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[necro][Theory] Why would we make Mecha's?

Attila ze Hun

Professional Grouch
Of the Real Robot or Battletech type. As a thought experiment for realistic-world design,

What plausible reasons do you think there would be to eventually design and create man-pilotable mecha's? Why create them? What military niche would they fill etc.



Lyran Commonwealth Loyal
Validated User
Re: [Theory] Why would we make Mecha's?

Some of the standard answers I've seen:

1. They are psychologically intimidating to the enemy. (See: Battletech's Atlas)

2. They are more agile than tanks. (The utility of which is debatable)

3. They are better at all-terrain than tanks. (Also debatable, as the ground pressure of Mecha feet would be quite a but more than a tank's)

4. Because some advance in technology makes it more feasible. (Myomer muscles making #2 really mean something, countermeasures making their higher profile less of an issue, Direct Neural Interface piloting ability, etc.)

5. They are developed for working in space, or on construction projects.

Off the top of my head, those are the ones that pop into my brain when I ask this question. As many people will probably post, the human form is not a very good combat platform. Joints are vulnerable, armor can't be as thick, it requires stabilization beyond our current capabilities (See: Battletech's neurohelmet).

Just a few early comments.


Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
Re: [Theory] Why would we make Mecha's?

You mean humanoid mecha, presumably, or mecha with legs at least.

The explanation given in Spacemaster Second Edition is that, given the technology to make them, vehicles with legs are better over some terrains than vehicles with other propulsion systems (SM actually distinguishes between walky-leg mecha and jumpy-leg mecha in terms of terrain-suitability).

Mr Zephy

Seeking validation...ooh!
Re: [Theory] Why would we make Mecha's?

In WH40k Titan mechs are used because they are avatars of the machine god.

In Warmachine, they are used because the nations used to use golems to a certain extent, and having steam rather than magical power is more efficient and more powerful.


Registered User
Validated User
Re: [Theory] Why would we make Mecha's?

While apartment building-sized mecha aren't really feasible without introducing handwavium or handwavium-based technology, infantry-sized mecha/battlesuits/exoskeletons are iirc being developed by both darpa and that guy who build the grizzly bear protection suit. Sure, they aren't mecha per se, but they kind of prove that small mecha (which are basically invulnerable to small arms fire, can carry more weapons than a regular human, etc) would be useful in an urban environment.
Also: semi-small mecha which are basically pressurized suits could be really useful in space)

Kaiju Keiichi

New member
Re: [Theory] Why would we make Mecha's?

It really, really depends on setting factors, in a literal case of putting the cart before the horse.

In designing a mecha setting, you need to decide what kind of action you want, and then come up with the psuedo-science handwavium that enables you to have machines that do what you want.

This is exactly what Yoshiyuki Tomino did when he created Mobile Suit Gundam - Minoffsky Particles are a setting element which disrupts and deadens all forms of electromagnetic transmission. This destroys radar and radar targeting, and reduces all combat to visual range, which justifies all the hand to hand and short range combat we see in Gundam.

So, don't try to justify mecha in the real world - design your setting instead, and get narrative. Re-write the world laws to support the mecha you want.


Eled the Worm Tamer

Spider Jeruselem's Warior
Validated User
Re: [Theory] Why would we make Mecha's?

On a small to medium scale (Battle suits to Master -Slave systems such as Shirow's Appleseed Landmates)

1: Ease of use. Exoskeletons move as you do, its a skill, but a fairly easy one.

2: adaptability. Changing the load out on a Tank? Difficult. Changing the mech scaled hand held weapons? grab a different one

3: Maneuverability, ability to alter profile (Crouching, lying prone ect)

4: Secondary uses, building fortifications, disaster relief and civillain protects during peace keeping.

5: Close combat becomes viable during urban engagements, less risk of friendly fire, its dangerous for the enemy to shoot into melee.

6: Morale. Your troops feel secure encased in armour, your enemy are looking at say, 9ft of stompy mecha.

Attila ze Hun

Professional Grouch
Re: [Theory] Why would we make Mecha's?

[edit] edited after seeing missed posts :p questions left: how would this mecha's be used in a combined force? What might their general role be/ What role would result in much mecha vs mecha fighting? (always cool to have mechas fight mechas)

A side question: What economic situation would be neccesary to make continued mecha production plausible? Or perhaps social situation

@Zephy: The way WM fluff has been going, it seems like 'Jacks are becoming less and less important in the setting. Any thoughts on that?

Thanks sofar :D

edit: @walruz: Yeah powered armour has some good things going for it. These questions are mainly to discuss the bigger things, the building smashers.

edit: @Kaiu (and all others): Lets say you could for your idea make use of 1 pseudo-science explanation like the Minovsky Particles, what would you use?
Last edited:


Retired User
Re: [Theory] Why would we make Mecha's?

In addition to the above: smaller top-down profile, which would be an advantage if there are orbit->ground weapons in play.

Ghost in the shell's take on mecha with spider legs is a pretty functional design, all things considered. They basically took a tank chassis and swapped out the treads for 6-8 articulated legs with drive wheels on the end. Gives you the off-road maneuverability of a walker, redundancy in the drive system that's actually greater than on a current tank (take out a leg or two on either side and the vehicle could still move, albeit slowly) and the speed of a wheeled drive on applicable streches of terrain.


Ancestral Sigil of Play
Re: [Theory] Why would we make Mecha's?

As walruz suggests, a very common starting point is human-scale powered armor suits. These proto-mecha might get scaled up over time to the giant sized variety. The utility of a power armor is obvious: you get armor and weapons like a light tank, but with the mobility and versatility of infantry.

Another possibility, riffing off Kaiu's suggestion, is that a culture just developed legs before wheels and treads. It's an odd, unlikely conceit, but its not unimaginable. Maybe they had some kind of memory metal or plastic developed very early on (before steam or petroleum power became common). Or maybe they rely on biotechnology instead of metal-and-engine based tech. In such a society, you might end up with walkers (using artifical or actual muscles) being the more prevelant form of power and locamotion instead of wheels and engines.
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