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Author Topic: motive breakpoints for Vehicle design. (A discussion) Poke Holes in the theory!  (Read 500 times)

Cannonshop

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What is a "Motive Breakpoint"? it is the minimum useful speed for a vehicle.

Not OPTIMAL speed, "USEFUL" speed.  There are movement rates at which your vehicle would be better constructed as a fixed fortification, because it's not going to be able to get from point A (Starting zone) to point B (a place or position where it can use its weapons effectively to influence the battle) against an even-half-awake opponent.

to me, the break point can be defined easily enough.  A: can you get equal or better numbers for your defense as the penalty to your attack while still moving at cruise speed on level terrain?  B: can you get equal or better when moving into allowed terrain such as woods, or climbing a hill?

If you have to flank to get equal numbers, you're below the breakpoint.

3/5 for tracked vehicles is below the breakpoint.  at 3/5, you might as well have put those points into fixed fortifications instead, your engine and your 'mobility' are worthless.  this unit can not play offense, or contribute effectively to a mobile defense.

Why? because you're more likely to get hit, than you are to hit.  (Flanking penalty plus range vs. slow moving target plus range, equal gunners or even equal weapons.)

This is your 'breakpoint'-you HAVE to flank, and thus, you are more likely to miss, inspite of having more guns, or bigger guns.  (Especially bigger guns in some cases-an AC/20 has a rather pathetic range and requires a LOT of movement to get close in, unless it's pre-parked in a concealed position...whereupon, again, you don't need that mobility, you just need more armor, 1/2 is as good as 3/5 for effective use.)

this isn't necessarily true for wheeled vehicles on pavement, however.  kind of a 'sekrit sauce' explanation for the obsession with wheeled tanks-as long as it's in urban terrain with clear roadways, that base movement goes UP to useful levels.

but powers help you if you try to use it anywhere else...however, you're still going to be flanking too often, and thsu, missing a lot of shots unless you're in a fixed position, so it's a wash. (corners, people.)

Breakpoint for Tracked, then, is 4/6.  4/6 is the minimum, the point below which, you might as well have emplaced turrets and trenches, because you're unlikely to get into a firing position before becoming a turret.

This presumes turreted designs.  Fixed gun designs end up with a breakpoint of 5/8, because it costs MP's to get that muzzle on target and you're JUST as likely to become a fixed bunker but with a greater chnce of doing so while facing the wrong direction.

Terrain restriction adds to this breakpoint formula;  the more restrictions in general (can't enter woods, for example) the more you have to 'come around', or maneuver, to get your guns in range or in position, the higher your useful speed has to get.

Fragility plays an issue here as well-VTOLs can be shot down, and once down, most can't be used as a fixed gun bunker.

basic breakpoints as follows:

4/6-Tracked,

5/8-wheeled

6/9-Hovers-most Hovers with a turret can position effectively in spite of terrain issues, but suffer a lot of fragility issues (can be bunkered quickly, and need high cruise not to accidentally become one with the terrain via motive crits.)

10/15 VTOL-the most fragile, this unit type requires speed as a primary aspect because armor is next to useless even on the best protected frames, serving only as 'crash protection' to guarantee redistribution of weapons and prisoners to the enemy.

The WIGE has a special case; it requires a movement speed to even get (or stay)off the ground, and performs as a superheavy hovertank that exists mostly to give an option above 50 tons for hovercraft type work.

I beats the Urbie to death with my CHARGER!!!

worktroll

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Overall, the concept has value. But as always, there's devils in the details.

My main comment would be that this applies when using vehicles offensively. Which is most of the time. But remember our friend the Urbie - useless on an open terrain map, but still value for C-bill in urban terrain. Likewise the SRM carrier, which is below breakpoint. Short form, if the unit is designed specifically with defensive purpose in mind, then movement below breakpoint is not as big a problem. Face it - if you're planning on fighting through Kampuchean jungles to attack the foe, don't plan around SRM carriers and Behemoths. But if you want to protect your base, or capitol, they're not valueless.

Secondary opinion - 6/9 for hovers is too low. Also hard to do unless you work at it ;) 7/11 seems a more natural break point for that chassis option, gets you the +2 TMM at cruise more regularly, aGnd tends not to waste the 20% engine mass.

Is there a converse "broken point" at the upper end? Are 6/9 tracked vehicles worth it? Considers the Main Gauche "clown car" - okay, probably. The Galleon? Certainly. No 7/11 tracks come to mind.

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The_Caveman

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You're defining this too narrowly in boardgame terms. 3/5 is faster than most 20th century tanks. That's plenty fast enough to relocate forces between battles, which is something fixed fortifications cannot do.

Logistically, a bunch of 3/5 tanks make more sense than spending the same resources on bunkers that will have to be abandoned when the front moves.

Vehicles other than hovers and VTOLs or APCs ought to be used defensively (ie hull down in prepared hexes) anyway. They're too vulnerable to being immobilized and you can't lose the +2 hull down modifier to a crit.
Half the fun of BattleTech is the mental gymnastics required to scientifically rationalize design choices made decades ago entirely based on the Rule of Cool.

The other half is a first-turn AC/2 shot TAC to your gyro that causes your Atlas to fall and smash its own cockpit... wait, I said fun didn't I?

Scotty

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It also falls apart when you consider that some vehicles are over armored in order to effectively contribute to the fight when their movement speed isn't capable of doing the deed.  That is to say: breaking even on AMM/TMM has no (or very little) bearing on whether your vehicle is capable of inflicting enough damage to influence the fight.

3/5 for tracked vehicles includes the Alacorn, which I'm fairly certain I can easily say will absolutely effectively be contributing to the fight even if it's moving at Flank Speed to the tune of 2 hexes per turn.
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Cannonshop

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You're defining this too narrowly in boardgame terms. 3/5 is faster than most 20th century tanks. That's plenty fast enough to relocate forces between battles, which is something fixed fortifications cannot do.

Logistically, a bunch of 3/5 tanks make more sense than spending the same resources on bunkers that will have to be abandoned when the front moves.

Vehicles other than hovers and VTOLs or APCs ought to be used defensively (ie hull down in prepared hexes) anyway. They're too vulnerable to being immobilized and you can't lose the +2 hull down modifier to a crit.

"Between Battles" is the point.  you don't need an engine on it, a Trailer is just as effective.  as I said, 3/5 is just as useful as 1/2 or 0/1 if you're only moving between battles, or 0/0 (Trailer without a towing vehicle.)

IN combat, 3/5 is your breaking point because you will become a fixed fortification anyway, most often before you can reach a good firing position.  this goes as much on the defensive if you're not using a crust defense. 

I guess I need to clarify something: Flexible defense vs. fixed.

in a flexible defense, your units are moving, either laterally or in retrograde, to react to an attacker's positioning and 'bleed him out' or draw him into a position where fire superiority can be achieved.  in a Crust, you're essentially relying on firepower and armor alone and counting on an enemy to run a full-frontal assault without movement.

you might in game terms consider the former to be 'big map' play, and the latter to be 'one mapsheet only' play.

also I'm pretty sure no 20th century vehicles featured lasers as primary weaponry, much less focused streams of plasma, and I'm fair certain nobody had big, stompy robots in WW2 or Korea, etc.

so that part is a non-starter.  The other point to note is that while something is popular, that doesn't actually make it effective.  witness the popularity of linear napoleonic tactics in World War one, or the popularity of magazine cut-offs on rifles prior to WW1, and who can forget how blazingly useful horse cavalry was in the same period?

all were "Popular", with historical uses, none were effective given the technology of the time.  (Horse cav held on into the 40s in much of the world.)

The game rules reflects the tech of the time-slow tanks are not effective precisely BECAUSE they become fixed emplacements very quickly, but without being positioned to be effective unless they begin the battle in an effective position...much like a bunker, which is cheaper to build and armor.  (Look at the costs on your tank-the biggest price driver is the engine!)

there are PLENTY of areas you can't take a hovertank, so if you only rely on hovertanks, you're wasting a lot of money.  (also, hovertanks have this problem where you end up becoming a fixed position when moving at flank pretty quickly. it's called 'sideslip'. generally that fixed position doesn't tend to be where you need a gun emplacement...or can even use one.)

thus,even on the defensive, unless you have a fixed,non-mobile target that the enemy MUST assault, 3/5 tanks are below the breakpoint of usefulness.  Their additional firepower and strategic mobility don't provide an effective counter to their lack of tactical movement to bring that firepower onto an enemy that is advancing.

I beats the Urbie to death with my CHARGER!!!

Cannonshop

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It also falls apart when you consider that some vehicles are over armored in order to effectively contribute to the fight when their movement speed isn't capable of doing the deed.  That is to say: breaking even on AMM/TMM has no (or very little) bearing on whether your vehicle is capable of inflicting enough damage to influence the fight.

3/5 for tracked vehicles includes the Alacorn, which I'm fairly certain I can easily say will absolutely effectively be contributing to the fight even if it's moving at Flank Speed to the tune of 2 hexes per turn.

SHOTS THAT HIT do damage.  shots that miss, do no damage.  aside from bunked dice, shots at long range while flanking will tend to miss, and the Alacorn's got limited ammo reserves...and that's assuming it hasn't had a turret-locked situation based on the hit tables.  the odds are better that your Alacorn will be a fixed position in short order, or flanking while being unable to reach a viable firing solution, so it's a wash where you end up relying on RNG and luck with bad margins, or end up with your guns facing the wrong way due to a turret lock.

all the slab-o-steel armor really does, is enable the vehicle to be salvaged for components after the battle is over. either way,it becomes something the enemy can (in theory) bypass once it's immobilized or rendered so slow it can't respond to the opposition's movement.

which doesn't take very long on a 3/5 chassis.

It takes a BIT longer on 4/6.  hence, 'breakpoint', as opposed to 'optimal'.  4/6 is 'breakpoint' because it has a chance of actually contributing to the battle without beginning in a good firing position. (aka without being pre-deployed into the map in a good firing position with plenty of cover and camouflage prior to the fighting.)

I beats the Urbie to death with my CHARGER!!!

Daryk

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*snip*
...none were effective given the technology of the time.
*snip*
I believe the battle of Beersheba might want a word with you, though I'll concede that was a pretty special circumstance.  Absolutes are generally hard to defend...

Scotty

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Your luck with vehicles is substantially different than mine; shots at long range from the Alacorn are almost universally also at long range against the Alacorn.  I envy the attacking/defending force that has the tactical maneuverability to keep an Alacorn at range indefinitely while still being "attacking" or "defending" and not the opposite of those things, for it surely hasn't shown up on any table I've played on before.  At least not deliberately.
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Cannonshop

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I believe the battle of Beersheba might want a word with you, though I'll concede that was a pretty special circumstance.  Absolutes are generally hard to defend...

then go with "General rule of thumb" instead of absolutes.  I tried to include the special circumstance where 3/5 isn't a problem already-where you have already emplaced in good firing positions prior to the battle.

Your luck with vehicles is substantially different than mine; shots at long range from the Alacorn are almost universally also at long range against the Alacorn.  I envy the attacking/defending force that has the tactical maneuverability to keep an Alacorn at range indefinitely while still being "attacking" or "defending" and not the opposite of those things, for it surely hasn't shown up on any table I've played on before.  At least not deliberately.

don't use a lot of VTOL or artillery, do you?  OR terrain, or situations where both sides have to deploy from the start line instead of being pre-emplaced?

an Alacorn is a fantastic turret, it makes a superb bunker. except of course, that a proper bunker would have even MORE armoring, without the vulnerability to critical hits, and it will by-gum be guaranteed to be in the right place from go-time to defend what it's supposed to defend.

maybe I play too often running vees unsupported against 'mechs, or in scenarios where artillery is a thing, or where my opponent will actually use indirect LRM fire, but in my experience, it's a lot easier to disable that Alacorn than, say, a Patton or Myrmidon that has less armor, or fewer guns and lower damage at shorter range given an opponent who can disable either one.

I beats the Urbie to death with my CHARGER!!!

The_Caveman

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also I'm pretty sure no 20th century vehicles featured lasers as primary weaponry, much less focused streams of plasma, and I'm fair certain nobody had big, stompy robots in WW2 or Korea, etc.

I'll take "Irrelevant To The Discussion" for $500, Alex.

Your analysis is built entirely on "muh TMMs" and treats slow vehicles (which is, again, an illusion, as they're twice as fast as non-mechanized infantry, which is all infantry once the shooting starts in earnest) as though they're immobile. Tactically, maybe, but strategically they are very much not.

A bunker cannot go where you want it to. Full stop. And you can't just plop down a bunker (at least not one that's more durable than a heavy tank) wherever you like, whenever you like. And if you think vehicles are vulnerable to artillery...

Yes, you can build a turret as a trailer. But you need a tractor to pull it. And the combination can only be as fast as the tractor's engine rating allows, so you might as well build a single vehicle.
Half the fun of BattleTech is the mental gymnastics required to scientifically rationalize design choices made decades ago entirely based on the Rule of Cool.

The other half is a first-turn AC/2 shot TAC to your gyro that causes your Atlas to fall and smash its own cockpit... wait, I said fun didn't I?

Col Toda

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Conditional question . Still will take a stab at it . Tracked pretty much no point generally a prepared hull down postion  with smoke on demand is the best you can do . Like putting hull down postions in city traffic circles with custom 3/5 tank Snub Nosed PPC C3 remote sensor launcher MRM40 w Apollo FCS as an Idea . Wheeled 6/9 so on a straight road you get 7 / 10 both move break points as for utility Say 50 ton tractor plus one or two 50 ton trailers . Pulling one goes to 3/5 plus one for a road and 2/3 for two plus one for a road with a identical wheeled vehicle suspension factor . For hover enough to move from out of one hull down postion to another 7 hexes away to get a net +5 defensive modifier and gain motor critical defensive bonus . VTOL Warrior S9 Speed Stealth Armor and a weapon with a medium range of about 20 . WIGE only for cargo and battle armor transport before combat ? I hope this helps ?

Cannonshop

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I'll take "Irrelevant To The Discussion" for $500, Alex.

Your analysis is built entirely on "muh TMMs" and treats slow vehicles (which is, again, an illusion, as they're twice as fast as non-mechanized infantry, which is all infantry once the shooting starts in earnest) as though they're immobile. Tactically, maybe, but strategically they are very much not.

A bunker cannot go where you want it to. Full stop. And you can't just plop down a bunker (at least not one that's more durable than a heavy tank) wherever you like, whenever you like. And if you think vehicles are vulnerable to artillery...

Yes, you can build a turret as a trailer. But you need a tractor to pull it. And the combination can only be as fast as the tractor's engine rating allows, so you might as well build a single vehicle.
I ought to have pointed out directly that referring to "The majority of 20th century vehicles" for this discussion was and is irrelevant, Caveman, seeing as that's precisely what they are.

Irrelevant.  just applying real-world ranges to the ballistic weapons would break the game.

The TMM's aren't, however, because unlike 20th century vehicles, TMM's are actually relevant because (drum roll) they actually impact outcome on the tabletop/gaming space.

one can effectively do both offense and defense with a 4/6 tracked tank, one can NOT do so with 3/5 without beginning the match in a good fixed position (all other factors, such as starting zones, being equal.)

this is independent of whatever tactics you intend to use, 3/5 can't react to changes in the battlefield once combat begins with much if any success.  4/6 is the MINIMUM speed where you can do that for a tank.  Your arguments for strategic mobility (rear area mobility) are likewise irrelevant if you can't start the fight in that good, previously prepared, position.

Popular to create=/=a good unit design or basis for a unit design.  In general terms, if you must flank to be effective, you're not going to be effective.

I beats the Urbie to death with my CHARGER!!!

Col Toda

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From my perspective tracked tanks are just about only good as a defensive unit in a prepared position . I was hoping to convey that . General combined arms Order of Battle for me is 2/3 mechs 1/3 combat vehicles and Defensive 2/3 combat vehicles and 1/3 mechs . This is excluding infantry and battle armor considerations . I keep that in mind when designing vehicles.

Cannonshop

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From my perspective tracked tanks are just about only good as a defensive unit in a prepared position . I was hoping to convey that . General combined arms Order of Battle for me is 2/3 mechs 1/3 combat vehicles and Defensive 2/3 combat vehicles and 1/3 mechs . This is excluding infantry and battle armor considerations . I keep that in mind when designing vehicles.

I can understand this point of view, I don't share it, mind, but I understand it.  The difficulty level for using tracks effectively on the offense is somewhat higher than most other unit types (Wheeled being the exception).

the payoff is the look on an opponent's face when you do.  It is priceless, and most often gained when they've bought into the "only hovers are any good" school of thought wrt vees.  Perhaps even MORE priceless when your opponent thinks vehicles are only good on the defense-because then that person will make the mistake of thinking that's what you're doing.

most players don't leverage the advantages on OFFENSE you've got because the fixed defense is so hard to kill.

but then, most players who think that way also don't mount very good defenses, because they end up pinned in place hoping the other team will walk into their carefully planned ambush blind, or can't get that ambush arranged because they had to start at the map edge instead of pre-deployed.

which is where I'm coming from; it's rare to be in a position where you start with battlefield control, and slow tracks are ineffective if you didn't-they can't get to position to influence the outcome and tend to end up fixed defenses fortifying useless patches of map.

aka bypassed or neutralized, but not destroyed.

this has less influence the smaller your playing board surface.  single sheet or half court neutralizes most mobility and ends up with stationary exchanges pretty quickly regardless of unit types.

I beats the Urbie to death with my CHARGER!!!

Col Toda

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One can easily make a great tracked combat vehicle but in Battletech combat vehicles should be cheap and replaceable attrition unit . Barring that distiction anyone can make a tracked vehicle with armored motive system And Hardend Armor that moves 5/8 with an XL Fusion engine W/O a turret and CASE . You can get a very effective combat unit that costs More Than a mech .

Cannonshop

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One can easily make a great tracked combat vehicle but in Battletech combat vehicles should be cheap and replaceable attrition unit . Barring that distiction anyone can make a tracked vehicle with armored motive system And Hardend Armor that moves 5/8 with an XL Fusion engine W/O a turret and CASE . You can get a very effective combat unit that costs More Than a mech .

I've never felt the urge to use that much Munchtek on the map.  The bulk of my own designs are limited updates within the main core rules, and most games are played with achingly stock mainstream units.

Heck, the only major 'House Rule" i've used consistently is front-loading lost initiative to control sinking behaviors, and probably the 'best' years of play for me predate TW entirely-because I could say 'no' to Maxtech, Unbound, and Solaris VII rules that unbalance things and make them too complicated.  (aka late BMR period mostly).

if you think vehicles are too soft under Total Warfare, you'd have been scandalized by what the hit locations looked like in BMR days.  (combined arms fights got decisive VERY  quickly with those hit rules, where being near-missed by an inferno meant a survival roll and get-out-of-that-hex before you brew up!)

the major change with TW rules (the current core) is that pillboxing isn't suicide for individual units, and starting in that good shooting spot no longer means you've got a disposable turret that won't last long, but instead starting in that good shooting spot means you have a terrain denial asset that's nearly impossible to kill outright.

Key here being, you need to either reach it quick, or start there.  this overshadows mobility tactics, but works better for single-mapsheet-duels that devolve into dice-rolling contests where nobody's really moving much anyhow, because there's nowhere to go.

The type of conflict surface I tend to prefer, involves anywhere from 2 three mapsheets wide, and 3 to four long.  at that scale, with terrain, (woods, hills, etc.) the lack of tactical mobility really shows.  start adding actual mission objectives and it gets really apparent-3/5 is about as good as 1/2 or 0/1 or 0/0 on that larger mapsheet, aka about as good as having emplaced your bunkers, saved on engine costs, and sunk that tonnage into armor.

why? because those units are far easier to disable and immobilize (for tactical purposes) than to use effectively to disable and immobilize others.

adopting Munchtek optionals doesn't improve the game, it's just "okay it's a funny looking battlemech now with too much armor and not enough balancing."

I beats the Urbie to death with my CHARGER!!!

Retry

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One can easily make a great tracked combat vehicle but in Battletech combat vehicles should be cheap and replaceable attrition unit . Barring that distiction anyone can make a tracked vehicle with armored motive system And Hardend Armor that moves 5/8 with an XL Fusion engine W/O a turret and CASE . You can get a very effective combat unit that costs More Than a mech .
Not much point with the Armored Motive System.  You still slown down way easier under fire than a 'Mech at the cost of 10% of your total weight, which is a huge deal for a vehicle.  At that point you may as well take a 'Mech.

EDIT: Actually, it's 15% for the IS version.  Not exactly chump change.
« Last Edit: 15 July 2019, 16:26:31 by Retry »

Col Toda

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80-100 ton vehicles in general have done what mechs cant . Tube Artillary that moves and defends its self . No more needs to included or needed to field it .

kaliban

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Maybe I missed the point, but I have a good tabletop experience with VTOLs of a speed of only 7/11 or 8/12. This normally allows a minimum engine and maximum free weight for weapons and armor. You have always modifiers of +3/4/5 and make quite difficult be hit.


Retry

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80-100 ton vehicles in general have done what mechs cant . Tube Artillary that moves and defends its self . No more needs to included or needed to field it .
A 'Mech can carry tube artillery.  Even a Long Tom if you're willing to go Superheavy, and you can make one that's well protected and more mobile than most tracked artillery.

Cannonshop

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Maybe I missed the point, but I have a good tabletop experience with VTOLs of a speed of only 7/11 or 8/12. This normally allows a minimum engine and maximum free weight for weapons and armor. You have always modifiers of +3/4/5 and make quite difficult be hit.

You don't get much experience against players who also field VTOLs, do you?  Try it sometime.  Also suggest trying it against opponents fielding LBX, HAG, and flak ammo.  there's a big difference between "I'm cool and fast because I'm the only one here" and being genuinely viable across multiple eras.  (I've humiliated Hawk-moth drivers using the humble Ferret, rendering their long-range support fire moot by denying them the ability to cruise and keep a facing on the enemy, and the Jellowbucket...er, "Yellowjacket" has been a great way to distribute gauss rifles as salvage ever since they removed the "Explodes on crashing" from the rules.)

Keep in mind, those numbers come without changing elevation or facing. (both of which cost MP, neither of which contribute to TMM).

9/14-10/15 is a baseline cruise because of that two-point rotor armor plus rotor facings STILL being the majority of your hit locations.  Even with the munchkin damage reduction, something like a Mantis will EAT your bigger, slower, gunships, and LBX pellets don't get damage reduction without using Ferro-lam.  (remember, you take damage when you fall, and you fall if you lose your motive system in a VTOL. In the old days, you also exploded.)

upshot being, 7/11 to 8/12 is really only viable if the other side is comprised of energy boat heavies that don't have a lot of speed (Player skill being equal. you can kick the crap out of a Noob in a Widowmaker using an urbanmech if you're any good.)

of course, this all relies on standard or 'book' designs.  Outliers using experimental tech and edge cases really don't count for general purposes, aka if you need more than the basic rules for the unit type in TW/TEchmanual to make it work, then it's a bad design unless you're also allowing for the optional rules that hinder it.

(which tends to mean most of your combat turns will be spent looking up pages to win arguments instead of playing the game.)

In General terms, 9/14 is the new standard, because the rules provide JUST enough cover to make that moving eight hexes with a turn at medium not suicidal against a mixed force in ANY standard era (Star League, Succession Wars, Clan, Jihad, Dark Age).

keep in mind, the damage reduction and "Doesn't automatically explode on crashing" was done to make the Jellowbucket (Yellowjacket) remotely viable instead of the rather poorly timed joke it began as.

The hawk-moth is only viable because of the incredible reach of it's primary weapon, but it's quite a trick to NOT wind up stationary from a fire-support position while still remaining in range to support your ground units, and it's helpless against another VTOL, and crippled against fast 'mechs, hovers, or anything that can put up a similar movement curve because of the weight restriction.

The best "General Purpose" VTOLs (viable against other VTOLs, capable against headhunting Hovers, light 'mechs, and clan units) tend to have some basic traits;

1) minimum of 9 cruise.
2) weight range between 21 and 25.
3) 2 weapons-a long range and a short range, with at least 1 capable of crit seeking or applying secondary effects.

Examples:

H-7 (3026, not the 3039 nerf) -AC/2 for long range plink, SRM-4 for delivery of Infernoes (Third succession war to 3039), AC/2 capable of using specialized ammo (3050s-3060s era), with Inferno delivery.

Viable against: Other VTOLs, enemy units with LBX support (meaning it won't die as easily and can cruise at speeds other units have to flank, thus avoiding becoming one with the terrain on a psr while still being able to canyon-carve.)

H-8 (TRO 3058) LRM-5, SRM-4.  Infernoes for the SRM, your fave flavor of LRM munitions for the LRM rack.

Viable against: Other VTOLs, units with LBX support, good against Vehicles, superior to H-7 against other VTOL units except when Precision ammo is in use.

Cavalry AH (and variants): while the main version is somewhat hampered by its armament, it sports a highly viable movement curve and excellent Inferno delivery or crit-seeking for removing other side conventional units.

Mantis: Excellent against other VTOL units, good scout.

Ferret: If you're play predates the 3050's, this is still a good chopper-hunter and spotter able to 'canyon carve' (screen behind terrain) without being an easy target when the map isn't cooperative.

Marten: less capable against other VTOL units, but a good platform for delivering Inferno rounds onto infantry stands and vehicles, good spotter, manueverable enough to actually use terrain as cover/concealment.

H-7 (tro 3039 version) while hampered to make the Donar (TRO 3058) look good, this is still a very effective vehicle hunter, and is only seriously hampered against faster VTOL units.

Donar; the reason they nerfed the H-7.  This was the premier Clan chopper, at 9/12 it was meant to be a Warrior on steroids, but in match-ups tended to lose to H-7s in fights despite having significantly more firepower.  that one MP of movement actually, in experiments, proved to be something that matters in BMR era play.  The streaks make it only good for crit-seeking, without the ability to deliver infernoes, and the main gun (a Clan energy weapon) is an excellent hole-puncher, giving it one of the nastiest alphas on the map for the tonnage and speed.  Good for fighting Inner Sphere medium 'mechs and opponents who don't know what an LBX autocannon, Flak ammo, etc. are.

Pinto: overweight but still effective, best used as a 'slick' for carrying infantry and dropping them off before raising hell with the enemy's flanks.  The crit-seeker here is the LRM rack, but that limits you, and may be better used to deploy smoke to screen landing zones, than as an actual weapon.  the medium laser is effective as a 'holy crap' punch (as in "holy crap I need to shoot that tank before he kills me!")  adequate speed for the infantry mission, adequate speed for using terrain to screen an approach, even adequate against other VTOLs.  probably one of the better units to choose if the other side has heard of anti-air weapons like LBX cannons, or is fielding VTOL units as well, since it can actually dance. (10/15 on a 30 ton chassis, it's still very limited, but is the heaviest of what I consider 'viable' combat VTOL units.)

These are the units I've found to be most effective in actual play, as opposed to theory crafing where the assumption is a completely flat map with no terrain to accidentally run into because you're forced to flank.

remember; sideslip with VTOLs only happens when you're exceeding your cruise MP, and when it does, you tend to discover that clever 'screening behind terrain' results in deconstructive lithobraking or (more frequently) being completely out arc to fire while presenting your juicy side profile to enemy fire at often ridiculously bad ranges for you.

Mediocrities:

Hawk Moth.  This unit has enough range to stay out of combat, and enough speed to make it difficult to stay out of combat.  best used against Urbies, 3rd succession wars Annhilators, or anything that can't move very fast and has a max range of 15 or less.

Outright BAD designs:

Yellowjacket (the worst).  the only viable version is armed with Arrow IV, and that's only in the off-map artillery role.  it's too slow to survive and too juicy a target not to be belle of the ball the second it pops up-while having the same innate fragility every other VTOL in the game does.  This unit is superb for delivering gauss rifles and expensive armor plates to the other side as salvage, but absolute garbage for anything else.

Cappellan "Stealth" armored Warrior variant with the self-detonating cannon;  this unit has one weapon, with ridiculously long range and a 1 in 36 chance of exploding when you fire it, thus gutting the airfame, killling the pilot, and crashing the aircraft-even on a miss.  There is literally not enough bad that can be said about this...thign from TRO: experimental.  it's a design that would never have gotten past the first engineering student to look at it in-universe, and if it got past them, it wouldn't get past the first COMPETENT officer in the CCAF to look at it.

Sun-Tzu did not develop his rep by hiring morons.  Clearly this is the result of some legacy people from Romano's tenure who haven't yet managed to get fired, or it's a success of MIIO in industrial sabotage. (Heck, it might a success of SAFE, or any other intelligence agency's efforts...)  if you see it on the other side, smile, you're either up against someone who doesn't know what they're doing, or up against someone who wants to hand you an easy win.




I beats the Urbie to death with my CHARGER!!!

kaliban

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You don't get much experience against players who also field VTOLs, do you?  Try it sometime.  Also suggest trying it against opponents fielding LBX, HAG, and flak ammo.  there's a big difference between "I'm cool and fast because I'm the only one here" and being genuinely viable across multiple eras.  (I've humiliated Hawk-moth drivers using the humble Ferret, rendering their long-range support fire moot by denying them the ability to cruise and keep a facing on the enemy, and the Jellowbucket...er, "Yellowjacket" has been a great way to distribute gauss rifles as salvage ever since they removed the "Explodes on crashing" from the rules.)

Keep in mind, those numbers come without changing elevation or facing. (both of which cost MP, neither of which contribute to TMM).

9/14-10/15 is a baseline cruise because of that two-point rotor armor plus rotor facings STILL being the majority of your hit locations.  Even with the munchkin damage reduction, something like a Mantis will EAT your bigger, slower, gunships, and LBX pellets don't get damage reduction without using Ferro-lam.  (remember, you take damage when you fall, and you fall if you lose your motive system in a VTOL. In the old days, you also exploded.)

upshot being, 7/11 to 8/12 is really only viable if the other side is comprised of energy boat heavies that don't have a lot of speed (Player skill being equal. you can kick the crap out of a Noob in a Widowmaker using an urbanmech if you're any good.)

of course, this all relies on standard or 'book' designs.  Outliers using experimental tech and edge cases really don't count for general purposes, aka if you need more than the basic rules for the unit type in TW/TEchmanual to make it work, then it's a bad design unless you're also allowing for the optional rules that hinder it.

(which tends to mean most of your combat turns will be spent looking up pages to win arguments instead of playing the game.)

In General terms, 9/14 is the new standard, because the rules provide JUST enough cover to make that moving eight hexes with a turn at medium not suicidal against a mixed force in ANY standard era (Star League, Succession Wars, Clan, Jihad, Dark Age).

keep in mind, the damage reduction and "Doesn't automatically explode on crashing" was done to make the Jellowbucket (Yellowjacket) remotely viable instead of the rather poorly timed joke it began as.

The hawk-moth is only viable because of the incredible reach of it's primary weapon, but it's quite a trick to NOT wind up stationary from a fire-support position while still remaining in range to support your ground units, and it's helpless against another VTOL, and crippled against fast 'mechs, hovers, or anything that can put up a similar movement curve because of the weight restriction.

The best "General Purpose" VTOLs (viable against other VTOLs, capable against headhunting Hovers, light 'mechs, and clan units) tend to have some basic traits;

1) minimum of 9 cruise.
2) weight range between 21 and 25.
3) 2 weapons-a long range and a short range, with at least 1 capable of crit seeking or applying secondary effects.

Examples:

H-7 (3026, not the 3039 nerf) -AC/2 for long range plink, SRM-4 for delivery of Infernoes (Third succession war to 3039), AC/2 capable of using specialized ammo (3050s-3060s era), with Inferno delivery.

Viable against: Other VTOLs, enemy units with LBX support (meaning it won't die as easily and can cruise at speeds other units have to flank, thus avoiding becoming one with the terrain on a psr while still being able to canyon-carve.)

H-8 (TRO 3058) LRM-5, SRM-4.  Infernoes for the SRM, your fave flavor of LRM munitions for the LRM rack.

Viable against: Other VTOLs, units with LBX support, good against Vehicles, superior to H-7 against other VTOL units except when Precision ammo is in use.

Cavalry AH (and variants): while the main version is somewhat hampered by its armament, it sports a highly viable movement curve and excellent Inferno delivery or crit-seeking for removing other side conventional units.

Mantis: Excellent against other VTOL units, good scout.

Ferret: If you're play predates the 3050's, this is still a good chopper-hunter and spotter able to 'canyon carve' (screen behind terrain) without being an easy target when the map isn't cooperative.

Marten: less capable against other VTOL units, but a good platform for delivering Inferno rounds onto infantry stands and vehicles, good spotter, manueverable enough to actually use terrain as cover/concealment.

H-7 (tro 3039 version) while hampered to make the Donar (TRO 3058) look good, this is still a very effective vehicle hunter, and is only seriously hampered against faster VTOL units.

Donar; the reason they nerfed the H-7.  This was the premier Clan chopper, at 9/12 it was meant to be a Warrior on steroids, but in match-ups tended to lose to H-7s in fights despite having significantly more firepower.  that one MP of movement actually, in experiments, proved to be something that matters in BMR era play.  The streaks make it only good for crit-seeking, without the ability to deliver infernoes, and the main gun (a Clan energy weapon) is an excellent hole-puncher, giving it one of the nastiest alphas on the map for the tonnage and speed.  Good for fighting Inner Sphere medium 'mechs and opponents who don't know what an LBX autocannon, Flak ammo, etc. are.

Pinto: overweight but still effective, best used as a 'slick' for carrying infantry and dropping them off before raising hell with the enemy's flanks.  The crit-seeker here is the LRM rack, but that limits you, and may be better used to deploy smoke to screen landing zones, than as an actual weapon.  the medium laser is effective as a 'holy crap' punch (as in "holy crap I need to shoot that tank before he kills me!")  adequate speed for the infantry mission, adequate speed for using terrain to screen an approach, even adequate against other VTOLs.  probably one of the better units to choose if the other side has heard of anti-air weapons like LBX cannons, or is fielding VTOL units as well, since it can actually dance. (10/15 on a 30 ton chassis, it's still very limited, but is the heaviest of what I consider 'viable' combat VTOL units.)

These are the units I've found to be most effective in actual play, as opposed to theory crafing where the assumption is a completely flat map with no terrain to accidentally run into because you're forced to flank.

remember; sideslip with VTOLs only happens when you're exceeding your cruise MP, and when it does, you tend to discover that clever 'screening behind terrain' results in deconstructive lithobraking or (more frequently) being completely out arc to fire while presenting your juicy side profile to enemy fire at often ridiculously bad ranges for you.

Mediocrities:

Hawk Moth.  This unit has enough range to stay out of combat, and enough speed to make it difficult to stay out of combat.  best used against Urbies, 3rd succession wars Annhilators, or anything that can't move very fast and has a max range of 15 or less.

Outright BAD designs:

Yellowjacket (the worst).  the only viable version is armed with Arrow IV, and that's only in the off-map artillery role.  it's too slow to survive and too juicy a target not to be belle of the ball the second it pops up-while having the same innate fragility every other VTOL in the game does.  This unit is superb for delivering gauss rifles and expensive armor plates to the other side as salvage, but absolute garbage for anything else.

Cappellan "Stealth" armored Warrior variant with the self-detonating cannon;  this unit has one weapon, with ridiculously long range and a 1 in 36 chance of exploding when you fire it, thus gutting the airfame, killling the pilot, and crashing the aircraft-even on a miss.  There is literally not enough bad that can be said about this...thign from TRO: experimental.  it's a design that would never have gotten past the first engineering student to look at it in-universe, and if it got past them, it wouldn't get past the first COMPETENT officer in the CCAF to look at it.

Sun-Tzu did not develop his rep by hiring morons.  Clearly this is the result of some legacy people from Romano's tenure who haven't yet managed to get fired, or it's a success of MIIO in industrial sabotage. (Heck, it might a success of SAFE, or any other intelligence agency's efforts...)  if you see it on the other side, smile, you're either up against someone who doesn't know what they're doing, or up against someone who wants to hand you an easy win.

Well, I play with people that play.

You gave a very long explanation but, yes, VTOLs have a hard time LBX cannons, pulse lasers and other high-tech stuff. But this is good! Otherwise the game would be broken and should be named "BattleVTOLs" not "Battletech".

I like to play VTOLs with AC20s or lots of LRMs. They are not so fast (7/11 because I only use ICEs on them) but have a lot of firepower. If you are stupid and go for frontal attacks, the results are not so good. If you play smarter, outflank the enemy, use terrain as protection and avoid some weapons, they do well.

You can always min-max and optimize your designs and use latest technology (like super fast vtols with fusion engines). But is it fun?





Retry

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You can always min-max and optimize your designs and use latest technology (like super fast vtols with fusion engines). But is it fun?
I built an omni-VTOL with an XLE, a chin turret and F-L armor once.  Oh yeah, it was.

(Granted, it would fail Cannonshop's VTOL speed purity test.  But it effective, and fun.)

kaliban

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I built an omni-VTOL with an XLE, a chin turret and F-L armor once.  Oh yeah, it was.

(Granted, it would fail Cannonshop's VTOL speed purity test.  But it effective, and fun.)

no, this is too evil  ;)