This page contains a number of the common gameplay tactics found in MWLL.
- 1 Alpha Strike
- 2 Twisting and Damage Spreading
- 3 Staring
- 4 Ballooning
- 5 Circle Lock
- 6 Ejecting
- 7 Legging
- 8 Uppercutting
- 9 LRM Camping
- 10 Flicking
- 11 Poptarting
- 12 Powering Down
- 13 Spawn Camping
- 14 Supporting
- 15 Ramming and Zero-Throttling
- 16 Arming, Externaling, and Winging
- 17 Cheating
An alpha strike is an attack where a 'Mech fires all its weapons simultaneously.
Alpha strikes are very effective because they tightly concentrate damage, leading to heavy damage to or destruction of some components. Some 'Mechs are designed to make use of alpha strikes. Notably, the Puma variant C is capable of crippling any light 'Mech with few well-placed Medium Laser alpha strikes, as is the 2 CGauss Vulture A, the Madcat MKII A or most Fafnir variants.
Any 'Mech can unleash the alpha strike, but it's not always an effective tactic. Firstly, the 'Mech should be wielding weapons with similar characteristics, for example only UACs, only Lasers, or only PPCs/Gauss (which behave similarly) -- these setups allow all weapons will hit the same or very close spot of the 'Mech, inflicting concentrated damage (though weapons can be grouped more freely when shooting slow targets at very close range). Secondly, some alpha strike configurations will cause severe overheating, which will damage one's own 'Mech and threaten a shut down or self-destruction. Examples of 'Mechs with hazardous alpha strikes include the Masakari Prime, Loki Prime and variants of the energy weapon-heavy Novacat, some of which can peg the core temperature gauge in a single alpha strike.
There isn't much defense against an alpha strike, other than attempting to make the enemy pilot miss the shot, or shielding vulnerable components by turning or using terrain. However, alpha strikes generate severe amounts of heat in a short time (especially when it's based on energy weapons), so it may help to raise his heat with PPC shots or (preferably) Flamers. Further, if the opportunity arises, destroying or heavily damaging the back armor of an alpha-striking mech will force the pilot to be more conservative with heat or risk self-killing, since incurring heat damage after the back armor is destroyed will instantly destroy the mech.
Twisting and Damage Spreading
Skilled enemies will often aim at the same component of an asset repeatedly. Three shots to the center torso is far more effective than one shot to the left, one to the right, and one to the center. To avoid having a single component destroyed quickly, players are advised to twist their torso (in the case of mechs) or twist their chassis (in the case of tanks). Most weapons take time to recharge, reload, or cool down. While a player's weapons are unusable, they should rotate their asset to display the side with the most remaining armor toward the enemy (yes, when close to the end of their armor, this means this means players will sometimes have to turn their back on the enemy).
Twisting isn't always a reliable tactic, for example, XPLs can fire continuously. Twisting means dealing less damage. LRMs require a long lock on time and in some situations, lock on time can be so long, that it isn't worth torso twisting because of losing the missile lock.
For some assets, a single large weapon may be mounted in a single place, like the Hollander II or the Uller B. Enemies will often focus on these weapons and torso twisting becomes an essential tactic to stay alive and to preserve important weapons.
Aerospace fighters and especially VTOL have limited ability to spread their damage, but there are two primary ways to spread damage. To avoid further damage to a damaged wing, keep nearby enemies on the opposite side and keep the aircraft's body perpendicular and flat relative to the enemy so that the damaged wing cannot be seen from their perspective. To avoid further damage to the engine at the back of an aerospace fighter, point the nose of the aircraft towards the enemy, or turn relative to the enemy to show the body of the plane instead of the engine.
Unlike damage spreading, staring has the player look directly at the enemy and never break eye contact. Although this makes the player easy to destroy by allowing enemies free reign to shoot at whatever component they like, it does have some advantages. Weapons with long lock on times (like the LRM20), that have a long time before overheating (like the UAC2), or that can be constantly fired (like XPLs) will function better when staring, resulting in a higher DPS. Staring is a good tactic particularly when surrounded by allies that are taking most of the enemy fire away from the player.
Players can make their aim even more accurate, by bringing their asset to a complete stop by zero-throttling their enemy and themselves or by pressing [x] to drop their own throttle to zero. The downside, of course, is that the player becomes an even easier target.
Ballooning is a VTOL and Aerospace tactic, where weapons are fired from straight above the enemy's maximum pitch to avoid return fire. Though still vulnerable to dedicated ground AA units and Aerospace Fighters, Ballooning assets are difficult to shoot at.
This maneuver was a very common VTOL tactic until beta 0.2.0, when AC5 damage was increased to the point where AA units could destroy a Hawkmoth in a few seconds, even above 1000 meters. This caused VTOLs to nearly disappear completely from games.
Beta 0.3.0 increased VTOL survivability making them capable of surviving much more while flying closer to the ground, therefore ballooning isn't a profitable tactic any more. A better tactic is using terrain as cover or flying in the blind spot above the 'Mech and spraying them with missiles.
Community edition 0.9.4 changed aerospace flight mechanics substantially, making it impossible for Aerospace to balloon without exposing themselves, at least briefly, to medium range weapons. Only Aerospace using extremely long range weapons can balloon, weapons like UAC2 or LtGauss, or if the Aerospace has missiles or LGBs that are aided by a friendly NARC or TAG.
Circle Lock, popularly known as the "Circle of Death" is a maneuver that occurs when two opposing Mechs try to get behind one another in order to fire outside of their torso radius and thus risk no return fire. It often occurs at 200-50m as both Mechs run full speed while turning in the same direction while they have their torsos turned to face each other. This results in the two orbiting each other and firing trying to accurately fire, and ultimately trying to get behind the other mech for a free shot. This happens at very fast speeds between Osirises and Harassers, and at very slow speeds even among Assault Mechs.
The advantages of this maneuver are twofold:
- First, it forces the enemy to focus his movement and attention toward you, leaving teammates free to pick and choose when and what to fire at while keeping the enemy from running away towards his teammates, for if he does, he exposes his back to you.
- Secondly, it creates a situation where one can fire close range weapons but still be moving to avoid enemy fire who have difficult to lead weapons. This applies chiefly to the opponent you are engaged in the Circle with, as sprinting in a tight orbit can make leading ballistics projectiles, tracking accurately with lasers, and leading/tracking Short range missiles, all much more difficult than if standing still.
However, it is worth noting here, that mechs with full torso rotation, such as Osiris or Thanatos have quite an advantage in such duels even against the most swiftly turning mechs such as the Argus or Thor. This is due to the fact that the angular speed of torso rotation is usually higher than the angular speed of an turning asset.
Ejecting, or leaving one's asset behind, is different depending on the asset and can be done for various reasons. In some game modes, such as Solaris Arena, ejecting is disabled. When ejecting is disabled, the player must first power down their asset. Only then will they be allowed to leave the asset. Some assets, such as Mech, VTOL, and Aerospace come equipped with an ejection seat. When the eject button is pressed twice within a few seconds the player will be rocket upwards some 150 meters. In the case of Mechs, the ejection seat and the mech's head armor are destroyed when the player ejects. If the player, or another player, gets back in the mech, the eject function will not work until the head armor has been repaired. In the case of VTOLs and Aerospace, the ejection seat will be permanently disabled. Repairing the asset will not restore ejection seat use. Aerospace and VTOL with disabled ejection seats must come to a complete stop in order to leave the asset.
Tactically, ejection is often a poor decision. Since the player, once ejected from their asset, is a Battle Armor, they will lose their team 2 tickets when they die. And their asset, even with no player driving it, will still lose their team tickets when destroyed. For example, if a player's Osiris is destroyed, while they are controlling it, their team will lose 2 tickets. If that same player decides to eject before the Osiris is destroyed and are then killed shortly after, their team will lose 4 tickets total. Dying in one's own asset, instead of ejecting, also means getting back to base to build a new asset sooner. Battle armor are slow, so running back to base in a Battle Armor can delay you by several minutes. Additionally, Battle Armor that have just ejected from their asset will only have 2 SRMs and 1 Machine Gun, which are not enough to cause much damage.
Good reasons to eject:
Legging is the deliberate targeting of one or both legs of a Mech, with the intent of crippling and toppling it. Severe damage to a leg will reduce a Mech to a painfully slow limp and limit its turning ability, while destroying a leg will cause the Mech to fall over. Leg armor is stronger than center torso armor but tends to be a larger target, making this a potentially faster way to disable a Mech than chewing through the torso armor; however, once legged, the Mech can fall in such a way that it can still fire upon enemies. It may also be more difficult to guarantee a hit on a rapidly moving Light Mech leg with certain weapons such as Gauss rifles that fires a fairly slowly reloading shot and provides no splash damage -- though a hit with such a weapon is extremely damaging to a Light Mech leg. Suddenly destroying the leg of a rapidly moving Mech can send it tumbling somewhat comically, and destroying the leg of a jumping mech will send it through a wild tumble to the ground.
The pilot of a legged Mech may attempt to continue firing on enemies within his range of view. However, being unable to move, the pilot is often left unable to defend himself, and must choose between waiting for death in the crippled unit (which can make more sense from a CBills or time perspective), or ejecting in order to return to base or to continue fighting as a Battle Armor. If the legged mech mounts jump jets, it's possible to (clumsily) reorient your mech to have a good field of view of the enemy, or twist your mech into a position where it's almost impossible for enemy mechs to fire upon your torso.
If a Mech pilot notices that the enemy is deliberately targeting legs, he can accelerate to make a shot on the legs more difficult. Terrain may also be used to shield legs, while still being able to fire upon the enemy -- in some situations, it may even be possible to fire on the enemy's legs without exposing your own legs to hostile fire.
Legging is often considered a cheap, dishonorable tactic, although its use tends to be forgiven when used in desperation or uncommonly. Chronically focusing primarily on enemies' legs, however, will draw ire and often result in other players going out of their way to leg you.
Legging a Mech will not immediately reward as many points as a traditional center-torso kill, but in many cases the legged Mech can be destroyed for points more or less at leisure.
The act of body slamming ASF with a (mostly iJJ equipped) mech. There is also a chance to instantly destroy the ASF if you managed to step on it instead of body slamming it. When its successfull, 3 things may happen to enemy ASF.
LRM Camping, is a valid, but controversial tactic. It entails buying an asset with Long Range Missiles such as LRMs, ELRMs, ERATMs, or ArrowIVs, picking an easily defensible spot on the map with good sight lines to targets within target lock range (typically at the very edge of the missile laucher's maximum range), and firing on any enemy targets.
LRM campers enjoy the benefit of being able to wear down incoming enemies. By the time said enemies are in range to fire back, not only are they heavily damaged, but the LRM camper's teammates have usually moved to intercept and are ready to take out the enemy.
The more players there are on a team, the easier it is to LRM camp effectively. For example, in a 1v1 game, the player that takes LRMs is more likely to lose since LRMs are often ineffective at the short ranges typical of 1 v 1 games. Alternatively, in a 10 v 10 game, having 1 or 2 players play as an LRM camper can be a very effective way to deal significant damage to slower targets. The later in the game it is, the better the LRM camping strategy gets. Later game assets are often slower moving giving an LRM camper more shots before the enemy can get in range with their own weapons.
Benefits of NARCed and TAGed Targets for LRM Campers
- Improved Maximum Range – Weapons like LRMs, ELRMs, and ArrowIVs are capable of dealing damage well past their maximum lock on range. Targets that are NARCed or TAGed will still attract missiles so long as the missiles were fired with active radar and so long as the missiles travel within 1000m of that target.
- Ability to Take Cover While Firing – LRM campers can hide behind terrain so long as their target is NARCed or TAGed.
- Ability to Hit Targets That Are Hiding Behind Cover – Enemies not in line of site can still be hit with missiles if they are NARCed or TAGed. Additionally, so long as those targets are within 1000m, the LRM camper can fire their missiles away from the target causing the missiles to gain a higher arc and have a better chance of hitting a target behind cover, similar to flicking.
- Target Coordination – If there are multiple LRM campers working together, a NARC or TAG can mean massive damage against a single target.
Things That Counter LRM Campers
- Aerospace and VTOLs – Aerospace and VTOLs are merely forced to fly defensively when fired upon with most missiles and can easily fly behind enemy lines to attack LRM campers that would otherwise be safe.
- Fast and/or Sneaky Brawlers – Close range assets, like fast mechs with MASC or hovercraft and sneaky assets with passive radar or better yet, GECM, can often get in close to LRM campers, bypassing the rest of the team, forcing the LRM camper into a very disadvantageous brawl. Inner Sphere LRMs have a substantial minimum range at about 160m. Similarly ERATMs and ATMs have a minimum range of 140m. Clan LRMs have a minimum range of only 20m, but are suboptimal at short ranges.
- Cover Shooters – By coming out of cover briefly, shooting, and returning behind cover, enemies can deal damage to LRM campers without taking any damage themselves. The brief exposure either prevents a lock on from occurring at all or allows terrain to intercept incoming missiles. This is especially easy for Poptarters.
- Being Outranged – Weapons like Long Tom, Thumper, LtGauss, HAG, AC2, UAC2, and HVAC2 outrange many of the long rage missiles in the game. ELRMs also have a longer lock on range than other missiles. LRM campers are forced to abandon camping when outranged. The camper has to run, hide, or move into closer range to attack.
The Effectiveness of LRM Camping Based On Game Mode
- Terrain Control – LRM camping in most Terrain Control games is an ineffective strategy. Terrain Control typically requires players to remain mobile and capture bases. LRM camping is exactly the opposite of this and can cause a team to lose the game through loss of tickets. Occasionally LRM Camping is effective late in a game, in wider, more open maps like TC Tukayyid and in maps that have large capture zones like TC Lunacy.
- Solaris Arena – LRM camping in Solaris Arena is very ineffective as the battlefields are small. Additionally, with no allies to support the player, as soon as an enemy gets too close, the LRM weapons on the LRM camper's asset become partially or completely useless causing the player to be at a disadvantage.
- Team Solaris Arena – LRM camping is most effective in Team Solaris Arena games where holding territory isn't important. LRM camping can be a very effective strategy as it gives the player a lot of time to fire at the incoming enemy target before it can get in close and use its shorter range weapons. In Team Solaris Arena games were where points are the only way to win, LRM camping is very effective as it gives the player's team points without giving away points to the other team. In Team Solaris Arena games that use tickets, LRM camping is less effective as the threat of LRMs often make other players run away or hide. While they may take some damage, those players will typically survive, and their team won't lose any tickets.
Points of View on LRM Camping
LRM Camping is a somewhat controversial tactic within the MWLL community. Many players who prefer "brawling" (ie close range combat) see LRM Camping as a low-risk and low-skill method of enemy engagement. Other players point out that LRM attacks have long been a part of Battletech canon, and that viable counter-measures exist to thwart LRM Campers. Newer players tend to gravitate towards LRM 'Mechs and will often partake in LRM camping due it being a lower-risk and low-intensity method of fighting.
History of LRM Camping
As soon as the MWLL Beta became available to the public, LRM Camping with the support TAG Laser-equipped unit became a popular tactic. Not only was it a low risk way for new players to score damage, but an error in score calculation awarded TAG-gers a disproportionately high number of C-Bills.
With introduction of version 0.1.0, TAG-ing targets no longer awarded as many C-Bills, and the tactic became somewhat less popular.
In beta 0.2.0, maps were modified to introduce multiple terrain obstacles, so countering LRM camping become easier. Many units also gained AMS systems, which reduced somewhat the number of LRMs hitting them.
In beta 0.3, tweaks to weapon balance saw the damage dealt by LRMs reduced somewhat. LRM Camping is now a slow way to increase in rank, compared to other direct engagement strategies.
Flicking is the act of firing LRMs or any other missile weapon that require a lock at an angle away from the target. First, lock on to a target, then quickly aim the reticle up and/or rotate the torso/turret to one side. As the missiles fire, they will gain more elevation before cruising toward their target than normal. Unfortunately, for large missile salvos, like LRM20s, this can mean the first few missiles must be fired at a lower angle or else the player risks losing target lock before all of the salvo has been fired. This is done to make it easier to hit targets behind cover similarly to the way NARCs and TAGs allow for higher missile arcs.
Poptarting, a play on the popular breakfast pastry Poptarts, is a tactic in which a Mech utilizes Jump Jets to rise up from behind cover, fire its weapons, and then sink back behind cover. The term for players who utilize Poptarting is "Poptarters". Cover can be any particular part of the battlefield, or even another Mech, as long as it blocks line-of-sight from the Poptarter to the target. This is also known as 'jump-sniping' and is a form of poking.
This tactic allows the Poptarter the smallest window of vulnerability, while at the same time letting him unload his full arsenal on the target.
Several changes in Jump Jets mechanics in release 0.3.0 have severely changed Poptarting as a popular tactic.
- Mech HUD shake on ascent - Reduced the amount of time the pilot has to locate and fire at a target to the descending arc of a jump
- Slower Jump Jet energy recharge - Increased delay before JJ energy starts to recharge. This reduces the frequency the pilot may poptart.
- Jump Jets produce more heat - Another balance change to reduce the effectiveness of Alpha strike poptarters.
To power down means to shut down a vehicle. This can be done by pressing the [p] key. This is useful to make repairs or to leave a 'Mech, VTOL or Aerospace Fighter without ejecting and destroying the cockpit. A powered down unit is undetectable, unless an enemy unit is fielding a Beagle or Bloodhound probe, which can detect shut-down units only at very close range.
There are few tactics that use powering down, due to the risk in exposing a shut down unit to potential enemy fire. Still, using a spotter under the cloak of an ECM suite, or an asset with active radar as bait, and a few powered down comrades to set up an ambush can cause a great amount of surprise and confusion, if executed properly. If done wrong, it will lead to several dead comrades, and a chuckle from the enemy team.
Powering down can also be used to manage heat. After firing many, high heat weapons, jump jets, or MASC, an asset can pull into cover, and power down. This will allow it to cool faster, but is risky since nearby enemies can use the opportunity to position themselves better. Additionally, when fighting against enemies with many Flamers, powering down may be the only way to prevent armor loss from overheating or even total asset destruction.
Spawn Camping usually occurs when one team has a significant disadvantage in amount of players or skill. Sometimes it's an effect of Team Stacking, or the surprise attack of a few units at an enemy base. In any case - it is defined by a prolonged attack of an enemy spawn base or the units within, often combined with destroying turrets, or sometimes even units entering enemy hangar and hunting Battle Armor in there. Bombing the enemy base can also considered Spawn Camping due to very high amount of damage given by this weapon and very low chances of defense against it, particularly if the base in question does not have base LAMS turrets.
Spawn Camping differs though from attacks to units which return back to base for repairs after an engagement - such moves are considered as acceptable by the community.
Camping can often be prevalent on smaller maps with open areas around a capturable base, such as on TC_Harvest. In this case, one team can get hemmed into one of the middle spawn-capable bases by the other and is forced to constantly pour more players/assets into the battle to keep the attackers at bay, who will snipe at anything they can see inside the base. While this is technically spawn camping, the contested base is a capture point and such as is more or less fair game.
Countering Spawn Camping
The simplest way is simply to ask enemy team for more space using public chat (default key: [Y] ).
Alternatively try to spawn in a different base if possible. Some maps without another base contain airfields, so spawning there is another possibility.
It is also possible to simply push back the attackers - for this it is required to pick best possible brawlers and exit the hangar in largest group available, focusing fire on a single target at a time.
Finally, on some servers, mostly these sponsored by Clans or Units, it's possible to ask for admin intervention or collect screenshots of players Spawn Camping and post them on forums of the Unit.
Some assets in MechWarrior: Living Legends have special equipment that don't just help the user, they also help other friendly players. These assets can come equipped with only one or two of these special systems, but others come with many of them, like the Raven G or the Loki Prime. Examples of support equipment includes LAMS, TAG, NARC, C3, AECM, PDS, and AutoFlamers. Bringing an asset with support equipment can be vital to victory. If the enemy has many LRMs, bring LAMS. If the enemy is NARCing targets, bring AECM. If friendly artillery need targeting help, bring C3. If there are many enemy BA, bring PDS or AutoFlamers.
Ramming and Zero-Throttling
By driving directly into enemies with a tank or Mech, a player can cause the enemy to slow or even stop completely. This makes both the player and the enemy easier targets. It works best when the player's allies in the area outnumber the enemies in the area. Heavier tanks and mechs will often find this tactic somewhat more difficult when attempting to ram lighter, faster assets.
When ramming a tank with another tank, typically the one initiating the ram will be forced underneath the other tank. The tank on top usually tips over and will have a difficult time returning fire while the tank underneath will usually be able to continue firing. This tactic, although legitimate and highly entertaining, is often considered to be rude if the player does not release the other tank from being tipped over.
When ramming a tank with a tall mech, if it doesn't flip the tank, it can sometimes deny the the tank the ability to shoot the mech's torso if the tank has a low maximum pitch.
When ramming an aircraft with another aircraft, typically both aircraft will be destroyed, although usually only one player dies. This is generally considered to be even ruder than ramming a tank. Check the rules of the server you are playing on, this tactic may be banned.
When ramming a mech or tank with an aircraft, typically the aircraft will be destroyed and the mech or tank will take a small amount of damage. This damage is often not worth the loss of the aircraft. Tanks may move a distance when rammed in this way. Players are advised to attempt to escape with their aircraft instead of ramming. If the aircraft has lost too many weapons to be viable in future attack runs, the player can land the plane and suicide to respawn with new money or sell the aircraft in order to upgrade, downgrade, or rebuy the same asset.
Arming, Externaling, and Winging
By shooting and destroying a mech's arms or externals, some weapons can be permanently destroyed. This means that even if the mech is repaired, the destroyed component, and all the weapons it contained, will not be replaced. This is also true for weapons mounted on the wings of a VTOL or Aerospace.
This tactic is most useful when shooting at an enemy that is going to be able to escape or an enemy that has a particularly dangerous destructible weapon (like the Thanatos A's Heavy Gauss in its left arm). This tactic can be risky against some enemy mechs as it leaves their torso untouched, and no closer to being defeated. Against aircraft, this tactic is very effective since a destroyed wing when shot again, will transfer damage to the body of the aircraft.
Using game exploits, or cheats, to gain unfair advantages that are otherwise unavailable to other players is frowned upon the the community and is grounds to be banned on nearly every server.