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.

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