Welcome once again to the weekly broadcast of giant robots and explosions and lasers. Today we’re going to be talking about the most difficult part of this game, how to finish off the enemy without getting blasted to pieces in the process, and the biggest part of this is knowing how to read your enemy’s status and take advantage of it.
Whenever you’re fighting an enemy ‘Mech, you should hit R to lock on. This gives you a lot of advantages that you wouldn’t normally have, like the ability to see what your enemy’s weapons are, what their damage looks like, how far away they are and it marks the enemy for your team so that they know where it is and can shoot LRMs at it. Now all of this is well and good, but we’re going to be focusing on the damage readout so that you too can deliver that final money shot of hot sweet love/death into your enemy.
The damage readout looks like this:
That is your enemy ‘Mech cut into a bunch of different sections, each of which has its own health, armor and components. The primary readout, which shows arms and legs, is the front of the ‘Mech. You’ll see the two arms, right, center and left torsos, both legs, and the head. The second image shows the rear of the enemy ‘Mech, with all three torsos. Arms, legs and head don’t have rear armor, so aren’t shown for the rear.
This is the same as your own ‘Mech’s status indicator, by the way, so pay attention. The most common answer to “Why isn’t my PPC firing?” is “Because your bloody arm’s off.” Don’t try to shoot weapons that aren’t there anymore, it’s just embarrassing.
The readout lists both armor and internal structure of all sections of the ‘Mech. The armor is the outline around the image while the internal structure is the fill. Armor always takes damage before internal structure does, so the outline will register damage first, then the fill once the armor is completely stripped away. Damage starts at Gray, then turns yellow, orange, red, then “Gone”. It is imperative that you aim for unarmored sections of your enemy, that is sections that don’t have an armor outline on the readout.
“But why?” you ask, cuddling your teddy bear and hoping to one day grow up to be a real MechWarrior. Well, the answer is simple, you poor, sweet, doomed child. Because a living enemy is a deadly enemy, and if you don’t go for the kill they will. Also, shooting unarmored sections has a chance to cause a Crtical Hit, damaging weapons and equipment mounted in that section of the ‘Mech. Damaging the AC/20 on a Hunchback with a Critical Hit to the right torso drastically reduces the danger that ‘Mech poses. Or, if you happen to just blow that piece of the enemy off, all of the weapons, ammo, and heatsinks that were there go bye bye too. It’s a good thing.
So, let’s talk hit locations and how they work, starting with the most likely to kill and going down.
#1) The Head. Every ‘Mech in the game has a maximum of 18 armor and 9 Internal Structure in the head, which makes for 27 total hit points. Two Gauss Rifle rounds into the head of any enemy will instantly destroy the head, dropping the enemy ‘Mech instantly, be it humble Spider or Mighty Atlas. This is the great equalizer. The downside? Sucker is hard as hell to hit, so this will happen, in casual matches, maybe to one ‘Mech per game. Now, the Atlas looks like it has a giant head, but actually the head on an Atlas is only the left eye. Cheap, right? I hear ya. Also, a lot of people like to mount a ton of ammo in the head, which is usually a pretty safe bet, but a crit that sets that ammo off is guaranteed to always vaporize the cockipt and end that BattleMech’s day very poorly.
#2) Center Torso. This is how most ‘Mechs die. The center torso is always the most heavily armored part of a ‘Mech with the most amount of internal structure health, but it’s usually also pretty easy to hit. Destroying the center torso, also known as “Coring” the ‘Mech, is an instant death. ‘Mechs don’t work without an engine, and the center torso is where the engine is. Many ‘Mechs also store some light weaponry, ammunition, heat sinks or other equipment here, so critting the center torso will get rid of those as well. Cooking off ammo that’s stored in the “CT” is a pretty sure fire way kill your enemy with an ammo explosion.
#3) Side Torsos. These are only kill shots if the ‘Mech is running an XL engine. XL engines are much lighter than standard engines, allowing a ‘Mech to mount more arms and armor, or allow them to go faster without sacrificing armament. The downside to this is that now the engine extends into the side torsos due to requiring more critical slots. If you think an enemy is running an XL, which most lights and many heavies do, the side torsos are almost always less armored, and usually mount some kind of weaponry, so that even if the enemy is running a standard engine, destroying a side torso will still remove a lot of the ‘Mech’s firepower. A fun note, destroying a side torso also blows off that side’s arm, resulting in even more loss of firepower. Good for you!
#4) Legs. You have to blow off both legs to kill an enemy ‘Mech, but often, especially with Lights, it’s a good strategy. Even blowing off one leg will drop the enemy to 14 kph for several seconds, then permanently reduce their speed to 1/3 of their original top speed. “Legging” a light is one of the most effective ways to bring it down, since Lights rely so much on their speed to avoid fire. Slow it down and it rarely takes more than a few seconds to finish the sucker off. Another fun trick has to do with Missile Boats or AC users. Almost every one of these ‘Mechs stores their ammo in their legs. Crit that ammo and BOOOM! Bye bye leg. It’s also important to note that damage transfers from destroyed legs up into the torsos, so setting off a chain reaction of ammo explosions from a leg is an easy way to core an unwary ‘Mech. A ton of AC/20 ammo has 7 shots, each round remaining does 20 damage. If that goes off it’s 140 damage to the enemy, which almost always more than enough to blow it to kingdom come.
#5) Arms. Arms don’t kill ‘Mechs, ever, unless they’re full of tons upon tons of ammo. Arms do, however, often house a lot of weapons, and blowing off an arm can often remove some very potent weapons, especially on Centurions (Right Arm Only!), Dragons, Catapults and Jagermechs. They should still be your lowest priority targets though. A kill is better than a maim!