What? I’m not a poet.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas from Sarna to you and yours! Hopefully, Atlas Claus will have left your house most intact after some long-range present delivery.
Good evening, ‘Mech fans! This is not Duncan 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.
“Will you kneel to me, Weisman?” Gitelman asked.
“No, but you’ll kneel to me!”
“Bring it, old man.”
And thus, the battle was joined.
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.
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.
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!
And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.
Piranha Games had a rollicking time last Saturday, culminating with a slew of announcements at last Saturday’s Mech_Con.
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.
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.
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 Kodiak will 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.
Best of all, Solaris brings back everyone’s favorite announces from MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries – Duncan Fisher. He’ll be joined by Lars Olafson, an actual canon announcer from the Solaris Broadcasting Corporation, to be Fisher’s co-commentator.
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.
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 Roughneck and the Sun Spider.
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.
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.
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.
And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.
A couple weeks back the fine folks over at Polygon decided to run a huge spread on all things BattleTech, covering the latest from Harebrained Schemes and PGI (along with their latest teaser video for Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries), but also going way further than most mainstream publications ever go and actually interviewing the creators of BattleTech itself: Jordan Weisman, Randall Bills, and L. Ross Babcock.
For BattleTech history buffs (of which I know there’s quite a few of you around) there’s not a whole lot new being told in the interview, but there are a few nice tidbits to be had in the interview such as how Babcock and Weisman decided to demo their first edition of the BattleTech box set. Apparently, rather than merely mark down the battle damage their ‘Mechs were taking, the two of them would take it a step further and actually take a power drill to the figurines after they took a PPC hit.
“Those were the demo games we ran. They’d get good crowds going because everyone was saying, ‘Those maniacs are pulling apart these beautiful figures with a pair of pliers!’ So that was our first marketing campaign, just going around, doing those demo games and burning up our products for fun.”
On top of that, there was one pretty awesome story about a marketing stunt FASA pulled in 1988 at GenCon 21. Back then, the marriage between House Steiner and House Davion in the year 3028 was big news, and to commemorate the occasion Weisman and company invited everyone to a fake wedding held at the convention.
The whole thing was done as a radio event, with the announcer describing how the fictional wedding went down millennia in the future. They also served cake, and just as everyone was finishing, the announce dropped the big twist: that the Federated Commonwealth was invading House Liao, and on everyone’s plates were planets that were being invaded.
Those people then took part in a massive tabletop game, the results of which were used to create the next series of sourcebooks and novels.
Polygon also put out a very nice timeline of events, which of course Sarna has had for eons, but you can’t fault them for trying. Their timeline only goes up to 3049, which stops a bit short of the known boundaries of BattleTech lore. Again, can’t fault them for trying.
The whole thing is totally worth a look if you haven’t seen it already, so head on over to Polygon and check out their BattleTech features.
And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.
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 Griffin and a Wolverine – and one map sheet to play on. This will also be one of the cheapest BattleTech boxes ever at just $25.
The second box will be the main course. BattleTech: A Game Of Armored Combat will feature eight miniatures, two map sheets, and the full rules to BattleTech. The eight minis included will be a Battlemaster, Awesome, Thunderbolt, Catapult, Shadowhawk, Wolverine, Commando, and Locust. Each of the minis is based on the redesigned art featured in BattleTech: Alpha Strike and are hella cool. Take a look at some of the snapshots I grabbed at Mech_Con to see what I mean.
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.
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.
Welcome to Community Outreach! Many of you were impressed by last week’s teaser video of a brand new animated MechWarrior series on YouTube. To find out more, I reached out to the teaser’s director, RoA Nitrox, who was kind enough to answer a few questions about the video’s development and how he became a BattleTech fan. Enjoy!
UPDATE: It looks like the video has been taken down. According to Nitrox, Black Plasma Studios received a cease and desist letter. Rumor is there’s some internal negotiation happening, so hopefully, it’ll be back soon. The response – before it was taken down – was certainly good enough to warrant a real animated series.
At the time of writing, we’re already a couple of days into December, which means time is quickly running out to get some BattleTech related goodies for your gaming buddies, for your significant other, or hey, even for yourself!
I’ve taken a bit of a look around, and here are a few good places to find some holiday BattleTech models and books that just might save the day and give the gift of heavy metal mayhem this holiday season. This is by no means an extensive list, meant to serve as just a general survey of what’s out there in this snapshot of time, and it’s pretty well skewed towards being primarily useful to those in the US and Canada.
Just want you to be aware before diving in.
Local Game Stores
A word about FLGS’s and what they mean to the community. MechWarriors, if your LGS supports BattleTech by carrying product, please do all you can to do your buying and ordering through them. They are the ones who are taking the biggest chance by dedicating precious shelf space to the game we all love, and it’s important for us to make sure they know we appreciate it.
So please, before you order online, make sure to take a moment and confirm (it’s pretty easy for most of us, as I’m sure the majority already know, but it still has to be said) that you have no local sources for BattleTech models and books.
You may just help save your favorite gaming space if you can source your gifts locally.
Now, onto the guide.
Click on the logo pictures below to go to the relevant pages.
Aries Games & Miniatures
One of the most popular of the online retailers that specializes mostly in BattleTech and Alpha Strike, Aries has a good relationship with Iron Wind Metals, so their catalog is fairly vast as far as selection is concerned.
Of note at Aries is that they seem to have a good supple of the highly sought after Alpha Strike Lance Packs that feature 4 hard plastic BattleMechs in each pack. At a price of $7.99 per Lance Pack ($2 off of MSRP), these are a great deal and a quick way to buy a whole Lance, Company, or even a larger unit.
Aries doesn’t stop there, either, as they have pretty much (I don’t think all of) most of IWM’s BattleTech Archive and bits catalog, too. There’s not much I can’t find at Aries, just poking around the site. So if you’re looking for a one-stop shop for a gift of BattleTech models, Aries is likely your best bet.
Though we’ve recently received some good news that the core rulebooks will see a reprinting, probably in 2018, many MechWarriors still need rulebooks now. From Total Warfare to Alpha Strike, some of these books are getting pretty tough to find. Here’s a few places I’ve seen with some of these books in stock.
Also, most any place that has any BattleTech rulebooks will have some selection of models, but none of them are as extensive in selection as Aries.
Alpha Strike, Combat Manual: Mercenaries, and the BattleMech Manual are among the books I’ve seen in stock with Game Nerdz. Not the biggest selection, but nobody has that at this point.
The War Store
Vik the Viking actually has a pretty good selection, but it is mostly TRO’s, Record Sheet books, and secondary game supplements, thought they do have both Alpha Strike and the Alpha Strike Companion in stock.
This site has a good mix of game books and the Alpha Strike Lance Packs, though most items are in pretty low stock. But, if you’re looking for a place to pick up the Lance Packs and the Alpha Strike rulebooks in one place, this site is probably your one stop.
BATTLETECH – Harebrained Schemes
It’s not too late to get your BattleTech buddies (and yourself!) in on the BattleTech strategy game by Harebrained Schemes, coming out in 2018. I had a chance to talk to Jordan Weisman earlier this year at GenCon and try out the latest of the game updates as of that time, and wow! was it awesome a few months ago.
Since then, the multi-player beta has officially launched, and details are coming out on a regular basis about the game’s campaign mode and story line. This is one BattleTech game no Mech fan should miss for any reason.
MechWarrior Online Gift Store
If your MechWarrior plays MWO, then don’t overlook the possibility of getting them a gift code for a brand new, shiny Mech Pack. Thought it’s not a physical product, if your givee enjoys the digital Mech action, then the MWO Gift Store is a prime place to look for an opportunity. You get the Gift Codes through your email when you buy them, and you can forward them on to your favorite MechWarriors at the proper time.
There are lot of options here, far too many to list. Good scale terrain for BattleTech has become more accessible over the past year or so, especially if your MechWarrior is into 3D printing, or knows someone who is.
One pretty awesome new source for 3D printed terrain files is actually a well-known site for digital gaming supplies, DriveThruRPG. There’s some great stuff available there for gamers who are already into, or are getting into, 3D printing.
BattleTech for the Holidays
Wherever you get your BattleTech related gifts, I hope that you all have a great holiday season playing and enjoying the game and the hobby that we all love.
Spread the joy, and always keep a light trigger finger.
Happy Holidays, MechWarriors.