“The commander must decide how he will fight the battle before it begins. He must then decide how he will use the military effort at his disposal to force the battle to swing the way he wishes it to go; he must make the enemy dance to his tune from the beginning and not vice versa.”
— Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
This quote rings especially true in any turn-based strategy game where you are afforded the opportunity to plan your deployment. While many games have fixed deployments, or random spawns, BattleTech gives you a wide degree of flexibility in how you deploy. There’s no one-size-fits-all plan and you need to consider a couple different factors when setting up.
First is terrain. You have a couple choices available to you in the current version of the Backer’s Beta. In the short video above, I knew I wanted something with a central objective to fight over (the large island) and would give me the advantage of high-ground against the enemy. In this case I picked an evening battle at the Big Loche. Although standing in the water would be appealing to help dissipate the heat from my mechs, I knew I wanted to be in the position of firing from cover while my enemy (hopefully) decides to keep to the water.
Second, the kind of forces are you bringing to the fight should inform your decision on how to use the terrain and where you will deploy. Bringing lots of light mechs with jump jets and short range missiles? Dense terrain is a good way to go. Bring the long guns? You’ll want little obstruction to your line of sight (this is key in BattleTech). For me, I wanted a mix of mobility and punch in my mech lance. The Shadowhawk and Commando are there to get a fix on the enemy and begin to harass them. Just try not to get too far ahead of your brawlers because once you get the enemy in your sights you lose your unlimited movement, so make sure the big guns aren’t too far behind.
With the longer range weapons in play you can move your scouts forward to begin to pester the enemy and hopefully draw them out in the open. This is a classic warfare technique from antiquity. Light horsemen, safe from the short range weapons of heavy infantry, would keep up a constant dribble of fire that would eventually break an otherwise superior formation of troops. Likewise, you can aggro the enemy’s mechs into exposing themselves and being vulnerable to your brawlers.
Hopefully this gives you a little insight into setting the conditions for victory in your next game of BattleTech. Got any early-game suggestions? Please be sure to share in the comments!