Category Archives: News

MRBC Season 9 Has Begun!

The MRBC, the largest MechWarrior Online league, has officially begun. This latest season has a record breaking 79 teams signing up to take part in the carnage, and after action reports are already coming in. While that’s way too many teams for us to cover on a regular basis, we’ll hope to give a regular roundup of the top level teams duking it out in Division A, as well as notable highlights from the lower divisions.

First, let’s take a look at the teams from Division A of each region. Starting with Asia Pacific, we have the 228th Wild Ones, one of the finalists for last years MechWarrior Online championships and a very strong team having been in Division A since their arrival in season 5. Next up, a newcomer to Division A, team Spud Shed. Having taken first place in Division B for season 8, they’ve moved up to Division A and are ready to take on all comers. Then there’s the Oceanic Merc Corp, aka “The Cheapskates”, another longtime Division A team who can’t afford to lose (not for fear of relegation – they’re just cheap). Finally we have team VETO, another new Division A team that is comprised of Division A veterans looking to make a name for themselves under a new banner.

9th Sanguine Tigers

In Europe we have 6 teams vying for the title of Division Champion. The 9th Sanguine Tigers return to Division A having taken the Division B title in Season 8. The Black Spikes Team 2 (Yellow Submarine) have been bouncing between Division B and A as well, but are looking to solidify their top division standing. Eon Synergy hopes to continue their domination in Europe for a third straight season. Russian Jade Falcon are ready to sink their talons into unsuspecting teams, and Tikonov Commonality Armed Forces prepare to defend the Capellan border (or I guess it’s the FedCom border in the current MWO timeline). Rounding out Europe is the White Death Mercenary Company, one of the longest running teams in Division A.

North America has a grand total of 8 teams, making it the largest of the three regions in MRBC’s Division A. First we have the 228th again fielding the “Black Watch”, season six champs seeking to repeat their prior performance. Standing in their way is the 42nd Scorned, newcomers to the MRBC made of division A veterans. Dropship 5 returns for their second season, and newbies Osiriz are anything but new as the seasoned MechWarriors burst on to the scene. SiG comes from Division B for their first Division A season, and finally we have Steel Jaguar looking for an unprecedented fifth Division A title.

White Death Mercenary Company

All these teams are chomping at the bit, and there have already been a few matches. So far in Europe the 9th Sanguine Tigers edged out the White Death Mercenaries in a nail-biting victory of 3 to 2, with many games coming down to one or two ‘Mechs for either side. 9th Sanguine leads the leaderboard with a reputation score of 1325, but the Black Spikes Team 2 are hot on their heels with reputation score of 1250 (for more on reputation rewards check out the MRBC’s rules under “rep rewards”).

North America has already had a number of games, and so far Dropship 5 has pulled into a comfortable lead with 3500 points and not a single round lost, however being a full game ahead of the pack means it’s still very much anybody’s race.

In Asia Pacific The Cheapskates defeated team Spud Shed 4 to 1 to take the early lead with 1475 reputation points, with team VETO close behind with 1225.

The league is well under way in it’s 9th season with matches occurring almost every day. For up to the minute scores and live webcasting, check out the MRBC website as well as their twitch channels. We’ll come back to the MRBC later in the season to check on the scores, and from all of us here at Sarna: good luck, Mechwarriors!

All images courtesy of their respective teams and the MRBC.

MechWarrior Online Skill Tree Implementation Indefinitely Delayed

In an announcement on twitter as well as the MechWarrior Online forums yesterday, Piranha Games Inc. President Russ Bullock announced that the implementation of the planned Skill Tree Enhancement will be delayed as the game’s designers continue to develop and refine the Skill Tree.  

The overhauled skill system has been a contentious issue for the MechWarrior Online Community. The stated goal of PGI was to enhance the player experience by allowing the player to customize their mech’s performance to fit their goals, while also promoting a ‘Mech build diversity in the game. Additionally, the skill system had the long term goal of phasing out the “quirk” system, often criticized for adding a layer of obfuscation to ‘Mech performance that is difficult for new players to understand.

However, many players felt the Skill Tree enhancement were an attempt by PGI to roll back pilot progress and introduce a pay-wall for veteran players in order to regain their standing. This was considered especially galling, as some players have spent thousands of dollars on MechWarrior Online already. The player backlash was mounting, resulting in some pretty intense YouTube and twitter rants.

With yesterday’s posting, PGI has told players that they recognize the deficiencies of the proposed Skill Tree build, and will be taking into account player concerns regarding lost progress and pay-walling. With no updated release date provided, the intent is clear that PGI will go back to the drawing board in order to correct these shortcomings. Hopefully this marks a turn in the conversation, one which MechWarrior Online players will be quite happy to hear.

Are You Heading to Mech_Con?

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.

Mech_Con

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!

Interview with Jordan Weisman about the BATTLETECH game at GenCon 2016

At GenCon 2016 last weekend, we were treated to an awesome surprise: a playable Super-Pre-Alpha demo of BATTLETECH.

This game is going to be awesome.

The Super-Pre-Alpha demo was playable by anyone attending the convention, and featured a single mission where your lance attempts to capture a salvage base.  I had the opportunity to play it for a while and left feeling giddy and wanting more.  It’s exciting to see the game in such a playable state just 9 months after the Kickstarter wrapped up.

Afterward I stopped drooling over the game, I had a chance to chat with Jordan Weisman, creator of BattleTech (the table top game) and co-founder of Harebrained Schemes to talk about BATTLETECH.

BATTLETECH game

Nic Jansma (sarna.net): I spoke with Mitch Gitelman and Mike McCain of HBS last year here at GenCon 2015.  Since then, Harebrained Studios raised $2.7m in an extremely successful Kickstarter.  And only 9 months later, and you brought a playable demo to GenCon.  That’s awesome!  Your team has accomplished a lot.

Jordan Weisman: We have!  It’s exciting the way this development process has gone.

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Kickstarter Awards Arrive for BattleTech Video Game

Well, it arrived today!  I was one of many Kickstarter backers of the various levels for Harebrained Schemes’ BattleTech Video game, slated for release next year.

Like many folks I backed at a high enough pledge to get both some nice BattleTech swag, as well as some strong comfort in helping to bring back a major video game opportunity for the franchise.  We need an infusion of marketing and interest.  Hopefully the latest video game will prove just the ticket!

It’s hard for me to find swag anywhere but online these days, so it was nice for me to open up my sweet bag of Draconis Combine swag.  Here it is!

Swag = Mag

Swag = Mag

I’m pretty stoked! I’m wearing my Draconis Combine pin to work tomorrow!

Did you order anything?  Has it arrived?  What did you get?  And who’s ready for some BattleTech?

Campaign Operations: First Look

Campaigning in Style since 2016

Campaigning in Style since 2016

Well that was fast!

After Interstellar Operations was being written for years before release, the next Operations books came quickly after.  Welcome, to Campaign Operations.

I’ve always wondered if other players play Campaigns as much as I tend to.  My playgroups, interests, games, and more are invariably part of an ongoing campaign.  It’s important for me because when I see the actual results of campaigns, folks play more realistically.  If you have a company of BattleMechs for a campaign, you might be more inclined to jettison one that’s critical in four spots, missing its right arm where the main weapon was, and just had a blasted hip actuator and is reeling.  You can save the unit by ejecting now, and then grabbing it post-battle, and just fix some internal stuff, rearm and re-armor it, and then grab a spare arm to weld back.  You might have to make some changes with weapon payload or something, but the unit is saved for later battles if you can salvage it.  A unit with both an XL Engine and CASE will just shut down when an ammo explosion destroys your left torso, not be destroyed.  Sure, it may not matter on the battlefield right then and there, but it’ll matter later for sure when you salvage it.  Folks are playing smart, long-game warfare, and worried about things like infrastructure, materiel, and support.  Campaign BattleTech supports a realistic form of warfare.

It’s rare that I don’t play some form of campaign.  They make me.  They invest me.

So it’s odd to me that we haven’t had a lot of Campaign stuff in a lot of more Core works, even heading back to earlier editions of the game.  We often have to wait for Campaign rules.  Now, we had some good ones sprinkled around in Tactical Operations and a few more rocking Strategic Operations with linked scenarios and such.  But it’s nice to have a new book that’s really focused on my zone of interest.  So hopefully there’ll be a lot of stuff here that sells me.  Now, there are still some things that are missing that I’d like help with as a GM of campaigns.

Take the industrial side of the Inner Sphere.  We know that there is a cozy relationship between the Military and Industrial complexes out there.  So how much would it cost to retool a Mechline to a new one with new technology?  What does that require?  So in a campaign, if I have a mercenary group with a good relationship with a particular company, how much would be needed to get your own ‘Mech design made?  Or how much to simply reconfigure a current line?  How about tanks?  And similarly, lots of missions will have units head out for stuff of an industrial nature.  “Hit that convoy!”  “Take out that construction group before they can finish building their defenses!”  Stuff like that.  How much money is salvaged from ferrocrete?  How about a few tons of industrial equipment?  If my mercenary unit is being charged for damages to local infrastructure, how much does it cost for various repairs?  TacOps has some of that, sure, but there’s a lot more out there I wonder about.

So I kept hoping that a Campaign-based rulesbook will talk about things like costs of military units to make, tooling factories, industrial finances, stuff like that.  But that still hasn’t really made it to the level I like.  Ah well.

Meanwhile we have a full-on Campaign Operations!

So what’s next?

Well you have the latest edition of rules like force creation and contracts.   Everyone has to get their Objective Raid on, right?  Buy some land.  Build a base.  And pretty much set up some shop.

And then skip past that for some formation building, and even some special pilot abilities.  Now I have to be honest.  I don’t have perfect recall by stretch of the imagination at all.  But there are abilities here I don’t remember in other products, like the Fist Fire ability that lets you fire weapons in the hand of a melee weapon (or punch) at the same time and hitting the same location the physical weapon hits.  And then we have stuff on conversions and campaigns for Chaos Campaign and Inner Sphere at War stuff.  And don’t forget solar system generation either.  I remember Beta Testing that for Interstellar Operations a while ago, but that was never included in it, and this is a lot more robust than other systems we had before.

So there’s a lot under the hood here to mention. Good stuff on my first read through, and I’m excited to try the new versions of some old rules, and new stuff as well.  Fist Fire away!

So the main question then is what are you looking for?  What excites you?  What’ll be the first thing your playgroup tries out?

MMNet Concludes Campaign and Announces Major Changes

Yay Mechs!

Yay Mechs!

On January 31st, the various electors that are running the current MegaMekNet Campaign announced that it will be concluding soon.  The Free Worlds League has won, and a new cycle will begin on March 1st.  In the wake of the victory, several major announcements were made to increase the value of the campaign in the future.  (MegaMekNet is an online campaign played through various shareware programs, you can download and check out)

The various members of the winning faction, as long as they had enough games to qualify, are going to win units for the next campaign, randomly pulled from a special reward unit list.  This is the first time that the winning faction for one campaign gets rewards for the next one, no matter whether they remain Marik or not.

Meanwhile, the way victory is determined will shift in the future.  Previously, one faction usually won when they assaulted and captured the capital of an enemy.   This has always created an inequity in the game as those states with a smaller path the capital (like the Capellan Confederation) are easier to defeat.  Meanwhile, it becomes pretty easy to know when one faction has “virtually” won and it’s hard to fight against that momentum.  Sometimes players won’t continue to invest time, sweat, blood, and metal in the campaign if it won’t change the outcome.

So how is the online campaign going to shift?  The goal won’t be to take capitals, but a new slate of “Victory Planets” that are placed on the borders.  All you have to do is to capture a net of these worlds from various fronts, and once you do, then you win.  Not only will this balance the books,  not only will it keep the campaign in flux, but it also will allow the campaign to better resemble the main line BattleTech wars.  Most wars and conflicts were ended by one side taking some key border planets from the other that were fought over.  So the resulting changes will give players the  ability to fight for border worlds that makes a campaign more dynamic as well as getting rewards for winning for the next one.

That’s a pretty spicy set of changes.  March 1st will be a good time to check it out and try the new campaign.  Check out their thread post for more info.

Well….It’s Here! Interstellar Operations

Vaporware no longer

After a long-delayed schedule, and having been announced years ago, Interstellar Operations released January 28, 2016.  The book contains almost 400 pages of rules from various angles, from generating a star system and planets to detailed information on playing in different eras of the BattleTech universe.

Many of the rules systems were released some time ago for playtesting and feedback from the community while the book itself was in Beta for around 6 months.  That’s given us a long time to get a chance to try out various rules systems and to give them a go in our campaigns.  Now the finished product is here.

I’ll be most looking forward to giving the Abstract Combat System (ACS) a serious run now that it’s been released.  This is a system designed to make playing very large scale multi-unit and multi-regiment battles feasible and to quickly resolve them.  I never really got a chance to try them out too much in Beta, so I want to see how the rules might have changed and then give them a full shakedown this weekend to see how they play out.

We now have a lot of alternative ways to play, from Alpha Strike and BattleForce to ACS and Inner Sphere at War.  We always had some systems before in these alternate books, but I don’t recall them seeing a lot of play anywhere that I was playing BattleTech, so I’ll b interested in seeing if they get a lot of play, or if they are just too many systems to understand.  I want to try out ACS, so we’ll see how that works out.

What are you most interested in trying out?  Is there anything you really liked from the Beta?  What’s your playgroup excited about?

TALON Precision-Guided Rocket- Turning Dumbfire Hydra Rocket Pods into Streak SRM Launchers

Historically, rocket munitions have always been more effective when fired in swarms. From the 15th century Korean Hwatcha rocket propelled arrow launcher to the MLRS or Grad rockets of today to the Itano Circus prevalent in ’80s Sci-Fi anime- and by extension, BattleTech. Rocket swarms can be brutally effective- if a not very efficient means of hitting your target. But those are artillery type weapons. Equipment covered in BattleTech by Arrow IV Missiles. What about something closer in?

The mainstay of western rocket direct-fire weapons for the past 60 years has been the Hydra 70 2.75″ (70mm) rocket pod. The Hydra rocket series weighs in at a hair over 6 kg, has an effective range of 8,000 meters and has an absolutely ridiculous selection of warheads to choose from (19 from the Wikipedia list). White Phosphorus, Flechette, cluster munition, HE, smoke, you name it.

M261 Hydra 70 launch pod with two different munition payloads.

M261 Hydra 70 launch pod with two different munition payloads.

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Real World Lasers are getting Smaller, and MEANER

Ever since Jules Verne and H.G. Wells enticed citizens and warmongers alike with talk of energy-based beam weapons, mankind has been struggling to catch up to its own imagination. And naturally, BattleTech is chock full of it – mainly in the form of lasers, and mainly seen from the view of a 1980s-era war game designer as a futuristic weapon.

Which it is… considering that compared to projectile, missile, and even flame weapons, lasers (especially weaponized ones) are to quote Val Kilmer in Real Genius “a young science.”

If only Jordan Weisman and team FASA could have seen the advance of real laser weapons in the past ten years from the ’80s. Israel is probably the most advanced so far, with several types in operation, mainly for air defense. Didn’t think the laser AMS got its start in the 21st century did you? The Iron Beam, as it’s called, is the close-in part of a multi-tiered air defense system called the Iron Dome. Iron Beam is reported to have an 80-90% success rate, and can engage even artillery and mortar shells in mid-flight with “into the hundreds” of kilowatts of energy. It’s essentially a land based version of a laser/projectile defense system like those used on the USS Ponce – which can also engage surface targets. But these are massive units the size of inter-modal shipping trailers. Next up, laser weapons that can be mounted on a light vehicle.

ATHENA: Looks like something you'd fight in MechWarrior IV.

ATHENA: Looks like something you’d fight in MechWarrior IV.

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