Category Archives: Community

The Art of War – An Interview with Matthew Plog, BattleTech Artist

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. That saying applies indescribably well to BattleTech. From the clean, sleek lines of scout ‘Mechs and vehicles to the thundering awesomeness of the largest assault machines, art brings the turmoil of the BattleTech universe to life. The images in our TRO’s and Source books lets us imagine these gargantuan machines storming across the battlefields of the Inner Sphere.

I was fortunate enough to catch up with one of this generation’s best BattleTech artists, Matthew Plog. Matthew was gracious enough to take some time out of his day to answer a few questions that gives us a glimpse into the mind of an artist and the workings of creating awesome BattleTech art.


Martin (Sarna): Let’s start from the very beginning, for all those budding artists out there who may read this. Where did you study art?

Matthew: First off I had a very creative mother and she was of course very encouraging to her young son.  Now that that’s out of the way :), I received my more formal art education in New Jersey at the Joe Kubert School for cartoon and Graphic design. 95-98′.

Martin (Sarna): It’s great on many levels to have that family connection to your passion. What got you interested in designing BattleTech equipment?

Matthew: I’d always loved machines, robots, tanks and the like.  Started with Saturday morning and weekday cartoons.  Ranging from G.I. Joe and all their gear to Voltron, Tranzor Z, even Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors.  Anything along those lines fed what I liked, and thus made me like that kind of thing even more.

Martin (Sarna): There are some great blasts from the past there and lots to draw from for inspiration. So what was your first experience with BattleTech work?

Matthew: Well, after time things get fuzzy.  I know I started picking up work with FASA, who owned BattleTech at the time, directly from school.  I believe it may have been work in one of the Battleforce boxed sets, BF2 if I recall correctly.  That was mostly just introductory type work and shortly thereafter I got a big slice of the TRO3060 roster.  As far as the experience goes, working with the BattleTech guys was always good.  They knew what they were after, knew the right things to say to get it, and usually paid on time.;)

Martin (Sarna): As a writer I find it easy working with words. As an artist and with only words to work with, how do you go about transforming those words into drawings?

Matthew: Having everything I’m doing take place in a universe that has already been established helps.  It gives you the framework.  But the words do the same thing to non-artists that they do to artists, we hear something, we see it in our head.  We just have the ability to get it back out.  Plus almost nothing ever gets to its end state on the first go. There’s almost always something that gets missed or minimized when it should be far more evident.  That’s why we have art editors.

Martin (Sarna): Can you describe your design creation process? Do you typically start from the ground up (literally) or work from the head down?

Matthew: Such things often end up being on a case by case.  If there’s an important structure to whatever I’m drawing I’ll start there.  But if we’re just talking general ‘Mechs then I start from the inside out.  Since the universe has an established set of rules for its technology they tend to follow biological rules a bit.  What with artificial muscle and man-mind controls.  So typically an arm is an arm and a leg, other.  Having fun with the sliders in the BT universe between straight machine look and more manlike is usually one of the fun parts of design.  But usually the most important thing when designing is to remember what rules you’re supposed to be following.  That tends to make the difference.  Of course, also when to ignore them.

Martin (Sarna): You create a lot of excellent commissioned art, particularly via DeviantArt. What’s the thrill for you in doing this type of work as opposed to an entirely new creation?

Matthew: BattleTech fans have always been a fine bunch to do business with, so they make it fairly easy.  Drawing something different every time has its appeal.  I’m unlikely to be able to complain of stagnation, at least on a one to one basis.

Martin (Sarna): Between business and commissioned requests it sounds like you’re kept pretty busy. Do you have a lot of back-work waiting to see the light of day or do you create upon request?

Matthew: There are some personal projects still in sketchy stages, but generally I share everything that I’d consider “done”.  Usually a good idea to show off the latest commissions and such.  But when I’m not working on one of them, likely I’m doodling something else for sure.

Martin (Sarna): Do you play BattleTech? If so for how long and how often?

Matthew: I haven’t played the actual board game version in every part of 15 years but I still love the miniatures, buying and painting them.  In keeping with the tone set by the first time I ever heard “BattleTech” I’ve played it most recently in the computerized form.  I played MechWarrior Online for a bit and am looking forward to trying out the BattleTech turn based game as well.

Martin (Sarna): I can vouch that the latest BattleTech game by Harebrained Schemes is well worth the time and money. I hope you have a lot of fun playing it and we would love to hear about your experiences with it in the future.

Thanks very much for your time, Matt. It’s very interesting to get a little glimpse behind the curtain of a well-established BattleTech artist. We all look forward to seeing more of your work in the near future.


For those of you wanting to keep up to date with Matt’s work (and you absolutely should!) or contact him about commission work, you can follow his DeviantArt account here: MattPLOG on DeviantArt

Original BattleTech Pods In Grand Rapids Michigan Moving To New Dedicated Site

courtesy of Virtual World Entertainment

courtesy of Virtual World Entertainment

Some original BattleTech Center virtual reality pods are moving to a new dedicated “Pod Site” in Grand Rapids Michigan.

Those old enough to remember the Virtual World Entertainment pods will be happy to hear that they’re alive and well, and the set located in Michigan are migrating to a new location where they will continue to be tweaked, preserved, and even played in.

A few weeks ago, current Virtual World Entertainment owner Nickolas “PropWash” Smith posted to the BattleTech subreddit that he’ll be taking a contingent of the original BattleTech: Firestorm pods from their current storage location and bringing them to a dedicated pod site in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Previously, your best opportunity to get insides one of these delightful relics was to go to one of the many conventions where Nick and the gang bring their portable pods. However, with the new site, you’ll have a chance to get a real taste of what it’s like to be in a “real” ‘Mech cockpit–minus the oppressive heat and need for a neurohelmet of course.

courtesy of Virtual World Entertainment

For those not old enough to remember, Virtual World Entertainment was the FASA off-shoot that dealt with turning the games that FASA made into “location-based entertainment experiences,” more commonly referred to as arcade games. They had a pretty nice heyday throughout the ‘90s, but as the demand for arcades began to wane in the early 2000’s (combined with FASA’s decision to abruptly cease operations in 2001), Virtual World was put up for sale.

Microsoft first acquired Virtual World Entertainment along with FASA Interactive, but then they sold Virtual World again to an investment group.

At the time, these simulator pods were state of the art arcade games that an investment firm would have seen no value except to sell for scrap. Some pods almost certainly were scrapped, but a concerted effort from Virtual World owners and a dedicated player community managed to save most of these pods from the scrap yard.

And while there are multiple former Virtual World pods out there operated by several different groups, the original Virtual World Entertainment company continues to remain operational under the ownership of one Nickolas Smith. Nick purchased the company in 2005 and has dutifully safeguarded these priceless pieces of real-life Lostech for 20 years.

courtesy of VGLU on Facebook

And upgraded them. The pods themselves weren’t originally meant to be carried from convention to convention, and only with diligent work from many dedicated enthusiasts were they able to become portable. This allowed Nick (as well as others pod owners) to bring their hardware to various BattleTech conventions.

Between conventions, these Michigan based pods were initially kept in storage at Nick’s house–a far cry from the public arcades they used to be found in. I myself remember getting my first lick at a BattleTech pod from a Dave and Buster’s over a decade ago. I’m nowhere near a convention that BattleTech is featured at, so without an arcade, I’d have never been able to enjoy pulling levers and pushing pedals as though I were a real ‘Mech pilot.

Obviously, keeping a bunch of VWE pods at a random house in Michigan is less than ideal. Nick moved his cockpits to Grand Rapids in 2010 and put them under the care of Jeff Perry at the Big Kidz Games retail store. Now they’re being moved to a new site storage in Grand Rapids that will open during select special events for public play or by private reservation. The new location will be called the Virtual Geographic League Underground, or VGLU for short–a call back to the fictional Virtual World origins story.

I had a chance to speak to Nick recently, and he says that the new location will operate by word of mouth and social media–sort of like a modern speakeasy. If you follow the Virtual World Entertainment Facebook group (or the VGLU Facebook group) then you’ll be able to ask how and when you can get your hands behind the control sticks of a piece of BattleTech history.

Currently there are 18 pods, all running both BattleTech: Firestorm–that’s the one based on MechWarrior 4. But these pods are running far more than the original software. They’ve been tweaked, modded, and improved beyond what you might remember. All the original ‘Mechs are still there, but there are also the MekTek ‘Mech Packs that expanded the MechWarrior 4 arsenal to over 100 chassis, and even more custom designs added after that.

The new Grand Rapids site will open during Brocktoberfest on October 12th through 14th (Brocktoberfest being a reference to the game Red Planet that I didn’t understand beyond the fact that Red Planet was another game run on the Virtual World pods). The best way to get involved is via the Facebook groups I linked above.

And while you’re there, consider making a donation–these pods are kept alive and even improved thanks to the hard work of some dedicated individuals, but MacGyvering replacement parts in an ever-dwindling supply can get expensive.

For those not in the Michigan area, there are plenty of other locations to try out these incredible machines, including locations in Albuquerque, Houston, Minneapolis, and a site recently opened in Montreal, Canada. Check out the link here for specific locations.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

Fidelis, Stone, The ilClan? Oh, my!

Warning: potentially accurate theory regarding upcoming novels below.

Blaine Lee Pardoe, author of numerous BattleTech novels and source books, recently reported in his blog about a third BattleTech novella he is writing. The story, focusing on Wolf’s Dragoons, is scheduled for release in 2019, following two other novellas from Mr Pardoe, The Anvil and Forever Faithful.

We know that Forever Faithful will center on the Smoke Jaguars after their downfall in Twilight of the Clans and follow them through, I believe, to the ilClan era. We also know that Clan Goliath Scorpion will feature. It’s common knowledge that the last of the Smoke Jaguar warrior caste created the “Fidelis” (a Latin word meaning Faithful) and this elite force served the Republic of the Sphere following the Jihad. The name taken by the Smoke Jaguars, and the title of their upcoming novella, Forever Faithful, are unusual choices for a Clan that was known to openly mock mysticism. To what, exactly, are they “faithful”?

In his blog, Mr Pardoe hints at a number of “seeds planted” that tie in to a “big story arc”. There has been an incredible amount of fan speculation as to what this could mean and a number of conspiracy theories regularly pop up. I’m going to weigh in here with a few thoughts of my own that may or may not coincide with others.

I’ll start by tackling two with one blow: the Fidelis and Devlin Stone. Who the Fidelis are is well known. Why they had such a change in ideals is not. Also shrouded in mystery is the “debt” that they apparently repaid, granting them their release from Republic service in 3150. It seems clear that something significant happened resulting in a major shift in the Smoke Jaguars’ ideals. The annihilation of their Clan is major, of course, but would this alone really cause a transformation from aggressively martial (almost to the point of barbarism) to a more faith-based mind set?

The answer to that is hidden within the identity of the person who gave them their freedom: Devlin Stone.

There are many theories, and still so much mystery, surrounding who Devlin Stone really is. One idea that has crossed my mind (and it’s by no means an original one, I’m sure), is that Devlin Stone was created in an Iron Womb. There are certain links – tenuous I’ll grant you – that may suggest that at least part of Devlin Stone’s DNA came from Nicholas Kerensky. Let’s have a look at some of these:

  • Both have a very charismatic leadership style, politically and militarily;
  • Devlin Stone created his Republic from the Terran Hegemony;
  • Both have an affinity for the Atlas II, with Nicholas piloting an Atlas II throughout his Clan life,
  • They are eerily similar in their portraits;

  • But possibly the most telling of all – the control that Devlin exerted over the Smoke Jaguars.

If Devlin knows of his origins and imparted that knowledge to the remnants of Smoke Jaguar, that would cause the marked change in their philosophy that we have witnessed. Additionally, the “debt” that the Jaguars, in the guise of the Fidelis, owed could well be the ideals they held when invading the Inner Sphere. If Aleksandr’s wish was for a peaceful return to the Inner Sphere, and his son held to that vision, then the Jaguars’ methods were in direct contravention of that. If Devlin is being perceived as “The Great Father Reborn” then that could account for their shift.

On the subject of Aleksandr, the “Smoke Jaguar Remembrance” (also titled “The Unopened Work”) states the following (from the Dark Age novel Surrender your Dreams):

The betrayers came and claimed to be our friends. The Custos knew better. He trusted them only as much as necessary. When we learned of their betrayal, he changed us forever. He taught us that freedom, with rules and guidelines, was the key to our survival. We shed the old ways that held us back. We found The Republic and tied our future to the Great Father – Stone.

 Here they actually refer to Devlin Stone as the Great Father. That is a title that has only ever been reserved for Aleksandr Kerensky among the Clans. Coincidence or one of those planted seeds? Could it be that Devlin Stone is an amalgamation of the DNA of both Aleksandr and Nicholas?

And who are these “betrayers” that this passage refers to? It could be the Word of Blake, though the passage suggests that there was some trust between them and the fact that the Smoke Jaguars were imprisoned in Blakist re-education camps suggests that no trust was evident there.

That leads me to another possibility: The Blood. Whether it is to be believed or not, the sourcebook Jihad Secrets: The Blake Documents tells of contact between ComStar and Clan Wolverine during that Clan’s flight from the Homeworlds. The tale goes on to suggest that these Wolverines become “The Blood”, a fanatical group that was originally led and shaped by a person called “Marillier”. If these Blood are descendants of Clan Wolverine and form(ed) the core of Word of Blake, it would make sense that the Jaguars sought any way to eradicate them, even joining the Republic’s crusade. This also supports the Devlin Stone/Nicholas Kerensky connection and Devlin’s drive to wipe out the Blakists.

And that leads us right back to the aforementioned novella featuring Wolf’s Dragoons and, potentially, the ilClan. If there is a Kerensky on Terra, will we see Clan Wolf become the ilClan and will Wolf’s Dragoons finally be “coming home”? It’s all speculation, of course, and even if none of it is accurate it can be fun to theorize. What are your thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments below.

Harmony Gold’s Case Against Harebrained Schemes Dismissed!

Harebrained Schemes

Harebrained Schemes

The case against Harebrained Schemes has been dismissed according to the most recent document in the ongoing legal battle against Harmony Gold!

The document, titled “STIPULATION OF DISMISSAL WITH PREJUDICE,” confirms that the judge has dismissed the suit between Harmony Gold and BattleTech creators Harebrained Schemes. The news is fantastic for all BattleTech fans and even better for Harmony Gold haters around the world. By dismissing the charges with prejudice, the judge has effectively barred Harmony Gold from bringing forward a similar case in the future.

Thanks to user CeeSea for notifying me by posting the link in the previous article on this ongoing legal saga.

Before we break out the champagne, remember that Harmony Gold’s case against Harebrained was incredibly weak. The images supplied in their arguments to the judge looked so dissimilar that even a half-blind person wouldn’t mistake the two for the same ‘Mech.

Locust

via unitedstatescourts.org

As you can see, Harmony Gold was arguing that a Locust looked like a Marauder, or whatever the Robotech equivalent of the Marauder was (Destructoid Officer’s Pod or whatever). The two only share the vaguest of similarities, and arguing the two are the same is like trying to argue a gorilla is the same as a chicken. Sure, they both have four limbs, a brain, and are carbon-based lifeforms, but that’s where the similarities end.

So Harebrained Schemes is in the clear, but that still leaves the case between Harmony Gold and PGI, creators of MechWarrior Online and the upcoming MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. In that case, PGI did in fact use Unseen ‘Mechs in both games but updated them with their own unique flair to make them somewhat more intricate as befitting a modern video game.

But as we explained in our last post, PGI found previous court case decisions that found Harmony Gold to not even own the copyrights to the Unseen ‘Mechs, and thus have no grounds to sue. We’re still waiting on the judge’s decision on that argument, but this decision in favor of Harebrained is a promising sign.

We’ll be sure to keep you apprised as this court drama unfolds.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

MWO Benefit Tournament For MechWarrior Family That Lost Home Due To Fire

Battle scene

courtesy of phoenixdominion.com and by spooky777

I know it’s the beginning of the year and the last thing people are thinking of is another MechWarrior Online tourney, but this one’s a bit out of the blue for a good reason.

On January first, New Year’s Day, a fellow MechWarrior and his family lost their home due to an electrical fire. Now he, his wife, and two children have nowhere to live. There’s the usual GoFundMe set up for this sort of tragedy, but waiting for the goodwill of men isn’t really this community’s style. We prefer taking things into our own hands.

To that end, this MechWarrior’s clanmates on MechWarrior Online have organized a tournament where the proceeds will all go towards getting this guy and his family a new home. Frag some bozos in multi-ton death machines and help people out while doin’ it; what more could you ask for?

And it’s not just one tournament – it’s actually three, held on January 20, 27th, and February 3rd. Each tourney will have its own unique spin on it to keep things fresh and exciting, and everyone who enters will have a random chance to win loot from all the movers and shakers in BattleTech.

Let’s hit the deets!

First, for every $5 you donate to the GoFundMe campaign you get to pick which event you’d like to participate in. Fifteen bucks get you entry into all three. You can absolutely donate more if you like, but it’s a $5 minimum to take part in at least one tournament. Email your receipt to MYCROFT000@GMAIL.COM along with which tourney you’d like to sign up for. Your receipt is your entry ticket, so don’t lose it.

solaris7_steinercoliseum

courtesy of mwomercs.com

Next, pick your tourney. January 20th will be a Solaris-style, 1v1 tournament, January 27th will be a 4v4 tournament where teams will be randomly assigned, and February 3rd will be a standard 8v8 tournament with similar rules to the World Championship.

January 20th Tournament

  • 1v1, Solaris-style matches.
  • Single elimination, best of three games tournament.
  • No restrictions on tonnage, equipment, or consumables, so you can get an Atlas versus a Locust.
  • Once you choose your ‘Mech, that’s your ride for the duration of the tournament. No switching loadouts in between matches.
  • Registration closes 48 hours before the tournament begins.
  • Grand prize is an Ultimate ‘Mech Pack of the player’s choice, which gives you all the variants for a particular ‘Mech, the Hero variant, and a bunch of cosmetic stuff.

January 27th Tournament

  • 4v4
  • Single elimination, best of three games tournament.
  • Each team of four will be randomly generated from all participants.
  • You may change your loadouts between matches, but max tonnage is always 300 tons per team.
  • Map will always be Skirmish on Canyon Network.
  • Registration closes 48 hours before the tournament begins.
  • Grand prize is Collector Mech Pack of the player’s choice per player on the winning team. Collector ‘Mech packs have 3 variants of the ‘Mech, a bunch of cosmetic stuff, but no hero variant.

February 3rd Tournament

  • 8v8 teams.
  • Rules will be similar to the MechWarrior Online World Championships (ie. Each team can have two lights, two mediums, two heavies, and two assaults).
  • Map will always be Conquest on Rubellite Oasis.
  • The structure of the tournament will be round-robin or single elimination, depending on the number of entrants.
  • Registration Closes 96 hours before the tournament begins.
  • Grand prize is a Standard ‘Mech Pack of each player’s choice, which has 3 variants, no 30% c-bill bonus variant, no hero variant, and fewer cosmetics than either of the previous packs.

HBS Merch

Now, say you’re a terrible MechWarrior and think you don’t even have a hope in hell of winning any of these three tournaments. That doesn’t mean you still can’t win a prize! All the big BattleTech names, PGI, Harebrained Schemes, Catalyst Game Labs, and Iron Wind Metals, have signed on to offer their support and have prizes available to all tournament contestants.

How will these prizes be given away? Throughout the tournament, various members of the MechWarrior’s clan, Sixth of June [6of6], will challenge you to a 1v1 fight “with various arbitrary and absurd rules imposed from stock loadouts to battling with nothing but machine guns and no front torso armor.” It sounds insane, but fun, and you get some sweet loot for participating.

All the details and rules are naturally on the MechWarrior Online forums, along with a heartfelt response from the homeless MechWarrior at the heart of the tournament, Safety Seth:

Simpson Family

“I cannot offer thanks enough. Moments like these leave the grace of tongue lost for expression. Know that my family, my pregnant wife Tamra (Freebirth scum I know :) ), my 12-year-old son Raven, who loves the RVN-3L, Nyxxie my 6-year-old daughter, and myself are humbled at such a thing. Thank you so very much.”

January 20th is only a few days away, so be sure to donate, email, and sign up for your chance to win and help a fellow MechWarrior out while doing it. Win-win.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

Community Outreach – TwinkyOverlord of EmpyreaL, Current MWO Champs!

EmpyreaL team

courtesy of mwomercs.com

Welcome back to Community Outreach! This week we have TwinkyOverlord from EmpyreaL, the reigning champs of the MechWarrior Online World Championships. We talk about how he got into competitive MWO, how EmpyreaL came to win the recent championship in Vancouver, and what the future holds for the best team of MechWarriors in the world. Enjoy!

Continue reading

Animated MechWarrior Series Cancelled After Being Hit With Cease and Desist

HbIIC and MADCAT

courtesy of RoA Nitrox on YouTube

Earlier in December, we reported a new teaser video for an animated MechWarrior series to be created by Black Plasma Studios. The YouTube video was unfortunately taken down after amassing tens of thousands of views to the disappointment of BattleTech fans the world over.

We received word from the video’s director, RoA Nitrox, that Black Plasma had been hit with a cease and desist letter. But it wasn’t from the much reviled Harmony Gold – it was from Topps, the owner of the BattleTech copyright.

Topps acquired the rights to BattleTech in 2003 after purchasing WizKids, the makers of the MechWarrior: Dark Age clix system. WizKids was shut down in 2008, but Topps kept the intellectual property to many of FASA’s universes, including BattleTech.

Centurion

courtesy of RoA Nitrox on YouTube

“On December 7th, Black Plasma Studios received a cease and desist letter from Topps and the trailer was removed from the channel,” Nitrox told me via email. At Mech_Con he was able to talk to some of the PGI developers to see if there were any strings they could pull with Topps to get it back up.

PGI’s licensing with Topps is only for creating computer games, not animated series, so there wasn’t much they could do other than just add their voices to the chorus of people pleading to not kill the series before it had even begun. Sadly, Topps wouldn’t budge, so the whole thing was kiboshed.

There is, however, a tiny silver lining: RoA Nitrox was able to finangle the original teaser video after into an advertisement for MechWarrior Online. It largely resembles the original video, but with some advertising for the game thrown in and making it very clear that Topps owns the rights to BattleTech.

So, no new animated MechWarrior series. Let’s all now have a moment of silence for yet another victim of BattleTech’s litigious history.

RoA Nitrox also had a personal message he’d like to share with everyone who supported the video and his desire for a new animated series. As it’s a truly heartwarming message, I’m posting it in its entirety with minimal editing.  

“My experience [at Mech_Con] did no less than assure me that going forward with this series was what I truly wanted to do.”

“On January 17th, 2015, I found MechWarrior Online and began my journey as a pilot in this community. Within that first year, I experienced what was one of the best online communities I had ever taken part in. In early 2016, I considered the idea of attempting to create an animated series out of MechWarrior Online and started looking into what would need to be done in order to begin production. I slowly planned out the steps necessary throughout the year, eventually leading up to the first Mech_Con event. My experience there did no less than assure me that going forward with this series was what I truly wanted to do. Over those first two years, the MWO community and PGI’s engagement with it created a place that felt like a second home to me, and one I was proud to be a part of. The gears were set in motion, and for the 3rd year, I put together the trailer that I had the honor of presenting the week before Mech_Con 2017. The time of celebration was unfortunately short-lived, as the forces that be decided it was not our place to become a part of this community in the way I had hoped.

Direstar

courtesy of RoA Nitrox on YouTube

“I’ve met so many kind people who shared the same dedication to this franchise we all love.”

“In the end, I’m still proud to have had the chance to share with PGI and the community something special and to express my thanks for all the joys you have given me. Actions often speak louder than words, but unfortunately, I will not have the opportunity to continue displaying my thanks through the creation of the full series. Words are now all I have left to offer and they cannot express my level of appreciation for how incredible these past 3 years have been. Both in game, at each Mech_Con, and on my tour of the PGI studio, I’ve met so many kind people who shared the same dedication to this franchise we all love and I look forward to supporting this community for the many years ahead of it. Once more, I give my sincerest thanks to everyone and I’ll see you all out on the battlefield we know as the Inner Sphere, and the one I call home!”

Thank you, Nitrox, and we here at Sarna hope that one day you’ll be able to share your vision for a MechWarrior animated series without lawyers getting in the way.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Polygon Does a Nifty Spread on BattleTech

Polygon Does a Nifty Spread on BattleTech

courtesy of Polygon

A couple weeks back the fine folks over at Polygon decided to run a huge spread on all things BattleTech, covering the latest from Harebrained Schemes and PGI (along with their latest teaser video for Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries), but also going way further than most mainstream publications ever go and actually interviewing the creators of BattleTech itself: Jordan Weisman, Randall Bills, and L. Ross Babcock.

Mech Minis

For BattleTech history buffs (of which I know there’s quite a few of you around) there’s not a whole lot new being told in the interview, but there are a few nice tidbits to be had in the interview such as how Babcock and Weisman decided to demo their first edition of the BattleTech box set. Apparently, rather than merely mark down the battle damage their ‘Mechs were taking, the two of them would take it a step further and actually take a power drill to the figurines after they took a PPC hit.

“Those were the demo games we ran. They’d get good crowds going because everyone was saying, ‘Those maniacs are pulling apart these beautiful figures with a pair of pliers!’ So that was our first marketing campaign, just going around, doing those demo games and burning up our products for fun.”

On top of that, there was one pretty awesome story about a marketing stunt FASA pulled in 1988 at GenCon 21. Back then, the marriage between House Steiner and House Davion in the year 3028 was big news, and to commemorate the occasion Weisman and company invited everyone to a fake wedding held at the convention.

invitation

The whole thing was done as a radio event, with the announcer describing how the fictional wedding went down millennia in the future. They also served cake, and just as everyone was finishing, the announce dropped the big twist: that the Federated Commonwealth was invading House Liao, and on everyone’s plates were planets that were being invaded.

Those people then took part in a massive tabletop game, the results of which were used to create the next series of sourcebooks and novels.

Polygon also put out a very nice timeline of events, which of course Sarna has had for eons, but you can’t fault them for trying. Their timeline only goes up to 3049, which stops a bit short of the known boundaries of BattleTech lore. Again, can’t fault them for trying.

The whole thing is totally worth a look if you haven’t seen it already, so head on over to Polygon and check out their BattleTech features.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

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!