Contracts and Campaign Preparation
Probably your first and most important decision will be deciding which
contract you'll choose to accept. Be careful not to over-extend yourself. To
off, you'll probably want to take a training campaign or something similarly
risk, to build up your credit balance and purchase more advanced Mechs and
equipment. When assessing missions, you should weigh each contract carefully
and only commit if you're sure your Lance will be able to fulfil its
Sometimes potential employers will offer specific guidelines, such as a
recommended tonnage, so pay attention and make sure you're up to the job.
Remember, financial success ultimately depends on mission performance and just
how well you're able to honour your contract.
Risk aside, the C-bills on offer are your next consideration; after all your
aim is to make money, right? But you should also take note of the bounties paid
and, especially, potential salvage rights. Missions where the probability of
is high are extremely desirable, as your battlefield endeavours might earn you
bonus weapons or even a new Mech by the end of the campaign. You'll usually
find that rebel employers are more likely to offer good salvage rights, rather
governments, clans or organisations.
A word of caution about committing to long-term corporate contracts: Although
the money initially looks good, they can be full of hidden costs. Sometimes
have to sustain your Lance for up to a year in the field without access to arms
Mech merchants, and the extra amount of spares and weapons required could well
make a big dent in your profit margin.
Buying New Mechs
At the end of each campaign you'll usually receive a substantial completion
and you'll probably rush hot-foot back to the Mech Factory, ready to make a new
purchase. The Mech market changes constantly, so if you see something you'd
like, weigh in and buy it immediately - it might not be there next time. Don't
forget you can trade in your current Mech, as well as salvaged Mechs and
weapons, to offset some of the constant costs of upgrading.
Always choose your next contract before purchasing new Mechs, as then you'll be
able to buy machines which are suited to that campaign. When you've
accumulated enough C-bills to run a stable of Mechs, you can probably afford to
specialise and kit out specific Mechs for specialist roles. However, the
principle is to be flexible and always ensure you have the right tools to get
done. After all the kinds of missions offered to you can vary dramatically.
Successful commanders will spend a considerable time examining Mech
configurations, armour, payloads and weapons in the factory in a bid to find the
perfect combination for their Lance. There's a fair chance you'll meet some of
these Mechs in battle later on, so use the information you accumulate to add to
your knowledge of vulnerable points and potential weaknesses in the various
models: forewarned is forearmed, after all.
It's a buyers market but
1. Make certain that you really want the Mech you're purchasing. If you sell
original model and then have to repurchase it, you'll wind up making a
considerable loss on the whole deal.
2. The more Mechs you own, the greater your technician and maintenance costs,
so always sell off machines and equipment which are surplus to requirements.
3. Although you'll probably retain one heavyweight main Mech as your first
choice machine, keep your secondary Mechs up to scratch. You never know when
you might end up piloting one yourself, and your Lance mates will suffer in
support roles if their Mech is significantly under-powered.
4. Mech development moves fast, so always keep an eye out for new models,
chassis and equipment to keep your Lance at the forefront of current technology.
Customising your Mech is expensive, but the discerning and rich mercenary
commander will find that a few extra modifications give him a real cutting edge
on the battlefield, which may well prove decisive. There's an endless variety of
armour, equipment and payload combinations to try when personalising your
Mech, so know your own strengths and weaknesses as a pilot and try to
incorporate them when working out your own personal optimum configuration.
1. The easiest and cheapest customisation is weapons grouping, where it's usual
to combine armaments of the same type. Ensure that your weapons systems are
organised and logical and use your Mech's weaponry to maximum advantage.
2. Try to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket with Mechs that depend on a
certain type of weapons group. For example, a laser-heavy Mech will suffer on
hot planets and may not be able to muster more than a feeble salvo before
overheating. A Mech which combines several different packages is usually the
most effective in battle.
3. Offset the worst effects of heat build-up by placing single or double heat
in Mechs which rely heavily on laser and PPC systems as their main armament.
Otherwise you'll end up piloting a smoking ruin which, while stylish, is
4. Mechs which use large numbers of missile and projectile weapons have to carry
large amounts of ammunition and can become vulnerable to devastating internal
ammo explosions. The CASE damage limitation system should sort out any
problems in this field. Hopefully.
5. If you can spare the room, place key armaments in the body or torso region of
your Mech. The enhanced armour value in this location will protect them from
being blown away by enemy fire.
6. Be ruthless and strip out systems that don't suit your piloting style. If you
use jump jets very often, whip them out of your chassis to save weight or make
room for extra heat sinks, armour or weapons.
7. The handy Mech weapons table - which you'll have noticed is printed
conveniently on the previous page - should give you some ideas on the pros and
cons of various weapons payloads and configurations. Study it carefully and
Equipment and Personnel
Once you've chosen your contract, make sure you stock up on sufficient spares,
weapons and ammo for duration of the entire mission. If your Mech loses a main
armament, such as a heavy laser or LR Missile Launcher, the chances of salvaging
a replacement are pretty remote, and, obviously, the longer the campaign, the
more spare parts you'll need.
When you've got a couple of campaigns under your belt, you'll probably need to
bring on board some extra staff to pilot your support Mechs and target extra
fighter strikes. Always employ the most skilful Mech and Fighter pilots
and a double-A rating in piloting and gunnery is most desirable. After all, in
intense fire fight, the last thing you want is some rookie running around like a
headless chicken. You'll find that investing in quality personnel will pay
dividends out in the field.
No matter how skilful your management or cunning your preparations, the key to
success as a commander will always ultimately lie out on the battlefield. With
in mind, we'll be drawing on the tactical and strategic expertise of Colonel
Anthrax A. Aardvark, commander of the infamous Purple Heart Free Marauders.
Grizzled veteran of a thousand battlefields, and so hard that even his scars
scars, Aardvark will be offering his own unique insights into sustaining a
successful mercenary command.
'I've lost count of the number of times I've seen a greenhorn charge full
into a battlezone, guns blazing, eager for his first kill. Fortunately, we
carry enough spare body bags to cope! Mech combat is a deadly business and, as
a mercenary, you should be careful to avoid all that gung-ho, glory and honour
nonsense in which clan pilots love to indulge. Remember your prime objectives
are to get the job done and then get back home in one piece. The following
Mercenary battlefield tactics are tried, tested and Tri-M approved and should
your struggle for survival.'
MechWarrior Combat Tactics
'On any mission, your brain is your deadliest weapon.'
Always aim to complete your primary objective first - that's where you'll derive
the bulk of your pay. But you should then assess any other secondary goals
carefully. Remember that bonus objectives are exactly that. They're not
to complete your brief. If you think you stand an above-even chance, then by all
means go for the bonus money but don't risk your entire Lance for a measly
couple of thousand extra credits. 'Retreat' is not a dirty word in our
and neither is 'tactical withdrawal'.
'A slow-moving pilot is just so much meat in a can.'
Speed is essential on the battlefield, and a moving target is much more
hit. Keep your throttle high and avoid predictable patterns and manoeuvres which
will expose you to sustained enemy fire. Never stand still to admire your handy
work, or it might be the last thing you see.
'Let's twist again.'
The dance of death. This elementary but remarkably effective stratagem will
probably come to form the basis of all your standard attack postures. Once
targeted and closed with an enemy Mech at under a hundred metres, you should
lock your turret on a full 90-degree deflection and circle around them, firing
will. Speed should
also be kept high, somewhere between 60 and 70 kph. Mastering the dance of
death will help you avoid enemy missile attacks while being able to inflict
substantial damage on your opponents.
'No-one wins at close quarters.'
Try to avoid pitched battles, where you're involved in slogging toe-to-toe
an enemy Mech at a range of under ten metres. The inevitable pounding you take
will cripple your Mech for the rest of the battle, you won't be able to use
for fear of splash damage, and even if you take the enemy Mech out, the
explosion will cause you additional problems. Keep your distance at all costs,
if you do find yourself too close for comfort, hit Backspace to reverse at speed
'Aim for the big boy.'
Even if you're engaging several opponents, single out and concentrate on one
Mech at a time, rather than just chipping away at several (although don't ignore
possibilities for opportunity fire). Aim to make a quick kill. It's usually best
take out the biggest and hardest opposing Mech first, as this is the unit which
offer your Lance the most threat.
'You don't have to see your enemy to know he's there.'
You should always try to soften up the opposition from long range. If you pick
an enemy signature early on your radar scope, target them and use the zoom view
to zero in on their location. Even if you can't see them right away, use
weapons such as the ER Laser or LR Missiles to pour fire into the distance and
strike the first blow. Using this method, you'll often damage an enemy Mech a
long time before they can retaliate.
Likewise enemy installations defended by conventional means can be vulnerable
to long-range attack. Approach slowly and use LR lasers to peel apart base
defences such as laser or missile turrets, safe in the knowledge, that their
limited range means they won't be able to return fire.
'Aim for the meat, save the metal.'
Once you've closed with an opposing Mech, precision shooting and selective
targeting tactics become available. Look for locations which are already
weakened, or points where you know that particular model is vulnerable and
concentrate your fire there. The head is a prime location for taking apart enemy
Mechs outright but is by far the most difficult component to hit, while the body
region presents the easiest target but is usually protected by the heaviest
Arms are a traditional favourite and might destroy an opposing Mech's main
armament. However, if you want to take an enemy down fast, bite his kneecaps!
Leg armour is usually fairly weak and if you destroy an opponent's legs, you'll
keep his Mech intact but out of the battle for the duration. Salvage
are also increased in this way, but you should beware of sneaky, downed Mechs
jump-jetting their way back to renew hostilities. Whichever location you choose
to target, you'll find that, even close-up, a partial use of zoom view is handy
'Hit them with everything you've got.'
Chain fire is okay for novices, but every Mercenary worth his salt knows that
group fire is potentially lethal. Using grouped weapons calls for a cool head
the ability to pick your shots, but allows you to strike with overwhelming force
and down enemy Mechs in a matter of seconds.
Commanding a Lance calls for much greater strategic thought and planning than
solo missions, but brings its own rewards in terms of team work and enhanced
firepower. The two most useful orders are: 'Attack my target', which will allow
you to bring your whole team's weapons to bear on heavier enemy Mechs; while
ordering Lance Mates to 'Engage at will' will cause them to spread out and may
draw enemy fire away from you.
If you assemble your Mechs into a battle formation, you'll be able to both
each other and concentrate firepower, which can prove deadly. On the downside,
moving in formation will also tend to attract massive enemy interest and leave
your Mechs exposed to peripheral splash damage.
Col. Aardvark's top five quick combat tips
1. Switch to manual, trust your eyes
At close range, don't waste precious seconds waiting for missile or laser locks,
but aim and fire manually. You'll usually stand a more than even chance of
inflicting some hefty damage.
2. Softly, softly
Stealth is a great asset and can be used to provoke enemy Mechs into coming to
meet you, on your own terms. Enemy Mechs guarding installations can often be
lured out, one at a time, by a couple of well-targeted shots. With luck they'll
off to engage you, leaving their comrades oblivious, in the middle distance.
3. Know your enemy
Over the course of a campaign you'll become familiar with the terrain, battle
conditions and enemy forces in that particular theatre. Don't just sit on this
information, make it work for you.
4. The Hover
Emulate primitive helicopter technologies by suddenly rising from behind a
concealed location or ridge to deliver missile-devastating missiles and laser
5. Death from above
There's nothing those Clan glory boys like better than hitting the jump-jets and
landing slap bang on the middle of your cranium. Make no mistake, this is a high
risk manoeuvre and not recommended for mercenary forces. However, if you're
forced to contemplate such drastic action, switch to the down camera view on
your descent, to fine-tune your approach onto the enemy's head.