Repairs are both expensive and time-consuming, so minimizing damage is very important. Evasion (which you get from moving, more if you’re jumping) is critical, as is cover. Keep your mechs moving, keep them in cover if you can, and avoid letting the enemy take potshots at your back.
Vanilla? Do the campaign, advancing in it gives you enough money not to worry too much about mistakes. Other than that, off the top of my head:
- Weapons: ACs are pretty bad until AC10/20, which are usually too heavy. and you still have to deal with recoil; medium lasers by default, since overheating now and then is not that bad (except on moons); missiles you want the higher rates to get knockdowns for aimed shots and more parts, otherwise don’t bother too much (but indirect LRMs are going to suck for a while); once you grasp those, you can try the rest. Don’t try to mix ranges too much, you want a shooting round to count, even if you run away next turn. Don’t do DFAs.
- Armor: Make sure you have your important stuff protected, including head and torso; the back is usually weaker, avoid exposing it and try to hit it; think if it’s a good idea to expose a damaged side to risk a shot, at least do the math on weapon damage.
- Evasion pips good, try to move as much as possible; cover is probably even better. Try to figure out from where you can be shot from. Jump is nice to move everywhere, but they’re secondary to weapons and armor. Although a single jj is sometimes a god send to avoid obstacles.
- Delaying is a mechanic. If you’re fine waiting, wait. You can even have the lighter mechs (in the fight) go twice in a row by waiting until the last initiative on the first turn.
- Some mechs are just bad, some are just great. And some are just tricky.
Here’s a simple path to get started with the vanilla game:
Start a campaign. There will be two short tutorial missions then a more open mission, and then you will end up in control of a mercenary company. You will have several mechs, including a Shadowhawk, a Vindicator and a Blackjack. The Vindy, without any modifications, is a solid choice for short to medium range scrapper and the unmodified Blackjack is a solid medium to long range shooter. Those will be your core mechs. The Shadowhawk stock setup is kinda weird and janky, but don’t modify it until you have enough mechs set up to your liking to fill out a lance of 4 with the Shadowhawk being repaired. For your fourth mech, you are going to have to use one of the lights at first, just pick the least-worst.
You will start in the independent part of the map with a lot of half-skull and one-skull missions. Stick to those. Use your Vindicator as your front mech to get close and your Blackjack to shoot from range. Use your other mechs as appropriate. Try to focus fire and kill one foe at a time. Vehicles are easy to kill, especially if you get close enough to stomp em (Mechs do double melee damage to vehicles on a stomp). Missions where you fight vehicles or take out enemy convoys are a good way to build up some funds. Be careful about the skull ratings and also pay attention to the additional verbiage Darius will give you. The skulls LIE. But if you pay attention to Darius, he will often clue you in, like “we have no intel on this mission” - that’s a clue the skull rating is off. Also pay attention to the money offered for the mission - if it seems high for the number of skulls that means the skull rating is wrong - trust the money, doubt the skull. Even with all that said, Darius is still a dope smoker some of the time. Be aware that on some missions, accomplishing the main goal and then bravely running away is a very viable option.
Do not take on any escort missions or 2 skull missions until you know what you are doing. Shepherding those drunk-driving vehicle dudes is like herding cats, and at the 2 skull and up level, bad things can happen.
As you gain money and parts, start customizing your mechs to your preference. LIke Perky_Goth said, I like to have my mechs focus on one range of shots so I can alpha strike with confidence. I know others like Lego Warrior enjoy a mix of weapon ranges but that’s weird to me.
As an example, when you customize your starting Vindy, strip everything off but medium lasers and SRMs. You’ll notice they have the same (short) range so they make a solid combo. For close range mechs I like to add jump jets. I’d rather have a “slow” 4-movement-pip mech like the Vindy with jumpjets than a fast Cicada with many more movement pips but no tonnage for armor or weapons. By slapping jump jets on the Vindy you make up for a lot of maneuverability and allow it to get close to use its weapons. For that starting Blackjack, I tend to strip out everything and put a couple of AC5s in there - that gives you a solid mid to long range punch without a lot of heat problems.
As you add mechs to your collection, a few to look out for:
I love the basic Centurion, configured as a missile boat. It’s a 50 tonner with only 4 movement pips and as a missile boat I leave the jump jets off. That means it slow but with the long range and indirect fire of LRMs you don’t care. It has 3 missile mounts so you can easily get 35 or 40 LRMs on there - it’ll run a bit hot and be a bit light on armor, but again, missile boat.
The Hunchback 4G is your buddy if you want to rock an AC20 - I usually strip most of the other crap off there and focus on the AC20, plus jump jets to get in position.
The 5-movement-pip 55 ton mechs are all interchangeable IMO but I like the Shadowhawk best due to its high base melee attack of 85. Even without arm mods, a Shadowhawk can punch a light mech into next week. The stock Shadowhawks all have janky configs so you will need to retool them: I tend to go for jump jets, SRMs and Medium Lasers.
There are many other ways to make light and medium lances that are good; I leave that to you.
Generally speaking, the lightest mechs in a tier suck b/c they have the initiative and engine weight of that tier, without the tonnage to really carry it all. As an example, the 55 ton 5-movement mechs are IMO better than the 60 ton 5-movement mechs. By the time you account for the engine, the 60 tonners don’t actually have more usable tonnage than the 55ers and yet they are one whole initiative point less active, and I believe in initiative.
Mechs that I like to customize that you can access fairly easily
Hunchback 4G for ballistic, 4P for laser
Shadowhawk as a puncher
Centurion as a missile boat
Panther as my preferred light mech
Jenner if you have nothing better
Firestarter if you are a weirdo who loves pain
At the heavier tiers, I like:
Thunderbolt: very flexible, can be configged in many useful ways
Catapult: everyone loves missile boats
Jaegermech: weird but the A is a good missile boat and the S is a nasty ballistic platform
Archer: the best missile boat in the game. I love me some Archers
Grasshopper: the best short range/melee light mech killer
Orion: very flexible
Marauder: only available from Heavy Metal DLC and can be hard to acquire but one you get the Baby Jesus will cry. I could explain but really, you need to get a Marauder with a Tactics 9 pilot and experience it.
As you play the campaign, the campaign missions will provide helpful cash boosts, but try to have your lance ready and pay attention to the pre-mission briefings. Many of the campaign missions have special requirements but are very doable with planning.
That’s a neat hack. I may give that a go if/when I start two separate campaigns.
You know what’s a game-changer? A Shadowhawk with a Sniper Artillery piece, that’s what! Inferno rounds to roast clumps of enemies, Shaped Charge rounds to blow holes in things. And now I have two of 'em. Heh.
Have not used vehicles yet myself, though they are in many missions. As allies they tend to be useful as harassers, and they usually aren’t too fragile during escort missions. As enemies I try to kill them fast, as they often mount some nasty stuff.
It is fun stomping on vehicles, and annoying as hell when you whiff on the stomp. There are some scary vehicles that pack quite a punch.
Missing a stomp on, say, an SRM carrier?
Sharpe’s guide is great! One other thing I would add: in the early game, mobility is absolutely key. First, mobility (sprinting/jumping) gives you more evasion, which makes you harder to hit – which is good, because your mechs can’t take too many hits, and every hit costs C-bills. Second, my go-to strategy in the early-mid game is to flank enemies and hit their lightly armored rears. For a lot of the lighter mechs, one or two decent hits to the rear can get you into dealing structural damage and crits, which is a nice way to quickly knock enemies down.
Related to that, remember to use your firing arcs both for targeting enemies and also to change where you’re going to take damage. If your right side is damaged, twist so that your left side is more exposed.
I would also recommend the DLC because of the additional mechs and the flashpoints (which are fun little mini-campaigns that provide additional rewards/mechs).
My starting lance last night has an urbie with a ppc that is messing people up. Our first rebuilds of salvage have been a Wasp, and a Panther. I have half the parts for a Griffin-1N, which should give us a little more resilience.
That is one angry trash can.
He just plods along behind everyone and rips off limbs of opposing mechs. Took the head off one poor fella. He is having fun with all of these beat up mechs in the .5 skull missions.
My career game in BTA 3062 is hitting something of a stride. I don’t have more than two or three month’s of operating cash in the bank, usually, but I’m not getting completely obliterated in missions either. Once you hit a sort of tipping point in salvage and start being able to field 220+ tons or so, with some choice in loadouts, it gets a lot better.
Sometimes RNG is fun/terrible, too. Like when a stray shot that misses one guy hits another and crits their engine or takes their head off.
I funded this on Kickstarter but due to life, I’m just getting rolling in the game. I have the vanilla version and I chose GoG instead of Steam (whoops)… So question is, does the Season Pass ever go on sale? I’m happy just playing vanilla now, but having been a fan of these games since Battlemech on the Amiga, I’m sure I’m going to eventually want all of the official extras.
Really solid tips, thank you all, from this dad of small children who doesn’t have a lot of time to figure strategies based on trial and error. (I think my Dark souls days are over! At least for now…)
I would like to thank/blame all of you for making me re-install this game. It’s so good.
823 hours played… :( And I just reinstalled it yesterday.
I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the DLC on sale on Steam but cannot recall the details. Dunno about gog.com.
My view on the DLC is that I recommend them IF you can get them at a discount. They are easily worth $5 to $10 each IMO but not $20 each.
The DLC does go on sale somewhat regularly, but if you’re on GOG that may limit your options (it’s usually the Steam version that’s on sale). You can track sales for each of the DLCs individually (along with all the other Battletech stuff) through IsThereAnyDeal.com. The Season Pass is the collection of all the DLCs in one package; cheapest historically on GOG is $17, but current is $50.
It may end up being easiest, however, to just buy the “Mercenary Collection” – which is the base game plus all the DLCs – since it may be cheaper to do that than buy the DLCs alone on GoG (cheapest historically is $15, current is $31). You may get a Steam package for that, though. I don’t think that package includes the fancy Shadow Hawk that you got for kickstarting the game, but that’s not a huge loss.
EDIT: I’d reiterate what Sharpe said, too. While I’ve gotten more than my $20/ea. worth of value out of the expansions, it’s way better to get 'em cheap since unless you’re going to play the game multiple times you probably won’t get $60 in value out of the DLC.
Sometimes you just gotta spend the money to get the goods. Especially when it comes to big, stumpy robots.
Vote with your wallet. Big Stompy Robots for the People.