The 3145 Technical Readout Series Revisited: A few of my favorite ‘Mechs (and other things to follow): Part I

The Tomahawk II

The Tomahawk II

Over the course of writing my reviews on the Technical Readout : 3145 series, I feel the need to regain perspective and look at the series as a whole, with respect to the units offered. The ‘Mechs, combat vehicles, battle armor suits, AeroSpace fighters and other units covered in these technical readouts essentially represent a new era. We shouldn’t compare them to every other ‘Mech ever made, we’re comparing them to their contemporaries. So I’m starting over, taking a second look at everything, and then we’ll see how close my original assessments were to how I feel about them now. For this article, I’m reviewing the BattleMechs. I was originally going to make this a comprehensive article, but I felt the size just didn’t work for the kind of detail I wanted.

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Masakari Omnimech Cosplayer Wins Gold

Some of you might have seen this thread on the official forums where user Ion Raptor has been working on a mobile 1/5th scale replica of a Ghost Bear Warhawk prime. I asked him what gave him the idea for this. He answered:

“The idea was from a sad lack of BattleTech costumes besides the occasional pilot cooling suit. The MW4 Warhawk itself was chosen because of its blocky and imposing design. The prime variant was a product of finding shipping tubes the perfect size for PPCs. The Ghost Bear scheme came from the pilot figure I bought, which was a Max Steel toy that happened to have grey and blue shorts on. If I ever do one again it will either be much smaller or through commission so that logistics are someone else’s problem.”

The Invasion of Rasalhague reinacted at Gencon 2014

The Invasion of Rasalhague reenacted at Gencon 2014

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Industrial Class Exosuits now in Operation and soon for Sale!

Aliens, HALO, Gears of War, (of course) BattleTech, Edge of Tomorrow, and a whole lot of other science fiction properties feature powered strength-enhancing suits in a utility roll before being used in combat. I believe the idea goes back to Robert Heinlein’s 1959 novel Starship Troopers, but it’s really only been in the last fifteen or so years that science and engineering think tanks have been actively (and seriously) experimenting with something useable for military, commercial and even medical applications.

Bay twelve, please.

Bay twelve, please.

I’ve mentioned TALOS and Warrior Web; which I believe are undergoing field trials at the time of this writing, as well as the Hybrid Assisted Limb medical exoskeleton that’s also flexing its bionic muscles. But it appears in this article from New Scientist that South Korea’s Daewoo corporation already has a suit in operation in an industrial role at their main shipbuilding and marine engineering facility at Okpo-dong. Visually and performance-wise it is highly reminiscent of the Raytheon corporation’s XOS Mark 2 suit that the Iron Man and Avengers actor Clark Gregg donned in this video.

I can't wait until they start armoring these things up.

I can’t wait until they start armoring these things up.

Daewoo’s suit is a working prototype for a more robust version that could “lug around 100-kilogram hunks of metal as if they’re nothing” according to the lead engineer Gilwhoan Chu. So far the carbon fiber, aluminum and steel frame is rated only up to thirty pounds and has a battery life of only about three hours. Well, you’ve got to start somewhere. And when building fifty-five thousand ton container ships, even the small jobs that can’t be done by massive industrial robots still require a human with some heavier lift capability than we’re normally built for.

The Daewoo suit weighs in at a hair over sixty pounds, and can be fitted to anyone from 5’3″ to 6″ in height. Still a far cry from the iconic power loader from Aliens, but definitely a step or two in the right direction.

I have a headache THIS big!

I have a headache THIS big!

And that direction seems to be taking us to Panasonic’s robotics arm, Activelink. Unambiguously called the “Powered Suit“, this bulkier exoframe can lift up well over two-hundred pounds on a charge that lasts about five hours. It’s pretty slow at about five MPH, about like a leisurely walk. And the best part is, it’s being mass produced for private sales. The initial run of one thousand units is set to begin in 2015 and the suggested retail price will be under five thousand bucks a pop.

If I had the scratch- I’d take it.

Well bargained, and done.

Your Favorite IS ‘Mechs from 3055

The Bigger the 'Mech, the Harder They Fall

The Bigger the ‘Mech, the Harder They Fall

I have a personal love affair with the 3055 Technical Readout.  Sure, it may have been the 4th readout in my hands (3025, 3050 and 2750 beat it to my bookshelves) but it was always number one in my heart.  Some of my favorite Inner Sphere BattleMech designs are inside these covers.

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MegaMek Announces Map Editor

mm_logo

Playing BattleTech since 2750

On Saturday, August 2, developers for MegaMek released a preliminary version of a map editor feature for MegaMek.  This will allow players to edit their maps prior to playing, so that they can play on a map they modified.  This highly anticipated feature is in the earliest, debugging stages.

MegaMek is a great way to play the BattleTech game online with some friends.  You just have to have a device that runs Java, and download the free client.  There are numerous programs that run with it to create campaigns, online worlds, and more.  Check out MegaMek and give it a spin.

The Clans of Kerensky, Part Two: Crucible of Gold

This article is Part 2 in a series on the Clans. The ongoing series attempts to cover the impact that the Clans, both as a society and as individual entities, have had on the Inner Sphere, since their arrival in 3050 to the present year of 3145.

The series began with Part One: Rise of the Clans.

 

Symbol of the Clans

The Golden Century

Following the Annihilation of Clan Wolverine, the Absorption of Clan Widowmaker, and the subsequent death of Nicholas Kerensky in 2836, the Clans experienced tough growing pains as their new society struggled to keep up with the loss of their Great Father and the rapidly changing landscape of the Clans discovering what their society would ultimately become. Clan Wolf Khan Jerome Winson stepped up and succeeded Nicholas Kerensky as ilKhan of the Clans, and Winson’s leadership would prove to be just as vital as that of his predecessor. The one hundred years following Nicholas Kerensky’s death, generally agreed upon as 2830 to 2930, are considered by Clan and Inner Sphere historians as the Clans’ own Golden Century.

It is during this time that Clan society took firm shape and developed into the culture that invaded the Inner Sphere nearly one hundred years ago. The Clans, perhaps more so than the Inner Sphere, had a burning desire to survive out in the far reaches of space, away from the now storied and increasingly legendary Inner Sphere. While many of the planets that the Clans colonized were habitable, most were only dangerously so, and intimate knowledge of the eco systems of these new planets was still being obtained while the Clans fought over the meager resources at hand.

Over the course of the Golden Century, three major events occurred that can be argued to have had the most powerful effect on the Clans as a whole. While Clan society helped to shape, and was in turn shaped and solidified by these events, the most important milestone events are the ones that most directly contributed to the effects that were felt by the Inner Sphere over a century later.

Clan Mongoose

The first event is the Absorption of Clan Mongoose by Clan Smoke Jaguar in 2868. Clan Mongoose had prospered and secured great gains in the earlier years of the Clans. As a result, they were amongst the most powerful of the Clans, but their success also proved to be a dangerous hubris that would soon catch up to them. Clan Mongoose attacked the Smoke Jaguar held world of Atreus, and the campaign soon found its way into the Grand Council, where the Mongoose Khan attempted to stall out the Smoke Jaguars with politics and secure a victory off the battlefield.

The Smoke Jaguar Khans saw this political maneuver as an attempt to circumvent the Way of the Clans as written by Nicholas Kerensky and accused Clan Mongoose of treason, calling for the Grand Council to grant them the right to absorb Clan Mongoose. Clan Mongoose had spent a generation or more making enemies in the Grand Council, and the vote to begin the Trial of Absorption was passed. The ensuing Trial of Absorption strengthened the Smoke Jaguars and set the stage for their rise to prominence as an Invading Clan over a hundred years later.

The Coyotl, the first OmniMech created by Clan Coyote.

The remaining two major events were less political. In 2854, Clan Coyote unveiled its new cutting edge weapon, the OmniMech. Basing the technology off of Star League prototype modular weapon pods, the OmniMech was immediately sought after by every other Clan. The other major technological jump was pioneered by Clan Wolf, who first fielded battle armored infantry in 2868. Like the OmniMech before it, Clan Wolf’s battle armor was highly sought by the rest of the Clans. A little over a decade later, every Clan possessed both OmniMech and battle armor technology.

Followed up by Clan Hells Horses’ development of the Elemental phenotype, and several technological advances in the weapons of warfare pioneered by several different leading Clans, the Clans soon found themselves standing on the shoulders of the Star League in terms of weapons and eugenics technology, able to reach heights until then unseen in capability and power.

Elemental Battle Armor

Culture of Ritual

By the time the Golden Century came to an end in 2935, heralded in, according to many Clan historians, by the death of ilKhan Tobias Khatib of Clan Cloud Cobra, the Clans had also established a brand new society that is quite alien and unique compared to anything found in the Inner Sphere or the Periphery states.

Almost every form of conflict resolution in the Clans can be found in the form of a Trial. Becoming a warrior, gaining a new rank, settling a dispute, justifying breaking the chain of command, and hundreds of other matters are all settled by each of the separate castes in a manner befitting said caste. The most commonly known Trials are those that govern the dominant Warrior Caste and are fully detailed in other manuscripts.

The rigidity of the Clan caste system became solidified and continued to dictate all levels of Clan and inter-Clan operations. Everything about how the Clans operate as a society, from selection of leadership to how each individual Clan operates both internally and between each other, is ultimately guided by the caste system.

Clan Cloud Cobra MechWarrior

Clan Cloud Cobra MechWarrior

Warriors stand at the top of the caste system, revered and respected for their martial prowess and ability. Below the Warriors stand the Scientists, who oversee the massive trueborn eugenics programs and develop new technologies. Below the Scientists, the Technician caste operates solely to keep the Warrior and Scientist castes operational, overseeing construction and repairs on everything from BattleMechs and DropShips to habitat systems and mining equipment. A wild card caste, the Merchant caste officially operates below the Technician caste, but in some Clans, such as Clan Sea Fox (formerly known as Clan Diamond Shark), the Merchant caste plays a much more vital and important role in the Clan and is seen as just as important as the Scientist caste, if not the Warrior caste, in certain situations. Clan Sea Fox stands as an extreme example of this, however, and the Merchant caste of most Clans fits into the society right below the Technician caste. Lowest in the caste hierarchy is the Laborer caste. The people relegated to this caste see a hard life of endless work and toil, enjoying the fewest freedoms of any of the castes. Most Clans regard their Laborer caste as only one step above easily discarded refuse.

In almost all of Clan society, no matter the caste, trueborns are almost always considered as higher in status than freeborn members of society. This usually is most true in the Warrior caste, but it can make a difference in other castes, most commonly in the Scientist caste, where eugenics and blood legacies are revered with a near religious zeal.

Though not officially a caste, one more level of Clan society has made itself known to us since the Invasion. Commonly referred to as the Dark Caste, these outcasts of Clan society are usually little more than pirates and dissidents who attempt to shirk the Way of the Clans and elect to eke out a meager existence on the fringes of Clan space. In past decades, members of the Dark Caste have even made their way to the Periphery and the outer rim of the Inner Sphere. Not officially recognized as a caste, or as anything else, by the other members of Clan society, the Dark Caste is none the less a black mark on the Clans and stands as a part of their society, no matter how much they would prefer it to be discarded.

Out of the Fire

The Clans that came out of the Golden Century were a refined version of what Nicholas Kerensky had left to its own devices one hundred years before. Each individual Clan was secure in its identity, or well on its way, and many of the alliances and old hatreds between certain Clans that exists today finds their origins in the Golden Century.

Moving out of their renaissance, the Clans would soon turn their minds to the Inner Sphere and begin to question whether or not it was time for the Star League to return.

For further reading about the Golden Century, check out “Era Digest: Golden Century” available from the following online retail locations.

BattleCorps - Era Digest: Golden Century

DriveThruRPG – Era Digest: Golden Century

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Robotech, Macross, and the Unseen

Even though it was decades ago, I’ll never forget the Saturday morning where I became forevermore helplessly, HOPELESSLY addicted to large military robots. I have since developed a bit of ‘flowery’ disdain for the bastard chimera that is the Robotech saga, but I am at least nostalgic that it was the vehicle with which I first was introduced to Supredimensional Fortress Macross.

It was 1985. I was eight years old, and until then Saturday morning cartoons consisted mainly of an assortment of Hasbro toy advertisements and video game tie-ins. Anime was and would continue to be very sparse (though much of it was animated in Japanese studios). Transformers (of the aforementioned Hasbro adverts) had a very strong effect on me for getting turned on to big stompy bots.

And then Robotech showed up; which took the transformable robot thing and showed that “hey- people can drive these things dammit!”. The VF-1 Valkyrie in all its flavors (which became the Wasp, Stinger,Phoenix Hawk and their LAM equivalents), was NOT a nae indestructible machine like the Transformers were (until half of them got spawn-fragged in the animated movie the following year). They, at least the tan-colored ones popped like zits throughout the show. But they had it easy compared to the thrashings the poor Destroids received.

Three variant Valkyrie variable fighters; originally used as the Wasp, Stinger, and Phoenix Hawk 'mechs.

Three variant Valkyrie variable fighters; originally used as the Wasp, Stinger, and Phoenix Hawk ‘mechs.

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Let’s Play BattleTech: Com Guard vs. Clan Coyote

We decided that it was time for a game of BattleTech.

With all of the other aspects of the BattleTech hobby available, such as online gaming with MechWarrior Online, miniatures modeling and painting, fiction to read from novels and BattleCorps, and then a host of other distractions like my buddy finally talking me into Diablo III (Crusader class finally sold me on it!), it’s fairly easy to discover that I haven’t played an actual game of BattleTech in about a year.

I’m almost ashamed to admit to it, but I think a lot of you out there are in the same boat.

Well, it was time to rectify the situation. A few minutes of planning and a buddy coming over later, and we had us a game ready to go.

The Forces

We decided on a game ultimately controllable proportions, and it was agreed that I should field my full and recently painted Clan Coyote Star. My opponent decided to take my painted Com Guard Level II, so we could play with all painted minis. The rosters are listed below.

Clan Coyote Star

Savage Coyote C – Gunnery 2/Piloting 2 – 6,254BV2

Timber Wolf E – Gunnery 3/Piloting 3 – 3,813BV2

Septicemia B - Gunnery 3/Piloting 3 – 3,604BV2

Highlander IIC 2 – Gunnery 3/Piloting 3 – 4,568BV2

Guillotine IIC – Gunnery 3/Piloting 3 – 3,708BV2

Clan Coyote Star BV2 Total: 21,947

Clan Coyote Star

Clan Coyote Star

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An Interview with Ed Orman on Ep0ch One and Two

I reviewed Ep0ch last year during my mobile game round up series. First released in 2011, Ep0ch is set in a post-apocalyptic city besieged by warring robots used as soldiers by rival corporate AI. You are Ep0ch, a kind of bodyguard robot called a guardian in search of Princess Amelia; your charge. Built in Unreal 3, Ep0ch was the most graphically advanced game I had seen at that time on a mobile platform. The campaign was linear, but there was an arena mode to rack up credit and experience points to upgrade yourself. It played like rail shooters such as Time Crisis; only in third person with you swiping to move Ep0ch in and out of cover to get a better firing angle on or avoid the fire of various robot enemies. Weapons were numerous, as were support systems and armor upgrades.

Courtesy of Uppercut games.

Courtesy of Uppercut games.

Ron: I recently spoke to Ed Orman of Uppercut games; which developed Ep0ch and its sequel, Ep0ch 2. From what I’ve seen from the trailer, Epoch 2 initially seems very similar. In the original, the environments seemed pretty close in, with lots of dark alleyways and ruins to fight in. The sequel seems to be much more open and dynamic with both its setting and its 3rd person view. What’s changed this time around?

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