GenCon 2018 is almost a wrap, and Catalyst Game Labs had a What’s up with Catalyst? session where the-powers-that-be shared insights into the BattleTech product line and the future of CGL. Present were Loren L. Coleman (owner), Randall N. Bills (managing director), Brent Evans (BattleTech line developer), John Helfers (fiction director) and others.
The group covered a lot of topics, and here are the highlights!
BattleTech: Legacy, an anthology, is now back in print and was supposed to be at the GenCon booth, but was not available in time. It should be available in the next 30 days or so.
BattleTech: A Splinter of Hope/The Anvil (a novella omnibus) by Philip A. Lee and Blaine Lee Pardoe was available but sold out in short order.
The new boxed sets were available for purchase! BattleTech Beginner Boxed Set and BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat both sold out by noon on Thursday. They should be available in stores around October:
Shattered Fortress was released at GenCon, and is essentially part 1 of 2 of the IlClan storyline. We can hope for part 2 at next year’s GenCon:
New Map Packs are coming soon, and were available for preview at the GenCon booth. Six all-new maps, “designed to be easier to use and clearer to understand than ever before“.
There were some cool 12-inch tall 3D-printed mechs in the booth that were being played on a 10×10′ scaled-up map:
This menacing, torso twisting (remote-controlled) ‘Mech greeted you at the booth:
Some fun energy-drinks were also available for purchase (Loren claims they taste just fine…):
Between now and next year, we can expect a lot of new novels (e.g. Forever Faithful by Mr. Pardoe), and more. Check out the Upcoming Releases page for more details.
Loren made no additional comment on the Harmony Gold Lawsuit, and redirected everyone to read the public statement (though he said he is pretty happy with how it turned out).
Catalyst has been diversifying into board games (and has some neat little gems like The Duke). Dragonfire has also been very successful, and they’re hoping they can continue the trend. They’re working on a few new ideas!
Next year will be BattleTech’s 35th anniversary! There might just be a few special things to celebrate it.
Catalyst will also be at PAX West, PAX Unplugged and Mech_Con later this year.
Shattered Fortress is almost here! The new sourcebook detailing the end of the Dark Age era of BattleTech is set to debut at GenCon, with the .pdf files to become available the first week of August.
We first heard about Shattered Fortresslast February when we interviewed Brent Evans, the lead developer for BattleTech. He said that the previously developed ilClan sourcebook had generated so much content that the Powers-That-Be over at Catalyst decided to break it into two books, with Shattered Fortress being the lead-in to the fireworks display that will be ilClan.
As for what we can expect from this new book, a posting over at theBattleTech forums gave us a lovely little preview straight from the back cover:
“In 3146, the Republic of the Sphere hangs by a tenuous thread. The last fragments of Devlin Stone’s dream to shepherd humankind toward a more prosperous future hide behind the impenetrable defenses of Fortress Republic. As the interstellar communications blackout rages, the ambitious Great Houses vie for military dominance, and the bloodthirsty Clans strive to find a weakness in the Fortress’s armor on their path to conquering Terra and claiming the coveted title of ilClan. When the Wall comes down, will the Inner Sphere plunge even further into the abyss of interstellar war, or will this herald the dawning of a new age?
“Shattered Fortress chronicles the twilight of BattleTech’s Dark Age, as nations are thrown into turmoil and predators circle the broken remnants of the Republic of the Sphere. This volume provides a year-by-year look at pivotal turning points in the history of the Inner Sphere, offers a peek behind the curtain of Fortress Republic, and reveals the fateful decisions that will ultimately decide the future of humanity.”
This is, of course, good news for anyone who didn’t like the Dark Ages of BattleTech, which according to my research, was most people. The whole “everyone is back to using AgroMechs thanks to the general degradation of technology” was just really… well, dark. That, and it’s hard to get excited about people going to war with pitchforks and hand grenades.
We can only speculate on what will happen in each of those years mentioned, but hopefully something happens to the HPG Blackout. Whether that’s a slow rebuilding of the network or some other technology taking its place, we’ll have to wait and see. We’ll certainly get some high-level highlights of what’s to happen with the Clans, and maybe even get a few tales from the Great Houses that don’t involve just giving up planets to the Republic.
GenCon begins this Thursday, so fingers crossed those .pdf files will be available on the same day.
The MechWarrior Online World Championship tournament has just been announced with a surprise twist.
Stock ‘Mechs. That’s right: rather than taking out the highly customized, tuned, and optimal loadouts that all these pro-MechWarriors are used to, they’ll be confined to using the as-stock weapons, ammo, and armor that you can find on any of the old TRO’s.
PGI announced their latest iteration of the MechWarrior Online World Championship tournament on Twitter, with CEO Russ Bullock writing that the team “wanted to do something different” when it came to this year’s competition. That difference evidently being to lock everyone into using the configuration that most ‘Mechs came in as they were originally purchased.
I say “most” since that’s not the only restriction. The tournament has been limited to Inner Sphere-only technology circa 3039, with PGI providing a list of eligible ‘Mechs and variants on their MWOWC rules page.
courtesy of mechwarrior.com
Teams are comprised of 8 players, just as last year, with no team being able to field more than three ‘Mechs in any given weight class. Also, no duplicate chassis are allowed, so if someone takes a Wolfhound then nobody else on that team will be able to. Quirks, skill points, and consumables will all be as normal.
The stock-class restriction was quick to draw both criticism and praise from the MechWarrior Online community. Many professional players lamented the fact that stock-class ‘Mechs are perhaps even less balanced than the current metagame present at the highest levels of competitive play. Most competitive builds are mission-focused to bring down opposing ‘Mechs, but stock builds are made for the larger BattleTech lore, which often pits ‘Mechs against other opponents such as infantry, tanks, and AeroSpace Fighters. Those sub-optimal chassis are likely to be overlooked entirely as competitive teams scramble to find the best anti-’Mech chassis available.
To be honest, with how stock mechs are now, there will be such clear imbalances that you won't see anything but the same mechs. Regardless of map, regardless of opponent, and regardless of players. Stock mechs are simply not balanced. They were designed for tabletop.
However, stock-class tournaments aren’t entirely new to MechWarrior Online, with many beer-league teams playing in such casual tournaments throughout the year. Those MechWarriors may be encouraged to give the competitive scene a try with these new rules and restrictions.
@russ_bullock don't tell anyone cuz it'll hurt my street cred, but i am okay with your new rules for WC this year.
But while the unrestricted MWO strives for balance among all ‘Mechs (with varying levels of success), stock ‘Mechs were never designed to be equal. There will be clear winners and losers in the list that PGI has provided. For example, I think it highly unlikely that the stock Locust will see any amount of play. The stock version has virtually no armor, and without the benefit of 3050s-era weight-saving technology to give it a larger engine, it runs too slow to dodge any shots.
There’s also some clear winners on the list. The Wolfhound was already a favorite among pro-players, and the stock loadout of four Medium Lasers and one Large Laser is essentially a viable laser-vomit build even unmodified. It will certainly be much slower than we’re used to seeing on the competitive stage, and it will run vastly hotter thanks to single heat sinks, but as a light ‘Mech, it seems like the best of the bunch.
Other laser-vomit builds, such as the Crab, the Grasshopper, and Black Knight are also likely to be popular as they’ll allow for pinpoint damage without needing to worry about ammunition. Another possible ‘Mech to watch out for is the Archer. Without AMS or ECM to provide protection, LRM-boats such as the Archer could spell a quick death for any light ‘Mechs caught out of position, especially since those light ‘Mechs will be moving far slower due to a lack of XL engines.
As for assault ‘Mechs, the King Crab is likely to be popular, but with only two tons of ammunition split between either torso, each powerful AC/20 will only have 7 shots to connect with. Professional players are good, but even the pros might not be able to make 7 shots work in the long run.
courtesy of mechwarrior.com
As for why PGI decided to go with stock ‘Mechs, it seems likely to do with the upcoming release of their latest game, MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. Much like Harebrained’s BattleTech, MW5 is set to take place before the Clan Invasion around the year 3025. By showing off competitive players in ‘Mechs that will likely be found in MW5, PGI turns the tournament into a publicity stunt for their game’s release.
The tournament begins on June 21st, which gives competitive teams a few weeks to look over the approved ‘Mechs and see what might work in an 8v8 competition.
This will surely be a MechWarrior Online World Championship unlike any other. We’re certain to see some new faces and maybe even some new strategies thanks to this restriction.
Or it might turn out to be a boring fight between Wolfhounds, Grasshoppers, and Crabs. We won’t know for sure until later in June.
Good evening, ‘Mech fans! This is notDuncan Fisher, but now that I’ve mentioned his name you’re imagining the rest of this article in his voice, which was my plan all along.
The greatest competition in MechWarrior Online history concluded at Mech_Con 2017. This year’s World Championship finals was a fantastic display of skill from the best MechWarriors the world has to offer. Everyone was playing at the top of their game, and there were some real nail-biters that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats.
While the preliminary rounds were all posted on the Piranha Games Twitch channel, this year’s finals have been posted to YouTube for everyone to enjoy. Also unlike the preliminaries, things were a bit different for the finals. The top three teams played a double-elimination tournament, meaning once a team loses twice they’re out of the running.
Each of the top three teams came to play in the grand finals, and absolutely no punches were pulled.
So without further adieu, here are your MechWarrior Online World Championship Finals!
If you missed Mech_Con, then you missed one of the greatest duels of all time. Mitch Gitelman, co-founder of Harebrained Schemes, and Jordan Weisman, the other co-founder of Harebrained but also of FASA and all things BattleTech, fought to the death in their highly anticipated turn-based strategy game, BattleTech.
The stakes had never been higher for these two giants of industry. At Weisman’s suggestion, the pair agreed that whoever won the duel would take their opponent as his bondsman for a period of one week.
Mech_Con brought a lot of fantastic new developments to BattleTech, but one of the most interesting ones was the introduction of a brand new ‘Mech born of a collaboration between Piranha Games (the makers of MechWarrior Online) and Catalyst Game Labs.
Called the Sun Spider, it’s a 70-ton OmniMech from Goliath Scorpion, a Clan we really haven’t heard from much recently until the release of The Wars of Reaving sourcebook. In it, we find out the ultimate fate of Goliath Scorpion, how they were abjured from Clan space and ultimately founded their own nation in the deep periphery.
But the Sun Spider comes before all of that, having been first conceived shortly after Clan Coyote introduced the OmniMech. It was shelved after the initial prototype proved to be too unwieldy, and only saw limited production during Operation REVIVAL.
courtesy of Piranha Games
The primary configuration of the Sun Spider comes equipped with an Ultra AC/10, one ER Large Laser, and a whopping four Streak SRM-6, making it extremely deadly to anything that gets within close range. The chassis itself runs at a standard 81 kph (which I’m sure will get bumped up to 86.4 kph if it ever gets to the tabletop), and 14 double heat sinks keep the ‘Mech cool unless the pilot decides to start alpha-striking like there’s no tomorrow.
The Sun Spider‘s Quirky Birth
I spoke with PGI’s senior game designer David Bradley while at Mech_Con where he gave me the Sun Spider’s amusing origin story. Since the release of the Roughneck, PGI had been thinking of other ‘Mechs they could bring to MechWarrior Online that was developed completely in-house.
He described the original sketches for the new design as a “TIE fighter with legs”, something that would surely land PGI in BattleTech’s second legal spat with the Star Wars franchise. The design was refined after handing it over to the renowned Alex Iglesias, who both brought the ‘Mech to life and imparted his distinctive style to save PGI from a lawsuit.
The next step was choosing a name. Originally the ‘Mech was to be called the “Manul” after a species of Asian wildcat. It was then changed to Sun Spider to better fit the lore of the ‘Mech, while Manul was kept as the name for the Hero variant.
Speakin’ of lore, PGI decided to take a different approach when creating the Sun Spider. Their initial in-house ‘Mech, the Roughneck, was a good first effort but just didn’t quite have the same feel as other machines in BattleTech. Let’s be honest, nobody wants to pilot a converted Industrial ‘Mech, which is why Dark Age wasn’t a very popular era in BattleTech history. To get that feeling of authenticity, PGI decided to team up with Catalyst Game Labs to see where they could insert the Sun Spider into BattleTech lore, and also get Randall N. Bills to write it all up.
The final product feels just like an entry from a long forgotten Technical Readout, and has just the right tone and setting to feel like a natural part of the BattleTech continuity and not a fan-made ‘Mech roughly inserted into the universe. By using a little-heard-from Clan, PGI is able to attach that sought-after authenticity without needing to break any new ground.
The Sun Spider is an interesting and unique addition to BattleTech, and one that helps flesh out the universe. I could see this design, and how it was created, touching off a larger debate on what is considered official canon in BattleTech, especially if it takes CGL some time to include this chassis in a new and official TRO.
What do you think of the new ‘Mech? Is the Sun Spider a fine new addition to BattleTech lore, or an unappreciated interloper on BattleTech’s hallowed ground? Let us know in the comments!
Piranha Games had a rollicking time last Saturday, culminating with a slew of announcements at last Saturday’s Mech_Con.
For the MechWarrior Online fans in the audience (of which there were many) PGI previewed a brand new map and game mode all based on everyone’s favorite game world: Solaris VII.
Welcome To The Solaris Games
courtesy of Piranha Games
MechWarrior Online is typically played as a 12v12 slugfest, where companies of ‘Mechs all rush in to make mincemeat of each other. In the World Championships, those battles are reduced to 8v8, making each team a pair of lances. In the new Solaris game mode, those battles are reduced even further to be 1v1 duels or 2v2 tag team fights.
Rather than have competitive classes divided into the standard light, medium, heavy, assault, and open class, MWO will divide things up into divisions numbered 1-7. Each division is demarcated by specific ‘Mech performance rather than weight to account for the fact that some ‘Mechs are simply better than others. This means that some lighter machines might find themselves grouped with heavier chassis – and vice versa – in a very similar way to how MechWarrior Arena handles there balance issues in their unofficial Solaris-style tournaments.
courtesy of Piranha Games
Just like the Solaris Games, each MechWarrior will have their stats tracked and be placed on a leaderboard for their division based on their performance. And just like on Solaris, performance matters. You make money via patrons (similar to joining a stable) and the better you perform the greater your access will be to higher paying patrons. There’s also a “sponsor” system where you can be sponsored by companies like Defiance Industries and Vining Engineering (VEST) to give you a percentage bonus on your take-home pay.
courtesy of Piranha Games
It looks like they really tried to capture the feel of Solaris by also finally adding cosmetic additions to ‘Mechs. These cosmetics will be given randomly by patrons and sponsors (although, given the latest rulings against loot boxes in Europe we’ll have to see how that’s implemented), and they also don’t confer any real benefit. Strapping a giant ax to your Kodiakwill not make it into a Berserker.
Leaderboards will track for a season which lasts three months before a champion is crowned and the whole thing resets for the next season. One can likely expect to see some special events happen here as well, such as a Grand Tournament of champions.
In what appears to be typical Russ Bullock fashion, he gave a tentative release date of “spring-ish” at Mech_Con. You can check out the teaser video below.
Along with the Solaris game mode came a new map for the standard MechWarrior Online 12v12 games called Solaris City. This map imagines a raging battle happening in the actual Solaris City, with ‘Mechs battling it out around iconic Solaris monuments in a neon-filled cityscape. It looks like there will be a few destructible objects too, which is relatively new for MWO, and likely inspired by their work on the upcoming MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries.
You Get A ‘Mech, And You Get A ‘Mech
The biggest news for MechWarrior Online fans had to be when Russ announced the largest giveaway in MWO history. For anyone that logs in to play one game on December 27th, they’ll receive 25 Stocking Stuffer clicks, 3 million c-bills, 3 days of premium time, 1250 mc (which is the game’s equivalent of about $10), and two free Hero ‘Mechs: the Roughneckand the Sun Spider.
courtesy of Piranha Games
One of the biggest complaints surrounding MechWarrior Online is the heavy burden it places on new players, almost forcing them to spend real cash to make any progress. This giveaway is a fantastic way for new players to get into MechWarrior Online because it gives them a ton of resources absolutely free. If you ever considered playing MWO, download the client and log in to play one game on December 27th to get a ton of free stuff.
MechWarrior 5 Release Date Announced
Of course, the biggest news of the night is always surrounding the hotly anticipated MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. Bullock played a brand new trailer for the game at Mech_Con, and MechWarriors old enough to remember will find some distinct similarities between the opening moments of the trailer and the opening moments of MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries. Check it out:
It really seems that PGI is trying to take the best from the two previous Mercenaries games and make a definitive single-player MechWarrior experience. I managed to get my hands on a playable alpha build later in the evening to see what all the fuss was about, and I can confidently say the game has captured the best from MechWarrior Online and MechWarrior 4, and we’ll have to wait and see if it grabs the same kind of mercenary commander feel one got in MechWarrior 2.
Russ also announced a release date of December 2018. That gives them plenty of time to polish the game and work out the bugs, which they’ll need. Even with the beefiest hardware NVidia could provide, my time with MechWarrior 5 was marred by a truly abysmal frame rate. But keep in mind that I was the last person to play the build after a full day of gameplay on an Alpha version of the game. Likely there’s just a memory leak somewhere that needs to get plugged.
courtesy of Piranha Games
The extra year will also give PGI plenty of time to make good on their two big promises of the convention: full mod support and 4 player co-op. These are modern features never-before-seen in a MechWarrior game, and I cannot imagine the fun I would’ve had if only MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries had been a co-op experience. Details are scant, but Russ mentioned it would be like replacing one of your AI teammates with an actual human being – a godsend for any MechWarrior fan.
With 2018 fast approaching, it’s shaping up to be a fantastic year for all things MechWarrior. We’ll be sure to keep you in the know with every new announcement.
Catalyst Game Labs took over Mech_Con last Saturday to not only showcase their upcoming products but also put on a huge tabletop experience. And I am not even joking – an entire corner of the convention was entirely devoted to CGL’s massive game tables. Technically, Catalyst had more space devoted to them than any other company present.
But it’s not the size that matters – it’s what you do with it. Catalyst was certainly no slouch there, putting on a workshop for BattleTech veterans and newcomers to the tabletop alike, featuring incredible hand-painted miniatures and sprawling campaign maps. For new BattleTech players, it was a chance to see what inspired the computer games that were on center stage.
Catalyst wasn’t just there to put on a workshop though. They were also there to showcase the latest designs for their upcoming products, of which they announced many, and all of them to be appearing in 2018.
The first big announcement was two new box sets for the tabletop game. The first box, simply titled BattleTech: Beginner’s Box Set, is intended as a quick start to the BattleTech game. Consider it BattleTech on training wheels, very similar to the quickstart rules that were given in previous editions of BattleTech. The box will come with two minis – a Griffinand a Wolverine– and one map sheet to play on. This will also be one of the cheapest BattleTech boxes ever at just $25.
Randall Bills also said that these will be out before next year’s GenCon in Spring of 2018.
The new minis are currently only going to be available in the new box sets, so keep this in mind for the BattleTech mini aficionado in your life (I’m lookin’ at you, CamoSpecs).
Along with the new box sets, Brent Evans also announced brand new BattleTech fiction coming in the new year. He was mum on much of the details, but he did tease a new short story that deals with Durant Carlyle, Grayson Carlyle’s father, and his exploits as part of Carlyle’s Commandos. There will also be short fiction to be found in the campaign books set to come out in 2018 as well, of which precious little info was provided.
Veteran MechWarriors will also be happy to note there will be brand new map sheets available soon that will be based on the new fiction. They’ll also be included in the new box set, so if you want to kill two birds with one stone you can shell out for the latest version of the tabletop to save on shipping.
And finally, the biggest news of all for classic BattleTech fans: CGL plans on hosting a series of events in 2018 to take place worldwide. I don’t have any other details than that, but expect to find out more on that bombshell before the new year.
That’s it for Catalyst! Stay tuned as we hit all of the big names to attend Mech_Con in the coming days.
And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.
Note: An earlier version of this article stated that the redesigned minis would available separately, but they aren’t. So buy that new box set to get your mitts on them!
If there were any doubts as to what is the new mecca (hah) of ‘Mech conventions, they were put to rest on December 9th, 2017.
Mech_Con brought together the biggest names from all things BattleTech, from PGI and Harebrained Schemes in video games to Catalyst Game Labs on the tabletop, and there has been a slew of super exciting announcements that will give any ‘Mech-head the chills.
We’ll certainly get more in-depth with each announcement in future articles, but first a quick recap of what went down at Mech_Con 2017.
Mech_Con is making its triumphant return next December and has recently released their schedule of events along with ticket sales on a fancy new website.
We knew Mech_Con would return as early as May, but PGI hadn’t yet ironed out the details back then. It looks like they have now, as revealed in the aforementioned fancy new website recently posted in the new mechwarrior.com portal (itself being a new development in PGI’s web presence). This year looks like it’ll be better than ever, so let’s go over a few of the highlights on the schedule.
courtesy of mechwarrior.com/mechcon
First off, and most excitingly, there will be a MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries development build available for attendees to try out all day long.The first new single player MechWarrior experience in over a decade is a highly anticipated new game from PGI, and this may very well be the first time anyone outside the company will be able to get their hands on a demo.
Along with MechWarrior 5, BattleTech and MechWarrior Online will also have development builds available for trying out the latest iterations of both games before they go live, as well as 1v1 “Solaris style” MWO battle stations, where you can duel your friend mono a mono to see who is the best MechWarrior. Catalyst Game Labs will also be demoing their latest and greatest creations, as well as having a tabletop BattleTech game running all day long.
courtesy of mechwarrior.com/mechcon
The Main Stage will be home to the MechWarrior Online World Championships, where the top teams in the world will be duking it out for the title of best MechWarriors in the world. In between matches will be presentations by Catalyst Game Labs, Harebrained Schemes and Piranha Games on the latest developments each BattleTech company has to share. Each company will also have 1 hour a meet & greet and Q&A session throughout the day, followed by an autograph table.
The full schedule of events (as well as when the all important munchies will be provided) is available on the Mech_Con website here.
It’s not all presentations and MWO tournaments of course. There will be a merch booth set up for you to purchase the best BattleTech swag around, as well as prizes, raffles, and giveaways. Keep an eye out for your favorite YouTube and Twitch streamers too, as they’ll be wandering around the convention floor and maybe even taking on would-be champions at the Solaris stations.
courtesy of mechwarrior.com/mechcon
Tickets are on sale now, and Mech_Con begins at noon on December 9th. If you can’t attend, consider picking up the 2017 Tournament Supporter Pack. Proceeds go towards the World Championship prize fund, and you get a ton of awesome in-game loot and an extra 10% to all your c-bill and experience gains.