BattleTech: A Strategic and Tactical Primer (Pt. 6)

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Part 6 of the Strategy and Tactics Guide from the cancelled Clan Box Set. Errors are my own, as this is straight from a first draft.

BATTLETECH FORCES

Not every ‘Mech is appropriate for every type of scenario, so match the machine to the mission when choosing BattleMechs. This section will help you do that by providing a feel for the strengths and weaknesses of the various units available in BattleTech. This information is particularly helpful when you get to choose the ‘Mechs you will use for a scenario, but it also can help you make the best use of your forces when you are assigned a particular mix of ‘Mechs, all of which are not necessarily ideal for the task at hand. The best commanders make the most of what they have and expertly fit square pegs into round holes.

For the sake of discussion, we have divided the ‘Mechs available in the BattleTech into seven broad categories: duelists, scouts, strikers, skirmishers, brawlers, snipers, fire support and juggernauts.

The ‘Mechs assigned to each category are deployed in a similar fashion by virtue of their movement capabilities and weapons complements. Each category description provides a discussion of the characteristics of ‘Mechs included in that category and their use in game play, followed by brief comments on each specific ‘Mech. If players purchase any of the various technical readouts that include many other BattleMech designs, they only need to compare each design’s relative characteristics to those found here to find in which category they belong.

The Clan names that appear in parentheses after each ‘Mech description indicate both an Invader Clan and a Homeworld Clan that most commonly uses the ‘Mech.

Military Organization

Within the BattleTech universe, the smallest organization of a Clan force is the Star, which consists of five units – one for each point of a star. A Clan Star can be comprised solely of BattleMechs, battle armor, or a mix of both. One ‘point’ of battle armor is comprised of five troopers, so if you have a Star of battle armor, you have five points of five troopers, or twenty-five battle armor suits [5 x 5 = 25]. A mixed Star can contain any variation of ‘Mechs and battle armor, such as three ‘Mechs and two battle armor points (ten total troopers), or four ‘Mechs and one point of battle armor (five total troopers).

Generally speaking, Stars carry a name that is equal to their combat purpose, usually based off of what units comprise the Star. For example, a unit containing nothing but Strikers (see below) would usually be referred to as a “Striker Star,” while a Star of Scouts would be referred to as a “Scout Star.”

In parenthesis next to each of the eight category definitions in this section, one or more Star names are provided. Once again, note that these are not hard and fast rules but instead are general category names that players can use to help organize forces as they start building and fielding their own lances.

Battle Armor

Referred to by the Inner Sphere as “Toads” and called Elementals in Clanspace, battle armor troopers are the pinnacle of infantry-style combat. These power armor suits can be carried across battlefields by Clan OmniMechs and dropped off for close-quarters combat and additional support. (All the ‘Mechs in this box set are OmniMechs and can carry Toads.) These Toads move as a group, jumping up to 3 hexes a turn, which gives them great mobility across most terrain. Unlike ‘Mechs, they have no facing and can fire in any direction. In addition, they carry two shots of SRM 2 missiles apiece; a full salvo can severely damage a light ‘Mech and give much pause to medium and even heavy ‘Mechs.

Each Toad suit is also equipped with a small laser; while the range is small, they can be a welcome addition in a close-quarters battle. Additionally, because battle armor can conduct swarming and anti-‘Mech leg attacks, they can cripple an enemy unit unlucky enough to have them nearby.

DUELISTS

These ‘Mechs are normally not part of any strict Star formation – indeed, a Star made up primarily of duelists is more of a weakness than a strength, particularly because each ‘Mech is more geared towards the ritualized, individual combat between enemy warriors and not necessarily geared towards teamwork. Thus, you may find a duelist in nearly any type of Star, but not a Star comprised totally of duelists.

Designed and used primarily for personal combat, these ‘Mechs can compliment other Star members in a sniper, fire support or even a brawler role but excel mostly in single combat against an equal or greater foe. While challenging and beating a lesser opponent isn’t frowned upon, it does not confer as much honor to the warrior as defeating a greater opponent would.

Uller Prime

The Uller is not as fast as other light ‘Mechs, nor is it as heavily armored. It does mount an array of weapons across its frame, however – a missile rack, lasers, and an autocannon – and all are smaller-scale damage weapons. Ideal for taking on a similarly-sized opponent, it does not last long against most other ‘Mechs due to its light armor load. If using an Uller Prime, squeeze as much MP as possible during its move. (Jade Falcon, Blood Spirit)

Fenris A

Lightly armed but incredibly fast, the Fenris A is a favorite of many Clan warriors for dueling. The armor protection will survive most initial large weapon attacks, enough to allow the pilot a second chance. Its LB 2-X gives it incredible range to strike from, but the small autocannon will take a long time to penetrate most ‘Mechs outside the light weight classes. It is important to utilize the Fenris A’s incredible speed and outmaneuver your opponent, rather than rely on sniping from long and medium ranges. (Wolf, Coyote)

Thor A

The Thor A only mounts three weapon systems but can use all of them every turn without turning up the Heat scale. Highly maneuverable with jumping 5 MP, the Thor mounts excellent armor coverage. It is an all-around solid design, capable of defensive and offensive tactics. The only weakness is its limited ammunition; make sure each Gauss rifle shot has a good chance to hit, as 8 rounds go very quickly in a fast-paced duel. (Jade Falcon, Steel Viper)

Gladiator A

Heavily armored, the Gladiator A is a decent dueling ‘Mech but can also be used in a brawling mode if necessary. The MASC gives it a bit of an edge in speed, which can open up opportunities to sneak in rear arc shots or allow you to close quickly into a developing skirmish. The large number of lasers on the Gladiator A can quickly drive the heat up on those players not careful; poor heat management can find this ‘Mech exploding due to the ton of machine gun ammo being carted around in the torso. (Ghost Bear, Coyote)

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