Category Archives: Catalyst Game Labs

What’s up with Catalyst? at GenCon 2018

GenCon 2018 is almost a wrap, and Catalyst Game Labs had a What’s up with Catalyst? session where the-powers-that-be shared insights into the BattleTech product line and the future of CGL.  Present were Loren L. Coleman (owner), Randall N. Bills (managing director), Brent Evans (BattleTech line developer), John Helfers (fiction director) and others.

The group covered a lot of topics, and here are the highlights!

  • BattleTech: Legacy, an anthology, is now back in print and was supposed to be at the GenCon booth, but was not available in time.  It should be available in the next 30 days or so.
  • BattleTech: A Splinter of Hope/The Anvil (a novella omnibus) by Philip A. Lee and Blaine Lee Pardoe was available but sold out in short order.
  • The Nellus Academy Incident, a young-adult BattleTech novel by Jennifer Brozek is also available (on Amazon).
  • Audiobooks are being released for BattleTech fiction!  First up is Embers of War, narrated by Tren Sparks.  Catalyst is working towards releasing more BattleTech and Shadowrun audiobooks, and will be alternating releases between the universes. Today you can purchase the Embers of War audiobook on Amazon.
  • Reprints of BattleTech: Total Warfare are in, and were available GenCon, with the nice retro 1987 BattleTech Manual cover:
  • Reprints of the other BattleTech core rulebook are on the way, including TechManual, Tactical Operations, Strategic Operations, and A Time of War.
  • The new boxed sets were available for purchase!  BattleTech Beginner Boxed Set and BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat both sold out by noon on Thursday.  They should be available in stores around October:
  • Shattered Fortress was released at GenCon, and is essentially part 1 of 2 of the IlClan storyline.  We can hope for part 2 at next year’s GenCon:
    Shattered Fortress To Debut At GenCon
  • New Map Packs are coming soon, and were available for preview at the GenCon booth.  Six all-new maps, “designed to be easier to use and clearer to understand than ever before“.
  • There were some cool 12-inch tall 3D-printed mechs in the booth that were being played on a 10×10′ scaled-up map:

  • This menacing, torso twisting (remote-controlled) ‘Mech greeted you at the booth:
  • Some fun energy-drinks were also available for purchase (Loren claims they taste just fine…):
  • Between now and next year, we can expect a lot of new novels (e.g. Forever Faithful by Mr. Pardoe), and more.  Check out the Upcoming Releases page for more details.
  • Loren made no additional comment on the Harmony Gold Lawsuit, and redirected everyone to read the public statement (though he said he is pretty happy with how it turned out).
  • Catalyst has been diversifying into board games (and has some neat little gems like The Duke).  Dragonfire has also been very successful, and they’re hoping they can continue the trend.  They’re working on a few new ideas!
  • Next year will be BattleTech’s 35th anniversary!  There might just be a few special things to celebrate it.
  • Catalyst will also be at PAX West, PAX Unplugged and Mech_Con later this year.

Additional booth pics:

Shattered Fortress To Debut At GenCon

Shattered Fortress To Debut At GenCon

courtesy of Catalyst Games

Shattered Fortress is almost here! The new sourcebook detailing the end of the Dark Age era of BattleTech is set to debut at GenCon, with the .pdf files to become available the first week of August. 

We first heard about Shattered Fortress last February when we interviewed Brent Evans, the lead developer for BattleTech. He said that the previously developed ilClan sourcebook had generated so much content that the Powers-That-Be over at Catalyst decided to break it into two books, with Shattered Fortress being the lead-in to the fireworks display that will be ilClan.

As for what we can expect from this new book, a posting over at the BattleTech forums gave us a lovely little preview straight from the back cover:

Shattered Fortress To Debut At GenCon

“In 3146, the Republic of the Sphere hangs by a tenuous thread. The last fragments of Devlin Stone’s dream to shepherd humankind toward a more prosperous future hide behind the impenetrable defenses of Fortress Republic. As the interstellar communications blackout rages, the ambitious Great Houses vie for military dominance, and the bloodthirsty Clans strive to find a weakness in the Fortress’s armor on their path to conquering Terra and claiming the coveted title of ilClan. When the Wall comes down, will the Inner Sphere plunge even further into the abyss of interstellar war, or will this herald the dawning of a new age?

“Shattered Fortress chronicles the twilight of BattleTech’s Dark Age, as nations are thrown into turmoil and predators circle the broken remnants of the Republic of the Sphere. This volume provides a year-by-year look at pivotal turning points in the history of the Inner Sphere, offers a peek behind the curtain of Fortress Republic, and reveals the fateful decisions that will ultimately decide the future of humanity.”

This is, of course, good news for anyone who didn’t like the Dark Ages of BattleTech, which according to my research, was most people. The whole “everyone is back to using AgroMechs thanks to the general degradation of technology” was just really… well, dark. That, and it’s hard to get excited about people going to war with pitchforks and hand grenades.

We can only speculate on what will happen in each of those years mentioned, but hopefully something happens to the HPG Blackout. Whether that’s a slow rebuilding of the network or some other technology taking its place, we’ll have to wait and see. We’ll certainly get some high-level highlights of what’s to happen with the Clans, and maybe even get a few tales from the Great Houses that don’t involve just giving up planets to the Republic.

GenCon begins this Thursday, so fingers crossed those .pdf files will be available on the same day.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

BattleTech Box Sets To Be Debuted At GenCon 2018

Box Sets

courtesy of Catalyst Game Labs

Last March we got a sneak preview of the new BattleTech box sets that were set to come out later this year. A beginner box for $19.99 and a full-set box for $59.99, with both boxes filled to their respective brims with brand new miniatures, maps, and even a delightful new short story.

We had plenty of details, but we never received a date. We were left to wonder when–oh when!–our fair lady would finally arrive. Well, wonder no longer.

As updated on the Catalyst Game Labs news page, BattleTech Beginner Box Set and A Game Of Armored Combat will debut at this year’s GenCon.

The store release will still have to wait a bit, sadly. Wider release at your local neighborhood miniatures and game shop will follow “soon” after GenCon, but we don’t have specific dates. Here’s hoping they’re already in transit and just waiting to be loaded off the trucks.

As a quick reminder, the Beginner Box Set comes with two–count ‘em, TWO–all new miniatures: the Steiner favorite Griffin and the much more widely used Wolverine. The full-sized Game Of Armored Combat comes with eight new miniatures: the Awesome, BattleMaster, Catapult, Commando, Locust, Shadow Hawk, Thunderbolt, and previously mentioned Wolverine.

Classic Art

Both box sets come with an all-new, never-before-seen 48-page novella from William H. Keith detailing the saga of Carlyle’s Commandos and how their surviving members eventually formed the core of what would become the Gray Death Legion.

On top of that momentous news, Catalyst has also revealed new vintage cover art for their hotly anticipated rulebook reprints. Classic art from 1987 and 1994 will adorn the faces of BattleTech: Total Warfare, BattleTech: TechManual, BattleTech: Tactical Operations, and BattleTech: Strategic Operations, available now for $15 in .pdf format. See if you can spot the original books where these iconic pieces were taken from.

GenCon is set to begin August 2nd, so it won’t be long before we finally get to see these box sets in the flesh. Or rather, paper with a bit of plastic. Whatever.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Catalyst’s BattleTech Lead Brent Evans Interviewed On Upcoming Box Sets

While things have been pretty exciting on the video game side of BattleTech, the tabletop side of things is also having their own renaissance with the upcoming release of two brand new box sets.

Catalyst Game Labs’ own Brent Evans is on the warpath ensuring that every news site worthy of the name gets the heads up that new products are just around the corner. He and a group of tabletop game developers were recently interviewed by TechRaptor on the upcoming games, and while there wasn’t a whole lot that we didn’t know about from the last time we here at Sarna spoke with Brent, there were a few neat tidbits that are certainly worth sharing.

Box Sets

courtesy of Catalyst Game Labs

First, there will be no new rules or revisions to the core tabletop game, but there will be some streamlining as well as a “tips of the trade” section to help new and veteran players simplify and speed up gameplay. It’s something that’s been discussed but never really implemented and should be a nice addition to the core box sets.

Brent also discussed some of the nu-seen or re-seen designs and how Catalyst, MechWarrior Online developers PGI, and BattleTech makers Harebrained Schemes all engaged in artistic “one-upmanship” to make our beloved ‘Mechs bigger and badder than ever.

“The video game designers have pushed the look and feel of BattleMechs in wonderful new directions, while we endeavor to stay closer to the spirit of the originals – which is frankly as it should be in an IP with multiple licenses,” revealed Evans during the interview. “PGI brought in Alex Iglesias as their Lead Art Designer and we answered back with Anthony Scroggins. Then HBS unleashes Mike McCain on the Inner Sphere so we raise the game with Marco Mazzoni.”

Really makes you wonder what would happen if we got all those artists into the same room. Or better yet, hold a contest to see which one can make the best redesign of something obscure that hasn’t been touched recently, like a Hatchetman or a Bombardier.

Finally, we get a glimpse at what goes on in the minds of some of BattleTech’s key players. Specifically, what they’re favorite ‘Mechs and factions are!

Brent is partial to the Shadow Cat for its speed and power and admits to always tapping Clan Wolf when it comes to making his units. Ray Arrastia, BattleTech Assistant Line Developer, admits to being a fan of the classics and picks the Marauder as his favorite while enjoying the Federated Suns as the universal good guys (most of the time). Catalyst Fiction Director John Helfers goes all-in on the Battlemaster, a superb choice, but laments the destruction of his favorite clan, the Smoke Jaguars.

Senior Editor Aaron Cahall is a MechWarrior after my own heart. He picks the Wraith as his top ‘Mech, while goes for the equally obscure Outworlds Alliance as his favorite faction.

For more, you can check out the interview here.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

More Details On Catalyst’s Upcoming Products

courtesy of Catalyst Game Labs

Catalyst Game Labs have updated their Coming Releases page! Excite!

Last month we got to talk to Brent Evans, lead developer on BattleTech, who gave us a tantalizing look at what we could expect for 2018 but tragically left out many of the details. Now the CGL website has filled in a whole lot of blanks, and we’re very much looking forward to these releases.

We got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s hop to it! First up, the Beginner Box Set. Priced at an affordable $19.99 and coming third-quarter of 2018, this will be a fantastic first step into the BattleTech universe.

courtesy of Catalyst Game Labs

courtesy of Catalyst Game Labs

Even for veteran players there’s a few great reasons to pick this baby up. First is the two brand new miniatures that come with it: the Griffin and the Wolverine. It looks like the Griffin is unique to the Beginner Box Set, so the only way to get it is by buying one. It’ll also come with the all-new 48-page novella by William H. Keith Junior. The title has yet to be released, but CGL says it’ll be “a prequel to the Gray Death Legion saga featuring Carlyle’s Commandos and Durant Carlyle.” Sweet.

Next comes the real McCoy–BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat. This bad boy will be $59.99 but will come with eight new miniatures: Awesome, BattleMaster, Catapult, Commando, Locust, Shadow Hawk, Thunderbolt, and Wolverine. That 48-page novella is included as well as the full rules, a 16-page universe primer, Alpha Strike cars, and 2 new maps.

courtesy of Catalyst Game Labs

courtesy of Catalyst Game Labs

Coming up next, Shattered Fortress, the all-new book dealing with the IlClan. “As the nations and Clans of the Inner Sphere struggle for survival, the Republic of the Sphere and awakened Exarch Devlin Stone face enemies at their doorstep. Will the Dark Age give way to a new dawn — or an endless nightmare? The epic story begins here!”

It looks to be a sourcebook based on the way fiction novels are categorized later, but it’s a little unclear. I’m sure it’ll become when Shattered Fortress is released later this year.

Speakin’ of fiction, there’s a bunch! For the printed stuff, Blaine Lee Pardoe is coming out with Forever Faithful, a tale that will apparently bridge Twilight of the Clans, through Dark Age, and even set the tone for the next era. Jason Schmetzer will see a release of his page-turning Embers of War, and Jennifer Brozek returns with book two of The Nellus Academy Incident trilogy.

There’s also going to be a new Print on Demand service arriving late in 2018 that will eventually (hopefully) allow you to order out-of-print products, and eventually even the BattleTech novel library (again, hopefully). There’s also new New PDF-only stuff: Touring the Stars, Spotlight On, Turning Points, as well as Brush Wars.

There’s even more details on the CGL page, and stay tuned for more concrete release dates!

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Devlin Stone’s Origins Revealed

Deviln Stone's Atlas II

Courtesy of flyingdebris on DeviantArt

There’s a lot of mysteries in the BattleTech universe. Who was the Bounty Hunter? What caused the HPG Blackout of 3132? What did Victor Steiner Davion like to have with his coffee? These are questions we may never have the answers to.

But every so often a mystery gets solved when a BattleTech line developer descends from on high into the depths of a forum and drops a bombshell.

One of those mysteries is the origins of Devlin Stone. You might recall Devlin from the least-liked era of BattleTech history, the Dark Age. After leading a rebellion on the conquered world of Kittery against the Word of Blake, he eventually became the general of an army that defeated the entire Wobbie army and retook Terra. Then he got installed as Exarch of the newly formed Republic of the Sphere and he lived was happily ever after.

Devlin Stone

That is until he announced his retirement. Then he sort of disappeared as mysteriously as he appeared and never came back.

As weird as it is for this monumental hero to just show up out of nowhere, it’s almost just as weird for him to step back from the limelight with little fanfare. I mean, it would’ve made more sense for him to just die of a heart attack like Hanse did.

But narrative criticisms aside (which we could lob at the Dark Age all day long), Devlin did play an important role in BattleTech history, so we should have some idea of his origins. For the longest time, there were only rumors perpetuated by sourcebooks and novels. The biggest one was that Devlin Stone was actually Arthur Steiner Davion returned from the grave.

There’s little hard evidence to support this, but what little there is can seem compelling. First, Patriots and Tyrants strongly implies that Arthur did not, in fact, die in the bomb explosion that supposedly took his life. Second, the sourcebook Jihad Secrets: The Blake Documents reveals that Arthur was in fact captured by Word of Blake and sent to Kittery, where Stone would eventually rise to prominence. Finally, the pair seem to share political views as revealed by Arthur’s speech just before he was assassinated and Devlin Stone’s actions in creating the Republic of the Sphere.

Arthur Steiner Davion

And that’s where Devlin’s story rested for many years until assistant BattleTech line developer Ray Arrastia dropped this news in the BattleTech forums a few weeks ago:

“Here’s the thing. Stone was a Rabid Foxes operative, and one of those four was Stone’s cover identity. While Stone was intended to be a ‘nobody,’ he wasn’t supposed to be ‘no one special.’

“But all that’s unofficial unless it ever gets published somehow, and any window for delving into Stone’s past likely closed years ago, IMO.”

When Ray refers to four cover identities he’s referring to documents revealed in Masters and Minions: The StarCorps Dossiers that link Stone’s physical characteristics with prisoners on Kittery.

And there you have it. Another BattleTech mystery solved by a benevolent line developer. Will this improve the Dark Age narrative in any way? Probably not, but it’s nice to know some of the details.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.  

stay syrupy

Community Outreach – Interview With Brent Evans, Lead BattleTech Developer At Catalyst Games

Welcome to Community Outreach! This week we have a very special guest: Brent Evans, the lead developer on BattleTech over at Catalyst Game Labs. We talk about the future of BattleTech, what awesome new products are coming out in 2018, and a bunch of random stuff that I’ve always wanted to ask the guy in charge of things. Enjoy!

Brent

Sean (Sarna): Nic let me know that he’s reached out to you for an interview on our humble website, and tasked me with doing all the heavy lifting :)  

Brent (Catalyst Game Labs): Humble website – are you kidding?!? Sarna is the greatest single resource for BattleTech fans anywhere. In this is one of the most complicated IPs from a legal standpoint in existence. Don’t sell yourself short there Sean, there’s nothing humble about it.  Sarna is the best and literally every member of the creative team uses it extensively.

Sean: Aww, that’s so sweet of you to say! I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet personally at Mech_Con, as you were definitely on my list of people to say “hi” to and get a quick interview with. I’m glad for the opportunity to ask you a few questions now.

Brent: Yeah that would have been awesome. I love MechCon, great show, but with all the overwhelming stuff going on there I would likely have been too distracted by all the mech stuff around us to finish a sentence. This is likely a better forum for a Q&A. No sweat.

Sean: To start off, let me recap your announcements at Mech_Con. I’ve got new maps, new fiction, new box sets, and newly overhauled figurines coming out in 2018. Did I miss anything?

Brent Evans and Randall Bills at PGI Studios.

Brent Evans and Randall Bills at PGI Studios.

Brent: Oh yeah we have dropship-loads of awesome product coming out, and most of it is geared toward new players and getting minis on tabletop battlefields.

“There’s really just a whole bunch of awesome coming down on BattleTech for 2018.”

We’ve got the two box sets announce at GenCon – the Beginner Box and the Game of Armored Combat. We’ve got new Maps – the first six of which were used to run all the demos at MechCon (to fanfare and accolades). There are new Hex Pack products in the works to augment those maps, new MechWarrior RPG products that the DevTeam just found out about today, a new sourcebook moving the timeline forward (which I will detail in a few questions further down), and a whole host of reprints as we make big moves to keep every book from the core line in print on store shelves – starting with Total Warfare (which should hit store shelves in July). Plus there are new novels, new novellas, a hint at new audiobooks, PDF supplemental products, I have new ‘Mechs up my sleeves… There’s really just a whole bunch of awesome coming down on BattleTech for 2018. The year of BattleTech!

Sean: I think we can both agree that every year should be a year of BattleTech :) As a brief aside since I always wanted to ask: who is the artist that did all the redesigned classic or “Unseen” ‘Mechs? Like this guy.

“Anthony and Alexander delivered a truly spectacular new chapter for the game, and have shown us what can be done ‘in a perfect world.'”

Brent: Yes – every one of them was designed by legendary BT artist Anthony Scroggins. This was a massive effort, unlike any mech design efforts before, with Anthony handling art but editing direction done by myself, Randall Bills and Ray Arrastia. The three of us rarely agree on anything so to get each design past all three of us took a truly painful amount of work (Anthony was such a trooper). But he didn’t just create one image and call it done; Anthony designed the ‘Mechs from every angle, then worked with 3D master Alexander Immerzeel to build the 3D models so they can be used by the other BT artists (like Marco Mazzoni and SpOoKy) to make sure the ‘Mechs look right each time they are shown. It also allowed us to use the 3D models for our prototypes and production, ensuring the figures match the art perfectly.

It was a herculean task the likes of which we’ve never tackled before in BattleTech, but the results have been totally worth it. Anthony and Alexander delivered a truly spectacular new chapter for the game, and have shown us what can be done “in a perfect world.”  Mad props to all those guys.  I have big plans in store for these guys.

Sean: What kind of worldwide events does Catalyst have planned for 2018?

Brent: Actually, Mary’s team is working on that as we speak so even I don’t know yet. I’ve just sent her the bulk of the conflicts from Shattered Fortress but since Con events needed to be scheduled far in advance (I believe the deadline was in December) I don’t know what magic she will be able to work. She’s amazing so I’m sure the events will be awesome, but I don’t know which in-universe battles will make the WWE as opposed to the Canon/Feature Events. What I do know is there is a lot of Warfare going on here in the BattleTech universe so she’s likely spoiled for choice.

Box Sets

Sean: Do we have any concrete dates on when the new box sets will be available? I know you mentioned Spring of 2018 at Mech_Con, but is there a specific target date?

Brent: Honestly we never have concrete dates on anything coming out of China because, between the shutdowns around Chinese New Year and their generally unique approach to scheduling things, there are always curve balls and hiccups. So specific dates are a “no”. I do have a target window (June) and a worst-case-scenario window (October), so the reality will likely fall somewhere between the two. Expect them to show up sometime this summer, and for me to move hell or high water to get copies to GenCon, and you should be happy.

Sean: Yeah, that sounds like something I’d be happy about. Let’s talk about the new fiction. What stories are coming out in 2018? Who are the authors? Will they be novels or short fiction? And most important, what will this new crop of fiction be about?

Brent: Ah fiction… This part is equal parts exciting and scary as hell because there are so many epic stories coming up over the next 24 months – and truly amazing authors with potential fingers in the pot. But until all the details get nailed down I’ll have to stay mum on almost all of it.  So I will say what I can.  

“Everyone knows that I am committed to having fiction drive the narrative for the BattleTech storyline.”

Everyone knows that I am committed to having fiction drive the narrative for the BattleTech storyline. We’ve proven to be exceedingly good at getting books written and printed, but getting novels through distribution (which has a totally different channel from game product) has proven to be hit or miss. Our Novel Line Editor John Helfers is working to correct that but please know Catalyst is absolutely creating new novels for both print and ePub formats. We are also working on a series of new novellas, the launch of a new audiobooks line, and the Development team is tying the fiction plots into PDF supplemental products so that the conflicts on pages can be fought on tables with minis. Bringing in several authors to help map out our storyline plots surrounding ilClan is delivering a number of collateral benefits and I think the fans will love what we’ve put together.

A prime example of which is the upcoming short fiction from the Game of Armored Combat.  Getting Bill Keith back on BattleTech is a fanboy dream come true. Enticing the creator of the Gray Death Legion to write a new chapter of BT-Lore detailing the previous generation, with Grayson’s father’s unit… That’s just awesome. And I’m diabolically scheming plots to unleash him on to keep him crafting BattleTech. He’s still got it, and is just one of the many voices of BattleTech who will be bringing the storylines to life.

Battlemaster Figure

Sean: Why aren’t those giant versions of the figurines you showcased at Mech_Con available for purchase? 

Brent: Oh man those sure were cool weren’t they! Neither Randall or I have any yet, but believe me we want some.  But yes those are not available for purchase because they were personally created by the Demo Agents who attended the event. In fact, they were prototyped individually on a 3D printer, and they take a full 40 hours to make – each.  The only reason those are available at Mech_Con is that the DemoTeam who support the event pull strings with a friend and have one or two done every year. I’m trying to barter swag and maple cookies to see if I can get some, but so far it’s all to no avail. Gotta love how far our fans and Demo Agents will go to support their love of BattleTech.

Sun Spider

Sean: Recently PGI unveiled the Sun Spider, a brand new Clan Omnimech from Goliath Scorpion. How did Catalyst coordinate with PGI on that ‘Mech’s creation? 

Brent: Ah, that’s easy. Catalyst doesn’t coordinate with PGI at all – there’s no formal relationship there.  But they are obviously huge fans so when then need someone’s subject matter expertise they just reach out directly to whomever they need. It’s pretty much always Randall, who dabbles in a little moonlighting from time to time to offer build recommendations for the various video game companies working on our properties. PGI doesn’t need my insights because they have Alex Iglesias who handles all their visuals, and he’s awesome. But Randall’s build expertise and universe knowledge is pretty awesome, so he’s a great resource. I didn’t hear about the specifics of the Sun Spider until I showed up at MechCon and bought the shirt.  (Huh… I really should have arranged a swag trade for that shirt. Didn’t even think of that.)

Sean: Yeah, that was a missed opportunity bud. So what’s going on with IlClan? When is it coming out, and what will we find out about the new direction BattleTech is headed?

Brent: The answer to that one is both simple and immensely complicated. The short answer is that ilClan is turning from one modest book into a “Big Bang” moment delivered by two Sourcebooks, several playable events, a series of fiction products (novels/novellas) and a whole lot of in-universe collateral damage as lots of sh** hits many fans.

Brent-as-a-Clan-MechWarrior

The first of those two Sourcebooks is nearing completion now so I can totally talk about. Titled Shattered Fortress this ilClan lead-in is scheduled for release in early summer. What this means for the Republic of the Sphere – well, you’ll have to get the book to find out. But the creative team and Author Phil Lee have done an exceptional job of crafting this book! Whether it be the crescendo to Stone’s vision or the prelude to many nightmares, the denizens of the Inner Sphere are soon to find out. But know that it sets the stage for the titanic clashes that will unfold in the upcoming ilClan plotlines.  

Later in the year we’ll be announcing more info about the next ilClan release and supporting products. All of the BattleTech product lines (fiction, sourcebooks, supplementals) will have stories that spin off the events in ilClan – so expect implications to spread across the Inner Sphere. As Line Dev, I’m balancing the release of new material and reprints, so expect further details and ETAs later in 2018.

Sean: Sarna is sure to be waiting with baited breath. Finally, on a scale of 1-10, how badly do you want Harmony Gold to self-immolate?

Brent: HAH! I may burst into flames in excitement just thinking about it.  :0)

Brent, thank you so much for agreeing to sit down and chat with us. We here at Sarna just can’t wait to see all the incredible new products that CGL will put out this year.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

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.