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.
It’s been a while since you last heard from me, and so much has happened since I last wrote to you about our favorite game and science fiction universe.
What have I been up to?
Well, keeping the discussion to just BattleTech, there’s still a lot to talk about.
For the past year I’ve been getting progressively more involved in the Middle Tennessee BattleTech scene, growing gaming relationships and working for ways to establish a home and give the scattered players in the region a place to gather. I wanted to sit down and take a moment to share some of what the journey has been like so far and tell about what the future might have for our group.
The T-N-T Gaming Convention, in its first held on May 19-21 in Nashville, TN, was our first stop of the year, and our Demo Team Agent organized a great Alpha Strike tournament for us at that event.
The stakes at TNT were high, with the Grand Championship belt going to the tournament winner! (Photo by: Josh Koziura)
The championship game of that tournament is here chronicled:
After T-N-T, our intrepid Demo Agent Josh once again planned an event for us at Nashcon, held June 2-4 in Franklin, TN. This time it was a multi-player mega battle that was semi-narrative, and recreated the conflict on Tukayyid between the GomGuard and the unfortunate Clan Diamond Shark.
One of the rare Diamond Shark achievements, first blood went to the Clans! (Photo by: Josh Koziura)
Sadly (depending on your perspective), history repeated itself at Nashcon, and the Diamond Sharks once more ran away to their DropShips and away from Tukayyid.
It was after the Nashcon event that I had dinner and a conversation with Demo Agent Josh, and in that conversation it was decided that I, like him, would become a Demo Agent. Together we would share the task of trying to get local level BattleTech back on the right track in our area.
Fast forward about a month, and all of my paperwork was accepted and processed, minting me as Demo Team Agent #880. Now the fun could begin.
In the time since my official commission as a Demo Agent, I have been searching for a game store for us to call home, one that would like to see us grow and that would be willing to support us.
This past week, I made inquiries at a local shop in Hermitage, TN called The Game Cave. I was already acquainted with the store owner, so earlier this week I went in with some Alpha Strike demo materials and showed him what we’re all about. He observed a demo game of Alpha Strike, and afterwards we discussed things.
The first Alpha Strike demo game at The Game Cave ended in epic fashion, with the Dragon taking a 12 Critical roll from the Zeus. (Photo by: Dave Martin)
I’m happy to say that the Middle TN BattleTech Group has tentatively found a new home at The Game Cave, starting Wednesday, July 19, and continuing on Wednesday evening for the time being.
This is a great leap forward for the local group, and I’ve already begun putting the word out that there’s a place that wants to see us come in once a week to play BattleTech and Alpha Strike!
So this is where this article leaves you, at the jumping off point for a new chapter in a local BattleTech group’s journey. As it’s my group that I’m writing about, I plan to keep you updated on how things go. Josh and I are working together to get fall tournament events planned, and if The Game Cave works out, that would be the preferred venue for any future big events.
If you’re reading this in the Middle TN area and you’re not connected to the group, please reach out using any link scattered throughout this article or leave a comment below with a way for me to get in touch. We’d love to bring you into the fold!
GenCon is coming up, too, and like usual I plan on attending, with a schedule this is mostly BattleTech related. I hope to have things together enough to do another summary for you all like I did two years ago.
Be on the lookout for more in the story of the Middle TN Battle Group, and I’ll be seeing you through my crosshairs!
As some of you may be aware, E3 is happening, and that means the developers of BattleTech are there to show off their latest build and drop a few more hints as to what the final product will look like. And oh boy did they ever, with Harebrained Schemes revealing 2 full minutes of never-before-seen footage of the single player campaign screens.
Hosted by PC Gamer magazine, the co-founders of Harebrained Schemes Jordan Weisman and Mitch Gitelman sat down to talk with Sean “Day” Plott about the upcoming game. The conversation was mostly aimed at non-BattleTech aficionados, so I won’t bore you with all the minutiae of what was said, but I’ll make sure to give you the keynotes of the presentation.
courtesy of PC Gamer
First off, we were given some additional details as to how the story will unfold. Lady Kamea Orano (the spelling of which is questionable as I’m transcribing from video) has been deposed by her evil uncle and has contracted the player’s mercenary company with restoring her to her rightful throne.
After the campaign overview, the interview went into detail on the inner-workings of your mercantile ship, the Argo.
Courtesy of PC Gamer
What IS The Argo?
From the video, it can be very hard to tell what kind of ship the Argo even is. During the interview, Mitch described it as “a broken-down hulk of a spaceship” along with being “your mercenary command center,” and that “you can take it all over space, going from star system to star system.” That makes it out to sound like a JumpShip, however, the Argo doesn’t resemble any JumpShip in the known universe.
It turns out the Argo isn’t a JumpShip at all, but rather a massive mobile space station that was built before the Amaris Civil War. It was intended to follow behind the first wave of system surveyors as a sort of logistical hub, supporting colonization teams with her massive onboard hydroponics bays. The intention was for the Argo to remain in-system for months, if not years, and as such it has vastly larger living quarters, recreational areas, and passenger accommodation than any military DropShip.
courtesy of PC Gamer
You can tell based on the screen grabs from the development footage that the Argo does indeed have a lot of room, with massive navigation and bridge stations. There’s also a folding grav deck that allows for artificial gravity, although anywhere else people are still forced to wear mag-boots to keep from floating off.
But it doesn’t have a jump drive, so it’s forced to piggyback on JumpShips like any other dropship. Well, not quite like any other dropship; much like the Behemoth-class, it takes up two docking bays of whatever ship it latches on to. Also, like the Behemoth,she can’t fly into atmosphere owing to her vast size. Smaller DropShips dock with the Argo in order to bring men and machines planetside.
courtesy of PC Gamer
As an aside, it’s nice that HBS wants to expand the BattleTech universe and make the player feel like they have something unique in the BattleTech game, but it really doesn’t feel like the Argo was even necessary. The story could have been told just as easily with a mercenary band somehow getting hold of a JumpShip, or even just a regular Union DropShip. And considering the Argo can’t even go planetside, your mercenary company will also need a real DropShip or two just to get boots on the ground.
Oh well. I doubt anyone will complain about having a luxury liner for a DropShip, at least in comparison to what most House militaries field.
Salvage Details And Some Memorable Quotes
After a peak inside the Argo, viewers were treated to another demonstration of combat with BattleTech, which didn’t seem to offer much more than what is already available in the backer beta. We did get some information on the salvage system, which will be based on BattleMech damage and that MechCommanders will want to hit opponents “just hard enough to take them down”.
courtesy of PC Gamer
We also got some pretty excellent one liners. After showing a Hunchback getting cored in the back, Gitelman commented, “Get around the back of a BattleMech and slap penetrate.” Wiser words were never spoken.
Also, after Day reminisced on playing the original table top as a child, Mitch responded, “As a kid, huh? Thanks, pal.” Day will be 31 later in June.
No word yet on a final release date, but it’s looking closer than ever. I’d even bet on seeing BattleTech release just in time for Christmas.
On December 3rd, over in the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, Canada, Piranha Games is hosting a day long BattleTech and Mechwarrior themed convention.
A variety of events and fun stuff is planned. Many guests from various community members and companies are planning on attending, such as Jordan Weisman and Randall Bills or online media personalities from Twitch and such.
In the best traditions of the Solaris VII Games, one of the headline events is the first World Championship of MechWarrior Online. Don’t you want to establish dominance and win that trophy?
Hey look, everybody knows that we don’t always get a chance to flip some dice and push around metal the way it was meant to be in real life. I’m playing online with stuff like MegaMek. So, getting the chance to play live with real enthusiasts, purchase stuff from live vendors, get some autographs, and rub noses and talk shop with with all of you folks is a great opportunity.
So what about you? Are you heading over? Why not check out all of the information they have to see if you are interested in getting your ‘Mech on, Vancouver style!