Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries Strategy
Ok, number one - Don't put anything in your arms unless you have to. The arms almost always go first, which means if all of your weapons are in your arms, you're toast.
|Weapon||Red sight range||Damage range||Cycle time||Proj. speed||Damage||Tons||Shots
/Ton in 15s
The weapons table above comes from the New Avalon Institute of Science (now down) Home Page.
Above is a weapon table with clan weapons on the top section, and Inner Sphere weapons along the bottom. When it comes down to weapons choices in Mercenaries, there are a few things to consider: damage, range, heat, reload time, and tonnage. Let's take a look at these weapons by group. Note that almost that almost all weapons will hit at a different range than the targeting reticle will indicate.
Lasers and PPCs fall into this category. The best thing about these weapons is that they don't require any ammo. You can fire freely and not have to watch the C-Bills going down the drain every time you miss. At a disadvantage though, is they tend to create a lot of heat.
Lasers come in three sizes and two varieties (in addition to IS and Clan versions). Large lasers have an extended range, but at the trade-off for heat. They run hotter and will warm your Mech up faster than other varieties. Medium lasers have less of a range, give off less heat, but do less damage. Now, this isn't really bad. Since MLASs are much smaller than their larger brethren, they weigh less and take up less critical space, making them more efficiency as far as damage in the same amount of space. So you can double your laser count by using medium lasers and pack even more of a punch.
For small lasers, it's the same concept, they're smaller, they put off less heat, but they don't do as much damage. The same rules apply though, as they seem to get more efficient, allowing you to place more lasers on your Mech and do a greater deal of damage. Now, it's hard to recommend them, because their range is really limited. I do like to keep a few for inside fighting though, and alternate with the medium lasers.
Pulse lasers fire lasers in machine-gun like bursts for more damage. They have less range, but they will inflict more harm on enemies. Just by looking at the chart above, you can see that the medium pulse laser is way overpowered compared to the other two and does more damage than the standard MLAS. This is not a bad primary weapon.
PPCs shoot (contrary to Battletech lore) large balls of plasma at enemies. Although they do a good deal of damage, they generate significant amounts of heat. Grouping four or more PPCs together and firing them as a group is a good way to get ejected from your mech. They also have a fairly long recharge time. Now, that being said, their big advantage is range. PPCs will travel for quit a while, meaning as soon as you can see an enemy, you can light them up... as long as they don't move. Since they travel so slowly, it's fairly easy to move out of the way. But, there is still hope, since PPCs do a good deal of splash damage. Can't hit your enemy? Just roast the ground in front of him.
Lastly is the flamer. The concept is that these gigantic overheating Mechs can shoot some exhaust at another overheating Mech and finish it off - either by causing an internal ammo explosion or possibly overheating the Mech's reactor. The bad news is that it just doesn't work that well, especially against the AI. I'm not sure if the AI even has to deal with heat in the game, which may explain part of the problem. With the latest patches, flamers no longer do damage, and with their limited range, really aren't worth it.
Gauss Rifles, Autocannons, Machine Guns, and anything else that isn't a missile or an energy weapon falls into this category. They all take ammo, which can leave you subject to ammo supply shortages, ammo explosions mid battle (causing automatic ejection), and an empty barrel.
Autocannons are medium-to-short range weapons that are basically shotguns (though they don't really look it in the game). While in Mechwarrior 2, they did a fair amount of damage, they seem significantly weakened in Mercs, at least compared to the lasers. As the autocannon numbers increase, so do their damage, but the ammo count goes down. Bringing in a Mech with Auto cannons and no backup weapons means if you run out of ammo you're screwed, so it's hard to recommend these as a main armament. That being said, they can be useful to finish of a Mech that is in the red and just won't seem to go down.
Gauss rifles suffer from some of the same problems as Autocannons. Though they deal a lot of damage and have a greater range, their limited ammo and reduced damage means it's hard to recommend building a Mech around them.
Machine Guns are the little weapons that could. Or maybe it's couldn't, I forget. Machine Guns have no range, do very little damage, and leave you very prone to ammo explosions. That being said, I think they're really fun. Surprisingly, they are one of the most efficient weapons in the game, as far as damage dealt in a small short of time. Since they're so light, you can load up a Mech full of these, group them all together and fire away without creating any heat. Like this, they do a great deal of damage and very often will score internal ammo explosions on enemy Mechs. The bad news of course, is that in order to pull this off, you'd be driving around one walking ball of ammo that's waiting to explode. On a clan Mech with CASE, I like to keep a couple of machine guns on there. Not for a main blast, but in case my Mech is running hot (and I always run it into the red) I can keep firing the machine guns and harassing my enemy while my Mech cools down. Note that this is the one (?) case where an Inner Sphere weapon may be better than a Clan version.
Generally broken up into long and short range versions, missile weapons come in different sizes controlling how many missiles are fired off in a volley. Oddly enough, they seem pretty good at scoring headshots.
Long-range missiles are exactly what they sound like - missiles intended for long range. They can fire in volleys of 5, 10, 15 or 20. Surprisingly, a large number of missiles seem to hit their target. This is no doubt because of their lock-on abilities. Let the targeting reticle sit near an enemy for a moment and when it turns red, it means you've got a lock. After a lock is achieved, you can twist your torso in a different direction, allowing you to fire at enemies over cliffs and around buildings. This is an excellent weapon for peppering an enemy with shots before they get into fighting range.
When at close range, LRMs fail to lock on enemies, but this doesn't mean you can't use them. In fact, since they tend to give off a little less heat than some energy weapons, I'll blast an opponent with a volley of LRMS at short range to finish them off while my Mech cools. The downside is that at this point, they're just dumb fire weapons.
As usual, it seems that the smaller versions are more efficient, but this time without the range penalty. If you've got room on your Mech, instead of going for a LRM-20, you could drop in four LRM-5s and save a bit of weight. Be sure to put them in group fire.
SRMs are for short range. They work pretty much like a limited range, dumb-fire version of the LRMs, but they do two points of damage per missile rather than one. When firing on light and medium Mechs, they can feel pretty beastly and are good when you want to do a lot of damage to an enemy at once (to destroy a certain limb, perhaps). Still, carrying ammo for them runs the risk of explosion, and the only way to get "all" of the damage is to hit the opponent with every single missile you fire.
The Streak versions add the target-locking of LRMs, ensuring more of the missiles will make contact with their enemies.
There's also the NARC beacon, which, while not causing damage by itself, will force any missiles to aim at the Mech it's attached to. If you're a scout and you teammates have a lot of missiles, it can be put to use. Or if someone on your side has an ArrowIV.
I really wouldn't recommend the ArrowIV, because of its large commitment and low ammo. This one will take up a lot of critical space which would be better served by other weapons. That being said, if you enter a mission and a friendly unit has one of these strapped to them, let them take out everything in site. They can potentially do a lot of damage, but depending on where and what they hit, may not realize that potential.
Now remember, these aren't rules, just some of my suggestions, so play around have fun.
Staying in motion really is important, since the more you move, the less predictable you are and less likely to be hit. Running in one direction at a constant speed though, can be too predictable, allowing an enemy to time his shot and hit you anyway. So, switch it up: go left, lower your speed, increase it, head right. Throw your enemy off.
While keeping your speed up is important to stay out of harms way, it can make taking tight turns tricky. Just like everyday driving, it's hard to take a sharp turn at a fast speed. So, throttle down and give your Mech a moment to slow (inertia and all that), then take that hairpin turn.
Most Mechs have almost 90 degrees of torso twist in either direction. Take advantage of this. Run one direction while firing in another. Make sure that the direction you're traveling will make you move across your opponents screen. If you run directly at them, then they see a Mech in one spot and every shot of theirs will hit.
Circle of the death
Mechs are huge walking tanks and often end up circling each other, firing shots along the way. The idea is that by moving, you aren't as likely to get hit, and by circling the opponent, you're keeping them where you can hit them. Many times, your opponent will engage in the same pattern, creating the circle of death.
The jumpjets in the Mechwarrior 2 series may not be technically correct according to the Battletech universe, but they are a unique part of the game. In addition to flying upwards, jets will allow Mechs to zoom forwards, backwards, twist faster, and strafe directly to the left or right. Take advantage. If your Mech is equipped with jets and an enemy fires at you, tap the jump jet strafe keys and side step out of their way. This is especially helpful if you have to run from enemies while they're launching PPCs and missiles at you.
Along the same lines, if you're running, hit "F3" to bring up the Satellite view. This will let you see your Mech from an overhead view, as well as the enemies' weapon fire, making it pretty easy to dodge. Combine with the jumpjets for even more fun.
How you line yourself up with another Mech is really important. As already mentioned, the circle of the death is a common strategy, but there are even more advantageous positions out there. If you can get directly behind a Mech, not only can you fire at its weaker rear armor, but you can also stay out of the other Mechs aim. Though most Mechs can twist up to 90 degrees, if you're directly behind one, they can't hit you from there. This is a nice way to be able to give out damage without taking it.
When dealing with multiple enemies, you'll want to line them up, so that one enemy is blocking another. This does two things, as the enemies may fire at each other, helping you out, or at the very least, prevent one of the Mechs from firing at you. Now, you can deal with engaging one enemy Mech rather than two.
Commanding Other Units
Let's put it this way. For the most part, your lancemates are idiots. The good news? It doesn't really matter. Enemy Mechs will usually battle whoever shoots them first, so target an enemy and tell your lance mates to fire at them. As your opponents engage your lance, get behind them and launch an alpha strike. If nothing else, use your lance mates to keep from having multiple enemies single you out. It's never fun to be on the losing side of a three-on-one fight of even-sized Mechs and is a sure way to take extra damage.
To command your lance mates, you can either use the built in menu or by the keyboard shortcuts. Access the menu by hitting the "B" button to bring up a list of units. From there, hit the number key that corresponds to the unit you wish to select. After selecting a unit, hit another number key to command the unit what to do. To get that menu off of the screen and clear up valuable screen real estate, just hit the "B" button again.
Since this can take quite a bit of time mid-battle, a quicker way is to just use the keyboard shortcuts. Hold down "Alt" and hit a letter for the correct action:
|Alt + A||Attack target|
|Alt + D||Defend target|
|Alt + J||Join Formation|
|Alt + R||Disengage and reform|
|Alt + W||Engage at Will|
|Alt + S||Shutdown|
Heat management is a very important component of Mech piloting. As weapons are fired, damage is taken, and the Mech moves, its heat will rise and fall. If the Mech gets too hot, it'll begin to shutdown in order to prevent internal ammo explosions or damage to its core reactor. The shutdown sequence generally begins earlier than it needs to, and there's nothing like being a sitting duck in battle to end your mercenary career, so hit "O" to override the automatic heat shut down.
Once it's overridden, you've got to lower your heat production. The easiest: don't fire your weapons so much. This is the main source of heat generation, so if you don't fire anything for a bit, you can keep from shutting down. If you're moving at top speed, try slowing down a bit. You'll notice that the heat dissipates faster if your Mech is moving slowly.
While you can push the heat past the heat indicators range, don't go too far. If the Mech gets too hot, then boom: all of your ammo will pop, ejecting you somewhere into the scenery. Or, even worse, the Mech's reactor will explode, causing the whole Mech to self-destruct, taking your sorry carcass with it.
Heads-Up Display (HUD)
There are a couple of settings that I like to change on the HUD when I first get the Mech up and running. When your Mech starts up, the radar will be set to 1 kilometer by default. While this isn't bad, it won't show you the entire picture. Instead it can be cranked up to 2 km, which will cover four times the area. To crank it up, tap "X" three times. It will cycle through to 500 meters, 250 meters, and then finally 2 km.
The damage display in the lower right shows what shape your Mech is in by color coding. But there can be a huge difference in what each color really means. Sometimes yellow is just a slight hit from a small laser and very little significant damage. Other times, the same color represents one machine gun shell from an internal ammo explosion. Tap "F1" to switch to a bar graph diagram. This will show you the external and internal armor levels as bars, so when you take a hit, you can see how much armor is left.
After you get your HUD set up, hit Alt+F11 to save it.
This really only applies to single player missions, but to essentially neuter enemy Mechs, pick off their arms. Since most stock Mech configurations place all but a few weapons in the arms, you can render an enemy Mech almost useless by destroying its arms. The arms usually have less armor than other parts as well, making it a quick way to knock the sting off of a pesky enemy.
Some Mechs have notorious weak spots. Jenners, Catapults, Urbanmechs, Dire Wolfs - All are pretty good Mechs to score headshots on. With their larger cockpits and larger hit areas, it makes good sense to aim for the heads of these guys. Usually, they won't last too long.
Besides the cockpit, another weak spot on Mechs is the rear. Once you get a Mech's back, blast the hell out of it. There's less armor, meaning less damage needed to take the enemy out.
Some pilots like to "leg" other Mechs, intentionally destroying a leg so that the other Mech can't move. In Mercenaries, a downed Mech can stand back up, but only if it has jump jets. Even if you down one of these guys, don't be surprised to see them floating up around you to try to make you pay for it. On the other hand, if they don't, a grounded Mech makes an easy target, or lets you focus on more important tasks at hand.
An essential part of controlling your Mech is setting up weapons groups. Not only is a pain to have to cycle through five or six weapons to get to the one that you want, but it could mean the difference between life or death in a mission.
Mechwarrior 2 allows for only three groups, while Mercenaries will allow for up to five. To assign a weapon to a group, select it, then hold Shift and a number key, for example, "SHIFT" + "1" to assign it to group one. The color should change. Now after you fire, you will shift to the next weapon in that particular group.
Another nice option is that by hitting "\" you can enable group fire. With groups, instead of firing all of your weapons at once, you'll only fire those in your group. To help switch between groups, in the controls setup, be sure to map a key to the "Switch Weapons Group" option.
I usually like to group weapons by range and type. So, all of my LRMs will be in one group, allowing me to use them when they get in range, but not have to fire any small lasers or weapons out of range. Large lasers may be in another group, again based on their larger range. Autocannons and Gauss rifles, I will usually try to put in a group by themselves, as to not waste any of their low ammo. SRMs go in a single group, since their lead time is a bit different than other weapons. Small, medium, large, and pulse lasers can be intermingled. I usually break them up just to balance out the heat. Once a couple of medium lasers are in range, there's no need to fire the large laser instead - it'll just cause too much heat.