PDA

View Full Version : Mechwarrior's Reasons for Mechs



Pages : [1] 2

Conners
2012-08-11, 11:02 PM
I've been thinking of MW lately, what with the new game in beta. One thing that interests me about it, is the detailed thought put into the scifi.

One thing I've wondered about MW for a while... what fluff reasons do they have for the use of mecha? I'm assuming it is similarly well thought-out.

Spamotron
2012-08-11, 11:09 PM
The creators of Battletech (the wargame Mechwarrior is based on) have freely admitted that Mechs are better than vehicles in game only because mechs are cooler and that in real life anything a mech can do a team of specialized vehicles can do better for cheaper.

The fluff in verse is that somehow a mech chassis can be built in a super-compartmentalized fashion that a vehicle chassis can't enabling a level of redundancy and resilience that makes them nigh indestructible compared to said vehicles.

Also the reason weapon ranges are so short has shifted over the years. Originally it was because advanced targeting systems and sensors had become "Lostech" over the course of the brutal succession wars and that basic line of sight targeting was all that was possible. Bare in mind that the game was created in the early eighties before the First Iraq War when laypeople had no idea what modern military targeting systems could do. Eventually there was a storyline where "Star League" tech was recovered and for balance reasons couldn't be orders of magnitude better than Successor States tech. Making the weapons tech of the Golden Age of mankind look grossly inferior to stuff that existed centuries before. So the fluff gradually shifted to ECM and ECCM is as common as dirt and only truly exceptional setups like the Guardian ECM and Beagle Active Probe are worth mentioning in your mech write up. Making effective range really short and precision shots really difficult.

Xuc Xac
2012-08-11, 11:44 PM
Isn't there also something about them being piloted by a direct neural interface? Mechs are humanoid because that's the shape that human brains are best at controlling. Tanks and such are too awkward to use with that interface.

Daisuke1133
2012-08-12, 01:06 AM
Not quite, the Neurohelmet's function is to allow the mech to utilize the pilot's sense of equilibrium to maintain its balance, other systems are tied to manual controls in the cockpit. The Direct Neural Interface, which carries some severe neurological side effects associated with its use, is something else entirely and until the advent of the advent of the Vehicular DNI was only ever used once in a mech, a situation that ended quite badly.

Serafina
2012-08-12, 02:03 AM
Of course would't need such an interface.
They might need more crew, but that is actually an advantage - you can only keep track of so many things at once, fancy interface or not, so the tank crew would have higher battlefield awareness and command&control responsiveness.

Really, the only reason we'd ever build mechs (other than to show off) is when we need a specific subset of ground pressure. Going trough woods without destroying too much of the underbrush would be a reason - but not a military one, because you would still need tracks. It could be useful for parks or research, and thats about it - and we would still do it with four or more legs.

A tank is easier to armor (you dont have to armor relatively thing legs or arms, much less joints), has a better profile (it is easier to hide behind terrain when you are not as tall), better accuracy (a turret is more stable than an arm) and aiming (a turret can do a 360 turn, an arm can't), has higher speed (it's easier to get speed out of tracks than out of legs, assuming equal horsepower) and has less moving parts (which makes it cheaper to build and easier to repair).
A Mech has - well, pretty much nothing. Some people say intimidation, but you don't care about that against professional forces (against whom it won't work better than a tank) and don't really need it against unprofessional ones (you can kick their butts anyway).


Of course mechs are cool. That's a good enough reason to have them in fiction, and a good enough reason for me to like them.

ShadowFighter15
2012-08-12, 02:10 AM
I remember reading somewhere that they were designed as an intimidation tactic to end wars - a world with a battalion of battlemechs would be seen as too much of a risk or too expensive to attack. Of course, human nature being what it was, that idea backfired spectacularly.

There may be more to it, but that's all I can remember.

The Random NPC
2012-08-12, 03:53 AM
Of course would't need such an interface.
They might need more crew, but that is actually an advantage - you can only keep track of so many things at once, fancy interface or not, so the tank crew would have higher battlefield awareness and command&control responsiveness.

Really, the only reason we'd ever build mechs (other than to show off) is when we need a specific subset of ground pressure. Going trough woods without destroying too much of the underbrush would be a reason - but not a military one, because you would still need tracks. It could be useful for parks or research, and thats about it - and we would still do it with four or more legs.

A tank is easier to armor (you dont have to armor relatively thing legs or arms, much less joints), has a better profile (it is easier to hide behind terrain when you are not as tall), better accuracy (a turret is more stable than an arm) and aiming (a turret can do a 360 turn, an arm can't), has higher speed (it's easier to get speed out of tracks than out of legs, assuming equal horsepower) and has less moving parts (which makes it cheaper to build and easier to repair).
A Mech has - well, pretty much nothing. Some people say intimidation, but you don't care about that against professional forces (against whom it won't work better than a tank) and don't really need it against unprofessional ones (you can kick their butts anyway).


Of course mechs are cool. That's a good enough reason to have them in fiction, and a good enough reason for me to like them.

Just so you know, the US Army is experimenting with quadrupedal platforms. They're more for supply lines, and aren't much bigger than a ATV, but legs can go many places that tracks and wheels can't.

Andrewmoreton
2012-08-12, 04:21 AM
In Battletech it is very arguable that tanks are superior to Battlemechs which while probably realistic is something I consider a problem when running Battletech/Mechwarrior campaigns.
(All IMO)
The biggest problem is that battlemechs have more locations to armour than tanks which means tanks end up with very heavy armour on their locations compared to mechs (the mech has the advantage hits spread out more) this is particularly bad for light/medium mechs/tanks(where only a few hits are needed to penetrate armour) . My solution is as tank hit locations are larger than battlemech hit locations it needs twice as much armour for the same effect, effectively halving armour for all tanks.

Battlemechs have the neural interface system which does not work well for tanks so an extra +1 penalty to hit for all moving vehicles

I double close combat damage for Mechs vs Vehicles

I also tend to assume that mech pilots will have better skills than vehicle crews but don't have a rule to enforce it

Yora
2012-08-12, 04:21 AM
the only realistic mechs are those of masamune shiro. either spider shaped or small enough to move inside people scaled buildings and used as ultra heavy infantry.
the later I still expect to see in the next 20 years.

Zombimode
2012-08-12, 04:50 AM
the only realistic mechs are those of masamune shiro. either spider shaped or small enough to move inside people scaled buildings and used as ultra heavy infantry.
the later I still expect to see in the next 20 years.

Aren't the later called Exoskeletons/Power Armor?

Serafina
2012-08-12, 04:58 AM
Just so you know, the US Army is experimenting with quadrupedal platforms. They're more for supply lines, and aren't much bigger than a ATV, but legs can go many places that tracks and wheels can't.Those Robo-Mules aren't mechs - they are robots. The major difference here is size - at a point where you get to a manned vehicle (something with a cockpit, as opposed to powered armor/exoskeltons) you're better off with a tracked or wheeled vehicle, because the mobility advantage of legs diminishes rapidly and isn't worth the loss in survivability and increase in cost.

If we're talking infantry-scale, then legs do have an advantage, mostly because most stuff is. well, built for people with legs. But that's powered armor or robots, and even then you are better off with four or more legs for stability.

Yora
2012-08-12, 05:27 AM
Aren't the later called Exoskeletons/Power Armor?

basically, yes. thuogh they are often on the rather large end in the anime based on shirows manga. and the opperators knees and elbows are not in the suits joints. while its a snug fit inside, I'd say they are piloted and not worn.

non of that applies to the walking fortresses, though. those are more in the realm of evangelion or gurren lagan.:smallbiggrin:
but they still have the much more sensible spider shape.:smallwink:

Doorhandle
2012-08-12, 05:46 AM
In Battletech it is very arguable that tanks are superior to Battlemechs which while probably realistic is something I consider a problem when running Battletech/Mechwarrior campaigns.
(All IMO)
The biggest problem is that battlemechs have more locations to armour than tanks which means tanks end up with very heavy armour on their locations compared to mechs (the mech has the advantage hits spread out more) this is particularly bad for light/medium mechs/tanks(where only a few hits are needed to penetrate armour) . My solution is as tank hit locations are larger than battlemech hit locations it needs twice as much armour for the same effect, effectively halving armour for all tanks.

Battlemechs have the neural interface system which does not work well for tanks so an extra +1 penalty to hit for all moving vehicles

I double close combat damage for Mechs vs Vehicles

I also tend to assume that mech pilots will have better skills than vehicle crews but don't have a rule to enforce it


I think mech do ave a few hidden advantages related to their locomotion however. For example, it's fairy trivial for a mech to step on most tanks, or flip them over and shoot at their exposed underbellies if they're a bit smaller than standard. Likewise, they would be a LOT better at rock climbing, which could also prove useful for scaling buildings, although if I remember the mechs with that kind of locomotion are too heavy to do that.

Also : (although it never comes up,) mecha do have a faint advantage in multiple limbs: if they loose both legs they can drag themselves around, while a tank loosing one track is basically running around in circles form then on, but all of these are fairly-faint advantages.

Serafina
2012-08-12, 06:11 AM
Except that melee just isn't going to happen, even with ludicrously short BR-ranges its a stretch. With actual modern line-of-sight range and modern firepower, trying to get into melee against a tank - especially when you are in a large vehicle - is suicide. Even if you did, the tank could still shoot back (it takes less than 6 seconds to make a 360 turret rotation), and even if you can take out one tank the next one will just shoot you.

Also, you are SO not going to flip over a tank that weights 45-60 tons. If you did, it'd be a mission kill, but the force you exerted would be enough to push trough the armor anyway.

As for legs - disable one leg on a mech, and it is likely to fall over. Which means that it's effectively a mission-kill, since it is now unable to use torso-weapons and most likely its arm-weapons. Being able to drag yourself along the ground requires hand-like appendages, but those will limit your arm-mounted weapons.
Besides - if a tank track gets thrown, you simply replace it, which is rather simple. If a mech leg gets destroyed, you need to replace the joints, which will be much more complicated.


An additional disadvantage is weapon placement. A tanks gun is braced against the whole weight of its turret, and with a strong turret suspension most of the tanks weight. It doesn't suffer stability issues because the tank isn't prone to toppling over either.
On a mech, you have to deal with the fact that your mech can topple over. That limits weapon power. Placing it inside an arm will limit its size - and generally, mounting two smaller weapons is less favorable than mounting a single large one. Sheer space is already a steep limitation, but the joints of the arm are much more of a problem, since those limit weight and recoil.
In the torso, you must compete with the engine and possibly the cockpit. And you will have worse aim than a tank, since you can't rotate a turret to point at the enemy, you must rotate your whole chassis.



Really, mechs are cool. I love mechs. But they are simply a worse design than a tank when you want a mobile, well-protected vehicle with heavy firepower.
The only terrain where they maybe have an advantage is in mountains (where again four+ legs are better). Their profile exposes them to enemy fire, their joints make them vulnerable, their shape limits the size of their weapons, their many moving parts make them too costly, their mode of movement causes stability issues, their aim will be wose than a tank.
And the few terrains where they might have an advantage already have fierce competition in the form of infantry (which can take much better advantage of cover) and helicopters. In a battle against tanks of equal technology they will just get ripped to shreds.

Cerlis
2012-08-12, 06:29 AM
Well, I encountered gundam wing long before the Original Gundam. I know its not Mechwarrior, but i found the thought process that went into the logic of how technology in military war evolved to be relevant here

But in the Original Gundam, mobile suits where a new form of technology (The original Gundam was the first true mobile suit, that other models where based off of). They where valuable for multiple reasons. For one being so huge meant more armor (many suits are depicted as stepping on tanks as a battle tactic). Having hands meant being able to use multiple weapons (as opposed to a tank, who even if it had multiple weapon attachments, they would have to be attached. Its much easier to pick something up.)
The main reason being their mobility. A tank would have to cut down and run over a tree, risking getting stuck. A machine with legs could step over or in between it.

This is better shown with the Guntank and Gun-Cannon. The Gun tank was essentially a Large tank, with a torso chasis. It had a head and arms but the arms where pretty much mobile gaitling guns. It also had two shoulder mounted cannons. It was very obsolete in technology. Not nearly as mobile as the gundam or guncannon. But it had high armor and long range cannons so it saw continued use. From what i remember from the series, only a accurate gunner could defend his guntank from a skilled Suit pilot.

The Guncannon was a humanoid chasis, but its main weapons where a beam gun, beam cannons on its shoulders, and head integrated guns. It can be seen as inferior to the Gundam due to its lack of versatility. This is shown, in that before the GMs (Mass produced weaker versions of the gundam) where made in serious military faction, several groups of Gundams where made, with a full array of weapon options (the original action figure was mostly weapons, with half the plastic being the actual Suit). The weapon options where saved for mass productions when the Lunar Titanium Alloy Gundams where decided to be to expensive for mass production.


So, at least in the fantasy world of gundam, a variety of weapon options, the speed of mobile suits (In the series, a more advanced weapon than suits where made, known for their speed, which where basically half ships, half mobile suits), and their all-terrain ability, makes Human like machines superior.

Serafina
2012-08-12, 06:41 AM
Multiple weapons sound nice - but do you actually need them?
A modern tank cannon is already a multi-role weapon thanks to flexible ammunition. They can even do BVR (beyond visual range=indirect artillery) or missile-fire. That's good enough against anything.

And as mentioned before, that questionable versatility of wielding weapons with a mech would come at the cost of having to use smaller weapons, due to weight, recoil and using inefficient arms.


If you can scale up a mech, you can scale up a tank - and probably even more so, since you have less problems with ground pressure. So size isn't really an argument.

As for woods - another disfavorable terrain for tanks - if your mech is tank-sized, it won't in fact be able to step between trees reliably, because the trees in a forest are just too close together. If the trees are so flimsy or the mech so large that the trees can be ripped down, a tank would be able to do the same.

As for speed, there isn't any reason why a mech should be faster than a tank. Tanks are FAST for their weight - imagine an elephant running at 70 kilometers per hour. Now some Elephants can actually achieve about 30 kilometers per hour if they absolutely have to, thanks to spring-like joints, but it just doesn't compare to a tank which weight 4-6 times as much.
Side-stepping isn't an issue either, tanks are remarkably nimble. Not that you could sidestep a supersonic projectile anyway.

The Random NPC
2012-08-12, 07:09 AM
There's really only three situations that something like mechs will prevail. Small mobile platforms, about the size of an ATV, power armor, and very hazardous environments that require fine manipulation, such as in space. Of those three, none of them will lead to anything larger than about 9 to 10 feet in height. And in most situations it will not be for combat.

Serafina
2012-08-12, 07:14 AM
Well, all three can lead to improvised fighting vehicles. As in, you take the chasssis you have, strap a bit of armor and weaponry on it and call it a day because they're the best option you have.

That'd be like taking a civilian car, strapping some hillbilly armor on it and mounting a machine gun or two. People do that all the time in warzones because they dont have access to military vehicles. And it doesn't compare to proper military vehicles favorably in any way, not even cost.

The Random NPC
2012-08-12, 07:20 AM
Well, all three can lead to improvised fighting vehicles. As in, you take the chasssis you have, strap a bit of armor and weaponry on it and call it a day because they're the best option you have.

That'd be like taking a civilian car, strapping some hillbilly armor on it and mounting a machine gun or two. People do that all the time in warzones because they dont have access to military vehicles. And it doesn't compare to proper military vehicles favorably in any way, not even cost.

Of course that would be possible, I just meant that they most likely (except possibly the power armor) would not be designed for direct combat.

Kiero
2012-08-12, 07:46 AM
Mechs only exist in their universe because of the circular "well, it's cool" logic. They'd only make sense if the only thing that existed was other mechs.

Buidling-sized battlesuits are just dumb, any remotely rational type of warfare would make them nothing more than expensive targets. They'd never get close enough to tanks to employ their supposed advantages up close against them. They could be swarmed by units of infantry in powered armour they'd struggle to target effectively. They're nice big targets for airpower and even within the scope of orbital/ship-based weapons.

Even in-universe they're only protected by setting fiat. I remember playing one of the videogames in an Elemental battlesuit and trashing giant mechs because they couldn't hit me, and I only had to take out one of their legs to disable them.

Zorg
2012-08-12, 07:49 AM
The Cyberpunk expansion Maximum Metal has a great discussion on why mecha don't work (slightly abridged):


A 900 pound ACPA stands only inches taller than a normal man (84-90"). One of its feet will have a surface area of about 60 inches (150% of an average mans), giving a ground pressure of about 7.5 pounds per square inch. An average human male will be about half as much.
A 14' tall robot would weigh about 7200 pounds. and its feet having 240 square inches between them will exert a ground pressure of 30 pounds per square inch. Consider a heavily laden 18 wheeler has a ground pressure of 22 pounds per square inch.

At 21' tall you'll have a 12.1 ton machine exerting 67.5 pounds per square inch.

A 50' machine, made of a material a third the weight of steel, would weigh 327,942 pounds giving out 765 pounds of ground pressure - the equivalent of 35 eighteen wheeler trucks stacked on top of each other.


The concept that a mech only weighs in at 20 tons is ludicrous - that's less than a Bradley AFV.

Cerlis
2012-08-12, 08:11 AM
Multiple weapons sound nice - but do you actually need them?
A modern tank cannon is already a multi-role weapon thanks to flexible ammunition. They can even do BVR (beyond visual range=indirect artillery) or missile-fire. That's good enough against anything.
Which pretty much means that a Mech/mobile suit could do that but better. Tanks are basically big guns on wheels. Robots WIELD big guns. Any advancements in gun technology not predicted by the fantasy writers of these worlds would also apply to this technology too.

And as mentioned before, that questionable versatility of wielding weapons with a mech would come at the cost of having to use smaller weapons, due to weight, recoil and using inefficient arms.
Small mechs can enter buildings without tearing them down, you could only do that with a jeep or a small robot. Larger mechs or mobile suits would use guns proportionately bigger. High artillery weapons usually have deplorable legs or Siege modes in order to accommodate the recoil and firepower. but unlike a missile launcher or tank which is essentially a well armored car with a giant missilegun/cannon on its top with some support machine guns, a robotic weapon would be able to put down that launcher or cannon and use more tactile weapons on a weapons rack nearby.


If you can scale up a mech, you can scale up a tank - and probably even more so, since you have less problems with ground pressure. So size isn't really an argument.

a humanoid chasis is able to compact its size and to make a tank of the same size would mean considerably more mass. Its essentially arguing a Battleship vs robotic weaponry, rather than a tank.

As for woods - another disfavorable terrain for tanks - if your mech is tank-sized, it won't in fact be able to step between trees reliably, because the trees in a forest are just too close together. That actually depends on the terrain. Plenty of forests have trees wide enough to step around. I cant believe a tank could get around them as quickly as something with legs (that isnt made as of 2012)
If the trees are so flimsy or the mech so large that the trees can be ripped down, a tank would be able to do the same. Rolling over several trees would take forever at a decent speed, and risk flipping the tank at higher speeds.

As for speed, there isn't any reason why a mech should be faster than a tank. Tanks are FAST for their weight - imagine an elephant running at 70 kilometers per hour. Now some Elephants can actually achieve about 30 kilometers per hour if they absolutely have to, thanks to spring-like joints, but it just doesn't compare to a tank which weight 4-6 times as much.
Side-stepping isn't an issue either, tanks are remarkably nimble. Not that you could sidestep a supersonic projectile anyway.

Im sure a vehicle would be faster in a straight line. Which is one reason why from what i've seen, worlds that use mechs and suits also use tanks. But a bullet car is much faster than a dirt bike. But anytime racing speed would matter you'd just use a jet anyways.

Brother Oni
2012-08-12, 08:21 AM
Well, I encountered gundam wing long before the Original Gundam. I know its not Mechwarrior, but i found the thought process that went into the logic of how technology in military war evolved to be relevant here

The Gundam universe also has the Minovsky Particle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Century_technology#The_Minovsky_particle ), which is essentially a handwave technology that knackers all long range communications and combat, include straight line of sight targeting.


With regard to battlemechs versus tanks, another major factor which appears to be overlooked, is engagement range. A Challenger 2 can engage targets up to about 8km and can still accurately hit while on the move due to computer assisted targeting.
Meanwhile the longest range I can find for a mech weapon is the LRM20 at 1.1km.

This is also not including standard tank tactics such as lurking in hull down positions or angling the hull to minimise the profile/increase the effective armour thickness, all of which a battlemech can only copy to a limited degree.



My solution is as tank hit locations are larger than battlemech hit locations it needs twice as much armour for the same effect, effectively halving armour for all tanks.

Shouldn't tanks be harder to hit though? A mech ranges from 7 to 20m tall, while a tank (using a modern MBT as a guide) is about 2.5m?

Serafina
2012-08-12, 08:50 AM
Which pretty much means that a Mech/mobile suit could do that but better. Tanks are basically big guns on wheels. Robots WIELD big guns. Any advancements in gun technology not predicted by the fantasy writers of these worlds would also apply to this technology too.Which pretty much means that a Mech/mobile suit could do that but better. Tanks are basically big guns on wheels. Robots WIELD big guns. Any advancements in gun technology not predicted by the fantasy writers of these worlds would also apply to this technology too.Yeah, but so would tanks...
No, really, any conceivable technological advancement that would benefit mechs would benefits tanks as well, likely more so. Better armor? weaponry? engines? interfaces? targeting systems? muscle-like myomer? all would benefit a tank.

The point was that you don't really need five different kinds of guns. You need one vehicle-sized vehicle-killing gun, and then use different ammunition with it. If you need something against smaller or more nimble targets, you use a sponson-mounted or externally launched weapon.


Small mechs can enter buildings without tearing them down, you could only do that with a jeep or a small robot. Larger mechs or mobile suits would use guns proportionately bigger. High artillery weapons usually have deplorable legs or Siege modes in order to accommodate the recoil and firepower. but unlike a missile launcher or tank which is essentially a well armored car with a giant missilegun/cannon on its top with some support machine guns, a robotic weapon would be able to put down that launcher or cannon and use more tactile weapons on a weapons rack nearby.See, that's what we have Combined Arms for. Also known as teamwork.
If we want an artillery vehicle, we design an artillery vehicle. It doesn't need tons of armor, for example. If we then want to protect it, we use allied forces to do that job. Because a single design can rarely do everything, and if it does it will be ludicrously expensive.
We could build artillery as well protected as an MBT, with about the same acceleration profiles and a direct-fire enabled gun if we wanted to. We don't, because none of those benefit its job of raining steel.


a humanoid chasis is able to compact its size and to make a tank of the same size would mean considerably more mass. Its essentially arguing a Battleship vs robotic weaponry, rather than a tank.Uh...say what? I don't get your point here, maybe because there isnt one, i don't know.
If you can build a mech of X tons, you can build a tank of X tons. Simple as that. Since tonnage is what limits armor, weaponry etc., the tank will be as good (and better for all the reasons mentioned).

Now actually, that is another reason - albeit an unlikely one - for walkers. Imagine something like the AT-AT from Star Wars - it is very tall, so its direct-fire weapons have a better range due to height advantage. If you have to use direct-fire weapons instead of indirect-fire weapons for long-range fire for some reason (maybe because everyone uses energy weapons) then that is a reasonable design.


That actually depends on the terrain. Plenty of forests have trees wide enough to step around. I cant believe a tank could get around them as quickly as something with legs (that isnt made as of 2012) Not if the mech is any sort of vehicle. Powered armor, yes, but mechs would be too large to do that.

Rolling over several trees would take forever at a decent speed, and risk flipping the tank at higher speeds.And this wouldn't affect a mech why exactly?


Im sure a vehicle would be faster in a straight line. Which is one reason why from what i've seen, worlds that use mechs and suits also use tanks. But a bullet car is much faster than a dirt bike. But anytime racing speed would matter you'd just use a jet anyways.Have you ever seen a tank drive? Like, ever? They can turn very quickly. A ,mech would have no notable mobility advantage.




Everything i have pointed out applies fully to Battltech. BT-tanks should be faster, better protected and better armored than mechs of equal tonnage. Mymomer-technology is either just an enabler for mech-technology without any advantage over normal engine transmission, or it is genuinely better - in which case there is no reason it could not apply to a tank. Weapon and armor advantages apply as much to a tank as they do to a mech. Now BT actually has sufficiently diverse weapons and more importantly insufficiently different ammunition that swapping out weapons is an advantage - but only Omnimechs can do that rapidly, and there is no technological reason we could not do that with tanks.

Now there is actually one reason to use Mechs: Feudalism.
Namely, the whole Warrior-Pilot mentality: A Mech is piloted by a single person, and it might actually be a better vehicle for that than a tank (though overall a single pilot is a disadvantage.)

So my reasoning on "why does Battletech use Mechs" is:
The Starleague build them because they did not have to care about efficiency, since they didn't fight any threatening wars. The Successor States kept them because mechs and all their complications appealed to their feudal lords, similar to how the heavily armored knight appealed to medieval european lords. The Clans kept them because they had a stupid warrior-mentality that cared more about honor than military efficiency.

Or TL;DNR: It's cultural.

Kiero
2012-08-12, 09:04 AM
So my reasoning on "why does Battletech use Mechs" is:
The Starleague build them because they did not have to care about efficiency, since they didn't fight any threatening wars. The Successor States kept them because mechs and all their complications appealed to their feudal lords, similar to how the heavily armored knight appealed to medieval european lords. The Clans kept them because they had a stupid warrior-mentality that cared more about honor than military efficiency.

Or TL;DNR: It's cultural.

This is it, it's entirely cultural since that's the only explanation as to why apparently combined arms no longer functions, and none of the obvious applications of mech-technology are applied to everything else.

It's cultural and the people in charge are complete idiots.

Brother Oni
2012-08-12, 09:27 AM
This is it, it's entirely cultural since that's the only explanation as to why apparently combined arms no longer functions, and none of the obvious applications of mech-technology are applied to everything else.

It's cultural and the people in charge are complete idiots.

Didn't earlier versions of the fluff also have a Minovksy particle-esque effect that effectively stopped long range combat much like Spamotron noted?

Knaight
2012-08-12, 09:36 AM
Didn't earlier versions of the fluff also have a Minovksy particle-esque effect that effectively stopped long range combat much like Spamotron noted?

Do that, and tanks still work better. It doesn't justify mechs, it just prevents things like ICBMs.

Serafina
2012-08-12, 10:14 AM
We actually have historic examples of combined arms breaking down.
The primary one would be the european middle ages, but other feudal societies work as well.

Combined Arms ultimately needs a ranged of specialized skills and equipment, which require a professional army. Those are expensive (no matter their composition), so a splintered society like a feudal one will not be able to afford them like a nation-state would. Their professional warriors tend to be members of the cultural elite, who can actually afford to train for a long time and buy expensive equipment.. However, since they are all ultimately rivals, they will not practice working together to their own detriment - for example, specializing in a support role only works if you have others who fill the other roles, so you must rely on them.
Which brings the second issue in - the "honorable warrior mentality". Which simply doesn't permit combined arms all that much.

If you compare medieval european armies to those of antiquity, they were much less well-equipped overall, and more importantly much smaller. Relevant here is that they did not emply equally sophisticated combined arms, and often failed to employ them at all.
The typical roman legionary was in itself already a combined arms combatant - he used a highly effective throwing weapon, and in melee combat he worked in a formation that maximized his lethality. While not individually inferior to his opponents (roman legionaries were on average stronger and tougher than their barbarian enemies), his true strength lay in the fluid formations his unit could pull off.
But it went further than that. He was also trained in siegework, and supported by siege specialists. Each legion had auxiliaries which fulfilled roles such as archery, cavalry or anti-cavalry work.

Indeed, let's take a look at anti-cavalry work. A relatively simple formation of well-trained spearmen can break and defeat any cavalry-charge (assuming no overwhelming numbers). Yet for most of the middle-ages that did not occur, letting cavalry rule supreme - because you did not have professional warriors in sufficient numbers, and those you had focused more on individual skill than working as such a tightly knit group.


The situation in Battletech is similar.
First of all, we dp not have actual nation-states. Those could easily build a proper military-industrial complex that churns out a great number of the same optimized-design combat vehicle. Instead we have a great number of smaller companies who all compete with wildly varying designs and work on supply and demand, rather than a set of large orders which would lower cost (read: no mass production).
They also fulfill the needs of a feudal elite. Those desire maximum individual power, comparable to how a medieval knight was supremely equipped. A Battlemech takes high individual skill to master - not desirable for an army, but certainly for a feudal warrior. It also offers a versatile, flexible package that gives a (somewhat misleading) impression of not being helpless in any situation - but again at the price of not having a single optimized design.

Now Battletech DOES combined arms, somewhat - in areas where mechs can not fill it, such as Aerospace or artillery. However, the main reason that the Mech is the "King of the Battlefield" is simply that it is the weapon the most resources are sunk into, and that no one really develops any counter-tactics that do not require mechs on their own - similar how medieval cavalry was countered with cavalry, not with spear formations.


Say what you want, but in Battletech, the existence of Mechs can actually be justified. Not via technology - any game-design advantage mechs have is simply that, game-design. But via cultural and economic factors, which always shape the military as much as technology does.



Now combined arms, and in our context tanks, are simply better. A medieval army could not have hoped to defeat a roman army without extraneously favorable circumstances. On a strategic scale, any nation-state with a modern military-industrial complex could vastly outproduce a Battle-tech-nation, if you give them comparable resources. I'd actually argue that modern Earth, given Battletech-technology (they do have advantages in armor and weaponry (if not range) and aerospace) could handily defeat the Successor States and the Clans, simply by outproducing them with superior vehicles - who may not be individually superior, but would certainly be superior as an army.

Brother Oni
2012-08-12, 10:43 AM
Do that, and tanks still work better. It doesn't justify mechs, it just prevents things like ICBMs.

Depends on how bad the dampening effect is. About the only reason that I could come up with for the 1km range of missiles was that they're all wire guided due to the effect being so severe (still coming up with a blank for ballistic class weapons though).

I do agree that on a combat effectiveness scale, tanks would still be better, but Serafina and others have put forward a very convincing argument for why mechs are used.



A medieval army could not have hoped to defeat a roman army without extraneously favorable circumstances.

I don't know about that - I think the Mongols would win out in a fair battle, although whether they'd win a war is a debate for a different thread.

Serafina
2012-08-12, 10:48 AM
I was talking about european medieval armies (because there were nation-states, just in other parts of the world).

However, the Romans DID have tactics for countering horse-archers - which goes under "yet another thing you need combined arms for", since they mostly did it via that method and good field-fortifications.
Whether they'd win an open battle is certainly debatable. They'd certainly win a war, since horse-archers - especially in such numbers - are highly dependable on logistics and terrain, both of which were non-favorable in large parts of the Empire, and the Romans were good in subverting those factors against their enemies.

Knaight
2012-08-12, 11:08 AM
First of all, we dp not have actual nation-states. Those could easily build a proper military-industrial complex that churns out a great number of the same optimized-design combat vehicle. Instead we have a great number of smaller companies who all compete with wildly varying designs and work on supply and demand, rather than a set of large orders which would lower cost (read: no mass production).
They also fulfill the needs of a feudal elite. Those desire maximum individual power, comparable to how a medieval knight was supremely equipped. A Battlemech takes high individual skill to master - not desirable for an army, but certainly for a feudal warrior. It also offers a versatile, flexible package that gives a (somewhat misleading) impression of not being helpless in any situation - but again at the price of not having a single optimized design.
These wildly variable designs are all sophisticated machines, with the hardware needed to balance while walking on legs, to move in a method that works with joints, to release heat from a complex chassis, to armor a jointed design, and to do a whole bunch of other things. Any company capable of designing these things should be perfectly capable of designing tanks, and given how much simpler they are tanks at the same price point should outclass mechs to an absurd degree. Moreover, considering the sort of automation it would take for one person to pilot a walking, pivoting, multiweapon system there is no reason that tanks couldn't be designed for one person. Added to this, we have civilizations with the infrastructure needed for mass space travel - yet we are supposed to believe that that sort of sophisticated infrastructure, the corresponding supply chains, so on and so forth, exists without people capable of raising a decent military force?

Added to that, the theoretical advantages mechs have over tanks are subverted by technology within the setting. Jump jets pretty much nullify the greater mobility, mechs aren't really capable of moving in dense forest anyways, they are too large to enter buildings and such, so on and so forth. They are, simply put, strictly inferior designs, even for the single warrior.

Andrewmoreton
2012-08-12, 11:25 AM
Shouldn't tanks be harder to hit though? A mech ranges from 7 to 20m tall, while a tank (using a modern MBT as a guide) is about 2.5m?

I think you missed the point of my house rules they are
1)In Battletech Battlemechs are supposed to be the kings of the Battlefield
2) Tanks are arguably superior to Battlemechs in Battletech
3) Therefore tanks need nerfing to restore battlemechs to their rightful place

In a real world situation as opposed to Battletech I would agree with you and also Battlemechs would have sunk up to their waist in the ground from the massive pressure on their small feet.

It is a game of giant robots therefore you have to make giant Robots good and tanks bad .

Andrewmoreton
2012-08-12, 11:41 AM
We actually have historic examples of combined arms breaking down.
The primary one would be the european middle ages, but other feudal societies work as well.
.
Interesting argument snipped for brevity

There is 1 Major flaw in your argument for the Battletech Universe, the Battlemech designs in use are essentially the same as used by the Star League who certainly did have a massive unified military (the house militaries did too at the start of the Succession wars) so the weirdness of Battlemechs as the ultimate weapon occurred in a situation analogous to the modern world
(At the time of the Fall of the Star League it deployed around 2240 battlemech regiments (about 250,000 battlemechs) with a similar number of conventional regiments in support and 2250 warships, each house had between 90 and 110 regiments and this doubles by the start of the 1st succession war

Serafina
2012-08-12, 12:03 PM
These wildly variable designs are all sophisticated machines, with the hardware needed to balance while walking on legs, to move in a method that works with joints, to release heat from a complex chassis, to armor a jointed design, and to do a whole bunch of other things. Any company capable of designing these things should be perfectly capable of designing tanks,No, the ability to produce mechs does not automatically transfer into the ability to make equally good tanks. Even though the parts may be largely interchangable, that doesn't mean that the designs are. Engineering something is more difficult than merely having the parts and technology to build them.

There is a difference between building stuff with technology that is already around, and perfecting a design. Just look at, for example, consumer electronics - they all use pretty much the same technology (despite what adds may tell you), but the major difference in design comes from design. A better design simply improves whatever quality the technology may have.

That being said - my statement applies to all military technology in BT. You simply don't have any singular military-industrial complex that would be capable of sinking the required resources into a single superior design. Which is why no such design, capable of showing the superiority of tanks, is around.



There is 1 Major flaw in your argument for the Battletech Universe, the Battlemech designs in use are essentially the same as used by the Star League who certainly did have a massive unified military (the house militaries did too at the start of the Succession wars) so the weirdness of Battlemechs as the ultimate weapon occurred in a situation analogous to the modern world
(At the time of the Fall of the Star League it deployed around 2240 battlemech regiments (about 250,000 battlemechs) with a similar number of conventional regiments in support and 2250 warships, each house had between 90 and 110 regiments and this doubles by the start of the 1st succession warThe Star League didn't fight any real wars. Oh, sure, armed conflicts against smaller enemies happened a lot. But no real all-out war until they broke up.

Look at all the weird tank designs that were around before, and during the beginning of, World War 2. Without the selective pressure of an intensive armed conflict, people come up with weird designs that then proliferate. Until they are shown to be inefficient against an opponent with superior design.
That simply didn't happen in the Star League, because their sheer technological superiority and weight of numbers prevented such flaws from being exposed.
After they broke up, no one had the resources to produce such a superior design.


Bottom line:
- Star League produces Mechs as candidate for a new weapon
- Mechs proliferate for political reasons
- Their flaws do not get exposed because there isn't any sufficiently fierce war
- The Star League breaks up, leaving lots of mechs, their factories and designs behind.
- The Sucessor States do not have the resources to build a superior tank design that would expose the flaws of the Mech.
- Mechs get chosen over tanks because they allow superior individual power.
- While Tanks can do the same, no one has the R&D-resources to think of that and demonstrate it
- Due to stagnating progress and cultural reasons, Mechs stick around and gain the most resources, making them "Kings of the Battlefield".

Knaight
2012-08-12, 12:10 PM
No, the ability to produce mechs does not automatically transfer into the ability to make equally good tanks. Even though the parts may be largely interchangable, that doesn't mean that the designs are. Engineering something is more difficult than merely having the parts and technology to build them.

The technology needed for mechs is vastly more complex, and the infrastructure, scientific understanding, and understanding of engineering principles is there for it. Them not being able to figure out tanks is like designers of space planes with the understandings of materials science and aerodynamics that entails being unable to figure out how 500 km/hr low atmosphere propeller planes could be made. Every single mech producing company should be able to make a tank that out does their mechs, easily. They don't need a dedicated military industrial complex producing a single super tank that counters mechs, they merely need the level of infrastructure and the technological basis they already have.

Zombimode
2012-08-12, 12:11 PM
Indeed, let's take a look at anti-cavalry work. A relatively simple formation of well-trained spearmen can break and defeat any cavalry-charge (assuming no overwhelming numbers).

Like most oversimplifications, this statement is not true.
A late-medieval cavarly force with heavy barding and really long lances could defeat many spearmen formations regardless of their training if their spears aren't of comparable length.



A medieval army could not have hoped to defeat a roman army without extraneously favorable circumstances.

This is hardly believable. Roman armies were quite often defeated by enemies of far less military sophistication than say the armies of Barbarossa (I think thats what you mean by "medieval army") and maybe even more importantly much less advanced equipment.


I'm not saying that the roman army, especially after the reforms, weren't formidable. Its just that you seem to simplifying the matters about medieval armies and give medieval commanders not enough credit.

Brother Oni
2012-08-12, 12:45 PM
Them not being able to figure out tanks is like designers of space planes with the understandings of materials science and aerodynamics that entails being unable to figure out how 500 km/hr low atmosphere propeller planes could be made. Every single mech producing company should be able to make a tank that out does their mechs, easily. They don't need a dedicated military industrial complex producing a single super tank that counters mechs, they merely need the level of infrastructure and the technological basis they already have.

I don't think it's that they're incapable of designing a tank that out-competes a mech, it's that they're incapable of designing a tank AND training a crew AND this rookie crew in a novel machine developing new tactics to counter a mech versus an experienced mech pilot in tried and tested technology.

As far as I understand the lore, while the Star League is feudal, the mech manufacturers themselves are companies. For a company that's trying to sell a brand new weapons system, that weapons system will need to prove itself against the current gold standard and for various reasons like the ones I've mentioned above, it's going to make the assessment of their viability in direct head to head tests versus mechs very difficult to prove their superiority.

Given the expense of development and the value of reputation, being known as that company who spends too much time trying to make an inferior weapon viable, is likely to put them out of business and hence kill the project.

It's like electric cars versus petrol cars - it's only now that over 100 years after their invention that they're becoming viable and it's not because the technology has caught up, it's because of external factors like environmental concerns and oil dependence, that has driven the resurgence in interest.

Mando Knight
2012-08-12, 12:45 PM
I think you missed the point of my house rules they are
1)In Battletech Battlemechs are supposed to be the kings of the Battlefield
2) Tanks are arguably superior to Battlemechs in Battletech
3) Therefore tanks need nerfing to restore battlemechs to their rightful place

In a real world situation as opposed to Battletech I would agree with you and also Battlemechs would have sunk up to their waist in the ground from the massive pressure on their small feet.

It is a game of giant robots therefore you have to make giant Robots good and tanks bad .

Vehicles don't really need nerfing in Battletech. They already have to roll for motive systems damage on almost half the hits they take even without penetrating their armor, which can utterly wreck their ability to fight, and they actually already have a problem with their armor because they have only five hit locations as opposed to a 'Mech's eight, and once that armor is ruined, they have only a small amount of internal structure, and only one location need be destroyed for a total kill.

It's like electric cars versus petrol cars - it's only now that over 100 years after their invention that they're becoming viable and it's not because the technology has caught up, it's because of external factors like environmental concerns and oil dependence, that has driven the resurgence in interest.(They're still only becoming viable, though. A conventionally-fueled vehicle can run about 10 times as long without refueling as compared to an electric vehicle.)

Knaight
2012-08-12, 12:49 PM
I don't think it's that they're incapable of designing a tank that out-competes a mech, it's that they're incapable of designing a tank AND training a crew AND this rookie crew in a novel machine developing new tactics to counter a mech versus an experienced mech pilot in tried and tested technology.

I'm saying that the basics of mech design makes mechs so terrible that they wouldn't even need to train a crew very much. They could design a tank piloted by a single person, easily, that would still outdo a mech on account of how mechs are terrible designs.

Hopeless
2012-08-12, 01:32 PM
1) The environmental situation makes the use of mechs more useful than a tank or a vehicle limited to one form of locomotion.
For example a tanks treads have been shot, they now have to activate the secondary system so they could either walk or fly any further.

2) Someone got hold of either any Gundam series or Macross and its so far in the future that their military tech is so backward that this discovery helps them rebuild their society it might not be superior to say 21st century tanks but their manufacturing base is now geared to develop these designs and it will take far too long to reset them for something more radical...

3) The materials made to armour or build these war machines work better with mechs than tanks say they dont function as well with say wheeled or tracked, unlikely but who knows!

4) The person whose in charge is a nutcase who absolutely loves the idea of having something as frightening as the Atlas marching under his orders and doesn't care if there are far superior options after all a dictator can be singleminded and ruthless and blind to other options...

Ravens_cry
2012-08-12, 02:08 PM
Perhaps there was someone like Von Braun.
Von Braun was as much a salesman as an engineer.
Even if you disregard the fact that they killed more workers than enemies, the Vengeance Weapons were terrible as weapons, been hideously expensive, largely ineffective and taking statistic materials from other projects and developments.
But the Germans, or at least the ones in charge, were convinced they were key to winning World War II.
After World War II, he was able to convince the United States to send men to the moon.
Like I said, the man was a salesman, way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine.
Perhaps some engineer, in love with the idea of walking military vehicles. was able to get the first ones built, and other nations and worlds quickly worked to close the perceived 'Walker Gap', eventually turning them into an effective weapon because of all the billions of R&D thrown at them.
Other technologies languished because no one was throwing money at them; they weren't 'sexy' technologies like the walkers were.

Brother Oni
2012-08-12, 03:05 PM
I'm saying that the basics of mech design makes mechs so terrible that they wouldn't even need to train a crew very much.

Possibly, but as I mentioned, the tank as a mech replacement is a novel weapon system in the Battletech universe. There's nobody to train the crew in tactics as no tactics currently exist.

I think that your assumption of a tank being so superior to a mech that limited tank crew training is sufficient is disingenuous in that we have been developing tanks and the associated training and tactics for nearly 100 years now.
If you stuck a WW1 era tank crew into combat against a suitably equipped modern infantry platoon, the tank is toast.



They could design a tank piloted by a single person, easily, that would still outdo a mech on account of how mechs are terrible designs.

I think you're under-estimating the complexity of operating a tank.

Most NATO MBTs have a minimum crew of 4 (commander, driver, loader, gunner) and while I did hear of a 2-man tank, I believe the design was retired because of the excessive strain placed on the crew.
I doubt that even with major automation, the design could be simplified much further without significantly changing the definition of a tank.

Even AFVs still need at least two people (commander and driver) and they're substantially less complex to operate than a tank.

Conners
2012-08-12, 04:14 PM
Why would tank tactics be that different from mech tactics?

Andrewmoreton
2012-08-12, 05:19 PM
The Star League didn't fight any real wars. Oh, sure, armed conflicts against smaller enemies happened a lot. But no real all-out war until they broke up.

.
Not entirely correct
Battlemechs are developed during the Age of War when the great houses are fighting each other pretty contantly in wars involving the use of nuclear weapons and other WMD. The Terran hegemony develops battlemechs which rapidly demonstrate their superiority against the forces of the other Houses, leading them to desperately steal the plans and build their own these designs are then developed in a century or so of continuing warfare before the formation of the Star League.
The SLDF is formed from the Terran Hegemony Army and selected units from the other Great Houses (including some elite units at least one Sword of Light Regiment) this force combines the military doctrine of all the great houses to refine its designs. Then launches into a multi year conquest of the periphery states a war featuring large armies and multi year long campaigns of total warfare before ending.
Following this there is a century of peace with heavy military R+D which largely improve upon existing battle proven designs (most of the standard Battlemech designs predate the Star League). During this golden age there are numerous minor conflicts allowing the testing of designs under battlefield conditions in actions of at least regimental scale and a couple of larger ones. Besides a rolling program of large scale and 'realistic; military exercises.
Then you have the collapse of the Star League which provides a wealth of empirical data to the successor states about what works , then 300 years later they are still producing the classical designs with no great effort to change things despite a lot of evolutionary pressure.
This strongly suggests that the battlemech designs are the 'best' possible despite the clear fact that by modern thinking they are not.

You are not going to be able to justify the design and development of Battlemechs with their weird array of short ranged weapons by comparison to history or science. FASA designed a very successful game which I have been playing for 25 years without thinking about that. The history and science of their universe was developed to male the already existing game work and not the other way around .
I do find that most of the background works as long as you are willing to just not think about why they use battlemechs and not tanks.

Kiero
2012-08-12, 05:49 PM
There's basically one advantage a mech has over a tank squad: labour. Specifically you need less people to pilot a mech than you need crews for a tank.

That's about the only non-fanwank way I can conceive of a mech being something desirable in warfare. In a society where manpower is seriously depleted or short, thus the aim to make each soldier a unit in their own right.

Not terribly effective unless everyone else does the same, mind.

tyckspoon
2012-08-12, 06:35 PM
I think you're under-estimating the complexity of operating a tank.

Most NATO MBTs have a minimum crew of 4 (commander, driver, loader, gunner) and while I did hear of a 2-man tank, I believe the design was retired because of the excessive strain placed on the crew.
I doubt that even with major automation, the design could be simplified much further without significantly changing the definition of a tank.


And what, then, is the difference in a mech that allows a single pilot to efficiently and effectively perform all of those roles on his own? Loader becomes obsolete once you figure out a good way to automatically feed the weapons, but why can the mech pilot be commander, driver, and gunner, all at the same time, but the tank driver cannot? What advantage is unique to a mech layout that permits this and can't be replicated in a tank?


There's basically one advantage a mech has over a tank squad: labour. Specifically you need less people to pilot a mech than you need crews for a tank.


I suspect this would wash out on the logistics end, since while you potentially need fewer *combatants* to run the mechs they require a larger and more expensive supply and support chain to keep them going in the field.

Wardog
2012-08-12, 06:54 PM
...Any company capable of designing these things should be perfectly capable of designing tanks, and given how much simpler they are tanks at the same price point should outclass mechs to an absurd degree. Moreover, considering the sort of automation it would take for one person to pilot a walking, pivoting, multiweapon system there is no reason that tanks couldn't be designed for one person. Added to this, we have civilizations with the infrastructure needed for mass space travel - yet we are supposed to believe that that sort of sophisticated infrastructure, the corresponding supply chains, so on and so forth, exists without people capable of raising a decent military force?



I don't really know anything about Mechwarrior, other than what has been said in this thread.

But if the society is feudal, with a warrior-elite culture that favours individual (mech-based) combat prowess, then that elite would have a very good incentive to come down hard on any technological developments that would threaten their position.

If someone demonstrates a design for (e.g.) a tank, that would enable someone to field a larger and powerfuller army composed of common soldiers, then I can imagine one of two things happening:

1) All the feudal lords rush to build the biggest, baddest tank army they can before their rivals do the same.

2) All the feudal lords temporarily put aside their differences to crush the upstart and make it plain that developing weapons that would allow the peasantry to defeat the elite will not be tollerated.

Conners
2012-08-12, 06:57 PM
Does that kind of elitism happen on such a large scale? Was under the impression that sort of thing was exaggerated stereotyping. Of course, I don't know for certain either way.

Akodo Makama
2012-08-12, 07:46 PM
2) All the feudal lords temporarily put aside their differences to crush the upstart and make it plain that developing weapons that would allow the peasantry to defeat the elite will not be tollerated.

'Cause that worked so well when the Church outlawed crossbows because they allowed peasants to slaughter knights.

The Glyphstone
2012-08-12, 07:48 PM
In this case, that seems illogical only because the 'peasants' wouldn't be able to build the tanks...because they're peasants, or at least non-elites. If you can build a tank that's superior to a 'Mech, you must have the mechanical and material resources to build 'Mechs, which means you're going to be part of the elite already, which means you've been culturally conditioned to use 'Mechs. Now, a 'everyone gangs up on the tank-user' is likely, but it won't be a situation of the Haves stomping on the Have-Nots, more a situation of the 'honorable' warriors flattening the 'dishonorable' tank-user before his heretical ideas can spread.

Scowling Dragon
2012-08-12, 07:51 PM
Well the US army is designing a large Battle-suit exoskeleton. Maybe it began from that and worked up from it? And it made up with increased maneuverability?

holywhippet
2012-08-12, 10:59 PM
One advantage I don't think anyone has mentioned for mechs is jump jets. A tank has two options for dealing with a tall wall - blow a hole through it (might be impracticle depending on width) or go around. A mech with jump jets can just go straight over it.

I suppose another advantage is superior viewing range - a mech acts like an elevated viewing platform for the pilot. Of course, this also makes it a prominent target.

Ravens_cry
2012-08-12, 11:16 PM
One advantage I don't think anyone has mentioned for mechs is jump jets. A tank has two options for dealing with a tall wall - blow a hole through it (might be impracticle depending on width) or go around. A mech with jump jets can just go straight over it.

I suppose another advantage is superior viewing range - a mech acts like an elevated viewing platform for the pilot. Of course, this also makes it a prominent target.
Any reason you couldn't put jump jets on a tank? An extendible periscope could provide whatever height advantage if needed, while presenting much less of a target.

Knaight
2012-08-12, 11:16 PM
One advantage I don't think anyone has mentioned for mechs is jump jets. A tank has two options for dealing with a tall wall - blow a hole through it (might be impracticle depending on width) or go around. A mech with jump jets can just go straight over it.

I suppose another advantage is superior viewing range - a mech acts like an elevated viewing platform for the pilot. Of course, this also makes it a prominent target.

Jump jets can be stuck on a tank.

Kane0
2012-08-13, 12:28 AM
On top of all this, there was already a fair few tabletop games that featured tanks during the time of release, I guess they wanted to try something new. Plus the awesomeness (http://www.housekurita.org/index.php/gallery/mwo-screenshots/image?format=raw&type=img&id=18).

So, some things going for mechs (bipedal in particular) over tanks:
- Height & visual vantage point
- Mobility & agility
- You can lose a limb and carry on
- Ejecting is easier
- Only needs one person to operate
- Repairing and rearming is arguably easier
- More variation for chassis
- Not all the armament needs to be in one place (the turret)

Im sure theres other points, any plenty of contention for those, but thats off the top of my head.

BattleTech FTW!

Tavar
2012-08-13, 12:38 AM
Well, if you include Super Robots and the like, then the justification is simply Magic. In TTGL it's that the magic in the setting works best with humanoid body shapes.

With Exalted, it's more that the best weapon platforms ever created in the setting are grafted onto the Human soul, so the best weapon systems tend to be personal in nature.

And, really, the idea of Mech's aren't restricted to any given culture. We've had stuff like giant robots, piloted by man or otherwise, in cultures of years. Hell, Golems could be seen as a more 'primitive' form of the same.




So, some things going for mechs (bipedal in particular) over tanks:
- Height & visual vantage point
This is due to the scale Mechs are build in, not an actual strength of their design. Additionally, Height is actually a large disadvantage, as it means you're more of a target, and are more unstable. Finally, if there is satellite, Airplane, or Drone observation, then the visual vantage point is largely untrue.

- Mobility & agility
Extremely debatable and terrain specific.

- You can lose a limb and carry on
Not necessarily true, nor is it necessarily an advantage for the Mech.

- Ejecting is easier
Only if the cockpit is placed in an easily accessible location. In which case, well, you've made a key weakness vulnerable. Not a good plan.

- Only needs one person to operate
While this is true, that's only due to the large amount of automation in Mechs: a tank with similar levels of automation would likely have similar personel requirements. This, of course, presupposes that the tasks are capable of being automated.

- Repairing and rearming is arguably easier
It's actually not. Mechs have many, many more moving parts, and more complex ones, which leads to more points of failure and longer repair times. Sure, you could just take out the leg if the design was modular, but the same could be said for non-mechs.

Rearming is trickier. If there is external ordinance, and the mechs have hands or similar appendages, then perhaps, but it could likely be possible to make a vehicle with the same capabilities.

- More variation for chassis
In terms of cosmetics? I guess. But looking pretty isn't really the point of military forces, so that's not really a strength.

- Not all the armament needs to be in one place (the turret)
Not really true. Tanks have only one main gun, yes, but that's a limitation due to size, not a limitation of the chasis itself. If you had a tank of similar size to a mech, it could actually have more weaponry, due to better support capacity.


Note, of course, these differences do go away if applying magic/similar forces, assuming they work that way.

Also, there should be a difference between Powered Armor/Personal Scale Mechs(basically, Elementals, Tau battle armor, etc) and the larger stuff. The smaller stuff can certainly have a use, as effectively tougher infantry.

Philistine
2012-08-13, 01:04 AM
This is it, it's entirely cultural since that's the only explanation as to why apparently combined arms no longer functions, and none of the obvious applications of mech-technology are applied to everything else.

It's cultural and the people in charge are complete idiots.

Combined arms tactics do function in the BT-verse... when the cultural factors allow it. And they're generally very very successful. There are a number of units specifically called out as combined-arms forces in the setting - off the top of my head, the Com Guards, the Gray Death Legion, House Davion's Regimental Combat Teams - all noted for superior battlefield efficiency compared to 'Mech-heavy (or -only) forces.

Akodo Makama
2012-08-13, 01:42 AM
Vehicles don't really need nerfing in Battletech. They already have to roll for motive systems damage on almost half the hits they take even without penetrating their armor, which can utterly wreck their ability to fight, and they actually already have a problem with their armor because they have only five hit locations as opposed to a 'Mech's eight, and once that armor is ruined, they have only a small amount of internal structure, and only one location need be destroyed for a total kill.

Well, those particular rules *are* the nerfs they had to put in place, or else even these rules, supposedly made for a 'mechs are superior' game, would have tanks beating mechs most times.

Why do mechs not have to roll every time they get hit? They have far more exposed moving parts. Why are they allowed so much more weight in armor? Why can't tanks have more internal structure? The only reason a single dead location doesn't destroy most mechs is due to CASE, why can't vehicles mount CASE? Why are vehicles forced to mount enough heat sinks to fully dump all their heat every round, but mechs can be designed to alpha and hide?

It's just a list of "well, without these, tanks would win, and we want mechs to be more awesome, so we'll nerf tanks".

Serafina
2012-08-13, 01:44 AM
So if you can afford to replace blown-off arms and legs - why couldn't you afford to replace blown-off turrets or tracks?


And as i said before - having multiple smaller weapons isn't actually much of an advantage.
As long as your main-weapon can be scaled up, you want as large a gun as you can mount for your tonnage - because that gun will have a longer range and better penetration, giving you a massive advantage over other vehicles.
We could mount two smaller guns on a tank today, instead of the single ~120mm gun we use instead. We don't because such guns would be unable to penetrate other tanks effectively. And for what advantage? Okay, if the enemy is solely using lighter vehicles it could be a good idea, but that just doesnt happen.
Now of course we do mount additional weapons, but not at the detriment of the main gun. A pintle-mounted machine gun does not require an additional turret,. nor does it take up much space or such.

Generally - mounting smaller weapons is only viable if they can all achieve reliable penetration against the heaviest vehicle you expect to fight. That could happen with futuristic tech if armor doesn't advance and weaponry does - but that would result in your vehicles being easily dispatched, so you'd actually want simple, easy to replace vehicles, so you wouldn't really mount expensive weapons on them.

So again - assuming technological partity, something akin to a modern tank is simply the best design. Single, turret-mounted gun on a boxy chassis, maybe add a few secondary weapons to it.
Oh, we may do stuff like add more smaller weapons - such as point-defense lasers against missiles, but those would be small enough to not detract from the main weapon. We may change the type of main weapon we use, maybe to a railgun or energy weapon -and if that type of weapon is inflexible enough we might see some extra small weapons.
We may change the propulsion system while keeping the general shape, maybe hover or antigravity capacity. Even crawler-like legs could conceivably provide an advantage in certain terrain, but a mech-like design would come with too many disadvantages.
The shape may become less boxy and more rounded if the propulsion allows it, in order to gain some protection from radar.
But overall, the general shape of a tank is the best you can do for your heavy land combat vehicle.

Milo v3
2012-08-13, 02:58 AM
In the Mech Game System I'm making right now the reason for mechs is that they are made from thousands of nanites. Which collect and shape into the vehicle. Because of the complexity, the computers of the time cannot run the whole system perfectly, so they utilise the brain of its pilot.

As they are simply tonnes of nanites, the vehicle can take hundreds of different forms; jet, car, truck, hovertank, tank, hovercar, boat, motorcycle, H-Cycle, helicopter, sphere, animalistic, etc.

Most pilots choose mech because of;
Familiarity
Can manipulate objects
Hands turning into guns allows for weapons to "Sheathed", if you tried that with a tank it would reduce interior space (Or have a hand stick out the top)
More precision in moving.
More control with Jump Jets (Only for short jumps though, for anything that isn't relatively close its still better to go jet or helicopter).

Though many militaries use Hovertanks as there default shifts.

Kiero
2012-08-13, 04:00 AM
I suspect this would wash out on the logistics end, since while you potentially need fewer *combatants* to run the mechs they require a larger and more expensive supply and support chain to keep them going in the field.

You're probably right; I was attempting to be charitable but even that seems futile.


Well the US army is designing a large Battle-suit exoskeleton. Maybe it began from that and worked up from it? And it made up with increased maneuverability?

An exosuit for an infantryman (which is basically super-heavy personal armour) and a building-sized walking tank are completely different propositions.


I suppose another advantage is superior viewing range - a mech acts like an elevated viewing platform for the pilot. Of course, this also makes it a prominent target.

That same "elevated viewing platform" also means "easy target". A small, unmanned drone can do the same job, better, cheaper and with less risk.

jseah
2012-08-13, 06:43 AM
How's this for a reason:
The setting has advanced nanofabrication to the point where they can field assemble and disassemble materials, given energy and time. Essentially, you have micro-fabricators that operate with swarm AI to make whatever you need, provided you can feed them instructions and energy.

Of course, the problem is that they take time to do that, so no grey goo (or at least hard to stop ones, any potential grey goo can be countered by waving a microwave around) or battlefield construction.

However, the problem of complexity is completely gone. Microfabricators can manipulate materials down to micron-level accuracy, which while not atomic precision, is good enough for most combat vehicles.
Repairing your mech becomes a matter of applying goo, hooking up a power source and waiting a day or so. Maybe a slab of metals if you lost armour plates or whatever.


So the complexity and maintenance problems go flying out the window. You just want the most capable platform rather than the simplest or cheapest, because your main constraint is now materials and energy rather than fabrication.

As for whether mechs are the most capable... a mini-mech at most twice the size of a human with 6-12 legs + wheels on legs could be rather more maneuverable in an urban environment (as well as wrecking less things) than a tank. With minimal armour (just enough to stop small arms) and a lighter smaller chassis, might even be able to scale buildings.
Basically, small mechs would be like super-heavy infantry, able to act like a more maneuverable armoured car. Can see it being very useful in asymmetrical warfare since you don't need that 120mm cannon against unarmoured and poorly armed militia fighters.

Apart from dense urban environments with lots of false targets, I don't actually see mechs working well at all. In a Cold War or WW2 style combat, with major powers on both sides, you want durability and firepower, not maneuverability and low collateral damage.

The microfabricators changes battlefield engineering in more ways than mechs do, but that's besides the point.
In fact, with microfabricators in play, you might actually see seeding of robotic self-sufficient squads in your enemy's territory to wage asymmetrical warfare on their own. Little solar panel farms and lots of salvage... or siphon off his power grid and take to bits all the vehicles in town.
Getting rid of all of them, and all the sleeper capsules his bombers randomly dropped in your countryside with a timer, will be a major headache.

Fishman
2012-08-13, 07:05 AM
Mechs don't exist for any other reason than because people think they're awesome. They're not even particularly tenable: If you build a 100-ton giant robot that stands up on two legs, it immediately sinks to its hips while standing on a concrete road.

This is why when you play MechWarrior, you should paint your mech like a clown. Because that's what you are. A giant robot clown.

Tavar
2012-08-13, 08:31 AM
That's a bit harsh, at least in this place. I mean, Wizards don't exists, but people still play DnD.

awa
2012-08-13, 09:01 AM
the promblems not that mech dont exsit in real life but the fact that it is extremly hard to justify tank sized mech even when you are making up technology to make them more plausauble becuase basicaly any semirealistic technology that make them possible is more usefull in a tank.

Wizards tend to exsist in a fantasy setting where those kinds of rules are much looser and even then pepople still complain about the fact that in say the harry potter universe every one would be better off in a fight if they got themselves some automatic weapons. not to mention walki talkies and email

Hopeless
2012-08-13, 01:44 PM
Has anyone here watched Thunderbirds?

You know International Rescue whose world has machines so big they could probably fit an Atlas or two within one of the general purpose civilian behemoths they show in some of those episodes...

Not sure which side this falls on but figure if you're going start calling mechs gianr robot clowns you ought to take a gander at something that makes battlemechs look... inadequate!:smalleek:

Sidewinder (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VObbSRlWDRw)

Crab Logger (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AwzdPE_UfU)

Reverent-One
2012-08-13, 01:58 PM
the promblems not that mech dont exsit in real life but the fact that it is extremly hard to justify tank sized mech even when you are making up technology to make them more plausauble becuase basicaly any semirealistic technology that make them possible is more usefull in a tank.

Wizards tend to exsist in a fantasy setting where those kinds of rules are much looser and even then pepople still complain about the fact that in say the harry potter universe every one would be better off in a fight if they got themselves some automatic weapons. not to mention walki talkies and email

Either way you're accepting some unrealistic fact as part of the setting, whether it's that magic exists or Mechs are somehow better than tanks. There's no reason to let the fact that neither would work in real life get in the way of enjoying the game/setting.

Conners
2012-08-13, 02:08 PM
It's good to have a logical reason for the things happening within the game, though. Even if you use magic of some sort, it can still be logical.

Kiero
2012-08-13, 02:15 PM
Either way you're accepting some unrealistic fact as part of the setting, whether it's that magic exists or Mechs are somehow better than tanks. There's no reason to let the fact that neither would work in real life get in the way of enjoying the game/setting.

Except there are ways to build a setting around something unrealistic, yet still maintain a strong internal consistency. Failure of basic engineering and physics doesn't engender that.

Compare and contrast with Mass Effect, which uses a single point of handwavium - Element Zero/the mass effect - and goes from there. Everything else is still pretty credible once we accept that it works.

Reverent-One
2012-08-13, 02:15 PM
It's good to have a logical reason for the things happening within the game, though. Even if you use magic of some sort, it can still be logical.

Sure, and the logic for mechs is that they can be tougher and more powerful than tanks. Why? Because technology.

Water_Bear
2012-08-13, 02:23 PM
Either way you're accepting some unrealistic fact as part of the setting, whether it's that magic exists or Mechs are somehow better than tanks. There's no reason to let the fact that neither would work in real life get in the way of enjoying the game/setting.

I think it comes down to presentation.

Most of the places where Mechs show up are billed as being a "20mins into the future" settings and use technobabble to wallpaper over plot issues so that the average viewer will see it as plausible because... Science! So when people know about how things like the Square-Cube Law or understand the scale modern warfare takes place at see errors, they are more likely to be critical because the setting is "real."

Places where Wizards show up are usually Tolkien-esque Fantasy settings or use a real-world religious/mythical backdrop. In that context, we don't try to apply science to it because, well, science is about the laws of nature; the supernatural has no place in a scientific worldview.

My 2cp.

Serafina
2012-08-13, 02:35 PM
The actual difference - and i'm not saying that thus mechs are a bad thing to have in fiction! - is the following:

Magic adds new rules. The things we see are possible because of magic - we can accept that because we are told that the rules are different.
It's kinda like suddenly having cars instead of carriages, or being able to produce fire by snapping your fingers.

Mechs alters the rules we know. Everything still works as we know it - but it suddenly has an exception that somehow doesn't affect all the other stuff it should.
It's like carriages suddenly being better than cars - not because horses are now much stronger, but just because. Or fire still heating food and all that, but suddenly no longer burning people. It's internally inconsistent.
Now i can still ignore that with suspension of disbelief just fine, because mechs are cool after all.


Let me elaborate on mechs being inconsistent. As said before, all the technology that benefits mechs would also benefit tanks, or be needed just to make mechs viable in the first place.
So your mech has super-armor and super-weapons and super-engines? Well why can't we put those on a tank? Minovsky-particles impact long-range targeting? Well that affects the mechs just as much as tanks, so still no reason to build tanks over mechs (not to mention that good old optical targeting can work just fine). Mechs are big? Well why not make big tanks? Mechs can fly? Well why not use the same technology on tanks?
And so on and so forth.

Universes with mechs generally don't answer these questions - and they can't without resorting to magic that just makes human-like machines arbitrarily stronger.

Knaight
2012-08-13, 02:58 PM
The actual difference - and i'm not saying that thus mechs are a bad thing to have in fiction! - is the following:

Magic adds new rules. The things we see are possible because of magic - we can accept that because we are told that the rules are different.
It's kinda like suddenly having cars instead of carriages, or being able to produce fire by snapping your fingers.

Mechs alters the rules we know. Everything still works as we know it - but it suddenly has an exception that somehow doesn't affect all the other stuff it should.
It's like carriages suddenly being better than cars - not because horses are now much stronger, but just because. Or fire still heating food and all that, but suddenly no longer burning people. It's internally inconsistent.
Now i can still ignore that with suspension of disbelief just fine, because mechs are cool after all.
More than that, magic is usually left without being detailed. "It is just there, this is how it works, we don't know why." Mechs tend to have technological arguments behind them, and the thing about arguments is that they leave an area for counter arguments. These particular arguments almost inevitably leave an area for obvious counter arguments that completely negate the original argument. Given that mechs are highly implausible, works are usually better off just noting they exist, they work well, and you get to deal with it without providing an argument.

Reverent-One
2012-08-13, 02:59 PM
The actual difference - and i'm not saying that thus mechs are a bad thing to have in fiction! - is the following:

Magic adds new rules. The things we see are possible because of magic - we can accept that because we are told that the rules are different.
It's kinda like suddenly having cars instead of carriages, or being able to produce fire by snapping your fingers.

Mechs alters the rules we know. Everything still works as we know it - but it suddenly has an exception that somehow doesn't affect all the other stuff it should.
It's like carriages suddenly being better than cars - not because horses are now much stronger, but just because. Or fire still heating food and all that, but suddenly no longer burning people. It's internally inconsistent.
Now i can still ignore that with suspension of disbelief just fine, because mechs are cool after all.


Let me elaborate on mechs being inconsistent. As said before, all the technology that benefits mechs would also benefit tanks, or be needed just to make mechs viable in the first place.
So your mech has super-armor and super-weapons and super-engines? Well why can't we put those on a tank? Minovsky-particles impact long-range targeting? Well that affects the mechs just as much as tanks, so still no reason to build tanks over mechs (not to mention that good old optical targeting can work just fine). Mechs are big? Well why not make big tanks? Mechs can fly? Well why not use the same technology on tanks?
And so on and so forth.

Universes with mechs generally don't answer these questions - and they can't without resorting to magic that just makes human-like machines arbitrarily stronger.

Fantasy isn't free of lacking consistency either, for example most any world based off of 3.5 D&D that isn't the Tippyverse. Those sorts of questions generally aren't answered by less-hard sci-fi, the tech works because they say it works, screw physics (see also, Star Wars and Star Trek).


Given that mechs are highly implausible, works are usually better off just noting they exist, they work well, and you get to deal with it without providing an argument.

Yep, which is basically how the Battletech universe handles it.

Tavar
2012-08-13, 03:03 PM
Well, I did state that the places that Mech's only truly work is in ones where the justification is essentially magic...

Also, my response was directed at Fishman, who seemed to have an overly critical response, IMO.


Single point of handwavium - Element Zero/the mass effect - and goes from there. Everything else is still pretty credible once we accept that it works.
Rather more than that now, what with adding your organic energies to the matrix and the like. Their are also setting problems, but that's a whole other issue, and not really a mechanical one, but an industry based one.

Coidzor
2012-08-13, 03:07 PM
I think it comes down to presentation.

Pretty much, I'd agree. If one is going to try to pretend one's scenario is plausible enough that one can actually explain it, make sure it's a good explanation.

Otherwise leave magic and handwavium safely vague.

lightningcat
2012-08-13, 03:14 PM
Mechs follow the rule of cool in most settings. That is not to hard to accept, most scifi settings are fairly soft with the science.

There is one situation that I think mechs might do as well or better then other choices. One where Mechwarrior doesn't put them: Space.

Not the wide open spaces, but the less predictable areas such as astroid fields. You would have more space for enviromental systems then power armor. You could hang onto, and jump off astroids easier than with ships.

Serafina
2012-08-13, 03:22 PM
Except that pushing off with mechanical legs is way worse than using thrusters.

And of course asteroid-fields are in reality nowhere near as dense as in fiction - various real-life space probes flew trough our solar systems inner asteroid field and didn't even get close enough to any asteroid to take a picture. But of course its different in fiction :smallwink:

jseah
2012-08-13, 03:39 PM
Let me elaborate on mechs being inconsistent. As said before, all the technology that benefits mechs would also benefit tanks, or be needed just to make mechs viable in the first place.
I tried to give an example, that being nanofabrication making highly detailed manufacturing possible out the back of a field engineer's truck. (perhaps under a tent of some kind to prevent wind and rain from making your goo disappear)

I would argue that this benefits mechs far more than tanks.
Tanks are simpler to make and maintain than mechs and its not hard to see the benefits that translated into: more tanks than mechs for cost; I also would like to see a mech joint survive a trip through a desert full of fine sand... blasted stuff gets everywhere.
Once you have micron-level manipulation and fabrication via nanobots (which are not quite nano... more like an all-purpose sand), the complexity and maintenance problems fly right out the window. Assuming that your nanobots are more efficient than casting the metals in a mold, you could literally manufacture a mech of the same weight as a tank at the same speed. It's all the same to the bots.

Now of course that's still no reason to make a tank-sized mech. (since same cost means you go for the one that is better at the intended role, which are tanks)


Not the wide open spaces, but the less predictable areas such as astroid fields. You would have more space for enviromental systems then power armor. You could hang onto, and jump off astroids easier than with ships.
I'm going to go with: lol, no.

Even in an asteroid field, any reasonable tactical engagement will involve at most 1 asteroid and a vast majority will be in empty space. Even in an asteroid field, there's still alot of nothing.
Additionally, being newtonian without friction changes battles massively. Space war looks nothing at all like air/sea/ground warfare. For starters, two ships from Mars and Earth on interception trajectories can actually be more committed to combat with each other than the comparable stationary ship on Phobos is to the ship that just swung by Mars; despite the first two being at least 50 million km apart with the other two are a mere 6 to 12 thousand km apart. Your *velocity* matters as much as or more than your position.

Now, if you need to capture an installation on an asteroid (instead of say, nuking the thing), then you park a couple of drones with mass drivers nearby and send in the marines. The mass drivers pick off anything that moves, marines call strikes and perform raids on internal areas.
Enemy mechs will die to your lasers and kinetic strikes so you have no armour to kill (and thus need none of your own), and tank mechs won't fit indoors anyway.
Jumpjets are more like mini-rockets on spacesuits and will be a virtual necessity, powered armour is a nice plus. But tank-style mechs? No way.

If anything, mechs are even worse suited to space than oblong/spherical spaceships.

hymer
2012-08-13, 03:42 PM
@ Serafina: I hope you will let me congratulate you on your expertise and take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time to present us with these hightly informed and thoughtful little treatises.
As much as I agree with you, I can't help but be nitpicky ("I'll keep poking him with a stick - it's how I show my love."), and raise a question or two.


which require a professional army

The Roman army wasn't professional in the strict sense during the Republic, when it won against Pyrrhus and Carthage. Though in some cases, legions stood for so long they might as well have been, particularly during the Second Punic War.


roman legionaries were on average stronger and tougher than their barbarian enemies

Where do you get this from? What's your definition of 'barbarian' for this claim?


Each legion had auxiliaries which fulfilled roles such as archery, cavalry or anti-cavalry work.

Cavalry didn't fare well against densely packed legionaries anyway, unless they could charge them in the flank or rear - and even then they couldn't just overrun them.


A relatively simple formation of well-trained spearmen can break and defeat any cavalry-charge (assuming no overwhelming numbers).

Weeell, kinda sweeping generalization here. There could be plenty of reasons the cavalry could break through, even if there was no great numerical superiority. Anyway, saying this is a lot like saying cavalry fares poorly against stone walls. Sure they do, but what commander would send them to scale a wall on horseback? You don't send in the heavy cavalry against pikemen until you've observed weaknesses caused by missile fire or maneouvres first (provided you can control all those planet-sized egos).
I realize the argument is that cavalry was allowed to dominate on the medieval field for cultural reasons, but it would still have (and had) plenty of things to do, even if there had been an effective counter against its direct superiority (such as the pike hedge). Mechas not so much.


A medieval army could not have hoped to defeat a roman army without extraneously favorable circumstances.

Sweeping generalizations aside, the massed longbow and the heavy cavalry would have presented a unique obstacle to the Roman army. If properly wielded, the longbows could have free reign while the Romans attempted to maneouvre into place - unless the Roman army was so heavy in archer or cavalry auxilliaries it could hardly be called a Roman army at all.
Generally speaking, I agree Roman warfare was superior to medieval warfare, but more for cultural and strategic reasons than for purely tactical ones. The Romans might have been surprised at how soon after contact the medieval army would have fought, for example, and if they hadn't encountered heavy cavalry before, they could well be in for a rude shock there too (they might try to treat them like elephants - and find out that they're far more nimble and easier to control, but not much less in brute force). Generally, everybody would spend a lot of their time being surprised at what the enemy was getting up to.
In the end, comparisons are really hard to make, as the two kinds of forces never faced each other - I can't off hand even think of a kind of foe fought by both. They were shaped not only by vastly different culture, but also different enemies.

Kiero
2012-08-13, 03:43 PM
Rather more than that now, what with adding your organic energies to the matrix and the like. Their are also setting problems, but that's a whole other issue, and not really a mechanical one, but an industry based one.

That's only the case if you accept the stupidity of ME3's ending. The rest of the series up until 15 minutes before it's end is fairly consistent.

Water_Bear
2012-08-13, 03:53 PM
There is one situation that I think mechs might do as well or better then other choices. One where Mechwarrior doesn't put them: Space.

Not the wide open spaces, but the less predictable areas such as astroid fields. You would have more space for enviromental systems then power armor. You could hang onto, and jump off astroids easier than with ships.

The problem there is that space is enormous. Even a very dense asteroid field is going to have each asteroid at least a few dozen, if not a few hundred, kilometers from it's nearest neighbor.

Plus a Mech is, pretty much by definition, going to be covered in articulated joints and moving parts which is not a great idea for surviving the relativistic speeds at which space combat is likely to occur. The fact that they will also have less engine space and weaponry than a similarly sized spaceship is also an issue.

The only upside to mecha in space that I can think of is that their relatively weak armor wouldn't be as big of a problem; projectiles at .8C are going to kill you no matter how much steel or titanium you pile on, and armor against lasers and similar weapons is probably not going to be very heavy. As long as their hull armor can withstand hitting ordinary space debris at combat speeds it should be fine.

Knaight
2012-08-13, 03:54 PM
Except that pushing off with mechanical legs is way worse than using thrusters.

And of course asteroid-fields are in reality nowhere near as dense as in fiction - various real-life space probes flew trough our solar systems inner asteroid field and didn't even get close enough to any asteroid to take a picture. But of course its different in fiction :smallwink:

The same thing has happened with the Kuiper belt as well, though less frequently for obvious reasons.

jseah
2012-08-13, 04:09 PM
The only upside to mecha in space that I can think of is that their relatively weak armor wouldn't be as big of a problem; projectiles at .8C are going to kill you no matter how much steel or titanium you pile on,

projectiles at .8C
=O

What. Even with a solar system's length to accelerate with, achieving 0.8c is pretty darned expensive.

You don't need 0.8c. A baseball travelling at a *mere* 4000km/s (0.013c) smacks like a tactical nuke, 200g = about one third of a Little Boy. Even a 1 million ton ship will be totally destroyed.

The problem is getting a baseball to go at 4000 km/s. That is... not trivial.

Snowbluff
2012-08-13, 04:11 PM
My argument for it is the maneuverability angle. Besides, when you are building something that is 100 tons and has to stand on 2 legs, it's going to end up really frakking tough.

Other canons give pretty good reasons and mechs as well.

Chromehounds give you Hounds, which are built to operate largely independent of larger forces and work in small squads. Ability to communicate is very limited, so individual units having a lot of extra capability is a big deal.

Gundam Wing has mechs to allow a human presence on the battlefield (Mobile Dolls become an issue later). The Gundam Series also have Mobile Armor, which are usually just flying bricks, and tend to be more tank-like.

Armored Core has them since moving targets Muscle Tracers are cool. Boosters make having legs more feasible, and legs are used to move around with less energy, and to land.

Gen 4 AC has the equivalent of tanks (Arms Forts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19rzJ29LyJM), Mobile Fortresses (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFdNXNjjfxU&feature=related)) to Nexts, but the smaller, more agile machines make short work of them.

Dead_Jester
2012-08-13, 04:26 PM
Mechs follow the rule of cool in most settings. That is not to hard to accept, most scifi settings are fairly soft with the science.

There is one situation that I think mechs might do as well or better then other choices. One where Mechwarrior doesn't put them: Space.

Not the wide open spaces, but the less predictable areas such as astroid fields. You would have more space for enviromental systems then power armor. You could hang onto, and jump off astroids easier than with ships.

Actually, space, unlike what you see all the time, is where you want the biggest ships/vehicles possible; your movement in space is mostly reliant on thrusters, which either require reaction mass or ejectable mass to function, and due to the cube law, a bigger vehicle has more internal space proportionately to the mass of it's exterior. Mechs have a lot of surface area (a lot of it is even doubled up due to 360 coverage on arms/legs) with little interior area, and therefore, in space, where you want to optimize mass/volume ratio, a similar sized cubic or spherical object would either be faster, more maneuvrable (more total reaction mass), or more heavily armed than a mech. Also, if you want to grab onto things at the speed objects move at in space, you'll probably want to use things more akin to harpoons, to increase your reach and enable you to control your contact speed (and make it much harder to miss your target).


Other canons give pretty good reasons and mechs as well.

Chromehounds give you Hounds, which are built to operate largely independent of larger forces and work in small squads. Ability to communicate is very limited, so individual units having a lot of extra capability is a big deal.

Nothing you can do with a mech can't be done with a tank like object of less mass, even wielding weapons in arms can be achieved (put arms on your tank, it will look and be silly, but you will end up with less mass and a smaller profile than a mech).


Gundam Wing has mechs to allow a human presence on the battlefield (Mobile Dolls become an issue later). The Gundam Series also have Mobile Armor, which are usually just flying bricks, and tend to be more tank-like.

Again, when flying, volume is your best friend, and if humans can pilot mechs, they should be able to pilot similar brick shaped object just as well.


Armored Core has them since moving targets Muscle Tracers are cool. Boosters make having legs more feasible, and legs are used to move around with less energy, and to land.

Again, if a mech can have boosters, so can a tank, and it should work better (easier landing, more rugged design and more volume for fuel).


Gen 4 AC has the equivalent of tanks (Arms Forts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19rzJ29LyJM), Mobile Fortresses (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFdNXNjjfxU&feature=related)) to Nexts, but the smaller, more agile machines make short work of them.

Smaller, more agile tanks would have done the same; in war, the only reasons to make bigger vehicles is to defeat something your existing chassis can't take on with weaponry of their size, or to make a vehicle that is hard enough to majorly outgun/resist your enemy's smaller sized chassi. The only logical reason to make a bigger vehicle without the capabilities to defeat smaller ones in the same class is if serves another role, such as an artillery platform, in which it should be supported by smaller vehicles (like warships in WW2; big guns where niceto bombard stuff, or to fight other ships, but when a single plane can kill you, you need your own planes to act as interceptors, to protect you).

In the end, the only mechanical reason why mechs could be better than standard vehicles is if only mechs can be piloted by a single person (due to handwavium/human shaped body for neural interface, unbeatable responsiveness of controls, etc.), in which case, they would be a good alternative to tanks for a rare few elite pilots and special operations, but the mainstay of any armed forces should still be conventional vehicles unless their was a massive manpower shortage and/or overproduction that cannot be used to make bigger things.

hymer
2012-08-13, 04:31 PM
mass/volume ratio

You mean mass/surface ratio? Or do I require Enlightenment?

only1doug
2012-08-13, 04:37 PM
You mean mass/surface ratio? Or do I require Enlightenment?

He means mass / internal storage volume

hymer
2012-08-13, 04:39 PM
@ only1doug: Ah, I see. I have been Enlightened. Thanks. :)

KnightDisciple
2012-08-13, 06:24 PM
I enjoy Mechwarrior/Battletech.

Nay, I love me some Battlemech action!

You can't take that enjoyment away from me no matter how hard you try! :smalltongue:

Water_Bear
2012-08-13, 06:42 PM
What. Even with a solar system's length to accelerate with, achieving 0.8c is pretty darned expensive.

You don't need 0.8c. A baseball travelling at a *mere* 4000km/s (0.013c) smacks like a tactical nuke, 200g = about one third of a Little Boy. Even a 1 million ton ship will be totally destroyed.

The problem is getting a baseball to go at 4000 km/s. That is... not trivial.

See, this is what I get for being too lazy to do the math. :smallredface:

I just had this vague recollection that it was something like .8C ~= rest mass in 100% efficient antimatter-matter annihilation. I also forgot the whole "you have to spend much much more energy than that to get it to go that fast" bit.

Still, if you're going to blow up Mecha in space, you might as well do it in style. :smallcool:

Kane0
2012-08-13, 07:42 PM
I enjoy Mechwarrior/Battletech.

Nay, I love me some Battlemech action!

You can't take that enjoyment away from me no matter how hard you try! :smalltongue:

Second (http://images.wikia.com/playstationallstarsbattleroyale/images/3/3a/ScruffySecond_3-s200x200-149655-535.jpg).

Also, applying all the tech that mechs have to tanks would likely increase their size and bulk dramatically (horizontally more vertically). Not a bad thing until you need to maneuver through a city. Thats when that mass distributed into a biped form and thus more vertically than horizontally would be helpful.

Also; for science!

jseah
2012-08-13, 07:47 PM
Still, if you're going to blow up Mecha in space, you might as well do it in style. :smallcool:
Newtonian Aurora has superefficient torch drives, to the point that even the easily achieved TL3 has cruising speeds on the order of ~1000km/s.

Cross-posting from Aurora 4x forums:
I was thinking something like a 5 ton missile (same tech level as your proposed ship), max accel 10 times of the ship, max delta-v around 1/10th to 1/20th of the ship's. It's about 70% fuel (technically, for best energy, the fuel fraction should be 2.71 times of the warhead).
Plus, the missile STILL gets the firing ships' velocity (ala railgun), and still gets to accelerate even more.

The 1.5 ton warhead then separates into 500 chunks ranging from 1 to 5 kg each. Say 20% is in the separation charge.

That's not micrometeorite impacts. A 1 gram chunk at 10kkm/s? Ok, your ship can survive that. 1 kg? No way.

Even if the chunk plasmarizes on your shield, the plasma ball contains the same momentum it originally did. If it doesn't get to spread out enough, and a hundred meters isn't enough at the speed its going at, your ship is dead.
Sure, every panel of armour takes less damage, the density of the energy decreases. But when 1% of the chunk has enough energy to vapourize ALL your armour, that doesn't help at all. Those armour columns are going to receive a hundred GJ in plasma, each.


Furthermore, whether you can generate a miss from a missile fired within it's powered envelope (the max distance the missile can travel at full burn) can be calculated. In the standard case of a ship firing a missile at a target somewhere in front of it (front being the direction the ship is moving in), the target ship cannot make it miss.
The missile has higher accel than ships, thus it matches the ship's accel and uses the excess to build delta-v or course correct. This makes missiles have ridiculous firing arcs compared to railguns, especially since a 2.71 fuel ratio missile will have a long burn and massive powered envelope.

Essentially, if your engines can efficiently let you travel at thousands of km per second, your armour needs to be able to withstand a nuclear weapon going off right next to it to make it not one-hit-one-kill.

Newtonian kinetic energy is a scary thing. =D

Also, due to the vagaries of newtonian mechanics, there's no way for the proposed mecha to dodge a missile. Whatever you see about macross missile massacres and uber-mechs dodging them? Yeah, not happening.

Not unless your mech is built like a missile. (aka, it's about half its weight in a giant engine)

Dead_Jester
2012-08-13, 08:41 PM
Also, due to the vagaries of newtonian mechanics, there's no way for the proposed mecha to dodge a missile. Whatever you see about macross missile massacres and uber-mechs dodging them? Yeah, not happening.

Not unless your mech is built like a missile. (aka, it's about half its weight in a giant engine)

Without an almost solely engine ship, dodging missiles in space is about as efficient as dodging missiles in a naval warship (read, not very); your acceleration will be negligible compared to that of the missile, and, unless you where trying to broadside the enemy, it won't be in the best axis to dodge. At near relativistic speeds (and therefore, immense engagement distance, unlike what you see in almost every space battle, especially mecha anime ones), your best defense is the time-delay any sensors will have with you, which makes precise initial targeting difficult. Of course, this makes space fights more like submarine hunting each other, which, although tense, makes for much less action than missile and beam spam, with explosions everywhere in space.

jseah
2012-08-13, 08:50 PM
It doesn't even have to be relativistic speeds. Even very-definitely-sub-relativistic-speeds of the Newtonian Aurora style, engagement ranges are measured in Astronomical Units.

And it isn't anything like sub warfare either. Space is remarkably sensor friendly unless you happen to have a handy gas giant or sun nearby. FYI, at current tech, our telescopes could detect a decent Nuclear Torch drive from Alpha Centauri.
At ~1000km/s (aka, speeds at which you can get places without spending half your life in a tin bucket), spaceship warfare is one-hit-one-kill no stealth.

There's alot of maneuvering. Firing windows are short and *very* unforgiving.
It's just very planned and calculated maneuvers instead of the high-skill maneuvers of airplanes. It's like a weeks long game of 3D chess played with people's lives and billions of dollars as pieces.
The side with the better mathematicians and computers win the day. =D

EDIT: oh and fuel. Don't forget fuel.
In Newtonian space, you DO NOT forget your fuel.

You have ships with things like 40% of their mass in fuel. It's like driving a car with a fuel tank taking up both backseats. And that would be low. You probably have barely enough to get to Mars and back. Depending on your engine, maybe not even that.

So no. No. Mecha will NOT work in space. It's just too different.

The Random NPC
2012-08-13, 08:58 PM
It doesn't even have to be relativistic speeds. Even very-definitely-sub-relativistic-speeds of the Newtonian Aurora style, engagement ranges are measured in Astronomical Units.

And it isn't anything like sub warfare either. Space is remarkably sensor friendly unless you happen to have a handy gas giant or sun nearby. FYI, at current tech, our telescopes could detect a decent Nuclear Torch drive from Alpha Centauri.
At ~1000km/s (aka, speeds at which you can get places without spending half your life in a tin bucket), spaceship warfare is one-hit-one-kill no stealth.

There's alot of maneuvering. Firing windows are short and *very* unforgiving.
It's just very planned and calculated maneuvers instead of the high-skill maneuvers of airplanes. It's like a weeks long game of 3D chess played with people's lives and billions of dollars as pieces.
The side with the better mathematicians and computers win the day. =D

EDIT: oh and fuel. Don't forget fuel.
In Newtonian space, you DO NOT forget your fuel.

You have ships with things like 40% of their mass in fuel. It's like driving a car with a fuel tank taking up both backseats. And that would be low. You probably have barely enough to get to Mars and back. Depending on your engine, maybe not even that.

So no. No. Mecha will NOT work in space. It's just too different.

He may be referring to the time delay of being really far away from your target. But in those cases, I would just say move closer.

The Glyphstone
2012-08-13, 09:24 PM
Second (http://images.wikia.com/playstationallstarsbattleroyale/images/3/3a/ScruffySecond_3-s200x200-149655-535.jpg).

Also, applying all the tech that mechs have to tanks would likely increase their size and bulk dramatically (horizontally more vertically). Not a bad thing until you need to maneuver a city. Thats when that mass distributed into a biped form and thus more vertically than horizontally would be helpful.

Also; for science!

You mean maneuver over a city, right?:smallcool: [/Bolo]

Dead_Jester
2012-08-13, 09:29 PM
It doesn't even have to be relativistic speeds. Even very-definitely-sub-relativistic-speeds of the Newtonian Aurora style, engagement ranges are measured in Astronomical Units.

And it isn't anything like sub warfare either. Space is remarkably sensor friendly unless you happen to have a handy gas giant or sun nearby. FYI, at current tech, our telescopes could detect a decent Nuclear Torch drive from Alpha Centauri.
At ~1000km/s (aka, speeds at which you can get places without spending half your life in a tin bucket), spaceship warfare is one-hit-one-kill no stealth.

There's alot of maneuvering. Just very planned maneuvers instead of the high-skill maneuvers of planes. It's like a weeks long game of 3D chess played with people's lives and billions of dollars as pieces.
The side with the better mathematicians and computers win the day. =D

Space warfare is extremely sensor friendly, but it is easy to stealth your passive heat emissions by heat-sinking it in a specific direction, although you need to know the direction of the opposition (proper engine placement also helps with this, but it still requires that you know the enemy's general position). Weapon fire and actual engines are much harder to hide though, but a cold running ship should be quite hard to detect with decent construction.

The other main thing is that no matter how good your computer model of the combat is, you can't know where anything really is, and, as such, precision weaponry tends to suffer and, with explosives having almost no effective radius, spread weapons (or missile spam) are your best bet.

Also, as for moving closer for a better shot, at relativistic engagement speeds, the problem tends to be that the window of accurate fire with aimed weaponry is extremely narrow before the ships pass each other. Moreover, if both ships are moving in opposite directions, it is impossible for one to catch up to the other once they pass unless the one pursuing has much better ration of thrust to mass and a lot of reaction mass to burn. Any missiles that miss on the first approach also face this problem, and they have to be fired before you know the exact location of the enemy. Your best bet is therefore to spread particles or mines in the other ship's way; at near light speed, almost anything can punch nice holes in a moving object.

tyckspoon
2012-08-13, 11:58 PM
Also, applying all the tech that mechs have to tanks would likely increase their size and bulk dramatically (horizontally more vertically). Not a bad thing until you need to maneuver through a city. Thats when that mass distributed into a biped form and thus more vertically than horizontally would be helpful.

Also; for science!

The lightest standard mech in Battletech is 20 tons. Regardless of the layout of that mass, you aren't going to get any kind of vehicle that large through a city unless said city is expressly laid out with that in mind (and a vertical layout does mean, for example, that you have to maintain much higher clearances for things like trees and utility lines, where a squatter box like a tank or a truck 'only' has to worry about excessive weight crushing the roads or terrain it's passing over.. which, incidentally, a mech is also a much more significant risk of doing, since as mentioned several times a mech's foot transmits much more force when it lands than more distributed treads or multiple-axle + wheel setups.)

(Mind, if you take the game rules as properly representative, the Battletech universe does indeed overbuild their roads to the point of supporting even assault 'mechs, and out of something with an impressively low coefficient of friction.. since not only do the roads not get cratered into rough terrain by having mechs walk on them, those same mechs with their physics-required immense downforces can actually *lose their footing* and slip on Battletech roadways.)

Oracle_Hunter
2012-08-14, 12:05 AM
Space warfare is extremely sensor friendly, but it is easy to stealth your passive heat emissions by heat-sinking it in a specific direction, although you need to know the direction of the opposition (proper engine placement also helps with this, but it still requires that you know the enemy's general position). Weapon fire and actual engines are much harder to hide though, but a cold running ship should be quite hard to detect with decent construction.
There Ain't No Stealth In Space (http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/spacewardetect.php#nostealth)

jseah
2012-08-14, 03:55 AM
Off-topic:

Space warfare is extremely sensor friendly, but it is easy to stealth your passive heat emissions by heat-sinking it in a specific direction, although you need to know the direction of the opposition (proper engine placement also helps with this, but it still requires that you know the enemy's general position). Weapon fire and actual engines are much harder to hide though, but a cold running ship should be quite hard to detect with decent construction.
Hard to detect compared to engines? Yeah. Directional radiating will help against sensors that are in the same facing, like the big planet based ones.

Unfortunately those automated probes sitting cold in the Oort cloud have already seen you.
And we can see your engine from the nearby star...


The other main thing is that no matter how good your computer model of the combat is, you can't know where anything really is, and, as such, precision weaponry tends to suffer and, with explosives having almost no effective radius, spread weapons (or missile spam) are your best bet.
Of course not. Passive sensors and looking at plasma plumes from drives only tells you so much. The error will still be in kilometers at least, which is enough to make even nuclear warheads not deal damage.

Which is why you have to use guided munitions or try to paint the target with a laser (also known as radar).

Of course, if you're close enough, your error will be small enough and the engagement times short enough that your enemies will not be able to dodge even a non-guided railgun slug.
At those kinds of ranges, assuming favourable geometry that allows for firing solutions, any combat is pretty much mutual destruction. You can fire off a whole lot of shots before the first even arrives and the enemy does the same to you.

Watch as a pair of light frigates rip an entire battleship squadron to pieces... of course, the idea of using big battleships is also kinda strange for this reason.


Also, as for moving closer for a better shot, at relativistic engagement speeds, the problem tends to be that the window of accurate fire with aimed weaponry is extremely narrow before the ships pass each other. Moreover, if both ships are moving in opposite directions, it is impossible for one to catch up to the other once they pass unless the one pursuing has much better ration of thrust to mass and a lot of reaction mass to burn. Any missiles that miss on the first approach also face this problem, and they have to be fired before you know the exact location of the enemy. Your best bet is therefore to spread particles or mines in the other ship's way; at near light speed, almost anything can punch nice holes in a moving object.
Really shouldn't be talking about relativistic engagement speeds. That requires an insane amount of energy to get to and similarly to get out of. (you DO want to stop, right?)

Also, even a surprisingly light pellet going at near light will cause incredible destruction. That grain of sand won't be punching holes, it'll disintegrate your entire ship.
At that kind of speeds, things don't really behave as solid objects but more like a very intense particle beam.


Additionally, depending on how much delta-v budget you have and how good the armour is, firing a missile to miss might actually be a valid strategy.
Hint: it's probably impossible to build armour that will survive contact nukes without exotic materials like neutronium, so delta-vs above 20kkm/s is more than enough to destroy everything.

If you are not confident of your accuracy or prediction of enemy positions, this uncertainty (added to their potential acceleration) can be represented by a widening arc from their current trajectory.
If your missiles are coming from a cross angle, there is only a limited engagement zone where the geometry is right and your missile has a chance of hitting on the first pass. Unfortunately, missiles of similar capabilities coming from the same source (where you are now) will all have very similar engagement zones.

If you need to be sure the target is dead, you want to bracket it with multiple angles of approach to cover as much of the target's movement cone as possible. Missing missiles that arc back come from totally different angles and can setup a no-win scenario for your enemy.

Of course, predicting which courses to fire on to get good geometry and what firing solutions you should use is not easy. =D

Ravens_cry
2012-08-14, 05:42 AM
There Ain't No Stealth In Space (http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/spacewardetect.php#nostealth)
I think the biggest assumptions of that trope is there being camera and drones everywhere. In undeveloped systems, such as contested frontiers, it's a bit more conceivable one could pump the heat in a direction away from viewing. Storing it on-board when you think they are watching and then dumping it could also work.
Of course, this means one must know where one enemy is to know where not to pump it, so it's not that there is no stealth in space; it's just really hard.
Someone also could write a story about AI verses AI, perhaps uploads if you want to make things a bit more human, and then stealth becomes a bit easier.

Brother Oni
2012-08-14, 06:24 AM
Why would tank tactics be that different from mech tactics?

For starters, you've got a significantly smaller profile, different locomotion system, different weapon hardpoints/mountings affecting targeting angles and finally different vehicle shape.

It'd be like expecting a sword and a naginata to be the same, as they're both just long blades on the the end of a handle.

Strategically, I'd expect them to be essentially interchangable though.


And what, then, is the difference in a mech that allows a single pilot to efficiently and effectively perform all of those roles on his own?

Loader becomes obsolete once you figure out a good way to automatically feed the weapons, but why can the mech pilot be commander, driver, and gunner, all at the same time, but the tank driver cannot?


In my opinion, it's the level of automation and a lack of understanding by the creators about the complexities of modern armour.

For example, do you drive a car? Now imagine that while you're driving, you have to continually scan the surrounding area for points of interest - you only have one pair of eyes, so that's already a recipe for disaster.
On top of that, you have to give a remote powerpoint presentation for work from a laptop while fielding questions from the audience.

I agree that autoloaders are starting to make the loader role redundant (the Russian T-90 and the Chinese Type-98 only have 3 crew for example), but the fact remains that the American Abrams and the British Challenger 2 still have 4 crew.
Given that the latter two nations arguably have the most experience in using their tanks recently, there must be a good design reason for the 4th member, be it redundancy in the case of casualties or simply because they want a spare pair of hands in case something goes wrong (with the loading mechanism for example).

I suppose a good comparison is a jet fighter - what in a jet's configuration allows it to operate with a single pilot compared to the tank's crew?
If I had to hazard a guess as to what in a battlemech's configuration that allows it to subsume all three main roles into one, I'd say it would be the walking mechanism primarily (you only have to pay attention to where you're going, not how you're going), followed by the mostly automated targeting systems (you tell the computer what to shoot and the weapons move appropriately, rather than having to constantly manually aim your weapons).

Serafina
2012-08-14, 07:33 AM
You could argue that a mech is so complex that it NEED a single pilot.

Sounds contradictory? Well if it does that's because we'd never build something a stupid.

But since the weapons of a mech are tied to its torso - they can't rotate independently like a tanks turret - you can't really use a gunner - that job must be done by the pilot, who must maintain the machines balance considering the whole body, which includes arms and of course torso-mounted weapons.
A mech pilot also needs far better terrain awareness, because a mech is more likely to be a mission-kill due to terrain - by toppling over. That means that the pilot already functions in the role of a commander to a fair degree.
If the mech is further supposed to dodge incoming shots, the pilot needs even more awareness, because he has to be aware of enemy lines of fire and their actions.

Combine those three factors and the pilot simply has to fulfill the roles of all three crewmen - he needs innate awareness which can not be provided by communicating with other crewmembers.

Now he would still profit from a co-pilot that coordinates actions with other mechs, relays commands and so on. However most examples of mechs aren't exactly stellar in those areas, so it's quite excusable that they don't do that.


All of this is an advantage to the tank crew - because there different people can fulfil different roles. The turret can rotate independently and does not affect the chassis at all, so the gunner can point his weapon anywhere. The driver can afford to drive into a ditch or into a terrain feature, because he is much more likely to be able to back up out of it, and even if he isn't the tank is still combat capable (as opposed to laying on the ground). And the commander can keep an eye on the combat around him, advising the other crewmembers on the proper actions.
That allows more specialized training, and more importantly it means two extra brains and two extra pair of eyes to keep track of things.


As for fighter jets - well, most of those do use two pilots.
But they are actually comparable to mechs - except that you can spare a dedicated driver because there is no terrain to worry about, and a gunner because the missiles are more automatic than a gun and you can't aim them manually anyway. If you use a gun on your jet, it is lined up with the plane anyway, comparable to a mechs weapons, so the pilot has to control them anyway.



Really the only three reasons to WANT a single-man crew for a military vehicle are:
- the vehicle is so small that there is no more room for an extra person
- you have a supid warrior-mentality and must do everything on your own due to it
- you have such a crippling manpower shortage for some reason (or only special people can pilot) that you must do it due to lack of suitable personel.
Neither is a good thing - the first means that the vehicle will be underarmed and underarmored, the second means that you are ill-suited to warfare anyway and the third means that you can't take any losses.

only1doug
2012-08-14, 07:40 AM
I suppose a good comparison is a jet fighter - what in a jet's configuration allows it to operate with a single pilot compared to the tank's crew?
If I had to hazard a guess as to what in a battlemech's configuration that allows it to subsume all three main roles into one, I'd say it would be the walking mechanism primarily (you only have to pay attention to where you're going, not how you're going), followed by the mostly automated targeting systems (you tell the computer what to shoot and the weapons move appropriately, rather than having to constantly manually aim your weapons).

But why shouldn't the tank commander have similar systems?
an autopilot program for driving where he tells it & automated targetting systems that shoot the targets he designates.
If the mech can have these automated systems then why can't the tank? the complexity of an automated walking mechanism would massively exceed that of a autodrive system for a Tank.

Ravens_cry
2012-08-14, 07:45 AM
Indeed. Walking is complex, even on even surfaces. Bipedal walking exponentially more so and exponentially again for the rough, extremely variegated terrain of outdoors.
I remember reading of a fairly recent bipedal robot that when they unveiled it couldn't walk, despite working just fine in the lab. It turned out the unveiling event was hardwood floors while the lab where all the testing was done was concrete.
Yes, the difference was enough to make it so the super advanced robot couldn't walk.

Dead_Jester
2012-08-14, 07:58 AM
I agree that autoloaders are starting to make the loader role redundant (the Russian T-90 and the Chinese Type-98 only have 3 crew for example), but the fact remains that the American Abrams and the British Challenger 2 still have 4 crew.
Given that the latter two nations arguably have the most experience in using their tanks recently, there must be a good design reason for the 4th member, be it redundancy in the case of casualties or simply because they want a spare pair of hands in case something goes wrong (with the loading mechanism for example).

I do believe that most MBTs still use a loader because auto-loading have historically been slower (a gunner can reach 15 rounds per minute, and the newest auto-loaders are barely catching up) and because it is harder to protect the ammunition from cooking off when under fire if it is loaded in a magazine in the turret; moreover, the crew is less protected in the event of cook off on most designs. Another issue is the fact that changing ammunition on the fly is harder with an auto loader, as you can't just say it to the loader

However, it is quite probable that the role may become obsolete over time, as the benefits of an auto-loader are more and more apparent with bigger shells, and, with advances in electronics, the issue of switching shell types could be lessened somewhat.

Zombimode
2012-08-14, 08:32 AM
However, it is quite probable that the role may become obsolete over time, as the benefits of an auto-loader are more and more apparent with bigger shells, and, with advances in electronics, the issue of switching shell types could be lessened somewhat.

Yeah, I don't know why loading even entered the discussion. All mech weapons are by default autoloading (or energy weapons which dont have to be reloaded). The technology is there. And in Battletech vehicles use the same weapons as mechs (they are just abitrarily restricted in their payload).

Oracle_Hunter
2012-08-14, 08:33 AM
@Ravens_Cry

I think the biggest assumptions of that trope is there being camera and drones everywhere. In undeveloped systems, such as contested frontiers, it's a bit more conceivable one could pump the heat in a direction away from viewing. Storing it on-board when you think they are watching and then dumping it could also work.

Not so much.

For one, thrusters are really bright in comparison to more distant heat sources.

If the spacecraft are torchships, their thrust power is several terawatts. This means the exhaust is so intense that it could be detected from Alpha Centauri. By a passive sensor.

The Space Shuttle's much weaker main engines could be detected past the orbit of Pluto. The Space Shuttle's manoeuvering thrusters could be seen as far as the asteroid belt. And even a puny ship using ion drive to thrust at a measly 1/1000 of a g could be spotted at one astronomical unit.

This is with current off-the-shelf technology. Presumably future technology would be better.
Heat Sinks are also problematic, if you want to look at it in the context of reality

To keep the lifesystem in the spacecraft at levels where the crew can live, you probably want it above 273 K (where water freezes), and preferably at 285-290 K (room temperature). Glancing at the above equation it is evident that the lower the spacecraft's temperature, the harder it is to detect. "Aha!" you say, "why not refrigerate the ship and radiate the heat from the side facing away from the enemy?"

Ken Burnside explains why not. To actively refrigerate, you need power. So you have to fire up the nuclear reactor. Suddenly you have a hot spot on your ship that is about 800 K, minimum, so you now have even more waste heat to dump.

This means a larger radiator surface to dump all the heat, which means more mass. Much more mass. It will be either a whopping two to three times the mass of your reactor or it will be so flimsy it will snap the moment you engage the thrusters. It is a bigger target, and now you have to start worrying about a hostile ship noticing that you occluded a star.
Now, the magical heat-sinks in the Battletech Setting might be able to refrigerate without expending energy but once they are "full" there is no easy way for them to vent aside from direct radiation.


Of course, this means one must know where one enemy is to know where not to pump it, so it's not that there is no stealth in space; it's just really hard.
Someone also could write a story about AI verses AI, perhaps uploads if you want to make things a bit more human, and then stealth becomes a bit easier.
Actually the problem is knowing where the other observers are if they are using the same AI-assisted re-radiaton technology. There are also practical concerns:

Furthermore, directing your waste heat (and making some part of your ship colder, a related phenomena) requires more power for the heat pump - and every W of power generated generates 4 W of waste heat. It gets into the Red Queen's Race very quickly.
In short, Atomic Rockets (http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/spacewardetect.php#nostealth) is filled with people who have done the math. There ain't no stealth in space largely because it makes heat to move heat and nearby heat-points in space are really, really bright.

jseah
2012-08-14, 09:20 AM
Re space stealth & computer run ships:
The problems of scaling work in reverse too. The lower working temperature you can tolerate, the easier it gets to thermally redirect the craft.

Purely computer run spacecraft can tolerate ridiculously low temperatures.

A superconducting computer with a Plutonium Battery (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator), could conceivably run into interstellar space then swing back with a low thrust high impulse engine, dumping all it's heat away from the Sun. Once you're back on an inbound trajectory, you shut down even the ion drive.
Would take a decade or two, but that's nothing for a computer.

When it gets to about about 50-100 kelvin, spotting its background heat radiation (basically only the handful of watts from the battery) can be quite difficult. Directional radiating of this heat also became a whole lot more feasible (although it'll take away nearly all of your usable reactor output).

After that, you look a bit like an unusually metallic piece of rock. That is if they can even see you at all.

Of course, the moment you fire up the main reactor core or turn on a torch drive you'll get seen. Even a simple cold-gas launch of a powered-down missile/drone/mine can be risky.

Oracle_Hunter
2012-08-14, 09:35 AM
Re space stealth & computer run ships:
The problems of scaling work in reverse too. The lower working temperature you can tolerate, the easier it gets to thermally redirect the craft.

Purely computer run spacecraft can tolerate ridiculously low temperatures.

A superconducting computer with a Plutonium Battery (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator), could conceivably run into interstellar space then swing back with a low thrust high impulse engine, dumping all it's heat away from the Sun. Once you're back on an inbound trajectory, you shut down even the ion drive.
Would take a decade or two, but that's nothing for a computer.

When it gets to about about 50-100 kelvin, spotting its background heat radiation (basically only the handful of watts from the battery) can be quite difficult. Directional radiating of this heat also became a whole lot more feasible (although it'll take away nearly all of your usable reactor output).

After that, you look a bit like an unusually metallic piece of rock. That is if they can even see you at all.

Of course, the moment you fire up the main reactor core or turn on a torch drive you'll get seen. Even a simple cold-gas launch of a powered-down missile/drone/mine can be risky.
Regarding "gliding into battle"

If you are actually trying to apply thrust, the upper equation comes into play, and they can see you all over the solar system. What's worse, they can measure the spectrum of your drive to estimate the thrust and use a telescope to observe your acceleration. Simple division will reveal the mass of your ship.

"Well fine!", you say, "I'll just burn once and drift silently"

But now you will be months in getting to your target. The extra time increases the chance that the enemy will spot you. It will be harder to keep your directional radiator aimed away from any enemy observers. And if you are spotted, so much of your ship mass will be radiators instead of weapons, so that the enemy ships will out-gun you by an obscene margin.

Not to mention the fact that once your initial burn is spotted, the enemy will be able to calculate your future position anytime in the future. They can set a computer controlled telescope to track your current calculated position, and will quickly spot any future course correction burns.
But yeah, unmanned crafts would be stealthier than manned ones but that violates Burnside's Zeroth Law of Space Combat (http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/prelimnotes.php#zerothlaw): Science fiction fans relate more to human beings than to silicon chips :smallbiggrin:

jseah
2012-08-14, 11:16 AM
But yeah, unmanned crafts would be stealthier than manned ones but that violates Burnside's Zeroth Law of Space Combat (http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/prelimnotes.php#zerothlaw): Science fiction fans relate more to human beings than to silicon chips :smallbiggrin:
What is this Zeroth Law you speak of? How can you consider yourself a true SF geek if you cannot see that drone ships are the only feasible way to wage interstellar warfare? >=|
And don't Rule of Cool me. If you have to pull out RoC, you're not a *true* geek. Calculus and three body problems FTW.

=P (I exaggerate, I actually have to reference wikipedia to do a Runge-Kutta integration and I still don't quite understand lagrangians...
Oh and I'm a biologist, so I kinda automatically fail anyway)

Still, with a decades long out-system trajectory, object temperature of a mere few times above CMB, and essentially running completely off, a computer run ship could be very very difficult to spot until it does the equivalent of "battle stations".
The radiation inefficiency cuts both ways. As you approach absolute zero, the size and waste heat from your directional radiator quickly approaches 0.


For that matter, a different more direct approach could be used. We can spot Torch Drives at interstellar distances but that only gives us a large uncertainty in the future trajectory.
Conceivably, you could have a glorified kinetic missile with a bit more than 2.71 fuel fraction boost towards a planet and then just shut down apart from final course correction burns. The estimated direction and speed of the drive can't be at all accurate at interstellar distances. You'll know *something relatively small* turned on a souped-up torch drive to move in your rough direction but that's it.
You don't even have to actively radiate the ship's heat. Just completely shut down and over the insanely long travel time, you'll go down to CMB eventually.

Twenty years later, the target planet receives a kiloton of iron out of nowhere travelling at interstellar speeds (1-20% c), maybe with a couple of days warning after a course correction burn. That's going to range from crater the size of Europe to glassing the whole planet.

Strategic weapon? Hell yes. This is the space version of a nuke.

Oracle_Hunter
2012-08-14, 11:25 AM
@Jseah

Still, with a decades long out-system trajectory, object temperature of a mere few times above CMB, and essentially running completely off, a computer run ship could be very very difficult to spot until it does the equivalent of "battle stations".
The radiation inefficiency cuts both ways. As you approach absolute zero, the size and waste heat from your directional radiator quickly approaches 0.
They don't spot the life-support, they spot the drive and, more importantly, the light-cone of the drive. Unless you're willing to launch a battle-fleet that takes hundreds of years to get anywhere the head put off from your thruster is going to trip sensors.


For that matter, a different more direct approach could be used. We can spot Torch Drives at interstellar distances but that only gives us a large uncertainty in the future trajectory.
Quite the opposite. Tracking the light-cone of a thruster gives us the precise trajectory of a ship.


You don't even have to actively radiate the ship's heat. Just completely shut down and over the insanely long travel time, you'll go down to CMB eventually.
Yeah, over hundreds of years. Do you realize how much waste heat is generated by interstellar drives? :smalleek:

Remember, vacuum is a *very* good insulator, so the only heat getting bled off is that which radiates directly as opposed to being conducted away. As a rule, objects lose heat via radiation extremely slowly.
As far as AI-and-stealth it should be noted that while AI-ships could be stealthier than manned ships they are by no means particularly stealthy without a magical drive system.

As an analogy: while an elephant is easier to hide on a vacant plain than a tyrannosaurus Rex, neither is likely to escape notice.

Water_Bear
2012-08-14, 11:44 AM
It seems like any of these "stealth" plans would have incredibly tiny returns for the huge effort which goes into making them.

So you send a ship, made mostly of radiator fins presumably, out on a wonky trajectory with an AI steering and otherwise powered down. It spends a century or two coasting up to it's target system, slipping in and powering on at about the point where active sensors would detect it anyway.

And then what?

If it's an RKV meant to kill a planetary population, it still needs to be able to eat enough hits from orbital defenses (or deflect them with lasers) to maintain it's trajectory. All the features that make it stealthy would also make it easier to knock off-course.

If it's an actual ship meant to kill other ships, it could probably destroy a bunch of them as it initially powered on... but if whatever fraction left afterwards are actually built to fight, they will tear it apart when it turns around to make a second pass through the system.

It seems like this kind of 'stealth ship' would be a decent vanguard to an interstellar fleet, but it's a one-trick pony. For intra-solar war it would be worse than pointless; a few hundred years after firing your war will be long over.

The Boz
2012-08-14, 12:00 PM
If it's an RKV meant to kill a planetary population, it still needs to be able to eat enough hits from orbital defenses (or deflect them with lasers) to maintain it's trajectory. All the features that make it stealthy would also make it easier to knock off-course.

If your goal is to kill off the population, you don't need to enter the orbit/atmosphere as a single object if you're an RKV. Dustship is simple and pretty much unstoppable: atmosphere of target planet ignites from atmospheric entry friction caused by a gajillion tons of grains of sand entering at relativistic speed.

jseah
2012-08-14, 12:12 PM
They don't spot the life-support, they spot the drive and, more importantly, the light-cone of the drive. Unless you're willing to launch a battle-fleet that takes hundreds of years to get anywhere the head put off from your thruster is going to trip sensors.
Perhaps not hundreds of years. A couple of decades ought to be enough for in-system maneuvers. (talking about the in-system version here)

Call it a "Long Term Plan". =)


Quite the opposite. Tracking the light-cone of a thruster gives us the precise trajectory of a ship.(this one is about the interstellar stealth RKV)
How good is your resolution at interstellar distances? As I recall, we have problems spotting entire planets even when they cross the face of a star.

Having a couple of bright pixels tells you nothing apart from the energy of the drive and the mass of the ship. Your error in direction is going to be huge.

There is a diffraction limit to lenses that can't be improved without some fancy tricks (all of which require you to do something to the target), so at some distance, no matter how bright the drive, you can't tell the angle it is thrusting in to any degree of accuracy.
You'll need freaking huge telescopes (your limit goes down the bigger your telescope). Perhaps even on the order of many hundreds to thousands of km to resolve the plume well enough to determine direction.


Fair point on the drive heat. It'll have to radiated to avoid vapourizing the engine (although you can use things like Nuclear Salt Water rockets or their antimatter equivalents to chuck most of the heat in the exhaust; probably still need radiating though)


@Water_Bear:
If you're making an RKV, efficiency probably isn't on your mind. =D
But anyway, a stealth RKV makes sense because there's just about no way to deflect an RKV (too much momentum) and it doesn't matter what the RKV is made of, it'll do roughly the same amount of damage.

The stealth is just to maximize damage. If they spot it coming years out, (let's say you were crazy and did an interstellar slow continuous burn) there might not be anything on the planet when you hit it.

Knaight
2012-08-14, 12:45 PM
Indeed. Walking is complex, even on even surfaces. Bipedal walking exponentially more so and exponentially again for the rough, extremely variegated terrain of outdoors.
I remember reading of a fairly recent bipedal robot that when they unveiled it couldn't walk, despite working just fine in the lab. It turned out the unveiling event was hardwood floors while the lab where all the testing was done was concrete.
Yes, the difference was enough to make it so the super advanced robot couldn't walk.

With that said, quadrupedal walking is getting pretty impressive. Take a look at the Big Dog robot, which walked around outdoors easily, and even managed to stay up when it was walking on a frozen lake and somebody put their foot up to its side and pushed as hard as they could.

The Boz
2012-08-14, 12:51 PM
With that said, quadrupedal walking is getting pretty impressive. Take a look at the Big Dog robot, which walked around outdoors easily, and even managed to stay up when it was walking on a frozen lake and somebody put their foot up to its side and pushed as hard as they could.

When I watched that video, I shat my pants.

Snowbluff
2012-08-14, 03:13 PM
Tanks are obsolete. Not entirely sure why we are talking about them when better analogies exist. Jest fighters carry more in common to mechs, logistics-wise. (Single person attack craft.)

Stuff


F=MA

More mass means more thrust needed to move which means more mass needed for fuel with means more thrust which spirals down into a terrifying death-spiral. You are trying to do more with more, you should be doing more with less.

Well, you have to remember to use things like thrust vectoring. In Armored Core, smallers boosters are mounted on the limbs of the craft, allowing fewer thrusters to move in more directions. The limbs also absorb recoil by bending, which saves energy by limit the need for corrections.

The legs are almost entirely empty. They don't do much past hold boosters, motors, and (In Gen 4) they are empty enough to act as the hanger bays for the NEXTs. Later craft, such as the Sobrero, take this to the next logical extreme, with the mech being a wing with legs. Unfortunately, the design is rigid, nothing bends enough to absorb the recoil of the weapons it carries.


Nothing you can do with a mech can't be done with a tank like object of less mass, even wielding weapons in arms can be achieved (put arms on your tank, it will look and be silly, but you will end up with less mass and a smaller profile than a mech).


Tank Types in Armored Core.

Gen 1-3, 5. Tanks types,w with their lower CG higher mass, and wider base, can use cannon type weapons with no crouching require.

Gen 4 tanks do have the internal capacity for full-scale, NEXT grade arm weapons in their hanger bays.

Gen 5 brings up an interesting issue with the limitations of not having legs. The boosters in ACV aren't strong enough for lifting ACs a meaningful distance, and ones with legs are able to climb/jump off of buildings. Tanks turn faster while immobile (cuz tank treads, move one in one direction, move the other the other way).

If have arms on our tanks, why no just give then legs?



Again, when flying, volume is your best friend, and if humans can pilot mechs, they should be able to pilot similar brick shaped object just as well.

I meant bricks in the "try breaking this with you bare hand"/A-10 sense. Mobile Armor are bamfs, and no one should question that.



Again, if a mech can have boosters, so can a tank, and it should work better (easier landing, more rugged design and more volume for fuel).

The energy has to go somewhere. It's easier to snap a dry twig than a wet one. You don't drop rovers onto Mars without sky cranes.



Stuff about battleships

You're death-spiralling again. The rest makes sense, though. I agree here.


(due to handwavium/human shaped body for neural interface, unbeatable responsiveness of controls, etc.),

:smallannoyed:

Wait. Dude, do know about computerization? Fly-by-wire? Helmet mounted control systems? F22s are piloted by single pilots. As are a lot of modern fighters. There is no reason why a single pilot couldn't pilot any vehicle in this day and age. M1A2, why you no have autoloaders?

Ravens_cry
2012-08-14, 03:22 PM
With that said, quadrupedal walking is getting pretty impressive. Take a look at the Big Dog robot, which walked around outdoors easily, and even managed to stay up when it was walking on a frozen lake and somebody put their foot up to its side and pushed as hard as they could.
Indeed it did, and I am quite impressed.

Wardog
2012-08-14, 03:54 PM
So, some things going for mechs (bipedal in particular) over tanks:
- Not all the armament needs to be in one place (the turret)



*cough* Baneblade *cough*
http://www.susanbyrd.com/rob/projects/baneblade/complete/baneblade_008.jpg

***


Regarding "gliding into battle"

But yeah, unmanned crafts would be stealthier than manned ones but that violates Burnside's Zeroth Law of Space Combat (http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/prelimnotes.php#zerothlaw): Science fiction fans relate more to human beings than to silicon chips :smallbiggrin:

I've just finished readin Neal Asher's The Voyage of the Sable Keech.

Probably the coolest character in it is an AI with bad attitude and a nautilus-shaped war-drone body (capable of both space flight and Mach-3 underwater travel).


***

Also, while looking for Baneblade pics, I found this:
http://www.zoidspoison.com/images/px-news-hmmcannontortoise.jpg
Not a bipedal mech, but you can't go wrong with a giant war-tortoise of doom.

Reverent-One
2012-08-14, 04:05 PM
Also, while looking for Baneblade pics, I found this:
http://www.zoidspoison.com/images/px-news-hmmcannontortoise.jpg
Not a bipedal mech, but you can't go wrong with a giant war-tortoise of doom.

Oh Zoids, definitely not the most powerful mechs in fiction, but they've got some neat designs.

jseah
2012-08-14, 04:15 PM
*cough* Baneblade *cough*
My "blind" impression:
Suboptimal. That thing needs a bigger main gun and a more focused design.

If you didn't need an even bigger main gun, then make the tank smaller or sacrifice some of the sidearms for heavier armour. I take it this thing is meant to be the heaviest of the heavy tanks? Yeah, more armour.

That thing is as impractical as mecha. Too many guns, not enough ammunition space. If you just needed anti-light armour and anti-infantry, you want many light tanks that just a bit heavier than theirs instead of one super heavy tank. And the heavy armour design will still be better than this, that one will at least be even more invulnerable to the guns that light armour could mount.

But of course, the design principle of the Baneblade is clearly an engineering wiki exercise in "I wonder how many guns can I fit..." and the next engineer comes along and says "that thing could do with a " *flamethrower/minelayer/minesweeper/light machinegun/laser cannon...*

hamishspence
2012-08-14, 04:22 PM
The Baneblade has a "sister design"- the Shadowsword- that does have one huge gun and few point defence guns. Against most targets, it's overkill.

That's probably why they keep using Baneblades- because they're of use against a wide range of targets- rather than specializing in killing things bigger than themselves.

only1doug
2012-08-14, 04:26 PM
*cough* Baneblade *cough*

***

I've just finished readin Neal Asher's The Voyage of the Sable Keech.

Probably the coolest character in it is an AI with bad attitude and a nautilus-shaped war-drone body (capable of both space flight and Mach-3 underwater travel).

Thats a nice conversion baneblade (standard model only has one side sponson on each side) but 40k imperial tanks are so badly designed... (which is supposedly due to standard template design, not just cheapest molding for models). Why do the front and sponson mounted heavy bolters have such a narrow field of fire?

The side sponson bolters should have a 180 degree field of fire (on the standard model, slightly less on the conversion pictured) so they can target anything approaching them from the sides (where the armour is weaker than the front anyway, so the tank is more vulnerable).

hamishspence
2012-08-14, 04:37 PM
The rules do allow for two side turrets- though the model doesn't have them. Conversely, there's rules for not having any side turrets- which boosts the side armour.

deuxhero
2012-08-14, 04:48 PM
I liked how Metal Gear Solid 3 mocked the title Metal Gear


If you ask me, it's got to be a joke. Not only is making a tank walk on two legs a technical nightmare, but there's no point in making a walking tank to begin with. Putting legs on a tank would raise its clearance, increasing its frontal projection area. It'd also be less stable. Suppose the legs help the tank travel bad roads... I don't see the logic in that. Isn't that what treads are for? I mean, anyone who'd seriously consider making a thing like that has got to be a wacko. ...Come to think of it, there was a guy in the States who wrote a paper on that subject. What was his name... Emerson? Heinrich? ...Something like that; I don't really remember. 'Course, no one took that seriously.


Hmm... Would Custom Robo (which are less than a foot tall at their biggest) be viable in the real world assuming the "dive" part (where the commander controls a robo by mental link that makes the world move very slowly to them) worked, or is the series right in showing the two "military" robos as a (miniature) tank and jet?

Water_Bear
2012-08-14, 05:03 PM
Warhammer 40K is the epitome of nonsensical rule-of-cool sci-fi weaponry and tactics.

Most of the infantry and vehicle weapons, at least in the fluff, have extremely long ranges and little notable drop-off in killing power over distance. Yet they fight at such extremely short ranges that melee is considered an essential part of combat. The Tau are the worst offenders here, because they are at a huge disadvantage in melee and have some of the longest range guns.

Despite every race except the Orcs and Tyranids being easily capable of bombing planets into molten slag, planetary invasions happen with some frequency. These invasion forces will be pitifully small; even the imperial guard will drop mere millions of soldiers, and the Space Marines will likely send a single company to take an entire planet. The defense forces, even on worlds with billions of able-bodied citizens, will be on the same order of magnitude of the invasion forces.

A lot of the vehicle and weapon designs make less than no sense.

A chainsword, as anyone who has used a chainsaw will understand, would quickly be clogged with blood and organs as soon as it began to cut through an enemy's flesh.
Bolters ought to be long-range sniping weapons; their low ballistic arcs and the fact that they achieve maximum kinetic energy mid-way into their flight mean they are least effective at the short ranges where they are used.
Tanks are apparently designed like it was WWI; they are infantry support weapons with primarily short-range weapons. It would be suicidal if anyone figured out how to use artillery without wheeling it right up to the front lines, or if non-Apocalypse games had a high enough point buy to use air power.
Imperial Titans are a joke. They have every single flaw anyone has brought up about mechs here, plus the fact that they are the size of a sky-scraper.


I love WH40K and all of it's Grimdark glory, but it is not the place to find realistic or even plausible weapons.

Wardog
2012-08-14, 05:58 PM
But of course, the design principle of the Baneblade is clearly an engineering wiki exercise in "I wonder how many guns can I fit..." and the next engineer comes along and says "that thing could do with a " *flamethrower/minelayer/minesweeper/light machinegun/laser cannon...*

That sounds like the Predator I put together once (for modeling/artistic purposes, rather than gaming). I took the view that "why should I pay money for four sponson guns and two main guns, but only use half of them?"

***

As for "Why build mechs?", this is the Civlopedia text for the "Assault Mech" from the Civ4 mod "Next War":


Originally created to exert control over rebellious citizens of conquered cities, the earliest mechanized assault units were designed as much to be terrifying as they were to be militarily potent. Just park one of these monsters in the center of a city - the theory went - where it would literally tower over everything else within sight, and even the staunchest citizens would rapidly lose all interest in armed rebellion. Not surprisingly, the Assault Mechs proved quite effective at this task, and it was determined to try the units in field combat.

Military traditionalists have repeatedly pointed out that the Assault Mechs are very poorly designed weapons - farcically bad, some have even said. They're extremely tall and are almost impossible to camouflage, making them easy targets. Their two-legged gait is more complicated, more expensive, more vulnerable and less efficient than are treaded wheels. And if one of the blasted things fall over, it can't get up again without the assistance of massive cranes or helicopters. Yank off the legs and mount the chassis on treads, the experts say, and you'll get a better weapon at lower cost.

All this is true. However, the units have one thing going for them that more than compensates for all of their weaknesses: they're massively, enormously cool. Military planners have long noted that national governments often confuse coolness with effectiveness and are willing to pay a lot more for flashy armaments than they are for effective but dull systems. In other words, a military with Mech Assault units has an easier time getting its bloated budget approved than does one without them. As long as this continues, the Mech's future is assured.

Oracle_Hunter
2012-08-14, 06:13 PM
@Jseah
What Sensors Reveal (http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/spacewardetect.php#sensors)

In short, through a variety of modern day astronomy techniques (e.g. Doppler Shift analysis) we are very good at figuring out at lot about bright objects that are very far away. If you are accelerating at a speed to get a reasonable sized warship to travel interstellar distances in "a couple of decades" then your drive plume (http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/engines.php#massratio) counts as one of those.

This is about all I'll say about Space Stuff in this thread which is decidedly not about Space Stuff. If you want more info check out the Atomic Rockets website -- it has everything you could possibly want to know about "real" space ships.

hamishspence
2012-08-14, 06:15 PM
Despite every race except the Orcs and Tyranids being easily capable of bombing planets into molten slag, planetary invasions happen with some frequency.

Orks have access to heavy duty weaponry as well (plus asteroid-slinging). However, as Heinlein points out in Starship Troopers- no matter how good the Navy, there will always be reasons to take and hold territory on the ground.

Soylent Dave
2012-08-14, 11:51 PM
Mechs only exist in their universe because of the circular "well, it's cool" logic. They'd only make sense if the only thing that existed was other mechs.


Say what you want, but in Battletech, the existence of Mechs can actually be justified [...] via cultural and economic factors, which always shape the military as much as technology does.

The modern-day not-quite-equivalent would be helicopters, surely.

For most situations, helicopters are suboptimal. They're ludicrously vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire, being too slow to avoid it and impossible to armour up enough to withstand much. They aren't as fast or as heavily armed as jet fighters. They can't carry as much materiel as either cargo planes or ground vehicles.

Aside from deploying troops to the places that only a helicopter can get to (i.e. halfway up a mountain), every job a helicopter does, something else does better.

But both the USA* and Russia* (in particular) use them in vast numbers - and spend millions on developing new tactics, and better helicopters (including ways to mitigate their vulnerabilities).

Because they have them in large numbers. They have industries devoted to their manufacture and maintenance. They have helicopter-specific tactics developed and in use. They have personnel trained to use them.

At this point, it's easier - and cheaper - to carry on using helicopters than it is to scrap most of them, train new personnel and develop all-new tactics. The gains made by replacing them all with something new wouldn't be so significant as to make it worthwhile.

The fact that there are vehicles which do certain things better certainly doesn't mean that helicopters are useless or obsolete. If a nation was starting from scratch, it probably wouldn't build helicopters in the same proportion the USA* has (for example) - but nations don't start from scratch, and neither do their arsenals.

There are other historical examples of sub-par weapons and tactics being retained (even successfully) because replacing an entire weapon system is not something any nation-state does lightly.

And 'suboptimal' doesn't mean 'rubbish'.

So all you really need in the fluff is a reason why they started using Mechs - and then built them in large enough numbers for them to become the mainstay weapon (or perhaps a reason why tanks weren't developed until later - when Mechs had already been well-established).

**I'm using these examples because they are nations which use a disproportionate number of helicopters compared to the rest of the world.

I'm not trying to imply that either nation is particularly foolish or unique in this regard - I'm just using an example, not making a judgement call. I'd imagine most - if not all - nations have examples of this (e.g. I know the UK continued building the vastly outclasssed Churchill tanks throughout WWII)

Beleriphon
2012-08-15, 01:19 AM
The only setting I find that actually makes any degree of sense for mechs Heavy Gear. Largely because it recognizes that tanks can mount heavier weapons, and mount heavier armour but tend to be limited in the extremely mountainous terrain where the battles tend to occur.

Gears are also sort of sensible if you look at them as an extension of the original technology found in exoskeletons designed for industrial use. Slap some armour on one of those and you have some crude power armour.

Brother Oni
2012-08-15, 04:33 AM
The modern-day not-quite-equivalent would be helicopters, surely.

A number of good points, but I wouldn't under-estimate the advantages of getting things in and out of places that would otherwise be impossible.

Naval operations often make use of helicopters, be it for lifting materiel, troop transport, search and rescue or anti-submarine warfare.

Even in a combat role, there are also a number of things that jets simply can't do but helicopters can such taking advantage of the terrain more effectively (I've seen pictures of recon helicopters hiding down the side of a motorway embankment) or hiding behind things and doing 'pop up' attacks before retreating behind cover again.
Even attack helicopters can be used to ferry troops around (I remember reading a report where troops were strapped to the outside of a pair of Apaches and carried into combat), something that a jet wouldn't be able to do.

I agree that for most of these roles, there's something which does it better, but that's the nature of specialist vehicles compared to a generalist ones.

I certainly agree that political, military and economic inertia would keep suboptimal equipment/vehicles around, so your suggestion of finding something in the fluff that ensures mechs hang around is probably the best solution.


The only setting I find that actually makes any degree of sense for mechs Heavy Gear. Largely because it recognizes that tanks can mount heavier weapons, and mount heavier armour but tend to be limited in the extremely mountainous terrain where the battles tend to occur.


The old PS2 game Ring of Red had a similar explanation for mechs; as an alternate WW2 history universe, mechs were mostly confined to difficult terrain such as Japan. On European and African battlefields they were simply out-performed by tanks.
Interestingly enough, the mechs are also heavily supported by infantry, even the predominantly melee based anti-mech mechs.

The Patlabor anime had a good basis; they initially started out as construction machines, but people started using them for crime, hence the development of police mecha for built up urban environments.
The military mechs in this universe are mostly tank developments, avoiding the humanoid shape.

Gasaraki, the various Ghost in the Shell universes and Appleseed, have essentially power armour mechs, so partially sidestep the effectiveness comparison to tanks.

Interestingly enough, Shirow's other series, Dominion, makes heavy use of light tanks rather than mechs, with the No More Noise side-universe having a more detailed/realistic depiction (there's a 'behind the scenes' article where he draws what a 'real' Bonaparte tank would look like).

Serafina
2012-08-15, 05:04 AM
Helicopters don't have a functional equivalent.
Mechs do, in the form of armored vehicles.

While a helicopter is certainly very vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire, that doesn't make it useless. Rather, it simply means that you have to keep them out of the line of fire.
On the one hand that can be accomplished by taking advantage of the terrain - anti-aircraft guns need line of sight, and missiles have trouble locking onto targets near the ground or behind terrain features.
But more importantly it means not deploying helicopters where enemy anti-air is present. That can be behind the frontlines, in a transport-role. And it can mean picking off targets that are not covered by enemy anti-air. Which also means that the enemy has to protect all valuable assets - even those on the move - with anti-air.

Mechs on the other hand do not offer a speed or notable mobility advantage over tanks. If you can attack it with a mech, 90% of the time you can attack it with a tank. The only real exception are mountains and maybe woodland.
They may not have such a huge vulnerability as helicopters do - but they are equally (likely more) vulnerable to anti-tank weaponry as tanks.


An attack helicopter costs about as much as a tank (AH-64 Apache: ~20 Million $. M1A Abrams: 21 Million $). In exchange for not being armored, it is about three times as fast and can be used in any terrain - and flies, which means it can only be taken out by specialized weaponry (just like a tank).
A mech would have a significantly higher cost, due to having more moving parts and needing more advanced technology, while still being heavily armored. It would not have a notable speed advantage, and is significantly hindered by terrain - it might be better able to cope with hills and mountains, as well as light forests, but it is still affected by them and by rivers, buildings etc.



Overall - maybe mechs will be developed as specialist vehicle for mountain warfare. A big maybe, but its possible.
But those mechs would likely be four, six- or eight-legged, employ a turret instead of arms and wouldn't be built for speed which they could not achieve in mountainous terrain anyway. In other words - they would be walkers, not humanoid combat machines.

Bhaakon
2012-08-15, 05:31 AM
Overall - maybe mechs will be developed as specialist vehicle for mountain warfare. A big maybe, but its possible.
But those mechs would likely be four, six- or eight-legged, employ a turret instead of arms and wouldn't be built for speed which they could not achieve in mountainous terrain anyway. In other words - they would be walkers, not humanoid combat machines.

Sounds like a job that would be better performed by helicopters and other forms of close air support, to be honest.

Serafina
2012-08-15, 05:56 AM
Most likely, which is why i say that it is unlikely that such walkers will be developed.

But assuming the following factors apply, they would make sense:
- you can not armor a helicopter against man-portable anti-air weapons
- you CAN armor a walker against man-portable anti-tank weapons, including at it's joints
- you have to fight a prolonged, mobile campaign in mountainous terrain.
then walkers would be useful assets, because the enemy would either have to use his own walkers, stationary guns or air support to take out your walkers - just like you have to use tanks, stationary guns or air support to deal with tanks (though man-portable weapons work up close).

That's a rather specific set of circumstances.
First of all, combat in mountains is slow in strategic and tactical speed, so the enemy will likely have fortified positions. That makes combat much less about mobility.
Second, it is questionable how well you can armor such a vehicle against man-portable weaponry. It's certainly possible, and if you have point-defense weapons very viable - those might be too heavy for a helicopter but possible on a walker.

Still, such walkers would
- not be mechs. Any advantage conveyed by a humanoid shape is provided by a quadruped (or more) walker, and a lot of disadvantages (such as height and targeting profile, as well as arms) are negated by it
- specialist weapons, since tanks would be better in most terrain.

Brother Oni
2012-08-15, 06:23 AM
But assuming the following factors apply, they would make sense:
- you can not armor a helicopter against man-portable anti-air weapons
- you CAN armor a walker against man-portable anti-tank weapons, including at it's joints
- you have to fight a prolonged, mobile campaign in mountainous terrain.
then walkers would be useful assets, because the enemy would either have to use his own walkers, stationary guns or air support to take out your walkers - just like you have to use tanks, stationary guns or air support to deal with tanks (though man-portable weapons work up close).


Actually another rather important factor that I think you've overlooked - weather. In poor visibility or high winds, a helicopter could not be able to fly, while a mech would be able to keep on chugging along.
Additionally, in mountainous areas, poor weather tends to be more likely, thus improving the viability of mechs.

With regard to the armouring, mechs could take leaf out of tanks' book and focus it towards a particular direction (ie, the front), so retaining the effectiveness, but reducing the weight and cost.

Out of curiousity, what is your opinion on the usefulness of small (human sized or slightly larger) mechs or power suits in urban combat? Would the CQB conditions of counter-insurgency operations push the development of potential mechs, or would cost-effectiveness be too much of an issue?

Serafina
2012-08-15, 07:05 AM
Powered Armor is highly useful if
- you can build it (duh)
- supply it with energy for a reasonable amount of time (8-12 hours should be minimum), and recharge it quickly (such as by switching out batteries) and/or take it off once it runs out of power.
- you can't build robots or remote-controled drones instead
- or you need a human element to prevent jamming or hacking.

Because ultimately you need infantry-level combatants whenever you want to occupy territory. You can bomb the **** out of a country without any infantry, but if you want resources or mass murder isn't viable for political reasons you need infantry.

The United States are in fact currently developing a powered exoskeleton - but this is not to put an external suit of armor around the wearer, but rather to lighten their combat load and increase their endurance. Basically, the soldier can either carry more gear - more magazines, or heavier weapons - or carries the same gear but without getting exhausted as quickly.
By the same principle you can also put more bodyarmor on the wearer, and putting the armor outside of the exoskeleton (to protect it as well) is the logical next step. However, right now the Exoskeleton must be expendable - we simply can't build good enough batteries to keep it running long enough, and you don't want a soldier to get stuck in combat while being weighted down by his weight in armor because your suit ran out of power.


Does that usefulness translate to small mechs (such as powerloaders from Alien, Matrix or Avatar)?
Any such machine would be much more limited than a human in powered armor. It can't enter most buildings (since those will be built for humans, not 3.25 meter tall, .75 meter wide walkers), nor can it make use of a lot of cover a soldier can use. So you lose most of the reasons to use soldiers in the first place.
So what does it bring to the table?
Presumably immunity to small-arms fire and the ability to use heavy weapons.
But wait a minute - small vehicles, such as armored cars, can do that as well! Sure, they can't enter buildings - but neither can our minimech. Oh, and forget about rooftops - aside from getting there, the roof would have to be reinforced to hold the weight (and it most likely won't).
Worse, you don't actually want heavy firepower for occupation - the point is to be discriminate in your destruction and killing, using heavy weapons is kinda defeating that point.

So basically - no, i don't see such suits being deployed for occupation purposes. They might be useful for carrying and loading heavy stuff, but those would not be armored or include weaponry. On an actual battlefied they are too big and expensive - while still being nowhere near as armored as a vehicle - to be of any use.


Now keep in mind that all of this assumes that we can't replace a large percentage of the human element with drones.
A single soldier in heavy powered armor could control a squad of semi-autonomous drones, for example. The proximity reduces the odds of jamming, and it's rather easy to protect against hacking in such a situation as well. It'd result in putting less bodies on the ground (which is good politically), and you can still operate on the same scale as infantry.
However, there is little reason to have these drones to be human-like. A multiped walker or a wheeled or tracked, about dog-sized vehicle works just as well - it can scale the same obstacles, enter the same buildings and can take better advantage of cover, while still carrying the same weapons. The accompanying soldier(s) could do all the delicate tasks that need to be done, such as clearing rubble, restraining civilians or opening doors non-violently.




Really, it shouldn't be any surprise that we can design better weapon platforms than the human shape. We're not built for combat with ranged weapons, much less exclusively built for combat - we're built as tool-users, our height allowing us to keep overwatch on open terrain against predators. A combat vehicle or robot is not supposed to use tools, nor does it need to look over tall grass (and if it does, strap on a periscope). Nor is it restrained by any evolutionary ancestry, we can build it in any form that happens to be most practical.

Serafina
2012-08-15, 09:16 AM
Another area where Mechs would make sense is arena-style combat. Because there being cool actually matters, and efficiency doesn't as long as the same rules apply to all combatants.

Assuming a mature technology to build them exists, small mechs could also be used by police forces for riot control - likewise because intimidation matters there, and a mech provides plenty of that. Of course you'd only do so when you'd also send riot vehicles, and mechs can't do anything those can't do, but still.


So overall, we have three areas where people might conceivably build mechs:
- Arena-style battles are the most likely
- For Riot Control in police forces.
- Using them as powerloaders for heavy lifting in areas where you can't or won't build fixed cranes

Mechs from all three areas could conceivably be used as makeshift military vehicles in times of war. Only the former two would be any good in combat - the latter would have to be heavily modified. And they would still be worse than ordinary military vehicles - including the area-mechs - but if you want a heroic character fighting in a mech with supreme skill, overcoming obstacles, then that's your best bet if you want to do it realistically.

Kiero
2012-08-15, 10:53 AM
The modern-day not-quite-equivalent would be helicopters, surely.


Before the second Iraq War, there was a military doctrine gaining in popularity that considered a helicopter gunship equivalent to a main battle tank. After all, they had similar abilities to lay down punishment.

However, the critical area in which they were not alike was durability. A helicopter can take a handful of RPG hits before it's taken out. An MBT can take tens of RPG hits. Guess which one was proved the more useful in asymmetric warfare?

Serafina
2012-08-15, 11:30 AM
Both a helicopter and a tank can be taken out by a single man-portable weapon under the right circumstances and with the right weapon.

For a Helicopter, you either need a target that is hovering still and a good angle of attack for a rocket like an RPG, or a guided missile like a Stinger.
For a tank, you need a modern anti-tank missile like an Javelin ATGM, or a modern rocket-launched shaped-charge explosive like an RPG-32 at a relatively short range.

The Helicopter can take less hits, but is far less likely to be hit by non-guided weaponry. The tank can take a lot of hits from most weapons, but a specialized missile or rocket can still inflict significant damage and possibly a mission-kill.


Note that the instances of MBTs in Iraq and Afghanistan taking dozens or hundreds of RPG-hits were by pretty untrained personel and, more importantly, by outdated RPG-7s (and sometimes even older models). Not surprisingly those would damage a helicopter, but hitting a moving helicopter is pretty damn hard. You can of course hit a hovering one in urban terrain, but that's a rather specific circumstance.

Kiero
2012-08-15, 11:43 AM
Note that the instances of MBTs in Iraq and Afghanistan taking dozens or hundreds of RPG-hits were by pretty untrained personel and, more importantly, by outdated RPG-7s (and sometimes even older models). Not surprisingly those would damage a helicopter, but hitting a moving helicopter is pretty damn hard. You can of course hit a hovering one in urban terrain, but that's a rather specific circumstance.

Note my last sentence: in asymmetric warfare.

Dead_Jester
2012-08-15, 11:49 PM
An MBT can take tens of RPG hits.

This is probably due to the people shooting the RPG's either not using the correct warheads for the job (aka, don't shoot tanks with HE or Willy Pete's) or improperly maintained warheads not exploding correctly. Of course, aiming for the right spots (threads, gap between the hull and the turret, etc.) does an immense difference, a hit to the threads with any decent anti-tank weapon should disable them, but don't expect a lot of result from shooting the frontal armor straight on.

However, most helicopters can be taken down with non-explosive weaponry, including most things 0.50 cal and up; your best defense in a combat environment as a helicopter is hiding behind building/hills, leaving your radar slightly exposed. You can than freely peek in and out more or less at your leisure with an extremely limited target profile.

In any case, the modern, urban asymetrical warfare is pretty bad for everything except precision guided ordnance as far as combat performance and ease of killing; the setting puts the attacker at an immense disadvantage.

As for the viability of man-sized power armor, I think the technology is possible, but it would need specific conditions to become a reality; you need reasons to warrant dramatically heavier armor and/or weaponry on the infantry level, such as a large shift in the relative efficiency of either body armor or standard firearms, which would lead to supersizing of the other until technology could catch up in an effort to nullify the difference or swing the pendulum the other way. Fighting in space could also favor the development of powered exo-suits (as derivatives of current space suits), as you would want as much armor as possible (and, conversely, more firepower), and the added weight would be rendered mostly negligible anyways.

Serafina
2012-08-15, 11:57 PM
As i said, powered exoskeletons are already in development.
It isn't far from that to using it to strap more armor on a soldier. That armor doesn't have to consist of tank-like armor plates, it's much more likely to be what it is right now - ballistic fibers and some sewn-in metal armor. You can do a lot with that - but right now you are constrained by weight-issues, since a soldier is already carrying a lot of gear. Give them an exoskeleton that carries most of that weight and you can increase the weight of their armor.

So if you think "powered armor", think "a soldier wearing a weight-alleviating exoskeleton, with a ballistic west that weights three times as much and covers most of his body". That can still go everywhere and do everything a modern soldier can.

Beleriphon
2012-08-16, 01:05 AM
So if you think "powered armor", think "a soldier wearing a weight-alleviating exoskeleton, with a ballistic west that weights three times as much and covers most of his body". That can still go everywhere and do everything a modern soldier can.

Again, Heavy Gear has a slightly silly reason for the "mechs". They had mountains, they fought in mountains, against invaders using something akin to a multi-limb or floating walker using existing resources: heavy lifter exoskeletons.

Functionally the idea is that the residents of Terra Nova armoured up their existing Gears, slapped on some over sized rifles and went into battle. As I understand the idea was they needed something they could deploy quickly that could take out a tank, without heaving anything on their own side that could take out a tank. I suppose for the writer of the game it made more sense that the locals could make really big rifles faster than they could build tanks. They could also use mining equipment that would put really big holes in the invaders vehicles.

After that, well cultural momentum can account for a great many things. This is taking into account the fact that Heavy Gear acknowledges that infantry, tanks and even helicopters and jets are still used, Gears are just the coolest part of the game so they get the focus. There's even a few walkers that aren't humanoid shaped, but rather multilimbed and can carry several hard mounted Gear weapons.

Akodo Makama
2012-08-16, 04:07 AM
Fighting in space could also favor the development of powered exo-suits (as derivatives of current space suits), as you would want as much armor as possible (and, conversely, more firepower), and the added weight would be rendered mostly negligible anyways.

Fighting in space, mass counts double in the bad column.

First, you just have to get it into space. 50 MJ (15 kWh) per kilogram to get to geosync. And that number assumes to have perfect transfer of energy all the way up. If you're using rockets, you have to get the rockets and their fuel up there, too. Sadly, you can't get that energy back by falling down, as most of it will be lost to adiabatic compression of the atmosphere.

Second, while the weight may be 'gone', the mass isn't. Any time you want to turn, start moving, or moving, you have to spend energy directly proportional to the mass of the object. Except in space, you don't get the free ability to push off a nearly immobile planet, or even it's fairly thick atmosphere. You have only what you brought with you. If you want mobility batter than your average garden slug, you want to be as small and light as possible.

Brother Oni
2012-08-16, 05:18 AM
Assuming a mature technology to build them exists, small mechs could also be used by police forces for riot control - likewise because intimidation matters there, and a mech provides plenty of that. Of course you'd only do so when you'd also send riot vehicles, and mechs can't do anything those can't do, but still.

Given that we still use cavalry for riot control (judging from the recent London riots), I'd say that mechs would be perfectly viable to use, regardless of the availability of riot vehicles.

There's a video from those riots of a cavalry charge breaking up a crowd of rioters on youtube - if you replaced the horses with riot vans or armoured vehicles, the outcry would be massive, even if the vehicles were only travelling at the same speed as the horses.
Walking mechs may bridge that acceptability gap of using mounted officers over relatively faceless vehicles.


So if you think "powered armor", think "a soldier wearing a weight-alleviating exoskeleton, with a ballistic west that weights three times as much and covers most of his body". That can still go everywhere and do everything a modern soldier can.

Even if the operational duration or the limited mobility of the armour make it unviable for combat purposes, there's plenty of other options that such a suit can be used - EOD or logisitics for example.

Dead_Jester
2012-08-16, 02:29 PM
Fighting in space, mass counts double in the bad column.

First, you just have to get it into space. 50 MJ (15 kWh) per kilogram to get to geosync. And that number assumes to have perfect transfer of energy all the way up. If you're using rockets, you have to get the rockets and their fuel up there, too. Sadly, you can't get that energy back by falling down, as most of it will be lost to adiabatic compression of the atmosphere.

Second, while the weight may be 'gone', the mass isn't. Any time you want to turn, start moving, or moving, you have to spend energy directly proportional to the mass of the object. Except in space, you don't get the free ability to push off a nearly immobile planet, or even it's fairly thick atmosphere. You have only what you brought with you. If you want mobility batter than your average garden slug, you want to be as small and light as possible.

Of course, any kind of serious fighting in space only becomes viable if you have a way to either gather material and manufacture things up there already, or a means to get a lot of material there with relatively little energy (like a space elevator); once you get there, direct physical mobility in contact with objects shouldn't be a problem (you can optimize power to mass ratio of mechanical pistons much better than the human physical level), it's zero-g maneuvering that is the primary problem. It's the fundamental nature of space combat, you can either have a lot of potential maneuverability, or a lot of armor mass, but not both, and the problem is alleviated the bigger your size due to the interaction between the square and cube laws; your plating surface and interior supports grow as a mostly square function, while your usable volume grow according to a cubic function, so the bigger your size, the better your ratio of mass to thrust (fuel mass to engine power is a mostly constant ratio, but plating mass is reduced in proportion to the total mass), assuming identical designs. Of course, practical man-sized armor is to small to benefit from this.

As such, the mass you want to target for your space combat infantry depends on if you need it to be highly maneuverability in an empty void, and the potential damage of your opponent's weaponry; suits designed for use in dense areas (things like large stations and the like) could be much more massive than those designed for complete void operation, and still have nearly the same maneuverability as long as they don't need to use thrusters to move around and the surrounding structures are rugged enough to handle the force applied to them. More mass in space also means that projectile weapons that aren't missiles have less effect on your own movement.

MukkTB
2012-08-16, 03:53 PM
Space marine armor may or may not ever become viable. If it does it would make sense to sometimes use a larger suit that is "more piloted than worn." Possibly somewhat like the warhammer 40K dreadnoughts.

Going bigger than that isn't really necessary. I can't see a scenario where a large mech would be more cost effective than properly used existing military equipment.

Kane0
2012-08-17, 12:25 AM
Cause (http://media.moddb.com/images/groups/1/3/2175/auto/CNCTW_Juggernaut_HQ_Render.png) most mecha (http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/cnc/images/c/c8/Titan_CC3_DevRend1.jpg) is awesome (http://mecha-master.deviantart.com/gallery/?offset=0)

And what would be more scary bearing down on you: This (http://i159.photobucket.com/albums/t136/Vaporlinx/MammothTank1.png?t=1229930519) or this (http://myweb.cableone.net/thor276/MUSIC/MW4Intro.jpg)?

Edit: I made my semi-serious case a while back, I just love me my battletech.

Coidzor
2012-08-17, 12:55 AM
I must admit that I don't quite grok the whole intimidation argument.

Gavinfoxx
2012-08-17, 01:08 AM
Space marine armor may or may not ever become viable. If it does it would make sense to sometimes use a larger suit that is "more piloted than worn." Possibly somewhat like the warhammer 40K dreadnoughts.

Going bigger than that isn't really necessary. I can't see a scenario where a large mech would be more cost effective than properly used existing military equipment.

Or Knights. Or the Tau suits. Or that one Grey Knight suit. Those are the 'smallish' suits... and I really wish that they would do more with piloted things of this scale in 40k...

Brother Oni
2012-08-17, 07:11 AM
I must admit that I don't quite grok the whole intimidation argument.

As I understand it, simple height/size.

Despite being evolved humans, there's a little button somewhere in the primitive recesses of our brain that's marked 'it's bigger than me, be afraid'.
While this instinct may get over-ridden by training or experience, for the average person in the midst of an adrenaline fuelled fight or flight response, something large and hostile is more threatening than something small and hostile and hence more intimidating.

It's the primary reason why they still use mounted officers, despite the potential skittishness of horses in riot situtations.

Dead_Jester
2012-08-17, 07:24 AM
Or Knights. Or the Tau suits. Or that one Grey Knight suit. Those are the 'smallish' suits... and I really wish that they would do more with piloted things of this scale in 40k...

Knights, especially the Eldar style ones, are much too tall for the size of their footprint, and comparatively outgunned by super-heavy tanks. They are, however, wholly justified in-universe, again because of the feudal society built around them.

The Grey Knight suit is probably the worse idea since the old Eldar War Walker; it gives little or no protection to the pilot who is exposed and stuck in the front; no matter if it's viable, snipers will have a field day with your pilots. Standard dreadnought are slightly better, as they give full protection to the "pilot" and the design is both dependent on a proud warrior society and on human-to-machine interfaces only working with man-shaped objects. They are also scaled to fit snugly inside the standard deployment vehicle, which is too small for a multiple crew vehicle. The legged design is also an advantage for urban conflict, where you can more easily go through interior spaces and changing escalations without making your weaponry hard or impossible to use, and "arms" are only used for melee combat, at which they tend to unsurprisingly massacre other tanks, although they are usually outgunned by them at range.

Tau suits are more or less the big end of the "somewhat viable exo-suit" rather than full mechs, and are wholly dependent on sci-fi tech to operate (at least, the Tau have the sense to use their anti-grav technology on their tanks too, and don't build mechs to rival them).

As for the rest of the 40k universe, discounting the whole "the Mechanicus doesn't dare change anything", the Titans are probably much too heavy even for their oversized feet to be able to stand on anything short of solid bedrock, although their height does give them an advantage over similarly sized tanks due to weapon ranges being more or less limited to line-of-sight in the 40k universe (that is, if you don't put flamethrowers on your dozens or hundreds of meter tall mech). They also profit from the fact that most of their defense comes from banks of shielding that aren't down-sizable to man or even super-heavy tank scale, although they still tend to get butchered by a similar cost group of super-heavy tanks.

Also, on the topic of intimidation, the main advantage of mechs is that they tower over you; you can get an idea for this by going to any major city, and standing at the bottom of a wide but short office building (it's impressive), and than at the bottom of a thinner skyscraper; the later is much more intimidating, even if it could be much smaller than the first. The fact that the depth of either buildings is entirely ignored in both these cases further makes tanks fundamental less impressive than a similarly weighted but taller mech, unless the precise capabilities of both are understood by the combatants, at which point they become the main factor for trained soldiers.

Serafina
2012-08-17, 08:50 AM
As I understand it, simple height/size.

Despite being evolved humans, there's a little button somewhere in the primitive recesses of our brain that's marked 'it's bigger than me, be afraid'.
While this instinct may get over-ridden by training or experience, for the average person in the midst of an adrenaline fuelled fight or flight response, something large and hostile is more threatening than something small and hostile and hence more intimidating.

It's the primary reason why they still use mounted officers, despite the potential skittishness of horses in riot situtations.That would't work against soldiers though - military training is pretty darn good at countering such instincts. Tanks had a huge intimidation factor initially - and they still due, but only because the soldier knows how dangerous the tank is, not because it's a big vehicle that makes the earth rumble as it passes by.
Agains civilians, for riot control, it would work though.

only1doug
2012-08-17, 09:02 AM
That would't work against soldiers though - military training is pretty darn good at countering such instincts. Tanks had a huge intimidation factor initially - and they still due, but only because the soldier knows how dangerous the tank is, not because it's a big vehicle that makes the earth rumble as it passes by.
Agains civilians, for riot control, it would work though.

Yup, a Trained soldier would look at the mech and think of ways to disable it, like all those weak spots on the legs.

Oracle_Hunter
2012-08-17, 10:08 AM
That would't work against soldiers though - military training is pretty darn good at countering such instincts. Tanks had a huge intimidation factor initially - and they still due, but only because the soldier knows how dangerous the tank is, not because it's a big vehicle that makes the earth rumble as it passes by.

Agains civilians, for riot control, it would work though.
Interestingly, this means mecha would make excellent Terror Weapons for use against soft targets. Perhaps not Gundam-sized ones but certainly Heavy Gear-sized mecha would be excellent to oppress civilians and break up para-military forces.

Again, "cultural" reasons at play but it would give a good reason for the development of Mecha and even their use by a post-apocalyptic world.
Mecha were initially developed by The Overlord to showcase his nation's technological superiority to outside nations and his own people. In time, the Mecha became an entrenched symbol of the Overlord's authority and he decided to produce a corps of Mecha that could be dispatched to quell riots and rebellions.

As the need for these sorts of operations grew the Overlord's factories began producing a lighter version of his original "Honor Guard" model better suited for intimidation and crowd-control: lighter armor for enhanced mobility and close-ranged anti-personnel weapons and defenses instead of long-ranged weapons and sensors. These "Patriotic Guardians" served impressively at their duties and soon the Overlord's nation was calm.

However, this calm was only superficial. Behind the scenes the Rebellion was marshalling its strength and subverting the more far-flung "PatGuard" regiments. When the Rebels struck they did so with retooled PatGuards equipped with crude anti-armor weapons and burned a bloody swathe through the countryside. The Overlord's capitol defense forces were by now made up of antiquated tanks and fighter jets but his war-factories had been tuned to Guardian production for so long that they could not be quickly converted to produce more tanks and planes, much less new ones. To hold back the Rebel Forces he ordered the production of heavier Guardians nicknamed "Guard Dogs" that were outfitted with scaled-up infantry anti-armor weapons and terrifying anti-personnel devices to break the still largely unarmored Rebel forces.

The war between the Rebels and Guard Dogs were devastating to the cities of the nation as both sides sought to capture or destroy anything that could be used to produce more Guardians. In the end, the Rebels were able to push the Overlord's forces back into his capitol but they could not overwhelm the Overlord's marshaled forces of tanks, planes and Guardians. The war only ended with the detonation of a nuclear device within the heart of the Overlord's Palace which destroyed the heart of the Overlord's war-machine and irradiated what was left of his might. While no one is certain who was responsible for the act -- and its thousands of civilian casualties -- it did end the war in the Rebel's favor.

With much of the nation's industrial capacity destroyed the remaining Guardians became the mightiest force left and formed the backbone of the new state.

jseah
2012-08-17, 12:27 PM
Cue accusations of human rights abuse and claims of using too heavy a hand.

The more menacing a thing is, the better it is at breaking up a riot.
The more awesome it looks as it stomps makeshift car barricades, the better (or worse) a headline it makes.

Seriously, can you imagine using a 6ft tall mech as riot control and NOT have newspapers screaming abuse of power with a frontpage colour picture of a riot mech standing amidst smoke and wreckage, one foot pinning a protestor to the ground and one arm firing tear gas canisters?
What reporter could resist such a picture? It's just TOO awesome. >.>

Granted, I totally can imagine it, and it would be very eye-catching. The public relations hit might not be worth it.

Knaight
2012-08-17, 01:00 PM
Cue accusations of human rights abuse and claims of using too heavy a hand.

Seriously, can you imagine using a 6ft tall mech as riot control and NOT have newspapers screaming abuse of power with a frontpage colour picture of a riot mech standing amidst smoke and wreckage, one foot pinning a protestor to the ground and one arm firing tear gas canisters?
What reporter could resist such a picture? It's just TOO awesome. >.>

Granted, I totally can imagine it, and it would be very eye-catching. The public relations hit might not be worth it.

Said accusations seem entirely valid to me, particularly as anything good at breaking up a riot is even better at breaking up a peaceful protest.

jseah
2012-08-17, 01:12 PM
An open free society isn't likely to want one of them in other words.

Dictatorships will want them, but mechs are expensive and to have enough of them to make a difference will cost.
Dictatorships are not known for being rich.

Oracle_Hunter
2012-08-17, 01:13 PM
Cue accusations of human rights abuse and claims of using too heavy a hand.
Well, obviously no peace-loving Democracy would use such a thing. Malevolent dictators tend to listen more to Machiavelli of course :smallamused:

Still, I can imagine their deployment for domestic "anti-terrorism" actions in a suitably dystopian Democracy. Immune to small-arms fire and B/C attacks and more explosion-resistant than your average SWAT Team Member -- pretty attractive, no?

Knaight
2012-08-17, 01:15 PM
An open free society isn't likely to want one of them in other words.

Dictatorships will want them, but mechs are expensive and to have enough of them to make a difference will cost.
Dictatorships are not known for being rich.

Dictatorships can probably also get away with just using outright military vehicles, up to and including tanks.

jseah
2012-08-17, 01:25 PM
Yeah, tanks. Even we non-China chinese don't like to think about that one.
That was not a good day.

I wonder which would garner more outrage though. A 6ft tall riot mech looks menacing and would certainly make for an awesome frontpage picture, but a picture of a column of tanks says things are going downhill fast.
Mechs are too gimmicky to be treated seriously. Tanks and airstrikes have more of that "overwhelming power" thing.

When you start calling in heavy armour to deal with a protest is when people start calling for your head. And then it gets real ugly, real quick.


Still, I can imagine their deployment for domestic "anti-terrorism" actions in a suitably dystopian Democracy. Immune to small-arms fire and B/C attacks and more explosion-resistant than your average SWAT Team Member -- pretty attractive, no?
Also very expensive. But hey, if you're using armour on your own civilians, clearly you don't care about that anymore.

Knaight
2012-08-17, 01:27 PM
Yeah, tanks. Even we non-China chinese don't like to think about that one.
That was not a good day.

I'm pretty sure this is in running for understatement of the century.

Oracle_Hunter
2012-08-17, 01:31 PM
Also very expensive. But hey, if you're using armour on your own civilians, clearly you don't care about that anymore.
And, like any good part of the military-industrial complex, costs can be made very politically attractive.

TBH, I can see Heavy Gear-sized Mecha for para-military usage long before anyone would bother with Gundamn-scale mecha.

And, of course, Starship Trooper-style Power Armor soonest of all.

jseah
2012-08-17, 02:24 PM
I'm pretty sure this is in running for understatement of the century.
What can I say? Tanks are pretty good at silencing protest.
That was pretty much how it was described to me when I was younger. All I was told was "something very bad happened in China when you were born, don't ask", and that was after I worked out the implied meanings, it wasn't even said to be "very bad", more "don't ask". I asked anyway but everyone either didn't know or didn't want to talk about it.

Only after Google came around did I find out the full details of Tiananmen.
------------------

And likewise, I can get behind powered armour and mechs that aren't heavy armour. With armour only good enough to stop anti-personnel weapons, mechs might still be light enough to make use of their mobility potential.

Zorg
2012-08-17, 03:30 PM
As for fighter jets - well, most of those do use two pilots.
But they are actually comparable to mechs - except that you can spare a dedicated driver because there is no terrain to worry about, and a gunner because the missiles are more automatic than a gun and you can't aim them manually anyway. If you use a gun on your jet, it is lined up with the plane anyway, comparable to a mechs weapons, so the pilot has to control them anyway.

Bit late, but most fighters are one man vehicles. Some are two seaters like the F-14, but it's only when you get to light bombers / strike aircraft (like the F111) that you generally see more crew.
Fighters generally have very set missions, especially when doing ground strikes. They're controlled and directed by ground forces and basically shoot at what they're told when they're told to do it.

The second person in a fighter like the F-14 doesn't control the weapons either. They are a radar operator and run other systems (ECM etc). Similarly in a helo gunship like the Apache the forward operator designates targets and monitors the radar, but the pilot/commander shoots everything.

That's wha I liked about the Battlemaster's tandem setup - you'd have the commadner stomping things and whatnot while the 2iC monitored the battlefield and systems.

snoopy13a
2012-08-17, 04:13 PM
The second person in a fighter like the F-14 doesn't control the weapons either. They are a radar operator and run other systems (ECM etc). Similarly in a helo gunship like the Apache the forward operator designates targets and monitors the radar, but the pilot/commander shoots everything.



They also serve as the pilot's beach volleyball partner, act as a wingman for flirting with women, and tragically die in training accidents.

Top Gun has taught me well :smalltongue:

Coidzor
2012-08-17, 04:36 PM
As I understand it, simple height/size.

Despite being evolved humans, there's a little button somewhere in the primitive recesses of our brain that's marked 'it's bigger than me, be afraid'.
While this instinct may get over-ridden by training or experience, for the average person in the midst of an adrenaline fuelled fight or flight response, something large and hostile is more threatening than something small and hostile and hence more intimidating.

It's the primary reason why they still use mounted officers, despite the potential skittishness of horses in riot situtations.

How does a mech really do that more than a tank, especially once they're so ubiquitous that there's no shock value in it? Tanks are not small compared to a human on the ground.

tensai_oni
2012-08-17, 06:08 PM
Humanoid war machines, unless they are small enough to engage in urban warfare (6 meters tall tops, probably less - look at VOTOMs, Patlabor, etc), are inherently impractical.

Mechwarrior may pretend to be more realistic than anime-style mecha*, with its chicken walker style design and weaponry that is installed rather than being held, but it's all just pretense. It's not realistic, and the singular - but more than sufficient, reason on why it uses giant robots is:

Because they are cool.

Oh, and of course realism matters little, as long as the setting and its rules are consistent. That's the important thing to look for.

* Fun fact, most early Battletech designs are shamelessly copied from various anime. And I do mean shamelessly. They even had a Valkyrie fighter!

snoopy13a
2012-08-17, 06:32 PM
* Fun fact, most early Battletech designs are shamelessly copied from various anime. And I do mean shamelessly. They even had a Valkyrie fighter!

Mostly from Robotech.

KnightDisciple
2012-08-17, 07:25 PM
The Grey Knight suit is probably the worse idea since the old Eldar War Walker; it gives little or no protection to the pilot who is exposed and stuck in the front; no matter if it's viable, snipers will have a field day with your pilots.
Nemesis Dreadknights are specifically developed for, and deployed against, large daemons. Fundamentally, they aren't being deployed in a normal urban combat. Snipers are effectively a non-issue if one of those is in the field.

...Okay, they're used in any tabletop fight you want them in, but fluff-wise, the design is hyper-specific and hyper-specialized.

Brother Oni
2012-08-18, 01:26 AM
That would't work against soldiers though - military training is pretty darn good at countering such instincts. Tanks had a huge intimidation factor initially - and they still due, but only because the soldier knows how dangerous the tank is, not because it's a big vehicle that makes the earth rumble as it passes by.
Agains civilians, for riot control, it would work though.

Agreed. I was thinking in intimidation terms solely for civilian applications.

In Shadowrun, tanks have various automated anti-infantry point defences, like reloadable claymore mines, which make getting close to a tank not an option.
For military uses, we could theoretically do the same for our mech, but it would require a large amount of development to determine feasibility, let alone practicality.


How does a mech really do that more than a tank, especially once they're so ubiquitous that there's no shock value in it? Tanks are not small compared to a human on the ground.

As jseah said, a column of tanks rolling in as riot control indicates things are rapidly going downhill, whereas mechs may be on the order of APCs with water cannons - serious, but still under control.

Tanks also aren't as big as you think they are - an Abrams or Challenger 2 is only about 2.5m high as they want a low profile for warfare. Civilian role mechs wouldn't have this restriction.

In any case, men on horses have been around for millenia, yet mounted officers are still intimidating.
As part of a mounted officer's role, they also have a vantage point to spot any potential disturbances, something a mech would also be able to do. Even if they couldn't respond to it themselves, they would be able to report it in, so that foot officers would be able to.

Ravens_cry
2012-08-18, 01:51 AM
Interestingly, this means mecha would make excellent Terror Weapons for use against soft targets. Perhaps not Gundam-sized ones but certainly Heavy Gear-sized mecha would be excellent to oppress civilians and break up para-military forces.

Again, "cultural" reasons at play but it would give a good reason for the development of Mecha and even their use by a post-apocalyptic world.

I quoted Colonel Jack O'Neill when descriving the difference bwtween staff weapons and the P90 submachine guns in an earlier thread on mecha.
"This [holds up a staff weapon] is a weapon of terror. It's made to intimidate the enemy. This [holds up a P-90] is a weapon of war. It's made to kill the enemy."
Mecha are basically staff weapons.
Your whole dictator idea actually dovetails pretty well with my "Von Braun of mecha" idea for justifying mechs.

tensai_oni
2012-08-18, 08:01 AM
On mecha being intimidating against civilians - it's already been done. It's called Patlabor.

The police uses humanoid labors because criminals feel intimidated when the policeman they're facing seems to be 3 times their height. It's also stated many times how impractical this design is. Even running without the pilot throwing up is considered an accomplishment.

Other, worker-type labors tend to be spider walkers with wheeled legs. Military labors are almost unheard of, and definitely not used as a main force. It's all very realistic.

Coidzor
2012-08-18, 10:47 AM
In any case, men on horses have been around for millenia, yet mounted officers are still intimidating.
As part of a mounted officer's role, they also have a vantage point to spot any potential disturbances, something a mech would also be able to do. Even if they couldn't respond to it themselves, they would be able to report it in, so that foot officers would be able to.

To people who don't want to kill them. Mounted officers are not a noteworthy deterrent to crime and are bigger targets for someone who wants to off them. Which basically makes the argument that mecha are for controlling civillian populations that do not have the will or ability to do anything about them, which... wouldn't need the cost of having mecha deployed in the first place...

Brother Oni
2012-08-22, 06:46 AM
Mounted officers are not a noteworthy deterrent to crime and are bigger targets for someone who wants to off them.

I'll agree on the effectiveness, but there must be some advantage to having mounted officers as otherwise why would a police department, in the age of shrinking budgets and efficiency drives, still have them?



Which basically makes the argument that mecha are for controlling civillian populations that do not have the will or ability to do anything about them, which... wouldn't need the cost of having mecha deployed in the first place...

If you're wanting the ability to control civillian populations, rather than just maintain public order, then you're effectively looking at a full military deployment, something that a normal police force isn't generally equipped to do.
Even the old Royal Ulster Constabulary tended to have military support for major public disturbances, not to mention the situation in Israel.

hewhosaysfish
2012-08-22, 07:23 AM
In any case, men on horses have been around for millenia, yet mounted officers are still intimidating.
As part of a mounted officer's role, they also have a vantage point to spot any potential disturbances, something a mech would also be able to do. Even if they couldn't respond to it themselves, they would be able to report it in, so that foot officers would be able to.

So we don't need humanoid mecha; we need horse-shaped mecha?

Tengu_temp
2012-08-22, 09:25 AM
http://www.mahq.net/mecha/gundam/g/fuunsaiki.htm

Brother Oni
2012-08-22, 10:30 AM
Alternately: Thirty Thirty (http://bravestarr.wikia.com/wiki/Thirty_Thirty).

Istari
2012-08-22, 04:05 PM
Could be the opposite of Intimidation, perhaps police forces in the future found the need for tank grad firepower to deal with criminals, aliens, etc. and mechs were chosen because they are much more familiar than having actual tanks around

KnightDisciple
2012-08-22, 05:49 PM
Alternately: Thirty Thirty (http://bravestarr.wikia.com/wiki/Thirty_Thirty).
Yeeeessssss. :smallbiggrin:

Beleriphon
2012-08-22, 10:02 PM
Alternately: Thirty Thirty (http://bravestarr.wikia.com/wiki/Thirty_Thirty).

I'm not sure if 30-30 is a mecha, or a robot horse with an AI more awesome than his owner's personality.

Haruspex_Pariah
2012-08-22, 10:26 PM
I always thought Mechwarrior's Mechs were justified by their crazy science fiction technology. It's like saying space ships are impractical. :smallamused:

Akodo Makama
2012-08-23, 04:47 AM
I always thought Mechwarrior's Mechs were justified by their crazy science fiction technology. It's like saying space ships are impractical. :smallamused:

In most sci-fi, spaceships provide a service nothing else can: physical transport to another planet.

Anything 'mechs can do, tanks can, and tanks do it better, unless you go out of your way to force 'mechs to have an advantage.

jseah
2012-08-23, 06:35 AM
Could be the opposite of Intimidation, perhaps police forces in the future found the need for tank grad firepower to deal with criminals, aliens, etc. and mechs were chosen because they are much more familiar than having actual tanks around
Erm? Mechs are more familiar than tanks? How?

Also, if you need tank grade firepower to deal with a riot... well, just look at Assad. He needs tank grade firepower to deal with his citizens.
If you need that, one would say something went wrong.

Haruspex_Pariah
2012-08-23, 06:36 AM
In most sci-fi, spaceships provide a service nothing else can: physical transport to another planet.

Anything 'mechs can do, tanks can, and tanks do it better, unless you go out of your way to force 'mechs to have an advantage.

Unless they have crazy science fiction technology that specifically makes mechs better. A better comparison would be laser guns.

Water_Bear
2012-08-23, 08:29 AM
Unless they have crazy science fiction technology that specifically makes mechs better. A better comparison would be laser guns.

Except Lasers, assuming batteries are good enough for them to be viable, are actually pretty effective weapons. Especially as Active Defenses against missiles, or as anti-aircraft weaponry where the armor is thinner and targets harder to hit with conventional munitions.

Mechs do not have any advantage over tanks, except possibly mobility in mountainous terrain, and in every other task a tank of the same weight will be better. The only hand-waves which I could sort of see are where the humanoid shape itself is important; either to improve the pilot's control and reflexes, or with an Eva where the shape is mandatory due to the mech's nature.

Part of the reason why Sci-Fi is of variable quality is that it is difficult to write believably; you either need a good understanding of science, or you need to be able to keep your made up rules consistent. Saying "it's just so" is one of the most effective ways to write hack Sci-Fi; not a guarantee of poor quality but absolutely a red flag.

Haruspex_Pariah
2012-08-23, 09:21 AM
Except Lasers, assuming batteries are good enough for them to be viable, are actually pretty effective weapons. Especially as Active Defenses against missiles, or as anti-aircraft weaponry where the armor is thinner and targets harder to hit with conventional munitions.

Mechs do not have any advantage over tanks, except possibly mobility in mountainous terrain, and in every other task a tank of the same weight will be better. The only hand-waves which I could sort of see are where the humanoid shape itself is important; either to improve the pilot's control and reflexes, or with an Eva where the shape is mandatory due to the mech's nature.

Part of the reason why Sci-Fi is of variable quality is that it is difficult to write believably; you either need a good understanding of science, or you need to be able to keep your made up rules consistent. Saying "it's just so" is one of the most effective ways to write hack Sci-Fi; not a guarantee of poor quality but absolutely a red flag.

I disagree with what you said about "just so". A good story doesn't need logical explanations for it's technology. Just to be clear, we're talking about Mechs in the Battletech universe, not in general fiction or real life.

Mechs in the Battletech-verse are not simply modern tanks with legs attached. They are constructed of artificial muscles that contract when electrical current is applied, fixed to an internal "skeleton". The fibres of this "myomer" were initially too large for use in humans so they applied them to larger machines such as various construction vehicles.

Presumably, myomer provides some sort of advantage over other means; energy efficiency, force generation, and/or durability, take your pick. It's apparently pretty easy to repair as well.

In-universe, mechs are expensive so anyone with a brain would have taken them apart with cheaper means if they could; the known galaxy is perpetually at war.

The mech balances itself by an internal gyroscope. There is also a helmet that connects to the pilot's brain which helps in balance.

The repeated assertion of "anything mechs can do, tanks can do better" seems to be based on a strict adherence to reality, and not really a meaningful critique on a science fiction universe. Seriously, how many technological innovations does it take to make a huge difference in the world? The transistor. The internal combustion engine. The stirrup. The wheel. Fire.

100 years ago, planes were only good for taking pictures over the battlefield. Now they own, and own hard. Technology marches on, and science fiction should be a place where we can imagine where it marches to. Instead we get people griping about why it shouldn't work.

Phew. Sorry if it sounds a bit hostile. I like mechs, if you haven't guessed.

lt_murgen
2012-08-23, 09:48 AM
Mechs in the Battletech-verse are not simply modern tanks with legs attached. They are constructed of artificial muscles that contract when electrical current is applied, fixed to an internal "skeleton". The fibres of this "myomer" were initially too large for use in humans so they applied them to larger machines such as various construction vehicles.


And there is an in-universe statement supporting this, though I forget which original sourcebook. It says that myomers originally needed to be several feet long in order to function. But once that critical minimum was reached, the amount of output force per unit of input energy was way way way more than they expected.

In the battletech universe- linear myomer motion is significantly more energy efficient than traditional hover/tracked/wheeled powertrains. In the real world, this defies physics as understood at the moment.

Water_Bear
2012-08-23, 09:49 AM
<Battletech Mechs>

I'm not familiar with the Battletech universe, so I can't say whether or not they wrote their fluff plausibly. I do like the idea of pilots using their own motor reflexes to pilot mechs, and the idea of the artificial muscles makes their ability to move in human-like ways more reasonable even with their size.

The reasons mechs are problematic, though, are ones that aren't so easily dismissed even with advanced technology. They are inevitably less armored than vehicles of the same weight, have more potential vulnerable points to hit, and they need to be very light or have enormous feet or they will bury themselves in the ground.

Even with technological changes certain ideas don't get much more plausible, just because they rely on a fundamentally flawed concept. As cool as a mech is, the humanoid shape is a massive disadvantage for a pure combat machine; especially one of that size. A quadrupedal or spider tank is more plausible, and might very well become reality, but two-legged piloted robots present a lot of serious problems without any real advantages.


Phew. Sorry if it sounds a bit hostile. I like mechs, if you haven't guessed.

You don't sound hostile to me, so I wouldn't worry about it.

But I also love mechs, although in terms of genre I prefer more "real robot" to "super robot." They aren't plausible (my favorite anime has spin-kicking robots with rocket-powered grappling hooks as the future of modern warfare) but they are useful for plot purposes. The idea of a single person deciding the outcome of a battle due to their own skills is more reasonable seeming in a mech than in any modern vehicle, because it is inherently more heroic.

I'm not trying to say "you can't enjoy this" but this thread is about how mechs would logically work, and logically they shouldn't. And people here have come up with some interesting reasons why mechs might be used, either for cultural or hand-wave-y technical reasons.

Serafina
2012-08-23, 10:00 AM
As do i.

But the fact remains that tanks and mechs fill the same role, and nothing of BT-technology explains why mechs should be better.
Your analogy is flawed - planes do something nothing else can do (namely, flight and speed). Laser weaponry could do something ballistic projectiles would be much worse at - hit high-speed targets, such as missiles.
Mechs can't really do anything tanks can't do (except mabye mountainous terrain).

Myomer makes a walking machine viable. But if you look at a mechs speed it doesn't provide a speed advantage - 60-ton real-life tanks do about 60 km/h in difficult terrain, and 60-ton mechs aren't faster than that. Smaller mechs are, but so would small tanks.
A tanks tracks already have very good durability, and they are pretty easy to repair as well. They are also cheap to produce, which Mymorer is apparently not.

A tank doesn't need an internal gyroscope in the first place - yet again just another technology that makes a mech possible, but no better than a tank.
The same goes for the balance-improving helmet - a tank doesn't need it.

Now if the helmet granted superhuman reflexes and would only work with a humanoid shape it would be an actual advantage for the mech, but it doesn't do that.


I explained why mechs are used in Battletech a few pages ago. It boils down to "Star League builds them due to vanity, post-starleague feudal society likes them for cultural reasons", roughly comparable to medieval feudal systems focussing on heavily armored knights rather than a more balanced approach of a combined-arms army.

Reverent-One
2012-08-23, 10:07 AM
I explained why mechs are used in Battletech a few pages ago. It boils down to "Star League builds them due to vanity, post-starleague feudal society likes them for cultural reasons", roughly comparable to medieval feudal systems focussing on heavily armored knights rather than a more balanced approach of a combined-arms army.

You explained a potentially usuable alternate theory that contradicts established canon. Mechs are actually used in Battletech because they are better than tanks in that universe. Full stop. If lt_murgen is remembering correctly, this may be because myomer is much more energy effcient than tank powertrains. Or maybe not.

Ossian
2012-08-23, 10:37 AM
(said in jest)

A tank, however, cannot use a sword...

More seriously, the 1 thing I could perhaps stretch my imagination seeing Mechs doing better than tanks is close combat, tactical damage. It does require mind boggling technology, but the idea would be that a mecha could possibly deliver the exact amount of strength needed to take down said wall, said door, said structure from up close. Perhaps close the gap faster than a tank could (running among building and being able to jump off high altitudes) and using more precise weaponry than cannons (like a blade, or its own body, by means of punching and kicking).

it seems mechas always have a crazy degree of armoring. You would not use an Abraham tank to spear another Abraham tank, but for some plot shielding reason the fists and feet of a mech are as hard and indestructible as the beard of chuck norris :smallbiggrin:

Oracle_Hunter
2012-08-23, 10:39 AM
You explained a potentially usuable alternate theory that contradicts established canon. Mechs are actually used in Battletech because they are better than tanks in that universe. Full stop. If lt_murgen is remembering correctly, this may be because myomer is much more energy effcient than tank powertrains. Or maybe not.
Energy efficiency is a fine argument for some things but usually not for the main armor in your military. Something that can run for days on a single tank of fuel isn't very useful if it gets killed within 5 minutes of entering combat :smalltongue:

Myomer would be a fine explanation for using mechs as scouting vehicles -- they may have a higher profile but if they run lean enough their range may more than make up for it -- but cannot explain why mechs are used over tanks. It is true that the Battletech rules explicitly make vehicles much more fragile than mechs but there is no stated canonical reason why that is the case; indeed there would need to be a whole new Phlebotinum which can only work on mechs but never on tanks.

Reverent-One
2012-08-23, 10:57 AM
To continue the handwavium of myomer, the increased energy effciency could allow them to mount more armor on a mech than a tank (and in fact, this seems to be the case). Any tonnage not spent on power generation could instead be spent on armor/weapondry/ect.

Philistine
2012-08-23, 11:06 AM
I like 'Mechs too. And the BT universe devotes more effort than most mecha settings to creating a sense of plausibility and verisimilitude, with attention to things like logistical concerns, combined arms tactics utilizing "conventional forces" alongside its 'Mechs, and so on. But to me, that's exactly why its failures in that regard (and there are some real doozies in there) are so very jarring. If they'd just said, "Fuggeddaboudit, we're just gonna Rule of Cool everything," that would at least maintain a more consistent tone.

(And yes, as a matter of fact I do have the same problem with Star Trek - especially TNG-era Trek. But that's a whole different rant, and not particularly germane to this thread.)

lunar2
2012-08-23, 11:18 AM
the promblems not that mech dont exsit in real life but the fact that it is extremly hard to justify tank sized mech even when you are making up technology to make them more plausauble becuase basicaly any semirealistic technology that make them possible is more usefull in a tank.

Wizards tend to exsist in a fantasy setting where those kinds of rules are much looser and even then pepople still complain about the fact that in say the harry potter universe every one would be better off in a fight if they got themselves some automatic weapons. not to mention walki talkies and email

harry potter actually indirectly addresses both of those issues in-universe.

1. wizards are tough. neville was dropped from a second story window, and bounced. that's how his family knew he was a wizard, and not a squib. so the only reliable way to hurt a wizard would be with magic, since instinctive magic can, and probably will, protect a wizard from mundane threats.

2. magic interferes with physics. electronic devices do not work in areas of high magic, such as hogwarts or the ministry, because the amount of magic in those areas actively interferes with them in some unexplained way. so, no walkies or email, at least in the important places. and when the important places have to use magical communications, it makes sense that everywhere else would, as well.

Water_Bear
2012-08-23, 11:30 AM
To continue the handwavium of myomer, the increased energy effciency could allow them to mount more armor on a mech than a tank (and in fact, this seems to be the case). Any tonnage not spent on power generation could instead be spent on armor/weapondry/ect.

This is like saying a motorcycle with a fusion reaction instead of an internal combustion engine could be made safer in a crash than a car and carry more cargo than a van. There is a limit to how much armor you can put on a humanoid mech; if you put more armor on it than a tank it need to be either the size of a Gundam (raising even bigger problems) or it is just a tank with legs.

If limbs with myomer are more efficient than wheels or treads, that's one thing. You would expect to see a lot more Turtle or Scorpion shaped vehicles; taking advantage of the new mode of movement without sacrificing armor. Even then, the legs are a huge weak-point. But humanoid mechs would still be really iffy.

Reverent-One
2012-08-23, 11:43 AM
This is like saying a motorcycle with a fusion reaction instead of an internal combustion engine could be made safer in a crash than a car and carry more cargo than a van. There is a limit to how much armor you can put on a humanoid mech; if you put more armor on it than a tank it need to be either the size of a Gundam (raising even bigger problems) or it is just a tank with legs.

Something like that, going by the 1:1 scale Gundam Japan built. Mechs are typically 30-40 feet tall, some reaching up to 52 feet tall (the Atlas).

Haruspex_Pariah
2012-08-23, 11:59 AM
If we're going to pull in game stats as canon, it should also be noted that mechs are more durable than conventional vehicles (any attack on a conventional vehicle, even one that doesn't go through armor, has a chance of damaging the motive systems, leading to a higher chance of mobility kills). Just putting that out there.

I brought up planes and lasers because I was trying to make a statement about how infeasible concepts can become feasible and even highly effective provided the technology is available. In this case, tank (known and proven machine) versus mech (impractical, fictional machine). That was my point.

That relates to Battlemechs because the Battletech universe comes with various technologies that make mechs work. Despite numerous assertions on this thread that they can't.

The myomer muscles and the internal skeleton of the mech are somehow tougher (see the opening paragraph of this post) than the way they build other vehicles. And it allows them to walk with speeds comparable to other combat vehicles, while carrying armor no less viable than a combat vehicle of similar mass would in the same universe. Says so in the rules, I can't bring anymore evidence unless you want me to build a real battlemech and post it on Youtube.

Mech weapons are not co-axial with the mech's torso. Even the ones that seem to be built into the mech's frame can turn to facilitate targeting (again, myomer). The torso can also be rotated, the net result is that all the mech's frontal weapons have a 180 degree arc.

Furthermore, comparing a battlemech to a tank is misleading, and leads people to say that mechs should only have one main gun (sigh). There are 20-ton mechs that run like the wind and jump like the Hulk while taking pot shots with small lasers. There are 65-ton mechs that lob missiles from where you can't see them. There are 100-ton mechs for whom walking slowly towards you and shooting with huge short-ranged guns is a viable strategy.

A battlemech is not a tank replacement; it is a generic, one-pilot ground vehicle class capable of taking on multiple roles based on the tonnage, speed, weapons loadout etc.

Philistine
2012-08-23, 12:02 PM
To continue the handwavium of myomer, the increased energy effciency could allow them to mount more armor on a mech than a tank (and in fact, this seems to be the case). Any tonnage not spent on power generation could instead be spent on armor/weapondry/ect.

And yet, the greatly increased frontal area means that said armor has to be spread more thinly (which is also borne out by the record sheets), meaning you actually get less protection from it. Historically, the "tank approach" of concentrating armor over a few vital areas is generally Just Better than the "'Mech approach" of using a greater total weight of armor to provide less protection over a larger area*. Thus, that cannot be the source of the survivability edge of 'Mechs.

No, the edge given to 'Mechs is right there in the rules: even non-penetrating hits have a reasonable chance to disable or destroy a tank, but 'Mechs are immune to this effect. No real in-universe justification is given for this; and out-of-universe, it's explicitly included solely to give 'Mechs the edge over tanks.


* When weapon damage is correctly scaled, that is. Battletech undercuts this somewhat, in that the heaviest 'Mech-scale weapons cannot reliably OHKO even a Medium-weight 'Mech - and Heavy and Assault 'Mechs can take half a dozen or more hits from such weapons before being put in serious danger. In comparative terms, Battlemechs are armored like Tigers but armed like early-model Shermans.


ETA: @H_P: I think you've kinda missed the point there. The whole discussion is about the fluff, or in-universe, reasons why 'Mechs work in Battletech. "They're just better, because it says so in the rules" just... doesn't really address the question of what, in-universe, makes them so much better.

Also, 'Mechs explicitly are tank replacements in most Inner Sphere militaries (and most of the Clans don't seem to field tanks at all); the Great Houses use tanks as a low-cost alternative to 'Mechs to fill out the ranks when and as needed, and they have the same mission(s). Because "tanks" in-universe also include everything from 5t hover scouts, to 60t missile platforms, to 100t crawlers that use heavy guns to batter down opponents.

jseah
2012-08-23, 12:45 PM
If you view rules as a model of fluff, and an inaccurate model at that, you should be able to write a more accurate model using finer grained rules.

One that allowed you to custom design a mech or tank, placing components, armour, power plant and so on. Then you roll hit locations vs components; roll for balance and mobility loss based on remaining operative components; weapons have an inaccuracy profile and will hit randomly in that area (striking only components nearby or missing)... etc. The whole works. Detailed enough that the effort to model a 1v1 would be similar to a whole battlefield.

Go down to that level, make all components available for whatever desired design, and tanks will win. Because you can't justify mobility damage without going through armour, when you are using a component hit system, if the player armours the tracks of a tank or presents only the frontal armour.
And with a hit system using weapon inaccuracy profiles vs presented target profiles, the size of your target suddenly matters a whole lot more and mechs lose there too.


Also, myomer can be used to run a power train for tracks anyway. Muscular contraction is essentially the same as the power stroke of an engine piston; replace the pistons with myomer and do some optimization, tada.

Oracle_Hunter
2012-08-23, 12:56 PM
To continue the handwavium of myomer, the increased energy effciency could allow them to mount more armor on a mech than a tank (and in fact, this seems to be the case). Any tonnage not spent on power generation could instead be spent on armor/weapondry/ect.
Except that adding that much more armor on a biped will cause it to sink up to its hip on anything but bedrock :smalltongue:

Tanks, on the other hand, exert less pressure since the weight of the armor is distributed over a larger "wheel base" allowing it to mount heavier armor and still move on the terrain instead of inside it :smallbiggrin:

This is all stuff Serafina has mentioned before in some excellent posts on the subject. I'll admit the issue of myomer hadn't been addressed yet which is why I mentioned that having a longer range/operating time is not necessarily the most important feature of your primary war-fighting vehicle.

Interestingly, if Mechs actually have a far greater fuel efficiency than other vehicles then they would make more sense in a post-apocalyptic setting like Battletech: since fuel infrastructure is less sophisticated than in a functioning society it can be helpful to fight wars in vehicles that can fight for a long time with a thin or non-existent supply chain. Tanks, in a similar setting, might be only useful for defending fuel-rich areas and, in such a case, fixed defenses would probably be deployed instead.

lt_murgen
2012-08-23, 01:00 PM
In comparative terms, Battlemechs are armored like Tigers but armed like early-model Shermans.


This is an excellent observation! I don't know if there is any in-universe explanation, but weapons are quite heavy compared to armor. That could be a reason for the move to mechs. As far as I know, the heaviest weapons (Autocannon-20, Gauss rifle) are usually torso or arm mounted on mechs, giving a good degree of flexibility. I cannot recall, however, such a weapon in a turret on a tank.

snoopy13a
2012-08-23, 01:03 PM
ETA: @H_P: I think you've kinda missed the point there. The whole discussion is about the fluff, or in-universe, reasons why 'Mechs work in Battletech. "They're just better, because it says so in the rules" just... doesn't really address the question of what, in-universe, makes them so much better.

Also, 'Mechs explicitly are tank replacements in most Inner Sphere militaries (and most of the Clans don't seem to field tanks at all); the Great Houses use tanks as a low-cost alternative to 'Mechs to fill out the ranks when and as needed, and they have the same mission(s). Because "tanks" in-universe also include everything from 5t hover scouts, to 60t missile platforms, to 100t crawlers that use heavy guns to batter down opponents.

I think the main reason is tactical mobility. First, IIRC, 'Mechs are more efficient when it comes to Dropship capacity. Thus, if Dropships and Jumpships are the limiting factor for a raid or an assualt (as they often are), 'Mechs are superior to vehicles. Second, unlike vehicles, 'Mechs can "drop" out of the Dropship. Thus, the 'Mechs can secure a landing area for the Dropship. Third, 'Mechs have better mobility over rough terrain. Therefore, 'Mechs can avoid highways and other natural choke points.

Overall, I think 'Mechs are much, much better for raids.

Oracle_Hunter
2012-08-23, 01:04 PM
This is an excellent observation! I don't know if there is any in-universe explanation, but weapons are quite heavy compared to armor. That could be a reason for the move to mechs. As far as I know, the heaviest weapons (Autocannon-20, Gauss rifle) are usually torso or arm mounted on mechs, giving a good degree of flexibility. I cannot recall, however, such a weapon in a turret on a tank.
Which is silly, because you don't want to mount heavy weapons on bipeds which exert a lot of pressure on the ground and are poorly designed to compensate for recoil.

Tanks, on the other hand, have superior fire arcs (360 degrees vs. 180 degrees at best), superior stability (for recoil concerns) and superior footprint (to carry weight without sinking down to the bedrock).

EDIT: Why can't we drop tanks in Battletech? We can IRL :smallconfused:

jseah
2012-08-23, 01:08 PM
Also, you generally want offense. After all, you build your vehicles to kill the enemy. Not to avoid being killed.

Mounting bigger guns at the cost of armour is one of the first things I end up doing in a customizable design game compared to the AI. It often pays off.
Of course, you do not sacrifice ALL armour, you keep enough to fulfill your role but no more than that.

Doug Lampert
2012-08-23, 01:12 PM
You explained a potentially usuable alternate theory that contradicts established canon. Mechs are actually used in Battletech because they are better than tanks in that universe. Full stop. If lt_murgen is remembering correctly, this may be because myomer is much more energy effcient than tank powertrains. Or maybe not.

Except I can convert linear motion to rotational fairly easily and efficiently.

Most internal combustion engines, INCLUDING those used for many tanks, do exactly this already.

So if myomer is better than other power systems, then tanks will use it, that it needs to be a long fiber and contracts for power isn't really a handicap. I can build a reciprocating engine based on contraction easily enough, and I can fit it inside of a tank quite a bit smaller than what you get if you treat it as a minimum muscle fiber size and build a human to scale.

Reverent-One
2012-08-23, 01:13 PM
And yet, the greatly increased frontal area means that said armor has to be spread more thinly (which is also borne out by the record sheets), meaning you actually get less protection from it. Historically, the "tank approach" of concentrating armor over a few vital areas is generally Just Better than the "'Mech approach" of using a greater total weight of armor to provide less protection over a larger area*. Thus, that cannot be the source of the survivability edge of 'Mechs.

No, the edge given to 'Mechs is right there in the rules: even non-penetrating hits have a reasonable chance to disable or destroy a tank, but 'Mechs are immune to this effect. No real in-universe justification is given for this; and out-of-universe, it's explicitly included solely to give 'Mechs the edge over tanks.


* When weapon damage is correctly scaled, that is. Battletech undercuts this somewhat, in that the heaviest 'Mech-scale weapons cannot reliably OHKO even a Medium-weight 'Mech - and Heavy and Assault 'Mechs can take half a dozen or more hits from such weapons before being put in serious danger. In comparative terms, Battlemechs are armored like Tigers but armed like early-model Shermans.


As you mention, the fact that armor power beats weapon power in the BT universe helps the mech out there. A mech is more likely to survive one section being heavily damaged, since it takes longer for that to happen, and then turn to take advantage of the additional armor it carries. Still, it's certaintly just all handwaving and token explanations, BT isn't hard sci-fi and doesn't pretend to be.


Except that adding that much more armor on a biped will cause it to sink up to its hip on anything but bedrock :smalltongue:


*Shrugs* Then it would do the same if it weighed the same but didn't have as much armor since your energy generator or whatever weighed more unless it's feet are also massively larger (which if you can do for the mech that needs the larger power generator, you can do for the heavier armored mech). That's one of those things like the square cube law you just have to ignore in a setting based around mechs.

jseah
2012-08-23, 01:30 PM
Handwaving square-cubed law... =D

Then again, being larger also has its drawbacks. If you're too big, the enemy's weapons inaccuracy becomes smaller relative to your components and they'll just focus fire on your knee or something.
Then you rapidly end up with a one-legged mech with a huge amount of useless armour.

EDIT:
Basically, you can divide a target into a number of zones equal to target profile / weapon inaccuracy profile. That is the number of individual zones you can confidently focus on.

If a mech is big enough to be three zones (legs, lower body, upper body), then you have the problem of needing to armour all three while the armour on only one is used.
If you only have one zone (like a low profile tank), then all the armour will get used.

lt_murgen
2012-08-23, 01:41 PM
Except I can convert linear motion to rotational fairly easily and efficiently.

As an engineer, I have to call out that statement. Convering linear motion to rotational is not efficient. You add extra weight compared to a linear-only system with the additional components, friction and inertia eat cycle efficiency, etc.


Tanks, on the other hand, have superior fire arcs (360 degrees vs. 180 degrees at best),

Except that they are repeatedly shown as incapable of having turrets large enough to handle the heaviest damaging weapons, the kind that go in a mech's torso:

{table]| |mars heavy hank|Atlas II|
|tons|100|100|
|armor|11.5 tons|19 tons|
|top speed|32 Km/H|54 Km/H|
|weapons|3X LRM 15|1X LRM20|
||2X SRM6, Streak|1X SRM6|
||1X AC10|1X AC10|
||1X ER Large Laser|2X ER Large Laser|
||1X Gauss Rifle|3X Medium Laser, Pulse|
||2X Machine Gun|Anti-infantry stomp| [/table]

Now, ER lasers do 8, Guass does 12 and Medium lasers do 5. So that means the max damage output of a mars is 87 and an Atlas II is 67. I believe the game calls for 15 points of armor per ton. That means a Mars carries 172.5 points of armor across its body and the Atlas 2 carries 285. To truly take the analysis farther, you need to look at weapon location and damage output per damage taken, which gets quite complicated. A simpler way to look at it is that it would take 3.2 round for the Mars to chew up all the Atlas Iis armor, and only 2.5 in the reverse situation.
Additionally, only the Gauss rifle and ER lasers are shown in a turret on the MARS. The AC10 is clearly front arc only and the missle batteries comprise entire rear third of the MARS.
In the end, the Atlas II is faster, more armored, and has more flexible weapons arcs.

Reverent-One
2012-08-23, 01:50 PM
EDIT:
Basically, you can divide a target into a number of zones equal to target profile / weapon inaccuracy profile. That is the number of individual zones you can confidently focus on.

If a mech is big enough to be three zones (legs, lower body, upper body), then you have the problem of needing to armour all three while the armour on only one is used.
If you only have one zone (like a low profile tank), then all the armour will get used.

Sure, if the zones are large enough that you can consistenly focus fire on a single zone, the other zones are likely to be worthless, but that doesn't seem to be the case in BT.

Oracle_Hunter
2012-08-23, 01:52 PM
Except that they are repeatedly shown as incapable of having turrets large enough to handle the heaviest damaging weapons, the kind that go in a mech's torso
This is certainly true but it is never explained why they do not simply build a larger tank that can support the larger gun.

Practically speaking, there is no gun that you can mount on a massive biped that you couldn't also mount on a much smaller tank. Nor, for that matter, is there any fluff to explain why tanks cannot mount these sorts of weapons.

It is very good to point out that the tanks do not, in fact, mount the same sort of weapons that a Mech has but lacking any sort of justification this is just so much hand waving.

jseah
2012-08-23, 01:53 PM
Wait, do they seriously have multi-role tanks and mechs? What?

I take LRM to mean Long-Ranged-Missile. Shouldn't that be on a dedicated rocket artillery platform?
And why all those little guns instead of one big gun? Surely you want as big a main cannon as possible to pierce through heavy armour.

I mean, both designs are as inefficient as the WH40K baneblade. What they really really want is to get a big-ass main gun and ditch all those lousy rockets.
If you need long range indirect fire, then get a main gun that can do it, or build a different class of tanks.


Which is why I say that to make any real comparison, you need construction specs (read: customization rules) for the tank and mech, with a breakdown for each individual part and locations.

EDIT2:
It strikes me that I forgot to account for intended target. Perhaps these bad boys weren't meant to engage heavy armour of the same caliber and thus why they mount lighter weapons for riot control.

EDIT:

Sure, if the zones are large enough that you can consistenly focus fire on a single zone, the other zones are likely to be worthless, but that doesn't seem to be the case in BT.
Depends on weapon accuracy versus size. A small enough mech obviously avoids this problem.
It only really applies to the huge specimens... (what do you mean I can't hit the knee? I can certainly hit that other tank and his knee is the size of a tank!)

Reverent-One
2012-08-23, 02:00 PM
Depends on weapon accuracy versus size. A small enough mech obviously avoids this problem.
It only really applies to the huge specimens... (what do you mean I can't hit the knee? I can certainly hit that other tank and his knee is the size of a tank!)

And in this case (the BT universe), the weapon accuracy isn't good enough (alternatively, mech zone sizes aren't big enough) for that concern to apply. Which is not to say that people don't try to hit damaged sections of armor to punch through it completely and blow up the mech, just that it's hard enough that you're more likely to see a mech with lost armor from most/all of it's zones rather than just one.

jseah
2012-08-23, 02:10 PM
The part in brackets highlights the disconnect though.

If weapon accuracy is poor enough that it will distribute shots over the entire mech, then weapon accuracy will be poor enough to sometimes miss tanks entirely.
(provided the tank is a smaller profile than the mech, which may not be the case looking at the bloody Mars)

To get an estimate, take the biggest target around that doesn't have hit zones. That's your minimum weapon accuracy zone.
To apply the correction factor (assuming this isn't accounted for in the rules):
For everything that is smaller than it, they get a miss chance equal to their size divided by the size of weapon accuracy zone. The smaller they are, the more miss chance.

If weapons from the front cannot accurately hit locations on a 10 meter tall, 6 meter wide mech, then weapons cannot even accurately hit a 2.5 meter tall and 6 meter wide tank. (75% miss chance)

Of course, the tank is probably a solid mass while a mech doesn't occupy the entire profile, so you can shave 10-20% off the miss chance.
And the angle of attack changes the profile. A strategic bomber will see the head and shoulders of a mech (say 2 meters x 6 meters), while it will see the entire top of a tank (6 x 6 meters), for the exact reverse scenario. (bombs should be 3x more accurate vs a tank than a mech or be able to divide a tank into 3 zones)

hamishspence
2012-08-23, 02:20 PM
I mean, both designs are as inefficient as the WH40K baneblade. What they really really want is to get a big-ass main gun and ditch all those lousy rockets.
If you need long range indirect fire, then get a main gun that can do it, or build a different class of tanks.

Past a certain size in 40k- the main gun becomes non-traversable. That's the disadvantage of the Shadowsword- you have to aim the whole tank, rather than having a rotating turret.

Reverent-One
2012-08-23, 02:23 PM
The thing is, with a mech, you also have to consider that they can change their facing and angle themselves so more damaged sections are harder to hit, blocked by other sections, ect. And since then can twist at the torso, they can do this faster than a tank can turn around and change facing.

hamishspence
2012-08-23, 02:31 PM
Jumping might also make them hard to hit- though few Assault Mechs can jump- I know of the Victor for the Inner Sphere but not much else.

Oracle_Hunter
2012-08-23, 02:36 PM
The thing is, with a mech, you also have to consider that they can change their facing and angle themselves so more damaged sections are harder to hit, blocked by other sections, ect. And since then can twist at the torso, they can do this faster than a tank can turn around and change facing.
If you're twisting your torso to shield damaged bits rather than aiming to kill your attackers then you've already lost :smalltongue:

Haruspex_Pariah
2012-08-23, 02:40 PM
If you're twisting your torso to shield damaged bits rather than aiming to kill your attackers then you've already lost :smalltongue:

You can do both at the same time, provided you have a decently strong weapon on the arm(s).

tyckspoon
2012-08-23, 02:47 PM
I take LRM to mean Long-Ranged-Missile. Shouldn't that be on a dedicated rocket artillery platform?
And why all those little guns instead of one big gun? Surely you want as big a main cannon as possible to pierce through heavy armour.

The ER Large Lasers, LRMs, and Gauss Rifle all have a roughly comparable range profile, and Battletech ranges are such that most fire is direct line-of-sight anyway (there are rules for indirect LRM fire, but actual artillery is fired in ranges measured in full map sheets instead of individual hexes. And yes, that artillery is mounted on specialized artillery platforms.) A second Gauss rifle or more Lasers would probably be preferable to the LRMs, but the construction rules make those weapons very awkward to fit in in large quantities. LRM boxes are reasonably compact and cheap, which is why you see them used as fillers for long-range threat in designs that don't have enough space left for a 'better' weapon.

Incidentally, there aren't many guns bigger than a Gauss Rifle in Battletech (depending on the era/tech level you're working with.) It does 15 points of damage/hit at an excellent range; the only comparable weapon is the Clan ER PPC, which is basically the energy-based equivalent. The weapon systems that can potentially outperform it are crippled in other aspects (AC/20 and Heavy Gauss have very short range, LRM/20 and HAGs have to roll on missile chart and use cluster hits instead of a single hit location so their average damage is both well below full potential and spread out, PPCs have heat concerns.) The Mars weapon package is actually pretty dang good, for Battletech- the only really odd bit is the point-defense systems, which you see everywhere in Battletech for jobs that would probably be better done by a few platoons of infantry/Battle Armor squads/a lighter support vehicle or two.

(I won't defend the Atlas's layout, tho. If it's having heat concerns with its double larges, I'd probably just can the AC and the LRM and stick in extra heatsinks to support the lasers.)

Oracle_Hunter
2012-08-23, 02:48 PM
You can do both at the same time, provided you have a decently strong weapon on the arm(s).
Or you can have a turret and aim without interfering with your evasion. The advantage of tilting your torso is more than mitigated by the fact that it's harder to shoot when you're contorting your body.

Plus, of course, there's not much you can do to "tilt away" when they're shooting out your legs.

Reverent-One
2012-08-23, 03:08 PM
Plus, of course, there's not much you can do to "tilt away" when they're shooting out your legs.

The legs that are probably individually smaller than tanks and in constant motion? Those aren't the easiest targets on a mech, and a mechwarrior can turn more damaged portion away from their opponent while keeping their torso pointed at them. Not to mention that if they're focusing on your legs and you're shooting at the upper body, you just have to penetrate enough to hit something vital while they have to basically wear away all armor and internal structure in a leg before you're significantly impacted.

Gavinfoxx
2012-08-23, 03:11 PM
Past a certain size in 40k- the main gun becomes non-traversable. That's the disadvantage of the Shadowsword- you have to aim the whole tank, rather than having a rotating turret.

Is there a baneblade variant that does the 'let's have a big gun!' on the thing, rather than a bunch of little guns, where the turret IS traversable? Like anything above the size of the baneblade's main gun??

Oracle_Hunter
2012-08-23, 03:36 PM
The legs that are probably individually smaller than tanks and in constant motion? Those aren't the easiest targets on a mech, and a mechwarrior can turn more damaged portion away from their opponent while keeping their torso pointed at them. Not to mention that if they're focusing on your legs and you're shooting at the upper body, you just have to penetrate enough to hit something vital while they have to basically wear away all armor and internal structure in a leg before you're significantly impacted.
If you're in constant motion while twisting your torso to keep it out of the enemy line of fire then I hope you're not firing anything with recoil, biped :smalltongue:

Personally, I'd rather be in a tank firing at the wildly dodging mecha. I mean, if it's hard for me to hit a meters-tall leg then it's going to be really hard to hit a tank that's even smaller.

Reverent-One
2012-08-23, 03:54 PM
If you're in constant motion while twisting your torso to keep it out of the enemy line of fire then I hope you're not firing anything with recoil, biped :smalltongue:

That makes assumptions about how well mechs can deal with recoil, specifically that's it's a major concern. AFAIK, recoil is pretty well controlled, pretty much any mech can move and fire without recoil threatening to make them lose balance.


Personally, I'd rather be in a tank firing at the wildly dodging mecha. I mean, if it's hard for me to hit a meters-tall leg then it's going to be really hard to hit a tank that's even smaller.

I'm not sure about a tank being smaller than a mech leg. I mean, a Savannah Master (http://www.sarna.net/wiki/Savannah_Master) sure, and those things are hard to hit. They also have basically no armor and piddy weaponry. Assuming similarly armed/armored mechs and tanks though, that's another matter entirely.

Haruspex_Pariah
2012-08-23, 04:07 PM
What bugs me is that some detractors seem to think that mechs just stand still, with knees and elbows flexed for enemies to shoot at. They are in constant motion, or at least should be when in combat. The slowest mech (not counting the Urbanmech) can make 54 km/h. Middleweights can hit 64 or 80 km/h, and lightweights up to 120.

The idea is that a trained operator, whose brain helps balance the thing, can move with fluidity that allows the mech to move while torso twisting and firing a weapon with recoil. Lasers don't have recoil, so that's something.

Legs are long (about 4 to 7 meters assuming half the mech height) but not necessarily thick. I think the biggest mech foot has about the dimensions of a humvee. 8 to 14 meters is the height range, btw. Sideways, a mech has a smaller profile than a tank as it's bulk projects vertically. It would be like trying to hit a tree or pillar moving 54 km/h, minimum.

While it's true that mech torsos do not rotate 360 degrees, a mech can turn itself, turn it's torso, and position it's arms at the same time. A mech with arm-mounted weapons can shoot behind itself while moving at full speed forwards. Can it do so faster than a tank turret? Dunno. If we give a mech human-like speed, not accounting for it's greater mass, it would be significantly quick. But I don't have a source for those specs, so.

Ravens_cry
2012-08-23, 04:25 PM
Tanks with present technology can go just as fast if not faster.

Knaight
2012-08-23, 05:14 PM
Tanks with present technology can go just as fast if not faster.

Added to that, much faster craft get shot down as well. Planes can be intercepted, and they have a good order of magnitude over mechs. Helicopters are several times as fast, smaller, and capable of just as drastic course changes - they still get shot down. Mechs should not be that capable of avoiding fire, and the slim side profile really only works for you if all of your enemies happen to be in one general area, that you are sufficiently far away from. Given that Battletech weapons aren't exactly great when it comes to range, and the previously mentioned mobility, this is a really optimistic assumption.

Gavinfoxx
2012-08-23, 05:22 PM
So how come Airplanes in battletech can be shot down by mechs, but they have difficulty accurately hitting particular areas of a mech, then??

Ravens_cry
2012-08-23, 05:23 PM
Not to mention that a joint is really hard to armour.
Even late mediaeval armourers, whose job was basically to make nobility literal Men of Steel, mostly just gave up and slapped, perhaps, a layer of somewhat flexible mail behind the knee joint. The crotch is even harder.
With a tread, it's much simpler against anything but mines.

Emmerask
2012-08-23, 05:26 PM
Tanks with present technology can go just as fast if not faster.

Now imagine a tank with a fusion reactor, they would be damn fast, even light mechs could only watch the dust trail :smallbiggrin:

There is no reason for mechs other then that they are damn cool :smallsmile:


So how come Airplanes in battletech can be shot down by mechs, but they have difficulty accurately hitting particular areas of a mech, then??

I would say its because the game is called "Mechwarrior" and not "shoot robots with your ultrasonic hypersonic airplanes who have no chance of retaliation whatsoever"

Ravens_cry
2012-08-23, 05:31 PM
Now imagine a tank with a fusion reactor, they would be damn fast, even light mechs could only watch the dust trail :smallbiggrin:

With the a 'Meep, meep' trailing off into the Doppler.:smalltongue:


There is no reason for mechs other then that they are damn cool :smallsmile:
And they are cool, very cool. :smallbiggrin:

Reverent-One
2012-08-23, 05:33 PM
Now imagine a tank with a fusion reactor, they would be damn fast, even light mechs could only watch the dust trail :smallbiggrin:


I believe I mentioned that already. (http://www.sarna.net/wiki/Savannah_Master) :smalltongue:

jseah
2012-08-23, 06:13 PM
The thing is, with a mech, you also have to consider that they can change their facing and angle themselves so more damaged sections are harder to hit, blocked by other sections, ect. And since then can twist at the torso, they can do this faster than a tank can turn around and change facing.
Eh... that was why I counted hit zones to be cylindrical for the mech. The thing is that mechs are really tall and if weapons cannot focus on legs/lower body/upper body (or just legs and body sections), then the weapons will be inaccurate enough to give tanks a miss chance.

If the mech has sticky-out arms, then it gets even worse.


Past a certain size in 40k- the main gun becomes non-traversable. That's the disadvantage of the Shadowsword- you have to aim the whole tank, rather than having a rotating turret.
That doesn't make sense. You just build a bigger turret.

Even seen a naval cannon? The turrets on those are the size of multiple tanks. Turrets scale quite well, thank you very much.


Incidentally, there aren't many guns bigger than a Gauss Rifle in Battletech (depending on the era/tech level you're working with.)
Then you don't need tanks that big. If the guns don't exist for that caliber, you'd be better off with multiple smaller tanks that carry those as their main cannon. You'll usually be able to get more guns per cost in separate, mass manufacturable tanks (or even mechs) than a single big tank.
They also get to split up as needed or combine into a column for taking down a harder target, so it's also more flexible.

Maybe if double turrets exist then you build a slightly bigger tank for it.

Also, where the hell are your engineers? Get them working on making a bigger gun. >.>


If we give a mech human-like speed, not accounting for it's greater mass, it would be significantly quick. But I don't have a source for those specs, so.
Haha, no, square-cubed law will kill you there.
EDIT: I'm also going to ignore the comment about jumping mechs. Because a multiple ton thing does not jump. Simply trying will destroy the ground behind it and dig a hole.

Also, any mechanism to turn the torso around the waist is functionally the same mechanism that will turn a tank turret. Only that the tank turret doesn't contain the fusion reactor (seriously, what?) and so can be geared higher to turn faster or weighs less.

Hitting a moving mech isn't going to be hard if you can hit helicopters since you obviously have good enough target tracking.
Speaking of hitting planes, if your turrets can track and hit a supersonic plane, then your weapons must be accurate enough to divide even TANKS into hit zones. And tracking a 120kph thing should be a piece of cake. There should be no question at all of whether you can hit a leg or not. Ought to be able to hit a toe even.
-> I'm going to say no, unless it's an AA missile battery

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

Given there is off-map artillery and airstrikes, I might like to venture a slightly weird strategy (not sure if it'll work).
Basically, field only light vehicles and infantry (vehicles to transport the soldiers around, not to kill things). Emphasis on speed and concealment, avoid engagement with anything bigger than you. Get the best spotting equipment to see stuff (tanks and mechs ought to really easy to spot)
Helicopters used to move infantry over rough terrain and run scouting missions.
Should be dirt cheap.

The rest of your cost goes into off-map artillery and planes. Planes win the air war. Artillery whack everything in sight. Spot a target, radio in a strike. Boom, no more target. Repeat until enemy dies. Fly plane scouting missions to get intel on places your infantry and heli spotters can't reach.
Escort the artillery with a token force of mainline tanks/mechs/whatever in case of ambush. Ideally, your large cordon of spotters should point out enemy targets to whack before they know where are or can approach your artillery.


Tactically, you may be limited by supplies (rockets and shells are not free) and combat power. Stopping a larger force will likely be impossible although you can give them a bloody nose and retreat.
Strategically, it should lose far far less over time when pitted against a frontline tank/mech heavy strategy. The artillery avoid engagement unless he challenges you to artillery duel, in which case you have more guns so you win. Fire your stuff, kill his stuff, bugger out before he catches you (you did make sure your artillery are mobile right? Right?).
In an extended war between large countries that have strategic space to buffer, this ought to be far cheaper and eventually win the war of attrition. Additionally, this setup will find it much much easier to break defensive formations by shelling them into the ground. It'll look like Verdun but that was going to happen anyway.

Reverent-One
2012-08-23, 06:24 PM
Eh... that was why I counted hit zones to be cylindrical for the mech. The thing is that mechs are really tall and if weapons cannot focus on legs/lower body/upper body (or just legs and body sections), then the weapons will be inaccurate enough to give tanks a miss chance.

It's probably less that the weapons are inaccurate, and more the skill of the opposing pilot.

jseah
2012-08-23, 06:33 PM
It's probably less that the weapons are inaccurate, and more the skill of the opposing pilot.
That doesn't make sense. When you fire a gun or laser cannon, everything else is more or less standing still until the thing hits.

The mech or tank or target have various stated speeds, and certainly you can track that speed or you won't be shooting anything. They won't be moving significantly faster than the expected speed range and your turret or arms would certainly be designed with some buffer.

Getting a target lock and then firing basically results in the shell landing or laser hitting somewhere inside its accuracy range. Most of the time anyway. There's nothing about the skill of the opposing pilot that prevents that.

He can hide or interrupt your target lock and other shenanigans, but in those cases, you won't be shooting at all (or be shooting blank space, so its just a miss).


No, firing at the legs and hitting the torso only happens because your weapon can't do it. Any other factor will only generate a clean miss.

Reverent-One
2012-08-23, 06:38 PM
In that specific example, sure, if you're firing down at your opponents legs and don't hit the legs, you're pretty much just going to miss entirely.

jseah
2012-08-23, 07:24 PM
The legs could be any other part that is the size of your weapon accuracy zone. If you aim at the torso and hit the legs, it's also your weapon that's at fault.

...

You know, all of us mech detractors, let's do something more constructive than yell about how mechs are infeasible.

Come up with a set of technologies that justifies the use of mechs as a main frontline unit!

Here's the requirements I see needs to be fulfilled:
1) By mech, we mean biepdal 10 to 30ft tall single-human-pilot robots wielding lethal weapons both able to destroy other mechs and softer targets, including infantry and civilian buildings (efficiency optional)

2) This set of technologies must make tanks obsolete. This is not to say that tanks become useless, but that mechs must outclass them in all areas or so significantly in most that the drawbacks are more than compensated for in every situation tanks can be used in.

3) There should not be a viable alternative to mechs. Even if mechs outclass tanks, if the set of technologies make aircraft completely dominant in the mech's role, there's no point anyway.

4) No magic. This means that your proposed technologies should, in their absence, predict a world like our own, with tanks on the battlefield. This is also known as the classical limit. You are not allowed to say the Square-Cubed law doesn't exist, invent something to get around it.

Take it as a worldbuilding exercise. You get to play schrodinger's SF tech since everyone makes mistakes and getting it right the first time will be unlikely. Feel free to modify your technologies in response to others.

You get partial points for partial fulfillment (eg. multi-legged mechs) but not for point 4.
Bonus points if you don't also enable new and interesting ways to wipe out humanity. (read: WMDs)

With that, fire away!
*wanders off to muse about it*

Reverent-One
2012-08-23, 07:34 PM
The legs could be any other part that is the size of your weapon accuracy zone. If you aim at the torso and hit the legs, it's also your weapon that's at fault.


Nah, you could get thrown off by a in-opportune hit on your mech, simply make too hasty a shot, ect.

jseah
2012-08-23, 07:41 PM
Nah, you could get thrown off by a in-opportune hit on your mech, simply make too hasty a shot, ect.
Those are all weapon problems. Your weapon doesn't have (strong) enough stabilizers, your targeting computers aren't good enough, your sensors are insufficiently high-resolution/accurate. They all go into determining your accuracy zone. (note that the accuracy zone will change size depending on situation)

None of it is in the opponent's mech, much less your target's piloting skill. And crucially, none of it is different whether you're shooting a tank or a mech.

The Glyphstone
2012-08-23, 07:42 PM
Idea: An enemy capable of extreme adaptability or variability; probably some kind of extraterrestrial, to make it simple, but the key element is the ability to radically change their defenses on very short notice, or be a horde-type with multiple distinct variants. Thus, the ability to change from armor-piercing explosive projectiles to thermal lasers or flesh-tearing flechettes and back again, possibly overnight or even in the same battle, is at a premium. For a tank, you need to either mount all three weapons (or more) on one chassis when only one one will be useful at a time (wasting tonnage per unit), build specialized chassis of each time (requiring three or four times as many total units), or go in for lengthy refits on a constant basis. A humanoid mech, on the other hand, just needs hands, and an assortment of carry-able weapons.

It's a circumstantial solution, not a technological one, but seems solid at my limited first glance.

jseah
2012-08-23, 07:49 PM
Modular tank mounts? A crane or a team of field engineers should be able to swap out a tank weapon for another if the weapons are self-contained.
EDIT: hands are still faster, so it's good.


Another idea to add to that:
Said aliens have dimensional hopping technology and can hit a point directly instead of passing through the intervening space. In fact, ALL their weapons do that. Maybe this is tied into their variable energy shield somehow.

So, armour is now totally useless, the trick is to not get hit.
The alien weapons also don't care about target profile. What determines the chance you get hit by the weapon is the target volume.

That should go quite some way to leveling the field against tanks.

Reverent-One
2012-08-23, 07:52 PM
Those are all weapon problems. Your weapon doesn't have (strong) enough stabilizers, your targeting computers aren't good enough, your sensors are insufficiently high-resolution/accurate. They all go into determining your accuracy zone. (note that the accuracy zone will change size depending on situation)

None of it is in the opponent's mech, much less your target's piloting skill. And crucially, none of it is different whether you're shooting a tank or a mech.

Your whole mech shaking is a weapon problem? If you fire before getting a solid lock (perhaps because they're dodging fairly well), it's your targeting computer's problem, not yours?

Water_Bear
2012-08-23, 07:53 PM
Come up with a set of technologies that justifies the use of mechs as a main frontline unit!

The only technology I could think of that would really make this a good idea is digital uploads of people's brains.

You could take a group of the perfect soldiers, copy them a half million times, and put them in massive robotic bodies. These bodies would be humanoid, so that they could be more easily controlled, and they would dominate the battlefield as their reaction times are orders of magnitude better than human.

In terms of machine specs the mechs would always fall behind tanks and aircraft, but the human brain is just too good at piloting humanoid bodies. Even with digital pilots, other vehicles couldn't compete with mechs in terms of reaction times; this ensures they have a place on the battlefield until true AI renders human warfare irrelevant.

That's how I would do it anyway.

jseah
2012-08-23, 07:55 PM
Your whole mech shaking is a weapon problem? If you fire before getting a solid lock (perhaps because they're dodging fairly well), it's your targeting computer's problem, not yours?
Well, how you mount your weapon (suspensions, gyroscopes, etc.), and when to fire are part of your weapons system, obviously.

I'm saying that it is not part of the target's defences, and both tanks and mechs can give you the same problems.

jseah
2012-08-23, 07:59 PM
The only technology I could think of that would really make this a good idea is digital uploads of people's brains.
Haha, like Total Annihilation (which btw, has mechs AND tanks. Both are outclassed by the giant defense guns that shoot the entire map length).

Yeah, add it to the pile!


Another one:
To get around the complexities of manufacturing limbs and joints, as well as maintenance, applied micro-tech replicators (not small enough to be called 'nano' but basically the same idea) can manufacture robots out of a pile of metal.
Complexity is a solved problem. Maintenance is a bar of metal and some goo. Tanks and mechs are now costed by weight, not by manufacturing difficulty.