The following guide looks to help new players as a place to start, walking through a few important concepts, getting into a battle and other important aspects to start with.
- You will need to install the software to play. See the installation procedure if you haven't already done this.
- Catalyst Game Labs, the company that publishes BattleTech, has a free version of the basic game rules available here. This is an excellent overview of the majority of the rules used in MegaMek.
- The server has its own rules, regarding accounts, army composition, sportsmanship, and the like, available here.
- You can jump right into the action, if you like, but if you want to get some tips on how to play well, see the basic strategies article, or the tactical guides post on the forum.
Solaris Training Company
After logging in and registering, new players are assigned into the Solaris Training Company and given a hangar of random training units. The Solaris Training Company exists as a separate faction for new players to learn the ropes with no risk.
The hangar full of units are temporary training units that cannot be destroyed permanently in battle. These units only exist while the player remains in Solaris - once they leave, these training units will disappear, and be replaced with a new(and generally better) selection of units from their new faction. The new player also starts with a limited number of C-Bills, which will remain with the new player after they leave the training faction, unlike the units within the player's hangar.
To leave the Solaris Training Company, a player must earn 100 experience. After this point he/she will be able to declare for a faction. This process is described more below.
Preparing for Battle
Before a new player can head to war, at least one legal army must exist in his/her hangar to initiate a battle. By pressing the "Create Army" button in the Hangar tab, a new empty army is created. Various Units can be dragged into and out of the army. Army Construction has specific yet easy-to-follow rules for each and every battle. Further, each Operation has specific army and unit restrictions, whether by weight, MP, or BV. Check the operation carefully to see what is needed to be eligible for a given operation. A player can also right click an army and select "Check Access" to be given a list of operations that that army is legal for. In general, a unit of 4 Mechs in the same BV range(try to keep the gap between highest and lowest to 500 BV or so) will almost always be legal for most forms of combat you'll care about. If you're having trouble, ask in the main chat channel - someone will usually be happy to help.
To start there are not many actions available to new players due to the lack of experience points. To earn necessary experience and in general learn the ropes of BattleTech, MegaMek and MekWars, new players must Battle. Usually an attacker would have a choice between Operations depending on the army, however as a new player within Solaris, the only operations available at the beginning are tutorial battles, specifically Ground Tutorial and Aero Tutorial. Through the specific operations pages, the exact army composition and player requirements necessary to perform that operation.
Once a legal army is created, consult the Battling page on how to start a battle.
After a battle concludes, both players will withdraw from the front lines and lick their wounds. A battle log will be posted for you in the main chat channel, where you can see what happened to your units, and what rewards you got for fighting. As a Solaris player, your units will all be repaired if they were damaged, or replaced if they were destroyed, which makes post-battle cleanup much easier. While you're still in Solaris, the relevant rewards are:
- XP. A player's XP is a simple measurement of how much fighting they've done. A Solaris player gets 50 XP for winning and 30 XP for losing, and you need 100 XP in order to graduate from Solaris. Once you graduate it's a bit more complicated, but it's also a lot less important. (Your mech pilots also gain XP over time, but since you'll get a whole new hangar of mechs when you leave Solaris, don't worry about that.)
- C-Bills. C-Bills are the primary currency in MekWars. You use them for buying new Mechs, repairing damaged Mechs, expanding your hangar, and so on. As a Solaris player, you will get a very reduced C-Bill payout after a battle, but you don't need to pay for repairing or replacing your units, so your money will accumulate. Don't spend any until you leave Solaris.
- RP. Reward Points are a special currency, usually used for buying harder-to-get types of units. Like C-Bills, you'll want to save these up until you leave Solaris.
When you're in Solaris, that's it. You can jump straight into another fight if you like. Once you graduate, it gets a bit more complex, as you'll see below.
After you've played a few games, you'll have 100 XP and be allowed to leave Solaris and move to a permanent faction. That's when the campaign really starts.
Picking your faction is an important decision, and it's one you want to get right the first time. It's possible to move around, but defection has high costs, both in-game and in terms of the trust of your fellow players, so it's best avoided.
Each faction is roughly the same on some levels - they all have factories that produce units you can buy, they all have other players who can help you, and so on. The differences are a bit subtler. If you prefer a faction for flavour reasons, you can go with it, but if you don't have a strong preference the two best things to look at are their performance in combat and their build tables.
To see how well a faction has been doing, look at the Miscellaneous tab in the chat window - every 15 minutes, a status report on the campaign will be posted. Each faction will have their performance listed. For example, it may look like this:
> Free Worlds League (-569/29831), Periphery (-99/9701), Andurien-Canopus Alliance (+187/6311), Capellan Confederation (+481/9657).
All values are in CP, or Conquest Points, where 1 CP = 1% ownership of a typical planet. So at this point, the FWL is down 5.69 planets from their starting position on net, while the CC is up 4.81 planets on net. Generally speaking, the factions that do best tend to be the ones with the most veterans, and they'll be able to provide you with the most support.
To see what units a faction produces, go to Help > Build Table Viewer. You don't buy individual units, you can usually only buy a unit class(e.g., a heavy Mek), so the build table shows you what the various types of units you're likely to get when you build are. The "Frequency" is the percentage chance of a given unit. Ignore the "Common" and Solaris build tables, you generally won't be buying off those. If one faction makes mechs more to your liking than another, you may want to go with them. And if all else fails, ask in Main chat who wants a newbie, and go with the faction that sounds most helpful.
If players are not interested in the campaign and fighting for control of planets, they may wish to consider the Periphery - it has much less land transfer than other factions, and instead focuses on combat for its own sake.
Your First Real Fight
Once you're out of Solaris, you can begin to have fights that will affect the campaign as a whole. At the time you defect, you'll get a shiny new hangar full of units, and you'll have access to a faction chat channel. The faction channel will have a static "Message of the Day"(MOTD) at the top, giving a brief outline of your faction's current targets for battles and general strategy. Read it, though if there's anything you don't understand just ignore it for now. Also, introduce yourself to your new teammates.
Several things will be different here.
- You'll fight using different operations than you did in Solaris - instead of Ground Tutorial, you'll fight with Ground Incursion if you're fighting on a planet where your faction has a significant foothold(20%+), or Drop Incursion if your faction doesn't. (Other operations exist, but those are the ones you'll be using 99% of the time when you start)
- You will need to go active in order to fight. You can still arrange fights via chat, but you'll need to visit the front lines. Players will generally respect arranged games, but there's always the risk of an unexpected attack.
- You will begin to care about new resources.
- Pilot XP will allow you to buy pilot skills to upgrade your units. You get it from having your pilots survive fights.
- Influence is a resource gained through actively defending your faction, and it's required for buying units and launching attacks. You get it for being active and for defending in battles.
- When you do fight, the results will have an impact on the campaign. Newer players are limited to lower-impact operations at first, but even still a fight can easily take 10% of a planet if you win, or lose 10% of a planet if you lose. A few such fights can have a fair bit of impact on the campaign.
- In a fight, your units can now be damaged, destroyed, and/or salvaged. Generally, a unit can be salvaged when the damage that took it out of the fight is more superficial - knocking off the head, for example. If the damage is more substantial, such as the engine's fusion bottle letting go, then the unit is generally destroyed outright and cannot be salvaged. Both sides have a chance to salvage destroyed units, though the winner has a higher chance. In practice, all your units that come back from a fight will also require at least a bit of repair.
- When you want new units, you will now have access to your faction's production and to the black market.
- You will have access to your faction's section of the forums. If you haven't registered, go to [the forums], and register an account. Click User Control Panel at the top right, then Usergroups at the top of the panel that will appear below, then select the appropriate faction forum and request to join. It may take a few days to approve your request.
Congratulations - you're now a real MechWarrior, ready to take on the enemy hordes for the glory of your chosen faction. Have fun!