Category Archives: Reviews

The Succession Wars and so much more…

Way back in August 2013 we featured an article on Scrapyard Armory’s Succession Wars online game. With the surge in popularity of BattleTech both in virtual and physical formats we thought now was a good time to revisit this great game.

Based on the 1987 table top board game by FASA, Scrapyard Armory’s Succession Wars recreates the struggles of the five Great Houses in an online multiplayer environment. Players take control of the Great Houses and fight, negotiate and backstab their way to domination over the entire Inner Sphere. The board game featured two scenarios: the primary one is set in 3025, around the time of the 4th Succession War, with an alternate set at the outbreak of the 1st Succession War in 2786. Both of these scenarios have been lovingly recreated.

Since our last article the community at Scrapyard Armory has grown considerably and a team of content creators have expanded the free, playable scenarios (also called Orders of Battle) to phenomenal levels. Now you can play games ranging through the BattleTech timeline from 2550 to 3145. Custom maps for many of these games let you recreate The Age of War, the rise and the fall of the Star League, The Clans: Operation Klondike (a 2 player scenario), the 1st, 2nd and 4th Succession Wars, the Clan Invasion, the rise of the Word of Blake, and on to the Renaissance of 3145.

One of SYA’s content creators and a six-year veteran of the site, ‘Jimmy the Tulip’, spoke to us about creating Succession Wars scenarios. “What I love about what Scrapyard Armory has developed here is the flexibility to really get in and create something in incredible detail. The ability to create new maps, adding units and leaders and coming up with new ways of using the game mechanics to make something truly unique keeps me coming up with new ideas.”

Jimmy went on to talk about playing the games. “The tension can really be palpable at times, especially when you have a group all online simultaneously. Even when you’re waiting for actions to be taken you can study the map, think about strategies for taking out your opponents and really delve into what makes grand scale strategic games great. I’ve made some great friends while playing this game too. The community is fantastic.”

With a total of 19 different scenarios currently live (and more in development) Scrapyard Armory’s Succession Wars offers an immersion into the BattleTech universe in unprecedented fashion. There is a small amount of variation in the rules from the original board game in order to better facilitate the online nature of the game but, aside from that, the games play true to the nature and feel of its originator. The Development Team continues to work on ironing out the occasional bug and has provided a wide array of Orders of Battle and game options, including custom cards, the ability to play with Battle Armor units and over-size JumpShips, to provide nearly limitless replayability. A small team of Admins are also active to assist new players and veterans alike.

If you haven’t already signed up, run on over and check them out at Succession Wars. Join in one of the many games on offer or, if you’re bold, create a game of your own and take on the community there. Remember…. No guts, no galaxy!

BattleTech Early Review – It’s Real Good!

Umbra Shadow Hawk

courtesy of Harebrained Schemes

BattleTech is here, and it is much better than any of us could have hoped.

It’s not perfect, mind you, but it is a fantastic success financially, so whatever is wrong we can expect to eventually be fixed. And since what is right is so very, very right, then any true BattleTech fan owes it to themselves to get their hands on this game.

I won’t lie to you: I’m nowhere near done this game. Unfortunately, the life of a writer doesn’t provide nearly as much free time as my cavalier attitude and love of giant stompy robots would have you believe. And what few hours I have throughout the week to devote to this game I do so lovingly, without any desire to rush through the campaign just so I can give you, my dear reader, a complete opinion on all aspects of BattleTech.

I want to savor this.

So consider this an early review. I’ve finished the first main story quest and fetched the Argo from its moonlit prison, but I’m doing quite a few randomly generated contracts to level up my pilots and amass as much riches as possible. As I said before, I’m in no rush to get through the story campaign. And besides, rushing would vastly increase the difficulty of the game, and I am far from a pro-BattleTech player, if such a thing exists.

Let’s get the bad out of the way right off the bat. Soon after this game’s release, there was a bug that caused the save file to seem to disappear when the player loaded the game. It wasn’t actually gone, and simply reloading the game would make it appear again, but it was a shock for me after I’d accumulated a few hours only to find I couldn’t click “continue” after sitting down for some good ol’ ‘Mech action.

A quick perusal of the BattleTech subreddit notified me of the solution, but it was a few minutes of ire I’d rather not have suffered. Incidentally, the game doesn’t seem to have that issue currently, so they may have cleared that up altogether by the time you read this.

This game immerses the player in the BattleTech universe more than any other game before.

The loading times are also a little bit long. My rig is by no means a beast, but she does have a solid state drive and a decent processor, so waiting 30 seconds for a level to load is a little much. It harkens back to the days of waiting up to minutes at a time for Skyrim to load, and I have no desire to return to such dark times.

There’s also a bit of slowdown after running through a few missions. Another Reddit post said this is largely an issue with the Unity engine the game is built on, and deleting old save files seems to help. I’ve done so and it has helped a bit, but further optimization from the developers seems necessary here.

Finally, the voice actors are a tad on the cheezy side. I think comparing this game to MechCommander is a little unfair since BattleTech is vastly different and also vastly better, but MechCommander had a few more memorable voice lines, in my opinion.

Of course, I may have just not unlocked the pilot with the best lines yet.

Those are my only gripes. One has already been corrected, and the others are likely to be corrected in the coming weeks.

Now for the good, which I will also say right off the bat, does far more than just mitigate the bad. This game immerses the player in the BattleTech universe more than any other game before, except possibly MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries.

The game starts with a perfunctory tutorial and then immediately douses the player with a hefty dose of political intrigue. That’s all following the opening cinematic that summarizes the last 1,000 years of human development. And unlike most other BattleTech games, this one actually shows the transition from DropShip to JumpShip to planet.

There’s nothing better than watching your Shadow Hawk charge into an enemy Panther at full speed and take off it’s PPC arm at the shoulder.

To make things even more immersive, those transits between planets and contracts occasionally have random events that can have real consequences on your company’s performance, either costing cash or possibly providing your pilots a buff.

But the best part, by far, is the actual ‘Mech combat itself. There’s nothing better than watching your Shadow Hawk charge into an enemy Panther at full speed and take off it’s PPC arm at the shoulder. The camera seems to know the best angles to show the carnage. Even just stomping through a forest is made interesting just by having the camera provide a low-slung angle that makes your ‘Mechs appear exactly as large and intimidating as they should be.

The game mostly follows the BattleTech lore when it comes to ‘Mech construction but for a few differences. There’s a few extra critical slots on the center torso and legs, and armor and damage values don’t precisely line up. This is a good thing, frankly, as it means that AC/2s are actually worth using, but it can be a little confusing to not have the same damage values we all remember.

In general, though, a Locust will still die from a few solid hits of virtually anything, while an Atlas will take all day to bring down.

As expected from the same developers that made the Shadowrun series, the music and sound effects are all top notch. The music reminds me of the same sort that was presented in Shadowrun: Hong Kong, all orchestral and momentous during combat but gentle and soothing during downtime. Those of you lucky enough to be Kickstarter Backers will have the whole BattleTech album to download and listen to at your leisure.

One last thing that surprised me was the character building stage, which not only provides for a surprisingly in-depth selection of skin tones, facial expressions, and even camera angles for your portrait but also starts on the pronoun “they” in case you don’t want to conform to the whole gender binary thing.

I could go on about all there is to love about this game but I’d be heading into spoiler territory pretty quick. Let it be known that this game is everything we hoped it would be and more. It’s also been a huge success for Harebrained, so we can likely expect to see some paid DLC coming out real soon.

Did someone say Clans?

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Retrospective Review of “The Battle at Dorking”

Battle Indeed

Michael Moorcock is one of my favorite writers of all time.  I have a huge library of most of his work.  I don’t think he ever wrote anything in the military science fiction genre, but he certainly appreciated it.  I recently picked up a anthology he edited of short stories and novellas written prior to WWI (Before Armageddon), and that’s where I found arguably the first military science fiction story – “The Battle of Dorking” published in 1871 and written by George Chesney.

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Review of David Drake’s “Redliners”

Recently I had decided to pick up and read David Drake’s collection of military science fiction short stories called “Hammer’s Slammers.”  I was a bit surprised by just how evocative it was of many of the central concepts of BattleTech universe writ large.  We aren’t any better in the future than we are now.  We still have unethical wars.  We hold onto our religious and ethnic identities and use those to exclude and attack others.  We still have these “us versus them,” mentalities.   Technology has not led to morality.

Beleaguered Soldiers on a Far-Flung Colony

Beleaguered Soldiers on a Far-Flung Colony

There are a bunch of other similar things, like similar weapons, similar concepts of mercenaries, and more — and I was so taken aback by this pre-BattleTech story, that I wrote a review on it here.  Having read that, I decided to eventually take on another military science fiction book as well and review it for you.  Two weeks ago I was shopping at a Books-a-Million superstore when I came across “Redliners.”  It was recently re-released in this prestige format as part of the 20 year anniversary of the novel.  On the cover is David Drake talking about how this is his best work, to his mind, and the one that changed him the most after writing it.

Well that sounded compelling.  So I picked it up and started reading.

Now as I have mentioned before, I’m very comfortable with David Drake.  I’ve read a few short stories, and this is my 6th book by him.  He’s not an author I follow religiously, but he’s good at what he does and I respect him for it.  He was at a major school for studying Law when he was drafted in the 60s, and sent to work with tanks in Cambodia for two years, and then returned.  He always found it difficult to re-assimilate into life.  And this novel follows a similar track.

In a future war by a star-spanning human empire, a high reputation striker force does some bad stuff and loses a lot of people on the front line of a war against some aliens.  They have crossed the red line.  But instead of them being sent home to keep them quiet, the leader of the Empire decides to try something new.  They are sent to escort a group of colonists to a hostile but potentially wealthy colony world.  And they are pushed together and forged by fire.  (I’m trying to keep this relatively spoiler-free).

Now the book itself has a lot of the typical military science-fiction accoutrements.  Death.  Weapons.  Battles.  And the style of Drake is compelling.  It’s powerful and evocative.  And while it’s not my favorite book in the genre by any means, I get where Drake is coming from.  The book is worth the reading.

I’ve always wondered what would happen if David Drake wrote a BattleTech story.  Would it feel like a conventional one?  Would it be different?  Would he continue down that path or hew something else?  He has written in shared worlds before.  He is a big fan of the Cthulhu Mythos and has written stuff there.  So you never know.

Are you familiar with “Redliners?”  Have you read it?  What did you think?

Pack Hunter vs. Solitaire – Strength in Numbers, Army of One

In my previous “vs.” article, I compared two second line BattleMechs, the Rabid Coyote and the Ursus. You can find that article here if you would like to read my analysis on the match-up.

In this installment, we again take a look at a pair of second line Clan BattleMechs, but these two are very different from our previous subjects.

When thinking about Light `Mechs, two images usually come to mind, at least for me. The first is of the stealth loner type scout, bravely attempting to get as close to the enemy as possible, even going behind enemy lines, in order to secure precious intel about troop movements, supply lines, and personnel locations. This lone ranger scout seeks out the weaknesses of the enemy and exploits them with brutal efficiency.

The other type of scout that comes to mind is the kind that searches and destroys vulnerable enemy targets in a small group. These scouts rely on gang-up tactics and misdirection to get the job done, working in highly coordinated teams to secure strategic kills, usually performing specific hit & run style strikes meant to pinpoint a specific target.

When juxtaposing these two types of BattleMech scouts, it is not hard to literally find the names of two `Mechs that not only resemble the concepts, they are named for them. The two BattleMechs we will look at in the context of these roles are the Pack Hunter and the Solitaire.

Perhaps not as well known or loved as other Clan favorites like the Dasher (Fire Moth) or Koshi (Mist Lynx), these second line designs come from an era when the Clans were still learning how to co-exist their Inner Sphere neighbors, adapting their toumans to be able to handle the myriad tactics that the Inner Sphere employs to get the job done no matter what.

But before we compare and contrast these Light hunting machines, let’s get to know each machine a little better.

Pack Hunter

Just out for a morning patrol and…holy crap, what’s that thing?!

The Pack Hunter would likely be considered an impressive effort regardless of the circumstances of its design and production. The first collaboration between Clan Wolf-in-Exile and their Arc Royal hosts, the Kell Hounds, the Pack Hunter was meant to be a test best for production capabilities, enabling the Wolves-in-Exile to work out any major problems with Clan technology before moving on to an OmniMech design. The project was a success, with the first production units rolling off the lines in 3059.

Matching superior speed and mobility with a single, hard-hitting weapon system, the Pack Hunter exists on a simple design philosophy. That being that light, fast, hard to hit BattleMechs can succeed in engagements with both Inner Sphere and Clan forces.

The design faced very few notable production problems and hit the field very quickly after its development period. During testing, it was found that as little as two Pack Hunters could demonstrate a clear danger to even a massive Dire Wolf, and the BattleMech is usually found deployed in teams of two or more.

Even under the Clans’ ritual rules of zellbrigen, the Pack Hunter is able to team up with its mate to take on a heavier opponent without the dishonor of breaking the traditional one-on-one combat doctrine. Working “around the rules” in this fashion had led to many Clan opponents wishing they had not agreed to the terms of the engagement.

A simple, efficient, and long-lasting design, the Pack Hunter has seen at least three variants put into production as well as receiving a second incarnation, the Pack Hunter II, during the Jihad and into the Republic era.

Armaments and Capabilities

The Pack Hunter exemplifies simplicity in its design and equipment, all packed into a tidy 30 ton chassis. Armed with only a single Clan Extended-Range Particle Projection Cannon, mounted in its right torso, the `Mech is built on an Endo Steel chassis and protected by four tons of standard armor. Its standard engine allows the Pack Hunter to move at a stop speed of 119 kph and adds to the BattleMech’s durability and affordability. Rounding out its equipment are enough jump jets to jump 210 meters.

Even without a complication array of weapons and equipment, the Pack Hunter‘s extreme efficiency has been proven on the battlefield since day one. Its frequent deployment in pairs is one of the most interesting developments with this BattleMech, as it heralded a slight shift in the Clans’ usually strict adherence to single combat.

Solitaire

Hey, is that a new Pack Hunter? Thor and Odin! No blast that large comes from a Pack Hunter!

That this BattleMech exists might be a bit of a small marvel in itself. The characteristically austere Clan Diamond Shark is not known for creating a BattleMech that literally takes every opportunity possible to make itself more expensive to produce. Yet, the Solitaire still rolled off the production lines and to roaring success to boot.

This blazing fast light BattleMech has few equals in terms of mobility, despite its lack of jump jets. Light Mech pilots in both Clan Diamond Shark and Clan Ghost Bear scrambled and competed to get a hold of any <em>Solitaire</em> that became available as soon as theMech was released.

Tactically, the Solitaire is deployed as a solo killer, stalking ahead of its unit to pick off any opponent that has strayed just a bit out of formation. With the firepower to threaten even most assault BattleMechs, especially when attacking from behind the larger machines, the Solitaire is highly effective when used as a backstabber and an assassin.

When the Solitaire entered production in 3064, the vast majority of units went to Clan Diamond Shark’s Spina Galaxies. Shortly after that, large numbers of Solitaires began to appear in second line units in the Ghost Bear Dominion. Apparently part of a large trade deal, linked either to the Diamond Shark’s help of the Ghost Bear’s earlier relocation to the Inner Sphere or for some unknown future consideration. Clans Cloud Cobra and Ice Hellion also showed interest in the BattleMech, but after the Wars of Reaving it is doubtful that the design would be found in the Clan Homeworlds in any significant numbers.

Armaments and Capabilities

Coming in at 25 tons, the spry Solitaire would not have been near as impressive of a machine if Clan Diamond Shark had cut any expense in its production. Based on an Endo Steel chassis and protected by four and a half tons of Ferro-Fibrous armor, the Solitaire is just about as sturdy and as protected as a Mech of its size can be. The real defensive piece is its Model SF-25 XL engine that allows a top speed of 162 kph. However, it is the chosen armaments for this BattleMech that make it stand out. Boasting one Heavy Large Laser, two Heavy Medium Lasers, and one Heavy Small Laser, the <em>Solitaire</em> is nearly unmatched in its weight class in terms of pure damage potential. The limiting factor for thisMech lies in its ten double heat sinks, making an Alpha Strike attack quite a toasty proposition.

Able to hit hard and fade away quickly enough to cool down, the Solitaire is one dangerous machine in the right hands. To date, the Solitaire has only one variant, which drops one of the Heavy Medium Lasers to add a MASC system. If the Solitaire is not fast enough for you, the Solitaire 2 might be the `Mech for you.

Head to Head

As with the previous contest, these two BattleMechs represent different takes on fulfilling the same battlefield role. The idea of these two `Mechs meeting on the field is one that makes me scratch my head a little.

Strictly speaking, I would imagine that Pack Hunter and Solitaire pilots would do their best to avoid one another on the battlefield. Each chassis is better designed to hunt down heavier BattleMechs than to hunt one another.

Click the picture to visit Iron Wind Metals’ Pack Hunter page.

But for argument sake, let’s take a stab at figuring out some possibilities should the two meet on the field and have no choice but to engage one another. For the purposes of this comparison, we will explore a 1v1 scenario and dismiss that Pack Hunters usually show up in pairs (though I will devote a few sentences to that scenario a little later).

Terrain may or may not be a factor in this match up. While the Pack Hunter‘s jump jets give it a slight edge in being able to ignore certain terrain types, the sheer speed of the Solitaire helps the lighter `Mech keep its own advantage, as long as the terrain is not wide open.

So the first part of the engagement will be advantage Pack Hunter simply because it will be able to open fire probably one turn earlier than the Solitaire, thanks to its ERPPC. Any ERPPC hit to the Solitaire‘s arms will rip it off clean and even lend some splash damage to the corresponding torso. A leg hit will not take out the Solitaire by itself, but it could help to cripple the lighter `Mech if a critical hit is scored.

Assuming the Solitaire can survive long enough to get into long range with its Heavy Large Laser, the battle gets a bit more interesting. Any hit from the Solitaire‘s main weapon will outright destroy any of the Pack Hunter‘s locations, save the Center Torso. Also, because the Pack Hunter only has a single weapon, if that happens to be to the Right Torso (or even the Right Arm in some cases), then the Pack Hunter might as well call it a day.

Click the picture to visit Iron Wind Metals’ Solitaire page.

From there it gets to be a worse proposition for the Pack Hunter, as the Solitaire can use its superior speed to further close the distance to bring its Heavy Medium Lasers to bear. At that point, the multiple hit capability of the Solitaire begins to exact a heavy toll on the Pack Hunter‘s chanced for survival.

One thing to point out here is that the Pack Hunter will benefit from better To-Hit numbers in almost every case, down to a range of 3 hexes. This is a good advantage and should not be overlooked. While it should also not be counted upon to make a huge difference, the advantage exists nonetheless.

So in most 1v1 situations, barring a lucky hit, I think I’m going to have to give the contest to the Solitaire. The speed advantage of the lighter `Mech does a lot to mitigate the range disparity between the two, and the Solitaire also boasts slightly more armor protection, which can make the difference when taking leg hits, thus keeping mobile and in the fight. While the Pack Hunter is more durable thanks to its standard Engine, losing its one weapon system is in most cases just as devastating as being destroyed.

Side Note: I promised I would address this, so here it is. I’ll have to give the engagement to the Pack Hunter if there are two of them. It’s simple a reorganization of the tactical situation. In a 1v1, the Pack Hunter is playing the Solitaire‘s game. Conversely, the 1v2 situation is more than just being simply outnumbered. It is a changing of the scope of the battlefield in a way that brings the Solitaire in the Pack Hunters‘ arena. A clever Solitaire pilot might still come out on top of a 1v2 scenario, but the value of two `Mechs working together is most often greater than the simple sum of the whole.

Final Thoughts

Both of these BattleMechs are amazing at what they do. They’re not completely dissimilar, but they’re also not really the same. Side by side, I would personally take the Solitaire, but I will caveat myself by reminding you that I’m a Ghost Bear player primarily. I have nothing against the Pack Hunter, however, and would not feel cheated or under strength if I had one or two in a Star. Raw BV aside, either situation can easily win back double or more its points.

As far as deployability, the Pack Hunter and its variants, including the Pack Hunter II, has found its way not only into the forces of Clan Wolf-in-Exile and the Kell Hounds, but also into pretty much every other Clan, Mercenary forces, the Republic, and several Houses. Widespread and valued for its capabilities, the Pack Hunter will continue to be a familiar sight on the battlefield for a long time to come.

Conversely, the Solitaire has experienced a rather limited breadth of varied deployment, seen only in the toumans of Clans Ghost Bear and Diamond Shark/Sea Fox even into the 3140s. I do not believe that this means that other military organizations have found fault in the design. Instead, I believe it is reflective of Clan Sea Fox’s continued efforts to keep the design as exclusive as possible, sharing the expensive BattleMech only with its Ghost Bear allies.

Want to Know More?

If you want to know more about either the Pack Hunter or the Solitaire, check out the reference materials listed below:

BattleTech Technical Readout: 3060 on BattleCorps, DriveThruRPG, or Amazon
BattleTech Technical Readout: 3067 on BattleCorpsDriveThruRPG, or Amazon
Pack Hunter on the Master Unit List
Solitaire on the Master Unit List

Want to see me continue to compare BattleMechs? Suggest a new pairing in the comments, and if strikes my fancy I just might write it!

Review of “Hammer’s Slammers”

Slamming that Hammer

Well I felt it was time.  See, one of my passions in life is to read the books and works that helps to make something exist.  Take Dungeons and Dragons as a good example.  In his famous Appendix N at the end of the first Dungeon Master’s Guide, Gary Gygax listed a bunch of writers and works that were influential to the game, and as launching off points for campaigns.  And slowly and surely, I’ve been reading Appendix N stories and writers.  I enjoy reading pre-D&D writers that had an influence on that game. And I do this with a lot of stuff, from epic sagas from other cultures to forgotten gems that few appreciate.

And there’s where my decision to read Hammer’s Slammers, by David Drake came from.  Published in 1979 and featuring an eponymous mercenary tank unit in the future of science fiction, it seems like a potentially interesting synergy with BattleTech.  The book is a collection of short stories, and thus easier to read for those that are involved with doing stuff.  So let’s read this thing!

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My Favorite Technical Readout

You wouldn’t think it by looking at me.  I love BattleMechs and smashing with the big guys.  I’m not a power armor or tank or anything else enthusiast.  I adore the big heavy sluggers of the battlefield.  That’s why I’m playing BattleTech and not something like Warhammer.

So why?  Why is my favorite Technical Readout the Vehicle Annex?

My Favorite Cover Art!

One of my favorite aspects of early Technical Readouts like Technical Readout: 3025 and Technical Readout: 2750 is the ability to include things like support vehicles and other important battlefield concerns.  I want stats on a MASH Support vehicle or an Ammo Carrier.  Because these things matter.  If I land one extra DropShip of stuff for a campaign, how many tons of J-27 Ordnance Transports can I fit?  How much ammo do I have available to me?

Frankly, I’ve long wanted this area of the Inner Sphere to be fleshed out.  We have a lot more ‘Mechs, Tanks and such in the various TROs through the ages than the good old support vehicle.  And we need more.  We need more conventional fighters.  More transports, and such.

And that’s why the Vehicle Annex is amazing as a piece of work.  It’s just satellites, IndustrialMechs, cars, trains, airships, planes, and so much more.  It’s so loaded down with great stuff that there always seems to be another strong entry on the next page.

I also love mining this for adventure ideas.  I loved the CattleMaster so I had a rebellion on a ranching planet that a conventional mercenary force had to put down a ton of these CattleMasters.  In another area we had a bunch of riots in a city that were causing violence and fires.  In addition to the normal responders like some infantry and tanks, we had two Cellco Rangers, one Saurer-Bucher Fire Engine, and a trio of Kressly Dillinger Police Vehicles.  Fun stuff!

It also adds a massive amount of options for the actual battles.  How many times are you fighting in a construction area?  If it’s like me, it’s pretty common.  And now we have stuff like dump trucks or a pair of LoaderMechs to toss in and make bystanders.  After all, having some hastily abandoned dump trucks could provide combat options for infantry or others.

At the end of the day though, in addition to great combat options, I feel that the Vehicle Annex is a massive flavor win for the universe.  From the great cover by the lost-before-his-time great Doug Chaffee to the awesome details on things like passenger trains we have it all.  Welcome to the Inner Sphere!

So do you have it?  What do you think of the Vehicle Annex?

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?

Your Favorite IS BattleMechs from 3067

All Along the Civil War

The Civil War between siblings is over.  Much of the Inner Sphere rests in a very tentative, damaged, and brutally won peace.  And it stands on the threshold of oblivion.  War-torn and battle-weary.

Hey look, we all care about tanks and aircraft, infantry both powered and conventional, and more.  But at the end of the day I don’t keep coming back to this game year after year after year for the small stuff.  I’m here to smash BattleMechs together!

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Techwars Online Reviewed

Get your Tech On!

Last week, Techwars Online, a Steam Greenlight success story, that made it through all of the hurdles, was released on Steam for ten dollars.  Well that certainly seems like a price worth trying out.  So I grabbed a copy of the game, and invested some time into figuring out this turn based tactical game featuring BattleMechs fighting it out.

To begin, you can move each of your units up to three hexes, with a twist of your torso counting as one.  And you can fire one weapon.  Each weapon has different ranges and firing arcs.  You may have short range lasers that can only reach 2-3 hexes away, or long range missiles which won’t fire close in at all, but which can hit with a spread out range.  Some weapons require a direct line to hit, like your main cannon, so moving, firing, and more is all important.  Also important is turning after firing to protect yourself.  It’s all about winning, not about how damaged your unit gets in the process, right?

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