Of all the different, dangerous, and exciting challenges a mechwarrior can face, urban combat is the most intense…
…this week’s BATTLETECH post explores a few of those encounters when fighting in a city and how we can use them in terms of tactica, or at least be aware of them.
The congestion alone of urban combat means there are lots of places to hide and ambush, buildings to use as cover, roads to slip on, and ways to get into trouble real fast. If you are playing with the total warfare rules and will be facing infantry and tanks- in a city-fight setting they can be as deadly as any mech. You are going to want your own infantry/tank units to work with you mechs, or at least have some dedicated anti-tank and anti-infantry.
They provide staggered places for mechs and tanks to hide, our of range, but ready to pop up- even if you are not using the rules for hidden units. What makes this more of a challange, is that if a mech starts to get overrun, it can pull back to the next building very fast. Add in jump jets to get out of the way, or jump alley to alley/road to road.
First thing I like to do is start dropping some building to create a kill zone so I can shoot at a distance and/or prevent myself from getting ambushed of jumped on from another alley or road. Two Demolisher tanks as an example, along with PPC mechs in my lance can drop 2-3 buildings a turn. If infantry or mechs are in or on a building in many cases it is a good way to flush them out.
A few stands of infantry and some light tanks in buildings make a powerful defensive ring- and can often block off entire parts of a city. Run a light or medium mech through that gauntlet and you might not make it out, even heavy mechs will take a ton of cluster hits- you want to get hit by 5-10 stands of infantry and some auto cannon tanks a turn?
Having something dedicated to taking them out is KEY- I’ll often use a Firestarter which when applied puts me into the war crimes department, but that is why all my merc companies have a PR arm dedicated to showing the other side of my merc company- like kids playing on the mechs, and my mechwarrior “troubleshooters” using their mechs to clear farmland and assit with urban gentrification.
Second to that, I’ll send in infantry to flush out infantry- slow going and bloody as hell, but it keeps the mechs safe.
Shorter range weapons, and multiples of them have a greater impact. You will get up close to use that AC 20, SRM 6, and medium lasers. Longer range weapons like LRM’s will not always have line of sight- so if you have a dedicated element of them be sure to bring units that can spot.
On the opposite side, a few LRM units- mechs and carriers with indirect fire/spotters can be deadly in a cityfight setting since they can fire away, and often not take much fire back.
Scouts, skirmishers, and lighter mechs- FAST moving stuff get a HUGE boost in a city fight setting. You can spend a few turns running around the outskirts of the city, getting into a position to outflank or attack from the rear- often with the city building themselves protecting you from any fire along the way.
Getting isolated in Battletech is deadly- double so for cityfight. With buildings and streets either blocking reserves, or ways to approach, a single mech getting caught by two or three mechs will get torrented down pretty fast with no way to escape or have units that can pile in- and once you lose that mech or unit, you are down on initiative.
And finally, the biggest shift in tactics in urban vs. open Battletech is that once you make that contact point- when things get danger close- two mechs are a few hexes away and now can’t really back off from each other without giving side or rear armor- it happens quicker in the city. With the ability to move from building to building, using cover and concealment, things tend to suddenly “appear”, and once you are in you are in.
My FAVORITE way to play BATTLETECH.