Re-Imagining the Small Laser

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Retry
07/12/19 03:09 AM
64.189.130.11

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So this has been rummaging through my head for a while now since the Autocannon thread.

The AC/2 and AC/5 are really unimpressive, but there's one more weapon that I thought of that really doesn't have much of anything going for it. And it's an energy weapon, even.

Small Lasers.

What's the vanilla small laser even for? I guess it was originally an energy-version of the machine gun, but with the burst-fire rule stuff on infantry that kind of got tossed aside and made it rather awful at that too until the Small Pulse laser. A light-weight anti-vehicle energy weapon? Find a half-ton anywhere and you can play with a medium laser instead, the most ruthlessly efficient weapon in 3025, if not the universe. 2 Smalls just don't have much going for them over 1 medium, even when the target is 2 hexes away...

I've been thinking what you could "tweak" about them without changing the overall "feel" of them too much to make the small laser something I would find worth considering. I've come up with two potential solutions:

1. Change the range of the small laser to 2/4/6
Still very short ranged, but now it's double what it was, so it has some options outside of "run into his backside and activate can opener mode". An Atlas can't just back away 3 feet one turn (ok, 90 meters technically) and all of the sudden be completely safe. 1 Medium would probably still be preferred over 2 smalls in most situations, but the difference between the two would be less massive.

Similarly, change other small laser variants (heavy small, re-engineered small, chemical, etc) to 2/4/6, switch the ER small to 3/6/9, and nerf down the IS pulse version to something that looks like, say, 2/3/4 or 1/3/5, something marginally worse than the new small laser.

2. Add a 1D6 burst-fire damage effect against infantry.
It's kind of weird how some of the original 3025 mechs like the Vindicator VND-1R, Enforcer ENF-4R, Awesome AWS-8Q, Banshee BNC-3E and some tanks like the Rommel and Patton tank, just have 1 or 2 small lasers tacked on for some reason. It's like... why? What does an extra small laser or two doing for your PPC boat that a MG + ammo setup, a medium laser, or just more armor wouldn't do?

This change pays lip service to the small laser's original role as an anti-infantry weapon before the infantry's damage taking was changed. It gives the laser another role as a sort of "energy LMG" before the LMG was a thing, and with a viable anti-infantry role tacking on a token small laser to large mechs isn't such a head-scratcher anymore. But, it doesn't make the small laser so good at this role that it outshines ammo-sipping machine guns or the small pulse laser, so it's a trade off.

---------------------------

Anyone have any thoughts on these ideas?
ghostrider
07/12/19 08:45 AM
66.74.60.165

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The Awesome had the extra space, and needed something that it could fire in the 30-90 meter range. Granted firing off the PPCs at 60 or 90 meters is more likely to hit, so this really isn't more then a space filler.

I do agree that the small laser isn't worth a whole lot as it would be better to do physical attacks when possible. Though for units that don't have the weight for something larger, such as the standard infantry carrier, it is used, when fusion engines are available. It does have 'unlimited' fire and damage over mgs, without the risk of ammo explosions.
Granted, massed arrays of them on a fast unit was dangerous to face, they seem lack luster otherwise.

The two changes sounds like it would make the small laser more desired then just stuck on a unit since you have a half ton, and maxed armor.
The idea of the weight would also make me think it could be used as a last resort anti missile system. But not sure if that is enough to justify that idea. This would be decent in the 3025 era. This actually play in with the anti infantry concept. Able to sweep with it to him more targets...
Maybe a light tag concept comes from this as well. Not doing damage, so range shouldn't be as big of an issue. The coding in the beam might be why the tag is 1 ton.
Retry
07/12/19 09:49 PM
64.189.130.11

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Quote:
I do agree that the small laser isn't worth a whole lot as it would be better to do physical attacks when possible. Though for units that don't have the weight for something larger, such as the standard infantry carrier, it is used, when fusion engines are available. It does have 'unlimited' fire and damage over mgs, without the risk of ammo explosions.


I feel the infinite fire advantage for the machine gun is a little academic. The machine gun cannot literally fire forever, but a half ton is still 100 rounds worth. I don't know if anyone has ever gone through a game and gone dry with machine gun ammo. Maybe with certain Piranha builds or Tactical Operations special rules for burst-fire? The slight anti-mech damage bonus and lack of explodey bits is an advantage for the small laser, though.

Quote:
The two changes sounds like it would make the small laser more desired then just stuck on a unit since you have a half ton, and maxed armor.


Sounds good!
Ovidii
12/21/23 03:39 AM
68.183.108.143

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I dig the proposed changes! Making the small laser more attractive even on bigger mechs with free tonnage is a cool direction. Maybe a bonus to heat efficiency at lower charge levels, or an increased chance to blind or sensor overload on a crit? That could spice things up and make them a more tempting alternative to just another machine gun or SRM rack.
FrabbyModerator
12/30/23 05:01 AM
84.185.66.250

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Personally, I’m a fan of the small laser. Its heat-to-damage ratio is unmatched among energy weapons. It’s a perfect weapon for light and fast 'Mechs.
Look at 'Mechs like the WSP-1W or the "Blazing Inferno" Commando and tell me they don’t punch way above their weight. Actually, even the Piranha is better off trading its MGs for small lasers.
ghostrider
12/30/23 11:30 AM
45.51.181.83

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Personal experience playing, has mechs doing physical combat, once they get into the 3 hex range. That does not mean others have had the same experience. The normal run up to the physical combat has heat being an issue, so the small lasers could cause a potential shutdown.
The lasers have a limited anti infantry issue over MGs. But then not everyone has the same game experiences, so it comes out different.

For heat to damage, yes, the small laser is the most efficient laser weapon. The range is key here.
Which brings up another potential 'change' to their use. It might be beneficial to have a bonus for them to hit when a unit is about to be in physical combat. The idea is when you head straight at each other, basically pointing forward should help the targeting system to lock. In writing terms, it would be like firing while holding someone in place. As combat has physical attacks after weapons fire, it doesn't sound like that would happen.

I do agree that the ammo explosive issues come to mind. Lasers don't have that problem, nor can you run out of ammo. The unit has to shut down for that, and given the game rule, MGs don't work when the mech is shut down.
CrayModerator
12/30/23 01:06 PM
71.47.208.18

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Quote:
Personally, I’m a fan of the small laser. Its heat-to-damage ratio is unmatched among energy weapons. It’s a perfect weapon for light and fast 'Mechs.



One of my gaming group makes assorted 'Mechs he calls, "DBSL," Death By Small Laser. They're usually fast, jump very far, and inevitably spend the game hopping between heavy cover and the rear arcs of my 'Mechs. It's a very irritating way to die, death by a thousand paper cuts.

I wouldn't use such 'Mechs in a campaign but they're fun for duels.
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.
RichardVega
01/04/24 07:29 AM
185.141.119.81

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Both proposed options present interesting ideas for improving small laser performance:

Increasing the range to 2/4/6 could give small lasers more tactical options and make them less dependent on close contact.

Adding a 1D6 burst damage effect against infantry gives small lasers a new role and makes them more useful in different scenarios.

Both options have their advantages, and the choice between them depends on what role you want to assign to small lasers in your game.
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