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Author Topic: Need help understanding mechs  (Read 733 times)

carlisimo

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Need help understanding mechs
« on: 25 February 2019, 17:39:36 »
The thread about combat roles got me thinking about how one looks at a record sheet and decides how to use a mech.  I haven’t figured it out yet, so I thought I’d ask using an example - but I’m using it to ask for general advice. 

I’ve only played with the Beginner Box so far.

Suppose I’m looking at building a Taurian lance set in the Reunification War.  Maybe two Toros, a Talos, and a Thunderbolt.  Apparently lances are supposed to be more consistent in weight, so never mind the lance, let’s just look at the Toros.  There’s the -A-6, with better speed, a PPC and two LRM-5s.  With 10 heat sinks, it usually isn’t going to fire all its weapons at once.  And there’s the -A-1, which is slower and has a large laser and two SRM-2s, along with the same 10 heat sinks.  (Total protection should be fairly close - the -A-1 has primitive armor, but more of it to compensate.) 

How would you choose between two variants like that?  What would you do with each one?

I assume the -A-6 wants to find some woods to sit in and fire away with the PPC.  I can’t picture it ever firing the LRMs as well, unless I know I’m going to move next turn and plan on not firing the PPC.

The -A-1… do you keep it similarly far away until late in the game, and just get into SRM range once the enemy has some exposed internals?  Or earlier, because you can occasionally fire the LL and an SRM before heat becomes an issue?


Tai Dai Cultist

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #1 on: 25 February 2019, 17:52:57 »
Well you're asking a pretty big question... which basically is ultimately "How do you play BattleTech?"

One of the distinguishing things about Boardgame BattleTech is the enormous possible combinations of weapons/gadgets.  Lots of people love BattleTech for that reason, but as a beginner I'd suggest you want to be talking more about general tactics and then apply that to the weapons you gravitate to... rather than talking tactics for the weapons you preselect.

So for example I'd think you'll get more value discussing how and when to use initiative sinks, what to do when you lose initiative vs what you do when you win initiative, how to pick not just what to shoot but who to shoot at, and etc.  The questions you're asking are at least predicated on having a firm grasp on the peculiarities of boardgame BattleTech tactics, at least.
« Last Edit: 25 February 2019, 17:54:56 by Tai Dai Cultist »

carlisimo

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #2 on: 25 February 2019, 19:13:27 »
Yeah, that’s fair.  I can see how figuring out initiative is more important, it’s just not something I’ve really thought about yet because I haven’t played any lance vs. lance battles.

So maybe I’m asking my n00b questions out of order… but I’m still going to ask this one sooner or later.  In part to decide if I need to convert up an -A-1 or not.  (I know I don’t have to, ruleswise, but I’m more of a hobbyist than a gamer.)

Daryk

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #3 on: 25 February 2019, 19:25:23 »
It really depends on what missions you're doing.  The PPC/LRM-5 combination will be better for some, and the Large Laser/SRM-2 combo for others.  Since you have two, maybe you should split the difference with one of each...

Tai Dai Cultist

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #4 on: 25 February 2019, 19:49:07 »
Yeah, that’s fair.  I can see how figuring out initiative is more important, it’s just not something I’ve really thought about yet because I haven’t played any lance vs. lance battles.

So maybe I’m asking my n00b questions out of order… but I’m still going to ask this one sooner or later.  In part to decide if I need to convert up an -A-1 or not.  (I know I don’t have to, ruleswise, but I’m more of a hobbyist than a gamer.)

In broad strokes, sure the PPC/LRM mech would be your stand-off mech and the one with lasers and SRMs is your infighter.  Also don't be shy about riding the heat scale; its there for a reason! Sure 10 heatsinks isn't enough for sustained PPC and LRM fire, but absolutely don't be stingy with your attacks when the time is right.

I wouldn't necessarily hold back the SRMs until you've opened holes; with everything else being equal (forces, player experience/skill) the first break in the game is going to come from a lucky critical hit or headcap, and the game can certainly hinge on how the recipient handles that misfortune.  It isn't purely luck as to who gets the lucky break first; weapons like SRMs are made for making your own luck in that department.  Even if you haven't opened an armor breach, TACs (through-armor criticals) are always a statistically significant threat.

MadCapellan

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #5 on: 25 February 2019, 20:13:52 »
Apparently lances are supposed to be more consistent in weight,

I'd say movement speed & weaponry are more of a concern for consistency than weight. A lance should work as a cohesive unit - that's easier if they're all the same weight, but that's not really a prerequisite.

Quote
How would you choose between two variants like that?  What would you do with each one?

Depends on what your objectives are. The TR-A-6 Toro is intended to snipe & scoot. All of its weapons have rather good range but substantial minimum range brackets. Prime engagement range is roughly 6-12 hexes, falling back if the enemy gets closer. The PPC is the main weapon, but the LRMs should be fired while moving or to tack on additional damage if the to-hit number is good (opponent stood still at 7 hexes, perhaps?).

The TR-A-1 Toro is a lot less tactically flexible, but is more of an infighter. Avoid firing the SRM-2s while closing until good to-hit numbers present themselves. The primary goal should be to avoid the enemy having line-of-sight to the Toro until it can get close enough to open up with all its weapons, optimally from behind. Realistically that's going to be a tall order for a slow, light 'Mech like the Toro, so the TR-A-6 is probably a safer bet long-term.

RoundTop

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #6 on: 25 February 2019, 20:25:56 »
The a1 you are wanting weight with primitive armor. The a6 has less tons, same protection, and it puts it into engine.

The talks only goes 4/6, as does the Thunderbolt. They are both heavier and have more short range weapons and armor.

I would go for a pair of a6s, and use them as snipers. Flank out and use that speed to get better terrain. While both the tbolt and talos have some long range, they will be your bruisers.   Keep the a6s back around 3-6 hexes behind them, to punish anyone who closes in with them, and they can cover you.
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StoneRhino

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #7 on: 25 February 2019, 21:24:24 »
What you could do is look at the variants, then the other mechs in the lance.

The first variant mentioned is going to build up 4 heat a turn, if it does not move and fires both LRM5s in addition to the ppc. You are looking at an average of 16 damage per turn, assuming 3 missiles hit per LRM 5 launcher, and that all weapons land.

With this mech you can fire all of its weapons for a turn or two, then avoid using the PPC on the second or third turn so you cool off. You would still have an average of 6 points at long range by using just the LRMs that turn. It would allow you to move and fire instead of feeling the need to find a place to park. Having zero heat to worry about is nice, but learning to accept heat and work it out can allow you to squeeze additional performance out of the mech that the heat fearing players cannot.

The downside to the first variant is that you have 3 weapons with minimum ranges. What this will do is invite the other player to get in under those minimums to reduce your chances of hitting. This will be the choice of those with less long range damage then your force.

The second variant could fire all of it's weapons and not build up any heat, which is nice. It also does not have a single weapon with a minimum range. Again, that's nice but it is at the cost of long range hitting power. It does have the bonus of not inviting the other player to get in under your guns. It does leave you at a disadvantage against someone using something like the first variant as they will simply step back and pound you outside of your large laser's range. It may be a slow game, but they are likely to win unless you close.

Since it is not a 1v1 situation you need to consider the rest of your lance. If you go with the first variant you either need to have enough long range damage potential in your lance to kill everything before it gets close. Realistically, you will need the other mechs to have some close range weapons that will make up for a lack of short range deterrence on your first mech. However, if all of your mechs have some of both long range and short range then you might find it easier to go with the second variant as you will side step the need to ride the heat curve. That would be a lot easier for a new player to handle.

carlisimo

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #8 on: 26 February 2019, 03:11:30 »
Thanks all, these all are very educational responses. I’ll try them as TR-A-6s first, but I’ll play around with -A-1s and with other combinations of mechs in the lance.

Simon Landmine

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #9 on: 26 February 2019, 09:52:27 »
Also don't be shy about riding the heat scale; its there for a reason! Sure 10 heatsinks isn't enough for sustained PPC and LRM fire, but absolutely don't be stingy with your attacks when the time is right.

"In my day, we fought in our shorts, and liked it!" [grin]

Also, depending on time, MegaMek is quite handy for trial-running lance combinations and tactics before the lead hits the cardboard. You can work out which approach you're more comfortable with, although the AI is less likely to throw a curveball than a human opponent, obviously.
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carlisimo

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #10 on: 26 February 2019, 11:02:33 »
I thought MegaMek didn’t have an AI.

Sartris

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #11 on: 26 February 2019, 11:20:52 »
it has as long as i can remember. there's the standard bot and the 'princess' bot, which iirc uses fewer system resources to make faster decisions. 

Matti

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #12 on: 26 February 2019, 12:02:17 »
I'd say movement speed & weaponry are more of a concern for consistency than weight. A lance should work as a cohesive unit - that's easier if they're all the same weight, but that's not really a prerequisite.
Doesn't need to be that either. The first fire lance introduced for the game (at least in Tales of the Black Widow Company consist of 2 Archers and 2 Stinger/Wasp. Massive differences in weight and mobility. My understanding of that lance is it is meant to operate independently, where bugs scout ahead and spot targets for Archers' indirect LRM fire. In Gray Death Legion (scenario book) a fire lance consist of Warhammer, Archer, Crusader, and Shadow Hawk. This is closer to equal mobility and performance. But which lance would you take for a scenario with dozen map sheets and double blind rule (opposing players see only what their units can see) in use?
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Kovax

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #13 on: 26 February 2019, 13:33:39 »
The normal advice about maintaining some consistency in weight or speed can work, or you can build the lance with those differences in a way that still functions effectively as a team.  Going with 4 slow mediums or low-end heavies is fine for holding a solid line, but using long-range snipers and a light, fast spotter can also work.  In some situations, three fast scouts and a heavier "bodyguard" that they can fall back on for protection is also viable.  Then you have "cavalry" lances, where everything is at least high-side-of-average speed, with enough weapons and armor to engage other medium or low-end heavy opponents, yet fast enough to pull back if outmatched.

Ultimately, go with whatever works for you, at least until you've got enough experience and skill at the game to utilize other combinations to good effect.

As for the combination you mentioned, you can either use the ranged firepower of the -A-6 to sit back and support whatever's in your front line, or use the -A-1 as part of that line.  The rest of your front line and what kind of opposition you expect to face should determine your answer.  I'd be tempted to use the -A-6 to support the sturdy T-bolt and whatever else I've got from a safe distance behind, where its armor isn't as critical.  The -A-1 would be preferable in a combined arms engagement where I'm expecting to face armor.  Tanks HATE SRM spam, although an SRM-2 is hardly frightening.

I'd also tend to fire the PPCs when I get good odds with the -A-6, and fire the LRMs when the odds are questionable and I don't want to build heat.  If the odds are really good, like 12 hexes (Medium Range for the PPC and LRMs) with only 0 or +1 total movement and terrain modifiers, and I'm not already running hot, I'd consider firing everything.  Don't turn down a gift when it stares you in the face, but don't build heat if it's not worth the potential loss of an even better shot next round.

Tai Dai Cultist

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #14 on: 26 February 2019, 14:03:14 »
I'll go out on the "consistency isn't that important" limb.  Much like 2 LRM boats and 2 scouts make a perfectly good lance, 3 LRM boats and 1 Juggernaut of a bodyguard (like a Hunchback) works pretty swell, too.

At the boardgame scale of the game, you're probably not using much more than a lance's worth of units... which normally doesn't give the optional formation rules much room to be in play.  If your force is 4 mechs, it might help to imagine it being analogous to a D&D adventuring party:  do you want a fighter, cleric, mage and thief, or do you want to not have some of those bases covered in order to double up on others?

Colt Ward

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #15 on: 26 February 2019, 14:17:40 »
The normal advice about maintaining some consistency in weight or speed can work, or you can build the lance with those differences in a way that still functions effectively as a team.  Going with 4 slow mediums or low-end heavies is fine for holding a solid line, but using long-range snipers and a light, fast spotter can also work.  In some situations, three fast scouts and a heavier "bodyguard" that they can fall back on for protection is also viable.  Then you have "cavalry" lances, where everything is at least high-side-of-average speed, with enough weapons and armor to engage other medium or low-end heavy opponents, yet fast enough to pull back if outmatched.

The important thing about the rules is knowing when to break them.

My honest suggestion for getting a feel is to use the prepared scenarios, those are generally well planned for the purpose of balance and lets you work things out to where you can get a feel yourself.  This is a pretty solid set of scenarios that gradually introduces the better technology and was a official release- http://www.sarna.net/wiki/Lawyers,_Guns,_%26_Money.
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Sartris

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #16 on: 26 February 2019, 14:27:16 »
At the boardgame scale of the game, you're probably not using much more than a lance's worth of units... which normally doesn't give the optional formation rules much room to be in play.  If your force is 4 mechs, it might help to imagine it being analogous to a D&D adventuring party:  do you want a fighter, cleric, mage and thief, or do you want to not have some of those bases covered in order to double up on others?

It's not two drunk wizards, a nearsighted ranger, and a height-conscious halfling paladin? I screwed this up bad

If you're running at the lance level, in the most basic terms, you want something that will be effective both at short range and long range - or at least something that can force short or long range.

Designing at the company level, it's hard to go wrong with anvil (big and stout), hammer (choose your own flavor of shooty), and fast (more maneuverable scouts / skirmishers).

Once you get comfortable with the basics of how to fight in different situations, you can start worrying more about variations in A1 vs A2.

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #17 on: 26 February 2019, 14:35:21 »
Take four Hunchbacks.  Blame the dice if you fail to win.
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Matti

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #19 on: 26 February 2019, 15:42:32 »
Take four Hunchbacks.  Blame the dice if you fail to win.
I recommend HBK-4J. Has two LRM 10 for range, 5 medium lasers for up close, and 14 heat sinks for sinking it. Only thing wrong with it is it can't escape Thunderbolts and Zeus of Lyran Commonwealth.
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glitterboy2098

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Re: Need help understanding mechs
« Reply #20 on: 26 February 2019, 19:28:20 »
Depends on what your objectives are. The TR-A-6 Toro is intended to snipe & scoot. All of its weapons have rather good range but substantial minimum range brackets. Prime engagement range is roughly 6-12 hexes, falling back if the enemy gets closer. The PPC is the main weapon, but the LRMs should be fired while moving or to tack on additional damage if the to-hit number is good (opponent stood still at 7 hexes, perhaps?).

The TR-A-1 Toro is a lot less tactically flexible, but is more of an infighter. Avoid firing the SRM-2s while closing until good to-hit numbers present themselves. The primary goal should be to avoid the enemy having line-of-sight to the Toro until it can get close enough to open up with all its weapons, optimally from behind. Realistically that's going to be a tall order for a slow, light 'Mech like the Toro, so the TR-A-6 is probably a safer bet long-term.
also worth noting that these two units represent different tech levels of the same unit. the TR-A-1 uses a LL and SRm's because it has heavier engine, cockpit, and structure, as a more primitive unit. so it doesn't have as much room for weapons.
the TR-A-6 is the same unit when the technology allowed light engines, structure, and cockpit. which freed up room for them to upgrade the weapons to the heavier and longer ranged PPC and LRM's.
timeline wise both existed alongside each other for awhile before the succession wars, and co-exist during and after the Jihad when they both got put back into production.

combat wise though MadCapellan is right. the -A-1 is more of a brawler, needing to get into closer range. while the -A-6 prefers to stay back a bit more and snipe.
in the later time period both are a bit outclassed by the more current units, but that usually means you have more stuff on your side if you are using battlevalue or other balancing systems. and once you get to that point you'll be more comfortable with more advanced rules, allowing you to do things like load smoke missiles into the LRm's or inferno (basically napalm) missiles in the SRM's to give your opponents issues unrelated to the direct firepower of the unit. (dropping 2-4 inferno's onto an enemy will drive their heat up, making them less able to fight you effectively. while dropping two hexes of smoke a turn as concealment can make it easier for you to avoid being hit as you move from firing position to firing position. actually would work well together, a lance with two of each could drop smoke to cover the advance to of the brawlers, etc. you have have things like LRM deployable minefields and such as well by the time you get to that level of play.)

 

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