Category Archives: Catalyst Game Labs

Catalyst Game Labs Showcases Upcoming Merch At Mech_Con

Catalyst Game Labs Showcases Upcoming Merch At Mech_Con

Catalyst Game Labs took over Mech_Con last Saturday to not only showcase their upcoming products but also put on a huge tabletop experience. And I am not even joking – an entire corner of the convention was entirely devoted to CGL’s massive game tables. Technically, Catalyst had more space devoted to them than any other company present.

Tabletop

But it’s not the size that matters – it’s what you do with it. Catalyst was certainly no slouch there, putting on a workshop for BattleTech veterans and newcomers to the tabletop alike, featuring incredible hand-painted miniatures and sprawling campaign maps. For new BattleTech players, it was a chance to see what inspired the computer games that were on center stage.

Catalyst wasn’t just there to put on a workshop though. They were also there to showcase the latest designs for their upcoming products, of which they announced many, and all of them to be appearing in 2018.

Presentation

The first big announcement was two new box sets for the tabletop game. The first box, simply titled BattleTech: Beginner’s Box Set, is intended as a quick start to the BattleTech game. Consider it BattleTech on training wheels, very similar to the quickstart rules that were given in previous editions of BattleTech. The box will come with two minis – a Griffin and a Wolverine – and one map sheet to play on. This will also be one of the cheapest BattleTech boxes ever at just $25.

Griffin

The second box will be the main course. BattleTech: A Game Of Armored Combat will feature eight miniatures, two map sheets, and the full rules to BattleTech. The eight minis included will be a Battlemaster, Awesome, Thunderbolt, Catapult, Shadowhawk, Wolverine, Commando, and Locust. Each of the minis is based on the redesigned art featured in BattleTech: Alpha Strike and are hella cool. Take a look at some of the snapshots I grabbed at Mech_Con to see what I mean.

Randall Bills also said that these will be out before next year’s GenCon in Spring of 2018.

Locust

The new minis are currently only going to be available in the new box sets, so keep this in mind for the BattleTech mini aficionado in your life (I’m lookin’ at you, CamoSpecs).

Along with the new box sets, Brent Evans also announced brand new BattleTech fiction coming in the new year. He was mum on much of the details, but he did tease a new short story that deals with Durant Carlyle, Grayson Carlyle’s father, and his exploits as part of Carlyle’s Commandos. There will also be short fiction to be found in the campaign books set to come out in 2018 as well, of which precious little info was provided.

New Minis

Veteran MechWarriors will also be happy to note there will be brand new map sheets available soon that will be based on the new fiction. They’ll also be included in the new box set, so if you want to kill two birds with one stone you can shell out for the latest version of the tabletop to save on shipping.

And finally, the biggest news of all for classic BattleTech fans: CGL plans on hosting a series of events in 2018 to take place worldwide. I don’t have any other details than that, but expect to find out more on that bombshell before the new year.

That’s it for Catalyst! Stay tuned as we hit all of the big names to attend Mech_Con in the coming days.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Note: An earlier version of this article stated that the redesigned minis would available separately, but they aren’t. So buy that new box set to get your mitts on them!

Mech_Con 2017 Recap

Mech_Con

If there were any doubts as to what is the new mecca (hah) of ‘Mech conventions, they were put to rest on December 9th, 2017.

Mech_Con brought together the biggest names from all things BattleTech, from PGI and Harebrained Schemes in video games to Catalyst Game Labs on the tabletop, and there has been a slew of super exciting announcements that will give any ‘Mech-head the chills.

We’ll certainly get more in-depth with each announcement in future articles, but first a quick recap of what went down at Mech_Con 2017.

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Lead Developer Brent Evans Answers Big Questions On The Future Of BattleTech

Hang on your neurohelmets, BattleTech fans, because we’ve got a veritable bonanza of info for you to sink your into.

In an impromptu Q&A over on the Catalyst Games BattleTech forums, lead developer Brent Evans has answered burning questions on the future of the franchise. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, huge thanks to Dragon over at Aries Games And Miniatures for posting these questions last June, and thanks to Evans for actually getting around to responding. Better late than never, right?

Lead Developer Brent Evans Answers Big Questions On The Future Of BattleTech

via battletechgame.com

The Big News

To start, the big question of what’s going to happen politically with the entire BattleTech universe is not actually something that Evans can answer directly. As lead developer, Evans and his team are currently working on a larger metaplot that “will endure for the next generation of the game”, but the details remain fluid. The reason for this is that the BattleTech fiction is being driven by Catalyst‘s writers rather than the product developers.

“I’ve been beating them with sticks to forge stories worthy of BattleTech”

The creative process at Catalyst is somewhat extreme. In Evans’ own words: “I’m no writer… more a Creative Director. I grab the best team members, throw ’em together with some direction, gas and matches, and then shake. Prior to GenCon I recruited the team, locked them in a room at GenCon, and since then I’ve been beating them with sticks to forge stories worthy of BattleTech.”

One of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind is the release of IlClan, the source book that would see the end of the Dark Age era of BattleTech and the beginning of a new era where the Clans have rallied behind a new leader and have begun a new drive to retake Terra from the Republic of the Sphere. Evans has now promised that IlClan will be the driving force for the next release of fiction, which will include sourcebooks and novels.

Wars of Reaving

via battletechgame.com

As for what events may transpire, he’s promised upheaval among the Clans as well as Inner Sphere Houses, and that “sh** will definitely hit fans.”  

While the new fiction direction will certainly please fans of the series, there’s a renewed push to bring in new players to BattleTech with the release of “box sets and support products that serve as gateway products into the game.”  There will be two new box sets: one Game of Armored Combat and one Beginner’s Set, the details of which were released at GenCon.

The big news out of the way, let’s hit the small stuff.

Lots Of Little News

Evans was asked a ton of questions, not all of which can be reported on here (although they’re all good, and you can read the whole Q&A here). However, there are a few points that we felt should be shared as far and wide as possible.

First, there are redesigns of the Valkyrie and Wasp in the works. The current lawsuit with Harmony Gold has unfortunately put a kibosh on their release until the legal dust settles. Evans did say “that the redesigns on these were AWESOME and we went to great lengths to change/overhaul these units so they didn’t share any details with the Unseen.”

Evans was also asked to prove his BattleTech chops, to which he responded, “I’ve read every piece of fiction – many of them many times.  I consider TROs to be ‘light bathroom reading material.'” And what he’d love to see in BattleTech? “I want to see a story that tells the full story of the Black Thorns (which were unintentionally killed off camera) AND I want to see a rebirth of the Gray Death Legion.”

Wraith

via battletechgame.com

Many of us will be happy to know that Dark Age is finally getting the ax, but a few questions will be answered before it goes. One of the bigger ones will be who exactly took down the HPG Network, however Evans did say we may never know the answer to why or who sought to gain from it.

Tragically, there will be no novels released in 2018 concerning the Homeworld Clans during the Wars of Reaving. That period seems ripe with potential stories, but we’ll just have to be satisfied with hearing about things second-hand from the novels set to be released during the IlClan era.

“Once ilClan comes out you’ll see a steady flow of product once again”

And finally, we received a bit of an explanation as to why 2017 has fallen a bit short of its promise when it came to the IlClan:

“When it was clear we needed to overhaul ilClan and redesign the whole BT plot and product line, it put a hold on lots of products large & small because they were going to one direction and we were taking the IP in another. What you ask about is just the price paid for abandoning a failing plan and forging a new one. Once ilClan comes out you’ll see a steady flow of product once again.”

This is great news for fans of the series, and great news for BattleTech in general. We here at Sarna can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring to our most beloved universe of giant stompy robots.

Catalyst Announces New YA BattleTech Novels

Catalyst Announces New YA BattleTech Novels

courtesy of Amazon

Hot off the digital presses from Catalyst Game Labs comes news of a brand new BattleTech novel trilogy set in the dark times following the Jihad.

It’s been awhile since we had a brand new BattleTech book to talk about, with the last one I remember getting published being Betrayal of Ideals back in 2016. That book, however, had originally been printed in BattleCorps back in 2006, so in terms of fresh content, we’re all feeling a little starved.

CGL seems to have heard our prayers and is announcing a brand new set of books to rekindle that love of BattleTech fiction for a whole new generation. The novels are to be penned by Jennifer Brozek, an award-winning author who also wrote The Nellus Academy Incident as well as the Shadowrun novella DocWagon 19. And while the new trilogy is being billed as “Young Adult”, Brozek certainly included enough death and heart-pounding action in The Nellus Academy Incident to satisfy even the most grizzled of BattleTech veterans.

  Jennifer courtesy of jenniferbrozek.com

We know that the new novels will certainly be set during the Dark Age era, and will share a lot of the themes explored in Jennifer’s earlier BattleTech novel. If you haven’t read Nellus Academy, I’ll let Jennifer explain:

“I’m thrilled to be writing in the BattleTech universe once more. After Nellus Academy, I thought my time for writing big, stompy ’Mechs was done. Fortunately for me, I get to dive into this universe again. I’ll be writing an ensemble piece focused on the lives of war-torn academy cadets. This coming-of-age story will forge teenagers, already wise beyond their years, into adults in a trial by fire that many won’t survive. Those who do will become the heroes of a new age.”

Jennifer is certainly no slouch as a wordsmith. She’s won the Scribe, Origins, and ENine awards, been a Hugo Award finalist, multiple Bram Stoker Awards finalist, and won the Australian Shadows Award for best-edited publication. She’s also been featured in numerous RPG sourcebooks, including Dragonlance, Shadowrun, and Serenity, as well as featured in the award winning HBS game, Shadowrun Returns. That’s quite the resume.

You can check out the Catalyst website for the official press release, and for more on Jennifer, you can peruse her website over at jenniferbrozek.com.

Harmony Gold Suing The Company That Sold Them Unseen Images?

Macross

courtesy of Forbes

Looks like I was wrong about not having any more info on the Harmony Gold lawsuit that was revealed last month. Hot off the presses from Reddit (thanks to user iyaerP) comes news that Harmony Gold is filing yet another lawsuit, but this time it’s not against a BattleTech company.

It’s against the Japanese company that sold them the Unseen images in the first place: Tatsunoko Production Co., Ltd.

For those of you that have forgotten, Tatsunoko Productions was the company that sold the license for Macross/Robotech to Harmony Gold, giving them the right to distribute the anime in North America. Harmony Gold also argues this gives them the rights to the Macross imagery, which spawned the whole Unseen debacle.

 

I say argues, since it’s also come to light since then that the rights to the Macross/Robotech imagery actually never rested with Tatsunoko in the first place. The license provided to Harmony Gold only allows them to distribute the cartoons in North America, with the original intellectual property being owned by the animation studio that created the series, Studio Nue.

Harmony Hold has even acknowledged this ruling back in 2002, but so far it hasn’t seemed to stop them from suing anyone that even remotely comes close to the Macross/Robotech aesthetic.

Flash forward to today and we’ve just got word that Harmony Gold has filed court documents last week naming Tatsunoko Production Co. Ltd. as defendants. More details available seem to indicate this is some kind of arbitration case, but the precise reason for the arbitration hasn’t been disclosed yet.

Now the question becomes what does this mean for Harmony Gold’s lawsuit against Piranha Games and Harebrained Schemes? Will the courts finally side with our beloved BattleTech producers, finally ending the Unseen for good? Will Harmony Gold finally lose all rights to the Macross/Robotech imagery and never be heard from again? Will this spell the end of the pending Macross live action film that is supposedly still in production?

Nobody knows yet, but we’re all on the edge of our seats waiting to find out.

 

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!

Product Review: Technical Readout: 3150

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

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

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

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Product Review: Operational Turning Points: Capellan Crusades

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

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

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

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One Man’s Convention – GenCon 2015, Part 2

In Part 1 of “One Man’s Convention – GenCon 2015” I focused on my BattleTech experiences. In this part of the two part series, I will share some of my more general experiences, what I want to get out of future experiences, and some parting thoughts on GenCon in general.

The General GenCon Experience

The rest of GenCon, the non-BattleTech parts, were pretty much as I expected them to be.

I don’t know if my experience was limited due to my timing, but it seemed like the cosplay aspect of this GenCon was only about par. Maybe I missed the really great stuff, or maybe it wasn’t really there. I haven’t yet taken the time to hunt down the big picture collections that I’m sure are posted up around the internet, so I may be wrong about the level of impressive cosplay that was present this year.

"I am not the real Dread Pirate Roberts."

“I am not the real Dread Pirate Roberts.”

Personally, I was not able to explore much of the downtown area over the weekend due to having to book a hotel on the north side of Indianapolis. I’ve found that having to drive 20 minutes back to a hotel at the end of a full day at a convention puts a bit of a damper on one’s enjoyment of an area like downtown Indianapolis.

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