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Gev's "how To Play A Medium" Guide

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#1 Gevurah


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Posted 19 July 2013 - 11:08 AM

Competency with a medium mech is among the most difficult of tasks in this game; it takes a different kind of mindset to play as a medium pilot effectively. A small search of the forums on medium mechs will yield unending posts about how to make a mech viable, how bad they are in the current meta, etc.

I tell you now - that's rubbish; it's just a question of play style. So for the sake of introducing new players to this chassis I have created this document in the hopes of spanning the vast majority of training considerations for medium piloting.

First off: Why a medium mech?
Mediums are often referred to as the jack of all trades, master of none. This is probably the most accurate description possible. They sport moderate to moderate-high armor, frequently have similar payloads availability as heavier mechs, and typically are slightly/moderately faster than heavies/assaults. There are exceptions but when painting with a broad stroke these are the general pluses. This gives you a wide range of versatile roles on the field. You're never confined to 'just assault' or 'recon only'. Though typically you'll be outclassed by dedicated mech designs for those purposes. It's a great fit for a flexible player looking for more than just "stand on ridge, mash alpha, back up, move forward, see step one".

Mediums also are typically a lower priority target in a brawl. As such they often ignored. This can be very perilous for assaults who aren't very situationally aware.

Second off: How do you build a medium mech?
Medium mechs are often plagued by difficult design choices. Do you put a heavier payload on at the expense of engine speed? What about an XL? So here are some general rules of thumb for medium mechs.
Build rule one: Whenever possible, avoid XL engines unless you're either avoiding combat (Trebuchet missile boat) or are a specific high-speed model and that's your gimmick (centurion CN9-D/Any Cicada)

Build rule two: Generally the more armor, the better. Though I typically will cut my leg armor down to about 35ish for free tonnage.

Build rule three: Get the usual 'good stuff' - Always have DHS, Endo first, then ferro. This applies to virtually all mechs, but for those who don't know - Endo does the same thing as ferro only better. It gives you more free tonnage/crit spaces used. Since tonnage is such an important factor (especially when using STD engines) I will often times try to cram ferro on there as well for maximum free tonnage. I typically avoid AMS because it's generally a waste due to you being fast enough to get to cover. Not to mention 1.5 tons could be better spent elsewhere.

Build rule four: Don't do too much at once. Most of the stock builds are real bad at putting too much on and doing the 'too much' part badly. Example: Stock CN9-A. Sure, you can play an AC10, 2ML, and LRM10 - you just won't be terribly effective with it in most cases.

Build rule five: A slow medium is a dead medium. Whenever possible get the most bang for your buck out of speed. This doesn't mean defaulting to the fastest possible speed (as sometimes this results in poorer builds) but rather means don't make a 64kph cicada and expect to live for long. Your hallmark as a medium is generally NOT your speed but you can still usually get a medium to 92ish(treb/hunch/cent/bljk) or 125+(cicada) with relative ease. This is typically a solid 10-15 kph faster than most heavies.

Which brings us to section 3:
How do I play my medium effectively? Arguably the most difficult portion of a medium.

Rule one: Don't charge headfirst. Despite your increased armor vs a light, you will die very fast if you're the focus target for an enemy team. Rather try to stick with the middle/sides of a pack so that the assaults can tank for you to get you into combat range. Alternately use your superior mobility to flank and harass.

Rule two: Cover. You want to preserve as much armor as possible until the end of the match. So use your typically smaller profile to shoot from around corners, over hills, etc as often as possible. Avoid direct conflict until it can be no longer be avoided.

Rule three: Stick with a group. You are not a tank in most cases; you typically want someone else to 'draw aggro' from the enemy brawlers while you use your not-to-be-mocked weaponry to pick apart their components.

Rule : Use your mech's gimmick. By mech:
Cicada - a higher speed, up armored jenner with no jump jets. Stick and move. This mech is best used in small doses. Don't duel with people but rather come in at inopportune times, ambush, get out, rinse, repeat. Especially effective with the 3m. Other variants rely on weapon loadouts for viability. Not particularly effective with a standard engine, definitely load an XL for maximum survivability though high speed.

Hunchback - concentrated firepower gives you more vulnerability but allows higher damage output than virtually every other medium chassis. High mounted torso mount means shooting over hilltops with minimum exposure is a breeze. High armor values mean when they finally do come to fight you, you very likely will be able to put up a good fight. Plan on having a good head mount/left arm weapon though since you'll almost invariably lose your hunch each round and will need a competent backup to zombie-brawl with.

Centurion - The centurion is an excellent medium platform. It's weapon arm is easy to load out with heavy weaponry ranging from an AC20 (YLW), Gauss, UAC5, to 2xPPC/etc (AL). The shield arm can be used for a free 48 point soak if you're good at torso twisting to avoid damage. The torso mounted lasers make this a fantastic 'zombie' brawler after the arms and left/right torsos (maybe even a leg) are shot off. No comment on the broken hitbox assisting it's survival. *fixed as of recent (1/13/14)
My rather dated centurion guide: http://bit.ly/YduwD5

Blackjack - Jump jets,moderate speed, and above average weaponry. What's not to like? Well, armor could be better. Use your high mobility and firepower for daring hit and run attacks. Keep terrain on your side. Use the arms to shoot over hilltops like a jagermech. With the new movement code the mobility of jumpjets gives you a big advantage on certain maps - use it.

Trebuchet - A solid platform hampered by atrocious arm movement. Regardless, can be made into a higher than average speed brawler, sniper, or LRM platform. Generally functions best at longer ranges though you run a risk of return fire being superior to your own fusillades. Jump jets also help this mechs viability in the current meta though I must say I couldn't sell my trebs fast enough. YMMV though.

55 Ton mechs -
Shadowhawk - One of the most versatile chassis available. You can build it to brawl, to fight long range, to be a nimble hit and run gunner.. etc. It's a very thin, tall chassis though. It can best be utilized from cover using it's shoulder mounted weaponry. Jump jets are standard faire for it and make it a formidable asset on the field.

The kintaro - Missiles, Missiles, Missiles. A pretty epic light hunter with the variant that fits 5 missile slots; put 5 streaks + BAP and chain fire them until they're burger.

The Griffin - not enough experience from my end with it but it appears to be a very solid mech in terms of durability. High arm mounts *SHOULD* ensure durability much like the centurion, at least at a glance. Energy/missile slots, reasonably well divided.

The Wolverine - not enough experience from my end with it as well. In this case, it seems like a good platform, though it varies from the griffin in having different weapon mounts (notably has one variant with ballistics, which the Griffin does not). Also has one variant that is up to 4kph faster than the fastest Griffin.

Rule four: When you do fight, fight till you're burger. Most of these mediums make great zombie brawlers. Arms, legs missing, head armor shot out, etc. It's up to you to make sure that every piece of your mech gets damage as close to equally as possible when the fur starts to fly. Don't complain about your hunch getting shot out when you're not torso twisting to take it on the left side, or flipping around to get hit in the back (to spare your front armor). The one really nice thing about a medium is the high mobility allows you to very frequently choose WHERE the damage will land. So try to spread it around to ensure maximum survivability.
Make some distance, reengage once they're focused on another target. Use that mobility you have to get shots on vulnerable rear armor when possible.

I'm sure I can think of more but for now this should suffice :ph34r:

Edited by Gevurah, 13 January 2014 - 09:33 AM.

#2 Dominoran


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Posted 20 July 2013 - 04:28 AM

Pretty much this. The added armor and firepower in exchange for speed is really good because I get more motion sickness from a Light, want to hit like a truck when it counts, but don't want to be bothered by the slow speed of the other classes. Good guide.

#3 Sephlock


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Posted 12 January 2014 - 12:15 PM

How to play a medium:

Posted Image

#4 Buckminster


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Posted 12 January 2014 - 06:57 PM

I'd be curious to see an update now that we have so many more mediums. We have 9 different chassis now, with over 40 total variants. Some of the rules (like no XL) don't apply to some of the newer chassis - they've worked well for me on my Hawks.

But I think mediums have been getting a bad rap lately - a lot of people are steering new players away from the mediums, when I think that if you go into a medium with the right frame of mind they're very good mechs.

#5 Gevurah


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Posted 13 January 2014 - 09:25 AM

I really should update to include additional chassis, yeah. I might get off my duff and do the others. Though realistically play styles aren't that much different. Mostly I'd just include a blurb for the new 55 tonners. Of which all I have is the shadow hawk. I haven't seen the griffin or wolverine enough to get quantitative data. The kintaro mostly seems like 'missiles ahoy!' without much beyond that.

As to the actual guide itself, I'm glad people have found it useful though I don't believe it's changed terribly much in terms of tactics.

Added in a tiny amount /etc re: new 55t mediums

Edited by Gevurah, 13 January 2014 - 09:40 AM.

#6 Dazzer


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Posted 14 January 2014 - 09:25 AM

As a dedicated Medium Player I have to say this is a great guild that I agree with totally.

I have found for my Mediums speed is the best Armour. Make them shoot the air behind you and nip around a corner. The come around they flank for another pass.

It try to think of my Hunchback as I would a WW1 Biplane combat like a dog fight with is a series of passes followed by manuvouring for position. The best angle of attack being in the enemy's ´6´ that being right behind him shooting him in the back.

Never be afraid to break off from combat and re-position. If they are several ´bad guys´try to form a pattern were you manuvour around each in turn taking a shot at each, Try to use your new target as a shield from the fire of the 1st.

But most of all have fun !

#7 Guitar Czar


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Posted 15 January 2014 - 05:39 AM

I started out on a Hunchback-4G (later went to the 4SP) and recently I've gotten into the glorious Shadowhawks. I've made several forays into heavy mechs (Cataphract and Jagermech) and found them very unsatisfying no matter how much I tweaked them. They were simple too slow and unmaneuverable for my taste, unless of course you add an XL engine, but then you're just a huge, fragile target. I can't even imagine venturing into the assault class. I really do think mediums have the perfect mix of speed and firepower.

It was never this way for me in battletech or MW4, but I think I've become a dedicated medium pilot.

(Also, as a side note I cant believe how survivable the Shadowhawk is even with an XL engine.)

#8 The Unknown Pilot


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Posted 19 January 2014 - 07:39 AM

I disagree with two of your earlier points.

1) An XL is not only acceptable in non-hunched 'Mechs, but a necessity for most mediums who'd like to carry more than machine guns, streaks and single slot lasers. You recalled how impressive the S-Hawk is, but without an XL engine, most builds fall way flat.

2) Ferro? Avoid it when you can unless using a standard engine (see #1). It takes up way more crit spaces and on anything but a light 'Mech, makes a decent loadout usually difficult and saves less than a couple tons usually.

Just my two cents worth.

*** edited for typo

Edited by The Unknown Pilot, 19 January 2014 - 10:07 AM.

#9 Krujiente


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Posted 19 January 2014 - 09:44 AM

View PostThe Unknown Pilot, on 19 January 2014 - 07:39 AM, said:

I disagree with two of your earlier points.

1) An XL is not only acceptable in non-hunced 'Mechs, but a necessity for most mediums who'd like to carry more than machine guns, streaks and single slot lasers. You recalled how impressive the S-Hawk is, but without an XL engine, most builds fall way flat.

2) Ferro? Avoid it when you can unless using a standard engine (see #1). It takes up way more crit spaces and on anything but a light 'Mech, makes a decent loadout usually difficult and saves less than a couple tons usually.

just my two cents worth.

Agreed, restricting a medium to these rules is a bit of a flaw. However XL engines are not required to get the most at out of a lot of things besides Hawks and Cicadas. Mediums I feel are great for newer players because of the affordability of the chassis along with the non-requirement of a standard engine, so I can understand this feeling like a rule to some people. And yeah if Ferro Fibrous finds few homes on mediums, and even Endo Steel needs to come off for a lot of Energy boats.

#10 Molossian Dog


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Posted 19 January 2014 - 03:56 PM

While you brought up some good points I think you didn´t mention the medium´s main advantage. Strategic mobility.

If you find yourself in a situation where you and your buddies are at a disadvantage...you can run and fight at some other location of the map where circumstances and numbers are more to your side´s advantage. Yes, Lights can pursue you, but if they do that they leave their heavy support behind. And one on one you should be able to mop the floor with Lights.

I consider it the medium Mechs´ job to establish local superiority.

You can do that with a number of tricks. Just a few pointers: Wasting time of superior forces by fighting retreats, kiting parts of superior forces to loosen tight formations, feints and flank changes, the ever popular bait and switch (pursue a medium, run into an Atlas) and, of course quick strikes.

#11 AnHell86


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Posted 20 October 2016 - 04:38 AM

I am a medium mech pilot and I have a lot of fun with them. I constantly break the 500+ Damage and 300+ Match Score barrier with them because of their speed and maneuverability. If something I have learned is to stay alive until the end and mop the floor with your speed and what is left of your firepower.

High mounts are the best mounts. Head laser rules.

Mediums protect fatties - there is always an Oxide or Clan Jenner trying to backstab our fatties.

Edited by anhell86, 26 October 2016 - 07:51 AM.

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