An Interview with Jordan Weisman at GenCon 50

So yeah, this one is coming is pretty late. I do apologize to the readers out there. After GenCon got really hectic for me professionally, and, well, it is what it is. 

At this point, the game has progressed a bit past the improvements of the then new patch that Jordan and I discussed, so I’m going to re-tool my original interview to be my impressions of the interview and of Jordan and what we talked about. 

GenCon 50 has come and gone. Wow. I have to pause and let that sink in every year.

I spend the better part of six to eight months in a year planning for and making sure that I get everything in my professional and personal life squared away in order to make sure I can make it to GenCon.

Now, that’s not to say that I do so at the peril of myself or those around me. No, GenCon is for me that one time of year when I don’t have to explain anything about what I do professionally or for fun to anybody. Everyone there understands it. So I tend to make sure I can go.

With the Post-GenCon Recovery Period (I swear it’s a thing!) still affecting some of us (mostly in the finance region), I need to take the time to share some key aspects of the experience. In particular, I want to share with you all the hour of time I spent talking to Jordan Weisman, creator of BattleTech and one of the heads of Harebrained Schemes, about the new computer game version of BattleTech.

A note on how I am going to reflect on this time. My recording app malfunctioned during the actual interview portion, so I only have the notes that I took from the interview. As such, I won’t directly quote Weisman unless I wrote down his exact phrasing.

First, BattleTech had a huge development release the day that I spoke to Weisman. They had just released the first multi-player backer beta build for the game, so the Harebrained booth was abuzz with fans playing the new version as well as many people standing around to watch the action on the screen, stand behind their friends, and just chat about BattleTech in general.

I met Jordan Weisman a little before our interview, stopping by to verify the time, and he said he was looking forward to sitting down, playing a round of the new release, and then talking!

Wait.

What?!

I was going to get to go head-to-head against Jordan Weisman in BATTLETECH?!!!!

I was already excited about the interview itself, but finding out I’d get to actually play a game with Jordan Weisman was icing on an already delicious looking cake.

So, the time came, and we sat down to play. We selected out Mechs and dove on in. My experience with the BattleTech Beta at that point had been in the 10-12 hour range, so I knew I was at an extreme disadvantage going up against Weisman.

I was right.

The following thirty minutes was a whirlwind of back and forth not-quite-trash-talking as I sent my Lance in hard and fast….straight into the wall of strategy and effective tactics that was Weisman’s way of war. My Lance got picked apart one `Mech at a time, and it was glorious!

After his pyrrhic victory, Weisman humbly asked if I’d enjoyed it, and of course I did!

Because I foolishly didn’t fanboy hard enough, I don’t have a selfie with Jordan Weisman for the article! This will have to do. Weisman is seen here showing off the Kickstarter flight jacket reward.

So then we sat down and talked about the game, much of which is old news at this point. But the highlights that remain with me can be summed up in a few points.

  • The BattleTech community is great, and Weisman and Harebrained love every bit of interaction they get with us. They live off of our energy, and then they give it right back us in the best ways possible.
  • The next phase for Harebrained and BattleTech in general is what Weisman called “outreach,” continuing to get the word out, and the established community is a huge part of that. Harebrained want BattleTech to find every gamer and to read out beyond the pull it has now to get even bigger.
  • Now that the core mechanics of the game itself are established, there’s still much more to do in the way of developing the story, lore, and the extended campaign. Even though we’re a couple of months down the road from when I spoke to Weisman, I know they’re still hammering away at making the campaign the best experience it can possibly be.
  • There is nowhere else that Weisman and his team would rather be than right where they, making BattleTech. They’re pumped up. They love our excitement for the game and universe, and they look forward to much more BattleTech in the future.

For me, this short game and talk with Jordan Weisman will be one of only two or three stand-out moments from GenCon 50 that I know I will keep in my memory for many years to come.

It’s not just a fanboy moment. I mean, yeah, it’s a little bit of that, but it’s also more. Jordan Weisman’s enthusiasm for BattleTech is amazing, and that really has kept me charged up for everything to do with the game(s), on the table and on the screen.

Thank you to Jordan Weisman and Harebrained Schemes for working to bring us this amazing gaming experience in our favorite universe. We look forward to its release, and hope for more after it!

First Ever Giant Robot Duel Set To Stream On Oct 17

Eagle Prime

courtesy of qz.com

It’s finally happening. The fight of the century between America’s MegaBots Inc. and Japan’s Suidobashi Heavy Industry for the title of world’s greatest giant robot maker is about to happen.

Or more accurately, it’s already happened. The fight has yet to be aired, but the duel between the Eagle Prime and the Kuratas has actually already occurred with the whole thing being recorded and edited for broadcast. That broadcast is set to happen next Tuesday, October 17th at 7 PM PST (that’s 10 PM EST) on MegaBots’ Twitch channel.

As we reported back in August the duel between these giant death machines was to occur in September, and apparently the whole thing was done in an abandoned steel mill in Japan without any spectators – just the engineering teams from both sides. The duel was fought over several days since after each battle both ‘Mechs required repairs, and just like in BattleTech it can take a few days to repair grievous damage to a giant robot. This also explains why it wasn’t live streamed like a traditional sport since it would’ve been a few minutes of mayhem followed by days of technicians with welders and duct tape.

We’ve also learned a few more details. The commentators are Mike Goldberg of MMA fame and Saura Naderi, a robotics engineer at Qualcomm. Also, there was no scoring involved in any of the battles: matches were fought to a knockout, which meant that either the robot was completely knocked over or otherwise incapacitated.

It seems like a lifetime ago since the fight was announced way back in 2015. Now that the day has finally arrived I can hardly contain my excitement. Here’s hoping it was a good fight, and may the best giant robot win!

24 Hour Mechathon In Support Of Breast Cancer Research – Oct 14

24h Mechathon

RjBass3 has returned to Mechwarrior Online with yet another noble cause providing him an excuse to sit in a ‘Mech’s cockpit and not leave for a full 24 hours.

Not that he needed the excuse, but much like his earlier Mechathon in May supporting Covenant House, RjBass3 will be blowing away weekend warriors in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month with all proceeds going to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Breast cancer is one of the most pervasive forms of cancer, with each year an estimated 252,710 women being diagnosed. One out of every eight women will contract breast cancer over the course of their lives, making it the second leading cancer diagnosis in women. And even though it’s far rarer, men can contract the disease too: over 2000 men in America are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, with around 450 annual reported deaths.

The best treatment comes from early detection and awareness, which is what Breast Cancer Awareness month is all about. Women and men alike should know how to detect breast cancer and women should schedule regular screenings after reaching a certain age.

So how will the Mechathon work? It’s simple: RjBass3 will strap on his neurohelmet and stream his Mechwarrior Online games starting at 9 AM CST October 14th on his Twitch channel, and he won’t stop for 24 hours. There will be regular food and bio breaks, but sources close to Rj have advised me that as the hours wear on and sleep deprivation starts to set in he can get a little crazy at the wheel.

RjBass’s stream will also be broadcast on the No Guts No Galaxy channel, and aspiring Mechwarriors can even join in on the fun by going into RjBass’s Discord channel and teaming up for drops. It’s sure to be a great day of ‘Mech action, so dial your interwebs to tune in on the fun or even combine forces with RjBass this Saturday.

Can’t make the stream but still want to support breast cancer research? Head over to the donation page here to make an early donation.

MechWarrior Online World Championships Second and Third Round Recap

courtesy of mechwarrior.com

It’s been another wild weekend for the Mechwarrior Online World Championship, with both the second and third round of matches having taken place in a whirlwind series of matches that pilots from all over the world battling it out at all hours of the day and night. Our resident Twitch casters must be having a rough Monday since they clearly didn’t get enough sleep last weekend. And who would with such an amazing number of games played between the best Mechwarriors in the world?

Let’s once again recap the weekend’s results and see which top three teams will be flown out to Vancouver to take part in the World Championship Finals.

The first match of the winner’s bracket brings the 228th Black Watch against EON Synergy, the top European team from last year’s championship. In the first game on Canyon Network, Black Watch tried to push through the map’s namesake canyon but lost a ‘Mech to an EON ambush. The early ‘Mech loss snowballed into a blowout, resulting in EON taking the game with 6 machines remaining. In their second game the 228th performed better, maneuvering EON into an ambush themselves on Tourmaline Desert by sending a fast group of Assassins and Arctic Cheetahs to bait EON into the open and picking them apart piecemeal.

Black Watch vs EON -

via piranhagames on Twitch

The third game was a brutal display of skill with EON eventually having three heavily damaged ‘Mechs to Black Watch’s two. It was a nail-biting several minutes as Black Watch went for a resource capture win, eventually emerging victorious with 750 points to 734. Black Watch won the match 2 games to 1 and moved on to face the winner of the Osiriz versus EmpyreaL match.

EmpyreaL had a fairly lackluster first showing against Phoenix Legion last week, coming out the winner but not showing their normal crushing display of power. That all changed when they fought Osiriz on Saturday. EmpyreaL took no prisoners, demolishing Osiriz in both games. Of particular note was an EmpyreaL Huntsman loaded with Streak Missiles that managed to use them to great effect against the Osiriz Wolfhounds. After eliminating their light ‘Mechs in both games, EmpyreaL then was able to outmaneuver and outshoot Osiriz, taking both games without losing a single pilot.

If there was any doubt last weekend as to EmpyreaL’s chances in this tournament it was silenced with this match. EmpyreaL was back, and they are terrifying.

JGx vs RJFS

via piranhagames on Twitch

Our next match saw Russian Jade Falcon Spikes against the First Jaguar Guards. RJFS continued their winning streak in the tournament, controlling both games against the First Jaguar Guards without breaking a sweat. RJFS crushed the First Jaguars in two games, eliminating them from the tournament.

Next up was the Steel Jaguars versus 228th The Wild Ones in a series of close games that showcased both team’s finesse as Mechwarriors. The first game was notable for having a series of airstrikes that totally changed the balance of power, first with a blind SJR strike eliminating a Wild Ones ‘Mech, and then with both teams launching strikes into a melee that saw each team lose pilots. When the dust settled it was down to a 5v5, with the Wild Ones just managing to come ahead in the ensuing firefight.

Wild Ones vs SJR

via piranhagames on Twitch

However, The Wild Ones would drop a heartbreaking second game. After controlling four out of five resource points for much of the game, SJR engaged in a series of firefights that would eventually leave all but one Wild Ones light ‘Mech left and only a few seconds before achieving a resource victory. But SJR managed to catch him in time and secure the win for their second game. By the third game The Wild Ones seemed to lose steam, swinging right into a firing line of SJR ‘Mechs only to be completely annihilated. The Wild Ones head home after their second loss, and SJR proceed to the next round.

The next match brought EmpyreaL and 228th Black Watch together in a clash of titans that could be a preview of the finals to take place in December. The first game began as a gentlemanly exchange of long-range fire until EmpyreaL pounced on a pair of Black Watch Hunchback IICs, quickly eliminating them and an Arctic Cheetah that came to assist. With three ‘Mechs down EmpyreaL was easily able to wipe out the remaining Black Watch machines with little effort.

Empyreal vs 228

via piranhagames on Twitch

EmpyreaL then showed their ability to brawl in the second game, converging on a Black Watch lance in the middle of Tourmaline and coming out way ahead in the close quarters combat, taking the game without a single loss. Once again EmpyreaL shows their incredible talent against one of the best teams in the world, sweeping Black Watch in two brief games.

The Steel Jaguars were hoping to keep their tournament dreams alive as their next game brought them against the European regional champions, EON Synergy. In their first game it seemed like luck was on their side as after losing a series of long-range trades SJR managed to eliminate an EON Hunchback IIC, giving them the early lead. But EON responded in kind by eliminating an SJR Hunchback with their roaming Wolfhounds. Several good critical hits then put EON Synergy ahead, who were able to then eliminate the SJR side with only a few losses of their own.

SJR vs Eon Synergy

via piranhagames on Twitch

In their second game SJR seemed to push very strongly at the beginning but EON saw the power play and pulled back before they could receive any strong hits. From there SJR seemed to go for a resource capture strategy but then again pushed hard right into the EON Synergy lines. However, this time EON was well prepared and met the SJR push with a withering fusillade that took out the entire opposing force. With their second loss SJR was eliminated from the tournament.

Unfortunately the Osiriz versus RJFS match was played at the same time as EON Synergy versus SJR, so I wasn’t able to view both matches. However, I was able to watch a replay, and the first game was a very steady progression of long-range fire turning to short range brawling, with both sides losing armor by the ton. Finally one Osiriz light ‘Mech snuck into the RJFS lines and began to take down machines left and right, leading to Osiriz taking the game.

Osiriz vs RJFS

via piranhagames on Twitch

The second game went in favor of the Russian Jade Falcons in a horrific brawl that saw both sides take massive losses. The third game on Polar Highlands, a very rare map to see, went in favor of the Russians as they pushed into Osiriz early on with the Osiriz warriors responding sluggishly, losing machines along the way. The remaining Osiriz Summoner succeeded in robbing RJFS of their final kill by running out of bounds committing the Mechwarrior Online equivalent of seppuku.

Ultimately Osiriz were sent home after a series of tough games leading to Eon Synergy and RJFS meeting for the second time in the tournament. Eon Synergy took their first meeting, but the Russian Jade Falcons put up a hell of a fight. Will they manage to defeat their rivals in the second match up?

Airstrikes and long range fire defined the first few minutes of their first game, with EON Synergy coming ahead and eventually savaging two RJFS lights. As has been shown so many times in the tournament the loss of your light ‘Mechs early on can be disastrous as it allows your opponent to outmaneuver you while denying any ability to respond.

EON Synergy vs RJFS

via piranhagames on Twitch

EON took the first game easily, but the second game wouldn’t be so simple. RJFS changed tactics, bringing an aggressive lance of Linebackers and Executioners to quickly ram into EON and force a firefight. At first it seemed to work, getting four quick kills for only two losses of their own, but the tide then turned in favor of EON Synergy as the armor of the RJFS machines began to fail. With the final RJFS ‘Mech falling they were eliminated from the tournament losing once again to EON Synergy.

With the elimination of RJFS, we have our remaining three teams to meet in Vancouver at the World Finals: EON Synergy, 228th Black Watch, and EmpyreaL. Two of these teams are veteran World Finals contenders, while Black Watch are making their first appearance on the world stage. But will either team have the strength to overcome EmpyreaL, who seems to have once again become the unstoppable juggernaut they were in the previous tournament?

Top 3 teams

Find out at the Mechwarrior Online World Championships this December 9th in beautiful downtown Vancouver Canada, where your very own Sarna reporter will tweet you the live play-by-play.

 

How Many Missiles Can A ‘Mech Really Fit?

How Many Missiles Can A 'Mech Really Fit?

courtesy of imgur

After writing up our recent ode to Missile Boats, it got me thinking about missile technology in the BattleTech universe. Not how each missile seems to do about as much damage as a modern-day bottle rocket, or how it can fly just about as far before running out of gas. No, it made me think about just how many of these missiles you can stuff inside a ‘Mech.

Think about it: a single ton of LRM ammo is 120 missiles. That seems like a lot considering a modern jet fighter has trouble carrying 10 of the things. Even the somewhat modern M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle doesn’t carry more than 7 missiles in its magazine, so where does a ‘Mech get enough room for 120?

To find out, I decided it was time to do some math. But before we could bust out the calculator, I’d have to pick a missile-toting ‘Mech to be our scientific guinea pig. I chose the Mad Dog for its distinctive silhouette, and because it’d be relatively easy to calculate the volume of those boxy missile racks it has for shoulders.

MadDog_Cutaway

Now that we have our ‘Mech, it’s time to see how big those missile racks are. We know that a Mad Dog is roughly 12 meters tall, and those missile racks are about a third of its height, so we know they’re roughly 4 meters in height. Eyeballing the thickness I’d get about 1.5 meters wide, and roughly another 4 meters in depth. That gives us a total volume of about 24 m3.

But that missile rack isn’t a perfect cube; it’s got an angled side, and all these fiddly bits cut out, so I’d say we’ve only got a triangular prism to work with. That halves the volume we have available, so we’re down to 12 m3.

Not to worry – we still have plenty of space to work with. Each of these side torsos has 120 missiles, and if we assume each missile to take up an equal amount of space we know that they have to take up at maximum 0.1 m3 per missile.

Now that we know how much volume each missile can take up at a maximum, it’s relatively simple to calculate the possible dimensions of a single LRM. Since the height and width of a missile are the same (since it’s a cylinder, they’re both just going to be the diameter of the missile), the only question is how long the missile could be.

missiles

courtesy of mwomercs.com

Let’s say the missile is 1 meter long (which is actually close to the length of a modern-day missile). The formula to work out the diameter of the missile would be:

0.1 m3 = L x W x H = 1 m x W x H = 1m x (W2) = 0.316 m

0.316 m is roughly 12.5 inches or a little over a foot in diameter. For a 1 meter long missile, a diameter of a foot is a bit chubby (maybe more closely approximating an artillery shell than a missile) but totally within the realm of possibility.

But we know that side torso isn’t just dedicated to missile ammo. There’s the LRM-20 launcher itself, a few crits of XL engine, and double heat sinks stuffed in there too. So let’s say that there’s really only half the available volume for missile ammo. The formula then changes to be:

0.05 m3 = L x W x H = 1 m x W x H = 1m x (W2) = 0.224 m

That still gives us a 1-meter long missile with a diameter of close to 9 inches. If we compare that to a modern-day missile, like, say, the AGM-114 Hellfire (which is 64 inches long and 7 inches in diameter), we’d see those numbers are roughly in the same ballpark and still very reasonably missile shaped. Cool.

Hellfire

courtesy of turbosquid.com

Of course, we should also consider the fact that each missile isn’t a perfect rectangular prism, and each cylinder can save space by stacking in between the cylinder below it. My math wizardry is far from able to calculate how much space we’d save, but I’m sure one of you mathematicians could figure it out in the comments below.

So it seems a big ‘Mech like a Mad Dog doesn’t have any trouble carrying around 120 missiles, but what about a smaller missile ‘Mech? Let’s take a Javelin and see if it still can carry around a full complement of missiles like its heavier brethren.

JVN-10P_Javelin

Once again, we have to figure out how much of a vaguely man-shaped ‘Mech’s chest can be devoted to missile ammo. I don’t have an exact height for the Javelin, but since it’s a lighter ‘Mech I assumed it to be around 8 meters tall. Given that height, those boxes in the chest look to be around 1 meter wide and 1 meter high, and it has a 2-meter depth to its chest. Thus we get an available volume for missiles of 2 m3 for a single ton of SRM ammo, which is 90 missiles, and each missile can take up 0.0222 m3.

Since these are SRMs, let’s assume they’re going to be shorter than the long-range missiles and give them a length of half a meter. Using the same formula as before, we get a 0.21 m diameter missile or 8.26 inches. That’s still very reasonably missile shaped even on a tiny ‘Mech, and once again if we’d stacked those missiles properly we’d have even more volume available for an even bigger missile.

Archer

Before we all start celebrating this miracle of a single aspect of BattleTech that makes physical sense, there is a condition where a ‘Mech’s capacity for missile ammo starts to break down. When a chassis starts to horde ammunition, such as the Archer and its 4 tons of ammo, suddenly you go from hurling missiles to throwing shoe boxes that explode.  

But hey, I’m happy to find out that my favorite ‘Mech designs can carry as many missiles as they say they can (unlike autocannons, which still make no sense).

And as always, Mechwarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

MechWarrior Online World Champs First Round Recap

courtesy of mechwarrior.com

The weekend has come and gone, and that means we’ve had our first round of matches for the MechWarrior Online World Championships. There’ve already been a few teams eliminated from this double-elimination tournament, with other teams proving their mettle against a field of truly awesome contenders. Let’s take a look at the standings after a weekend of ‘Mech action.

Our first match actually took place September 17th between Russian Jade Falcon/Spikes and 228th Wild Ones due to a bit of a scheduling hiccup, but there were certainly no hiccups in the match. The Wild Ones managed to take an early lead in the best of three games, taking out 2 RJFS ‘Mechs which allowed them to wrap-up the rest of the match easily. However, RJFS rallied and took the remaining two games in a brutal display of gunnery, eliminating the majority of The Wild Ones’ machines and giving them the victory.

Our next match took place last Thursday between the North American 228th Black Watch versus the Steel Jaguars, with Black Watch taking the meeting 2 games to nothing. The Steel Jaguars seemed entirely outclassed in both games, allowing Black Watch to easily move on to the winner’s brackets.

D5 vs OZ

via Piranha Games on Twitch

Last Saturday brought several games to Twitch, starting with Dropship 5 against Osiriz. This match went to its full three games with the first round a brutal battle of attrition. PPCs and laser fire lit up the map as each side traded long distance fire. Ultimately Osiriz managed to take the first game, but just barely, with the second game going to Dropship 5 by an equally slim margin on resource points. In the final round Dropship 5 once again tried to go for a resource win but fell prey to some clever maneuvering from Osiriz that managed to split the Dropship 5 forces and gang up on half of them before the other half could respond, giving Osiriz the victory.

Next we have White Death Mercenary Company against the Phoenix Legion which immediately devolved into an insane brawl on HPG Manifold. Lasers, missiles, and autocannons lit up outer space as each team ran into close quarters combat. Air strikes from both teams continually pounded the melee, getting friendly and enemy kills alike, but the Phoenix Legion strikes proved to be better aimed as they swung the first game from a 6v4 to a 3v4 in one swoop of an Aerospace fighter‘s tail. The Legion also took the second game as well, but it may have been a pyrrhic victory as this put the Legion against last year’s Champions for their next round: EmpyreaL.

RJFS vs EON Synergy

via Piranha Games on Twitch

Next, we have last year’s European Champions EON Synergy against RJFS for their second round of fights and the second round of matches for the tournament overall. The Russian Jade Falcons managed to take the first game quite soundly, but EON came back strong in the final two fights giving RJFS their first loss of the tournament. One more loss and RJFS will be heading home empty-handed at this year’s World Championships.

The Black Watch continued their winning streak in their next game against The First Jaguar Guards but not before having a trio of prolonged fights against the Jaguars. The Canyon battleground was once again covered in laser and PPC fire as both teams fielded two lances of Supernovas, Night Gyrs, and Hunchback IICs, so no argument could be made that either side had a technological advantage. The superior piloting of the Black Watch pilots proved telling, allowing them to emerge victorious after three games.

Oz vs TCAF

via Piranha Games on Twitch

Just yesterday gave us our first match featuring the Tikonov Commonality Armed Forces against Osiriz for their second match of the tournament. At first it seemed TCAF may be able to take the first match, but Osiriz cleverly managed to capture enough resource points so that TCAF was not able to respond in time to prevent a victory. Osiriz also took the second game after several ferocious exchanges of fire, with not a single ‘Mech stumbling from the battlefield without critical damage. Osiriz continues their streak without a single loss.

Emp Vs PHL

via Piranha Games on Twitch

Last year’s World Champs, EmpyreaL, had their first match of the tournament against the loveable underdogs, Phoenix Legion. Phoenix Legion came out swinging, but the tournament veterans played the long game by reserving enough armor to take them into the later stages of the game while Phoenix Legion lost too much stamina to continue. The second match was much slower than the first as both teams went for a capture strategy, but unfortunately Phoenix Legion fell prey to a surprise push by EmpyreaL as they brought their heavy and assault ‘Mechs to the center of the map in a risky move that caught out several lighter Legion machines. After securing an easy three kills EmpyreaL went on to take the win.

Our next game has Dropship 5 fighting for survival against the First Jaguar Guards. Dropship 5 managed to barely hold on to victory in the first game, but couldn’t maintain their grip to win the final two games as the Jaguar Guards rallied and took two decisive victories. This means Dropship 5 is eliminated from the tournament – a surprise ending for the current MRBC North American Division A champions.

RJFS vs WDMC

via Piranha Games on Twitch

Another team on the chopping block is White Death Mercenary Company as they competed against Russian Jade Falcons/Spikes on Sunday night. White Death seemed somewhat uncoordinated in their first game, losing a ‘Mech to a friendly fire incident. Their second game didn’t go any better, losing their entire team while RJFS lost but a single pilot. White Death Mercenary Company goes home empty-handed after their pair of losses in the tournament.

Our last pair of matches only contained losing teams, making them do or die for both combatants. The Wild Ones were looking to redeem themselves against the Phoenix Legion, and they did by taking the match two games to zero. Phoenix Legion employed some interesting strategy that flirted with brilliance at times, and perhaps with some refinement on the off-season, they’ll be able to return next year to make a more successful World Championship run. Kudos to you, Phoenix Legion, and here’s to next year.

PHL vs Wild Ones

via Piranha Games on Twitch

The last match of the weekend pits Steel Jaguars against the Tikonov Commonality Armed Forces. TCAF seemed very timid in their first match, taking air strikes and long-range fire without responding, ultimately handing the Steel Jaguars victory. The second round on HPG Manifold started in a much better position for TCAF, even taking an early kill on a Jaguar Supernova, but then the Jaguars managed to maneuver behind TCAF and start eating into their delicate back armor. After several kills, TCAF’s forces completely fell apart, allowing the Steel Jaguars to move on to the next round.

BanditB17 and mdmzero

via Piranha Games on Twitch

Thus we head into the next round with 10 teams remaining and two matches of undefeated teams that could be a preview of what we’ll find in the final round. The Black Watch and Eon Synergy will compete in a battle of European and North American juggernauts, while EmpyreaL and Osiriz will face off in a match that will end one team’s undefeated streak. Osiriz seems to be the team to watch as they have emerged from the starting round with several commanding wins already under their belt, while EmpyreaL seemed slightly sluggish in their first round against Phoenix Legion.

Meanwhile, it will be another fight for survival in the opposite brackets, as Steel Jaguars face The Wild Ones and RJFS face the First Jaguar Guards. These veteran teams are sure to put on an incredible performance to maintain their place in the World Championship.

Stay Tuned to Piranha Games’ Twitch channel for more ‘Mech action as the games resume next Friday night.

New Details Emerge For MechWarrior 5

New Details Emerge For MechWarrior 5

courtesy of mw5mercs.com

As Mech_Con once again fast approaches, we’re being teased with more details on the upcoming single-player BattleTech simulator, MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. Just this month, PC Gamer revealed they will be running a feature article in their November issue which provides us with tantalizing info on what to expect in the first new single-player MechWarrior in over a decade.

We know from a PC Gamer article earlier this year that MechWarrior 5 will take place in the classic era of BattleTech, between the years 3015 and 3049, and much like its spiritual predecessor MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries, you’ll start with a single beat-up light ‘Mech and work your way up to becoming a full lance of the biggest and toughest ‘Mechs the Inner Sphere has to offer.

What the upcoming PC Gamer issue reveals is that unlike previous MechWarrior titles, this one won’t allow nearly as much customization as previous entries in the series. Gone are the days when you can buy any old ‘Mech and turn it into a one-man army with some Endo Steel and XL Engine upgrades, as many aspects of a ‘Mech’s anatomy will be fixed to the chassis. Instead, prospective buyers will have to scour the constantly changing market to find a ‘Mech with the specific features they want, and then tweak the existing weaponry to get it just how they like it.

Shadowhawk

courtesy of mw5mercs.com

While ‘Mechs themselves won’t have nearly as much customization when it comes to their weapons loadout, the weapons themselves will have slight variations for pilots to play with. Each weapon system will have multiple manufacturers with each manufacturer giving slightly different performance. One AC/5 might have a bit more power, but another manufacturer’s AC/5 might reload a second faster, and so on. It’s not what we’re used to, but it does seem to fit more with the lore than the anything-goes customization of games gone past.

Everything about MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries will be dynamic: missions will be dynamically created, terrain will be randomly generated, and armor and structure will have multiple stages of destruction (rather than going from “chipped paint” to “on fire” all at once). Perhaps best of all, the entire environment will be destructible, so if you want to walk your 55-ton engine of death through a building to surprise the tank platoon on the other side you can do that too.

Finally, we’ve got two new ‘Mechs to add to the known list of machines included in the game. The Shadow Hawk and Raven were revealed last year with their pre-alpha footage, and now we know the Jagermech and Atlas will also make an appearance.

The PC Gamer article goes into way more detail, as well as providing a first-hand account of the author’s time with the playable alpha, so I encourage you all to pick up a copy of the November issue when it releases. Or you can get a digital copy here.

MechWarrior Online World Championship Tournament Finals Have Begun!

courtesy of mechwarrior.com

The MechWarrior Online World Championship semifinals have begun! The qualifiers ended as of September 16th, and the top 12 teams in the world have officially been chosen to represent the best that MechWarrior Online has to offer for the World Championship. It was a grueling few months of near-constant ‘Mech combat, but after months of trials, the 12 teams have taken their place in the tournament’s double-elimination seeded brackets.

First, a brief explanation of the tournament structure as things are a bit different from last year. Rather than have a separate tournament for each region and then having the top team from each region go to the Finals in Vancouver, this year there are no regions and only the top 12 teams from around the world are invited to take part in the tournament. While this does mean that there are certainly more North American and European teams in the top 12 than Oceanic teams, it also means that those teams are on a much more similar skill level, which will hopefully produce some fantastic fights.

2016 World Champs

via mechwarrior.com

Also, rather than a large round-robin phase, the tournament has been simplified to be a seeded double-elimination structure. The top 4 teams will get a pass on the first round of fighting, and then it becomes a simple matter of losing twice and you’re out. This naturally means that the top 4 teams have a slight advantage as they have to play fewer games than everyone else, but it’s far from insurmountable.

And now let’s take a look at our competitors. First, we have Russian Jade Falcon Spikes, which seem to be an amalgamation of the MRBC League’s Russian Jade Falcons and Black Spikes teams. Russian Jade Falcon was relegated into Division B during last season of the MRBC, but Black Spikes came in second place in Division A. Perhaps the best of the best from both teams will create a world champion.

 

Next up we have two teams from the massive MWO conglomerate 288th IBR, The Black Watch and The Wild Ones. The Black Watch finished third in the North American Division A standings with the MRBC, while The Wild Ones finished second in the Asia/Pacific Division A. Both are filled with veteran players that are sure to give any team they face a run for their money.

North America’s second place from Division A last season return to the World Championships, with the Steel Jaguars finding themselves opposite The Black Watch in their first match of the semifinals. The two teams faced off against each other twice in the previous season of the MRBC, with each team achieving a single victory. It’ll be interesting to see if any bad blood remains between the two North American juggernauts.

 

Dropship Five appears to have also made the semifinals, which comes as no surprise to competitive ‘MechWarrior fans. Dropship Five had an amazing performance in the MRBC’s season 9 and took top honors in North America. They’ll definitely be a team to watch as the tournament progresses.

The fourth team from North America Division A, and finishing fourth in season 9, is Osiriz. Their first year at the MRBC established themselves as a team not to be trifled with, and their appearance at the World Championships cements their reputation. Osiriz will face Dropship Five in their first tournament match, and once again both teams have an even record against each other. Who will emerge the victor in their third face-off is anybody’s guess.

  Osiriz  

Our second purely European team to make it to the World Championships is The White Death Mercenary Company. They had a fantastic 9th season with the MRBC, finishing third overall in Division A. A strong team with an even stronger history will surely go far in the this year’s tournament.

We have a pretty amazing upset for our next team to reach the World Championships; Division B Stalwarts Phoenix Legion have achieved enough victories in the qualifying rounds to secure a spot in this year’s tournament. The only Division B team to make it to the semifinals, one simply can’t help but root for the underdogs. Let’s hope they continue to impress.

  Phoenix Legion

The next team to make the Worlds is The First Jaguar Guards, our second Asia/Pacific team to prove themselves worthy. The First Jaguar Guards did not take part in season nine of the MRBC and, judging by a quick Google search, that could be owing to some internal drama within the team. However, they placed first in the A/P region the three previous consecutive years, so this is definitely a team not to be taken lightly. Let’s hope that whatever internal strife that was present is long over and the team is ready to focus on their tournament run.

Europe’s dominant force, Eon Synergy, has once again come to the World Championship, and this time they’re hoping to bring home the crown. They had a commanding performance in the European rankings with the MRBC, only losing nine of their fifty total games. They lost to last year’s champions, Empyreal, in the final round of the tournament, and I’m sure they’re gunning for the top spot this year.

  TCAF

Europe’s fourth-place team in season 9 with the MRBC, the Tikonov Commonality Armed Forces, have also found their way to the World Championships, and they’ve achieved enough victories in the qualifying rounds to be placed in the top 4, giving them a by in the first round of matches. That’s quite the turnaround for a team that had a losing record in the previous MRBC season. Let’s see if they can keep that momentum going as we head into the semifinals.

And finally, last year’s world champions have returned to defend their crown: Empyreal. This team was an unstoppable force in the previous tournament, but a year has gone by, and while most of the teams heading to the World Championships have been practicing constantly, Empyreal did not take part in season nine with the MRBC. Will their lack of tournament exposure dull their skills, or will they once again stomp every team put before them?

  Empyreal


This year’s World Championships is shaping up to be the most exciting MechWarrior Online competitive tournament to date. We’ve already had one match played between Russian Jade Falcons Spike and The Wild Ones, with RJFS emerging victorious after three extremely tough fights. If this game is any indication, this will certainly be a World Championships for the record books.

The schedule of games can be found on the World Championship website here, however the exact dates are a little up in the air right now due to some scheduling issues between the teams. We should have a clarification on the dates shortly, so keep your eyes peeled for when next to tune in to the Piranha Games Twitch channel for more giant robot action.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Catalyst Announces New YA BattleTech Novels

Catalyst Announces New YA BattleTech Novels

courtesy of Amazon

Hot off the digital presses from Catalyst Game Labs comes news of a brand new BattleTech novel trilogy set in the dark times following the Jihad.

It’s been awhile since we had a brand new BattleTech book to talk about, with the last one I remember getting published being Betrayal of Ideals back in 2016. That book, however, had originally been printed in BattleCorps back in 2006, so in terms of fresh content, we’re all feeling a little starved.

CGL seems to have heard our prayers and is announcing a brand new set of books to rekindle that love of BattleTech fiction for a whole new generation. The novels are to be penned by Jennifer Brozek, an award-winning author who also wrote The Nellus Academy Incident as well as the Shadowrun novella DocWagon 19. And while the new trilogy is being billed as “Young Adult”, Brozek certainly included enough death and heart-pounding action in The Nellus Academy Incident to satisfy even the most grizzled of BattleTech veterans.

  Jennifer courtesy of jenniferbrozek.com

We know that the new novels will certainly be set during the Dark Age era, and will share a lot of the themes explored in Jennifer’s earlier BattleTech novel. If you haven’t read Nellus Academy, I’ll let Jennifer explain:

“I’m thrilled to be writing in the BattleTech universe once more. After Nellus Academy, I thought my time for writing big, stompy ’Mechs was done. Fortunately for me, I get to dive into this universe again. I’ll be writing an ensemble piece focused on the lives of war-torn academy cadets. This coming-of-age story will forge teenagers, already wise beyond their years, into adults in a trial by fire that many won’t survive. Those who do will become the heroes of a new age.”

Jennifer is certainly no slouch as a wordsmith. She’s won the Scribe, Origins, and ENine awards, been a Hugo Award finalist, multiple Bram Stoker Awards finalist, and won the Australian Shadows Award for best-edited publication. She’s also been featured in numerous RPG sourcebooks, including Dragonlance, Shadowrun, and Serenity, as well as featured in the award winning HBS game, Shadowrun Returns. That’s quite the resume.

You can check out the Catalyst website for the official press release, and for more on Jennifer, you can peruse her website over at jenniferbrozek.com.

BATTLETECH Backer Beta – Second Impressions

BATTLETECH

It’s been a few months since our first look at Harebrained Schemes upcoming BATTLETECH turn-based RPG, and I thought it a good idea to see how things are progressing. As reported last month there are lots of changes made to the game since its initial release in June, and while the original beta version had just as much giant stompy robot action as one could have hoped, it was still certainly a rough first draft. Let’s take a look to see how the second draft has shaped up.

As you may recall from my initial foray into BATTLETECH the AI handed me my metallic ass on a silver platter, forcing me to tip the scales in my favor with a massive weight advantage. I remembered too, so my first game did exactly the same thing, pitting my Centurion, Kintaro, Griffin, and Victor against an enemy lance consisting of a Jenner, Locust, Centurion, and a Commando.

From my first game, I’d come to appreciate the Centurion as a tough, workhorse medium ‘Mech, able to dish out as much punishment as it can take in return. The Kintaro, Griffin, and Victor were new designs (in terms of never having used them before) but seemed to make a good mix of long and short range firepower. My enemy would be highly mobile but vastly outgunned, and I hoped to use that to my advantage by simply barreling up to my foe and alpha-striking until they all dropped dead.

Nobody ever said I was a subtle tactician.

Game 1 - 1

Going into the match I remembered there were a lot of changes between the September version and June version of the game. To start, all MechWarriors now have two abilities to contend with rather than the original one. There would also be an increase in frequency and severity of critical hits, something that might drastically affect lighter ‘Mechs without nearly as much armor as my heavier units.

I was very right on that point.

My lance ambled up to the river and made a firing line while the enemy AI ran towards me at full speed. The Locust appeared first, firing its SRMs and medium laser into my Kintaro, which shrugged off the damage. I would continue to be impressed by the Kintaro’s toughness throughout the fight.

Of course, having run head-long into a firing line of 240 tons of guns and armor, the poor Locust did not survive the return salvo from my lance. One down, three to go.

Gif game 1 - 1

The enemy lance continued to approach, but still in a piecemeal fashion. Next up was the Jenner who, while tougher than the Locust, suffered grievous rents in its armor from a full blast of my Centurion’s weaponry. My Victor, which had been hiding in the forest that lined the ravine, then pounced on the poor Jenner, sealing its fate.

Compared with June, I noticed that the light ‘Mechs went down significantly easier than before. Three crits to the center torso are enough to destroy the engine, and it was knocking out lighter machines much faster than the heavier ones. Whether or not this will remain in the final product is yet to be seen, but for now I’d certainly recommend more heavily armored light ‘Mechs for survivability.

This left a Commando and a Centurion to contend with. The Commando took a full barrage from my Griffin as it peaked over a hillside, crippling it. It then suicide-charged into my Kintaro, who greeted it with a full fusillade of 18 SRMs. He never stood a chance.

Game 1 - 2

With my full lance encroaching on his position, the remaining enemy Centurion attempted to flee. The combined long-range firepower of my Griffin and Centurion managed to tag it before it could get too far away, and my Victor stepped behind it to wrench off the ‘Mech’s AC/10 with a few well-placed shots. My Kintaro then provided the coup de grâce.

Along with the ease by which lighter ‘Mechs succumbed to fire, I also noticed that the enemy AI seemed much easier than back in June. Also, the heat effects around a ‘Mech were much more noticeable, with an overheating ‘Mech glowing orange and a simmering machine displaying a hypnotic mirage as it dissipated its head load.

Gif game 1 - 2

Now that I’d been convinced I wasn’t about to get my ass kicked by a bunch of silicon, I decided a fair fight was in order. I queued up another game with both of us in roughly equivalent machines. My paired Centurions, a Panther, and Commando versus their Locust, Commando, Vindicator and Shadow Hawk. I hoped my Centurions would be able to tough out the worst of the damage thrown my way.

This time the two lances danced around each other for some time exchanging LRM fire, before a lucky shot from the opposing Shadow Hawk’s AC/5 blew out my Commando’s center torso. Horrible visions of my previous defeat danced through my head, and I desperately pivoted my remaining ‘Mechs away from the deadly Shadow Hawk.

Gif game 2 - 1

Lucky for me the enemy pursued with their lighter elements leading the charge, which allowed me to pivot back and pummel both the Commando and Locust into scrap with minimal damage to my own forces.

Thus began a long exchange of ranged fire as our lances faced off over a large gorge. My first Centurion was crippled, then killed by combined autocannon and PPC fire, but my brief ‘Mech advantage proved telling. The enemy Vindicator lost its PPC, and my own Panther’s PPC took the Shadow Hawk’s right arm off.

Game 2 - 1

To finally end the battle I decided to use the replacement to the morale mechanic called “focus”. I’m still not 100% sure how it works, but it seems to allow surviving, toughened MechWarriors to fire a hyper-accurate shot. I told my Centurion to focus and fire all remaining weapons, which finally took the Shadow Hawk down.

Gif game 2 - 2

The crippled Vindicator was easy prey for my Panther, who managed to perform a Death From Above maneuver successfully to further damage the already defeated machine. Risking overheat, I ordered my Centurion to alpha strike again and finally put the Vindicator down.

Obviously, given my stunning come-from-behind victory, the enemy AI in this game has been heavily tweaked since June. The survey that popped up following the match confirmed this by asking questions about enemy ‘Mech performance. I naturally answered the AI was perfect, since I’d just won, but at no point did I feel like I was facing a complete pushover. Only when I vastly outweighed my opponent did I feel like I was invincible, which is probably the way it should be.

Game 2 - 2

I had intended to make my third game a review of the nascent multiplayer experience, but unfortunately, the servers were down when I clicked it. So if you’d like to be featured on the next BATTLETECH Backer Beta, let me know in the comments and we’ll see if we can arrange a game!

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy