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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Mechwarrior 101

The Battletech game is fairly intuitive, but given its extensive lore, it can be a bit overwhelming at first. This guide is to help players new to the Battletech universe adapt to the game, and perhaps give veterans, now playing once again, some refreshing information.

Overall Tactics

Engagements between mechs tend to favor those who shoot first and whoever can pile on the damage to a single enemy mech. One on one duels between mechs is the least efficient way to fight, and as a mercenary, you need to consider the cost of every battle. The contract’s payout has to surpass the damage you take to be profitable.

Move is the standard movement command that allows a mech to walk and build up some evasion. There is no penalty for moving and shooting.

Sprint is the command to run a mech which can build up a lot of evasion. However, a sprinting mech can take no action other than sprinting.

Evasion is defense built up by moving. The more a mech moves, the more evasion it builds up and the harder it is to hit. Evasion, however, is easily stripped away. Every shot fired reduces the mech’s evading abilities. A mech entirely reliant on speed can be taken down by concentrated fire even if it is at max evasion. Sensor lock, though it takes a turn, strips a mech of evasion, making it an inviting target to other mechs. Evasion is a ‘nice thing’ to have, but it is limited in value and best combined with forest terrains and long ranges, or better yet, total concealment.

Brace is a defense feature that is more reliable than evasion. Bracing gives a mech the advantage of being guarded, which means it will take less damage and entrenched, meaning it is less likely to fall over from sustained attacks. Mechs that are in the open and plan to slug it out should, if possible, brace before the enemy is within range. To brace after contact with the enemy is made wastes a round of firing and every round counts! Evasion and brace can be combined which leads to the best defense possible, but there are only a few situations this is possible. One situation is when closing into range. If the enemy has to move and fire first, it is better for your lance to be able to gain evasion and end its movement with bracing. That way, when the enemy does arrive, and fires first, at least they are facing harder to hit and more robust targets. Another situation to move and brace is when retiring a mech. Losing a mech in battle is bad news. Losing an experienced pilot is worse. While punching out is always an option, it does remove the mech from having any influence on the rest of the battle. Sometimes it is better to flee to far range so the mech can, if the situation calls for it, return to the battle. Sprinting does cover more ground and can build up evasion, but evasion is easily stripped and the enemy will try and focus its fire on heavily damaged mechs. Instead, use sprinting to get completely out of line or sight, and if unable to, consider moving the max move distance and bracing to try and mitigate rather than dodge the damage.

Forest terrain is plentiful on many maps and forests provide some cover from damage, but not as much as bracing, nor does bracing in a forest stack. This means, forests are not better than a braced mech in the open. Furthermore, forests reduce a mech’s spotting ability, which is important when conducting reconnaissance. If unable to brace before contact with the enemy, or placed in a position where it is important to move after bracing, then a forest serves nicely. This can be important because once contact with the enemy is made, it is important to try maximum firepower every round. Once the enemy is within range, and you are not already braced, it is usually better to lurch into a forest and shoot rather than waste a turn by not firing and bracing.

Water terrain can turn certain mechs into devastating firing platforms. A mech that mounts two PPCS or many lasers can quickly overheat, but by standing in water, and better yet, being braced in water, heat is reduced and some safety can be assured. Because firing every turn when able matters, water can make the difference for some of the more damage-dealing mechs by allowing them to fire all of their weapons more often. Water, like forests, slow movement, but not by much and as noted earlier, evasion is not as valuable as bracing. For mechs that do not risk overheating, the water terrain has no real advantage.

Rough terrain makes mechs more unstable and slightly harder to hit in melee attacks. Mechs do most of their damage at long and medium range and the value of rough terrain is dubious at best. Falling down will usually result in a mech being severely damaged, so it best not to invite that. If an enemy mech, however; ends up in rough terrain then it’s time to pour on the fire to try and make them fall over.

Special terrain includes radiation, ice, and other features that have positive or negative impacts. Heat dealing terrain should be avoided at all costs, while ice, like water, is great for any mechs that can churn out a lot of firepower and needs help managing their heat. Whirlwinds can be treated like forests while other terrain can make hitting a mech harder to do- but by no means impossible, and so try and combine it with bracing.

Hills that block line of sight can allow mechs with indirect weapons, like the LRM, to fire without being fire back upon. To do this, an enemy mech needs to be visually spotted by a lancemate, or, sensor locked. Elevated terrain does help when shooting down at enemies, but not so much so that the high ground is always a must. If your lance is behind a hill and out of visual range, having your mechs crest the hill one by one can lead to concentrated enemy fire. This can be used in reverse, forcing enemy mechs to take the high ground, but in turn, expose them, one by one, to the combined firepower of your lance.

A lance of mechs should try and continually support one another. Wandering off can lead to problems as there may be more enemy than expected. Mechs who are isolated can be easily killed. Terrain and sensor locks can be used to expose single enemy mechs to the fire from your entire lance. As is common sense, durable mechs should be up front, while longer ranged, or fragile mechs, should stay back. The AI tends to target the closest mech, or a mech that is heavily damaged or fallen. This can be used to direct enemy fire at the most durable of your forces, leaving your weaker, but harder hitting, forces unmolested and firing away each turn.

When a lance operates together, the goal is to quickly disable or destroy an enemy mech. If after a round of concentrated fire an enemy mech is so damaged that it has only one weapon remaining, it is effectively disabled and the next target can be focused on. Mechs able to split their fire can throw a few shots at the disabled mech to try and finish it off while the next target is dealt with.

Flanking has limited value. Getting a rear shot on a mech can quickly lead to victory, but getting a mech that can dish out enough firepower to do it is the hard part. Light Mechs can flank, but in doing so isolate themselves to enemy fire. If they try to flank from long distances, the battle is most likely already over by the time they get into position, and they likely lack the firepower to make a difference. Instead, when contact with the enemy is made, unleash as much damage on a single mech as you can.

Facing matters. Mech’s have armor that can be stripped off in as little as one volley. When a mech has a damaged right or left torso or arm, it is possible to position the mech to try and expose more of its front, or if possible, its other side, to enemy fire and thus prolong its life. Mechs can turn in place and this can help present the least damaged side of a mech to the enemy.

A crossfire is not as advantageous as focused fire. Because a mech’s armor has to be stripped, and there are no lucky shots that can skip to the internals, that means it is important to try and focus fire from the same direction on the same target. Firing at a target from two different directions will work, but it may result in having to take off both arms, and both side torsos and both legs!

A fallen mech is most likely a dead mech. When a mech is hit by too much, or has its leg destroyed, it falls over. This wounds the pilot, and with enough wounds the pilot can be incapacitated. This also leaves the mech open to targeted shots. If an enemy mech falls over, focus your fire either on its center-torso, which is well-armored, but when breached can lead to a quick kill, or the other leg, if one leg has already been destroyed. When using the targeting skill, focusing fire on a leg is a quick way to topple a mech, then you can blast away at its other leg and maximize salvage. To prevent your own mechs from falling, keep aware of your stability, which is shown with the yellow bars beneath the mech’s name. If your mech is becoming unstable, it may be worth bracing for a turn, especially if the mech is already damaged. If one of your mechs falls over, the AI will focus its fire on that mech, so avoid that situation!

Uneven duels are the best duels. While it is dramatic when two large mechs blast away at one another, this will result in one mech winning and the other being mauled. Instead, large mechs should try and focus their firepower on weaker mechs to quickly remove them. Light Mechs in particular can be heavily damaged and even destroyed with a single volley from a Heavy Mech. Light Mechs that have heavy firepower, such as the Panther with its PPC, are priority targets. Mechs with high armor, but few weapons, can be saved for last.

When deciding which enemy mech to target, the main goal should be to remove as many weapons from the enemy’s arsenal as quickly as possible. The AI is not as smart about this. A Dragon with maximum armor does not have much in the way of firepower, but it can take a beating and if placed front and center of the lance it can soak up the AI’s fire. Meanwhile, your lance can focus on higher priority targets. A general rule of thumb is to look for the mechs with the weakest armor, but most damage potential. A Jagermech, for example, can be taken down or severely damaged with a single round of concentrated fire. An Orion, on the other hand has high armor and moderate damage output. Between the two, if possible, the Jagermech is the higher priority target.

Jumpjets are useful. Jumpjets allow for the ability to scale inaccessible areas. This can allow your mech to approach a target from a direction safely, but be sure not to get stuck alone. Jumpjets also are useful to jump to safety. A mech with jumpjets on the high ground, like the Jagermech, can deliver long-range hurt. However, the Jagermech has weak armor. If struck, the jumpjets can come in handy to leap behind cover and reappear after the enemy has become interested in another mech. Flanking with the right mech can be done with jumpjets and this is where flanking can work well. A Heavy Mech, like the Quickdraw, can jump behind an enemy mech and fire many weapons, unlike a Light Mech. Jumpjets do generate heat, but most mechs have enough heatsinks to handle firing all their weapons and jumping numerous times.

As mechwarriors develop in skill they can get special abilities.

Sensor lock is an incredibly powerful tool. The mech using sensor lock has to be stationary or move, but can take no shooting actions. However, if the mech hovers at long range and uses sensor lock on a target, its lancemates can, even from the longest ranges, deliver direct or indirect fire. Every round in which your mechs can fire, and the enemy cannot, is a big deal- especially when dealing with lighter mechs, or more fragile ones. It is possible, with a fast lead mech and long range lancemates, such as the Jagermech, to thoroughly wreck an enemy lance long before it has a chance to return fire. Remember, the enemy can do this to. An enemy spotter mech for example can make out-of-range turrets suddenly in range to hit you, but not be hit back.

Another advantage of sensor lock is that it strips away evasion. If a fast evading mech is your target, and your mech with the ability to sensor lock doesn't have a lot of weapons, it may be better to sensor lock it, and then allow the rest of your lance to properly murder it.

Splitting fire is another useful skill that is best used with mechs that have both long and short range weapons. The LRM, for example, becomes hard to hit with up close, and so, a mechwarrior than can split their fire can focus their short-range weaponry on a mech, and pepper another that is easier to hit. Splitting fire with similar weapons is not a good idea unless it is timed well. A turret with one bar of health may be worth just a single SRM 2 while the rest of the shots can be directed at another mech, but this is very much situational.

Bulwark allows a stationary mech to automatically brace. For mechs designed to take the brunt of enemy fire, this a great skill, but less useful for mechs which plan to fight from a longer ranges.

Morale meanwhile allows the use of two special abilities.

One, you can target. This makes sniping a mech's leg easy and is a wonderful go-to for your hard-hitting mechs.

Two, you can brace, clear instability, but still act. This is useful if you know your mech is going to be hit, or, your already braced mech is unstable.

The rest of the skills can make mechs hit more often, be more accurate with their indirect fire, reduce heat and other things that make them overall more useful. While the tag-line of the game might be to waste the meat and spare the metal, a good mechwarrior is worth far more than all but an Assault Mech.

Indirect fire is when missiles, like the LRMs, are used to fire upon an enemy that the mech does not see. Indirect fire can be guided by a spotting mech, or more preferably, with a sensor lock. The LRM for most of the game will not be a major factor. LRM 5 and 10s just don’t deal enough indirect damage to be of much note and even a pair of LRM 15s can take awhile even taking out a turret or building, let alone a mech. A pair of LRM 20s are devastating, but only the heavier mechs can handle such weaponry. LRMs also have an issue of limited ammo capacity. So, what use are they? A mech armed with LRMs is better off firing them all off them as quickly as possible before heavy combat. The LRM with indirect fire can be used to pepper any mech, and if focused, do enough damage so that when the main combat takes place, that mech is seriously compromised. The LRM is also effective against enemy mechs that are unstable and can provide the one final push needed to send them to the ground. Mechs with a mix of long range weaponry, like the LRM, and short range, like the medium laser, risk wasting their potential if they do not get rid of their LRM ammo as quick as possible, and indirect fire is the safest way of doing so. Finally, turrets and buildings can be dealt with by LRMs from afar. Turrets can cause serious damage and are best taken out from great ranges before they start using their mechs to spot for them. The LRM can asssit in this, though not always quickly.

Weaponry can be divided into melee, close, medium and long range.

Melee sounds cool and it is fun to punch an enemy mech in the face. However, melee is fraught with disadvantages. A melee attack has to be performed at point-blank-range, and this usually means heavy enemy fire has taken place beforehand. Furthermore, the mech only has one chance to hit with one attack, if it misses, that mech's potential has been wasted. Even worse, hitting a mech doesn't guarantee great results. I've used an Atlas to punch a Jenner and ended up destroying its right torso. The Jenner proceeded to fire away the next round. Had I shot it with the Atlas, that Jenner would have been smoking scrap. Where melee can shine is when a mech has high armor, but few weapons. Even then, don't expect great results and try and attack mechs that are much lighter, or unstable on their feet.

Death From Above is a delightful attack when a mech uses its jumpjets to land on an enemy. However, it damages the jumping mech and after that it is pretty much as inefficient as melee. Jumping on a mech that has already fallen over is perhaps where Death From Above is best used, but even then, you need to consider if it would be better to fire targeted shots rather than jump and take damage.

At close range, the small laser with its higher chance at delivering a critical hit can deliver killing blows. The flamers, while amusing, usually do not impact a battle enough to shut down an enemy mech except on desert and lunar environments. While the AI will run their mechs hot, the AI is also willing to spend a round in melee, or backing away, to cool off. The machinegun generates no heat and can also score critical hits, but not as well as the small laser.

At medium range, the medium laser is a mech’s bread and butter when it comes to battle. The medium laser generates only a small amount of heat, deals decent damage and doesn’t weight much- making it an ideal weapon. SRMS are kinder when it comes to heat, but they take up two to four times as much space as a medium laser when ammo is factored in- additionally, ammo can explode. On mechs that run hot, an SRM may help mitigate that, but usually an extra heat sink and a medium laser is more efficient.

At long range, the PPC is king, but generates a tremendous amount of heat. By using water or excessive heatsinks, a mech with two PPCs can terrorize even the largest of mechs. The large laser is the poor-man’s version of the PPC, dealing less damage, but weighing less and producing less heat. In a hot mech, two large lasers may be more efficient than two PPCs. When engaged in battle you need to try and use a mech that can fire all or most of its weapons every turn. If the mech runs hot and has to spend entire rounds not shooting then it needs either more heatsinks, or lower heat generating weaponry. The LRMs, as discussed earlier, are better used early in battle, and preferably from the safety of indirect fire. All long range weapons do not do well at medium and close range unless the mechwarrior is skilled.

The AC 2, 5 and 10 are all long, to extremely long, range cannons that produce steady damage with limited heat. A gunplatform, like the Jagermech, can make use of multiple Autocannons to shred an enemy mech from far away, and with the help of a spotter mech or sensor lock, can do so without being fired back upon. The AC 10 burns through ammo rapidly. All Autocannons generate recoil every round they fire. This reduces accuracy, but not by much, and experienced mechwarriors are hardly affected. Bracing for a round can clear any recoil effects.

The AC 20 is a monster of a weapon, and unlike the other autocannons, is used at close range. The ammo of the AC 20 is limited and its true weakness is that mechs which house the heavy weapon need to hit every turn or it is a major waste. The Hunchback, armed with an AC 20, can heavily damage Light Mechs and strip the armor off of Heavy Mechs with a single shot. When an AC 20 misses, it’s a problem. Given its high damage potential and limited ammo, every shot needs to count! On the flip-side, watch out for the Demolisher tank, which sports two of these terror-weapons!

Fancy Stuff. As the game progresses more fancy weapons appear, but these are pretty much the same as the standard weapons, but just better in damage output. They include weapons with + symbols, and later, more lost-tech.

Mechs

In the main campaign, your mercenary outfit will begin the game with Light and Medium mechs. It is necessary to steadily upgrade to heavier and heavier mechs. Your lance will not surpass 4, but the enemy can be more numerous. Speedy and tactical has its places, but many maps funnel the enemy directly toward you soon as you are detected and it will, at some point, become a slogging match where the lance that shoots the most and can focus the most, will win. Furthermore, while it is possible to complete a mission objective and evacuate, this can be hard to do once enemy contact is made and in most situations you are better off eliminating the enemy entirely rather than hitting the target and running away- especially if your LZ zone is behind the enemy!

Light Mechs

Light Mechs are fast and fragile. One of their advantages is they move first when it comes to imitative, and this can provide some tactical advantages when scouting or trying to evade the enemy.

Light Mechs vs Light Mechs. The early campaign, which is Light Mechs vs Light Mechs and/or vehicles, is perhaps the most challenging because Light Mechs are relatively easy to destroy, yet can pack quite a bit of firepower. A Panther with a PPC at long range or a Jenner up close with an array of medium lasers can severely damage another Light Mech with a single volley and wreck it with two. This means that one on duels between Light Mechs will usually result in whoever shoots first coming away better off as they can quickly start damaging an enemy’s internals. Sturdier mechs, as far as any Light Mech can be, should be up front, while those with longer ranged weapons, such as the Panther and its PPC, should linger behind. All the mechs of a lance are better off in supporting range of one another. Flanking against other Light Mechs is not worth the time and trouble. Instead, pour fire onto available targets and you will rapidly take the enemy down. For a Light Mech, every round not dishing out damage, means taking it, and they just aren’t built to last.

Light Mechs move fast and can gain evasion defense. This makes them harder to hit, but by no means invulnerable. Against enemies with fewer weapons, this can be some advantage. When an enemy Panther misses with its PPC, that’s great! When a Locust misses with its SRM 2, that’s no big deal. The more firepower directed at an evading mech, the less effective its evasion becomes. Thus, Light Mechs can move fast, but it is relatively easy to strip away that defense by firing away with smaller weapons and saving the more damaging weapons for later.

Reconnaissance. True Reconnaissance is not necessary in Battletech. You start every mission off knowing that, yes, the enemy is out there. Death by Reconnaissance is something you cannot afford when even losing one mech can tip the tide of battle, or at the very least, make it a costly one. After a round of sprinting, it is best to use the move, rather than sprint command to try and close on the enemy. Sprinting too far means the Light Mech will end its turn closer to what may be an equally fast enemy who can close the range and fire first. By using the move command instead, a more cautious approach can be taken. The goal of the Light Mech on Reconnaissance duty is to detect the enemy at maximum range and then fall back to be within support range of the lance, or behind the more durable mechs. Once an enemy has been detected, the rest of the lance can set up in favorable terrain and then engage the enemy as they close in. The AI normally just drives headlong into battle and you can master ambushing it after it moves, or engaging the enemy from a defendable position at long range, where their shots are going to cause less trouble.

Light Mechs vs Other Mechs. The Light Mech does not do well when in battle with anyone above its weight category. While fast, speed is not enough and a good volley from a Medium or Heavy mech can severely damage a Light Mech. Light Mechs generally don’t deal enough damage to make them useful as the game progresses. There are Medium and even Heavy mechs, like the Quickdraw, that are mobile enough to play the role of a Light Mech, but are far more likely to survive combat while at the same time provide decent firepower.

The Firestarter is a specialty light mech. It is quick and armed with many flamers which can overheat an enemy mech. The concept is fantastic, but the Firestarter is fragile and best used on desert or lunar planets and has to get close and hurry up doing its job. If an enemy lance decides to focus on the Firestarter, then it will be brought down.

The Panther is also a specialty mech. Armed with a PPC it is a long range glass-cannon. Because the AI tends to worry about what is up close, a Panther can linger in the back and deliver steady long-range damage making it one of the few Light Mechs than can be kept around for awhile as the game progresses.

Medium Mechs

Medium Mechs are slightly better Light Mechs. Most Medium Mechs are just a slight improvement upon their lighter cousins. Most are fast, but have slightly better armor and can deal out more damage.

The Trebuchet is an example of a Medium Mech than can deliver steady long-range fire. However, because it is LRM dependent, it will become near useless once its ammo is expended.

The Griffin and Shadowhawks are examples of a mechs that can outshoot a Light Mech, but will wither against their own weight class and above.

Heavy Mechs

Heavy Mechs are your main battleplatforms during the game. There is quite a variety of them, and some are specialized. The Jagermech, for example, has low armor, but its many Autocannons make it a long-range killign machine. A Dragon can soak up enemy fire with heavy armor. A Thunderbolt, with its jumpjets, can soak up fire, and when the need arises, jump behind the enemy, or on-top of a fallen mech. The really Heavy Mechs have high armor and high damage output, but suffer heat issues. The Blackknight can be given two PPCs, various lasers, and do a good job withstanding punishment and dishing it out. However, after two or three rounds ,it becomes harder and harder to fire off all of its weapons. Heat management becomes more critical and terrain, like water, needs to be considered, or, firing fewer weapons each turn, but thus, every turn rather than having to cool off.

When facing Heavy Mechs, targeting their legs with morale abilities, or when the mech falls, is a good way to both defeat the mech, but also maximize salvage.

Assault Mechs

Congrats- you are piloting a giant metal monster that serve as elite forces for the Great Houses. Stomp forward, shoot a lot, try not to overheat, and be willing to brace if your mech starts to get unstable. It is hard to fail at using an Assault Mech, so go have fun!

Tanks and Turrets

Tanks are relatively easy to kill. Most can survive two volleys. Tanks with multiple PPCs, SRMs, AC20s are priority and if at all possible kill them before they get off a shot. Turrets are very much like tanks, except stationary. When armed with a few laser weapons, they are not much of an issue, but if sporting multiple high-damaging weapons, they need to be eliminated from long range, using spotting mechs or sensor lock.

You are a Mercenary not a House soldier

In closing, remember that you are a mercenary commander. Every battle has to be considered with cost in mind. The game, over time, gets very generous with story mission rewards, but some of those story missions are quite hard! In your standard engagements remember that slugging it out is expensive. If your lance of 4 comes upon 8 enemy mechs, and those mechs start severely mauling one of your mechs before you've taken out one of theirs- it may be best to withdraw. if you were fighting as a House mech-warrior, it's not your mech and your duty says to fight and only as a last act, run away. As a mercenary you should look at the odds and if they turn against you- flee. There's no glory in barely pulling out a win, just a lot of repair bills and new mechwarriors to hire.

Traveling Tyrant
 
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Here the lance can support one another. Each mech is braced and ready to go. The Dragon, with its heavy armor can move ahead to detect the enemy. The Black Knight, because it runs high on heat is waiting in water, while the Highlander is nearby to do the same if it gets cooking. In the rear, but well within optimal firing range, is the Jagermech. Together, this heavy lance can maul just about anything that the Dragon engages.

If the enemy is stationary, then slowly approaching and setting up a similar formation where each mech can shoot the same target is a good strategy, especially against the AI which funnels mechs in with little thought of the lance supporting one another.

Lighter lances work the same way, they are just less durable to being fired back at and it becomes more important to quickly take down priority targets, while with heavier lances, a mistake or two is not going to be too terribly costly.
 

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Multiplayer

I'm still getting into multiplayer and the experience is very different.

1- I've been utterly roasted, losing all mechs, while the opponent has lost none.
2- I can't do the same back yet, my opponents get mad and disconnect when it is clear they can't win what I turned into a one-sided fight.

Some basic tips

There are different weight categories, ranging from Light Lances, to mixed, to heavy and assault. We'll be looking at mixed, or, 20 million.

The lance I went with was, a locust, a griffin, and enforcer, and a jagermech. The locust is key, because it has sensor lock, while the other mechs have bulwark, breaching shot and evasion bonuses.

So far, my experiences are that the same general tactics for single-player can apply quite well, but, the lead mech with sensor lock is vital to the ability of the lance to fire at an opponent and not be fired back upon. This is a great strategy, and if you can keep your recon mech alive and painting targets, then you too can watch your opponent disconnect as they realize they should have charged in like mad, and instead are getting peppered to death in a one-way fight.

On the flip side, the opponent that stomped me had two light mechs that quickly took out my recon mech, and from there, I ate my own medicine, forced to close in on a braced and ready foe who used their agile mechs to keep me painted for the big boys.

Some people may want to just rush in, mix it up and duel it out and in the end one mech is left standing. It makes for good drama, but I believe the more skilled opponents are going to try and set up situations in which it is their lance vs a single opponent.
 

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You're really underestimating the effectivness of melee.

Melee attacks are a great way to bleed off some heat if you're too hot to fire your weapons.

Also, when you melee you also fire all of your support weapons. That means a love tap from a Firestarter includes 4 flamers and 2 machine guns. That's 40 heat and 10 chances to get a crit. Better yet, make it 6 flamers and you almost guarantee a shutdown.

Load a Grasshopper with 6 MGs and you've got a big punch plus 30 chances to crit. If you sensor lock, soften the enemy up with long range fire, and then close with a jump jet equipped melee brawler you can do a ton of damage.

There are also melee add-ons that make a mech hit harder or take less damage during a DFA. Properly done, melee is brutally effective.
 

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A specialized 'anything' can be useful.

3 ppcs, no armor, a lot of heat-sinks and just sit way back, and you got yourself a very specialized firing platform that, all in all, will probably do fine against the AI as is.

The Firestarter being a good example of another mech with one particular job that it does well, but not so much other jobs.

So, a mech with all the mods to make it a melee machine, and flamers and mmgs will indeed do fine and yes, when a mech overheats, bashing may be the best solution rather than cooking. However, most mechs, even customized ones, aren't all that great at melee and like the AC20, a miss is a big loss on the part of the mech.

Your strategy is a great one for using melee effectively.