From Mechwarrior Living Legends Wiki
Heat Management refers to various methods used by a pilot in order to keep heat under control. Although more vital for some 'Mechs and vehicles than others, especially ones mounting a lot of energy weapons, it is an important skill to learn. One thing to keep in mind is that environmental factors, such as the external temperature of the map may improve or worsen a unit's ability to cool itself. In addition some weapons, like the Flamer increase the heat of the target hit in addition to any damage dealt which may cause heat problems for a unit which normally would not have any.
The sources of heat a unit needs to deal with can be grouped into two main categories:
- Heat from internal sources, generated by the unit itself.
- Heat from external sources, gained from enemy actions.
For more information on these sources see the article on Heat. What matters in relation to Heat Management is that beyond attempting to avoid certain enemy weapons a pilot has limited control over number two. As a result Heat Management techniques involve regulating heat generated from source one. A secondary way to help regulate heat is to boost a unit's ability to cool itself.
Volley fire is one of the more common methods to regulate unit heat. By grouping weapons into distinct volleys instead of firing everything at once in an alpha strike it is possible to avoid generating unnecessary heat and/or heat which the unit cannot handle at the time. With respect to heat management there are three main ways a unit may use volley fire to keep temperature under control. Some units will find one of these methods works better than others, while other units may be able to use several.
This method of volley fire involves grouping weapons with similar engagement ranges. This prevents a unit from firing weapons when they are not in range or when a target is too close to be effectively engaged by the weapon. By avoiding firing weapons when they will not be effective units will prevent wasteful generation of heat.
Advantages of this method are that weapons are less likely to be fired when they are incapable of hitting their intended target, however there is a danger that a volley from a particular range bracket might still produce enough heat to be dangerous depending on the weapons grouped.
Another possibility is that a player will group weapons into volleys based on their heat generation. By separating weapons into high and low heat production groups a unit can avoid firing weapons which produce too much heat when it is already running hot. Using this method it is possible to have very fine control over heat production.
The primary advantage of this method is that a unit can have a weapon group it can fire at any heat level while it waits to cool down once more, keeping it in the fight. Most low heat weapons tend to deal low damage, however, making them poorly suited for heavily armored foes which will take negligible damage from them.
The final method involves breaking weapons into distinct roles. For example, an Oro C might create three weapon groups: CLBX10, CLBX20, and 2 Flamers. In this example the intent might be to use the CLBX10 as the main gun, saving the flamers for enemy battle armor or 'Mechs that get to close, and only using the CLBX20 against heavily armored targets.
By doing this a pilot can avoid generating excess heat from firing weapons at targets which they are not suited for (such as firing a CLBX20 at an enemy BA when there is ample cover for them to hide behind). As with the Range Bracket method this option may result in volleys which produce intense amounts of heat. There is also the danger that particular groups will end up being under or over used depending on the targets being encountered, resulting in a waste of the unit's potential.
A unit may activate chain fire (default: \) to help manage heat load. When activated chain fire causes weapons in a group to be fired in sequence rather than as a single volley. Because of the slight pause between each weapon's firing a unit has more time to dissipate the generated heat which helps keep the unit temperature from getting quite so high. Keep in mind that chain fire only works for the currently selected group and not for all weapon groups. In addition weapons with a high DPS tend to be less effective when used in chain fire mode since they spend less time firing and thus less time hitting the enemy.
Although not always possible, a unit experiences a boost to its ability to cool itself when submerged in water. As the water covers more of the unit it experiences a greater boost to its ability to sink heat. Remember that the extra cooling capacity won't be enough to keep up with heat generated from most weapon fire, however for designs that have a tendency to run hot any help is a definite boon.
In the event that heat gets out of control a unit has a couple possibilities that remain open to it. These options should be saved as a last resort if possible.
If a unit experiences a heat spike that pushes it into the danger zone it may flush its coolant (default: C). Flushing coolant rapidly rids a unit of waste heat. Unfortunately a unit can only carry a limited amount of coolant and once it has been used up flushing the coolant system is no longer possible until more has been obtained at a repair bay.
When all else fails a unit may can always power down, and in fact will do so automatically if heat gets too high unless overridden. This is the most serious action and must be done carefully. While powered down a unit is incapable of putting up even the most token resistance. Also keep in mind that if your heat levels are high due to enemy weapon fire it is unlikely that shutting down will solve the problem. That said a powered down unit cannot produce heat on its own and will tend to cool down more swiftly.