Your Favorite Clan Omni-Mechs of All Time

When the Clans arrived, they brought some seriously dangerous heavy metal to the Inner Sphere.   To this day, it’s arguably the most significant event in recent Inner Sphere history.  They came to fight, with OmniMechs that had flexible designs the pod space to fix them to your taste, terrain, and mission profile.

At first I thought it would be fun to have us all look at our favorite Clan OmniMech designs from Technical Readout: 3050.  But there’s such a small number of their designs, and without using any payloads, Omnis tend to be a bit generic.  So instead I figured we could just look at our top Clan OmniMechs from any era.  That way we can include stuff like the Crossbow, Naga, or Blood Asp.

Let’s begin by looking at my own Top 5 Clan Omnis, and then ask what yours are!

Jumping Over You Since 1990.

5.  Dragonfly/Viper – I never liked the Dragonfly at first.  It didn’t hit any of my buttons for a good, quality BattleMech.  After a couple of opponents had some success with it hopping all over the map, I just chalked that up to the luck of the dice.  Then I played it once, and then again, and duplicated their efforts.  After about a year of ignoring this 40 ton horse, I eventually embraced it in my playgroup and began to add it to the stable of ‘Mechs I would dip into regularly.  It’s always played better for me than it looks.  It has virtually maxed armor with ferro-fibrous combined with that strong 8/12/8 speed.  It’s hard to hit, and when you do, it has the armor to protect critical components.   Plus it almost has 9 tons of pod space available for stuff.  It’s good combination of weapon space and survivability.

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New Releases for MegaMek, MekHQ and MegaMekLab

On Sunday, December 14, all three in house products were released for MegaMek, MekHQ and MegaMekLab.  These three development releases are timed together in order that users of the different programs can use them simultaneously.

If you are feeling a little bored today, and want to play some BattleTech, then just check out the free java-based MegaMek and it’s suite of programs.  The additions to MegaMek 0.39.4 handle some bugs, as well as improve images and other miscellanea.  All told, there are around 20 changes to the software.  MegaMek is a free java-based program that simulates playing BattleTech against the AI or real folks, and can be used to host games online.

Meanwhile, the full list of changes for MekHQ reveals a number of bugs squashed.  It can be used to track campaigns and manage your unit, and works with MegaMek as well.  Meanwhile, the MegaMekLab predominately enables it to communicate with the others.  Feel free to build your best stuff and play it against folks in MegaMek.

Download all three and get that Mek on!

Robogames Video Series: BattleBots of the 21st Century

I’m sure most of you at least remember that there was a pair of Robot arena combat shows in the latter half of the 1990s called Battle Bots and Robot Wars. Each week, a number of amateur and professional propellerheads would get together to do battle within one of three weight classes. The shows were on the air for several seasons; and was pretty popular, spawning how-to books, video games, and other marketing tie-ins. Even Mythbusters alumni Jaime Hyneman and Grant Imahara competed.

Photo by Dave Schumacher

Photo by Dave Schumacher

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Lockheed Martin: One Hundred Megawatt Fusion Engine within Ten Years?

On October 15th, Aviation Week received exclusive access to Lockheed Martin’s Revolutionary Technology Programs unit; specifically regarding a new Compact Fusion Reactor (CFR) program lead by Aeronautical Engineer Thomas McGuire. McGuire and his team make a claim that uses a lot of phrases like “holy grail” and paradigm-shifting. How compact? The containment vessel in test unit is said to be roughly the equivalent of a business jet engine. “I studied this in graduate school where, under a NASA study, I was charged with how we could get to Mars quickly,” McGuire said in the article.

If true, this may ultimately be the answer to planetary energy needs within twenty years. With the initial testbed dimensions expected to just about fit on a truck bed. I know its larger and probably of too high an output to compare to, say a CoreTek 275 XL engine, but can power a small city of 100,000 people all by itself at one hundred megawatts. And this is just a working testbed due within the decade. This isn’t some guy tinkering in his garage in his spare time either, this is the Skunkworks; Lockheed Martin’s go-to gang of whizkids.

 

Compact Fusion Reactor cross-section. Pretty much looks the way I remember their BattleTech equivalents work.

Compact Fusion Reactor cross-section. Pretty much looks the way I remember their BattleTech equivalents work.

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Interstellar Operations Update

banshee-cover

Getting Interstellar With It!

After sometimes feeling like Vaporware, an update on Interstellar Operations was posted on BattleTech.com on Tuesday, November 18th. This long-awaited release has been highly anticipated by the community for years.  The good news is that we have a Table of Contents ready to go, and so so much material that it will require two sourcebooks to cover.  On the other hand, a release does not appear imminent.

Some online stores will need to change anticipated release dates for Interstellar Operations that are no longer.  For example, FRPGames has the release date of November 30, 2014.  Meanwhile, it looks like Spring on 2015 is the best guess for Interstellar Operations and it’s release.

The best news is that we have a beta release of the Abstract Combat System available for your use and comments.  Why not check it out and whet your appetite for some operations at the highest levels?  The long quiet wait is over!  Now it’s just a matter of counting down the days.

You can also follow Joel “Welshman” Bancroft-Connors, @welshman_bc, who’s a writer on Interstellar Operations and is tweeting about its’ progress.

Sarna 2014 Survey Results

Hi everyone!

I want to thank everyone that took the Sarna 2014 Survey.  We had 941 responses, which has given us a ton of great feedback!  Besides the survey questions, there were several hundred written suggestions, ideas, bugs and thoughts on how to improve the site.

I’ve spent the last day pouring over the results, and have tried to boil everyone’s responses down to some key takeaways.  Over the new few months I’ll be addressing your biggest concerns and best suggestions.

You can check out the survey results here.

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Father and Son Halloween Sunder Cosplay

It was over a month ago that I wrote about a Warhawk ‘mech cosplay; I mentioned that the BattleTech themed projects I’ve seen online have been almost universally reverse-join clan designs entered in competitions. These have been more puppets than outfits, really; with the operator’s black-clad legs sticking out the back and between those of the ‘mech.

But in this My Modern Met article, a BattleTech fan has not only put together an inner sphere assault ‘Mech, but it’s a proper suit since the Sunder is a nice, slat-sided humanoid design with limbs bulky enough to accommodate both himself and his infant son Geraint- who seems more than happy to pilot the BattleMech powered by his dad, Ryan.

The article also explains that the torso and arms attach by velcro around Ryan and Geraint- who sits in a baby harness strapped to dad’s chest. The legs attach to a belt around the waist, so it doesn’t take long to don the Sunder suit.

courtesy of mymodernmet.com

courtesy of mymodernmet.com

BattleTech: First Somerset Strikers and Sourcebook Retrospective

I think the BattleTech cartoon was probably as close the franchise came to making the mainstream of popular culture. I could include the videogames (which I have discussed before) but the cartoon took place during a time where big fighting robots were generally in the mainstream anyway. MechWarrior 2, Robot Jox, and of course blockbusters like Terminator 2. Even Japanese distributors were beginning to test the US market with titles like Patlabor and different flavors of Gundam. Big robots were beginning to become as much a staple of science fiction as the space opera. (Some media, like Gundam and BattleTech combined the two).

So how does one market a mech-centric space opera towards children? As seen with other US franchises like Exosquad, don’t sugar coat it. In space operas, there are big wars going on, and people die. 1st Somerset Strikers doesn’t show death like Exosquad does, but one of the plot developments banks on one of the major characters failing to eject from his devastated BattleMech before it explodes and being thought dead by his compatriots for most of the season. Likewise, though it specifically mentions in the official BattleTech canon that the Jade Falcons evacuated the city of Romulus before glassing it with orbital bombardment, it was never brought up on the show.  So the viewer thinks they just watched an entire city of people get vaporized. Heady stuff. I really wish they had made more of a deal of the destruction of Edo on Turtle Bay later in the season, considering that most of the inhabitants in fact WERE massacred by the Smoke Jaguars (one of the reasons that clan was targeted for termination during Operations Serpent and Bulldog)

 

promotional artwork for the animated series

Promotional artwork for the animated series

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Megabots- Is Solaris VII Coming to Live Action Fruition?

Growing up amidst the popularity of both the giant robot craze and the never-ending advancement of technology in both the military industrial complex and commercial avenues- I keep waiting for life to imitate art. Over the years even private individuals have taken a swing at constructing real stompy robots with some pretty mixed results at best. Unlike BattleTech, we’re seeing the beginnings of powered armor proliferation, but not a large robot.

The reason, of course, is that there is absolutely nothing simple about how a bipedal being moves. From the standpoint of a fighting vehicle, designing a multi-ton machine that puts all of its weight on a pair of feet just doesn’t translate well, and the larger you try to scale them, the more difficult the problem becomes. SO when I read about an ambitious kickstarter to build a pair of bipedal fighting machines for the express purpose of having a death match- I was hesitant. But optimistically so.

Four-way Free-for-All event concept sketch by FlyingDebris

Four-way Free-for-All event concept sketch by FlyingDebris

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New Interactive BattleTech Star Chart

In September, MechFactory released a new and improved iteration of their ISCP, or Inner Sphere Cartography Project. This was announced on their main page which includes an overview of its changes.

For more we asked MechFactory’s owner, Pheonix Wolf about the changes:

BobTheZombie: How and when did this project get started?

Phoenix Wolf: An early idea to create an interactive stellar map of all known BattleTech worlds appeared around 2001. That time we had only a deprecated 16 bit program and a text file with coordinates for 3025-era planets. I thought that a better, usable internet-based map would be a great tool for BattleTech players – especially for those people, who –like my team- are playing BattleTech RPG (MechWarrior was the name at that time). I took the data and began building the first mapping system on php/javascript basis.

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