Battletech Tactics: Is The Atlas Assault Mech Really All That?

I’m a bit more hesitant these days, or perhaps a bit more mature in my Battletech skillz, as I have to ask- is the Atlas really worth all the hype?

There is an interesting duality happening in Battletech right now- a true golden age of mechs. The combination of ‘mech computer games along withe new imaged starter sets for tabletop means new mech warriors and commanders are pouring into the game…

…and I’m seeing a ton of Atlas mechs on the table.

Who wouldn’t want to command the biggest and best, most feared 100 ton mech in the inner sphere?

But is big always the best choice?

The biggest constraint I see with the Atlas is the battle value cost of it in the game- 1897. That’s a solid amount for the Inner Sphere and having so much BV tied up in it can leave you vulnerable…

In my last game, I got luck and hit an opposing Spider in the head with a PPC, blowing the head off.

It was an insane + luck shot, needing a 10+ to hit followed by the “12” headshot. What are the odds? Naturally there was a moment of sadface from my opponent, but the loss was only a Spider in battle value.

IF one loses a mech like the Atlas like that, it can be a game changer, and VERY hard to course correct and come back from. There is a reason why a very viable strategy in Battletech is the numbers game- spread your battle value over light and mediums with some tanks.

Minimize the impact of a loss.

Not that the Atlas has to get destroyed either…

I was surrounded by Davion forces…

Blasting away with the AC/20 and medium lasers I had the armor and weapons to blast my way out of it. The ATLAS excels at this type of close in combat.

Things wen’t hand-to-hand, and I had a chance to split a Hunchback in half with a kick…

<rolls dice>

Misses.

Pilot check.

Fails.

Falls down.

Can’t get up for three turns as I get blasted and stomped.

But isn’t all that the *random* of Battletech?

Putting that aside, is the Atlas the best battle value for the weapons?

The mech is a close in assault fighting machine- enough heat sinks to save mechs with the AC/20, medium lasers, and SRM 6.

At 100 tons any physical attacks that connect are going to be game changers.

But the question is getting up there to do that.

Naturally if the mission is an assault mission or destroy a stronghold- a static target the Atlas will get up there.

But what about skirmish or combat patrol type missions- just stay away from the Atlas and all one has to *worry* about is the LRM 20 pack and maybe the medium lasers at long range- with run/movement modifiers added on.

The Atlas has trouble chasing down elusive targets, mechs that run-and-gun vs. a stand up fight.

And that is battle value that is not fully being used each turn.

There is also the challenge in smaller battle value games, with putting so much BV into a single mech, that you WILL be outnumbered and have initiative problems even if you win. If your opponent can zap a light or medium mech in the lance first, that gap in movement gets even harder.

Big and scary, the Atlas *seems* easy to play- just point and click on the hex map, but in actuality it requires more finesse that most mechs.

Full disclosure: I have thee Atlas mechs in my collection, and I’m not even a Steiner player.