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.