MechWarrior Online Competitive Scene

MechWarrior Online has been the pinnacle of simulated ‘Mech combat since its closed beta in 2012, and as a PvP game, competitive leagues have surrounded the game since its inception. Now, nearly half a decade later, the competitive scene for MWO is as vibrant and alive as ever, with the best MechWarriors duking it out for fame, glory, and honor. Strap on your neurohelmet while we take a tour of MechWarrior Online’s competitive leagues.

The big kahuna is the one sponsored by the game’s developers, Piranha games. With 2016’s first place team taking home over $86,000.00, the World Championship draws ‘Mech teams from across the globe to compete for real cash. The previous year’s championship saw teams separated by region (North America, Europe, Asia/Pacific) compete in a round-robin qualifier held throughout the year. The top 5 teams from each region then went on to the regional finals, with the winner of each region being flown to Vancouver to take part in the final matches held live at MechCon.  

For those familiar with MechWarrior Online’s 12v12 format, the tournament rules were a little different. Instead, matches were 8v8, and followed a strict format: 2 light ‘Mechs, 2 mediums, 2 heavies, and 2 assaults. Each match was held on a capture-the-point style Conquest map, with league enrolled teams voting on which maps would be used to compete. Unlike other leagues, which use the player’s own in-game resources, the World Championship gave each team access to every ‘Mech and weapon system available in the game to ensure player parity. With its emphasis on strict competition, the World Championship brought out the best the world had to offer. So far PGI has been mum on the possibility of a 2017 Championship, but with the success of the 2016 tournament there’s hope an official announcement is just around the corner.

While it doesn’t have the formal backing of the game’s designers, the MRBC takes the title of largest league in MechWarrior Online with over 180 registered teams. Founded in 2014, the league seeks to give players a fun competitive experience at a variety of skill levels. Much like the World Championships, the league is broken down by region (North America, Europe, Asia/Pacific), and each region is broken down into divisions defined by player skill level. Teams compete in a double round-robin format, and at the end of each season the top team from each division is bumped up to a senior division, while the last place team gets relegated to a lower division. Victories are scored not simply through winning a match, but also through a reward system that gives teams reputation points for certain actions during a match (like destroying a number of the opposing ‘Mechs). Although the MRBC is not officially supported by PGI, they have historically received in game currency that is awarded to the winners of each division.

In addition to ensuring participants have fun by competing against players of similar skill level, the MRBC also tries to add variety to their games. Each match is a series of games on different maps, 8v8, with an assortment of light, medium, heavy and assault weight classes. In order to achieve player parity, only ‘Mechs available for purchase with in-game currency are allowed (Hero ‘Mechs, those only available for purchase with ‘Mech Credits, MWO’s real world currency, are not legal). Teams are also only allowed to bring one duplicate chassis per match, meaning if one player brings a Timberwolf (regardless of variant) only one other player on the team is allowed to bring another Timberwolf, and all remaining ‘Mech choices must be the sole example of the chassis on the team. With these quirks, the MRBC emphasizes diversity and enjoyment over strict competition, explaining both its longevity and enormous following.

Run by the same people who run the MRBC and begun in 2016, MechWarrior Arena is a 1v1 competitive league that seeks to emulate the gladiatorial ‘Mech combat of Solaris VII. MWA follows a tiered division structure similar to the MRBC that matches players in the same region and the same skill level. Unlike Solaris VII, which broke down its tournaments by the usual ‘Mech classes of light, medium, heavy and assault, MWA breaks it down into 10 ton increments (a 20 ton Locust will fight a 25 ton Commando, but never fight a 35 ton Jenner). More in keeping with Solaris VII (and differing from the MRBC), players are allowed to bring highly customized Hero versions of ‘Mechs to combat. Winners of each division are also awarded in game prizes generously donated by PGI.

There are however some restrictions found in MWA owing to its 1v1 nature. First, streak missiles are not allowed as their presence tends to warp the format and also remove skill from determining the winner of a match. Flamers are also limited to two per ‘Mech so as to prevent each match from turning into a dance of pyromaniacs. Finally, certain ‘Mechs can be upgraded or downgraded a weight class due to their intrinsic performance (such as the Ice Ferret, which competes at the 50-55 ton level) or outright banned if they completely dominate a weight class. As with the MRBC, the emphasis is on variety of gameplay and fun.

Perhaps the oldest of MechWarrior Online’s unofficial leagues, Run Hot or Die began in the days of MechWarrior’s closed beta. For several years, RHoD was the premiere MWO competitive league covering North America and Europe, however saw its popularity wane in 2016 with the rise of the MRBC. The league returns with a fresh new format that will bring even more variety to the competitive scene.

RHoD is a single-day, Swiss Pairing, single elimination, bracket style tournament that pits warriors in 4v4 lance combat. Each match is a best of seven rounds, with each round having either a weight limit or a class restriction for the 4 ‘Mechs each team drops with (for example, one round may allow 200 tons of ‘Mechs, but another round will require each team bring one light ‘Mech, 2 mediums, and 1 heavy). Teams are also limited to 2 chassis per match, meaning if during one round a team brings two Stormcrows, they are unable to use any Stormcrows for the rest of the match. There’s no limitation on which ‘Mechs can be brought except they must be available for purchase either with in game currency or real currency (eliminating ‘Mechs that are only available via pre-order). There are also no restrictions on weaponry, giving RHoD players a wide array of options they can bring to each lance vs lance encounter.

Competitive play in MWO isn’t limited to leagues. Smaller, for fun tournaments are held all the time, and are advertised on the MWO forums and community page. Many have a charity focus, such as the MercStar Invitiational, which pits players in simulated ‘Mech combat to support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. There’s even a recently released Stock Class tournament that forces players into non customized versions of their favorite ‘Mechs, eliminating the need for costly upgrades in order to compete. No matter what your skill level or resources, there’s a place for every player in MechWarrior Online’s competitive scene.

New BattleTechGear Crowdfunded Merch – Stein & Coasters

BattleTechGear.com (from HBS) has two new crowdfunded BattleTech merchandise campaigns:

  • BattleTech Stein – ceramic pint with a really awesome metal Atlas-Skull top ($40)
  • Solaris VII Coaster Set – featuring 6 “commemorative” coasters (and tin) full of Solaris VII lore ($20)

Both products are crowdfunded — meaning if the minimum order quantity isn’t reached, the products won’t be produced.  They’re both over half-way to the minimum already!

You have until March 1st to get in on the action!

Official announcement here.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

Hot on the heels of Harebrained Scheme’s tactical RPG BattleTech comes Piranha Games with MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. Best known for their development of MechWarrior Online, Piranha is taking a departure from its free2play, multiplayer business model and betting big on a single-player, blockbuster release. Announced at MechCon 2016, many aspects of the game are still well under development, but we take a look at what we do know about this sure to be hotly anticipated title.

MechWarrior 5 will take place in the year 3015, during the Third Succession War. The player starts out as a rookie MechWarrior working for a down-and-out mercenary company that over the course of your career grows into an elite fighting force, taking the most difficult contracts for the Inner Sphere’s great houses. The game then takes players through the Fourth Succession War, and leads right up to the Clan Invasion of 3049. This gives players a fantastic slice of BattleTech history to experience while also leaving the door wide open for a Clan focused sequel.

image courtesy of Piranha Games

Fans of previous installments of MechWarrior: Mercenaries know that while a story-driven campaign is nice, for a true merc it’s all about the loot. Russ Bullock, founder and president of Piranha Games, reveals in an interview with PC Gamer that MechWarrior 5 will feature a dynamic salvage system which will allow skilled pilots to carefully dismantle their enemies for extra weapons and components at the end of a contract. Expert pilots can even snipe the opponent’s cockpit, not only killing the pilot but also leaving the disabled ‘Mech as extra bounty. This sort of system has always been promised in earlier MechWarrior titles, but never quite fully delivered, and it’s our hope that Piranha nails this essential aspect of Mercenary life.


image courtesy of Piranha Games

The managerial experience doesn’t stop at hunting for salvage. MechWarrior 5 will be as much business simulator as ‘Mech combat simulator. As Russ Bullock tells PC Gamer, “Our goal is to create a very in-depth manager experience. It’s sort of like taking […] Football Manager wrapped over top of MechWarrior 1.”

Repairs, hiring pilots, and travel costs to and from contracts will all need to be factored into what contracts you take and which you pass by. Everything will have to be viewed through the lens of risk versus reward; do you take the risky contract with generous salvage conditions, or do you play it safe and take an easier contract in the hopes of saving up enough c-bills to purchase new ‘Mechs on the open market? As Russ explains to PC Gamer, “I think 95 percent of MechWarrior players will never have had this much freedom when it comes to where and who they fight for.”


image courtesy of Piranha Games

What ‘Mechs will be available so far remains a mystery. MechWarrior 5’s trailer shows a Shadow Hawk and a Raven, but beyond that we can only speculate. We can however surmise that it is likely Piranha will port over existing ‘Mechs from its roster in MechWarrior Online, as the similarities between the Shadow Hawk and Raven models would seem to indicate. Also reported in the PC Gamer article are possible limitations on how ‘Mechs can be customized. Bullock explains that, “while no final decision has been made, MechWarrior 5 is looking to focus more on a ‘variant-based free market system’ that guides how ‘Mechs are outfitted,” giving each chassis a feeling of uniqueness that can be lacking somewhat in the cookie-cutter builds seen in MechWarrior Online. There will however be multiple variants available of each ‘Mech, likely similar to if not exactly as described in the BattleTech technical readouts. While not providing the “anything goes” customization of previous MechWarrior titles, this will still provide players with flexibility in their loadouts while also preserving the essential individuality of each design.


image courtesy of Piranha Games

One thing that is certain to be unchanged from MechWarrior Online is the action.  “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel in certain areas,” says Bullock to PC Gamer. “If there’s one thing that almost everybody would agree on in our community is that one of the strongest elements of MechWarrior Online is the ‘Mech combat. It’s tight, it’s exciting.” However, MechWarrior Online has only ever held a small portion of BattleTech fans. Even Russ himself agrees that, “MechWarrior Online was, at most, half of the MechWarrior market. There’s a huge portion out there that’s just waiting for a singleplayer experience.” With a tentative release set for some time in 2018, avid fans will have to be patient while Piranha develops a game that returns us to MechWarrior’s roots. So far it looks like it’ll be worth the wait.

For more of Russ Bullock’s interview with PC Gamer, you can check out the article here.

Mechs in upcoming BattleTech Game from Harebrained Schemes

BattleTech, the upcoming turn-based ‘Mech combat game to be released by indie developer Harebrained Schemes, is shaping up extremely well. After a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign and a seemingly breakneck development cycle, we’ve been treated to incredible in-game footage showing our favourite giant robots engaging in glorious combat with laser, PPC, and even fists. From these brief glimpses (and very helpful forum posts directly from the developers) we have a list of ‘Mechs known to grace the battlefields of the future. Now, in weight order, your ‘Mech list.


image courtesy of Harebrained Schemes

LIGHT

Locust
Commando
Spider
Firestarter
Jenner
Panther
Urbanmech
Raven

MEDIUM

Cicada
Blackjack
Vindicator
Centurion
Enforcer
Hunchback
Trebuchet
Griffin
Kintaro
Shadowhawk
Wolverine

HEAVY

Dragon
Quickdraw
Catapult
Jagermech
Thunderbolt
Grasshopper
Orion
Marauder
Warhammer
Cataphract

ASSAULT

Awesome
Victor
Zeus
BattleMaster
Stalker
Highlander
Banshee
King Crab
Atlas

There is a lot to be excited about in this list, not the least of which is the inclusion of several of the most popular Unseen ‘Mechs that are rare to find in BattleTech games. Each weight class includes a variety of designs that showcase a ‘Mech’s options of firepower, armour, or speed, ensuring there’s no lack of ability in any category.

The Light class draws primarily from previous MechWarrior and MechCommander games. The venerable Urbanmech is sure to please fans of the adorable yet powerful trashcan, while the Panther, Locust, and Spider will make their first appearance in a tactical computer ‘Mech game. Of course, no BattleTech game would be complete without the inclusion of the noble and stalwart Commando, having been featured in every game since MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries. How many of us have taken our first steps in the twenty-five ton classic?

The workhorse class of Medium ‘Mechs appropriately has the largest roster. Old standbys such as the Centurion, Hunchback and Trebuchet form the core of the fifty ton class, while the Cicada brings up the lighter end of this diverse category. The Kintaro makes an appearance despite being relatively rare in the Inner Sphere during the time period for which the game is set, while the unseen Shadowhawk, Wolverine and Griffin round out the top end. The diverse and adaptable Blackjack also makes an appearance, and is sure to bring joy to any medium ‘Mech fan. Notably absent are the Clint and Whitworth, making the 40 ton range seem a little sparse with only the Cicada representing. Hopefully another 40 ton ‘Mech will make an appearance before the game’s release.

Now we branch into the heavy hitters in the Heavy class, where old meets new as classic designs found in many previous iterations of MechWarrior intermingle with some rarely seen gems. The Dragon, Quickdraw, Catapult and Jagermech can be found in nearly every MechWarrior game going back generations, while the rarely seen Cataphract will be House Liao’s contribution to the fray. The highly mobile Grasshopper will be sure to satisfy fans of the venerable laser boat, and the Orion gives an air of dignified sophistication for enthusiasts of BattleTech lore.

Finally we have the true beasts of the Assault class, and what BattleTech game would be complete without these power houses? We have ‘Mechs seen in many previous MechWarrior games such as the Zeus, Victor, Awesome, and Stalker, however the Banshee and King Crab provide some fresh blood to the class, having only previously been featured in MechWarrior Online. The Highlander and Battlemaster are lovely inclusions for lore buffs, and the indomitable Atlas rounds out the lot with its unmistakable death’s head grin.

Each weight category has a robust lineup of ‘Mechs sure to make any ‘Mech-head salivate in anticipation, but of course not every ‘Mech can make the cut. What ‘Mechs would you love to have included in the game? Let us know in the comments!

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BattleTechGear.com

Fantastic news just in time for the holidays: Harebrained Schemes has secured a limited license from Topps to create and sell BattleTech merchandise.

They can only sell a limited number of items, so to prioritize what gets ultimately gets made, they’ve opened a crowdfunding website at BattleTechGear.com.  Only items that meet the minimum order quantity will be produced.

Check out the first four offerings.  I’m already drooling over the resin Atlas:

BattleTechGear.com KS

The Just Wars of BattleTech

It’s no surprise that BattleTech, which is a war game, has a lot of wars.  A lot of strife and conflicts.  That’s what we need to keep the property moving. Succession Wars?  Wars of Reaving?  Clan Invasion?  The Jihad?  We have wars in spades.

So given that, I thought it would be an interesting thought experiment to delve into some of the history of the wars in BattleTech that meet the jus ad bellum, or Just War criteria.
I’m currently working on (yet another) Master’s degree, this time one in Theology as a Catholic College.  In the European tradition, for centuries during the height of the Catholic Church’s power, war between Christian states was virtually unheard of.  The amount of stuff you had to jump over into order to declare war on your neighbor was rough.  From St. Augustine who began the Just War tradition to St. Thomas Aquinas who formalized it in his philosophy, we have a major shift in the way war is viewed.  In fact, the Pope would often and regularly lean on people to not declare war, or to end it immediately, when these conditions were not met.  The only major exception during this era was the Hundred Years War which began during the weakening of the Papacy and the Avignon era.  In order to declare war, you needed a casus belli.  A just cause.  But you also needed a lot more as well.  They fleshed out a list of things you needed to do, before and during the war, in order for it to be just.  And this just concept of war continues through today in major philosophies, politics, military, and other places.

So I thought it would be a fun thought experiment to go over the jus ad bellum concept of a just war, and then look at some conflicts in BattleTech to see if they line up.

Just War

Just War

I’m using a few books as the core for this article. One is Ronald Musto’s The Catholic Peace Tradition that looks at the history of Peacemaking in Catholicism, and talks about this at length.  But the major one is Morality and War, by David Fisher.  Both a trained philosopher and a high level position in the British Military for about 20 years, he has a unique perspective about what is just, and what wars have been as well – he comes from the practice side as well as the theoretical one.  In particularly, his 4th chapter outlines this quite nicely.  And he’ll look at dozens of conflicts, wars, attacks and more to try to suss them out.  So what is just?  What does it require?  These are great questions – let’s check it out!

 

The Just War Principles

  1. Authorized by a competent authority
  2. For a just cause
  3. With a right intention
  4. As a last resort
  5. Harm from war not disproportionate to the gain
  6. Non-combatants not deliberately attacked

So let’s look at each of these in turn.

Authorized by a competent authority.  This was added to the tradition by Aquinas.  His basic point is that some ruler of a city or a Baron somewhere can’t declare war justly.  It has to come from the highest power in the land.  If it does not, they it isn’t a just war.

A just cause requires a legitimate reason for going to war, not the mere pursuit of land, materials military factories, or more.  There needs to be a major just reason.  Was someone just invaded?  Is a massive humanitarian catastrophe about to happen?  Take the Six-Day War as a good example. Israel argued they were defeating themselves preemptively and that Egypt had unfairly cut off their oil and other supplies by the closing the Straights of Tiran.  So a just cause would be to fight and capture the ports, or to free up the Straits for their shipping.

The next requirement is a right intention.  Is there a just cause in the actions itself? Many rulers will use a just cause as an excuse, but then really want something else, right?  So in addition to being a good just cause, one of the key ways to know if the reason for the war was rightfully intended is if the side that declares the war ends it when their objective is achieved.  Take a real life war like the first Gulf War as a good example.  The just cause was removing Hussein from Kuwait.  That is a just cause; he just invaded and took it.  And as soon as the goal was achieved, the war ended.  That is a right intention.

Is this a last resort?  Were other things attempted first, such as diplomacy?  That is needed.  Now I would certainly claim that sometimes a last resort is sort of obvious.  America entering World War II after being attacked is a last resort.  You don’t need to ask Japan for reparations instead, after they bombed Pearl Harbor.  You also need a level of proportionality.  If you have an issue, and your response is a lot worse, then that’s not just.  If you drop a nuke to end a minor military junta that was only hurting the locals a bit, then that’s not proportionate, even if you only took out the junta leaders and military.

Finally, are you trying to keep civilians safe?  Out the way? Or have you harmed civilians by putting them into play or on the battlefield?  That is not just.  If you kill civilians as an accident hitting legitimate targets, that’s one thing.  If you bomb a military base, sure, you’ll likely kill some civilians.  But it’s still a military base.  That’s a fair target.

Still one of my favorites!

Still one of my favorites!

The Aleisha Liao led Ares Conventions puts a lot of just precepts into play in the BattleTech universe and the clan concept of Zellbrigen echoes it as well.

Alright, so given that, what wars count as Just?

Many conflicts are out straight away because they never had a just cause to begin with.  But let me start you with a war that I believe actually qualifies as just from every definition.  And then you can see how that operates.

Operation: Guerrero?

The ruler of the Free Worlds Leagues discovers that his son and heir passed away, and was secretly replaced by a fake by the Federated Commonwealth.  The implications of this are obvious.  If the duplicate takes over, then the League is in a bad place due to duplicity and subterfuge.  Going to war against the Commonwealth is the only way to punish them for this atrocity.  It is a just cause.  And in this case, given the surprise nature of the attack, the last resort is arguable as well.  Now what is the intention?  To punish them. What does that punishment look like?  Merely taking back the worlds that were captured from the League by the Commonwealth in the Fourth Succession War.  The Free World League even has international support from the Capellan Confederation and the now-splintered Lyran Alliance to show solidarity.  The war begins, the Free Worlds League takes their targets quickly, and then they call it. Peace is achieved, the Commonwealth is suitably punished for their actin, and the status quo occurs.  That is a rightful intent, just action, and more.  The Free Worlds League theater of the Operation meets the requirements of jus ad bellum, just war.

What about other Wars?

The Fourth Succession War?

On the other hand, the Fourth Succession War by the Federated Suns and Lyran Commonwealth certainly isn’t.  Even if you grant that Hanse Davion wanted to punish Maximillian Liao for doing something similar with a duplicate, his response came years later, and therefore lacked the immediate last resort concept.   Nor was his response proportional, nor with a right intention.  He wanted to end the Capellan Confederation as a state.  That is different in kind to the Free Worlds League response. Without rightful intention, and without a last resort and barring a proportionate response, the Fourth was not a just war to my mind.

And we can do that with other conflicts in the universe all day.  So what conflicts are out there that you think are just?  What is close?  How about the common fighting in cities we see?  Barring a major military target in there, is that truly keeping civilians out of the picture?

 

 

Crossing Generations

Most of the games we play in real life are big for a while on release, and then that’s it.  They die down sooner or later.  There are a lot of reason a game fails to make it long term.  Maybe the people who played the games turn to others.  Perhaps the game never sold copies to make money.  Sometimes the company goes out of business despite that product being good.  Other games replace them in the mind’s eye.  For whatever reason, we’ve seen lots of games come and go.  Many of my favorite games, like HeroScape or Middle Earth: Collectible Card Game (ME:CCG) are done for – I’ve given up playing any more, which is real sad as they were quality games.  But the company mismanaged it, or the game went out of style, and I’m now looking back and wondering what could have been.

Luckily BattleTech is still trucking along!

tocover_final-copy

A few games have endured the test of time.  But you never know which is going to hit lightning.  Take Dungeons and Dragons as a good example.  No one knew how big that was going to end being.  The same is true of Magic:  The Gathering or Warhammer.  They are here for the future, and aren’t going anywhere.  Recently we saw World Champions in Magic who are younger than the game they are playing!

One major secret to these games’ longevity is that they crossed generations.  I was playing Magic back in 1994 when it was new on the scene.  And I’m still playing today.  Most of the people who played back then have left the game, but that’s fine.  Many others have joined.  And when I walk into a tournament, I’m often one of the oldest people in the room.  Magic crossed into the younger generation, and it will last.   On the other hand, I picked up Dungeons and Dragons in the late 1980s – 1988 to be precise.  Almost 12 years after it had been introduced.  I was one of the newer generations of players who was brought to it by older players.  And now there are players 20 years older than me and 20 years younger than me and its spread across one generation to another.  It crossed generations.  Shoot, I know four students at my small 1250 strong college down here in Mobile Alabama who play Warhammer: 40000 on the weekend.  Generation crossed.

So where is BattleTech?

Has it crossed generations enough to sustain itself in perpetuity? Or is it continuing with the people who came to it in its heydays back in the later 1980s and early to mid-1990s (like me, who came to it in late 1992) when it was at its peak?

I don’t know. I haven’t played a lot of real life BattleTech in a while – since I was in Philadelphia for a year back in 2012.  Mostly it’s online for me with MegaMekNet and other variants of the MekWars client online.  I know the folks there tend to my own levels of experience and age.  But that could easily be a self-selecting subsection of the overall community.

I love BattleTech.  And I don’t want it to end.  I don’t want it to be my next ME:CCG, lost to the mists of time.  Hopefully, the new video game will help to put it on the map of more people, much like the MMO MechWarrior: Online hopefully has.  And I would love to see a BattleTech real life movie that could really push this thing.  There’s a lot of appreciate with it.  Could you imagine if this became as big as Marvel right now?  Wow!

For now though, I wonder if we are in a good place moving forward.  Any idea from what you see?   Your games?  The people who you interact with?

Review of David Drake’s “Redliners”

Recently I had decided to pick up and read David Drake’s collection of military science fiction short stories called “Hammer’s Slammers.”  I was a bit surprised by just how evocative it was of many of the central concepts of BattleTech universe writ large.  We aren’t any better in the future than we are now.  We still have unethical wars.  We hold onto our religious and ethnic identities and use those to exclude and attack others.  We still have these “us versus them,” mentalities.   Technology has not led to morality.

Beleaguered Soldiers on a Far-Flung Colony

Beleaguered Soldiers on a Far-Flung Colony

There are a bunch of other similar things, like similar weapons, similar concepts of mercenaries, and more — and I was so taken aback by this pre-BattleTech story, that I wrote a review on it here.  Having read that, I decided to eventually take on another military science fiction book as well and review it for you.  Two weeks ago I was shopping at a Books-a-Million superstore when I came across “Redliners.”  It was recently re-released in this prestige format as part of the 20 year anniversary of the novel.  On the cover is David Drake talking about how this is his best work, to his mind, and the one that changed him the most after writing it.

Well that sounded compelling.  So I picked it up and started reading.

Now as I have mentioned before, I’m very comfortable with David Drake.  I’ve read a few short stories, and this is my 6th book by him.  He’s not an author I follow religiously, but he’s good at what he does and I respect him for it.  He was at a major school for studying Law when he was drafted in the 60s, and sent to work with tanks in Cambodia for two years, and then returned.  He always found it difficult to re-assimilate into life.  And this novel follows a similar track.

In a future war by a star-spanning human empire, a high reputation striker force does some bad stuff and loses a lot of people on the front line of a war against some aliens.  They have crossed the red line.  But instead of them being sent home to keep them quiet, the leader of the Empire decides to try something new.  They are sent to escort a group of colonists to a hostile but potentially wealthy colony world.  And they are pushed together and forged by fire.  (I’m trying to keep this relatively spoiler-free).

Now the book itself has a lot of the typical military science-fiction accoutrements.  Death.  Weapons.  Battles.  And the style of Drake is compelling.  It’s powerful and evocative.  And while it’s not my favorite book in the genre by any means, I get where Drake is coming from.  The book is worth the reading.

I’ve always wondered what would happen if David Drake wrote a BattleTech story.  Would it feel like a conventional one?  Would it be different?  Would he continue down that path or hew something else?  He has written in shared worlds before.  He is a big fan of the Cthulhu Mythos and has written stuff there.  So you never know.

Are you familiar with “Redliners?”  Have you read it?  What did you think?

Are You Heading to Mech_Con?

On December 3rd, over in the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, Canada, Piranha Games is hosting a day long BattleTech and Mechwarrior themed convention.

A variety of events and fun stuff is planned.  Many guests from various community members and companies are planning on attending, such as Jordan Weisman and Randall Bills or online media personalities from Twitch and such.

Mech_Con

In the best traditions of the Solaris VII Games, one of the headline events is the first World Championship of MechWarrior Online.  Don’t you want to establish dominance and win that trophy?

Hey look, everybody knows that we don’t always get a chance to flip some dice and push around metal the way it was meant to be in real life.  I’m playing online with stuff like MegaMek.  So, getting the chance to play live with real enthusiasts, purchase stuff from live vendors, get some autographs, and rub noses and talk shop with with all of you folks is a great opportunity.

So what about you?  Are you heading over?  Why not check out all of the information they have to see if you are interested in getting your ‘Mech on, Vancouver style!