Quan Roberts, the lead engineer of the Kallon engineering incubation team, stormed into the room with a rigid frown creasing his forehead. Roberts had a reputation for being a demanding manager, and most under his command knew to stay quiet when he was in one of his moods. Most, but not all.
“Alright team, we have our orders. The top brass wants us to take another look at the Rifleman. Thoughts?”
“Um, sir?” Asked one fresh-faced tech. “Why might management be considering a replacement for the Rifleman?”
Everyone else in the conference room immediately looked away as though trying to avert their eyes from witnessing a gruesome hoverbike crash. It had been just four years since the introduction of the RFL-3N, and it had since gone on to become one of Kallon’s most successful products. To even think about replacing it so soon sounded more like an insult than a challenge.
Roberts stared the question down for a few tense moments, then responded. “This stays between us, but Kallon management has been discussing potential sales with House Davion following the cessation of internal hostilities.”
“You mean after the SLDF invades Terra and kills Amaris?”
Another few moments of tense silence, then Roberts nodded. “So far, Amaris Empire forces haven’t been able to stop Kerensk’s drive coreward. Management believes it’s just a matter of time before the civil war is over, and what comes next could be a very lucrative opportunity for Kallon.”
“So this request for a Rifleman replacement is really just an excuse to arm the Davions, right?”
“Not officially,” Roberts pressed both palms on the table. “And I will remind all of you that any wild presumptions will be strenuously denied by Kallon should any FORMER employees express them outside this room.”
There were a few furtive glances, but Roberts judged the message to have been universally received. “Now, let’s think of this as an opportunity for a do-over. How could we make a better Rifleman?”
“Um,” the same fresh-faced tech started. “Well, the pilots s-say that the Rifleman is too hot, doesn’t have enough ammo, and its armor protection is in-insufficient.”
“Alright, then here’s what we’re going to do.” Roberts took a datapad and started furiously typing up a preliminary design document. “We’re going to make a bigger, better Rifleman based on those criteria. It’ll be heavier, we’re going to replace the lasers with more autocannons, and make sure to keep the same targeting capabilities that everyone loves from the Rifleman.”
“But sir–even with five more tons, the chassis won’t be able to–“
“You!” Roberts pointed at the tech. “You’re fired! Clean out your desk and remember the terms of your NDA.”
The rest of the team was silent save for the sound of footsteps as the now jobless tech shuffled quietly out of the conference room.
Roberts made a few more grand gestures on his datapad and then threw it on the table. “The rest of you have three weeks to get a functional design out of this. Get to work.”
It wasn’t until five minutes after Roberts left the room that another engineer actually picked up the datapad. He then handed it over to the woman on his left, who handed it to the woman on her left.
Finally, it reached someone who said what everyone had been thinking. “The only way this thing moves with that many autocannons is if we remove more armor from the Rifleman. And with the added ammo bins, it’ll be even more vulnerable to sympathetic cookoffs.”
Another engineer just shrugged. “Well, orders are orders I guess. Hope those Davions have life insurance.”
It’s truly amazing that a proposed replacement for one of the most popular failures of all time could itself become a key pillar of an entire Great House’s armed forces. And yet, the JagerMech is a story of improbable beginnings leading to even less probable financial success for one extremely successful interstellar arms manufacturer.
In 2774, Kallon Industries, makers of the wildly popular Rifleman BattleMech, introduced its replacement: the JM6-S JagerMech. It was merely four years since the introduction of the RFL-3N, a variant that was supposed to have finally perfected the Rifleman, but MechWarriors reported a number of shortcomings with the older machine. Specifically, the RFL-3N ran far too hot, had insufficient ammunition for its arm-mounted autocannons, and it had insufficient protection for front-line combat.
Kallon’s solution was to create a ‘Mech that did indeed solve the Rifleman‘s heat issues but increased its overreliance on ammunition-based weaponry, added more ammunition bays, and stripped away what little armor the Rifleman had. The result was a ‘Mech that was more vulnerable than the Rifleman in every measurable way.
Had the JagerMech been introduced during peacetime, perhaps Kallon would have been rightly ridiculed for making a worse Rifleman and calling it an improvement. But because the JagerMech was introduced at the very height of the Amaris Civil War, media outlets had larger headlines to fill their nightly news broadcasts, and the JagerMech‘s shortcomings were explained away to military procurement officials as all part of the design.
When the civil war ended and the Succession Wars began, House militaries had a sudden and desperate need for any and all war material they could get their ironfisted hands on. Kallon sold the JagerMech to both the Federated Suns and Capellan militaries, but it was the Suns’ love of autocannons that gave the JagerMech a permanent home.
Armed with twin Mydron Model C AC/5s and twin Model D AC/2s, the JagerMech could put down a withering hail of light cannon fire, provided its ammunition bays remained topped up. Kallon marketed the JagerMech as a second-line fire support and anti-aircraft ‘Mech so that customers understood the importance of keeping the JagerMech near its munitions.
Despite this, the Fed Suns often placed JagerMechs in striker lances as on-demand fire support similar to how infantry doctrine demanded at least one heavy gunner be assigned to each squad. Rather than replace the Rifleman, the JagerMech found itself serving alongside the Rifleman in a role it had never been designed to fulfill.
Over the course of the Succession Wars, the JagerMech would receive a stellar reputation from MechWarriors who used it in its intended role as second-line fire support. Those MechWarriors who used it in its non-intended role as first-line fire support didn’t get the chance to complain about the JM6-S’s paltry six tons of armor (two less than the Rifleman) because they never survived combat.
Word of mouth has a way of favoring the survivors, and the JagerMech would go on to become a central pillar of the Federated Suns armed forces.
Even from the outset, however, Davion officials identified the JagerMech‘s faults and proposed a solution. The JM6-A, introduced in 2778, replaced the Mydron Model Cs with twin LRM-15 launchers and an additional two tons of armor. This brought the JagerMech back to being at least as armored as the Rifleman, but the variant remained rare within the AFFS as Kallon only made two production runs of the JM6-A.
It wasn’t until the rediscovery of Star League technology from the Helm Memory Core that the JagerMech received its first real upgrade. The JM6-DD replaced the AC/5s with quick-firing Ultra versions, upgraded the Medium Lasers to Pulse variants, added cellular ammunition storage for greater pilot survivability, and added Ferro-Fibrous armor for greater overall protection. This variant would see heavy fighting with both the FedCom armed forces and the DCMS as it was introduced just months before the Clan Invasion. The JM6-DD would become a rare symbol of cooperation between the Draconis Combine and the Federated Suns.
In the late 3050s, Kallon thought to redesign the JagerMech to make it far more like the ‘Mech it ostensibly replaced. The JM7-D mounts twin AC/5s and twin ER Large Lasers in the arms along with a pair of Medium Lasers in the torso for up-close defense. The JM7 chassis is also five tons heavier, although that weight is mostly taken up by three additional double heatsinks that keep the ‘Mech cool if not well-protected. The JM7-F mimics the RFL-8D with twin Mydron Rotary Autocannon/5s and two Medium Lasers but justifies its existence with ECM and a Targeting Computer.
Still not satisfied with the JM7 line, Kallon was ordered by the AFFS to produce yet another redesign as part of First Prince Victor Steiner-Davion‘s plan to rebuild national pride in its armed forces following the thrashing it received during the Clan Invasion. In 3058, Kallon introduced the JM6-D3 JagerMech III, armed with twin Ultra Autocannons, twin PPCs, and twin Medium Lasers. A VOX 325 XL propels the JagerMech III up to 86.4 kph–faster than any previous JagerMech–and 12 double heat sinks keep the ‘Mech relatively cool. Notably, the JagerMech III has nine and a half tons of Ferro-Fibrous armor, although a lack of CASE still leaves it vulnerable to ammunition explosions.
The prevalence of the JagerMech in the former Federated Commonwealth meant there were many machines to upgrade during the Word of Blake Jihad. The JM6-DDa brings the DD’s Ultra Autocannons back down to their standard versions and replaces the smaller autocannons with Light AC/2s. This allows for specialized munitions in CASE-protected ammo bays. A Targeting Computer ensures those rounds find their mark.
The JM7-C3BS, introduced in 3075, mounts four Light AC/2s (two in each arm) and twin Snub-Nose PPCs. A single ER Medium Laser in the center torso provides defense should the JagerMech‘s arms become disabled, while an experimental C3 boosted slave shares targeting data with lancemates.
In the modern age, the JM7-DD finally achieves adequacy through the use of Clan tech, CASE II, and more Ferro-Fibrous armor than any JagerMech has ever been protected by. It seems the JagerMech, much like the Rifleman, may have finally grown into the role of frontline fire support it had historically been thrust into against its designers’ will.
April fools! Your prank came at the end of the month instead of the beginning. Tricksy, eh? But seriously, I’ve never understood the appeal of April Fool’s Day. Maybe that’s because I have a lot of news to write and dealing in anything but facts just makes my job harder. These days, truth is often stranger than fiction, so it can be hard to know what’s a joke and what’s not.
But a trained BattleTech eye can separate the lies from the truth, although I do have a few interesting lies to share which celebrated the non-holiday. So without further adieu, let’s jump into April’s headlines.
Mercenaries Triples Clan Invasion Kickstarter Total With $7.5 Million Pledged
I get that there’s been quite a bit of inflation between now and the 2020 Clan Invasion Kickstarter, but $7.5 million is still a lot of money. Since the campaign ended earlier this month, Mercenaries has become one of the top 20 highest-funded Kickstarters of all time. Mercenaries has also more than doubled the number of backers from the Clan Invasion, with 23,654 mercs pledged to form their own interstellar group of guns-for-hire.
Sadly, we didn’t quite reach the $8 million stretch goal that would have given everyone a free Blood Asp (at Company level and above), but we did unlock a lot of stuff. Since Mercenaries broke the $7 million goal, everyone at Company level and above gets two ForcePacks of their choice (one from the $5 mil goal and another from the $7 mil goal), while Battalion level backers and above get four additional ForcePacks. Everyone gets free audiobook versions of Eclipse by Jason Schmetzer, Close Quarters by Victor Milan, and A Splinter of Hope by Philip A. Lee, PDF copies of Cracked Canopy Cookbook, Mercenary Life, Tales of the Bounty Hunter, and No Greater Honor, and a whole bunch of Salvage Boxes which will contain random ‘Mechs.
Of course, there’s way more than that available, and listing it all here would take hours I don’t have. You’ll just need to check the Kickstarter page to see what your pledge has unlocked.
According to Catalyst, they have over 400 items to configure, so expect the pledge manager to be available in two-to-three weeks. Then you’ll be able to select your ForcePacks and other add-ons from the manager. All the physical stuff is expected to arrive around June 2024, but as with the Clan Invasion Kickstarter, I’m going to suggest we exercise patience. While global supply chains have largely untangled themselves from the pandemic, this Kickstarter is more than twice as big as the last one, which probably requires some serious man-hours.
Oh, and in case you missed it, the Mercs Kickstarter even made mainstream news outlets like Polygon and Forbes. BattleTech is hitting the big time!
Catalyst has put out a video series asking both fans and actual BattleTech creatives, “What does BattleTech mean to you?” To Mitch Gitelman, studio head of BATTLETECH developer Hairbrained Schemes and producer for both the MechCommander and MechAssault games, BattleTech was his entry into “big-time video game development.” To BattleTech writer Chris Hussey, BattleTech is an expansive universe where fans can always find something they like, provided it’s not aliens or magic. And to Nick Smith, president of BattleTech pod company Virtual World Entertainment, BattleTech is “a place for everybody” with a “love for big stompy robots.”
To me, it’s all those things too. BattleTech didn’t get me into game development, but it certainly helped me find a new career after I quit schilling for an insurance company. It’s also a huge universe where you can really find any kind of sci-fi, whether it be super high-tech space battles between rival galactic nations or a down-in-the-dirt contest between two martial arts experts. It’s got everything from political dramas to spy thrillers, but throughout the universe, it all comes back to those giant stompy robots.
On top of that, BattleTech represents a sort of gritty military sci-fi that’s okay to love. I’ve always had a fascination with military hardware, whether it be World War 2 battleships or modern jet fighters, but I’ve always had a problem with getting too excited about these weapons of war. Geeking out over a MiG-29 or an MP5 can be a lot of fun, but these things have killed real people. With BattleTech being a completely fictional universe, I don’t have to worry about that.
Oh don’t get me wrong--BattleTech has plenty of documented atrocities where ‘Mechs killed civilians wholesale, but it’s all make-believe. We can joke about the Word of Blake nuking most of Wolf’s Dragoons into atoms because it’s not real. And in an age where armed conflict seems to be escalating every day, I think it’s important to have that geeky outlet for hardcore military sci-fi where the stakes just aren’t as high.
I’m not sure I’d actually want to live anywhere in the BattleTech universe (with the exception of the Magistracy, of course), but I’m glad it’s here in our universe.
MechWarrior Living Legends Rebrands As MechWarrior LOL
Another good one, this time from Reddit user Samwitch13. Pretty sure that paint job came from the recent PseudoTech featuring the Urbie Derby, but can’t say that Photoshop isn’t on point. But hey, just imagine what a BattleTech movie could be with Disney money.
Crescent Hawks Training Video Details Exploits Of The Kell Hounds
BattleTech Crescent Hawk Training Vid - Kell Hounds
Here’s a fun new video that came as part of the Mercenaries Kickstarter. Catalyst reached out to Rem Alternis Productions to produce a training video for new recruits to the Crescent Hawks, where the motto is: “We’re here to make money, not friends.” The video deals with the formation and legacy of the Kell Hounds, its notable figures, and their ‘Mechs, as well as what the famed mercenary unit is up to during the ilClan era.
It’s a good refresher if you’re not up on your Kell Hounds lore. Hopefully we’ll get a few more of these videos.
3D artist Maska brings us this brief animation of a King Crab making its way downtown, firing its twin AC/20s at some unfortunate soul off-camera. Ever since the King Crab became the poster child for MechWarrior 5, we’ve been seen more of the Crab‘s bigger, badder, and meaner brother. Can’t say I’m disappointed. Kudos to you, Masaka!
PGI Is Hiring A Writer (Probably For MechWarrior 6)
Wanna write the next MechWarrior game? PGI, developer of MechWarrior Online, MechWarrior 5, and holder of the MechWarrior IP, is hiring a”Narrative Writer II.” The listing doesn’t explicitly state that it’s for MechWarrior 6, but it does say that an applicable qualification is “passion for the MechWarrior/Battletech universe IP.” So it’s possible this is for new MechWarrior 5 DLC or for some wild expansion to MechWarrior Online, but I’m betting whoever lands this gig would be writing for the next MechWarrior game.
We should note that game writing isn’t your typical writing gig. This job doesn’t send you off to write a novel or a short story to somehow turn into a video game--it’s writing with an eye and ear toward in-the-moment game design. That means scripting levels so that they jive with the audio cues and physical action, which means a lot of coordination with the narrative director, level designers, and audio team. It also means writing using game engine editors and scripting tools, as well as documentation for external localization.
PGI is looking for someone in the field with two years of experience writing and at least one shipped title. Obviously, love for the BattleTech universe is a bonus, but not strictly speaking a necessary qualification. It’s more important to know and understand military jargon than to know every ‘Mech in the Inner Sphere, although, knowing the quirky military jargon of the Clans would probably be a huge bonus. Probably.
The position has a flexible schedule, “comprehensive benefits,” and remote work is available. Heck, I should apply. I don’t actually have any games writing experience, but how hard could it be?
Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH had probably the best voice acting of any BattleTech or MechWarrior game out there, and that was in no small part due to the performance of Gin Hammond as Lady Kamea Arano. So it means a lot when Lady Arano herself comes forward to say “Trans rights are human rights.”
Scarlerr posted this to the BattleTech subreddit. I’ve seen a lot of miniatures, some paintings, and even a few scale models, but I’ve never seen a watercolor paper diorama with a Raven front and center.
The best part is the little cottage. Is this the Raven‘s summer home? Does it vacation here every weekend from March to October, water-skiing with its UrbanMech neighbors? Or is it a fairy-tale character like Little Red Riding Hood, off to meet her grandmother who’s been eaten by a Timber Wolf?
We need the story, Scarlerr.
Von Biomes 12 Makes MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Very Pretty
Mechwarrior 5 - MODDED! New Mod vonBiomes 12 is out on Nexus, Steam & Patreon!
Head over to either the MechWarrior 5: MercenariesSteam Workshop page or the Nexus Mods site, and you’ll see Yet Another Mechlab is the most popular mod. Look a few mods down the list though, and you’ll see vonBiomes, a mod that I’d definitely consider adding to your rotation so long as you’ve got a gaming rig that can handle it.
MechWarrior 5 already has a lot of different biomes that you can potentially drop onto, but after a while they all sort of blend together. Download the vonBiomes mod and you’ll never get bored of tromping through a volcanic waste or massive junkyard. The mod adds over a dozen new biomes, including one with giant alien fungal growths, a desert with actual cacti, and an old-growth forest where trees are actually way taller than the ‘Mechs. The only downside is that these biomes are so pretty that they can really tax your machine, especially if you’ve got ray tracing turned on.
VonBiomes recently received its 12th update with a ton of new stuff. Besides the usual bug fixes and compatibility with the recently released Rise of Rasalhague DLC, version 12 adds new dynamic lighting for sunny planets, new mission backgrounds, and UI updates. It’s all very pretty, which you can see in vonSeiten’s video, so if you’ve got a good gaming rig, be sure to give this mod a download.
RenegadeHPG Interviews Loren L. Coleman
A Conversation with Loren L. Coleman | Catalyst Game Labs Owner/CEO (Part 2: The Publisher)
Travis over at RenegageHPG sat down with Loren L. Coleman, co-founder of Catalyst Game Labs and current “steward” of the Battletech license. Since the conversation lasted nearly two hours, Travis broke this interview into two parts, with the first mostly talking about Loren’s time as a BattleTech author and the second dealing more with his managerial role at Catalyst.
The first part doesn’t really tread any new ground, but I find part two to be a very interesting conversation. Catalyst had a lot of problems when it took the BattleTech license from WizKids following Dark Age, and getting things back on track required a herculean effort. He also dove into the success of the Clan Invasion Kickstarter and why Catalyst keeps crowd-funding these product releases.
There’s a lot of interesting stuff here, so I encourage y’all to set aside some time to see what Loren has to say.
MechWarrior Online: Legends Adds New Legendary ‘Mechs In April Patch
In MechWarrior Online: Legends news, April brings two new Legendary ‘Mechs to, some map updates, and yet more adjustments to ‘Mech quirks. The Scattershot is a Shadow Hawk variant that comes armed with two MRM-20s and three LB-X AC/2s, which is pretty good for a stock loadout. You’ll also get a mini battle pass that lets you earn GSP, C-bills, MC, premium time, and cosmetics just for playing the Scattershot. Meanwhile, the Marauder IIC “Dreadnought” is an Annihilator with a dead side. Four LB10-X ACs are paired with four ER Small Lasers, but only one of each are located on the left side of the ‘Mech, meaning it retains the bulk of its firepower even after losing its left torso.
These new Legendary ‘Mechs are really good, with unique and desirable characteristics that set them apart from every other ‘Mech in the game. It has a few players accusing PGI of releasing pay-to-win ‘Mechs, but having played my fair share of World of Warships, that’s nothing new for a free-to-play game.
Both Terra Therma and Free Worlds Colosseum received updates that’ll hopefully mean fewer MechWarriors getting stuck on geometry. Free Worlds in particular received a bunch of new trees and foliage that’ll make it more interesting, but removed the fireworks. Not sure why, but no more colorful explosions will appear in the sky unless the player puts them there.
As for quirks, the Osiris, Hatchetman, Storm Crow, Summoner, and Fafnir are all big winners in this patch. The Fafnir in particular received armor buffs and reductions to its critical hit chances that’ll hopefully make it into the terrifying behemoth it should be. The Wolfhoundreceived some quirk consolidation, although some variants might see their heat-sinking diminished after April’s patch.
A few specific variants have also received some quirk adjustments, which you can read about in the patch notes here.
And that’s it for April! Join us next month for yet another rundown on all the best news for BattleTech fans like you.
“I will defeat you with two of my Large Lasers powered down!”
“Then I will face you without my machine guns!”
The red-haired MechWarrior scoffed at Star Commander Edwin’s counter-bid. “And you think those piddly armaments would do any more than scratch by Dire Wolf’s paint?”
“Well… there are four of them!”
Star Commander Ross laughed. “Very well, we shall commence our ‘Mech-based duel without your anti-infantry weapons.” The surrounding MechWarriors chuckled at the Clan equivalent of a good zinger.
It was clear to Edwin that he was already losing the opening rounds of this Trial of Grievance. It was unusual for warriors to bid away individual weapon systems before such a trial, especially when both their ‘Mechs were of equal weight, but Ross believed the best way to prove the superiority of her Dire Wolf was to fight Edwin’s Bane without two of its main weapons. Edwin, proud of his classic Jade Falcon assault ‘Mech and eager to demonstrate the superiority of Falcon engineering over a traditional Clan Wolf design, couldn’t let Ross humiliate him before the battle had even begun.
“Additionally,” Edwin called over the laughter of his fellow MechWarriors, “I will fight without two of my autocannon’s ammo bins.”
That caused the laughter to stop–from everyone but Ross. “Well bargained, and done!” She then turned and walked towards the hangars, leaving Edwin speechless and surrounded by looks of concern.
The fight began at range. Ross’s remaining ER Large Lasers stitched lines across Edwin’s Bane, while LRMs pockmarked the assault ‘Mech’s tough armor. In response, Edwin fired all ten of his ultra autocannons, dumping hundreds of rounds into the Dire Wolf’s equally thick hide. The two behemoths stalked forward almost in lockstep, closing the distance while under equally withering fire. By the time the distance between them had closed to within range of Ross’s Medium Pulse Lasers, both their armor were in tatters.
One more fusillade and Edwin would start tearing away at Ross’s internal structure. He pulled the trigger to start delivering the final blows, only nothing happened. A blinking red light on his HUD confirmed his ammo bins had run dry. And without being able to use his machine guns, he was reduced to dishonorable physical combat.
“What’s the matter, Star Commander,” came Ross’s mocking voice. “Have you run out of ammo?”
Edwin slumped in his command chair. She was right–he didn’t stand a chance without working weapons. But he was a proud Falcon warrior, and if there was one thing Falcons didn’t know, it was when to quit.
Edwin shouted into his neurohelmet and kicked his Bane up to its maximum speed of 54 kph. As green bolts chewed into his ‘Mechs internals, Star Commander Edwin lumbered towards victory or death.
There is perhaps no greater example of the Clan’s disregard for ammo dependency than the Bane. With a mere four tons of ammo feeding ten dual-speed autocannons, the Bane is liable to empty its bins in even light combat actions. In protracted fights, the Bane will find itself a 100-ton target for ‘Mechs designed with the foresight of unrestricted warfare.
Like the Stone Rhino, the Bane (or Kraken, as it is known in the Inner Sphere) started life as a Star League-era prototype design. No examples were built before the Amaris Civil War, but as with many future Clan ‘Mechs, the Bane‘s blueprints were taken with General Kerensky during the Exodus. Following Operation Klondike and the re-taking of the Pentagon Worlds, small-scale production of the Bane would see it included in various Clan toumans, fulfilling the role of heavy ranged support. The Bane would be phased out with the arrival of the OmniMech, although the venerable design would continue to see use in second-line units and garrison forces.
Despite newer ‘Mechs supplanting its role in the decades following its introduction in 2827, the Bane would continue to be a favorite of Clan Jade Falcon, often serving as a test-bed for the latest generation of equipment. Production of the Bane would continue at Tokasha MechWorks until the Falcon’s abjuration from the Clan Homeworlds, at which point production was transferred to Olivetti Weaponry on Sudeten.
The initial design for the Bane saw a 100-ton chassis bristling with small-caliber autocannons and machine guns. The Bane had ten such Ultra Autocannon/2s backed up by four machine guns for anti-infantry work. This armament made the Bane incredibly effective both as an anti-aircraft platform and a ‘Mech that could eliminate entire platoons of unarmored infantry. That would remain true until the advent of Elemental armor in the late 2860s, although the sheer volume of fire coming from a single Bane was still problematic for even a full point of Elementals.
The Bane‘s armament would prove less effective against peer foes, especially new-generation assault OmniMechs like the Executioner, Warhawk, and Dire Wolf. Although still effective at crippling lighter ‘Mechs at extreme ranges, heavier units could withstand the Bane‘s lead rain and respond with more potent weapons. Bane MechWarriors often found their four tons of ammunition run dry just before penetrating heavily armored opponents, leaving the Bane combat ineffective at the worst possible moment.
Although flawed for its extreme dependence on ammunition and access to secure supply lines, the Bane did have an exceptional nineteen tons of armor and ten double heat sinks to keep the machine cool in various situations and environments. Its use of standard armor and a standard chassis also made it easier to produce and repair, two qualities that made the Bane especially attractive when Clan Jade Falcon switched to an Inner Sphere production line.
Recognizing the Bane‘s now inadequate armament, the Jade Falcons introduced multiple production variants to address the Bane‘s primary flaw. The Bane 2, introduced in the late 3050s, swapped the original’s light-caliber weapons for four Ultra-class Autocannon/10s. Better yet, the Bane 2 featured fourteen tons of ammunition, allowing it to deliver devastating salvos throughout even extended combat actions. Similarly, the Bane 3 swapped its autocannons for an astounding eight LRM-15 launchers for awe-inspiring volleys of up to 120 missiles. Nineteen double heat sinks kept the Bane 3 cool enough for continuous bombardment, although some of its launchers would eventually remain silent if the pilot wanted to avoid heat issues. A single one-shot Streak SRM-4 launcher seemed inadequate to deter Elementals that manage to sneak their way through enemy lines.
When the Advanced Tactical Missile became more widely available, the Falcons mounted them on the Bane 4 in the mid-to-late 3050s. This variant of the Bane came armed with three ATM-6s with four tons of ammunition, although those were secondary to the ‘Mech’s primary weapon system: twin Ultra Autocannon/20s. These massive cannons were backed by six tons of ammo as well as a single ER Large Laser for additional long-range punch. Seventeen double heat sinks keep the Bane 4 cool.
Although all Banes shared the same chassis, individual variants could appear radically different. For example, the original model Banes featured plantigrade legs, while newer-model Banes feature digitigrade legs. Up until the Dark Age, plantigrade Banes were more common, but increased production from Olivetti Weaponry eventually led to the digitigrade style becoming the standard orientation for Bane locomotion.
Further Dark Age variants continued the Falcons’ penchant for experimentation on the versatile Assault ‘Mech. The Bane 5 uses Inner Sphere-sourced Rotary Autocannon/2s while the Bane 6 returns to the original’s focus on massed small-caliber weapons. Ten ProtoMech AC/2s are matched to twelve tons of ammo and a Targeting Computer for highly accurate long-range fire. The Bane 5 matched its autocannons with an ER Large Laser and twin LRM-10s, while the Bane 6 had four ER Medium Lasers. ECM kept both machines protected while operating at range. Finally, the Bane 7 paired twin HAG 40s with a Large Pulse Laser and four ER Medium Lasers, harkening back to the Bane 4 in terms of armament.
Barring the brief decades following Operation Klondike, the Bane has gone from a relative rarity to a much more common sight on the modern battlefield. However, that can largely be attributed to the Jade Falcons’ scientist caste. Had the Falcons now continuously iterated on the Bane with newer technology, it seems most likely that the Bane would have died out when its armament became outmatched.
You know, I’d be pretty upset about the fact that winter is clearly trundling along into April this year if it weren’t for all this great BattleTech news. The Mercenaries Kickstarter was a huge success even after just 24 hours, and it looks like it could even double the funds generated by the Clan Invasion. People love their mercs, I guess.
But besides the Mercenaries Kickstarter, we’ve got plenty of other Catalyst products to share, some MechWarrior updates to peruse, and plenty of exceptional pieces from the BattleTech community. So let’s get to it.
Mercenaries Kickstarter Blows Past Clan Invasion Funding In Less Than Six Hours
We’ll start things off with the biggest news for March which was always going to be the Mercenaries Kickstarter, which kicked things off on March 23. The crowd-funding goal of $50,000 was reached pretty much as soon as the Kickstarter went live. It took just 20 minutes for the funding total to climb past $780,000, and it blew past the Clan Invasion Kickstarter’s total of around $2.5 million in less than six hours. By Friday evening, the Mercenaries Kickstarter broke 15,000 backers and $4 million, and we’re already well past $4.5 million.
As of the time of this writing, the Mercenaries Kickstarter is cruising towards $5 million, with a very achievable stretch goal that will give everyone who backs at Company level and above a free ForcePack, and everyone who backs at Battalion level and above another free ForcePack. That’ll bring Company-level backing to 3 ForcePacks total.
What’s interesting here is that a lot of folks backed at Company level and above without even seeing the full list of ForcePacks, which only went live by the weekend. Now we know just what new ‘Mechs Mercenaries is bringing to the table, although we had a pretty good idea of what to expect from the ilClan Recognition Guides. I’m personally going to try and complete my set of Bad ‘Mechs, so that likely means the Inner Sphere Heavy Recon and Pursuit Lances, and then when the $5 mil unlock hits, probably the Security Lance.
But the physical minis are really only half of what’s available in the Kickstarter. The digital rewards even at the Company level include six novellas, No Greater Honor, Tales of the Bounty Hunter, the Mercenaries issue of Shrapnel, and BattleTech‘s new Graphic Novel #1 all in digital form, plus a few wallpapers to bring the Mercenaries Kickstarter to your desktop. That’s a lot of BattleTech media to go along with your minis.
Sadly, it’s too late for you to get the free Visigoth fighter, but there’s still plenty of time to join in on the Mercenaries Kickstarter to get loads of BattleTech swag for an extremely good price.
More ForcePacks Brings Ancient Designs Back From The Dead
And now for some Catalyst news from earlier this month. The Proliferation Pack brings seven ancient BattleMech designs including the Mackie, Ymir, BattleAxe, Gladiator, Icarus II, Firebee, Coyotl. I’m a particular fan of the Gladiator, which I’d take over a Griffin any day of the week, but there’s no denying the Mackie‘s charm either. The Proliferation Pack arrives this spring for $44.99.
Not to be outdone by all the new ilClan ‘Mechs, Catalyst has announced a Classics Recognition Guide which compiles all those old-school cool ‘Mechs into a single volume. The Classic Recognition Guide will contain material already published under the ilClan Recognition Guides but will be limited to classic ‘Mechs like the Wasp, Wolverine, Crusader, and others that you’ll probably recall best from the 3025 TRO. Each design has been updated with current-era variants and new art.
Those plushies that have been relentlessly teased for a while now are finally fully revealed and on sale, a Destiny-sized Marauder will also be available in limited numbers, and there are some new t-shirts for sale too. And before I forget, Perception of Victory, a new Mercenary Tales short story by Michael J. Ciaravella, is now available as well as No Greater Honor in audiobook form.
BattleTech Aces Lets You Play Alone Or With A Friend Against An AI Opponent
There was a lot to come out of the Mercenaries Kickstarter, but I wanted to highlight this since it really seems like a game changer for BattleTech. It’s called BattleTech Aces, and it turns a competitive tabletop game that can take all afternoon into a solo or cooperative game that takes about an hour or two--along the same lines as your typical boxed tabletop game.
You can see Josh and Randall playing this at AdeptiCon in the Twitch clip above. The “AI” portion of BattleTech Aces is represented by a deck of cards that tells the opposing force where to move and what to attack. Combine that with the quicker rules of Alpha Strike and you get something that really appeals to those who want multiple games in an afternoon rather than one that might stretch into next week.
Mercenaries backers get free access to the open beta at all levels, with a digital version of the playtest sent out via email. I haven’t gotten it yet, but given CGL has over 16,000 people to get back to, I think we might just have to be patient [ED: Actually, the link to the playtest material and the digital goods are in the Kickstarter update posts!]. I’m excited to give it a try though!
MechWarrior 5 Patch Tweaks AI, FPS Controls
We got a patch for MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries earlier this month, and it’s the first one since the Rise of Rasalhague DLC brought both the Crusader, a new series of campaign missions, and AI improvements to what were previously some pretty useless lancemates. And while the improved AI did cause lance members to fire their guns twice as often and sometimes even hit what they were shooting at, it also caused some pathing issues that would occasionally result in your teammates getting stuck on a ruck or just never even leaving the drop zone.
March 9th’s patch fixed that issue, but also introduced a new one. I’m noticing that if you don’t assign targets, your lancemates will bunch up close, often to the detriment of clean sight lines. This will make them fire less often than before, which is a bummer. However, if you manually assign targets, they’ll do some serious work. So it’s a bit of a tradeoff--you get more reliable pathing and excellent manual control, but less reliable automatic AI engagement. I’m sure we’ll get another fine-tuning pass on the AI at some point, but just remember to manually assign targets wherever possible.
Elsewhere in the patch, those new FPS controls are being well-received by console players, and Infiltration missions have been rebalanced so the rewards are more in line with the other mission types. They’ve also gotten slightly harder as now you can’t just pick off every enemy group without triggering the general alarm.
Of course, there’s also a crapton of squashed bugs in the patch too, so be sure to have it downloaded to get the full benefit of all those fixes.
Here’s a piece from @attack_llamas made for Reddit user Professional-Help931. It portrays their lance as they stomp around in MechWarrior 5, and it’s a pretty great lance. It can be really tough to be a light ‘Mech pilot solo, but it’s a whole different story when you team up with friends. Suddenly, that Jenner turns from a liability into an incredible asset, being able to quickly respond to threats and go on scouting missions to take out enemy artillery before they can blow your poor Awesome to bits. I very much approve this lance’s composition.
Kaiju Vs. Warhammer, Who Ya Got?
Artwork I created for the upcoming Anime North 2023 event!
Anime North is coming up, bringing with it Toronto’s most excellent anime convention. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend coming down for a visit, but even if you’re not, you can definitely enjoy this piece of a kaiju fighting a Warhammer-like ‘Mech in some unfortunate Draconis city.
I dunno if this Warhammer has the gumption to survive against what is most certainly not Godzilla, but I’m still rootin’ for it all the same. Also, the Focht News Network will be there to do stuff, and that sounds like a swell time.
No words. None. I don’t know what this is, and I don’t want to know. Don’t explain this to me, don’t even mention it ever again. I’m just showing it to you because I don’t want you to find out from anywhere else.
I’m pretty certain that the ‘Mech this Timber Wolf is unceremoniously stomping over is a Flea, but if not, I apologize for the wonky title. This model, courtesy of ecdmuppet, hits a level of dynamism that I rarely see in Lego. Apparently, there’s a gearing system in the pelvis that allows the legs to be locked at multiple angles, so we could theoretically see this Timber Wolf stomping on anything from a Cicada to a Summoner. Ecdmuppet said we’ll get instructions to make this model yourself once they’re done with the build.
MechWarrior 5 Developer PGI Is Doing “Significant Hiring”
Significant hiring going on at Piranha Games right now. I should also mention to the MechWarrior community, many if not most of this hiring is MW related development. If it is your dream to work professionally on this type of content. Now is the time.https://t.co/eCw6u2B9T3
How would you like to work on the next MechWarrior game? PGI is hiring right now across multiple positions, so if you’re a 3D environment artist, a lighting artist, a VFX artist, or a software engineer (and a few others besides), then head over to PGI’s site to apply for any of the eleven positions currently open.
But because we’ve got a bunch of job listings, we also have a unique opportunity to see what PGI is up to. For example, we know that PGI is looking to create new ‘Mechs for MechWarrior Online thanks to the 3D Artist II listing. “This role will play a key artistic and technical part in implementing new ‘Mechs in MechWarrior Online,” reads the listing, “modeling and texturing weapons mounts and cosmetic attachments for hard surface export/import to game engine, addressing bugs and creating ‘Mech Patterns with customizable colors.”
There aren’t too many clues for the next MechWarrior game to be found in this listing, but the Level Designer II position will require experience in Unreal Engine 4, which is what MechWarrior 5 currently runs on. This could suggest that MechWarrior 6 (or whatever the next MechWarrior game will be called) will also run on Unreal Engine 4, or that particular position will be for continued work on MechWarrior 5.
Remote work options are available, and PGI also has some pretty great perks, like flexible hours and social events (at least for those that can work in and around Vancouver). Head to the links above if you’d like to check ‘em out.
The Black Marauder Stalks The News Blast Once Again
From Lego to a completely different type of model. We talked about one MechWarrior 5 mod-maker who’s bringing the dreaded Black Marauder to the game, here we have makenzie71 bringing the Black Marauder to the tabletop. Actually, it’s probably a bit too big for the tabletop game, but it’s certainly a great-looking figure to decorate your desk with. It’s also far more terrifying than any depiction of the Black Marauder I’ve seen, although I will give credit to Juodas Varnas for this version from a few years back.
BattleTech has come a long way in terms of representation (tip of the rainbow hat to you, Fox Patrol) but if Steven Universe has taught me anything, it could always be gayer. So I’m happy to report an open call for the BattleTech Pride Anthology 2023, a fan-made collection of short stories featuring LGBTQ+ characters.
All submissions should be between 2,000 to 5,000 words in manuscript format and fit neatly into pre-existing lore and timelines. No making up entire Clans, planets, or climactic battles between Great Houses that nobody has ever heard of, but skirmishes on the periphery between two small-time mercenary outfits are A-Ok. All submissions must be in before May 1 so that there’s plenty of time to get them edited and assembled for release in June. I’m assuming June because that’s Pride Month. More deets are available here.
Opinion: Did TRO 3058 Kick All The Fun Out Of Inner Sphere ‘Mechs?
I remember way back when I was still in high school I went looking for an Inner Sphere ‘Mech that could mop the floor with any Clanner out there, and I found it in the Thunder Hawk. How can you go wrong with three Gauss Rifles? You can’t. And that’s why it was good. Maybe even a little too good--45 damage per heatless salvo that could luck out and decapitate a ‘Mech is just plain unfair.
And it seems I wasn’t alone in this opinion. Bishop Steiner recently doodled the Thunder Hawk (or ThunderChicken, as he likes to call it) where he went into detail about how the ‘Mech was emblematic of the issues with Inner Sphere ‘Mech designs from the era. It was all mostly Gauss Rifles and lasers placed on ‘Mechs that were the most efficient in their weight class.
Did that make these ‘Mechs boring? I’m not so sure. I think we need to look at these ‘Mechs in the context of the still relatively recent Clan Invasion. Inner Sphere armies were looking at what they had that could compete with the Clans, and that meant making ‘Mechs as efficient damage dealers as possible. That naturally works out to lasers and Gauss Rifles--the latter for dealing the same damage at similar range, and the former for simply adding in more damage while taking advantage of then-new double heatsinks.
But still, the Thunder Hawk took this philosophy to its logical extreme and made something truly terrifying. Lights and mediums are often crippled or destroyed in a single salvo at ranges they can’t respond, while heavies and assaults have to get lucky on rolls to win the damage race.
Don’t get me wrong--there are a lot of 3058-era ‘Mechs that I like. The Dragon Fire, Cestus, Merlin, and Spartan are all great. But going for maximum tabletop efficiency in a ‘Mech just sort of takes the soul out of it. Let me know if you share that opinion in the comments below.
MWO Rebrands Itself As MechWarrior Online: Legends
With Solaris having been removed as an available game mode for MechWarrior Online for some time, it makes sense that MWO would rebrand itself, and that’s exactly what’s happened in the latest patch. MechWarrior Online: Legends introduces the new Legendary type of ‘Mech to go along with Champions and Heroes. What makes these Legendary ‘Mechs special are exclusive weapons layouts, “outlier” quirks, and a miniature battle pass system that allows you to earn GSP, C-bills, MC, premium time, and various cosmetic items for earning ‘Mech XP on your Legendary ‘Mech.
So far, there are two Legendary ‘Mechs. The first is a new Fafnir called The Juggernaut. Its shtick is that it’s got maximum armor, a 400-series standard engine, MASC, and a bunch of Heavy Machine guns and the quirks to make them dangerous. It looks pretty goofy, but not as goofy as the new Legendary Mad Cat MK II: Moonwalker. This thing has a unique quirk that gives it an additional 30 percent to its reverse speed, making it almost as fast going backward as it is going forward. Combined with a bunch of UAC/2s and an ER PPC, and the Moonwalker can ensure it’s always got its best foot forward while it’s blasting away.
This month’s patch also brings us the first new map from PGI’s newly hired level designer, Krazzdaxx. The map is a purple coliseum with low rolling hills and rocky outcroppings that look like bismuth crystals. There’ve also been a few tweaks to Terra Therma so the middle of the map isn’t quite so one-sided in terms of cover.
And as is tradition, we’ve got a few ‘Mechs that have a few new quirks. The Kintarois the big winner in this month’s patch, with revamped quirks across every variant and additional armor quirks for the ape-like ‘Mechs arms. The Champion line also received some adjustments, and the Dire Wolf has seen its armor quirks improved as well. Finally, all variants of the Fafnir now have much much smaller center torso hitboxes, so hopefully they won’t be quick as squishy.
No Guts No Galaxy Talks To PGI About MWO’s Matchmaker, Maps, and Rebrand
Podcast 231 - MM, Maps, Mechs, more! w/ Daeron & Matt
For a bit of a deeper dive into the recent MechWarrior Online rebrand, we turn to No Guts No Galaxy‘s most recent podcast featuring Matt and Dearon from PGI. A lot of what was discusses has to do with what we’ve already covered in the recent update, but there are a few things worth pointing out.
First is that discussion still centers around MechWarrior Online‘s matchamaker. While the Cauldron has been instrumental in breathing new life into MWO with massive balance changes to ‘Mechs and suggestions for map tweaks to create better matches, the Cauldron has not yet been able to tackle MWO‘s matchmaking system. There’ve been some suggestions that the Cauldron could help out with making matches fairer and faster, but there seems to be some hesitancy from Matt and Daeron to give Cauldron all the keys to the kingdom despite all the good the Cauldron has done so far.
Another thing that would help MechWarrior Online immensely is the possibility for multiple spawns in Quickplay matches. One of the biggest problems I have with MWO is that I spend way more time waiting for matches to begin than actually playing them, something that multiple respawns would solve. Respawns already exist in certain event queue game modes, so changing up Quickplay to have longer matches via respawns would help bring the play-to-waiting ratio back to a healthier level. Daeron said that he’d look into it with PGI’s engineers.
And of course, there’s talk of the Stone Rhino. A classic Clan beast that has yet to appear in MechWarrior Online, fans have been calling for this iconic ‘Mech for years. Matt’s response was “no comment,” but the hints are there. It seems like a matter of “when” now rather than “if.”
Well, thanks to Iron Wind themselves, you can now see how those metal ‘Mechs are made. It looks like the rubber molds are placed on a centrifuge and then spun around as hot pewter gets poured into the center. The centrifugal force then pushes the metal into the molds which then cool after just a few seconds. Just clean up a few of those metal tags and you’ve got yourself a Steiner Scout Squad.
We can’t have a news blast without an update from everyone’s favorite free multiplayer MechWarrior game. MechWarrior Living Legends will host a number of games throughout April, including control matches on April 2nd and 29th, single-life matches on the 16th, and a Chaos March tournament on Saturday, March 22. Most games start at 7 PM UTC (that’s 3 PM ET), but the Chaos March matches will start at 6:30 PM UTC (2:30 PM ET). Teamspeak info is in the Reddit link above.
There aren’t too many Thunderbolts with jump jets out there. There are even fewer Thunderbolts with massive ‘Mech-sized skateboards. I think that makes this Thunderbolt pretty special. Thanks for sharing, AGBell64.
Whew, another long one for March. I don’t expect April to slow the BattleTech roll, so expect Sarna to return next month with everything you need to know.
Leutnant Lauren Kolberg marched her ‘Mech forward a few steps before sending it into a solid 64-kph clip. The Fourth Skye Rangers had been harassing the Seventeenth Benjamin Regulars for months on Komephoros, and her commanders intended to exploit a gap in the Regulars’ lines. Her lance was leading the charge for Second Batallion. She already had a Jenner waiting to be painted on her new Hatchetman’s cockpit, and she was hoping to add a Panther next to it.
Unfortunately, the Panther matched her for speed and managed to stay just out of reach of her longest-range weapon, the massive Defiance Killer autocannon that sat on the Hatchetman’s right shoulder. Combined with the equally massive hatchet in her right arm, the Hatchetman was definitely a lop-sided design, but one that had already proven deadly to anything that strayed too close.
If only she could just get that Panther to stop running. “Arc 3-1 to Hammer Actual. Do we have any AeroSpace assets we could send to trip up these trailing elements?”
“Wait one,” Came the response from Second Batallion’s command and operations center. “Arc 3-1, elements of Clipper squadron are inbound.”
“Roger,” Kolberg grunted, guiding her 45-ton machine around a massive boulder driven upwards by the planet’s glacial geology. Her rear camera picked up the contrails of two Chippewas before her sensors confirmed their design. It didn’t take them long to overtake her lance and streak off over the hills ahead, just where the Panther she’d been hounding had broken her line of sight. A series of explosions felt but not seen encouraged Kolberg to push her ‘Mech even faster lest the Chippewas take her kill.
“This is Clipper 2-4 taking heavy fire, Clipper 2-3 is down.” came the panicked voice of the remaining pilot. “Turn your forces around, it’s a trap!”
Kolberg realized the warning had come too late. She’d just crossed over the highest point and was already heading into a glacial valley. There was nothing to protect her from the sudden flurry of long-range missile and laser fire that lit her Hatchetman like a Christmas tree, and she didn’t have the speed or armor to close into engagement range.
She did have time to let out a sigh as she slammed her Hatchetman’s ejection button. Unlike other ‘Mechs, the Hatchetman’s entire head assembly flew off from its shoulders and her HUD gained an airspeed indicator and an altimeter. As Kolberg flew from the trap she’d narrowly survived, she grasped at the one silver lining: at least she wouldn’t freeze to death.
‘Mechs designed primarily for melee combat are nothing new to the 31st century. Even during the time of the Star League, designs like the Charger proved that sufficient mass and speed could be just as devastating as a ball of charged particles launched at a few integers shy of the speed of light. The brutal malice of physical blows can be equally destructive to a soldier’s morale. We can only assume these factors were considered by the enigmatic Dr. Banzai as he designed the Hatchetman in the early 3020s.
One of the first entirely new ‘Mechs to be seen after centuries of combat, the Hatchetman was both to be a workhorse ‘Mech as well as a symbol of the growing military alliance between the Federated Suns and the Lyran Commonwealth. Introduced in 3023 by Defiance Industries, the Hatchetman was designed for urban warfare, with low speed and light armor but with impressive firepower for a 45-ton chassis. If allowed to close to point-blank range, the Hatchetman could literally cut a similar-sized ‘Mech to pieces before it could even return fire. Hence, the initial production run of Hatchetmans was sent to Lyran garrison units on planets with large city centers.
It didn’t take long for the Hatchetman to see combat. A raid by the 4th Proserpina Hussars on Sevren resulted in severe losses after the 26th Lyran Guards lured them into an industrial park and then unleashed a Hatchetman-equipped battalion. Caught off guard both by the trap and the deadly new design, the surviving Hussars retreated off-world to inform the rest of the DCMS of the Hatchetman‘s existence.
The Hatchetman was eventually distributed to units in the Federated Suns just in time for the Fourth Succession War. The ‘Mech proved to be popular enough that Defiance couldn’t keep up with demand, resulting in the company sub-contracting the design to Johnston Industries to start manufacturing the Hatchetman under license.
However, while the Hatchatman‘s early success could be explained by the sheer novelty of the design, by the War of 3039, opposing forces were able to exploit significant flaws in the chassis. Poor armor, especially on the legs, meant the Hatchetman could easily be disabled before closing to within melee range. Further, the ‘Mech’s poor speed meant it was unable to close with smaller, lighter ‘Mechs, and even some heavier ones. Kept at a distance, the Hatchetman was far less menacing than it had first appeared.
The HCT-3F Hatchetman comes armed with a single Defiance Killer 10-class Autocannon in the right torso and one Medium Laser in each arm. It has a single additional heat sink to mitigate the heat this payload generates. Four jump jets help the Hatchetman position itself for a successful ambush, but a top speed of 64 kph thanks to its GM 180 engine is insufficient for it to chase targets and unleash its signature hatchet.
One interesting element of the Hatchetman is the full-head ejection system. Where most ‘Mechs will eject an escape pod after catastrophic damage, the Hatcethman’s entire head comes off its shoulders thanks to a series of rocket motors beneath the head assembly. The head’s somewhat aerodynamic shape and the small fins at the back allow the MechWarrior-cum-pilot to direct their flight back to friendly lines, significantly increasing survivability. However, the Hatchetman must be in the upright position for the ejection system to work, and reinstalling the head can be a cumbersome procedure.
With the discovery of the Helm Memory Core and the return of Star League-era technology, Defiance upgraded the Hatchetman in 3049 to the new HCT-5S standard. This added a new Extralight 180 engine and replaced the AC/10 with an LB-X version, freeing up enough weight to replace the two lasers with Medium Pulse Lasers. The HCT-5S also has 8.5 tons of ferro-fibrous armor, increasing its protection by almost 30 percent and solving the largest complaint Hatchetman pilots had. However, the redesign had fewer heat sinks and less ammunition for its autocannon, trading one problem for two more.
It wasn’t until the 3060s that variants arrived that both improved the Hatchetman‘s speed and armor. The HCT-6D introduced a VOX 225 XL engine, allowing this Davion Hatchetman variant to run at 86.4 kph and mount five jump jets instead of four. A Rotary AC/5 and three ER Medium Lasers provided impressive firepower while 10 double heat sinks kept the design cool. ECM also allowed the 6D to remain hidden from sensors for greater success in ambushes.
Even with its flaws exposed, the Hatchetman‘s reputation proved strong enough to lead rival manufacturers to outright steal the design for their respective national militaries. When the Taurian Concordat gained access to the HCT-3F after a Davion mercenary outfit was adopted into the nation’s military, the Taurians set to work reverse-engineering the Hatchetman. From 3054 until 3066, Taurus Territorial Industries produced their own illegal copies of the HCT-3F until the factory was destroyed by the Fighting Urukhai, itself touching off a military campaign that would see the Concordat invade the Federated Suns.
Draconis Combine engineers were able to reverse-engineer the HCT-3F much faster than the Concordat after several examples were salvaged during the war of ’39. However, DCMS troops refused to use a ‘Mech so heavily associated with the Federated Commonwealth. The HCT-5K, introduced in 3075, swapped the Hatchetman‘s hatchet for a more bushido-compliant sword. It also came armed with two Medium Pulse Lasers, one ER Medium Laser, and a locally-manufactured MRM-30. Targeting was improved thanks to a C3 slave unit and double heatsinks kept the Kuritan knock-off cool.
Even the Free Worlds League developed a version of the Hatchetman during the Jihad era. the HCT-6M is derived from the 5S, replacing the LB-X AC/10 with a Heavy PPC and adding a Beagle Active Probe. Following the Jihad, the Republic of the Sphere adopted the HCT-7R standard, using a light fusion engine to reach a top speed of 86 kph while keeping the same 8.5 tons of ferro-fibrous armor from the 5S. An array of six Medium Pulse Lasers and a single Medium X-Pulse Laser combined with the signature hatchet for potent short-range firepower if at the cost of significant heat build-up. Today’s HCT-8S used by the LCAF mounts Clan technology for a top speed of 86 kph, significant armor protection, and an actuator enhancement system for even more accurate blows from its hatchet.
Although present in multiple House and non-House militaries today, the Hatchetman remains most numerous in the militaries of the former Federated Commonwealth. The brutal fighting of the Dark Age, and now the ilClan era, ensure no shortage of victims for the Hatchetman‘s ambush tactics.
February is the worst month. Partially because it’s in winter, but mostly because it has three fewer days than the other months, so I’m always caught off-guard when the end of the month arrives much earlier than usual. And yet, as with every month, I’ve still managed to scrounge together all the best BattleTech news that’s fit for the Inner Sphere. Plus a whole bunch of wild UrbanMech pics. You’re welcome.
So without further adieu, here’s your BattleTech news for February 2023.
Art Of BattleTech Brings The Hellcat To MechWarrior 5
Last month, Catalyst gave us the canonized version of MechWarrior 4‘s Hellhound, now renamed the Hellcat. And no sooner does the Hellcat join the annals of BattleTech canon than does The Art of BattleTech bring us a new MechWarrior 5 mod that lets players return to what is quite possibly the best medium ‘Mech from MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries.
The Hellcat model is courtesy of Ion Raptor who based their design on the MechWarrior 4 model by David A. White. It looks like the mod’s design is largely based on the TRO from ilClan Recognition Guide Volume 30, which includes two ER Large Lasers, an LB-10X autocannon, and an SRM-6. As usual, Arty advises players to get the ‘ Mech Delivery mod to make it a bit easier to find the new Hellcat in the vastness of the Inner Sphere. Head on over to Nexus Mods to get both the Hellcat and the ‘Mech Delivery mods.
Be Afraid: The Black Marauder Is Also Coming To MechWarrior 5
The mods keep coming and they don’t stop coming. Courtesy of Volfegan is the Black Marauder mod, which will add a heretofore-unseen level of spookiness to your next MechWarrior 5 career.
I’m sure I’ve talked about the Black Marauder a little closer to Halloween, but just as a reminder, the Black Marauder is a BattleTech ghost story of a demonic Marauder that was found on an airless asteroid in an uninhabited system one jump from Malagrotta. You can’t blame the Ninth FedCom RCT for nabbing a free heavy ‘Mech, but every tech that touched the Black Marauder and every MechWarrior that sat in its seat suffered a horrible fate. The Black Marauder has changed hands multiple times over the decades, bringing misfortune and calamity to everyone near it.
I love the Black Marauder, and now Volfegan is making it real and pilotable in MechWarrior 5. I’m not sure if it’ll be as cursed as it is in the lore, but its weapon layout certainly seems desirable enough to risk a curse or two. Stay tuned for this mod’s release date.
As promised, Hired Steel 3 is here, and damn if this isn’t the best footage of ‘Mech combat you’ll find outside of a MechWarrior game. I’m not going to go too far into it, but everything is still there from the previous episodes, only with way more explosions going on. George Ledoux, mister Duncan Fisher himself, provides a lovely opening narration that describes the creation of the Atlas as told by Aleksandr Kerensky, and Tex of the Black Pants Legion continues to lead Eques lance in his Shadow Hawk. Let’s not forget Mr. Paladin in the Catapult, Baradul in his custom Rifleman, AggieLawGirl in the Hunchback, and the villainous Thunderbolt is piloted by Ken Marsiglia.
Couple of points--not sure when the Trebuchet became a baddie ‘Mech, but I’m here for it. Also, I’m available to voice a wise-cracking Quickdraw if one were needed in Hired Steel Episode 4. Or maybe a Grasshopper. I’ve been really digging the Grasshopper lately.
It’s really a shame that we have to go a year between episodes because they’re just so technically impressive and these guys are basically doing it in their spare time. Go subscribe on Twitter and YouTube for updates, behind-the-scenes stuff, and cool sketches of that Hunchback with reactive armor.
TMC has a whole team making BattleTech machinima, but even the best animations start from the humblest of gifs. Here we have AwkwardSmilesCo dipping their claw into the world of BattleTech animation. It looks like it’s probably a King Crab claw, judging by its overall girth, but it could also be the Hermit Crab, a new light ‘Mech entry into the crab family.
Awkward Smiles said they’re planning on making this part of a larger five-minute animation titled “Mechwarrior: Rough-Housing.” But as animation takes a lot of time and effort, don’t expect it for another few months. As with Hired Steel, we must be patient.
I might have been a little late in letting people know about the BattleTech TCGrenaissance happening online. Never fear, because RenegadeHPG has announced a summer league will get started on June 1. Registration is open, and you don’t even need any actual cards to take part. All the cards are available online for free with a few simple downloads, although registration is $35 to cover the cost of prizes and such. Oh yeah, there are prizes. Those can be anything from playmats to card sleeves to signed artist proofs to signed BattleTech novels.
This week for the editorial, I thought I’d peel back the curtain slightly and talk about what makes a Bad ‘Mech. I know there have been a few, shall we say, controversial choices made, so I thought it might be neat to provide a little insight into the internal debates I have when determining what is and is not a Bad ‘Mech.
And I’m going to do that by talking about the Crusader, a beloved missile boat from the classic 3025 TRO era. One of the Unseen ‘Mechs, the Crusader would be visually redesigned and updated during the Project Phoenix years, but wouldn’t be seen in its classic form again until just recently with the ilClan Recognition Guides. We’d also see a visually distinct and slightly modified version come out of PGI for MechWarrior Online and MechWarrior 5 with the Rise of Rasalhague expansion.
I gotta say, I really like the Crusader. It has a cool design, a bunch of notable pilots, and in the MechWarrior games, it’s depicted as being slightly more nimble than your average 65-ton heavy ‘Mech. But the CRD-3R is critically flawed. It’s too hot and it has virtually no ammo to feed all those missile launchers. A single ton for two SRM-6 launchers is nothing, and two tons for its paired LRM-15s gives this thing a few salvos before it has to run back to its supply lines. Plus, mounting those SRM-6s on the legs (at least, in the tabletop version) means they can’t be fired while torso twisting and they’re offline as soon as the pilot steps into a waist-high pond.
But is that enough to make the Crusader a Bad ‘Mech? I’m on the fence. The Crusader has great armor--better than most 65-tonners at the time. And it doesn’t try to shoe-horn jump jets for added mobility (not that it has any tonnage to spare for them). And while leg-mounted weapons are certainly uncommon, they’re also kinda cool just for being unique.
Plus, BattleTech even acknowledges the CRD-3R is critically flawed as pretty much every major house has its own version that tries to fix it. The Davions have the 3D which downgrades the SRM-6s for SRM-4s and gets rid of the machine guns for heat sinks. The Kuritans gave us the 3K version that downgrades to LRM-10 launchers and also removes the machine guns for heat sinks. The 3L combines both the LRM-10 and SRM-4 launchers of the other two models for a much more reasonable strain on its ammo supply, and then the Liaos ruin it by throwing in some jump jets.
On top of that, how much of the Crusader‘s problems are based on the fact LRMs just aren’t a particularly potent main armament, either for tabletop or in video games? Are all missile boats just bad? Maybe in terms of game mechanics, but in terms of lore, the Crusader has never been described as anything but effective, so maybe those missiles are more narratively potent than game mechanics allow.
It’s borderline, but ultimately, I don’t think the Crusader hits the low bar of a Bad ‘Mech. Disagree? Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments below.
Eldonious Unveils More UrbanFest Art
More UrbanFest art! I've seen this one make the rounds on a few BT forums. But, it's my turn to generate some sweet, sweet engagement.
December’sPseudoTech release of Arcade Operations: UrbanFest brought some hilarious UrbanMech-centric scenarios for BattleTech players to try on tabletop, and it also brought some amazing takes on UrbanMech mythology courtesy of Eldoniousrex. He’s been sharing several iterations of UrbanMech online, including a cowboy, a wizard, a superhero, a Goku-analog, and a rogue. Basically a full party, although I’ll bet Goku and Super Urb will have some harsh words at some point.
There’s also this American Gladiator-style UrbanMech that describes itself as “firestarter.” I assume that means the small laser has been tossed for a flamer, but I can’t tell from the image since it’s mostly about the amazing physicality of this muscular and patriotic UrbanMech.
Anyway, y’all should pick up PseudoTech’s new Arcade Operations: UrbanFest over on Catalyst’s site.
PGI Promises Patch For Pathfinding Problems
Attention Mercs! The new DLC has shipped, and the battle for Rasalhague rages on. But that's not all! We've been hard at work on a March patch that will include fixes to AI and pathfinding, improvements to the new FPS mode, and more! So stay tuned for what's coming to #MW5Mercs! pic.twitter.com/qee8U9U3B7
I’ve already played through the Rise of Rasalhauge DLC twice now and it’s great--definitely the direction MechWarrior 6 should go. And the improved AI is definitely leading to higher damage numbers from your AI-controlled lancemates, but it’s also caused some issues with getting them to the fight. Sometimes they’re getting stuck on buildings or just not moving from the initial drop point, leaving Mason alone to face entire companies of Steiner and Drac ‘Mechs. I mean, I still won, but my new Crusader got chewed to pieces.
Thankfully, support for MechWarrior 5 isn’t over just because the fourth and presumably final DLC has dropped (although I’ve been wrong about MW5’s DLC count before and I’ll gladly be wrong again). PGI has promised a new patch is coming in March that’ll fix those stuck lancemates. It’ll also have improvements to the new FPS mode, which is the mode with “conventional” shooter controls for console players unfamiliar with MechWarrior games. No word on when the patch’ll drop, but I’ll be sure to mention it in next month’s newsletter.
MechWarrior Online Gets ‘Mech Adjustments For February, New Map Coming In March
Courtesy of PGI
Feburary’s patch for MechWarrior Online brings 10 new Platinum variants and the ability to create your own Platinum Custom Collection package, allowing you to select one light, medium, heavy, and an assault ‘Mech.
On top of that, we’ve got some new ‘Mech adjustments to celebrate, and many of them specifically deal with missile launchers. The Hellbringer, Timber Wolf, Battlemaster, Madcat MkII, and Banshee will all take less damage in their side-torsos so long as they’ve equipped missile launchers of sufficient size. The damage reduction is between 10 to 15 percent, but that’s quite substantial for a ‘Mech with as much armor as the Madcat MkII or the Banshee. Note that these bonuses do not apply if you’re slapping Rocket Launchers on that Banshee. We’ve also got some quirk adjustments for the UrbanMech, Jenner IIC, Cicada, Vulcan, Viper, Hatchetman, Vindicator, Nova, Dragon, Victor, and Kodiak.
Finally, new level designer Krazzdaxx will have a new map available for March, with previews set to arrive in the coming days. PGI is also investigating changes to the matchmaker system that will “hopefully improve the matchmaking process,” with more details to come in a new Dev Vlog. There’s also a new sale going on that gives you half-off all engines, weapons, consumables, ‘Mech bays, Premium Time, and every ‘Mech mentioned in February’s patch notes.
New Books, New Recognition Guide, and New Mercenaries Preview From Catalyst
We're celebrating the successful conclusion of the BattleMech Recognition Guide: ilClan series with the publication of Volume 32, available now! Plus, information for store owners seeking to host a Mercenaries Kickstarter launch party! https://t.co/CS2E0iUtBqpic.twitter.com/GmERO8hEkz
It wouldn’t be a Sarna newsletter without some updates from Catalyst! This month we have a new preview for the upcoming Mercenaries Kickstarter, including the new Starslayer sculpt and the remade Galleon light tank. I still can’t get over the glow-up the Starslayer had to become the poster boy of the new box set. It’s like how the King Crab somehow got to be the cover ‘Mech for MechWarrior 5.
We’ve also got a new book and a new short story. Innocent and Defenseless is a new short story from Jason Hansa featuring the Eridani Light Horse and set during the Star League. The new book is Escape from Jardine from Herbert A. Beas II. This full novel features an intrepid explorer from Interstellar Explorations who stumbles upon a Word of Blake remnant on the lost planet of Jardine. She and her compatriots get stuck, and the rest of the book follows the title. You can nab both on Amazon or your e-publication site of choice.
And don’t forget about Recognition Guide: ilClan Volume 32! This one has a Blood Asp on the cover and a bunch of tanks on the inside. That might make this edition a little less exciting for ‘Mech fans, but I gotta admit, it just ain’t BattleTech with a J. Edgar light hover tank. You can snag that over on Catalyst’s website.
Lastly, Catalyst will announce the selected venues for the Mercenaries Kickstarter launch party on March 3. The Mercenaries Kickstarter launches on March 23.
The Steiner Scout Lance Is A Master Of Subterfuge
For Behold! The first two members of my Steiner Scout Lance for #battletech are (mostly) done! Truly, they are the most stealthy unit in the Commonwealth! (Apologies to @Eldoniousrex go buy the shirt I used for the billboard!) pic.twitter.com/OrEyD1wwvq
The Steiner Scout Lance is already perhaps the best scouts in the Inner Sphere, able to rumble up to any location, thoroughly examine the area, and then retreat to report back to Lyran command how many ‘Mechs they blew up. But even the Steiner Scout Lance can sometimes find it difficult to approach a heavily fortified enemy position. In those rare instances, the Steiner Scout Lance resorts to a time-honored military tactic: subterfuge.
Alec Christian showcases two examples of how the Steiner Scout Lance can camouflage itself to quietly approach the enemy without being detected. Kudos to Eldonoious for providing the Canopus Cat-House Buffet poster.
MechWarrior Living Legends Announces Events For March
Don’t like MechWarrior Online? Don’t have the gaming rig for MechWarrior 5? MechWarrior: Living Legends is here to give you your ‘Mech fix, and it’s absolutely free. It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the folks at MechWarrior Living Legends, so I’m happy to report that they’ve got some plans for March.
Expect an event every weekend in March. Most of them will be organized TC games, but Sunday, March 19 will be single-life matches. All games are scheduled to start at 7 PM UTC (2 PM ET), so mark your calendars. For more info, head on over to the MechWarrior Living Legends Discord server.
Two UrbanMechs In A Trenchcoat Try To Get Into A Canopus Caberet
I initially wanted to call this a cat-beret but felt that might’ve been too confusing to hat enthusiasts. Eldonious isn’t the only artist out there that’s putting up great UrbanMech art. I’m not sure when the Quickdraw became the ‘Mech of choice for customer service, but I’m digging it. I might also be partially responsible.
Just in case you need reminding, it’s official BattleTech canon that cat girls exist. They’re on Canopus, and they’re technically mechanical prostheses rather than true biological mutations or whatever, but they exist. God bless the Magistracy.
And that’s all we got for February! Not as exciting as January, but February also has fewer days to play with. I expect March to be full of announcements, so join us next month as Sarna brings you all the BattleTech news that happened in the preceding weeks.
There was a fly in corporal Grubb’s cockpit. The Cochrane’s Cavaliers operated throughout the periphery with all its weird and bothersome wildlife, but Grubb had never experienced a fly as annoying as the kind found on Waypoint. Its high-pitched whine somehow managed to drown out the rumbling of his Cicada’s fusion engine, and unfortunately for Grubb, it had developed a taste for human sweat.
Grubb swatted at the fly away for the umpteenth time and checked his sensors. It didn’t help that garrison duty was the worst sort of contract–hours upon hours of boredom with the smallest chance of intense terror should the planet ever actually be raided by bandits. So far it was all quiet on the western front, according to captain Cochrane, but Grubb didn’t agree. The fly in his cockpit was absolutely deafening.
But not as deafening as the sudden, blaring alarm of incoming missiles.
“This is beta two-four, I’m under attack!” Grubb kicked his Cicada’s engine to the point where it almost became louder than the fly. A few missiles stuck at his ‘Mech’s long legs, pockmarking the relatively thin armor protecting his 40-ton machine.
“Get to cover, two-four, help is on the way,” came Cochrane’s calm and commanding voice. “What’s the situation?”
“Unkown,” Grubb replied, throwing his Cicada into a trot while throttling up and down to throw off any potential attacks. He needn’t have bothered; as more LRMs rained on his outpost’s position, it became clear they were targeting the facilities and not his ‘Mech. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Suddenly, a target appeared on Grubb’s sensors. A Locust, judging by the silhouette and the tonnage range his radar estimated. It came barreling at him straight on, its spindly legs rapidly closing the distance to where it could fire its medium lasers. One bright green bolt flew past his Cicada’s left “wing,” while the other struck it dead center just below the cockpit. Grubb blinked away the outline of the blast that was momentarily burned into his retinas.
“Contact, one Locust–looks like pirates,” Grubb offered as another flight of LRMs blew out the garage that housed one of the company’s Pegasus hovercraft. “They’re targeting the outpost with long-range missile fire. Probably from LRM carriers or Harassers.”
“Roger,” Grubb said, and then grinned. His Cicada was purpose-built to defeat Locusts. Twice as heavy but just as fast, the Cicada was a far more imposing design, but it only matched the Locust for armor. And, as Grubb’s sensors pointed out, the LCT-1E had one more small laser to bring to bear than his own machine’s complement of twin medium and a single small laser.
A fair fight then, thought Grubb as he slowed his trot for an accurate shot at the incoming Locust. His own medium lasers struck the smaller ‘Mech’s torso and leg, removing more than half a ton of its protection. The Locust struck back, beams momentarily connecting their machines as armor ran like rivulets beside his Cicada’s jutting cockpit.
Heat began to rise in Grubb’s cockpit as the Locust came into range of his small laser. The two ‘Mechs put on a dangerous light show as they blasted away while circling at high speed, both nearly tripping over trees or cars or debris from the rain of missiles that were still periodically cratering the outpost’s parking lot.
Just as Grubb’s heat gauge started to bleed into the red zone he managed to score a direct hit on the Locust’s left shoulder, shearing its arm and half its weapons clean off. This caused the Locust to stumble at the sudden loss of so much weight, but it didn’t falter. It almost seemed to cower as the pirate tried to regain control of their machine.
Grubb swung his Cicada around to deliver the final blow, but that’s when the fly decided to attack. It flew straight into Grubb’s ear, so loud and unexpected that it caused the corporal to veer hard enough to topple his Cicada just as it was about to straighten for its assault on the dazed Locust. Instead, Grubb’s ‘Mech landed right at the enemy’s feet.
Fortunately, this pirate wasn’t interested in blood. The raider was happy enough to leave the dazed and confused pilot on the ground as it carried on subduing the local resistance. By the time Cochrane arrived with reinforcements, the pirates were long gone, and corporal Grubb was sitting on the wreckage of his ruined ‘Mech, the splattered remains of an unusually large insect plastered to the inside of his neurohelmet.
HartfordCo Industries‘ Cicadawas the direct response to the ubiquitous Locust from Bergan Industries. Although the two companies had no real rivalry (HartfordCo had only ever produced communications and targeting systems for ‘Mechs before the Cicada), executives at HardtordCo recognized the value proposition of a ‘Mech designed specifically to outclass and destroy Locusts, one of the most popular and numerous recon ‘Mechs ever made. Proposing a ‘Mech that was just as fast but twice as large as the Locust, HartfordCo managed to convince Star League procurement officers to agree to a limited contract for a small number of Cicadas that began to roll off its assembly lines on Bryant in 2740.
As with many companies that were looking to branch into ‘Mech production during the lucrative years of the Star League, HartfordCo’s first offering wasn’t perfect. The largest issue suffered by original model Cicadas was faulty heat sinks that would wear out at a faster rate than models from other ‘Mech manufacturers. Most former Star League models had their heat sinks replaced, but several still used the older, defective kind that would prove to be disastrous for the Free Worlds League during the battles for Oriente against the Capellan Confederation. The last Cicadas didn’t have their faulty heat sinks replaced until the year 3029.
However, even with fully-functional heat sinks, the Cicada leaves much to be desired. The CDA-2A, the primary and most numerous model of Cicada produced, had just two medium lasers and a single small laser as its only armament. While this barely managed to outgun the typical LCT-1V, the LCT-1E had the same weapons complement plus an additional small laser, meaning it technically outgunned the CDA-2A. It also had just as much armor at four tons and was just as fast at 129 kph, but only at a fraction of the cost.
Marketing the Cicada against the Locust still proved to be an effective marketing strategy, although the two ‘Mechs rarely fought in combat. In fact, the Star League used its small order of Cicadas to replace Locusts lost to fighting in the Periphery. Cicada production picked up during the First Succession War, however, HartfordCo’s factory on Bryant was destroyed during the Second Succession War. Despite this, HartfordCo had managed to produce a sizeable quantity of Cicadas before the factory’s destruction, with the planet enduring multiple raids where stockpiled Cicadas were House militaries often procured them at the barrel of a gun. This led to the Cicada proliferating throughout the Inner Sphere.
Like many ‘Mechs during the Succession Wars, the Cicada‘s numbers would dwindle following its factory’s destruction, and by the Fourth Succession War, it was in danger of going extinct. The 40-ton ‘Mech was saved in the late 3040s by Free Worlds Defense Industries, which opened a new factory on the planet Gibson. Although most of the new Cicadas produced went directly to the Free Worlds League military, replacement components were sold on the open market. This revival of old and broken-down Cicadas caused a resurgence the likes of which harkened back to its namesake.
The CDA-3M was the first entirely new Cicada to be introduced by Free Worlds Defense Industries in 3049 using technologies recovered from the Helm Memory Core. Given an extralight engine to free up space for an Ulra AC/5 vastly improved the Cicada‘s firepower while CASE protection prevented a catastrophic ammunition explosion. Armor protection still remained light, which was perhaps why the CDA-3F was introduced. The CDA-3F was based on the CDA-3C, a variant produced in 2840 that improved the Cicada‘s firepower by removing its lasers and adding a PPC with paired machine guns at the cost of a slightly reduced running speed. The CDA-3F upgrades the 3C with an ER PPC and twin medium lasers as well as six and a half tons of ferro-fibrous armor. It also adds eight jump jets to improve the ‘Mech’s already superb mobility.
During the Jihad, the Free Worlds Defense Industries produced the CDA-3P, which updated the CDA-3M with a Heavy PPC and four ER medium lasers at the price of moving at the same speed as the CDA-3C. After the company collapsed alongside its Word of Blake allies, many former Free Worlds Defense Industries ‘Mech specialists joined Andurien AeroTech, which had split from FWDI when it became clear that the former Cicada manufacturer had become overrun with Blakists. Andurien AeroTech would use its newfound ‘Mech expertise to produce the CDA-4A. This latest variant keeps the CDA-2A’s top speed of 129 kph but replaces the standard lasers with two medium variable-speed lasers and a re-engineered medium laser. It also more than doubles the original’s protection with ferro-fibrous armor.
Much like its predecessors, Andurien AeroTech also markets the Cicada in opposition to the Locust, but these days the Locust can out-pace even the most modern Cicada, making its claims as a Locust-killer ring slightly false. Still, the Cicada‘s popularity within the League has assured its continuation for another generation.
Welcome to 2023, and damn, we’re starting this year off with a bang. I’ve been working non-stop this month collating everything that’s going on, all the fantastic new art, and charting the movements of BattleTech‘s celestial bodies. My oracles have all come home to roost, so before I mix enough metaphors to make a pretty solid gumbo, let’s get to all the BattleTech news that happened this month.
Catalyst Kicks Off 2023 With Pre-Launch Mercenaries BackerKit
We’re starting the month off with some big Catalyst news. The pre-launch Mercenaries BackerKit is live and offers a look at what’s in the coming Kickstarter. This includes a list of all the ForcePacks, the new four-inch Timber Wolf figure, and the new Salvage Box containing the Visigoth AeroSpace fighter. There’s also a preview of all the merch coming with the campaign, including mercenary unit badges and pins, new t-shirts, and new short stories. The t-shirts will be available on the Catalyst store page so you won’t have to wait for the Kickstarter to purchase some new threads.
Sign-ups are available now, and if you do, you’ll also gain access to the Battlefield Support Open Beta, which will test the new tabletop rules. These rules will appear in the Mercenaries box unlocked through Kickstarter. The BackerKit page also promises regional Mercenaries launch parties to be held in conjunction with the larger celebration at AdeptiCon, which will include plastic minis that stores can give away as part of prizes for the event and funding for food and drinks.
Over 10,000 people have already signed up on the BackerKit page, so it’s already off to a good start. I suspect we’ll have another Clan Invasion on our hands when Mercenaries goes live on March 23.
We’re going to throw in a couple of new products that are also available this month. There are three new Mercenary ForcePacks available, covering Hansen’s Roughriders, Northwind Highlanders, and the Kell Hounds. New ‘Mechs include the Penetrator, the Gunslinger, and the Nightsky, alongside re-posed existing ‘Mechs and new variants of classics like the Warhammer, Grasshopper, and Enforcer. Pre-orders for all three packs are available now. There’s also a new sourcebook, Dominions Divided, which tells the story of the Federated Suns, Draconis Combine, and Rasalhague Dominion from 3151 to mid-3152. Check that out on the Catalyst store.
This Shadow Cat piece from RJF Faut (or Faul? I can’t quite tell from the signature) was already pretty enough to catch my eye, but it’s the tagline from the peanut gallery at OutreachHPG that made me guffaw. “Somewhere just outside HPG Manifold, a Shadow Cat patiently runs the match clock down,” wrote Reddit user DAFFP. “A tale as old as MWO.”
BattleTech Plans To Sell Over 9 Million Minis By The Summer
Polygon recently did a write-up on BattleTech where the publication called it “one of the biggest names in tabletop gaming.” That’s cool of them to say, and probably even true too. Especially since Catalyst gave a nifty little figure to back up the claim. Since the new sculpts started appearing with the redesigned BattleTech Box Set and the Clan Invasion Kickstarter (and will be continued in the upcoming Mercenaries Kickstarter), Catalyst has sold many millions of minifigures and expects that number to reach 9 million by the middle of summer.
Now, that number might include estimates for the Mercenaries Kickstarter as that’s going live in March, but it’s still a pretty big number for a game that doesn’t necessarily want its players to be fielding armies of dozens or even hundreds of figures (although, you certainly still can if you want to).
The article also notes how MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online developer PGI, Catalyst, and Harebrained Schemes are sharing resources to help build the franchise. “By any metric, BattleTech is now more successful and more popular than ever before,” Catalyst told Polygon. “With the coming Mercenaries Kickstarter and the lead-up to BattleTech’s 40th anniversary, there’s an excellent chance our current staggering success will be eclipsed as BattleTech reaches even more fans.”
Opinion Piece: “BattleTech Has Always Been Woke”
Welcome to Sarna’s new editorial column. I’ve noticed that a lot of you seem to dislike the idea of me throwing in some opinions throughout our monthly news round-ups, so I thought to break off the majority of that opinionated writing and throw it into a new column that you can easily skip if you’d prefer to stick to the news.
We’re going to set aside the saying, for which you can find plenty of examples for and against, and instead focus on Stackpole’s comment of BattleTech always having been woke. For those unaware, “woke” is defined as “alert to racial prejudice and discrimination.” Stackpole’s example is naturally his own work in the Warrior Trilogy. “The anti-prejudice/anti-racism theme roars through it all,” stated Stackpole, and it’s hard to disagree there. One could argue the only reason why Justin Xiang Allard was able to infiltrate the Liao government so thoroughly was because of racial prejudice.
But has BattleTech always been woke? A certain tank that will no longer be reprinted seems evidence to the contrary. And the fact that both House Kurita and House Liao are still largely ethnically and racially defined, would beg to differ
Things got a lot better with the introduction of the Clans, with its egalitarian society that cared little for race or gender, only whether you were born in a test tube with combat-capable genes. And the problematic similarities between the freebirth/trueborn argument and racist ideology steeped in geneticism get addressed in books like Freebirth and characters like Phelan Kell and Alaric Ward (although Alaric has his own problems, that’s a topic for another editorial).
So I think it might be more accurate to say that BattleTech didn’t arrive woke, but it’s been moving in that direction for decades. And with recent stories even venturing into LGBTQ+ characters, it certainly isn’t slowing down.
I know there are a lot of Awesome fans out there, so I had to share this piece commissioned by CupofLiberTea over on Reddit. They even have a great story to go along with it, too.
“Years ago I had a BTA3062 game, and during a mission, my Assassin was legged by an unlucky Gauss shot. There were still many enemies left in the turn order and my Assassin was in serious danger. My only hope was to plant my Awesome‘s chunky frame between the Assassin and the enemy. With an assault mech blocking their view, the enemy took shots at it instead. The Awesome took a pummeling, but held the line long enough to let the crippled mech jump jet to safety.”
We’ll start with the Dragoon Suit, which was the star of MechAssault 2. This little guy, simply referred to as “battle armor” in-game, has been given a name and backstory in IlClan Recognition Guide 29. Equipped with a Light Mortar and either a Flamer or Micro Pulse Paser, the Dragoon mirrors the capabilities of MechAssault‘s armor but for the highly advanced neuro-hacking, which allowed it to force-eject an enemy MechWarrior from their ride.
But what’s really cool is Guide 29 canonizes “The MechWarrior” and many of the events that occur in MechAssault 1 & 2--specifically the invasion of Helios and operations against the Word of Blake during the Jihad.
Next, we have MechWarrior 4’s Hellhound, which has been renamed the Hellcat and slightly redesigned from its debut in MW4: Mercenaries. The standard loadout of twin ER Large Lasers, LB 10-X AC, and SRM-6 remains, but the visual design of the Hellhound--sorry, Hellcat--has been modified to more accurately reflect its loadout. And rather than being introduced at the end of the Refusal War as suggested in MW4: Mercs, the Hellcat arrived in the 3130s when it became freely available through Clan Sea Fox.
IlClan Recognition Guide 30 provides us with the Hellcat and the Onuris Attack VTOL, which sure looks a lot like the Igor VTOL from MechWarrior 5. It’s not quite the same, but it’s possibly yet more evidence of how PGI and Catalyst are collaborating on the future of BattleTech.
This Metal Remix Of The BattleTech Theme Will Take Back The Galaxy
Do I like metal remixes of classic cartoon intro themes? Of course I do. So here’s andrewlik belting out the one-minute intro to BattleTech: The Animated Series. I’ll let those two guitars do the rest of the talking.
Tex Talks BattleTech Back Online After Black Pants Legion Gets Hacked By Tesla Fans
Elongated Muskrat whatever stream stopped.
Now to begin rebuilding. Thanks to all who helped. Today has sucked.
But look on the bright side. I can get another 100k plaque when I pass it again…
If you were wondering where Tex’s latest video on the Charger went soon after the beginning of the new year, it was taken offline after the Black Pants Legion got hacked by Tesla fans. Apparently, Elon Musk’s personal army of internet trolls has nothing better to do than take on a small group of independent content creators and BattleTech fans.
I’m not even going to guess at their motivations. Internet vandals are just a fact of life in the cyberpunk dystopia we all find ourselves in. The good news is that Tex and the Black Pants Legion managed to regain access to their channel and get all that wonderful content back online. From what Tex described in his recent podcast, it was quite the ordeal.
Things are alright now, but folks who were previously subscribed to the Black Pants Legion will want to verify that their subscription remains intact.
Renegage HPG Is Looking To Revive The BattleTech Trading Card Game
Want to learn how to play the BattleTech Trading Card Game online and join some organized play events? Check out the link here for details on how to setup a one-on-one demo game with an experienced player.https://t.co/GymtmmrK1qpic.twitter.com/pLeSEWmlr7
You’ll all remember Renegade HPG as the owner of a fabulous YouTube channel where he interviews BattleTech creatives, and also the owner and operator of Gallery 3025, a Patreon which creates beautiful new BattleTech art. Fans of Tracis’ channel will know that he’s a die-hard BattleTech TCG fan, and now he’s aiming to revive the game.
And when I say revive, I mean bring back from the dead and turn it into a living game. That means new cards (unofficial, of course), revised and new mechanics, monthly tournaments, and an open and active community of folks who want to contribute and play BattleTech in card form. There are already a bunch of new cards posted on the Facebook Group, along with an experimental format to playtest all these new cards.
For those looking to play along, you’ll want to download LackeyCCG and the BattleTech plugin, instructions for which can be found in this post here. League games are already underway, but newcomers are always welcome.
What do you get when you have an undying love for NBA Jam and the Highlander? This. At least, I assume. Big thanks to BigRock! On Twitter for creating this unusual but timeless piece. My heart goes out to that Elemental’s sibkin.
It’s confirmed: a new MechWarrior game is in development at PGI. That’s according to Piranha Games president Russ Bullock, who finally confirmed what we kinda suspected for a while in the latest No Guts No Galaxy podcast.
“We’re still working on MechWarrior, which has been somewhat surprising to me, that we’ve been able to work on it this long, which is great,” Bullock told Sean Lang. “Everyone knows we have DLC four coming out for MechWarrior 5, and there is another MechWarrior game in development at Piranha.”
Before anyone gets too up in arms, it won’t be MechWarrior Online 2. It’ll be a single-player game “in line with MechWarrior 5,” and it’ll be a “standalone game.” As for when we’ll hear more, that might not be for a while.
“It’ll be announced later – don’t know, if I had to guess it may even be until… oh, who knows,” added Bullock. “Somewhere in 2023. Maybe even as late as the fall, like September or something. So it’ll be a while, you’ll have to wait around to see what that is. But yeah, more in-line with a MechWarrior 5 type of experience, meaning it’ll be a game that comes out on all the platforms, PC and console.”
Bullock said that this new MechWarrior game will build on the technology already created in MechWarrior 5, which sounds great to me. There’s a lot of good tech in MechWarrior 5, from procedurally-generated maps to the co-op gameplay mechanics, but what has always held MechWarrior 5 back in the eyes of most fans was the lack of a hand-crafted campaign. With this presumed MechWarrior 6 using all the tech already built in MechWarrior 5, hopefully, more resources can be spent focusing on missions with scripted events and cut scenes, and more intricate mission mechanics.
And what about MechWarrior Online? Bullock confirmed PGI has the MechWarrior license until 2025, but creating a sequel to the PvP game would need “more runway than that.”
“You’re not going to make a MechWarrior Online 2 if your license is maybe over in 2025,” Bullock said. “We’d have to know that we have a minimum of five years once the game is done, so we probably need an extension to 2030.”
Could that mean PGI is going to shoot for a license extension? I suppose we’ll have to see how well MechWarrior 6 performs first.
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries – Rise Of Rasalhague Drops On All Platforms Alongside Free Update
But before we get too excited about a new MechWarrior game, I’m here to remind you that MechWarrior 5 just received its new Rise of Rasalhague DLC. As previously discussed, this DLC features a new 12-mission quest line, 11 variants of the Crusader ‘Mech, and the all-new Rival Mercenaries feature that will pit you against well-known Merc outfits from throughout the Inner Sphere.
MechWarrior 5 is also receiving a free update along with Rise of Rasalhague, so even if you don’t have the cash to buy the new DLC right this second, you’ll still benefit from various improvements outlined on this page here. In my eyes, the biggest QOL changes here will be the improved lancemate AI that makes them fire more often, get stuck in dropships less often, and will entirely stop them from Kool-Aid-Maning their way through buildings you’re trying to defend. Additionally, PGI has updated the ‘Mech hangar to allow up to 40 active ‘Mechs instead of just 12. Those additional ‘Mechbays need to be leased for a quarterly fee, but I know I have over 100 million C-bills by the end of the main campaign, so a few more active ‘Mechs will be a godsend.
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries – Rise of Rasalhague is available now on all platforms.
MechWarrior Online’s Plans For 2023 Include New Maps, A Battlepass, And A New ‘Mech
The other existing MechWarrior game that we have yet to discuss is MechWarrior Online. Matt and Daeron over at PGI recently sat down to talk about the future of MechWarrior Online, where they laid out what fans can expect in 2023. The big takeaway here is that PGI isn’t done with MechWarrior Online yet and plans to update the venerable PvP game with yet more content.
That content includes four “new” maps, where some will be entirely new and others will be revamped versions of existing maps that could use a little love. There’s also an entirely new ‘Mech chassis that will come sometime this year. The Crusader and Hatchetman were apparently very successful for PGI, so making a new ‘Mech is still profitable. No idea what the ‘Mech will be, but Matt said that we’ll likely guess it just as soon as the first teaser goes live.
Additionally, MechWarrior Online might be rebranding itself to MechWarrior Online Legends. The new name would follow a new monthly battle pass that would feature an all-new Legendary ‘Mech with unique quirks to make it stand out from existing Hero ‘Mechs. Legendary ‘Mechs will have unique skins and Champion-style loadouts that might be playable straight out of the box. Nothing is finalized as of yet, but it’s certainly in line with what other live-service games have done to monetize themselves. Expect the battlepass to include other items like C-Bills, GSP, Bolt-ons, Cockpit items, MC, engines, and more.
There’s lots more discussed, like retiring old ‘Mech bundles, reworking faction play, adding new weapons, and more events for the event queue, but you can hear all that straight from Matt and Daeron’s mouths in the video linked above.
Wetlands Skirmish by Jayden Morris and Bruce Patnaude
This stunning piece from Gallery 3025 contributors Bruce Patnaude and Jayden Morris depicts a Marauder taking part in some combined arms combat with unmounted infantry in a swamp. Perhaps this is the Eridani Light Horse on Huntress in the very middle of eliminating the Smoke Jaguar Clan. Or maybe they’re just on a nameless rock in the deep periphery fighting for the highest bidder. Either way, this is just another example of why Gallery 3025 deserves your support.
Some Say Kerensky Never Smiled Again After The Civil War
People tend to focus on the ‘Mechs in BattleTech, as they rightly should, but let’s not entirely forget the people. It doesn’t get more iconic than Alekandr Kerensky taking down the Amaris Empire in his Orion. I suspect he maintained that exact expression for the two decades it took him, too.
This thing is already pushing 3,500 words, and I just don’t have the space to give every artist their due, so we’re going to speedrun through the rest of ‘em. Meltdonw14, you got twogreat pieces this month--keep up the good work. Matt Plog gives us this phenomenal Guillotine IIC, one of my favorite weird-ass ‘Mechs. I know this is mostly a trace and recolor of the Recognition Guide redesign, but I don’t care, this is a great Griffin. And Michael Long provides us with a hot-wheels take on the classic Timber Wolf from his MechWarrior 5 mod.
BattleMercs, The Crescent Hawks-Like Fan Game, Releases Into Open Beta
BattleMercs Beta | New Missions, New Sprites, and More!
Jay tells me this is the most stable version of the game yet, and the most recent patch notes reveal a whole bunch of improvements, from long-term campaign-style missions to DropShip animations to the inclusion of vehicles like the Pegasus, Galleon, and even the Rommel.
The neat part about Battle Mercs is that the game has been made with modding in mind. Jay has hosted a few livestreams where he basically provides a tutorial on how to make your own maps and missions. As we discussed in our previous interview, the dream is for Jay to make the tech and for someone else to come along and create a massive story-based campaign along the same lines as the Crescent Hawks games.
That’s not me, though. I don’t have the patience to learn how to do any amount of coding, and besides, I’m playing through the new Rise of Rasalhague DLC in MechWarrior 5. But that could be you! So if it is, head on over to the Battle Mercs Discord to learn more and to download the beta client. You’ll also be able to download Battle Mercs directly from Sarna at some point, but we’re still getting that worked out. I’ll be sure to get that posted next month once the link goes live.
By Blake’s holy word, we made it. January kicks off 2023 with a bang, and we’re not even at the Mercenaries Kickstarter yet. Join us next month when I hopefully don’t have to pull an all-nighter just to get this thing out before February ends.
“We require reinforcement, Star Captain! The Falcons are about to breach our perimeter!”
Star Captain Jolin Demos considered her options. Her Jade Falcon opponent in this trial had come at her swiftly, as expected, but she hadn’t expected her Elementals to be completely overrun. Now without infantry support, her lighter elements were being picked apart by highly accurate fire from quick-moving but well-armed Falcon heavy ‘Mechs.
Even in her dire situation, the choice was obvious. “Hold your ground, Star Commander.”
There was a moment of static, then: “Neg, Star Captain, we are in danger of being routed. I respectfully request reinforcement.” The transmission was nearly cut off by the sound of an explosion near Star Commander Jonathan’s Fire Scorpion.
“You have your orders, Star Commander,” Demos repeated with a voice like cold steel. “Hold.”
For a moment, Star Captain Demos felt uneasy about ordering her MechWarriors to hold without support. Her heaviest elements still remained in Alpha Star, including her own prized Stone Rhino. Its awesome firepower was the stuff of legend amongst the Clans and would surely have made short work of the invading Falcons.
But to put such a historic treasure in harm’s way… Such recklessness would certainly draw the ire of the Great Father’s spirit. And besides, her necrosia-fueled vision from several nights before assured her that victory could only come through patience.
A Falcon Kit Fox briefly appeared on her Stone Rhino‘s targeting computer–a quirk of her oddly perceptive and ancient machine to read such a small ‘Mech from such a great distance. Almost as though it were begging to be unleashed. Her Gauss Rifles could theoretically hit the 30-ton ‘Mech even at such a great distance, but Demos continue to hold her fire.
Another burst of static preceded a broadcast on her trinary’s comm line. “This is MechWarrior Colm. Star Commander Jonathan is down. We have but three operational ‘Mechs remaining. Requesting assistance.”
The Kit Fox blinked off Demos’s heads-up display, and she felt her Stone Rhino’s shoulders slump without her ever issuing such a command. Almost as though the machine itself was disappointed in her inaction.
“MechWarrior Colm, you will hold.”
Colm’s response was only static.
The Stone Rhino, better known as the Behemoth to Inner Sphere forces, comes from strange beginnings. Originally modeled after the Matar, itself colloquially referred to as “Amaris’ Folly,” the Stone Rhino represents the epitome of Clan hubris. It’s also a ‘Mech that has historically been highly prized among the Clans, both for its historical significance and for its exceptional firepower, two properties that often made commanders reluctant to utilize the Stone Rhino‘s awesome power.
Originally a super-heavy design, the Matar was created in 2775 during the waning years of the short-lived Amaris Empire. Besieged by SLDF forces, growing desperation led Stefan Amaris to demand ever more expensive and elaborate wonder weapons, resulting in a 110-ton ‘Mech that was too heavy to move without shattering its leg actuators. Possessing a theoretical top speed of 32 kph, the Matar did have incredible firepower for the era, with two Large Pulse Lasers, two Gauss Rifles, one ER Large Laser, two Medium Pulse Lasers, and two Flamers.
When Terra fell, Aleksandr Kerensky captured the Matar’s project lead, Rifkin Amaris, a cousin of the usurper Stefan Amaris. This led to the SLDF obtaining the Matar’s blueprints which they brought with them during Operation Exodus. Over 70 years later, Clan engineers would take those blueprints and attempt to perfect the design, creating a formidable assault ‘Mech.
The Stone Rhino was introduced in 2847 by Clan Smoke Jaguar scientists eager to prove their superiority of the Clan way to anything even remotely related to the Inner Sphere. Named after an equally formidable beast on the planet Eden, the Stone Rhino came armed with the same twin Gauss Rifle and Large Pulse Laser combo as the Matar but removed the remaining weaponry in favor of a single Small Pulse Laser. Despite removing numerous weapon systems, advanced Clan tech meant that the Stone Rhino still offered similar firepower. Better yet, the machine weighed 100 tons and was capable of actually moving at 54 kph. Three jump jets enhanced the Stone Rhino‘s mobility, while unique shock-absorbing cowls on each arm allowed them to be used as battering rams in keeping with the Stone Rhino‘s namesake.
Due to its size and expense, the cost-averse Clans only ever produced the Stone Rhino in very small numbers–most of them initially in the Smoke Jaguar Touman, but the Stone Rhino‘s popularity soon saw scattered examples in most Clans. With so few examples of these ancient, battle-worn machines, each Stone Rhino is unique, offering curious eccentricities both to their pilots and to the technicians that service them.
The Stone Rhino‘s notoriety has in practice led to problems utilizing the ‘Mech’s power. Once spotted on the battlefield, opposing forces would often challenge Stone Rhino MechWarriors to Trials of Possession for their ‘Mechs. Even if the Stone Rhino pilot evaded such trials, the ‘Mech was still a high-value target that smart tacticians would eliminate quickly lest their forces are picked apart by the Stone Rhino’s twin Gauss Rifles. Not wanting to sacrifice these limited and valuable machines, allied commanders could be hesitant to commit Stone Rhinos to the crucible of combat–a psychological phenomenon that dates back to the Battle of Jutland on ancient Terra. Even during the heaviest fighting of the Clan Invasion, Stone Rhinos were a rare sight and often relegated to secondary garrison clusters.
Stone Rhinos would remain rarely seen until Clan Goliath Scorpion took former Smoke Jaguar holdings and developed a visually distinct new version of the ‘Mech. The Stone Rhino 2 upgraded the engine to a 300 XL, which allowed it to mount twin Gauss Rifles, twin Heavy Large Lasers, four Heavy Medium Lasers (two of which pointed rearward), one Heavy Small Laser, anti-personnel pods, and an AMS for defense from missiles. It also carried an impressive 19 tons of armor and pathetically inadequate 16 double heat sinks.
Soon after the Stone Rhino 2‘s initial production run, Clan Hell’s Horses captured the Scorpion’s holdings on Tokasha and began making their own variants of the Stone Rhino. The Stone Rhino 3 finally ditched the ‘Mech’s signature Gauss Rifles in favor of twin ATM-9s and enough heat sinks and ammo to use them until its ammo bins ran dry. Production was briefly interrupted when the Hell’s Horses were ejected from the Clan Homeworlds in the early 3070s, the Horses set up a new production line on Csesztreg that produced several more Stone Rhino variants, culminating in the Stone Rhino 8 which drops the original’s jump jets for an Actuator Enhancement System in each arm.
Although still powerful in the modern era, the venerable design would eventually be overshadowed by the Clan Wolf Crucible, which mounts a whopping four Gauss Rifles capable of eliminating smaller ‘Mechs in a single salvo. Perhaps taking the Matar too far, the Word of Blake Omega also surpassed the Stone Rhino. At 150 tons and mounting three Gauss Rifles and twin LB 10-X Autocannons, the Omega was a far more effective superheavy design that saw the heaviest fighting in the final hours of the World of Blake Jihad–just as the Matar did in another battle for Terra so many centuries earlier.
Today’s Stone Rhinos have been outclassed by more modern 100-ton designs and ‘Mech commanders have since learned to commit these fearsome machines to the desperate fighting of the IlClan era. Still, certain Clans revere the Stone Rhino enough to only use them in the direst of circumstances–even to their Clan’s detriment.
I’m in that middle slump between the holidays. I don’t actually get the full week off, so I’m in for a few days before heading out for another alcohol-fueled adventure celebrating the renewal of the Julian calendar. It’s just long enough for me to forget that wine really shouldn’t be combined with the vast quantity of beer I received for Christmas. The good news is I managed to get my covid booster just before the holidays, so I’m reasonably sure all this cavorting isn’t going to get me sick. Reasonably.
Anyway, welcome to the end of 2022. It’s been a banger year, and to close it out, we got some more BattleTech news for you. ‘Cause that’s what we do around these parts. Strap on your neurohelmet with antlers, because it’s that time of year again.
The comic is based on the short story included in the BattleTech Beginner Box Set, “The Golden Rule.” Note the Whitworth that’s standing in the gantry with its unmistakable helmet and handless arms. If we’re lucky, we might even get more than one page of this short story, although fleshing the whole thing out as a comic might be more work than we can reasonably expect. Somebody pay this person to keep making BattleTech comics!
Fusion Now Generates More Power Than It Uses
There are a few ways you can do giant robots in sci-fi. First, there’s massive batteries that hold enough charge for said robots to engage in combat, although usually without using energy projection weapons like lasers and particle accelerators. And then there’s fusion power, something that just got one step closer to becoming reality.
Researchers at the Energy Department’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have created a new magnetic field setup that tripled the power created by a fusion reaction in a lab. You can read all the science-y stuff in the full report, but the key takeaway is that this is the first-ever fusion reaction that actually generated more power than it took to initiate fusion--the key requirement for actually generating power.
The whole thing involves almost 200 lasers blasting a couple of hydrogen isotopes until they produce x-rays and implode, causing the extreme pressure and heat required for those isotopes to fuse. This new setup resulted in more power than ever before, but it’s still not enough for a sustained fusion reaction, which is what we’d need for an actual fusion power plant.
Science sometimes happens in baby steps, but it really looks like we’re going to crack fusion power in most of our lifetimes. Give it a decade or two and we might actually have a running reactor powering a commercial grid--or at least, providing some of the grid’s power. Even if this technology doesn’t become small enough to power a six-story robot, it’s still going to be a big win for humanity and our search for energy sources that don’t require fossil fuels or traditional nuclear fission (not that there’s anything wrong with fission, but people still seem a bit too squeamish over splitting a few atoms to power a grid).
Some of you might have heard of the Steam Deck, a handheld PC that sort of takes the Nintendo Switch form factor and turns it into something a bit more powerful and much more useful. Not every game on Steam can run on the Deck, but a lot of them can, and besides Steam, the Deck can also run some interesting software. This apparently includes a PlayStation emulator, which means you can play the PlayStation version of MechWarrior 2.
I know this for a fact because German Twitch streamer Timeras proved it with his Deck earlier in the month. Yes, the PlayStation version certainly isn’t the best version of MechWarrior 2, but outside of MechWarrior 5, it’s probably the best MechWarrior game that actually has controller support. Anyway, just an idea for those of you who have a Steam Deck.
Who Says Banshees Are Bad?
I did. I said Banshees are bad. But I also admit that the BNC-3S is actually a fantastic ‘Mech and in no way deserving of the term “bad.” It also looks badass, which is the exact opposite of bad. English is weird.
Kudos to fed0tich for this one. You can see their work in a few other past posts with unique spins on classic ‘Mechs, and I appreciate ’em every time. Especially when they’re of favorites like the Banshee.
Kell Brothers Come To Gallery 3025
While it’s important to recognize the ‘Mechs and many other machines of BattleTech, it’s also important to recognize the many people too. It doesn’t get more iconic than the Kell brothers, who are both featured in Gallery 3025’s recent post by Bruce Patnaude. I especially like how Bruce gave Patrick a bit of a makeover compared to the image that Sarna has in its database, which is… yeesh.
Usual pitch for Gallery 3025, a community-supported Patreon that pays artists to keep creating BattleTech art. Sign up for less than a coffee a day over on the Gallery 3025 Patreon here.
The Magistracy Has A Fan-Made 3160 TRO Now
Y’all want some more fan-created content? Of course you do. Magestrix Riley of the Magistracy of Canopus has informed me of a new fan-made technical readout available now over on her Patreon. The Magistracy Intelligence Report: Technical Readout 3160 contains over 120 units and more than 200 pages of BattleMechs, OmniMechs, IndustrialMechs, and combat vehicles right up to the year 3160. And because this is the periphery we’re talkin’ about, they all have their own very unique style.
The great thing about the periphery is there’s a lot of room for storytelling. That’s why HBS placed BATTLETECH way out in the periphery, and while it means having clean access to replacement parts can be hard to come by, the Periphery offers that 3025-ish nostalgia even when it’s 3160. All you gotta say is that it’s some periphery merc unit running around doing what they can with what they have.
Although I should note that this fan-made TRO assumes (probably correctly) that the Magistracy has kept up with the advances of defense technology in the rest of the Inner Sphere. Some of these ‘Mechs are real fighters and not just nostalgia trips. Be warned.
MechWarrior Online Has Tons Of Holiday Stuff Up For Grabs
It’s the holiday season, and like many live-service titles, MechWarrior Online is giving away a DropShip-load of free loot in the spirit of the season. We’ll get to that free stuff in a minute, but first, some patch notes.
December’s patch brought the Hatchetman for those who purchased it. Expect the C-bill versions to be available later on. There are also a few new Platinum Collections to grab in both Inner Sphere and Clan flavors. Nothing too ground-breaking to report on new ‘Mech Quirks, except for the Zeus getting a built-in speed tweak for the ZEU-6S, ZEU-5S, and the ZEU-92S. The Cyclops has also finally received a quirk pass, although it mostly seems to be about removing weapon-specific quirks for more general quirks, which should help improve build variety.
Alright, time for the loot. MechWarrior Online‘s Stocking Stuffers Lootbag event started a few weeks ago, but you still have until Jan 2 to earn as much free stuff as you can just for playing the game. Mech Bays, general skill points, C-bills, and MC are all up for grabs alongside some festive cockpit decorations. Now is the best time to stock yourself for the new year, so head into MWO and shoot your friends.
Catalyst Issues Mercenaries Kickstarter Preview And The Most Colorful Arcade Operations Yet
As reported last month, the Mercenaries Kickstarter is coming March 23, 2023. We already have a pretty good idea of what we’re in for, but Catalyst’s new preview document gives us an excellent sneak peek at two of my favorite bad ‘Mechs, the Quickdraw and the Assassin. We also have a great look at the Mercenaries box which reveals the Starslayer and the Devastator as two more ‘Mechs likely to appear in the box, otherwise it’d be sort of weird to have them so prominently featured.
I’ve already spoken at length on the flaws of both the Quickdraw and the Assassin, so I’m just going to say that these new sculpts make it appear as though neither ‘Mech is an absolute dumpster fire. These are great, and I will definitely be getting the Mercenaries box set just so I can have my beloved Quickdraw sitting on my shelf. And might I add, kudos to Catalyst for giving the Starslayer a center-stage position in the coming Kickstarter. The Starslayer kicks ass and it’s an absolute crime that it was only featured in MechCommander 2.
The other big beat for December is Arcade Operations: UrbanFest, a new entry to the PseudoTech sub-brand that reimagines BattleTech in fun and hilarious ways. As the cover and title suggest, UrbanFest brings the sort of “power and excitement that can only come from thirty tons of slow-moving metal, and limited firepower!” Expect to read “tales of heroism and adventure that only the most unassuming of BattleMechs can deliver,” as well as new sim-game rules for UrbanMech-centric scenarios. There are also a few new UrbanMech variants and “never-before-seen technologies,” which make UrbanFest an absolutely essential read for any UrbanMech aficionado.
An update on the ilClan Recognition Guides before we move on. Volume 28 is available now, while Volume 29 arrives on January 6, Volume 30 on January 30, Volume 31 on February 3, and Volume 32 on February 17. Mark your calendars.
Courtesy of the same modder that brought you the Timber Wolf, Mad Dog, Summoner, and Hellbringer mods for MechWarrior 5 comes this new mod that would almost certainly get everyone sued if the Unseen was still a thing. It’s a mod that replaces the MechWarrior 5 Marauder model with something loosely based on the original Duane Loose sketch, itself based on the Zentradi Tactical Pods from the Macross anime. It looks gangly and bizarre--like some sort of alien craft stomping around on feet that look too big for its spindly legs to lift. The model itself looks fantastic, with textures and fine elements that identify this thing as a ‘Mech and not an alien creature, but it really shows the vast shift in design BattleTech has taken over the years.
You can download the Classic Marauder mod on Nexus Mods or MechWarrior 5’s Steam Workshop.
Exactly one year after the Chargerwas inducted into the storied library of Bad’ Mechs, Tex offers his rebuttal in Tex Talks BattleTech: The Charger. As with every Tex Talks BattleTech, Tex offers an hour of context and thorough analysis that I’m just not able to produce on my own. Tex also offers a wildly entertaining explanation and defense of the Charger, such that even I might consider this horrible, horrible machine when choosing my next Kuritan assault ‘Mech.
As far as I’m aware, the Charger didn’t survive into the ilClan era, so it seems unlikely for the Charger to make it into the Mercenaries Kickstarter. But I sincerely hope that it does. Like the UrbanMech, the Charger is so colossally terrible, but in the completely opposite way--where one is all speed and no guns, the other is no speed and all guns. The two belong together like yin and yang. If the original Kickstarter had UrbanMechs as add-ons, let’s hope the Mercenaries Kickstarter chooses the Charger as its dilapidated mascot.
Incoming Holiday HPG Message: Merry Christmas
Hey folks, thanks for passing this around, however, I am not the author (much as though I would like to claim credit for it). This little ditty was written by Mike Ritchie at Rather Dashing Games! https://t.co/PDQyXvwV8D
That’s it for December, and 2023 is right around the corner. The new year has lots for us to look BattleTech fans to look forward to, from a new BattleTech Kickstarter full of new mini designs to a brand-new MechWarrior 5 expansion centered on the Free Rasalhague Republic. There were plenty of surprises to excite us throughout 2022, and I don’t expect 2023 to be any different.