Now Monsieur Pardoe has returned, but instead of telling the tale of the late, great Clan Wolverine, we get to hear the story of another dead Clan, the Smoke Jaguars.
As we all know by now (and if you don’t know, SPOILER ALERT), the Smoky Kitties bought the big one at the end of Operation Serpent, which you can read all about in the Twilight of the Clans series and is probably the best stretch of BattleTech fiction you’ll ever read.
But while the Smoke Jaguars were erased as a Clan, that doesn’t mean everyone that used to comprise the once great Clan completely disappeared. Scientist, technician, merchant, and laborer castes all were taken in by various Inner Sphere states and rival Clans, and the fallen Smoke Jaguar warriors who survived escaped to form various bandit groups.
But not all them. One, a Smoke Jaguar MechWarrior instrumental in the fall of his own Clan, survived the battle of Huntress. We never did find out what happened to Trent at the end of Twilight of the Clans, and now we’ll have Pardoe tell the rest of his story as well as the tales of several others.
From his personal blog, we get the first draft of the back cover for Forever Faithful:
“One is the traitor that brought the enemy to their doorstep: one is the Smoke Jaguar who was tasked with rallying them and failed; one is a Nova Cat Warrior with a vision of their true role in history; and the other is from Clan Goliath Scorpion who wants to harvest their remnants as museum exhibits.”
This was apparently edited and will not be exactly what we see on the back of Forever Faithful (if you see a back at all since I’ve certainly gone digital for my reading these days), but it gives us an idea of what we’re in for.
Apparently, this novel is a sort of successor to Surrender Your Dreams, a Dark Age novel that delves into the Fidelis, a special forces warrior sect within The Republic of the Sphere. Pardoe describes in his blog post that there was apparently a lot of debate following that novel as to just who the Fidelis were, and he pretty much just up and confirms that they are indeed Some Jaguar survivors.
Catalyst Game Labs is celebrating 35 years of BattleTech with a huge release of new products.
Way back in 1984, FASA corporation created a game universe that would inspire countless novels, sourcebooks, and video games. Well, actually, not all that countless, but I’ve never bothered counting them all, and I’m sure it’s a very high number.
On Wednesday, January 23rd, a bunch of items went up for grabs on Catalyst’s website and in your local games retailer, starting with the box sets. Both the Beginner Box Set and BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat will be available in-store and online starting on Wednesday.
That’s not all: Shattered Fortress will also be available in major retailers on January 23rd, and is already available on Catalysts’ website (and has been for a few weeks now). On top of that, a 35th Anniversary Edition of the BattleTech Manual will hit Catalyst’s online store which features all previous errata and the coveted 35th-anniversary logo.
Look at that Warhammer. Doesn’t she look pretty? Wouldn’t you like one on a t-shirt or something?
Well, good news! Catalyst has developed a mind-reading machine that can also see into the future and has prepared a bunch of 35th-anniversary merch with that same Warhammer logo! That includes a t-shirt, hoodie, and a pin for when you’re forced to be fancy but still want to show your love of BattleTech to the world.
And the Warrior Trilogy is back in stores for an anniversary edition PDF or Print on Demand. I’ve read all those stories twice now, so it’s a little less interesting to me, but if you haven’t read them before, you really should.
Now, normally we stick with BattleTech related items on Sarna, what with it being a BattleTech wiki and all, but Catalyst also watches over Shadowrun which is another FASA-born universe that I have much love for. If only the rules weren’t a complicated mess in desperate need of some D&D 5th edition simplification, I’d be playing it as my tabletop RPG every week.
It’s also Shadowrun’s 30th anniversary, so Catalyst has a bunch of new PDF sourcebooks and merch on sale too. A unique 30th-anniversary logo adorns a t-shirt, hoodie, and pin just as with the BattleTech merch, allowing you to show your love of the Sixth World in style.
Full details can be found over on Catalyst’s website.
Now that the holidays are over, we turn our sights to the future where we have a lot to look forward to in the BattleTech world. Chief among them is the hotly anticipated release of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, which hits digital store shelves on September 10th.
We’re less than 9 months away from release, which means it’s time to get that hype train moving. And what better way to get it rolling than with a brand new game-play trailer?
This trailer initially released through IGN a few weeks ago, but then Piranha Games put it up on the MW5 YouTube channel after they got their exclusive clicks in. We here at Sarna would be jealous, but we don’t even have a YouTube channel to provide our own exclusive video links (but that does sound appealing–hit me up PGI, let’s talk).
Anyway, what we see here is a quantum leap forward in graphics. Finally, we see some real weather on these planets in the form of rain and fog. Fog of war becomes quite literal in this clip, with players relying on instruments and laser beams to see where the enemy is located. It looks really good, although frame rate still seems to be a bit of a problem. Maybe that’s just an issue with whatever software was used to record the footage.
In addition to the reminder that MW5’s development continues with steady progress, Russ Bullock himself (he’s the president of PGI, don’t ya know) posted his own video to let the BattleTech community know that pre-orders are now available.
Called the “Community Edition”, these pre-orders all come with a variety of goodies for both the impending MW5 as well as PGI’s other game, MechWarrior Online. In fact, the rewards for MechWarrior Online seem to be even greater than the rewards for MW5. Purchasing the top-tier “Ultimate Community Edition” gives MWO players 30,000 MC, 90 days of premium time, a free Marauder II, and a ton of C-Bills and experience points.
That’s an in-game value of stuff in MWO way more than the $119.99 you spend pre-ordering MechWarrior 5.
For MechWarrior 5, each tier comes with various incentives to pre-order, such as exclusive in-game skins, digital downloads like desktops and soundtracks, and access to the beta test and the official MechWarrior 5 Discord server.
So1ahma provided a handy chart that breaks down the rewards over on Reddit, which also includes the approximate cash value too (kudos to you, So1ahma).
Personally, I think it’s a little weird that pre-ordering one game actually gives you way more goodies for a completely different game that is only partially related. It’s also a problem for those who really want to pre-order MechWarrior 5 but don’t even play MechWarrior Online–all those digital goodies are just going to waste.
Happy New Year, ‘Mech fans! I have to start this year off with an apology: I caught wind of this story well before Christmas, but with the holiday rush, I just didn’t have time to give it the attention it so desperately deserves. But by golly, we’re getting to it now, because this is news that any die-hard MechCommander fan should hear.
The original MechCommander Gold has been updated and remastered for you retro-gaming pleasure.
courtesy of RizZen
It’s called MechCommander Gold – Darkest Hours (a take on the original’s Desperate Measures expansion) and it’s more than just a remaster. Darkest Hours also adds 20 new pilots, merges the original and expansion campaigns, and expands them to include so many more user-created missions that it’s practically a new game. Some of those original story missions have also been updated too, so even the familiar standbys will seem like a fresh new experience.
We have RizZen to thank for this labor of love that he’s been working on since 2017. He’s compiled a host of previous additions and user expansions to include in Darkest Hours and created several resolution updates so everything doesn’t appear all pixelated (although, true MechCommanders will play on the original 640×480 for the genuine experience).
I remember playing the crap out of MechCommander, to the point where I mastered the entire game with nothing more than a company of jumping Cougars. The expansion added Shadow Cats to my playthrough which gave me a considerable armor boost, and a twin-PPCBushwhacker build was easily my most favorite for an Inner Sphere-only playthrough.
The fine folks over at No Guts No Galaxy have provided hosting for Darkest Hours’ game files, but that’s not all! There’s also a huge player’s guide section that will provide new players with all the information they need to jump into this classic game. Veterans will find value in the guide too in order to handle all the new missions that have been added.
So start your 2019 off right with a retro experience unlike any other. Darkest Hours works on Windows 10 all the way back to Windows XP (something that even Microsoft can’t say) so even the most potato-like of machines can get this game running.
UPDATE:Whoops! Someone forgot to press the “publish” button. Here’s a quick update in case you missed it.
Alright boys and girls, we got a quick update from Catalyst on those now-mythical box sets. According to the latest update on the Catalyst Game Labs website, both box sets have arrived at the “fulfillment center” and will make it into the distribution pipeline shortly.
But we’re not here for platitudes, we’re here for dates, and I’m sorry to report only half the boxes will make it out in time for Christmas–those being the Beginner Box Sets, which will arrive in stores starting December 14th with full availability expected on December 17th. A week before Christmas is cutting it awful close, but it’s better than nothing.
The full Game Of Armored Combat won’t arrive in stores until January 23rd. That’s some hard news to take, so Catalyst has some good news to go along with it: Shattered Fortress will also release on January 23rd.
From all of us here at Sarna, we hope that Santa has left a new PPC under your tree and you don’t blow out a myomer bundle while visiting friends and family for the holiday! We’ll see you all in the new year!
Day 2, electric boogaloo! After PGI had their big huzzah on the first day of Mech_Con 2018, the rest of the BattleTech companies got their chance at glory. We had Harebrained Schemes show off their latest BattleTech expansion: Flashpoint, Catalyst Game Labs revealed some fancy dice and that the new box sets aren’t a year-long fever dream, and the MechWarrior Online World Championships crowned a new champion!
Harebrained Schemes Has Old Men Fight In Giant Robots
Once again, Harebrained decided to showcase their latest creation by making FASA co-founder Jordan Weisman and Harebrained co-founder Mitch Gitelman duel to the death, but this time, instead of mindlessly jumping on each other for a solid hour, they had Hatchetmen. Er, I mean henchmen.
So that went well.
I sadly did not get to see this hopefully yearly tradition when it was broadcast live on Twitch, but thankfully, PGI kept the whole 12-hour video from last Sunday online. So you can see the entire debacle so long as you’re willing to skip to roughly 6 hours in.
Like I said, rather than fight it out themselves, the two grandfathers of BattleTech picked two randos out of the audience to be there “advisors”. And by choose, it was more like Gitelman picked the best BattleTech player in Harebrained’s office, while Weisman got Willian von Wilhelm Helmut, the guy who won the Valhalla Tournament Of Champions. Whatever that is.
But here’s the thing: BattleTech is a game of random numbers. And on top of that, Weisman and Gitelman weren’t all that good at taking instructions. Weisman eventually fired his general, while Gitelman often ignored sound advice in favor of performing yet another DFA maneuver.
This year, the numbers were on Gitelman’s side. While last year he had to serve as Weisman’s bondsman, this year the tables are turned and it will be Weisman who washes Gitelman’s car and brews his lattes. They are from Seattle, after all.
Afterward the fight (and somewhat during), the two hosted a live Q&A session about the future of BattleTech. They revealed that more Unseen ‘Mechs are set to arrive, including the Marauder and Warhammer heavy ‘Mechs, but not to expect them in the next planned expansion which is Urban Warfare.
Catalyst Game Labs Answers Questions, Proves That Box Sets Actually Exist
The boys and girls at Catalyst Game Labs were also at Mech_Con to show everyone going gaga over MechWarrior 5 that there’s a simpler, slower, and lower-tech way of playing BattleTech that involves dice, miniatures, and a lot of reading. No, more reading than that–veritable textbooks of reading. Tomes, if you will.
I kid. I only wish I had the free time to play an actual, sit-down-and-roll-dice game of BattleTech.
But also as with last year, Catalyst answered a bunch of questions from the hardcore BattleTech faithful, chief among them was “where the hell are those brand new box sets you’ve been promising since last year?”
The answer: in the warehouse, and expecting to be at brick and mortar stores by the end of the month. It sounds like it might miss the Christmas rush, but maybe you’ll get it in time for New Years.
In addition to the new box sets, Catalyst Primary Randall N. Bills and BattleTech Line Developer Brent Evans also dropped a few new items on the horizon, such as new map pack called “grasslands” (to arrive sometime in March) as well as a reprint of the BattleTech Manual for BattleTech’s 35th anniversary.
We also got some news about Shattered Fortress, which will become a stepping stone to the hotly anticipated Il-Clan sourcebook. We also got a strong hint that the universe will go back to hammering the Capellan Confederation into space dust in the tradition of the classic BattleTech novels.
As always, new fiction is the top priority for BattleTech fans, which Evans was happy to reveal that there are no less than 30 fiction projects of varying length currently in progress. These will become available via electronic distribution (ie. Amazon) as soon as they’re done, which we’ll report on once we’ve got a title to share.
Oh, and since the whole Unseen business is finally settled, expect to see some new sculpts coming out. We don’t know when, but some redesigned Warhammer and Marauder minis could be here sometime next year.
MechWarrior Online World Finals Crowns New Champions
A new day has dawned in competitive MechWarrior Online. Two-time champions EmpyreaL have finally been dethroned by last year’s runner-ups, Eon Synergy.
Whereas EmpyreaL was the dominant force in competitive MWO for several years, EON Synergy displayed incredible skill and tactics during this year’s tournament that made them completely unstoppable. Despite EmpreaL’s team of veteran players, EON never lost a game, and the look of absolute relief after proving that EmpyreaL is not invincible could be felt even through an LCD screen.
This year’s winning team were awarded medals and a shared first place prize of $34,653. They also got a ton of in-game content, although, with the amount of ‘Mechs these guys probably already have, one wonders just how much value they’ll get with an extra 50 million C-Bills.
And that’s it for this year’s Mech_Con! Join us next year when I’ll hopefully get paid to fly to Vancouver on first-class tickets due to the incredible importance of Sarna’s first-hand reporting! And I’ll be sure to bring my BattleTech TCG cards when I do. I heard there were a bunch of you jokesters playing this year.
Another year, another Mech_Con has come and gone. Sadly, yours truly was unable to attend this year’s convention due to financial constraints (and because I couldn’t find a couch to sleep on in Vancouver), but that doesn’t mean we won’t talk about all the latest and greatest announcements that came out of the biggest BattleTech-only convention of the year.
This year’s convention was a 2-day affair, which means instead of trying to jam 24-hours of BattleTech awesomeness into a single 12-hour period (which went well into the wee hours of the morning if I recall correctly), the organizers have spread the announcements over both Saturday and Sunday. As the first day is all about MechWarrior Online and MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, we’ll be talking about those first.
MechWarrior 5 Release Date Announced
Last summer, MechWarrior 5’s December 2018 release date was pushed back to be sometime in 2019. Now, we have a specific date in 2019 when we can expect to see the first single-player MechWarrior experience in nearly two decades.
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries drops on September 10th, 2019.
Along with the announcement at this year’s Mech_Con, developers Piranha Games dropped a brand new trailer to give everyone a taste of how it will feel to be a mercenary commander.
The trailer very much reminds me of Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries, and I suspect that’s very much by design. First, you see your female commander ride her Victor into battle against a Hunchback and a King Crab. Being out-gunned nearly two to one obviously doesn’t go well for the Victor, who blows up before even being properly introduced.
Next it switches to the player, who starts off in a Cicada. This again reminds me of MechWarrior 2: Mercs as my first ride after performing the Commando-required training missions was always the Cicada.
Of course, I was very young at the time and didn’t understand that the Cicada was a terrible ‘Mech. It went fast, had a few lasers, and weighed more than anything else on the field, and that was good enough for me.
After the Cicada, the player seems to upgrade to the GriffinGRF-1S, then follows that up with a Dragon, a Thunderbolt, and finally a Stalker. The clear implication is you build up your mercenary company from battlefield salvage as you go along, much like the old MechWarrior: Mercenaries games did.
Some of the big takeaways here are the sound effects, which seem vastly improved over last year’s trailer, as well as the graphics and environmental effects, which are also improved.
Of course, this is just a trailer and not necessarily indicative of gameplay. That’s why we also have a 20-minute gameplay demo that also shows how far MechWarrior 5 has come since last year.
This gameplay demo comes courtesy of Giuseppe over at Twinfinite, who was lucky enough to sit in one of the 4 “pods” that PGI set up for Mech_Con. Each pod had a full Thrustmaster joystick setup and was tied together to test MechWarrior 5’s co-op capability, which is sure to be a game-changer for the series.
The demo starts off which each pilot walking along a dropship gantry to pick which ‘Mech they’ll pilot. Giuseppe hops aboard a Thunderbolt, which is a fantastic choice if I do say so myself. I’ve gotta say, the dropship’s Mechbay is a very impressive addition to the MechWarrior franchise and really gives you a sense of scale for the ‘Mechs you’ll be piloting.
As soon as the game starts, you can see a drastic improvement in graphics from last year’s game. Last year, things looked very drab, dull, and plain. This year, the colors seem more vibrant and there’s a much greater emphasis on textures and greenery to make the terrain come alive.
Admittedly, it does seem that framerate issues remain, so optimization will be a big deal. But PGI has 10 months to figure that out, which should be plenty of time. If last year’s game was a playable alpha build, this year seems much closer to a playable beta build.
Of particular note was the voice acting, which seems to take a page out of BattleTech’s book and casts some memorable voice actors to belt out some lines when beginning a mission.
The music seems adequate if not particularly outstanding, but that’s also subject to change in a year, and I’m sure you can always replace the tunes with MechWarrior 2 covers if you prefer.
Along with the 20-minute demo, we also got a sweet piece of box art for the game. Although it seems highly unlikely anyone will actually buy this game in stores, you still gotta have something to put on a web page to advertise your game, and once again, the talented Alex Iglesias hits it out of the park with this terrifying image of a rampaging King Crab.
Since when did the King Crab become the poster child of the MechWarrior franchise? It seems all the marketing material is going King Crab over Atlas these days.
MechWarrior Online Reveals Brand New ‘Mech – The Corsair
Just like last year’s introduction of the Sun Spider, PGI is bringing yet another brand new ‘Mech to the world of BattleTech.
It’s called the Corsair, and Catalyst Game Labs’ Randall Bills has once again given the new ‘Mech his blessing with another fantastic short story describing its origin. I highly recommend going over to the MechWarrior Online websiteto give the Corsair a quick read-through, or you can get the Cole’s Notes version on our very own Wiki here.
The Corsair is described as a classic “FrankenMech” made from the bits and pieces that periphery bandits and pirate groups can salvage from whatever is available. According to the ‘Mechs description on the PGI website, all of these pirate FrankenMechs are cobbled together from various heavy and assault ‘Mechs and given the blanket designation of “Corsair.” This would mean that Corsairs don’t have any particular weight or loadout and can be made of pretty much anything.
And the Corsair’svisuals certainly confirm its hodge-podge nature. Its chest looks like the blade of a bulldozer, its right shoulder seems to come from a Thunderbolt, while the legs are only vague symmetrical without having any symmetry to their armor plating. Your guess is as good as mine as to where those arms came from.
However, when the Corsair is introduced to MechWarrior Online later in March, it’ll come with a set of standard loadouts and designations much like every other Inner Sphere ‘Mech. This sort of belies the Corsair’s FrankenMech nature by making every version come with the same tonnage (95-tons) and one of 5 weapon loadouts, but it’s likely that a variable weight ‘Mech would require a drastic overhaul of MechWarrior Online’s base code.
With MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries only 10 months away, there’s no way PGI would pour that kind of manpower just to make one ‘Mech a little more flavorful. If we’re lucky, we’ll see some true Corsair-style ‘Mechs in MW5.
The COR-5R sort of looks like if an Orionhad sex with a Thunderbolt and then ran headlong into a bulldozer. An AC/10, LRM-15, SRM-6, 3 Medium Lasers, and one Large Laser is surprisingly competent for a pre-Clans era Inner Sphere ‘Mech. It looks like there are enough hardpoints to allow for quite some variation too.
As with any MechWarrior Online ‘Mech, the Corsair’s true performance will all come down to its quirks, but we won’t know about those until closer to the ‘Mech’s ship date on March 19th.
MechWarrior Online Announces Huge Holiday Bonus
Last year, if you played MechWarrior Online on December 27th, you got two free hero ‘Mechs (the Sun Spider and the Roughneck) along with a ton of in-game cash and free loot. This year, they’re doing the same thing by giving away the hero variant Corsair as well as the upcoming Warhammer IIC.
A lot of people have fond memories of the Warhammer IIC as the best damned 80-ton assault ‘Mech you could use in MechWarrior 2. Those same gamers are hoping it will be the best damned 80-ton assault ‘Mech in MechWarrior Online. You’ll be able to find out for sure on December 27th if you play just a single game. You don’t even have to win–you just have to play.
Along with the ‘Mechs, you get 6,000,000 C-Bills in spending money (which should be enough to customize one of the two ‘Mechs), 1,250 MC (which is game equivalent of real-world money), and 7-days of Premium Time to encourage you to play a little longer than one game.
And that’ll do for today! Join us next time as we cover the MechWarrior Online World Championship Finals, announcements from Harebrained Schemes and Catalyst Game Labs, and maybe even peek at a few of the posted photos over on Twitter.
Apologies for the relatively click-baity title, but it sort of fell out of my head and it’s very descriptive. Plus, most of it comes from the Reddit thread where I found these works of art, so I can’t be entirely held responsible.
That argument holds up in court, right?
We have Reddit user TheTwist to thank for taking time out of his life to take some old MechWarrior Online clipart and paste it into even older classic paintings. Actually, that’s selling his work short: these were previously extremely detailed marketing drawings, and making them look like super old oil paintings must have taken a lot of work.
We’ll start with what will obviously be a fan favorite simply for including an UrbanMech, the most mysteriously popular ‘Mech in all of Battletech. Somehow, the Confederates seem to have gotten hold of 31st-century technology and are using it to hold on to… some sort of school. Maybe a church? I know nothing of this painting, and as a proud Canuck, next to nothing about the American Civil War.
So I reached out the artist themself and got the lowdown on how they did it. The painting is called “Tomorrow We Must Attack” by Dale Gallon, and depicts General Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson plotting before some sort of battle. Probably the one that they lost. Whichever battle that was.
Moving on to another fan fav, the Atlashere is plunked straight in the middle of Vimy Ridge, a battle that as a Canadian I can take some particular pride for remembering the name. The painting is descriptively called “Battle of Vimy Ridge” by Richard Jack and shows the Canadian Corps bombarding the German-held ridge just before the Canuck’s relentless advance.
Somehow, I think the Canadians would have had less success if the Germans had a lance of Atlases on their side.
Next is “The War of the Worlds” by Terrence Cuneo, which was actually used as the cover art for an edition of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. The Kodiak you see getting hit by a 24-pound artillery round would normally be a Martian walker, but somehow a giant Ghost Bear assault ‘Mech seems far more menacing.
In “Battle of the Somme: Attack of the Ulster Division” by J. P. Beadle, we see a Locustsupporting British troops just as they head over the top, as they used to say. Instead of the first ever tanks deployed in military combat, we see a 20-ton scout ‘Mech. One wonders which would be more effective.
“Trooping the Colour,” another painting by Terrence Cuneo, shows the British military on parade back when the British military still had parades. It somehow really fits the twin Ravens, which would surely appear in military parades in Liao space.
Finally, we have “The Tirailleurs De La Seine At The Battle Of Rueil Malmaison” by Étienne Prosper Berne-Bellecour. This one actually shows a scene from the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, with the Centurion lending support with its twin Medium Lasers.
I think these are great, and maybe even worthy of a desktop background if they could come in higher resolution. Which they do on TheTwist’s Imgur page, but not quite enough to be in HD. Still, a little blurring of the lines would only improve the effect of inserting a giant robot into historical battle paintings.
We here at Sarna love ourselves some fan-made BattleTech projects. Comic books aren’t the usual fare for BattleTech fan content, but we’re not about to say “no” to an entire volume filled with beautiful robot art. And if we’re lucky, maybe even several volumes.
It’s called (or rather, going to be called) Broken Teeth, with the story written by Solzen and the pictures drawn by Fherot. I was personally tipped-off to this dynamic duo’s project thanks to the BattleTech subreddit, but I also know that the boys over at No Guts No Galaxy have been posting this on their social media accounts as well to generate some hype.
Not to be outdone by those two, we here at Sarna will generate our own specifically branded form of hype. It’s decaf and low calorie.
So far, all we know comes from the cover art that was dropped as a teaser image. It shows a Viperstanding on a tarmac with its entire potential arsenal laid out before it. The specific stance and style is a callback to the Shadow Hawk that once adorned the Japanese version of BattleTech many moons ago, which as Tangowolf over on Reddit points out, is itself a reference to the specific style of military photography done to make jet fighters look super cool.
From the title, we know that the comic will be based on both Solzen and Fherot’s experiences playing MechWarrior Online, and it will feature Clan Diamond Shark in a big way. And there will be a Viper, which is a highly underrepresented but very awesome Clan ‘Mech I don’t see enough of.
Besides that, we’ll learn more as the comic is released.
We don’t have specific knowledge on where Broken Teeth will be released, but it’ll surely show up on my social media feeds when it does. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.