PPC vs Large Laser

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01/11/17 12:38 AM

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Reviewing the weapon specs for my houserule system, and I have a Game Balance question to put to you good folks.

Do you consider the PPC and Large Laser to be well balanced against each other?

More damage
Better range

Large Laser:
Less Heat
No Minimum Range.

And I'm not talking personal preference...I'm hoping for some objective opinions of whether one or the other is "better", or if the pros and cons balance out.
Peace is that glorious moment in history when everyone stands around reloading.
--Thomas Jefferson
01/11/17 12:08 PM

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I would think that depends on how your combats go.
More standoffish fighting would favor the ppc as minimum should not be an issue.
The fact on a standard armored mech, a heat shot has the potential to remove the target from play if a critical is achieved with the pilot being killed. This also means in the 3025 mechs, that a 20-25 ton mech will almost always go in to the torso.

If your fighting goes 3 or less hexes alot, then the minimum come in to affect.
The ability to have more things, like a pair of extra heat sinks to compare weight is always a bonus. Even more weapons is possible. If in touch range, extra weapons and a better to hit is great. Even the ability to fire it constantly without over heating (with movement, no jets, and the large laser only) with the single sinks from just the engine being accounted for.

Terrain does play a part as well. If you have open areas where the range can be utilized, then the extra range of the ppc will win out. I have seen where the 1 hex was the difference between short and medium ranges.
In something like alot of woods scattered around, the shorter ranges makes the laser a better choice, especially if you can't get shots over 3 hexes.

I prefer the ppc, but without the range advantage, I think the laser is better for most combat situations. The less weight and heat means no additional sinks are needed for a single weapon unit. The ppc will overheat a mech slowly with just walking with just the engine sinks.
And vehicles get worse from the heat/sinks issue, even fusion engine equipped ones. One sink crit and it may be weaponless, if just armed with ppc.
01/11/17 05:11 PM

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I tend to view the standard Inner Sphere large laser as a niche weapon in most cases because for a little more effort you could carry the PPC. The difference is small, but it matters, and especially matters in context of other weapons.

The damage difference is minor, but 10 points of damage is entering into "lucky decapitation" ranges while 8 points can't poke holes in most 'Mech heads.

Besides the 3-hex range advantage, the PPC has good range brackets. In Ye Olde Game, it had outstanding range since other weapons in its range class (AC2s, AC5s, LRMs) didn't deliver 10 points of damage to one spot. Its range was closer "able to runaway from bigger 'Mechs with AC/20s," than the large laser, which was more like "one bad movement decision away from being in BFG range."

The large laser is also a modest improvement over the medium laser. Three tons of medium lasers gives me about the same heat and about double the damage of a large laser, albeit at distinctly shorter ranges. But as I indicated above, the large laser isn't quite a long ranged weapon. More like the large laser is a medium-ranged weapon. And I'd take 3 chances to hit with 5 points of damage over 1 chance to hit with 8 points. PPCs, for all their tonnage, really stand out against medium lasers when it comes to range and damage concentration.

One of those opinions you didn't want: I tend to favor PPC/medium laser combinations. The heat sinks used by PPCs can be gainfully used by medium lasers at shorter ranges, and their range brackets make it clear when to switch from one to another. Large lasers are less distinct.

There are niches from large lasers, especially when put into the context of the Succession Wars. House Marik, for example, had trouble building PPCs and often substituted large lasers. Large lasers are easier to fit on vehicles - for IC-engined vehicles, there's a 4-ton difference with heat sinks and weapon tonnage included.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.
01/11/17 10:07 PM

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Not to stray to far off topic, but wouldn't the PPC be better if it messed with the electronics of the mech or whatever it hit? Similar to the Ion Cannon in other Sci-fi settings, I mean after all the PPC has been written as man made lighting unleashed on a target.

Given time and plenty of paper, a philosopher can prove anything.
01/11/17 10:48 PM

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Karagin writes:

Not to stray to far off topic, but wouldn't the PPC be better if it messed with the electronics of the mech or whatever it hit? Similar to the Ion Cannon in other Sci-fi settings, I mean after all the PPC has been written as man made lighting unleashed on a target.

Not sure how to replicate that effect in-game without turning it into an Ultimate Weapon...maybe roll after each hit to see if it scrambles the sensors. Anything more than that might require reducing the damage in order to keep it balanced.

The reason I'm asking the original question is because I'm making a few changes in my system which improve the PPC, but the Large Laser may be in need of some love now to keep from being forgotten.
Peace is that glorious moment in history when everyone stands around reloading.
--Thomas Jefferson
01/12/17 01:09 PM

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Well make a roll and on something like a 10+ a ppc hit will cause issues like difficulty in targeting the next round, or maybe just cause a piloting roll as the comps/gyro hits a glitch. You could get as nasty as say a full shutdown of the reactor.

The idea of the instant kill for a mech with a ppc is hard to beat, but as the game deals with other things like tanks, there is a little more to this question then mech on mech. In the games I have seen and from the sounds of it, people tend to play, physical combat is almost a required concept.
Vehicles without fusion engines are better off with the large laser then the ppc. The sinks are a killer for things. You can fit an lrm 5 with a ton of ammo with the laser for the range over the ppc. No heat in vehicles. Ammo explosions bite though.

A niche weapon? Don't doubt it.
The 3 mls for the price of a single large laser is hard to beat, except range. And when you are just getting into long range for the mls, I am medium range with the large. But this is ppc vrs ll.
As I said. I do prefer the ppc.
Just trying to be objective in this.
01/14/17 04:28 AM

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From experience: They are well-enough balanced against each other; in fights between units using each as respective main weapons, victory goes to whomever misses least-often, and the winner's usually slapped around pretty thoroughly.

Oregon: The "Outworlds Alliance" of the United States of America
01/14/17 09:41 PM

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Thanks for the input. I'll post my final decision of the Large Laser in the D8 Battletech thread.
Peace is that glorious moment in history when everyone stands around reloading.
--Thomas Jefferson
02/16/18 05:56 PM

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I am very interested in this topic, and I couldn't find the "D8" thread mentioned.

Here is some hard data on this comparison, The PPC vs the Large Laser:
PPC is 2 tons heavier, takes up an extra crit slot, and generates 2 more heat.
The PPC has a minimum range, but longer range overall.

A more verbose treatment:
The Large Laser deals 20% less listed damage and generates 20% less heat.
The Large Laser takes up 33.3% less critical slots and weighs 28.6% less.
The PPC deals 25% more damage and generates 25% more heat.
The PPC takes up 50% more critical slots and weighs 40% more.

And the PPC vs a Large Laser with an additional heat sink:
The Large Laser (with additional heat sink) deals 20% less listed damage for 30% less total heat.
The Large Laser (with additional heat sink) takes up the same critical slots and weighs 14.3% less.

And The PPC vs a Large Laser with two additional heat sinks:
The Large Laser (with two additional heat sinks) deals 20% less listed damage for 40% less heat.
The Large Laser (with two additional heat sinks) takes up 33.3% more critical slots and weighs the same.
02/16/18 08:18 PM

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D8 battletech is the name of the thread. Kj was working with a system to use 8 sided dice for the game. He did some interesting things with is from what I've read so far.

To be honest, alot of the weapons in the 3025 era just seem wrong compared to what you figure the future tech should be.
Yes, the wars would bring them down, but with all the cache's around, I find it wrong to suggest they could not keep some more advanced tech going. And the jump the clans did seems to agree with that.
02/20/18 04:08 AM

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In my opinion if the setting is 3025, the standard large laser is more of a generalized weapon, while the PPC is more of a specialized weapon for long range fire - hence why you often see the PPC on mechs such as the Warhammer, Marauder, Zeus, and Awesome. The trade offs for the weapon (2 tons) are typically negligible and balanced by the addition or lose of tonnage for more or less firepower/armor/heat dissipation to the mech.

In the 3050+ era, the diffrence between standard large lasers/ppcs vs their ER versions are rather mute, the ER versions are better over all.
"Captain! We're completely surrounded on all sides." - Kiff, Futurama
..."Excellent, then we may attack in any direction." - Zapp Brannigan, Futurama

"A fool fights a war on two fronts; only an idiot defends on one." - Fusilier
03/27/18 06:38 PM

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On the subject of the PPC doing more damage, but producing more heat, in Tactical Operations there are some rules for reducing the power of an energy weapon. That is actually why the Clans don't make Standard PPCs, they can just reduce the power by 33% to get the same damage and heat.
Discord: Amaroq Starwind#1092
Telegram: Lycanphoenix
MechEngine (Beta) - Development Resumed
03/28/18 12:48 AM

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That's one of the few Tac Ops rules I don't use. It's a bit too easy to exploit and disproportionately benefits medium lasers even more, dialing down Mediums to 1 heat for a still decent 3 damage (same as a SL but at 3x the range). 8 of those on an IS intro-tech 35 tonner can have max armor, 6/9 movement its 10 heat sinks, and simply dial down the heat to 1 to get 24 damage worth of crit seekers, all while remaining heat neutral (7 dialed-down MLs gives you more avg damage than an AC/20 at the same heat production, less criticals, and far less tonnage, if you don't mind lacking the 20 point bowling ball). Net damage increases compared to simply adding heat sinks for additional MLs for a similar tonnage. And it can always fire its weapons at full charge if you seriously want to nuke the pilot for some reason.

The Clans are even worse about it, as usual. Take the cERML, dial it down to 3 heat and you now have a glorified IS medium laser with the range brackets of an AC/10. Dial it down to 2 heat and all of the sudden, the Nova Prime makes sense with 12 4pt hits dealing a maximum of 48 damage per turn (more than a double-tapping cUAC/20 at modestly more but manageable heat, better range, less crits and tonnage. And of course you can dial it down to 1 heat for small laser levels of efficient golf balls.

Speaking of golf balls, it would make a lot of sense to cheese around the clan ERSL's extra heat by dialing down to 50% of that heat (1 pt) and still retaining half the firepower (4 pts). If you design a clan 25 tonner around the heat dialing ability, you can put on FF armor, a small cockpit, Endo-Steel, an XLE with 8/12 movement, 10 DHS, and 20 reduced-heat cERSLs, each hitting for 4 points of damage for a maximum of 80 points of damage by that bloody gnat for a net heat gain of only 2 points if running. The range isn't good, no, but it's a nasty suprise for assault mechs that lose initiative to find at their backside, a bit too nasty even. That's almost all of this light's own armor points in one turn. Mess around with mix-tech and the armor a bit and I'm sure you can stuff a targeting computer in there too. Mess with the weights and stuff and you can get it faster or give it jump jets.

It also doesn't seem to affect anti-infantry weapon damages, so you can theoretically dial down weapons to "0 damage" and very low heat and still fry PBIs, like with a Flamer, ER Flamer or a Small Pulse Laser.

Energy weapons certainly don't need any more help. The idea is ok, actual implementation doesn't jive with me, unlike most of the Tac Ops options.
04/03/18 02:23 AM

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First-off: Your "nuke the pilot" statement gave me the mental image of sticking a nuke inside the cockpit, and building the cockpit out of a magic material that perfectly contains the radiation, heat, EMP and explosive force so that only that one pilot is a casualty. Perfect if the Clan thinks you're a complete failure, and you get to watch the pilot just get instantly vaporized in a flash of light through the cockpit glass, brighter than a thousand suns.

Second: Obviously, dialing down the heat produced by an energy weapon is a bit abusable, but only really in design cases that are actually built around abuse of such a mechanic. A variant I have of the rule is to give a weapon distinct Power Levels/Presets, and only letting them operate within said presets. Here are some examples.
*ER-PPC (Inner Sphere): Only produces 10 heat if firing within the range brackets of a standard PPC.
*Clan ER-PPC: High Power (15 Heat and Damage), Medium Power (10 Heat and Damage), Low Power (5 heat and Damage)
*Standard PPC: High Power (10 heat and Damage), Low Power (5 heat and Damage). Essentially equipment to having two Light PPCs welded together.
*ER Laser (Inner Sphere): Produce the same heat as a standard laser when operating within those range brackets.
*Clan Light PPC: Becomes a drop-in replacement for the standard Large Laser, because it uses their ER-PPC design but downscaled. Can also use a Low Power mode that functions as a standard Light PPC.

Third: Standard PPCs have a few more niche downsides to Large Lasers. They can't use Laser Insulators (not that those would help much), they can't be turned into Pulse Weapons, and Blue Shield Particle Field Dampeners render them basically moot.

Also, when using Mixed Tech rules, a Clan ER Large Laser and using the leftover space and weight for single Double Heat Sink becomes a straight upgrade over a standard PPC. Similarly, a Clan Pulse Laser also makes the standard PPC obsolete (if you don't use Targeting Computers). However, you are just talking about the Standard Large Laser and the Standard PPC...

If you want to make the PPC balanced against the Large Laser, try thinking outside the box a little bit:
*Maybe if it misses by just slightly,, it becomes an Area-of-Effect / Cluster weapon (because of arcing lightning).
*Maybe its kinetic damage could be factored in, allowing it to ignore Reflective Armor.
*Maybe a successful hit with the PPC in minimum range would deliver additional kinetic damage, cause a shutdown like with a BattleMech Taser, or cause enemy heat build-up like with a Flamer.
*Maybe a PPC could be used as a Spot Welder while in Melee range.
*Maybe PPCs could electrify water.

All of those are just a few examples.
Discord: Amaroq Starwind#1092
Telegram: Lycanphoenix
MechEngine (Beta) - Development Resumed
04/03/18 09:45 AM

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Vanilla PPCs are rather balanced against the vanilla Large Laser IMO. I don't care too much for the Blue Shield since it can only operate error-free on Aerospace assets, and PPCs are neither good AA guns nor good air-to-air weapons so they don't see much use against them either. Those 3 tons are only really worth it if you happen to know that you're facing Hellstars, and even then there's Reflective Armor as an option.
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