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    Default Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    I've been thinking of MW lately, what with the new game in beta. One thing that interests me about it, is the detailed thought put into the scifi.

    One thing I've wondered about MW for a while... what fluff reasons do they have for the use of mecha? I'm assuming it is similarly well thought-out.
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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    The creators of Battletech (the wargame Mechwarrior is based on) have freely admitted that Mechs are better than vehicles in game only because mechs are cooler and that in real life anything a mech can do a team of specialized vehicles can do better for cheaper.

    The fluff in verse is that somehow a mech chassis can be built in a super-compartmentalized fashion that a vehicle chassis can't enabling a level of redundancy and resilience that makes them nigh indestructible compared to said vehicles.

    Also the reason weapon ranges are so short has shifted over the years. Originally it was because advanced targeting systems and sensors had become "Lostech" over the course of the brutal succession wars and that basic line of sight targeting was all that was possible. Bare in mind that the game was created in the early eighties before the First Iraq War when laypeople had no idea what modern military targeting systems could do. Eventually there was a storyline where "Star League" tech was recovered and for balance reasons couldn't be orders of magnitude better than Successor States tech. Making the weapons tech of the Golden Age of mankind look grossly inferior to stuff that existed centuries before. So the fluff gradually shifted to ECM and ECCM is as common as dirt and only truly exceptional setups like the Guardian ECM and Beagle Active Probe are worth mentioning in your mech write up. Making effective range really short and precision shots really difficult.
    Last edited by Spamotron; 2012-08-11 at 11:17 PM.

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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Isn't there also something about them being piloted by a direct neural interface? Mechs are humanoid because that's the shape that human brains are best at controlling. Tanks and such are too awkward to use with that interface.

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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Not quite, the Neurohelmet's function is to allow the mech to utilize the pilot's sense of equilibrium to maintain its balance, other systems are tied to manual controls in the cockpit. The Direct Neural Interface, which carries some severe neurological side effects associated with its use, is something else entirely and until the advent of the advent of the Vehicular DNI was only ever used once in a mech, a situation that ended quite badly.

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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Of course would't need such an interface.
    They might need more crew, but that is actually an advantage - you can only keep track of so many things at once, fancy interface or not, so the tank crew would have higher battlefield awareness and command&control responsiveness.

    Really, the only reason we'd ever build mechs (other than to show off) is when we need a specific subset of ground pressure. Going trough woods without destroying too much of the underbrush would be a reason - but not a military one, because you would still need tracks. It could be useful for parks or research, and thats about it - and we would still do it with four or more legs.

    A tank is easier to armor (you dont have to armor relatively thing legs or arms, much less joints), has a better profile (it is easier to hide behind terrain when you are not as tall), better accuracy (a turret is more stable than an arm) and aiming (a turret can do a 360 turn, an arm can't), has higher speed (it's easier to get speed out of tracks than out of legs, assuming equal horsepower) and has less moving parts (which makes it cheaper to build and easier to repair).
    A Mech has - well, pretty much nothing. Some people say intimidation, but you don't care about that against professional forces (against whom it won't work better than a tank) and don't really need it against unprofessional ones (you can kick their butts anyway).


    Of course mechs are cool. That's a good enough reason to have them in fiction, and a good enough reason for me to like them.

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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    I remember reading somewhere that they were designed as an intimidation tactic to end wars - a world with a battalion of battlemechs would be seen as too much of a risk or too expensive to attack. Of course, human nature being what it was, that idea backfired spectacularly.

    There may be more to it, but that's all I can remember.
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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Quote Originally Posted by Serafina View Post
    Of course would't need such an interface.
    They might need more crew, but that is actually an advantage - you can only keep track of so many things at once, fancy interface or not, so the tank crew would have higher battlefield awareness and command&control responsiveness.

    Really, the only reason we'd ever build mechs (other than to show off) is when we need a specific subset of ground pressure. Going trough woods without destroying too much of the underbrush would be a reason - but not a military one, because you would still need tracks. It could be useful for parks or research, and thats about it - and we would still do it with four or more legs.

    A tank is easier to armor (you dont have to armor relatively thing legs or arms, much less joints), has a better profile (it is easier to hide behind terrain when you are not as tall), better accuracy (a turret is more stable than an arm) and aiming (a turret can do a 360 turn, an arm can't), has higher speed (it's easier to get speed out of tracks than out of legs, assuming equal horsepower) and has less moving parts (which makes it cheaper to build and easier to repair).
    A Mech has - well, pretty much nothing. Some people say intimidation, but you don't care about that against professional forces (against whom it won't work better than a tank) and don't really need it against unprofessional ones (you can kick their butts anyway).


    Of course mechs are cool. That's a good enough reason to have them in fiction, and a good enough reason for me to like them.
    Just so you know, the US Army is experimenting with quadrupedal platforms. They're more for supply lines, and aren't much bigger than a ATV, but legs can go many places that tracks and wheels can't.
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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    In Battletech it is very arguable that tanks are superior to Battlemechs which while probably realistic is something I consider a problem when running Battletech/Mechwarrior campaigns.
    (All IMO)
    The biggest problem is that battlemechs have more locations to armour than tanks which means tanks end up with very heavy armour on their locations compared to mechs (the mech has the advantage hits spread out more) this is particularly bad for light/medium mechs/tanks(where only a few hits are needed to penetrate armour) . My solution is as tank hit locations are larger than battlemech hit locations it needs twice as much armour for the same effect, effectively halving armour for all tanks.

    Battlemechs have the neural interface system which does not work well for tanks so an extra +1 penalty to hit for all moving vehicles

    I double close combat damage for Mechs vs Vehicles

    I also tend to assume that mech pilots will have better skills than vehicle crews but don't have a rule to enforce it

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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    the only realistic mechs are those of masamune shiro. either spider shaped or small enough to move inside people scaled buildings and used as ultra heavy infantry.
    the later I still expect to see in the next 20 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    the only realistic mechs are those of masamune shiro. either spider shaped or small enough to move inside people scaled buildings and used as ultra heavy infantry.
    the later I still expect to see in the next 20 years.
    Aren't the later called Exoskeletons/Power Armor?

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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Quote Originally Posted by The Random NPC View Post
    Just so you know, the US Army is experimenting with quadrupedal platforms. They're more for supply lines, and aren't much bigger than a ATV, but legs can go many places that tracks and wheels can't.
    Those Robo-Mules aren't mechs - they are robots. The major difference here is size - at a point where you get to a manned vehicle (something with a cockpit, as opposed to powered armor/exoskeltons) you're better off with a tracked or wheeled vehicle, because the mobility advantage of legs diminishes rapidly and isn't worth the loss in survivability and increase in cost.

    If we're talking infantry-scale, then legs do have an advantage, mostly because most stuff is. well, built for people with legs. But that's powered armor or robots, and even then you are better off with four or more legs for stability.

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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Quote Originally Posted by Zombimode View Post
    Aren't the later called Exoskeletons/Power Armor?
    basically, yes. thuogh they are often on the rather large end in the anime based on shirows manga. and the opperators knees and elbows are not in the suits joints. while its a snug fit inside, I'd say they are piloted and not worn.

    non of that applies to the walking fortresses, though. those are more in the realm of evangelion or gurren lagan.
    but they still have the much more sensible spider shape.
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-08-12 at 05:27 AM.

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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrewmoreton View Post
    In Battletech it is very arguable that tanks are superior to Battlemechs which while probably realistic is something I consider a problem when running Battletech/Mechwarrior campaigns.
    (All IMO)
    The biggest problem is that battlemechs have more locations to armour than tanks which means tanks end up with very heavy armour on their locations compared to mechs (the mech has the advantage hits spread out more) this is particularly bad for light/medium mechs/tanks(where only a few hits are needed to penetrate armour) . My solution is as tank hit locations are larger than battlemech hit locations it needs twice as much armour for the same effect, effectively halving armour for all tanks.

    Battlemechs have the neural interface system which does not work well for tanks so an extra +1 penalty to hit for all moving vehicles

    I double close combat damage for Mechs vs Vehicles

    I also tend to assume that mech pilots will have better skills than vehicle crews but don't have a rule to enforce it

    I think mech do ave a few hidden advantages related to their locomotion however. For example, it's fairy trivial for a mech to step on most tanks, or flip them over and shoot at their exposed underbellies if they're a bit smaller than standard. Likewise, they would be a LOT better at rock climbing, which could also prove useful for scaling buildings, although if I remember the mechs with that kind of locomotion are too heavy to do that.

    Also : (although it never comes up,) mecha do have a faint advantage in multiple limbs: if they loose both legs they can drag themselves around, while a tank loosing one track is basically running around in circles form then on, but all of these are fairly-faint advantages.
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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Except that melee just isn't going to happen, even with ludicrously short BR-ranges its a stretch. With actual modern line-of-sight range and modern firepower, trying to get into melee against a tank - especially when you are in a large vehicle - is suicide. Even if you did, the tank could still shoot back (it takes less than 6 seconds to make a 360 turret rotation), and even if you can take out one tank the next one will just shoot you.

    Also, you are SO not going to flip over a tank that weights 45-60 tons. If you did, it'd be a mission kill, but the force you exerted would be enough to push trough the armor anyway.

    As for legs - disable one leg on a mech, and it is likely to fall over. Which means that it's effectively a mission-kill, since it is now unable to use torso-weapons and most likely its arm-weapons. Being able to drag yourself along the ground requires hand-like appendages, but those will limit your arm-mounted weapons.
    Besides - if a tank track gets thrown, you simply replace it, which is rather simple. If a mech leg gets destroyed, you need to replace the joints, which will be much more complicated.


    An additional disadvantage is weapon placement. A tanks gun is braced against the whole weight of its turret, and with a strong turret suspension most of the tanks weight. It doesn't suffer stability issues because the tank isn't prone to toppling over either.
    On a mech, you have to deal with the fact that your mech can topple over. That limits weapon power. Placing it inside an arm will limit its size - and generally, mounting two smaller weapons is less favorable than mounting a single large one. Sheer space is already a steep limitation, but the joints of the arm are much more of a problem, since those limit weight and recoil.
    In the torso, you must compete with the engine and possibly the cockpit. And you will have worse aim than a tank, since you can't rotate a turret to point at the enemy, you must rotate your whole chassis.



    Really, mechs are cool. I love mechs. But they are simply a worse design than a tank when you want a mobile, well-protected vehicle with heavy firepower.
    The only terrain where they maybe have an advantage is in mountains (where again four+ legs are better). Their profile exposes them to enemy fire, their joints make them vulnerable, their shape limits the size of their weapons, their many moving parts make them too costly, their mode of movement causes stability issues, their aim will be wose than a tank.
    And the few terrains where they might have an advantage already have fierce competition in the form of infantry (which can take much better advantage of cover) and helicopters. In a battle against tanks of equal technology they will just get ripped to shreds.

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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Well, I encountered gundam wing long before the Original Gundam. I know its not Mechwarrior, but i found the thought process that went into the logic of how technology in military war evolved to be relevant here

    But in the Original Gundam, mobile suits where a new form of technology (The original Gundam was the first true mobile suit, that other models where based off of). They where valuable for multiple reasons. For one being so huge meant more armor (many suits are depicted as stepping on tanks as a battle tactic). Having hands meant being able to use multiple weapons (as opposed to a tank, who even if it had multiple weapon attachments, they would have to be attached. Its much easier to pick something up.)
    The main reason being their mobility. A tank would have to cut down and run over a tree, risking getting stuck. A machine with legs could step over or in between it.

    This is better shown with the Guntank and Gun-Cannon. The Gun tank was essentially a Large tank, with a torso chasis. It had a head and arms but the arms where pretty much mobile gaitling guns. It also had two shoulder mounted cannons. It was very obsolete in technology. Not nearly as mobile as the gundam or guncannon. But it had high armor and long range cannons so it saw continued use. From what i remember from the series, only a accurate gunner could defend his guntank from a skilled Suit pilot.

    The Guncannon was a humanoid chasis, but its main weapons where a beam gun, beam cannons on its shoulders, and head integrated guns. It can be seen as inferior to the Gundam due to its lack of versatility. This is shown, in that before the GMs (Mass produced weaker versions of the gundam) where made in serious military faction, several groups of Gundams where made, with a full array of weapon options (the original action figure was mostly weapons, with half the plastic being the actual Suit). The weapon options where saved for mass productions when the Lunar Titanium Alloy Gundams where decided to be to expensive for mass production.


    So, at least in the fantasy world of gundam, a variety of weapon options, the speed of mobile suits (In the series, a more advanced weapon than suits where made, known for their speed, which where basically half ships, half mobile suits), and their all-terrain ability, makes Human like machines superior.
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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Multiple weapons sound nice - but do you actually need them?
    A modern tank cannon is already a multi-role weapon thanks to flexible ammunition. They can even do BVR (beyond visual range=indirect artillery) or missile-fire. That's good enough against anything.

    And as mentioned before, that questionable versatility of wielding weapons with a mech would come at the cost of having to use smaller weapons, due to weight, recoil and using inefficient arms.


    If you can scale up a mech, you can scale up a tank - and probably even more so, since you have less problems with ground pressure. So size isn't really an argument.

    As for woods - another disfavorable terrain for tanks - if your mech is tank-sized, it won't in fact be able to step between trees reliably, because the trees in a forest are just too close together. If the trees are so flimsy or the mech so large that the trees can be ripped down, a tank would be able to do the same.

    As for speed, there isn't any reason why a mech should be faster than a tank. Tanks are FAST for their weight - imagine an elephant running at 70 kilometers per hour. Now some Elephants can actually achieve about 30 kilometers per hour if they absolutely have to, thanks to spring-like joints, but it just doesn't compare to a tank which weight 4-6 times as much.
    Side-stepping isn't an issue either, tanks are remarkably nimble. Not that you could sidestep a supersonic projectile anyway.

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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    There's really only three situations that something like mechs will prevail. Small mobile platforms, about the size of an ATV, power armor, and very hazardous environments that require fine manipulation, such as in space. Of those three, none of them will lead to anything larger than about 9 to 10 feet in height. And in most situations it will not be for combat.
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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Well, all three can lead to improvised fighting vehicles. As in, you take the chasssis you have, strap a bit of armor and weaponry on it and call it a day because they're the best option you have.

    That'd be like taking a civilian car, strapping some hillbilly armor on it and mounting a machine gun or two. People do that all the time in warzones because they dont have access to military vehicles. And it doesn't compare to proper military vehicles favorably in any way, not even cost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serafina View Post
    Well, all three can lead to improvised fighting vehicles. As in, you take the chasssis you have, strap a bit of armor and weaponry on it and call it a day because they're the best option you have.

    That'd be like taking a civilian car, strapping some hillbilly armor on it and mounting a machine gun or two. People do that all the time in warzones because they dont have access to military vehicles. And it doesn't compare to proper military vehicles favorably in any way, not even cost.
    Of course that would be possible, I just meant that they most likely (except possibly the power armor) would not be designed for direct combat.
    Last edited by The Random NPC; 2012-08-12 at 07:21 AM.
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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Mechs only exist in their universe because of the circular "well, it's cool" logic. They'd only make sense if the only thing that existed was other mechs.

    Buidling-sized battlesuits are just dumb, any remotely rational type of warfare would make them nothing more than expensive targets. They'd never get close enough to tanks to employ their supposed advantages up close against them. They could be swarmed by units of infantry in powered armour they'd struggle to target effectively. They're nice big targets for airpower and even within the scope of orbital/ship-based weapons.

    Even in-universe they're only protected by setting fiat. I remember playing one of the videogames in an Elemental battlesuit and trashing giant mechs because they couldn't hit me, and I only had to take out one of their legs to disable them.
    Last edited by Kiero; 2012-08-12 at 07:48 AM.
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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    The Cyberpunk expansion Maximum Metal has a great discussion on why mecha don't work (slightly abridged):

    A 900 pound ACPA stands only inches taller than a normal man (84-90"). One of its feet will have a surface area of about 60 inches (150% of an average mans), giving a ground pressure of about 7.5 pounds per square inch. An average human male will be about half as much.
    A 14' tall robot would weigh about 7200 pounds. and its feet having 240 square inches between them will exert a ground pressure of 30 pounds per square inch. Consider a heavily laden 18 wheeler has a ground pressure of 22 pounds per square inch.

    At 21' tall you'll have a 12.1 ton machine exerting 67.5 pounds per square inch.

    A 50' machine, made of a material a third the weight of steel, would weigh 327,942 pounds giving out 765 pounds of ground pressure - the equivalent of 35 eighteen wheeler trucks stacked on top of each other.

    The concept that a mech only weighs in at 20 tons is ludicrous - that's less than a Bradley AFV.
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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Multiple weapons sound nice - but do you actually need them?
    A modern tank cannon is already a multi-role weapon thanks to flexible ammunition. They can even do BVR (beyond visual range=indirect artillery) or missile-fire. That's good enough against anything.

    Which pretty much means that a Mech/mobile suit could do that but better. Tanks are basically big guns on wheels. Robots WIELD big guns. Any advancements in gun technology not predicted by the fantasy writers of these worlds would also apply to this technology too.

    And as mentioned before, that questionable versatility of wielding weapons with a mech would come at the cost of having to use smaller weapons, due to weight, recoil and using inefficient arms.
    Small mechs can enter buildings without tearing them down, you could only do that with a jeep or a small robot. Larger mechs or mobile suits would use guns proportionately bigger. High artillery weapons usually have deplorable legs or Siege modes in order to accommodate the recoil and firepower. but unlike a missile launcher or tank which is essentially a well armored car with a giant missilegun/cannon on its top with some support machine guns, a robotic weapon would be able to put down that launcher or cannon and use more tactile weapons on a weapons rack nearby.


    If you can scale up a mech, you can scale up a tank - and probably even more so, since you have less problems with ground pressure. So size isn't really an argument.


    a humanoid chasis is able to compact its size and to make a tank of the same size would mean considerably more mass. Its essentially arguing a Battleship vs robotic weaponry, rather than a tank.

    As for woods - another disfavorable terrain for tanks - if your mech is tank-sized, it won't in fact be able to step between trees reliably, because the trees in a forest are just too close together. That actually depends on the terrain. Plenty of forests have trees wide enough to step around. I cant believe a tank could get around them as quickly as something with legs (that isnt made as of 2012)
    If the trees are so flimsy or the mech so large that the trees can be ripped down, a tank would be able to do the same. Rolling over several trees would take forever at a decent speed, and risk flipping the tank at higher speeds.

    As for speed, there isn't any reason why a mech should be faster than a tank. Tanks are FAST for their weight - imagine an elephant running at 70 kilometers per hour. Now some Elephants can actually achieve about 30 kilometers per hour if they absolutely have to, thanks to spring-like joints, but it just doesn't compare to a tank which weight 4-6 times as much.
    Side-stepping isn't an issue either, tanks are remarkably nimble. Not that you could sidestep a supersonic projectile anyway.


    Im sure a vehicle would be faster in a straight line. Which is one reason why from what i've seen, worlds that use mechs and suits also use tanks. But a bullet car is much faster than a dirt bike. But anytime racing speed would matter you'd just use a jet anyways.
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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Quote Originally Posted by Cerlis View Post
    Well, I encountered gundam wing long before the Original Gundam. I know its not Mechwarrior, but i found the thought process that went into the logic of how technology in military war evolved to be relevant here
    The Gundam universe also has the Minovsky Particle, which is essentially a handwave technology that knackers all long range communications and combat, include straight line of sight targeting.


    With regard to battlemechs versus tanks, another major factor which appears to be overlooked, is engagement range. A Challenger 2 can engage targets up to about 8km and can still accurately hit while on the move due to computer assisted targeting.
    Meanwhile the longest range I can find for a mech weapon is the LRM20 at 1.1km.

    This is also not including standard tank tactics such as lurking in hull down positions or angling the hull to minimise the profile/increase the effective armour thickness, all of which a battlemech can only copy to a limited degree.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrewmoreton View Post
    My solution is as tank hit locations are larger than battlemech hit locations it needs twice as much armour for the same effect, effectively halving armour for all tanks.
    Shouldn't tanks be harder to hit though? A mech ranges from 7 to 20m tall, while a tank (using a modern MBT as a guide) is about 2.5m?

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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Quote Originally Posted by Cerlis
    Which pretty much means that a Mech/mobile suit could do that but better. Tanks are basically big guns on wheels. Robots WIELD big guns. Any advancements in gun technology not predicted by the fantasy writers of these worlds would also apply to this technology too.Which pretty much means that a Mech/mobile suit could do that but better. Tanks are basically big guns on wheels. Robots WIELD big guns. Any advancements in gun technology not predicted by the fantasy writers of these worlds would also apply to this technology too.
    Yeah, but so would tanks...
    No, really, any conceivable technological advancement that would benefit mechs would benefits tanks as well, likely more so. Better armor? weaponry? engines? interfaces? targeting systems? muscle-like myomer? all would benefit a tank.

    The point was that you don't really need five different kinds of guns. You need one vehicle-sized vehicle-killing gun, and then use different ammunition with it. If you need something against smaller or more nimble targets, you use a sponson-mounted or externally launched weapon.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cerlis
    Small mechs can enter buildings without tearing them down, you could only do that with a jeep or a small robot. Larger mechs or mobile suits would use guns proportionately bigger. High artillery weapons usually have deplorable legs or Siege modes in order to accommodate the recoil and firepower. but unlike a missile launcher or tank which is essentially a well armored car with a giant missilegun/cannon on its top with some support machine guns, a robotic weapon would be able to put down that launcher or cannon and use more tactile weapons on a weapons rack nearby.
    See, that's what we have Combined Arms for. Also known as teamwork.
    If we want an artillery vehicle, we design an artillery vehicle. It doesn't need tons of armor, for example. If we then want to protect it, we use allied forces to do that job. Because a single design can rarely do everything, and if it does it will be ludicrously expensive.
    We could build artillery as well protected as an MBT, with about the same acceleration profiles and a direct-fire enabled gun if we wanted to. We don't, because none of those benefit its job of raining steel.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cerlis
    a humanoid chasis is able to compact its size and to make a tank of the same size would mean considerably more mass. Its essentially arguing a Battleship vs robotic weaponry, rather than a tank.
    Uh...say what? I don't get your point here, maybe because there isnt one, i don't know.
    If you can build a mech of X tons, you can build a tank of X tons. Simple as that. Since tonnage is what limits armor, weaponry etc., the tank will be as good (and better for all the reasons mentioned).

    Now actually, that is another reason - albeit an unlikely one - for walkers. Imagine something like the AT-AT from Star Wars - it is very tall, so its direct-fire weapons have a better range due to height advantage. If you have to use direct-fire weapons instead of indirect-fire weapons for long-range fire for some reason (maybe because everyone uses energy weapons) then that is a reasonable design.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cerlis
    That actually depends on the terrain. Plenty of forests have trees wide enough to step around. I cant believe a tank could get around them as quickly as something with legs (that isnt made as of 2012)
    Not if the mech is any sort of vehicle. Powered armor, yes, but mechs would be too large to do that.
    Rolling over several trees would take forever at a decent speed, and risk flipping the tank at higher speeds.
    And this wouldn't affect a mech why exactly?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cerlis
    Im sure a vehicle would be faster in a straight line. Which is one reason why from what i've seen, worlds that use mechs and suits also use tanks. But a bullet car is much faster than a dirt bike. But anytime racing speed would matter you'd just use a jet anyways.
    Have you ever seen a tank drive? Like, ever? They can turn very quickly. A ,mech would have no notable mobility advantage.




    Everything i have pointed out applies fully to Battltech. BT-tanks should be faster, better protected and better armored than mechs of equal tonnage. Mymomer-technology is either just an enabler for mech-technology without any advantage over normal engine transmission, or it is genuinely better - in which case there is no reason it could not apply to a tank. Weapon and armor advantages apply as much to a tank as they do to a mech. Now BT actually has sufficiently diverse weapons and more importantly insufficiently different ammunition that swapping out weapons is an advantage - but only Omnimechs can do that rapidly, and there is no technological reason we could not do that with tanks.

    Now there is actually one reason to use Mechs: Feudalism.
    Namely, the whole Warrior-Pilot mentality: A Mech is piloted by a single person, and it might actually be a better vehicle for that than a tank (though overall a single pilot is a disadvantage.)

    So my reasoning on "why does Battletech use Mechs" is:
    The Starleague build them because they did not have to care about efficiency, since they didn't fight any threatening wars. The Successor States kept them because mechs and all their complications appealed to their feudal lords, similar to how the heavily armored knight appealed to medieval european lords. The Clans kept them because they had a stupid warrior-mentality that cared more about honor than military efficiency.

    Or TL;DNR: It's cultural.

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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Quote Originally Posted by Serafina View Post
    So my reasoning on "why does Battletech use Mechs" is:
    The Starleague build them because they did not have to care about efficiency, since they didn't fight any threatening wars. The Successor States kept them because mechs and all their complications appealed to their feudal lords, similar to how the heavily armored knight appealed to medieval european lords. The Clans kept them because they had a stupid warrior-mentality that cared more about honor than military efficiency.

    Or TL;DNR: It's cultural.
    This is it, it's entirely cultural since that's the only explanation as to why apparently combined arms no longer functions, and none of the obvious applications of mech-technology are applied to everything else.

    It's cultural and the people in charge are complete idiots.
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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    This is it, it's entirely cultural since that's the only explanation as to why apparently combined arms no longer functions, and none of the obvious applications of mech-technology are applied to everything else.

    It's cultural and the people in charge are complete idiots.
    Didn't earlier versions of the fluff also have a Minovksy particle-esque effect that effectively stopped long range combat much like Spamotron noted?

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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    Didn't earlier versions of the fluff also have a Minovksy particle-esque effect that effectively stopped long range combat much like Spamotron noted?
    Do that, and tanks still work better. It doesn't justify mechs, it just prevents things like ICBMs.
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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    We actually have historic examples of combined arms breaking down.
    The primary one would be the european middle ages, but other feudal societies work as well.

    Combined Arms ultimately needs a ranged of specialized skills and equipment, which require a professional army. Those are expensive (no matter their composition), so a splintered society like a feudal one will not be able to afford them like a nation-state would. Their professional warriors tend to be members of the cultural elite, who can actually afford to train for a long time and buy expensive equipment.. However, since they are all ultimately rivals, they will not practice working together to their own detriment - for example, specializing in a support role only works if you have others who fill the other roles, so you must rely on them.
    Which brings the second issue in - the "honorable warrior mentality". Which simply doesn't permit combined arms all that much.

    If you compare medieval european armies to those of antiquity, they were much less well-equipped overall, and more importantly much smaller. Relevant here is that they did not emply equally sophisticated combined arms, and often failed to employ them at all.
    The typical roman legionary was in itself already a combined arms combatant - he used a highly effective throwing weapon, and in melee combat he worked in a formation that maximized his lethality. While not individually inferior to his opponents (roman legionaries were on average stronger and tougher than their barbarian enemies), his true strength lay in the fluid formations his unit could pull off.
    But it went further than that. He was also trained in siegework, and supported by siege specialists. Each legion had auxiliaries which fulfilled roles such as archery, cavalry or anti-cavalry work.

    Indeed, let's take a look at anti-cavalry work. A relatively simple formation of well-trained spearmen can break and defeat any cavalry-charge (assuming no overwhelming numbers). Yet for most of the middle-ages that did not occur, letting cavalry rule supreme - because you did not have professional warriors in sufficient numbers, and those you had focused more on individual skill than working as such a tightly knit group.


    The situation in Battletech is similar.
    First of all, we dp not have actual nation-states. Those could easily build a proper military-industrial complex that churns out a great number of the same optimized-design combat vehicle. Instead we have a great number of smaller companies who all compete with wildly varying designs and work on supply and demand, rather than a set of large orders which would lower cost (read: no mass production).
    They also fulfill the needs of a feudal elite. Those desire maximum individual power, comparable to how a medieval knight was supremely equipped. A Battlemech takes high individual skill to master - not desirable for an army, but certainly for a feudal warrior. It also offers a versatile, flexible package that gives a (somewhat misleading) impression of not being helpless in any situation - but again at the price of not having a single optimized design.

    Now Battletech DOES combined arms, somewhat - in areas where mechs can not fill it, such as Aerospace or artillery. However, the main reason that the Mech is the "King of the Battlefield" is simply that it is the weapon the most resources are sunk into, and that no one really develops any counter-tactics that do not require mechs on their own - similar how medieval cavalry was countered with cavalry, not with spear formations.


    Say what you want, but in Battletech, the existence of Mechs can actually be justified. Not via technology - any game-design advantage mechs have is simply that, game-design. But via cultural and economic factors, which always shape the military as much as technology does.



    Now combined arms, and in our context tanks, are simply better. A medieval army could not have hoped to defeat a roman army without extraneously favorable circumstances. On a strategic scale, any nation-state with a modern military-industrial complex could vastly outproduce a Battle-tech-nation, if you give them comparable resources. I'd actually argue that modern Earth, given Battletech-technology (they do have advantages in armor and weaponry (if not range) and aerospace) could handily defeat the Successor States and the Clans, simply by outproducing them with superior vehicles - who may not be individually superior, but would certainly be superior as an army.

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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    Do that, and tanks still work better. It doesn't justify mechs, it just prevents things like ICBMs.
    Depends on how bad the dampening effect is. About the only reason that I could come up with for the 1km range of missiles was that they're all wire guided due to the effect being so severe (still coming up with a blank for ballistic class weapons though).

    I do agree that on a combat effectiveness scale, tanks would still be better, but Serafina and others have put forward a very convincing argument for why mechs are used.

    Quote Originally Posted by Serafina View Post
    A medieval army could not have hoped to defeat a roman army without extraneously favorable circumstances.
    I don't know about that - I think the Mongols would win out in a fair battle, although whether they'd win a war is a debate for a different thread.
    Last edited by Brother Oni; 2012-08-12 at 10:55 AM.

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    Default Re: Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs

    I was talking about european medieval armies (because there were nation-states, just in other parts of the world).

    However, the Romans DID have tactics for countering horse-archers - which goes under "yet another thing you need combined arms for", since they mostly did it via that method and good field-fortifications.
    Whether they'd win an open battle is certainly debatable. They'd certainly win a war, since horse-archers - especially in such numbers - are highly dependable on logistics and terrain, both of which were non-favorable in large parts of the Empire, and the Romans were good in subverting those factors against their enemies.

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