Author Archives: Dave Martin

About Dave Martin

Dave is a freelance writer in the tabletop gaming industry and the writer of The Duncan Fisher Minute, a joint project with George Ledoux, the voice of Duncan Fisher. When not getting blown up in MWO, Dave enjoys working on his Clan Ghost Bear cluster.

BattleTech in 2018: Clan Ghost Bear vs Mercenaries

I recently took to the table again, this time with the trusty forces of Clan Ghost Bear.

ProbableKoz and I decided that we wanted a bigger Alpha Strike battle, so we each dropped 750 PV on the table. Having just completed my first battle armor project for the Year of Battle Armor, I wanted to bring along the Corona Heavy Battle Armor and give them a trial by fire on the tabletop.

Because of the nature of how this battle was covered, I’m going to change up a bit about how I’m covering this one. I’ll share some pictures below to show off the action and talk about what’s going on, but we actually recorded this battle! ProbableKoz did a full on Battle Report over on his YouTube Channel. I highly recommend heading over to his channel to check out his take on the action. 

 

Watch ProbableKoz’s Battle Report for this game!

Battle Pictures – Early Game

Rasalhague Dominion forces deployed heavy to the left flank, with the bulk of the Mercenary forces congregating in the trees across the field.

The Mercenary “Ost Lance” and other elements took positions near the power plant while the Ghost Bear Fire Support Star mobilized from the `Mech hangar.

Fore Moths and Vipers (carrying Battle Armor) advanced deep into the Mercenary flanks, preparing for a lightning strike, while the Ghost Bear Battle Star moved in to engage the Mercenaries.

Mercenary forces moved up to gain firing positions on the Ghost Bears attempting to leave the hangar.

There were early casualties….

….on both sides.

Mid-Game Plans Go Into Action

Then the Ghost Bears put their plane into action, deploying Battle Armor units at close range.

Off the other side of the table, the battle for control of the hangar intensifies. Neither side gives ground.

ERROR – Battlefield Surveillance Data Missing – Suspect possible data breach. Reporting incident to MIMIR and Watch Field Stations for analysis.

Basically, there is a whole turn of the game missing from my picture records. To find out what happened that turn, ProbableKoz’s video is a great resource.

Late Game, Sweeping Up the Rabble

Having cleaned up the Mercenary threat on the left flank, the Ghost Bears move in to route the remaining Mercenaries.

While having lost the entire Battle Star, one Mech from the Fire Support Lance, and a few units of Battle Armor, the Ghost Bears had managed to reduce the Mercenary forces to just two BattleMechs. The Mercenaries decided it was time to leave and sped off the table, back to their DropShip.

Victory for the Dominion!

The Mercenaries picked the wrong day to poke the bear, and they paid for it. While losses on the Dominion side were not insignificant, the Mercenary force just couldn’t handle the rate of loss subjected from the Ghost Bears.

As for the Corona Battle Armor, it served its purpose well, and a couple of the units actually survived the reprisal attacks from their hammer strike style deployment. The Corona that was able to attack at Short Range really messed up the Mercenary plan by applying extra Heat to the Mechs they hit.

As always, ProbableKoz was a great opponent, and I think this loss galvanized him to come back stronger in the future.

The Dominion will be waiting.

 

Year of Battle Armor: Unit 1 – Corona Heavy Battle Armor

Late in 2017, I took a good look through the unassembled and unpainted BattleTech models in my collection, and I came to a decision about something I really wanted to see in 2018.

One of my favorite parts of the BattleTech universe and game is Battle Armor, and I have collected a ton of it. But I have relatively little of it put together, and even less of that painted. Long story short, I spent some time evaluating what I wanted to do about it, and decided that 2018 would be known as the “Year of Battle Armor”.

Fast forward to half way through February, and I realized that I had not yet started into my plans for the year. January got swallowed up by so many other things that I almost completely forgot about my ambitious goal.

Developed by Clan Star Adder, the Corona Heavy Battle Armor was one of the first non-standard Battle Armors produced during the Clan Invasion.

So, I did something about it. And here we are, in the first article of the Year of Battle Armor series. This year (2018), I plan to complete 2-3 Battle Armor centric projects per month and write here about the progress of each project and the year as a whole. I also hope that many of the units I complete during the YoBA will in turn show up in my BattleTech battle reports, so we should get to see follow ups on how the units are being used after they are completed here.

So, introduction of mission completed, how about I introduce the first unit for the Year of Battle Armor, the Corona Heavy Battle Armor!

Rather than give an overview of the history of the Corona, you can click on the link just above to visit the Sarna article, which says most of what I would repeat here anyway.

 

Step 1 – Line ‘Em Up

25 Corona suits, ready to form up.

I chose the Corona as the first unit for YoBA for a couple of reasons. I believe that it is a great suit of battle armor that I think gets overlooked, even when compared to others of the underused specialty Clan battle armors. I think this is in part due to the when the Corona was released in the game, in TRO: 3075. During that era of the game, while the Wars of Reaving were reshaping the landscape of the Clan Homeworlds, the majority of people, both in-universe and players, was focused on the Jihad. This may have led to the Corona going a bit unnoticed, especially compared to other battle armors in that TRO, like the Clan Medium Battle Armor and Golem Assault Armor, which got to participate directly in the Jihad. While the Corona did migrate into the IS Clan General list during this time, most Clans just did not incorporate it in any meaningful way.

And since my primary faction is Clan Ghost Bear, of course this unit is joining my favorite Clan.

Step 2 – Getting Them on the Bases

Corona Heavy Battle Armor is easily distinguished by its shoulder-mounted Medium Pulse Laser.

I was pleased that I could fit five models on a standard sized hex base. The bases I’m using were 3D printed and are the same size and dimensions as the hex bases available from Iron Wind Metals.

Some modeling putty provided the perfect soft ground to sink the models’ bases into and saved me the trouble of having to cut off the bases. This won’t always be possible with all battle armors, In fact, fitting five models to a base will not be possible in all cases.

Step 3 – Primer and Colors

You want blue? We got blue!

I use Army Painter paints for my hobby projects. I quick spray and touching up with a basecoat of matching Ultramarine Blue, and the Corona is ready for colors.

Battle Armor is tough to paint!

Keeping the paint scheme rather simple, I went with my standard 2nd Bear Regulars scheme. Blue torso and head, grey limbs, and some metal for the metal bits. Also, not shown in this picture, I added some dull yellow to the view plates on the heads.

Step 4 – Shading, Basing, and Varnish

Almost there.

I washed the models with Army Painter Soft Tone, thinking that I could darken it up if I needed to. When it was done, I decided that I liked the shading and moved on to the next part.

Ready for action!

This was my first time using the Army Painter Snow basing material, and I really like it. I’ve worked with other snow basing materials before, and this stuff was my favorite to work with. I think the coverage was better than what I’d used before, and it seemed to stick better to the glue.

Once the glue dried, it was outside for a quick round of varnish, and there we have it!

Why Use Corona Heavy Battle Armor?

So it made sense to me to wrap up each YoBA article with some pros and cons and a little bit about why you might want to use the Battle Armor I’ve just discussed.

I won’t take the time to break down all of the BattleTech vs Alpha Strike differences, but instead focus on what makes the Corona an interesting choice.

Pros

  • Longer Range in BattleTech than most other Battle Armors.
  • Mechanized capabilities for OmniMech transport
  • Solid damage profile-to-PV balance in Alpha Strike
  • Opponents unlikely to anticipate the pick, for element of surprise.
  • IS Clan General beginning in Civil War time period.

Cons

  • Less armor than standard Elemental Battle Armor
  • No Jump Jet capability, leaving the Corona on the ground.
  • Only one variant apart from the standard version, listed as Star Adder available only.

If you would like to learn more about Corona Heavy Battle Armor, you can check out the products listed below.

BattleTech Technical Readout: 3075

BattleTech Record Sheets: 3075 Unabridged – The Cutting Edge

Parting Shot

And finally, I’ll leave you all with this teaser of the next Battle Armor, currently on the table. Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll join me for the rest of the Year of Battle Armor!

What is this Battle Armor? Share your guesses in the comments!

First BattleTech of 2018: Republic vs Free Worlds League

This year brings with it new gaming goals and challenges. One of the chief goals that I have set for myself is to properly chronicle and record every game of BattleTech and Alpha Strike that I play on the tabletop this year right here on Sarna.

On December 31, 2018, I want to look back at all of the articles and games recorded and see a big year of gaming and fun times with friends.

With this first battle report of 2018, I begin my story.

“Hey, since I’m coming over today to pick something up, want to throw in a quick game of BattleTech?”

That was what my friend asked me the morning of January 6. Quick game of BattleTech? I shrugged when I considered it. We both knew that kind of thing didn’t exist, but he knew how to hook me. (Hint: It’s not difficult when BattleTech is what’s offered!)

And so, I set about pulling together a game.

Before I get to the Battle Report, let’s take a look at the forces. I used what’s become my default Lance from my Republic forces while my opponent wanted to take a stroll down memory lane with some well-known BattleMech chassis.

Free Worlds League Rabble

WHM-8D Warhammer – Gunnery 3/Piloting 4
CRD-6M Crusader – Gunnery 3/Piloting 4
MAD-9M Marauder – Gunnery 3/Piloting 4
TDR-9M Thunderbolt – Gunnery 3/Piloting 4

XII Hastati Sentinels

PRF-1R Prefect – Gunnery 3/Piloting 4
HVC-P6 Havoc – Gunnery 3/Piloting 4
DLR-O Doloire – Gunnery 3/Piloting 4
LMT-2R Lament – Gunnery 3/Piloting 4

We decided to keep things simple by just choosing `Mechs and taking all 3/4 pilots. The BV2 had a slight skew when I went to look at it later, but the game was interesting in spite of (or because of?) it.

Table and Scenario Setup

After deciding on the maps we would use, we wanted to come up with at least a basic scenario that would make it feel like we were doing more than lining up and shooting. We decided on an escape mission, with the Attacker trying to get one `Mech to the DropShip.

I rolled and won choice, and I set up as the Attacker.

The Hastati Sentinels set up to make their way to the DropShip.

Round One

The opening round saw Initiative go to the FWL, as the Hastati Sentinels moved into the base section of the map. The FWL `Mechs broke into teams of two, with the Thunderbold and Crusader exchanging ineffective fire with the main Hastati group.

The Hastati Sentinels exchange ineffective fire with the FWL Mechs in Round One.

Round Two

Seizing the Initiative, the Hastati move forward into the base and begin the setup for their breakout moves. No fire is exchanged this round as the FWL `Mechs move to cover as many angles as possible.

The Hastati and FWL `Mechs hope to outmaneuver the other team in a round of no shots.

Round Three

Keeping the Initiative, the Hastati Sentinels pause to regroup, in yet another round of no shots fired. The FWL `Mechs, sensing a ruse, move to press into the base should the Hastati be up to something sneaky.

The tension is high as `Mechs on all sides seek an advantageous position.

Round Four

Regaining the Initiative, the FWL is able to respond to a high stakes gambit employed by the Hastati, the Republic forces send the Havoc over the wall and try to throw the FWL forces off balance. The Doloire is able to help add to the maelstrom and the Lament and Prefect are caught trying to prevent the Thunderbolt and Crusader from vaulting the wall.

The result is mixed for both teams, with the Marauder and Havoc both taking heavy fire from enemy units.

The forces finally clash.

Round Five

The Hastati win back Initiative and push all-out, with the Havoc making a break for the DropShip, and the mission objective. The other Republic `Mechs move into support positions to attempt to cover their smaller friend’s run. The Lament and Doloire attempt to cripple the Warhammer that stands in their way, while the Prefect savages the Thunderbolt that has turned to give chase to the Havoc. Somehow, the already badly damaged, yet operational, Havoc avoids all incoming fire from the FWL Marauder.

The Havoc makes a break for it.

Round 6

The Hastati retain Initiative and continue their push out towards the Drop Ship. Unfortunately, the paved roads are more of a hazard than the entire enemy team, and the Havoc careens into a Hardened Building at top speed. The damage is not favorable, leaving a side torso badly damaged and vital critical spots exposed. Fortunately for the Havoc, no enemy was able to take advantage of the calamity.

The FWL Warhammer was able to forestall the advancing Hastati heavy elements for a turn longer, refusing to go down despite taking a withering amount of incoming fire.

With the Havoc down but not out, the Hastati continue to push the FWL `Mechs to try to gain a numbers advantage.

Round Seven

Tragedy struck twice in a row for the Hastati Sentinels, as the Havoc was able to stand and make another break for the DropShip. However, fate was against the pilot that day, as one slippery patch of asphalt saw the Havoc taking another dive, landing on its already badly damaged torso, and crushing the XL Engine in the process. The Havoc was permanently out of the fight and unable to win it for the Hastati, making it a 4v3 in favor of the Free World League.

With the Havoc a non-issue, the FWL turned to attempt to down the biggest threat on the field, the deadly Doloire OmniMech.

Havoc no more! Now outnumbered, the Hastati must defeat a numerically superior force.

Round Eight

The Free Worlds League wins back the Initiative for the first time in four rounds and is able to press the numbers advantage into the Hastati Sentinels, making the Republic forces adopt a slightly defensive stance.

Despite a heroic last stand, the focus-fired Doloire is unable to withstand the amount of firepower coming from all directions, and it goes down in a ball of fire and laser blasts. Trying not to make their companion’s sacrifice count for something, the Lament and Prefect are able to down both the Warhammer and Marauder, with the Warhammer‘s Center Torso completely vaporized by Heavy PPC fire. The Marauder, however, is not out of the fight just yet.

The Warhammer finally falls, and the Doloire joins the Havoc as the Hastati Sentinels are now outnumbered 2v3.

Round Nine

The Free Worlds League kept the initiative, but the Hastati Sentinels had no choice but to press the attack. Downing the Thunderbolt, the Prefect managed to help even the odds even as the Lament exchanged fire with both the Marauder and the Crusader.

The Prefect manages to down the Thunderbolt as the Lament tries to finish off the Marauder.

However, not all goes as planned for the Hastati Sentinels, as the combined return fire from the Marauder and Crusader score an unprecedented three head hits in a single round! The Lament sags to a stop as the pilot is dead in his cockpit. Well, what’s left of the pilot, anyway.

Faced with the horrible reality that the rest of his Lance is out of the fight, the Prefect surrenders, and the Free Worlds League wins by preventing any of the Republic forces from reaching their DropShip.

Alone on the battlefield, the Prefect surrenders to the Free World League Rabble.

Wrap Up

Some astute observers out there will notice that it was actually the Hastati Sentinels who had a distinct BV2 advantage in this matchup.

Discussing the game afterward, we agreed that the turning point was obviously the three head hits on the Lament in a single turn of weapons fire. The Lament and Prefect had more than a fair chance of defeating the remaining FWL BattleMechs before that happened.

What a fun game!

There’s no telling what will happen when the dice start rolling, and this game is a great example of that.

The Hastati Sentinels now have a new grudge to settle in future games, and hopefully, the Free Worlds League Rabble will have a paint scheme to show off for the next game.

So that’s it for BattleTech action for now. I can’t wait to hit the tabletop again and report on the next game.

Until next time, MechWarriors, don’t forget that no fight is decided as long as dice can still be rolled!

 

Want to learn more about BattleTech? Start Here:

Classic BattleTech Universe Book
BattleTech: BattleMech Manual

BattleMech Models from IronWind Metals

 

A Short December 2017 BattleTech Gift Guide

At the time of writing, we’re already a couple of days into December, which means time is quickly running out to get some BattleTech related goodies for your gaming buddies, for your significant other, or hey, even for yourself!

I’ve taken a bit of a look around, and here are a few good places to find some holiday BattleTech models and books that just might save the day and give the gift of heavy metal mayhem this holiday season. This is by no means an extensive list, meant to serve as just a general survey of what’s out there in this snapshot of time, and it’s pretty well skewed towards being primarily useful to those in the US and Canada.

Just want you to be aware before diving in.

Local Game Stores

A word about FLGS’s and what they mean to the community. MechWarriors, if your LGS supports BattleTech by carrying product, please do all you can to do your buying and ordering through them. They are the ones who are taking the biggest chance by dedicating precious shelf space to the game we all love, and it’s important for us to make sure they know we appreciate it.

So please, before you order online, make sure to take a moment and confirm (it’s pretty easy for most of us, as I’m sure the majority already know, but it still has to be said) that you have no local sources for BattleTech models and books.

You may just help save your favorite gaming space if you can source your gifts locally.

Now, onto the guide.

Click on the logo pictures below to go to the relevant pages. 

Aries Games & Miniatures

One of the most popular of the online retailers that specializes mostly in BattleTech and Alpha Strike, Aries has a good relationship with Iron Wind Metals, so their catalog is fairly vast as far as selection is concerned.

Of note at Aries is that they seem to have a good supple of the highly sought after Alpha Strike Lance Packs that feature 4 hard plastic BattleMechs in each pack. At a price of $7.99 per Lance Pack ($2 off of MSRP), these are a great deal and a quick way to buy a whole Lance, Company, or even a larger unit.

Aries doesn’t stop there, either, as they have pretty much (I don’t think all of) most of IWM’s BattleTech Archive and bits catalog, too. There’s not much I can’t find at Aries, just poking around the site. So if you’re looking for a one-stop shop for a gift of BattleTech models, Aries is likely your best bet.

BattleTech Rulebooks

Though we’ve recently received some good news that the core rulebooks will see a reprinting, probably in 2018, many MechWarriors still need rulebooks now. From Total Warfare to Alpha Strike, some of these books are getting pretty tough to find. Here’s a few places I’ve seen with some of these books in stock.

Also, most any place that has any BattleTech rulebooks will have some selection of models, but none of them are as extensive in selection as Aries.

Game Nerdz

Alpha Strike, Combat Manual: Mercenaries, and the BattleMech Manual are among the books I’ve seen in stock with Game Nerdz. Not the biggest selection, but nobody has that at this point.

The War Store

Vik the Viking actually has a pretty good selection, but it is mostly TRO’s, Record Sheet books, and secondary game supplements, thought they do have both Alpha Strike and the Alpha Strike Companion in stock.

Miniature Market

This site has a good mix of game books and the Alpha Strike Lance Packs, though most items are in pretty low stock. But, if you’re looking for a place to pick up the Lance Packs and the Alpha Strike rulebooks in one place, this site is probably your one stop.

BATTLETECH – Harebrained Schemes

It’s not too late to get your BattleTech buddies (and yourself!) in on the BattleTech strategy game by Harebrained Schemes, coming out in 2018. I had a chance to talk to Jordan Weisman earlier this year at GenCon and try out the latest of the game updates as of that time, and wow! was it awesome a few months ago.

Since then, the multi-player beta has officially launched, and details are coming out on a regular basis about the game’s campaign mode and story line. This is one BattleTech game no Mech fan should miss for any reason.

MechWarrior Online Gift Store

If your MechWarrior plays MWO, then don’t overlook the possibility of getting them a gift code for a brand new, shiny Mech Pack. Thought it’s not a physical product, if your givee enjoys the digital Mech action, then the MWO Gift Store is a prime place to look for an opportunity. You get the Gift Codes through your email when you buy them, and you can forward them on to your favorite MechWarriors at the proper time.

Terrain

There are lot of options here, far too many to list. Good scale terrain for BattleTech has become more accessible over the past year or so, especially if your MechWarrior is into 3D printing, or knows someone who is.

One pretty awesome new source for 3D printed terrain files is actually a well-known site for digital gaming supplies, DriveThruRPG. There’s some great stuff available there for gamers who are already into, or are getting into, 3D printing.

BattleTech for the Holidays

Wherever you get your BattleTech related gifts, I hope that you all have a great holiday season playing and enjoying the game and the hobby that we all love.

Spread the joy, and always keep a light trigger finger.

Happy Holidays, MechWarriors.

BattleTech Fall Classic – Republic Gunslinger Tournament

Back on November 4th (just shy of five weeks ago at the time of writing) six Middle Tennessee area MechWarriors descended on one location to fight it out in a series of matches that would determine who was worth of the title “Gunslinger”.

With the gracious hosting of The Game Cave in Hermitage, TN, I was able to organize the tournament and invite the Middle TN group to have it out in a series of four 1v1 matches, each at a different weight class.

I further upped the stakes by adding environmental conditions into the mix, much to the groans and mixed chuckles of all of the participants.

A link to the full rules for the tournament is HERE.

There was some prize support present as well.

The prize support for the Fall Classic.

Modeling tools (provided by the Wargamers’ Reunion), 3D printed 6mm terrain (provided by Dicey Ventures), and even a CAV model (given to the lowest ranked player at the end of the day) were among the prizes. Also, there was one prize above all, seen to the far right of the picture (No! Not the DQ cup!).

I speak, of course, of The Gold Malice Gunslinger Trophy!

The legendary and much sought Golden Malice trophy went to the winner, along with the title “Gunslinger”!

Here are some shots of the hex map action from the 4 Rounds of the Fall Classic.

Josh Koziura (ProbableKoz on YouTube) took home the Best Painted award with his Mercenaries!

Photo by Josh Koziura (ProbableKoz)

This was my first tournament as a Catalyst Demo Team Agent, and while there are definitely things I would have like to change (like not bumbling through a couple of rules calls), it was still a great first start to getting more regular stuff planned, not only tournaments, but also special events.

After the first of the year, the next step is to organize an Alpha Strike event, and then to get ready to defend my Championship Belt at T-N-T 2018.

There’s so much more exciting BattleTech ahead, `Mech fans!

An Interview with Jordan Weisman at GenCon 50

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wait.

What?!

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

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

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

I was right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forging the Road Ahead – Local Level BattleTech on the Rise

Hello, Sarna!

It’s been a while since you last heard from me, and so much has happened since I last wrote to you about our favorite game and science fiction universe.

What have I been up to?

Well, keeping the discussion to just BattleTech, there’s still a lot to talk about.

For the past year I’ve been getting progressively more involved in the Middle Tennessee BattleTech scene, growing gaming relationships and working for ways to establish a home and give the scattered players in the region a place to gather. I wanted to sit down and take a moment to share some of what the journey has been like so far and tell about what the future might have for our group.

The T-N-T Gaming Convention, in its first held on May 19-21 in Nashville, TN, was our first stop of the year, and our Demo Team Agent organized a great Alpha Strike tournament for us at that event.

The stakes at TNT were high, with the Grand Championship belt going to the tournament winner! (Photo by: Josh Koziura)

The championship game of that tournament is here chronicled:

After T-N-T, our intrepid Demo Agent Josh once again planned an event for us at Nashcon, held June 2-4 in Franklin, TN. This time it was a multi-player mega battle that was semi-narrative, and recreated the conflict on Tukayyid between the GomGuard and the unfortunate Clan Diamond Shark.

One of the rare Diamond Shark achievements, first blood went to the Clans! (Photo by: Josh Koziura)

Sadly (depending on your perspective), history repeated itself at Nashcon, and the Diamond Sharks once more ran away to their DropShips and away from Tukayyid.

It was after the Nashcon event that I had dinner and a conversation with Demo Agent Josh, and in that conversation it was decided that I, like him, would become a Demo Agent. Together we would share the task of trying to get local level BattleTech back on the right track in our area.

Fast forward about a month, and all of my paperwork was accepted and processed, minting me as Demo Team Agent #880. Now the fun could begin.

In the time since my official commission as a Demo Agent, I have been searching for a game store for us to call home, one that would like to see us grow and that would be willing to support us.

This past week, I made inquiries at a local shop in Hermitage, TN called The Game Cave. I was already acquainted with the store owner, so earlier this week I went in with some Alpha Strike demo materials and showed him what we’re all about. He observed a demo game of Alpha Strike, and afterwards we discussed things.

The first Alpha Strike demo game at The Game Cave ended in epic fashion, with the Dragon taking a 12 Critical roll from the Zeus. (Photo by: Dave Martin)

I’m happy to say that the Middle TN BattleTech Group has tentatively found a new home at The Game Cave, starting Wednesday, July 19, and continuing on Wednesday evening for the time being.

This is a great leap forward for the local group, and I’ve already begun putting the word out that there’s a place that wants to see us come in once a week to play BattleTech and Alpha Strike!

So this is where this article leaves you, at the jumping off point for a new chapter in a local BattleTech group’s journey. As it’s my group that I’m writing about, I plan to keep you updated on how things go. Josh and I are working together to get fall tournament events planned, and if The Game Cave works out, that would be the preferred venue for any future big events.

If you’re reading this in the Middle TN area and you’re not connected to the group, please reach out using any link scattered throughout this article or leave a comment below with a way for me to get in touch. We’d love to bring you into the fold!

GenCon is coming up, too, and like usual I plan on attending, with a schedule this is mostly BattleTech related. I hope to have things together enough to do another summary for you all like I did two years ago.

Be on the lookout for more in the story of the Middle TN Battle Group, and I’ll be seeing you through my crosshairs!

 

Dave

Pack Hunter vs. Solitaire – Strength in Numbers, Army of One

In my previous “vs.” article, I compared two second line BattleMechs, the Rabid Coyote and the Ursus. You can find that article here if you would like to read my analysis on the match-up.

In this installment, we again take a look at a pair of second line Clan BattleMechs, but these two are very different from our previous subjects.

When thinking about Light `Mechs, two images usually come to mind, at least for me. The first is of the stealth loner type scout, bravely attempting to get as close to the enemy as possible, even going behind enemy lines, in order to secure precious intel about troop movements, supply lines, and personnel locations. This lone ranger scout seeks out the weaknesses of the enemy and exploits them with brutal efficiency.

The other type of scout that comes to mind is the kind that searches and destroys vulnerable enemy targets in a small group. These scouts rely on gang-up tactics and misdirection to get the job done, working in highly coordinated teams to secure strategic kills, usually performing specific hit & run style strikes meant to pinpoint a specific target.

When juxtaposing these two types of BattleMech scouts, it is not hard to literally find the names of two `Mechs that not only resemble the concepts, they are named for them. The two BattleMechs we will look at in the context of these roles are the Pack Hunter and the Solitaire.

Perhaps not as well known or loved as other Clan favorites like the Dasher (Fire Moth) or Koshi (Mist Lynx), these second line designs come from an era when the Clans were still learning how to co-exist their Inner Sphere neighbors, adapting their toumans to be able to handle the myriad tactics that the Inner Sphere employs to get the job done no matter what.

But before we compare and contrast these Light hunting machines, let’s get to know each machine a little better.

Pack Hunter

Just out for a morning patrol and…holy crap, what’s that thing?!

The Pack Hunter would likely be considered an impressive effort regardless of the circumstances of its design and production. The first collaboration between Clan Wolf-in-Exile and their Arc Royal hosts, the Kell Hounds, the Pack Hunter was meant to be a test best for production capabilities, enabling the Wolves-in-Exile to work out any major problems with Clan technology before moving on to an OmniMech design. The project was a success, with the first production units rolling off the lines in 3059.

Matching superior speed and mobility with a single, hard-hitting weapon system, the Pack Hunter exists on a simple design philosophy. That being that light, fast, hard to hit BattleMechs can succeed in engagements with both Inner Sphere and Clan forces.

The design faced very few notable production problems and hit the field very quickly after its development period. During testing, it was found that as little as two Pack Hunters could demonstrate a clear danger to even a massive Dire Wolf, and the BattleMech is usually found deployed in teams of two or more.

Even under the Clans’ ritual rules of zellbrigen, the Pack Hunter is able to team up with its mate to take on a heavier opponent without the dishonor of breaking the traditional one-on-one combat doctrine. Working “around the rules” in this fashion had led to many Clan opponents wishing they had not agreed to the terms of the engagement.

A simple, efficient, and long-lasting design, the Pack Hunter has seen at least three variants put into production as well as receiving a second incarnation, the Pack Hunter II, during the Jihad and into the Republic era.

Armaments and Capabilities

The Pack Hunter exemplifies simplicity in its design and equipment, all packed into a tidy 30 ton chassis. Armed with only a single Clan Extended-Range Particle Projection Cannon, mounted in its right torso, the `Mech is built on an Endo Steel chassis and protected by four tons of standard armor. Its standard engine allows the Pack Hunter to move at a stop speed of 119 kph and adds to the BattleMech’s durability and affordability. Rounding out its equipment are enough jump jets to jump 210 meters.

Even without a complication array of weapons and equipment, the Pack Hunter‘s extreme efficiency has been proven on the battlefield since day one. Its frequent deployment in pairs is one of the most interesting developments with this BattleMech, as it heralded a slight shift in the Clans’ usually strict adherence to single combat.

Solitaire

Hey, is that a new Pack Hunter? Thor and Odin! No blast that large comes from a Pack Hunter!

That this BattleMech exists might be a bit of a small marvel in itself. The characteristically austere Clan Diamond Shark is not known for creating a BattleMech that literally takes every opportunity possible to make itself more expensive to produce. Yet, the Solitaire still rolled off the production lines and to roaring success to boot.

This blazing fast light BattleMech has few equals in terms of mobility, despite its lack of jump jets. Light Mech pilots in both Clan Diamond Shark and Clan Ghost Bear scrambled and competed to get a hold of any <em>Solitaire</em> that became available as soon as theMech was released.

Tactically, the Solitaire is deployed as a solo killer, stalking ahead of its unit to pick off any opponent that has strayed just a bit out of formation. With the firepower to threaten even most assault BattleMechs, especially when attacking from behind the larger machines, the Solitaire is highly effective when used as a backstabber and an assassin.

When the Solitaire entered production in 3064, the vast majority of units went to Clan Diamond Shark’s Spina Galaxies. Shortly after that, large numbers of Solitaires began to appear in second line units in the Ghost Bear Dominion. Apparently part of a large trade deal, linked either to the Diamond Shark’s help of the Ghost Bear’s earlier relocation to the Inner Sphere or for some unknown future consideration. Clans Cloud Cobra and Ice Hellion also showed interest in the BattleMech, but after the Wars of Reaving it is doubtful that the design would be found in the Clan Homeworlds in any significant numbers.

Armaments and Capabilities

Coming in at 25 tons, the spry Solitaire would not have been near as impressive of a machine if Clan Diamond Shark had cut any expense in its production. Based on an Endo Steel chassis and protected by four and a half tons of Ferro-Fibrous armor, the Solitaire is just about as sturdy and as protected as a Mech of its size can be. The real defensive piece is its Model SF-25 XL engine that allows a top speed of 162 kph. However, it is the chosen armaments for this BattleMech that make it stand out. Boasting one Heavy Large Laser, two Heavy Medium Lasers, and one Heavy Small Laser, the <em>Solitaire</em> is nearly unmatched in its weight class in terms of pure damage potential. The limiting factor for thisMech lies in its ten double heat sinks, making an Alpha Strike attack quite a toasty proposition.

Able to hit hard and fade away quickly enough to cool down, the Solitaire is one dangerous machine in the right hands. To date, the Solitaire has only one variant, which drops one of the Heavy Medium Lasers to add a MASC system. If the Solitaire is not fast enough for you, the Solitaire 2 might be the `Mech for you.

Head to Head

As with the previous contest, these two BattleMechs represent different takes on fulfilling the same battlefield role. The idea of these two `Mechs meeting on the field is one that makes me scratch my head a little.

Strictly speaking, I would imagine that Pack Hunter and Solitaire pilots would do their best to avoid one another on the battlefield. Each chassis is better designed to hunt down heavier BattleMechs than to hunt one another.

Click the picture to visit Iron Wind Metals’ Pack Hunter page.

But for argument sake, let’s take a stab at figuring out some possibilities should the two meet on the field and have no choice but to engage one another. For the purposes of this comparison, we will explore a 1v1 scenario and dismiss that Pack Hunters usually show up in pairs (though I will devote a few sentences to that scenario a little later).

Terrain may or may not be a factor in this match up. While the Pack Hunter‘s jump jets give it a slight edge in being able to ignore certain terrain types, the sheer speed of the Solitaire helps the lighter `Mech keep its own advantage, as long as the terrain is not wide open.

So the first part of the engagement will be advantage Pack Hunter simply because it will be able to open fire probably one turn earlier than the Solitaire, thanks to its ERPPC. Any ERPPC hit to the Solitaire‘s arms will rip it off clean and even lend some splash damage to the corresponding torso. A leg hit will not take out the Solitaire by itself, but it could help to cripple the lighter `Mech if a critical hit is scored.

Assuming the Solitaire can survive long enough to get into long range with its Heavy Large Laser, the battle gets a bit more interesting. Any hit from the Solitaire‘s main weapon will outright destroy any of the Pack Hunter‘s locations, save the Center Torso. Also, because the Pack Hunter only has a single weapon, if that happens to be to the Right Torso (or even the Right Arm in some cases), then the Pack Hunter might as well call it a day.

Click the picture to visit Iron Wind Metals’ Solitaire page.

From there it gets to be a worse proposition for the Pack Hunter, as the Solitaire can use its superior speed to further close the distance to bring its Heavy Medium Lasers to bear. At that point, the multiple hit capability of the Solitaire begins to exact a heavy toll on the Pack Hunter‘s chanced for survival.

One thing to point out here is that the Pack Hunter will benefit from better To-Hit numbers in almost every case, down to a range of 3 hexes. This is a good advantage and should not be overlooked. While it should also not be counted upon to make a huge difference, the advantage exists nonetheless.

So in most 1v1 situations, barring a lucky hit, I think I’m going to have to give the contest to the Solitaire. The speed advantage of the lighter `Mech does a lot to mitigate the range disparity between the two, and the Solitaire also boasts slightly more armor protection, which can make the difference when taking leg hits, thus keeping mobile and in the fight. While the Pack Hunter is more durable thanks to its standard Engine, losing its one weapon system is in most cases just as devastating as being destroyed.

Side Note: I promised I would address this, so here it is. I’ll have to give the engagement to the Pack Hunter if there are two of them. It’s simple a reorganization of the tactical situation. In a 1v1, the Pack Hunter is playing the Solitaire‘s game. Conversely, the 1v2 situation is more than just being simply outnumbered. It is a changing of the scope of the battlefield in a way that brings the Solitaire in the Pack Hunters‘ arena. A clever Solitaire pilot might still come out on top of a 1v2 scenario, but the value of two `Mechs working together is most often greater than the simple sum of the whole.

Final Thoughts

Both of these BattleMechs are amazing at what they do. They’re not completely dissimilar, but they’re also not really the same. Side by side, I would personally take the Solitaire, but I will caveat myself by reminding you that I’m a Ghost Bear player primarily. I have nothing against the Pack Hunter, however, and would not feel cheated or under strength if I had one or two in a Star. Raw BV aside, either situation can easily win back double or more its points.

As far as deployability, the Pack Hunter and its variants, including the Pack Hunter II, has found its way not only into the forces of Clan Wolf-in-Exile and the Kell Hounds, but also into pretty much every other Clan, Mercenary forces, the Republic, and several Houses. Widespread and valued for its capabilities, the Pack Hunter will continue to be a familiar sight on the battlefield for a long time to come.

Conversely, the Solitaire has experienced a rather limited breadth of varied deployment, seen only in the toumans of Clans Ghost Bear and Diamond Shark/Sea Fox even into the 3140s. I do not believe that this means that other military organizations have found fault in the design. Instead, I believe it is reflective of Clan Sea Fox’s continued efforts to keep the design as exclusive as possible, sharing the expensive BattleMech only with its Ghost Bear allies.

Want to Know More?

If you want to know more about either the Pack Hunter or the Solitaire, check out the reference materials listed below:

BattleTech Technical Readout: 3060 on BattleCorps, DriveThruRPG, or Amazon
BattleTech Technical Readout: 3067 on BattleCorpsDriveThruRPG, or Amazon
Pack Hunter on the Master Unit List
Solitaire on the Master Unit List

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

3D Printed Clan Ghost Bear Medallion

3D printing is growing both in the areas of industry and as a hobby. Many tabletop gaming players dream of getting a 3D printer and printing up all the models they’ve always wanted.

While that may be possible for some, most 3D printing hobbyists can’t afford to by the level of printer that it takes to print models for games like BattleTech. Most of the 3D printers available to consumers are not suited for that kind of detailed printing. That’s not to say that these printers aren’t capable of some amazing things, but usually models in the BattleTech game scale are not something they can handle.

So what kinds of things can consumer level 3D printers do? In the roughly six months that I’ve been into the 3D printing hobby, I’ve printed some pretty cool stuff. Statues, terrain, Pokemon, and more. There are a ton of things to do with a 3D printer if you take the time to learn how they work. I don’t know near everything about 3D printing, and I’m having a great time with it.

This dwarf statue is but one example of what you can make with a 3D printer.

This dwarf statue is but one example of what you can make with a 3D printer.

A couple of weeks ago, I was browsing through Thingiverse, which is an amazing website full of free 3D printable files that creators have uploaded to the website to share with the community.

As I was browsing I found the page of creator LordNova2 who had shared a couple of really cool MechWarrior and BattleTech related designs. Among those designs was a Clan Ghost Bear medallion. Being a Ghost Bear at heart, I had to download it right away.

And then, I completely forgot about it, until a few nights ago.

One of my 3D printers (I have two) had just come off a big project I was working on, and I decided to print something fun. I thought I would share the process that followed my decision.

Continue reading

A Year of Alpha Strike – 2016 Leader Board, Week 6

My local group is partaking in a year-long Leader Board for 2016.

Week 6 of the 2016 season kicked off Quarter 2, as players met on Saturday, April 16 for another round of quick and bloody ‘Mech action.

Four players descended on the battlefield that day, including a new player who sported the colors of Clan Sea Fox.

The Forces

Due to the nature of this Week’s scenario, players had the option of bringing two rosters, one for Attack and one for Defense. Not everyone did so, but the option was there.

Clan Sea Fox

Our new player, representing Clan Sea Fox, came prepared for battle with a force of OmniMechs that showed off what a front line Clan force should look like.

Over a Star of Clan Sea Fox OmniMechs descended on the League.

Over a Star of Clan Sea Fox OmniMechs descended on the League.

Continue reading