShips that don't land is good enough to be another way.
If your custom designing a LAM then you can custom design a DS to avoid many of those issues.
Not really.   A custom designed dropship still suffers the x28 cost modifier, still can dedicate only a very small fraction to armor (unless it's tiny), and still is the most relevant game in town for the purpose of transport to/from a jump point.

Hellraiser

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #26 on: 04 October 2021, 20:32:42 »
A custom designed dropship still suffers the x28 cost modifier, still can dedicate only a very small fraction to armor (unless it's tiny), and still is the most relevant game in town for the purpose of transport to/from a jump point. 
But your not getting away from that with your "Highlord" idea.

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Giovanni Blasini

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #27 on: 04 October 2021, 21:20:13 »
That was a response to PuppiesLikeLaserPointers. 

I'm reading the IO rules for LAMS which modify WIGE movement in a number of ways including the ability to just be up in the air like a VTOL.  Used that way, the LAM has something akin to a 9/13.5 movement (since each move costs double) which is terrain-agnostic.  Sideslips may happen, but at least you don't crash.

Movement, yes.  Not MP used. Turn modes aren't based on hexes travelled, though, but MPs used.  So, sure, figuring 2 MP/hex isn't a bad plan (we figured about the same on average).  But, even at 9 hexes, figuring you've used 18 MP, you've got a 3-hex turn mode, and at 13 hexes, or 26 MP, you're at 4- to 5-hexes for your turn mode (again, depending on how rounding is handled.

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The overlord has about 200 points of armor on a facing.  The smallcraft have about 100 points of armor on a facing.   They are more fragile than the Overlord individually, but with 10 of them they can take 5 times the abuse than an Overlord could.  They also just aren't as valuable to destroy, since doing so doesn't cripple an invasion nearly as much.  5 times the aggregate armor and lower priority for the opposing force suggests to me the landing craft are more survivable than the Overlord.

The problem with optimized custom units compared to stock units is the custom units tend to come out ahead.  Even with the standard 2762 Overlord, I can sacrifice 13.5 tons of cargo and end up with another 435 armor points, just by maxing out the armor available to the existing SI, and switching to ferro-aluminum.  For only 25% more cash than a 3057 Overlord, I could build a modified Mule with the same weapons, an SI of 30, 2262 points of heavy ferro-aluminum armor, and more cargo.

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Well, it's completely invulnerable to overrun by ground based forces, which isn't minor.  An Overlord on the ground is extremely vulnerable to artillery for example. 

So are your landed small craft.

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W.r.t. enemy aerospace forces, it's obviously vulnerable but plausibly similar to the Overlord.  It has less weapons and less speed, but can stand off further and has effectively more aerospace fighters to defend it.  If we had just 4 lances of LAMs with their accompanying aero/smallcraft with 12 ASF defending the highlord, would you agree that it's better defended against aerospace fighters than an Overlord?

Not really, because the added vulnerability of the highlord cancels out the added benefit of having the six extra aerospace fighters.

I'd be more likely to want to send another DropShip along with the highlord.  With that said, I'd generally want an escort for an Overlord, too, given the number of 'Mechs in one basket.

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Not really.   A custom designed dropship still suffers the x28 cost modifier, still can dedicate only a very small fraction to armor (unless it's tiny), and still is the most relevant game in town for the purpose of transport to/from a jump point.

No, it doesn't work that way.  You've opened the door to custom units.  Once you've done that, saying "I only want to allow custom units on the side I'm arguing, but you're all bound to unoptimized canon units" is hardly a valid or fair comparison.

Either argue your point with all canon units, or accept that, if you can introduce non-canon, optimized LAMs, aerospace fighters, small craft and, quite possibly, DropShips, JumpShips and WarShips, then your argument has to be able to stand against other custom units.

But your not getting away from that with your "Highlord" idea.



Indeed.  It's still a 171 million C-Bill DropShip.
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PuppyLikesLaserPointers

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #28 on: 05 October 2021, 01:58:13 »
It seems there are to many incorrect assumptions (LAMs only, transport options, mechbay repair only, LAM movement, etc...) to address.  Reading the thread and the rules on LAMs would help.

I have wrote the post because I have red those documents already. First, it is correct that LAMs need to go back to the orbit by themselves or you need a ground base with at least some small crafts(as your later post said) to resupply or repair.

And... it already gives enough reason to bring the dropships, for even a dozen of small crafts are not doing well as much as one or two dropships, and since small crafts with bay are more fragile and slow than military dropships, leave your support asset in more dangerous situation.

Airmech mode may move past level 1, but it makes you to pay more movement thus forests and enemy units are still hampers your way. Still it's better than just blocked by a random forest tile and have to go around like hovercrafts, though.

I understand that you want to play paratroopers, and indeed LAM is a good candidate for the pathfinders. But... well, since the world allows mechs and tanks to be dropped from the orbit, why not?

Honestly, technically it is possible to play without dropships, if you have small craft transports. But these are inefficient. You have said x28 cost modifier but a 200 tons small craft has x5 modifier. And you need at least four and usually six to eights to transport enough cargo and bays as much as just one dropship, leave your transport division much expensive as well as fragile than simply using a dropship.

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Re: LAMs as the missing link in dropship elimination
« Reply #29 on: 05 October 2021, 02:08:50 »
**I said something like this before: my concerns are based on lore and losing several dropships to ground fire in Megamek. If I spend much more time on this I may as well have to play some games against myself to try this out.

I disagree here.  Do you want to ride in the #1 priority target?  And if you aren't riding in the #1 priority target, do you want it to be risking deadly fire knowing that you'll be doomed if it's shot down?

If there is no dropship (the usual #1 priority) then the 5 to 10 small craft become the priority. I believe they are even more of a priority because interceptors have no fear of shots coming from the small craft, the small craft are just as unmaneuverable as a dropship, and each of them can be shot down much easier than any dropship.

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If we had just 4 lances of LAMs with their accompanying aero/smallcraft with 12 ASF defending the highlord, would you agree that it's better defended against aerospace fighters than an Overlord?

I don't necessarily agree because the Highlord does not possess its own denial zone of firepower. A single flight of interceptors would be in little danger if they could get past the ASF screen. An Overlord does not want to get hit, but it's own guns can handle at least a couple flights.

6 to 12 fighters sounds like a very slim margin of defense for a weaponless dropship that could conceivablly face 6 incoming ASF every day or two for a few weeks. I don't even know what sort of ASF quantities to expect from an in-universe planetary defense force, which seems an obvious factor in limiting the the potential planetary targets you would consider.

The unit composition inverts the norm, becoming an ASF force with some supporting mechs (LAMs). How do purchase and operational costs of ASFs compare to mechs? Are they more durable or easier to maintain? Are they more recoverable from crippling damage? The concept seems like a new way to use a Thera or a squadron of Miraborgs or Okinawas to more directly engage in ground operations. Those seem like much better options than an unarmed transport because my concerns keep returning to the fragility of the concept. LAMs vs mechs. Artillery vs Interceptor. ASF vs ASF. Transit time and capabilities required for transorbital deployments and support. Orbital base defenses.

Tactically, I don't dismiss the concept outright and I am curious about how effective this could be against a "conventional" force as well as against combined arms (particularly overhead ASF support). I am also curious how standard LAM designs (with TAG) would perform. WIGE movement is a significant limitation on the LAMs and I think a properly equipped opponent could severely limit the unit's combat capabilities. That proper equipment doesn't even have to be exotic: just a squadron or two of ASF and a competitive tech level of mechs that are more Jagermech than Thunderbolt.
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