Notes About Physical (Rather than Ranged) Attacks
There are two physical (rather than ranged) attack types. Simple melee, which is punching/charging or kicking and DFA (“Death From Above”) where the attacker uses jump jets to try and land on top of a target ‘Mech.
In DFA, the attacker takes leg damage and can cripple themselves, as well as falling over, whether they hit or not. If hit, the enemy can take stability damage, and a lot of potential damage to the head, torso and arms, but the whole process is less certain and predictable than weapon fire, and often a ‘Mech can cause more damage with guns and even pick the location to focus on with precision strike.
Unlike the original Battletech tabletop game, you can find Arm and Leg Modifications which can be installed into ‘Mechs to increase their melee or DFA damage output, whilst protecting the ‘Mech from damage from DFAs. This probably makes designs based on systematic and regular use of DFA possible, but it still seems risky and might take a while to find the right Modifications and chassis selections with suitable benefits for their tonnage.
DFA without planning is a bit of a desperate move and is funny, rather than long-term cost-effective, for the most part. The AI does seem to like performing it and so including jump-capable ‘Mechs closing to jump range in your threat assessment is a good idea. If an enemy does do it, you could then target their legs to down them and finish them off.
Fun fan fact: DFA in a 95 tonne Highlander ‘Mech is known as a “Highlander Burial.”
Melee is crucial against some vehicles and causes them double damage, which can amplify the threat a light ‘Mech would otherwise pose to a vehicle. Melee is also useful against targets with a lot of evasive charges as it can completely remove a target’s evasion. Melee is totally useless if a target is elevated in a position where melee is impossible – which includes many turrets.
Piloting is clearly important for melee builds because it directly improves your chances to hit. Evasive movement is also useful for closing the distance to the enemy more safely. Juggernaut promises to reduce a melee victim’s initiative score, but is locked behind Bulwark, which works best with ‘Mechs that are standing still. Master Tactician might help reduce stability damage if in a slugging match with an enemy and might allow you to get a crucial first punch in because of initiative higher than normal. Sensor Lock on a Melee ‘Mech provides an alternative to Sprinting or Guarding if the ‘Mech ends up out of melee range.