GWJ Strategy Club Game 1: Battletech (In Progress)

jdzappa wrote:

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!

The hexes which are shaded red in a hexagon warn you where a dropship / evac dropship is inbound. It can be amusing if you can knockdown or shutdown an opponent in the hex for an easy kill. Unfortunately you found out the instant death rule with your own pilot!

crunchy wrote:

I still don't feel that I understand mech builds/lance optimization so any advice gratefully accepted!

I found this Reddit post on lance design helpful. I could quibble endlessly with the specific roles and definitions, and it puts a lot of emphasis on pilot abilities that take a while to unlock, but it's a good starting point for thinking about mech specialties and how to build an effective lance.

There's also a wiki with suggested builds for some but by no means all mechs.

While the in-game descriptions give a role for each mech (in terminology which, of course, doesn't 100% match what that Reddit post uses), in practice a lot of stock designs try to combine several roles. Adjusting them to better fit a specialty is a good starting point for customization.

For example, the Vindicator is described in-game as "Fire Support & Brawler". The stock config tries to cover every possible range with one or two weapons -- it has two long-range weapons (LRM-5 and PPC), one medium-range weapon (Medium Laser), one short-range weapon (Small Laser), and jump jets. I take mine further in the Fire Support/Striker direction by trading the lasers in for another heat sink and a half-ton of armor. This version jumps around the battlefield to get good angles for long-range shots. But you could just as easily lean into the Brawler role by replacing the LRMs with SRMs and the PPC with more medium lasers.

Had an interesting fight against some random mission. Or, maybe not interesting to the Battletech vets, but it’s a very different tactical fight than I usually fight. It was a 1.5 skull mission, and it was a straight fight against another lance, with each side on mountains on either side of a flooded valley. On the very first turn, we found the enemy and that triggered reinforcements which engaged as well, but they were all coming from the other mountain. So I fought one long fighting retreat against 7 light mechs coming at me all at once. As they charged through the lake and up my hill, I basically had my entire team jumping back and forth to keep the evasion pips up, and I let my spotter highlight a single enemy, and my sniper (a Vindicator that’s basically just a PPC/LRM platform) to expose a weakness, and my other two suits mop up each enemy mech. I picked the attackers off one by one while falling back to give myself room to maneuver. The water also slowed them.

But then a Panther sniped my Centurion (basically my tankiest Medium mech so far) with their own PPC and took an arm right off from the shadows on the far mountain, but mercifully no weapons were attached to it. But then it lots it’s left torso and leg as well, when all the light mech caught up to us. He barely got away as the enemy mechs got interested in other things, but in the meantime my main character’s mech was perpetually being overheated by a flamethrower, so I just started jumping on enemy mechs instead. My sniper fought valiantly, jumping up cliffs and info forests and popping off shots until we tried to wear the remaining 5 targets down with my remaining 3 mechs. We ran all over the flooded valley to keep the heat low and the evasion pips high. It wasn’t enough, though. The Centurion was almost wasted, another mech was missing several limbs, and my main character got incapacated at some point (which didn’t trigger a game over).

At this point, I restarted the fight (which took me at least an hour), and redid it while trying to not pull the reinforcements with the main force, and hanging way back and letting the enemy mechs come at me one at a time. The enemies still got reinforcements the turn after contact, but I was able to take out a couple before they got to me, and it made a huge difference (4 vs 6 is a lot easier than 4 vs 7, or realistically 3 vs 6 the first try since my Centurion got incapacitated so early). I also started getting more comfortable with melee attacks, as weapons got knocked off or systems overheated. Everyone still took serious damage during a run and gun fight down one mountain and up the other, and I lost a couple of limbs in the process, but I got a good payday. So lesson learned: don’t pull the reinforcements too early if you can help it, and don’t ever get outnumbered or you’re in for a world of hurt.

I’ll stay this much: I never fought a fight like this in XCOM. But man I wish these fights were faster. Fortunately, I checked the settings and found a way to increase movement speed, so that problem was solved.

After, I spent a month getting people healed up and fixing my mechs. On the plus side, that gave me time to upgrade my mech bay, so now I can hold 12 mechs. Got a nice mix of mediums and lights for now.

Bfgp wrote:
jdzappa wrote:

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!

The hexes which are shaded red in a hexagon warn you where a dropship / evac dropship is inbound. It can be amusing if you can knockdown or shutdown an opponent in the hex for an easy kill. Unfortunately you found out the instant death rule with your own pilot!

I didn't see any red shaded areas so I think it may have been bugged. At least others were complaining about the same problem on the forums. But that's a good thing to keep in mind for a future battle.

And I echo Sundown's comments that turning on fast mode is a game changer, especially when facing waves of enemies.

If anybody reading this thread doesn't already have the game but is tempted and missed out on the Steam summer sale, you can currently get a Steam key for $8.99 on GamesPlanet.

And the “Digital Deluxe Edition” (no DLC, but includes the soundtrack, a PDF art book, and some wallpapers) is part of the Humble Best of Paradox bundle, at the $12 tier.

God damn it. RNG Armageddon. I just took on a tough mission to destroy a base - it was a bit of a slug fest but, after a lot of attrition I though I was through, and even had some assault mech parts to pick up.

then the game bought in some reinforcements. Behind my emplacements. Two mechs got cored, I was just destroying the final building ready to bug out when a fluke shot from the AI headshot my main heavy mech. I had to withdraw (at least it was good faith) but only got half my pay and no salvage. Now I'm facing bankrupty thanks to the amount of repairing I've got to do.

I've lost 2 of my best pilots and my main is now in medbay for the next 100 days. This campaign has really stalled now, whatever I do I cannot get Assault mechs to spawn when I need to collect parts as apposed to money and vise versa. I've got 400 days left on the campaign and boy did I c*ck it up.

Not sure I can go through another though so I'l finish this one just to see where it gets to. I also really hate that it spawns the flashpoints about as far away from where you are as it's possible to get.

This is a good game, but there are lots of little niggly game design decisions that stop it being a great one.

Sorbicol wrote:

God damn it. RNG Armageddon. I just took on a tough mission to destroy a base - it was a bit of a slug fest but, after a lot of attrition I though I was through, and even had some assault mech parts to pick up.

then the game bought in some reinforcements. Behind my emplacements. Two mechs got cored, I was just destroying the final building ready to bug out when a fluke shot from the AI headshot my main heavy mech. I had to withdraw (at least it was good faith) but only got half my pay and no salvage. Now I'm facing bankrupty thanks to the amount of repairing I've got to do.

I've lost 2 of my best pilots and my main is now in medbay for the next 100 days. This campaign has really stalled now, whatever I do I cannot get Assault mechs to spawn when I need to collect parts as apposed to money and vise versa. I've got 400 days left on the campaign and boy did I c*ck it up.

Not sure I can go through another though so I'l finish this one just to see where it gets to. I also really hate that it spawns the flashpoints about as far away from where you are as it's possible to get.

This is a good game, but there are lots of little niggly game design decisions that stop it being a great one.

Are you playing ironman and cannot save/load? Also, a helpful function is restarting the mission. Sometimes it can make a mission easier as there is a lottery draw on opposition and positioning.

From memory you only see Assault mechs around the 3.5*+ rank. Roaming about in the Free League Worlds or anyone else that is at war with Steiner is a good way to find Assault mechs.

Look also from the mission descriptions. The ones that talk about an isolated heavy mech that is probably a trap will almost always have an Assault mech at higher mission difficulties.

You could also try RogueTech mod if you want the game re-imagined, it's intended to be closer to tabletop iirc. But I'm not learned in the tabletop lore. It also comes with ridiculous rule-breaking tech that makes the Lostech you see in the base game underwhelming. But it does make the game a lot better even if slower and unstable.

I think one of the issues is that I have no underlying experience of Battletech beyond this game and I’m not invested in it the way those who have played the desktop game presumably are. I know about the skill ratings, and bad missions are bad missions - they can happen in any TBS game that involves the use of random number generators! It just feels like I’m continually missing important background and the game, while having excellent lore explainations sometimes feels like it’s not very good at presenting mechanics information.

And yes, I am playing ironman. It’s recoverable but I’ve spent too long trying to get the Capellan federation to like me again (involving low skull rated systems) after ending up with them hating me - not to mention doing the same for pirates trying to get access to the black markets. I had the offer trigger very early in the game when they hated me, I couldn’t afford the cost I’ve not seen the event again since. That’s just me of course, but it is a little frustrating!

The rest of the ‘niggly’ stuff is more mechanical. Even with the options in the menu to speed the game up it’s still so slow at times. Escort missions, while better than it was in vanilla still take ages to complete. You still have to escort them to their destination even if you’ve cleared the map. And let’s not even talk about the endless cut screens when travelling from one system to another.

The other issue is the camera control. It’s the worst in almost any game I’ve ever played. It zooms all over the map (no intervention from me) and is never looking at which mech is firing at what. I’ve tried every setting in the game menu to get it to stop and nothing has changed it. It’s completely random and it really does drive me nuts and many times I’m missing critical information like I’ve been flanked because I don’t know where weapons fire is coming from. That cost me at least one mech last night because I didn’t realised the AI has got in behind and took the mech out with a rear LRM salvo when I didn’t correct for it.

All that said I don’t hate the game, I actually really like it - I’m moaning because it’s a game I want to like more than I do! But there some small polishing steps it feels like it needs to make it a really great one.

Curious what resolution you're using, Sorbicol. Also... Do you keep track of all the enemies at the start of each turn? That will help with situational awareness.

Robear wrote:

Curious what resolution you're using, Sorbicol. Also... Do you keep track of all the enemies at the start of each turn? That will help with situational awareness.

It’s not the resolution it’s the camera. Every time the AI takes an action, it zooms to a part of the map where nothing is happening. I can correct it using the manual camera controls, but by the time I’ve got things back to the action the action is over and I’m trying to figure who shot who and where from. Most of the time that’s fairly straightforward, but not always - especially if the enemy mechs are hidden from my sensor range.

I have never experienced what you're describing in dozens of hours playing this game.

That's why I'm wondering. I see the camera wander around some but typically it's trying to get both my mech and the firing mech in line (if not in frame). I'm wondering if you're so zoomed in that it can't do that most of the time, or if the resolution is such that the camera can't position itself without swooping all over most of the time... Just brainstorming.

Well, after checking, I'm set to "Use Dynamic Attack Camera", with the two sliders set right in the middle. Doesn't matter if I'm zoomed out or in, the camera will go to an over-shoulder view for my attacks, and will try to put both an enemy attacker and my unit being attacked in frame when the enemy attacks. It zooms out at the start of each attack so I can see everyone involved.

I tried turning that dynamic attack camera off, and I had one instance where the camera remained zoomed in on an enemy after I attacked it, and then another enemy moved and fired without the camera responding. But that's it. Went through a skirmish and on every attack I had good situational awareness, mainly because of the big zoom outs the camera took. Tried both settings, zoomed all the way in and out, didn't matter.

If the mechs are not yet detected, I'd expect the source to be imprecise, though. But I can't reproduce. I'm running at 2560x1440, I think. Sorry.

Edit - Silly thought... The menus in brackets often have scrolling enabled, and the Dynamic camera setting can only be accessed by scrolling down in that part of the Gameplay menu... At first, i didn't realize that the menus scrolled...

Spoiler:

Working on the frontier is a daily reminder that has its risks and its rewards. Living is cheap, but so is life. And it's a no-win situation when you're on the hooks of the bank.

The crew agreed that if the powers that be are going to play by a different set of rules, that we may as well too. While we can't control the arrangement our Jumpship crew has with the money men, they can't completely control who we work for on the side to earn a little extra cash to keep our mechs in good repair and to keep flying.

Before long, our shopping for jobs on the side nets us a potentially lucrative contract with a member of the Canopian elite. Promising news for our beleaguered company... We lay in a course for Bellerophon to meet them... The meeting brings us a subsequent contract to retrieve the Argo from Axylus in the Alloway system.

Morale is a bit low and I got into an argument with Behemoth about unscheduled repairs and modifications on our leased dropship. She may have gotten the message about keeping things formal with the lienholders but I decided to speak with the XO about bumping the crew's pay a bit with our 'off the books' earnings to help offset some of their edginess. He agreed this gesture of sharing the wealth would definitely help.

I'm a fan of outfitting a full lance capable of indirect fire with at least a couple of pilots with Sensor Lock as a skill, so we'll be working towards that through the campaign. I'm also finding that the Blackjack is great for sniping annoying vehicles.

Also thanks for the tips above on skipping the animations and speeding up gameplay. I'm used to missions taking over an hour but now I'm able to knock them out in less than 30 minutes.

Middcore wrote:

I have never experienced what you're describing in dozens of hours playing this game.

It's a really common problem that Harebrained schemes never really seem to have addressed.

However some dedicated searching has now led me to this Subreddit thread which has apparently got several workable fixes in it. Time to check them out later I guess

I’ve knocked out a number of more mercenary contracts, and done another story mission (restoring House Decimis, where the turrets might been the MVP in a hilarious turn of events), and I feel like I have a handle on what I’m doing at this point. I’ve upgraded my ship so my mechs repair faster (which is a huge help), I’ve got a better handle on positioning and placement, what weapons I like to use, and I have a small but stable team to cycle through when people get injured, although I could maybe use one more, just to have a bigger variety of skill options. I think I’ve gotten over the initial hump of learning the systems, and now I’m easily handling all the 2 skull missions that are being thrown at me.

Here’s a key thing that I didn’t initially pick up on: when you decide where you want to move a mech, while moving the vision cone around, you can see what the likelihood of hitting each unit is. Before, I could tell which ones I could hit (the red line), but I was kind of guessing what the accuracy might be by distance. In this way it’s more like Fire Emblem than it is XCOM, where I think I had to acutally move a unit to their new location before I knew who they could see and hit. Not so here, which makes a big difference, since I have way more idea what’s going to happen, and missions are way easier. Maybe that one is obvious, but it doesn’t seem like it was explained, so I was just kind of guessing before.

What difficulty are people playing on? After losing in the campaign I decided to go career mode against "easy" mechs and it's, well, easy. I'll likely restart on normal.

crunchy wrote:

What difficulty are people playing on? After losing in the campaign I decided to go career mode against "easy" mechs and it's, well, easy. I'll likely restart on normal.

Normal for now but I considered backing off to Easy after I had three pilots get smeared in back to back missions yesterday. I'm thinking I need a combination of stepping up my tactical game plus not getting too attached to pilots considering there's always the odd headshot lying in wait.

Not really sure when/how this got into my library. I don't recall buying it at any point, but since it was there fired it up and started a campaign. Just finished the mission where you have to recover the Argo. Enjoying myself so far, not sure how long I'll stick with it.

Welcome aboard Clumber!

Regarding the difficulty, I've been running normal but I'm thinking about dropping to easy so that I can get my first heavy mech. Right now I can field 2 1/2 skulls worth of medium mechs but I'm struggling to complete any mission over 2.

I’ve knocked out the next story mission, which involves blowing up a dropship and fighting a surprise enemy. I’ve also got my own heavy mech now (a Dragon, which is surprisingly not that powerful even with an AC20, but good for drawing fire), and have started handling 2.5 skull missions. The last story mission in particular was 2.5 skulls. It still feels early in the game, but the clock is at 33 hours so far.

My favorite mech right now might be my Trebuchet. It’s straight up a missile boat, with two banks of LR-15s, 3 packs of ammo, a few jump jets to move around and get to high ground and defensible spots, and a whole lot of armor stripped off so I have the weight capacity for all of the above. But she stays way back from the main fight and is almost always the first to strip an enemy mech’s armor with a barrage for the rest of the team to jump on (sometimes literally), which has been invaluable. And there’s always the chance at one-shotting any light mechs that run up too far.

How I’m feeling when playing seems to have a big impact on how I do; I tried some random 2 skull mission a couple of nights ago when I was tired, where a heavy showed up and I got myself ripped to shreds for reasons I still don’t understand. And I tried it again last night ready to go, and got through the same mission with no problems, plus knocked out several more missions with the only structural damage I took was from overheating from too many alpha strikes on a Martian planet. That generally seems to be how most missions go, either an easy victory, or a horrendous grind it out affair where I feel like I’m on the wrong side of things, and there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the two other than slightly better placement and maybe a few lucky hits early in a mission on weakened armor or the soft underbelly. I’m playing non-ironman, and all difficulty settings turned to normal, for reference.

As I play though this, it's hard not to compare it to the recent XCOM games, although I don’t know exactly how I would rank things yet. I really liked XCOM 2, but also found the squishiness of the characters to make the game highly stressful (and Fire Emblem over the years has taught me to keep everyone alive). On the other hand, the slow, grind it out nature of this one is much easier on the nerves since any random shot isn’t likely to kill anyone (so far), but I’m not yet sure which tactical encounters I find more engaging overall. I also think the strategic layer in this game, where you're juggling time and money considerations with some light ship upgrade mechanics, to be more compelling than the base building and country management in the XCOM games, although the huge infusion of cash from the story missions here takes a lot of the edge of the difficulty; career mode would likely be a different beast. I guess I like individual parts of this game better than XCOM 2, but the jury's still out on what I think on the whole.

I've just finished a couple of random missions after the first Smithon mission. That one was kind of annoying. I didn't even bother with the escaping vehicles; they'd spawn out of sight and immediately disappear. I suppose I could have adjusted my entire plan to go after them but the bonus payments weren't worth the hassle.

I've picked up my first heavy as well- a Warhammer. I've removed the MGs, and I'm considering ditching the SLs for more heat sinks and armor as well; it runs kind of toasty as it is. I've also got a Trebuchet with a LRM20++ and a LRM15+ that brings some pain. But one of my favorites now is a Shadow Hawk refitted with only one weapon - a AC20++ (+20-dam). With a pilot with Gunnery 8 and the skill that lets you bypass entrenched status with one weapon, that thing is a killer.

I'll probably do the rest of the local merc missions then the next local campaign mission before heading off to hunt more mech parts. I still haven't developed a good system for gathering parts fast. I might do just as well to take money from missions and just buy the ones I want instead of trying to arrange salvage.

I'm continuing my Ironman Career mode. One of the things I'm enjoying in returning to Battletech after beating the campaign a while back is the variety of missions. I just played a mission where I was supposed to attack an Assault mech (+ a few other mechs), but the local government sends in their own lance to take down the Assault mech / lance. The mission encouraged me to sit back and let them duke it out and then swoop in to finish off the leftovers and collect the scrap. At one point, it felt like an ole Western shootout with bullets flying everywhere. Definitely something I hadn't experienced before when I first picked the game a while back.

There's a lot to this game. That is why I was bummed when they stopped development on it. I understand, they had been doing it for years, but I was really hoping for Clan expansion... A franchise, even.

I’ve kinda given up on this. I couldn’t fix the aforementioned camera issues, and without the campaign there’s no compelling reason to carry on with the career mode.

It a great game let down by some minor but persistent problems that in the end I just can’t get over. I’ve got so many other games to play (I got distracted by The Banner Saga, bought for me as a gift and which is a wonderful turn based RPG that is perfectly formed for what it is and held my attention all the way through without any problems) that I’m just going to move on for now and wait for the next game.

I do recommend this game as I know not everyone suffers the same problems, and the campaign was pretty good as I remember it, and gave you enough reason to carry on despite my issues with it, but without I’ve got to admit I struggled. The reputation system is OK but doesn’t really work. It punishes you much more for falling out with people than it does for allying with any one faction, so it pays to keep everyone on side as much as possible. Falling out with the pirates means no access to the best weapons via the black market, so even that’s not a good idea. If you allow people to start hating you getting them back on side means doing so many low skill ranking missions you’re missing out on upgrading your mech fleet and basically wasting time.

I’ve got to be honest it feels a little too much like busy work at times. Maybe I need to try some of the mods but I’m just not that invested with Battletech as a gaming franchise.

I'm sorry that you can't enjoy it the way it should be. Banner Saga is a great choice, though, and hey, there's three of them. Keep you busy for a long time.

Just checking in. Thank you for joining us Sorbicol - I’m still working out the ranking system but you’ll get credit for playing. Also, Banner Saga is an amazing game and a nice palate cleanser.

I’ve made good progress but the game still feels like a grind. Every time I try to do an equal skulls mission I take way too much damage so I’ve been grinding out lower missions for cash. I think the side quest grind and also crazy variability of missions is getting to me. I’m just annoyed every time I find myself fighting two superior lances at the same time and have to withdraw.

Now I’m rolling. After doing a fun, two part story mission, I’ve picked up an Assault class mech, to go along with my second Heavy (a Marauder, which is stocked up with two PPC++s and a heavy laser, and all the coolant I can find). And carrying around all this firepower means I can take on 3.5 skull missions now, and am now regularly facing off with other assaults and heavies. The fourth mech is kind of rotating between a Shadow Hawk and my missile platform Trebuchet; the Shadow Hawk is good for getting up close and personal and taking in some good hits to spread the damage around (but it’s damage has now fallen behind as the Assault and the Marauder are true damage dealers), but the Trebuchet is still useful for softening up medium mechs, which seem to be as light as they go nowadays. I imagine it will get replaced as well with the next Heavy or Assault I pick up and like, but it still has a role for now.

I had one fun random contract, where it was a three way fight, with my lance vs. an enemy with a couple of Assaults vs. two Aurigan lances plus a base and reinforcements if I didn't take out the base fast enough, plus defending my own base. It was a rush to take out the enemy lance nearest to me to protect my base, then sent my Assault and my ranged Heavy over a mountain to assault the base while trying to stay out of sight, while my other two units dropped back to let the enemies fight each other. I think it ended with my Dragon and Trebuchet teaming up to take down both enemy Assaults (both heavily wounded), and it nearly not working since my Dragon just didn't have the firepower to hang in that sort of fight. Being a Heavy bullet sponge doesn't work well against Assaults, it seems. Got out with some lost limbs, but no critical weapons lost.

I did have the camera freak out on me for a bit, and zoom way in and have a perspective that hugged the ground and made it nigh impossible to tell where anyone was. Several trips to the settings and key bindings later, I figured out how to move the camera back over head, and crisis was averted. Even closing and reopening the game didn’t solve it. It was tied to the page down/page up buttons, if anyone has that problem.

Panzyr has been liberated. It was a pretty punishing battle, but my lance walked away the victor leaving nothing but smoking heaps behind.

So I’m once again caught in that in-between where I’m not sure if I can handle certain 2.5 and 3 skull missions. Tried to do a convoy interception only to find the convoy vehicles being as tough as the enemy mechs. Wasn’t expecting that at all.

Furthermore, I’m struggling in urban terrain. I thought it would be easier but it gives the computer lots of places to hide. The only thing I like so far of urban battles is the satisfying crunch of running over cars during rush hour.