If it's your first playthrough...things I picked up on my playthrough. YMMV.

If it's your first playthrough...things I picked up on my playthrough. YMMV.

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Tiltowait

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Greetings Mech Commander!

Well I just finished and decided to share my experience.

So here are some tips for the basics of playing this game. (Minor spoilers). No mission walkthroughs just the basics.

Please take everything with a grain..nay a shaker of salt. Take what works, leave what doesn't and thank you. :)

P1-Fundamentals and economy
P2-Mechwarrior skills
P3-Mech customization
P4-Combat

--------------------------------------
P1-Fundamentals and economy
--------------------------------------

Basic:
=======
Save your game. This simple tip cannot be emphasized enough. Save before you drop on a mission and save once the map loads. Now after the mission, be sure to erase extra saves as the game has a known issue (the more saves, the slower the performance.)

Economy:
========
You need $ (on in this game c-bills) to keep going. The biggest drains are loan interest and operating costs. The first entry and various incidentals you cannot do anything about. The rest though? Your other base expenses are mechs and mechwarriors.

--------------------------------------------
>Money out: Things that make you :(
--------------------------------------------
Always:
---------
Base interest on loans (becomes base ship operating costs). Can't do anything about this one sorry.

Mechs:
---------
12k per mech per month that sits in a bay.
Your mech bay can hold 6 mechs. When you start acquiring additional mechs...don't let them sit in an open slot. Put them in storage. Every mech is 12k a month in fees. If you pick up a better mech than your current lance than store the one you are replacing. It actually runs about the same as 1 month expenses to heat one up from storage and to fully load it out. Now it does cost time but if you are minding your saves you won't be doing this often.

Mechwarriors:
------------------
Variable up to ~ 50k each per month.
It is tempting to hire a backup mechwarrior. Thing is you already start with one, on top of your starting lancemates.

Also the better they get the more they want for salary. So be careful with your upgrades...if a rank in skill does not grant them any solid bonuses (there are a few effectively 'dead' skill ups) don't upgrade them. More on which skills later.

Note that YOU don't run a salary at all...use your main every single mission so he/she maxes out as soon as possible.

Ship upgrades:
------------------
Eventually you get the option to upgrade your ship. Be very careful. Every upgrade has a one-time AND an ongoing cost. You can easily bankrupt yourself. My priorities were ship structure and power. Frankly you don't ever really need to add extra mech bays but eventually as your cash flow goes you it's worth considering.

How fancy a budget?:
--------------------------
Every month you can select your operating standards. Normal, 2 luxury and 2 restricted levels. Frankly early on your costs are lowest so if you can sneak in a +1 or +2 morale bonus it's worth it. However as your proceed, there are events (usually once per month) and each event can be a +2 morale bonus...so in the long run you can stick with normal and be fine.

---------------------
Buying new toys?
---------------------
It's tempting to blow a payday on new toys...resist the temptation. Eventually you will salvage pretty much everything you need.

Priorities? This will be covered in the Mech customization section. (P3)

-----------------------------------------------------------
>Money in. AKA "Do the job get paid, keep flying."
-----------------------------------------------------------

Contracts:
-------------
These are your bread and butter, literally. Without jobs you cannot get paid.

Mission ratings:
-------------------
What do those skulls mean?
They are a rough* rating of what the game expects you to drop with...see the little badges next to your drop rating? As you upgrade your lance it goes up. Once you hit 300+ tons you'll have enough metal for 4-5 skull missions.

Rule of thumb, your starting lance can handle pretty much any up to 1 skull missions EXCEPT story ones. 2 skulls after you either retrofit your starting lance or get to about 200 tons. Story missions are usually are extremely difficult for their rating. You can tell a story mission because it will have 'PRIORITY' in big letters up top and also because they pay very well.

*Note I said 'rough.' Like all intel, sometimes the estimate is a bit...off. I ran a 3 skull mission and ended up facing 5x Orions 1x Black Knight 1x Cicada and a King Crab...about 570 tons of mechs. Doesn't happen often but it does.

More cash or more salvage?
---------------------------------
This one is really tough. But what I did was pretty much accept the mid-way split for most contracts. If the contract hinted at an 'elite' or 'single mech' though I may kick salvage up a notch if it means getting salvage on a heavier mech. Note that as salvage gets more plentiful and you start selling excess mechs, salvage becomes a ready source of extra income on a contract.

Travel time:
---------------
Always do missions at your planet first (unless the rating is too high). Missions that involve travel time put your that much closer to your next monthly payment on everything. That said sooner or later one system's contracts dry up and you have to find another. Now many systems tend to have contract loops where you go back and forth. This can help you grind your way up.

>>Next section: Mechwarrior skills.

--------------------------
P2-Mechwarrior skills
--------------------------

There are 4 main types. Gunnery, Piloting, Guts, and Tactics.

Each type has 2 grades of specialization, reached at level 5 and level 8 respectively.

Each Mechwarrior is limited to one skill with 2 specializations (rank 5 and 8) and one skill with 1 (rank 5). Further points still give a bonus but they won't pick up the fancy 'icon' skills.

I won't go into an exhaustive (and contentious) analysis but in summary this is what worked for me:

In terms of priority:

One pilot:
Gunnery 8 OR Pilot 8 with Tactics 5
Sensor lock is a godsend.
Evasive movement may mean the difference between a close shave with a AC20 and a dead pilot.
Splitting your fire between multiple targets means you can drop 3 ranks of evasion with 1 action.

The rest:
Gunnery 5 and 8. Pilot 5
In addition to dropping evasion you also ignore cover and guarded if you fire one weapon at each target. With big weapons you have to manage heat anyway, so more bang for your buck is not a bad idea.

Now also improve your Guts and Tactics...but not if it means you lose a specialization. Guts give you extra health and extra heat capacity. Tactics get rid of the pesky minimum ranges and increase your called shot %. There are other benefits but those are the ones I found I wanted the most.

After getting the specializations, raise your other skills as you see fit. Eventually you'll have enough xp for straight 10's across the board, if you play long enough.

Next section: Mech customization.

-----------------------------
P3-Mech customization:
-----------------------------
Again this is what worked for me.

First don't go crazy with the customization early on. Every tweak costs c-bills. That said:

The majority of your lance should have a primary engagement range. If your mech is a long-range bombardment missile platform...don't load it up with medium lasers. Likewise your close range brawler won't need a full rack of LRM's.

Lance makeup
============
I typically ran with one scout (Light), and the rest Mediums. At time goes on, the scout becomes a Medium mech and the Mediums become Heavies. Eventually the I replaced one or two of the Heavies with Assault mechs.

Armor
=====
Get as much armor as you can. I try to max the legs and arms...and get at least 80% on the front torso locations and 2/3rds on the rear. Now there are exceptions...I go a little lighter on LRM mechs...they have no business in brawling...except maybe to coup de gras a downed foe near the end of a mission.

My scout mech is where I max the armor. No exceptions. A low armor scout is a dead scout. Note that some mechs (Cicada I'm looking at you) you can't max the armor. I sell those.

Loadouts
========
Early game you're starved for choice. What worked for me was gradually swapping out loadouts for uniform ranges instead of the default loadouts that always ensure you cannot effectively alpha strike.

1x Scout.
------------
The scout mech typically has 1 long range weapon for plinking (usually a LRM5)...and the rest are support weapons like small lasers or flamers. If there's any space left, maybe some medium lasers. Typically though the scout's job is spotting (sensor lock) and if I'm feeling lucky, coming in behind for a backstab.

The rest of the lance:

1x close range brawler.
---------------------------
Usually I have one beam boat loaded with medium lasers and support weapons for knife fighting. The beam variant of the Hunchback and the Grasshopper are excellent beam platforms. If there is space I'll splash a single LRM or a Large Laser for long range sniping as he closes...but not mandatory. Alternatively I'll go with SRM's instead of medium lasers.

2x Long range bombardment.
-----------------------------------
Load em up with LRMs, PPCs, AC2/AC5's, Large Lasers.
Early game I didn't have an abundance of these. So I started by having all of these mechs loaded up with as many mid-range weapons as I could. Medium lasers and such drop frequently. For my strategy I focused on weapons with '+STB' or increased stability damage. I prefer LRM's overall. They are a good balance of range, damage, heat, and knockdown (stability). More on this in the combat section.

Weapon placement.
------------------------
Not all mechs are created equal. Some (such as the Griffin or Trebuchet) like to put your main weapon slots in the arms. Bad idea. Instead of having arms serve as extra damage buffer, once an arm drops you lose your firepower. This happened to me several times. One AC20 hit and boom there went the arm and 75% of the mech's firepower. Try for mechs with torso mounted weapons. If you have to use the arms for ordinance, put your stock weapons there and your special '+' weapons in the torso locations. Also relegate the units to long range support and keep them in the back.

Ammo Placement
---------------------
Ammo explosions destroy a location. Put ammo in the arms. When a side torso goes, your pilot gets injured. When an arm goes just your wallet gets hit. Sucks but at least you can still fight. Consider putting ammo in both arms so if one arm goes you weapon can still fire.

--------------------
Buying new toys
--------------------
I want everything and cannot afford squat. So what I did is set aside a small amount of the excess cash flows for upgrades.
Your rep with a faction can mean the difference between a 10% discount and a 50% (1.5x) cost increase. Usually not a good idea to buy from a system you are at war with.
Every component that has a '+' next to it is superior grade and gives superior stats for higher cost. '+++' is the max.

What to upgrade first?
Early on I had to buy the cheap stuff. That means heat sinks, jump jets, small lasers, LRM5's. This was until I got a lance loaded out with weapons in the same range bracket.

Heat sinks
==========
I cannot have enough of these. My rule of thumb is one alpha strike every 3 turns provided it's a mech with say 8 medium lasers. PPC's, AC20's and Large lasers are heat monsters and you just cannot keep up so don't try. Typically I'll work towards adding about 5-10 heat sinks per mech and call it good. Eventually through salvage you'll be selling excess but early on it's rough.

Jump Jets
=========
For my combat strategy I always max these. Evasion saves your mechs and pilots. Moving gives you evasion...jumping the same distance gives you extra evasion...at the expense of heat. And nothing says hello better than an alpha strike from a foe's six.

Special upgrades
================
Heat banks, Heat exchange, targeting systems (TTS), cockpit upgrades, etc.

Priorities:
------------
Reinforced cockpit (for the scout mech). Comms system for everyone else (or reinforced if one hasn't dropped). More details below.

Cockpit.
There are 3 main types:
Viewfinder- increase visual range. Mixed usefulness for me. If you are not running with sensor lock then yes.

Reinforced cockpit (Injury resist). This will save your mechwarrior's life. Adds extra health and also gives a chance that hits don't send him to the medbay. Also increases chance of survival if the mechwarrior is incapacitated (or even killed). Put your highest grade one for your scout.

Comms system. This gives extra morale every turn. Extra morale means you get to do specials more often which means more kills faster. My long range mechs get the Comm system.

The ones after this I experimented with but didn't use as much. YMMV.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arms.
Most of these increase melee or stability damage. But for the slots/tonnage you are usually better off just putting more weapons or extra heat sinks.

Legs.
Increase your DFA or reduce the DFA you take. If DFA's your bag, then these are great. I found DFA just runs up the repair bills and is usually a desperation move.

Torso slot. (Gyros, targeting systems-TTS)
Gyros reduce your chance of being hit or increase chance to hit in melee. Some reduce your stability damage taken. I usually put the one that reduces stability damage taken.
TTS. The irony is when you need these the most you cannot afford them. When you can afford them, it's late game and your pilots are running Gunnery 10. Still if one drops early, it's a good one to place in your long range mechs.

--------------
P4-Combat
--------------
There are a myriad of discussions and strategies you can use. I'm again going to go with what worked for me most often. And keep in mind this is for the campaign...not sneaky flesh and blood opponents.

Save often.
===========
I mentioned this before...but it cannot be understated. Unless you are playing hardcore mode of course. Many times I'm 2 hours into a priority/story mission and I miss-click the interface and suddenly my tanking mech presents his back armor to the enemy lance/turrets. Oops. Or I absent-mindedly click the wrong contract and I'm wasting 2 months flying around and kiss a million c-bills goodbye for operating expenses.

Again because the game has an issue with save files...delete them after a mission. I tried to keep my save files at around a dozen. If you really want every mission saved...move the older files to a different directory.

Reserve (The command button)
=============================
Live it, love it. Let your enemy come to you. They've closed the range, already fired at your evasive/braced mechs for less damage or outright misses, and now you can focus on the target of your choosing. There are exceptions of course. If going early means you can finish off a mech...then by all means. Just be prepared to be focused on in turn when the AI goes.

Targeting
==========
Early on, your called shots won't be very accurate. As your mechwarrior's pilot skill improves it gets better. Stack the deck in your favor.
-If a mech is downed you get a free called shot.
-If you are facing the side, your chances of hitting locations on that side go up.
-If you are on his six you only have 3 zones to target as opposed to 8.

On %chance to hit...don't waste an alpha strike if your to hit numbers are low. I try for 75% or better early game.

Focus fire
===========
Concentrate fire on the same mech until it's downed. 4 damaged mechs can still beat the crap out of your lance versus one or two downed mechs from concentrated fire because now they have less firepower and fewer actions.

Trying to get more salvage?
===========================
Early on it's not worth the effort unless you it's pretty much the last mech and already knocked down. Having a base 18% on a called shot to hit a leg, having to do this twice is very problematical. Now on a knocked down mech, from the side, the % chance to hit can jump up considerably. Basically: a head kill gives 3 salvage, legged 2 and a cored (center torso) 1. YMMV.

My basic strategy
=================
When I launch a mission. I keep an eye on the objective location. Then I do not head in a straight line (unless it's a timed intercept). I come from the left or the right with an eye for cover (forests) and high ground.

My scout mech goes ahead...but he goes LAST (Reserve) in a turn until enemy contact because I jump-jet and brace in. When I get a contact, all my mechs are braced and guarded.

Once combat starts I try to flank a unit. Fire my long range bombardments with a goal of knocking them down. If successful, then my close range mechs will alpha strike and try to take them out. If I can leg the mech, great, but again early game your to hit% won't be too good so you may be better off selecting center torso as your target (base 50% to hit).

I use jump jets as much as possible. As stated they increase the evasion and let you land and face any direction.

When facing turrets I slowly inch up until my scout can sensor lock, hopefully one at a time. Then take them out from afar. Note if the enemy has a spotter, I focus on the spotter first.

When facing vehicles...also try to flank them...their armor is MUCH lower from the sides or rear.

When heat gets too high...then it's time to melee.

Also, I'm not afraid to increase the distance (via the jump jet, brace method if suddenly another lance drops in for the party. Don't try taking on 3 lances at once, try to reposition so you can defeat in detail.

Morale
----------
Do your best to keep this at or above 50% during battle. Your entire lance gets a +1 to hit. Focus (precision) fire can be used to get a targeted shot when it really counts. (Or to even boost a so-so chance to hit to a very good one.)

Big guns or lots of little guns?
------------------------------------
To minimize the RNG woes, I initially went with lots of little guns or weapons with multiple hits. If my LRM20, SRM6, or beam boat firing 8 medium lasers misses a hit or two it isn't nearly as painful as when the PPC or AC20 misses entirely. By mid-game your pilot's skills will have offset this by a bit but you can never exceed 95% to hit. Even targeting a downed, crippled mech you can still miss.

Heat management
------------------------
Deserts suck. Martian deserts really suck. Don't alpha strike every turn...if my weapon mix shows 80% 80% 45% 45%...I turn the lower ones off. Sometimes it is better to cool off and brace than to waste heat with a bunch of shots with a low to hit chance. Use your terrain i there is water it will greatly increase your cooling capacity.

Max heat goes up with Guts skill.

Keep in mind if you are at point blank range...4 small lasers speak just as loudly as 2 large lasers...with a lot less heat. Lastly don't forget that melee is also viable if you are really running hot.

Final notes and thoughts.
--------------------------
This guide was written from a duffer's point of view. Battletech has a very steep learning curve and I barely covered some basics. A lot of these lessons I learned the hard way and I'm sure I've missed a bunch. Hopefully this will help you folks get across a few rough patches without having to learn the way I did :)

Regarding economics in my playthrough because I hated being a couple months from bankruptcy or repo I had 5 million banked before I tried for the Argo.

I had 10 million before the next Priority Mission and over 20 million by the time I was halfway through the story. Final expenses ran around 600-700k a month with 3 maxed pilots (plus main character) and maxed out Argo and 4 mechs in the bay.

Looking back I really didn't quite need as much cash...but I'd rather have 10 million too much than be 10 c-bills short.

Happy gaming!

Edit: miss-remembered the skill splits...it is only one rank 8 and one rank 5 not 3 at rank 5...fixed!
 
Last edited:

Havamal

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The only thing I can really say after a kinda quick skim is that I find through 3 play throughs that the piloting tree skills are the least effective in the game. Going Gunnery for Multishot/Breaching shot and guts for bulwark is just so... strong.

Tactics for sensor lock if your going for a LRM boat or two in your force but even if not high tactics for precision shot mastery lets you just blow away the opposition later in the game.

Having at least one or two mechs with a big gun is advisable this gives you monstrous knockout punch in one shot, breaching shot loves nothing more than an AC/20+++ crushing an opponent for 120 damage, but in general even early on hitting and breaching armor in a single shot can detonate ammo or just blow off entire sections. Sure it can be a pain when a bigger weapon wiffs but a pair or trio of lighter weapons might all hit but landing them all in 1 spot is rare unless you've aligned the mech properly. A good example of this is something like an LRM/20 with +2 damage, a full salvo from it will do 120 dmg same as the AC/20 but it will be very rare for the LRM/20 to kill a tank as some missiles will hit front/turret and possibly side. meanwhile if said tank has 100 armor/structure in each location the AC/20 will kill it as all 120 points goes into a single location killing said tank regardless of where the round lands

Also take your time and explore, don't rush the story.. Seen way to many people doing deeper in story missions in low tonnage mechs.. basically once the story feeds you a certain mech tonnage the first time they become easier to find again.. so take a break here and there and farm up some new machines
 
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ronhatch

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Mechwarriors:
------------------
Variable up to ~ 50k each per month.
It is tempting to hire a backup mechwarrior. Thing is you already start with one, on top of your starting lancemates.

Also the better they get the more they want for salary. So be careful with your upgrades...if a rank in skill does not grant them any solid bonuses (there are a few effectively 'dead' skill ups) don't upgrade them. More on which skills later.

Note that YOU don't run a salary at all...use your main every single mission so he/she maxes out as soon as possible.
Something that's easy to miss if you aren't paying VERY close attention to the details is that every skill point a mechwarrior has when you hire them (or when you get them at the start) costs you 2k per month, but each skill point they gain after that only adds 1k per month... so you can end up with a slightly lower payroll if you train scrubs.
 

Kurnn

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What a great and well written post!

Battletech is awesome and tips like these are just what new players would need to see =).
 

koz-ivan

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Mechwarriors:
------------------
Variable up to ~ 50k each per month.
It is tempting to hire a backup mechwarrior. Thing is you already start with one, on top of your starting lancemates.

Also the better they get the more they want for salary. So be careful with your upgrades...if a rank in skill does not grant them any solid bonuses (there are a few effectively 'dead' skill ups) don't upgrade them. More on which skills later.
I would probably be even more explicit, Mechwarriors are a *huge* chunk of the monthly budget, and keeping your payroll costs manageable is critical.

That being said, eventually you may need up to 7 mechwarriors, and just in general In prefer to have a total of 7-8 mechwarriors that I have developed & have a level of trust in.



P2-Mechwarrior skills
--------------------------

There are 4 main types. Gunnery, Piloting, Guts, and Tactics.

Each type has 2 grades of specialization, reached at level 5 and level 8 respectively.

Each Mechwarrior is limited to one skill with 2 specializations (rank 5 and 8) and one skill with 1 (rank 5). Further points still give a bonus but they won't pick up the fancy 'icon' skills.

I won't go into an exhaustive (and contentious) analysis but in summary this is what worked for me:

In terms of priority:

One pilot:
Gunnery 8 OR Pilot 8 with Tactics 5
Sensor lock is a godsend.
Evasive movement may mean the difference between a close shave with a AC20 and a dead pilot.
Splitting your fire between multiple targets means you can drop 3 ranks of evasion with 1 action.

The rest:
Gunnery 5 and 8. Pilot 5
In addition to dropping evasion you also ignore cover and guarded if you fire one weapon at each target. With big weapons you have to manage heat anyway, so more bang for your buck is not a bad idea.

Now also improve your Guts and Tactics...but not if it means you lose a specialization. Guts give you extra health and extra heat capacity. Tactics get rid of the pesky minimum ranges and increase your called shot %. There are other benefits but those are the ones I found I wanted the most.

After getting the specializations, raise your other skills as you see fit. Eventually you'll have enough xp for straight 10's across the board, if you play long enough.
Disagree with a lot of this.

In general the Piloting tree / evasion doesn't hold up well into the late game & I've never seen the need for Sensor Lock.

What has worked best for me with my gang of four...

2 with Multi-Target, Breaching Shot & Bulwark. (Ideally 1-2 backups with this setup as well)
1 in a fire support capacity with Master Tactician & Multi-Target (any high Gunnery MW can backup this role - if your fire support guy is taking wounds you are doing something very very wrong)
1 Scout / Skirmisher with Bulwark & Juggernaut + Evasive Movement (plus 1 backup with a similar setup - especially if you are going all in on a scout mech with the intention of using melee with arm mods and the like, having a specialized backup for this role is important)

--

My beef with Sensor Lock - it just does not do enough to fully justify wasting 25% of my combat actions in a turn to use it, sure the removal of evasion pips is nice, but I can accomplish much of the same thing by using Multi-Target - to put it differently if I Lock something I remove 2 pips and deal zero damage to the target, if I send an Multi-Target attack into the target I remove 1 pip and deal some damage to 1 target, while also shooting at a different target - or I just roll the dice and attack the target and remove 1 pip and deal a lot of damage to the target.

Sensor Lock is potentially powerful when used by the computer - they simply have numbers advantages and "random" light mechs showing up in many battles even well into the late game - for them using a Locust to lock something is a much better deal than it is for the player to use it.
 

ronhatch

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My beef with Sensor Lock - it just does not do enough to fully justify wasting 25% of my combat actions in a turn to use it, sure the removal of evasion pips is nice, but I can accomplish much of the same thing by using Multi-Target - to put it differently if I Lock something I remove 2 pips and deal zero damage to the target, if I send an Multi-Target attack into the target I remove 1 pip and deal some damage to 1 target, while also shooting at a different target - or I just roll the dice and attack the target and remove 1 pip and deal a lot of damage to the target.

Sensor Lock is potentially powerful when used by the computer - they simply have numbers advantages and "random" light mechs showing up in many battles even well into the late game - for them using a Locust to lock something is a much better deal than it is for the player to use it.
Where Sensor Lock really shines is in giving you LOS to turrets that can't fire back because you've killed the spotters. It's also very handy when you're first establishing targeting priorities and need to find out what is on the field.

I wouldn't call it a godsend, but when I leave it out on a mission I do often find myself missing it.
 

Fauxknight

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I felt that Sensor Lock is almost a must have until you get a +100m viewfinder for your scout mech. The ability to open up on mech that can't even see you, or to take a base full of turrets out with literally no return fire is just too valuable.

Very early on the chevron removal is useful you have underskilled mechwarriors in undergunned mechs facing off against high chevron producing lights.

Later in the game it's all about opening up the target to fire before you have visual range. Eventually good rangefinders mostly replace this function, but this is in the late late, potentially post campaign game. Even then I still like to have one Sensor Lock pilot in case something is hiding behind terrain making getting a visual difficult.

Sensor lock is how I've never been shot at more than once ever by an SRM carrier. It only takes once to learn that lesson. Generally sensor lock is how I take care of all vehicles hanging out in the back, whether it's a Schrek taking pot shots or a Demolisher slowly creeping towards the front line.
 

Doctor Machete

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Evasive movement may mean the difference between a close shave with a AC20 and a dead pilot.
Seriously?. Evasive is an extra 10%, an extra 10% that may fail while bulwark grants you a 50% damage reduction that saves you from dead for sure.

Between 3 pips of evasion plus the possitiblity of sometimes remaining still bulwarked or 4 pips, the first choice grants you far more tactical flexibility, the second choice only 10% extra. Having Bulwark doesn't mean you must remain still all the time, you can evade too. And bulwark is more reliable. You may have 4 pips in an assault and still receive full damage. That not will happen with bulwark.

If you pick Evasive Movement because you like Ace Pilot a lot I can understand. It's a nice skill, but Eva Movement alone?

That said, Bulwark becomes better as you progress in the game and it depends on the context. If you have it in a a light mech fighting against heavy/assault mechs then it's obviously useless, because at half damage they're still going to oneshot you anyway, but with more weight and more armor bulwark becomes very powerful, even if you don't use it all the time.

Gunnery 5 and 8. Pilot 5
In addition to dropping evasion you also ignore cover and guarded if you fire one weapon at each target. With big weapons you have to manage heat anyway, so more bang for your buck is not a bad idea.
Multi Shot and Breaching Shot are good but in the late game are not so useful, because focusing damage (vs damage at a random location) becomes more important as the game progresses, when no single weapon can destroy all the armor of a single location. Also initiative management and the capability of acting before other mechs of the same category becomes very valuable (Master Tactician).

Get as much armor as you can. I try to max the legs and arms...and get at least 80% on the front torso locations and 2/3rds on the rear. Now there are exceptions...I go a little lighter on LRM mechs...they have no business in brawling...except maybe to coup de gras a downed foe near the end of a mission.

My scout mech is where I max the armor. No exceptions. A low armor scout is a dead scout. Note that some mechs (Cicada I'm looking at you) you can't max the armor. I sell those.
I disagree, you don't need to max out the armor for the legs and you don't need to max the armor in general for a scout. A scout is not a brawler, is supposed to get damaged but not to get involved in very heavy firefights, so a high frontal armor (not maxed) and low (or zero) rear armor can be adequate. If you want you may max the armor, I'm only saying is not a requisite for a successful scouting.

Viewfinder- increase visual range. Mixed usefulness for me. If you are not running with sensor lock then yes.
It depends a lot of the lance composition. If you have mostly long ranged mechs then the scout (if you have one) should have a rangefinder, which is complementary to Sensor Lock. But if you have four brawlers it can counterproductive, because the combat will be activated before, with more distance between both sides (and you don't want that).

Focus fire
===========
Concentrate fire on the same mech until it's downed. 4 damaged mechs can still beat the crap out of your lance versus one or two downed mechs from concentrated fire because now they have less firepower and fewer actions.
Because of this Multi + Breaching Shot is not very good in the late game. Because its damage, although very efficient, is random, vs shooting all the time with Precision Shot and with called shots to knocked down foes. The caveat is with LRM boats. With them Multi + Breaching is still good in the late game. Also by "not being good" I don't mean is not viable, just that is not the most optimal solution.

Having at least one or two mechs with a big gun is advisable this gives you monstrous knockout punch in one shot, breaching shot loves nothing more than an AC/20+++ crushing an opponent for 120 damage, but in general even early on hitting and breaching armor in a single shot can detonate ammo or just blow off entire sections. Sure it can be a pain when a bigger weapon wiffs but a pair or trio of lighter weapons might all hit but landing them all in 1 spot is rare unless you've aligned the mech properly. A good example of this is something like an LRM/20 with +2 damage, a full salvo from it will do 120 dmg same as the AC/20 but it will be very rare for the LRM/20 to kill a tank as some missiles will hit front/turret and possibly side. meanwhile if said tank has 100 armor/structure in each location the AC/20 will kill it as all 120 points goes into a single location killing said tank regardless of where the round lands
In the early-mid game an AC20 + multi/breaching is very potent. almost OP, but in the late game it lags out because you're not going to blow any arm/leg/torso if it's not by many repeated shots or by a few focused shots (with called shots), and weapons like SRMs missiles that didn't look so good before become the best short range weapons (over the AC20) if you can use many of them at the same time with precision/called shot. A 2xSRM6 does more damage than one AC20 with half the weight.

My beef with Sensor Lock - it just does not do enough to fully justify wasting 25% of my combat actions in a turn to use it, sure the removal of evasion pips is nice, but I can accomplish much of the same thing by using Multi-Target - to put it differently if I Lock something I remove 2 pips and deal zero damage to the target, if I send an Multi-Target attack into the target I remove 1 pip and deal some damage to 1 target, while also shooting at a different target - or I just roll the dice and attack the target and remove 1 pip and deal a lot of damage to the target.

Sensor Lock is potentially powerful when used by the computer - they simply have numbers advantages and "random" light mechs showing up in many battles even well into the late game - for them using a Locust to lock something is a much better deal than it is for the player to use it.
Sensor lock is super useful but not for removing evasion, although that is welcomed, but to lighten enemies outside LoS. And that means they can be relatively close. And many times those will be very annoying vehicles, turrets, but also mechs. If you don't have sensor lock you can find yourself in a situation where 3-5 mechs are acting as spotter for 2-3 PPC/LRM (while fighting you) carriers or turrets outside visual range. Killling those turrets/vehicles is an absolute priority, as they can do massive amounts of damage if left on their own, and at the same time are easy to kill. But you need to be able to target them. Of course, if you have a lance composed of all brawlers then no there's no need for sensor lock but usually one mech acts as one (besides other roles he can have).

Later in the game it's all about opening up the target to fire before you have visual range. Eventually good rangefinders mostly replace this function, but this is in the late late, potentially post campaign game.
Later, rangefinders don't replace sensor lock. You may not have LoS to the target, or you may not want to move for getting that LoS because that would expose you in a 1v3 situation, for example.
 

winters_night

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In the early-mid game an AC20 + multi/breaching is very potent. almost OP, but in the late game it lags out because you're not going to blow any arm/leg/torso if it's not by many repeated shots or by a few focused shots (with called shots), and weapons like SRMs missiles that didn't look so good before become the best short range weapons (over the AC20) if you can use many of them at the same time with precision/called shot. A 2xSRM6 does more damage than one AC20 with half the weight.
later in the game they start to have trade offs, yes 2xsrm6 is more dmg for less tonnage but if your not precision striking or on the side of a target it goes all over the place while the ac/20 is hitting one location still causing catastrophic damage to that location. SRM6s don't like breaching shot nearly as much as AC/20s and SRM6s generate more heat. One of my favorite tactics for heavy cover targets like multiple braced or in woods is to use a king crab with 2 ac/20 and multishot with breaching shot them both while dumping the remaining guns on a target in the open
 

ThatGuyMontag

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I wouldn't knock any of the piloting abilities. In fact the only marginal one for me has been melee to hit, but it could just be that I don't use melee enough (though dammit I keep trying to):

Survive more stability damage? Yes thanks.
More maximum evasion? Don't mind if I do. Hell, max evasion and cover is almost as good as bulwark in most cases (especially if you're sharing fire properly) and straight up better than bulwark when positioning matters. It's a little bit more management though in that often you want to "spend" those pips by reserving a mech with lots of evasive pips to take more fire (especially if for one or another reason they are braced), before you move them again.

Then there's the fact that Piloting 7 gives you +20% sprinting distance. Once I've got my specialisation/called shot mastery, this becomes a priority and this is despite the fact that I'm with you in the "Jump jets or bust" camp. That 20% is *huge* on all my mechs and makes a noticeable difference for lance cohesion and guaranteeing I get good positioning with my snipers/anchors before enemy contact.

As for sensor lock, it's not a vital tool by any measure, but it's a useful tool to have. For example if you need to pull your brawlers back to cool down and can get a nice defensive position, sensor lock effectively gives you some free, if marginal, benefits.
 

Doctor Machete

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later in the game they start to have trade offs, yes 2xsrm6 is more dmg for less tonnage but if your not precision striking or on the side of a target it goes all over the place while the ac/20 is hitting one location still causing catastrophic damage to that location. SRM6s don't like breaching shot nearly as much as AC/20s and SRM6s generate more heat. One of my favorite tactics for heavy cover targets like multiple braced or in woods is to use a king crab with 2 ac/20 and multishot with breaching shot them both while dumping the remaining guns on a target in the open
Yep, but thing is, with maxed pilots, comms systems, upgraded morale, called shot mastery and very high alphas (thanx in part to lostech) you can use precision/called shot all the time, not counting the LRM boats (if you have them). With my brawler and sniper I never fire without precision/called shot, never, and it's not only me.

If you hit with a AC20 multi/breached shot you're not doing catastrophic damage. You do it to lights (when you're not oneshotting them) and not unusually to meds but not to full armour untouched heavies/assaults, and it's random random damage, many times wasted because you hit the wrong location. Of course you can use breaching/multi and the damage can go where you want, by pure luck, but it's not reliable at all. Instead you can shoot the CT, kill a mech and recover morale, or shoot two times to the CT and recover morale. And if the target is something like a full armor/untouched braced King Crab still works. But you can't kill him between two mechs with 2xAC20 and you also need two alpha shots to reliably kill if he's not braced and no cover. I can alpha him, and if my (ironically) single AC20 doesn't miss then I kill him for sure with one shot. All depends on that, the AC20 not missing, because I can make up for some variation on the ML & SRM damage, but if the single AC20 misses then... I may still kill him but it's not granted.

So that's another issue, when you alpha with a precision/called shot, damage being equal, SRMs are more reliable, more predictable than AC20s. With SRMs you can count on some missiles failing to hit the desired location, but with the AC20 it's more like all or nothing, if it doesn't hit then you lose a big chunk of the damage.


Speaking about the heat, it's pretty manageable and I'd could easily argue that SRMs run in fact cooler than AC20s, and in two different ways. First, the SRM+++ have a bit better damage per heat ratio than AC20+++. Second, that doesn't happen with the regular versions but then you can simply add more heatsinks thanx to the savings on weight. A regular 2xSRM6 does slightly less damage than a regular AC20 and runs slightly hotter but with the difference in weight you can make it (almost) heat neutral instead of 25 heat for the AC20. Because of all of these I'd say the AC20 has nothing to do against the SRM, simply put the weight makes it very inefficient damage/ton and damage/heat.

Your example is fine when against lights/meds but it's only going to prolong the combat against heavies/assault. You're not focusing damage, which is not the only viable choice but is the most effective. Because is less inefficient in one way (vs braced opponents) but is more efficient in that the damage goes where it's needed.


The 2xAC20 with multi+breaching is fun, don't get me wrong. I've played a lot with it. I'm only saying that is not nearly as effective in the end game.

Survive more stability damage? Yes thanks.
More maximum evasion? Don't mind if I do. Hell, max evasion and cover is almost as good as bulwark in most cases (especially if you're sharing fire properly) and straight up better than bulwark when positioning matters. It's a little bit more management though in that often you want to "spend" those pips by reserving a mech with lots of evasive pips to take more fire (especially if for one or another reason they are braced), before you move them again.
I don't know if you're referring to the bonus of the piloting tree or the piloting skills, but 4 pips is not better than 3 pips plus the tactical choice of remaining still for a 50% damage reduction. Having bulwark doesn't mean you need to remain still during all the combat. You may do that with a LRM boat but even for a highly mobile brawler (for an assault mech) bulwark is very good, you don't have to remain still all the time to proper use bulwark, sometimes you move generating eva pips and sometimes you bulwark, depending on the situation.

As for sensor lock, it's not a vital tool by any measure, but it's a useful tool to have. For example if you need to pull your brawlers back to cool down and can get a nice defensive position, sensor lock effectively gives you some free, if marginal, benefits.
I agree Sensor Lock is not vital, you can do fine without it. But it is the single most powerful skill for a long range focused lance. Is what allows me to only get shot (shot, not hit) an average of 2.1 times per mission, sometimes more sometimes zero times. And of course injuries are extremely rare and structural damage just never happens.

And if you have any long range weapons you only need one mech with sensor lock for it to be useful, although may find yourself with all mechs having the skill if you go the Master Tactician route. I use it a LOT with my scout/brawler, sometimes only with my sniper (mostly when dealing with vehicles/turrets outside LoS) and never with my LRM boats. But as I said before, if you're playing a more aggressive style of play at short range it may be not a valuable asset to you.
 

ThatGuyMontag

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I don't know if you're referring to the bonus of the piloting tree or the piloting skills, but 4 pips is not better than 3 pips plus the tactical choice of remaining still for a 50% damage reduction. Having bulwark doesn't mean you need to remain still during all the combat. You may do that with a LRM boat but even for a highly mobile brawler (for an assault mech) bulwark is very good, you don't have to remain still all the time to proper use bulwark, sometimes you move generating eva pips and sometimes you bulwark, depending on the situation.
In that case you're not using bulwark, you're using or brace or vigilance to gain guarded and entrenched along with evasive pips: there is no way to use bulwark as well as get evasion pips. Bulwark is great on your fire-support as you can use it to effectively double their armor, which makes it safer to strip a bit of armor, especially because you shouldn't need to move them too much and they shouldn't be close to the front line. It's not the be-all and end-all of defence though: cover and high evasion is at least as good, with vigilance/bracing being a great way to make it better when the situation demands.

I'll also point out that with jump jets it's pretty easy to get maximum evasive pips unless you're using a 3 move Assault. Quarter damage on top of a 50% hit reduction is mathematicallly better than bulwark, and that carries to around about two evasive pips, with hit defence gyros making that even better. If you're taking more fire than that in a turn, you're out of position and should have dropped a vigilance, used terrain to limit fire or pulled back.
 

Dreepa

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Agree except for "focus fire".

The goal is to take out weapon systems as fast as possible. If you take out an AC20 and LRM, and that mech still got a small laser in his CT, you are better off going for another mech that will shoot at your with LRM15 in their arm for example (like catapult). Of course it is based on the situation, and if threaten by melee you might want to actually kill off a mech. Though if you are at distance, reducing the enemy's firepower should be the priority.
 

Doctor Machete

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In that case you're not using bulwark, you're using or brace or vigilance to gain guarded and entrenched along with evasive pips: there is no way to use bulwark as well as get evasion pips.
Of course you can, just not at the same time. For that reason I said "3 pips plus the tactical choice of remaining still for a 50% damage reduction. I do it all the time with my scout. Some turns I'm jumping to get (or to break) LoS/sensor or to shoot, and sometimes I'm bulwarked. I repeat, having bulwark doesn't mean you're forced to remain still all the time.

Having the option of, at any time, activate bulwark for a massive 50% reduction is a huge advantage over a mere 10% extra evasion. The same you do with with Evasive Movement I can do too, just a little worse, not much. But you haven't the option to keep firing/sensorlocking if necessary at any place with the protection of Bulwark. That limits your tactical flexibility, and I can jump + fire/sensor using terrain cover/terrain too.

It's not that I think 10 extra evasion is useless, it's just that I think it's too low and essentially doesn't change anything in a significant way, not for an heavy/assault mech, while Bulwark is a game changer with a heavy/assault. You don't even have to use it, the fact that you can use it is enough to change very significantly the ways you can approach an encounter. Between 3 and 4 pips? not really.
 

JLaughter

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There's lots of strategies, y'all. None of em are wrong except for kicking an Atlas to death with Locusts....

Be back later.
 

Icewraith

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A few things missing here...

1: Half skull missions super early on don’t have mechs, so go full cash or 1/4 salvage just in case.

2: Mechwarrior recommendations are not great. Bulwark/slock/master tactician is incredible once you get heavy and assault chassis. Multi shot/slock/master tactician is similarly strong, especially with LRMs. Bulwark/multi/breaching shot is strong but better in heavies, not assaults. Bulwark/evasive/ace pilot is great for jumping laser boats, more fragile chassis, or kiting. You can reserve to phase 1, jump in from cover/behind a cliff, alpha, next turn alpha again and jump back to safety. Master tactician builds can do this in a heavier chassis but will only get one volley off.

Whatever you want to do with your pilot, do in the following approximate order: guts 4, basic skills, all skills to 4, advanced skill, tactics 9, piloting 7. You might consider going gunnery 6 on the way to tactics 9, just because you need to hit things before you knock them down for called shots.

3: Midgame, going min pay max salvage (or whatever gets you to 3 priority picks) is almost always worth it as long as you’re not killing CTs. I have salvaged a complete mech and completed three additional chassis with the random loot from one mission.

4: Always buy the following, especially early on:
Cockpit reinforcement mods.
Communication systems.
Hit defense gyros.
Stability damage LRM 15/20s
Damage/stability damage weapons with two or more pluses.

5: A roster of 10-12 pilots is not a bad idea once you can support it. I’ve had nine pilots wounded over three missions thanks to a random event in transit and an outbreak of headshot disease. (I actually had to hire someone to run a full lance for the third mission.)
 

Democratus

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For my scout, I like having the Ace Pilot skill.

It allows me to use hard cover effectively while not giving up my firepower. Not to mention the fun of "jump-> attack followed by attack-> jump" to get back-to-back fire into an enemy heavy or assault.
 

Fauxknight

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For me:

Two Lancers (Bulwark, Multi, Breaching)

One Evasive, Ace, and Sensor Lock for scouting.

One Evasive and Bulwark for my MLas/SRM boat, also has Ace because Juggy is worthless.
 

ronhatch

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In summary... for pilot abilities, it really might be a good idea to try skirmish mode and see what fits your play style.