I wanted to do a post about, what I consider, some good ideas to keep in the back of your mind while playing in a campaign. The strategic planning is so much deeper in a campaign situations as opposed to random one shot games with your friends or at a tournament at your local gaming store. Since you now incorporate other elements such as varied mission objectives, changing terrain, limited access to supplies, repairs on the move, etc. There are now a lot of other considerations that need to come into play.
1. Refit for CASE: This is my number one rule. Take out that useless small laser, machine gun, or even .5 tons of armor. But you want to add CASE right away. You can normally salvage a ‘Mech missing a side torso. Often, you cannot salvage a ‘Mech that has had all of center torso destroyed by ammo explosion. Losing ‘Mechs this way adds up quick. Cheaper to repair, than to replace.
2. Stock up on ammo and supplies: Also be sure to have on hand extra ammo and armor for those situations where you might be behind enemy lines and have limited access to these types of things. Keep in mind, if you have ‘Mech’s fitted with Ferro-Fibrous armor, you should grab some of that too. Also, keep a stockpile of standard weapons like medium lasers, that way you can replace those with ease. Doesn’t hurt to keep a couple backup weapons for those just in case situations were you lose one.
3. Plan your missions like a mercenary: Remember, every battle is supposed to turn a profit. If you lose equipment, it hurts your profitability. In one shot games, you have the luxury of sacrificing units to win the game. In a campaign, sacrificing a ‘Mech costs you the ‘Mech itself, but potentially the pilot who has probably accumulated experience. Plan for ways to obtain the objective while taking minimual casualties. Always focus your fire to take out enemy units as opposed to spreading your damage around. This also leads me into my 4th point…
4. Protect your pilots!!! In campaign play, you typically accumulate experience for your pilots. This experience is priceless. Losing a veteran pilot is irreplaceable usually. In some situations, you might have to hire a green pilot from scratch. If you have a dangerous job, send an easily replaceable green pilot.
5. Utilize reserve units for your lances: I always have 1 or 2 ‘Mechs/Vehicles, sitting in the dropship ready to fill in for a damaged unit. This partially depends on your gaming format, but having fresh ‘Mechs for your experienced pilots to jump into is very critical. Repairs take time, time you might not have. If you lose a unit to XL engine loss or loss, you need to have a ‘plug and play’ reserve ready to go. For instance, my C3 lance has a refit Griffin and Grasshopper ready to fill in just in case I loose another lance member. This is especially important early on. I’d rather have an overstrength lance, than 2 understrength ones. This becomes less important as you accumulate more units, as you can start rotating lances, as opposed to ‘Mechs.
6. Focus your lances on a niche and continue to diversify: Some of the worst lances are ones that don’t have an identity. Jack of all trades lances typically end up doing nothing great. As you expand, think of particular niches that could be very useful. Since you’ll be facing varied scenarios every mission, its important to diversify your forces. Additionally, you need to make sure you have units that can combat infantry, vehicles, ASF, ‘Mechs, are good at range, good up close, can fight in urban environments, etc.
7. Playtest your forces: Just like ‘Mechwarriors spend time in a simulator, you should too. MegaMek is your friend here. Import your custom ‘Mechs from SSW and see how they work with your existing setups. Additionally, run some company vs company scenarios just to see how it fits in its intended role on a larger scale. Sure MegaMek is not perfect, but you don’t want to be saddled with buyer’s remorse, when your new acquisition didn’t pan out the way you thought.
8. Optimize your salvage/repair operations: You’ll start accumulating salvage pretty quickly. A good way to enhance this is to make sure your ‘Mechs have hand actuators. This should give your ‘Mechs the ability to carry disabled friendly or even enemy ‘Mechs from the battlefield. Especially in missions were you are not taking and holding the field, the ability to extract damaged units is huge. You don’t want to lose your valuable resources. Additionally, you have to know when to pull the trigger on selling something that is going to take way too long to repair and make operational again. It’s always better to have four 100% units than eight 50% units. This leads me to point 9…
9. Hand actuators are key: They allows you to steal, carry, and manipulate things. Since campaigns are more dynamic, making sure you have at least some hand actuator equipped ‘Mechs can really help out for some missions. I’ve seen anything from prisoners rescued to a handful of medium lasers extracted from enemy bases.
10. Specialty equipment /ammo comes in handy: Beagle active probes, remote sensors, ECM, T-Aug, FASCAM, smoke, infernos, etc are all very important in campaign play. In one shot games, these items typically equate to wasted tonnage. In campaigns, they could easily be a game winner. The BAP could save you from an ambush, while smoke could allow you to cross open terrain under a bit of cover. Infernos could decimate infantry or vehicle, and T-Aug could take out light ‘Mechs or constrain enemy mobility.
11. Omni is your friend: In one shot games, omni usually never has advantages. It’s additional BV cost makes them prohibitive in all but the rarest of circumstances. However in campaign settings, omni is awesome and definitely worth any additional costs you might be facing. The ability to adapt and customize based on the mission is huge. Omni can give you the ability to allow for specialization while still retaining versatility.
12. Plan ahead: I think this is one thing I do very well. After the first game we got dominated by Arrow IV fire, I knew I wanted a lance that utilized it. Initially I planned for a heavy lance, featuring some Demolishers with Arrow IV. But I realized that might be over skill, and noticed our Merc Coalition forces were missing a Recon Element that was fast and could deliver precise damage. And before I even had that lance finished, I was already plotting to acquire some ASF forces. Planning ahead gives you clear goals. Sometimes you might have to make availability rolls to try and acquire your ideal ‘Mechs, vehicles, or ASFs. By having your goals in mind, you can start making those rolls earlier, and hopefully you can secure your desired units.
13. Teamwork wins the war: This is really critical when you’re fighting with multiple friendly units, you have to work together. Typically, the GM or player running OpFor is only one person, with one mind. He can coordinate his forces much easier than 5 players with 5 minds. It is crucial that you work together constantly. From selecting what units each person is going to deploy, to your mission to mission tactics, and on an overall campaign strategy. You have to be on the same page, and play as a cohesive force, otherwise you will be at a huge disadvantage.
14. Know when to cut and run: One thing we learned really quick was if the odds don’t look so favorable, its better to retreat, regroup, and fight again another day. Remember, in a one shot game, it doesn’t matter, might as well fight to the bitter end. In a campaign, its very costly to do that. It is always better to play it safe and pull out. The key to any long term battle is attrition. Try and focus fire, kill what you can while you retreat, but then get away. It will save you a lot of C-Bills in the long run.
These are some simple, off the top of my head, points to keep in mind while playing in a campaign situation. Most of these become less and less important over time as your forces grow, but initially I feel like these were pretty key things to keep in mind. I’d never played in a campaign before, but these things I learned over the course of the past few months. I would recommend checking on these things once in a while to keep them fresh in your brain while in the midst of a campaign. Of course you’re going to some set backs here and there. But if you keep these ideas in your mind, you should be running a successful unit over the long haul.
Come discuss your thoughts at: http://ourbattletech.com/forum/campaign-advice-and-tactics-discussion/tactics-discussion-tips-for-campaign-play/