I, 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.
“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.)
The Scapha – one of my favorite vehicles of 3145
In this article, I continue my overall review of the units offered in the Technical Readout: 3145 series, specifically those units that have captured my eye, and stand above the rest. This entry, covering combat vehicles, continues from the previous article which addressed the ‘Mechs. One of the most enjoyable things about the post-Dark Age era is that technology has proliferated so much that most of these machines are no longer limited to a specific faction. Heck, even former third-rate Periphery powers are turning out units with advanced technology and examples of Clan tech in some examples.
The Tomahawk II
Over the course of writing my reviews on the Technical Readout : 3145 series, I feel the need to regain perspective and look at the series as a whole, with respect to the units offered. The ‘Mechs, combat vehicles, battle armor suits, AeroSpace fighters and other units covered in these technical readouts essentially represent a new era. We shouldn’t compare them to every other ‘Mech ever made, we’re comparing them to their contemporaries. So I’m starting over, taking a second look at everything, and then we’ll see how close my original assessments were to how I feel about them now. For this article, I’m reviewing the BattleMechs. I was originally going to make this a comprehensive article, but I felt the size just didn’t work for the kind of detail I wanted.
In this edition of Product Reviews, we take a look at Technical Readout : 3145 Republic of the Sphere, the last of the faction TROs in the 3145 series covering the late “Dark Age” era.
The Republic of the Sphere is somewhat unique in that there was no equivalent whatsoever in the “pre Jihad” era. We had years to become accustomed to the Successor States, ComStar, the Clans, the major mercenary units and the Periphery States. Even the Word of Blake itself was a faction that slowly built up to be the ultimate big bad. They all developed their own identities, and they all had their fans among the community. Heck, I’m sure somewhere there were players who decided Clan Fire Mandrill was their cup of tea. It’s all good. The Republic of the Sphere, however, is a different animal. We got a glimpse of it when MechWarrior: Age of Destruction was an active system, and then it was effectively defunct until the “current” Classic BattleTech line moved into the “post Jihad” era. Even then, after the 3085 releases (including a Technical Readout and Field Manual) we received few updates on the Republic itself, due to the Fortress Republic. We heard a good bit about how bad things were in the former Republic, but virtually nothing from behind the wall. Having never read the Dark Age novels, I don’t have much of a connection to this faction.
This week in product reviews, I examine Technical Readout: 3145 The Clans, the seventh in Catalyst Game Lab’s faction TROs covering the late Dark Age era.
I’d like to open with another personal statement on my philosophy regarding ‘Mechs : I like tripped out units. There it is. I like BattleMech designs that take advantage of every critical spot and half-ton of weight. To me, the ideal ‘Mech incorporates the best of the newest technologies with the proven equipment of yesteryear. At the same time, I roll my eyes at “proof of” or “test bed” machines that throw new technologies onto a chassis without much thought on how to make them work together efficiently. Continue reading
First, I want to extend my apologies to the staff and readers for being away for so long. A few months ago I took a new job in a new city. (A rather large city, in fact.) It has taken me this long to get settled and to reach a mindset where I felt I could do a good job with these articles. I know the products I’m reviewing came out months ago. Nevertheless, I feel obliged to continue with what I started for as long as Nic allows.
In this week’s product reviews, I examine Technical Readout: 3145 Lyran Commonwealth, the sixth in Catalyst Game Labs series to bring us up to speed on the ‘Mechs and machines of the late Dark Age era.
Historical Turning Points: New Dallas
While I waited for the next offering in the Technical Readout: 3145 series, I reviewed Catalyst Game Lab’s Historical Turning Points: New Dallas, a Chaos Campaign scenario PDF released a few months ago. HTP: New Dallas represents a departure from the previous campaign books. Whereas most of them address a single campaign at a single era in time, this publication covers three separate conflicts on an all-but unknown world of New Dallas. These conflicts range from the Amaris Coup in 2766 and reaching the early years of the Jihad in 3068.
New Dallas became important during the Jihad for two important reasons: First, due to massive radiation issues as a result on nuclear bombardment during the buildup towards the First Succession War, New Dallas has been a dead world for well over two hundred years, wiped off the star maps. (This is eerily reminiscent of the Word of Blake’s “Hidden Five”.) Second, it was once home to a Star League Hegemony Central Intelligence facility that recorded everything the old League knew and learned up until the Amaris Coupe into a memory core. Conveniently, that memory survived the Amaris Civil War and the nuclear devastation, and suddenly its existence is discovered during the Jihad. (Yeah, it seems far-fetched to me as well, but anything for a story, right?) This allowed the developers to pump out some additional “lost Star League” designs for Technical Readout: 3075 and other works.
The overall arching theme of the New Dallas chaos campaigns can best be described as fatalism. It is about defiance in the face of certain annihilation. The brave defenders opposing Amaris are going to be wiped out. The brave defenders opposing House Marik’s takeover after the Exodus are going to be wiped out. The brave (but paid!) mercenaries opposing the Word of Blake almost three centuries later will (historically, at least) make it away with their prize in hand, but the Jihad is still destined to run for another decade and the planet of New Dallas itself is still a depressing, radioactive rock. The whole thing may feel like watching a season of Game of Thrones, sans the “Rains of Castamere” playing in the background. So be warned if your role-playing group might not be into that sort of thing.
Winter is Coming. Get in the Stalker.
This week in product reviews, we take a look at Technical Readout: 3145 Free Worlds League, the fifth in Catalyst Game Labs Technical Readout: 3145 faction series.
First, though, a disclaimer: Everyone has had their own experiences playing BattleTech, and everyone develops different tastes, preferences and opinions regarding what kinds of ‘Mechs, weapons, equipment, etc. that they prefer, usually based on those same experiences. Several times, I have felt a certain way about a ‘Mech by just reviewing their stats in a Technical Readout, only to radically change that view when I actually see one in play. This will probably happen again, and I hope it does. Otherwise, I’d probably get bored of the game. The point is, these reviews are simply written based on my own opinions. That’s all they are. I’m happy to debate various points with people, and I’d love to hear about your own playing experiences as well. (That’s what comment boxes are for.) But please, do not be offended if I seem to slam your favorite ‘Mech, faction, weapon or hovercraft. I assure you, it is never personal.
Technical Readout: 3145 Federated Suns
Finally getting to my next review; we get the Davion entry for the TRO: 3145 series.
I really wanted to like Technical Readout: 3145 Federated Suns. Like many long-time Classic BattleTech fans, I always regarded old House Davion as the “good guys” among the major factions in the early years. This, of course, was how that universe was presented to us. Looking back on it years later, one could easily see disturbing racial undertones when we look at the vilification of Houses Kurita and Liao. Still, this was the genre we chose to embrace, for better or for worse.