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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Panpiper

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Here is an outline of what I see as an optimum early strategy in the campaign game, especially for the time when we are in the Leopard. Certainly it is possible to rush to the campaign missions, but personally I prefer less stress in my tactical missions by prudent planning on the strategic side. If anyone has any extra advice or an alternative strategy, please by all means add it to this thread.

All the starting mechs are less than optimum in my opinion and all could benefit from some time in the mech bay. However you cannot afford to just sit there doing nothing while mechs are being upgraded. Half skull missions fortunately are not terribly difficult and with reasonable tactics can be done with the starting mech configurations with little more than some armor damage.

At the start of the campaign, do as many half skull missions as you need to do while in the Leopard, especially all on any planet you are already orbiting before moving to a new planet. Do NOT travel to another planet if there are any missions left to do on the planet you are already at. (Travel takes time and time costs money.) The path of least resistance is to keep doing those half skull missions, without going for the main quest line, until you collect a decent sized mech to replace the Spider with. Go for 1/4 salvage and the rest cash with your contracts, to stay good with money. The exception is when you get assassination missions. For those go all in on salvage. In the first few missions, try to salvage a few SRM launchers (you want 2 SRM6 and 1 SRM4).

When you run out of missions to do on your starting planet, upgrade one mech and one mech only. The idea is for the mech to be upgraded while the Leopard is traveling to the next contract. This may take extra time, and you might have to advance time a bit to get it finished. However if you've been doing cash missions, you should be able to afford it.

The Shadowhawk should be the first mech to upgrade, because you'll want it's AC5 for later. (If you get lucky and find an AC5 in salvage early, you can switch the Blackjack in as the first mech to upgrade.) I would make the Shadowhawk a pure close range mech, as it has the speed to get there quickly. Give it two SRM6 and an SRM4, a medium and small laser and plenty of SRM ammo (at least three tons), max armor and max jump, strip off anything else. That Shadowhawk is meant to overheat with an alpha strike (all weapons firing) then melee the next round to cool down. If you've not yet collected sufficient SRMs from salvage to do the job, either wait until you have or consider buying what you need from the store. You will probably be making sufficient money to afford that.

The next time you travel after doing all the missions on the planet you are orbiting, put the AC5 you take off the Shadowhawk onto the Blackjack and remove both AC2s. Add four tons of armor and heat sinks.

For the Vindicator just drop the small laser and top off the armor. This is such a minor change you could likely do it first thing or whenever else convenient.

For the Spider, give it a pilot with sensor lock and use it for that as is, until you get something better to replace it. (Brief digression into battlefield tactics: Try hard to keep it out of the line of fire, and keep it moving as much as possible to get maximum evasion. Use jump, a lot, jump into cover. For the most part do not fire with it, just reserve it's action till all the enemy has moved, then sensor lock the mech the rest of your unit will fire on, before they fire, so as to strip two evasion chevrons from it.)

Assassination missions are what you are most hoping for. There will be a single large mech among your opponents in those missions, you want the salvage. Clear out his bodyguard, then fire on that large mech ONLY from the sides. Both sides. If your only shot is to the front, do NOT fire! (Do not do rear shots either.) You'll do pilot damage from side torso destructions and shot out legs. That way you are virtually guaranteed two parts per mission and a good chance of three in salvage. This is why you want to max out salvage options in assassination contracts.

You want a 50 or 55 ton mech to replace that Spider. (Ideally, you would want to upgrade the Vindicator and Blackjack as well.) What you most want however is a Centurion. The Centurion is the platform of choice for an early LRM boat (it is among the medium mechs with the most available tonnage and has three missile hardpoints). You won't find a better platform for an LRM boat till you start finding 65 ton mechs. You can easily pack the equivalent of LRM35 in there with acceptable armor, four tons of ammo and jump jets to boot. Going into the first few campaign quest missions with a proper LRM boat instead of a nearly useless Spider will make life a heck of a lot easier and keep repair bills to a minimum.

Note: You can make a servicable LRM boat out of a Trebuchet or a Kintaro, a Griffin, a Shadowhawk, or a Wolverine, as they all have enough missile hardpoints. The Centurion is better is all, because it has a good five extra tons of payload capacity for LRM launchers over the others. With these other mechs, aim for LRM30, not LRM35.

Don't forget to spend all that experience your pilots are accruing. Go for guts to level 4 first thing, so your pilots won't die so easily (and they'll heal faster, thanks Pyske). Then go for one of the defensive passive special skills, either evasive movement or bulwark depending on how you plan to play, depending on your play style. Evasive movement is great for mechs that move a lot, scouts, close assault/melee brawlers and the like. Bulwark is fantastic for any mech that is good to park, mechs with good long ranged attacks like your Vindicator, or an LRM boat.

During this early game play, many people get used to checking the 'contracts' page for what to do next. This is fine, that is what it is for, but it is not the only way to get work. You can also open the 'navigation' page and jump to a planet of your choice. There will be a completely new set of contracts at that planet, all of them at an average difficulty similar to the difficulty of the planet (number of skulls). Note that apparently the original four starter planets after the Argo no longer have any missions to do (which to me is likely a bug).

Later at one point, after you do a couple of story missions, you will find yourself orbiting a planet you've never been to before. If while there, you do what you are used to and 'only' check the contracts page to see what to do next, you will be presented with two and a half skull missions, FAR harder than you are used to! DO NOT DO THEM! You are not ready! You may technically win, but you will take FAR too much damage for it to be worth it. Instead open the navigation page and travel to a planet with one, and one and a half skull missions, or whatever you can realistically handle.

A final note. Mechs come with a description, like "Fire Support & Skirmisher" or "Light Sniper & Scout". These are not classes or anything. These describe what the 'standard' loadout might be useful for, but that is all. If in the mechlab you put in different weapons, etc., you can completely change what the mech is useful for. You should for all intents ignore those descriptions. They are not a limitation in any way as to how you can outfit or use the mech. That is completely up to you.

For tactical advice dealing with the battlefield and how best to fight your mechs, I would strongly recomend checking out the links at this thread: Battletech Community made Game Guide Links.
 
Last edited:

Steak_Battalion

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One small detail I really liked is going for weapon salvage early because you don't start with much to refit your mechs.
 

MontharKragan

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Would it be worth it to have a small amount of reputation boost when negotiating the contracts?
 

Tophat

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All the streamers I have watched are maximizing salvage or C-bills so the jury is out on reputation. I would bet having high rep with a client will payoff big though.
 

Pyske

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Go for guts to level 4 first thing, so your pilots won't die so easily.
Generally good advice; my own thoughts differ only in the small details. I wanted to emphasize the bit above, because not only will you have better survival chances, but you will also spend less time in medbay on healing. Based on the recent streams, healing times for a single wound can apparently differ, presumably because of total HP.

When you run out of missions to do on your starting planet, upgrade one mech and one mech only. The idea is for the mech to be upgraded while the Leopard is traveling to the next contract. This may time extra time, any you might have to advance time a bit to get it finished. However if you've been doing cash missions, you should be able to afford it.
Because refits are sequential, there's no advantage to spec-ing them out early and having multiple in the queue. So I agree with @Panpiper that far.

That said, I'm a little more conservative about wasted time, and a little more willing to take a LCT into a mission if needed to keep my mech bays busy with refits. Thus, I probably won't wait more than a couple days for the first refit to complete, nor will I let the mechbay sit idle for several days if it finishes before the transit is complete. If I have spare mechbay cycles, I'd probably have my second refit be the Locust itself, so that I can use my full lance in the pending mission, but tweak the armor and weapons of the LCT in case I need to use it as a fallback mech. (Probably fitting 3 SLs and 4 JJs, personally. Definitely max leg armor. Flamers are another possibility.)
 

Gronk311

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I plan on following a few simple rules:

1. Try to keep stock builds. This will make the game harder, and me a better player.
2. My plan is for a piloting/ gunnery Commander.
3. Only shift planets when a) I need to repair my mechs or b) I am out of options in in the system.
4. Train the Mechwarriors. Experience is useless unless it gives you skills.
 

Bodha

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1. Remember you always get some rep even if you dont boost the bonus rep slider. If you intend on doing a bunch of side missions I would not worry about rep because you will get a lot just by the fact you are doing a lot of missions.

2. Early game pilots dont have good gunnery. This really has an impact on large single impact weapons. Keep that in mind. Lrms, srms, and lots of small weapons are probably a better way to counter act that weak gunnery.

3. Never go out without at least 1 slock pilot once you have one. This one thing will make a huge impact in early missions whenyou have to deal with turrets in particular.

4. Im personally thinking at least an lrm5 on every mech that has a missile hardpoint. Early game lrm usage may be a great way to overcome a lot of the issues with poor gunnery and a decent way of taking advantage of the oppositions typical close range approach.

5. Minimum of a 2 pick salvage but not full salvage unless it is an assasination mission.

6. Definitely going to do as many missions as possible per system before moving on.

7. Decide upon pilot roles early and start working towards that. For me it will be:
Pilot 1, slock, master tactician, multishot. <- 1st brawler. This pilot will be the one who leads the lance into combat under most circumstances
Pilot 2, bulwark, multishot, breaching shot. <- direct fire support, or stand and fight brawler. If I need a flanker this will be the guy, but usually he will find a good firing position and stay put.
Pilot 3, evasive movement, ace pilot, multishot <- lrm boat. The idea being to shoot and scoot while using the boost to evasions to offset some of the armor reduction I usually run on these builds.
Pilot 4, slock, master tactician, evasive movement. <- 2nd brawler who will possibly run a melee build. The idea being to reserve to the end of a round behind cover, move out to melee and then use the boosted init on the following round to get back into a defensive situation.
 

Chaon

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To me, early game strategy is to not max salvage over money but to balance them both equal until I have built up a nest egg to tide me over when I do try to maximise salvage.

The story missions tend to pay well so that is helpful but doing 1/2 skull missions and getting 150K+ and 1/4 salvage is worth it to me until I have 10-12 months of burn covered.
 

Flying Dice

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I don't agree with your 'mechlab choices or "max salvage" route, but I 100% concur that the safest route is to spam every available easy mission early on. The time cost is essentially nil as long as you don't screw up and take serious damage. 1/4 salvage is more than enough when you're fighting trash vees and lights, you're not likely to see anything more valuable than an SRM6 or LLas anyways.
 

veevoir

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Note that from what the streams show - first mission you "get to choose" (which you dont as there is only 1 contract) always involves travel (I guess the point is to educate players about contracts with travel).

So there are a few spare days for starting mechs refits, mostly smaller tweaks like armor distribution or replacing 1-2 weapons (as you don't have much equipment at that point)
 

Abydos_1

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Give it two SRM6 and an SRM4, a medium and small laser and plenty of SRM ammo (at least three tons)
Seeing the early missions (½-1 skull) you can get by with only 1 ton SRM-ammo, until you hit the story missions. They are pirates in poorly maintained mech's or tanks, and falls apart looking in their direction. Many of those missions also have many tanks and fewer mech's compared to 1½-2+ skull missions, so for me, salvage is a less priority compared to the money to keep me afloat. 1 salvage and rest in C-bills is properly the best course of action, if one intend to delay the early story missions.

Cheers :)
 

Pode

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Everything seems to sell for about 10 percent of list value. I don't ever see a case for not maxing out your salvage picks if there's even a single mech in the opfor. 1/3rd of a Locust is going to sell for about 27K. An LRM 10 for 14K. It's going to be an exceptionally unlucky run where salvage, even just from vehicles, nets you less money than money, and salvage might be useful for more than just selling. I advise folks to set salvage just high enough to max their picks, then put the rest on money or rep.
 

Bodha

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Everything seems to sell for about 10 percent of list value. I don't ever see a case for not maxing out your salvage picks if there's even a single mech in the opfor. 1/3rd of a Locust is going to sell for about 27K. An LRM 10 for 14K. It's going to be an exceptionally unlucky run where salvage, even just from vehicles, nets you less money than money, and salvage might be useful for more than just selling. I advise folks to set salvage just high enough to max their picks, then put the rest on money or rep.
Im leaning towards max salvage on highest difficulty missions im doing and 50/50 two steps down, and max cash on anything else. So once I can do 2 skull missions 2 and 1.5 skull will be max, 1 skull 50/50 and anything less would be max cash. This will get me the best salavge most of the time and keep the clutter down if I do some low difficulty content for the quick cash.
 

Abydos_1

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Everything seems to sell for about 10 percent of list value. I don't ever see a case for not maxing out your salvage picks if there's even a single mech in the opfor. 1/3rd of a Locust is going to sell for about 27K. An LRM 10 for 14K. It's going to be an exceptionally unlucky run where salvage, even just from vehicles, nets you less money than money, and salvage might be useful for more than just selling. I advise folks to set salvage just high enough to max their picks, then put the rest on money or rep.
You can't sell 1/3 of a locust though, only whole mech's, so if lucky, you can do 1 mech per 2 missions, and perhaps none at all if all Opfor is tanks. ½ skull missions have max. 1 light mech, 2 if lucky. Then you need the light to pair up with what you already got. All ways is valid as I see it, max salvage or max C-bill's or in-between. All of them have a "big depend question-mark" about them, since you can't know Opfor ahead of time in most instances.

Cheers :)
 

Bodha

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Here is an outline of what I see as an optimum early strategy in the campaign game, especially for the time when we are in the Leopard. Certainly it is possible to rush to the campaign missions, but personally I prefer less stress in my tactical missions by prudent planning on the strategic side. If anyone has any extra advice or an alternative strategy, please by all means add it to this thread.

All the starting mechs are less than optimum in my opinion and all could benefit from some time in the mech bay. However you cannot afford to just sit there doing nothing while mechs are being upgraded. Half skull missions fortunately are not terribly difficult and with reasonable tactics can be done with the starting mech configurations with little more than some armor damage.

At the start of the campaign, do as many half skull missions as you need to do while in the Leopard, especially all on any planet you are already orbiting before moving to a new planet. Do NOT travel to another planet if there are any missions left to do on the planet you are already at. (Travel takes time and time costs money.) The path of least resistance is to keep doing those half skull missions, without going for the main quest line, until you collect a decent sized mech to replace the Spider with. Go for 1/4 salvage and the rest cash with your contracts, to stay good with money. The exception is when you get assassination missions. For those go all in on salvage. In the first few missions, try to salvage a few SRM launchers (you want 2 SRM6 and 1 SRM4).

When you run out of missions to do on your starting planet, upgrade one mech and one mech only. The idea is for the mech to be upgraded while the Leopard is traveling to the next contract. This may take extra time, and you might have to advance time a bit to get it finished. However if you've been doing cash missions, you should be able to afford it.

The Shadowhawk should be the first mech to upgrade, because you'll want it's AC5 for later. (If you get lucky and find an AC5 in salvage early, you can switch the Blackjack in as the first mech to upgrade.) I would make the Shadowhawk a pure close range mech, as it has the speed to get there quickly. Give it two SRM6 and an SRM4, a medium and small laser and plenty of SRM ammo (at least three tons), max armor and max jump, strip off anything else. That Shadowhawk is meant to overheat with an alpha strike (all weapons firing) then melee the next round to cool down. If you've not yet collected sufficient SRMs from salvage to do the job, either wait until you have or consider buying what you need from the store. You will probably be making sufficient money to afford that.

The next time you travel after doing all the missions on the planet you are orbiting, put the AC5 you take off the Shadowhawk onto the Blackjack and remove both AC2s. Add four tons of armor and heat sinks.

For the Vindicator just drop the small laser and top off the armor. This is such a minor change you could likely do it first thing or whenever else convenient.

For the Spider, give it a pilot with sensor lock and use it for that as is, until you get something better to replace it. (Brief digression into battlefield tactics: Try hard to keep it out of the line of fire, and keep it moving as much as possible to get maximum evasion. Use jump, a lot, jump into cover. For the most part do not fire with it, just reserve it's action till all the enemy has moved, then sensor lock the mech the rest of your unit will fire on, before they fire, so as to strip two evasion chevrons from it.)

Assassination missions are what you are most hoping for. There will be a single large mech among your opponents in those missions, you want the salvage. Clear out his bodyguard, then fire on that large mech ONLY from the sides. Both sides. If your only shot is to the front, do NOT fire! (Do not do rear shots either.) You'll do pilot damage from side torso destructions and shot out legs. That way you are virtually guaranteed two parts per mission and a good chance of three in salvage. This is why you want to max out salvage options in assassination contracts.

You want a 50 or 55 ton mech to replace that Spider. (Ideally, you would want to upgrade the Vindicator and Blackjack as well.) What you most want however is a Centurion. The Centurion is the platform of choice for an early LRM boat (it is among the medium mechs with the most available tonnage and has three missile hardpoints). You won't find a better platform for an LRM boat till you start finding 65 ton mechs. You can easily pack the equivalent of LRM35 in there with acceptable armor, four tons of ammo and jump jets to boot. Going into the first few campaign quest missions with a proper LRM boat instead of a nearly useless Spider will make life a heck of a lot easier and keep repair bills to a minimum.

Don't forget to spend all that experience your pilots are accruing. Go for guts to level 4 first thing, so your pilots won't die so easily (and they'll heal faster, thanks Pyske). Then go for one of the defensive passive special skills, either evasive movement or bulwark depending on how you plan to play, depending on your play style. Evasive movement is great for mechs that move a lot, scouts, close assault/melee brawlers and the like. Bulwark is fantastic for any mech that is good to park, mechs with good long ranged attacks like your Vindicator, or an LRM boat.

During this early game play, many people get used to checking the 'contracts' page for what to do next. This is fine, that is what it is for, but it is not the only way to get work. You can also open the 'navigation' page and jump to a planet of your choice. There will be a completely new set of contracts at that planet, all of them at an average difficulty similar to the difficulty of the planet (number of skulls).

Later at one point, after you do a couple of story missions, you will find yourself orbiting a planet you've never been to before. If while there, you do what you are used to and 'only' check the contracts page to see what to do next, you will be presented with two and a half skull missions, FAR harder than you are used to! DO NOT DO THEM! You are not ready! You may technically win, but you will take FAR too much damage for it to be worth it. Instead open the navigation page and travel to a planet with one skull missions or whatever you can realistically handle.

A final note. Mechs come with a description, like "Fire Support & Skirmisher" or "Light Sniper & Scout". These are not classes or anything. These describe what the 'standard' loadout might be useful for, but that is all. If in the mechlab you put in different weapons, etc., you can completely change what the mech is useful for. You should for all intents ignore those descriptions. They are not a limitation in any way as to how you can outfit or use the mech. That is completely up to you.

For tactical advice dealing with the battlefield and how best to fight your mechs, I would strongly recomend checking out the links at this thread: Battletech Community made Game Guide Links.

One small suggestion. If you already have to wait for a pilot to heal for a full lance use that time to adjust a mech or two. Also in the same line if a mech is already going to be down for repairs this is a good time to make some changes to it.

Last one. Mechbay changes take longer when adding things, but not that long to strip stuff off. If adding armor is basically a freebie on time which I think it is, consider stripping something for extra armor. Short downtime can net big results if your mech is underamored. Example would be stripping srm2 off shadow hawk and adding armor. Dropping jump jets from blackjack for armor, not everyones cup of tea, but some might like it.
 

Haven_Games

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Apr 25, 2018
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Great advice! thanks for sharing. Questions about Mechwarrior progression:

1) how high to do you advance the secondary skills? is there a max?
2) and what order to do you do it in? (do you get them all to a minimum score and then progress the key skills?)

thanks!
 

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I know you said a Centurion is great for a early game LRM boat but I did my first campaign assassination and got a Kintaro KTO-18 and it has 5 missile points and is 55 tons should I just use it as my long range killer
 

Panpiper

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1) how high to do you advance the secondary skills? is there a max?
2) and what order to do you do it in? (do you get them all to a minimum score and then progress the key skills?)
Absolute first priority is getting guts to level 4, for all pilots. Then they get one of the two defensive passives, either evasive movement or bulwark, depending upon the role the mechs will play. Long range weapon mechs can easily avail themselves of bulwark, close range mechs need to move into range, and likely move into melee frequently as well, so for them evasive movement is better.

That done, they will pick up whichever level five second special skill I have chosen for them. Myself I give my two close assault mech pilots sensor lock so they can spot targets for the long range guys when they have nothing to fire themselves. The intention in the longer term is to also give them advanced tactics for the initiative bonus. The long range mechs typically have just a couple of heavy weapons (and maybe an LRM5 for evasion stripping), so Breaching Shot is great for them. Accordingly I give them multi-shot as well. Then just because it's cheap, I round any skill they have not yet bumped to level 4, because by then it's cheap,

Past that point, where I am right now in the game, I am pushing all of them to tactics level eight, the close assault for the tactics special skill, the long range because tactics is hugely useful for them. Later I will bump gunnery with a preference, and then the rest as well.

The max for skills (without modding anyway) is level ten. It will take a lot of gameplay to get even one skill to that point and a heck of a lot more to get them all there.
 

Panpiper

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I know you said a Centurion is great for a early game LRM boat but I did my first campaign assassination and got a Kintaro KTO-18 and it has 5 missile points and is 55 tons should I just use it as my long range killer
If you don't have a Centurion to use, a Kintaro will do for now. The problem is that the Kintaro is faster than the Centurion (an LRM mech does not need speed) as well as heavier. It takes a much bigger engine to move the larger mech, faster, and the end result is that the Kintaro actually has five tons less payload capacity as does the Centurion. That's why the Centurion is better for an LRM boat, despite being smaller.