MechWarrior: Dark Age
|MechWarrior: Dark Age|
MechWarrior: Dark Age (Retitled for its second major expansion as Age of Destruction) was a tabletop miniatures wargame by WizKids based on the BattleTech universe, that used the Clix system. The miniatures were pre-painted models of infantry squads, Battle Armor, vehicles, and BattleMechs.
The game was mainly purchased in blind booster packs (similar to Magic: The Gathering), but pre-packaged "Action Packs" also existed with units gathered around a common theme. Outside of direct purchasing, trade is the most common option for acquiring figures, followed by purchases on eBay. There are units that were only acquired through trade or send-aways, such as the Battleforces and the Designer Series 'Mechs and pilots.
There were several factions to collect, and many are interconnected by alliances and other relations.
The following factions were present in the game:
- The Republic of the Sphere
- Bannson's Raiders
- Dragon's Fury
- Steel Wolves
- Spirit Cats
- House Liao
- House Steiner
- House Kurita
- House Davion
- Clan Jade Falcon
- Clan Nova Cat
- Clan Sea Fox
- Clan Wolf
- Rasalhague Dominion
- Wolf Hunters
In addition, mercenary units were also present in the game; these units were represented by figures with no affiliation on their base.
Over time, these factions acquired their own particular style of play. For example, the repairability of the Bannson's Raiders units lend themselves to quick strikes followed by a retreat.
Three factions (House Liao, Clan Jade Falcon, and Clan Sea Fox) have inherent abilities not stated on their figures. Examples of these abilities include improved damage to elite or novice enemies, better targeting through forests, improved jumping attacks, or gaining the ability to deprive an enemy player of an order. This concept has been extended in later expansions by the addition of faction pride cards and special pilot abilities. Starting in January 2006, the factions abilities for House Liao, Clan Jade Falcon, and Clan Sea Fox were replaced with faction pride cards.
One of the most interesting aspects of MechWarrior: Dark Age is its relation to the Classic BattleTech game. In the first expansions of the game, Wizkids tried to make MW:DA a simplified version of BattleTech, with many of the 'Mechs capable of being easily converted to their pen and paper BattleTech equivalents. With the release of Age of Destruction, though, Wizkids, starting developing new 'Mechs no longer based in the Classic Battletech conception of a 'Mech. For example, while the Shen Yi of older expansions had a card that assisted in translating it into a Classic Battletech 'Mech, the new Shiro is not strictly compatible as a Classic BattleTech 'Mech. While many fans of the game applaud the creativity Wizkids has in making 'Mechs outside the box, a fair number of fans were very dissatisfied with departure from the traditional rules regarding 'Mech design.
MechWarrior: Age of Destruction introduced new rules and new mechanics to the game, most notably the pilots and gear data cards. These cards are included with the booster packs, and improve any 'Mech they are attached to. This also introduced Gunslingers, mercenary pilots with preferred 'Mechs that can be "recruited" to all, or most, factions. They have become common prizes at sanctioned tournaments.
As of MechWarrior: Age of Destruction, many of the older factions have been absorbed into their larger "parent" Houses or Clans.
- Highlanders (Absorbed by the The Republic of the Sphere)
- Dragon's Fury (Absorbed by House Kurita)
- Swordsworn (Absorbed by House Davion)
- Stormhammers (Absorbed by House Steiner)
- Bannson's Raiders (Allied with House Liao, later rebelled against them)
- Spirit Cats (Absorbed by Clan Nova Cat)
- Steel Wolves (Disbanded; some members became the core of the (Wolf Hunters)
Dark Age Sets
- MechWarrior: Dark Age (August 2002) - The original set, available as a starter pack and boosters.
- MechWarrior: Fire For Effect (February 2003) - Introduction of artillery, transports, and mercenaries.
- MechWarrior: Death From Above (May 2003) - Adds VTOLs and AA defense systems. Republic of the Sphere and Stormhammers introduced as playable factions.
- MechWarrior: Liao Incursion (September 2003) - House Liao becomes playable faction. Introduction of faction abilities.
- MechWarrior: Counterassault (January 2004) - Introduction of positive heat dial modifiers.
- MechWarrior: Falcon's Prey (August 2004) - Last Dark Age set. Clan Jade Falcon introduced as regular faction.
Age of Destruction Sets
- MechWarrior: Age of Destruction (January 2005) - Available as a starter pack with revised rules and units.
- MechWarrior: Firepower (May 2005) - Introduces House Kurita and mail-in offer 'Mechs as part of tie-up with Wizard Entertainment.
- MechWarrior: Annihilation (November 2005) - Introduces Clan Nova Cat; last expansion with Dark Age splinter faction units.
- MechWarrior: Domination (January 2006) - Rasalhague Dominion becomes playable faction, as well as Wolf Hunters. Introduced the Officer's Club series of Mechs, featuring members of WizKids Mechwarrior design team, and purple-colored gear (PPC Capacitor, Artemis V Fire-Control System, Coolants, Reconnaissance, Anti-Missile System)
- MechWarrior: Vanguard (May 2006) - RISC gear cards introduced (available in certain Unique mechs only). Last set with mail-in mechs.
- MechWarrior: Wolf Strike (September 2006) - Clan Wolf becomes playable faction. Each booster box now has two mechs, one vehicle, four infantry pieces, two pilot cards, two gear cards, and a random card, including the new "squadron cards." Last set with Officer's Club Mech. Was also infamous for having two Mechs that were never officially released by WizKids because three eBay sellers in Hong Kong auctioned copies of them, sans pilot cards, before their scheduled release. The Vindicated Warwolf was a planned mail-in offer for the novel Wolf Hunters by Kevin Killiany, and the Deception Vixen was slated as a tournament prize. As a result, WizKids has ruled that the two figures are not legal for tournament play. 
In early 2006, WizKids released the Battleforce series, which consists of pre-packaged sets of 'Mechs painted to represent normal service units from each major faction. They come with pilot cards that depict ranked pilots from the faction.
- Clan Jade Falcon (January 2006) - Contains 2 Shrikes, 2 Eyries, and 2 Gyrfalcons, plus pilots.
- Republic of the Sphere (May 2006) - Contains 2 Malices, 2 Mangonels, and 2 Nyxes, plus pilots.
- War College (Summer 2006) - This set was designed to help attract new players to the game. Contains a Unique Atlas and Marauder IIC mech and their pilots, plus a playmat, two sets of dice, and 18" tape measures. Only available at War College events.
- Ares 3-Pack (Debuted at GenCon 2006; general release September 2006) - This set marked the debut of the Colossus-Class Mechs. The robots and their accompanying gunner, pilot, and engineer cards are named after figures in Greek mythology. Their tripod shape is reminiscent of the alien robots in The War of the Worlds.
- Phantom War Battleforce Set (September 2006) - A product tie-in with the Nintendo DS game MechAssault: Phantom War, the set features units from House Steiner and Clan Hell's Horses. The Steiner side comprises a Raptor, Uziel, and the Unique Atlas "Unsterblich". The Hell's Horses are represented by a Unique Hellbringer (Loki) "Brimstone", a Timber Wolf (Mad Cat); a revived sculpt from the Dark Age sets, but presented as a first model Mad Cat, not a Mad Cat Mk II), and a Kit Fox (Uller).
- Poseidon (October 2006) - Contains the Ares BattleMech Poseidon and two infantry pieces, plus their cards.
In late 2006, WizKids announced that the blind booster pack format was over for MechWarrior: Age of Destruction and that they would switch to non-blind faction-specific "Action Packs" for all 2007 releases. The first Action Pack releases are:
- House Davion Action Pack (May 2007) - Contains 2 Atlas, 2 Templar, and 2 Enforcer III mechs with pilots for House Davion.
- Champions Vol.1 (June 2007) - Containing Ghost, Jupiter, Locust, and Mortis BattleMechs with pilots based on the Top Four fellowship players of the 2006 MechWarrior Fellowship World Championships. A 'Fellowship' in Mechwarrior parlance can be loosely described as a sportsmanship award.
- Champions Vol.2 (July 2007) - Containing Raven, Griffin, Warhammer IIC, and Daishi BattleMechs with pilots based on the top four champion players of the 2006 MechWarrior World Championships.
- MechWarrior: Solaris VII (August 2007) - the series features 24 Gunslinger mechs that do combat on the gaming planet of Solaris VII. The mechs, plus their corresponding pilots and equipment, are grouped together in every pack according to each of the four weight classes - Light (eight), Medium (six), Heavy (six), and Assault (four). Each pack contains a rulebook, a set of six target tokens, and a playmat that can be connected with those from the three other packs to form one giant arena map.
- Undead Lance (October 2007) - A set of gunslingers that are based on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
- Wolf's Dragoons Wolf Spiders Action Pack (November 2007) - Includes four heavy 'Mechs (Loki, Mad Cat IV, Vulture IV, and Thor) painted in the colors of the Wolf's Dragoons mercenary unit's Wolf Spiders battalion and their corresponding pilot cards, plus a Jaime Wolf pilot card.
- Wolf's Dragoons Gamma Regiment Action Pack (December 2007) - Includes two ’Mechs, three vehicles, and six infantry pieces of different models, plus a set of pilot cards.
Both the Wolf Spiders and Gamma Regiment sets have pilots with combat abilities that can be used in other mechs. Previous pilot abilities were only activated in the pilot's preferred Mech, due to the familiarity with the machine. In GenCon 2007 WizKids announced the production of a Solaris VII champions set, coinciding with the six Players who had won the Solaris VII Open Worlds Event hosted that year. However, due to issues in production, the Mechwarrior line was put on permanent hold status, and the Solaris VII Champion set was never produced. WizKids did however, create a set of custom mechs based on existing sculpts for the six Champions, they are the only known Solaris VII Champion mechs produced, but did not come with pilot cards.
In 2003, WizKids produced a special DropShip playset. Sold only at conventions and through special promotions, the Aurora DropShip is a massive unit that has four cannon turrets and four bays for repairing units. The playset also has special rules.
The MechWarrior: Dark Age game also has associated fiction set in the Dark Age era of the Battletech universe. Below is a list of titles that have been released with novel #31 being the last of this current line:
- Ghost War, Michael A. Stackpole
- A Call to Arms, Loren L. Coleman
- Ruins of Power, Robert E. Vardeman
- A Silence in the Heavens, Martin Delrio (Book One of The Proving Grounds trilogy)
- Truth and Shadows, Martin Delrio (Book Two of The Proving Grounds trilogy)
- Service for the Dead, Martin Delrio (Book Three of The Proving Grounds trilogy)
- By Temptations and By War, Loren L. Coleman
- Fortress of Lies, J. Steven York
- Patriot's Stand, Mike Moscoe
- Flight of the Falcon, Victor Milan
- Blood of the Isle, Loren L. Coleman
- Hunters of the Deep, Randall N. Bills
- The Scorpion Jar, Jason M. Hardy
- Target of Opportunity, Blaine Lee Pardoe
- Sword of Sedition, Loren L. Coleman
- Daughter of the Dragon, Ilsa J. Bick
- Heretic's Faith, Randall N. Bills
- Fortress Republic, Loren L. Coleman
- Blood Avatar, Ilsa J. Bick
- Trial by Chaos, J. Steven York
- Principles of Desolation, Jason M. Hardy and Randall N. Bills
- Wolf Hunters, Kevin Killiany
- Surrender Your Dreams, Blaine Lee Pardoe
- Dragon Rising, Ilsa J. Bick
- Masters of War, Michael A. Stackpole
- A Rending of Falcons, Victor Milan
- Pandora's Gambit, Randall N. Bills
- Fire at Will, Blaine Lee Pardoe
- The Last Charge, Jason M. Hardy
- To Ride the Chimera, Kevin Killiany
- A Bonfire of Worlds, Steven Mohan Jr.
- http://www.warrenborn.com/Files/Rules/MWAOD_FAQ_021508.pdf "The Wolf Strike units #106 "Vindication" Warwolf and #118 "Deception" Vixen have not been released by WizKids Games, and as such are not tournament legal for play in a sanctioned MechWarrior event. MechWarrior: Age of Destruction Errata, Questions, and Answers, WizKids Games, February 15, 2008