BattleTech Tips And Tools Of The Trade


I’ve now clocked in a solid 100 hours in BattleTech, with my latest run being focused on using what I’ve learned from my previous character to run through the plot in an ideal way. No lack of ‘Mechs, pilots, or components will mar my perfect experience. I’ll always get the ‘Mech I want, and I even went so far as to mod the game so I started off with a bespoke lance consisting of a Firestarter, Jenner, Shadow Hawk SHD-2D, and a Griffin GRS-1S.

That was just so I could have a slightly different experience than my previous playthrough. Since everything is randomized, all ‘Mechs after the first few missions will always be different outside of the story missions, so I didn’t have any concerns about boredom after I got started.

But now that I’ve achieved what I’d like to consider as “veteran” status in the game, I felt it right that I bestow upon you, dear Sarna reader, some of the tips I’ve learned in my career as a mercenary lance commander.


To start, I’ve always found that grinding out a bunch of easy missions early on will make the tougher missions that much easier for you later. The reason here is that grinding simple missions gives you XP that will make your pilots better. Once a pilot reaches certain milestones they get a huge power boost which can help turn the tide of a battle in your favor.

“Being able to move and shoot first is huge.”

One thing I’ve found to be a huge boon is the Master Tactician skill. Found under the Tactics tree at level 8, it allows your ‘Mechs to move at a higher initiative. This means that Assault ‘Mechs move at the same time as Heavy ‘Mechs, Heavies move at the same time as Mediums, and Medium ‘Mechs move at the same time as Lights.

Being able to move and shoot first is huge. If you can take out a few dangerous opponents before they have a chance to fire it will allow you to take on waves of opponents that would seem impossible to defeat on paper.

Master Tactician will always come with Sensor Lock as a secondary skill, which leaves tertiary skill to choose. I like to have a mix of Bulwark, Evasive Movement, and Multi-Target for my pilots. Bulwark is good for heavies and assaults to belly up to the line and face-tank whatever the enemy throws at them, while Evasive Movement is great for scouts and fast-movers. Multi-Target is better for missions with a lot of soft targets such as tanks or structures, but it can be difficult to predict if a mission will throw a swarm of Galleons at you or not.


What ‘Mechs you use is far more dependant on what ‘Mechs you fight than anything else (unless you want to mod the game as I did), but there are a few to keep an eye out for thanks to their weapon-efficient loadouts.

The Shadow Hawk SHD-2D is a personal favorite. You can load it up with 1,000 armor, 3 Medium Lasers, 2 SRM-6s, and 2 Small Lasers to turn it into a tough and deadly brawler. For whatever reason, the Shadow Hawk deals increased melee damage compared to other Medium ‘Mechs–closer to a 70-ton Heavy–so it’s the perfect design to get up close and personal with.

Light ‘Mechs eventually become too poorly armored to use later in the game (although I’ve heard some skilled commanders have beaten the game entirely with Light ‘Mechs), but the Firestarter is another close-range brawler that is utterly terrifying. Keep the Flamers or swap them for a battery of Small Lasers, and either way, once it gets in close whatever it’s fighting is dead.

The Shadow Hawk SHD-2D is the perfect design to get up close and personal with.

The Orion is relatively common and can be customized to be almost anything: a close-range brawler, a long-range sniper, or even a missile boat. In the Assault category, I came across quite a few Highlanders in my first playthrough and found them all to be equally amazing.

Short Range Missiles are, ton for ton, the most weight-efficient way of dealing damage. Before the latest patch they were utterly devastating when combined with Precision Strike, the ability that allows you to use morale to target specific components, but since then their ability to core a ‘Mech in a single salvo has diminished somewhat. Still, they’re potent, and a personal favorite of mine.

Laser boats were previously too hot to be effective, but the patch has also lowered the heat cost of Large Lasers to the point where they might be usable. I’ll have to do more testing, but I’m looking forward to finding a Black Knight or a Grasshopper to test it out.

If you can find a PPC+++ then they might be worth using, but generally I found them to generate too much heat for too little damage to be of much use.

Long range weapons aren’t really all that great in BattleTech thanks to a fog of war that reduces visibility to barely a few meters in front of you. If you feel you must take something with some range, Long Range Missiles are your best bet. They can fire over obstacles to soften your opponents up, and they deal a ton of stability damage with the right mods.

Autocannons are certainly better balanced in this game than on the tabletop, but they’re still not efficient enough in terms of damage per ton to compare with lasers and SRMs. On Assault ‘Mechs it’s not so big a deal since they have tonnage to spare, but on Medium and Heavy ‘Mechs, it’s strictly worse than a loadout weighted toward missiles and lasers.

One last thing: the key to success in BattleTech is using your Precision Strike and Vigilance abilities to their fullest. This means that opting for some increase morale upgrades in the early game might be even more important than faster repairs or healing in the med bay. Just have a team of 8 or more pilots and swap them out when they get a little banged up.

A veteran I may be, but I’m still far from a BattleTech expert. Think you might be one? Then submit your tips and tricks in the comment section below to prove it!

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.  

stay syrupy

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About Sean

Hooked on BattleTech at an early age, Sean honestly can't remember whether it was the cartoon, the serial novels or the short-lived TCG that did him in. Whatever it was, his passion for giant shooty robots never died, so now he writes about the latest and greatest in 'Mech related news.

6 thoughts on “BattleTech Tips And Tools Of The Trade

  1. Blackbow

    -easy missions before the hard ones – sure. max yourself two lances on full XP if possible.
    -mechs? I never left a single small laser or MG or flamethrower in. No need. If you can get close enough to use those, just punch the damn target and get it over with. yes, i know you can theoretically overheat with a bunch of flamers but they do have a limited # of shots.
    -my rise to victory was basically this: one pilot with bulwark and sensor lock in an Orion with the best LRMs I can get. sensor lock before anybody gets in range of her. one pilot with MT and tactician in another Orion with the best LRMs I can get. Two pilots, one with MT and sensor lock (if needed) the other one (me) with just ridiculous targeting and piloting skills, in Highlanders. One Highlander from the Star League mission with the gauss rifle, 2 high end MLas, and 2 more LRMs. One Highlander with either a really good PPC or AC, 2 more LRM’s. Note: obviously none of these mechs is stock. They’ve been max armored and about 5 tons of LRM ammo each for a nice, long, barraging session.

    Why? simple. Even if the enemy target is guarded/entrenched that’s still a hell of a lot of stability damage. usually 3 mechs full of lrm’s is all it takes to knock down any single enemy mech. at that point they’re injured (do that 3 more times and you have a free ‘mech) and -1 initiative. When they finally get back up I usually knock them back down the following round.

    In short, four of you blowing up any one mech stupid enough to fire at you (which means they therefore aren’t guarded/entrenched) means one mech down about every two turns.

    Game over. Fun, but over.

    1. Shepemp

      Yep black bow , pretty much identical stratagy me. Using cover and terrain is crucial . I usually finish the op overheating and out of ammo, so enough heat sinks and shots but no more.

    2. Coollogic

      Actually if you are going to build a mech for melee attacks support weapons are ideal as you get free shots after the melee attack. Grasshopper with 3 Slas++ and 3 flamers+ will pretty much take anything out of commission after a melee attack.

  2. Randall Flagg

    Currently I’m finishing my first campaign (after more than 100 hours and 3 restarts) and I fell in love with SRMs. Currently my favorite lance design is the following: 1 Stalker with 4 SRM-6+++ (4dmg/2sdmg) und 2 L-Lasers, an Orion-V (or whatever the one with the 3 missile-slots is) with 3 SRM-6 and 2 M-Lasers, a Black Knight-Laserboat and either a Centurion A with 3 SRM-6 and 1 M-Laser or the common Highlander-732B. But rushing into an enemy lance with SRM-boats is pretty fun, although pretty easy.

  3. Shine

    One of the best setups I found for early on (I.E. when you start to encounter Heavy mechs) was a twin-PPC Vindicator. Running the two PPC+ I had found on a pilot with high Gunnery; there was many moments where I’d have the shock of an Orion or Thunderbolt emerging from the fog of war only to have the cockpit removed by the fist of Zeus himself. That Vindicator was a regular in my squad even after I landed some assault mechs; having the pilot get some altitude before slamming in regular PPC shots into vehicles or heavier mechs let me focus my heavier mechs on fighting what was in front of them. Normally, I had mechs boating lasers or SRMs, sometimes running an LRM mech if I really felt like rolling out a Catapult not called a K2.

    One of the traps you can fall into is running a JagerMech; but I’ve always found the damn things to be deathtraps for pilots even if you keep it hanging back; none of the JM6 variants have the armor or loadout to do anything other than snipe or lob LRMs.

    The LRM Rain strategy is also great; it was basically how I scored myself an Atlas – constant LRM barrages and even a few crazy melee charges with a Dragon killed the pilot and gave me my 100-tonner. Right now; though, I’m looking forward to the future updates to add to both the campaign and mech pool. While I would have thought any down-on-their-luck Periphery Mercenary command would start using tanks as well as mechs, I can look past that. Also I just want my Marauder.

  4. ChaoticTabris

    Have you tried the Roguetech modpack? You can find it on the Nexus Mods under their Battletech section. It’s an overhaul of the game that removes the main campaign and gears it towards being a sandbox mercenary experience set in 3031. It adds the full Inner Sphere map with all the factions, it adds countless new mechs and variants (not all are directly from the lore but they are made to be lore compatible), several weapons and equipments that were not in the base game. Under the latest alphas it has a dynamic war system which makes the factions fight between themselves, form alliances, take overworlds and etc. They are also implementing engines and other parts, again to bring it closer to tabletop.


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