Disaster Mission - Tactics & Weapons?

Disaster Mission - Tactics & Weapons?

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TheMoe

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I started a mission - Intelligence Agent - Three and a half skulls, and I brought 335 tons or 5 chevron icons worth of tonnage, all assaults (listed below). I started very close to the map edge and within two turns of assault mech sprinting, I had run into the first enemy, a 75 ton assault mech. The next turn, I found myself surrounded 180 degrees ahead and to the sides of me with a range of assault mechs and two heavy mechs. I started at the map edge and didn't have room to run away, except to the east through a large lake and then up some medium ridge lines, so I stood in the nearest trees for the 40% damage reduction from cover + bulwark pilot skill, while shooting full alpha each turn, and I used the morale skill on the mechs with the most damage to increase the damage reduction to 60% as often as I could. Maybe by the third round, I found myself facing eight mechs all at once, six within visual range and two sending LRM's as they approached. Three of the eight were catapult, LRM boats. Focusing the fire from all my mechs, I was able to down a heavy mech in one turn and disable an assault in one turn (lost arm or leg or knockdown), but probably two turns to kill an assault mech.

Long story short, four nice mechs with good weapons and 7-9 skill pilots just couldn't stand up to the simultaneous barrage from six assault mechs and two heavy mechs. I had just completed the 3 skull, dual part storyline about the abandoned LosTech fort, and I did very well, only losing the smallest mech in the second part and only some structural damage to one of my mechs in the first part, so I thought this 3.5 skull mission with my new 90 ton assault, two 80 ton assaults and one 85 ton assault would be a challenge, but not a blood bath. BTW, this was on normal difficulty.

Mechs:

Stalker 85 ton Assault LRM boat 220 alpha damage - 8 rounds before overheat without jets, full front armor (except CT), LRM 20 +++ with high stability and crit damage. Armor: 1240

Two Awesome-AWS-8Q Laser boats (7 laser hardpoints + 1 melee support) 230 alpha damage - 10 rounds before overheat, full front armor (except CT). Armor: 1280

Highlander 90 ton assault - 330 alpha damage with high stability damage - 8 rounds before overheat and full frontal armor (except CT). Armor: 1480

I like to keep high armor on my mechs because I use +++ weapons whenever I can.

Questions:

1. Does the game scale the strength of opponents on a mission to reflect your own drop tonnage? If I had brought only medium mechs to a 3.5 skull mission, would I have faced fewer assault mechs?

2. I've never used two Awesome AWS-8Q laser boats and I'm not so sure that lasers are good weapons against larger opponents. They do no stability damage, and they also seem to spread their damage around the target assault mech. I'm wondering if a laser boat is a good choice for a mech. I'm only on day 550, so I don't have many choices for larger mechs, and I don't prefer the playstyle with one light mech and three larger mechs. It's too easy for me to make a mistake, and I play for fun. I was surprised when I saw two mechs standing after being hit by my laser boats and they still had all their limbs, but most of the mech was orange, indicating only structure remained. I don't think I've seen anything like that when I've used missile boats and auto-cannons. The damage is usually more centralized or arms and legs have been blown off. Are lasers bad for late-game?

3. The mission was clearly weighted for salvage, with the max pay being half of a normal 3 skull mission, but salvage going up to 5/21, so I expected to run into a lot of mechs. Was this simply an unbalanced mission with bad initial positioning (no room to maneuver and all 8 mechs in the same area), or is something else going on, like too many laser boats, etc.?

I watch YouTube playthroughs and I've yet to see a Tuber run into a similar mission. Any thoughts on how to handle things better? Assault mechs don't move very quickly, and I thought it better to stay in cover for at least 40% damage reduction than to try and move very slowly (one chevron) while shooting in the open and taking 100% damage. Still it was not enough. The enemy was simply too strong. I think I might have lost with four 100 ton mechs at my disposal. Thoughts?

Edit: I just realized the Catapult is a heavy mech, so there were five heavy mechs and three assault mechs, all firing at the same time, and the three Catapult (LRM versions) were especially deadly.
 
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KDubya

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Precision shot combined with Called Shot Mastery is the key to quickly dropping the enemy. Better to use your morale on quickly killing rather than tanking damage. Your laserboats would be centercoring mechs instead of sandblasting with liberal use of Precision shot.

For a LRM boat you want to use +2 damage instead of +stability. Your 55 tubes would be doing 330 damage instead of 220.

For your laserboats I'd worry less about cooling and more on max armor. You're at short range anyway with medium lasers so might as well use melee when you need to cool.

Personally I'd have the Stalker with max armor, jump jets, four SRM6++ damage and a bunch of mLasers to have a scary short range powerhouse with an alpha 400+ or so.

Stability is hard to pull off against Assault mechs, better to go for damage and centercore them. Or best is a Marauder headhunter.
 

koz-ivan

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1. Does the game scale the strength of opponents on a mission to reflect your own drop tonnage? If I had brought only medium mechs to a 3.5 skull mission, would I have faced fewer assault mechs?
afaik no. However the enemy comps are somewhat random, every now and again the enemy ends up with a great compliment of mechs for the map / situation. There is a reason why I don't play Ironman style and this is it, sometimes you really do walk into a trap mission.

That being said, I wonder about your first few turns, is it possible that if you moved your mechs differently and took an alternate attack vector you wouldn't have been quite so outgunned?

2. I've never used two Awesome AWS-8Q laser boats and I'm not so sure that lasers are good weapons against larger opponents. They do no stability damage, and they also seem to spread their damage around the target assault mech.
Precision shot combined with Called Shot Mastery is the key to quickly dropping the enemy. Better to use your morale on quickly killing rather than tanking damage. Your laserboats would be centercoring mechs instead of sandblasting with liberal use of Precision shot.
This. Lasers are ok to soften a mech up, or to finish off a mech that has already taken a lot of damage, but where they really shine is Precision Shot. Focusing many lasers into a single location ends poorly for the target of such attention.

KDubya is right in that sometimes you really need to focus on taking the enemy out of play vs trying to soak their damage.
 

LucidFugue

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1. Does the game scale the strength of opponents on a mission to reflect your own drop tonnage? If I had brought only medium mechs to a 3.5 skull mission, would I have faced fewer assault mechs?
No, your drop tonnage doesn't impact difficulty. There can be up to a 1 skull variance between listed difficulty and actual, though. So if you faced 2 lances that were heavies and assaults, I'd say that makes sense for a 4-4.5 skull actual.
2. I've never used two Awesome AWS-8Q laser boats and I'm not so sure that lasers are good weapons against larger opponents. They do no stability damage, and they also seem to spread their damage around the target assault mech. I'm wondering if a laser boat is a good choice for a mech. I'm only on day 550, so I don't have many choices for larger mechs, and I don't prefer the playstyle with one light mech and three larger mechs. It's too easy for me to make a mistake, and I play for fun. I was surprised when I saw two mechs standing after being hit by my laser boats and they still had all their limbs, but most of the mech was orange, indicating only structure remained. I don't think I've seen anything like that when I've used missile boats and auto-cannons. The damage is usually more centralized or arms and legs have been blown off. Are lasers bad for late-game?
Laser boats can be great and I usually recommend doubling down on lasers rather than leaving yourself with some-but-not-enough stability damage within a lance to really have any effect , but I think you might have hit on a mech and a loadout that's not really showing the best they can be.

3. The mission was clearly weighted for salvage, with the max pay being half of a normal 3 skull mission, but salvage going up to 5/21, so I expected to run into a lot of mechs. Was this simply an unbalanced mission with bad initial positioning (no room to maneuver and all 8 mechs in the same area), or is something else going on, like too many laser boats, etc.?
It sounds like those 2 turns of sprinting towards the objective moved you into a bad/flanked position. It's rare that a map offers no alternative path that allows you to avoid walking into these ambush traps where you are engaging 2 lances at once, but that can happen, for sure. Once you recognise that you are not going to be able to defeat the currently engaged lance before the reinforcements arrive you need to consider ahead of time what it's going to look like when you're facing the fire of 6+ enemies, and whether there are ways of reducing LOS. It really doesn't help when the enemy lance has a lot of LRMs though. Sounds like a lot of things working against you on this one.

Any thoughts on how to handle things better?
If you have an Orion, Black Knight, Warhammer or Grasshopper, I'd prefer any of those to the Awesome. You can fit them out with about as much firepower and armor, perhaps sacrificing some heat management, and they'll be more agile on the battlefield. 8+ rounds of alpha strikes without overheating sounds excessive for a laser boat, particularly if that's your build for a neutral heat biome. You can build ballistic mechs that way because you barely need any heat sinks to do so. But think about your ideal engagement length and the choices you can make within that engagement. I'd rather have a mech that can alpha strike for greater damage for 3 rounds. That way I can make choices to turn low chance weapons off in the first turn if there's a lot of evasion, or start sacrificing damage if there's anything left alive in range after those brutal early alpha strikes.
This is my playstyle so take it with a grain of salt, but laser boats are not a "Stand and fight" kind of mech. If you shoot front on, you'll spread damage. But if you flank you can unload into arms and side torsos, you increase the chance of destroying weapons systems and reducing your exposure to return fire. That flank now also gives you a massive boost to your CT hit chance if you're just looking at coring them out. You have melee strikes and sprinting for tactical repositioning once heat becomes an issue. You can be flexible with a mech that can't even shoot all its guns two rounds in a row, but if you've built it to just alpha strike for 8 rounds then anything else you do with it is going to feel like your sacrificing damage.

If you're comfortable building ballistic and missile builds and taking advantage of stability damage, it can be a bit of a shock to switch up tactics like this. It's not that lasers are bad for late game. It's that you need to play differently with them.
 
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TheMoe

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Precision shot combined with Called Shot Mastery is the key to quickly dropping the enemy. Better to use your morale on quickly killing rather than tanking damage. Your laserboats would be centercoring mechs instead of sandblasting with liberal use of Precision shot.

For a LRM boat you want to use +2 damage instead of +stability. Your 55 tubes would be doing 330 damage instead of 220.

For your laserboats I'd worry less about cooling and more on max armor. You're at short range anyway with medium lasers so might as well use melee when you need to cool.

Personally I'd have the Stalker with max armor, jump jets, four SRM6++ damage and a bunch of mLasers to have a scary short range powerhouse with an alpha 400+ or so.

Stability is hard to pull off against Assault mechs, better to go for damage and centercore them. Or best is a Marauder headhunter.
You made some very good points. Thank you. Sandblasting is exactly what it felt like when I was attacking with the lasers. Also great to know that stability is something to play with in the early game and damage is most important late game. I do like the idea of coring the mechs with called shots from my morale. I think I was up to 26 or 28 morale a turn during that battle.
 

TheMoe

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afaik no. However the enemy comps are somewhat random, every now and again the enemy ends up with a great compliment of mechs for the map / situation. There is a reason why I don't play Ironman style and this is it, sometimes you really do walk into a trap mission.

That being said, I wonder about your first few turns, is it possible that if you moved your mechs differently and took an alternate attack vector you wouldn't have been quite so outgunned?





This. Lasers are ok to soften a mech up, or to finish off a mech that has already taken a lot of damage, but where they really shine is Precision Shot. Focusing many lasers into a single location ends poorly for the target of such attention.

KDubya is right in that sometimes you really need to focus on taking the enemy out of play vs trying to soak their damage.
Yes, I thought about where else I could have gone, and there was some map room to the east, though it would have put me fighting them long distance across a lake, with my group standing on sand with no vegetation for cover. There were so many LRM boats that I think I might have gone down even quicker than I did. Both of my laser boats had three large lasers and four medium lasers with one support laser for melee attack. I didn't feel comfortable hitting them for 120 damage max each turn, though getting in the middle of them wasn't fun either.

I sure hear what you say about some missions being a very good roll for the AI. I could have handled one group followed by a second group, but not all together like that.

What I'm reading from both of your posts is that I need to change up two things when it comes to my gaming style. First, I should go for builds with more damage and use melee when I need to cool. This also means that I should focus on getting in close and running to the enemy instead of camping out in the closest bunch of trees. Second, I could use more SR weapons and called shots as I'm approaching with the goal of simply wiping the enemy mechs off the field.

All my assault mechs did have the max number of jump jets. I just find that they don't move very far when compared to a medium mech with full JJ and the evasion that an assault mech gets is usually very low - max two chevrons from a jump. Thanks to both of you for the suggestions.
 

TheMoe

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No, your drop tonnage doesn't impact difficulty. There can be up to a 1 skull variance between listed difficulty and actual, though. So if you faced 2 lances that were heavies and assaults, I'd say that makes sense for a 4-4.5 skull actual.

Laser boats can be great and I usually recommend doubling down on lasers rather than leaving yourself with some-but-not-enough stability damage within a lance to really have any effect , but I think you might have hit on a mech and a loadout that's not really showing the best they can be.


It sounds like those 2 turns of sprinting towards the objective moved you into a bad/flanked position. It's rare that a map offers no alternative path that allows you to avoid walking into these ambush traps where you are engaging 2 lances at once, but that can happen, for sure. Once you recognise that you are not going to be able to defeat the currently engaged lance before the reinforcements arrive you need to consider ahead of time what it's going to look like when you're facing the fire of 6+ enemies, and whether there are ways of reducing LOS. It really doesn't help when the enemy lance has a lot of LRMs though. Sounds like a lot of things working against you on this one.


If you have an Orion, Black Knight, Warhammer or Grasshopper, I'd prefer any of those to the Awesome. You can fit them out with about as much firepower and armor, perhaps sacrificing some heat management, and they'll be more agile on the battlefield. 8+ rounds of alpha strikes without overheating sounds excessive for a laser boat, particularly if that's your build for a neutral heat biome. You can build ballistic mechs that way because you barely need any heat sinks to do so. But think about your ideal engagement length and the choices you can make within that engagement. I'd rather have a mech that can alpha strike for greater damage for 3 rounds. That way I can make choices to turn low chance weapons off in the first turn if there's a lot of evasion, or start sacrificing damage if there's anything left alive in range after those brutal early alpha strikes.
This is my playstyle so take it with a grain of salt, but laser boats are not a "Stand and fight" kind of mech. If you shoot front on, you'll spread damage. But if you flank you can unload into arms and side torsos, you increase the chance of destroying weapons systems and reducing your exposure to return fire. That flank now also gives you a massive boost to your CT hit chance if you're just looking at coring them out. You have melee strikes and sprinting for tactical repositioning once heat becomes an issue. You can be flexible with a mech that can't even shoot all its guns two rounds in a row, but if you've built it to just alpha strike for 8 rounds then anything else you do with it is going to feel like your sacrificing damage.

If you're comfortable building ballistic and missile builds and taking advantage of stability damage, it can be a bit of a shock to switch up tactics like this. It's not that lasers are bad for late game. It's that you need to play differently with them.
Oh wow. Up to a 1 skull difference? That's quite a swing in difficulty!

I agree with you about my loadout. The Awesome AWS-8Q comes stock with three PPC's. That's 150 damage with some targeting disruption, but it seems like three 50 damage hits can be quite devastating without called shots when compared to three large lasers and four medium lasers just sandpapering the mech.

Yes, I agree with your point about walking into an ambush. That's exactly what it was, though it took a couple turns for me to see that both lances had a horde of LRM's and that they were all together. The one issue I simply couldn't overcome was the AI's tendency to target my damaged mechs, no matter what it seemed I did to prevent it. I tried moving the damaged ones back and undamaged mechs forward, then using vigilance on the damaged mechs to make them a less attractive target, turning them to the side to show stronger armor. Nothing seemed to help. The AI just kept pounding the two damaged mechs. It also didn't help that I was using the Stalker as an LRM boat that was hiding behind the rest of the group. I'm learning that when you use the LRM boat strategy it means your other three mechs will likely take more damage because they are closer to the enemy. I like the idea of using the four SRM 6's with the Stalker and charging in with called shots.

I loved the last part with the excellent suggestions about using lasers differently and building a mech that could Alpha for three rounds, then melee or sprint away. I haven't tried that style. I also have not had the chance to play many of the larger mechs, though I'll keep the ones you mentioned in mind with regards to their flexibility in battle.

The last time I played was when the game first came out, and my goal was always to knock the mechs down and then use called shots. It seems now the game has matured that it's a bit harder to knock the mechs down, so maybe changing up my strategy to fit the current mechanics is a better idea. All excellent suggestions. Thanks again.
 

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I agree with @KDubya in the +dmg over +stab damage but disagree with the armor and cooling part. Besides LRM boats, which should be protected by other mechs, the best protection is not being shot (much), because no matter how much armor you have if you're being heavily focused chances are you're going to go down or lose a limb/torso.

And how exactly?. One way if having overwhelming firepower so you can kill foes as they come and before he can attack you (like with improved initiative). That helps a LOT but it won't always work, so another part of it is taking advantage of the terrain looking for choke points (or not choke points but just obstacles breaking LoS) which you'll be able to exploit using JJ equipped mechs. So you position in a way in which they can't fire at you and you can't fire at them (apart form LRMs), but you jump over some obstacle and fire (with Precision Shot), maybe with a couple mechs or with one but having one LRM boats as a finisher (if you're aiming at the CT core). So here you're using JJs offensively. They can be used too in a more obvious defensive way just to flee away but also in a more controlled retreat so you keep firing all the time while you maintain your desired distance to the foe and optimal facing and close distance enough as you see fit.

Mostly, if you have good equipment (like no HS, only DHS) and ++/+++ weapons you can get away with pretty low armor, like 15-16 tons for an assault and 10-13 for a heavy. You'll be able to engage and disengage (mostly) at will (JJs). That mobility, even if it is at some firepower expense will facilitate your mechs to support each other. Your front line mechs now have a much easier time to jump back for killing that fast medium that got too close to your slow and JJ-less LRM boat.


The con is that for such intensive use of JJs you need pretty good cooling, which speaks more of a late game setup, and that can be at expense of armor and firepower. And that means (to me) that often I build mechs with even negative net alpha (usually between -6 and +10), because in practice I won't be generating just the heat from the alpha but much more if I'm going to jump quite often. Sprint can work very well in lights/meds, not so much with assaults or heavies. If you retreat you can't fire at the same time and you also can't brace or free choose your facing at the end of the move like with JJs. For me cooling = more mobility = more survival. Armor is the last barrier. You need some, it is still somewhat important but it doesn't need to be a priority, you don't want a real cannon glass but if you manage well enough the other aspects you won't need a lot in order to have not just decent but actually very good survivability.

One very good mech in this regard and without lostech or DLC weapons would be the mentioned Stalker with 6xML++ 4xSRM6+++. You can have -2 dmg net alpha (without jumping) and 19.5t armor with 498 alpha damage. For a non "super mech" it is quite good in all aspects. Decent/good at both headcapping and CT core, quite mobile due to being able to jump often and good performance in hot environments. But for that you need all DHS and a couple TTS++.

Also important is not rushing. Sometimes is better just to not attack but move into a better position, forcing them to sprint to follow you if you can. It may be better to delay an attack in order to prepare a turn where you reserve (if you're phase 2 or better) then jump + attack and then the next turn attack again, or attack and jump away (if you have Ace Pilot). That means having phase two init is very good for assaults, because it grants you a lot of flexibility.

And another one prioritizing well. That seemly inoffensive medium mech perhaps should be at the top of your list instead of that Demolisher, because it can act as spotter for LRM boats and PPC carriers you can't see yet while the Demo will need another couple turns at minimum to close distance. Or perhaps the Demo should be the first target to attack, mostly if you know you can deal with it right away, because you don't think you'll be able to kill the medium this turn (due to very high evasion, for example).


Another thing I disagree is meleeing. You're at disadvantage when doing it. You can put JJs in all your direct damage mechs if you want, the AI can't. You can melee, even do a lot of damage if you equip melee mods, but on the other side even an arm-less heavy mech with no weapons left can still melee you as well if given the opportunity. And you cannot Precision Shot with it. It's much more risky, because if you miss you're at melee range as well, while at long range if you miss it's likely you're forcing them to attack you with higher penalties than you have (if you used Precision Shot) and maybe they can't even shoot you at all or perhaps only with a fraction of their firepower. So that's for the another key: controlling the distance into a range where you have the advantage. If you have a short range mech and you can't alpha again then I won't melee but jump away, if possible behind some obstacle or into cover+bulwark and brace.
 

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I prefer 2 PPCs and 4 medium lasers on an Awesome. Good mix of range and firepower.

In Battletech there are sand blasting weapons and there are hole punchers. Medium lasers and missiles are sand blasters, spreading the damage around, but doing a lot of damage. This can be somewhat negated with precision shot. Hole punchers, AC/20, AC/10, PPC, do a lot of damage in a single hit to create a weak point in the enemy. That can them be exploited by lower damage weapons to remove components easier.

There have been some heavy statistical analysis of the value of concentrated damage. Statistically, in the long run, I think more damage is better than a bigger hole, but I like a mix of both.
 

koz-ivan

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May 8, 2018
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Yes, I thought about where else I could have gone, and there was some map room to the east, though it would have put me fighting them long distance across a lake, with my group standing on sand with no vegetation for cover. There were so many LRM boats that I think I might have gone down even quicker than I did. Both of my laser boats had three large lasers and four medium lasers with one support laser for melee attack. I didn't feel comfortable hitting them for 120 damage max each turn, though getting in the middle of them wasn't fun either.
I can't say because I didn't see your fight it does sound like the "variables" all jointly decided to give you a screwing on this mission.

But one point to consider - even when the opposition is all LRM boats, they still need spotter(s) focus firing and killing anything with a LoS to you and your guys will prevent all that long range fire from raining down on you.

Regardless, when I hit one of these hellscape missions I try my best to somehow tough it out and find a way, then go back and re-start the mission and adjust tactics accordingly.
 

Nick_S

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Jul 18, 2018
130
2
Precision shot combined with Called Shot Mastery is the key to quickly dropping the enemy. Better to use your morale on quickly killing rather than tanking damage. Your laserboats would be centercoring mechs instead of sandblasting with liberal use of Precision shot.

...
This is broadly correct. To generalize the point a bit, I was recently thinking about the power curve in the early game -- when you start fairly weak and improve rapidly because you have multiple factors improving at once (using the mech bay to optimize builds, gaining pilot skills, salvaging better mechs, salvaging improved weapons).

To some extent the same thing is true later in the game; there are a variety of elements to optimize and being able to line all of them up is really powerful. I think it is true, that (a) nothing that you've described about your mechs or tactics is actively _bad_ and all of that would be sufficient to win many engagements and you happened to run into a particularly difficult situation.

At that point you can respond in some combination of two ways (a) that it's part of the fun that the game occasionally throws extra difficulty at you, and it would be monotonous if everything was a predictable level of difficulty and (b) if you want to be better able to deal with that difficulty it means being aware of and learning how to make small improvements in a variety of areas. There's mech design, reading the map, tactics -- one of the things that I feel has most improved over time is getting better at identifying the highest priority targets and figuring out how to focus fire to most quickly degrade the OpFor threat, use of morale abilities.

You shouldn't feel like you need to try to work on all of those at once -- that's not really fun -- I'm just saying that it isn't necessarily one thing that would change your experience but various ways to see more possibilities in what you could be trying or what to be aware of.
 

Nick_S

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130
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What I'm reading from both of your posts is that I need to change up two things when it comes to my gaming style. First, I should go for builds with more damage and use melee when I need to cool. This also means that I should focus on getting in close and running to the enemy instead of camping out in the closest bunch of trees. Second, I could use more SR weapons and called shots as I'm approaching with the goal of simply wiping the enemy mechs off the field.

All my assault mechs did have the max number of jump jets. I just find that they don't move very far when compared to a medium mech with full JJ and the evasion that an assault mech gets is usually very low - max two chevrons from a jump. Thanks to both of you for the suggestions.
I would suggest making at least two (and maybe 3) of your mechs specialists. That could be a head-capper Marauder (a design which I think is fairly overpowered); a short-range mech that can use precision strike to kill an opponent in one turn (usually built around medium lasers); an LRM boat can work (though it's been a while since I've used one), as can a high damage SRM mech, like the Stalker that KDubya mentioned. It makes sense to have a couple of jack-of-all trades mechs (which will usually be last in line to use Precision Strike and, as such, are good with a multi-shot pilot). And then the goal is that your tactics revolve around maximizing the effectiveness of the specialists -- so, for example, if you have a head-capper Marauder that is absolutely first priority when it comes to spending morale, so you're tactics for the other mechs should minimize the use of morale ability. The short-range laser boat will probably also use precision strike but can get quick kills by jumping behind an opponent and overwhelming the rear armor.

For my own tactics I tend to have at least two mechs that are primarily short-ranged mechs, but I also tend to get tired of campaigns before I get to stage of having all assault mechs, so my experience is biased towards medium/heavy mechs.

None of that advice is specific to that mission. I don't have enough of a sense of the map to give you any advice for how to best deal with a LRM-heavy OpFor but the tactics you used of trying to take the LRM damage on a mech with 40% or 60% DR helps a lot in terms of letting you soak damage and buy time while you're killing the opponents.
 
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LongRange

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I had one of these missions after I finished the campaign for the first time. I think it was 4 or 4.5 skull. I was pretty cocky at the time. Didn’t have a lake, but there were a LOT of heavy/assault mechs and they were in contact as soon as I mad a move in any direction. Was dropped in a map corner and had to work either north or west. Heavy spotter mechs were deployed by the OPFOR so I was moving while observed and absorbing multiple LRM swarms and PPC strikes without being able to retaliate. Ended up winning, but only had my SLDF Highlander and a KGC left. The KGC was barely walking as he had run out of ammo and did two DFA stunts.

I think sometimes the game wants to present as difficult as possible to make the withdraw decision part of the gameplay.

As far as the Striker goes, I favor 4x15 LRM tubes with appropriate TTS and heat management. + damage is preferred, but I’ll take +stab if that’s the only one available. Usually carry about 700-800 missiles so I can keep them coming. That’s a LOT of firepower.
 

Aluminium Gerbil

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Nov 27, 2018
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The last time I played was when the game first came out, and my goal was always to knock the mechs down and then use called shots. It seems now the game has matured that it's a bit harder to knock the mechs down, so maybe changing up my strategy to fit the current mechanics is a better idea. All excellent suggestions. Thanks again.
That playstyle was nerfed all the way back in patch 1.1. From notes:
  • Medium 'Mech stability increased to 130 (was 100). Stability recovery increased to 1.2 (was 1.0).
  • Heavy 'Mech stability increased to 160 (was 100). Stability recovery increased to 1.4 (was 1.0).
  • Assault 'Mech stability increased to 200 (was 100). Stability recovery increased to 1.6 (was 1.0).
You can still do it with mediums but heavy on up it's not efficient. You'll get more knockdowns from blowing up legs than from stability.
 

ntw

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Also bear in mind that you can withdraw from any mission if you don't like the look of it.

Lots of good advice above, but ultimately it also depends on what style *you* like playing. It does sound like a "prefect storm" situation of early contact with an LRM heavy opposing force at the top end of the possible force strength for the skull rating.

End of the day though - you learnt something! :D
 
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TheMoe

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So many helpful responses! Before I go back and reply to them, I thought I would let you know what happened. I found the game saved prior to the mission start which gave me another chance to take what I had learned from you all and try again. TLDR - I won with no structure damage and no injuries. The mechs appeared to be similar to the mission I miserably failed previously.
Screenshot (24).png

I went back and refit my mechs so they ran quite a bit hotter, with a goal of shooting two or maybe three turns, using my morale for precision shots, and drawing the enemy out one or two at a time. I'm in the same space as I was for the LosTech fort story mission (Aurigan Directorate), so no access to stores. Seeing as I have to fit my mechs with what I have, I decided to look at what the majority of my weapon bonuses are, and it turns out most of the weapons I've been able to acquire so far have stability damage modifiers. Playing to the strengths of my bonuses, I changed the laser boat Awesome AWS-8Q back into their 3 PPC configuration, and I switched out one LRM 15 + with 50% crit for an LRM 15 +1 stab. The Highlander has the gauss, a PPC, and a UAC/5 which combined does quite a bit of stab damage in itself. I found I could knock down a heavy mech with a combination of two or three of my mechs, depending on which weapons actually hit, and I also discovered that using the precision shot allowed me to kill a heavy mech from extreme range with only the first three mechs firing.

The mission required I visit two locations to pick up VIP personnel, and both locations were very close to each other. That's why there was such a large number of mechs who hit me all at once. I did start at the bottom edge of the map, but I had some room to the east and west. I ran east (away from my objectives), then turned north until I found the first enemy, and I killed it as soon as it came into sight. Then another appeared and I did the same. I knew it was time to go when four enemies all appeared, three north of me and one West of me. Now my mechs went back south and then west until there was only the one enemy in the west. Soon that turned into two, but my company could easily take both of them out in two rounds. Now it appeared the first objective was clear of enemies, and the first four were down. I simply ran west and then north until I came across the next enemies coming down from the north, and picked them off one at a time.

Yes, the mission was certainly harder than the 3.5 skulls rating, but my fittings and tactics sealed my doom the first time. I can now move on with the campaign, thanks to your help. Great advice all around!
 
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TheMoe

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I agree with @KDubya in the +dmg over +stab damage but disagree with the armor and cooling part. Besides LRM boats, which should be protected by other mechs, the best protection is not being shot (much), because no matter how much armor you have if you're being heavily focused chances are you're going to go down or lose a limb/torso.

And how exactly?. One way if having overwhelming firepower so you can kill foes as they come and before he can attack you (like with improved initiative). That helps a LOT but it won't always work, so another part of it is taking advantage of the terrain looking for choke points (or not choke points but just obstacles breaking LoS) which you'll be able to exploit using JJ equipped mechs. So you position in a way in which they can't fire at you and you can't fire at them (apart form LRMs), but you jump over some obstacle and fire (with Precision Shot), maybe with a couple mechs or with one but having one LRM boats as a finisher (if you're aiming at the CT core). So here you're using JJs offensively. They can be used too in a more obvious defensive way just to flee away but also in a more controlled retreat so you keep firing all the time while you maintain your desired distance to the foe and optimal facing and close distance enough as you see fit.

Mostly, if you have good equipment (like no HS, only DHS) and ++/+++ weapons you can get away with pretty low armor, like 15-16 tons for an assault and 10-13 for a heavy. You'll be able to engage and disengage (mostly) at will (JJs). That mobility, even if it is at some firepower expense will facilitate your mechs to support each other. Your front line mechs now have a much easier time to jump back for killing that fast medium that got too close to your slow and JJ-less LRM boat.


The con is that for such intensive use of JJs you need pretty good cooling, which speaks more of a late game setup, and that can be at expense of armor and firepower. And that means (to me) that often I build mechs with even negative net alpha (usually between -6 and +10), because in practice I won't be generating just the heat from the alpha but much more if I'm going to jump quite often. Sprint can work very well in lights/meds, not so much with assaults or heavies. If you retreat you can't fire at the same time and you also can't brace or free choose your facing at the end of the move like with JJs. For me cooling = more mobility = more survival. Armor is the last barrier. You need some, it is still somewhat important but it doesn't need to be a priority, you don't want a real cannon glass but if you manage well enough the other aspects you won't need a lot in order to have not just decent but actually very good survivability.

One very good mech in this regard and without lostech or DLC weapons would be the mentioned Stalker with 6xML++ 4xSRM6+++. You can have -2 dmg net alpha (without jumping) and 19.5t armor with 498 alpha damage. For a non "super mech" it is quite good in all aspects. Decent/good at both headcapping and CT core, quite mobile due to being able to jump often and good performance in hot environments. But for that you need all DHS and a couple TTS++.

Also important is not rushing. Sometimes is better just to not attack but move into a better position, forcing them to sprint to follow you if you can. It may be better to delay an attack in order to prepare a turn where you reserve (if you're phase 2 or better) then jump + attack and then the next turn attack again, or attack and jump away (if you have Ace Pilot). That means having phase two init is very good for assaults, because it grants you a lot of flexibility.

And another one prioritizing well. That seemly inoffensive medium mech perhaps should be at the top of your list instead of that Demolisher, because it can act as spotter for LRM boats and PPC carriers you can't see yet while the Demo will need another couple turns at minimum to close distance. Or perhaps the Demo should be the first target to attack, mostly if you know you can deal with it right away, because you don't think you'll be able to kill the medium this turn (due to very high evasion, for example).


Another thing I disagree is meleeing. You're at disadvantage when doing it. You can put JJs in all your direct damage mechs if you want, the AI can't. You can melee, even do a lot of damage if you equip melee mods, but on the other side even an arm-less heavy mech with no weapons left can still melee you as well if given the opportunity. And you cannot Precision Shot with it. It's much more risky, because if you miss you're at melee range as well, while at long range if you miss it's likely you're forcing them to attack you with higher penalties than you have (if you used Precision Shot) and maybe they can't even shoot you at all or perhaps only with a fraction of their firepower. So that's for the another key: controlling the distance into a range where you have the advantage. If you have a short range mech and you can't alpha again then I won't melee but jump away, if possible behind some obstacle or into cover+bulwark and brace.
I really like what you said about being mobile and using the JJ's to control range. That's exactly what helped me so much in this mission. I jumped into firing range, then jumped away and cooled down. I also used the terrain and kept the horde at a distance. Thank you!
 

TheMoe

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I prefer 2 PPCs and 4 medium lasers on an Awesome. Good mix of range and firepower.

In Battletech there are sand blasting weapons and there are hole punchers. Medium lasers and missiles are sand blasters, spreading the damage around, but doing a lot of damage. This can be somewhat negated with precision shot. Hole punchers, AC/20, AC/10, PPC, do a lot of damage in a single hit to create a weak point in the enemy. That can them be exploited by lower damage weapons to remove components easier.

There have been some heavy statistical analysis of the value of concentrated damage. Statistically, in the long run, I think more damage is better than a bigger hole, but I like a mix of both.
This is good advice. I found I could kill enemies much faster using fewer weapons that dealt more damage than with mechs that dealt more alpha, but with smaller damage shots, especially when combined with precision shot. There are certainly times when I could see more damage being an advantage, such as the convoy raiding missions where you have four vehicles and four guarding mechs all shooting at you simultaneously. You also have to get pretty close in order to shoot up the convoy before it gets away. Thank you.
 

TheMoe

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I can't say because I didn't see your fight it does sound like the "variables" all jointly decided to give you a screwing on this mission.

But one point to consider - even when the opposition is all LRM boats, they still need spotter(s) focus firing and killing anything with a LoS to you and your guys will prevent all that long range fire from raining down on you.

Regardless, when I hit one of these hellscape missions I try my best to somehow tough it out and find a way, then go back and re-start the mission and adjust tactics accordingly.
All excellent advice! Yes, I tried to kill the spotter as soon as I could, and I did learn I could go back and try again with different tactics. ;) Thank you.
 
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TheMoe

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This is broadly correct. To generalize the point a bit, I was recently thinking about the power curve in the early game -- when you start fairly weak and improve rapidly because you have multiple factors improving at once (using the mech bay to optimize builds, gaining pilot skills, salvaging better mechs, salvaging improved weapons).

To some extent the same thing is true later in the game; there are a variety of elements to optimize and being able to line all of them up is really powerful. I think it is true, that (a) nothing that you've described about your mechs or tactics is actively _bad_ and all of that would be sufficient to win many engagements and you happened to run into a particularly difficult situation.

At that point you can respond in some combination of two ways (a) that it's part of the fun that the game occasionally throws extra difficulty at you, and it would be monotonous if everything was a predictable level of difficulty and (b) if you want to be better able to deal with that difficulty it means being aware of and learning how to make small improvements in a variety of areas. There's mech design, reading the map, tactics -- one of the things that I feel has most improved over time is getting better at identifying the highest priority targets and figuring out how to focus fire to most quickly degrade the OpFor threat, use of morale abilities.

You shouldn't feel like you need to try to work on all of those at once -- that's not really fun -- I'm just saying that it isn't necessarily one thing that would change your experience but various ways to see more possibilities in what you could be trying or what to be aware of.
Yes, you hit the nail on the head! I focused on taking out the high value targets and I did so using precision shots and a cohesive weapons loadout across my company of mechs. I can absolutely start to see how there is a second chance later in game to optimize piloting skills + better weapons, and improved situational awareness as gained from experience. I'm at the very start of this curve, being only 500 days in, though I can say all the good advice from this thread is helping me get a leg up on the latter part of the triad (situational awareness). Thank you.