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By mech, I mean any bipedal war machine of around 22ft height.

Space Wolves Dreadnought Zion APU GDA AMP

We all know tanks are notoriously bad fighting in a city. They lost Hitler Stalingrad, and by extension, the War. Why is this? Is this because their treads get stuck on rubble? Because they can't shoot upwards at attackers dropping explosives from buildings? Were tanks not able to turn effectively? Would mechs be effected by any of these hinderances?

The objective would be to pound the city into the ground, but the military wouldn't consist solely of mechs. There'd be infantry and artillery and air support.

The game is Warhammer 40k, but I'm talking about realism. I like it when a game is backed up with a touch of verisimilitude.

Imagine the attackers consisting of 100,000 men, 2,000 artillery pieces, and 500 mechs, taking on a city 140.3 km^2. Defenders would consist of similar numbers and units. The objective is to pound the city into the dust from whence it came!

Would an enemy defending the city be utterly terrified when they saw a mech lumbering down the street, or would they laugh and employ guerrilla tactics?

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closed as not a real question by mxyzplk May 18 '13 at 17:10

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Mechs scale from a little more than human sized to tens to (in extreme cases) hundreds of meters. To pound the city, they wouldn't need to occupy the city. – Brian Ballsun-Stanton May 18 '13 at 13:28
If you take any mobile unit (such as a tank) into a city where it can not manoeuvre it will be less efficient. At the same time small, easy hiding human have a relative advantage. I think the same will be true for large mechs. – Hennes May 18 '13 at 13:35
I'm closing this to get more clarification. The answer is of course "it depends" heavily on many factors. Tech level of invaders and invadees, force disposition of invaders and invadees, nature and goals of the invaders and invadees, etc. Discussions of "how would mecha do, in a vacuum" are like discussions about how tanks or planes or whatever do in a vacuum - some are convinced they are ultra mega unstoppable things and others are convinced they will be meat for the beast. Question as it stands is random discussion fodder. – mxyzplk May 18 '13 at 17:12
I think the core question is whether mechs are manoeuvrable enough to be effective in an urban environment, but if so there's a lot of unnecessary red herrings in the body. – SevenSidedDie May 18 '13 at 18:16
Voting to leave closed. It still doesn't have enough specifics towards the game system to be about RPGs, and as such, will be largely based on speculation. – SnakeDr68 May 20 '13 at 16:56
up vote 6 down vote accepted

My thoughts:

  • The biggest challenge of urban combat is avoiding levelling the city. Attackers that have the luxury of blowing up every building as they walk by don't need to worry about guerillas. Cities are challenging not only because of the close quarters, but because they are filled with noncombatants. Modern warfare is about pinpointing enemy combatants, and taking them out while minimizing collateral damage. If the attacking force is going to slaughter the populace wholesale (not realistic under any normal circumstances!) then it just becomes a question of whether they have big enough guns, and enough ammo.

Traditional armored units have a number of characteristics that make them function ineffectively in an urban environment:

  • Limited articulation of weapons
  • Limited pilot visibility, especially in the immediate proximity of the unit
  • Large, highly visible target; limited cover
  • Limited, predictable paths of movement; vulnerable to roadblocks

In addition, the APU you showed offers the pilot no protection whatsoever against small arms fire, which is silly.

I think armor could be effective in a city when working in conjunction with infantry. The infantry can serve the role of protecting the armor unit's blind spots, and flushing out and supressing hidden foes (for example, by clearing the surrounding buildings).

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Narratively this makes a lot of sense, but a lot of games don't care about collateral damage. Missed attacks mechanically just vanish into mist instead of leveling the structure behind the target. In the 40k games I've played, the terrain was unchanging during the course of the same battle, even with the fury of the Scatter Die. – CatLord May 19 '13 at 1:36

With Artillery and mechs, there will be no streets.

With a modern force and 2000 artillery pieces, if the objective is "flatten the city" the mechs serve a defensive role only. They set up on fortified terrain and... nuke the city from orbit.

For 5-6 meter tall mechs, again, with no intention of preserving the city, the mechs are used as demolition crews around each building with adequate infantry support. Cities, against modern explosives and demolitions capabilities, to say nothing about warhammer 40k capabilities are not bastions of defence.

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+1 for the first sentence. You need to match your forces to the intended objective; to destroy a city entirely, a salvo of tac nukes (or possibly a strategic nuke, matter/antimatter bomb...) is far better than any ground force. – TimLymington May 18 '13 at 14:24
This says everything. If the objective is to capture the city, there's an interesting and deep tactical discussion (edit the question if that's what you want). If the objective is to destroy the city, there's no need even to enter it, and the mech / artillery combination is unbeatable. – Tynam May 18 '13 at 15:38
"In the grim darkness of the far future, there are no streets" would probably be a more apt opening line, given the context. – Problematic May 18 '13 at 16:14
@Problematic +1, even though I don't entirely agree. Because a lot depends on what those streets are made of. Especially in the WH40k universe, where cities can indeed be bastions of defence, afaik. :) – OpaCitiZen May 18 '13 at 22:20

In the Warhammer 40k Universe, rather.

What we see in Warhammer is a lot of high-power weaponry with a ton of output. Let's not kid ourselves either-the only way any building is standing is if it's built out of really durable materials, so we'd really need to know the city in question. Forge Worlds, for instance, might have the sorts of buildings that could survive a hit from an artillery piece, but a Hive World's structures may not be so robust.

It really depends on the narrative.

If we wanted realism, the city would be leveled. Warhammer 4ok doesn't always do realism (have you seen any of the video games?) in favor of where it wants the narrative to go-for crying out loud the Orks invade on meteors*! Most of this is scale-the city would have to be really, really large to survive a bombardment by 2000 artillery pieces-it would take time, but more likely the attackers would bombard and then sweep, meaning that not much is standing by the time they move in.

Basically, resistance could be had, but it would be far and few between, and consist of lucky survivors who were spared a direct hit by a shell.

*I think, I'm not an astronomer, and I don't really care about the distinction.

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Mechs can definitely be effective. In the standpoint of games, they are quite mechanically apt at it. Mechwarrior has a mech called the "Urban Mech", which is specifically designed for suppressing infantry in a city. Granted it's not very good at much else in the MW universe. Infantry can hide in buildings but the buildings can be toppled by the three story monstrosities. The main drawback is that if a mech "runs" on asphalt or pavement it has a chance at skidding and falling.

Now looking at the pictures you posted, the mech from (Cameron's) Avatar and the APU from the Matrix are fairly small vehicles comparatively and if my scale is correct, the Dreadnought for the Space Marines would fit somewhere between the sizes of these two. Most mechs in these classes have full articulation, and stand less than 15' tall so they can fit down the average street and still have maneuvering room. Something like the Eldar walkers would (arguably) have a huge advantage in a narrative setting.

The bottom line is how you are willing to stat it out. +1 to attacker for high ground? +1 to defender for adequate cover? -1" movement to the oversized vehicle (unless jump/flight capable)?

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