BattleTech Arrives Tuesday, Solaris 7 Arrives in MechWarrior Online

BattleTech, courtest of Harebrained Schemes

BattleTech, courtesy of Harebrained Schemes

It’s going to be a fantastic week for BattleTech video games.

The day we’ve all been waiting for is finally almost here. Steam codes have been sent to all Kickstarter backers, pre-orders are available for pre-loading, and on Tuesday, April 24th, we finally get our hands on the finished product, hot off the digital presses from Hairbrained Schemes.

BattleTech is about to arrive.

We’ve had our paws on the multiplayer beta for some weeks now (and did a write-up on the experience a while ago), but this will be the first time we get our hands on the single-player campaign (unless you were one of the lucky few influencers that got an early download to show off on Twitch). As a connoisseur of Harebrained’s Shadowrun series of games, I have high hopes that the single-player experience lives up to the high bar set by their previous turn-based RPGs.

And while we of the BattleTech faithful are obviously hyped for BattleTech‘s arrival, we’re not the only ones. As of the time of this writing, BattleTech is number two on Steam’s top sellers list, beating out such juggernauts as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Far Cry 5. That’s high praise even for a game developed by giants in the industry, let alone a small developer like Harebrained.

We’ll have a preliminary review of the game up in the coming weeks after I’ve gotten a chance to play through a few hours of the campaign.

courtesy of MechWarrior Online

courtesy of MechWarrior Online

In other news, MechWarrior Online has released their latest update that brings Solaris 7 to their online shooter. As the name suggests, rather than 12v12 company-level brawls, or 8v8 strategic fights in the case of faction play, Solaris 7 pits MechWarriors in single combat.

The game changes drastically when you only have a single opponent. Suddenly you no longer need to consider bringing enough ammunition to last you an entire protracted battle. Rather, the goal is to pump out as much damage as possible as quickly as possible to bring your opponent down before he can do the same to you. This opens up a completely new meta in ‘Mech designs, and folks are already throwing up some creative new builds on the various online forums.

On top of that, Duncan Fisher‘s announcing brings a level of immersion that was previously missing to the game, and the MechWarrior Online developers PGI are giving away a free ‘Mech just for logging in: the UZL-3P Uziel!

There’s still time to get the rewards for pre-ordering BattleTech, and MechWarrior Online is still free to play so you can download that and start playing right now. There’s never been a better time to be a BattleTech gamer.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Harmony Gold’s Case Against Harebrained Schemes Dismissed!

Harebrained Schemes

Harebrained Schemes

The case against Harebrained Schemes has been dismissed according to the most recent document in the ongoing legal battle against Harmony Gold!

The document, titled “STIPULATION OF DISMISSAL WITH PREJUDICE,” confirms that the judge has dismissed the suit between Harmony Gold and BattleTech creators Harebrained Schemes. The news is fantastic for all BattleTech fans and even better for Harmony Gold haters around the world. By dismissing the charges with prejudice, the judge has effectively barred Harmony Gold from bringing forward a similar case in the future.

Thanks to user CeeSea for notifying me by posting the link in the previous article on this ongoing legal saga.

Before we break out the champagne, remember that Harmony Gold’s case against Harebrained was incredibly weak. The images supplied in their arguments to the judge looked so dissimilar that even a half-blind person wouldn’t mistake the two for the same ‘Mech.

Locust

via unitedstatescourts.org

As you can see, Harmony Gold was arguing that a Locust looked like a Marauder, or whatever the Robotech equivalent of the Marauder was (Destructoid Officer’s Pod or whatever). The two only share the vaguest of similarities, and arguing the two are the same is like trying to argue a gorilla is the same as a chicken. Sure, they both have four limbs, a brain, and are carbon-based lifeforms, but that’s where the similarities end.

So Harebrained Schemes is in the clear, but that still leaves the case between Harmony Gold and PGI, creators of MechWarrior Online and the upcoming MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. In that case, PGI did in fact use Unseen ‘Mechs in both games but updated them with their own unique flair to make them somewhat more intricate as befitting a modern video game.

But as we explained in our last post, PGI found previous court case decisions that found Harmony Gold to not even own the copyrights to the Unseen ‘Mechs, and thus have no grounds to sue. We’re still waiting on the judge’s decision on that argument, but this decision in favor of Harebrained is a promising sign.

We’ll be sure to keep you apprised as this court drama unfolds.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Retrospective Review of “The Battle at Dorking”

Battle Indeed

Michael Moorcock is one of my favorite writers of all time.  I have a huge library of most of his work.  I don’t think he ever wrote anything in the military science fiction genre, but he certainly appreciated it.  I recently picked up a anthology he edited of short stories and novellas written prior to WWI (Before Armageddon), and that’s where I found arguably the first military science fiction story – “The Battle of Dorking” published in 1871 and written by George Chesney.

Continue reading

More News On Harmony Gold vs. BattleTech

 

courtesy of Bradigus

courtesy of Bradigus

Good evening BattleTech fans! While we’re on the eve of BattleTech’s long-awaited release, we have some news on the lawsuit front for the ongoing legal battle between Harebrained Schemes, PGI, and Harmony Gold.

When we last left our intrepid heroes they were asking the judge for summary judgment against HG to find in favor of the defendants (that’s us) without needing to go into a lengthy trial. It turns out that PGI found the results of an earlier trial that proved Harmony Gold didn’t even have the rights to the Unseen ‘Mechs they were suing over in the first place. Those designs were in fact owned by another company called Big West.

What happened next was Harmony Gold decided to amend their complaint and remove some of the specific language from their suit against PGI and Harebrained Schemes. This was in order to buy time and stave off a summary judgment against them, which was seeming very likely due to the shaky legal ground HG suddenly found themselves on.

Not to be deterred, PGI refiled their motion for summary judgment with mostly the same language as before after HG amended their complaint. I’m no lawyer, but according to Reddit user GoodTry3067 (and with kudos for explaining all the legalese) we could be in for a long wait while the judge decides on the request for judgment Like, to the tune of 6 months.

I know, I know, that’s a bummer, but chin up! It’s looking like we might finally see the last of the much-reviled Harmony Gold.

But not so fast. In a last-ditch effort, Harmony Gold is throwing the legal equivalent of a long-bomb, 600 yard play (is that what they’re called? I know less about sports than I do about law) by requesting a letter of rogatory–essentially a letter from litigators in Japan asking them to confirm HG’s ownership of the Unseen copyrights.

They’re not likely to get it for a two reasons: A) Japanese companies rarely, if ever, come to the defense of American companies, let alone idiotic ones like HG who litigate themselves into a corner, and B) any litigator sending a letter to the judge opining that HG owns the copyrights would be lying since they do not.

how I imagine this all went down (courtesy of associated press)

How I imagine this all went down (courtesy of associated press)

Rightly smelling blood, PGI filed a motion to deny HG’s request for a letter rogatory from Japan on the completely reasonable grounds that they should have sent this request way back during the discovery process and not on the eve of trial. They also assert, probably correctly, that HG is just trying to delay a trial and waste the court’s time.

“Piranha opposes the motion for several reasons, but principally because the issue of who owns the copyrights asserted in this case has already been decided by three courts,” wrote PGI in their request for dismissal. “In light of those court rulings, the only apparent reason for Harmony Gold’s motion is to create confusion and cause delay.”

Ouch. There’s no word yet on when the judge will rule on PGI’s motion, which was filed on April 2, but here’s hoping the judge finally loses their cool and tosses Harmony Gold on their collective asses.

Before I end this update, I have a special request. It looks like Harmony Gold may finally get what’s coming to them, and on that day we’re going to need some appropriately smarmy art commemorating the occasion. If you or someone you know might be artistically inclined and can produce an image of Harmony Gold getting either crushed, blasted, or otherwise destroyed by a BattleMech–any ‘Mech, even one of the Unseen–then please send it on over so we can showcase it on what will hopefully be the best news update Sarna has ever posted.  

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

BattleTech Confirms Release For April 24th

courtesy of Harebrained Schemes

courtesy of Harebrained Schemes

BattleTech, the upcoming turn-based game from Hairbrained Schemes that we absolutely cannot wait any longer to get our hands on, has a release date: April 24th.

That’s right: in less than a month, we will finally get our first, turn-based, authentic BattleTech video game. Ever.

Along with the release date comes a fancy new trailer. Narrated by Kamea Arano, the deposed Aurigan noble who has a vaguely European accent, we’re given a brief recap of BattleTech’s history before she launches into the specifics of her political problems and the general plot of the game.

Of course, she also mentions how you’re ultimately a mercenary and can ignore her whenever you want. That’s why she ends the video with the promise of cold, hard c-bills for your trouble.

What really strikes me about all the trailer videos is the incredible soundtrack that was always in store for us. Continuing in the tradition of the Shadowrun series of games, BattleTech is going to have some fantastic music that is both somehow appropriate to the era while still being composed of ancient string instruments.

Everything about this game is looking sweet, so get ready to don your neurohelmet at the end of April. And if you haven’t already pre-ordered, here’s where to do it.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

An Ode To The Flea, Finally Coming To MechWarrior Online

flea

courtesy of MechWarrior Online

My friends, I bring tidings of great joy. MechWarrior Online is finally getting a ‘Mech that has been ignored for far too long given it’s illustrious and storied history. Finally, loyal ‘Mech fans will be able to pilot perhaps the greatest ‘Mech to ever grace the pages of BattleTech.

I of course speak of the noble Flea.

TP-1R Trooper

A rare sight in the Inner Sphere for centuries, the Flea had a troubled childhood. Initially known as the Trooper, it was developed by the Free Worlds League in 2475. The initial prototypes were so heavily flawed, however, that it took twenty-five years of additional development before the prototype could even be considered by the League’s Ministry of Defence, and even then it’s rumored to have required some hefty bribes before they agreed to take on the Trooper as their dedicated reconnaissance ‘Mech.

The design was rechristened the Flea in order to distance it from its troubled development. The Flea proved high maneuverable and effective against infantry and lightly armored targets, but utterly incapable of engaging ‘Mechs more heavily armed than itself. Excessive losses deterred the League from ordering replacements, and it wasn’t until Wolf’s Dragoons arrived did the Inner Sphere see the Flea in action again.

With the Dragoons using the Flea to great effect, the little ‘Mech gained a notoriety that eventually climbed to fame. It eventually became such a desired design that the Capellan Confederation’s Maskirovka raided a League factory for the ‘Mech’s schematics. Fleas began popping up in Capellan militias and then in planetary armies across the Inner Sphere.

Despite its obvious capabilities, the Flea suffered from several flaws. The FLE-17, by far the most common variant, was considered too slow after the arrival of the clans and technology allowed for XL engines to become the new standard in light ‘Mechs. Its armor was, likewise, insufficient for all but the lightest of combat duty.

Flea

courtesy of confracto.com

But largest of all was how most variants of the Flea lacked jump jets, preventing a ‘Mech named after a famously jumping creature from actually jumping at all.

The Flea was originally intended to be included in the first batch of ‘Mechs released with MechWarrior Online but was sidelined for reasons that were never explained. In all likelihood, the game’s developers were concerned with what such a small and maneuverable chassis would do for the overall competitiveness of light ‘Mechs.

That doesn’t explain why the Locust was eventually introduced before the Flea, but that’s neither here nor there.

The point is, the Flea is finally set to arrive, and I for one am very glad for it. It’s been a very long time coming.

Pre-orders bonus rewards end on March 31st, with the Flea itself arriving in game June 19th.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

More Details On Catalyst’s Upcoming Products

courtesy of Catalyst Game Labs

Catalyst Game Labs have updated their Coming Releases page! Excite!

Last month we got to talk to Brent Evans, lead developer on BattleTech, who gave us a tantalizing look at what we could expect for 2018 but tragically left out many of the details. Now the CGL website has filled in a whole lot of blanks, and we’re very much looking forward to these releases.

We got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s hop to it! First up, the Beginner Box Set. Priced at an affordable $19.99 and coming third-quarter of 2018, this will be a fantastic first step into the BattleTech universe.

courtesy of Catalyst Game Labs

courtesy of Catalyst Game Labs

Even for veteran players there’s a few great reasons to pick this baby up. First is the two brand new miniatures that come with it: the Griffin and the Wolverine. It looks like the Griffin is unique to the Beginner Box Set, so the only way to get it is by buying one. It’ll also come with the all-new 48-page novella by William H. Keith Junior. The title has yet to be released, but CGL says it’ll be “a prequel to the Gray Death Legion saga featuring Carlyle’s Commandos and Durant Carlyle.” Sweet.

Next comes the real McCoy–BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat. This bad boy will be $59.99 but will come with eight new miniatures: Awesome, BattleMaster, Catapult, Commando, Locust, Shadow Hawk, Thunderbolt, and Wolverine. That 48-page novella is included as well as the full rules, a 16-page universe primer, Alpha Strike cars, and 2 new maps.

courtesy of Catalyst Game Labs

courtesy of Catalyst Game Labs

Coming up next, Shattered Fortress, the all-new book dealing with the IlClan. “As the nations and Clans of the Inner Sphere struggle for survival, the Republic of the Sphere and awakened Exarch Devlin Stone face enemies at their doorstep. Will the Dark Age give way to a new dawn — or an endless nightmare? The epic story begins here!”

It looks to be a sourcebook based on the way fiction novels are categorized later, but it’s a little unclear. I’m sure it’ll become when Shattered Fortress is released later this year.

Speakin’ of fiction, there’s a bunch! For the printed stuff, Blaine Lee Pardoe is coming out with Forever Faithful, a tale that will apparently bridge Twilight of the Clans, through Dark Age, and even set the tone for the next era. Jason Schmetzer will see a release of his page-turning Embers of War, and Jennifer Brozek returns with book two of The Nellus Academy Incident trilogy.

There’s also going to be a new Print on Demand service arriving late in 2018 that will eventually (hopefully) allow you to order out-of-print products, and eventually even the BattleTech novel library (again, hopefully). There’s also new New PDF-only stuff: Touring the Stars, Spotlight On, Turning Points, as well as Brush Wars.

There’s even more details on the CGL page, and stay tuned for more concrete release dates!

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

New MechWarrior 5 Teaser Video Showcases Gorgeous Biomes

courtesy of Piranha Games on YouTube

courtesy of Piranha Games on YouTube

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is looking like it’ll be even prettier than MechWarrior Online and will easily hang with the current generation of games.

MechWarrior has always been a series on the forefront of technology. Back in the day, MechWarrior 2 may not have had textures, but it made those colored polygons look just like those towering Clan ‘Mechs we’d only previously seen in sourecbooks. At least, in our minds anyway.

MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries finally brought us the most basic of textures and made the surrounding environment look just a teensy bit more realistic. Not that we really cared, mind you, but it was nice to see the developers flex their graphical muscle.

courtesy of Piranha Games on YouTube

courtesy of Piranha Games on YouTube

MechWarrior 3 really brought environments alive, finally showing grassland and desert and rocky plateaus–basically anything that was mostly flat and didn’t have a lot of foliage. Roads, rivers, and waterways broke up the monotony with a bit of color, but most of the textures were spent on making the ‘Mechs themselves look prettier than the last generation.

Skip ahead to MechWarrior Online (I loved MechWarrior 4, but it was graphically mundane compared to games of its era) and we finally have something that brings atmosphere effects, lighting effects, and even fog. Snow whirls around your cockpit, smoke billows from shattered ‘Mechs, and the night sky lights up with laser and PPC fire.

courtesy of Piranha Games on YouTube

courtesy of Piranha Games on YouTube

Now we have MechWarrior 5. Last year at Mech_Con it was certainly a very pretty game, but the environments seemed rather dull. Sure, it was neat that you could smash through trees while walking through a forest, but it wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before, and the forest looked kinda dull.

Well, not anymore. Now it looks positively alive.

But it’s not just the forest that’s vibrant. You can pick out individuals blades of grass on the plains. There’s actual lightning bolts while you duel beneath a thunderstorm. There’s red dust storms on a Mars-like world.

I didn’t see any tumbleweeds, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them added to the desert biome before the game sees release.

Check out the new teaser vid and be prepared to be amazed. This game is gonna be purty.

BattleTech in 2018: Clan Ghost Bear vs Mercenaries

I recently took to the table again, this time with the trusty forces of Clan Ghost Bear.

ProbableKoz and I decided that we wanted a bigger Alpha Strike battle, so we each dropped 750 PV on the table. Having just completed my first battle armor project for the Year of Battle Armor, I wanted to bring along the Corona Heavy Battle Armor and give them a trial by fire on the tabletop.

Because of the nature of how this battle was covered, I’m going to change up a bit about how I’m covering this one. I’ll share some pictures below to show off the action and talk about what’s going on, but we actually recorded this battle! ProbableKoz did a full on Battle Report over on his YouTube Channel. I highly recommend heading over to his channel to check out his take on the action. 

 

Watch ProbableKoz’s Battle Report for this game!

Battle Pictures – Early Game

Rasalhague Dominion forces deployed heavy to the left flank, with the bulk of the Mercenary forces congregating in the trees across the field.

The Mercenary “Ost Lance” and other elements took positions near the power plant while the Ghost Bear Fire Support Star mobilized from the `Mech hangar.

Fore Moths and Vipers (carrying Battle Armor) advanced deep into the Mercenary flanks, preparing for a lightning strike, while the Ghost Bear Battle Star moved in to engage the Mercenaries.

Mercenary forces moved up to gain firing positions on the Ghost Bears attempting to leave the hangar.

There were early casualties….

….on both sides.

Mid-Game Plans Go Into Action

Then the Ghost Bears put their plane into action, deploying Battle Armor units at close range.

Off the other side of the table, the battle for control of the hangar intensifies. Neither side gives ground.

ERROR – Battlefield Surveillance Data Missing – Suspect possible data breach. Reporting incident to MIMIR and Watch Field Stations for analysis.

Basically, there is a whole turn of the game missing from my picture records. To find out what happened that turn, ProbableKoz’s video is a great resource.

Late Game, Sweeping Up the Rabble

Having cleaned up the Mercenary threat on the left flank, the Ghost Bears move in to route the remaining Mercenaries.

While having lost the entire Battle Star, one Mech from the Fire Support Lance, and a few units of Battle Armor, the Ghost Bears had managed to reduce the Mercenary forces to just two BattleMechs. The Mercenaries decided it was time to leave and sped off the table, back to their DropShip.

Victory for the Dominion!

The Mercenaries picked the wrong day to poke the bear, and they paid for it. While losses on the Dominion side were not insignificant, the Mercenary force just couldn’t handle the rate of loss subjected from the Ghost Bears.

As for the Corona Battle Armor, it served its purpose well, and a couple of the units actually survived the reprisal attacks from their hammer strike style deployment. The Corona that was able to attack at Short Range really messed up the Mercenary plan by applying extra Heat to the Mechs they hit.

As always, ProbableKoz was a great opponent, and I think this loss galvanized him to come back stronger in the future.

The Dominion will be waiting.

 

Devlin Stone’s Origins Revealed

Deviln Stone's Atlas II

Courtesy of flyingdebris on DeviantArt

There’s a lot of mysteries in the BattleTech universe. Who was the Bounty Hunter? What caused the HPG Blackout of 3132? What did Victor Steiner Davion like to have with his coffee? These are questions we may never have the answers to.

But every so often a mystery gets solved when a BattleTech line developer descends from on high into the depths of a forum and drops a bombshell.

One of those mysteries is the origins of Devlin Stone. You might recall Devlin from the least-liked era of BattleTech history, the Dark Age. After leading a rebellion on the conquered world of Kittery against the Word of Blake, he eventually became the general of an army that defeated the entire Wobbie army and retook Terra. Then he got installed as Exarch of the newly formed Republic of the Sphere and he lived was happily ever after.

Devlin Stone

That is until he announced his retirement. Then he sort of disappeared as mysteriously as he appeared and never came back.

As weird as it is for this monumental hero to just show up out of nowhere, it’s almost just as weird for him to step back from the limelight with little fanfare. I mean, it would’ve made more sense for him to just die of a heart attack like Hanse did.

But narrative criticisms aside (which we could lob at the Dark Age all day long), Devlin did play an important role in BattleTech history, so we should have some idea of his origins. For the longest time, there were only rumors perpetuated by sourcebooks and novels. The biggest one was that Devlin Stone was actually Arthur Steiner Davion returned from the grave.

There’s little hard evidence to support this, but what little there is can seem compelling. First, Patriots and Tyrants strongly implies that Arthur did not, in fact, die in the bomb explosion that supposedly took his life. Second, the sourcebook Jihad Secrets: The Blake Documents reveals that Arthur was in fact captured by Word of Blake and sent to Kittery, where Stone would eventually rise to prominence. Finally, the pair seem to share political views as revealed by Arthur’s speech just before he was assassinated and Devlin Stone’s actions in creating the Republic of the Sphere.

Arthur Steiner Davion

And that’s where Devlin’s story rested for many years until assistant BattleTech line developer Ray Arrastia dropped this news in the BattleTech forums a few weeks ago:

“Here’s the thing. Stone was a Rabid Foxes operative, and one of those four was Stone’s cover identity. While Stone was intended to be a ‘nobody,’ he wasn’t supposed to be ‘no one special.’

“But all that’s unofficial unless it ever gets published somehow, and any window for delving into Stone’s past likely closed years ago, IMO.”

When Ray refers to four cover identities he’s referring to documents revealed in Masters and Minions: The StarCorps Dossiers that link Stone’s physical characteristics with prisoners on Kittery.

And there you have it. Another BattleTech mystery solved by a benevolent line developer. Will this improve the Dark Age narrative in any way? Probably not, but it’s nice to know some of the details.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.  

stay syrupy