Did You Know? – Retro BattleTech Games – MechWarrior 2: The Clans

Welcome to another part in Sarna’s retrospective series of old BattleTech video games.

Last time we took a look at the original MechWarrior and saw how it would set the stage for the breakout ‘Mech classic, MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat. But there was a lot of work to go from the pixelated and basic graphics of MechWarrior to the fully 3D environments of MechWarrior 2. So much work that it actually took two tries to get it right.

I speak of the long-forgotten first attempt at a MechWarrior sequel known as MechWarrior 2: The Clans.

That’s right: before we had MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat, Activision tried their hands at a MechWarrior sequel that had way more than just Clan Wolf and Clan Jade Falcon going at it for bragging rights.

We’ll get to that in a bit, but first, let’s recap what happened after the original MechWarrior hit store shelves in 1989. To summarize, the original developer Dynamix got bought by Sierra On-Line and used their tech to create Earthsiege, and then later Tribes, and then later still go bankrupt. That meant that the original game engine left with Dynamix, leaving Activision to start from square one.

Which is exactly what they did starting in 1992. Activision gave the game an ambitious release date of sometime in 1993, which meant that the development team had just over a year to go from nothing to a full 3D ‘Mech simulator.

As any game developer can tell you, that’s not enough time. Especially for a team of roughly a dozen over-worked and underpaid people.

Adder

courtesy of Local Ditch

So anyway, 1993 came and went without much of a game, but Activision did put out a playable demo that showed just exactly where MechWarrior 2 was headed. What we get is a strange amalgamation of ‘Mech models that would become familiar in the real MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat and the old bitmap-style cockpit that was the mainstay of the original MechWarrior.

You can see where the demo was going with a lot of the cockpit stuff: the altimeter, bearing indicator, and torso-twist indicator look and feel exactly as they do in the final MechWarrior 2. The radar now sat dead center in the screen, while the exterior portion of the cockpit would bounce around with the ‘Mechs movement.

That exterior skeletal portion, as well as the green letters of the HUD, would be the only things that survive into the finished MW2. That and the overall look of the models, which bear an uncanny resemblance to the ‘Mechs we know and love.

However, there were a lot of limitations to the demo. First, you couldn’t get critical hits so you never had to worry about losing any of your components. Second, you couldn’t lose limbs which meant that losing an arm didn’t mean a whole lot. Instead, you just kept shooting until your armor and internal structure depleted, at which point you exploded.

Besides the whole fully 3D game thing, Activision had some big plans for MechWarrior 2: The Clans. Originally there were going to be 6 clans total, including Can Wolf, Jade Falcon, Smoke Jaguar, Nova Cat, Ghost Bear, and Steel Viper. There would also be 8-player multiplayer free-for-alls where everyone could enjoy a good ‘ol Grand Melee whenever they wanted. For its time, the game was really forward thinking.

So what happened to MechWarrior 2: The Clans? Perhaps in a sign of things to come, Activision’s marketing team and executives kept pushing for a finished game that was nowhere near ready to be published. According to an ancient article from Local Ditch, there were internal disputes over when to release as well as some legally questionable arguments between the game’s producer Kelly Zmak and Activision higher-ups. And even though the team had 3 programmers officially, most of the work on the game’s engine was being done by one guy: Eric Peterson.

Mech Bay

courtesy of Local Ditch

Eric would describe in his personal blog working 14-16 hour days on MechWarrior 2, although he admitted that had as much to do with loving the work as it did with any pressure from Activision. Eric would also be the only person on the original MW2 team to be credited on the final version of MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat, with the second team’s producer explaining that much of the final game’s engine could be chalked up to Eric’s work.

By 1994, the original team working on MechWarrior 2: The Clans had all left Activision for greener pastures. At the time, it looked like Activision would kill the game entirely, but a guy named Tim Morten proved instrumental in convincing the bigwigs in charge to continue development. Tim would build on Eric’s original designs and eventually finish the game and release it as MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat in 1995.

The biggest differences between what would have been The Clans and MW2: 31st Century Combat mostly boiled down the story. The Clans was more of a random mission generator attached to a multiplayer game, while the MW2 that got released offered a single player campaign set during the Refusal War between Clan Wolf and Clan Jade Falcon. It also meant that the other Clans would have to take a bit of a backseat (at least until the first expansion came along).

Technologically, MW2: 31st Century Combat had two big improvements over The Clans: dynamic lighting and a fully 3D environment. Lighting effects from explosions and even a moving sun would change the shadows and colors that the player sees to be far more realistic, while the 3D environment got rid of all the old bitmaps that made the game seem a lot more like the original MechWarrior than a true sequel.

We’ll take a bigger look at the real MechWarrior 2 next time, so stay tuned.

Once again, a big shout out to Chris Chapman who can be considered an official BattleTech games historian at this point. He also sent me an entire scan of the original The Clans promo box, which Activision sent out a little prematurely but Chris somehow still got his hands on one.

And as always MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Catalyst Games Releases Succession Wars Record Sheets And Reprinted BattleTech Manual To Get Everyone Up To Date

UPDATE: Whoops! Looks like I screwed up: it’s the Record Sheets portion that’s new, not the Technical Readout itself. Either way, go get it!

Catalyst Game Labs have announced a new compilation technical readout volume as well as a new version of the all-important BattleTech Manual.

With the new box sets finally having made it to stores, it’s time for us to look towards expanding the new players’ repertoire. While the latest full version of the game, ‘BattleTech: A Game Of Armored Combat, came with the new BattleTech Manual, it didn’t come with an exhaustive list of every ‘Mech featured during the Succession Wars Era of BattleTech.

So Catalyst made a new tech readout with all of them in it. Simple problem, simple solution.

Succession Wars is a compilation volume combining ‘Mechs seen in Record Sheets: 3039 Unabridged, Record Sheets: 3050 Upgrade Unabridged-Clan & Star League, Record Sheets: 3058 Unabridged, and Record Sheets: 3075 Unabridged. I’m assuming only the ‘Mechs seen before the Clan Invasion are featured, otherwise it would be odd to call the new TR “Succession Wars”.

Catalyst describes Succession Wars as “the perfect ‘first Technical Readout’ companion to the BattleMech Manual. Combining the ’Mechs previously found in Technical Readout: 3039, Technical Readout: 3050 Upgrade, Technical Readout: 3058 Upgrade, and Technical Readout: 3075, this volume features some of the most common ’Mechs from the Age of War to the Succession Wars.”

And it’s got some sweet cover art. Love me a Dragon, Jenner, and Panther Kurita lance.

Succession Wars is $9.99 in PDF format, $39.99 in print, and $44.99 together. Meanwhile, the Record Sheets only is $9.99 with 290 sheets total.

Catalyst has also made the latest version of the official BattleTech Manual available for purchase as well at the same prices as Succession Wars. It has all the latest updates and errata already included, and another spiffy new cover art that would look sweet on anyone’s bookshelf.

I mean, who can say no to that Marauder? Anyone? I didn’t think so.

Get ‘em both today at Catalyst’s store.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Did You Know? – Retro BattleTech Games – MechWarrior

Welcome back to Sarna’s retrospective on classic BattleTech video games! I’ll be your host as we look back on some of the games that made BattleTech and MechWarrior the storied franchises they are today.

We’re going to switch things up a bit due to some… we’ll call it “negative feedback” that was given during my last foray into the Crescent Hawks Inception. I understand that some of these classic games might not quite be the shining jewel of digital accomplishment when compared to more modern ‘Mech games, but at the time they were real accomplishments that should be respected for the stepping stones they were.

That and nobody likes having their childhoods shit on, no matter how awful the sound effects were.

So instead of a pseudo-review where I start tossing out crazy things like numbered scales, we’re going to just look at the game’s history and see what it contributed towards modern MechWarrior titles. Starting with the original first-person ‘Mech combat simulator, MechWarrior.

MechWarrior was originally published in 1989 by a little company called Activision–you might know them as the massive game corporation that’s slowly eating Blizzard Entertainment alive right before our very eyes. Back in the day, the evils of microtransactions and rushed development cycles weren’t nearly as prevalent, so Activision was just another little fish in the nascent pond of PC gaming.

While Activision published the game, it was created by a humble team of 17 dudes working at Dynamix Inc. Dynamix would eventually be bought-out by Sierra On-Line, creating both Tribes and Earthsiege as their subsidiary, but back in 1989, they were known for creating flight simulators like A-10 Tank Killer, F-14 Tomcat, Arctic Foxand Red Baron.

They also made Abrams Battle Tank, a tank simulator game that shares much of its engine with MechWarrior. I never played the original MechWarrior, but I did play Abrams Battle Tank, and the similarities in the first-person combat sequences are uncanny.

However, MechWarrior is only half about the giant stompy robot combat. Much of the game still harkens back to the text adventure style of gameplay exemplified in the prior Crescent Hawks PC games, with the player going from planet to planet seeking fortune and machinery as they build up the Blazing Aces mercenary company.

Almost all of the modern BattleTech games, including BattleTech and the upcoming MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, can thank the original MechWarrior for the whole “mercenary commander” gameplay loop.

In MechWarrior, you play as Gideon Braver, a disgraced Davion noble who’s forced to flee his home planet due to some inter-familial intrigue (ie. a bunch of ‘Mechs showed up and killed everyone). Since Braver has some cash and an old Jenner just lying around, he decides to take up the mercenary mantle and start making some green (C-Bills, that is). Braver will then journey all over the Inner Sphere, building up his company’s strength and meeting such notable BattleTech personalities as Natasha Kerensky and her Black Widow Company.

But Braver never really forgets his heritage and continues to pursue his family’s killers even as he chases after the almighty C-Bill and a better set of robot legs. It’s during these text-heavy portions of the game where the player can branch into several different endings, depending on what the player decides to do.

For the text portions of the game, you can see some very significant improvements in MechWarrior over Crescent Hawks Inception–most notably in the art. Full-screen, vibrantly colored pixel images add a lot more atmosphere, and additional music plays during certain areas of exploration (usually in the bar).

Sound effects are also improved, although still a far cry from what would be heard in the sequel, MechWarrior 2.

There are eight ‘Mechs the player can purchase (salvage is represented only in C-Bills and not in the burnt-out wrecks of your foes) including the Locust, Jenner, Phoenix Hawk, Shadow Hawk, Rifleman, Warhammer, Marauder, and BattleMaster. The Scorpion, Atlas, and Griffin are also mentioned but aren’t pilotable. Since the tonnage tops out at the BattleMaster and Marauder, this is the main reason why these two ‘Mechs still have reputations amongst the BattleTech faithful as being scary as all get out. 

As I mentioned before, much of MechWarrior’s combat will appear the same as Abrams Battle Tank as they use very similar engines. Terrain appears as large polygons while the ‘Mechs themselves appear as smaller, more colorful objects. The player can zoom-in to get a better view of their foes and engage with long-range weapons or wait for them to close to use things like lasers and SRMs.

There’s no denying that the combat is pretty basic, but you can see how MechWarrior created the template for all other games to follow. A giant radar dominates the center screen with heat and jump jet gauges to either side. Weapons status are all listed in the lower right corner, while enemy target data appears in the lower right. That’s all still essentially the same in MechWarrior Online, with the minor tweak of enemy combat data appearing in the upper right corner and the player’s own ‘Mech’s status appearing in the lower left.

(Things would get completely swapped around in MechWarrior 2, but we’ll dig into that later.)

With Dynamix doing such a great job of mixing the classic text adventure elements with a more modern 3D simulator, it’s almost sad that Activision had to go it alone for the sequel, MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat. But as I said before, Dynamix (and all their proprietary 3D engines) got picked up by Sierra On-Line, and that was it for them. 

If you want a great example of what a MechWarrior 2 made by Dynamix would have looked like, check out Earthsiege. It’s an interesting alternative view of what MechWarrior could have been rather than what it turned out to be.

With incredible thanks to Chris Chapman who provided a lot of invaluable information on Dynamix and MechWarrior’s development.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Forever Faithful, Blaine Lee Pardoe’s Latest BattleTech Novel, Now Available For Pre-Order

Forever Faithful

Blaine Lee Pardoe has announced his latest BattleTech novel is officially available for pre-order.

Has it been a hot minute since the latest BattleTech novel? It sure feels that way. The last full BattleTech book I read was The Nelus Academy Incident and before that another Pardoe masterpiece in Betrayal of Ideals.

Now Monsieur Pardoe has returned, but instead of telling the tale of the late, great Clan Wolverine, we get to hear the story of another dead Clan, the Smoke Jaguars.

As we all know by now (and if you don’t know, SPOILER ALERT), the Smoky Kitties bought the big one at the end of Operation Serpent, which you can read all about in the Twilight of the Clans series and is probably the best stretch of BattleTech fiction you’ll ever read.

But while the Smoke Jaguars were erased as a Clan, that doesn’t mean everyone that used to comprise the once great Clan completely disappeared. Scientist, technician, merchant, and laborer castes all were taken in by various Inner Sphere states and rival Clans, and the fallen Smoke Jaguar warriors who survived escaped to form various bandit groups.

But not all them. One, a Smoke Jaguar MechWarrior instrumental in the fall of his own Clan, survived the battle of Huntress. We never did find out what happened to Trent at the end of Twilight of the Clans, and now we’ll have Pardoe tell the rest of his story as well as the tales of several others.

Forever Faithful

From his personal blog, we get the first draft of the back cover for Forever Faithful:

“One is the traitor that brought the enemy to their doorstep: one is the Smoke Jaguar who was tasked with rallying them and failed; one is a Nova Cat Warrior with a vision of their true role in history; and the other is from Clan Goliath Scorpion who wants to harvest their remnants as museum exhibits.”

This was apparently edited and will not be exactly what we see on the back of Forever Faithful (if you see a back at all since I’ve certainly gone digital for my reading these days), but it gives us an idea of what we’re in for.

Apparently, this novel is a sort of successor to Surrender Your Dreams, a Dark Age novel that delves into the Fidelis, a special forces warrior sect within The Republic of the Sphere. Pardoe describes in his blog post that there was apparently a lot of debate following that novel as to just who the Fidelis were, and he pretty much just up and confirms that they are indeed Some Jaguar survivors.

There’s more behind-the-scenes stuff over on his blog post, which you should definitely read. And pre-order his book on Amazon or wherever you prefer to get your reading material.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Catalyst Announces 35th Anniversary BattleTech With New Available Products

35th Anniversary

courtesy of Catalyst Game Labs

Catalyst Game Labs is celebrating 35 years of BattleTech with a huge release of new products.

Way back in 1984, FASA corporation created a game universe that would inspire countless novels, sourcebooks, and video games. Well, actually, not all that countless, but I’ve never bothered counting them all, and I’m sure it’s a very high number.

To celebrate BattleTech’s 35th birthday, Catalyst Game Labs–the lovable rapscallions that serve as arbitrators of BattleTech lore and it’s tabletop roots–are giving in fully to their capitalist urges and holding a massive release of some exciting new products.

On Wednesday, January 23rd, a bunch of items went up for grabs on Catalyst’s website and in your local games retailer, starting with the box sets. Both the Beginner Box Set and BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat will be available in-store and online starting on Wednesday.

That’s not all: Shattered Fortress will also be available in major retailers on January 23rd, and is already available on Catalysts’ website (and has been for a few weeks now). On top of that, a 35th Anniversary Edition of the BattleTech Manual will hit Catalyst’s online store which features all previous errata and the coveted 35th-anniversary logo.

Look at that Warhammer. Doesn’t she look pretty? Wouldn’t you like one on a t-shirt or something?

Well, good news! Catalyst has developed a mind-reading machine that can also see into the future and has prepared a bunch of 35th-anniversary merch with that same Warhammer logo! That includes a t-shirt, hoodie, and a pin for when you’re forced to be fancy but still want to show your love of BattleTech to the world.

And the Warrior Trilogy is back in stores for an anniversary edition PDF or Print on Demand. I’ve read all those stories twice now, so it’s a little less interesting to me, but if you haven’t read them before, you really should.

Now, normally we stick with BattleTech related items on Sarna, what with it being a BattleTech wiki and all, but Catalyst also watches over Shadowrun which is another FASA-born universe that I have much love for. If only the rules weren’t a complicated mess in desperate need of some D&D 5th edition simplification, I’d be playing it as my tabletop RPG every week.

It’s also Shadowrun’s 30th anniversary, so Catalyst has a bunch of new PDF sourcebooks and merch on sale too. A unique 30th-anniversary logo adorns a t-shirt, hoodie, and pin just as with the BattleTech merch, allowing you to show your love of the Sixth World in style.

Full details can be found over on Catalyst’s website.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy

stay syrupy

New MechWarrior 5 Trailer, Pre-Orders Online Now

King Crab

Now that the holidays are over, we turn our sights to the future where we have a lot to look forward to in the BattleTech world. Chief among them is the hotly anticipated release of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, which hits digital store shelves on September 10th.

We’re less than 9 months away from release, which means it’s time to get that hype train moving. And what better way to get it rolling than with a brand new game-play trailer?

This trailer initially released through IGN a few weeks ago, but then Piranha Games put it up on the MW5 YouTube channel after they got their exclusive clicks in. We here at Sarna would be jealous, but we don’t even have a YouTube channel to provide our own exclusive video links (but that does sound appealing–hit me up PGI, let’s talk).

Anyway, what we see here is a quantum leap forward in graphics. Finally, we see some real weather on these planets in the form of rain and fog. Fog of war becomes quite literal in this clip, with players relying on instruments and laser beams to see where the enemy is located. It looks really good, although frame rate still seems to be a bit of a problem. Maybe that’s just an issue with whatever software was used to record the footage.

In addition to the reminder that MW5’s development continues with steady progress, Russ Bullock himself (he’s the president of PGI, don’t ya know) posted his own video to let the BattleTech community know that pre-orders are now available.

Called the “Community Edition”, these pre-orders all come with a variety of goodies for both the impending MW5 as well as PGI’s other game, MechWarrior Online. In fact, the rewards for MechWarrior Online seem to be even greater than the rewards for MW5. Purchasing the top-tier “Ultimate Community Edition” gives MWO players 30,000 MC, 90 days of premium time, a free Marauder II, and a ton of C-Bills and experience points.

That’s an in-game value of stuff in MWO way more than the $119.99 you spend pre-ordering MechWarrior 5.

For MechWarrior 5, each tier comes with various incentives to pre-order, such as exclusive in-game skins, digital downloads like desktops and soundtracks, and access to the beta test and the official MechWarrior 5 Discord server.

So1ahma provided a handy chart that breaks down the rewards over on Reddit, which also includes the approximate cash value too (kudos to you, So1ahma).

Personally, I think it’s a little weird that pre-ordering one game actually gives you way more goodies for a completely different game that is only partially related. It’s also a problem for those who really want to pre-order MechWarrior 5 but don’t even play MechWarrior Online–all those digital goodies are just going to waste.

But hey, it’s there if you want it.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

MechCommander Gold – Darkest Hours Gets 4.0 Release

via RizZen

Happy New Year, ‘Mech fans! I have to start this year off with an apology: I caught wind of this story well before Christmas, but with the holiday rush, I just didn’t have time to give it the attention it so desperately deserves. But by golly, we’re getting to it now, because this is news that any die-hard MechCommander fan should hear.

The original MechCommander Gold has been updated and remastered for you retro-gaming pleasure.

via RizZen

courtesy of RizZen

It’s called MechCommander Gold – Darkest Hours (a take on the original’s Desperate Measures expansion) and it’s more than just a remaster. Darkest Hours also adds 20 new pilots, merges the original and expansion campaigns, and expands them to include so many more user-created missions that it’s practically a new game. Some of those original story missions have also been updated too, so even the familiar standbys will seem like a fresh new experience.

We have RizZen to thank for this labor of love that he’s been working on since 2017. He’s compiled a host of previous additions and user expansions to include in Darkest Hours and created several resolution updates so everything doesn’t appear all pixelated (although, true MechCommanders will play on the original 640×480 for the genuine experience).

I remember playing the crap out of MechCommander, to the point where I mastered the entire game with nothing more than a company of jumping Cougars. The expansion added Shadow Cats to my playthrough which gave me a considerable armor boost, and a twin-PPC Bushwhacker build was easily my most favorite for an Inner Sphere-only playthrough.

via RizZen

The fine folks over at No Guts No Galaxy have provided hosting for Darkest Hours’ game files, but that’s not all! There’s also a huge player’s guide section that will provide new players with all the information they need to jump into this classic game. Veterans will find value in the guide too in order to handle all the new missions that have been added.

So start your 2019 off right with a retro experience unlike any other. Darkest Hours works on Windows 10 all the way back to Windows XP (something that even Microsoft can’t say) so even the most potato-like of machines can get this game running.

And as always, MechCommanders: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Update On Beginner Box Set And BattleTech: Game Of Armored Combat

Box Sets

UPDATE: Whoops! Someone forgot to press the “publish” button. Here’s a quick update in case you missed it. 

Alright boys and girls, we got a quick update from Catalyst on those now-mythical box sets. According to the latest update on the Catalyst Game Labs website, both box sets have arrived at the “fulfillment center” and will make it into the distribution pipeline shortly.

But we’re not here for platitudes, we’re here for dates, and I’m sorry to report only half the boxes will make it out in time for Christmas–those being the Beginner Box Sets, which will arrive in stores starting December 14th with full availability expected on December 17th. A week before Christmas is cutting it awful close, but it’s better than nothing.

The full Game Of Armored Combat won’t arrive in stores until January 23rd. That’s some hard news to take, so Catalyst has some good news to go along with it: Shattered Fortress will also release on January 23rd.

As they say in the biz: awww yiss.

As always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Mech_Con Roundup Day 2 – Harebrained Show, Catalyst Announcements, And A New MWOWC Champion!

Day 2, electric boogaloo! After PGI had their big huzzah on the first day of Mech_Con 2018, the rest of the BattleTech companies got their chance at glory. We had Harebrained Schemes show off their latest BattleTech expansion: Flashpoint, Catalyst Game Labs revealed some fancy dice and that the new box sets aren’t a year-long fever dream, and the MechWarrior Online World Championships crowned a new champion! 

Harebrained Schemes Has Old Men Fight In Giant Robots

Once again, Harebrained decided to showcase their latest creation by making FASA co-founder Jordan Weisman and Harebrained co-founder Mitch Gitelman duel to the death, but this time, instead of mindlessly jumping on each other for a solid hour, they had Hatchetmen. Er, I mean henchmen.

So that went well.

I sadly did not get to see this hopefully yearly tradition when it was broadcast live on Twitch, but thankfully, PGI kept the whole 12-hour video from last Sunday online. So you can see the entire debacle so long as you’re willing to skip to roughly 6 hours in.

Which I can do for you. You’re welcome.

Watch MechCon Vancouver 2018 from PiranhaGames on www.twitch.tv

Like I said, rather than fight it out themselves, the two grandfathers of BattleTech picked two randos out of the audience to be there “advisors”. And by choose, it was more like Gitelman picked the best BattleTech player in Harebrained’s office, while Weisman got Willian von Wilhelm Helmut, the guy who won the Valhalla Tournament Of Champions. Whatever that is.

But here’s the thing: BattleTech is a game of random numbers. And on top of that, Weisman and Gitelman weren’t all that good at taking instructions. Weisman eventually fired his general, while Gitelman often ignored sound advice in favor of performing yet another DFA maneuver.

This year, the numbers were on Gitelman’s side. While last year he had to serve as Weisman’s bondsman, this year the tables are turned and it will be Weisman who washes Gitelman’s car and brews his lattes. They are from Seattle, after all.

Afterward the fight (and somewhat during), the two hosted a live Q&A session about the future of BattleTech. They revealed that more Unseen ‘Mechs are set to arrive, including the Marauder and Warhammer heavy ‘Mechs, but not to expect them in the next planned expansion which is Urban Warfare.

Catalyst Game Labs Answers Questions, Proves That Box Sets Actually Exist

The boys and girls at Catalyst Game Labs were also at Mech_Con to show everyone going gaga over MechWarrior 5 that there’s a simpler, slower, and lower-tech way of playing BattleTech that involves dice, miniatures, and a lot of reading. No, more reading than that–veritable textbooks of reading. Tomes, if you will.

I kid. I only wish I had the free time to play an actual, sit-down-and-roll-dice game of BattleTech.

But also as with last year, Catalyst answered a bunch of questions from the hardcore BattleTech faithful, chief among them was “where the hell are those brand new box sets you’ve been promising since last year?”

The answer: in the warehouse, and expecting to be at brick and mortar stores by the end of the month. It sounds like it might miss the Christmas rush, but maybe you’ll get it in time for New Years.

Box Sets

In addition to the new box sets, Catalyst Primary Randall N. Bills and BattleTech Line Developer Brent Evans also dropped a few new items on the horizon, such as new map pack called “grasslands” (to arrive sometime in March) as well as a reprint of the BattleTech Manual for BattleTech’s 35th anniversary.

We also got some news about Shattered Fortress, which will become a stepping stone to the hotly anticipated Il-Clan sourcebook. We also got a strong hint that the universe will go back to hammering the Capellan Confederation into space dust in the tradition of the classic BattleTech novels.

As always, new fiction is the top priority for BattleTech fans, which Evans was happy to reveal that there are no less than 30 fiction projects of varying length currently in progress. These will become available via electronic distribution (ie. Amazon) as soon as they’re done, which we’ll report on once we’ve got a title to share.

Oh, and since the whole Unseen business is finally settled, expect to see some new sculpts coming out. We don’t know when, but some redesigned Warhammer and Marauder minis could be here sometime next year.

MechWarrior Online World Finals Crowns New Champions

A new day has dawned in competitive MechWarrior Online. Two-time champions EmpyreaL have finally been dethroned by last year’s runner-ups, Eon Synergy.

Whereas EmpyreaL was the dominant force in competitive MWO for several years, EON Synergy displayed incredible skill and tactics during this year’s tournament that made them completely unstoppable. Despite EmpreaL’s team of veteran players, EON never lost a game, and the look of absolute relief after proving that EmpyreaL is not invincible could be felt even through an LCD screen.

This year’s winning team were awarded medals and a shared first place prize of $34,653. They also got a ton of in-game content, although, with the amount of ‘Mechs these guys probably already have, one wonders just how much value they’ll get with an extra 50 million C-Bills.

And that’s it for this year’s Mech_Con! Join us next year when I’ll hopefully get paid to fly to Vancouver on first-class tickets due to the incredible importance of Sarna’s first-hand reporting! And I’ll be sure to bring my BattleTech TCG cards when I do. I heard there were a bunch of you jokesters playing this year.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy