Category Archives: Community

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.

Continue reading

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!

Did You Know? – Fan made TRO 3028 is better than the originals!

Welcome to Did You Know?, a new column exploring the weird and obscure corners of BattleTech. Today we take a look at Technical Readout 3028, a brand new, fan-made TRO that reimagines the classic Technical Readouts with modern rules and art. Enjoy!


image courtesy of Michael Todd

The BattleTech Technical Readouts historically have given every ‘Mechhead exactly what they want; all the numbers that detail the ‘Mech’s in-game performance, a detailed history and backstory, and a big glossy picture. TRO 3028 has all of this in spades, but what makes TRO 3028 so special is not only does it improve on the old school TRO’s by adding modern art and quirks to classic BattleMechs, it’s also completely fan made.

One of my fondest BattleTech memories is of an old spiral notebook I’d made back in high school called ‘Honest John’s Refits’

TRO 3028 comes from a collaboration of fans, but the driving force behind the project came from one man; Michael Todd. Hooked on BattleTech after picking up TRO 3025 as a kid, he’d always dreamed of making his own Technical Readout. “One of my fondest BattleTech memories is of an old spiral notebook I’d made back in high school called ‘Honest John’s Refits’,” he describes in a nostalgic post on the Harebrained Schemes forums. But work and school would always come first, and time would see Michael playing less and less. Eventually he sold his prized BattleTech collection to make way for a home and a family.

Then, years later, a call from an old college friend, and an invitation to a monthly BattleTech game was all it took for the bug to bite back with a vengeance. “Since I’d been away from the game for close to a decade at this point, I had some serious catching up to do.” In a mad frenzy he caught up on the novels that had been published in his absence, repurchased the old TRO’s, and made a tragic discovery. “It was missing all the BattleMechs I grew up with,” he lamented, regarding the loss the “Unseen” ‘Mechs from the modern 3039 TRO.


image courtesy of Michael Todd

There was one silver lining to be found; “I discovered Alex had re-imagined many of the original BattleMechs for MechWarrior Online.” These modern renditions of classic ‘Mechs were clean, detailed and intricate, far more interesting than the originals. Then with the announcement of Harebrained Schemes upcoming turn-based computer version of the classic BattleTech game, and the “Unseen” ‘Mechs return to the BattleTech fold along with yet more modern art, he knew there was a golden opportunity to recreate that magic he found in the old 3025 TRO.

For a long time I worked in solitude, harvesting art primarily from the MechWarrior Online forums

So Michael set to work. “For a long time I worked in solitude, harvesting art primarily from the MechWarrior Online forums,” but after posting progress on BattleTech forums, it wouldn’t take long for his project to grow. First came Justin Kase, who took the MechWarrior Online art and along Odanan’s templates repainted those ‘Mechs in the style of the old TRO’s, with unit colours and insignias. Then SpOoKy777 became involved by providing full page art spreads to break up each section. Finally after a dozen contributors and editors gave their piece, the dream was realized and TRO 3028 was born.

Packed with interesting lore based largely on canonical sources, TRO 3028 is a must have for any fan of BattleTech. But first and foremost, TRO 3028 is an invitation for players who might not be familiar with the tabletop game to come play classic BattleTech with the ‘Mechs they recognize from modern computer games.

Best of all, it’s completely free. Go pick it up. You’re sure to love it.

Someone did the math on how many ‘Mechs you kill in MechWarrior 3

MechWarrior 3 is somewhat unique in MechWarrior series. Whereas in every other game each engagement is a single battle where the player may kill a half-dozen enemy ‘Mechs and then move on, MechWarrior 3 is essentially one long guerrilla operation. In other games, when it’s all said and done you fly away in your dropship, sipping space martinis and laughing merrily at all the whacky robot hijinks you got up to. In MechWarrior 3 you don’t have that luxury – you’re stuck dirtside, on the run, fighting to survive wave after wave of Smoke Jaguar warriors.

So how many ‘Mechs did you bust on Tranquil? Reddit user hydra337 has helpfully done the math.

Short answer: it’s a lot.

Long answer, you destroy 168 points worth of ‘Mechs, Elementals, tanks, and VTOL’s, or roughly an entire clan Galaxy.

This has some interesting implications for the sneak attack on Huntress as well as Operation Bulldog. As hydra377 puts it:

“The Smoke Jaguar forces that did go to Huntress were enough to overcome Serpent, but not enough to eradicate them wholesale before Bulldog arrives. If that returning homeworld force had an extra Galaxy however [like the one you destroy in MechWarrior 3], Clan Smoke Jaguar may have been able to destroy Task Force Serpent, regroup, and be much more prepared for the Huntress assault of Bulldog.”

Trial Under Fire, the book based off of MechWarrior 3, is considered the canonical version of events, and in that story Clan Wolf actually does most of the destruction for you. But in our hearts we all know who the real hero of the story is.

With much thanks to hydra337 for agreeing to let me post his work!

A chat with MechWarrior Online Champs: Empyreal’s prtNspz – Full Interview

As reported in our last article, MWO World Championship  tournament wrapped up last year to much fan fair at MechCon 2016. The team crowned best in the world was Empyreal, taking the championship with a stunning 81-0 record. We sat down to speak with one of the players of Empyreal, Nik “prtn_spz”, to learn about his journey from the cold wilds of St Petersburg Russia to the slightly less cold winner’s circle at MechCon in Vancouver Canada.

(Sarna) Sean: How about to start off we get a little about yourself? So who are you?

prtn_spz: Well, my real name is Nikita, or in short is Nik. I’m living in St. Petersburg. And yes, I’m a BattleTech fan. Been playing BattleTech games a lot and been reading books as well. So that’s how I came to MechWarrior Online. And, yeah, I set up with this game and met lots of friends, and that’s how I practice my English. It’s not perfect though, unfortunately.

Sean: It’s pretty good to me.

prtn_spz: Well, that’s good to hear.

Sean: So because it’s sarna.net we’re all giant BattleTech fans.  What else besides MechWarrior Online have you played in the past?

prtn_spz: I played MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries as well as MechWarrior 3. I also used to play MechCommander, not for so long. So my main games were MechWarrior 4 and 3. I played MechWarrior 4 the most.

Sean: How’d you come up with the name “Proton”? Or the shortened form that I tried to track you down with, prtN_spz?

Continue reading

Unstoppable: A chat with MechWarrior Online Champs, Empyreal’s prtNspz

In researching last week’s article on MechWarrior Online’s competitive leagues, I made an astounding discovery; reigning World champs Empyreal had a completely perfect record during their championship run. What made them an unstoppable force? To find out I reached out to Empyreal, and was able to sit down and talk to one of their players, Nik “prtNspz”, to get his epic journey to the winner’s podium.

The first thing you notice when you talk to Nik is he’s a pretty humble guy. When I brought up Empyreal’s record, he never let it seem like any match was anything but a hard-fought win. “There was always a challenge for me because it’s my first World Championship,” says prtN, who lets me know is short for “Proton”.

Despite the challenge, he certainly made it look easy, and I let him know. “I would say it’s not really, because we spend a lot of time practicing, and we got rewarded for that.”

We spend a lot of time practicing, and we got rewarded for that.

How much practice did it take for a perfect record? “We were practicing almost every day. And the only problem there for me is I am Russian, and the practices were in the early morning for me, like 5:00 or 6:00 a.m.” I know for me getting up that early would take some serious dedication.

It wasn’t all just practice. Knowledge of the tournament and which maps to focus on helped too. As Proton tells it, “We had a look at which maps are gonna be picked according to the [tournament] rules.” Each team captain would have the option to ban certain maps, and most teams eliminated maps that had balance issues leaving just a few options. “Tourmaline that is left, Canyon Network that is left, and, like HPG. So we [practice] those maps.” Although not quite to the exclusion of all others. “Of course we practiced the other maps just in case if something happens.”

That preparedness paid off. Undefeated in both the qualifying rounds and the regional finals, Proton was flown along with other members of Empyreal to MechCon in Vancouver to compete for the grand championship. The finals would pit Empyreal against the other regional winners, EON Synergy and the 228th Wild Ones.

Even with all their preparation, Nik knew they were in for a fight. “The best unit in the European region is EON Synergy. I know those guys. I know how they played […], and they literally had the same skill level as us.”

The final matches followed the qualifiers, with win after win going to Empyreal. Then, a surprise move from EON put victory in jeopardy. “EON just went all-in. They just rushed us, but we practiced”, and because of that practice they were prepared.

Instantly meeting their thrust, Empyreal arranged their lances atop Canyon Network’s rocky escarpments, giving each ‘Mech the perfect sight lines to reign fiery death on their attackers. “And after we killed the last ‘Mech I personally, I just, like, couldn’t believe that everything is over.” Empyreal accepted their accolades to screaming MechCon fans.

And after we killed the last ‘Mech I personally, I just, like, couldn’t believe that everything is over.

And for new players? Proton has some good advice. “You can’t just install the game and be good,” he explains, ”because MechWarrior Online is something different. It’s not just an FPS shooter. You need to be patient, you need to learn because the game has a long learning curve.”

Perhaps foretelling my own gameplay he adds, “You’re making mistakes, you learn from them because that’s how I learned. Even though I’m not considering myself as a professional player.”

I pointed out his World Champ’s medal, but he just scoffs. Like I said, Nik’s a humble guy.

You can read the whole interview with prtNspz here. You can watch prtNspz play and get helpful tips on his Twitch stream.

Meet the competitive leagues of MechWarrior Online

MechWarrior Online has been the pinnacle of simulated ‘Mech combat since its closed beta in 2012, and as a PvP game, competitive leagues have surrounded the game since its inception. Now, nearly half a decade later, the competitive scene for MWO is as vibrant and alive as ever, with the best MechWarriors duking it out for fame, glory, and honor. But it’s also grown significantly and knowing where or how to get involved can be daunting. Strap on your neurohelmet while we take a tour of MechWarrior Online’s competitive leagues.

The big kahuna is the one sponsored by the game’s developers, Piranha games. With 2016’s first place team taking home over $86,000.00, the World Championship draws ‘Mech teams from across the globe to compete for real cash. The previous year’s championship saw teams separated by region (North America, Europe, Asia/Pacific) compete in a round-robin qualifier held throughout the year. The top 5 teams from each region then went on to the regional finals, with the winner of each region being flown to Vancouver to take part in the final matches held live at MechCon.  

For those familiar with MechWarrior Online’s 12v12 format, the tournament rules were a little different. Instead, matches were 8v8, and followed a strict format: 2 light ‘Mechs, 2 mediums, 2 heavies, and 2 assaults. Each match was held on a capture-the-point style Conquest map, with league enrolled teams voting on which maps would be used to compete. Unlike other leagues, which use the player’s own in-game resources, the World Championship gave each team access to every ‘Mech and weapon system available in the game to ensure player parity. With its emphasis on strict competition, the World Championship brought out the best the world had to offer. So far PGI has been mum on the possibility of a 2017 Championship, but with the success of the 2016 tournament there’s hope an official announcement is just around the corner.

While it doesn’t have the formal backing of the game’s designers, the MRBC takes the title of largest league in MechWarrior Online with over 180 registered teams. Founded in 2014, the league seeks to give players a fun competitive experience at a variety of skill levels. Much like the World Championships, the league is broken down by region (North America, Europe, Asia/Pacific), and each region is broken down into divisions defined by player skill level. Teams compete in a double round-robin format, and at the end of each season the top team from each division is bumped up to a senior division, while the last place team gets relegated to a lower division. Victories are scored not simply through winning a match, but also through a reward system that gives teams reputation points for certain actions during a match (like destroying a number of the opposing ‘Mechs). Although the MRBC is not officially supported by PGI, they have historically received in game currency that is awarded to the winners of each division.

In addition to ensuring participants have fun by competing against players of similar skill level, the MRBC also tries to add variety to their games. Each match is a series of games on different maps, 8v8, with an assortment of light, medium, heavy and assault weight classes. In order to achieve player parity, only ‘Mechs available for purchase with in-game currency are allowed (Hero ‘Mechs, those only available for purchase with ‘Mech Credits, MWO’s real world currency, are not legal). Teams are also only allowed to bring one duplicate chassis per match, meaning if one player brings a Timberwolf (regardless of variant) only one other player on the team is allowed to bring another Timberwolf, and all remaining ‘Mech choices must be the sole example of the chassis on the team. With these quirks, the MRBC emphasizes diversity and enjoyment over strict competition, explaining both its longevity and enormous following.

Run by the same people who run the MRBC and begun in 2016, MechWarrior Arena is a 1v1 competitive league that seeks to emulate the gladiatorial ‘Mech combat of Solaris VII. MWA follows a tiered division structure similar to the MRBC that matches players in the same region and the same skill level. Unlike Solaris VII, which broke down its tournaments by the usual ‘Mech classes of light, medium, heavy and assault, MWA breaks it down into 10 ton increments (a 20 ton Locust will fight a 25 ton Commando, but never fight a 35 ton Jenner). More in keeping with Solaris VII (and differing from the MRBC), players are allowed to bring highly customized Hero versions of ‘Mechs to combat. Winners of each division are also awarded in game prizes generously donated by PGI.

There are however some restrictions found in MWA owing to its 1v1 nature. First, streak missiles are not allowed as their presence tends to warp the format and also remove skill from determining the winner of a match. Flamers are also limited to two per ‘Mech so as to prevent each match from turning into a dance of pyromaniacs. Finally, certain ‘Mechs can be upgraded or downgraded a weight class due to their intrinsic performance (such as the Ice Ferret, which competes at the 50-55 ton level) or outright banned if they completely dominate a weight class. As with the MRBC, the emphasis is on variety of gameplay and fun.

Perhaps the oldest of MechWarrior Online’s unofficial leagues, Run Hot or Die began in the days of MechWarrior’s closed beta. For several years, RHoD was the premiere MWO competitive league covering North America and Europe, however saw its popularity wane in 2016 with the rise of the MRBC. The league returns with a fresh new format that will bring even more variety to the competitive scene.

RHoD is a single-day, Swiss Pairing, single elimination, bracket style tournament that pits warriors in 4v4 lance combat. Each match is a best of seven rounds, with each round having either a weight limit or a class restriction for the 4 ‘Mechs each team drops with (for example, one round may allow 200 tons of ‘Mechs, but another round will require each team bring one light ‘Mech, 2 mediums, and 1 heavy). Teams are also limited to 2 chassis per match, meaning if during one round a team brings two Stormcrows, they are unable to use any Stormcrows for the rest of the match. There’s no limitation on which ‘Mechs can be brought except they must be available for purchase either with in game currency or real currency (eliminating ‘Mechs that are only available via pre-order). There are also no restrictions on weaponry, giving RHoD players a wide array of options they can bring to each lance vs lance encounter.

Competitive play in MWO isn’t limited to leagues. Smaller, for fun tournaments are held all the time, and are advertised on the MWO forums and community page. Many have a charity focus, such as the MercStar Invitiational, which pits players in simulated ‘Mech combat to support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. There’s even a recently released Stock Class tournament that forces players into non customized versions of their favorite ‘Mechs, eliminating the need for costly upgrades in order to compete. No matter what your skill level or resources, there’s a place for every player in MechWarrior Online’s competitive scene.

New BattleTechGear Crowdfunded Merch – Stein & Coasters

BattleTechGear.com (from HBS) has two new crowdfunded BattleTech merchandise campaigns:

  • BattleTech Stein – ceramic pint with a really awesome metal Atlas-Skull top ($40)
  • Solaris VII Coaster Set – featuring 6 “commemorative” coasters (and tin) full of Solaris VII lore ($20)

Both products are crowdfunded — meaning if the minimum order quantity isn’t reached, the products won’t be produced.  They’re both over half-way to the minimum already!

You have until March 1st to get in on the action!

Official announcement here.

Want to write for Sarna.net?

Are you a BattleTech geek that also likes to write?

Want to cover MechWarrior Online or news about the upcoming BATTLETECH game?

Interested in sharing your thoughts and reviews on the latest products and releases?

Sarna.net is looking for a new writer or two for the News section.

If you are interested, please get ahold of Nic and share what you’d like to cover.

BattleTechGear.com

Fantastic news just in time for the holidays: Harebrained Schemes has secured a limited license from Topps to create and sell BattleTech merchandise.

They can only sell a limited number of items, so to prioritize what gets ultimately gets made, they’ve opened a crowdfunding website at BattleTechGear.com.  Only items that meet the minimum order quantity will be produced.

Check out the first four offerings.  I’m already drooling over the resin Atlas:

BattleTechGear.com KS