Author Topic: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare  (Read 1790 times)

Trailblazer

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Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« on: 29 January 2024, 23:42:20 »
This thread is for 'Mech commanders looking to improve their small-unit tactics with tried and true maneuvers that work in a variety of common battlefield situations.  Some of these are moves that I learned about in my early years playing BattleTech, others are ones that (embarrassingly) I only discovered recently, often through seeing them used against me.

I encourage anyone who has cool maneuvers to share to post them in the thread!

--The Back-and-Forth--

One of your main goals in moving your units is to run up your opponent's Target Movement Modifier numbers, while minimizing your own Attacker Movement Modifiers.  This is easiest to do with units that are at least moderately fast, i.e. that move at a 5/8 speed or better.

With units at 5/8+ speed, a couple hexes of clear terrain can be just as good as standing still in woods.  If you have a firing position you like in clear terrain, with another hex or two of clear terrain adjacent, simply back up and then walk back into the hex where you started (or perhaps the hex directly in front or in back).  With a walk speed of 5, you can give your opponent a +2 TMM while taking only a +1 AMM yourself.

With faster units you can utilize terrain in combination with this maneuver.  See example below: the Cicada walks back and forth to generate a +2 TMM, and also winds up back in the heavy woods where it started for a total +4 modifier to enemy shooting.  This is what makes fast sniper units like the Jackal, Pack Hunter, or the Cicada-3F pictured so useful in long-ranged combat.



Although it isn't optimal in most situations, you can also use this move with slower units moving 4/6 or 3/5, if you have superior range or gunnery skill to the enemy.  Keep in mind that if you're driving their To-Hit Number up from 8 to 9, at the cost of increasing your THN from 6 to 7, that will pay off on average.


--The Sweet Spot in the Rear--


This is a classic move against BattleMechs with asymmetrical arm weapons.  If you get into your opponent's rear arc, the most intuitive thing to do is stand directly behind them.  But against a 'Mech with a strong right-arm weapon and a weak or unarmed left arm, there is a better place to go.  Note in the images below how the Wraith's large pulse laser can't target the Cicada, no matter how the Wraith torso twists.





Of course this isn't actually ideal against a Wraith, which has a strong medium-laser arsenal in the left arm as well.  But against something like a Phoenix Hawk or a Thunder Hawk this is a very valuable maneuver indeed.  Keep track of which enemy 'Mechs have lost an arm; the sweet spot move also works great against a one-armed Marauder.  Just keep in mind, it's no use against turreted vees or 'Mechs with flippable arms, and you are forgoing your physical attacks.


--Advancing LRM Tanks Under Cover--


There are units in this game that go from OK to decisive in the right terrain.  No unit better exemplifies this principle than the fast tank armed with LRMs (the 3025 Hunter, or ideally a hover like the Saracen or the Scimitar-LRM).

In terrain with a lot of low hills or craters, these tanks go from decent units for defense and fire support to devastating attackers.  The reason is that they are only one level high.  If there's a level-one hill or cliff between you and your enemy, send your missile tank behind it and all of a sudden you have free indirect-fire potshots with no danger to your attacking tank. See below, where the Scimitar moves up to short range to attack the Wraith.



This is one of the best ways to force an enemy to abandon a good defensive position.  Unless they have artillery or a way of attacking your spotters, there is no easy defense against this.  If they send up fast units of their own to attack the missile tanks, sure they can do that, but now those units are out in the open in front of your main battle line (which should be behind the tanks).

Ironically, this also means that attacking uphill is better than downhill if you bring the right force!

(This is one of those battlefield roles that has not been filled to my satisfaction by any canon units.  The Scimitar-LRM is fine, but a single LRM-15 is not that much punch.  It's pretty easy to build an equally fast hovertank with twice that much indirect firepower.)
« Last Edit: 29 January 2024, 23:43:51 by Trailblazer »

Daryk

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #1 on: 30 January 2024, 20:05:05 »
This is the paradigm where the WVR-6M shines... it's heat tuning is for Alpha Strikes followed by a jump away... rinse and repeat.  I'll take that 'mech over almost any other on that basis alone (yes, yes... Blazer Cannons have a special place in my heart... ;D)...

OatsAndHall

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #2 on: 02 February 2024, 10:58:35 »
Cavalry and Warrior VTOLs are great mobile LRM carriers. Neither packs the same punch as the tanks described but they can get to cover on the map in hurry.  I like to field a lance of TAG/LRM Cavalry VTOLs at times because they are so quick. One zips in and TAGs a unit, the other three get to cover and pummel away with LRMs. I can find all kinds of great places to hide because of VTOL movement rules. 
« Last Edit: 02 February 2024, 11:12:26 by OatsAndHall »

Paul

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #3 on: 03 February 2024, 09:14:31 »
This thread is for 'Mech commanders looking to improve their small-unit tactics with tried and true maneuvers that work in a variety of common battlefield situations.

Really nice article, great job on those screenshots!


Quote
With faster units you can utilize terrain in combination with this maneuver.  See example below: the Cicada walks back and forth to generate a +2 TMM, and also winds up back in the heavy woods where it started for a total +4 modifier to enemy shooting.

You recalculate after you reverse, so in the example shown, it should only be a +1 TMM defensively. from 1406 to 1105 is 3 hexes.
Still, a good maneuver, because giving the enemy another +1 to-hit can still do useful things like pushing a 7 to-hit to an 8.


Quote
If there's a level-one hill or cliff between you and your enemy, send your missile tank behind it and all of a sudden you have free indirect-fire potshots with no danger to your attacking tank.

It may be redundant, but should mention be made of the need to have a spotter somewhere that is either infantry or that hasn't moved to maximize this effort?
Actual question, if a reader  understands the concept of IDF, they must also understand the need for a spotter, so it may be unnecessary text.
And one nice thing about your article is that it's quite compact.


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Trailblazer

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #4 on: 04 February 2024, 11:27:54 »

You recalculate after you reverse, so in the example shown, it should only be a +1 TMM defensively. from 1406 to 1105 is 3 hexes.
Still, a good maneuver, because giving the enemy another +1 to-hit can still do useful things like pushing a 7 to-hit to an 8.

Wow you are right.... Amazing that my group has been playing this wrong for years. I wonder if this was a rule that changed with Total Warfare or if I've been doing it wrong since the Compendium days.

Anyway, thanks for pointing this out and for doing it so constructively. When I have a minute I'll revise the OP in accord with your suggestions.

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #5 on: 04 February 2024, 12:17:28 »
Wow you are right.... Amazing that my group has been playing this wrong for years. I wonder if this was a rule that changed with Total Warfare or if I've been doing it wrong since the Compendium days.

Checking: the ROW from 87 just mentions total # of hexes moved, which would allow the back-n-forth. The 1990 Compendium (p24) has this:
"If the target used both backward and forward movement in the turn, the number of hexes moved for combat purposes is only counted from the hex that the unit last reversed its movement."


Quote
Anyway, thanks for pointing this out and for doing it so constructively. When I have a minute I'll revise the OP in accord with your suggestions.

Glad I could help. Like I said, I like the article, and I'm pondering what else to suggest.
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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #6 on: 06 February 2024, 10:19:26 »
also iirc under current rules you can't mix forward and backwards movement. so you'd have to turn in place 3 hexsides, run several hexes, turn in place 3 hex sides again, and run back to your original hex. and you'd still only get the TMM from the # of hexes the whole manuever took place in, rather than counting them multiple times as you reenter. and you'd net yourself a higher penalty for your own shots.

so it would actually make more sense if you want to get a TMM without losing your spot to run in a circle. you still spend 6 MP turning, but you'd cross more hexes doing so, getting you a high TMM.

Charistoph

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #7 on: 06 February 2024, 12:32:12 »
also iirc under current rules you can't mix forward and backwards movement. so you'd have to turn in place 3 hexsides, run several hexes, turn in place 3 hex sides again, and run back to your original hex. and you'd still only get the TMM from the # of hexes the whole manuever took place in, rather than counting them multiple times as you reenter. and you'd net yourself a higher penalty for your own shots.

so it would actually make more sense if you want to get a TMM without losing your spot to run in a circle. you still spend 6 MP turning, but you'd cross more hexes doing so, getting you a high TMM.

That doesn't make sense, though, since Total Warfare talks about it on pg 107 and Battlemech Manual talks about it on pg 25 when talking about the Target Movement Modifier.

What you can't do is mix Walking/Cruising with Running/Flanking or Jumping.
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Cannonshop

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #8 on: 06 February 2024, 21:29:55 »
also iirc under current rules you can't mix forward and backwards movement. so you'd have to turn in place 3 hexsides, run several hexes, turn in place 3 hex sides again, and run back to your original hex. and you'd still only get the TMM from the # of hexes the whole manuever took place in, rather than counting them multiple times as you reenter. and you'd net yourself a higher penalty for your own shots.

so it would actually make more sense if you want to get a TMM without losing your spot to run in a circle. you still spend 6 MP turning, but you'd cross more hexes doing so, getting you a high TMM.

ISTR this was a major discussion about 20 years ago, and was even answered in an errata post several forum generations ago. 

That doesn't make sense, though, since Total Warfare talks about it on pg 107 and Battlemech Manual talks about it on pg 25 when talking about the Target Movement Modifier.

What you can't do is mix Walking/Cruising with Running/Flanking or Jumping.

Which suggests either the ruling's been reversed, or a Dev needs to come down from the mountain to clarify, possibly with a repeat of the old errata or an explanation of why it's been changed.

Typically, however, TMM has been measured by the number of hexes between start and stop, not how many MP you spent getting there.
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Charistoph

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #9 on: 06 February 2024, 23:58:21 »
Which suggests either the ruling's been reversed, or a Dev needs to come down from the mountain to clarify, possibly with a repeat of the old errata or an explanation of why it's been changed.

Since it's not showing up in the Errata with any number, I think it happened with the original printing with Total Warfare.

Looking in to a way-back machine, the same language is used in the 2 Compendiums, the earliest with a copyright date of 1990.

That's as far back as any rulebook I can check, at present.

Typically, however, TMM has been measured by the number of hexes between start and stop, not how many MP you spent getting there.

Correct, but it looks like we've been looking at it's how many Hexes after shifting between Reverse and Drive which count as well for most of Classic's history.
« Last Edit: 07 February 2024, 11:48:55 by Charistoph »
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OatsAndHall

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #10 on: 07 February 2024, 10:51:03 »
The "reverse shuffle" is the only time we've ever deviated from the TMM rules. Walk back x-number of hexes and then follow the same path for x-number of hexes and your movement modifier is x-number of hexes. If you use a movement points to change your facing after entering the last hex you entered, we follow the same rules; you went ___- hexes back, came forward ____ hexes and your modifier is ____ hexes. 

I imagine we'll continue to follow this rule, regardless of any changes as it makes sense. If all you do is walk back and then come forward to hex you originally vacated, you're not making yourself a difficult target... And... It's cheesy when a mech walks backwards 5 hexes, comes forward 5 on the same path and gets a +1 TH and +4 TMM.

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #11 on: 08 February 2024, 13:53:31 »
For back-and-forth movement, that actually works turn after turn, especially for faster units that can attack well from medium and long range.  Using the Stormcrow Prime, for example, in clear terrain, walk forward six hexes, attack.  The next turn, walk backwards six hexes, and attack.  This all fits within the medium range band of the configuration's ER Large Lasers.
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Charistoph

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #12 on: 08 February 2024, 18:10:21 »
I imagine we'll continue to follow this rule, regardless of any changes as it makes sense. If all you do is walk back and then come forward to hex you originally vacated, you're not making yourself a difficult target... And... It's cheesy when a mech walks backwards 5 hexes, comes forward 5 on the same path and gets a +1 TH and +4 TMM.

Which is probably why it's been just a +2 TMM for the forward 5 hexes for decades (if not more).
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OatsAndHall

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #13 on: 09 February 2024, 10:42:43 »
Which is probably why it's been just a +2 TMM for the forward 5 hexes for decades (if not more).

Yup, that's the rule we used when I was 12 years old... And, we still follow it 31 years later.  There is a grey area that's not clear; if I walk backwards 5 hexes, turn one hex face, walk forward one hex, turn another hex face (bringing me back to the original direction I was facing) and then walk forward two hexes. I expend my 10 MP, walk 8 hexes total and get a +3 TMM. We do allow this because otherwise we're looking at establishing an complicated house-rule.
« Last Edit: 12 February 2024, 09:30:18 by OatsAndHall »

Charistoph

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #14 on: 09 February 2024, 11:30:31 »
Yup, that's the rule we used when I was 12 years old... And, we still follow it 31 years later.  There is a grey area that's not clear; if I walk backwards 5 hexes, turn one hex face, walk forward one hex, turn another hex face (bringing me back to the original direction I was facing) and then walk forward three hexes. I expend my 10 MP, walk 8 hexes total and get a +3 TMM. We do allow this because otherwise we're looking at establishing an complicated house-rule.

Actually, you expended 15 11 MP on that move all for 7 0 hex forward movement (3 from the original that would normally only take 4 MP), but only +1 TMM.
+5 backwards
+1 Turn
+1 Forward
+1 Turn
+4 Forward
+3 Forward
=15 11 MP used.

Not a lot of units can pull off Movement like that.  Most are Hover or VTOL, and I don't see the point of doing that because only getting 3 hexes of forward movement all while losing another point 2 points of potential TMM by moving that far backwards in the first place that could be used just circling what you were targeting with a unit that usually can't stand to lose that much TMM.

This doesn't need a house rule because its working as intended and it works fine as is.

Edit: Because apparently I read something else there, and it apparently needs correcting.
« Last Edit: 12 February 2024, 12:33:20 by Charistoph »
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Daryk

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #15 on: 09 February 2024, 19:26:08 »
I only see 11 MP? ???

Cannonshop

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #16 on: 09 February 2024, 21:38:05 »
Actually, you expended 15 MP on that move all for 7 hex forward movement (3 from the original that would normally only take 4 MP).
+5 backwards
+1 Turn
+1 Forward
+1 Turn
+4 Forward
+3 Forward
=15 MP used.

Not a lot of units can pull off Movement like that.  Most are Hover or VTOL, and I don't see the point of doing that because only getting 3 hexes of forward movement all while losing another point of potential TMM by moving that far backwards in the first place that could be used just circling what you were targeting with a unit that usually can't stand to lose that much TMM.

This doesn't need a house rule because its working as intended and it works fine as is.

please clarify the bolded portion?
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Paul

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #17 on: 10 February 2024, 09:31:58 »
if I walk backwards 5 hexes, turn one hex face,

6MP so far

Quote
walk forward one hex

This resets the count, so you're at 7MP, 0 hexes moved with regards to TMM.

Quote
turn another hex face (bringing me back to the original direction I was facing) and then walk forward three hexes. I expend my 10 MP, walk 8 hexes total and get a +3 TMM.

This would be 10 MP, and only 3 hexes for TMM purposes.

The solution is just ignore Paul.

Charistoph

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #18 on: 10 February 2024, 14:17:00 »
please clarify the bolded portion?

Ah, woops.  When I read "face the original Direction, I took it as "moved back to original hex for some reason, or I crossed universes in my sleep for a nice Mandella effect.

Either way, as Paul pointed out, Oatsandhall is still miscalculating the TMM, though he's still one point off.

This resets the count, so you're at 7MP, 0 hexes moved with regards to TMM.

No, that's 1 hex moved.  The TMM is still zero, but it still counts.

The end of hexes moved would be 4, not that it matters for the final TMM.
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Daryk

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #19 on: 10 February 2024, 14:27:17 »
Glad to hear I'm still doing math correctly! :)

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #20 on: 11 February 2024, 12:28:57 »
Either way, as Paul pointed out, Oatsandhall is still miscalculating the TMM, though he's still one point off.

Yep, you're right. Thanks for catching that.
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OatsAndHall

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #21 on: 12 February 2024, 09:34:22 »
Actually, you expended 15 MP on that move all for 7 hex forward movement (3 from the original that would normally only take 4 MP).
+5 backwards
+1 Turn
+1 Forward
+1 Turn
+4 Forward
+3 Forward
=15 MP used.

Not a lot of units can pull off Movement like that.  Most are Hover or VTOL, and I don't see the point of doing that because only getting 3 hexes of forward movement all while losing another point of potential TMM by moving that far backwards in the first place that could be used just circling what you were targeting with a unit that usually can't stand to lose that much TMM.

This doesn't need a house rule because its working as intended and it works fine as is.

No... I'm walking backwards, moving one hex line away from the original line of travel and then coming forward. 5 hexes back, 1 hex face turn, 1 hex forward, 1 more hex face turn (back towards the original direction but one hex line off) and walk forward 2 hexes. That's 10 MP and 8 hexes moved. 

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #22 on: 12 February 2024, 10:42:49 »
No... I'm walking backwards, moving one hex line away from the original line of travel and then coming forward. 5 hexes back, 1 hex face turn, 1 hex forward, 1 more hex face turn (back towards the original direction but one hex line off) and walk forward 2 hexes. That's 10 MP and 8 hexes moved.

Maybe try reading a little bit more in the responses before responding yourself.  It was pointed out and I admitted the mistake.

Ah, woops.  When I read "face the original Direction, I took it as "moved back to original hex for some reason, or I crossed universes in my sleep for a nice Mandella effect.

Other than adding in an extra 4 hexes in to the analysis, I'm still right.

And you didn't say 2 hexes forward after the last turn, you said 3.

Yup, that's the rule we used when I was 12 years old... And, we still follow it 31 years later.  There is a grey area that's not clear; if I walk backwards 5 hexes, turn one hex face, walk forward one hex, turn another hex face (bringing me back to the original direction I was facing) and then walk forward three hexes. I expend my 10 MP, walk 8 hexes total and get a +3 TMM. We do allow this because otherwise we're looking at establishing an complicated house-rule.

That's the original quote from your statement.  Going back and changing it later doesn't help your case since your base interpretation is still wrong when you include the Backwards movement in calculating your TMM.

You may have moved 8 hexes, but for TMM purposes according to the rules since as early as 1990, you only get 4 hexes worth of TMM according to what you originally said, and 3 with what you adjusted to having.  Calculating your TMM based on all 8-9 hexes IS the house rule.
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OatsAndHall

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #23 on: 12 February 2024, 10:59:22 »
Maybe try reading a little bit more in the responses before responding yourself.  It was pointed out and I admitted the mistake.

Other than adding in an extra 4 hexes in to the analysis, I'm still right.

And you didn't say 2 hexes forward after the last turn, you said 3.

That's the original quote from your statement.  Going back and changing it later doesn't help your case since your base interpretation is still wrong when you include the Backwards movement in calculating your TMM.

You may have moved 8 hexes, but for TMM purposes according to the rules since as early as 1990, you only get 4 hexes worth of TMM according to what you originally said, and 3 with what you adjusted to having.  Calculating your TMM based on all 8-9 hexes IS the house rule.

Yup, you're right, I should've read more carefully. I was going to clarify that I edited the original post but was interrupted while I was typing so I just posted it. No ill-intent.

And, yes, it is a house rule. We've kept it that way as we ran into multiple situations where we didn't feel the backward/forward rule was true to "the spirit of the game". Particularly with slower mechs getting no TMM when backing up and then moving forward in a different direction to try and get out of bad situations.
« Last Edit: 12 February 2024, 13:24:48 by OatsAndHall »

Charistoph

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #24 on: 12 February 2024, 14:30:46 »
And, yes, it is a house rule. We've kept it that way as we ran into multiple situations where we didn't feel the backward/forward rule was true to "the spirit of the game". Particularly with slower mechs getting no TMM when backing up and then moving forward in a different direction to try and get out of bad situations.

Ah, when you said "include a complicated House Rule", it sounded as if your group thought this was how it was and you were complaining how the RAW was a needlessly complicated house rule.

The problem is the shift of momentum.  Running around in a circle, you're not diametrically shifting your momentum, just angling it.  Going backward then forward again, requires putting an mount of energy in reversing your momentum.  That throws off your defensive energy.

It also keeps something like the Locust just going back 4 then Forward 4 and getting a full 8 hexes worth of TMM, even though they effectively stayed in place as the end result.
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OatsAndHall

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Re: Textbook maneuvers of 31st Century armored warfare
« Reply #25 on: 12 February 2024, 14:56:25 »
Ah, when you said "include a complicated House Rule", it sounded as if your group thought this was how it was and you were complaining how the RAW was a needlessly complicated house rule.

The problem is the shift of momentum.  Running around in a circle, you're not diametrically shifting your momentum, just angling it.  Going backward then forward again, requires putting an mount of energy in reversing your momentum.  That throws off your defensive energy.

It also keeps something like the Locust just going back 4 then Forward 4 and getting a full 8 hexes worth of TMM, even though they effectively stayed in place as the end result.

Oh no, we abide by the straight backward/forward rule. But, we'll allow a player to back up, move a hex line or two off and come back in the same general direction. I ran into a situation yesterday where my Timberwolf was fairly boxed in by enemy mechs. My only move to get out of trouble (i.e. get them off of my back) was to backup two hexes, turn one hex face and walk forward two hexes (got into a level two adjacent position). According to the rules, I wouldn't get a TMM at all but, with the house rules, I got a +1 which seems more reasonable.