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What are the in-universe reasons that 'Mechs are used for galactic warfare in Battletech/MechWarrior instead of tanks and aircraft? In the real world, it seems that tanks and aircraft would be preferred due to their lower cost.

Theories I've anecdotally heard include:

  • An aversion away from weapons of mass destruction due to high civilian casualties during the first and second Succession Wars
  • A preference for 'Mech duels over large scale battles to limit the scope of combat
  • Versatility and utility advantages of 'Mechs in various environments, such as rocky terrain and moons with thin atmospheres
  • Logistical advantages for spaceborne operations. 'Mechs carry their own fuel and require far less personnel to man and support. They provide a higher ratio of military force per ton, making them more efficient to transport in DropShips

Which of these are supported by canon vs fan theories/justifications?

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I don't have the books any more to check, but I vaguely remember the Battletech hardcover explaining that the neural link used by pilots worked better when the machine they were linked to was as close as possible to the human form. That is, a pilot neural linked into a humanoid robot performed better than a pilot linked into a turreted tank.

I suspect that was just a handwave. The real reason is of course that mechs are just cooler than tanks. :-)

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  • I remember reading in one of the first games that the artificial muscle fiber was another thing enabling the human-like limbs.
    – LAK
    Jul 8, 2021 at 2:16

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