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Author Topic: Mech sweet-spot tactics?  (Read 3288 times)

Vandervecken

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Mech sweet-spot tactics?
« on: 03 September 2015, 16:48:26 »
There are a lot of mech designs out there where they pack on far more weapons than they can fire without overheating a lot, and rely on the fact that these weapons have different damage profiles at different ranges.  Some mechs do this in an obviously effective way - for example, the simple Archer.
2 LRM 20's for longe range, 4 Medium lasers when the LRMs are useless.  The 4 MLs take up a minimal amount of space and fill a major gap in the Mech.  The design is (in my view) almost perfect.

But there are a lot more Mechs that do this in a different way.  Mechs that don't pick a role but rather do a little bit of everything.  Mechs that have weapons that function in many different brackets, and more than they can realistically fire in a turn.

In many tactical wargames (such as Eve Online) the recommendation is always to have your unit do one thing well, and spend effort on enabling that unit to get into its sweet spot, rather than on mitigating the effects of failure to get into the sweet spot, or spreading yourself out so you have no sweet spot.
In Battletech it seems like this should hold up as well.  There are only a few cases where mitigation efforts are so effective and so light that they're worth doing.  Such as MLs on the Archer.

Am I wrong here?  How does one effectively play a Mech that does a bit of everything?  Are there certain cases where it's better?  Perhaps if you have a Unit that is highly non-mobile (like a 2/3 or a 3/5) you should assume it will never be in its sweet spot, and balance it accordingly?
Or should you just avoid slow units altogether in favour of units that can reliably be in their sweet spot?

snewsom2997

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Re: Mech sweet-spot tactics?
« Reply #1 on: 03 September 2015, 17:21:40 »
I would say that the Thunderbolt, is another of those designs like the Archer, Something at all ranges, however with a enough heat sinks to fire most weapons.

The problem I generally have when actually playing with mechs like this especially in the 3025 era are that they are ammo bombs. Beyond Laser Boats, like the Ostsol, Downgraded Thug, you are going to have 1 or more types with one or more tons of each type. IS CASE with XL Engines doesn't quite cut it for safety factor, though Clan tech makes the risk more acceptable.

I like the Generalist mechs more for flavor, and some like the Archer and Thunderbolt, have strong variants in all eras. In the IntroTech era, a Lance of Archers and Thuds are neigh unstoppable, Ton for Ton, BV for BV. Even more so if you are playing 2 Lances and can toss a Lance of Phoennix Hawks o Grasshoppers in there for spotting.

Given the choice, like when I play Megamek, I prefer Combined Arms, Hover and VTOL Scouts, Medium, Heavy, and Assault Mechs, with LRM Carriers or Arrow Launchers.

The 55 Ton to 70 Ton Weight Range, are the sweet spot for everything designs. You can still have enough Mobility at the upper weight limit and keep enough throw weight at the low end. To both make a passable Scout, or a Cavalry Mech, or if in mobs a Fire Support team.

The problem with specialist designs is that the game doesn't scale up well at least until Alpha Strike, a Battalion on Battalion TacOps Game can and will take days to play, and that is where specialists designs thrive, when you have a Lance of them. When you have only a Lance, then the Generalist Shine, an Archer, Phoenix Hawk, Thunderbolt and Crusader. They can Play Fire Support, Cavalry, and the Phoenix Hawk and Some Crusaders can even be scouts.


ThatPirateGuy

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Re: Mech sweet-spot tactics?
« Reply #2 on: 04 September 2015, 11:16:58 »
The issue with overly specialized mech's is that if they have a bad range then they need to be able to control the engagement through speed, rough terrain and jumpjets, or other clever tricks.

If they can't do that then the optimal play of facing them at that bad range is easy to see. Overlapping specialists is a possibility but that means you are in trouble if one is rendered combat ineffective.

Having a response up your sleeve for when the plan goes sideways due to a lucky through armor crit can really make for more fun game.
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Martius

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Re: Mech sweet-spot tactics?
« Reply #3 on: 04 September 2015, 11:43:10 »
Specialist Mechs shine in larger engagements. In the usual lance vs. lance brawls specialist can have a hard time. A good example is the Yeoman.

House Davie Merc

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Re: Mech sweet-spot tactics?
« Reply #4 on: 04 September 2015, 13:55:56 »
I prefer an overall team concept to generalist mechs .
I've found that for me mechs that do " a bit of everything "  struggle to
cause as much damage as specialists over the course of a game .

Teamed specialists tend to cover each other's weaknesses better while
being able to concentrate their tonnage on specific qualities .
Those specific qualities CAN cause exploitable weaknesses ,but
it takes specialists to be able to exploit those same weaknesses .

cavingjan

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Re: Mech sweet-spot tactics?
« Reply #5 on: 05 September 2015, 15:35:32 »
Some generalists, like the Vindicator, are not very effective by itself. They shines when they are teamed up as a lance.

Koren-Gagin

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Re: Mech sweet-spot tactics?
« Reply #6 on: 06 September 2015, 00:21:07 »
The catapult is the same way with two LRM 15s and 4 MLs but I have gotten use to using an usher mech with either a spider and dragon or a spider and an awsome since I have noticed that the catapult well be ingnored at first and the jager mech well get some focus but if I got another mech that gets the focus of my enemy my two fire support mechs can sand paper the enemy while the spider tries to get behind and the dragon/awsome hopes to wither some of the pain train sent his way.

Also I'm known to put a dragon and awsome on the feild with the jagermech and catapult but it requires a higher bb limit so meh.
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Red Pins

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Re: Mech sweet-spot tactics?
« Reply #7 on: 06 September 2015, 02:07:28 »
There are a lot of mech designs out there where they pack on far more weapons than they can fire without overheating a lot, and rely on the fact that these weapons have different damage profiles at different ranges.  Some mechs do this in an obviously effective way - for example, the simple Archer.
2 LRM 20's for longe range, 4 Medium lasers when the LRMs are useless.  The 4 MLs take up a minimal amount of space and fill a major gap in the Mech.  The design is (in my view) almost perfect.

But there are a lot more Mechs that do this in a different way.  Mechs that don't pick a role but rather do a little bit of everything.  Mechs that have weapons that function in many different brackets, and more than they can realistically fire in a turn.

In many tactical wargames (such as Eve Online) the recommendation is always to have your unit do one thing well, and spend effort on enabling that unit to get into its sweet spot, rather than on mitigating the effects of failure to get into the sweet spot, or spreading yourself out so you have no sweet spot.
In Battletech it seems like this should hold up as well.  There are only a few cases where mitigation efforts are so effective and so light that they're worth doing.  Such as MLs on the Archer.

Am I wrong here?  How does one effectively play a Mech that does a bit of everything?  Are there certain cases where it's better?  Perhaps if you have a Unit that is highly non-mobile (like a 2/3 or a 3/5) you should assume it will never be in its sweet spot, and balance it accordingly?
Or should you just avoid slow units altogether in favour of units that can reliably be in their sweet spot?

Yes and no.  Specialist designs are tools like any other, and in a perfect world simply outshine generalists.  But, to take a quote from Star Fleet Battles, "Don't play his game, make him play yours."

You see the difference fighting a C3 Lance or C3i - one, normally a Light with high movement and Jump capable will send targeting info to the rest of the group.  The rest will take advantage of that to close to long range (the modifier negated with the C3 system) and either stop to hold the range open or close further in the case of physical attack 'Mechs like a Hatchetman, Nightsky, or whatever.

Generalists use a different strategy.  There are options, but think of them as sniper vs shotgun - finesse vs brute force.  Not everybody can hit a target at half a mile, but at 20 meters almost everybody can.  To play a generalist, there are some tricks.  Let's pick an Orion, always a favorite of mine.  AC/10, 15-P, 2 MLs, and a 4-P.  Lets say also the original mapsheet, splash of water at the center, hills and woods in the top and bottom right, scattered clumps of trees.  The generalist will normally be too slow to cross the open ground, but could set fires to break sight lines, stay in a woods hex with a second directly in front of it, stand in the trees on the edge of the clump, and generally be a road bump to any specialized designs.  In the case of the Orion, my favorite moves are to force faster (normally lighter) units to close through the open, sniping at range, opening up at close.  Woods and my Lance protect my back, smoke cuts him off from long-range sniping in support, and generally (pun intended) his options are limited while mine are naturally more diverse.

Of course, it gets turned around too.  Sabre dancing with a fast, mobile Light with JJs for added mobility (Like a Pack Hunter) can slowly whittle that Orion down, keeping the range open, movement and terrain modifiers high, and forcing the generalist from using every weapon or advantage it possesses.  The joker in this deck is terrain, and house- or table rules.  (I myself have a system; I pick a map or set of maps, so does my opponent.  I hide them behind my back, he picks one hand, I pick my entry side and he comes in opposite.)

The 'sweet spot' argument is one of those unwinnable things but generally in a one on one match a generalist will win because it always has more options.  Lances are more likely to be able to protect the specialist long enough for it to make a difference.  A Dire Wolf generalist closes and crushes you.  A Kraken LRM boat smothers you at range.  Its one of the reasons generalists and specialists exist and why bracket firing units (like the Archer) are so hard to deal with; the more options to counter, the more difficult it is to make maximum use of your advantages.
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