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Offline Scrasamax

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Cosmic Era Mecha
« on: October 05, 2012, 10:14:00 AM »
I like the Battletech system for building war machines, I'm familiar with it, and I like the basic functionality of using percentages for components, like the chassis.

But I want to change things in it, the mech is no real match for a tank, they are big targets and expensive as hell.

The Hardpoint System

aircraft can bolt on different equipment in pods or weapons, and this ranges from electronics to gun pods, to fuel tanks to missiles. Why can't a mech do the same? If it has two hands it should be able to pick up and use mecha sized weapons. If there are preset connectors and ports for power feeds and electronics then there is no reason that wouldn't work. using hand mounted weapons would functionally make mecha the most massive infantry ever fielded.

Then there are more potential mounting points for systems, over the shoulders, upper arm mounts, megatron style arm mounts, back mounts, etc. The hard points can be fitted with all sorts of weapon systems, back and shoulder mounts are awesome looking for missile launchers and missile racks, while cannons of projectile or energy types can be mounted on arms, again, megatron style. This gear doesn't count against the build weight of the mech.

The Griffin is a 55 ton mech armed with a particle cannon and a ten tube missile launcher. Looking at the illustration, the PPC is being carried in the hands, as the mech has two functional hand actuators, and the missile launcher is perched above the torso in its own contained nacelle. With the new rules I am proposing, the mech could be built up, taking the 12 tons of weight/space these two items take up and removing them from the basic build.

So, there is now almost 25% of the mech's available space left, what to do with all of that? Bigger engines make the mechs faster. It doesn't take much to make an equivalent sized mech faster than a similar mass tank. It can mount a more robust chassis, like mounting the machine with a 65 ton chassis for terms of adding armor. The mech becomes even more damage resistant. While technically only armed with a single medium laser, the Griffin has shoulder mounts and can pack missile launchers, or carry a variety of hand mounted weapons, autocannons and the like. It is already now faster or tougher than a similar tank, but now it has the potential to carry much more firepower as well.

Then there are mission pods, like enhanced radar arrays, or plot devices, stealth suits, etc.

The Build process was inspired by the modular construction system used in the Armored Core series


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Offline valadaar

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Re: Cosmic Era Mecha
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2012, 10:53:53 AM »
Hard points or no, a 65 ton mech is a 65 ton mech since you classify it by its combat-loaded, not empty weight.  The extra mass used to provide for flexible hard-points may actually reduce the capabilities of the omni-mech.

A 65 ton mech with 12 tons of external ordinance is a 77 ton mech and would match up against a 77 ton tank.

And for that matter, you can add hard-points to a tank as easily as a mech. 


Frankly, I've always thought that tanks can - and should - eat mechs for breakfast unless the terrain/etc gave the tank a disadvantage. 

In open battle where line of sight rules, Tanks will kill mechs of equal tonnage.




Tank Pros:

1. Concentration of Armor

The simpler, lower-surface area form of the tank is far closer to an optimum form then a mecha, meaning much less material needed to armour to a given thickness.  With equal mass dedicated to armour, the tank can have thicker armour.

2. Simpler Design

Modern tanks are built on the same basic plan as later WWI tanks, with less complex mechanical components then a mecha.  I cannot speculate how much mass treads take vs legs to provide mobility.

3. Much higher profile

Building tanks with a low profile has been a big deal with making them survivable.  Mechs lose on this comparison hands down, as getting into or out of a prone position with battletech-level mechs is far inferior to the 'always prone' nature of tanks.

4. Safer mobility

Unless someone drives a tank over a cliff, they are unlikely to fall, whereas

Cons:

1.  As per battletech rules, if you breach the tanks main armor, the tank is toast as effectively all hits are head shots as far as the crew is concerned.

2.  No arms.

3. No climbing ability - less flexibility when dealing with very rough terrain.  Anti-tank obstacles are much more easily bypassed by mechs then tanks.

4.  Don't think it is in the rules, but I would expect that mechs, due to Con #1 (higher surface area/ton) would have better heat dissipation then tanks.  Perhaps tanks should have restrictions on the number of  heat sinks that can be effectively deployed.




So, my take is mechs trump tanks for operational flexibility - urban, underwater, space, but cannot compete head on ton-for-ton otherwise.

   
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Offline axlerowes

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Re: Cosmic Era Mecha
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2012, 05:34:30 PM »
What rules are using for these tank-mech match ups?  As Valadaar points out the rules for  the old school battletech favored the mechs, the battletech rules that I am familiar also made tanks much more prone to damage to their drive systems. 


Do you not the like the Omni mech system employed by the clans? 

Offline valadaar

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Re: Cosmic Era Mecha
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2012, 05:49:08 PM »
Robotech-style mechs with human or near human mobility would go a long way towards evening the score.
   
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Offline Scrasamax

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Re: Cosmic Era Mecha
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2012, 10:34:43 PM »
Robotech-style mechs with human or near human mobility would go a long way towards evening the score.

Increased mobility is a thing I really want to emphasize. The mecha should be used not like tanks, but like 35 foot tall infantry men armed with vehicle sized weapons. It is agile as a man on foot, fast as an automobile, and carrying as much firepower as a tank AND a ground attack aircraft.

As for combat loaded weight versus empty weight, I want to go with a more aircraft feel than a tank feel.

An A-10 Warthog
Loaded: 30k pounds
CAS Loaded: 47k pounds
Empty Weight: 24k pounds

The Warthog is a 12 ton aircraft, and even if it is loaded out to a full payload of 24 tons, it is still a 12 ton aircraft, just heavily loaded.

versus

M1A1 Abrams
Weight: 62-69 tons depending on model.

You make a valid point, but I want to pull mecha closer to aircraft and away from tanks. The mech can be built at X weight, and then be configured to carry a variety of weapons, versus all of their gear being built into the frame of the machine. This is generally, there are rules I am looking at for internal mounted weapons versus the external hardpoint gear.

The whole omni-mech schtick didn't really impress me, as it seemed like an artificial bonus for the clans, and the supposed difficulty of the IS adopting omni-tech is arbitrary. That is just my opinion, but I was always Pro-IS and anti-clan.


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Offline Scrasamax

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Re: Cosmic Era Mecha
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2012, 10:26:23 AM »
Walkers Versus Mecha

I want to use Walkers as well as Mecha, but whats the difference between the two?

A Walker is typically less complicated than a mecha. It usually lacks arms and favors a reverse knee/bird like leg configuration. This makes walkers cheaper to make and easier to maintain.

Walkers are also generally slower than mecha, they do not move above a walking pace, whereas mecha can walk, run, sprint, and in some cases, jump or even fly. The walker can use smaller power plants, and generates less heat, and again: cheaper and easier to maintain.

Walkers do not use a hard point system, so all of their weapon systems are internally mounted, these systems are also limited by how large they can be and their dimensions have to fit inside a certain amount of space. Swapping weapons and systems out on a walker is substantially more difficult than swapping gear on a mecha.

But those are all limitations on the machine, and areas where the Mecha proves itself superior, the walker is more simply built, slower, and less versatile in it's payload. All these disadvantages are in place to bring out several advantages it has over the mecha.

The Walker is heavily armored. Not needing to be fast or agile, or as precisely balanced, the walker can mount more impressive armor. In the triangle of Firepower-Armor-Speed, the walker most definitely favors armor above the other two. With the weapon systems being internally mounted, versus the external hardpoint system, said weapons are better protected as well. (On a rules level,  mecha hardpoint mounts can be taken out with called shots, just like attempting to snipe a mech in the head.)

The Walker doesn't have a vulnerable head that can be sniped. The command section is buried in the torso of the walker, and unlike single pilot mecha, a walker can can have a crew, with 2 being the norm. This splits the work inside the machine up between a pilot/driver and a gunner/computer officer.

The Walker is cheaper than mecha, and for the same price more can be fielded. An old formula said that one mecha cost as much as six tanks (same weight) a similar application could see that one mecha cost as much as two walkers of the same weight.

The Mecha favors more aircraft, while the Walker favors tanks and armored vehicles


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Offline Scrasamax

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Re: Cosmic Era Mecha
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2012, 10:45:34 AM »
What rules are using for these tank-mech match ups?  As Valadaar points out the rules for  the old school battletech favored the mechs, the battletech rules that I am familiar also made tanks much more prone to damage to their drive systems. 


Do you not the like the Omni mech system employed by the clans?

Even with the rules favoring mecha, I was routinely able to trounce my opponents with conventional forces. The simply fact of six tanks for the cost of one mecha was just more than the mech users could deal with. Tanks would be destroyed, and the tank building rules were a huge pain in the rear. Engines were massive, energy weapons required full heat sinks, power amps, and anything else that could be tacked on to slow down the tank. In the end, one heavy mech fighting six tanks armed with rail guns was simply a matter of time and the lucky shot that would take down the mech. The same applies for using bombing rules, VTOLs or anti-mech trained infantry. The mech and similarly the battle armor suits don't do so well. 

Using mixed forces was the best defense against non-mech units. The best thing to deal with troublesome infantry is either more infantry, or light armored vehicles. Special role vehicles also did well removing their designed counterpart, such as the AA tank versus aircraft. But this is basic tactics and not any sort of advantage. The mech only worked because tanks weren't cool and compared to the 10+ tech manuals of mecha there are 2 tech manuals for vehicles.

So some real advantages in the rules: mecha need to be more durable, more agile, and need to be able to be more effective than their numerically superior and cheaper rivals.

Mecha have the initiative advantage, from their innate form of being worn, more so than being driven.

Lacking a central crew compartment or needing room inside for men to move around, the machine can be more compact and more heavily armored. This armor can also be shaped for causing glancing hits, deflecting hits and the like. In BTech the tank had unlimited weight for armor it could carry, while mechs were limited to a maximum amount of armor based off of their weight class. This system can be kept, but modified.

Nothing says a 50 ton mech has to have a chassis designed for a 50 ton mech. The 50 ton mech could have a chassis for 75 tons (this would be 7.5 tons weight versus 5 tons) and would allow the machine to wear armor for a 75 ton mech, or load itself out to 75 tons without concern for structural failure. The same can be done for the engine, mounting a larger engine than required by the basic numbers. This increased power could be limited for when the machine is unloaded, but could keep it moving at a regular pace when it is loaded. The weapon systems would only in certain situations be carried internally. The unloaded mech, unless it has internal weapons, is unarmed or very lightly armed. Thus all of it's build weight can be devoted to chassis, engine, and armor. The 50 ton mech mentioned above could have the armor of an old system mech 50% larger than it is, but retain the speed profile of a machine of it's dry weight. Depending on how much weight and gear the pilot wants to carry, the machine can be very heavily armed, and has a versatile payload potential.

Basically building reinforced chassis mechs and using basic encumberance rules.

Functionally, the new mecha would be omni-mechs, in that their weapons are removable and interchangeable. But by that description, we already have omnifighters.


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