Mechwarrior PBeM report – Interlude: Hair of the Dog


Interlude: Drunken ‘Mech Talk
Cacophony Club, Hanburton
4:22am, September 5, 3028

Luke:

“You know this planet has the makings of some one-off mech designs. I’ve always been a fan of the more versatile mech over the specialists they seem to produce these days.

The Griffin factory for example. Wonderful fire support mech, but everyone is taught in first year how to take advantage of their heat and minimum range weakness. A simple swap of the PPC for a large laser and you solve the range and heat problems in one stroke. and you barely change the damage curve at all. you could field an entire company of those things effectively”

The Scorpion on the other hand is trickier. But if you use the engine from the Griffin to slow it down a little and add jump, you can keep the original weapon payload and you’ve got a mech that can actually fire its PPC. If the engine swap is too radical – BT, you’d know better than me – Keep the fast engine, but add jump and switch the weapons to a large laser, medium laser and machine guns. 55 tons is big for a scout, but better a heavy useful scout than a useless medium. The Chameleon could use the exact same payload for ease of repair.

The Crusader on the other hand, they are trying to do too much. Even dropping one of each weapon and you have a great mech. Go down to one LRM15, one SRM6, keep the medium laser and machine gun, and add jump jets for the terrain around here. It would also be easy enough to turn it into a Catapult that looks good. HA!”

Mad Dog:

Mel slides his beer towards him, takes a drink, and puts his glass back down. A quick grin and a glint in his eye shows his approval of CH`s typically sagely observations.

“As a Griffin pilot, I have to agree that something in the mix needs to go. As much as I like the missile rack, I feel it has to be the thing to be removed. The whole mech is built around the PPC and out of the two, it is the weapon that is better able to handle shorter ranges. Look at the design. The mech`s 12 heat sinks are exactly what you need to run that mech at full speed and fire the PPC without building up heat. The LRM is the extra weapon; placed on the design back in an era when it was considered a long range assault mech.

I agree entirely: I understand the theory behind specialization, but I don`t think that serves me well for *my* mech. The PPC fills the primary sniping roll and the LRM gives extra range. Given that I can only fire that thing 24 times before running empty, I`ll keep the primary weapon.

In the past I`ve asked techs to remove the LRM, as much as I like the thing. That frees up 6 tons for short range weapons or extra heat sinks. The PPC gives me enough long-range hit for a medium mech, so I like to make my mech more able to handle short ranges and manage heat.

I`ve sometimes asked techs to make modifications similar to the dependable and much appreciated Phoenix Hawk. Imagine a slightly slower but more heavily armed and armoured Phoenix Hawk. Instead of a large laser, it has a PPC. For example, this can be done…`

He quickly writes on a piece of paper and slides it over. Hastily scribbled on the folded paper, the mechwarriors see:

PPC

SRM-2 rack (perhaps with inferno ammo) — with one ton of ammo (50)

Medium laser

Medium laser

MG

MG — with one tone of ammo (200)

“This design can fire all of its short range weapons, run, and cool off two heat levels every heat cycle. It can raid with infernos. It can mix it up at short range, and it still has that PPC for persistent long range sniping. You lack the extra range offered by the LRMs, but for a mech as mobile as a Wolverine that`s an acceptable loss.

Another version that I`ve asked techs for bypasses adding MGs for extra heat sinks. Not a bad idea given how often I fire up the jump jets. “

Luke:

“Ha! You’ve nailed it on the head there my friend. I couldn’t imagine you without a PPC, and I imagine you have one mounted on your hover cycle when you go camping. You’ve got the subtle battle instincts of most Andurians to pick your ranges, and get the most out of that cannon. You also have the skills to pick your shots and manage your heat.

But would you lead a company of mostly green pilots in those? They would barbeque the field in inferno ammo this side of 2 minutes. I was thinking of a solid mech, with good movement, a good choice of weapons no matter what range pilots find themselves in, and enough heat to keep them alive even when they panic. I would want you with your infernos and cannon leading the charge, but a more forgiving mech filling in the rank and file.

Mind you ease of repair would be an issue for rank-and-file mech. We should ask BT when she shows up.

And where’s that absinthe I ordered… Barkeep!

Velika swaggers in, top part of her oil-stained blue-grey jumpsuit unzipped and tied around her waist. The tank-top she wears underneath may have once been white. She spots her lance-mates, nods to them, but first things first: she orders the cheapest, strongest stuff stored under the bar before taking a seat at the table.

Noticing the hasty mech designs scrawled on napkins she remarks, “Custom mechs, eh? I`ve seen it all. Whatever you want, I can build. Just make sure you really want it.”

Mad Dog:

“We`ll have to put you to the test then,“ he says grinning at Blowtorch.

“Yeah, maybe… I`m sure they`d find someway to mess it up. The PPC will probably not be fired under 90 meters, but beyond that they might try to mix too many weapons together. They`d probably blur the distinction between cannon for long range and everything else for close up.

The large laser on the Phoenix Hawk plays a similar role to my PPC on my Griffin except it works out more like longish medium range instead of long. Still, with all weapons usable at point blank, a green pilot will sometimes panic and fire everything.

The beauty of the large laser design you suggested for the Griffin, though, is that the laser would instead be used for short to medium and the LRMs would clearly not be fired except at long range. The large laser is still enough of a longer range weapon though that a green pilot won`t be ill-equipped for most of the roles a Griffin pilot is typically assigned.

A Griffin can`t fire both of its standard weapons at once in sustained fire without overheating. It`s like someone put the LRM rack on there for when you are beyond the range of the PPC. If that were the case though, you`d always be firing it at long range. An LRM-5 rack would at least recognize the limits of the mech heat wise and allow you load another three heat sinks. Then at least you could constantly fire up a full jump, fire the cannon, and never overheat.

Damn, the Griffin is a solid mech and it`s not just because I`m piloting my Dad`s mech that I say that. The standard weapons config needs to be altered though. Griffins cry out to be short range capable and versatile, or at least I do.“

It`s like what you said about the Crusader: they tried to do too much. `We want a medium mech with a PPC`. OK… `What do we put on next?` An LRM-10… Ah, makes sense at first until you try to fly it and you can never fire it because you will overheat. Then you get in close and it`s like `Oh sweet, I`ve got no short range weapons. I`m screwed.’

Mel glances at the napkin again, “Always get hesitant about the MG config though… It`s such a nice backup weapon, but clearly backup. You need to get so close before you can even dream of hitting with it. Extra heat sinks would see practical use all the time. I guess that`s why I`ve usually not asked for MGs to be mounted.

It does illustrate versatility and weapons for every range though, which was what we were talking about. For me and my mech, though, what are your opinions? Do you think I`m right to have often skipped them for more heat sinks? Keep in mind I fire up my jets and use my cannon a lot. With a 14 heat sink variant, I only go up one heat level every heat cycle. Then one cycle in short range is all I need to cool down a bit and that`s while firing all of my short range weapons. “

Luke:

“Heh, this is going to be a long night then. BT, better bring the whole bottle.

Remember the LRM isn’t just about being able to hit things in the next county; it’s also about making things in this county easier to hit. That LRM10 at 210 metres will be so easy to get a lock that even a novice could do it, where a couple of medium lasers would be all but impossible. You have to look at the expected damage of a weapon where you factor in the probability of a hit along with the damage if you do hit.

And you are right Velika, same with the Shadowhawk. Most mechs have weapon damage curves with a few spikes and a few holes. The Shadowhawk is almost flat. I can always find a sweet spot where I am doing a little bit more than my opponent. And it does it being one of the only heat neutral mechs out there other than the Urbanmech. The ammo lasts for everything but extreme engagements, and for those, well, that’s why I have that large laser config. Don’t like dropping my ac though…

So you think we can push the jump, do you…. 🙂

Unless you are on a scout mech, or something expecting to do lone patrols, I wouldn’t bother with machine guns. The main use is against infantry, not other mechs. As much as I hate to shoot at anything outside of vehicles, you have to be able to shoot back when they come at you. My preference there is a flamer, but your infernos do the same trick, so yeah, I would probably drop the guns.

The Chameleon and Scorpion ‘scout’ mechs I mentioned would have them, just as I would keep them on the Phoenix Hawk. Scout lance are more likely to come across infantry anyway.

So what do you say we finish this bottle and sneak into that Griffin production plant. Think we can pop out a few variants before the morning shift?

Mel takes another drink, “Hey, that was me complementing your Shadowhawk. How many many have we had?“

Laughing good heartedly as he only seems to have found himself doing recently in the company of these fellow mechwarriors he rises obviously ready to walk and continue the conversation,

“You`re dead on about the LRM, and like I said, I do like the weapon. My point was is that I feel the whole mech was designed around the PPC first, such as the number of heat sinks being geared to the heat generated by that weapon and a full mech run. The LRM is a good weapon, but the Griffin isn`t capable of handling both weapon systems at once without overheating. When I have it, and I`m trying to cool down, I`ll alternate to that range – the sweet spot for the LRM, and fire the LRM only during that heat cycle. The Griffin is no Archer, though.

I like the dependability and hardiness of the Griffin despite being an older design. The jump jets aren`t as flakey as the Wolverine`s, for example. Make it short range capable and you have a much more versatile mech. The LRM rack is really good for some situations – I know. However, between the two weapons, it`s the one that has to go so far as I`m concerned.

As for any theoretical situation of meathead rookie pilots, well that would be different. Let`s assume they will screw something up.

I`ve sometimes gone with another config: an LRM-5, a medium laser, and two extra heat sinks replacing the LRM-10. Still, I prefer the short range brawler configs to that one.

I do like the Shadowhawk, except fort its jumping range. The LRM-5 doesn`t compare to an Archer letting loose at long range, but a lance of 4 Shadowhawks can combine fire.

The Phoenix Hawk is another Mech I like. The large laser, despite being able to be fired effectively at point blank range has to be used like my PPC on my Griffin. Large for longer ranges and everything else for up close. The Phoenix Hawk soon can`t handle the heat otherwise after a few cycles. Still, it`s well rounded over different short to medium ranges.

As for the MGs, thanks for echoing my own thoughts. It can be used quite effectively against mechs, but you have to be so close. Ballistic tests and battle have shown that two mech grade MG batteries have the same damage potential against a mech as an SRM-2 striking with both missiles. It`s more effective against infantry, though, but that`s a bonus not a detriment. It`s the range that`s the real deciding factor. Too limited against mechs…“

Looking at Blowtorch and holding the napkin with the two MGs crossed off, “Consider this one my request. Loose the LRM rack, and replace it with an SRM-2, two medium lasers, and two extra heat sinks. Though…

I trust you to know better than me how to handle this, but my old girl has a quirk. Whenever other techs have removed the LRM, the weapon systems still think it`s there. I get this constant and persistent LRM ammo empty warning from time to time that forces me to restart the weapons status console

Maybe if you mount the SRM-2 rack where the LRM-10 goes… Maybe I`m a little crazy, but I think some ghost in the machine wants there to be missiles there. When there`s been an LRM-5 instead of a 10 rack, the weapons system never acted up. Maybe it`ll be happy with an SRM rack mounted there. Sounds stupid doesn`t it? Actually, I`m used to missiles being there if I have them at all, so put it there anyways. It should make your job easier since the mech is built to mount missiles in that location.

As for the two medium lasers, I want to work the firing arcs. I suppose one mounted on the head would work, but I imagine it would be easier to instead mount one medium laser on each arm.

What do you think, Blowtorch? …Blowtorch?“

As usual, the tech has left as the theories begin to flow thick and fast, fuelled by alcohol and a stubborn lack of technical knowledge…

Luke:

Ok, I was planning on keeping this abstract. I still think those designs are the best for the average Joe. But for us? Heh. I would give everyone a headache by putting a 325 rated engine in that crusader to give it the same speed as our mediums. Mel, for you, I see you in a 65 ton Griffin, keeping the same speed and jump as your 55 (grabs the napkin)

54kph, 120m jump

PPC

med laser

SRM2

14 hs

10 tons armour

Now I know you lose a laser, and the 55 is more efficient use of weight at that speed, but think of the extra weight on your physical attacks. You’re the only pilot I know who has successfully landed a charge on a locust when it was at flanking speed. You would hit opponents like a train wreck in this thing.

Me? Also the same 65 ton Crusader chassis and 325 engine. If it weren’t for these mountains, I would drop the jump altogether, but as it is I could migrate TLC’s complete weapon load, electronics and beer fridge over to the larger chassis as is. If I’m content with the 90 metre jump, the rest is near the same.

Fitz, the same thing. It would be trivial to convert a standard crusader to the trenchbucket. We could even keep the standard Crusader speed, but add jump. Pretty much the variant he has now, but useful. HA!

Vel? I still haven’t figured out your fighting style…oh, she’s gone again…Her fighting style. I tend to think of people’s personality in terms of their ideal weapon and branch out from there:

Calculating? Autocannon

Brazen? PPC

Cautious? LRM

Precise? Large laser

Efficient? medium lasers

Creative? SRM

As a tech she seems to be pretty creative, so I would almost say a Wolverine for her. Large laser or Autocannon variant, I haven’t decided yet though. I’ll warn you though, we used to have a pool at the last school I was at to guess which mechs students would end up in. I rarely lost. 🙂

Fitz:

Fitz looks over at Luke and the smile on his face is both friendly and predatory at the same time. “No bet… “

Taking a long pull of the dark brew in his tankard, he simply says, “Ton for ton, my old Trebuchet packed more punch than that…patchwork you pilot. If ever a mech were designed by committee, it is the Shadowhawk.”

Mad Dog:

“Ohhhhh!!! SNAP!” Mel jibes laughing. He gives CH a good-hearted grin.

Glancing at the starmap on the ceiling and perhaps through it to the real stars beyond, he wonders how long it’s been since he’s laughed and felt like this. Memories of missed friends and the old Commander flash through his mind, and he retreats inward for a moment and quietly takes another drink.

Luke:

I know what you mean Fitz. It’s absolutely horrible piloting a mech that is effective at all ranges, and that whole bit about not overheating can be a true nuisance. But I do like the custom job you did on your bucket. Slow it down a little more and you can enter the New Years day Urbanmech races. 🙂

Mind you, I have given some though to yours as well. What do you say to swapping one of your LRM racks for an SRM 6?

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