In this page you'll find some basic strategies that everyone should know about.
The main thing you'll want to be aware of is that BattleTech is, in great part, a game about mastering movement. Shooting is easy. The hard part is positioning yourself so that you can fire adequately at the enemy, without the enemy being able to do the same to you.
Here's what underlies the importance of getting that +1 modifier. Part of the data was obtained from The Dark Fortress.
|Die roll||Exact probability||Result or more||How easier to hit than at +1|
Since shots are usually fired at 6-10 to-hit ranges, look at how significant the improvement for each +1 modifier is. It's one 1.5 times more likely to hit an 8+ shot than it is a 9+ shot! The effect compounds with every modifier that you add, especially if they are +2 or +3!
This suggests two things when you're looking at the usual 6-10 to-hit ranges:
- Almost anything that makes you harder to hit is worth it!
- Almost anything that makes it easier to hit the opponent is worth it!
If you are already shooting at a 5+, trying to get in a situation where you would get 4+ might not be worth it depending on how much more vulnerable that makes your mech.
Here's some things to keep in mind for movement.
Speed is life!
It was true for WW2 aviators, and it is true in Battletech! The more you move, the faster you are, and the harder you are to hit. Recall the movement modifiers to be hit:
Here are some rough guidelines:
- If you have a 4/6 mech, walk at least 3 hexes, run at least 5! This gives you at least a +1 and +2 modifiers. This still allows you to either turn facing once, or to enter some terrain at a +1 modifier.
- For faster mechs, adapt the walk/run from at least 3/5 to something like 5/7, so they get +2 and +3 modifiers rather than +1 and +2.
- Try to end your turn with your mechs facing in a direction where they can do the movements described above - think ahead!
- If all you want to do is move one hex, but have enough movement, it is often still possible to get there in a roundabout fashion and get those modifiers!
Getting initiative defines whether you will be able to react to your enemy's actions or not. Managing it is therefore extremely important. You can minimise the impact of losing initiative with the following guidelines:
- Always "move" immobilised or prone units first.
- Move slow or long-range units next.
- Move fast units or damaged units later.
This "sinks" your initiative into units who are unable to take active part in the fight, or who are less able to respond to enemy movements. This allows you to see what the enemy is doing before using your faster, higher damage mechs to respond to those moves.
Fast units should be moved last because they can more easily be placed in flanking positions at optimum range when you know where the enemy is. Particularly damaged units should be moved last to guarantee that they are harder to hit. Move your damaged mech unit first, and your opponent will immediately close in for the killing blow!
Ultimately, fights are about eliminating the opposition. The most efficient way to do this is to neutralise enemy mechs - not necessarily to destroy them.
Once the armour on a section (e.g. the left arm, LA) is destroyed, damage will be applied to the internal structure. Every time damage is applied to the internal structure, it might score critical hits, which can cripple the enemy mechs. This frees you to destroy other mechs.
Your objective, therefore, is to make sure you get inside the armour and cause critical hits.
The order in which you fire your weapons - and your mechs - is important. Higher damage weapons have a higher chance of destroying armour, which means subsequent shots are more likely to hit internal structure. Here are two good guidelines:
- Shoot heavy damage weapons first to pierce the armour.
- Shoot cluster weapons last, to increase chances of hitting unarmoured sections.
Here is an example. You fire 2 small lasers (3 damage) first, and then 1 large laser (8 damage) at an enemy mech. They all hit the CT of the enemy mech, which had 9 armour left. Alternatively, you fire the large laser first, and then the 2 small lasers.
- CT armour is hit by small laser, 6 armour left.
- CT armour is hit by small laser, 3 armour left.
- CT armour is hit by large laser, 0 armour left. 5 damage is transferred to internal structure. Chance to crit!
- CT armour is hit by large laser, 1 armour left.
- CT armour is hit by small laser, 0 armour left. 2 damage is transferred to internal structure. Chance to crit!
- CT armour is hit by small laser, 0 armour left. 3 damage is transferred to internal structure. Chance to crit!
The total damage done is the same, but the second ordering doubles the chances of critting, and possibly disabling, the enemy mech.
You can increase the number of crits you deal by positioning yourself so that you focus fire on particular areas of an enemy mech. Here are some typical examples where this can be useful:
- An enemy mech has little armour on the LA. Try to shot him on his left side!
- You have a 20% chance of hitting a specific leg on a side hit, vs 11% on a front/rear hit. Use high-damage side shots to put fast mechs out of the fight!
- Side shots also increase the probability of hitting the torso on that specific side.
- A side kick ensures a hit to the leg that is being kicked, making it easier to destroy or crit that leg.
- Rear armour is usually thin, making it much easier to penetrate than front armour. However, if they already have holes in their front armour, don't go backstabbing - fresh thin armour is still stronger than thick armour that you've already destroyed.
This should highlight the importance of knowing how to sink your init and subsequently positioning yourself to increase the probabilities of disabling an enemy mech.
Before every fight, examine your mechs and the enemy mechs closely and figure out their "optimal" firing ranges. Every time that you move, try to make sure that:
- You can get better range than the enemy. Get within his minimum range, or stay just outside his range bracket, while you stay inside yours.
- After the remaining enemy mechs move, they still cannot move to within a comfortable range bracket.
- You can comfortably concentrate effective fire on a single mech, in an attempt to knock him out soon.
You should generally try to memorize the ranges of various weapons - there's only a few different range profiles that get used in game, and almost all of them will come up quite a lot. Within a few games of starting, you should be able to look at a mech's weapons page and know roughly what that mech's preferred range to fight at is. It can help to think of units as "brawlers", "snipers", or "all-arounders" when deciding where to put them - a Catapult wants to sit a lot further away from the fight than a Hunchback, for example.
If your opponent has a lot of long-range weapons and you have a lot of short-range weapons, you will want to close the range as fast as possible, so that he can't just stand back and pummel you from long range. If you're the one with an advantage at long ranges, then you may want to reach long range(perhaps 10-15 hexes, depending on the weapon mixes) and then start backing up as you fire to keep the fight at your preferred range for as long as you can. A short-range enemy who can't close the range with you very quickly might well lose a whole mech or two as they're trying to get to grips with you, while you barely get your paint scratched, and that can easily decide the fight.
Heat management isn't as important as some other features, but if you're just starting these might help you.
- Watch your heat! You can go up to 4 heat before you start getting penalties.
- Sometimes it's worth overheating, but only do it if you have important shots on good numbers. Firing with a to-hit number of 12+ generates just as much heat as firing at a 2+, but it will do a lot less damage on average. As a rule of thumb, try not to run up your heat for any shots that have an 8+ to-hit number.
- Walking and running generate 1 and 2 heat, and jumping generates 1 per hex moved, so keep that in mind if you want to fire multiple weapons.
- You can inflict heat on your enemies. Flamers, Inferno SRMs, and engine crits all cause heat accumulation, and these can make a big difference to your heat total, or to your enemy's, if used properly. If you see that an enemy has run up their heat, you can try to target them with these weapons and force penalties, or maybe even a shutdown or an ammo explosion.
- If your mech is badly battered and about to go down, fire everything you've got indiscriminately. Might as well go down fighting!