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Author Topic: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?  (Read 709 times)

Arkansas Warrior

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Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« on: 23 May 2020, 21:58:34 »
In the days of yore there was the Rifleman.  The definitive anti-air mech, it predated the Reunification War.  And lo, it was good.  But it was not without flaw, and in 2774 the JagerMech was released to correct these flaws.  And all was good for 300 years.  But...since then?  Basically nothing.  I mean, sure, there's plenty of recovered tech variants of the RFL and JM.  But they almost exclusively make them better ground combat machines.  I mean, the JM6-DG?  Fun mech.  The RFL-8D?  Very nice.  JM6-D3?  Great.  But none of them are improvements over the RFL-3N and JM6-S in terms of anti-air capability.  The two biggest things you want in AA duty are range and a flak bonus.  No recovered tech Rifleman or Jagermech gives both.  Lots of Ultra ACs, which is fine I guess, but Ultras can't use any ammo that gets a flak bonus.  Some RFLs have LPLs, which have a nice bonus, but reduce the range tremendously.  Rotary ACs and Gauss rifles pop up here and there, but again, none of those have flak bonuses (and RACs have reduced range).  Why isn't there a JagerMech mounting paired LBX2s and 5s?  Why no RFL with LBX5s and ERLLs?  I mean, even the Star League Rifleman II seems built not for AA duty but for ground combat.  LB10Xs maintain AC5 range and add a flak bonus, so that's not bad, but LPLs?  Why?  Really, the closest on comes to being an improvement is the RFL-X3 MUSE WIND from XTRO Davion.  HAG20s are an inspired choice on a Rifleman.  But it never sees production.  It seems silly that none of the newer RFL or JM production models are actually built to improve on the niche that the designs are actually built for.  Ironically the Rifleman IIC 6 is probably the only production Rifleman with significantly better AA Capability than the RFL-3N.  (Well, arguably the Rifleman II also).
Am I being silly here?  If not, what's going on?
« Last Edit: 24 May 2020, 14:05:47 by Arkansas Warrior »
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Sartris

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #1 on: 23 May 2020, 22:29:47 »
there are precious few IS mechs that mount LB-2s and 5s. they're lowkey some of the most underused guns in the entire arsenal across all platforms, including vehicles.

out of thousands of IS variants, guess how many you think run an LB-5. it's eight. the Lancelot 08 seems built for AA/anti-vee duty, as does the Daikyu 01r and Malice XT. The LB-2 situation isn't much better. it's almost like we're expected to load up partisans with flak ammo like peasants.

Ruger

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #2 on: 23 May 2020, 22:47:06 »
Erm, the Rifleman has the 6X (twin LB/10’s) and the 3N C (2 Clan large pulse lasers and 2 Clan LB/5X’s).

The JagerMech has the DDa (twin AC/5’s and LAC/2’s with plenty of ammo and a targeting computer), JM6-H (with a pair of LB/2X’s), and a couple of the heavier JM7 models mount either LAC/2’s or LB/2X’s.

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Minemech

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #3 on: 23 May 2020, 22:49:46 »
 The LB-10X is a respectable, if imperfect AAA weapon. It sees descent deployment, being sufficiently widespread that it may have been seen as outmoding dedicated AA mech platforms. Armor platforms may have overtaken mechs in the dedicated unit role.

 The truth is that the Clan invasion forced a paradigm shift in mech design. Houses fielded forces that were both less versatile, and rounded. That is not to say that they did not have options, especially with Free Worlds League exports continuing quite late.

Arkansas Warrior

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #4 on: 24 May 2020, 14:05:04 »
Erm, the Rifleman has the 6X (twin LB/10’s) and the 3N C (2 Clan large pulse lasers and 2 Clan LB/5X’s).

The JagerMech has the DDa (twin AC/5’s and LAC/2’s with plenty of ammo and a targeting computer), JM6-H (with a pair of LB/2X’s), and a couple of the heavier JM7 models mount either LAC/2’s or LB/2X’s.

Ruger
The 6X isn't bad, though it suffers from the same issue as the Rifleman II; losing range (and in this case damage) on its lasers without gaining much in its ACs.  The 3N C is a hasty, slapdash modification to stick clan guns on salvaged IS mechs early in the invasion.  It probably mostly saw use by solahma troops who didn't deserve clan mechs, and was never an actual production variant.  They didn't even bother to slap in clan ERMLs here the old MLs were, which leaves the whole thing 2 tons underweight.



As for the JagerMechs, you're making my point.  All of the designs you mention are better at ground combat than a JM6-S, no question.  But as for AA capability?  They're all some combination of less accurate, shorter-ranged, or less damaging.  The JM6-DDa's targeting computer is nice, but I think it's more important to have the range that it loses by moving to LAC2s.  Given flak ammo and the Anti-air targeting quirk, is the TC's -1 all that helpful, or would it be better to be able to reach farther?  The -H is a good use of LBX2s.  I think it's still inferior to the JM6-S in the AA role, given that you're losing flak-capable AC5s for large lasers and adding RLs because Marian Hegemony.  I like the Marians, and the JM6-H is a good mech for them in many ways.  But it's inferior to the JM6-S in terms of AA capability.  There are JM7s that mount LB2s and LAC2s, but they're also sidegrades at best.  The -C3BS's 4 LAC2s are lose range compared to the JM6-S's AC2s, and lose damage compared to the same's AC5s, and its Snubbies don't really add much in terms of AA, they're infighting weapons.  It's clearly superior if you're attacking other mechs, especially in a short-ranged environment, but for AA I'd rather have a JM6-S.  The JM7-G does have LB2s, which are great.  But then it goes and mounts RAC2s, which match AC5 range, fair enough, but can't use flak ammo. Does weight of fire help when you're losing accuracy?  None of those are clearly better than the JM6-S for AA work.  Some add range or damage or accuracy, but they all trade the increases for losses on other fronts which you shouldn't have to do if you're competent and trying to make a better AA mech.






Also, I've just noticed my original post did the stupid size thing again.  I'll go fix that.  Does anyone know why that happens?
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AlphaMirage

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #5 on: 25 May 2020, 10:26:11 »
I think another thing is that during the tech recovery of the 30s more Aerofighters could be built and used during raids. You don't need as many dedicated AAA when you can send your own fighters after them.  This leaves the primary AAA being vehicles that don't deploy on the battlefield as much.  A Pike, Partisan, or other vehicle is a much better platform for Aerospace defense so why use a mech?

Sartris

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #6 on: 25 May 2020, 11:01:15 »
The reason is probably more rooted in the development of the game

Integrating aero and mechs in the same game probably doesn’t happen often so the demand for dedicated AAA platforms isn’t there

Arkansas Warrior

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #7 on: 25 May 2020, 11:22:03 »
I think another thing is that during the tech recovery of the 30s more Aerofighters could be built and used during raids. You don't need as many dedicated AAA when you can send your own fighters after them.  This leaves the primary AAA being vehicles that don't deploy on the battlefield as much.  A Pike, Partisan, or other vehicle is a much better platform for Aerospace defense so why use a mech?
I'm not sure I agree with that.  The Rifleman was an old, old TH design and the JagerMech comes from the of the SL era.  Aerofighters were plenty common in the Star League era, when these things were in their heyday.  If the answer was "We have plenty of ASF, we don't need AA mechs" then why wasn't that the answer during the Star League?  Likewise I'm not sure I buy the "we have vehicles for that" argument.  In a poor faction that doesn't have a lot of mech manufacturing capacity, sure.  "AA mech" is a niche job in any era, and expect that only major powers have the free capacity to devote to the role.  But the logic for AA mech is the same as for any other mech; mechs can go places vehicles can't, are more durable, need fewer crew, etc etc.  You can replace AA mechs with Partisans, Pikes, etc.  You can replace Archers and Longbows with LRM carriers.  You can replace Hunchbacks with Demolishers and Hetzers.  And on and on down the line.  But if you want to be able to take your AA with you over rough terrain, or on that underwater crossing, or whatever, you need an AA mech as much you need a mech to do the short-range bodyguard duty and a mech to carry your LRM support.  That's pretty commonly accepted wisdom as to why mechs are the kings of the battlefield in BT, and the logic works for any type of mech, even niche ones.  AA is a niche, and I'm hardly surprised that you can count the mechs designed for the role on one hand, but it's not an imaginary niche.  You'd think that someone would design a mech, or at least a variant, to fill that role since, apparently, 2774.  It's odd to me that no one has really improved on the inherited basic models for that niche.
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Minemech

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #8 on: 25 May 2020, 11:33:18 »
I'm not sure I agree with that.  The Rifleman was an old, old TH design and the JagerMech comes from the of the SL era.  Aerofighters were plenty common in the Star League era, when these things were in their heyday.  If the answer was "We have plenty of ASF, we don't need AA mechs" then why wasn't that the answer during the Star League?  Likewise I'm not sure I buy the "we have vehicles for that" argument.  In a poor faction that doesn't have a lot of mech manufacturing capacity, sure.  "AA mech" is a niche job in any era, and expect that only major powers have the free capacity to devote to the role.  But the logic for AA mech is the same as for any other mech; mechs can go places vehicles can't, are more durable, need fewer crew, etc etc.  You can replace AA mechs with Partisans, Pikes, etc.  You can replace Archers and Longbows with LRM carriers.  You can replace Hunchbacks with Demolishers and Hetzers.  And on and on down the line.  But if you want to be able to take your AA with you over rough terrain, or on that underwater crossing, or whatever, you need an AA mech as much you need a mech to do the short-range bodyguard duty and a mech to carry your LRM support.  That's pretty commonly accepted wisdom as to why mechs are the kings of the battlefield in BT, and the logic works for any type of mech, even niche ones.  AA is a niche, and I'm hardly surprised that you can count the mechs designed for the role on one hand, but it's not an imaginary niche.  You'd think that someone would design a mech, or at least a variant, to fill that role since, apparently, 2774.  It's odd to me that no one has really improved on the inherited basic models for that niche.
Speed mode mech is excellent, as is the difficulty in immobilizing mechs. It is easier to attain SEAD, when all you have to do it score motive hits with pot shots. If that vehicle cannot keep up with the advance, decisions have to be made. Anyone who has seen how monstrous Shivas can be against ground forces knows that they need reliable AA support.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #9 on: 25 May 2020, 18:54:11 »
I don't know if I agree with the above.  You really need to think about what kind of a campaigns the Successor States were planning at that time.  What makes an AAA mech unique?  Is it that they have LBX autocannons or long range cannons?   What do they provide to my limited mech assets besides Air Cover against the rare air attack that should have been dealt with ahead of time. 

Also what kinds of Aerofighters are we dealing with here?  I don't think it has ever been stated what kinds of Aerofighters are most commonly encounter on a mission.  Light ones like the Cheetah and Thrush, Mediums like a Lancer or Stingray, or Heavies like the Shiva or Chippewa? 

Each can be countered differently
Lights can be swatted out of the sky with LRMs which lots of mechs have
Mediums can lay down some hurt but an ERPPC or Gauss Rifle will mess up their day, lots of mechs have either
For a Heavy you need insane amounts of standoff and/or clusters to force a control roll and that is perhaps the only one that would require dedicated AAA in the form of an Arrow IV or Flak artillery because you don't want that to get near you
« Last Edit: 26 May 2020, 07:24:52 by AlphaMirage »

Sellsword

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #10 on: 25 May 2020, 21:03:49 »
I think that there are a couple out there but most are variants of line Mechs and they aren't fluffed as anti-air mechs.

3050 - Cataphract, Annihilator
3055 - Daikyu (LBX 5 Variant)
3058 - Longbow (one with 6 Light AC5), Emperor
3067 - Vanquisher (Either the 4 Ultra AC5 version or Rotary 5 version)

Arkansas Warrior

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #11 on: 25 May 2020, 23:46:27 »
I don't know if I agree with the above.  You really need to think about what kind of a campaigns the Successor States were planning at that time.  What makes an AAA mech unique?  Is it that they have LBX autocannons or long range cannons?   What do they provide to my limited mech assets besides Air Cover against the rare air attack that should have been dealt with ahead of time. 

Also what kinds of Aerofighters are we dealing with here?  I don't think it has ever been stated what kinds of Aerofighters are most commonly encounter on a mission.  Light ones like the Cheetah and Thrush, Mediums like a Lancer or Stingray, or Heavies like the Shiva or Chippewa? 

Each can be countered differently
Lights can be swatted out of the sky with LRMs which losts of mechs have
Mediums can lay down some hurt but an ERPPC or Gauss Rifle will mess up their day, lots of mechs have either
For a Heavy you need insane amounts of standoff and/or clusters to force a control roll and that is perhaps the only one that would require dedicated AAA in the form of an Arrow IV or Flak artillery because you don't want that to get near you
AA guns are good for more than just ASF.  LBX pellets or light AA flak shells are probably the best way to swat VTOLs, and a good way to attack anything else airborne, like WiGE craft or even air-dropping mechs (not something you'd get a chance to fight every day, I realize).  Flak shells also do full damage to infantry, so you can actually use light AC shells as long-ranged anti-infantry fire, though it's not a great use.


I think that there are a couple out there but most are variants of line Mechs and they aren't fluffed as anti-air mechs.

3050 - Cataphract, Annihilator
3055 - Daikyu (LBX 5 Variant)
3058 - Longbow (one with 6 Light AC5), Emperor
3067 - Vanquisher (Either the 4 Ultra AC5 version or Rotary 5 version)
Ultra5s and RAC5s aren't good AA guns.  Their range isn't great, and they don't get a flak bonus.  LAC5s also have pretty poor range, but at least get a flak bonus.  LBX10s are ok, they do get a flak bonus, but again their range isn't anything to write home about, and range is maybe the most important thing in ground-to-air fighting.  Another thing to consider, though, is quirks:  The Rifleman and JagerMech both have the Anti-Air Targeting Quirk, providing an extra -2 against airborne targets.  That's not something very many mechs have.  Can anything with an LBX-2 or -5 do AA duty?  Yes, they're still getting the flak bonus.  Is it going to be as good as a mech with the specialized AA Targeting Quirk?   No, it's not.  There are actually more mechs with that quirk than I thought, I should say.  I just checked the BattleMech Manual, and it lists the following:


Deimos, Galahad, Hatchetman, JagerMech, JagerMech III, Lancelot, Longbow, Orion, Orion IIC, Perseus, Rifleman Rifleman II, Rifleman IIC


Of those, only the Deimos, Hatchetman, JagerMech, JagerMech III, Lancelot, Longbow, Orion, Perseus, Rifleman, Rifleman II, and Rifleman IIC have any variant that mounts a flak-capable weapon.  Those are going to be the best options, since they get the flak -2 and the AAT -2.
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Minemech

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #12 on: 26 May 2020, 10:14:01 »
 Generally, an effective AA weapon tries to mix range, and accuracy. Thresholding is a valuable, but an Eisensturm can be killed by an oldskool AC/2.

 https://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=69466.0

Colt Ward

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #13 on: 26 May 2020, 17:40:09 »
Which is why I always loved the first Garm- its a good AA mech for cavalry units.

Part of the problem is the fluff that anything but the LB-10X was not available until later, say '58?  Really I think we should have got something like a Wolverine 7D2 that had a LB-5X instead of the UAC/5 (or AC/5 on the -6R) . . . the Hunchback with 2 LRM racks and a AC/5?  Great pocket fire support, LB-5X for AA while throwing LRMs- by doctrine IDF if possible.  Or even a LB-5X equipped version of the RFL-5M that replaces the Ultras.

Some of it is the meta- Lyrans went with armored slabs with the big mech-killing BFGs or mobile skirmishers like the Nightsky, Uziel or Spectors.  Kurita went samurai with swords & MRMs.  Davion did anti-mech dakka with Ultras, RACs and Lights . . .

Part of the problem, IMO is the doctrine . . . while I will agree that armor has taken over the AA role.  Which works out IMO, since the AA tank can be sitting behind a hill which protects them from direct fire from enemy ground units while still putting up a umbrella to keep ASF/CF CAS at bay though it will not work with VTOLs as well.  But for the unit that gets orbital or even HALO drop . . . those tanks will not be there, you need something that can pick up AA duties until the dropped mechs can secure the LZ to offload the dedicated AA formations.
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Sartris

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #14 on: 26 May 2020, 17:55:00 »
Part of the problem is the fluff that anything but the LB-10X was not available until later, say '58? 

yeah, garm 01A is the only LB-2 or 5 before 3060... and virtually nothing after the 3060s and 70s.

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #15 on: 26 May 2020, 22:13:42 »

I realize this is the Spheroid board.  But for the sake of completeness, any Clan unit with a HAG, which came out in 3068, is a dangerous AA unit, in terms of range, to-hit bonuses, and thresholds.

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #16 on: 27 May 2020, 10:30:12 »
I realize this is the Spheroid board.  But for the sake of completeness, any Clan unit with a HAG, which came out in 3068, is a dangerous AA unit, in terms of range, to-hit bonuses, and thresholds.
The Clan Protectorate has a valid say, as part of the Free Worlds League.

Sartris

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #17 on: 27 May 2020, 10:37:02 »
the foxes just need to make a knockoff of the Nuberu and everyone's AAA problems are solved

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #18 on: 27 May 2020, 14:11:25 »
Specialist designs are hit and miss; but making specialist AA mechs that fit within the fluff cannon is going to tend to produce machines that are underpowered on the tabletop.

As things have progressed; I think that TPTB have noticed that the majority of the player base has much, MUCH less patience for deliberately flawed or obviously flawed designs than was originally thought.
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Sartris

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #19 on: 27 May 2020, 14:49:13 »
Specialist designs are hit and miss; but making specialist AA mechs that fit within the fluff cannon is going to tend to produce machines that are underpowered on the tabletop.

because the number of people who actually play with integrated aero assets is small. if you were forced to use aero fighters, there would be a LOT of purpose-built antiaircraft (or at least a lot more than there is now)

Quote
As things have progressed; I think that TPTB have noticed that the majority of the player base has much, MUCH less patience for deliberately flawed or obviously flawed designs than was originally thought.

i was pissed about four armor in the head and some of those 3050 "upgrades" about a week after i started playing in 1996 so i think they knew a long time ago

Arkansas Warrior

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #20 on: 27 May 2020, 14:58:12 »
I think there’s a big difference between an intentionally flawed design and a mech designed for a specialty.  In 3025, a JagerMech wasn’t really flawed, *as an anti-air mech*.  The armor was pitiful, sure, but that’s probably a necessary trade-off to mount 4 ACs.  But no mech in the game in 3025 swats flyers like a JagerMech.  Likewise, consider the Yeoman: it works just fine as an LRM support mech.  Now, if you take it into a city, maybe you’ll think it’s flawed, but that’s on you for trying to use it for something it isn’t designed for.  It isn’t flawed, it’s specialized.
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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #21 on: 27 May 2020, 15:03:18 »
I think there’s a big difference between an intentionally flawed design and a mech designed for a specialty.  In 3025, a JagerMech wasn’t really flawed, *as an anti-air mech*.  The armor was pitiful, sure, but that’s probably a necessary trade-off to mount 4 ACs.  But no mech in the game in 3025 swats flyers like a JagerMech.
:)
 It is also highly effective against static defenses, and vehicles.
 
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Likewise, consider the Yeoman: it works just fine as an LRM support mech.  Now, if you take it into a city, maybe you’ll think it’s flawed, but that’s on you for trying to use it for something it isn’t designed for.  It isn’t flawed, it’s specialized.
Use NARCs.


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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #23 on: 27 May 2020, 15:55:25 »
Perhaps the reason why there are so few dedicated AA 'Mechs in the 3050s stems from the ubiquity of two weapons that aren't often considered AA weapons but perform the role rather admirably - the ER Large Laser & the ER PPC. Both weapons deal enough damage to threshold most aircraft on a hit, & both have enough range that most attacks vs aircraft fall within their medium range bracket. Certainly, both are better AA weapons than the stock AC/5 without flak ammo. Whatever they lack in accuracy the more than make up in crit chances.

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #24 on: 27 May 2020, 16:45:18 »
I think the number of LB-10s on mechs generally would give a lot of forces better defense against aerospace craft.  They aren't dedicated machines, but two or three of those sprinkled throughout a mech company and suddenly you've got the same level of defense (or better) as an old tech company with a Rifleman.

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #25 on: 27 May 2020, 16:53:46 »

Part of the problem is the fluff that anything but the LB-10X was not available until later, say '58?  Really I think we should have got something like a Wolverine 7D2 that had a LB-5X instead of the UAC/5 (or AC/5 on the -6R) . . . the Hunchback with 2 LRM racks and a AC/5?  Great pocket fire support, LB-5X for AA while throwing LRMs- by doctrine IDF if possible.  Or even a LB-5X equipped version of the RFL-5M that replaces the Ultras.

This is a good point that I had forgotten.  I was thinking the LBX-5 was available to the Star League, but I was misremembering.
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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #26 on: 27 May 2020, 17:38:01 »
I think something everyone seems to be overlooking is that AA is a role that has largely shifted to tanks over the course of the back half of the 31st century through to the present, as combined arms doctrine proliferated post-Succession Wars.
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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #27 on: 27 May 2020, 19:05:02 »
Also, aerospace fighters are integrated at the lance level for most IS units, and there is the availability of flak ammo for common autocannon. The Arrow IV anti air missile is also widely available during and after the Jihad, and given the proliferation of common Arrow IV assets such as the Chapparal (CASE), you can actually use anti air missiles in Battletech once more. 


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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #28 on: 27 May 2020, 19:42:12 »
Anti-Air Arrow IV is probably the best readily available AA anywhere.

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Re: Why are there no good Anti-Air Mechs post-3025?
« Reply #29 on: 30 May 2020, 12:04:04 »
The Partisan air defense tank and variants also may have tied into this, since everyone has access to them I one form or another. They're a lot cheaper then devoted AA units, and most smaller units like merc groups or raiding companies also rely on integrated aerospace units for CAP/interception or CAS/bombing duty.

 

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