In my second review for Sarna.net BattleTech News Blog, I report on CGL’s latest release of this writing, Technical Readout: 3145 Mercenaries.
Describing the equipment here – a promising mix of ‘Mechs, battle armor, tanks, VTOLs and other units – as “mercenary” is something of a misnomer. One of the delightful peculiarities of this ‘Dark Age’ era is that technology has proliferated throughout the Inner Sphere. It is not all that unusual to see the Jade Falcons using a vehicle produced in the Capellan Confederation, or for House Davion MechWarriors to pilot a ‘Mech originally built for the Ghost Bears. For this variety, we usually have the Sea Foxes to thank. These guys have become the Ferengi of the new BattleTech universe, and one starts to wonder if they haven’t grown much more powerful than anyone suspects.
Having said all that, these are the units that have become most popular among the mercenaries of the Dark Age. Record sheets are provided in the back, making the need for a secondary publication redundant. At least CGL seems to be interested in saving us a few bucks when they can, though maybe they just had to pad the page count. We only get 25 new units, but there’s a little something here for everyone: want a Clan-tech helicopter that can flat-out outrace anything that’s ever hovered in one place? The Gossamer should catch your fancy. Want a completely updated version of the most iconic BattleMech ever? I give you the Mad Cat Mk IV; they finally made a better mouse trap. The MC4, popularly known as the Savage Wolf, uses a double extra-light engine and Ferro-Lamellor armor – both from the Tactical Operations book – to improve upon a design that seemed impossible to upgrade. No wonder it was so popular with the VIPs of the Dark Age novels.
Not all the units are keepers, depending on your style of scenario or campaign. There are only ten ‘Mechs, and the only assault among them, a Periphery machine called the HawkWolf, doesn’t offer much that a classic Archer wouldn’t. The Jade Hawk, one of the most distinctive ‘Mechs from the MechWarrior: Age of Destruction CMG, is interesting only as a melee specialist, the kind of ‘Mech the developers usually confined to the arenas on Solaris. The Savior Repair Vehicle is clearly based on the Repair Truck from MechCommander 2. We don’t get any details on how it actually repairs, though it is probably fair to say that it takes longer than 30 seconds to repair a one-legged Atlas that’s had all its armor shot off. In addition to the Mad Cat IV, three other “classic” OmniMechs get rebuilds, although two of them are no longer considered Omnis.
As is the norm with TROs, we get some snippets of info in the flavor text regarding various units and factions, including mentions of classic groups like Wolf’s Dragoons (including the Mad Cat IV and Vulture on the cover) and Hansen’s Roughriders. In another gem, we learn that the Lyrans have turned to nuclear weapons to hold off the rampaging Jade Falcons, for all the good it’s done them.
TRO: 3145 Mercenaries is the first in a series of faction books, which will (eventually) include a general TRO for the era. Still, given how widely most of these units have been distributed, it’ll be nice to give each faction a few exclusive ‘Mechs, vehicles, etc., to give them each their own semi-unique flavor.
Overall, TRO: 3145 Mercenaries is a solid production, with some of the strongest artwork we’ve seen. I believe they would have been better off waiting until the “main” TRO3145 was released before moving on to the factional publications, but still, it’s a good start.