Earlier on Saturday, August 29, the long-standing MekWars server, MegaMekNet began to initiate plans to reset their server, rebooting to a new player-empowered set of rules moving forward.
The Technical Readout: 3060 shipped and like always I headed to my local gaming store to purchase my copy very soon after. I still remember looking over those units for the first time, and finding some that really stuck with me. Today I want to look at my four favorite BattleMechs from 3060, and then hear from you about your own.
What do you like in a BattleMech? What makes it work? Everyone’s playgroup will be different. I get that. If you run into a lot of missile boats, then an Anti-Missile System has an enhanced value to you. I’m not a fan of it normally. If you run into a lot of ECM warfare, then electrical enhancements, like Artemis IV are just dead weight in a lot of situations. So what do I like in a BattleMech? Let’s take a look and see!
Viking – Let’s go ahead and start with my favorite BattleMech from the Technical Readout, shall we? My friend, the 90 ton assault class Viking, a combination ComStar and Free Rasalhague Republic force. This is a great missile boat for your army – it sports two LRM20s, and two LRM15s as well – launching a full 70 missiles down field each round. With Artemis IV fire support, it can really blow out an enemy unit. It has a largely redundant quartet of machine guns and a pair of small lasers as close range stuff in case someone gets a little too big for their britches and tries to close. Avoiding the problems that can come with an XL engine, particularly in a unit with so many ammo critical slots (threatening an explosion that would shut down the ‘Mech), the Viking even has a strong amount of armor for those that want to return fire – a full 15.5 tons. It’s one of the best missile boats ever made, and it will not just exploit open areas on units, but it peppers armor itself!
Eagle – When playing I’ve found the Eagle to be a strong and reliable design in a few major roles. 5/8/5 movement is very respectable for a light ‘Mech, because you can always jump to get +3 to be hit if you need it, or else you can just walk +2 or run +3, so you have options to make it harder to hit you than it is to hit others. That’s what you want. In addition to that, we have an ER Large Laser to give the unit a long range bite, and an ER Medium to back it up. You can leap around, finding the right spot to fire off a few lasers. And then don’t forget that is has max armor as well. I like to use it as anything from a traditional scouting role to a flanking force that pushes heavier units or even a supplement to a long-range position where it can head out quickly to deal with anybody who comes close. That’s a good BattleMech, right? And then it has TAG as well, so you can paint stuff for future damage from other units in the right lance. I often don’t even bother. It has enough weaponry, range, armor, and movement to suffice for a 25 ton guy, and when you need it, TAG comes a-calling!
Shugenja – I’ve never a super big fan of XL engines. They work in the right circumstances and for the perfect unit, but otherwise, I prefer a unit with survivability. Particularly when it’s low on armor or tends to explode. That’s why the Shugenja is a strong choice. It’s a larger unit that uses the XL engine to give it enough room for a solid allotment of long range of weaponry – that ER PPC plus the pair of Large Lasers – all energy weapons that don’t rely on ammo – and a strong MRM 30 launcher to fill in a medium range role and to ward off any smaller units from getting too comfortable. Meanwhile the heavy BattleMech sports 13 tons of ferro armor, so it has pretty good protection. It addition, it has the valuable C3 Master unit, so it provides two roles. It’s a good long-range ‘Mech that can sit back and snipe at folks, while also providing the Master for a C3 equipped lance. That combination, along with the strong armor it affords, is a powerful combination for your unit. I use them a lot, and have gotten great results.
Buccaneer – I don’t generally like an XL Engine on a unit that wants to close. It’s prone to getting hit overly much. And the Buccaneer definitely wants to close, so it can connect with its medium and short range weaponry. Other than the ER Large Laser, it doesn’t include any long range weapons. Now you can rock a quartet of Medium Lasers, a random Medium Pulse Laser, and an SRM 6 (with Artemis) for short range fun, and that’s in addition to the hatchet that forces you to close, and gives you a good reason to do so! Don’t forget that unit has great armor – 10 tons of ferro on a 55 ton ‘Mech is virtually maxed out. And the weapons load doesn’t require more heat sinks. Your base 10  can deal with the heat from all five lasers, and your SRM 6 (You make just over 20 heat with your movement as well). So the unit works from all of those angles. But what XL engine gives you is an unusual way to use it. You have a crazy 6/9 movement. That lets you stab in there quickly from way outside of its normal range to hit quickly and powerfully. You can run 8 or 9 hexes, close with a BattleMech, and then carve into it with your weapons. You have the potential for a strong hit and fade tactic if you want, or you can stay and fight for a few turns, with the flexibility that battle requires. I’ve found myself using it in a variety of roles. But my favorite is to snipe with the XL Laser and position my ‘Mech to make a running and basing attack on the flank or rear of a unit and then just devastate it. This thing puts the fear of Blake into you.
So there are my four favorite Inner Sphere BattleMechs from 3060. What are yours?
Remember Drake and Vasquez’ smart guns from Aliens, or the surgically invasive exoskeletal hardware from Elysium? As opposed to ghost rings, reflex sights or lasers, they provided a passive targeting system to increase the accuracy of their operators, and decreased their battle weariness. In case of the Smart Gun, the fluff said that it had a guided mode – making it an ambulatory equivalent to the Remote Sentries from the Special Edition that were completely unmanned. And the harness and gyro-stabilized mount for the gun (and the camera it was designed for) made for a stable firing platform.
Seems we’re ‘aiming’ at active auto targeting for the warfighters of the future. Based on the same type of strap-on physical therapy devices used to treat stroke victims and sufferers of Traumatic brain Injury, the MAXFAS is less exoskeletal suit and more of an automatic traction system that stabilizes and prevents the muscular tremors in tired hands and arms from throwing off the operator’s aim.
A few weeks ago at GenCon, I sat down with Mitch Gitelman and Mike McCain of Harebrained Schemes. That week, HBS had announced an upcoming kickstarter for BATTLETECH – tactical ‘Mech combat for the PC.
Needless to say the community was pretty excited, and I was lucky enough to get some time with the two of them to ask what BATTLETECH will look like.
Nic Jansma: Can you both give me a little intro into who you are, and what your day-to-day role at Harebrained Schemes is?
Mike McCain: I’m Mike McCain. I’m one of the creative directors here at HBS, on BattleTech, and just finishing up Shadowrun Hong Kong with Mitch here. I’m co-directing BATTLETECH with Jordan.
Mitch Gitelman: My name is Mitch Gitelman. I’m the cofounder and studio manager of HBS, and I also make games.
Nic: I obviously saw your announcement earlier this week. Took me by surprise! I’ll be honest, I’m really excited for it. I know you guys have done a great job with Shadowrun, and have Jordan behind you. And judging by the comments on Sarna and on Facebook, it sounds like the community as well is just as excited to see what this could be. So we’re really getting behind you guys.
With both the challenge and acceptance videos from the MegaBots crew and team Suidobashi numbering nearly ten million views in little more than a month, it looks like this good-natured rivalry is turning more heads than just those belonging to us big stompy bot fans. Especially with BattleBots back on the air… which, of course, brings me to some of the heavy-hitters getting involved. It’s no longer just a team of spirited ‘mecha-nauts’ anymore.
I mentioned in my first article about the challenge that the co-founders of MegaBots were no strangers to the media. But the crew they’ve managed to put together for this undertaking honestly reminds me of a 21st century Team Bonzai. And going by the new concept artwork for the redesign, the new Mk.II looks like a mashup between Robot Jox and Rocky IV- just dripping with ostentatious patriotism.
“Military Artificial Intelligence Arms Race Could Soon Develop if Preventative Measures are not Taken.”
Many people don’t realize that (as far as we know) the current generation of Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) are in fact, flown by rated pilots; only by a (hopefully) secure data link from several hundred miles away. Flesh and blood hands still pickle the bombs and missiles off those drones. Interruption of that data link or some other sort of fault triggers a return to base order; some of the only real automation on the current series of UCAVs.
After their unsuccessful Kickstarter in October of last year, the Oakland California-based MegaBots Inc. seems to have done the best thing they could do to stay active in the public arena. They picked a fight.
In late June via video, Andrew Stroup and Gui Cavalcanti challenged Suidobiashi Heavy Industries to a duel- A batchall, if you will, to fight against Suidobiashi’s current combat mecha- Kuratas. Neither Stoup nor Cavalcanti are unfamiliar with either engineering competitions nor high media exposure. Both appeared in the 2012 Discovery Channel reality show: The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius.
In Part 1 of “One Man’s Convention – GenCon 2015” I focused on my BattleTech experiences. In this part of the two part series, I will share some of my more general experiences, what I want to get out of future experiences, and some parting thoughts on GenCon in general.
The General GenCon Experience
The rest of GenCon, the non-BattleTech parts, were pretty much as I expected them to be.
I don’t know if my experience was limited due to my timing, but it seemed like the cosplay aspect of this GenCon was only about par. Maybe I missed the really great stuff, or maybe it wasn’t really there. I haven’t yet taken the time to hunt down the big picture collections that I’m sure are posted up around the internet, so I may be wrong about the level of impressive cosplay that was present this year.
Personally, I was not able to explore much of the downtown area over the weekend due to having to book a hotel on the north side of Indianapolis. I’ve found that having to drive 20 minutes back to a hotel at the end of a full day at a convention puts a bit of a damper on one’s enjoyment of an area like downtown Indianapolis.
Another GenCon has come and gone, and now is the time when those of us who attended and participated are recovering from and reflecting on our personal and shared experiences of one of the most exciting weekends any gamer could hope to have.
This GenCon was my third in total, over a period of the last four years, and each time I have felt like it was impossible for me to somehow enjoy this time more than the last time. I believe that it is an amazing thing that, so far, each new GenCon experience has surpassed the previous ones. I think this is in part due to a continuous learning process that all repeat convention goers should, if they pay attention and mean to improve their future experiences, go through.
I left home near Nashville, TN at 7am Thursday morning, and a little over five hours later, I arrived in downtown Indianapolis. After finding a parking garage only a short walk from the convention center, I proceeded to Will Call to retrieve my pass. The wait was not long, and the process was smooth. I would be surprised at this point if Will Call was a difficult process at GenCon, but I feel that I need to include my assessment in order to provide an accurate picture of the convention from my perspective.
I have here chronicled my GenCon 2015 experiences in two parts. Part 1 details my BattleTech centric experiences, and Part 2 covers my general GenCon experience and my thoughts on how to have a better convention experience in the future.