Category Archives: Community

Community Outreach – BattleTech CamoSpecs Online

Welcome to Community Outreach! This week we speak with Todd “Mastergunz” Farnholtz, a BattleTech Miniature painter and admin at CamoSpecs Online, the biggest site and Facebook group for miniature ‘Mech painting enthusiasts. We ask him about CamoSpecs, how it came about, and how he joined up to help define the unit colors of ‘Mechs the universe over. Enjoy!

Sean (Sarna): Who are you? Briefly introduce yourself.

Mastergunz: My name is Todd Farnholtz, but I go by the handle ‘Mastergunz’ on CSO. I joined the group in Summer of 2009 – just in time to get a single piece done and added to that year’s Gencon 2009 CSO diorama. It was a Word of Blake Raptor II and I rushed to paint it because the mini had just come out and wanted to display it on the board. I’ve been playing BattleTech since 93′,  so having an opportunity to be a part of the game I loved was a huge achievement for me.

courtesy of CamoSpecs

Sean: What is CamoSpecs? That is, how would you describe it to someone who doesn’t know much about it?

Mastergunz: CamoSpecs.com is a 100% fan run organization that provides visual references to canon paint schemes for the BattleTech universe. While we do get support from IWM (Iron Wind Metals) and Catalyst for special projects, the site and its upkeep is 100% on us. We are a dedicated group of artists that comb all available canon sources to make sure what we paint is accurate to what is written. We have even at times been asked to create schemes for new units as they were created by the authors.

Sean: When did you join CamoSpecs?

Mastergunz: I joined in 2009 after 2 failed submissions; finally made it in on my 3rd attempt.

Sean: What was the original idea behind CamoSpecs?

Mastergunz: I wasn’t around for the initial inception, which was 2 years prior I believe. The site and what it sought to do was conceptualized and inspired by the old FASA Camo Specs book showing the various paint schemes of the units in the BattleTech universe.

courtesy of CamoSpecs

Sean: When did you get into BattleTech?

Mastergunz: I started playing BattleTech in 1993 with the 2nd Edition box set after having played the old MechWarrior computer game.

Sean: And when did you get into miniature BattleTech making?

Mastergunz: I’ve always been a lover of all thing giant robots. Starting back in the 80’s with Transformers, Voltron, Robotech, etc… the 2nd Edition box set is what introduced me to miniature wargaming and painting. Kit bashing the various variants of the ‘Mechs was just something that we all did from the start.

courtesy of CamoSpecs

Sean: How long does it take to make some of these miniatures?

Mastergunz: I can’t speak for the sculpting side of things but painting a single mini used to take quite a while. In the beginning I would spend 6-7 hours on a single piece to get it to tabletop standard. As with all things in life, practice makes perfect (and learning to use an airbrush didn’t hurt) so I can finish a ‘Mech from primer to seal coat in about 3 hours now and feel it is of display quality.

Sean: What’s your favorite ‘Mech? An all-important question.

Mastergunz: Hands down the AWS- 9Q Awesome. I’ve never been a finesse player so something that hits hard and can take a beating is right up my alley. The 9Q is the original zombie. I even have a licence plate frame on my truck that says ‘My other ride is an AWS-9Q’.  

courtesy of CamoSpecs

Sean: And what’s your favorite miniature you’ve built?

Mastergunz: My favorite ‘Mech I’ve ever built and painted for BattleTech/CSO changes constantly as my skills improve, but I’d have to say my most recent favorite was the Zeus X4. It’s a solid model with a lot of dynamics to its assembly so it doesn’t have to be static.

ZeusX1

courtesy of CamoSpecs

Sean: What parts of BattleTech do you play? Perhaps a better question, what haven’t you played?

Mastergunz: I’ve played all the computer and console games, tabletop (both hex sheet and miniature rules) and little bit of Alpha Strike. I never got into the Dark Ages Clix Game but do own a ton of the models for kit bashing purposes. And of course I was a backer for the recent Kickstarter from Harebrained Schemes and am super excited for the beta to release.

Sean: How has CamoSpecs collaborated with official BattleTech content producers, like Catalyst Games?

Mastergunz: Yes. Our group leader, Ray Arrastia (who was recently promoted to Assistant Line Developer for BattleTech), is our direct liaison with Catalyst. We have been tasked with working on art for almost all of the books released in the last several years, most recently the Combat Manual: Mercenaries book and Alpha Strike.

courtesy of CamoSpecs

Sean: Let’s talk numbers. How BIG is CamoSpecs?

Mastergunz: CamoSpecs is currently a stable of about 15-20 painters, though only 6-10 of us are fairly active. You have to remember that this is a purely voluntary group and so we do what we can as real life allows.

Sean: What’s in store for CamoSpecs in the future?

Mastergunz: The million dollar question. Well I can say we have been working behind the scenes to keep things going via Facebook, mostly. Since we lost our server host in 2015 it has been a task to try and set up something that was as comprehensive and easy to use as the original site. Again, as a fan run volunteer group the time needed to essentially build a new site from the ground up is prohibitive but we are working on something right now.

courtesy of CamoSpecs

Sean: Anything else you’d like to share? Feel free to get shamelessly self-promoty :)

Mastergunz: BattleTech is my first love in miniature wargaming, and so I want to say thanks to all my fellow artist who over the years have pushed me to be better and became very good friends of mine – meeting up at cons and such. I can honestly say I would not be the artist I am today if not for their constructive criticism over the years and seeing the stuff they were turning out and making me say to myself “I want to learn to do that technique!”.

Shameless self plug time! To see some of my more recent BattleTech work (as well as not BattleTech) you can visit my painting page, Mastergunz Paint Worx, on Facebook and YouTube.

Also, some of my fellow CSO artist have a pages as well: “Captain of the Watch” Ed Smith on his Facebook page, and “B1BFlyer” Ryan Peterson runs a YouTube channel for CSO with lots of very cool tutorial videos up.

Incredible thanks to Mastergunz for agreeing to sit down with us. Tune in next time for more Community Outreach!

Mech_Con 2017 Announced!

As was widely expected with the enormous success of last year’s convention, Mech_Con 2017 has been announced on the PGI forums as well as the Mech_Con website. The convention will be held on December 9 at the Pinnacle Hotel Harbor Front in Vancouver Canada.

Last year’s Mech_Con was an incredibly exciting time with the MechWarrior Online Grand Finals taking center stage. In addition to the culmination of the worldwide MechWarrior tournament there were presentations from Harebrained Schemes on the upcoming BattleTech game as well as the announcement of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. Last year’s announcements have paved the way for this year’s convention to have demo stations for both MechWarrior 5 and BattleTech, giving everyone a hands-on preview of these hotly anticipated titles.

As with last year we can expect to see cadres of developers from both PGI and Harebrained Schemes, along with contingents from Catalyst Game Labs selling the latest in BattleTech swag. Con attendees will also have their chance at prizes and giveaways from the convention as well as the chance to rub elbows with developers from all walks of the BattleTech universe.

While the announcement of Mech_Con didn’t provide any details concerning the MechWarrior Online World Championships, the listed events for Mech_Con includes “2017 MechWarrior Online World Championship Grand Finals”, so we can rest assured that further information is certainly forthcoming.

All indications seem that this year’s Mech_Con will be bigger than ever, so order your tickets now before they sell out!

MRBC Season 9 Check-In

Welcome to another MRBC roundup. It’s been nearly 4 weeks since our last peak at the MRBC, and the league is starting to take shape and provide us with this year’s contenders. This early in the season it’s still anybody’s game, but we take a look at the front runners in the top divisions across each region.

Eon Synergy

In Europe the fight is turning out to be between Eon Synergy and Black Spikes Team 2 “Yellow Submarine” (which is easily the longest and most confusing title in the league), with both teams having a combined 15 drops won and 5 drops lost. Eon Synergy edges out Yellow Submarine in the all important reputation score but only by a mere 75 points, which can easily be regained by one team getting a few extra kills during a match. The two teams have met only once so far in a close game that saw Yellow Submarine the victor in 3 drops to 2. Notable in that game was a pair of drops where Yellow Submarine shutout Eon Synergy, destroying all their ‘Mechs. The two team are scheduled for a rematch on May 18th, and I’m sure Eon Synergy will be out for blood.

Osiriz

North America is becoming a three-way race between Osiriz, Dropship 5, and the 228th IBR “Black Watch”. While Osiriz leads the division with 5375 points, the other two teams have yet to play their fourth match of the season, which could easily catapult either of them into the lead. Osiriz has played the 228th once this season, resulting in a near blowout with 228th taking 4 out of 5 drops. Dropship 5 has fought neither of the other two leaders so it remains largely unknown how they’ll fare, but it should be noted that Dropship 5 has not had a single lost drop this season, leading some to speculate they are merely waiting for their victorious matches to take the top position in the division.

VETO

The Asia Pacific Region is also turning into a bit of a three-way race between the 228th IBR “The Wild Ones”, Veto, and The Cheapskates. The Wild Ones are currently in the lead with 4200 points, however both Veto and The Cheapskates have yet to have their fourth match. The two are set to have their first meeting on May 12th, which will surely leapfrog the victor into first place for the division. The Wild Ones are far from out of the race, and it’s anyone’s game in the Pacific rim.

Division B The Race To Watch

ISENGRIM

Interestingly, Division B in North America is looking to be a far more hotly contested race, with four front runners vying for dominance. In first place is ISENGRIM, a team which has crawled their way up from Division E and are looking to break into the Division A roster. Hot on their heels are three Division B veteran teams: Marine Mech’s: The Cabal, Blackstone Knights, and the 373rd Winged Viper Cluster (Smoke Adders). Most of these teams have met each other across the field of combat, and many of these matches have gone down to a single surviving ‘Mech.

MarineMechs

MarineMechs versus ISENGRIM was a particularly brutal match, with no team taking a ‘Mech off the battlefield that wasn’t fit for scrap. That is, except for the last match, where MechWarrior mdmzero0 suffered an unfortunate disconnect, taking his 100 ton Atlas essentially out of the drop. The sight of a rampaging and freshly painted Atlas would have been terrifying were it not for the match timer ticking down to ISENGRIM’s victory. A real heart breaker for MarineMechs. 

If you’re looking for some exciting matches, keep an eye on the Division B of MRBC’s upcoming shoutcasts. You’re sure to see some intense ‘Mech combat. 

That’s it for our latest recap of the MRBC season 9 standings. We’ll check back in later on the in the season to see if these tight races have any clear breakaways that could give us a preview for the upcoming MechWarrior World Championships coming this summer.

Until next time, ‘Mech fans. Stay syrupy.  

The Gathering Storm: A BattleTech Animated Remake

A lot of us will look back at Saturday morning cartoons from our childhoods and wish they’d bring them back. Sometimes it even happens – just look at Samurai Jack and Power Puff Girls. For most of us it remains just a wistful dream.  

But not for everyone. Some of us decide to take action. And one of us decided to remake the BattleTech cartoon.

It may be just the first 5 minutes, but it’s something to build on, and in all the technical ways certainly an improvement over the original. Try comparing the two:

I managed to track down the man who spent the blood, sweat, and tears to bring this classic back to life and asked him a few questions on his work.  

“When I first saw the BattleTech cartoon some years back I was completely blown away,” Vux tells me in an email interview. “That epicly badass introduction scene for the clans sent a die-hard clanner like me completely over the moon.”

Vux had been a BattleTech fan for a long time. An avid MechWarrior Online player, he’s done quite a few tongue-in-cheek introductory videos for new players on his YouTube channel already. Then, years later, he had an idea to bring back some of that original Saturday morning BattleTech magic.

“The vision I had was a shot-for-shot remake of the cartoon, with adaptations and additions as appropriate,” he writes, thus beginning a labour of love. “I started planning it with my MWO pals October of last year. I wanted to keep the script and dialogue very faithful to the original, with the intent being to mirror the style/attitude of the show (and its cast) as well as we could.”

The first step would be to get actual footage to use. “Luckily all the ‘Mechs featured in the cartoon were available to pilot in MWO,” so getting that footage would be as simple as gathering a group of friends to do some robot inspired acting. “All the battles and ‘Mech-y scenes were recorded with a group of nice players I knew, who volunteered (after only the tiniest amount blackmail and threats of lasery death) to assist me in some private lobby games.”

“We went with a slower moving ‘massive steel beasts’ feel, like in the cartoon,” which presented a challenge as the ‘Mechs in MechWarrior Online are generally significantly faster, and most pilots just jam the W button to go full throttle. Training his volunteers was difficult, as it went against everything they’d ever learned. “This meant dozens of (painful) retakes for scenes like the Inner Sphere ‘Mech charge scene with spinning camera, and the scene where Redmond’s ‘Mech dramatically steps into frame.”

Things got even more difficult once the shooting started. Since they were using a game to record all the footage, they had to work within the game’s constraints, which meant, “If the scene didn’t go right, we had to restart the entire map since there’s too much battle damage on the ‘Mechs to suit continuity of the scene at that point.”

As Vux tells it, this resulted in “A lot of strained nerves from my ‘Mech pilots, but we got them done just before people got completely fed up with me saying ‘okay guys, back to positions and go again’ for the 20th time.”

From Strained Nerves to Building Worlds

Not all aspects of the cartoon could be recreated in MechWarrior Online. Certain models, like the Batu fighters and the Dropships, just don’t exist in game. What’s a budding director to do? “I scoured the interwebs trying to find 3D models for the Battletech fighters and Dropship featured in the cartoon,” Vux writes, however most of what he found “were either not compatible with my 3D program or restricted in usage rights.”

“Then I discovered MWO player Kilroy’s archive of Battletech models and he was cool with me using them in my project,” he adds, proving once again how close-knit the MechWarrior Online community can be.

Next came the added challenge of adding this models into the footage already taken from the game. “I had zero previous experience working with 3D models, but I learned to use a plugin for Adobe After Effects called ‘Element 3D’ for the actual 3D work.” Still, learning on the fly was slow going,  or as Vux tells it, “I spent many evenings experimenting with animating and compositing the models with the MWO footage, hoping to make it both look decent and match the original scenes as closely as possible.”

Other scenes, such as the conversation between Andrew Steiner (Adam Steiner’s older brother) and Star Colonel Nicolai Malthus and the establishing shots of the Somerset Military Academy, presented their own difficulties. Once again, video games come to the rescue.

“I used Star Wars: The Old Republic to record the indoor scenes as it had the perfect military-type environments and big computer consoles I needed. I was able to create a Steiner character in the game who looks very close to his cartoon self, down to the scar and 5 o’clock shadow. I used what emotes were available in-game to get the lip-sync as close as I could to his lines.”

Unfortunately, Star Wars didn’t have anything that even remotely looked like Colonel Malthus, which was a problem. “I discussed options with my creative assistant (chrx) and we concluded it would be way too difficult to reproduce those scenes in any decent manner.”

After weeks of intense deliberation, Vux came up with the solution: “[I’d] introduce the clanners in a more suspenseful way – only showing a brief initial flash of Malthus’ ‘Mech and his transmission readout, not showing their faces at all. This way I could keep the attacking force very mysterious until the very dramatic scene where the clanners are revealed and Malthus makes his entrance with that deliciously over-the-top, ‘Your insolence has provoked the fury of the clans!’ speech.”

The voice acting is intentionally a bit cheesy and somewhat over-the-top, just like in the cartoon.

The last ingredient to bring his project to life would be to give it a voice. As Vux tells it, “The cast is basically just a bunch of BattleTech fans I managed to  sweet-talk into doing the lines.” Just like shooting the ‘Mech scenes, the voice acting had it’s own set of issues as not everyone in the cast had access to a professional microphone forcing “a few people to record their lines with their phones as that was all they had available.”

Nailing the dialog was also tricky as the cast couldn’t use their normal register when speaking to get the true 90’s cartoon camp. “This meant that the voice acting is intentionally a bit cheesy and somewhat over-the-top, just like in the cartoon.”

All that was left was months of editing and then it was released upon a wider world.

Wrapping up, Vux left me with a few words for his adoring fans. “I’d just like to thank all the fluffy people who have left nice feedback and supported my channel, you guys (and gals) rock!”

No sir, you rock, Vux. You rock.

Community Outreach – BanditB17, Competitive MWO, and the MechWarrior World Championships

Welcome to Community Outreach! This week we speak with BanditB17, a MechWarrior Online Shoutcaster, MRBC league admin, and all around hyper-connected individual in the MechWarrior Online community. We ask him what it’s like to cast some of the biggest games in MechWarrior as well as help out with one of MWO’s biggest leagues. Enjoy!

Sean (Sarna): To start, who are you? Briefly introduce yourself.

BanditB17: I am BanditB17. I am a community shoutcaster and Official Shoutcaster for the Mechwarrior Online World Championship 2016 and, hopefully, 2017.

Sean: Hopefully.

BanditB17: Hopefully, yeah. I am one of the administrators for the MRBC under Doyle. We are, of course, entering into our ninth season of competitive play. I started playing around season four and then became an admin around season six. I also do shoutcasting for MRBC, which actually got me started, and then I was able to move into more awesome things, of course. And I am drop-caller and leader, one of the leaders, of MarineMechs Divison B competitive-casual team.

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Did you know? BattleTech Comics

Back in its early days, BattleTech was way more than just a board game. It was a Saturday morning cartoon, a tradable card game, paintable model kits, and for a brief moment, a comic book series.

Published by the now defunct Blackthorne Publishing Inc., the comics had quite a limited production run. The first comic books ran for a total of 6 regular issues, plus one “annual” issue and a single “BattleTech in 3D” issue. The series never really had an overarching plot and really told several smaller stories in the 3025 era, with the first/second and fifth/sixth issues being the only ones with any relation to the other.

I won’t go into the details and spoil it for you, but I will say the canonicity of these comics is questionable as the authors get quite a few things wrong. On the other hand, this was way back in the early days of BattleTech, so we can cut the authors some slack as they didn’t have a handy resource like Sarna to do all the fact checking with.

That said, the quality of these comics was also not high. There were many inconsistencies between the art in the comics and the art depicted in the wider range of BattleTech products. Worse still was the fact there were many misspellings across issues for named characters or even within the same issue. For example, Lieutenant Max from the first issue could have his full name spelled “Maximillan” or “Maximillian” depending on which page you’re on.

In conjunction with the larger run of BattleTech comics were the BattleForce comics. Intended as a three issue mini-series, Blackthorne Publishing managed to get out two issues but never finished the third. Blackthorne ran into financial problems in 1988, forcing them to discontinue their line of color comic books, of which BattleTech and BattleForce were a part of.

Blackthorne struggled to hold on long enough to print the black and white BattleTech Annual, which combined the first 2 issues into a single story and made a continuation on the third issue. They also made BattleTech 3D, a standalone story where the reader would put on those cliche red and blue glasses to have the images pop out in simulated 3D. But in 1990, Blackthorne closed their doors for good, ending the BattleTech comic strip.

This wouldn’t be the end of BattleTech and comic books though. With the release of the BattleTech animated series in the mid 90’s also came the rebirth of the BattleTech comics. Called BattleTech: Fallout, the 4 issue comic series chronicled a ragtag team of fugitives as they became an effective fighting force to defeat the Clans on the periphery planet of Star’s End.

Published by Malibu Comics Entertainment, the comics used the same computer generated art that was featured in the animated series. The rest of the comic is of notably higher quality than those published by Blackthorne, but there were again some canonicity issues. The series takes place in 3050, however the protagonist lance features a Rakshasa, Raven and Wolf Trap, ‘Mechs that would never be seen in the deep periphery, and the Rakshasa wouldn’t even be built until the year 3055.

Still, the Fallout comics are an entertaining read, and well worth looking for the next time you find yourself in an old comic book store with tons of 80’s and 90’s stuff.

It seems unlikely for there to ever be another print run of BattleTech comics, but that doesn’t stop BattleTech comics from being created. No Guts No Galaxy lovingly maintains an archive of two BattleTech webcomics – Critical Hits and Dustbowl Shindig – over on their forums. If you’ve ever wondered what talking ‘Mechs would be like, go check Critical Hits. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

image courtesy of No Guts No Galaxy

Do you know some weird or obscure BattleTech trivia? We’d love to hear it!  Leave a message in the comments, or email me!

Blaine Lee Pardoe wrote an April Fools’ day BattleTech Fan Fic, and it’s Awesome!

image courtesy of blainepardoe.wordpress.com

As perhaps the second longest running author in the BattleTech universe, Blaine Lee Pardoe knows more about BattleTech than I ever will. And as a celebrated author (at least certainly celebrated around here, and according to his blog celebrated in a bunch of other places too) he’s also come across some of the seedier aspects of the BattleTech universe – fan fiction.

He’ll be the first to admit that some fanfic is good, and the good stuff will find its way to BattleCorps, and maybe even one day become a published novel. But the vast majority of fanfic that crosses his inbox brings Pardoe, in his own words, “one step closer to that aneurysm that I know is coming.”

As a tribute to the many years of awful fanfic, Pardoe has created the ultimate BattleTech fan fiction

As a tribute to the many years of awful fanfic, Pardoe has created the ultimate, the alpha and omega, the supreme example of BattleTech fan fiction, titled Operation Total Freakin’ Awesomeness. It is his greatest literary work to date, and quite possibly the greatest literary work of all time.

I won’t go into too many details and spoil it for you, however as a teaser, Operation Total Freakin’ Awesomeness follows Lieutenant Cody Whiplash Brightstar – callsign Tight-Testicles – as he battles Star Commander Shamalamadingdong – a warrior of Clan Tin Sloth – for control of the Lyran planet Urban. Classic Inner Sphere versus Clan hijinx ensue.

I should also note that Mr. Pardoe has gone to great lengths to ensure that his greatest story doesn’t land him in legal troubles (as is so often the case with BattleTech) – the story is littered with trademark and copyright symbols, just in case people got any smart ideas on lifting his stuff.

With this latest short fiction sure to become canon, I eagerly await the creation of the Clan Tin Sloth emblem, for which I will pay real c-bills to put on a t-shirt and wear with pride. To those artists reading this post, I implore you to post your links in the comments section below.

Did You Know? Tabletop Simulator has BattleTech in VR

Nothing quite beats the feeling of sitting down around a big table with your friends and spending an evening playing tabletop BattleTech. The sound of rattling dice, the camaraderie, the drinking (at least when I do it), and the inevitable hollering that follows when someone bumps into the table and knocks over everyone’s ‘Mechs. Priceless.

Sadly this option isn’t available to everyone. Sometimes there’s just not enough people around to get a good playgroup going. For those ‘Mech heads there’s always been MegaMek to get there giant stompy robot fix, but the virtual world has never really lived up to the meat world in terms of delivering the authentic games night experience.

That remained the case until 2015, when a hitherto PC game got some much needed giant robot love.


Tabletop Simulator is a game available for download on Steam (or Humble Store or- y’know what? Just go to their website for the full list) that’s really not much of a game at all. It’s more like a physics sandbox designed to mimic real life as much as possible. The game comes with a few classic board games (like checkers, pachisi, and go), but in a terrible oversight from the designers, it did not ship with BattleTech as an available game to play.

Lucky for us, Tabletop Simulator is easily modified by enterprising individuals with a little modeling experience and a love of the game.

“When I heard of Tabletop Simulator I found out that there was nothing on the Workshop for BattleTech.”

“I’ve been playing BattleTech since… well, yeah I started playing MechWarrior since I was, like, you know, three,” says Steam user Turduckens, who was the first to see the potential for Tabletop Simulator and its glaring omission of BattleTech. “When I heard of Tabletop Simulator I found out that there was nothing on the Workshop for BattleTech. And I think the game had only come out for, like, a year or so, so then I decided I’d get to work on that.”

Bringing BattleTech to Tabletop Simulator wasn’t entirely a walk in the park. Because the game has almost no scripting outside of rolling dice, everything that exists in real life has to be made to work in game. That means hex maps, ‘Mech models, even the Record Sheets had to be recreated by hand to work in Tabletop.

“The hardest thing was originally trying to find good sources for models. Like, there was always the paper models, which a lot of the times were MechWarrior 4 and 3 models, which I don’t know what magic they used to rip those from the game because I could not figure it out.”

And of course there were some mishaps along the way. When developing the original hex boards for use in Tabletop, he ran into a few minor issues. “I didn’t know how to use the hexagonal snap at the time so all of my hexes were slightly uneven and disjointed, haha!”

Fortunately for Turduckens, after the initial release of the hex boards he didn’t have to work alone. “As the word got out it kind of blossomed. Like, a lot of people started making stuff for Tabletop Simulator,” says Turduckens after his initial release of the BattleTech game boards.

Soon a community of user created content would develop around the project, culminating in the BattleTech Collection page under the Tabletop Simulator Workshop. Turduckens curates the page where he compiles and collates all the latest and greatest in BattleTech mods for Tabletop Simulator.

And there is quite a lot available. From hundreds of Record Sheets from Steam user Insaniac99, to a full fledged campaign from Steam user WuSu. There’s even other BattleTech games like the TCG and Alpha Strike.

Getting started in BattleTech Tabletop Simulator is easier than ever, with many user created quick-start scenarios. Turduckens has his hosted on Nexus called Davion vs. Mercenaries, a well balanced 4v4 scenario that pits a Federated Suns lance against a mercenary lance of classic 3025 era Battlemechs. For more experienced users, there’s more comprehensive collections such as Steam user ItchyDani3l’s Skirmish, which gives players dozens of ‘Mechs to choose from, both Clan and Inner Sphere.

Best of all, Tabletop Simulator has recently gotten VR support, adding a level of immersion never before seen to simulated BattleTech. Turduckens sadly didn’t have a working VR headset to test out his designs, but he did have a friend do it for him.

“One of my favorite moments when I was making this stuff was my friend joined and he had his VR headset on, and it shows you in-game exactly where his head is and where his arms are and he was, like, picking stuff up and he was looking at these ‘Mech models I imported and it was just so cool.”

It may be soon that the virtual world will be the space of choice for tabletop BattleTech fans.

For those looking to find Tabletop Simulator players, Turduckens recommends Clan Ghoul as a place to start. “They were so fun to play with, oh my god. Our gamemaster was running, like, eight ‘Mechs at a time versus us, and he was such a good host.”

Of course, we couldn’t leave Turduckens without asking him his favorite ‘Mech. “Oh, I’d have to say the Awesome. Yeah, I love ‘Mechs that can peek out and do a crap-ton of damage and then just go back into cover and cool off.”

Until next time, ‘Mech fans. Stay syrupy.

Community Outreach – MRBC’s Doyle

Welcome to Community Outreach, where we here at Sarna reach out to learn more about other BattleTech communities and the people that shape them. This week we interview Doyle, the founder of the Mercenary Review and Bonding Commission (MRBC) league for MechWarrior Online. Enjoy!

Sean (Sarna): So, to start off, how about we begin with “who are you?” Briefly introduce yourself.

Doyle: I’m Matt Doyle. I’ve been playing MechWarrior pretty much since the start, competitively since the start. I’ve been involved in top-level European competitive teams since very, very early on. Ex-SJR [ed. Steel Jaguar], we broke away to form our own unit, which its current iteration is 9th Sanguine Tigers, and of course, I’m the founder of MRBC League.

Sean: What is the MRBC?

Doyle: Well, I would say it’s the most accessible and biggest, player-run competition these days in MechWarrior Online. We’ve been around a long time, so I guess we’re now the longest running as well. And yeah, it works as a league, hence the name MRBC League. It’s accessible to teams of all levels from the very bottom right to the very top. You can always enter at the bottom division and have fun, just as you can be a top-level team fighting it out for the title of Division A as well.

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Community Outreach – No Guts No Galaxy’s Bombadil

Welcome to Community Outreach, where we here at Sarna reach out to learn more about other BattleTech communities and people that shape them. This week we interview Bombadil from No Guts No Galaxy. Enjoy!

 

Sean (Sarna): Hi Bombadil! Let’s start with a brief introduction. Who are you?

Bombadil: My name is Daeron, or “Bombadil” to some, and I’ve been a BattleTech fan for about as long as it is possible to be one. I’m married and have three kids, have lived in California my entire life, but am currently in the process of moving North to be closer to all things BattleTech and MechWarrior (Piranha Games, Harebrained Schemes, and Catalyst Game Labs are all in the Pacific Northwest area).

Sean: What IS No Guts No Galaxy? That is, how would you describe it to someone who doesn’t know much about it?

Bombadil: Simply put, NGNG is a hub for what’s happening today in the BattleTech and MechWarrior franchise. With close relationships to Piranha Games, Harebrained Schemes, and Catalyst Game Labs, we cover everything from MechWarrior Online, MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, the BattleTech turn-based strategy game from HBS, the BattleTech tabletop game, as well as the many novels (both classic and new releases). We’re also content creators, and over the years have worked on or helped facilitate a lot of projects that we’re very proud of, including web comics, an animated series, and we have even released five MechWarrior-inspired music albums with hopefully another coming out in 2017. There are many talented people in this community, everything from artists to programmers, and we’ve had the honor of working with some of the best.

Sean: When did you start No Guts No Galaxy?

Bombadil: Phillip Langenberg (NGNG co-founder) and I started NGNG back in 2009 while playing MechWarrior Living Legends, which is where we met. We were also both a part of that dev team for a while. Back then it was really just a community Teamspeak server where we would hang out with our friends and talk about BattleTech all day. We launched the podcast in late 2011 when PGI first announced MechWarrior Online, which is really the start of what NGNG is today.

Sean: What made you want to start No Guts No Galaxy?

Bombadil: As I mentioned before, it started off as a community for our Living Legends friends, but then we noticed that the BT/MW community seemed very fragmented at the time, so it also became an attempt to bring us together to play and discuss our favorite game in all its forms.

We noticed that the BT/MW community seemed very fragmented at the time, so it also became an attempt to bring us together to play and discuss our favorite game in all its forms.

Sean: When did you get into BattleTech?

Bombadil: It was 1984. I walked into my local game shop, and the BattleDroids (before they switched to BattleTech) box set cover with that classic Warhammer image was staring at me from the shelves. It was love at first sight, and the rest is history. If my 12-year-old self only knew what I’d be doing 30 years later!

Sean: What’s your favourite ‘Mech? An all-important question.

Bombadil: Easy, that aforementioned Warhammer will always be my baby. But being the old grizzled MechWarrior that I am, I am very partial to the Inner Sphere and their ‘Mechs, though I don’t mind salvaging Clan tech. I especially like most of the Unseen that I also knew from Robotech, such as the Marauder, Rifleman, Archer (Alpha Lance power!) and so on.

Sean: What parts of BattleTech do you play? Perhaps a better question, what haven’t you played?

Bombadil: I don’t believe there is any version of BattleTech or MechWarrior that I have not played, including all of the video games, tabletop, and the card game. I’ve even played several fan-made games in various forms.

Sean: How has No Guts No Galaxy collaborated with official BattleTech content producers, like Catalyst Games and Piranha Games?

Bombadil: As soon as we started the podcast, and we knew people were listening, we began reaching out to anyone and everyone that had anything to do with BattleTech and MechWarrior, including both Catalyst and Piranha. Thankfully, both were very receptive, and we began to do interviews and sponsored giveaways on a regular basis. Most recently, we’ve partnered with Harebrained Schemes to host the monthly BattleTech developer Q&A streams on our NGNGtv Twitch channel on the second Tuesday of every month starting at 12pm PDT.

Most recently, we’ve partnered with Harebrained Schemes to host the monthly BattleTech developer Q&A streams.

Sean: Let’s talk numbers. How BIG is No Guts No Galaxy?

Bombadil: On YouTube, we’re about to reach 14,000 subscribers, and we receive an average of around 50-75,000 views a month. On Twitch, we’re almost at 12,000 followers, and have had over 1.25 million views. Most of our podcasts get 3-5,000 listens in the first month or so. It’s a small, but very dedicated and passionate community.

Sean: What’s in store for No Guts No Galaxy in the future?

Bombadil: As I often say, and I’m sure you guys at Sarna know this as well, it’s a great time to be a BattleTech and MechWarrior fan! With the ongoing development of MWO, BattleTech from HBS coming out this year, MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries next year, and the continued release of products from Catalyst, there’s a lot to celebrate now, and look forward to in the near future. All we need now is that movie we’ve all wanted! We will continue to cover everything as best as we can, including the new games like BattleTech and eventually MW5. We would also like to increase our coverage of the tabletop and novels with more regular visits from Randall Bills from Catalyst as well. Oh, I’d also like to get back into MegaMek this year, as it’s been awhile.

Sean: Anything else you’d like to share? Feel free to get shamelessly self-promoty :)

Bombadil:  I don’t know when this interview is going live, but I will be making a guest appearance on the HyperRPG BattleTech tabletop show “Death From Above” on Friday, March 17th starting at 6pm PDT. I’ll be working the MWO booth at the LANtasy event in Victoria, BC over that weekend (March 18th and 19th), more information on that can be found at LANtasy.com. I’ll also be co-hosting the patch-day stream live from PGI on March 21st, where we’ll be discussing the patch and interviewing developers while the client patches, starting at 10am PDT on twitch.tv/PiranhaGames. Finally, you can find me on the NGNG podcast, which we record live most Wednesdays at 6pm PDT on twitch.tv/NGNGtv, with our show archives available at youtube.com/NoGutsNoGalaxyTV and soundcloud.com/NoGutsNoGalaxy.

Incredible thanks to Bombadil for agreeing to sit down with us. Tune in next time for Community Outreach!