MechAssault: River City Strategy

September 23, 2003



--Posted by Riposte101 @ 00:00 PST

The following is an examination of strategies that I have developed over the last year playing in dozens of top tier clan matches in Team Destruction mode on the River City map. This article assumes that the goal of the team is to win and this strategy is meant to give the team employing it every advantage.

As with all discussions strategic in nature, I am expressing an opinion that has gone through many changes and variations and will likely change again as I get more experience with the game. As always, I welcome other viewpoints.

Mech Choice:

The player’s choice of mech is one of the most important factors in determining the outcome of a match.

The 4x javelin missiles are a necessity for River City. This may be surprising to most but the advantage they offer over other weapons is twofold. The most important is that they have significantly longer targeting range than other weapons. See this video comparing targeting ranges of the ppc/gauss versus the javelin and you’ll see what I mean. Secondly, javelins are top mounted and thus provide for a wider targeting arc both horizontally and vertically. With the proper use of this weapon the player is able to strike opponents without offering them a target. See this video on the superiority of the javelin’s targeting arc.

Note: If you cannot see the video and hear only the audio, download the free DivX 5.0.5 Codec.

This limits the players’ choice of mechs to the Ragnarok, Madcat, Catapult and Vulture.

The Vulture can be eliminated as a viable mech because let’s face it, why would a player ever use a Vulture when the Catapult exists. See my other writings for a comparison of the Vulture versus the Catapult.

The Catapult, with its combination of jump jets, 4x pulse lasers, target jamming and 4x javelins, is one of the strongest mechs in the game, but there is a better choice for this map. It cannot oft be said, but on this map, the Madcat overshadows the Catapult in every way. The Madcat(4107) has a 307 point armor advantage over the Catapult(3750) and almost as important is that it drops 1600 points of armor salvage to the 1320 of the Catapult.

Speed, essential in the hit and run tactics employed on this map also has the Madcat edging out the Catapult at a speed of 24 to 20.

Armament: As most of you will likely agree, I will take a pair of PPCs over four pulse lasers any day of the week in River City.

The greater heat dissipation possessed by the Catapult can be downplayed because in River City the action is hit and run rather than sustained. The Catapult’s jump jets in River City are also less important because of the flat terrain (nonetheless they will still be useful occasionally should the mech become crippled.)

To sum it up, the Madcat possesses more armor, salvage, and better armament and the superiority of the Catapult in heat dissipation and jump jets are less important on this map. The choice is clear. The Catapult can be eliminated as a candidate in favor of the MadCat.

The positives of the Ragnarok are many including the aforementioned 4x javelins, pair of gauss riffles, lava cannon and shield.

The Ragnarok stacks up well against the Madcat and is the only acceptable substitute. It has more armor (+893) and drops more salvage (+400). Its gauss riffles have a slight advantage over the ppcs (see my writings on ppcs below).

If you are the host, there is no excuse. Play a Ragnarok. This monster is unstoppable without lag. However, unless you are hosting the shield is unreliable. In non-hosting situations, I would chose target jamming over the shield because of the unpredictability of lag. Target jamming is particularly effective in hit and run tactics. It allows the player to use target jamming, come out from behind cover, launch a volley of PPCs and javelins at the enemy, and then retreat to cover before the enemy is able to retaliate.

Another drawback that the Ragnarok has is its height. This prevents it from using the cover offered by the riverbank making it easy to hit and therefore an attractive mech to target. The Ragnarok’s size coupled with its lack of speed (20), the Madcat a slight advantage on this stage, but you will not go wrong by choosing a Ragnarok.

What it basically boils down to is the choice of either the Madcat or Ragnarok.

Spawn:

Now that we have decided which mechs to use, the next decision to be made is spawn color. While victory is not assured by the choice of spawn location some spawn locations do offer a decided advantage over others.

Yellow is not a good choice of spawn as it is in a flat open area with no cover and is too close to green’s safe point (see the location marked #3 on the map). This leaves yellow exposed and in danger as soon as they respawn.

Red suffers from the same faults as yellow. While it does have a nearby safe point (see the location designated by the #2 on the map above), the players spawn out in the open. Red is also very susceptible to being pinned in their spawn if the opponent manages to hold point #1.

The popular belief is that blue spawn holds the greatest advantage on this map. A strong case can be made for blue because of the wide range of mobility it affords, its proximity to cover offered by the river, and the control of yellow spawn’s salvage. These advantages may appear to be strong on paper, but the inferiority of blue’s safe point (#4 on the map) to green’s safe point (#3) counterbalances these benefits. The only real hope for blue is to control red spawn and attack green from safe point #5. This allows them to pincer green and to expose green to multiple lines of fire.

The strength of green lies in the near full proof safety of its safe point (#3 on the map) and its proximity to red’s safe point (#2). If green manages to hold point #2 it will have three lines of attack on blue’s attackers. The respective blue and green lines represent the paths that attacking mechs must move in to attack an opponent’s safe point. In order to attack green’s safe point blue opens itself to attack from safe points 1, 2 and 3, while green’s attackers are only open to blue defender’s counter attacks in safe point #4. Now you throw in the salvage on point #1 and you can see how formidable green spawn is.

If given the choice take green spawn over blue.

The game:

Now that the set pieces are in place we finally come to in-battle strategy.

Blue: Blue’s position is more difficult than green’s, but it is not impossible. The key to winning on River City for blue is to capture and hold point #5. This is difficult to do because green spawns closer to this location and blue will likely encounter entrenched defenders in the #2 point at the outset of the game. At least two of the teams four this includes any Ragnaroks on the team should head to dislodge green from the #2 point. The Ragnarok’s lava cannon will become indispensable in point #5 because of its splash damage and its height would prevent it from using cover in point #4 effectively. The remaining teammates should make their way to safe point #4. When attacking from safe point #4 it is imperative that target jamming is used correctly, because they will be exposed to attacks from point #1 and #3. The majority of point #4s attacks should be directed at point #3, however occasionally you will catch a opponent too far out on the hill (point #1).

Green: At the beginning of a match the team will be split up into three groups; we’ll call them Alpha, Bravo and Charlie. Alpha, comprised of two members of the four will head immediately to secure the #2 point. Any Ragnaroks on the team should join Alpha because their height prevents them from using cover from points #1 and #3. They will clear away the buildings around the red spawn to provide open lanes of fire while utilizing the permanent cover provided by red’s alcove. Bravo makes their way to point #1 and holds there and assists with clearing buildings around red spawn. Charlie goes to point #3 while clearing the buildings to his right, which might provide cover for advancing blues. The majority of the offense will fall upon the shoulders of the member of Charlie. They will hit target jamming and advance to target an enemy let loose with everything then retreat immediately back to the safety of point #3. The built-in flexibility of this strategy is with Bravo. If point #2 is secure, Bravo can join Charlie at safe point #3 and assist in the offense or they can stay at the hill (#1) and help Alpha defend #2.

Stay in the safe points. As both #3 and #4 points are in the river they provide cover as well as increased heat dissipation (the river provides for a 30% increase in heat dissipation).

Wrap up:

Communicating power-up drops and sharing the appropriate power-ups is the key to maximizing resources.

If you are sniping and you are within radar range you are much too close to the enemy.

Ragnarok Tip: If using the Ragnarok, target with the longer ranged javelins when they light up fire the javelins and at the same time fire off your gauss riffles even though they won’t be locked. Gauss riffles travel further than their lock on range and since they are near instant odds are decent that even without a lock you’ll hit the opponent with them.

It is not enough to know the concepts, but to execute them properly. That takes practice.

As Von Molke stated, “no plan survives contact with the enemy,” so be flexible. If the enemy decides to mount a suicidal charge on one of the safe points, be prepared to rally your forces to help its defense.