Category Archives: Catalyst Game Labs

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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One Man’s Convention – GenCon 2015, Part 1

Another GenCon has come and gone, and now is the time when those of us who attended and participated are recovering from and reflecting on our personal and shared experiences of one of the most exciting weekends any gamer could hope to have.

This GenCon was my third in total, over a period of the last four years, and each time I have felt like it was impossible for me to somehow enjoy this time more than the last time. I believe that it is an amazing thing that, so far, each new GenCon experience has surpassed the previous ones. I think this is in part due to a continuous learning process that all repeat convention goers should, if they pay attention and mean to improve their future experiences, go through.

I left home near Nashville, TN at 7am Thursday morning, and a little over five hours later, I arrived in downtown Indianapolis. After finding a parking garage only a short walk from the convention center, I proceeded to Will Call to retrieve my pass. The wait was not long, and the process was smooth. I would be surprised at this point if Will Call was a difficult process at GenCon, but I feel that I need to include my assessment in order to provide an accurate picture of the convention from my perspective.

I have here chronicled my GenCon 2015 experiences in two parts. Part 1 details my BattleTech centric experiences, and Part 2 covers my general GenCon experience and my thoughts on how to have a better convention experience in the future.

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Have You Visited the Master Unit List Lately?

The Master Unit List (MUL) is a fairly unique resource as gaming resources go. I am not aware of any other game or company that has a database of units quite like it. Catalyst has, free of charge, given us a tool that we can use to research units, find out where to get the record sheets for a specific unit and variant, and even find out if a `Mech is supposed to be used in a campaign based on the timeline and tech levels.

BattleTech Master Unit List

All of this is possible using the MUL, and that’s long before you even get to the part where you realize that they have provided all of the Alpha Strike unit stat cards for (nearly) every unit in the BattleTech universe. That’s right. If you play Alpha Strike, you never have to buy a single pack or file of unit cards. They have already been provided for you!

As if all of that wasn’t enough, Catalyst decided to throw something else into this amazing reference tool. If you take a look at any of the Alpha Strike Stat Cards on the MUL, you will notice that the “Skill” section of the card is filled in with the base stat, 4.This is useful until you want to improve your unit’s Skill. Well, it looks like they thought of that!

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Interstellar Operations Update

banshee-cover

Getting Interstellar With It!

After sometimes feeling like Vaporware, an update on Interstellar Operations was posted on BattleTech.com on Tuesday, November 18th. This long-awaited release has been highly anticipated by the community for years.  The good news is that we have a Table of Contents ready to go, and so so much material that it will require two sourcebooks to cover.  On the other hand, a release does not appear imminent.

Some online stores will need to change anticipated release dates for Interstellar Operations that are no longer.  For example, FRPGames has the release date of November 30, 2014.  Meanwhile, it looks like Spring on 2015 is the best guess for Interstellar Operations and it’s release.

The best news is that we have a beta release of the Abstract Combat System available for your use and comments.  Why not check it out and whet your appetite for some operations at the highest levels?  The long quiet wait is over!  Now it’s just a matter of counting down the days.

You can also follow Joel “Welshman” Bancroft-Connors, @welshman_bc, who’s a writer on Interstellar Operations and is tweeting about its’ progress.

Product Review: Technical Readout: 3145 Republic of the Sphere

product-TRO3145LyranCommonwealth_09de_cIn 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.

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CGL Adding New Lance Packs, Intro Set Reprint

CAT35710 Assault Lance Packaging

Assault Lance assaulting stuff.

Assault Lance assaulting something or the other.

Announced today, Catalyst Game Labs is issuing a reprint of the successful Introductory Box Set to meet demand, and should be back on game store shelves by late summer of 2014.

Also announced is a line of Lance Packs, using the same improved plastic miniatures found in the Introductory Box Set. Each set will be retailing at $19.99, and although no specific release date has been given it is expected to hit the streets late this year. The Assault Lance Pack and the Pursuit Lance Packs are the first ones to be going out the warehouse doors, each one also packed in with eight Alpha Strike cards as an added bonus.

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