GWJ Strategy Club Game 1: Battletech (In Progress)

In vanilla Battletech, the Grasshopper punches well at and above its weight. It does get toasty in there but jump jetting into an enemy mech's rear you can put down a heavy or assault usually in one or two rounds of alpha strike.

Pilot skill preference may change as you progress in tonnage - first off you're concerned with increasing guts for greater heat allowance but later the Grasshopper looks fragile (compared to say a King Crab or Atlas) and then you'll want the skill that allows you to reserve to essentially get behind, fire two strikes, then jump away.

Doing a vanilla campaign kickoff. Had my daughter help me out with the naming and history selections

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/GUwfyGi.jpg)

- Naming - Lilly 'Lil' Glenn of The Arizona Snakes
- History - Our hero hails from The Rimward Periphery and her family died in a tragic jumpship accident (trying not to take that one personal). 'Lil' spent time distinguishing herself as an Aurigan Coalition Soldier before being promoted to the Royal Guard
- Difficulty - Normal Difficulty

Went through the tutorial missions just to ease back into this as I haven't played in over a year. The storytelling is just as good as I remember it and definitely gets me back in the mood.

Spoiler:

I'll admit watching Mastiff fall doesn't get any easier. We'll be back to Coromodir soon enough. For now, time to rest and catch our breath.

And for your viewing pleasure: Anyone who watched the corny 90s Battletech cartoon might get a kick out this.

Played more of the Ironman Career mode tonight. New type of mission that I hadn't encountered before - where you work with a local company of trainees. I picked one mech and then the rest of my lance were computer chosen. The first mission of this type was ... an abject failure. All of the trainees were supposed to survive, but one of them (I think his name was something like "Burger Time") didn't make it. Sorry, Burger buddy! The second mission of this type went much more swimmingly.

I spent a lot of time getting my butt kicked last night on a world that was slightly too hard to cope with. When playing ironman, that’s not necessarily a good idea. I retreated to somewhere a little easier, made friends with the free world league and got myself back on track.

The new coil weapons - once I’d figured out you have to walk to charge them up, jumping doesn’t work - are light mech one shot kill weapons. They do run very hot though.

Just headed off to do my first flashpoint and it’s on one of the new urban maps. Building getting ripped apart by stray weapons fire everywhere. If you jump on one and it collapses, it’s bye bye pilot time!

Still on Weldry for now. I was offered a 2v2 1.5-skull battle so I took that while a couple of my bigger mechs were under repair. The drop limit was 35t per mech, and all I have in that range so far is a Spider and a Locust.

Found myself up against a Trebuchet and a Locust. That took a lot of jumping around to beat, and both my mechs lost arms before squeaking it out.

But I guess I like the *idea* of limited-mech missions, to make the optimization problem something other than "bigger is always better"... but bigger is still *almost* always better.

Urgh. I'd forgotten that even though it's not as pronounced as it is in XCOM on occasion, the RNG does occasionally really work against you in this game - just had a relatively straightforward mission that had all 4 of my warriors injured (thanks to random shots hitting the cockpit) and 2 lighter mechs (one panther being a particular thorn in my side) that just refused to die. I couldn't wipe them out fast enough before the heavier mechs came into play and then started to pound on me. In the end I had to scrap one mech after ejecting (it had lost one of it's coil weapons and there seemed little point in keeping it after that) and high tail it to the evac zone rather than just slugging it out. Just annoying, the panther must have been being held together with masking tape, especially considering how many holes my Grasshopper must have burned into it.

Remember that ejecting is a perfectly viable option if you've got a badly injured warrior or a mech with all its weapons blown off. Or both...........

Very satisfying battle tonight in Career mode. I was 3 days away from being bankrupt (I guess I'm not a financial wizard), and I was going into a battle undermanned (2 Centurions, 1 Spider, 1 Commando). I face off in a battle against a Cicada, Blackjack and Warhammer, and I'm thinking this might be the end of my short-lived mercenary career. However, I was able to gain the high-ground and gradually picked them off one by one. The highlight of the battle was my nimble Spider getting behind the Warhammer and using its medium lasers to batter one side of the Warhammer, eventually bringing it down. By the skin of my teeth, I survived to fight another day! Now, if I could just make better financial decisions. Any tips?

If you're having financial issues, it tends to suggest you are taking missions which are beyond your lance's capacity to easily clear. Harder missions help your mercenary review board rating rise faster (and therefore you get offered harder difficulty missions and a higher score) but in the early-mid Career it can mean you spend way too much money repairing mechs and waiting for your pilots to recover from injuries.

If you are still finding your feet with the game, my suggestion would be to "farm" easier missions (at the start, just stick to 0.5-1.5 skull rated missions at most) at suitable travel nodes. Also, only take on "Assassinate" missions if you are confident - although there can be a juicy target to salvage, the mission usually has an ambush and reinforcement lance so it's guaranteed you will fight somewhere around 9 mechs/vehicles.

amazedbygrace86 wrote:

Very satisfying battle tonight in Career mode. I was 3 days away from being bankrupt (I guess I'm not a financial wizard), and I was going into a battle undermanned (2 Centurions, 1 Spider, 1 Commando). I face off in a battle against a Cicada, Blackjack and Warhammer, and I'm thinking this might be the end of my short-lived mercenary career. However, I was able to gain the high-ground and gradually picked them off one by one. The highlight of the battle was my nimble Spider getting behind the Warhammer and using its medium lasers to batter one side of the Warhammer, eventually bringing it down. By the skin of my teeth, I survived to fight another day! Now, if I could just make better financial decisions. Any tips?

Over-extending and burning through cash is fairly normal early on. In career mode, the flash points (assuming you have the DLC) are ‘nice little earners’ if you take them on. You don’t really need to buy much early on as well - maybe some heat sinks or jump jets if you get an unexpected early heavy mech - but you’ll salvage enough weapons to respec your mechs/build new ones fairly straightforwardly.

I would recommend rebuilding your mechs as some of the stock loadouts leave a bit to be desired. I would try and focus them to be close combat or long range fire support, and also try and make sure they have as much armour on them as possible. Glass cannons are only really viable for long range fire support mechs and even then be careful. Close combat mech should have as close to max armour as you can get - it’s better to lose a little firepower and gain armour I think, although I’m sure other opinions are available! The less repairs you have to do the better, and the more armour you have the more likely it is you’ll come through unscathed.

As you play through you’ll soon find cash becomes less of an issue. If you try to blow legs off mechs rather than take out the central core you’ll get 2 salvage pieces rather than just one which can be a good way of getting better mechs quicker. If you can pull it off, taking out the cockpit will leave you with all 3 parts to salvage and instant new mech. That’s not easy though so don’t push it until you’ve got a half decent mech warrior with called shot bonuses.

Finally, some times the lower difficult missions involve only light mechs and/or vehicles. In those missions it’s often better to max out your money reward than it is salvage, as the scrap is generally not that good. 2 or 3 ‘easy’ missions with maximum cash will often get you out of a hole if you can do them consecutively without repairs/rebuilds in between. The game time doesn’t progress between missions if you don’t need to rebuild.

And I’m off!

I’m through the first three missions of the campaign so far, which means I now have access to making decisions for the lance. And the first one was refitting my mech, since I was careless with my main character in the third mission and got roundly thumped; everyone else was fine, but the repairs to the Blackjack are going to take time and money. Early lesson I suppose.

I’m still getting used to the fiddliness of the game. Key items being 1) how slow a round can be, 2) how placement can impact if I can hit a specific enemy or not, and 3) how to tell how much damage I’m going to do and what that will look like on the actual armor/health bars. But I’m guessing I have a bit of time to learn that.

For those running Heavy Metal DLC and are in Career mode / finished the campaign - Steiner territory tends to sell Marauder mech salvage parts. This mech is overpowered - from memory it adds about 20% I think to called shots, meaning a called shot mastery pilot can readily score 35%+ hit rates to the head; then when you slot in weapons that can reliably one-shot the cockpit (UAC2s and beyond, PPCs, Gauss, etc) you can go mech hunting fairly reliably. Otherwise you'll be lobbing LRMs to score knockdowns then either going for headshots while they are prone. I mean, that's a valid tactic too, and it seems Baradul uses it a lot in his Roguetech playthrough.

Bfgp and Sorbicol, thanks for all of the advice! I'm just playing with vanilla Career (w/ no DLCs), but you definitely shared some good advice. Sometimes I'm so focused on taking out cores that I forget to knock out the legs and salvage more from bigger mechs.

The Marauder is in the base game.

So I’m officially terrible at all games. I thought the strategy genre was my last bastion but at the very end of the first mission I freaking lost. I have no idea how he did it but the evil captain one shotted Mastiff. The Centurion had taken some hits but there were still a few bars of white left on his armor.

Adventures in career mode - I’m slowly progressing through my career but will admit I’m finding it a little aimless. I had a really bad mission that forced me to withdraw - I got ambushed stuck in a valley between 2 lances. When they revealed I was facing 4 heavy and 4 medium Mechs with only 1 heavy, 2 medium and 1 light (a fire starter) on my side. I had to bug out before I lost my heavy mech. That was a bad faith withdrawal and cost me all the reputation. I was building with local pirate forces so I could get access to the black markets. That was very annoying.

I moved to a new area in a huff and have been slowly taking on harder and harder missions. I have 3 heavies now (1 with a terrible load out because my spread of weapons is very uneven. Where are all the AC5s?!?) and I’m winding my way towards some new flash points.

I do like this game, but it is only ‘like’. It’s no XCOM. The tactical side of the attritional mech combat is very enjoyable but the way the game works makes progress very uneven, and a couple of ‘bad intel’ missions in a row (which the game has no issues with throwing at you) or really bad spawn points and you’re licking your wounds and scrubbing for decent weapons just when you feel you’re making good progress. It never quite gets the balance right for me.

Sorbicol wrote:

I do like this game, but it is only ‘like’. It’s no XCOM. The tactical side of the attritional mech combat is very enjoyable but the way the game works makes progress very uneven, and a couple of ‘bad intel’ missions in a row (which the game has no issues with throwing at you) or really bad spawn points and you’re licking your wounds and scrubbing for decent weapons just when you feel you’re making good progress. It never quite gets the balance right for me.

It’s the opposite for me, XCOM is only a like, but I’ve got just about 300 hours on Battletech according to Steam. I just find the combat so much more enjoyable than XCOM because XCOM feels like a puzzle where there is a “perfect” solution. In Battletech perfection is never on the table, you will get hit and take damage whatever you do. The combat combines so many options that you have to balance: overall damage vs concentration of damage, heat vs ammo, stability damage, tonnage and those are just factors for choosing weapons! There are enough factors on each move that it feels like you are always balancing and making trade offs, and you will rarely be taking enemies down in one shot so you always have to be thinking there will be return shots.

Probably doesn’t help that I also find the strategy layer in XCOM pretty blah, but enjoy the chase to collect mech salvage and upgrade my lance much more as well.

For those that have been playing a while I think the Heavy Metal expansion is a great addition. The special mods that come with each of the new mechs give them extra gameplay character and feel, and make them less interchangeable. Now they aren’t just a collection of weapon slots and tonnage, but they have modifications to push them in certain directions and create new possibilities. The new weapon types can enable some crazy stuff. I was eventually getting setups where you can output 4-500+ points of damage in a turn, which is almost too much!

Alright, I'm in and started. Just finished the tutorials (I think) and got access to my ship. Was them quickly overwhelmed by options and so figured that was a good time to shut it down and do some work around the house.

I’m slowly chugging along the campaign. We got the Argo from pirates and met a friend, although that battle was a bear on my guys. Had to purchase a new pilot, since one of my starting pilots was put in the med bay for awhile. Heck, my Main Character was still in the med bay from the first post-tutorial battle, so I’m not playing safe enough.

But after that, I had enough mechs damaged that I took a contract on another planet just so I had time to repair all of my mechs in transit, none of which left the battle unscathed. The Blackjack in particular seems to be used for target practice by everyone, but I try to keep all of my medium mechs in each battle now, for a total of 3 medium/1 light mech per mission. I had to do a couple of 2 medium/2 light missions, and having half my team unable to do real damage isn’t something I want to replicate. I'm also getting a bit better at manipulating line of sight to keep my team safe.

I’ve been hoovering up .5 and 1 skull missions for a bit, but that next 2 skull main quest is starting to call me. I’d love a heavy, but not enough parts yet.

A lot of times, the fastest mech to get out in front is the bullet magnet. So plan around that. Move your mechs more deliberately when you can, and keep them together, and then it'll be one the computer considers the biggest threat. You can put that one in good defensive ground and let the others zap its attackers.

Oh, and there's a lot to be said for anti-ambush tactics. When you get hit, charge your opponent with all the force you have. If you can kill them, you've not only knocked out a source of fire, but also possibly opened up more terrain in which to maneuver.

So, this is going to result in an evening where we all get together and play multiplayer matches, right?

Robear wrote:

A lot of times, the fastest mech to get out in front is the bullet magnet. So plan around that. Move your mechs more deliberately when you can, and keep them together, and then it'll be one the computer considers the biggest threat. You can put that one in good defensive ground and let the others zap its attackers.

Moving faster (IE moving more hexes) also gives you more evasion "pips," which means you're harder to hit.

The 3025 Commander's Edition mod as I recall expands this system so really fast 'mechs earn evasion pips beyond what the cap was in the vanilla game and so certain skills keep you from losing pips as fast under fire. This means it's sometimes a viable strategy to have one fast light 'mech dart into the enemy's back field and just be a "rabbit" that draws their fire, most of which will miss.

Where I see this most is in situations where I have four mechs in the same category, but 3 are relatively slow. The fourth one will tend to get out ahead and take fire, but there's always one that, when in range, is more appealing than the others, usually because it's got good armor and solid weapons loadout. The enemy will switch to that one when it can. So I'll tend to try to keep *that* one out front, and use the faster one for flanking after engaging. The other two provide concentrated firepower to save the bullet sponge before it can get too badly hurt, and the flanker cripples where it can.

Robear wrote:

Where I see this most is in situations where I have four mechs in the same category, but 3 are relatively slow. The fourth one will tend to get out ahead and take fire, but there's always one that, when in range, is more appealing than the others, usually because it's got good armor and solid weapons loadout. The enemy will switch to that one when it can. So I'll tend to try to keep *that* one out front, and use the faster one for flanking after engaging. The other two provide concentrated firepower to save the bullet sponge before it can get too badly hurt, and the flanker cripples where it can.

I’ve readjusted my tactics to this a little and looked at my tactical options a little more. Right now I’m in the Arano Restoration making friends with them and annoying the Taurians. I had an urban battle last night, and used my fully armour shadow hawk to draw in a cataphract so my grasshopper could jump in behind and core it with a full alpha strike. Turned that battle in one move after it damn near totalled my hunchback in one turn (it had 3 structural points left in its core and I had to eject its pilot)

I’m now building to my first assault mech. I’ve got a few parts now, and enough in the bank to buy another to complete a chassis. I think I need to find some pirate missions soon so I can unlock the black market but they are damn hard to find.

As your pilots get better, and you get more long-range efficiency, headshots become a wonderful thing. The key is to get multiple shots in one after the other, to overcome the relatively low probability of a catastrophic hit. Once you get the taste for taking out pilots, it's hard to go back to shooting out legs lol.

I've been working thru the campaign - narrowly missed disaster due to a poor choice to spend a million space bucks to purchase a +++ LRM too early in the campaign, resulting in near bankruptcy followed by two mission failures (one where all but one mech was destroyed with a narrow win, and one where the primary goal was to destroy a convoy but I got distracted with the mech battle against their escort thus was unsuccessful). Since then money in the bank has been growing. I still don't feel that I understand mech builds/lance optimization so any advice gratefully accepted!

If I have a mech that's a bullet magnet, I'll take the trouble to lose a laser or something and beef up its armor. Other than that, I don't usually customize armor. Weapons, though... It's all based on the role you want to play. And then of course fitting jump jets and heat sinks as appropriate.

I started playing (vanilla campaign, no mods). Only 2 missions in so far - my Blackjack & pilot got beat all to hell in that second mission, so now they'll be sitting out for a while, I guess. Next up: my first real paid contract.

jdzappa wrote:

So I’m officially terrible at all games. I thought the strategy genre was my last bastion but at the very end of the first mission I freaking lost. I have no idea how he did it but the evil captain one shotted Mastiff. The Centurion had taken some hits but there were still a few bars of white left on his armor.

The first time I played this I had the same thing happen, in much the same way. Then a friend walked me through it again, explaining a lot of the key concepts, and things went much much better. I'm not sure if they've improved the tutorial since release, but when I played it, it told you just enough to get you killed in the first mission, without explaining some key mechanics that like, allow you to survive.

The early stages of the game are hard because your pilots have such atrocious hit percentages and the starting mechs tend to have low damage output until you earn enough loot to upgrade them.

Use jump jets on your weaker mechs to mostly take defensive positions while stripping evasion pips off the target you are trying to focus down. It doesn't matter if you hit or not - it will still remove one evasion pip. Note this doesn't work with the two major mods (BTA and RogueTech which intentionally leave evasion pips unaffected so that lights and mediums can be more viable). On mech viability, the lasers that increase in damage based on evasion pips / distance moved can really help push you into the mid game reliably as they can pack enough damage to open up a mech or vehicle in one shot.

If you find one mech is taking too much of a beating, pull it back and move something else up front to draw aggro. Typically this means moving up and out of cover with the bigger mechs. You may even choose to expose a flank to draw fire off the vulnerable Lance member. Don't forget to ROTATE your torso positioning so enemy fire has a higher probability of being soaked up by armour and not taking structure damage which takes longer and is costlier to repair (and exposes the inner parts to getting destroyed).

Note how heat buildup works. You can redline a little without shutting down or damaging your internal structure. Levelling guts helps you push that overheating threshold higher as does certain loot (heat banks; exchangers reduce heat generation).

The above points then lend themselves to a certain levelling pattern for your pilots - your medium mech pilots tend to have heat issues with alpha striking so give them a mix of gunnery and guts; the scout and skirmisher want a mix of either tactics or piloting for survivability.

The other point I suppose is to play to your Lance's strengths. For example, a missile boat lance needs a mobile spotter and ideally more than one missile boat to pile on stability damage. Or a lance that attempts to overheat a target needs more than just a Firestarter. And glass cannon lancing means you double down on damage on your loadouts and aggressively push forward and kill everything before it can kill you.

The super early game is a bit frustrating. Kind of like XCOM when you're fielding rookies. It only gets better through levelling pilots and pushing more tonnage each drop.

OMFG this game hates me!!! Had a great run on a warehouse raid and the drop ship comes in and lands right on one of my mechs killing one of my best pilots!

I guess on the plus side I'm starting to get the hang of things. Made it past the first couple of story missions with minor injuries and no crippled mechs. I'd totally be down for multiplayer next week btw.