Ok, I'm not really sure why you're raging on my and what the problem is. I think that you are missunderstanding the point I was trying to make in the OP. I'll try again so you can see why I get to the AC20 comparison:
1) MWO's weapons/mech/construction system is based off of CBT and will therefore be affected by weapons/mech balance in CBT
2) MLs are a critical piece of CBT weapons balance: they are found on almost every mech, are primary weapons for light/medium mechs, backup weapons for ranged focused mechs, and filler weapons for infighters. I.e. they're everywhere and perform a number of roles
3) The one thing that allowed MLs to do all of these things in CBT, but kept them from being overpowered is weapons spread.
In order to make point 3, I used the AC20 vs 4xML comparison. If you eliminate weapons spread (which, I am arguing is the balancing factor for MLs), then the AC20 and 4xML have the same damage (20) and the same range (9 hexes).
The AC 20 starts out at 15 tons (14 base + 1 ton ammo minimum) and 7 heat.
The 4xML starts out at 4 tons and 12 heat.
To compare which is giving you more damage per ton, I added HS to their tonnage to make them heat neutral. In my first example, I didn't include the engine HS. Total number of HS needed absent any exist HS gives you an idea of the total cost of adding the weapon. So if you assume that engine HS are taken, the cost of adding them are:
-AC20 = 14 tons + 1 ton ammo + 7 HS = 22 tons
-4xML = 4 tons + 12 HS = 16 tons
Sure, you can decide to run hot, use up engine HS, whatever. However this is a good representation of the total cost of adding the weapons. In this case, the MLs give you the same damage for a lower price. Now what about engine HS? Well if you assume a situation where these weapons groups are the only/primary weapons you're adding then:
-AC20 = 14 tons + 1 ton ammo +10 engine HS = 15 tons, 4 HS remaining
-4xML = 4 tons + 10 engine HS + 6 HS = 10 tons, 4 HS remaining
I added the extra HS to the 4 MLs to make it equal to the AC20. Once again, the MLs give you the same damage at a lower cost. If you take as stripped mech (any mech), you can add 4xML+6HS or AC20+1ammo, and you will have 20 points of damage at 9 hexes, but you will have 5 more free tons remaining if you use the MLs that you can use on whatever: more weapons, more armor, etc.
So what's the point of this comparison? Well, as you noted AC20s are primary weapons. They're scary and brutal. Well, why is this if MLs give you the same damage for less tonnage? The answer is damage/weapons spread! This was the whole point of the entire OP.
In MW2 and MW3, ML clusters were fingers of death, eclipsing all other short range weapons, like AC20s. In MW4, the ML damage was toned down in response, making them useless as primary weapons and as filler weapons. Neither of these situations is representitive of CBT, and the key reason is the lack of damage spread. If you don't have damage spread then MLs either become too powerful in clusters or they become useless in low numbers.
The reason I brought all of this up is that if the Dev's don't implement some sort of damage spread for MLs, then the same thing will happen all over again. ML clusters will either eclipse all other short range weaponry, or they will be nerfed and make many lights/meds worthless as they are the mechs most likely to be built around MLs. It will also hurt larger mechs (Atlas) that use MLs as a key filler weapon for their configurations. In fact the only mechs that won't be hurt by a ML nerf would be ranged-focused mechs ... and then we have MW4 all over again.
EDIT: For others reading, I am aware that there already is some damage spread in the form of delayed reticule convergence and firing time duration. I'm fine with that and hope that its enough. The point of the thread was to make more of a philisophical/technical point (i.e. that parts of CBT balance assume damage spread). I do not advocate a RNG method like Pht posted.
Edited by zorak ramone, 11 April 2012 - 07:32 AM.