Saturday, 18 May 2013

MechTalk - Assault Battlemechs


The final class of 'mech in Mechwarrior Online is the venerable and most iconic of all Battlemechs, the assault.  Assaults are no nonsense designs based around the philosophy of "more gun, means more kills".  Assault 'mechs bring the charge home usually taking the second line of an attack to support it's faster friendlies in matches.  Assault 'mechs weigh in at 80 tons minimum and a whopping 100 ton maximum, with the Atlas being the head honcho here.  Not many 'mechs can go toe to toe with an Atlas without taking severe punishment or outright destroyed by it's massive firepower.

Obviously the main strength of the assault is it's armour and weapons, speed is a tertiary concern when you're rocking as much firepower as these 'mechs.  Moving into a firing position and letting rip is all that really matters, it's just a matter of choosing your preferred method of evisceration.  This isn't to say that the assault chassis is impervious to harm in fact it's hamstrung by it's lack of speed on the battlefield.  Isolated assault 'mechs make for easy pickings for light strikers and savvy medium pilots, and a couple of heavy 'mechs can quickly maul a lone assault with little trouble.  Staying with the group works best for assaults so they can focus their fire on targets and provide immediate close support as the battle dictates.

Tactics ÷

You are a steel wall with guns, lots of guns.  Manoeuvrability isn't your main focus here in fact trying to dance with faster 'mechs is pointless as you will never be able to counter their speed with your own.  When engaging from range you will want to use terrain as much as possible to close the gap simply because even at ranges of 800 metres you're an easy target for snipers.  The assault 'mech has a distinct silhouette so taking the path with the most obscuring terrain is key to minimising damage and allowing you to bring your guns to bear.

Due to the weight advantage you are generally able to mount a large variety of weapons and thus be capable of filling any combat role from sniper, LRM support and brawler although specific chassis's may prevent certain builds such as the Awesome which has a primary focus on energy weapons.  The general rule here is to use your 'mechs weight advantage to bring as many weapons as you can to field to do as much damage as possible.  Remember to keep vulnerable weapon locations safe from repeated fire so as keep yourself in the fight without compromising damage potential. 

Heat is another consideration as assault 'mechs can overheat very quickly even with double heatsinks equipped, there is usually few critical slots left to mount many heatsinks after weapons, ammo and armour have been filled out.  Much like the heavy you need to be aware of heat at all times since you can't simply run away from a battle to cool off.  Cool shot is definitely something to invest in if you intend on being front and centre of a battle every round.

Staying close to your team is another important factor to being effective as an assault pilot.  Going lone wolf will make you an instant target for the enemy team who will quickly isolate and kill you to weaken your team.  Light 'mechs can easily run circles around assaults with little fear of being destroyed when out in the open.  Medium 'mechs are fast enough to keep out of the firing line that they can do significant damage to a lone assault 'mech before being destroyed themselves or so heavily damaged that they have to back off.  If you pilot a D-DC Atlas then you need to mount ECM as it keeps a majority of the team in it's bubble and prevents LRM bombardment, do not run a D-DC without ECM.

Build Basics ÷

Endo steel and double heatsinks are definite considerations to make here as the extra free weight can work well for mounting more ammo, weapons and armour, while the double heatsinks can keep you cool.  Builds aren't set in stone for assault 'mechs so experiment with what works for you as the amount of weight you can play around with allows for a lot of playstyle variations. 

However you should never mount XL engines, even if it does allow you to squeeze in those extra lasers.  Your side torso's are easy targets and you will die very quickly.  Also you look like a noob for taking these in such a slow 'mech in the first place since you aren't meant to be the tip of the spear, you're meant to push it home and get kills while drawing fire yourself. 

Until a revision comes out to make ferro fibrous more viable you should generally stay away from it unless you have extra slots and you aren't at maximum armour to begin with.

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