Author Topic: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?  (Read 2226 times)

Vehrec

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LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« on: 22 December 2023, 20:07:53 »
Quote
basic concept: load the setting's standard 10-ton cargo container with LRMs, ammo and minimal fire control and such to fire them. Playing around in MegaMekLab, if I model it as a 10-ton immobile trailer, I can fit 3 LRM5s and a ton of ammo. For about 138,000 C-bills. Yes, it's imobile ans defenseless, but it's absolutely dirt cheap and capable of long range indirect fire with a spotter.
[5:27 PM]
if you're a planetary government that wants to stop getting raided, you can buy a bunch of these things. Then there are three interesting things you can do with them:

load them on ubiquitous civilian trucks you already have as cheap fire support.
use earhmovers ahead of time to prepare positions with earthworks shielding them from direct fire from the ground. place a bunch near each other, call in targets and lay down a lot of missiles with very little typical raiders can do about it.
hide them amongst the ordinary cargo containers that most targets worth raiding will probably have sitting around, and use them for ambushes.

The last two open up another possibility: once opponents know you have them, any suspiciously positioned cargo container filled with enough junk to not be obviously empty on sensors is a credible threat which must be avoided, investigated or shot.

....
... you know, with how cheap these are, it's realistically possible for an important defended site to have enough of them (especially with decoys) to exhaust the ammo capacity of things like those missile locusts. For raids against that kind of target to succeed, it would force raiders to either slow down to re-arm as needed (leaving more time for reinforcements to arrive), alter their force composition in ways that would disadvantage them against conventional oponents, or risk having slower units evaporate under massed LRM fire.

So the fella who came up with this idea and me had a bit of an argument on how useful they would be against common raiders- I posited that despite being only 150k cbills each, that will add up quickly and that protecting areas with them will probably be cost prohibitive.  They think that buying ten instead of a locust is clearly superior in firepower and will easily slow down and force the enemy to change their tempo, as you can see in the above talking points.  But I'm not an expert and neither are they.  So what do you, more expert players say?
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Daryk

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #1 on: 22 December 2023, 20:52:20 »
There's too much that depends on non-TW factors to make a judgement, really.  It all comes down to who can sucker who into taking on an unfair fight.  Raiders are looking for the easy pickings, and the defenders are trying to draw them into an ambush.  And really, containers like that are simply obstacles: useless unless observed.  If an appropriate response can't be called in to defend them, they're not that hard to overcome (cue the Vulcan...).

Paul

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #2 on: 22 December 2023, 23:52:43 »
how useful they would be against common raiders

It's not a bad idea, but the lack of mobility becomes decisive pretty quick. Most worlds in BT have a ton of locations they want to protect, so a single mobile force is very desirable. For this to work well, you'd need to be pretty sure about the raiders target list. They can, after all, simply not go there, and that response would be very typical for raiders who encounter a threat they can't wipe out easily; damage = cost, and often harder for them to repair than a unit that can plug in to a House' logistics train. You'd get off 1 salvo, and the enemy either retreats, or they simply move around you and attack you from behind.

The specific design is not a bad approach of what to stick in a 10 ton container. I think the lack of armor becomes a problem. Even the lowly LRM Locust they mention only needs to land 1 salvo to wreck it. With it being immobile, and the Locust presumably working to get a +4 out of mobility and cover, the odds are actually quite decent that it won't get hit. Base 4 of the launching container (generous given the circumstance) +4 for range, +4 for the Locust's movement. 12's. 13 (impossible) if the gunners must be 5.
Meanwhile that Locust needs a 4 + 2 run, +4 range, -4 immobile target is a mere 6 to hit. It is killing 1 per turn, on average.
But with 30 shots back, that Locust will take damage, the one thing it can't really do, and the example 1M Locust wouldnt engage in this kind of duel no matter what, if it had any say.


Using Improved Positions and fakes definitely helps, as does working to ensure they can fire indirectly. And actually landing an ambush with a bunch of these can be extremely successful. But not realistic unless you know the enemy really only wants to hit 1 or 2 locations. That's not an impossible scenario, but still feels like a margins play.
Like I said, it's not a bad idea, but it is easily countered. Daryk's Vulcan (25 containers) idea is very much on point. Other problems would be 'Mechs like the Valkyrie (15 containers) or Toro (17 containers), which have the armor to really hurt the math against our containers. Never mind the Mechs that would simply ignore the first few salvos and wade in.

It might be fun to play out, but I'd recommend investing in armor.
Also I may recall wrong, but I think some tonnage is needed for the fire control, so you can't get 3 LRM5s in there anyway. If I'm right about that, use the remaining mass for armor. Or if you're trying to invest a Mechs worth of money in to containers... get a Mech. At least they can still turn when that Commando has moved out of your container's firing arc.

A somewhat more sustainable idea may be to do this with Rocket Launchers, or OS-LRMs, since the enemy won't have much reason to wreck the containers. And a 10 ton one could get 20 RL-10s (300k in weapon payload) or 6 RL-20 (270k weapons payload) if I'm wrong about the fire control need. Definitely more expensive.
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DevianID

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #3 on: 23 December 2023, 00:42:30 »
So there is lore and there is gameplay.

For gameplay, in a straight up fight you walk into the board.  These must be towed.  So right off the bat you need a logistics train to use these.  Second, the game is balanced around equal unit numbers.  The LRM trailer (there is a few canon units that do this) provides massively more numbers, activations, record keeping and such.  For gameplay in campaigns, you still need crews for these, unless doing drone systems that have other complications.  Also, these are bad versus infantry with their cheap cost and resistance versus LRMs.

Lorewise, well cargo containers as Q-boxes seem overly complicated when you can just use buildings with turrets.  While you can tow the Q-boxes, they arnt very good defensive units, a temporary deterrent at best and very expensive in quantity.  Especially with attrition meaning plink damage ruins the entire unit and kills the operator.

Vehrec

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #4 on: 23 December 2023, 18:24:05 »
I believe the idea here is that these are to be used by a guy who is not inside them, but rather has a land-line of some sort to them from some place of safety.  That being said, I can see why you would miss that, since, by default, the game assumes that you are *not* in fact, defending a static position.
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Paul

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #5 on: 23 December 2023, 18:27:37 »
I believe the idea here is that these are to be used by a guy who is not inside them, but rather has a land-line of some sort to them from some place of safety.  That being said, I can see why you would miss that, since, by default, the game assumes that you are *not* in fact, defending a static position.

Most light vehicles aren't that far removed from 1 shot = 1 kill, but even today where that pretty much is the norm, you don't struggle finding people to operate vehicles because of any perceived lethality.
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AlphaMirage

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #6 on: 23 December 2023, 18:59:30 »
I think as a distraction they are pretty good. I actually think a rocket truck is the better tool on the battletech battlefield, get your enemy off balance and at close range, let off 120 rockets at close range. If they are down and out great, if not then bug out of there until you can try again.

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #7 on: 23 December 2023, 23:01:58 »
Let your buddy take a force heavy in static LRM containers. Then make him go on the offensive.

Flatbed trucks with LRM-10s are cheap (172 BV / 8 PV), and can at least move in open terrain, or on roads. But in a heavily forested map? Mountains & gullies?

OTOH, a pile of LRM containers behind the gate of a strongpoint - eg. somewhere the enemy must approach - are handy. But beware of fast jumpers.
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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #8 on: 24 December 2023, 03:21:18 »
OTOH, a pile of LRM containers behind the gate of a strongpoint - eg. somewhere the enemy must approach - are handy. But beware of fast jumpers.

SRM containers behind the walls?  Gotta do something with the older SRM launchers when Streaks come out.

DevianID

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #9 on: 24 December 2023, 03:35:52 »
I think mw5 is a good example of why this doesnt work.  You'd get a ping on radar from all these crates, even behind a wall, and youd spend the 1-2 minutes blowing up the wall and plinking the boxes at range.  You'd never approach an LRM wall of death, youd just extreme range melt them and any structure in the way.

If they were hidden like turrets id call BS.  The turrets have clearly defined areas they pop out of, and if those point defense lasers all started sporting ac20s the gameplay would grind to a halt... Youd be forced to melt every hiding spot to slag as to choose to walk into a known ambush spot instead of spending 10 seconds melting down the terrain is crazy.  Youd encourage the enemy to slag every city too if you started weaponizing civilian crates.

Sabelkatten

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #10 on: 24 December 2023, 08:06:38 »
The point of a wall is to force the enemy to spend time passing it. If a few crates with LRMs means the enemy can't reach their objective before reinforcements arrive they've "won", even they didn't fire a single round.

However the comic book physics of CBT means this situation is much harder to benefit from than IRL. Ranges are too short, speeds too high, environment too fragile, and armor too tough.

Vehrec

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #11 on: 24 December 2023, 18:44:58 »
Let your buddy take a force heavy in static LRM containers. Then make him go on the offensive.

Flatbed trucks with LRM-10s are cheap (172 BV / 8 PV), and can at least move in open terrain, or on roads. But in a heavily forested map? Mountains & gullies?

OTOH, a pile of LRM containers behind the gate of a strongpoint - eg. somewhere the enemy must approach - are handy. But beware of fast jumpers.
I believe the intention is less to leave these in strongpoints and more to have them in starports and logistics hubs raiders would like to hit.  They are not intended to go on offensive, really, though they are supposed to be put on trucks if needed.  they are thus to be camoflaged in obscurity, hidden amongst scores or hundreds of their innocuous kin.

But are their kin that common?  Battletech feels more like a break-bulk setting than a containerization one.
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Daryk

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #12 on: 24 December 2023, 19:08:59 »
With full size 'mechs, containerized cargo is very much like break-bulk, just one level up.

AlphaMirage

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #13 on: 24 December 2023, 19:31:53 »
I think the fact that the setting focuses on  more dramatic elements than containers that makes it seem that way. On-planet logistics are very likely containerized, dropshots, and similar voidcraft are just another intermodal option

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #14 on: 26 December 2023, 18:44:22 »
I suspect they would be useful as a deterrent, but have too little firepower to deter a determined raider who has a fair idea where they are.

With that in mind, I think the utility of these will directly correlate to how successful the defender is in hiding them from hostile reconnaissance/spying

If I know a world has say 20 of these scattered around the place, it does change how I plan my raid. Every attacking force might run into 2-3 of these, so every task group I send out needs to be able to handing the incoming fire, close and then destroy the trailers. That limits how I deploy my forces, limits how many objectives I can hit at once, forces me to concentrate forces, which in turn potentially makes me more vulnerable to being intercepted on route or on my escape. It also discourages attacks by the sort of attacker that is only after soft targets and doesn't want to risk the damage.

If I can work out where they are, then they are fairly easy to overcome or avoid. They are sort of like a minefield that I know exists, I'm either going to go around or if I must go through I will definitely have brought the tools to let me do so.

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #15 on: 26 December 2023, 20:48:37 »
150k per LRM box is a bit high for something that's essentially a consumable (not even "just" expendable) weapon.  The concept isn't terrible though.  Rocket Launcher boxes are probably better since they can seriously maim things in a good ambush, but if long range is still required I'd use a Mech Mortar box instead of LRMs, since that's less than half the cost.

Daryk

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #16 on: 26 December 2023, 20:58:15 »
'Mech Mortars can also bring AOE damage if you use the right ammo... ;)

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #17 on: 26 December 2023, 21:38:25 »
So the fella who came up with this idea and me had a bit of an argument on how useful they would be against common raiders- I posited that despite being only 150k cbills each, that will add up quickly and that protecting areas with them will probably be cost prohibitive.  They think that buying ten instead of a locust is clearly superior in firepower and will easily slow down and force the enemy to change their tempo, as you can see in the above talking points.  But I'm not an expert and neither are they.  So what do you, more expert players say?

They're one of those "It only works once" weapons, the next raid, they're aware of it and maybe even can identify the emplacements, which makes them easy to either avoid or take out early.  (I recommend AC/2 for that job, you can take them out from beyond their range relatively cheaply, and more important, early.)

your cost after that first raider is repelled, goes up-while the utility falls.

(If you're going to get raided once, you're going to get raided again.)

As a temporary then, (say, protecting a mining camp that's going to move soon anyway) not tha bad-provided what you're extracting is worth it.

but in general, this is like any visible minefield or minefield equivalent, it will work right up to the point the bandits identify it and decide "That's what we're taking out first".

At which point, if you sank enough BV into those, and not enough into your other forces?  you're boned.

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theagent

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #18 on: 27 December 2023, 00:29:40 »
Definitely only of real use in a defensive situation, either as part of a permanent installation (i.e. starport, factory) where they can be hidden among regular containers, or where they're prepositioned in the field.

The only thing I wasn't seeing was what kind of "structure points" these trailers get.  Because unless there's something I'm missing in the construction rules, I'm not seeing how these are controlled.  Remote controls I thought required some hardware on the trailer.  "Local" control is fine, but it's one thing to send "expendable" crews out in vehicles that at least have some armor on them; sending them out to die in unarmored cargo trailers seems like a situation where your crews end up being "voluntold" to man them.  Then there's also the firing arc issue.  Unless you have a turret, the trailers are going to be fixed in their firing arc, which will limit their usefulness unless you pay close attention to their placement...but adding a turret means you have less tonnage available for the weapons.  So do you have more construction information about them?  Armor? Turret? Crew cab?

Beyond that...I'm guessing you'd almost have to use them as a modification of the "Hidden Unit" rules, where until activated they don't look like anything other than another crate (& you could even have them as part of a "buildings" or "rubble" hex identified as a "cargo trailer park", then putting an actual token down for them once they're activated).  Beyond that...what's the "unit stacking rule" for 10-ton cargo trailers?  Because that could be a possibility as well, seeding multiple trailers in each hex but only 1 activates at a time...forcing the enemy to either target the unactivated trailers (I'd almost say that would require "called shot", given their sizes) or send some artillery their way (a hit on or near the hex being probably enough to take out all of the trailers).

As for use against pirates or raiders...well, that's the thing.  After the first attack, you'd better move them around.  And this is also why you want to sprinkle a bunch of empty/unarmed trailers among them (unless stacking limits them)...so that after the pirates or raiders leave, you can not only replenish the supply, but move the trailers & decoys around.  In fact, rather than simply seeding empty trailers, I'd consider building actual "decoy" ones:  no weapons, half the price, but unless an enemy unit gets within a certain distance (no less than 5 & no more than 10 hexes of them) they won't be able to tell the difference.

That being said...for that cost you can deploy almost 2 Savannah Masters for each trailer you place down...nasty, nimble little ML platforms that ran rings around the OPFOR Locust pilot they were tested against.  Platforms that can almost always generate a +4 or +5 TMM, swarm your opponent based on BV, & almost always be able to get at least 1 into the enemy's backside...that might be more useful for poorer planets.

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #19 on: 27 December 2023, 01:19:38 »
Quote
basic concept: load the setting's standard 10-ton cargo container with LRMs, ammo and minimal fire control and such to fire them. Playing around in MegaMekLab, if I model it as a 10-ton immobile trailer, I can fit 3 LRM5s and a ton of ammo. For about 138,000 C-bills. Yes, it's imobile ans defenseless, but it's absolutely dirt cheap and capable of long range indirect fire with a spotter.
[5:27 PM]
if you're a planetary government that wants to stop getting raided, you can buy a bunch of these things. Then there are three interesting things you can do with them:

load them on ubiquitous civilian trucks you already have as cheap fire support.
use earhmovers ahead of time to prepare positions with earthworks shielding them from direct fire from the ground. place a bunch near each other, call in targets and lay down a lot of missiles with very little typical raiders can do about it.
hide them amongst the ordinary cargo containers that most targets worth raiding will probably have sitting around, and use them for ambushes.

The last two open up another possibility: once opponents know you have them, any suspiciously positioned cargo container filled with enough junk to not be obviously empty on sensors is a credible threat which must be avoided, investigated or shot.

....
... you know, with how cheap these are, it's realistically possible for an important defended site to have enough of them (especially with decoys) to exhaust the ammo capacity of things like those missile locusts. For raids against that kind of target to succeed, it would force raiders to either slow down to re-arm as needed (leaving more time for reinforcements to arrive), alter their force composition in ways that would disadvantage them against conventional oponents, or risk having slower units evaporate under massed LRM fire.

Hmm.  Well, I designed something like this but with Drone tech, I call them 'Dragon's teeth'.

These things are moved out on trailers or airdropped with the Dropchutes from TO by Aerodyne DS, they're handy supply/repair or rally points for defenders and cheap fire support for whoever has the drone tech to control them.  Most of mine have a small ICE/FC engine, because of the drone tech they're pretty vicious. 

Realistically, there are uses but you have to be creative.  Almost every use I mention in my project is an ambush force multiplier, standard fixed fortifications awaiting activation and a drone operator - but according to the rules of engagement or whatever in my project, the response is normally a Davy Crokett (sp), so...
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DevianID

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #20 on: 27 December 2023, 01:56:16 »
Quote
Because unless there's something I'm missing in the construction rules, I'm not seeing how these are controlled.  Remote controls I thought required some hardware on the trailer.  "Local" control is fine, but it's one thing to send "expendable" crews out in vehicles that at least have some armor on them; sending them out to die in unarmored cargo trailers seems like a situation where your crews end up being "voluntold" to man them.

Yes, the trailers the OP Vehrec created are manned with a live human.  There is no included drone controller or smart robotic control system.  So every ac2 that hits these unarmored trailer also kills the crew, and the crew must be trained and supplied too.

Its part of my problem with these.  They arnt that cheap, and a proper fortification with structure isnt that much more expensive but can take an ac2 hit at least.  Also, q-containers using civilian infrastructure is basically a warcrime, so if you get raided and someone pulls this?  Its gonna be very very messy as you force the attacker to target civilian infrastructure.  Everyone loses, unless the user of the q-container is some kind of tyrant.  They are putting people in unarmored hot boxes to die after all, so 'life is cheap' is definately what these q-containers are going for.

Finally, hidden units as a rule isnt something you just get.  These containers have engines and sensors and weapon mounts.  They arnt exactly stealthy.  So they would only be stealthy/hidden unit as part of some scenario which is designed to make them better then they are on paper--as on paper they are not stealthy.  You still need a tractor for each container in a normal game, which adds another crewman to the equation and a new vehicle--otherwise you cant deploy onto the board.

If you were actually using these in a game as part of a defense force, I would draft up an entire city.  I like using phoenix, az, as its pretty flat.  Then put a pin on all the various factories and such in and around phoenix that someone might want to raid.  THEN start placing these containers.  See how far you get with this budget trying to cover a real city, and let the attacker plot their line of advance and see how many containers actual get into range on a city scale.  It would be a fun 'sim city' exercise honestly, city planners have a defense budget, and the attacker goal is to try and steal more cbills then they lose.  Its not a game of battletech at that point, but it would be more fun then the attacker spending 45 turns with an ac2 plinking containers.

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #21 on: 27 December 2023, 05:49:56 »
Note: Nowhere in the OP does it say anything about armor or even control system (it might of course be implicit in the cost, I haven’t checked) and there's weight for both. And arguing that they'd die from an AC/2 is also silly - you make sure to deploy them behind a level 1 elevation.

However you still need a good idea about where the enemy is coming to make them useful. Around your local military base seems logical, and drive them to another location if there is something really valuable there at the moment?

Personally I'd take 2 LRM5s in a turret rather than three fixed, thought.

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #22 on: 27 December 2023, 09:13:38 »
Given you can get a mobile (vehicle mounted) 'Mech Mortar-1 for less than the cost of an LRM-5 launcher, I'd go with those instead.

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #23 on: 27 December 2023, 20:41:12 »
Yes, the trailers the OP Vehrec created are manned with a live human.  There is no included drone controller or smart robotic control system.  So every ac2 that hits these unarmored trailer also kills the crew, and the crew must be trained and supplied too.

Its part of my problem with these.  They arnt that cheap, and a proper fortification with structure isnt that much more expensive but can take an ac2 hit at least.  Also, q-containers using civilian infrastructure is basically a warcrime, so if you get raided and someone pulls this?  Its gonna be very very messy as you force the attacker to target civilian infrastructure.  Everyone loses, unless the user of the q-container is some kind of tyrant.  They are putting people in unarmored hot boxes to die after all, so 'life is cheap' is definately what these q-containers are going for.

Finally, hidden units as a rule isnt something you just get.  These containers have engines and sensors and weapon mounts.  They arnt exactly stealthy.  So they would only be stealthy/hidden unit as part of some scenario which is designed to make them better then they are on paper--as on paper they are not stealthy.  You still need a tractor for each container in a normal game, which adds another crewman to the equation and a new vehicle--otherwise you cant deploy onto the board.

If you were actually using these in a game as part of a defense force, I would draft up an entire city.  I like using phoenix, az, as its pretty flat.  Then put a pin on all the various factories and such in and around phoenix that someone might want to raid.  THEN start placing these containers.  See how far you get with this budget trying to cover a real city, and let the attacker plot their line of advance and see how many containers actual get into range on a city scale.  It would be a fun 'sim city' exercise honestly, city planners have a defense budget, and the attacker goal is to try and steal more cbills then they lose.  Its not a game of battletech at that point, but it would be more fun then the attacker spending 45 turns with an ac2 plinking containers.

Yeah, I was thinking there were some problems.  As far as the Hidden Units go, though, the same logic can apply to BattleMechs & Combat Vehicles, as they have the same power/sensor issue.  Which is why I figure that, for Hidden Units to apply, they have to be powered down...but seeing a cargo container just sitting in the middle of nowhere is going to look suspicious.

I hadn't considered the war crimes part...although, to be fair, I don't think pirates worry too much about that, so this might be more useful to a planet that suffers from pirate raids & is already used to having civilian infrastructure shot to hell.

Note: Nowhere in the OP does it say anything about armor or even control system (it might of course be implicit in the cost, I haven’t checked) and there's weight for both. And arguing that they'd die from an AC/2 is also silly - you make sure to deploy them behind a level 1 elevation.

However you still need a good idea about where the enemy is coming to make them useful. Around your local military base seems logical, and drive them to another location if there is something really valuable there at the moment?

Personally I'd take 2 LRM5s in a turret rather than three fixed, thought.

That's what I was wondering, since he said it was a 10-ton trailer, but I was only getting 7 tons from the math (3 LRM-5 @ 2 tons each +1 ton ammo = 7 tons).

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #24 on: 28 December 2023, 00:54:56 »
I'm not quite clear if the concept is just for trailer or a transportable bunker. Either way, I can see them as a temporary measure until more permanent bunkers are built.

I'm kind of leery of having them be Q-Containers though. As others have pointed out, that would just cause the raiders to blast every shipping container. The only way I can see it really working more than once is with a one shot kill. The problem is if the target, and any witnesses, aren't killed in that first shot, they'll be telling all their friends about what just attacked them. Then the defender would have to make sure that all the raiders, dropship and jumpship included were eliminated. And without armor or mobility, that isn't too likely.

The defenders could try to use ECM to jam communications but by that point the raiders are at the LRM's minimum range or less. That kind of defeats the point of using LRMs. SRMs might be a better choice for a q-container but I think a mine field would be more effective and less risky for other containers.

Minemech

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Re: LRM containers-useful, or a distraction?
« Reply #25 on: 28 December 2023, 09:41:12 »
 I am fairly sure in the situation of a world overly raided by pirates, if they were too poor to hire a fair mercenary unit, they would go for the desperate type who may not be House material but would be made of good warriors. Star Lord spoke of this group as an underground bunch on the Mercenary Star. These folks would handle the deployment of assets like the LRM Containers. They have a mixed reputation for fighting humanely but are often of high quality as warriors.

 An alternative course is to go the Decision at Thunder Rift route and get your larger state to hire the mercenary unit. Said mercenaries would be higher end, but depending on the significance of your world you may only get a small unit. They would employ such things in a more humane manner.

 Reputable mercenaries can be hired but you may not get great ones.
 
 The Illyrian Palatinate historically was a small periphery state that was able to hire competent mercenaries, actually beat off a major periphery power who was also a pirate state but fell to a lesser periphery pirate state who was a rising power. If you wanted to set up a scenario where these vessels were deployed, it might be in this context.
 
 If you are an independent system, it all depends on who or what you can afford and who you are willing to hire. You might even hire other pirates, or in the historical case of some systems, draw other powers in.

 If you use these, playing double blind is another world than standard. Playing with special rules could make for particularly fun games, but some conditions make them worthless.

 

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