Archer - Best Long Range Mech?

Archer - Best Long Range Mech?

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Your spoiler layout pretty well illustrates my frustrations with this mech, ammo in both arms & all 3 torso locations, it's rare that a missile boat is getting hit for critical - at the same time it is potentially possible and that layout makes for a walking bomb.
That being said, while I agree that Jump Jets would be nice, I don't see the need for an indirect platform to devote space and or tonnage to jump jets.
I think you're making somewhat contradictory or at least conflicting statements from my point of view. You seem to worry a lot about where the ammo is located, while at the same time you feel JJs are unnecessary. I as see it JJs survivability value far exceeds six tons of armor. It just skyrockets, and that's for a very long range mech with indirect fire, very good armor for a full-on LRM boat and with the tools to effectively fight at near maximum range while bulwarked behind a tree which is hidden behind a very big rock, with 30% non-removable evasion and capable of jumping out if something more dangerous than an adult squirrel comes too close.

Anyway JJs imo are not really needed because survivability is already excellent without them, like @foamyesque points out it's more of a QoL feature. I don't use them in the Highlander LRM boat but I've used them in a King Crab LRM boat, used as a trainer mech pre 1.9 and where maximum survival is a priority, a crucial part of their role, which is to keep newbies alive in a mech with high armor, jumpy, very good cooling, no direct LoS required, 3-4 TTS and acting as light-medium rearguard support.

I love some jets on a mech like the Annihilator where setting up direct LoS and or firing from cover are important, but I don't see it as high priority here - especially with virtually every crit slot filled.
For me, unless I specifically want to avoid using JJs as a handicap, I see them as very important in almost every heavy, assault and many mediums. For LRM boats though, they don't help for offense, only for defense, which while potentially useful usually is not really needed because they're not in the front line. But for most other setups they do help both in big way, very often at the same time. That can very easily end in more real damage being done over the course of the mission, because you get sooner where you need to, opening windows of opportunity to attack vulnerable foes before they bulwark, get into cover or from the back, there is often less risk involved too because you know you'll have a much easier time getting away when you're at a local number disadvantage, and you can return fire while you back down, sometimes turning the tides on that side of the battle as you do it, and without requiring additional support from other mechs.
 

Chaos Theory

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Dec 27, 2019
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I’ve recently started using a 40 LRM Archer with ECM as a convoy escort and base attacker. The Archer’s quirk lets it punch way above it’s class since what matters in a damage LRM volley is the maximum single-location damage. 40 LRMs (+2 damage version) is enough to kill assault turrets, most vehicles, and smaller mechs which is all I really need from this role.
 

koz-ivan

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You seem to worry a lot about where the ammo is located, while at the same time you feel JJs are unnecessary. I as see it JJs survivability value far exceeds six tons of armor
I'm looking at worst case scenarios, I've been hit with enough weird crits to be paranoid.

As I see it either by tactical error, unexpected reinforcement locations, or odd mission types, my LRM boat may take some fire, including some critical hits, losing an entire mech or up to 50% of my firepower and a resource like multiple DHS is a tough pill to swallow and I'll avoid it at all costs.

Sidenote I tend to be on the Pirates bad side so it isn't easy to replace even a single Double Heat Sink.

Now Jump Jets...

I'm not the jump jet police, if you or anybody else really wants them on their mechs, play how you want to play. Just my opinion, not every mech benefits that much from jets and a 95 ton LRM boat is really paying a premium for those jets.
 
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I’ve recently started using a 40 LRM Archer with ECM as a convoy escort and base attacker. The Archer’s quirk lets it punch way above it’s class since what matters in a damage LRM volley is the maximum single-location damage. 40 LRMs (+2 damage version) is enough to kill assault turrets, most vehicles, and smaller mechs which is all I really need from this role.
Vehicles and turrets are precisely the two cases where the Archer quirk matters the least and where what really counts is raw firepower. With the Archer you can't kill all turrets and neither you can all vehicles. With a 70+ tube LRM boat you can reliably kill both of them, always.

I'm looking at worst case scenarios, I've been hit with enough weird crits to be paranoid.


As I see it either by tactical error, unexpected reinforcement locations, or odd mission types, my LRM boat may take some fire, including some critical hits, losing an entire mech or up to 50% of my firepower and a resource like multiple DHS is a tough pill to swallow and I'll avoid it at all costs.
Then we probably play in a very different way. With a Highlander chances are the rest of the lance are going to be completely wiped out way before I take serious damage in my LRM boats and in that case the ammo placement is going to be the least of my problems. That's extremely unlikely when in a lance with two LRM boats what I aim is for not getting fired upon even once, any of the mechs of my lance. And that I manage once in while (around 14% of the time).

Honestly, with a BSK having JJs in a four mech lance I think there is no way I'm going to get crits on me unless I play recklessly:



Just tried once and almost avoided being fired at all with missiles (the only thing which damaged me), I just missed a tiny bit of movement speed. And that said, the mission was easy for a five skull mission but I didn't want to think much while playing and I think it makes the point.

Edit: I forgot to tell this BSK has only 3xLRM20++ (to add more ammo).
 

foamyesque

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Vehicles and turrets are precisely the two cases where the Archer quirk matters the least and where what really counts is raw firepower. With the Archer you can't kill all turrets and neither you can all vehicles. With a 70+ tube LRM boat you can reliably kill both of them, always.
It matters against vehicles, since it means that on something like a Demolisher or Bulldog you can actually make precision shot do something, but it is, yes, completely pointless against turrets because turrets only have one hit location anyway. However, to reliably smoke assault turrets and their 232 HP, you either need +dmg -- which would let an Archer do it -- or more tubes than an Archer can reasonably mount.

Although, honestly, long-range fighting in general is kind of junky between the compressed maps, limited 'mech vision range, and CBT legacy balancing. I think the best engagement range against the AI is the ERML-ML bracket, which keeps you out of the way of the real 'mech killers the AI has access to (melee, MLs, SRMs, and AC/20s) but lets you still use very damage/ton efficient weapons yourself in the form of Snub PPCs and ERMLs. With a rangefinder mod you can actually see out to the full range of your weapons, too.
 
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Chaos Theory

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Vehicles and turrets are precisely the two cases where the Archer quirk matters the least and where what really counts is raw firepower. With the Archer you can't kill all turrets and neither you can all vehicles. With a 70+ tube LRM boat you can reliably kill both of them, always.
What are you talking about? I AM reliably killing the biggest turret class on my 40-tube Archer. In any case, if I dropped the ECM, I could run a 50-tube Archer that comfortably overkill’s it.

Also, my Archer doesn’t need to kill hard targets like the Demolisher. It’s for picking off that annoying SRM carrier in the back or protecting my convoy from that random Panther. The rest of my standard lance is already very good at killing hard targets.

The Archer is good not because it has good numbers but because it does it’s job well: it picks off soft targets at range while cloaking my own soft targets.

I’ve noticed that you and I play the game differently. Many of your posts are about solo mech runs whereas I always play a combined arms lance. Your definition of any best mech is not likely to be the same as mine.
 
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It matters against vehicles, since it means that on something like a Demolisher or Bulldog you can actually make precision shot do something, but it is, yes, completely pointless against turrets because turrets only have one hit location anyway. However, to reliably smoke assault turrets and their 232 HP, you either need +dmg -- which would let an Archer do it -- or more tubes than an Archer can reasonably mount.
Now you need a PS, when not the case with a 70+ tube LRM boat. I didn't say it doesn't matter but it matters the least because the fewer locations.

Although, honestly, long-range fighting in general is kind of junky between the compressed maps, limited 'mech vision range, and CBT legacy balancing. I think the best engagement range against the AI is the ERML-ML bracket, which keeps you out of the way of the real 'mech killers the AI has access to (melee, MLs, SRMs, and AC/20s) but lets you still use very damage/ton efficient weapons yourself in the form of Snub PPCs and ERMLs. With a rangefinder mod you can actually see out to the full range of your weapons, too.
Yeah, I mostly agree but I'd say ERML-LL bracket, wouldn't include MLs in that, and neither would do with SNPPCs. LLs are about as efficient as SNPPCs, a bit more for headcapping and a bit less for CT core, you get extra +15% base chance and have longer range. The SNPPCs are much better without Precision Shot though.

What are you talking about? I AM reliably killing the biggest turret class on my 40-tube Archer. In any case, if I dropped the ECM, I could run a 50-tube Archer that comfortably overkill’s it.
You're right, don't know why 300 armor slipped into my mind.

Also, my Archer doesn’t need to kill hard targets like the Demolisher. It’s for picking off that annoying SRM carrier in the back or protecting my convoy from that random Panther. The rest of my standard lance is already very good at killing hard targets.


The Archer is good not because it has good numbers but because it does it’s job well: it picks off soft targets at range while cloaking my own soft targets.
The BSK can do the same you can do with the Archer plus it can destroy any vehicle without PS no matter cover or facing, and with 2xTTS+++ to help with the range penalty and evasion I consider Demos soft targets. If I drop some armor and downgrade to 75 tubes I also can add an ECM without much trouble. Doing a job well doesn't mean others can't do the same job better. I'm not saying that the Archer is bad, imo it is quite good but just not as much as a full fledged assault LRM boat.

I’ve noticed that you and I play the game differently. Many of your posts are about solo mech runs whereas I always play a combined arms lance. Your definition of any best mech is not likely to be the same as mine.
In this case the above loadout is no more than an example to show how good are JJs for survivability, doesn't mean you have to play it this way. If you can very easily solo a five skull mission, the same mech with more tubes (and less ammo) in a full lance will do more damage and the survivability no doubt will be way way better, because there are three more mechs now. I think that's hard to argue.

You say you only play four mech lances whereas me, although lately I play mostly solo setups, I have played a lot full lances as well. For example I kept a manual log for a long time to account for how many times I got fired and hit with long range weapons and how many with medium range weapons, also how many times I got injured (less than one injury per ten missions for the whole lance). That using a two LRM boat two direct damage mechs (who could be brawler + long range or two long range) for around 300 missions and using 75 tubes Highlander with zero rear armor. I only took internal damage in one of the very first missions, where I took a big risk entering the center of the map with my zero rear armor LRM boats. Learned that and since then I don't think I've ever taken internal damage when playing seriously with a full endgame lance with endgame equipment.
 

Chaos Theory

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I disagree with the notion that creating a lance out of 4 good solo mechs is more effective than a combined arms lance with 1 or 2 supports mixed in with 2-3 shooters. However, this is not the thread for that argument.

Instead, I’d like to focus on the strength of the Archer as a defensive missile boat. Defensive because it relies on speed, initiative, and cloaking to prevent enemies from sighting or shooting objectives under your protection. It works best in escort missions but the same characteristics also make it useful in base defense, attack-defend, destroy base, and convoy assault missions where time is important. Under no circumstance would I actually bring this mech to an assassinate or battle mission.

In this role I get more mileage out of my Archer’s speed and initiative than you get out of your Bull Shark’s extra damage - an advantage that is reduced because of the Archer’s quirk. Shooting one initiative later, failing to keep up with escorts, or having to sprint instead of move are all worse outcomes than not being able to kill slightly bigger targets - less of a threat because they are also slow.
 
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I disagree with the notion that creating a lance out of 4 good solo mechs is more effective than a combined arms lance with 1 or 2 supports mixed in with 2-3 shooters. However, this is not the thread for that argument.
I'm not making that argument here, with "effective" in a general sense, but that a lance with four good solo mechs is going to be more survivable than a mixed lance. That's different. Those four mechs (or some of them) might be slower at completing the mission, depending on which ones you have, but if they already excel at surviving alone then there's no doubt that the same mission with four of them is going to be easier than with only one.

Instead, I’d like to focus on the strength of the Archer as a defensive missile boat. Defensive because it relies on speed, initiative, and cloaking to prevent enemies from sighting or shooting objectives under your protection. It works best in escort missions but the same characteristics also make it useful in base defense, attack-defend, destroy base, and convoy assault missions where time is important. Under no circumstance would I actually bring this mech to an assassinate or battle mission.
Well, then I still argue that the BSK can do the same plus it is very good too in assassination, battles and specially in any mission regarding vehicles, as they can be killed easily without PS. I don't see any downside bringing a BSK/HGN/STK LRM boat to any kind of mission if within a full lance context. And remember I can very easily add cloaking too with the BSK if I want.

I don't understand very well your point about using Escort missions as a pro of the Archer. Because they are not particularly hard, annoying but easy for the most part, maybe a tiny bit harder than five foes assa missions but much easier than nine foes ones. And mostly because the "defensive" part you mention consists in a piece of equipment I can fit in a BSK with much less trouble than in the Archer.

I don't believe speed is that important for this type of mission, as you usually can take a road, vehicles wait for you, they can take quite a few hits and even ditch some damage too. I can solo them even with an ANH, so I'd imagine with a single BSK LRM boat would be around the same. And if that's true then four of them would be even easier.

For the other types of mission then well, the BSK is absolutely going to crush those vehicles in Ambush convoys and JJs will help to arrive in time (if not sprint also works fine for the initial approach); with a Lancer I can aggro three foes by default (three or more weapons) for Base Defense; Destroy Base missions have nothing special about them and Attack-Defend I don't know (haven't played them).
 

foamyesque

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Yeah, I mostly agree but I'd say ERML-LL bracket, wouldn't include MLs in that, and neither would do with SNPPCs. LLs are about as efficient as SNPPCs, a bit more for headcapping and a bit less for CT core, you get extra +15% base chance and have longer range. The SNPPCs are much better without Precision Shot though.
I mean specifically between the maximum range of MLs and the maximum range of ERMLs. As soon as you exceed ERML range you lose access to ERMLs, which are pretty much the weapon of choice for me, and you're stuck with a variety of guns all of which now weigh six times as much for barely any damage increases. UAC/2s (or LBX/2s, but you lose the pinpoint damage) are about the only things that still work well for damage/ton beyond that bracket, and that's only because they save you tonnage on heat (and come with all the usual drawbacks of ammo-based systems).

SPPCs don't have ERML dmg/ton, but they're very competitive against everything else and one of the most efficient damage/hardpoint guns and, of the energy weapons, one of the most efficient damage/heat ones.

Normal PPCs and large lasers aren't even playing the same game and are barely better at headcapping. Large pulse lasers can headcap significantly better by virtue of getting to 1-shot level, but are the same tonnage and (almost) the same heat for half the damage, ERPPCs have the same tonnage, slightly better than half the damage, and need two more tons of LosTech heat management to boot, and ERLLas gives you three fifths the damage output at equivalent tonnage, needs 50% more hardpoint and crit space, and produces marginally more heat as well.

The upshot of all this is, SPPCs will flat disassemble 'mechs even blindfire and are very good at CT coring and critting, and as a bonus anything that survives the incoming hundreds of points of energy alpha gets the PPC debuff stacked on them on top of whatever components they've lost. And they do stability damage, so they can cherrytap something that's eaten a bombardment from an LRM boat or gauss cannons or AC/20s or whatever and set up called shots for someone else.

You pay on a massive tax in tonnage and heat for range in the energy family. Ballistics are a bit better because the heat scaling works the other way around, but it's still pretty ugly. It's a tax I'd be more willing to pay if 'mechs had longer sightlines and/or we had more spaced out maps so that the extra range beyond an ERML is actually useable more often. Even getting the full range of an ERML requires a rangefinder or spotter; the extra range everything else gives you is a complete waste on a solo run and not as useful as it could be on a full drop just because the maps are usually pretty compact and the enemies will come to you anyway. Keep one LRM boat or something so you can punish sensor-lockers and force them to come into your range, and then rip 'em apart.



My primary lance is actually built out as 3x A-IIs and a Marauder 2R: 2x UAC/20s + 4 ERMLs on one Atlas, 4x SPPCS & 2x LBX/2s on another (thinking about swapping those LBX/2s for UAC/2s for a bit better focus damage, but I like the crit-hunt), 2x ER PPCs, 2x Gauss, and 2x ERMLs on the 3rd Atlas, and the Marauder running six ERMLs and a UAC/5.

It leaves a smoking ring of 'mechs at exactly ERML's maximum range, where the Marauder and the SPPCs come into play. Anything stupid enough to try advancing past that gets four AC/20 shots to the gut and/or head :v. Gauss cannon Atlas is by far the poorest one in terms of damage output but it's sort of a just-in-case 'mech to make sure something can't play silly games with range against me. It's also a decent headhunter for a non-Marauder 'mech and handy for piking turrets -- I swear it feels like PPCs have some kind of hidden bonus to hit the head :v
 
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I said ERML-LL because that extra range from LLs is quite usable, up to 120m extra (420m and LL has 450m maximum range), they have +15% to hit and a bit of extra optimum range. UAC2s are even better, they have nothing to do with LBX2, but they cannot be easily massed in any but very few mechs.

So while I agree ERMLs hit the sweet spot, LLs are still quite decent. Around the same efficiency with PS than SNPPCs but with more range and extra accuracy. You have more room to breath above ML/SRM/AC20 range with a RF+++ than with a ERML. Sure, the ERML compensates with better killing power overall, but still is not bad at all when compared with non-ERML weapons above ML range. And then for other weapons like ERPPCs you're ignoring heat (ERPPC), weight (Gauss) or spread (SNPPC).

Look at this chart, it shows the Nº of salvos required to have 80% to headcap/CTcore and then the tons required for heat neutral with one alpha consisting only by each weapon, ignoring internal mech cooling but taking into account one TEX10% (I think reasonable for a moderate to high damage setup) and the weight of DHS required. Also ammo is accounted for, assuming an arbitrary amount of salvos per weapon per mission I would want to equip, not just the ammo required for the singular alpha. The 80% is arbitrary too, so it's not perfect (a weapon might be very close, requiring one full salvo to go from 79.9% 80%) but I think as a rough idea is good enough.

Now exactly the same chart but with some removed to have a more clear picture, like no medium range weapons, ERMLs (because we can agree here) and LBX5-20 (because they're just very bad):
 

foamyesque

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@Doctor Machete: Something in your SRM numbers seems off. How do the SRM4s, which have worse thermal performance and exactly the same tonnage per tube, manage to outperform SRM6s in coring people?

(Also, 'ignoring internal 'mech cooling' is a pretty big handwave. The whole heat curve relies on that.)
 
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@Doctor Machete: Something in your SRM numbers seems off. How do the SRM4s, which have worse thermal performance and exactly the same tonnage per tube, manage to outperform SRM6s in coring people?
SRM6s do spread quite a bit more than SRM4s, and SRM4s spread a LOT more than SRM2s (which are not shown here). That's only relevant for Precision Shots, though.


Edit:

To expand a little more, that's why I said before SNPPCs are very good for non-PS, because there raw efficiency (DMG/TONS/HEAT) translates almost directly into performance, but that's not the case with PS. Also that's why LBX2, which have stellar raw efficiency, are kinda meh for PS, having 12 hits per weapon-salvo hinders performance a LOT, the last six hits have a chance to hit the head bellow 2% iirc.

(Also, 'ignoring internal 'mech cooling' is a pretty big handwave. The whole heat curve relies on that.)
As long as you know what the chart assumes it's not handwaving. You may decide a lower efficiency weapon may worth more to you than another higher efficiency one because it adds some extra punch and you can afford the extra heat/weight. For example replacing a UAC2 with a UAC5 in a M2R.

Also it would complicate things quite a bit. Taking that into consideration requires knowing how many turns are you going to fire, imply restrictions on hardpoints too and so on. It would make it much more build specific than it is right now and I don't want that, I use this as a reference I can show/hide within my planner (this is cropped) and I have other much more build specific charts for that purpose, so I can build the best loadout I can based on X weapon (doesn't need to have only that type of weapon) and compare to the best loadout based on Z weapon that I can think of, for example.
 
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How does missile spread work exactly, anyway?
First you need the hit location tables from ...BattleTech_Data\StreamingAssets\data\constants\CombatGameConstants.json for the front, apply a 18 multiplier to the head (Called Shot Mastery) and you should get something like this:


That's for single hit weapons and the first hit of multi-hit weapons. Now, for the following hits from non-LRM multihit weapons the 2? shot would have ((18-1)/2)+1 = 9.5 multiplier (not 9.5% chance but multiplier, this works for aiming at any location), the third would have ((9.5-1)/2)+1 = 5.25 and so on.


After applying the multiplier to the table would be approx:
Code:
Nº hit          H           CT  
  1?          17.84%      79.24%
  2?          10.31%      68.03%
  3?          5.98%       54.76%
  4?          3.65%       42.23%
  5?          2.44%       32.71%
  6?          1.82%       26.59%
  7?          1.51%       23.07%
  8?          1.36%       21.18%
  9?          1.28%       20.19%
  10?         1.24%       19.69%
  11?         1.22%       19.44%
  12?         1.21%       19.31%
Note this doesn't apply to LRMs, which work in a somewhat more complicated way. Now, weapons like UACs or SRM2s get a big drop in the 2º hit but stops there while other multihit weapons keep falling down as more hits follow. Also the accuracy penalty is much bigger for the head than for the CT. For that reason weapons with many hits and high raw efficiency lose PS performance but it's not so bad when aiming at the CT compared to the head.