Today a guest post by my good friend Clive who sent me a very apposite set of observations that pointed out the Elephant in the Room about infantry in BattleTech. Over to Clive who hopefully won't mind the bits of editing and pruning I've done to turn his email into this post?
The problem with infantry is as follows:
1) Lack of Mobility (by comparison to everything else)Numbers one to three have been the PBI problem since the Stone Age, and they still seem to be important, even today. BattleTech has gone out of its way to make them unimportant, when compared in the modern era, where it is possible for an infantryman to carry a weapon that will total a MBT 1000m+ away
So BattleTech has from day one emasculated the PBI, because otherwise they get in the way of fighting it out mecha-a-mecha, because combat is scaled to battlemechs. Given the premise that battlemechs are masters of all they see, and basic infantry are one hit wonders, everything that isn't a battlemech ends up just being so much roadkill.
In my opinion infantry are only capable of two jobs; holding a building , or observing the enemy and bringing down an artillery strike
Given that agroup of powered battle armour (not basic infantry) attacking a battlemech did frankly derisory amounts of damage over several rounds, at no point did I get the feeling the battlemech was in any real danger. The main balancing in most cases is that mechs don't normally have a whole load of anti personal weaponry.
In the last battle the queen of battle, artillery, was back with a vengeance, but 20 points will wipe anything but a battlemech. Given an artillery strike of 1 will kill basic infantry, logically you would set the burst up to 20 times the size, or at least spread it out by N, where N is the number of guns in the battery, and accept an attack of 20/N. Perhaps one of the first things that could be tried is to tie the FO cards to how many actual artillery battery cards have already been dealt, which would cut their impact by half, or so?
So, what is the correct use of the PBI in Battlemech?
I think the only use they appear to have is to stop the other side easily acquiring buildings to hide their infantry from all the things that kill everybody's infantry, or have I missed something really subtle?
So as they say, let the discussion begin.