Newbie questions from what should be an experienced gamer.

Newbie questions from what should be an experienced gamer.

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Curtis Cook

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I've finished two campaigns now (original and Flashpoint) and am halfway through a third (original) with nearly 700 hours under my belt, but I keep running across things I don't understand. I'll use this thread to ask those questions.

First, in a Flashpoint campaign I tried to buy from a Davion store and got this result: "Faction Store Unavailable — Your reputation with this faction prevents you from using this store." At the time I was allied to Davion and had a reputation with them of +115 (which I didn't even know was possible). It's like they were saying, "We like you too much to sell stuff to you." What the what?

Second, I noticed that while usually the experience from a mission is a multiple of the danger level, sometimes it's 'danger level - 1'. Very rarely it's 'danger level -2' and only once was it 'danger level + 1' (assuming each half-skull = a danger level). Is this because the skull rating is based on the XO's pre-mission evaluation, which may overestimate the actual danger?

Third (this is more of a philosophy question), I know that weight of mech doesn't equate well to how dangerous the mech is. (I have two Grasshoppers that put out only 2/3 the damage of my Wolverine and Shadow Hawk.) That having been established, does anyone have a rule of thumb for either how much weight or how much damage output are appropriate to put in the field for a given danger level? It's boring when you steamroll your opponents, so I want to keep from going too heavy… but I don't want to lose mechs/pilots, either.

Thank you for reading.
 

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Not sure about the faction store, I think I've never made an alliance.

The skulls are not accurate. The rating might be an overestimation but also an underestimation, payment is a better guide about the real difficulty.

About the weight level it varies a lot. All depend on what equipment and weaponry level you have, your experience... and some playstyles allow you to punch way above your league. You'll have to calibrate that by yourself, and you may have different standards depending on the kind of lance you have.
 

MarkDey

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First, in a Flashpoint campaign I tried to buy from a Davion store and got this result: "Faction Store Unavailable — Your reputation with this faction prevents you from using this store." At the time I was allied to Davion and had a reputation with them of +115 (which I didn't even know was possible). It's like they were saying, "We like you too much to sell stuff to you." What the what?
It looks like you got a flat reputation boost to put you above 100. If you run a mission for Davion, it should set it back to 100 reputation, and that should fix the bug.
 
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Panzer-Killer

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First, in a Flashpoint campaign I tried to buy from a Davion store and got this result: "Faction Store Unavailable — Your reputation with this faction prevents you from using this store." At the time I was allied to Davion and had a reputation with them of +115 (which I didn't even know was possible). It's like they were saying, "We like you too much to sell stuff to you." What the what?
As already pointed out by other users, this is likely a bug due to the flat 15 Reputation bonus with all factions you get after completing the Heavy Metal DLC Flashpoint mini campaign, and it should fix itself after completing a contract for Davion, reverting your reputation with them to the correct maximum of 100, and giving you back access to Davion Faction Quartermaster stores.


Third (this is more of a philosophy question), I know that weight of mech doesn't equate well to how dangerous the mech is. (I have two Grasshoppers that put out only 2/3 the damage of my Wolverine and Shadow Hawk.) That having been established, does anyone have a rule of thumb for either how much weight or how much damage output are appropriate to put in the field for a given danger level? It's boring when you steamroll your opponents, so I want to keep from going too heavy… but I don't want to lose mechs/pilots, either.
As contracts' actual difficulty range in a +/- 1 skull than stated (which means that a namely 4 skulls mission may actually range from 3 to 5 skulls) I think that, if you want to play it safely, you should drop a lance worthy 1 more total weight icons than such a mission's nominal difficulty rating. Otherwise, if you're willing to take some risks, you may simply drop a lance with the same weight icons indicator as the mission's difficulty skull rating.
 
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Curtis Cook

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It looks like you got a flat reputation boost to put you above 100. If you run a mission for Davion, it should set it back to 100 reputation, and that should fix the bug.
It actually took several, but it did correct. After getting the +15 for Heavy Metal (as noted by Panzer-Killer) I played two more Flashpoints with Davion as my employer, which brought me down to 109. After three more generic missions I was down to 100 and was able to access the Davion store. I didn't check after each mission, just after the second and fifth, but it looks like it comes down by 3 per mission.

As an aside, my relationship with Marik also came down to 100, but my relationship with Canopus is still 115. Maybe I have to run some missions there to get that down, too?

As a further aside, if you've never bought from a faction store, DO IT!!! Although the selection was limited (just ACs), the quality was so much an improvement over what I had that I refitted every mech that had an AC and bought a duplicate for each in case something bad happens.

As contracts' actual difficulty range in a +/- 1 skull than stated (which means that a namely 4 skulls mission may actually range from 3 to 5 skulls) I think that, if you want to play it safely, you should drop a lance worthy 1 more total weight icons than such a mission's nominal difficulty rating. Otherwise, if you're willing to take some risks, you may simply drop a lance with the same weight icons indicator as the mission's difficulty skull rating.
That's good advice. I'm trying to see if any posters have suggestions for what would be appropriate 'weight icon indicators'. I just finished a 2 1/2 skull fight with a lance totaling 500 damage potential (not including range 3 weapons, which would bring it to 610) and a 3 skull fight with a lance totaling 600 (680 in close), and they seemed pretty enjoyable. So a rough rule of thumb might be 100 deliverable damage per danger rating/200 per skull?
 

Panzer-Killer

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That's good advice. I'm trying to see if any posters have suggestions for what would be appropriate 'weight icon indicators'. I just finished a 2 1/2 skull fight with a lance totaling 500 damage potential (not including range 3 weapons, which would bring it to 610) and a 3 skull fight with a lance totaling 600 (680 in close), and they seemed pretty enjoyable. So a rough rule of thumb might be 100 deliverable damage per danger rating/200 per skull?
IMO a 100+ Dam+Stab alpha strike potential output per mission skull per Mech might be enough in most cases. 200+ seem too high to me. More so when you'll go after 4-5 skulls mission, in which case having an alpha strike of 800 to 1000 dam+stab per Mech is nigh impossible to achieve as well as probably absurd too. ;)
 

Curtis Cook

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IMO a 100+ Dam+Stab alpha strike potential output per mission skull per Mech might be enough in most cases. 200+ seem too high to me. More so when you'll go after 4-5 skulls mission, in which case having an alpha strike of 800 to 1000 dam+stab per Mech is nigh impossible to achieve as well as probably absurd too. ;)
I just finished a 2 1/2 skull fight with a lance totaling 500 damage potential (not including range 3 weapons, which would bring it to 610) and a 3 skull fight with a lance totaling 600 (680 in close), and they seemed pretty enjoyable. So a rough rule of thumb might be 100 deliverable damage per danger rating/200 per skull?
That's 100 'normal' alpha strike per LANCE, not per mech.

My definition of 'normal' being weapons capable of hitting at range 6+ (to account for the marvelous Vulcan special ability). I recognize that some mechs are specifically designed to fight at close (3 hex or melee) range, but the only mech I have that even resembles that is an ECM version of a Cataphract that does the same damage in melee as at range, which closes to melee with any enemies who enter its ECM bubble.

By the way, has anyone found a use for massed flamers? I've tried using a lance with two Grasshoppers, each with 6 flamers (or a Grasshopper with a Thunderbolt SE with 3 flamers that put out 50 heat total), using both mechs on one target, and even in desert conditions the results have been underwhelming. While enemy mechs can occasionally be shut down, it usually happens immediately before that mech has its turn, so it powers back up and cools down radically before I can get a shot off at it, and really they shut down less often than I expected.

I suppose for game play purposes that's a good thing, or else massed flamers would become a gamebreaking design. The internal structure damage due to overheating affects repair time between missions, but I'm fairly certain it's never made a difference between a mech living and dying, whether mine or an enemy's, even when kept over the critical heat threshold for three turns. I HAVE lost a pilot due to his mech overheating though, when the heat caused him to take his last wound..
 

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I'm trying to see if any posters have suggestions for what would be appropriate 'weight icon indicators'. I just finished a 2 1/2 skull fight with a lance totaling 500 damage potential (not including range 3 weapons, which would bring it to 610) and a 3 skull fight with a lance totaling 600 (680 in close), and they seemed pretty enjoyable. So a rough rule of thumb might be 100 deliverable damage per danger rating/200 per skull?
That's way over the top. At five skulls you'd need 1,000 damage per 'Mech, and that's just not attainable.
Edit: Just saw your reply about it being per lance, not per 'Mech. My bad.

Me, I just make sure my drop tonnage (lower right hand corner of the deployment screen, see image below) matches or exceeds that of the skull rating of the mission; that usually works out fine.

DropTonnage.jpg

(Dropping 340 tons on a 4.5-skull Battle Mission)

By the way, has anyone found a use for massed flamers?
Absolutely! A six-flamer Firestarter is a mean, lean shutdown-machine in the early- to mid game.

I've tried using a lance with two Grasshoppers, each with 6 flamers (or a Grasshopper with a Thunderbolt SE with 3 flamers that put out 50 heat total), using both mechs on one target, and even in desert conditions the results have been underwhelming.
Make sure you use them on energy-heavy 'Mechs; a Black Knight hit with six flamers will not be a happy camper.

While enemy mechs can occasionally be shut down, it usually happens immediately before that mech has its turn, so it powers back up and cools down radically before I can get a shot off at it, and really they shut down less often than I expected.
That's where keeping a Firestarter around comes in handy; stick a Master Tactician in it, and it'll go even before the enemy lights. And if a 'Mech starts its turn with high heat, it will generally not fire to overheating (although of course sometimes it does; even to shutdown - but that achieves the goal you set out to achieve, so :)).

Six (standard) flamers add 60 heat, so you might have to hit the target twice if it's not already running hot. But even if you don't shut it down, you definitely limit it's ability to fire its weapons. Just look out for melee counterattacks :)

I'm fairly certain it's never made a difference between a mech living and dying, whether mine or an enemy's, even when kept over the critical heat threshold for three turns. I HAVE lost a pilot due to his mech overheating though, when the heat caused him to take his last wound..
I've killed plenty of 'Mechs by keeping them barbecued for enough turns that other 'Mechs can finish them off, without them getting to do much. It's not guaranteed, of course, but it is another tool in the toolbox. Especially early in a career, a salvaged Firestarter is a glee-inducing moment; I know that now I can either go six flamers and have a stunlock-machine, or six MGs and have a really, really brutal finisher. Either way, that little 'Mech is worth its weight in C-Bills :)
 
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PaulCl

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Me, I just make sure my drop tonnage (lower right hand corner of the deployment screen, see image below) matches or exceeds that of the skull rating of the mission; that usually works out fine.
Though if you're using some of the more powerful Heavy Metal weapons, that would be considerable overkill. I'm no more than a competent player, but my 215 ton lance armed with ++ LBX, UAC, ERSL and the like was quite capable of clearing five skull missions. Admittedly 55 of that 215 tons was a Star League Griffin.
 

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Though if you're using some of the more powerful Heavy Metal weapons, that would be considerable overkill. I'm no more than a competent player, but my 215 ton lance armed with ++ LBX, UAC, ERSL and the like was quite capable of clearing five skull missions. Admittedly 55 of that 215 tons was a Star League Griffin.
I don't mind overkill for those times a 4-skull mission turns out to be a 3-skull. It's compensated by those times that 4-skull turns out to be a 5-skull in practice.

I don't have to hang on by the skin of my teeth every time, a milk run once in a while is just dandy.

Either way, if you're looking for some complex heavy-maths and statistically proven set of conditions for exactly how to compose your drop lance for maximum challenge, this is not it. I'm sure someone else could provide just that, but I was offering an alternative.
 

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While enemy mechs can occasionally be shut down, it usually happens immediately before that mech has its turn
Sounds like user error. Keep in mind the turn order and ensure that you’ll get shots off while it is disabled.

Also, it’s not a waste to shut down a Mech that will immediately power up. That mech will be stationary and will not fire. It’s not as good as free called shots, but it’s definitely situationally useful. :)


I prefer Infernos to flamers because of the range.

In my old campaign, I had a GRF-2N Griffin with 2x TAG++ and 4x Inferno++. If most of the infernos hit, it would shut down the mech. If at least one TAG hit, my Marauder’s headshot kill chance approached 100% because only one head hit would generate a kill. That Griffin was probably less effective than having more damage in the lance, but it was super fun!


As to the OP’s question, I like to drop with even skulls to the mission, but I’ll go as much as a half skull above at times. I tend to drop underweight for 5 skull missions because I often have a couple of heavies or a medium and a heavy in my primary lance.

For Base Defense, Target Acquisition, and Attack/Defend I do not limit myself. I will use whatever I deem appropriate because those missions tend to be much harder than their skulls.
 
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Icewraith

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To keep things interesting, try to stick within a half skull of the mission unless you know it’s going to be rough. If you have tricked out Star League mechs and maxed out pilots, go under half a skull (again unless you suspect it’s underskulled).

Also if your lance weight is divisible by 25, you’re only just at the breakpoint for an extra half skull.

Flamers IMO don’t work as well on heavy mechs because if you’ve salvaged heavy mechs you’re also fighting at least heavy mechs, which have more room for heat sinks and can one-shot your guys with an unlucky punch to the head to cool off. To avoid that you need to double-turn your victims, which is easier in a lighter mech (You can bring a heavier mech and pilot with improved initiative and stand in melee range with low chevrons and usually no cover on turn 2, or you can bring a lighter mech and jump+ace pilot out on turn 2 with a ton of chevrons) ... and can only be done twice with the flamer’s limited ammo.
 
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Harmon Ward

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By the way, has anyone found a use for massed flamers?
I had a damaged Marauder that lost it's torso to heat damage. I was sitting there thinking, "I made it with no major damage" and then the AI went into to heat damage phase. The torso and arm popped off and the repairs took a long time and were expensive!
 
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Curtis Cook

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Wow! Thanks to everybody who wrote in my absence, and best of all I learned something. I wish this game had a manual, because I wonder what other things I've missed.

The relevant item this time was that I had no idea the chevron rating to the right of the drop tonnage was telling me what threat category the game thought my lance represents. Thanks to stjobe for including that screenshot to make everything clear, and to Icewraith for providing a clue as to where the break points for the chevron scale should be.

I've found the experience points are generally much closer to the predicted threat rating than you guys seem to find. As I mentioned in the opening post, I've never seen the xp payout be as high as a full skull above the prediction, and only once be a half-skull over. It's nearly always (probably 80%) exactly right, with maybe a 20% chance the XO overestimated by a half-skull and a less than 1% chance that he overestimated by a full skull. That having been said, I often feel that missions are easier than the xp payout indicates.

I'm amazed and a little frightened by PaulCL's claim to be able to handle 5 skull missions with a 215 ton lance. I've only ever seen two 5 skull missions, the first being the Black Widow and the next a generic on the same planet. I played against the Black Widow with 365 tons and still had a pilot killed and an Awesome totaled. (By the way, I was annoyed at the end when Oliviera said something about how it was a good thing she and the bounty hunter spent as much time firing at each other as they did at me. I kept track, and both of their groups fired twice as often at me as at each other. I ended up with 8 kills that mission.) On the other hand, I ran 360 tons in the other 5 skull (swapping a Marauder in for the dead Awesome) and it felt pretty easy. But 215? I've done 4 1/2 skulls with 260 tons (Marauder, Warhammer, Rifleman, SL Griffin) and it scared me to death because all the opposing mechs concentrated on bring down the Griffin, and they nearly succeeded.
*************************************************
New Topics: First, is there a list anywhere of where to go to find particular weapons? My Warhammer just lost its +5 damage Snub. I've temporarily replaced it with a +10 damage PPC, but I've kind of fallen in love with the Snubs and would rather have a base model Snub than a +10 PPC.

Second, Jamey got me thinking about which missions tend to run particularly hard. I agree with him about defense and attack/defense, but I've never had any problems with target acquisition missions. (I'm assuming he means spotting for orbital bombardment, where you have to place 3 beacons within a time limit.) I either run a lance of Jump 5s, or a Phoenix Hawk, two Jump 5s and either a Jump 4 or a Walk 5. Everyone goes to the closest beacon location, then one stays there (the Jump 4 or Walk 5 if using the unbalanced lance), two Jump 5s go to the next closest, and the Phoenix Hawk hits the most distant beacon location.

The mission that drives me batty is escort. Unless I can remember the map from a previous mission, I'm never able to predict where the convoy will appear OR in which direction it'll travel… which is stupid. I simply can't believe that the mission parameters don't tell me where the convoy's destination is. Anyway, it seems like I'm always on the wrong side of the rendezvous point and facing in the wrong direction. And of course the convoy moves before I do, putting me even farther in their rearview mirror. Not to mention that the convoy vehicles wander around randomly, sometimes becoming separated by more than two moves. And then there're the times the AI announces that it's shutting the convoy down because I'm too far away. The first time that happened I was only two dots away from one of them and three dots away from another. AND THEY NEVER STARTED UP AGAIN!!! I hate escort missions.

And that ties into the helpful hints that appear in the upper left corner of the screen. I'd hardly say that speed is essential for escort missions (and not at all for recovery missions), but a modicum of speed is called for. Any mech that can Walk 5 or Jump 4 is useful on an escort mission. Even Jump 3s can work if they have long range weapons — ideally LRMs — and one faster mech to act as a spotter.

Which missions do you guys find difficult?
 

stjobe

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On XP rewards: I think you always get XP rewarded according to the skull rating of the mission, even if the mission actually turns out to be a skull lower or higher. I haven't studied it more closely though, so I might be wrong.

On the Black Widow/Bounty Hunter battle: It is harder than normal because both the Black Widow and the Bounty Hunter are immune to head hits and they have special abilities no other enemy in the game has (the Bounty Hunter does internal damage with every shot of every weapon, and his lance deals 10% extra damage and has a x10 called shot modifier, the Black Widow slows you 50% with every shot, and her lance has +25% to move speed, -20% damage taken, and a crit +75% effect ). So it's not strange that this is one of the tougher battles in the game; the skull rating on that one should probably be a six :)

On escort missions: What I usually do is after I killed the blocking force, I do not activate the convoy immediately. Instead I send my 'Mechs ahead and string them out along the convoy route (there's generally a single road leading from the convoy assembly point to the target area, which is almost always a building and it might even have one of those big landing pads; usually it only takes a few moments to figure out where you're supposed to go). Then, and only then, do I activate the convoy with my nearest 'Mech. That 'Mech follows the convoy closely, and if any convoy vehicles get too far ahead, I have three more 'Mechs strung out along the route to keep them moving.

However, and here's the real secret to escort missions: As soon as the first convoy vehicle touches the target area, reinforcements spawn. Since I know this, as soon as the lead convoy vehicle gets close to the target area, I send the three not-babysitting-the-convoy 'Mechs to take up station around the target area so that they are already in position to cover the convoy once the reinforcements spawn.

Still, on occasion, the reinforcements spawn in and immediately get to fire on the convoy; especially if you're dropping too heavy for the mission. On these occasions you might lose one or two of the convoy vehicles, but that just means you lose out on bonus payment.

Escort missions are more time-consuming than they are difficult most of the time.

I personally don't do escort missions any more due to a bug where the opfor gets a double-turn as the DropShip is landing.
 
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PaulCl

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I'm amazed and a little frightened by PaulCL's claim to be able to handle 5 skull missions with a 215 ton lance. I've only ever seen two 5 skull missions, the first being the Black Widow and the next a generic on the same planet. I played against the Black Widow with 365 tons and still had a pilot killed and an Awesome totaled.
Bear in mind that my lance had elite pilots and premium weapons. I don't recall the exact loadouts, but it included a Marauder with ++ UAC/5s and LLs, a Hunchback with triple ++LBX/2s, a Star League Griffin with four ++SRM6s (and maybe a backup laser or two?), and a Firestarter with five ++ERSLs and a couple of +60 arm mods. That's well over 900 points of damage per turn.

I did reinforce it a bit for the final mini-campaign mission, replacing the Hunchback with an Annihilator, as I didn't want to take chances with that one. As it turned out it would have been fine as it was mostly "lets you and him fight", though I did have a worrying moment when I misjudged a position and allowed an Atlas to take a swing at my Griffin.

Which missions do you guys find difficult?
Ambush convoy is the one I usually run into trouble with. A vehicle lance plus maybe two escort lances is a lot of concentrated firepower, and sometimes you have to take risks to stop the convoy getting away. Assassinations can also be tricky if they have two bodyguard lances and they're positioned close enough to support each other.

Escorts, on the other hand, are usually fairly easy because you're dealing with one lance at a time and they seem to be weaker than, say, battle lances. And single location recovery missions are the easiest ones in the game.
 
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MarkDey

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I personally don't do escort missions any more due to a bug where the opfor gets a double-turn as the DropShip is landing.
I thought they fixed that in 1.9.1. I haven't seen that double turn issue ever since. And I love how they fixed the escort missions so that a complete elimination of the enemy force also auto-ends the mission.
 
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stjobe

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I thought they fixed that in 1.9.1. I haven't seen that double turn issue ever since. And I love how they fixed the escort missions so that a complete elimination of the enemy force also auto-ends the mission.
You may very well be right, since I don't play those missions I wouldn't know if they got fixed. Might have to try one out now...

Thanks for the heads-up!
 
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Curtis Cook

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It's interesting that we're seeing different things on our missions.

I personally don't do escort missions any more due to a bug where the opfor gets a double-turn as the DropShip is landing.
I thought they fixed that in 1.9.1. I haven't seen that double turn issue ever since. And I love how they fixed the escort missions so that a complete elimination of the enemy force also auto-ends the mission.
I still get what usually manifests as a 'double-turn bug', but it happens as soon as the convoy's dropship lifts. An announcement comes that I have exited combat, the enemy lance gets a sprint move that allows them to vent heat, then instead of giving me a sprint move it goes directly back to regular combat moving, which for me usually means most (or all) of the enemy lance gets to move and fire before I can respond.

And I have never had a mission of any type auto-end, unless you mean that I don't have to move to my own pickup point, in which case I'm seeing that, too. I always have to wipe out the last ambushing lance after the convoy lifts, because they always make my pickup point on the far side of the ambushers, which is stupid. I mean, I'm obviously already at a perfectly good pickup point, or the convoy wouldn't be using it for their escape. (As an aside, escaping to the pickup point without eliminating every opposition mech is only feasible about one mission in ten regardless of mission type, because the pickup points are nearly always badly placed.)

Ambush convoy is the one I usually run into trouble with. A vehicle lance plus maybe two escort lances is a lot of concentrated firepower, and sometimes you have to take risks to stop the convoy getting away. Assassinations can also be tricky if they have two bodyguard lances and they're positioned close enough to support each other.

Escorts, on the other hand, are usually fairly easy because you're dealing with one lance at a time and they seem to be weaker than, say, battle lances. And single location recovery missions are the easiest ones in the game.
Another case where I'm seeing something different. I've never encountered a second escort lance, although on very rare occasions I have encountered a second mech lance, it's never shown up before the convoy and its escorts were dead, in effect ambushing me on the way out of the AO. I haven't noticed convoy attackers being weaker than typical lances, but that might be pure lack of perception on my part.

Since you've been kind enough to give me advice on how to handle escort missions (the idea of reconning the rest of the map to figure out the convoy destination never occurred to me), here's mine on how to handle the 9 enemy mech 'this looks like a perfect place for an ambush' mission.

Don't head for the target mech. Instead, try to figure which ambushing lance is closer, then aim between that and the AO boundary closest to it. If you can take down a mech a turn you should never have to face more than 4 at a time, because the target mech NEVER* helps out and the other ambushing lance feeds in one at a time as they've become widely separated during their long approach march. You will have to face at least two and possibly three turns of approach march LRM fire by the second ambushers, but that's never been a problem. If the target mech has LRMs you might have to face those for half a dozen turns, which could theoretically become worrisome, but in practice never has.

* = In my most recent assassination mission the target showed up simultaneously with the last two ambushers, which was surprising, but not a problem as the first six were dead by then. There's one other assassination mission that's popped up twice (a marshy area near a coast) in which the target merges with the closest ambushers, and both times that resulted in having one of my mechs knocked out, but no permanent losses.

This has been fun!
 

Jamey

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Second, Jamey got me thinking about which missions tend to run particularly hard. I agree with him about defense and attack/defense, but I've never had any problems with target acquisition missions. (I'm assuming he means spotting for orbital bombardment, where you have to place 3 beacons within a time limit.)
Thats the ones that I mean. I’ve encountered some super hard ones as the skull ratings ramp up (imagine 3 full lances of enemy Assault Mechs, reinforcement vehicles spawning every turn, and a map of all woods to slow down anything not jumping).

Target Acquisition isn’t always super hard, but it scales up to a really rough place at times. I always go into them with my best kill squad (with at least one fast mover).