Category Archives: Catalyst Game Labs

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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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.