This page contains a number of the common gameplay tactics found in MWLL.
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 MBL 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.
Ballooning is an VTOL tactic of hovering above the height of 1000 meters, descending just below this boundary to attack. This allows them to stay beyond the lock-on range of most Missiles and being impossible to detect with Radar as long as they maintain Passive. Though still vulnerable to dedicated ground AA units and Aerospace Fighters, they remain difficult targets persistently inflicting damage to ground units.
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.
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.
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.
LRM Camping, is a valid but controversial tactic, which involves attacking enemies almost exclusively with Long-Range Missiles. LRM Campers stay on safe ground, usually far behind their own lines or away from any significant conflict, and exclusively fire LRMs, ELRMs or ArrowIVs at enemy units at the very edge of their range.
LRM Camping is more effective when it's supported by other units utilizing NARCs or TAG lasers, as carried by many Light Mechs, Battle Armor, and Hawkmoths. When targets are NARCed or TAGed by other units, LRM Campers can hide safely behind cover, avoiding long-range counterattack, while still firing Missiles which will be guided to their targets. LRM Camping by three or more units working in concert may enable them to completely destroy enemy Mechs or other ground units, before those units can close to counter-attack range.
Note that LRM Campers aren't as effective at dealing damage to fast moving targets, or targets at close-range.
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.
Countering LRM Camping
LRMs have a minimum targeting range of 150 meters, and many of the units used by LRM Campers have poor or no close range weapons. So, a good way to counter LRM Camping is to take a Mech, Vehicle or Aero with short range weapons to within the minimum range of the LRM Camper and attack. MASC helps close-combat Mechs get into striking range quickly, and Passive Radar helps all vehicle types remain undetected until close to their intended targets.
Another effective counter is dumbfiring ArrowIVs from beyond enemy lock-on range. When dumb-fired, ArrowsIV's have an effective range of 3000m, and will travel to a point directly over the targeting reticule, before descending at a steep point and landing almost exactly where they're aimed. As LRM Campers tend to stay at one location, it's easy to hit them without needing to first lock-on. However, as ArrowIVs are very visible in flight, LRM Campers can sometimes move away from the targeted site and avoid the blast radius.
A third counter is to utilize Mechs equipped with Jump Jets and long-range weapons, like Gauss Rifles and ERPPCs. Using cover to get within range of the LRM Campers, JJ equipped Mechs can poptart, snapping off shots before the Campers can get a Missile lock. This tactic is only effective on terrain that features enough usable cover to get within range, and isn't as effective if there are several LRM Campers that may be positioned in a way that allows them to fire behind whatever cover is being used.
A fourth potential counter is to utilize a LongTom Artillery Tank. Deliver crippling damage at long ranges, the LongTom - especially when aided by teammates relaying targeting information - can destroy LRM Campers, or break up their formations, with only a few well-placed shots.
A fifth counter is take an Aerospace fighter or VTOL. Most LRM mechs lack effective anti-air weaponry to protect them from aerospace assets. Dive bombing Sullas can easily destroy or cripple LRM mechs, and a Hawkmoth Prime can distract them and force LRM mechs to retreat.
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 diproportionately 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.
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'.
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 at very close range.
There are few tactics that use powered down vehicles, 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.
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.