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Author Topic: The Small Laser  (Read 2022 times)

Retry

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The Small Laser
« on: 14 July 2019, 23:50:37 »
I posted this in another forum on another forum but figured I'd also be interested in a discussion on here.  So I'm going to post it basically word-for-word on here.

The AC/2 and AC/5 are really unimpressive, but there's one more weapon that I thought of that really doesn't have much of anything going for it. And it's an energy weapon, even.

Small Lasers.

What's the vanilla small laser even for? I guess it was originally an energy-version of the machine gun, but with the burst-fire rule stuff on infantry that kind of got tossed aside and made it rather awful at that too until the Small Pulse laser. A light-weight anti-vehicle energy weapon? Find a half-ton anywhere and you can play with a medium laser instead, the most ruthlessly efficient weapon in 3025, if not the universe. 2 Smalls just don't have much going for them over 1 medium, even when the target is 2 hexes away...

I've been thinking what you could "tweak" about them without changing the overall "feel" of them too much to make the small laser something I would find worth considering. I've come up with two potential solutions:

1. Change the range of the small laser to 2/4/6
Still very short ranged, but now it's double what it was, so it has some options outside of "run into his backside and activate can opener mode". An Atlas can't just back away 3 feet one turn (ok, 90 meters technically) and all of the sudden be completely safe. 1 Medium would probably still be preferred over 2 smalls in most situations, but the difference between the two would be less massive.

Similarly, change other small laser variants (heavy small, re-engineered small, chemical, etc) to 2/4/6, switch the ER small to 3/6/9 (or less), and nerf down the IS pulse version to something that looks like, say, 2/3/4 or 1/3/5, something marginally worse than the new small laser.  The Clan ER small might need a nerf down to 4 damage to compensate for the range buff.

2. Add a 1D6 burst-fire damage effect against infantry.
It's kind of weird how some of the original 3025 mechs like the Vindicator VND-1R, Enforcer ENF-4R, Awesome AWS-8Q, Banshee BNC-3E, the Urbie, and some tanks like the Rommel and Patton tank, just have 1 or 2 small lasers tacked on for some reason. It's like... why? What does an extra small laser or two doing for your PPC boat that a MG + ammo setup, a medium laser, or just more armor wouldn't do?

This change pays lip service to the small laser's original role as an anti-infantry weapon before the infantry's damage taking was changed. It gives the laser another role as a sort of "energy LMG" before the LMG was a thing, and with a viable anti-infantry role tacking on a token small laser to large mechs isn't such a head-scratcher anymore. But, it doesn't make the small laser so good at this role that it outshines ammo-sipping machine guns or the small pulse laser, so it's a trade off.

Any thoughts on this?  Change 1, Change 2?  Even both?  Or is it just fine as it is, as a niche weapon on Small 'Mechs and vehicles to back-stab?  Or is it actually not a niche weapon to begin with and I just can't comprehend the full glory that is the Small Laser?

Orin J.

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #1 on: 15 July 2019, 00:43:13 »
in 3025, small lasers are more of a  niche weapon: if you have very little tonnage/heat envelope to spare you put that in as a compromise, or you have this half-ton left over from armoring the 'mech and nothing else to do with it.

it wasn't long before we got battlearmor (and protomechs, later on) and small lasers found their role. small lasers let BA threaten 'mechs very efficently and range is hardly an issue there. Sure, a battlemech doesn't have much use for them, but they're not the only unit on the field. (of course, if your enemy thinks otherwise why teach him better before the fight?  >:D)

if you HAVE to make a change to appeal to your 'mech designing ideas, i suggest the range. BA that never have to choose between anti-armor and anti-infantry with their guns are BA that have too much power
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Hptm. Streiger

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #2 on: 15 July 2019, 01:19:27 »
I wouldn't even call the small laser a nice weapon in 3025. Almost every Mech could be optimized simple by dropping the Smalls for something else.

Warhammer - drop them turn machinegund into flammers and either add a ton of armor or another heatsink
Hunch, Enforcer- drop for rear armor
Charger simple replace them with 2 medium laser
heck the worst offender the modernized hunch - CASE and a small pulse laser for a ton of ammo. (Ok this increases the survival rate of that beast)

while it suffers the same range issues like machine huns and flammer the problem is the missing utility of the small laser.
As mentioned every Mech can outrun your small laser so its not even a nice weapon . Its a liability. i could accept less damage for more range but the Elephant in the room is still the medium laser.
well unless you increase range to 369 and have two points of damage. Or as a snub medium laser 345 and 3 dmg.

Rapid fire as another anti infantry weapon doesn't seem like a good idea. If only for the simple reason that infantrys life is already miserable, not necessary to give every Mech a weapon to make their service even worse.
« Last Edit: 15 July 2019, 01:26:25 by Hptm. Streiger »

Retry

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #3 on: 15 July 2019, 01:51:52 »
Thanks for mentioning the BA, I completely spaced out and forgot about them.

Quote
it wasn't long before we got battlearmor (and protomechs, later on) and small lasers found their role. small lasers let BA threaten 'mechs very efficently and range is hardly an issue there. Sure, a battlemech doesn't have much use for them, but they're not the only unit on the field. (of course, if your enemy thinks otherwise why teach him better before the fight?  >:D)
I'd argue the small laser is underwhelming, even on BA.

The BA small laser needs 200 kg and takes up 1 space for an energy attack with 1/2/3 range and 3 damage.  A nice chunk of damage for BA guns, but...

...the BA medium machinegun needs 100 kg and takes up 1 space for a kinetic attack with 1/2/3 range and 2 damage.  Mounting two of those gets you 1 extra point on average for the same range and weight (and only 1 extra BV for the weapon), with an extra infantry-mauling side effect that the laser doesn't have.  If you have any spare BA crits at all, you're better off dual wielding MGs.

Things get much worse if the Clans get involved.  The AP Gauss Rifle weighs 200 kg and takes up 1 space for a kinetic attack with 3/6/9 range and 3 damage.  A literally perfect swap that gives you 3 times the range and an anti-infantry punch!  Worst case scenario, fighting a 'Mech only at point-blank range, the AP gauss performs just like a shinier, kinetic small laser.  Outside of extreme edge cases like someone using Ballistic-Reinforced Armor, of course.

Quote
if you HAVE to make a change to appeal to your 'mech designing ideas, i suggest the range.

It's not necessarily for 'mech designs per sey, though that's part of it.  I kind of like tinkering with equipment and rules to make equipment that's not so useful, actually somewhat useful, preferably without breaking canon designs.  At least for 'Mechs and Vehicles.

Quote
BA that never have to choose between anti-armor and anti-infantry with their guns are BA that have too much power
Hmm... I'm not sure I agree, though I understand where you're coming from.  Even if both bonuses were added to the small laser, it would still be inferior to the AP gauss rifle in everything.

Then again, I DO think the BA AP Gauss is ridiculously overtuned.  But it's a good point.  Any change to the small laser is going to change the scales in the BA department.

I am Belch II

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #4 on: 15 July 2019, 04:59:27 »
The small laser has its purpose. I think it just fills that 1/2 ton left overspace in a mech over anything else. But if you open up the mech it is one more weapon to get that crit chance and would hate to lose a mech to that dreaded small laser.
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Hptm. Streiger

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #5 on: 15 July 2019, 06:00:13 »
The small laser has its purpose. I think it just fills that 1/2 ton left overspace in a mech over anything else. But if you open up the mech it is one more weapon to get that crit chance and would hate to lose a mech to that dreaded small laser.
I have expected such a comment.
in 3025 there is hardly any Mech that needs the small laser (maybe mongoose and mercury) but for larger mechs?

also unless you plan to use it as non explosive crit- seeker. For example 4x small laser instead of a SRM4 you trade range (hit probability) vs damage and non explosive ammo.
ok in this special field a better small laser might be to powerful. (although the issue is again more the power of the medium laser).
maybe the salvation for the small is to uncrease weight of the medium to 2tons

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #6 on: 15 July 2019, 09:40:23 »
Way back in the day, in a campaign game, I traded a Griffin's LRM-10 and ammo for 10 Small Lasers and 2HS.  I drove that thing until we landed an Eridani Thunderbolt, and I made the same trade.  I never missed the 10 racks, but when I got close to something, it would just melt.

kaliban

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #7 on: 15 July 2019, 11:38:34 »
One small laser is just a small laser

But 10 small lasers deliver 30pts of damage with only 5 tons and 10 heat. It is something else.

The_Caveman

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #8 on: 16 July 2019, 18:49:10 »
But still only useful at "get your face smashed in" ranges. The only advantage the wall-o-smalls has over an equivalent tonnage of medium lasers is heat. But 4 medium lasers and a heat sink is still going to beat 10 small lasers, all else being equal.

I posted some hypothetical improvements to the small laser (among other overly-niche weapons) a while back. I'll dig them up.
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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?

The_Caveman

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #9 on: 16 July 2019, 18:52:44 »
Here we go: https://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=53864.msg1241510#msg1241510

Relevant portion:
Quote
Better Small Lasers:
The medium ranges of all small and micro lasers (standard, ER, pulse, heavy, VSP, ER pulse, X-Pulse, and re-engineered) are increased by 1 and long ranges by 2 (the standard small laser becomes 1/3/5, for example).
In addition, any non-pulse, vehicle/'Mech-mounted small lasers ignore the +1 to-hit mod for shooting at battle armor and infantry squads, and inflict their full damage value against conventional infantry (representing faster targeting with the smaller optics).
When tied to a working Targeting Computer, small lasers of all types ignore the modifier for firing at medium range (but not any other range modifiers, including those imposed by Stealth Armor and similar systems).
In exchange, small lasers of all types apply a -1 modifier when rolling to determine if a critical hit was inflicted.
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?

Daryk

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #10 on: 16 July 2019, 18:58:32 »
That really seems to push them over the top... I don't know if I'd go that far.

The_Caveman

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #11 on: 17 July 2019, 04:50:25 »
That really seems to push them over the top... I don't know if I'd go that far.

I don't see how.

Aside from the range buff they're all highly situational improvements and even with the range buff no version comes anywhere close to a medium laser of the same class ton-for-ton. Further, the range bands that are improved are the ones where you aren't going to hit much anyway.

It pushes massed small lasers into the role of battle armor killer, which is where they should be per fluff but actually suck in this role per vanilla rules because of insufficient range.
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?

Daryk

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #12 on: 17 July 2019, 07:23:06 »
Increased range, to-hit bonuses, and extra to-hit bonuses on top of what they already get from a Targeting Computer?  That seems like a lot all together. Mileage obviously varies.

Sartris

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #13 on: 17 July 2019, 08:59:19 »
the small laser's most important role is as a heat fixer for TSM. all other applications are superfluous

garhkal

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #14 on: 17 July 2019, 14:18:23 »
I can see the range boost, going to 1/3/5, but to me anything else on top of that, would just be going from them being weak, to them being stronger than MLs.
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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #15 on: 17 July 2019, 16:40:17 »
Increased range, to-hit bonuses, and extra to-hit bonuses on top of what they already get from a Targeting Computer?  That seems like a lot all together. Mileage obviously varies.

Not to-hit bonuses. Elimination of to-hit penalties. The difference is important. And again, situational. Go back and look at where the improvements apply and where they don't.

The point was not "buff the small laser until it's really great". It was "let's rework this volkswagen-sized laser cannon so it has a serious use other than extra damage at melee range or free heat for min-maxed TSM builds".
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?

Daryk

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #16 on: 17 July 2019, 17:38:19 »
The double whammy of eliminating the +1 vs. squads AND inflicting the full 3 points of damage against ALL infantry is pushing it into MG territory alone.  With a TC, being able to do that out to an increased Medium range without penalty is really over the top.  I acknowledge the individual bonuses are situational, but the combination of all the buffs really adds up to a vorpal weapon...

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #17 on: 22 July 2019, 21:55:54 »
After discussion here I'm leaning towards the +1D6 extra damage against infantry and maybe a small range buff (like 2/3/4) for the small laser, instead of my original idea of 2/4/6.  Seems like enough to give it a sensible niche on vehicles and mechs without going overboard and making the Small laser the new Medium laser.

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #18 on: 22 July 2019, 22:36:19 »
the small laser's most important role is as a heat fixer for TSM. all other applications are superfluous

Pretty much this.

Making them good against infantry, or even just OK, nullifies machine guns.  Because at least twice the weight and significantly more EXPLODO factor, the MG goes away.

A single small laser is not great.  A half dozen, like the Wasp variant, can be dangerous in limited situations.  Get on the side of a vehicle and crit it to death.  Be a cleanup design, taking out the crippled guy with a quick laser salvo.
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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #19 on: 23 July 2019, 00:29:14 »
Making them good against infantry, or even just OK, nullifies machine guns.  Because at least twice the weight and significantly more EXPLODO factor, the MG goes away.
I don't think that's true.  Neither the IS nor the clan Small Pulse laser made machine guns go away.  Same with the Micro Pulse Laser, which is almost exactly a pulse energy MG.

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #20 on: 08 September 2019, 11:19:22 »
3025-era weapons generally obey the relation:

(damage x range) / (tons + heat + ammo) = 10

Accordingly, 2/3/5 range would be more balanced

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #21 on: 08 September 2019, 14:32:12 »
3025-era weapons generally obey the relation:

(damage x range) / (tons + heat + ammo) = 10

Accordingly, 2/3/5 range would be more balanced

I think I might even change that in my SSW and give that a try for a few games

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #22 on: 08 September 2019, 15:38:20 »
3025-era weapons generally obey the relation:

(damage x range) / (tons + heat + ammo) = 10

Accordingly, 2/3/5 range would be more balanced
1/3/5 maybe

on a tonnage/damage/heat the small laser is the most efficient thing in the game, significantly outclassing the medium. Take away that drawback and the balance of the whole game (edit - design process) changes.
« Last Edit: 18 September 2019, 05:56:28 by Greatclub »

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #23 on: 08 September 2019, 17:25:10 »
1/3/5 maybe

on a tonnage/damage/heat the small laser is the most efficient thing in the game, significantly outclassing the medium. Take away that drawback and the balance of the whole game changes.
It isn't that bad.  The Small is only 20% more efficient on a damage/ton ratio in the free heat sink paradigm (roughly first 3 medium lasers for SHS, first 6 medium lasers for DHS).  If you account for double heat sinks in that tonnage the Small does grow to 50% more efficient, but in that case the MG wins in efficiency anyways.

I now think the cutoff for making the SL too powerful in terms of range is around 2/4/6.  2/3/5 is probably a bit on the edge.  2/3/4 and 1/3/5 wouldn't change the dynamics a huge amount, but it'd make the Small useful.

Kidd

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #24 on: 08 September 2019, 21:49:18 »
2/4/6 makes the Medium Pulse look even more pathetic than it already is. Might even obsolete the MPL in fact.

I suggest to give the Mech* Small Laser +1 damage against BA and infantry both. That is to say, 4 damage against BA and 2 damage against infantry before other damage modifiers. That's all.

*exclude BA Small Laser
« Last Edit: 08 September 2019, 21:57:22 by Kidd »

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #25 on: 12 September 2019, 11:38:42 »
Wall-o-small isn't bad on super jumpy mechs that can dictate range. Even with the jumping TMs you're sure to hit with some of them.
That's it! Challenge the Clans to rock-paper-scissors in 3050! A good portion of the 'Mechs didn't have hands so the Inner Sphere would win!
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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #26 on: 18 September 2019, 05:54:39 »
Allows Clans small laser groups for IS tech may make a difference?

2/4/6 Range won't hurt anyone I think. They deserve better than now, at least.

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #27 on: 18 September 2019, 07:10:19 »
3025-era weapons generally obey the relation:

(damage x range) / (tons + heat + ammo) = 10

Accordingly, 2/3/5 range would be more balanced
Are you sure? By your formula, any AC underperforms. The AC/20 still checks in below 10, but the other three top out at 6-9 for AC/2, AC/10 and AC/5 (in that order) respectively.

I also assume by "ammo" you mean "yes = 1; no = 0" and not "ammo per ton"? The latter would of course make smaller ACs even worse. On the other hand, weapons like the AC/20 with shots per ton for about half an egagement should be somehow penalized.

Also, the number of critical slots is not affecting your formula, although it has quite a game effect, if a weapon needs more or less slots.
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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #28 on: 18 September 2019, 07:43:31 »
Are you sure? By your formula, any AC underperforms. The AC/20 still checks in below 10, but the other three top out at 6-9 for AC/2, AC/10 and AC/5 (in that order) respectively.

I also assume by "ammo" you mean "yes = 1; no = 0" and not "ammo per ton"? The latter would of course make smaller ACs even worse. On the other hand, weapons like the AC/20 with shots per ton for about half an egagement should be somehow penalized.

Also, the number of critical slots is not affecting your formula, although it has quite a game effect, if a weapon needs more or less slots.
yes basically

AC5 is (5x18)/(8+1+1) = 9

Slightly less than energy weapons, which I always took to be because ACs are older and more primitive weapons, boosted in game terms by being cheaper and easier to repair

10 class is (10x15)/(12+3+1) = .92, newer model?

20 class is (20x9)/(14+7+1) = .86

Not to quibble, but that is plausibly due to a desire for even range brackets and 3/6/9 is closer than 4/8/12

But if the SL is not some archaic Mackie level technology then I would vote for a range boost of some sort

Maybe straight 2/4/6 but only half damage on break even hits MoS=0 just like that optional rule?

kaliban

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Re: The Small Laser
« Reply #29 on: 18 September 2019, 09:13:01 »
Autocannons are good weapons for combat vehicles because they generate no heat to them. If combined with missile weapons you can build very good combat vehicles.

For mechs I see little use, except for bigger mechs when it is convenient to have a weapon that generates low heat. You can have fun with fast mechs armed with AC20 but a laser bot offer you more for less