BattleTech: A Strategic and Tactical Primer (Pt 7)


Continuing my sharing of the Strategy and Tactics Guide from the defunct Clan Box Set. This is from a first draft written in 2008. All errors are my own, including bad writing. 😛


‘Mechs in a scouting role are by nature extremely fast, using speed to achieve their objectives and to avoid the enemy. Use them when you need to reach an objective quickly (such as “capture the flag” games) or when you expect the opposition to also field fast ‘Mechs.

Most scout ‘Mechs are protected by light armor – but this doesn’t make them defenseless.  Keeping these ‘Mechs moving close to top speed makes them much harder to hit as it forces opponents to overcome an impressive target movement modifier. Scouts with jump jets should do so as often as possible and head for the heaviest woods available to use as cover.

Many scouts are equipped with several anti-battle armor weapons such as machine guns and small lasers; including one of these in a force where battle armor is expected can help neutralize that threat.

Koshi Prime

Highly maneuverable, the Koshi Prime is loaded with short- and long-ranged missile systems for quick fire support. With no minimum-ranged weapons, the Koshi can be quite the nasty surprise if positioned in an enemy’s rear arc; the multiple missile packs and machine guns can rip open and cause critical damage in one round to the rear of most light ‘Mechs. Keep it moving, however – standing still is an invitation to destruction. (Jade Falcon, Steel Viper)

Koshi A

The Koshi A retains the same movement curve as the Prime and is just as lightly armored. The main difference between the two is in the offensive loadout – the Koshi A carries nothing heavier than two machine guns. Use this ‘Mech as a dedicated battle armor delivery system and to hunt enemy battle armor; if you find yourself facing down another ‘Mech, use your mobility to retreat. Fast. (Snow Raven, Fire Mandrill)

Dragonfly Prime

A medium ‘Mech with an incredible movement curve, the key to using this scout ‘Mech is its jumping MP. By jumping 7 or 8 MP, you generate a +4 movement modifier (+3 for the 7 hexes and +1 for the jump). The two pulse lasers help minimize the jumping penalty on your attack roll (giving you a -2 modifier to your target number) and the SRM 4 system carries enough ammo that you can risk low probability shots at will. (Ghost Bear, Cloud Cobra)


Slightly slower than scouts, these ‘Mechs sacrifice a little speed for more weaponry. Their purpose is to unload a massive barrage of firepower, then back off to find another opening and do it all over again. Bold tactics work best with these units; many a battle has been lost or won based on how they are used.

In order to survive long enough to close in with your opponent, you need to keep strikers moving, using terrain to provide cover until you reach medium or short range with your target.

Dragonfly A

Just as mobile as the Prime version, the Dragonfly is a great striker ‘Mech. Use its jump to maximum effect by landing in an enemy’s rear arc and unloading all five ER medium lasers with a SRM 6 follow-up. While it will test your heat scale with such a high-risk attack (a +3 added to your to-hit roll because of the jump), you have the mobility to jump a distance away into cover and cool down before repeating. (Hell’s Horses, Blood Spirit)

Fenris Prime

Just as fast as the Dragonfly, the Fenris lacks the other ‘Mech’s jumping mobility but makes up for it with slightly more armor and a heavier ER PPC. The Fenris is good for hanging back and covering other striker units and is fast enough to take advantage of an enemy’s rear if the opportunity presents itself. (Wolf, Coyote)

Ryoken A

One of the best strikers of the Clans, the Ryoken has better-than-average speed, is moderately armored to withstand at least one devastating attack from a heavier ‘Mech, and mounts enough weapons to cripple or destroy most light and medium ‘Mechs at medium and short range. (Snow Raven, Goliath Scorpion)

Loki Prime

A heavy ‘Mech with a decent weapons compliment, the Loki should never be used as a lone striker unit. The Loki is quite capable of dealing significant damage from medium range and considering that the Loki has a lower speed curve than other strikers, it is best if you kept it at medium range of your opponents. The Loki’s weak armor coverage – most medium ‘Mechs have better – is a serious weakness that can quickly be exploited. (Jade Falcon, Fire Mandrill)


Skirmishers are versatile ‘Mechs that combine mobility, armor and firepower to take the fight to the enemy and inflict serious damage. Unlike most ‘Mechs described elsewhere, skirmishers can be used in a variety of ways depending upon the situation and terrain.

Excellent at harassment tactics, use these ‘Mechs at the vanguard of your force while your more specialized forces get into position. Do not use these for direct assault, however. Their firepower – while respectable – is usually not capable of taking down heavily defended positions or assault ‘Mechs.

Black Hawk Prime

The capability of this ‘Mech lies in the tremendous firepower it brings to bear. Unloading every weapon on the ‘Mech (called an “alpha strike”) has the potential of doing 84 points of damage, which can practically cripple a heavy ‘Mech in one volley. However, using the Black Hawk in such a way guarantees it will shut down from the tremendous heat output. Use the lasers judiciously and alpha strike only sufficiently defended by its teammates for the next turn; a shutdown ‘Mech cannot move or fire until it cools off! (Hell’s Horses, Cloud Cobra)

Vulture A

While the Vulture A has two long-ranged weapons in the ER PPC and LB 5-X, the key to this ‘Mech is to get in close when the target’s armor is heavily damaged. The six SRM 6 launchers can deliver a devastating volley and each missile has a chance for critical damage if they hit an unarmored location. The armor on the Vulture is weak however, so keeping it in the thick of the fight for any period of time is not a wise idea. (Hell’s Horses, Star Adder)

Man-o’-War A

Equal in speed to other skirmisher ‘Mechs, the Man-o’-War is one of the faster assault-class ‘Mechs in the Clans. Solid armor protection makes it a good ‘Mech to use in a longer engagement, which might be needed as the Man-o’-War A only mounts a Gauss rifle, an LRM 10 and a SRM 4. Use it to snipe at range as you approach, then cover its teammates as they retreat from delivering their salvos. (Wolf, Goliath Scorpion)

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


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.


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.


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)

BattleTech: A Strategic and Tactical Primer(Pt. 5)


Part 5 of the Strategy and Tactics Guide from the cancelled Clan Box Set. Errors are my own, as this is straight from a first draft.


Don’t overlook the chance to inflict a few extra points of damage by making physical attacks. Though Clan warriors tend to frown up such actions, it is not forbidden and in some Clans, actually encouraged against Inner Sphere foes. The main risk in making physical attacks is that you must be adjacent to your target to execute kicks, punches and other such attacks, which usually puts you at risk for physical attacks in return. Also, if you and/or your opponent decide to make a weapons attack at such close range, all the weapons are likely to hit – a potentially deadly situation.

While physical attacks are rare for Clan warriors to use, it is always wise to understand what these attacks may entail, since Inner Sphere opponents have no compunction in using them against Clan foes.


Punching attacks have numerous advantages. First, a punch is one of the few types of physical attack that does not cause damage to the attacking ‘Mech. But, perhaps more importantly, you roll the attack’s hit location on the Punch Hit Location Table, which offers a 1 in 6 chance to hit the target’s head. That means a punch is six times more likely to hit a ‘Mech’s head than a regular weapons shot!

Because you cannot make a punching attack with an arm that fired a weapon during the current turn, you must decide to punch before you declare your weapon attacks. A ‘Mech can punch once with each arm in a single turn.

When adjacent to other ‘Mechs, large BattleMechs should almost always punch rather than firing arm-mounted weapons with a minimum range. For example, the Gladiator Prime mounts a Gauss rifle in its left arm and two ER large lasers in its right. Firing both ER large lasers will do plenty of damage if both to-hit rolls are successful, so punching with the right arm is an option only if heat is a problem (the lasers each generate 10 points of heat). Firing the Gauss rifle will do 15 points of damage for 1 point of heat, but a Gauss rifle fired that close to a punchable target also gains a +2 to-hit penalty due to its minimum range. In this case, it may be preferable to not fire the Gauss for the easier punch attack with the left arm. Before slugging away, however, keep in mind that missing or damaged arm actuators adds a +1 to-hit modifier to punching attacks (see Intro Rulebook p.XX). In the example above, the Gladiator would have only a +1 modifier to its punch attack, as opposed to the +2 for the minimum range modifier for the Gauss rifle attack.


‘Mechs rarely use clubs to attack opponents, because players rarely fight scenarios in which suitable clubs are available. Other ‘Mech’s limbs make good clubs, for example, but few attacks result in a limb being blown off. ‘Mechs can uproot trees to use as clubs, but must spend a full turn doing so. Finally, a ‘Mech must use (and have functional) two hand actuators to wield a club. Obviously this attack offers few advantages over a punch attack.

Physical Weapons (Hatchets)

Though none of the ‘Mechs in the Clans come equipped with hatchets (or any other physical attack weapons), you may face an opponent using an Inner Sphere ‘Mech that does. These massive weapons function just like a club, except a ‘Mech can wield them with one hand.


The best situation for using a pushing attack is against a ‘Mech standing at the top of a hill or on the edge of the map. Though some players would recommend a charging attack under these circumstances, a push can be just as effective and causes no damage to the attacking ‘Mech.

Most scenarios call for the “destruction” of any ‘Mechs that leave the map, either intentionally or accidentally. If an enemy ‘Mech is standing at the edge of the map, a push off the map can “kill” the ‘Mech for game purposes, causing no damage to your ‘Mech.

A successful push attack may also cause the target BattleMech to fall; this is a particularly effective attack if the target ‘Mech falls down a hill. Especially for a heavy ‘Mech, a fall down a hill can be more damaging than two punch attacks. It’s true – the bigger they are, the harder they fall.


Successful kick attacks can cause a lot of damage, often effectively crippling a ‘Mech. Kick attacks offer a good choice for additional attacks in a turn. (A ‘Mech cannot kick with a leg that fired a weapon in that turn, but few BattleMechs have leg-mounted weapons so this is not much of a restriction.) As an added bonus, a ‘Mech that is kicked successfully must make a successful Piloting Skill Roll or fall down.

On the down side, if you miss a kick, you must make a successful Piloting Skill Roll or your ‘Mech falls. This is a good reason for not making a kick attack if the attack requires a high to-hit number. If your MechWarrior has a poor Piloting Skill or the ‘Mech has suffered damage that affects Piloting Skill Rolls, you may prefer to make a punch attack rather than a kick attack.


A charging attack can be tremendously damaging to an opponent, especially when the attacking ‘Mech possesses a combination of speed and weight. Fast, heavy ‘Mechs such as Gladiators and Mad Cats make good charging attacks, as do Pumas  and Fenris on the light and medium weights. A charging ‘Mech cannot make any weapon attacks in the turn it charges, however, and so the player must weigh this disadvantage against the potential damage the charging attack might inflict.

In general, charging attacks have a low probability of success and cause damage to the charging ‘Mech as well as its target. Only if your ‘Mech is damaged or has lost its ranged weapons should you consider a charge, and then only if there is a good, clear path between your ‘Mech and the target.

Death From Above (DFA)

This attack is very difficult to pull off and decidedly rare. It can cause your ‘Mech serious damage. That being said, DFA is one of the most dramatic, enjoyable moves you can execute in BattleTech, and nearly always earns the admiration of your opponent and onlookers if it is successful. It is considered good form to yell out “Death from above, surat!” when attempting this bold maneuver. You may even get a round of applause!

In practice, you should only make a DFA as a last resort. Use it primarily when your jump-capable ‘Mech is severely damaged or in danger of being destroyed soon anyway. This attack allows you to go out with a bang, instead of a whimper.

BattleTech: A Strategic and Tactical Primer(Pt. 4)


Part 4 of the Strategy and Tactics Guide from the cancelled Clan Box Set. Errors are my own, as this is straight from a first draft.


Generally, it’s best to always fire every weapon that has a chance of hitting the target, because one can never predict which weapon will mean the difference between victory and defeat. Players should also, hover, consider overheating problems and a ‘Mech’s ammunition supplies when making weapon attacks.


The main limit on a BattleMech’s overall firepower is heat. Nearly everything a ‘Mech does generates heat, and weapons fire is certainly no exception. When choosing which and how many weapons to fire, heat is usually the deciding factor.

A few ‘Mech designs, such as the Uller A or the Dragonfly Prime, can fire all their weapons and move at full speed in the same turn and never even think about overheating. These ‘Mechs are rare however, and usually lack much of a punch. Most BattleMechs, such as the Masakari Prime, suffer moderate heat problems if they fire all of their weapons at once. It’s fairly easy to manage the heat level on this units, however, because you will rarely need to fire the ‘Mech’s full weapons array simultaneously. With ‘Mechs like these, go ahead and overheat whenever you feel confident of a successful attack. On more difficult shots, simply hold off firing at least one weapon that requires ammunition. You’ll avoid overheating and conserve ammo at the same time.

Then there are ‘Mechs with real heat problems, such as the Black Hawk Prime. Fortunately, these ‘Mechs usually carry either two distinct types of weapons (short range and long range) or an overabundance of one (medium range). Rather than firing all your weapons every time you attack and hoping to hit something, only fire those weapons that have a good chance of hitting.

Finally, take a look at the Heat Scale in the lower right corner of the record sheet. Note that there are no adverse effects for a heat level of 1-4 points. This means you can exceed a ‘Mech’s heat sink capacity by 4 points before it has any effect on your ‘Mech at all.


Most ‘Mechs carry an ample supply of ammunition for an average BattleTech game (team teams of four ‘Mechs each, battling on two mapsheets). If your weapons carry less than ten shots, however, or if the game is played with significantly larger forces, you will have to conserve your ammunition.

The easiest way to conserve ammunition is to choose not to take shots with a to-hit number of 11 or 12. In general, if the to-hit number is 10, you must decide if the chance to score a hit is worth the ammunition you waste if the shot misses. Unless the target is heavily armored and the shot is unlikely to cause critical damage, it’s usually worth it.

As a secondary consideration, players may want to reduce their ammo loads to decrease the potential damage of ammo explosions. Some weapons, most notably machine guns and SRM 2s, carry large supplies of ammunition per critical space, which can inflict substantial damage if hit. If you feel inclined to reduce the risk of explosion at the expense of battlefield endurance and your opponent agrees, you can carry a “light load,” reducing the total amount of ammunition carried for any of your weapons. Write any such changes clearly on your record sheet so your opponent also knows exactly how much ammo you are carrying. Keep in mind that you can’t reverse your decision halfway through the scenario: once you hit the field, you’ve got only the ammunition indicated on your record sheet.

Clan Code of Honor

During their inception and throughout most of their history until their invasion of the Inner Sphere, Clan society developed a ritualized process of warfare that aligns with their “waste not, want not” mentality. Most Clan battles tend to utilize this code of battle, formally known as “zellbrigen.” In a nutshell, each Clan unit challenges one of his opponents, usually a ‘Mech that is of equal or greater power than itself. The aim of the pilot is to heap glory on him or herself by winning against an equal or greater foe.

The Clans attempted to use this type of ritualized combat when they faced Inner Sphere forces during the initial invasion; however, the militaries of the Great Houses and other factions found ways to manipulate such a rigid battle code against the Clans. As a consequence, most Clans refuse to use such an honored combat system with the Inner Sphere “barbarians” and tend to use the same tactics that the Inner Sphere utilizes in their warfare.

For more details on zellbrigen and the Clan Honor Code, please see Total Warfare, p. 273.

Concentrated Fire

A standard tactic of most Inner Sphere militaries, many Clans also use this tactic when their opponent is an Inner Sphere force.

A ‘Mech can take many hits before being destroyed, so concentrate your attacks on a single target whenever possible. By taking an entire ‘Mech out of action more quickly, you deny your opponent the use of that ‘Mech. If you spread your attacks across many targets, you may inflict damage on them all but you’re unlikely to destroy any of them. Even damaged ‘Mechs can continue to fire back, but a destroyed ‘Mech is no longer a threat. Therefore, concentrating fire against a single target is usually preferable even when easier targets present themselves.

BattleTech: A Strategic and Tactical Primer (Pt. 3)


Attacker Movement

In Target Movement, we advised you to move your ‘Mechs as far as possible to achieve the maximum possible target movement modifier. If you plan to attack during the turn, however, you also need to consider the effect of your ’Mech’s movement on its to-hit number. The movement mode you use each turn – Standing Still, Walking, Running, or Jumping – determines the attacker movement modifier. Simply put, the faster you move, the harder it will be to hit your target.

This consideration makes it important for you to decide whether you will be on the offensive or defensive during the turn when choosing your ‘Mech’s movement mode. You must also consider your ‘Mech’s position on the map relative to your opponent, as well as the range and firing arcs of your weapons.

If you are simply concerned with keeping your ‘Mech alive, which is often the case if it is damaged or if it is a light ‘Mech and you lost the Initiative, don’t worry about moving quickly. Jump your ‘Mech if possibly; the ‘Mech’s heat factor is not important if you are not attacking, and jumping adds an additional modifier to your opponent’s to-hit number.

If you plan to attack during the turn, movement is a whole different story. Basically, never jump when a run will do, and never run when you can get by with a walk. If you think your ‘Mech can survive it, just stand still.

When on the attack, only jump your ‘Mech if doing so will allow you to position the ‘Mech at your opponent’s back. The hefty +3 modifier to your attack to-hit number for jumping will make your shots difficult, so they better count!

Running movement is preferable to jumping, as it only imposes a +2 modifier. Use running movement to gain a good firing position, such as Woods hex or Partial Cover. In the right situations, running can also allow you to circle around behind your opponent.

If you have to move and fire, your best option is to walk, as walking movement adds only a +1 modifier to your attack to-hit number. Unless your ‘Mech is very fast, however, walking won’t get you very far. Try to cross at least 3 hexes during your move so that your ‘Mech receives the +1 Target Movement Modifier to your opponent’s shots.

To give your ‘Mech the best chance of successfully attacking a target, allow the ‘Mech to stand still. But keep in mind that this strategy works only if the ‘Mech has good cover or is far away from its targets; otherwise, a standing ‘Mech may become a sitting duck for return fire. The tactic of standing and shooting works particularly well for slow ‘Mechs equipped with long-range weapons, such as the Warhawk – and if you can position such a ‘Mech on a hill, preferably in a nice clump of woods, the ‘Mech can comfortably snipe at enemy ‘Mechs from its vantage point with nothing to fear from opposing ‘Mechs whose weapons cannot reach it.

The guiding principle of attacker movement is: if you want to attack and you don’t need to move, don’t move.

Weapon Range

Offensive maneuvering is based on the range and firing arcs of your ‘Mech’s weapons. Ideally, you want the enemy at short range and within the firing arc of all your weapons. This is not always possible, but by considering your ‘Mechs weapons when you move, as well as your opponent’s weapons, you can be in the best available position to attack.

In addition to short, medium and long range, remember that some weapons have a minimum range. Because Clan technology is much more advanced than its standard Inner Sphere counterpart, very few weapons have minimum ranges – mostly autocannons and other large-bore weapons. Taking a short inside a weapon’s minimum range adds a substantial target modifier.


Type                       Loc         Heat       Dam       Min         Short      Med.       Long

1 Gauss Rifle        RA           1              15           2              1-7          8-15        16-22

2 ER Med Lasers LA           5              7              –               1-5          6-10        11-15


For example, say you have a Uller A, which mounts a Gauss rifle and 2 ER medium lasers. The most potent weapon on the ‘Mech is its Gauss rifle, which also has a considerable range of 22 hexes. But you are already fairly close to your opponent and want to inflict as much damage as possible. In this case, you also need to bring your lasers to bear. But how do you do that, without encroaching on the minimum range of the Gauss rifle?

Look at your weapon ranges. Short range for your gauss rifle is 1 – 7 hexes. For the ER medium lasers, it’s 1-5 hexes. So it looks like the best option is a range of 3 – 5 hexes, where both weapons are at short range. Any closer will only encroach on the Gauss’s minimum range of 2, which forces a +1 to-hit modifier.


Another factor to keep in mind when choosing where to move is the range of your opponent’s weapons. If your ‘Mech has a range advantage against your opponent’s ‘Mech, be sure to use that advantage. For example, if you have a Ryoken Prime and your opponent is playing a Black Hawk Prime, your most effective option is to keep the Black Hawk between 11 and 15 hexes away. The Nova Prime mounts only ER medium lasers; long range for them is 11-15 hexes. The Ryoken’s two ER large lasers, however, have a medium range of 9-15. Thus, the Black Hawk will have a +4 to-hit modifier due to long range, as opposed to your +2 for medium range.

If your opponent has the range advantage over your ‘Mech, you can protect your ‘Mech by moving in close, a particularly effective tactic if his weapons are limited by minimum ranges. Because few Clan weapons are restricted as such, however, it is important that you keep your movement modifier as high as possible and not within physical contact range, if the ‘Mech is larger than you.


The following example and Weapon Ranges Diagram above, using the Classic BattleTech map, shows how to use movement tactics in a game.

Your ‘Mech is a Vulture A. At this point in the game you have lost your left arm and its LB 5-X, leaving you with an ER PPC and 6 SRM 6s. Your ‘Mech is in Hex A, and has a Walking MP 5 and Running MP 8. Your opponent lost the Initiative and moved his ‘Mech into Hex B (not a very good move, as you will see).

How should you respond? That depends on your opponent’s ‘Mech and how aggressively you want to play.

If your opponent is in a damaged or relatively weak ‘Mech, you might choose to Walk and move 2 hexes forward, turn left, and enter the Heavy Woods in Hex C. This will place you face-to-face with your opponent. Walking movement gives you a +1 attacker movement modifier. You are standing in Heavy Woods (+2 terrain modifier) and you crossed 3 hexes (+1 target movement modifier) for a total modifier of +3 to your opponent’s attacks.

If your opponent is in a heavy or undamaged ‘Mech, you should take the opportunity to shoot at his back. You can put your ‘Mech into position for this attack by running. Turn left, then move 3 hexes. Turn right, and move 2 more hexes in to Hex D. If you want to attack by kicking, use your final movement point to turn 1 hex side to the right. This movement puts you directly behind his ‘Mech, where most of his weapons will be unable to fire on you; you can also make physical attacks into his rear arc as well. In addition, because you crossed 5 hexes, your opponent must add a +2 modifier to his attacks.


Torso Twist

When moving your BattleMechs, remember that they can perform torso twists; the extra hex side in either direction provides a great deal of flexibility in their firing arcs. For example, a ‘Mech carrying a weapon mounted in an arm can twist its torso and fire at an enemy ‘Mech directly behind it.

It is especially important to remember the advantage of torso twists when moving your ‘Mechs defensively. When facing a ‘Mech with a powerful arm-mounted weapon in one arm and no weapon in the other arm (such as the Awesome and Panther, from the Introductory Boxed Set), you can actually position your ‘Mech so that your opponent cannot hit your unit!

Next: Weapon Attacks: Heat, Ammunition, Clan Code of Honor, and Concentrated Fire

BattleTech: A Strategic and Tactical Primer (Pt. 2)



The heart of the BattleTech game is effective maneuvering. Games often are won or lost on the strength of the competent, well-thought-out movement of each ‘Mech. Movement is intimately connected to both attacking your enemies and defending your own ‘Mechs. Successfully balanced, these factors lead to a winning movement strategy.

By moving defensively, you make it as difficult as possible for enemy ‘Mechs to attack you successfully. In this case, you should move your ‘Mechs as far as you can and end your movement in the best available cover. When moving to accomplish offensive goals, you must consider the best way to maneuver your BattleMechs into firing position against your opponent’s ‘Mechs, making sure your weapons are in range and the enemy appears in the appropriate firing arcs.

The following information outlines the effects of various types of movement in BattleTech. Suggestions for both offensive and defensive tactics appear under each topic.

Target Movement

The main thing to keep in mind when moving your ‘Mech defensively is that the further a ‘Mech moves during the turn, the higher its target movement modifier. This makes shots against your ‘Mech more difficult, resulting in a longer life span. For example, light ‘Mechs often carry minimal arms and armament. These ‘Mechs rarely survive a stand-up fight, but if they keep moving they are harder to hit. In game terms, a Mist Lynx is lightly armored, but if it jumps 5 or 6 hexes every turn, the opponent must add a +3 modifier to every attack, making his or her shots considerably more difficult.

The following target movement modifiers show that each modifier represents a range of movement. For example, movement of both 3 and 4 hexes gives your ‘Mech a +1 Target Movement Modifier. If you move 4 hexes, you receive the same modifier as for moving 3. If you move your ‘Mech 3, 5, 7 or 10 or more hexes, you receive the highest modifier possible with the least amount of movement necessary (which may be important when it is your turn to attack).

As a rule of thumb, never move 2 hexes when you can move 3. Never move your ‘Mech 4 hexes when 5 will put the ‘Mech in a similar position. Whenever possible, move your ‘Mech to get the highest target movement modifier possible. It can literally save your ‘Mech!


You will always benefit from using the terrain to your advantage, though some types of terrain are more advantageous than others in certain circumstances.

Particularly if you are playing a light or jump-capable ‘Mech, keep your ‘Mech in woods whenever possible. Standing in a Woods hex is an easy way to make your opponent’s shots more difficult. If you intend to attack you opponent during the turn, position your BattleMech so that is standing in woods but does not have to shoot through woods (remember, you don’t add a modifier to your attacks for the woods your ‘Mech occupies). If you don’t intend to attack, then the more woods between you and your opponent, the better!

Also don’t forget to use hills and water terrain for partial cover. While a +1 to-hit modifier may not appear that significant, it can be, especially when a good portion of any successful hits might strike cover and do no damage. Of course moving through water carries its own risks, such as taking longer to cross the same number of non-water hexes, not to mention all the dangerous Piloting Skill Rolls. But if you’ve got a ‘Mech with heat sinks in the legs, such as the Masakari or Daishi, the extra heat dissipation just might be worthwhile.

Though it does not really qualify as terrain, the edge of the map may offer a tactical advantage. In most scenarios, ‘Mechs may not move through or enter the half-hexes along the edge of the map. If you position your ‘Mech in one of the full hexes on the edge of the map with its back turned to the map edge, this means your opponent cannot shoot at your back. Because most scenarios also count as “destroyed” any ‘Mech that leaves the map (even accidentally) this defensive tactic poses certain risks. A ‘Mech standing at the edge of the map can be moved off the map if another ‘Mech successfully pushes or charges it; any death-from-above attack against that unit will also push it off the map. Players must balance this risk against the benefit of covering their ‘Mech’s back.

Dropping to the Ground

‘Mechs rarely go prone because it is difficult to fire weapons lying down and the player must make a Piloting Skill Roll to stand the ‘Mech back up again. In some situations, however, this maneauver will surprise your opponent and completely protect your ‘Mech from damage – if done in the right situation.

Moving your ‘Mech behind a Level 1 Hill and then dropping it prone takes your ‘Mech out od line of sight and makes it invulnerable to attack (unless the enemy can circle around the hill). A ‘Mech that drops prone in Depth 1 Water also will be invisible as though it were standing in Depth 2 Water. In both of these cases, you effectively hide your BattleMech in situations that normally would give your enemy several good shots at you.


Carefully consider the final facing of a ’Mech when moving. If you plan to attack, you must make sure the ‘Mech ends its movement in a facing that allows it to fire on its target. Remember that you can torso twist to change the firing arcs of some weapons.

Defensively, you can use your facing choice to protect a ‘Mech that has suffered significant damage to one side but not the other. By facing so that most enemy attacks will hit the undamaged side of the ‘Mech, you decrease the chance of suffering hits to the damaged side. For example, if you ‘Mech has suffered more damage to the left arm, torso, and leg, try to face your ‘Mech so attacks will roll on the right side column of the hit location table. Attacking ‘Mechs should also keep this principle in mind. Try to move your ‘Mechs so that they can launch attacks at the more damaged side of their targets.

A ‘Mech’s facing at the end of the turn also affects its movement in the next turn. Try to think a turn ahead and set up each ‘Mech for its next move when possible. For example, if you think you will want a ‘Mech to run very quickly toward the enemy in the next turn, don’t face the ‘Mech toward rough terrain or woods. That would require facing changes or moving through difficult terrain during the turn, which will slow its advance.

Next: Attacker Movement, Weapon Ranges, and Torso Twisting