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Author Topic: Virtual Attrition vs. Actual Attrition. (You don't have to destroy everything.)  (Read 516 times)


  • Captain
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virtual attrition: Preventing your opponent from achieving their objective by causing him to use up resources.

Actual attrition: kill all the enemy.

How does this apply to Battletech?  often players obsess over trying to achieve actual attrition-the wiping out of the entire opposing force.  many scenarios employ something called "forced retreat" to counter this tendency.

here's the thing: if an enemy unit is immobilized, or out of ammunition, or any condition where it can't fire or influence the battle, then you've essentially removed that unit from the fight-even if the crew has survived.

for an example of virtual attrition in a battletech game, consider how useful a Demolisher is, if it's fired all its ammo and lost mobility due to track hits.  this is a vehicle that can no longer be used in defense.  Essentially, it is 'as good as dead-or nearly'.  you don't need to keep firing on it, even if the tank is repairable and the crew is alive.

likewise for an alacorn trapped in a position where it can't make use of its firing arc-say, on the right side of a hill, while your forces are advancing on the left.  The triple gauss rifles can certainly inflict a lot of damage, but only to targets it can actually get a bead on-in that situation, inflicting a mobility kill has just removed that tank from consideration, it can't influence the rest of the battle unless the owner can somehow get you to shift your advance into said Alacorn's remaining arcs of fire.

and it's very easy to get that mobility kill.  The bulk of your hit/crit locations end up hitting/critting motive systems, and if the tank didn't start with a good position for blocking your movement...

so, aside from a stated scenario/mission objective of total attrition, you can definitely win without completely destroying all enemy units by focusing on denying your opponent those resources via mobility kills or forcing a situation where they waste ammunition.

This is, of course, much more difficult against a force comprised mainly of battlemechs, or Battlemechs with battle armor, given h ow much damage you have to do to actually get them into a position they can't move and are thus, neutralized.

being able to position, or more importantly, re-position when running a conventional force (or mostly conventional) is pretty important because of this.  With motive hits being the bulk of these 'virtual attrition' type "kills", it's vital to be able to get your conventional units into positions where they can force an enemy to slow down and finish them off-because that's more resources he's spending relative to you, and relative to the scenario you're running.

Forces designed to apply Virtual attrition should focus primarily on crit-seeking weapons, such as LBX, HAG, and LRM builds, or have artillery support in firing batteries greater than 1, to create terrain control where enemy units (particularly conventional, protomeh, or infantry) can be 'virtually attrited' quickly, before they can find or park in a good firing position. the forces most vulnerable to this type of tactic are among the most popular-the Alacorn, Demolisher and other slower tracked vehicles, are all extremely susceptible on a tactical level, to virtual attrition type tactics (Immobilize and move on, IOW), due to their slow movement and low TMM.  They're not vulnerable to Actual Attrition tactics, given the slab-of-armor type construction making them superb bunkers.

the key here, is to cause the opponent to unwillingly or unwittingly make those bunkers in all the wrong places, thus rendering them useless to influence the battle (and making them easier to salvage later.)

Best map types for using Virtual (as opposed to Actual) attrition as a tactic, involve multi-sheet maps, generally a manageable amount would be a 2x3 or 3x4 table layout.  the common 2x1 or 1x1 layout is optimal for actual attrition as it's very, very easy for a single unit with long range weapons to dominate the map from even a very poor position, and maps on that scale are optimal for the standing duel type game, as opposed to a movement or maneuver type of playing style.

(Essentially a 'standing duel' happens when you spend the next two or three hours barely moving, because you're both at medium range nd have enough armor to weather a lot of hits! what happens is the two sides park, and just spend however long rolling dice and ticking boxes.)

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


  • Lieutenant Colonel
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  • Posts: 9268
  • CR 21 Bullshit Elemental
i tend to run a lot of vehicles in my opfor forces so people who play in my campaigns learn this very quickly... usually after i lure them into keeping the fight near a bricked alacorn or challenger x.

i had linked scenarios where the first mission's objective was to drop a smaller force in to head off a vehicle convoy and prevent as much as possible from leaving the map. the second mission balanced bv before adding any vehicles that made it through in the previous mission. it was designed to only really be winnible if you maximized your ability to motive crit the crap out of the opfor in the first scenario

this piece is the kind of thing that needs to exist in greater quantities to help new players past the rudiments of gameplay.