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

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