Pilot Training

A badly-torched mech is of no use to anyone, unless you're on your way to Extract. On the other hand, a properly-trained team can bring down even an assault mech with very little damage, either to themselves or to the enemy mech. Mechs taken in such a manner are cheap to repair in the field and instantly augment your team's overall firepower. It takes consistent effort to raise 4-5 pilots to Ace level without losing one or unbalancing the team, but it is time well-spent. You should also keep an eye towards your B-team, dropped in to pilot salvaged mechs, so that those beautiful salvaged Highlanders have capable pilots.

Pilots are rated in both Gunnery and Piloting, so maneuver your mechs as much as you shoot with them. It isn't mentioned anywhere, but pilots also appear to gain some skill in jumping their mechs with more practice (without the Specialization skill).

The maximum rating for both Piloting and Gunnery skills is 80. If you have a pilot at 74 or higher Gunnery but who isn't making Ace, check her Piloting skill level. Likewise, if you have a pilot who is good at maneuvering, put her in a heavy weapons mech to rack up some Gunnery points. Gunnery skills advance on a per-kill basis, so don't let one or two hot shooters monopolize the kills. Either switch your hot shooters to lighter mechs or leave 'em behind if they start hogging kills. Really, it's very impolite.

There are 5 Ranks, but only 4 are mentioned in the game docs/manual: Green, Regular, Veteran, Elite. Each advance from Green gains the pilot one Specialty skill. The 5th rank, Ace, and its' associated skill, Sharpshooter, is what Company B trains for exclusively. You won't make Ace until both Piloting and Gunnery are 80.

Bonuses are approx. 20% and are cumulative. So if you have ER laser specialty AND Sharpshooter specialty, this is a 40% gain in your accuracy/impact score. Hotcha! A pilot can only gain 4 Specialty skills in the course of the game, and most will only make 3, so think about your ultimate team structure and pick accordingly.

 

Specialty Skill Trees

Regular - 50s
Veteran- 60s
Elite - 70s
Ace - 80
Light Mechs Medium Mechs Heavy Mechs Assault Mechs
Light Autocannons Pulse Lasers Heavy Autocannons
Sharpshooter
Medium Autocannons ER Lasers PPCs Gauss
Short Range Missles Long Range Missiles Short Range  
Small Arms Jump Jets Medium Range  
Sensors Scouting Long Range  
Toughness      
Lasers      

 

Recruits
Skilled Veterans will beg to join your 'leet Team as you swashbuckle your way across Kentares IV.

Mission
Pilot Rank Skills
Op 6
Base Aries
Steel Regular Toughness
Op 8
Combat Rescue
Claymore Regular  
Op 14
Orbital
Nuke
Regular
SRMs
"
Payback Regular Lt Autocannons

Op 19
Mt Cho

Wicked
Veteran Laser
LRM
"
Venom Veteran ER lasers
Scouting
"
Bubba Veteran Med AC
Med Mech
Op 21 - Scorpio Ghost Elite Sensors, Jump Jets, Long-range
"
Rooster Elite Toughness, LRM, PPC
"
Mother Elite Laser, Med. Mech, Heavy AC
"
Scooter Veteran Sensors, Jump Jets

 

The charts above can help you in balancing skills and planning for a well-rounded team by the penultimate missions.

You can go backwards down the skill tree; An Ace can choose among Specialties in all 4 Rating classes, not just Ace specialties.

Most of the time, I skip Range Specialties; I'd rather have hot laser shooters who can run a variety of weight classes than give up a slot for Range specialty and be limited to the mechs that pilot can operate. Of course I could put a Medium Range or Medium Mech Specialist in a heavier mech with long-range weaponry, but it would be a waste of skill. If you know your ranges and rates of fire, you can plan a sustained rate of fire to punish another mech before it gets into its' own optimal firing range. If you want to mess around with Range Specialties, do so. I'll be in the Spacer's Lounge playing Pazaak.

Chassis Skills - Light, Medium, Heavy, Assault
These skills decrease the chances of being hit; however, if you're properly armed, armored and on top of your game, you probably won't need these. One chassis Specialty that you might want to consider is Light Mechs. This Specialty will save your Scout mechs from critical many times over, so do train your Scout in it. One other Chassis Specialty you might consider is Medium or Heavy Mechs for an in-your-face shortstop/cover man.

Couple the Medium/Heavy Mechs with Toughness <Steel is a good choice as he joins your team with Toughness already> Specialties and you have a meat shield who can take quite a bit of pounding while holding down a turret control or covering for a team's redeployment. The highest I would go with this is one pilot in either Medium or Heavy mechs ( Starslayer/Lao Hu).

Overall, I find that Sensor training seems to give you a lot more info than Scouting training. I also don't see any improvement by adding the Scouting training to a pilot already skilled in Sensors (like wider range). I suppose a Scout skill might be handy for powered-down mechs, but usually I skip this skill.

 

Team Structure

Sharpshooter Team

The PB Ideal Team trains exclusively as Sharpshooters (Ace level) in order to be able to take out enemy mechs quickly and with minimal damage. Team Pink counts on in-mission salvage to bolster its' strength, and you need shooters who can take down a mech with little damage to count on this. It is quite possible to have 3 or 4 Ace Sharpshooters by the final Liao mission (in my current campaign, i have 3, with two more Ops to go before the penultimate) and 5-6 by the last 3 missions in the Carver V campaign.

Two Aces follow the same Specialty Skill path: Laser/ER Laser/Pulse Laser/Sharpshooter. One Shooter branches to ER Lasers first for range and the second takes the Pulse Lasers skill for close support of the main shooter. Each of these then takes the next slot in the Laser chain on promotion: the ER shooter takes Pulse specialty and the Pulse gets ER. This keeps the two main shooters in tandem skill-wise and prevents one shooter from getting all the kills (and the skill points).

While steadily advancing this pair of pilots, two more pilots are beginning the Sharpshooter skill path right behind them. One of this pair sometimes branches out towards PPCs while the other takes ER lasers for triple pokin' power.

The final Ace trains as a Scout, taking Sensor training, a good long-range weapon like ER, Light Mech training and either Jump Jet or LRM training. She is used in every single mission until she can spot the make of a mech by sensor contact, then given combat experience to sharpen her aim while another pilot is trained in Sensors as a backup.

By alternating among a steady crew of 5 or 6, you'll have a whole team that is only a step behind each other in skill, making your team more accurate and deadly even in the lightest mechs.

Gunnery training is critical to your salvage plan; it is too easy, esp with powerfully-equipped mechs, to push a target into critical overload, thereby causing you great pain as you watch your potential profits go up in smoke. A team of three Starslayers configured with ER lasers can cook most medium and lighter mechs into goulash in about 3-4 shots, or at the very least leave you with a salvageable but weaponless chassis, which is fairly useless and should be put out of its' misery as soon as humanely possible.

 

Backup team

Backup team consist of special-mission needs and concentrates on PPCs, LRMs and Autocannons, along with one or the other of the Laser skills. This prepares them to pilot mechs salvaged in-mission and allows me to choose my pilot order.

If you know your team order and how many RPs you'll have in the mission, you can choose salvage by knowing who is next on the roster and who will be put in the newly-revived mech. This can also help you in deciding whom to take in the initial Jump team; knowing the first mech you'll salvage will have a particular weapon, say, a medium autocannon, you can leave your Medium AC Specialist on the Dropship, knowing she'll be ready to pilot that mech (as soon as the meat smell is washed out of the cockpit, ewww)

In this manner, you can plan a much larger Mission Team than your weight limit, knowing that half your team is merely waiting for you to get some shopping done...

Here's an example from current mission play, Op 2 M1 - Liao Op #1, Gulag

I am taking Longshot, Twitch, Dagger, Pale Rider and Worm for their laser abilities in the Lao Hu, three Starslayers and a Men Shen. I choose those mechs for speed, though it's a light team for the coming mission. Worm is my backup Sensors man so he's getting practice in the 'Shen. Pale Rider, the main Sensors guy, is learning to shoot in one of the 'Slayers.

I count on the 'Slayers and the Hu to push over the initial Hunchback at the Gulag's front door quickly with their laser expertise, and then split (Lao and 2 'Slayers) to take on the Zeus, which I am going to want later in the mission (the remaining 'Slayer and Men Shen take care of the ground vehicles and Razorback before they can destroy the Gulag)

Hacksaw (Lasers, Pulse Laser and PPC Specialist) is ready to inhabit the Zeus with some skill. I might then pick up the Hunchback at the Gulag entrance if it's not too torched, because next pilot up is Meat (Lasers, Med. Autocannon Specialist), who could do nice work with the Hunchback's medium autocannon (he's an artist, I swear!) I wouldn't want Meat in the Zeus because he couldn't run the PPCs and pulse lasers as well as Hacksaw, nor would I want Hacksaw in the Hunchback, as he has no special autocannon skills.

So now I have the extra 135 tons from the Zeus and the Hunchback, as well as skilled pilots in them, which will be useful against the coming assault, meanwhile keeping the flexibility and speed of the 'Slayers and the 'Hu.

Why do I want to have the 'Slayers in this mission? To take out the final Atlas without frying him into critical overload and losing that beautiful mech!

 

The Power of Three


Mr Hunchback meets The Charmed Ones
and gets a Powerpuff Facial

Tac groups, left to their own devices, will pursue a target mindlessly, often scattering their firepower in the excitement of the hunt. This is why you are the Commander and they are your adoring minions, counting on you to think for them and keep their butts from being toasted. They are also your cash cows, so hover over them like a momma hen and take a firm hand in their behaviour.

To head off this compulsive scattering, engage the Hold command frequently. This keeps firepower concentrated. If you also create formations of similar mechs, you know they can all execute a group function, like jumping, and remain together.

One of the most time-honored and affective formations is the Star; a center mech and two outriders in a rough triangle. This concentrates an incredible amount of melt-in-your-mech power in one place, even from light- or medium-weight mechs, providing you have configured properly with this powerful formation in mind. You must also be very familiar with your mech's ordnance range and that of your opposition.

For example, the Charmed Ones are Buffy, Willow and Jody. All three are Starslayers and can jump. Together, they carry (at max mod) 2 Large Clan ER Lasers, 4 Large Clan Pulse Lasers, 4 Clan Heavy Lasers and 3 Lasers. This is some stopping power! Because they jump, they can move quickly; because they are in Hold in a Star formation, they concentrate fire. If at least one, or all three, are trained Sharpshooters, this small (150 ton) formation can take the head off an Atlas in one or two shots! This is the awesome Power of Three. This formation should form a good part of your core strategy. It can be repeated, with lesser effects, by even lighter mechs; three Ravens (105 tons) can carry 6 Large Clan ER lasers, all aimed by expert ER Laser Sharpshooters! "I'll take a wing, please." Heh heh :)

Another benefit is the mix-and-match flexibility; I can send one Lao Hu as the center Sharpshooter and two Starslayers as Guardians (both Sharpshooters), beefing up my firepower for a mere 25 tons extra. All three jump the same, which keeps the Star tight. This formation is able to take out several Assault mechs before they can even get close and leaving perfectly good mechs for Salvage.

 

 

Company B Roster
- The Pink Berets & Blue Boys Auxiliary

Pilot
Rank
Skills
Charm
@
Lasers
ER Laser
Pulse Laser
Sharpshooter
"Come and get me, baby"
"Hold still"
@
Lasers
Pulse Laser
ER Lasers
Sharpshooter
"See ya!"
@
Sensors
ER Lasers
PPC
Sharpshooter
"It's... all about me"
@
Lasers
Pulse Laser
ER Lasers
Sharpshooter
"I got him!"
@
Sensors
ER Lasers
Light Mechs
Jump Jets
"Who's shooting at me?!?"
Meat
Med AC, LRM, PPC "Here ya go, tough guy"
"Welcome to the neighborhood"
Twitch
Laser, ER Laser, Pulse Laser "Let's go, loser"
Hacksaw
Laser, Pulse Laser, Medium Mech "Mmmmm... that was pretty!"
Psycho
Veteran
Laser, ER Laser "Heh heh, that's right! Die!"
Claymore
Veteran
Toughness, Laser "Take That."