MMNet Concludes Campaign and Announces Major Changes

Yay Mechs!

Yay Mechs!

On January 31st, the various electors that are running the current MegaMekNet Campaign announced that it will be concluding soon.  The Free Worlds League has won, and a new cycle will begin on March 1st.  In the wake of the victory, several major announcements were made to increase the value of the campaign in the future.  (MegaMekNet is an online campaign played through various shareware programs, you can download and check out)

The various members of the winning faction, as long as they had enough games to qualify, are going to win units for the next campaign, randomly pulled from a special reward unit list.  This is the first time that the winning faction for one campaign gets rewards for the next one, no matter whether they remain Marik or not.

Meanwhile, the way victory is determined will shift in the future.  Previously, one faction usually won when they assaulted and captured the capital of an enemy.   This has always created an inequity in the game as those states with a smaller path the capital (like the Capellan Confederation) are easier to defeat.  Meanwhile, it becomes pretty easy to know when one faction has “virtually” won and it’s hard to fight against that momentum.  Sometimes players won’t continue to invest time, sweat, blood, and metal in the campaign if it won’t change the outcome.

So how is the online campaign going to shift?  The goal won’t be to take capitals, but a new slate of “Victory Planets” that are placed on the borders.  All you have to do is to capture a net of these worlds from various fronts, and once you do, then you win.  Not only will this balance the books,  not only will it keep the campaign in flux, but it also will allow the campaign to better resemble the main line BattleTech wars.  Most wars and conflicts were ended by one side taking some key border planets from the other that were fought over.  So the resulting changes will give players the  ability to fight for border worlds that makes a campaign more dynamic as well as getting rewards for winning for the next one.

That’s a pretty spicy set of changes.  March 1st will be a good time to check it out and try the new campaign.  Check out their thread post for more info.

Well….It’s Here! Interstellar Operations

Vaporware no longer

After a long-delayed schedule, and having been announced years ago, Interstellar Operations released January 28, 2016.  The book contains almost 400 pages of rules from various angles, from generating a star system and planets to detailed information on playing in different eras of the BattleTech universe.

Many of the rules systems were released some time ago for playtesting and feedback from the community while the book itself was in Beta for around 6 months.  That’s given us a long time to get a chance to try out various rules systems and to give them a go in our campaigns.  Now the finished product is here.

I’ll be most looking forward to giving the Abstract Combat System (ACS) a serious run now that it’s been released.  This is a system designed to make playing very large scale multi-unit and multi-regiment battles feasible and to quickly resolve them.  I never really got a chance to try them out too much in Beta, so I want to see how the rules might have changed and then give them a full shakedown this weekend to see how they play out.

We now have a lot of alternative ways to play, from Alpha Strike and BattleForce to ACS and Inner Sphere at War.  We always had some systems before in these alternate books, but I don’t recall them seeing a lot of play anywhere that I was playing BattleTech, so I’ll b interested in seeing if they get a lot of play, or if they are just too many systems to understand.  I want to try out ACS, so we’ll see how that works out.

What are you most interested in trying out?  Is there anything you really liked from the Beta?  What’s your playgroup excited about?

A Year of Alpha Strike – 2016 Leader Board, Week 2

My local group is partaking in a year-long Leader Board for 2016. In cased you missed it, here’s Week One

Week 2 of the 2016 Leader Board Season was played on the evening of Thursday, January 21. The Jade Falcon, Snow Raven, Wolf’s Dragoons, and Ghost Bear players were able to make it. Additionally, we had two players play in their first intro game that night, with one of those guys even picking up a list and playing a Leader Board game after two people had to leave!

Huzzah for new recruits!

The Lists

I was a little better about lists this week, but still not good enough. The Wolf’s Dragoons player managed to get away without me getting a picture of his force, so his list will be to the best of my memory.

Clan Jade Falcon

Nothing like a nice, full Star of Clan OmniMechs to wreck someone in the...wait, is that a Turkina?!!!

Nothing like a nice, full Star of Clan OmniMechs to wreck someone in the…wait, is that a Turkina?!!!

Two of the Jade Falcon `Mechs, the Turkina and the Flamberge, were at Skill: 2, while the rest of the force was at Skill: 3. This force was fast and jumpy. It can pretty much always be where it wants to be, when it wants to be there.

Clan Snow Raven

This Clan Snow Raven force is well-rounded and swift.

This Clan Snow Raven force is well-rounded and swift.

The Mad Dog and Linebacker were both at Skill: 2. All other units were at Skill: 3. A massively dangerous Aerospace fighter, the Kirghiz has the potential to deliver a killing blow to just about any unit in the game. Oh, and side note, nothing is more annoying that Battle Armor that can fly by you and drop bombs.

Wolf’s Dragoons

Image file not found. Please contact your local Comstar office for further technical assistance.

Wolf’s Dragoons hit the field with seven (7) BattleMechs of mixed Inner Sphere and Clan manufacture. It was a generalist list that managed to have everyone at Skill: 3.

Clan Ghost Bear

What, no Kodiak? I thought you guys were Ghost Bears.

What, no Kodiak? I thought you guys were Ghost Bears.

The Bruin and Arcas were both at Skill: 2. The SolitaireArcas 3, and Beowulf IIC were at Skill: 3. This list is very similar to the Jade Falcon list, fast and mobile. The differences between the Bruin and the Turkina allowed the Ghost Bears to have beefier heavy `Mechs.

New Blood

One of our new players jumped into the fray right after his Intro Game, and he loved the game right away. We think he’s going to keep coming back. His list was based off of my Draconis Combine intro unit, which was expanded to 250 PV with supplementary Mechs from the group for his game against Wolf’s Dragoons.

The Games

Week 2’s scenario was one of simple point control. Two 6″ diameter objective zones were established in the center of the board, 12″ apart. To score, there must be no enemy units contesting the zone during the end phase of a turn, and each player scores objective points equal to the PV of the units controlling the point. First side to 150 objective points wins. Scoring begins at the end of Turn 3.

Round 1

Wolf’s Dragoons vs Clan Jade Falcon

Disaster struck early for Wolf’s Dragoons as its Vulture found itself in the sights of the Turkina on Turn 1. A roll to hit, succeeded, and one vaporized Vulture. The early hit to morale proved too much for Wolf’s Dragoons, and Clan Jade Falcon continued to pummel the mercenaries, grabbing a swift and decisive early Objective Win.

Clan Snow Raven vs Clan Ghost Bear

The Ghost Bears deployed aggressively, hoping to bully the relatively lighter Snow Raven force from the first moment. The fighting over the control points was brutal, with the Snow Raven plan betted everything on bombing the smaller Ghost Bear BattleMechs off the board. Several bombs missed their mark, however, and only caused superficial damage to the Ghost Bears, who pushed the Snow Ravens off of the objectives and claimed a strong Objective Win.

Wolf's Dragoons prepare to counterattack against the advancing 5th Sword of Light.

Wolf’s Dragoons prepare to counterattack against the advancing 5th Sword of Light.

Intro Game Time!

The two new players played out their Intro Game concurrent to Round 1. One side had a Lance from the 15th Avalon Hussars, while the other side had a Lance from the 5th Sword of Light. Good ol’ Davion vs Kurita match. For some reason, I did not write down who won, but neither player really cared. They both jumped into the game and found it incredibly easy to pick up and play.

Round 2

One of the Intro players and the Snow Raven player had to leave after Round 1, so the other Intro player was outfitted with reinforcements for his 5th Sword of Light, and the battles commenced.

Wolf’s Dragoons vs 5th Sword of Light

The 5th Sword of Light deployed its Daishi just a little too far out in the open, and Wolf’s Dragoons decided to punish the new player for his mistake. With their heaviest hitter out of the fight so early, the 5th Sword of Light rallied and pushed back, contesting the control zones to the very last man. In the end, Wolf’s Dragoons triumphed by destroying just enough of the 5th Sword to claim an Objective Win.

Clan Jade Falcon vs Clan Ghost Bear

Showing no fear of the Turkina, the Ghost Bears went right after the menacing Assault Mech on the first turn, with the <em>Bruin</em> landing a devastating blow on the heavier BattleMech. However, the Ghost Bears paid the price for their aggression, losing the <em>Bruin</em> on Turn 1 for an instant 4 v 5 situation. The fates battled back and forth for the rest of the game, with the Ghost Bears relying on the stalwart nature of the two <em>Arcas</em> BattleMechs. In the end, the Jade Falcons could not stand up to the Ghost Bears' repeated all-out assaults, and the final roll (Double Ghost Bears!) to take out the last Jade FalconMech is memorialized in the picture below. Clan Ghost Bear claimed the Win.

The Flamberge did manage to kill the Solitaire with its dying breath.

The Flamberge did manage to kill the Solitaire with its dying breath.

End of Day Results – 

Moving into Week 3, which is tentatively scheduled for either the first or second Saturday in February, the standings are still anybody’s to take. We have only played a handful to games so far, so fortunes could shift at any moment.

FactionGames PlayedWinsLossesTies*Win %Scenario Victories*Scenario Victory %*Kill Score*Units Painted
Clan Snow Raven20200.00%00.00%200
House Davion0000#DIV/0!0#DIV/0!00
Mercenaries211050.00%150.00%220
Clan Jade Falcon422050.00%125.00%750
Clan Ghost Bear3300100.00%266.67%720
Wolf’s Dragoons211050.00%150.00%150
Undecided10100.00%00.00%100

My personal goal for Weeks 3 and 4 is to start getting numbers up in the Units Painted category.

So that’s it for Week 2 of the 2016 Leader Board Season. Week 3 commences on Saturday, February 6.

Has your group talked about starting something like this? Need any advice, tips, or ideas? Use the comments section to tell me about what you’re up to, and let’s see how many groups can get their own Leader Board going for 2016!

Want to know more about BattleTech: Alpha Strike? You can pick up the free Quick Start PDF at the Catalyst Game Labs website

A Year of Alpha Strike – The 2016 Leader Board, Week 1

This year, my local BattleTech group is trying out something new. Instead of just simply getting together for games once in a while, we decided that we wanted to make our games count for something.

The collaborative effort that came out of our many emails on the topic birthed the 2016 Leader Board Season.

We decided that the group would be able to meet 1-2 times a month between two locations, and that each player who wants to participate in the Leader Board should concentrate on a specific faction for the whole of the season. In this way, it feels a bit like a relaxed league that tracks a few more stats than just wins and losses.

Ghost Bear forces advance on the mercenary position.

Ghost Bear forces advance on the mercenary position.

The Stats

And speaking of those stats, let’s go over what all we’re tracking and why.

Games Played, Wins, and Losses – The basic stats, from which most of the other stats will be derived. Beyond being a rough estimate of who wins most often, it pretty much just shows which of us show up most often.

Win % – One of the four primary stats we are tracking. It’s not about how often you play, it’s about how often you win when you do play. This is one of the stats that will award a trophy to the highest scorer at the end of the 2016 season, also granting to the recipient the title, “The Victor.”

Scenario Victory % – This stat is important for any group that wants to get beyond the “line up and kill each other” style of game play. Each time we meet for a Leader Board round of games, a scenario that includes alternate win conditions to just killing the enemy will be selected ahead of time. While it will always be possible to win through the Forced Withdrawal rule and by wiping your opponent’s forces off the board, adding in scenario objectives adds a tactical level to the games that we all decided would be a good thing and add to the depth of play. The winner of this trophy also gets the title, “The Tactician.”

Clan Jade Falcon and Clan Snow Raven forces clash.

Clan Jade Falcon and Clan Snow Raven forces clash.

Kill Score – Using the Basic Kill Scoring Table, found on page 159 of Alpha Strike: Companion, we will also be tracking how much sheer damage and destruction is caused over the course of the season. The winner of this trophy will earn the title, “The Destroyer.”

Units Painted – The hobby side of the aspect is an important facet to the game, and we wanted the Leader Board to reflect that. As the only non-game dependent stat, we felt it was important to track and honor the hobby efforts of the group as we grow our armies and progress throughout the year. The winner of this trophy will earn the title, “The Maker.”

We still have to have a little discussion about the requirements for winning some of the awards in order to set a minimum number of games that have to be played in order to qualify. This ensures that we are all kept honest and don’t sit on a good stat halfway through the year, mitigating the risk of falling in the rankings.

Truthfully, I do not fear that anyone in the group would do this, but it’s still a good idea to have rules like that in place.

Week 1 Report

Week 1 took place on Saturday, January 16. Four of us were able to make it, and a total of three games were played due to one of us having to leave early. I remembered to snap a few pictures of the games, something at which I need to get better. Our Week 1 scenario was a basic scenario that was outlined in the Alpha Strike book that included two objective markers on each side of the board, with each side attempting to capture the objectives on the opposite side.

For now, all games are at 250 PV. The only restriction we have placed on force rosters is that each force can only have a maximum of two (2) units at Skill: 2 and a maximum of one (1) unit at Skill: 1, with the total maximum number of units at either Skill: 1 or Skill: 2 capped at two (2) units.

The Lists –

I don’t have the rosters for all four of us, something I might fix in future Leader Board reports, but I’ll briefly explain the lists used below.

Mercenaries – The Merc player went with a “quantity over quality” approach and fielded two full Lances of BattleMechs all at Skill: 4. The force overall stressed maneuverability, with half or more of the units sporting jump jets.

Clan Snow Raven – This force was the only one of the day with an Aerospace presence, in the form of one heavy fighter. The ground force was a full Star of Medium weight OmniMechs, all of at least Striker speed. All units were Skill: 3.

Clan Jade Falcon – The Jade Falcon force was a full Star of BattleMechs, featuring several Omni designs, that ranged from Medium to Assault. The force overall was sturdy, packing a huge heavy hitter in its Turkina Assault OmniMech, and had several jump capable units. The force featured mixed Skill: 3 and Skill: 2 units.

Clan Ghost Bear – The Ghost Bears fielded a speedy, combined arms list that featured 5 Fire Moth OmniMechs all carrying Gnome Battle Armor, supported by a lone Solitaire BattleMech. Speed and rapid redeployment, as well as swift objective capture were the main tactics of this force. The force featured mixed Skill: 3 and Skill: 2 units.

End of Day Results –

In the first two games, Clan Ghost Bear won a Scenario Victory by running circles around the Mercenaries, only losing a total of one `Mech and one Battle Armor squad all game while reducing the mercenary force to two BattleMechs. Clan Jade Falcon achieved a board wipe against Clan Snow Raven, even eliminating the Snow Raven Aerospace support when it came onto the board for a run.

The mercenaries move on an objective as Clan Ghost Bear rapidly redeploys to counter.

The mercenaries move on an objective as Clan Ghost Bear rapidly redeploys to counter.

The Snow Raven player had to leave early, so the Ghost Bear player only got one game in. In their second game, the Jade Falcon and Mercenary players slugged it out with both sides taking losses. In the end, the Mercenaries won out by numbers and achieved a Scenario Victory.

Below is the 2016 Leader Board as it now stands, heading into Week 2, which is scheduled to take place this Thursday, January 21. The errors currently displaying on the spreadsheet are due to lack of data for the formulas to compute. Two of our group could not make it to Week 1, so as they get in games, the spreadsheet will begin to look more complete.

FactionGames PlayedWinsLossesTies*Win %Scenario Victories*Scenario Victory %*Kill Score*Units Painted
Clan Snow Raven10100.00%0#DIV/0!150
House Davion0000#DIV/0!0#DIV/0!00
Mercenaries211050.00%1100.00%220
Clan Jade Falcon211050.00%00.00%500
Clan Ghost Bear1100100.00%1100.00%300
Wolf’s Dragoons0000#DIV/0!0#DIV/0!00

 

So what is your group doing for BattleTech and/or Alpha Strike this year? Perhaps you would like to take the 2016 Leader Board idea and adapt it to suit your own local group. Feel free to do so, and do let me know how it goes if you do!

Stay tuned for more 2016 Leader Board Weekly Reports as we dive into the year.

Rabid Coyote vs. Ursus – The Second Line Bodyguards

While not as adaptable or flexible as OmniMechs, the Clans as a whole still see the indelible value of standard BattleMech technology. Even in their limited configuration state, when equipped with their venerable technology, Clan second line BattleMechs provide some of the most solid, dependable, and fun designs in the game. From the well-known Mad Cat Mk II to the iconic Kodiak and the re-imagined IIC lines, Clan second line designs range all the way from amazing to completely laughable.

Second line `Mechs are generally used for defensive operations, with some exceptions, and as such generally use less expensive and more stable parts and technology. Standard Engines are commonly found in second line designs, as well as standard chassis as opposed to Endo Steel construction. Ferro-Fibrous Armor, however, still appears to be the normal standard even with second line designs.

Today I want to take a look at two second line BattleMechs that were designed a few years, and couple thousand light years, apart from each other. These two `Mechs were designed to fill similar roles in their respective Clans’ toumans, and each Clan went about the job a different way. In the case of Clan Coyote, they needed a lighter and faster design that could deliver a good punch standing alongside heavier units while still possessing enough speed to pursue attackers. For Clan Ghost Bear, the need for a strong and dependable second line design was apparent from the moment they arrived in the Inner Sphere and began taking and holding worlds.

Even with some of the differences in need, Clans Coyote and Ghost Bear ended up designing and producing similar BattleMechs that fit the needs of each Clan near perfectly. Let’s dig into the histories, similarities, differences, and ultimately a comparative match-up, of the Rabid Coyote and the Ursus. For the purposes of this article, we are going to look at just the standard variants of both BattleMechs.

Rabid Coyote

Clan Coyote created the Rabid Coyote out of a need to support their highly successful assault class designs, such as the Canis and Savage Coyote. The larger `Mechs lacked a speed that was necessary for pursuing fleeing foes and suffered from the ability to engage faster enemies that could redeploy and attack from new angles.

During the time period following the Great Refusal, in the upheaval and scramble for new resources that followed the vacuum of Clan Smoke Jaguar’s demise, Clan Coyote did not fare well. Clan Coyote, once at the top of Clan heap, now found itself on the edge of irrelevance. Even the introduction of Advanced Tactical Missile technology, solely a product of Clan Coyote, was not enough to catapult the Clan back into the spotlight.

The Khans needed something to help their touman, help their warriors on the battlefield, and help stabilize their decline. The future of the Clan was riding on the success of their next venture.

Designed as a bodyguard unit for heavier `Mechs, the Rabid Coyote was abjectly rejected upon arrival by the Warriors to which it was assigned. The concept that a BattleMech should play bodyguard and support to another BattleMech was one that Coyote Trueborns especially despised.

Regardless of the reception, the Rabid Coyote appears to be here to stay. Field tests and trials by fire have been positive for the new design, and Clan Coyote is committed to keeping the BattleMech in its ranks.

Armaments and Capabilities 

Likely, at least in part, to further highlight their new technology, the Rabid Coyote‘s main armament is a single ATM 12 set in its left torso. The ATM has one ton of ammo for each type of ATM missile. This main weapon is backed up by four Medium Pulse Lasers, two in each arm, and an Electronic Countermeasure Suite (ECM) located near the cockpit. Ample armor protection, eight and a half tons of Ferro-Fibrous Armor, for a 55 ton BattleMech is provided, and battlefield staying power is backed up by its use of a standard engine, all mounted on an Endo Steel chassis. 12 Double Heat Sinks allow the Rabid Coyote to remain fairly cool when utilizing its entire arsenal.

This design on paper is as solid as they come. Perhaps a bit slow for a Clan Medium, in its intended role the 5/8 speed works out just fine, especially when compared to the speeds of the BattleMechs in whose company the Rabid Coyote is most commonly found.

Ursus

Rolling off the production in 3059, seven years before the Rabid Coyote appeared in Clan Coyote’s touman, the Ursus was a triumphant accomplishment for Khan Bjorn Jorgensson and for Clan Ghost Bear. The first Clan BattleMech produced completely within the Inner Sphere, the Ursus was designed to fill a painful gap in Clan Ghost Bear’s second line forces.

The Ursus was designed somewhat with a “less is more” mentality that enforced its purpose. Using simple technologies like a standard chassis and engine, the design is dependable and able to take a lot of punishment for a fifty ton Medium `Mech. Received well by the touman as a whole, the majority of the first production runs found assignment to units primarily along the Draconis Combine border and saw action against both DCMS and Clan Nova Cat forces.

While not specifically created as a bodyguard unit, as in the case of the Rabid Coyote, the Ursus still found use in the role as it was soon assigned to duty alongside larger and slower second line BattleMechs like the Kodiak and Grizzly. In this role, the uncharacteristically slower speed of the Ursus did not feel at all like a liability, and the machine continued to shine as a defensive unit. Many commanders now consider the Ursus to be a quintessential companion to slower Heavy and Assault second line BattleMechs.

Click on the picture to visit IronWind Metals and get your own Ursus.

Armament and Capabilities

Thanks in part to its smaller engine, and the use of eight and a half tons of Ferro-Fibrous Armor, the Ursus packs an arsenal of weaponry that outclasses almost any other Clan second line Medium and many OmniMechs of its weight class. Its main armaments are on its right arm, which houses an Extended Range Large Laser and two Medium Pulse Lasers. These are backed up at long and medium ranges, respectively, by an LRM 10 on its left arm and an SRM 6 mounted in its center torso. Adding a final touch to the brawler nature of the BattleMech, each side torso sports an Extended Range Medium Laser, adding to the design’s ability to engage effectively and decisively at medium range. Finally, the entire BattleMech is protected by an integrated Electronic Countermeasure Suite mounted in its right torso. 16 Double Heat Sinks allow the Ursus to stay just about as cool as the Rabid Coyote when using its vast array of weapons.

At first glance, it just doesn’t seem like it is possible to fit all of that into a fifty ton chassis, but there it is. The secret to the Ursus is in its speed. 4/6 is painfully slow even for some Clan Heavy `Mechs, but in its intended role as a defensive and bodyguard unit, the Ursus just plain does not need to worry about being speedy.

Head to Head

Each of these BattleMechs represents a different take on what are essentially similar battlefield roles. The Rabid Coyote was additionally designed to emphasize pursuit after a successful defense, and the Ursus was designed to maximize overall defensive capability and sturdiness supporting larger `Mechs. Both designs are most commonly seen in the company of heavier designs, providing escort and support for the larger machines.

Both `Mechs’ incorporation of ECM suites makes them invaluable on the battlefield in the company heavier units that are not commonly equipped with such countermeasures.

Also, it is highly unlikely that either of these two BattleMechs have ever seen each other on the battlefield. First, they are designed for the same role, not opposing roles, which means it would be more than exceedingly rare to see one or the other in an attacking force where the other is present among the defending forces. Mostly, though, is the fact that the Rabid Coyote is deployed by a Clan that is located totally in the Clan Homeworlds, and the Ursus is deployed by a Clan that is now completely located in the Inner Sphere. The Ursus was only ever produced in the Inner Sphere and was never transported to Clan space during the short time between its initial production and the Ghost Bears’ exodus from Clan space.

IronWind Metals has Rabid Coyote models, too!

While Clan Wolf did obtain the design from their Coyote friends some time before their ejection from Clan space, eventually deploying their own variant during the Jihad, it is still highly unlikely for the two BattleMechs to have met on the field of batter. But we can imagine what a heads up engagement between these two BattleMechs might have looked like.

I’ll give the long range game to the Ursus, even if slightly. Its ER Large Laser and LRM 10 are not affected by the Rabid Coyote‘s ECM Suite in the same way that the Ursus‘ ECM affects the Rabid Coyote‘s ATM 12 launcher. Fortunately for the Rabid Coyote because of its speed advantage over the slower Ghost Bear `Mech, the long range game should not last very long.

In the medium range, both BattleMechs enter each other’s real danger zones. The Rabid Coyote adds four Medium Pulse Lasers into the mix, where as the Ursus adds two Medium Pulse Lasers and 2 ER Medium Lasers. If accuracy becomes an issue, the Rabid Coyote has the edge at this point. Its greater movement based defense also helps to further mitigate the non-Pulse Laser part of the Ursus‘ battery. However, a few luckier hits at shorter ranges with the ER Large Laser could keep the Ursus well in the fight.

It is at short range that the Rabid Coyote might finally turn the tables on the Ursus in a convincing manner. The High Explosive missiles on its ATM 12 will begin to exact a heavy toll on the Ursus, which does gain the use of its regular SRM 6 at this range.

In my estimation of the two BattleMechs, if the Ursus can prolong the longer range engagement, keeping to long range and the far end of medium range, for as long as possible, it will keep the upper hand. However, once the Rabid Coyote is able to make use of its superior speed and close to short range, the power of ATM 12 system will likely overpower the Ursus‘ ability to answer back as effectively.

I know that at this point you might be thinking that I’m going to avoid outright declaring a winner in this fight, and you would be right to think so. Both of these BattleMechs are well armed and armored for their weight class, and in a medium weight, non-striker defensive role, they are both perfect in their own ways.

Final Thoughts

While not as widespread as other designs, both the Ursus and Rabid Coyote are available in certain places should you be looking for a flavorful addition to a unit.

The Ursus has found its way, in the form of the Ursus 2 variant, into the touman of Clan Hell’s Horses, and the original variant also traveled with many of the Ghost Bear Clusters gifted to the Republic of the Sphere after the Jihad. Of course, you can almost always come up with a reason to have any BattleMech in any force, especially a mercenary unit, and I would not be surprised to see the Ursus scattered about very thinly in the forces of the Draconis Combine, Clan Nova Cat, and even Clan Wolf. Salvage is a beautiful thing.

The Rabid Coyote only regularly appears among Clan Wolf forces in the Inner Sphere, but the Homeworld Clans Coyote and Cloud Cobra both field the design in large numbers. It is also not unheard of to see the design fielded by Clan Burrock and the Dark Caste. Like the Ursus, the design may have spread in very limited numbers, as salvage, from Clan Wolf and into the forces of Clans Jade Falcon, Ghost Bear, and Hell’s Horses, as well as even possibly into the LAAF.

If you play any of these factions, or you just really want an awesome and defensive Clan tech BattleMech, and you have the means, I highly recommend picking either one (or both!) up.

Want to Know More?

If you want to know more about either the Ursus or Rabid Coyote, check out the reference materials listed below:

BattleTech Technical Readout: 3060 on BattleCorps, DriveThruRPG, or Amazon.

BattleTech Technical Readout: 3067 on BattleCorpsDriveThruRPG, or Amazon.

Want to see me compare two other BattleMechs? Suggest a pairing in the comments, and if it strikes my fancy I might just write it!

Product Review: Technical Readout: 3150

777px-TRO3150I, Dædalus; my poor boy, Icarus;
Thy father, Minos, that denied our course;
The sun, that sear’d the wings of my sweet boy,
Thy brother Edward, and thyself the sea,
Whose envious gulf did swallow up his life.
Ah! kill me with thy weapon, not with words.
– William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3, Act 5, Scene 6

Was I the only when a little angry when Technical Readout: 3150 was released with absolutely no original designs?

Okay, I get it. The Technical Readout: 3145 series – with each major faction receiving its own book – was fairly massive in the sheer amount of content produced. We received a relatively huge amount of new ‘Mechs, battle armors, vehicles of every kind, DropShips, Aerospace fighters and even ProtoMechs. Heck, we even got a new class of unit: the QuadVee. Vehicles transforming into four legged ‘Mechs. For those people who thought the “beloved” Land Air ‘Mech wasn’t bastardized enough. Or possibly for those people who thought that BattleTech needed to be more like The Transformers. One of those. So in a sense, it is understandable that Catalyst Games would release a significant sampling of choice units from the books of the 3145 series. It is totally understandable, in fact.

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Is BattleTech a Post-Apocalyptic Universe?

Not this Apocalypse!

As I invested my 130th hour of play into the recently released Fallout 4, I turned off the game for a few days, vowing to rejoin society.  I re-emerged into the light-scorched winter landscape of my New England residence.  As I saw the trees outside, denuded by weather, and mirrored in them the signs of post-apocalyptic ruin in the Fallout universe, I turned to BattleTech and began to wonder if it was a post-apocalyptic universe.

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Product Review: Operational Turning Points: Capellan Crusades

Operational_Turning_Points_Capellan_Crusades“For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison’d by their wives: some sleeping kill’d;
All murder’d: for within the hollow crown”
– William Shakespeare, The Life and Death of Richard the Second, Act 3, Scene 2

How do you tell the story about the death of a legend?

Those of you who have read my articles may be aware that my introduction into BattleTech was the start of the Clan Invasion era, beginning with the novel Lethal Heritage. Michael Stackpole introduced us to a generation of larger-than-life characters. Victor Steiner-Davion. Phelan Kell. Shin Yodama and Hohiro Kurita. And, of course, Kai Allard-Liao; the greatest MechWarrior of his time and era, with the self-confidence of a mollusk threatened by a salt-shaker. The confidence part changed, of course, over the course of the novels. Kai, sadly, lost his precedence and became a secondary character to Victor, but perhaps part of that was the fact that the character evolved to the point where further exploration would have been superfluous, at least from a development standpoint. Nevertheless, Kai Allard-Liao was the best of the best. (In fact, the flavor text in this product firmly and definitively establishes this.) I certainly still found him interesting and relevant. (Heck, I even wrote a Sarna Wiki article on his ex-girlfriend.)

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The Danger of Being Cool

Thunder. Lightning. The way you love me is frightening.

The other day I was playing with a Lightning Attack Hovercraft on my side in a battle in MegaMekNET.  Since that campaign is set in 3025, having a LosTech hovercraft with medium pulse lasers was something I wanted to protect if I could.  Plus you have those two one-shot SRMs.  I was rushing past a target and I had a chance to fire the right-facing SRM at a distant heavy unit that had moved towards me.  I needed a 9 to hit.  I got lucky, and hit the target, which was taking damage elsewhere as well, and did some good with the weapon.  But I was really tempted to hold off on the SRM4 and hope for a better shot against a better target.  Holding off for the cool play.

Have you ever noticed a tendency to play BattleTech for the cool play, rather than the smart one?

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TALON Precision-Guided Rocket- Turning Dumbfire Hydra Rocket Pods into Streak SRM Launchers

Historically, rocket munitions have always been more effective when fired in swarms. From the 15th century Korean Hwatcha rocket propelled arrow launcher to the MLRS or Grad rockets of today to the Itano Circus prevalent in ’80s Sci-Fi anime- and by extension, BattleTech. Rocket swarms can be brutally effective- if a not very efficient means of hitting your target. But those are artillery type weapons. Equipment covered in BattleTech by Arrow IV Missiles. What about something closer in?

The mainstay of western rocket direct-fire weapons for the past 60 years has been the Hydra 70 2.75″ (70mm) rocket pod. The Hydra rocket series weighs in at a hair over 6 kg, has an effective range of 8,000 meters and has an absolutely ridiculous selection of warheads to choose from (19 from the Wikipedia list). White Phosphorus, Flechette, cluster munition, HE, smoke, you name it.

M261 Hydra 70 launch pod with two different munition payloads.

M261 Hydra 70 launch pod with two different munition payloads.

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