Everything you wanted to know...
Need a bit of help waging war against the Clan? If you do you're in luck, as Andrew Wright explains how to get the most out of your Mechs.
REVIEWED PCZ #66 SCORE 85%
MechCommander is a blistering real-time combat game in which you have to complete five operations, each one of which has six separate missions. You should find that them simple to start off with, but be warned - they gradually get harder. A run-through of the 30 missions would leave us little space for anything else, so instead here are the finer points of Mech combat - after that you're on your own!
To wage a successful campaign against the Clan you'll have to plan your missions carefully, and that includes picking the right Mech for the job. You start the game with two Commandos, which are cheap scout Mechs. They're best with an LRM pack or two so they can stand off and snipe at turrets or join in firefights from a safe distance. Add lightweight SRMs or lasers for close defence. Replace them as soon as you can.
Firestarters are better armoured, better equipped and just as fast as Commandos. You automatically start off with an extra weapons version that has a handy PPC.
Ravens are the best light Mechs - it's possible to recover one, a Raven-W, in Op 1 mission 3. Its sensors are well worth having but the default weapon load needs beefing up with an extra laser or two in place of the SRMs and perhaps an LRM pack.
You can salvage a Hollander II in mission 2 if you're slow to get to the exit point. It's basically a one-weapon platform and that's one thing you can't afford to have, especially when it takes up 45 tons of dropship space. When the Gauss rifle runs out it's all but useless, so replace it with a PPC or large laser and extra short-range weapons.
Slow and well-armoured, the Hunchback also relies on one weapon, the heavy autocannon. Rip it out, pack it with short-range weapons and treat it as a close-combat Mech, perhaps adding a medium- or long-range weapon for good measure.
The Centurion is usually available for purchase after the first mission and it's well worth having all the way through the campaign. Consider removing the ammo-hungry autocannon, though, and add an energy weapon or two so it remains effective throughout each mission.
Of the remaining Inner Sphere Mechs, the Catapult, Jagermech and Awesome are more flexible and can be used in any role, with good armour, adequate speed and lots of firepower. A Catapult makes a good fire-support platform and it can slug it out in the front line if needed, but only the Awesome is really worth buying. Its massive 50-odd tons of weapon space and default load - three PPCs - can reduce almost any Mech to ruin in no time. You can't use the Atlas on some missions because it takes up too much dropship space - only consider buying one if you have spare cash or you haven't salvaged anyheavy Clan Mechs.
Each mission has two distinct phases - planning and execution - but the two are inextricably linked. What you choose to deploy before you land will affect the way you fight any battles on the ground...
- Look at the maximum drop weight and decide which Mechs to take along and how much extra space to leave unused for your low-ball bonus.
- Remember that low-balling, taking up 10 or 20 less dropship points than the maximum, is a risk. If you end up slugging it out, the extra damage to your Mechs may negate any bonus due to the extra repair costs.
- Never low-ball by much if you expect some good salvage. As early as Op1 in mission 3 you can hang around the extraction point and fight a difficult battle with a Hollander II. If you can salvage that, you'll have some nice firepower and a 45-ton Mech.
- If you're expecting a slugfest - or you expect to face bigger Clan Mechs - then break out the heavy weapons and big Mechs. Remember that in a slugging match, two 50-ton Mechs will usually get the better of four 25-tonners. You could buy a Centurion-A by the third or fourth mission if you've obtained lots of salvage and done well in the missions.
- Never dismiss a MechWarrior to get cash. They cost nothing to maintain and you will eventually need them all to pilot additional Mechs.
- Always put your best MechWarriors in your best Mechs.
- Remember that one of your MechWarriors will need to gain veteran status before you can deploy heavy Mechs, so try and keep the same pilot as point man in each mission as they will earn more experience there.
- The Guardian ECM suite is useful to take along because it almost guarantees you'll see enemy Mechs before they see you.
- Consider some special help. Minelayers are invaluable, especially in defence. You can effectively block off several lines of approach as long as you work them from the outside in.
- Refit trucks are worth having on high load missions because you can recharge weapons that are low on ammunition.
Chosing weapon loadouts
There are no hard and fast rules for weapons. You might prefer to fight more battles from long range, or to get in close and slug it out quickly. You could also mix and match with both long- and short-range weapons, or give some Mechs a stand-off role and others an up-front one.
- There are no bonus points for under-equipping Mechs, so fit them all out as best you can.
- If a good Inner Sphere weapon appears in the purchase menu, try and buy it even if you can't use it straight away - another 'unit' may well buy it in the meantime and it will disappear from the purchase menu.
- Never sell Clan weapons unless you're absolutely forced to. You can never buy them back. Only a fool would sell a Clan ER PPC or a heavy ultra autocannon.
- Projectile weapons can run out of ammo unless you take steps to conserve it. This usually involves having the Mech hang back in minor skirmishes so it can't use a particular weapon.
- Facing fixed defences and turrets? Consider equipping a scout Mech with long-range weapons. You can stand off and destroy the emplacements without taking fire in return.
- Always give a Mech at least one or two short-range non-projectile weapons (lasers) for dealing with swarms of elementals or vehicles.
- Use Clan weapons wherever possible - they're better all-round.
- Cluster your weapons by range so that most can be fired simultaneously. A good close-combat mix would be a heavy autocannon plus four lasers. At short range, it'll do some serious damage to any Clan Mech. Don't forget that a Mech equipped with both medium- and long-range weapons can fire both at medium range.
- Remember the minimum ranges. A Gauss rifle can't fire inside 50 metres, so it's no use putting it on a Mech you intend to use at short range.
- The main objective is to kill enemy Mechs and to do that you need to pierce their armour and inflict some damage. One heavy-damage weapon is more effective than lots of smaller ones because the latter hit different parts of the body, spreading the damage out. One devastating hit will remove the armour on the hit location and deliver the rest of the damage to vital components.
Try not to waste heavy ammo on swarms of puny vehicles.
Our heroes, take on a 100-ton Atlas at multiplayer - hope they've got the right weapons.
Multiplayer MechCommander requires the same tactics but against much cleverer opponents - usually.
How to kick Clan ass
- Aiming at a specific part of an enemy Mech (using the numeric keypad) will reduce the overall number of hits. It's a tactic that's best used at short range with very potent weapons to ensure rapid destruction - a head shot, for example. Don't bother aiming at the head of a running Commando or other light Mech - you'll be there for weeks.
- Keep Mechs that rely on projectile weapons out of the skirmishes with small vehicles and turrets. Use them only against other Mechs or more threatening vehicles such as the Shrek.
- You don't need to fight everything. In Op1 mission 3, you can escape safely without fighting the Clan's Madcat, for example. The only reason to take it on is to try and salvage it. If you do, it's a big bonus and will make the next few missions much easier.
- Concentrate your forces and firepower and destroy one enemy Mech or other threat at a time.
- The Clan will do the same, so make sure you keep the targeted Mech running (hold down the spacebar and click). Always attack with your heavy Mechs first so that the Clan picks one of them to fire at first.
- Keep all your Mechs moving when they fight. They will still target their weapons but will be harder to hit.
- Watch your sensors. Try and avoid areas with big clusters of enemy units. Over time you can work out Clan patrol patterns and use that information to avoid them.
- Use the high ground - you can see much further.
- When you're up against fortified positions, pick off the turrets from long range, then back off. Hopefully you can lure defenders out into the open.
- Don't charge into forts through gates - select a point in the wall and break in. Try to capture the turret control towers if you need to defend the base or want to turn their guns on the enemy.
Play your cards right and you could salvage a Madcat. It's bloody hard though.
Those yellow dots indicate plenty of Clan activity.
Small artillery strikes are ideal for taking out groups of annoying vehicles.
Remember the full power command 'cos it's a lifesaver. Running Mechs are hard to hit and don't get knackered like you and me.
Bringing home the goods - salvage
The best way to salvage a Mech is to 'only just' destroy it. Luck plays a part here - sometimes you won't be able to salvage a Mech, no matter how hard you try. If the engine explodes, that's it. It's gone forever. One trick is to take its legs out, disabling it in a way that won't ruin it completely. However, that can take much longer and will almost certainly mean you take more damage from it.
To improve your chances, bring the enemy quickly down until its status is red and then back off. Send only one or two Mechs with light weapons to finish it off. By this time, few of the enemy Mech's weapons will be firing anyway so it is much less dangerous. If you use a Gauss rifle to give the 'coupe de grace' to a red-line Clan Mech, there won't be much to pick up afterwards. The humble laser causes low damage and is perfect for finishing off Clan Mechs for salvage.
MechCommander's weapons are listed in order of decreasing range and 'power' - a number equal to the number of damage points it can deliver in 30 seconds of firing that gives you a good guide to the effectiveness of a weapon. However, you should always take the load value into account - there's no point in having one weapon taking up all your tonnage because if it runs out or gets knocked out by a random shot, the Mech will be useless.
A good spread of weapons is always better than a single heavy-damage weapon. The same table also shows availability - the mission in which you can first purchase the weapon. In some cases Clan equivalents can be captured much earlier.
Best short range weapons: the heavy flamer deals out concentrated damage and can be used to give light Mechs some teeth. Captured Clan versions weight less and fires faster. Streak SRMs are space efficient and devastating, another good short range option.
Best medium range weapons: the large laser concentrates damage and never runs out of ammo. Its low weight just gives it the edge over the PPC and autocannon.
Best long range weapon: the Gauss rifle is one of the real heavy hitters but its limited ammo makes it a dodgy choice on long missions. Don't dismiss the light and effective LRM packs. And if you happen to 'liberate' a Clan ER PPC, guard it with your life! It's probably the best of the lot.
Worst weapon: the light autocannon lacks punch, can run out of projectiles and is relatively heavy.
List will be added it later maintenance.
Notes: AC = autocannon. ER = extra range. PPC = particle projector cannon.
S/M/L = short/medium/long range. A dash (-) means it can never be purchased.
Start means it's usually available from the start and Op1 M4, for example,
means Operation 1 mission 4.
(c) Original article by Andrew Wright (archived MC related webpage content)
Overhauled by RizZen 2017 & (2020)