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Author Topic: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?  (Read 12899 times)

Dayton3

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How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« on: 09 February 2017, 17:22:14 »
I ask this from both an "in game according to the rules" and in a remotely realistic scenario.

I know from studying the history of conventional armored warfare from World War Two to the present day that historically main battle tanks,   the spiritual precursors to 'mechs in many ways,  are most vulnerable not to comparable armored vehicles but to aerial attack.

In game,  given that you can't IIRC armor the head of a 'mech with more than 10 points of armor,  wouldn't 'mechs naturally be more vulnerable to air strikes than any other form of attack?

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #1 on: 09 February 2017, 17:35:32 »
Airstrikes do not hit on the punch table, but use the normal hit location table. Head hits are no more likely than from attacks by ground units.

That being said, a player who is willing to delay an air attack by a turn or two can easily fly around the ground battlefield and come at it from the other side, thus finding himself presented with plenty of rear torso locations to shoot at. ^-^

Your results may vary, depending on the presence of enemy air cover, or ground units bunching up into defensive formations.
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Tai Dai Cultist

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #2 on: 09 February 2017, 17:48:13 »
The relationship between defense and offense in the BTU is not comparable to anything of the past two or three centuries.  Battletech armor needs to be hammered by sustained blows before it is likely to catastrophically fail.  The One-shot-one-kill paradigm that defines almost all modern warfare is not comparable to bringing down a mech.  Mechs succumb to accumulated damage more like medieval knights or a ship of the line in the age of sail.

Air power is inherently a poor platform for delivering such sustained offense (against a ground target) and so mechs are inherently far more resilient to airstrikes than real life armored vehicles.  Sufficiently different that there is no meaningful comparison, imo.

Dayton3

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #3 on: 09 February 2017, 19:59:35 »
The relationship between defense and offense in the BTU is not comparable to anything of the past two or three centuries.  Battletech armor needs to be hammered by sustained blows before it is likely to catastrophically fail.  The One-shot-one-kill paradigm that defines almost all modern warfare is not comparable to bringing down a mech.  Mechs succumb to accumulated damage more like medieval knights or a ship of the line in the age of sail.

Air power is inherently a poor platform for delivering such sustained offense (against a ground target) and so mechs are inherently far more resilient to airstrikes than real life armored vehicles.  Sufficiently different that there is no meaningful comparison, imo.

What about in the novels?

In various novels I seem to recall Clan mechs being destroyed basically by a single shot air strike.

IIRC,  in the first Black Thorns novel a Clan mech is destroyed outright by an attack by a 'mechbuster ground attack fighter.

Likewise earlier in the Clan invasion trilogy novels when the Clans attack the Free Rasulhague Republics capital the FRRs elite flying unit strafes the Clan column and at least one Clan 'mech explodes

Demon55

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #4 on: 09 February 2017, 20:39:41 »
VTOLs can harass mechs/tanks/vehicles but their light armor makes them very vulnerable to return fire.  ASFs can pose similar threats to mechs as other mechs.  ASFs also can carry more punch with both their built in weapons and ordinance.  But ASFs must fly at an altitude of 5 hexes or less and have more limited lanes of fire (along their path of travel).

Dropships are a big threat. 

Tai Dai Cultist

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #5 on: 09 February 2017, 21:59:37 »
What about in the novels?

In various novels I seem to recall Clan mechs being destroyed basically by a single shot air strike.

IIRC,  in the first Black Thorns novel a Clan mech is destroyed outright by an attack by a 'mechbuster ground attack fighter.

Likewise earlier in the Clan invasion trilogy novels when the Clans attack the Free Rasulhague Republics capital the FRRs elite flying unit strafes the Clan column and at least one Clan 'mech explodes

There's what's possible, and what's probable.  What makes for a better, more compelling story: Mechbuster flies overhead and the AC20 shot plunks into a mech and just scrapes 20 points of armor off a location... or it gets a "rare" mech-killing result?

You can one-shot kill a Daishi with a single AC2 shot via TAC and 3 engine hits... but does that mean you'll expect it to plausibly happen, either as the player shooting or the player controlling the Daishi?  Even any given AC20 is more likely just have no result other than scraping 20 pips of armor than to even go internal, let alone score something catastrohpic. 

Bombs are like one-shot AC20s that don't even threaten a headcap.  Yeah, they hit hard, but barring fluke luck (or artistic license) you have to count on accumulating *sustained* hits on a mech to kill it.  Hoping for a headcap or TAC is poor strategy.

Airstrikes can certainly contribute to accumulating hits on the enemy mechs, but they're hard to do it all on their own.    Especially when aircraft have to pass "lawn dart checks" from return fire from those mechs.  Unlike a mech, fighter ARE somewhat easily one-shot-killed when performing CAS.
« Last Edit: 09 February 2017, 22:04:42 by Tai Dai Cultist »

Arkansas Warrior

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #6 on: 09 February 2017, 22:10:01 »
It also depends on the size of the mech and the size of the fighter.  Eisensturm attacking a Panther?  Kiss your mech goodbye.  Corsair attacking an Awesome?  The mech-driver won't be too worried, unless it's coming in from behind him.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #7 on: 10 February 2017, 00:06:44 »
ASF become truly frightening though when grouped with artillery. Use arty to force opfor to scatter then send fighters to pick off the singles hopefully driving the opfor to group up again is great enough numbers for the artillery to find easy prey. A fighter like the Stuka could also be used to heard a medium weight force into a minefield. 4 LL is not something a Wolverine pilot wants to have to deal with when other ground units are firing at him as well.

A really good player though will try for the altitude 7 bombing run. It may be an automatic miss, but that isn't the point. You gamble the scatter pattern ;) Which as luck would have it is a straight line in front of you  >:D Get a whole squadron in on the fun with cluster and inferno bombs and your opponent had best worn the brown pants O0

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #8 on: 10 February 2017, 08:12:20 »
I always thought Dive Bombing was the way to go. Load up a couple of Slayers with a full bomb load and start putting 100+ points of damage on a single mech per fighter with a good few 'to whom it may concern' scatters to boot. Sure you can only do it once, but it can be a battle turning event.

All that said I am thinking from a campaign sense where BV is less of an issue compared to the ability to get assets actually onto the field of battle.

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #9 on: 10 February 2017, 11:39:02 »
I always thought Dive Bombing was the way to go. Load up a couple of Slayers with a full bomb load and start putting 100+ points of damage on a single mech per fighter with a good few 'to whom it may concern' scatters to boot. Sure you can only do it once, but it can be a battle turning event.

All that said I am thinking from a campaign sense where BV is less of an issue compared to the ability to get assets actually onto the field of battle.

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This ^, once is all you need, to change the face of the battlefield. Even if the bombs scatter.

Colt Ward

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #10 on: 11 February 2017, 23:23:25 »
Weirdo, thought cluster bombs where like cluster artillery ammo- it hits on the 'above' table?

Airstrikes can be powerful but realize that like its been stated mechs are more resilient than modern armor to being struck from 'above' which is where the armor on tanks is weakest btw.  Your big shots are going to be Homing A4 rounds launched from some range simply because like ground launched its 20 points to a location.  Otherwise consider airstrikes like being hit by massed LRM batteries, because the damage will scatter.

Biggest thing is, no not strafe unless you want to make a nice crater.  Or you just get that type of target that is too much to pass up in exchange for the fighter.

Airstrikes will do two things for you, one strategic and one tactical . . . if you find a collection of enemy mechs where yours are not immediately available, you can drop those bombs to cause damage.  Are you going to take them all out?  No, but you are going to drop their combat capability.  So its a strategic benefit for you- either your units will face damaged enemy equipment, or they will have to go into a repair phase without ever coming into contact with your forces which gives you greater movement.

Tactically, as stated you can use a airstrike to disperse a cluster.  Just like artillery teaches the enemy commander not to bunch up, so does a airstrike though it has less time to exploit the enemy's dispersion.  As Challenger said, when they scatter you pick off the weak or separated . . . or drive your own force into them to split their line.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #11 on: 12 February 2017, 11:50:39 »
Weirdo, thought cluster bombs where like cluster artillery ammo- it hits on the 'above' table?

Nope, regular table. The advantage of cluster bombs over HE is their multi-hex blast area. Take a single light fighter to level-bomb a bunch of them all over a battlefield, and the guy who thought bringing a lot of BA or light/fast hovers was a good idea is now regretting life.
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Darth_Biagio

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #12 on: 12 February 2017, 16:15:03 »
My experience against strike attacks:
First pass: Aerospace Unit hits, rolls a 2 on the Hit Location Table and gets a Gyro critical;
Second pass: same... :-\

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #13 on: 18 February 2017, 11:08:41 »
My experience against strike attacks:
First pass: Aerospace Unit hits, rolls a 2 on the Hit Location Table and gets a Gyro critical;
Second pass: same... :-\
I think you're mistaking air strikes for Hellbie Dice...  Mechs are vulnerable to terrible luck, just like everything else.
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #14 on: 18 February 2017, 22:27:26 »
My experience with air attacks was an opponent bringing a few ASFs to a game, then after the game started realizing just how many LB10-Xs we had on our side.

He then realized just how flakked he was. >:D
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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #15 on: 18 February 2017, 23:06:04 »
What about in the novels?

In various novels I seem to recall Clan mechs being destroyed basically by a single shot air strike.

IIRC,  in the first Black Thorns novel a Clan mech is destroyed outright by an attack by a 'mechbuster ground attack fighter.

Likewise earlier in the Clan invasion trilogy novels when the Clans attack the Free Rasulhague Republics capital the FRRs elite flying unit strafes the Clan column and at least one Clan 'mech explodes

keep in mind the earlier novels were written with different rules for aerotech units.. in Aerotech 1 bombs for example were a little bit more powerful, both in terms of deployment and in terms of options for per-bomb firepower.
i don't know if the strafing rules were different then, but i wouldn't be surprised.

you can see signs of those older rules elsewhere too.. in the early Grey Death novels the aerospace engagements occur over immense ranges (AT1 used a different, much larger map scale) and in Natural Selection you have an aerospace fighter not only crossing immense distances but also using a moon for a gravity boost.. both things that they could do under AT1 rules but not under the later rules.

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #16 on: 18 February 2017, 23:25:40 »
Yes, strafing rules were VERY different back then.  To the tune of everything in a 3-hex wide swath potentially taking damage from all your energy weapons.

Dayton3

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #17 on: 19 February 2017, 14:44:55 »
I was completely unaware of this.

Why were the changes made?

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #18 on: 19 February 2017, 14:56:46 »
I was completely unaware of this.

Why were the changes made?
I was completely unaware of this.

Why were the changes made?

Game balance probably...

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #19 on: 19 February 2017, 16:58:41 »
I'm sure it was game balance, but not having ever been privy to the thoughts of TPTB, I can't say for sure.  Strafing was truly horrifying back in the day.  Medium laser machines that had enough heat sinks to use them all were holy terrors (Slayers, I'm looking at you).

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #20 on: 20 February 2017, 01:47:02 »
A 120m wide swathe was a bit much for one plane's strafing  O0

But is there any particular reason machine guns can't be used for strafing (other than barely an fighters using them)? Wasn't the word invented for what planes did with those things?

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #21 on: 20 February 2017, 02:01:33 »
Really both machine guns and autocannons should be perfectly acceptable for strafing, but someone made a decision a long time ago that it's something that only energy weapons can do.  It makes about as much sense as not being able to mount DHS on vehicles.
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JenniferinaMAD

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #22 on: 20 February 2017, 02:46:59 »
ACs I can see not strafing due to ammo concerns (I always envisioned them with burst limiters). But MGs have the ammo!

Daryk

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #23 on: 20 February 2017, 06:39:16 »
Back in the day, it was a range restriction.  Weapons had to have more than 3 range (so Small Lasers were out too).

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #24 on: 20 February 2017, 10:47:11 »
Also, the old strafing rules used a different hit table with both head hits and criticals being more likely.  ASF's (And LAMs) equiped with a lot of energy weapons were extremely nasty against mechs.  The older novels used those rules and the results was air power being very powerful.  Used to be a mech was no match for an equivalent tonnage ASF.

The rules changed to nerf ASF's against ground targets to make the mech the king of the battlefield again :)

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #25 on: 20 February 2017, 14:11:41 »
I'm sure it was game balance, but not having ever been privy to the thoughts of TPTB, I can't say for sure.  Strafing was truly horrifying back in the day.  Medium laser machines that had enough heat sinks to use them all were holy terrors (Slayers, I'm looking at you).

Or the Stuka. Four large lasers for everyone!
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Skyth

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #26 on: 20 February 2017, 14:24:10 »
If memory serves, the old strafing rules broke everything into 5 point clusters (Might be wrong on that though)

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #27 on: 20 February 2017, 14:28:31 »
I believe it was, but the main point is those five point clusters could be applied to every 'mech on roughly 1/4 of a map sheet.

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #28 on: 20 February 2017, 16:51:52 »
ACs I can see not strafing due to ammo concerns (I always envisioned them with burst limiters). But MGs have the ammo!
What about heat build up for energy weapons? Or ammo for chem lasers and plasma weapons?

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Re: How Vulnerable Are 'mechs To Air Attack?
« Reply #29 on: 20 February 2017, 17:19:41 »
I believe it was, but the main point is those five point clusters could be applied to every 'mech on roughly 1/4 of a map sheet.

That plus a more dangerous hit location chart.