On the mentality of "locks pls" and LRM boats

It's not unusual to come across the LRM boat mating call of "2160 missiles looking for a good home, locks pls" or one of its many other variations including the now infamous "LRM60 Stalker here, locks pls". Due to some heated discussions on the forums about this topic and some people somehow landing on my blog by searching "mwo how to play lrms", I want to talk about this for a little.

Before I move on, let me say that I have nothing against LRMs. Even though I don't use them much aside from a fun drop here and there, I also don't think they're unbalanced or unfair or anything. They can be devastating, but they're also ridiculously easy to beat. We've come across organized LRM teams trying their hardest with dedicated NARC'ers and a mass spam of UAV's and I don't remember us losing to them one single time. At best, it's just annoying to fight against. Nothing more.

What I don't like about LRMs is the effect they have on the pilots. LRMs in general are lazy weapons to use. Direct weapons on the contrary require more effort and a good understanding of fundamentals such as trading shots, positioning, aiming, picking fights, committing, disengaging and so on. They're much harder to master and do well with them. Being an indirect fire weapon, LRMs are inherently "no trading" weapons. All that is needed is a red box and a clearance enough to launch the missiles. There is no "constant skill progression" with LRM 'Mechs, because the weapon just doesn't allow it. On some matches there's red doritos everywhere and you have the time of your life lurming away and some matches you get none, get jumped on by a light and die helplessly. How you do is extremely dependent on the availability of red boxes and for how long.

Some people blame their team for the lack of locks. They think people are holding off from locking on purpose just to spite them. "No teamwork!" the polite ones say while the nicest thing the meaner ones say is usually "noob team!". How can people expect them to work those missiles in that kind of situation? Therefore, in order to prevent this situation from ever arising again, they came up with the idea of announcing their presence at the round start. If people knew they had a 100t Atlas bristling with missiles on their team, they would surely put in the extra effort in order to provide them a sea of red triangles.

Well, does it work? As a player who's on the receiving end of these calls, the short answer is "not really?". While advising everyone to lock their targets is commendable, a decent player will lock their targets no matter what. Information on the enemy paper doll is extremely valuable and everyone should lock every target of opportunity to get and share this info. The presence of an LRM boat doesn't modify my behavior not even a little bit. I will lock targets that interest or threaten me the most at time and won't hesitate to switch between them rapidly only because an LRM boat on my team demands so. In the end me as a frontline fighter getting in precise shots properly into priority targets is much much more valuable for the team than a LRM boat getting a few salvos off. I appreciate the extra help if I happen to hold my lock long enough though.

To be honest, I find this kind of mentality selfish and harmful to the gameplay. Just because you have LRMs doesn't mean you should take the back seat and distance yourself from the fight and the enemy. Friendly locks should be treated as a luxury. You should build your boats in such a way that you will be able to actively seek your own locks and hold them. You should be able to keep up with the team and harass the enemy on your own. To be able to do this you're going to need mobile 'Mechs with decent mobility. An Assault such as STK-5M or a KGC-0000 are not 'Mechs with decent mobility. They're helpless walking fortresses which are designed to take and deal huge amounts of direct damage. They're intimidation materialized for the other team and are best used at the front line, taking and dealing damage. Mutilating them as missile boats, holding them from the frontline and then complaining about "the lack of locks and teamwork" is simply hypocrisy.

As I said I'm not against LRM gameplay. I even have some NARC/TAG lights I run occasionally just to help them (take a look at this article). It's just this "The team has to work for me because I was selfish enough to make a self insufficient LRM boat" mentality that is bothering me.

With LRMs, instead of going more, bigger and slower; try to go for the middle ground for all of them. A HBK-4J is one of the rare 'Mechs that I fear the most on the battlefield. One of them, if left alone, is absolutely capable of turning the tide of a match. You can run up to the front, tag a juicy Assault to death, disappear when things get too hot and find another spot to do it all over again. You can participate in NASCARs while easily keeping targets locked due to excellent torso twist. A TBT-7M will be equally effective with the added benefit of LRM poptarting (it's a thing!). Heck, a CPL(my troll build) is entirely capable of being self-sufficient while being a 65-tonner. There are some candidates in the Assault category but those are for another discussion.

Embrace self-sufficiency and don't forget the best locks are the ones you get yourself. With the advantages of knowing if your lock is stable or not (you know how long it will last) and the added benefits of Advanced Target Decay cancelling out Radar Deprivation effects, you will see that you'll start doing much better and do it consistently despite your team.
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About Rak

I'm an engineer who likes to write extremely long articles about games that border simulation and mainstream.
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