Bad ‘Mechs – Rifleman

Rifleman Coffin Dance

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

Corporal O’Moore didn’t know what the Dracs were thinking. Wave after wave of aerospace fighters fell to his RFL-3N Rifleman‘s paired Imperator Autocannons and Magna Mk. III Large Lasers, many before they could even fire a salvo or release their bomb payloads. His Rifleman‘s Garret D2J–still state of the art even after half a century of warfare–continue to work like a dream, swatting down Kuritan Sabres like flies. 

It was enough to make O’Moore forget he and the rest of the First Clovis Guards were desperately trying to defend their home. But it only lasted for a few moments.

“They’ve broken through!” came the panicked voice of Major Yasser over the unit-wide comms. “First and second battalions fall back to waypoint Charlie. Third battalion, we need you to defend the logistics corps until they can pull out.” 

Third battalion. That was O’Moore’s unit. He took his eyes off his Rifleman’s scope for a moment to bring up his external cameras. Soldiers were all rushing to vehicles being loaded with munitions, desperate to pack as much as they could before the Kurita forces arrived. 

It didn’t take long. Not two minutes after the last of the Sabres fell to O’Moore’s guns did the first Drac ‘Mech appear on sensors. A Panther, of course–you couldn’t spit without hitting a Panther in the DCMS. But its particle projection cannon still made it dangerous. 

O’Moore’s targeting computer easily picked out the 35-ton ‘Mech as it confidently stomped into range. At 600 meters, he squeezed both triggers, sending twin bursts of tracers that stitched explosions up the Panther’s chest. He followed up with both his heavy lasers that melted more armor over the light ‘Mechs left arm and right leg. The machine staggered under the sudden loss of so much armor, but managed to fire its PPC in response, missing O’Moore’s Rifleman wide. 

Another salvo should take it out, O’Moore thought. Once again he depressed both triggers, but this time the paired autocannons that made up the Rifleman’s arms were silent. His internal diagnostics reported his ammo bins had run dry firing at the Sabres earlier. And with his ammo being whisked away on the beds of his regiments’ logistics craft, they wouldn’t be refilled anytime soon.

Instead, O’Moore fired his heavy lasers again. One struck the left arm again, shearing it off at the shoulder. The other hit the Panther dead center, opening a smoking wound that made the machine’s heat signature spike on O’Moore’s screen. An engine hit. No doubt that Panther’s cockpit was a sauna for its pilot.

And no less hot for me, he noted as a fresh wave of heat caused O’Moore’s cooling jacket to kick into overdrive. His Rifleman’s heatsinks weren’t designed to dissipate repeated firings of his large lasers, so he’d be down to just his Magna Mk. IIs. That’d be enough to finish the Panther off.

Just then, O’Moore’s radar pinged with another signature–this time a Dragon. Its own Imperator-A struck him in the shoulder, while a flight or LRMs rang deafening explosions just outside his cockpit’s glass. Slapping the override button, O’Moore fired at the new threat with everything he had, desperately trying to convince the Drac to find a new target.

Alarms were blaring and his cockpit was hotter than an active volcano, but O’Moore knew there was no escape. The Dragon could just run him down, and besides, the Rifleman’s heat burden made it feel like it was trying to move through molasses. 

The Dragon’s pilot was smart. Rather than engage in a slugfest, it began maneuvering to O’Moore’s right, threatening the truck convoy that was making its escape. He turned with it, slowly, trying to breathe air hotter than the sun while deciding if he could survive firing even a single laser just one more time.

He never got the chance. The Dragon suddenly pivoted and before O’Moore could react, it was in his rear arc. The Rifleman’s paper-thin rear armor couldn’t hold up to a stiff breeze let alone a full brace of autocannon, missile, and laser fire. His only consolation, as a flash of light signaled his Rifleman’s fusion engine losing containment, was that at least the Drac pilot was blowing him away rather than the retreating convoy of First Clovis Guardsmen.


RFL-1N RiflemanThe Rifleman is an exceptional ‘Mech. Exceptional in that the only reason why the Rifleman remains popular is because every attempt to replace it has somehow miraculously managed to be worse. This gave the Rifleman‘s engineers centuries to come up with better, more combat-viable variants. However, while the RFL-3N Rifleman is perhaps the most popular and numerous variant, it remains one of the worst heavy ‘Mechs ever designed, so cripplingly handicapped by a lack of ammunition, armor protection, and heat capacity that it’s only useful for guard duty in rear supply lines or in one-on-one gladiatorial combat where the pilot won’t have to gauge heat spikes beyond a single opponent. 

Getting to the RFL-3N will actually take more than two centuries of failure. The initial RFL-1N was first designed in 2505 by Kallon Industries as a medium fire-support unit. As one of the earliest ‘Mechs ever made, one can forgive Kallon for some missteps. The RFL-1N suffered from chronic overheating owing to its all-energy payload and criminal lack of heatsinks. Over fifty years later, Kallon would improve upon the 50-ton ‘Mech in the RFL-2N, upgrading its primitive components to open up payload capacity to replace the 1N’s large lasers with twin PPCs and add two additional medium lasers as well as six additional heat sinks. Although a marked improvement, the RFL-2N still suffered from the original’s dismal overheating issues. 

It wasn’t until 2770 that Kallon introduced the RFL-3N during the Amaris Civil War. Intended for long-range fire support and anti-aircraft work, the Rifleman RFL-3N was ten tons larger than its forebears. It used that additional weight to mount an Imperator-A AC/5 and a Magna Mk. III Large Laser in each arm. A pair of Magna Mk. II Medium Lasers offered the RFL-3N additional defense should it lose any of its main weapons, but its paltry 10 heatsinks made it impossible to continuously fire its energy weapons without suffering massive heat spikes. 

Rifleman

What made matters worse for the RFL-3N was its equally paltry ton of AC/5 ammunition shared between both cannons. This offered pilots just ten shots before needing to resupply. Combined with its inadequate heat-sinking and mere seven-and-a-half tons of armor, the RFL-3N is completely unable to perform in sustained engagements. 

Scholars will argue that the Rifleman was never intended to serve as a front-line heavy ‘Mech. In its intended role of defending supply lines from marauding air assets and the occasional light scout, the Rifleman excelled. Its Garret D2J targeting-tracking system–a system so potently accurate that it remains in production to this day–allowed the Rifleman to easily swat down incoming aerospace assets and deter lighter ‘Mech elements from a safe distance.

However, as the Succession Wars wore on, House militaries pressed more specialized ‘Mechs into roles for which they were never intended. The Rifleman increasingly saw postings to front-line regiments where its lack of armor (especially in the rear arc), ammo, and heat capacity were a liability.

Despite this, the Rifleman remained popular with MechWarriors thanks to its menacing silhouette, its impressive firepower, and its unique ability to swing its arms 360-degrees in order to engage opponents attempting to approach the ‘Mech from behind. This tactic was made famous by Solaris champion Gray Noton, whose custom Rifleman, Legend-Killer, ended the career of more than one promising competitor who thought they’d managed to get the drop on Noton.

3025 Rifleman

Before the ultimate dissolution of the Star League, two replacements emerged for the Rifleman. Kallon introduced the JagerMech in 2774 intended to replace the Rifleman in the anti-air role, while Technicron Manufacturing brought the Quickdraw to market in 2779 as a front-line heavy ‘Mech. Neither ‘Mech succeeded in replacing the Rifleman in either role, with both machines instead serving alongside Riflemans in various militaries across the Inner Sphere.

The RFL-3N would exist for over two centuries before finally seeing significant improvement. The RFL-3C, introduced by Davion engineers in 3026, replaced the twin AC/5s and large lasers with paired AC/10s and an additional two medium lasers as well as an extra ton of armor and autocannon ammo. This variant finally fixed the Rifleman‘s heat problems, although its ammo remained limited. Eight-and-half tons of armor was also still regarded as insufficient for a 60-ton ‘Mech.

The Gray Death Memory Core offered enhanced technology as the solution to the Rifleman‘s problems. Double heatsinks (including two more) effectively solved its heat issues, while an additional ton of armor mitigated some of the ‘Mech’s protection problems. One issue that was made even worse was its singleton ammo bin, which was tasked with feeding two ammo-hungry Ultra AC/5s capable of exhausting that bin twice as fast. 

It wasn’t until the Civil War era that the Inner Sphere saw a Rifleman that was truly capable of extended firefights. The RFL-8D saw Vicore Industries remove the Rifleman 5M’s armament in favor of twin Mydron Model RC rotary autocannon/5s fed by a staggering six tons of ammunition. Double heatsinks and a pair of ER medium lasers kept the ‘Mech cool, and 12 tons of armor kept it well protected too. Jump jets provided the Rifleman with an all-new feature for the chassis, and the same Garret targeting computer continued to direct its new armaments at any foe unwise enough to approach.

RFL-8D Rifleman

Curiously, it wasn’t merely Inner Sphere armies that saw the future potential of the Rifleman. Alexander Kerensky’s SLDF had several Riflemans amongst its regiments, eventually leading clan engineers to upgrade the design. The Rifleman IIC leans into its anti-aircraft role by pairing four large pulse lasers with an Active Probe. Even with five additional tons added to the chassis, the Rifleman IIC is curiously slower than the RFL-3N, although it does mount three jump jets to better position the ‘Mech to address incoming forces. Eleven tons of ferro-fibrous armor keep the ‘Mech protected and 19 nineteen double heatsinks keep the pilot relatively cool, although they can eventually be overwhelmed by repeated alpha strikes.

Both the Inner Sphere and the Clans have so many different variants of this venerable design that the chassis requires its own encyclopedia to identify them all. One could attribute the Rifleman‘s success to the business acumen of Kallon Industries, who spread production of the ‘Mech across multiple facilities in multiple House nations to ensure the design survived the Succession Wars. Kallon also licensed the design heavily, allowing other manufacturers to make their own variants using common parts. This kept the Rifleman fighting even as so many of its contemporaries faded into obscurity. 

But let’s not forget that it took centuries for iterations of the Rifleman to eventually raise the chassis to its fullest potential. And while the Rifleman remains in service with militaries, mercenaries, and even Solaris gladiators, the most popular machine isn’t always the most potent. 

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For August, 2022

August has been blissfully warm. Which is nice, since renovations have been a months-long string of disasters that have left me a husk of a man. The situation has convinced that perhaps the best life path for me is to actually quit writing entirely to focus on learning how to build kitchen cabinets and standing showers without having to pay anyone else.

While I contemplate the many wrong life choices that have brought me here, I will at least provide you all with your BattleTech news for August.

Catalyst Cuts Ties With Long-Time Author, Blaine Lee Pardoe

This technically happened at the end of July but it was basically right after we’d already published last month’s roundup. And man, this blew up my timeline along with everyone else’s. 

We’ll start with Catalyst’s statement, which simply stated it had “suspended publishing new works by long-time BattleTech author Blaine Lee Pardoe, primarily due to Mr. Pardoe’s online activities which do not align with Catalyst’s publishing vision.” Those of you who don’t follow Pardoe’s Twitter account might wonder just what those “online activities” might be and how they could be so bad as to cause a rift in a business relationship that had lasted 36 years. 

BlainePardoe

For an explanation, we’ll turn to Blaine Lee Pardoe himself, who published his side of the story in American Greatness, a news site that even its own Twitter account describes as “a hotbed of far-right Trumpist nationalism.” Blaine provides his account of what happened in an article titled “My Publisher Canceled Me in Favor of an Activist Who Threatened My Life,” where he accused Catalyst and BattleTech license holder Fanatic of caving to the demands of a “woke mob” that increasingly saw Pardoe’s political discussions online as… concerning.

I’m not even going to get into the bizarre odyssey of Pardoe’s alleged stalker, mostly because it seems like a he-said she-said that Pardoe plays up to rile his conservative supporters. 

Pardoe then posts an update to his personal blog where he goes into the call he received from Catalyst president Loren Coleman (another longtime author of the BattleTech franchise) as well as an email where executive editor John Helfers called Pardoe’s non-BattleTech work “drivel.” In case you were wondering, that “drivel” was book two of Pardoe’s Blue Dawn series of novels that describe an alternate reality where neoliberals overthrow the American government and replace it with a progressive/socialist one. 

Some of you might think that sounds great, but the blurb really makes it clear that the novel is targeting the kind of conservative audience who confuse “socialism” with “bad.” 

Helfers later apologized for what was apparently an accidental email CC, but it’s clear here that Catalyst had a real problem with Pardoe’s non-BattleTech career. Statements from both Catalyst and Coleman confirmed that this separation has nothing to do with Pardoe’s BattleTech works or novels, many of which remain the universe’s narrative cornerstones

There’s been a ton of community drama, some siding with Pardoe, some with Catalyst, but all of it just highlights how American politics has become so pervasively polarized. And that’s coming from a Canadian, a country which desperately tries to keep its nose out of American politics (barring softwood lumber or electric cars). 

Also, kudos to Insaniac99 on the BattleTech Reddit for providing links to those Facebook blurbs, since I have a general policy of staying away from Facebook as much as possible even without a category four shitstorm raging. 

Tex Talks About The Inner Sphere’s Great Houses

BattleTech 101: The Great Houses of the Inner Sphere
Watch this video on YouTube.

Another quick hit for July that I totally missed because YouTube’s algorithm is garbage. Tex and the Black Pants Legion did a new video describing the major Houses of the Inner Sphere. It’s a much quicker hit that Tex’s usual Tex Talks BattleTech fair, and is a great primer for anyone looking for a relatively quick explanation of the BattleTech universe. There’s also some new art in here too, so I’m even going to encourage BattleTech veterans to check it out. 

MechAssault 2 Mod Adds Wave Survival Mode

MechAssault 2 | Grinder Enhanced 2 (Dev Update) | Last Resort
Watch this video on YouTube.

I’ll admit it, I’ve never played MechAssault 2. But from the looks of this mod (and Wolves, the fan-made MechAssault game) I missed out on something pretty cool. But if you own a copy of MechAssault 2, you don’t have to miss out on what looks like a pretty cool mod.

Grinder Enhanced 2 comes courtesy of EliteAssault over on YouTube. It adds a new survival-based map where you get to take on waves of Word of Blake ‘Mechs using your choice of BattleMech and with the help of a few friends. Things keep getting progressively more difficult, with more enemy ‘Mechs dropping in until finally the player is overwhelmed. The objective is to last as long as possible and rack up as many kills before your reactor goes nova.

Check out EliteAssault’s Discord for directions on where to download the mod.

Catalyst Brings A Massive UrbanMech To Gen Con (And Previews Some New Stuff Too)

GenCon 2022: Catalyst Game Labs Battletech Alpha Strike
Watch this video on YouTube.

Finally getting to true August news, Catalyst was in full force at Gen Con 2022. And to prove it, they even brought a life-size UrbanMech with them. Sadly, it’s not a real UrbanMech, but a mere inflatable copy. Still, this is the closest we’ve come yet to seeing a real-life BattleMech walking around. Or waving its inflatable autocannon at us. 

Inside Gen Con, Catalyst showed off a bunch of new products, starting with the new Alpha Strike Box Set. Inside you’ll find a quick rules book, a bunch of Alpha Strike cards, some pilot cards, and 13 ‘Mechs, several of which have brand-new designs. There’s the Pouncer, a ‘Mech that proves all you need is Clan tech to make a 40-ton chassis workable, and the Wraith, a 55-ton Inner Sphere ‘Mech that proves all you need are pulse lasers and jump jets to take on almost anything. 

There were also copies of Empire Alone on sale, as well as the BattleTech Beginner Box set, a new T-shirt with a Banshee on it, and a selection of BattleTech‘s latest novels including A Question of Survival by Bryan Young and Land of Dreams by Randall N. Bills.

Elsewhere at Gen Con, Catalyst treated to a bunch of teasers for even more new models. Courtesy of the BattleTech Community Twitter account, we got to see teasers for some new sculpts. I spot a Javelin, a Clint, a Dervish, and a Scorpion, as well as Warrior VTOL and what might be the Behemoth tank. I’m sure there’s way more that I’ve missed, so please do share your best Gen Con reveals in the comments below. 

The Urbie Has The Spirit

Besides getting to see his beautiful UrbanMech design immortalized as an inflatable, Bishop Steiner also gave us… this. I’m not exactly sure what denomination this UrbanMech belongs to, but I understand that communication is the key to a successful religion, and it looks like this UrbanMech understands that too.

What If The King Crab Was In MechWarrior 3?

King crab in style of Mechwarrior 3 from mechwarrior

Honestly, this model seems like it could be good enough for MechWarrior 4. Thankfully, we never had to deal with the twin AC/20s hidden inside the King Crab‘s claws in either game, but TedwinK66’s animation does make you wonder. 

BattleMech Plush Prototypes Spotted

Archer Atlas Plushies

It’s been a while since we’ve seen the teaser of those BattleMech plushies, so it’s about time we checked in. And guess what? We got a set of pics for each of the new plushies coming. 

Courtesy of Reddit user Beskaryc117, who grabbed these pics off Twitter, we get to see what we’re in for. In the first image, we have two Archers and an Atlas. And in the second, a Phoenix Hawk. It doesn’t look like the Hatchetman is part of this set, which is a shame, but you can’t expect Catalyst to bring an entire roster of iconic ‘Mechs in a single go.

But a Hatchetman would have been nice. Outside of a Whitworth of course. 

No New ‘Mechs Planed For MechWarrior Online, But Updates Continue

Podcast 229 - Developer Chat - Q3 - 2022 Roadmap - Mechwarrior Online
Watch this video on YouTube.

And now we move on to MechWarrior Online news. And the news for MechWarrior Online is there is no news. Or there’s at least very little news. 

A new interview with No Guts No Galaxy’s Sean Lang and Matt and Daeron at PGI revealed there’s not a whole lot is going on with MechWarrior Online. New mapmaker Francois has left the company and the MWO team doesn’t have the resources to create new ‘Mechs or maps. Hence why the roadmap has been updated to not include any map after the Terra Therma rework which is still scheduled for October, and why there are no new ‘Mechs on the horizon.

Which is a shame, since apparently, the Crusader was both successful financially for PGI and a big hit with fans. The Crusader was one of the few remaining Unseen ‘Mechs that have never really been in a MechWarrior game, and it’s so nice to see that old battlewagon make its virtual debut. 

That’s not to say that things will remain this way forever. Matt and Daeron are still negotiating with the higher-ups at PGI to get the staff they need for new content whenever they become available. It might just take a little while. And we should keep in mind that staff not working on MechWarrior Online means they’re working on something else. Wonder what that might be?

Support for MechWarrior Online continues with balance updates and bug fixes. The Commando and the Cougar are the big winners in this month’s quirk pass, but there was also some fine-tuning performed on some Phoenix Hawk, Warhammer IIC, and Marauder II variants. Light machine guns were buffed, and Snub PPCs--which have dominated the meta ever since their buff in July--have been nerfed with additional heat and heat scaling. Whether that’ll be enough to stop the Snub-pocalypse in MechWarrior Online remains to be seen, but I’m at least confident that the Cauldron is keeping an eye on things and will take even more drastic steps if necessary.

And that’s it for August! Join me next time where I’ll hopefully have moved successfully and it will still be warm enough for me to call it summer in September.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Bad ‘Mechs – Fireball

Fireball Eldoniousrex

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

Private Ensha heard the growling tone of his Fireball’s Streak SRM launcher as it locked onto the Toad leaping from cover. Secure in the knowledge that the missile’s homing seeker would find its target no matter what the Toad did, he pulled the trigger and sent two contrails spiraling into the flying battle armor. As expected, both struck home, sending the Elemental warrior crashing back to the ground.

Only to have that same Elemental warrior almost immediately pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and raise its own SRM launcher to fire back at Ensha’s ‘Mech. 

“What the fuck!” Ensha cried, half in dismay, half disbelief. He’d been told by various veterans in the Deneb Light Cavalry that Clan Elementals were tough, but even one of those missiles would have blown a hovercar to pieces. For the Clanner to survive two direct hits and then fire back was beyond unfair. 

Especially considering he only really had that Streak SRM launcher to deal with the Toads. Experience had already taught Ensha that firing the machine gun on his Fireball’s right shoulder was about as effective as getting out of his ‘Mech and taking on those armored monsters with a squirt gun.

Ensha locked onto another Toad and fired a second pair of Streak SRMs. Again, both hit, knocking the Elemental flat on its back. Zooming in on his external camera, Ensha saw the Elemental’s cracked faceplate as black ooze seeped in to rapidly fill the gaps. And just like the other Toad, this one shook itself off and came after him like an angry hornet, firing its laser to score a few hits on Ensha’s chest plate.

Panic was starting to set in. Ensha looked around and saw the other Fireballs in his lance were having similar trouble downing targets. Command had said these new ‘Mechs were specifically designed to take on Clan battle armor, with Ensha’s lance formed as a fast-response unit to deal with Elemental incursions. It was starting to look like someone in AFFC procurement hadn’t done enough research to verify those claims. 

When he saw his sergeant’s Fireball go down after two Elementals sawed their way through its arm, Ensha broke and ran. With a top speed of well over 180 km/h, at least his Fireball could take him away from danger faster than any ‘Mech in the Deneb Light Cavalry.


Fireball Evil Egg

Aside from vastly superior ‘Mechs and weapon designs, the Clan Invasion also introduced the Inner Sphere to an entirely new threat: Elementals. Clan warriors bred with superhuman strength and clad in powered armor that both augmented the Elemental’s inbred power and protected the warrior through advanced life support and automatic combat medications. In the early days of the Clan Invasion, single Elementals were known to have brought down entire ‘Mechs, smashing through thin cockpit armor and killing the pilot therein.

In response, the AFFC and the New Avalon Institute Of Science began rapidly prototyping ‘Mech designs that could effectively combat armored infantry. The Fireball was specifically designed to rapidly reach areas beset by Elementals and eliminate them before they could wreak havoc. Although an abject failure in its intended role, the Fireball’s outstanding speed eventually allowed it to become an exceptional scout and forward reconnaissance ‘Mech. 

The Fireball‘s defining characteristic is speed. With a running velocity of 184 km/h, the Fireball is one of the fastest ‘Mechs ever to come out of the Inner Sphere. NAIS scientists and Corean Enterprises engineers settled on four tons of standard armor as sufficient protection, and armed the Fireball with a single Streak SRM-2 and a machine gun to deal with Clan infantry. 

On paper, the Fireball seemed ideal. Unfortunately, by the time NAIS received accurate reports concerning the toughness of Elementals, it was already too late to modify the design. As such, the Fireball entered production with insufficient armament to be a true threat to Elementals, let alone satisfy its mission requirement of dispatching Elementals efficiently.

Fireball Card Art

In 3053, the first production runs started delivery to the Crucis Lancers, Deneb Light Cavalry, and Ceti Hussars, all regiments guarding the Lyran side of the Federated Commonwealth from incursions by Clan Wolf and Clan Jade Falcon. All three regiments often assigned their rookie pilots to newly delivered Fireballs in order to build experience against what was perceived as easy prey. 

It soon became clear that Elementals weren’t afraid of the new design. The Fireball‘s armament was found to be woefully inadequate in its first encounters with Elementals. Reports of Elementals dismissing machine gun fire and SRMs as they charged fearlessly towards quick-response Fireball lances often resulted in their pilots learning too late just how dangerous an Elemental could be. 

Having utterly failed in its intended role, the Fireball was quickly repurposed as a scout and reconnaissance ‘Mech, a task to which its almost ludicrous speed was far better suited. The Fireball became a common sight in scout lances during the FedCom Civil War, where both Lyran Alliance and Allied forces made use of the design as its factory on New Avalon changed hands. 

Corean Enterprises made several attempts to improve the Fireball after its disastrous initial deployment. The ALM-8D, introduced in 3054, replaced the Streak SRM-2 launcher with two medium lasers and an additional half-ton of armor. This was considered a vast improvement over the original and quickly became the new standard for regiments deployed against the Clans. The ALM-9D instead replaced the right-shoulder machine gun with a single medium laser and another half-ton of armor. This variant was more commonly given to raw recruits where the Streak SRM launcher’s targeting system would result in fewer wasted shots.

The ALM-10D, introduced in 3076, was a massive rework of the 8D variant. Adding MASC, Heavy Ferro-Fibrous armor, a targeting computer, and replacing the medium lasers with extended-range upgrades, the ALM-10D would begin production following New Avalon’s recapture from the World of Blake and remain in production into the Dark Age

Fireball

There is one other variant of the Fireball worth mentioning. Leaning into the design’s exceptional agility for illegal underground ‘Mech racing, the ALM-XF strips the Fireball down to just two ER small lasers and three tons of Ferro-Fibrous armor. The freed-up tonnage is then devoted to a massive 320 XXL engine, MASC, a Supercharger, and an XL gyro, providing the ALM-XF with a cruising speed of 240 km/h and a theoretical top speed of 400 km/h.

The Fireball offers a complicated legacy. Out-performed by newer scout ‘Mechs and designs purpose-built to deftly handle armored infantry, the Fireball‘s continuing presence can largely be attributed to Corean Enterprises maintaining Fireball production lines alongside its more famous ‘Mechs like the Centurion and Valkyrie. However, one can only assume that the Fireball will be the first production line to cease operations as soon as Corean engineers come up with a more competitive light scout.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For July 2022

Where British Columbia and Europe both suffer record high temperatures, it’s been uncharacteristically cool in Southern Ontario, and I feel like I’m being cheated out of my hot-hot summer. I haven’t needed to turn on the air conditioning, and I’ve even been writing these articles in sweatpants when I should be down to my skivvies. That’s just in case you were wondering what “business casual” is around here.

As always, we’ve got a Leopard DropShip’s-worth of news, so we don’t have time for me to complain about global warming tacitly avoiding my hometown just to force me to wear more clothes that I’d expect in July. Here’s what’s going on in the BattleTech world for July, 2022.

Catalyst Releases Third Founding Of The Clan Novels And Announces Store Credit For Missing Kickstarter Dice And Decks

Apparently Catalyst has had some trouble with the Clan Invasion Kickstarter’s insignia dice and pilot decks. For some backers, the dice weren’t of the expected quality while others were outright missing decks of pilots. Catalyst did say that they had a 96% successful fulfillment rate, which is pretty great considering this all happened during the whirlwind of the pandemic, but the company wants to make sure every backer is a satisfied customer.

Land of Dreams

To that end, Catalyst is now offering store credit for backers who pledged for either dice or decks. Those who had pledge rewards including insignia dice will receive at least $5 credit at the Catalyst store per pair of dice, and an additional $5 per order for the conversion to store credit. For missing decks, CGL has created the “Heroes of the Inner Sphere” deck, which will be received in addition to $15 store credit per missing deck. Those credits will be mailed out in the next few weeks. Give it a bit of time as there are 12,000 credits to be sent.

Catalyst also had some trouble getting the third Founding of the Clans book to backers as well. You can read the update on Kickstarter for the full story, but the climax is a Dropbox link that will provide backers with Land of Dreams and Jaguar’s Leap by Reed Bishop. I gotta say, putting the Starslayer on the cover of a BattleTech book is a gutsy move, but I’m all for it. 

Something Weird Is Going On With Everything BattleTech

Something is up with the Everything BattleTech group. Folks might have noticed an abrupt rebranding to “Everything Sci-Fi,” followed by this statement from Catalyst Games earlier this month. It seems that the BattleTech license holder, Fanatic (which acquired Topps earlier this year), had issues “regarding potential violations of the BattleTech rights and license.” Catalyst was contacted to discuss those issues with Everything BattleTech founder David Vivas, sending Line Developer Ray Arrastia to spearhead a “series of dialogues” with Vivas as well as other BattleTech communities.

Apparently things didn’t go well. Vivas rebranded the Everything BattleTech Facebook page to “Everything Sci-fi” and then again to just “EBT.” The Everything BattleTech Discord is currently voting on a more permanent solution, which includes fantastic suggestions like “OnlyMechs,” “Mecha Fight Club,” and “Republic of Mechs.” I’m a fan of OnlyMechs, personally.

Everything BattleTech

Catalyst’s statement doesn’t go into details, but it seems like the issue was largely surrounding the use of the name BattleTech specifically, especially on what was formerly known as the Everything BattleTech Patreon (which has now been renamed the David Vivas Patreon). The Everything BattleTech Discord server seems mostly unchanged outside of a few new channels that are helping with the rebranding effort.

The statement went on to explain Ray never made “any requirement for a comprehensive rebranding or retreat from the BattleTech fan space,” and the sudden rebranding came as a complete surprise. I reached out to Vivas for his side of the story, but he declined to comment. 

BattleTech has a long and complicated history when it comes to fan works and fan communities. Without knowing both sides of this story I won’t say whether this is just another case of an overly aggressive copyright holder or a group trying to cash in on the resurgence BattleTech has enjoyed over the past few years. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

Empire Alone Reveals First Conflicts Of The ilClan Era

In somewhat more exciting news from Catalyst, we’ve got a new sourcebook to talk about. Empire Alone is the second sourcebook of the ilClan era, telling the tale of what happens in the Wolf Empire while Alaric Ward is off conquering Terra and the year following his victory. The Free Worlds League sees an opportunity to recapture worlds lost to the Wolves, which risks putting Nikol Marik in a war against Clan Wolf and potentially every Clan that acknowledges Alaric as the leader of a new Star League. And then there’s Wolf’s Dragoons, weakened after assisting Clan Wolf in defeating the Jade Falcons and then snubbed by the new ilKhan. They might be licking their wounds, but an opportunity for revenge can’t be ignored.

Empire Alone runs from the year 3151 to mid-3152 and centers around the major events between the Free Worlds League and the Wolf Empire. It’s available now at retailers and on Catalyst’s store along with the new CountersPack: BattleForce, the perfect solution to large-scale engagements.

And finally, there’s a new mini. The Timber Wolf TC (“temporary configuration”) was designed to counter ComStar ambushes during the Battle of Tukayyid. It comes armed with two large pulse lasers, two ER medium lasers, two Streak SRM-6s, and a smaller ER laser in the left torso. It also has five jump jets to escape whatever trap ComStar lays. It worked pretty well, and the mini is now available on the Catalyst web store.

Oh, and I almost forgot: there’s a new novel out for you fiction lovers. A Question of Survival reveals how Clan Jade Falcon plans to repopulate its depleted warrior caste following their defeat at the hands of Clan Wolf. The Rasalhague Dominion falls squarely in the sights of Jiyi Chistu‘s forces, and several sibkos may suddenly find themselves growing up Falcons rather than as proud Ghost Bears

An Outdoor Market For The Best Cheapest ‘Mechs In The Inner sphere

Speaking of Empire Alone, our very own Eldoniousrex created some cool-ass art for the sourcebook. Not only did he do the cover, but he also did this great landscape of a Clan Sea Fox market. Note the Griffin IIC, a ‘Mech that proves the Clans can make a better Griffin that’s lighter, faster, more powerful, and even cheaper than the original. Now that’s a ‘Mech that’s worth every C-bill. He also has an absolutely incredible new t-shirt design that y’all should definitely buy.

The Perfect ‘Mech Might Just Be The Whitworth

Whitworth via fed0tich

Some of you might be wondering why I haven’t discussed the Whitworth in a Bad ‘Mechs article. That’s because I don’t think the Whitworth is actually bad. Sure it’s a little slow for a 40-ton ‘Mech, but it can still keep up with most regiments and fulfill its role as a rapid response fire support ‘Mech. It can help lay ambushes and leap away before the enemy can return fire. And when it gets caught by faster light ‘Mechs, its heavier armor and three medium lasers are just enough to defend itself. It’s actually really good.

So it warms my heart to see someone giving the Whitworth the attention it deserves with art courtesy of fed0tich. Catalyst still hasn’t deigned to officially redesign the Whitworth, but when they do, I sincerely hope it looks something like this. 

July’s MechWarrior Online Patch Adjusts Armor Skills And Enforces Group Maximums In Quick Play

MWO July 2022 Patch Notes

A small patch for MechWarrior Online in July. No big new map or new ‘Mechs, but there’s another quirk pass, some adjustments to skill nods, and a fix for the group play restrictions in Quick Play.

Let’s talk ‘Mechs. Wolfhounds, Javelins, Hunchbacks, and King Crabs have all had their quirks adjusted, with a few tweaks made to specific variants of the Jenner IIC, Phoenix Hawk, Trebuchet, Vapor Eagle, Mad Dog, Banshee, and Sun Spider. Inner Sphere Gauss Rifles have also had their cooldown reduced to make them a little more competitive against their Clan counterparts.

Several skills have been adjusted. Hill Climb skills now actually work and make it easier to climb hills (whereas before this skill did absolutely nothing). Reinforced Casing, Torso Pitch, and Torso Yaw have all been increased, and both Armor Hardening and Skeletal Density skill nodes have been buffed across the board for ‘Mechs larger than 60 tons. There’s a specific chart in the patch notes that describes how each node changes depending on your ‘Mech’s tonnage.

Another big fix deals with Quick Play, by far the most common way to play MechWarrior Online. Group maximums have once again been brought back, meaning no team can have more than a single four-stack or a two-stack and three-stack. Previously, games were a little wonky as solo players were being matched against multiple teams, which often resulted in some terribly one-sided matches. Hopefully your matches will fare a little better.

There’s still a free giveaway going on in MechWarrior Online where you can grab a free Hero ‘Mech for earning 250 loot bags. You can easily get 10-12 loot bags in a single match, so it’s not too hard to get a free Hero ‘Mech, plus all the ‘Mech credits, C-bills, consumables, skill points, and more being given away in each loot bag. The loot bag event is on until August 4.

MechWarrior 5 Makes It Easier To Find A Yen Lo Wang

Yen-Lo-Wang MW5

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries has also received a new patch. This one is mostly game fixes, but there’s at least an adjustment being made to the spawn rates of the CN9-YLW2 Yen-Lo-Wang and BL-P-KNT2 Black Knight to make them a little more commonplace in your next playthrough. There’s also memory optimizations for both Xbox and PlayStation, and some helpful mod updates for tagging assets and tweaking player aim assist. You can check out the patch notes here to see what annoying bug you hated most just got squashed.

Explain To Me How This Even Works

Boombox Atlas via HighlighterFTW

Nevermind all the incredible talent that goes into creating a kitbash like this--I just wanna know how the hell an Atlas is supposed to fire what appears to be the LRM-15 packs of a Catapult that were unceremoniously ripped from the 65-ton ‘Mech’s body and are now being used as a giant external launcher. Does it press a ‘Mech-sized button on the side that says “FIRE ZE MISSILES” or does it just kick out the jams and beatbox its way to a swarm of fiery death? Explain this to me, Reddit user HighlighterFTW. I’m dying to know.

Renegade HPG Talks To Bruce Patnaude

Comic Artist BRUCE PATNAUDE Talks BattleTech | Gallery 3025 LIVE Q&A
Watch this video on YouTube.

Those who follow Gallery 3025 on Patreon (and you really should be) might have noticed a few recent pieces courtesy of Bruce Patnaude, a comic artist with a style very reminiscent of some of BattleTech’s earliest source books. You can see all of Patnaude’s pieces over on Gallery 3025, but we showcased two of them in last month’s news roundup.

To get an idea for Patnaude’s creative process, Renegade HPG’s Travis Gardner (who also runs Gallery 3025) sat down with him to talk about some of the fine work he’s been doing for the gallery. You should definitely check out the video above, and we hope to see more of Patnaude’s fabulous work in the future.

And that’s it for July! Join us again next month where Sarna provides you with all the BattleTech news that’s safe for human consumption.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Bad ‘Mechs – Hellbringer

Hellbringer

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

“Khan Lassenerra has directed us to create a new heavy OmniMech. And he has… ordered this BattleMech to be completed within six months.” 

Each of the scientists and techs within the Hell’s Horses boardroom had different expressions after this announcement. Some looked down in solemn contemplation, a few stared back at Scientist Hyun in open-mouthed astonishment for the exceptionally short timeline. One threw his tablet on the table and lit a cigarette in direct defiance of the Star Captain’s “no smoking” ordinance. 

Technician Samson picked up his jaw before whispering, “That’s… not nearly enough time.” 

“Contractions, Samson,” barked Hyun. “Nevertheless, we do as the Khan commands. Ideas?” 

The boardroom was met with utter silence for several uncomfortably long moments. Then, a voice from the back: “We could use the lower assembly of the new Summoner chassis?” 

Hyun squinted. The voice was too far away to discern the source. Perhaps calling an all-hands meeting for a single ‘Mech design was not the wisest course of action. “And why would we do that?”

“Because you said this needed to be developed quickly,” came the sheepish reply. “Well, that is half the design right there.” 

There were a few nods, and Hyun conceded the point. They needed to move fast and starting from a proven design was a boon she couldn’t deny. They needed all the help they could get.

“This limits the design’s potential capacity, but it is a start,” Hyun said. “Now, let us discuss payload.” 

Hellbringer

From there, the boardroom descended into utter chaos. A section of the scientists demanded anti-personnel pods and machine guns for urban combat. A contingent of techs suggested an Active Probe and ECM to counter the growing threat of electronic warfare within the clans. A scientist at the far end simply shrieked “AMS”, prompting Hyun to write the acronym on her datapad without really considering either the source or purpose of such a suggestion. 

“And, let us be frank, our MechWarriors are not the best of the Clans,” Samson said during a brief lull in the brainstorming furor. “A Targeting Computer would be most helpful for our warriors.” 

“Agreed,” Hyun said, adding the technology to the long list of suggested equipment. “We have yet to discuss actual weapons.” 

The room once again fell silent. Then another voice from a distant corner of the packed room said what everyone was already thinking. 

“Twin particle cannons, a short-range missile launcher, and several medium lasers?” 

“Brilliant,” Hyun said with a smile. “Get this down to our engineers. We have a prototype to build.” 

As the room cleared, a single scientist stayed in her chair, staring at the notes she’d taken during the manic planning session. In theory, this new ‘Mech would be able to meet the demands of any battlefield–a true OmniMech. Only she couldn’t help but think that this design was slightly unfocused. And there was the nagging feeling that they were all forgetting something vitally important… 


Academics that have studied the Clans find the Hellbringer (also known as the Loki to Inner Sphere MechWarriors) to be a bit of an oddity. Its primary configuration comes with a litany of performance-enhancing equipment that most Clan MechWarriors would consider questionable, if not outright dishonorable. An anti-missile system, ECM, and anti-personnel pods provides the Hellbringer with additional defenses, while a Targeting Computer and Active Probe ensure the Hellbringer pilot can engage enemy ‘Mechs effectively in almost all circumstances. 

Hellbringer MWO

However, Clan Hell’s Horses wasn’t about to sacrifice the Hellbringer’s potential weapons capacity in order for it to mount this additional equipment. In order to ensure the Hellbringer could keep pace with similar ‘Mechs in the Clan’s touman, the ‘Mech was forced to maintain a running speed of 86.4 kph. That left armor protection as the only element engineers could scale back, leaving the Hellbringer with an abnormally light shell of just eight tons of standard armor. 

Hells Horses’ engineers were also perhaps too focused on the Hellbringer’s speedy development to remember that its mostly energy-based weapons would need to be offset by heatsinking capacity. The Hellbringer‘s 13 double heat sinks allow it to shrug off some of the heat generated by its twin ER PPCs, but not all, and it’s certainly not enough to cool the ‘Mech down if the pilot starts firing its trio of ER medium lasers

Despite these flaws, the Hellbringer would go on to become a popular ‘Mech, especially with Clan Jade Falcon MechWarriors. First introduced in 2926, the Hellbringer was disseminated to most Clans thanks to Hell’s Horses leadership gifting the design for political favors. By the time of the Inner Sphere invasion, it was a common enough sight amongst the invading Clans to be designated Loki by Captain Galen Cox for its “utterly mad” configuration. 

While the primary configuration of the Hellbringer maintained a mostly energy-based weapons payload, alternate configurations lean more heavily towards ammo-dependent armaments. The A configuration retains the Active Probe and machine guns but swaps the SRM launcher and ER PPCs for twin ER large lasers, an Ultra AC/5, and an LRM-20. The ECM, Targeting Computer, and anti-personnel pods were swapped for a NARC Missile Beacon for improved accuracy of nearby fire-support units–another strange addition for a society that values honorable single combat.

Newer configurations of the Hellbringer tend to eschew the specialist equipment to devote more of its 28 tons of pod space to weapons. Interestingly, the Hellbringer‘s dissemination also included Inner Sphere armies, with the G configuration sporting an Inner Sphere-built Improved Heavy Gauss Rifle. By the Dark Age era, Clan Sea Fox readily provided the aging Hellbringer to any customer willing to pay for it.  

hellbringer A

Amongst the Home Clans, however, the Hellbringer has largely been replaced by the Ebon Jaguar, a superior design that offers similar speed and firepower with far greater armor protection while maintaining a 65-ton gross weight. In 3121, the Jade Falcons attempted to improve their favored design with the Loki Mk II. Also known as the Hel, the Loki Mk II drops the Hellbringer‘s engine to a 260XL (resulting in a running speed of 64 kph) to devote even more of its pod space to weapons. The primary Loki Mk II configuration mounts twin Gauss Rifles alongside twin ER Large Lasers with a Streak SRM-4 for lighter targets. The Hel’s B configuration is even more powerful thanks to a Long Tom artillery cannon mounted in the right arm. Ferro-Fibrous armor improves the Hel‘s protection over its progenitor, but it still remains a relatively fragile heavy ‘Mech. 

The Hellbringer marks a logical extreme for Clan designs emphasizing offense and mobility over defense. While the Hellbringer‘s primary configuration offers its pilots a curious array of equipment, most would likely be better served by a few more armor plates. Today, Hellbringers are the preferred mount for elderly Clan ‘MechWarriors looking to die in a blaze of glory or younger warriors too foolish to consider their own mortality.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For June, 2022

June is the best month. The start of summer brings the heat, while the month of Pride brings back the festival atmosphere that has been missing from Toronto for the past two years. Not that I’m willing to bake myself in the sun for hours just to watch a bunch of scantily-clad dudes walk down Yonge Street, but it’s still a nice return to normalcy.

Speaking of normalcy, it’s the end of the month, and that means it’s time for your regularly schedule BattleTech update! Let’s get started!

Call To Arms Hits MechWarrior 5 Like A Hatchet

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries DLC 3 Call to Arms Launch Trailer
Watch this video on YouTube.

We’ll start off with something that you likely already know from our previous reporting, but MechWarrior 5‘s third (and possibly last) DLC is available now. Building on the melee combat added in Legend of the Kestrel Lancers, Call to Arms adds a whole armory’s worth of melee weapons to MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. Quickdraws are a lot scarier when they’re comin’ at you with a giant sword instead of an LRM-10.

In addition, Call to Arms adds several new biomes, 23 new “weapon-focused” ‘Mech variants, five new weapon-focused Hero ‘Mechs, and a small quest to retrieve the Hatchetman on behalf of some Lyran rebels. Contract tonnage is also a lot more flexible, and dying will just mean swapping to another MechWarrior in your lance. 

As for what’s coming next, I have no idea and everything is pure speculation at this point. But if this is truly the last MechWarrior 5 expansion, the modders are finally free to go buckwild with this game, and that’s pretty exciting on its own. 

Someone Is Making A BattleTech Player-Finder App

BattleSpots

As we emerge from the COVID pandemic, people are naturally looking to be more social. And what better way to be more social than to find a bunch of like-minded BattleTech fans to play the hit tabletop game? I’ve been seeing a lot of folks posting pictures of all those fancy new minis and complaining about not having anyone to play with, but a new app might soon eliminate that problem.

Reddit user vonseiten posted to the BattleTech subreddit their idea for a BattleTech Player-Finder and Battlereport app. Called “BattleSpots,” the app seems to be powered by another app called Spotteron, which basically just lets you geolocate other people using the app under certain categories. There’s a Discord up for those lookin’ to sign up, provide feedback, or to answer any questions you have with how the whole thing works. 

BattleSpots is available now on Google and iOS. The official site will link you to the Google Play and App Store pages.

Myomer Muscles Inch Closer To Reality

Myomer

We’ve seen a few stories about technological breakthroughs in material science that made Myomer Muscle-like fibers, but this most recent paper published in Nature Nano seems the closest yet to commercial applications. 

Researchers at Texas U. at Austin and Penn State University have created a block copolymer (fiber material) that assembles itself in water, making it easier to create than previous fibers. These fibers are also 75% more efficient than current electrical actuators, and up to 900% tougher too. Best of all, the fibers are recyclable, meaning it’s easy to reverse their water-born assembly to be used in other applications. Apparently, the researchers were initially looking for a new material to make water filtration membranes, but instead they discovered a material that could have massive applications in both robotics and medicine. 

As usual, this is all still in the research stages and hasn’t actually seen any real-world applications. But I’m hopeful for some cool bionics by the time I need my hip replaced. You can read more about these fibers over at the University of Texas’s website.

Aerospace Hangar Bay By Bruce Patnaude

Aerospace Hangar Bay By Bruce Patnaude

We’ve got two pieces from Gallery 3025 to share this month, and both of them are by artist Bruce Patnaude. The first, shown above, depicts a busy hangar bay full of Aerospace pilots undergoing preflight checks. These fighters appear to be Sholagars, but my knowledge of Drac spacers is not particularly extensive. Correct me on this one if I’m wrong. 

If you want to see more, be sure to visit the Gallery 3025 Patreon and sign up for as little as $2 a month. 

DOS Game Club Dives Deep Into MechWarrior 2 In Latest Podcast

mechwarrior_2_cover

Emil from The Art of BattleTech recently guest starred on the DOS Game Club podcast where the subject of the episode was MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat. The game that truly catapulted the series to its legendary status and cemented ‘Mech combat as its own video game genre, DOS Game Club spent just over three hours discussing the development, gameplay, and legacy of MechWarrior 2. It also started with the audio of the intro cinematic, which brings back so many memories even without the visuals. 

I knew quite a bit of the development of MechWarrior 2 from a deep dive into the 1995 classic from a few years ago, some of which was discussed during the podcast, but a lot of it was MechWarrior 2’s overall gameplay and its contribution to gaming history. No spoilers, just listen to the podcast. And of course, check out The Art of BattleTech on Twitter for even more tidbits (and some great art) from your favorite BattleTech games.

More LAMs For The LAM God

Phoenix Hawk LAM commission from battletech

We recently discussed the Phoenix Hawk LAM in a recent Bad ‘Mechs article, although the Phoenix Hawk was probably the best LAM ever produced. It never quite looked as well as it performed, which is why we can thank Reddit user fedOtich for giving the Phoenix Hawk LAM a well-deserved makeover.

Despite the quality of the image, it doesn’t seem to have created any LAM converts, judging by the comments. I’m still of the mind that LAMs should stick with their anime roots, but maybe if they had designs like this one I’d change my mind. 

UrbanMech, UrbanMech, Doing Exactly What An UrbanMech Does

UrbanMech Thumper Gallery 3025

Our second Bruce Patnaude piece showcases the venerable UrbanMech in its natural environment. It occurs to me we still haven’t discussed the severe restrictions placed on the UrbanMech due to its awful performance in several key BattleMech metrics, but I’m sure we’ll get to it eventually. It’s gotta be special for this little trashcan. 

MechWarrior Online Adds The Crusader In Latest Update

MechWarrior Online Crusader

Ever since the Unseen drama ended with the designs returning to BattleTech, fans have asked for the Crusader to be added to MechWarrior Online almost as much as they did the Rifleman, Marauder, and Warhammer. For some reason, those requests were… I don’t want to say “ignored,” but definitely filed for later consideration, which has taken years for those requests to finally be considered. And now, the Crusader is finally in MechWarrior Online.

Added in the latest patch, the Crusader comes in four different variants (the CRD-3R, 5K, 5M, and 7L) as well as the “Crael” Hero variant. All variants get +10 armor to the torso and legs as well as +15 armor for each arm, bringing it to rough parity with other Inner Sphere heavy ‘Mechs in terms of toughness. I’m no ‘Mech guru so I couldn’t tell you what the meta variants will be, but I’m lookin’ at the 3R for that extra top speed. 

June’s update also brings an all-new map to MechWarrior Online. Vitric Station is based on the Vitric Forge Faction Play map, which is a high-tech installation located on a red planet. High ground snipe lines are interrupted by larger structures in the middle along with ramps to bridges that will provide light ‘Mechs with quick access to enemy positions. It looks like teams will spawn on either end of the map and then clash in either the dense urban environment of the upper section or fire across chasms in the lower area. The shimmering blue sun is a nice touch. 

Snub Nose PPCs, Heavy Gauss Rifles, and Light Machine Guns have all been buffed, while ER PPCs have been nerfed. For the rest of the balance changes and the few ‘Mechs that have received slight quirk adjustments, check out the patch notes here

Zeus. Just Zeus.

One more before bed. Here is a Zeus. from battletech

I love the Zeus. It’s not not quite a bad ‘Mech, but having that AC/5 on the 6S model gives it a hint of that bad ‘Mech flavor. But the design just oozes charm, from those massive shoulders to the distinctive cockpit to that iconic arm-mounted missile launcher. There’s a reason why the Zeus is a classic that’s withstood the test of time. 

Here’s a Zeus courtesy of meltdonw14 on the BattleTech subreddit. It gives me the vibe of something you’d see in the middle pages of one of the earlier BattleTech novels back when they still had a few illustrations in them.

Lego Cicada Go Brrrr

Just a personal render this time, for one of the heroes in my Current Battletech (2018) run, so here, enjoy my best Melee/Flank alpha striker. The Cicada :D from battletech

We haven’t heard from the Lego BattleTech fans in a little while, so here’s a Lego Cicada from Shotgunfrenzy. The Cicada is just one of those ‘Mechs that can’t stay down despite being an objectively terrible design. I’m not sure why I haven’t covered it in a Bad ‘Mechs piece, but I’m sure the Cicada‘s day is coming. 

But you can’t deny that the Cicada is a ‘Mech with an unmistakable style. You know when you’re fighting a Cicada that it’s probably just going to run away until it can lull you into a false sense of security and then stab you in the back with it’s two medium lasers. Plus, you can never really tell if the lasers are coming from the arms or the side torsos. A mysterious ‘Mech, the Cicada.

Gaming Jay’s Crescent Hawk’s-Inspired Retro BattleTech Game Is Now Available For Download

Battle Mercs Public Alpha Release Stream – Crescent Hawks Fan Game
Watch this video on YouTube.

Earlier this month, we sat down with Gaming Jay to discuss his personal fan project creating a new version of the classic Crescent Hawk’s games. Called Battle Mercs, the game combines the metagame features of the Crescent Hawk’s games with an updated real-time combat engine that’s been compared favorably to Faster Than Light’s. Gaming Jay had been looking for private alpha testers earlier in the month, but now he’ll be looking to gather more data thanks to Battle Merc’s first public release. 

Head on over to Gaming Jay’s Google Drive to pick up your free public alpha. Keep in mind that this is still an alpha version of Battle Mercs, so it likely won’t be entirely feature complete and there might be a few bugs to contend with. Jay is looking for feedback, so be sure to join the Battle Mercs Discord to discuss the game.

Well-Equipped Mercenaries Choose The Bombardier For All Their Fire Support Needs

Double Trouble from battletech

I mostly wanted to bring attention to this piece by SU-SMD of Reddit user SupriseFormer’s merc company due to the Bombardier in the background. In an era where Archers are literally a dime a dozen, it’s nice to see the Bombardier strut its stuff. There’s also a Valkyrie, a ‘Mech that deserves more credit than it’s given, and a Marauder but for me, it’s the Bombardier the show. 

Yes, This Is A Hammerhead Miniature You Need To Buy 

Hammerhead Model

And just in the nick of time, Catalyst comes in with some great new products for June. The Hammerhead just got its first ever miniature design and that’s something worth celebrating. A 45-ton ‘Mech made by Clan Sea Fox during the Dark Age, the Hammerhead was a workhorse design that was sold far and wide. It’s Hardened Armor made it tougher than any sub-50-ton design ought to be, and its spread of energy weapons and Streak SRMs made it a threat to nearly anything at long range.

All profit from Hammerhead sales are being directed to cover the healthcare costs of one of the owners of Iron Wind Metals who has sadly been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Catalyst has also brought back the Warrior Trilogy in both hardcover and leatherback cover forms, and there’s a new novel from Bryan Young on the horizon. A Question of Survival will focus on Clan Jade Falcon’s efforts to rebuild after their loss on Terra, with the easiest way to replacing dead MechWarriors is to simply take them from a neighboring Clan. Expect A Question of Survival to receive a release date soon.

And that’s it for June! Join us next month for all the BattleTech news that’s fit for human consumption (and some that’s only been rated for dogs and cats).

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Bad ‘Mechs – Hoplite

Courtesy of Eldonious Rex

“This thing is the coolest ‘Mech you’ll ever drop feet-first into a firefight.” 

The claim sounded dubious even as the ‘Mech salesman attempted to accentuate the point with several slaps to the Hoplite‘s shin armor. Lieutenant Brooke Casia, executive officer of the Crimson Tigers mercenary company, was in the market after having her Centurion shot out from under her during her last contract. The squat ‘Mech certainly didn’t appear “cool” by her standards, looking more like a cleaning drone that had grown legs and an autocannon.

“Alright,” Casia offered with a sigh, “what’s so ‘cool’ about it?”

“The air-conditioning!” Another set of slaps once rang off the Hoplite‘s hull while the salesman laughed at his own pun. “Plus, this ‘Mech has sixteen whole heat sinks. You could fire everything this bad boy has while running full-tilt through a desert and you’ll be cool as a cucumber inside the cockpit.” 

This was enough for Casia to raise an eyebrow at least. She’d never enjoyed the sauna-like temperatures that ‘Mech combat frequently produced. A ‘Mech that couldn’t overheat would be an asset.

Hoplite

But there’s always a catch, Casia thought. “I can see an autocannon port here,” she pointed at the Hoplite‘s right arm, “and five missile ports here,” she pointed again at the launcher jutting from beneath the ‘Mechs cockpit. “This thing got anything else in terms of firepower?” 

The question seemed to finally reign in the ‘Mech salesman’s enthusiasm. “What you see is what you get,” he said. Casia noted this statement was made without a single slap.

“So that’d be, what, a 10-class autocannon and an LRM-5 launcher? Not exactly standing up to my old Centurion. Does it go faster at least?” 

Now the salesman seemed utterly crestfallen. “Same running speed as the Centurion. And before you ask, no, it doesn’t have any jump jets either.” 

Casia blinked. “Alright, so what does it have over a Centurion?” 

“About three tons of armor. That’s it.” 

“So you’re saying I lose half my firepower, a battle fist, and the ability to shoot upward without tilting the whole damned ‘Mech for just three tons of armor?” Casia ended the question with a slap to the Hoplite‘s other shin. It seemed far more intimidating than encouraging coming from her.

The ‘Mech salesman winced as though physically struck. He could already tell that this sale was as good as gone. “Ah, well, we do have other ‘Mechs’ in our garage…” 


While later Star League ‘Mechs often pushed boundaries in search of a technological edge, the Hoplite was born in the League’s early years, well before the rise of the massive industrial complex that would produce such unnecessary machines as the Charger and the Assassin. The Hoplite was designed and built to fulfill a specific military requirement for the least possible expense. As such, the Hoplite is a simple, rugged, and dependable ‘Mech that achieves its objective and little else.

Hoplite

Introduced by Martinson Armaments in the year 2758, the Hoplite is an infantry support ‘Mech. The HOP-4D comes armed with a dual-purpose LB 10-X Autocannon and a five-rack LRM launcher. The autocannon is effective against almost all targets, able to fire single slug rounds at armored targets and scatter-shot against infantry and light-armored vehicles. The LRM-5 launcher offers infantry with long-range suppressive fire and counter-battery fire on a mobile chassis. The Hoplite is durable, with an impressive eleven and a half tons of armor that allow it to withstand withering fire in order to protect Star League infantry, but its ability to combat enemy ‘Mechs is somewhat lacking. 

Although the LB 10-X is a reliable weapon, its limited ammunition and lack of secondary weapons make it vulnerable should the autocannon become disabled. The LRM-5 launcher is sufficient to support infantry, but most ‘Mechs will find it a minor nuisance at worst. The Hoplite can take serious punishment, but its inability to return that punishment ultimately makes it vulnerable in the modern battlefield.

Back in its heyday, however, the Hoplite was a popular machine. Part of that was due to the simplicity of the design: without arms, pilots didn’t have to learn how to control upper limbs, and with a curiously high number of heatsinks–16, in fact–pilots also didn’t have to worry about heat build-up. The Hoplite could fire all of its weapons until its ammo bins ran dry while running over a volcanically active mudflat and never have to worry about spiking its heat gauge. Combined with its massive armor and simple weapons loadout, Star League MechWarriors often considered Hoplite pilots just a step above tankers.

Star League generals, however, loved the Hoplite. It was a cheap, no-nonsense machine that was ideal for bolstering forces and filling out billet slots. The SLDF eventually came to possess thousands of the dependable machines, and many examples could be found in Alexander Kerensky‘s forces prior to their flight from the Inner Sphere. In fact, the design was so common during the Star League era that Wolf’s Dragoons thought it would be an innocuous design that wouldn’t arouse suspicion during its mission to spy on the Great Houses. Little did they know that the Hoplite had actually died out during the Succession Wars precisely because of its popularity with military leaders.

Hop-4bb Hoplite

The only notable variant was the HOP-4B, which replaced the AC/10 with a PPC and upgraded the LRM-5 to an LRM-15. This gave the ‘Mech better long-range engagement and improved firepower. A Star League “Royal” variant of the HOP-4B was also produced, adding Artemis IV tracing to the LRM launcher, Guardian ECM, CASE, double heat sinks, and an anti-missile system

The Hoplite would once again become a dying breed after Wolf’s Dragoons cut ties with the Clan Homeworlds in 3020. By the Jihad era, the Hoplite was again facing extinction, both due to a lack of factories creating replacement parts and due to the fact the Hoplite had long been outclassed by more contemporary designs. Even during the Star League era, ‘Mechs like the Griffin, Shadow Hawk, and Wolverine offered similar firepower with far greater mobility, and most skilled generals knew that mobility was the key to winning conflicts. 

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Community Outreach – Gaming Jay And His Crescent Hawk’s Style Remake

Battle Mercs Green world

Welcome back to Community Outreach, the ongoing series where Sarna reaches out to the BattleTech community to see what makes it such a vibrant and evolving place. Last month, I found out about Gaming Jay’s personal project to remake The Crescent Hawks’ games for modern audiences, so I decided to sit down with Gaming Jay to find out more about Battle Mercs and what fans can expect from this retro-inspired BattleTech game. Enjoy. 

Sarna (Sean): I’ve played Crescent Hawks’ Inception, so I know a bit about what this game is likely about. What made you want to make a Crescent Hawks’-style game? And just how much is it like Crescent Hawks’ Inception/Revenge in terms of gameplay?

Gaming Jay: So the Crescent Hawks’ Inception was my first exposure to BattleTech as a kid. When I was little my uncle had a computer in the basement with a tray of disks and I would just leaf through and try random games. One day, I discovered The Crescent Hawks’ Inception and I was blown away. I loved the mix of RPG and tactical elements, the graphics were amazing for the time, and there was so much to explore. For years I played the game and wished, just wished that there was a sequel. A few years later I was on vacation with my parents and I walked into a random computer store and on the shelf, I saw something called the BattleTech Powerhits. I picked up the box and was shocked to find there was a sequel: The Crescent Hawks’ Revenge (also MechWarrior 1). I begged my parents to buy the game for me and they did. I spent the rest of that vacation reading the instruction manuals and plotting how I was going to actually install the game on my computer when I got home since it came on CD and I didn’t own a CD drive. Anyway, The Crescent Hawks’ Revenge quickly became one of my all-time favorite games. I played it over and over and especially loved the free battle Training Field they give you at the end of the game. My only gripe was that I wish the open gameplay at the end allowed different maps and maybe incorporated some of the mercenary system from MechWarrior 1 (which I also played to death).

Years and years later, my love for these three games never went away, and I always dreamed that a sequel existed to Crescent Hawks’ Inception that combined the best elements of CHR and MW1. In high school, I actually did program a game that played a lot like CHR, however, I never fully finished it. A while ago I found the old game and showed it on my YouTube channel and people really were blown away at the time. The bug got planted in my mind after that, and shortly thereafter I started work on a prototype. That prototype became a CHR combat engine. I expanded that with a CHI RPG engine, and then eventually a MW1 style contract and Inner-Sphere-travel system, and before you knew it, I had started to make my dream game.

Battle Mercs Beach Fight

In terms of how much CHI is in the game; a lot! The game recreates everything from CHI except for the RPG combat (although that may come down the line). But yes, people can design full RPG adventures, create interesting scenarios or unique planets or environments, and using some basic .json scripts just go nuts in creating whatever they want. Once you jump into actual ‘Mech combat the game plays like an updated version of CHR. It is a real-time combat game but you’re supposed to pause frequently and micro-manage (think Faster Than Light). Lastly, you can travel the Inner Sphere, and take contracts from any major house, live through years 3025 to 3050, fight the Clans, find Star League ‘Mechs, and even fight in arenas on Solaris VII or less reputable arenas on Dustball or other planets.

The other cool thing about the game is that it’s fully customizable. The game is intentionally designed such that all the gameplay mechanics draw from .json files. People can make their own campaigns with their own .json files that can change everything from what kinds of weapons are in the game, to what kinds of units to how the RPG segments work, to what options you get when you select units in combat, to what planets or factions are available. Even though I wanted to make my dream game, I wanted my game to be something people could change and mod, and make their own unique visions within.

Sarna: So this is all pretty amazing. Is this a home-built engine, or is it based on some other game engine? The FTL enhancements are a great touch to bring this game up to more modern standards, and I love the 3025-3050 era personally. 

Battle Mercs Black Market

Gaming Jay: The engine is 100% home-built. It’s written in PyGame, which is a game add-on library for Python. And yes, FTL is one of my favorite modern games. I really love how that game handles combat. It’s all real-time but you can still micro-manage everything very well, yet it still feels frantic when a lot is happening. I have tried to bring other small improvements to the game to help it feel more modern in control yet retain its obvious retro charm.

Sarna: Are you planning to create your own campaign, or are you just going to throw this out into the world to let people build off of?

Gaming Jay: So what I’d like to do for the game is to produce a fairly elaborate campaign as a bit of a showcase, to both give the game a good starting campaign and also show off what the scripts are capable of doing. In this way, people can look at my scripts if they want to know how I made a certain special mission, and then use them as an example to build their own campaigns and ideas. As for the campaign I want to include, I’d like it to be a reimagining of the Crescent Hawks’ story, essentially retelling their tale in this modern engine

Sarna: With the 3050-era available, you could replace the Draconis Combine attack with a Clan invasion. This way you’d also give players access to Clan tech. Speakin’ of tech, how many ‘Mechs have you got in this game so far, and how many do you ultimately plan on having? 

Gaming Jay: So long story short, yes the Clan invasion is a playable part of the game even right now. It’s not very detailed at the moment but could easily become more detailed. 

As for mechs in the game, pretty much every Inner Sphere mech from 3025 and 3050 is in the game. The 2750 Star League era mechs are also in the game (though hidden right now since only ComStar has access to them). The Clan OmniMechs and IIC variants from the 3050 invasion are all also in the game. At the moment I probably am not planning to add any more myself, but as I mentioned, the game is moddable so other adventurous BattleTech fans could add more mechs themselves (and more eras!)

Battle Mercs Country Fight

Sarna: Did you take assets from the original game or did you recreate all these pixel images yourself? 

Gaming Jay: Currently the assets in the game are mostly from the Crescent Hawks’ games, yes. Though the mech models came from a free set I found online, a really amazing set actually. They are several years old and the creator encouraged people to use them in games. I tried to reach out to him to get in contact but all his contact info (at least that I could find) seemed to be out of date, so I wasn’t able to track him down. The in-game ‘Mech units are about half from The Crescent Hawks’ Revenge and half my creations based on CHR. I’m not a great pixel artist mind you, so they look a little rough and cobbled together. One thing I would love to happen at some point is to get a pixel artist (or a few) to help give the game a fresh graphical makeover. I don’t want to fully change the look of it or anything (I love the retro, pixelated charm of the graphics currently), but it would be nice if the game’s graphics were more original than just lifted from the CH games.

Sarna: And using something that’s not lifted from a super old game would be better for copyright issues, although Crescent Hawks’ Inception is so old that it might be public domain at this point. 

So there’s still the Clan Invasion campaign and MechWarrior campaign to finish, what else is still needed to get this game to what you’d consider a finished state?

Battle Mercs Ice World

Gaming Jay: Haha totally agree. That’s one reason why I still consider it an alpha, since it has so many graphics that I really think of as just stand-in. I mean truthfully BattleTech itself is owned by someone who’s not me so even with unique sprites there are still copyright issues! :)

Anyway, I’ve been working with a dedicated gang of testers to root out as many bugs as possible. So it’s reaching a stable point. At that point, the only major thing left would be to add in mission varieties. Right now it’s all search and destroy but I’d like guard missions, attack missions, recon missions, raid missions, the whole gamut. It shouldn’t always just be “go have a slugfest!”

At that point, I just need to finish the campaign so there’s at least one stock campaign with the game and it would be ready I think. I’m sure there may be more small changes along the way and even after this seeming final stage, but that’s always the way

I’d also like to establish some kind of wiki or make a few tutorials on things like making maps and making campaign levels, editing units or factions, or making star maps. As I’ve said, I want this to be something other people can add to with their own campaigns and stories and mods, so that would be one of the final steps. In my mind that would be the point where I’m giving the game over to the community to develop to their hearts’ content. I would look forward to sort of stepping back from the game a bit and just trying other people’s campaigns and maps at that point.

Sarna: What’s your favorite ‘Mech and why? The all-important question of course.

Battle Mercs Mech Market

Gaming Jay: Favorite ‘Mech is the Marauder. From the first time I saw it in a technical manual I just loved the look and load out of it. As a kid, I thought PPCs were just the ultimate weapon and this beast was rocking 2 with a totally unique frame and look. How can you go wrong?

Sarna: Have you played any other BattleTech games? And if so, would perhaps any of them be a good fit for a Crescent Hawks’-style translation into your project?

Gaming Jay:  And yes I played almost everything BattleTech I could get my hands on when I was younger. MechWarrior 1 and 2 (including all the add-ons like Ghost Bear’s Legacy and Mercs), MechCommander, and even the Xbox MechWarrior games which I’m blanking on the name of. Truthfully though, although I loved MechWarrior 1 and 2, I never loved that franchise as much as the tactical games. Since the gaming industry went heavily in the MechWarrior direction I stopped keeping up with BattleTech games after a while. That is until Harebrained Schemes launched their turn-based BATTLETECH game. I was a Kickstarter backer on that and boy, that game did not disappoint. I believe that game is probably the ultimate BattleTech game and when it launched I actually spent 36 hours straight playing it. I kept saying, one more mission, one more mission, until eventually night became morning and I could hear the birds outside. 

As for whether any of these past games could get a reimagining as a campaign in Battle Mercs, I suppose any could, but of course, something like MechCommander or MechWarrior 2 would be a bit of a demake. MechWarrior 1 could be possible, though it would shift genres from a first-person game into a tactical game in the process. So I’m not sure. The Crescent Hawks‘ games are the most obvious ones to translate. I’m sure others could be done, but no real plans to do any others for the time being.

Sarna: Anything else you’d like to add? Feel free to get shamelessly self-promoty. 

Gaming Jay: I don’t currently have a website for it but I run a YouTube channel and, though the main focus isn’t on game development, I will be doing a few videos on the game eventually over there. So folks can always connect with me that way. I’m hopeful that this summer I’ll be able to put out a public alpha on the BattleTech subreddit as well as on my channel. So yeah, those are the two best ways for folks to find me or see the project when it’s ready. I have a Discord for the alpha right now which I’ll probably make public when the public alpha does launch but I’ll mention that when the alpha does come out.

Battle Mercs Unit Setup

Thank you, Gaming Jay! I’ll be keeping an eye out for that public alpha when Battle Mercs goes live.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

Your BattleTech News Roundup For May, 2022

May showers have brought both flowers and flies, which for some reason have all come out and are buzzing around in my room as I write this. I’d be upset if I didn’t consider this to be the sound of summer.

As always, we got a ton of BattleTech news to get through, so let’s dive right in before this fly finds my beer. Ah, fuck, he’s already in there! Stupid flies…

MechWarrior 5 DLC Call To Arms Gets Pricing And Release Date

Last month, we found out MechWarrior 5‘s third DLC will be called Call to Arms, mostly because it adds an arsenal of melee weapons as well as the iconic Hatchetman medium ‘Mech. We didn’t know when or how much Call to Arms would cost, but we do now

Unlike the Legend of the Kestrel Lancers and Heroes of the Inner Sphere, which debuted at $20, Call to Arms will be priced at $14.99 USD when it launches on June 8. Regional pricing means that’ll vary by platform and country, but US residents should expect to pay fifteen bucks. Canucks such as myself will have to pay something like $22.50. 

Being five dollars cheaper than the previous two DLC might be indicating that Call to Arms will be somewhat lighter in content than the previous expansions. Although Call to Arms will add 28 new ‘Mech variants, five Hero ‘Mechs, nine melee weapons, and three new biomes, there’s no mention of any new story-based campaigns or scripted missions that’ll be coming with Call to Arms [Ed. My bad! There’s actually going to be a five-mission campaign where players snag the Hatchetman from the Isle of Skye]

I do get the sense that this is MechWarrior 5’s swan song, a little parting gift as PGI gets started on its next project. Whatever that is, hopefully it’ll include melee weapons at launch rather than as paid DLC later on. Then we can pay for something else, like, oh I dunno, Aerospace assets?

Redemption Rites Continues The Story Of Wolf’s Dragoons In The IlClan Era

Redemption Rites

So, spoiler alert, but it’s been a few months since the release of Hour of the Wolf, so I think it’s fine for us to drop a few plot points for the current era of BattleTech. After Clan Wolf takes Terra and rises to the heady rank of ilClan, ilKhan Alric Ward makes perhaps the biggest mistake of his career. He snubs Wolf’s Dragoons after they made a terrible sacrifice to stop Malvina and Clan Jade Falcon. Even an ilClan isn’t invulnerable and even mauled, Wolf’s Dragoons is a terrible foe.

Jason Schmetzer tells the story of Wolf’s Dragoons in ilClan era, and it’s a story of revenge. Redemption Rites is available now on Amazon or wherever you buy books.

Water, Earth, Fire, Air

Salamander Sylth Gnome Undine from mechwarrior

Once, the four elements lived in harmony. But all that changed when the fire nation attacked. Or the Salamander, I guess.

Avatar references aside, it never really made a whole lot of sense to me why Elementals were called “elementals” without having any association to the actual elements. Well, now they do, and geergutz does a great job of showcasing all for Elemental variant armors. These include the Salamander, the Sylph, the Gnome, and the Undine. The Gnome is a bit of a stretch for earth, but it is probably the most earth-bound of the Elementals that I know of.

Evolution Of MechWarrior’s Mechs In One Image

It’s sometimes hard to remember how far MechWarrior has come, but this picture from Adam Kusiak puts the game’s evolution into stark relief. I still love MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries, but damn, I don’t remember the Commando being quite so goofy lookin. The Atlas too looks ridiculously blocky, but I guess we gotta give Activision some credit for getting more man-shaped ‘Mechs into the series using such primitive hardware. It really makes you wonder where MechWarrior will be in another 23 years.

Shrapnel’s Road To Tukayyid Anthology Now Available On Anchor.fm

Road to Tukayyid Shrapnel

If you’re not subscribed to Shrapnel, the monthly BattleTech magazine, then you’ve been missing out on the fantastic Road to Tukayyid anthology. However, now you can at least listen to these short stories over on Anchor.fm. This isn’t just some guy speaking text aloud either--there are some exciting music and sound effects in there too. Definitely something to snag for your next road trip or to take with you to the gym. 

Warhammer Or Cat Girl, Decisions Decisions… 

You’ve certainly seen Tex’s talk on the Warhammer by now (you’ve had a month, so there’s no excuse), and now it’s time for merch. Eldonious is promising an art pack containing many of the images seen in the Tex Talks BattleTech episode, including this one here. It’s great, Eldonious is great, and when the Warhammer pack eventually launches, I’m sure it’ll be great too.

And if you absolutely can’t wait, Eldonious already has a few of the Warhammer designs available on t-shirts. I’m not a huge Warhammer fan, but there are a bunch of other designs available too. I’m very much considering the Canopian Cat Girl Cataphract giveaway. For the ‘Mech, not the cat girl. Well, maybe a little for the cat girl. 

Mark Nicholson Leaves MechWarrior 5 Developer PGI

Mark Nicholson - PGI 3D Artist Exits - Mechwarrior Online
Watch this video on YouTube.

Mark Nicholson has left PGI, makers of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries and MechWarrior Online. We spoke to Mark not too long ago where he offered some insight into how new ‘Mechs are designed and the incredible talent required to bring these giant walking death machines to life. PGI has sadly lost a fantastic artist. We wish Mark well in whatever comes next. 

PGI Is Not Working On Lord Of The Rings Online

Piranha Games isn't helping with Lord of the Rings Online
Watch this video on YouTube.

Another quick news bite courtesy of No Guts No Galaxy. It seems that PGI isn’t supporting Lord of the Rings Online after all. That comes directly from PGI’s Daeron Katz, so it’s most likely legit. 

PGI getting taken off of the MechWarrior license to work as a support studio was one of the more depressing rumors that sprung up following the studio’s sale to EG7. With this rumor laid to rest, we now have absolutely no idea what PGI is working on aside from support for MechWarrior Online and MechWarrior 5. Silence could mean MechWarrior 6 is on the table, but we’ll have to wait and see if either PGI or EG7 makes an announcement.

MW5 Mod Imports MechAssault 2’s Atlas And Timber Wolf

Serious Sam Fusion: NEW Mechassault 2 Atlas and Mad Cat Enemy Resource Showcase
Watch this video on YouTube.

Do you like MechAssault? Then you should check out Wolves, the free MechAssault fan game that’s getting better and better every day. But if you also happen to own Serious Sam Fusion, then you should check out this new mod courtesy of Andreiki. The mod adds both the Mad Cat and Atlas models from MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf. As you’d probably expect given Serious Sam is a game where you run around on foot with a machine gun, Andreiki is recommending that anyone who wants to use these models make them the boss of whatever custom map you’re trying to create.

Major BioMech, who first alerted me to this mod, has created a lovely video showcasing the Mad Cat and Atlas in action. Because it’s Serious Sam, you can equip yourself with a laser blaster and eventually take down this 75-ton monster, but BioMech wasn’t quite able to take down both a Mad Cat and an Atlas on the first try.

Retro BattleTech Fan Game Is Looking For Alpha Testers

Retro battletech game looking for a few more alpha testers — or interested map makers from battletech

A while back, I dove into The Crescent Hawk’s Inception, the world’s first BattleTech video game. Originally released in 1988, the game was largely a text-based adventure game with some turn-based combat that vaguely resembled the tabletop rules. It had not aged well, to put it mildly, but if I’m honest, few BattleTech games have. And if I’m further honest, that hasn’t stopped me from reminiscing about MechWarrior 2, so I can’t judge anyone for doing the same about Crescent Hawk’s Inception.

The only difference between me and GamingJay is that I don’t go ahead and remake MechWarrior 2 from scratch in my spare time. Which is exactly what Reddit user GamingJay has done with the old Crescent Hawk’s game.

GamingJay is already so far along with their personal project that they’re even asking for alpha testers. You can shoot ’em a message on Reddit to ask for an alpha build of GamingJay’s retro BattleTech game and then offer your feedback for future development.

I’ve actually reached out to GamingJay and was able to briefly play a bit of alpha. It’s certainly an upgrade over the original, which now has a sort of real-time combat system reminiscent of Faster Than Light‘s. It goes a long way to making this game more interactive than the original Crescent Hawk’s games, and I think there are a lot of folks out there that might be very interested to give this home-brewed Crescent Hawk’s remake a try.

Give Me More Flashman Art, Dammit!

New here! Just thought I would introduce myself! I’m a old battletech fan falling in love with it again because of the recent renaissance from battletech

The Flashman is a ‘Mech that doesn’t get nearly enough credit from BattleTech fans. I loved the Flashman back in MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries and I lament how the Black Knight seems to have taken the Flashman‘s place as the 75-ton all-energy Inner Sphere heavy ‘Mech. Give me my pop-can laser boat or give me death.

Thankfully, Reddit user Scouttherangerdog shares my love for the Flashman, so I get to live for another day. Be sure to welcome Scouttherangerdog back with open arms and leave a like on this fantastic piece.

How To Carry Around A Company Of Mechs In A Leopard

Mechwarrior 5 is a totally accurate Succession Wars game where you really have to scrounge for equipment, every mission is make-or-break from battletech

It always did bother me how a Leopard-class DropShip, which in the lore can only carry a single lance of ‘Mechs, somehow managed to carry an entire company’s worth plus however many I wanted in cold storage in MechWarrior 5. The answer is obvious when you think about it, but it took BipBeepBop123’s diagram for me to finally figure it out for myself. 

MechWarrior Online Ditches That Terrible Skill Tree In Latest Patch

Top 5 Things You should know about Skill Tree reconfigured
Watch this video on YouTube.

The latest MechWarrior Online patch, which actually topped a gigabyte, is easily the biggest to hit the game in years. That’s because one of the core systems in MechWarrior Online has finally been overhauled after years of complaints from all walks of MWO players. Casuals hated it because it was expensive and confusing, and pros hated how long it took to unlock the tree and how many builds wasted skill points due to the tree’s design.

Well, no more. The old skill trees are gone and now you can pick and choose what skills you want and click and drag to unlock as many as you can. It’s a lot simpler, faster, and cheaper than the old tree, and there’s no need for everyone to be refunded their skill points because they’re all still present in the new skill tree. All the same, PGI has gifted players five free skill points for every ‘Mech they own so MechWarriors can further customize their rides.

Besides that, the Rouchneck got a full quirk pass while the Flea and Timber Wolf had their quirks adjusted alongside several other designs. Clan ER Large Lasers had their duration extended to combat the blue line meta, and machine guns had their crit damage multipliers reduced to make light ‘Mechs slightly less deadly. Strangely enough, SRMs all had their heat reduced, so expect to see a lot of brawling splat-Cats in the very near future. There’s also a new Platinum Collection pack that includes variants of the Spider, Cicada, JagerMech, King Crab, Incubus, Vapor Eagle, Hellfire, and Kodiak.

And that’s it for May! Join us in June when I’ll have become a year older and the rest of you will be the exact same age. Unless your birthday is also in June, in which case, happy birthday!

And as always, MechWarriors, Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Bad ‘Mechs – Land-Air Mechs

Land-Air 'Mechs

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

“Alright, here’s the deal,” Major Sheffield began. He then pointed at Sergeant Donaldson. “You get in the front seat, and you,” Sheffield pointed to the SLDF navy pilot he knew as Lieutenant Barber, “get in the back seat.”

The two SLDF service members looked first at each other and then at the monstrosity before them. It looked like an aerospace fighter had crashed into a ‘Mech and somehow fused the two together. It was a grotesque abomination of all things both pilot and MechWarrior considered holy, and it didn’t exactly motivate either to comply with the Major’s orders.

“With respect sir, just who exactly is going to be in control of that… thing?”

“Great question, Donaldson,” Sheffield replied with a smirk. “You both are. On the ground, Donaldson is in charge. In the air, Barber takes the yoke. Or stick–I’m not sure what you spacers call the thing.”

“Yoke is technically correct, sir,” Barber replied, stone-faced.

“The idea here is to cut down on the training required for Land-Air ‘Mech pilots by simply having both MechWarrior and pilot in a dual cockpit arrangement. If these tests go well, it could usher in a new age of cooperation between SLDF services.”

Sheffield’s pitch sounded like it had come straight from the bureaucratic number crunchers at SLDF procurement, and it did nothing to instill confidence in either of them.

“Communication will be key,” Sheffield added. “You’ll both have the authority to convert your Stinger LAM to either Air or ‘Mech mode, but you should engage targets in the mode best suited for the engagement. Now, get suited up and start blasting targets.”

The two pilots again looked at each other, looked at the Stinger, and then sighed in unison. It was the last time either Donaldson or Barber performed any task in sync. The dual cockpit test would go down as a colossal failure for the dual-cockpit LAM concept, and SLDF training footage would later include recordings of Barber and Donaldson engaged in fisticuffs over who would take control of the LAM during various stages of the test.


First Lord Michael Cameron II ruled the Star League during a time of unprecedented technological innovation. During his reign, the Star League Defense Force would produce impressive and terrifying military machines such as the Awesome BattleMech, the Cameron-class Battlecruiser, and the Gotha Aerospace Fighter. However, it was also a time of completely unmitigated spending for the Terran Hegemony‘s military industrial complex, and as such, it resulted in just as many hits as it did misses. Some of the more spectacular failures have already been discussed in this article series, but none were more costly than the unfortunate Land-Air ‘Mech.

Commissioned in 2680 by Admiral David Peterson, the intent of the Land-Air ‘Mech was to produce a unit that combined the deployment speed of an Aerospace Fighter with the versatility of a ‘Mech. An Aerospace Fighter could rapidly strike targets but its ability to support ground forces was limited. Meanwhile, the BattleMech required DropShips to deploy but once fielded were the undisputed kings of the battlefield. The Land-Air ‘Mech, or LAM, would theoretically combine the advantages of both to create a weapon that ensures the SLDF and Terran Hegemony’s military dominance for centuries to come.

At least, that’s what Admiral Peterson envisioned on paper. The reality of the Land-Air ‘Mech was far from the ideal superweapon that SLDF generals and engineers wanted.

Shadow Hawk LAM

The first company to win an SLDF contract was Allied Aerospace, which created the SHD-X1 in 2680. Based on the already proven Shadow Hawk, the SHD-X1 was a bi-modal Land-Air ‘Mech, meaning it would convert directly from BattleMech to Aerospace Fighter without any intermediate steps.

The brand-new conversion technology proved problematic in multiple ways. First, the bulky tech added five additional tons to the SHD-X1 compared to the all-‘Mech SHD-2H, but also limited the space available for the fusion engine and internal fuel tanks. Thus, the SHD-X1 was slower than the SHD-2H on land by nearly 20kph and had a greatly limited combat radius in fighter mode. Additionally, the AC/5 was replaced by an ER Large Laser and the SRM-2 was removed in favor of an internal bomb bay. Newer technologies of the era such as extra light engines, an Endo Steel chassis, and Ferro Fibrous armor all couldn’t be employed due to the LAM conversion technology’s bulk.

SLDF procurement officers were already skeptical of the new design’s limitations, but things got worse for the SHD-X1 after several test platforms were lost during public reviews in 2681 and 2682. The engineering flaws that led to these lost machines were largely solved by the time the SHD-X2 arrived in 2684, but by then the platform had already gained a reputation as a dangerously flawed design. The SLDF canceled its order, and although Allied Aerospace built 20 SHD-X2 demonstrators, the company failed to attract a single buyer.

Stinger LAM

The first viable LAM came from LexaTech Industries in 2688 with the introduction of the Stinger LAM. Ten tons heavier than the original Stinger and armed with three medium lasers, LexaTech’s design introduced the first tri-modal Land-Air ‘Mech. A third mode allowed the Stinger LAM to deploy its wings and legs simultaneously, allowing it to rapidly travel at low altitudes thanks to the ground effect. Although lacking an internal bomb bay, the Stinger LAM retained the speed of the land-based chassis and impressive Aerospace performance as well.

However, the Stinger LAM revealed several flaws shared by all Land-Air ‘Mechs. While the Stinger LAM proved that the additional bulk of the conversion technology could be accounted for, it still reduced overall payload capacity for either a pure ‘Mech or Aerospace Fighter of similar size. Being completely unable to mount weight-saving technologies such as XL engines or Endo-Steel chassis meant LAMs were often outclassed in their engagements. Land-Air ‘Mechs also proved to be quite fragile. Damage taken to the conversion technology would effectively “lock” the LAM in whichever mode it was currently deployed.

Cost was another issue. Not only did pilots require twice as much training due to the twin mandates, but LAMs themselves cost many times the price of either a single ‘Mech or Aerospace Fighter. With no lack of manpower, the armed forces of the Inner Sphere had more than enough financial incentive to simply invest in proven technologies to bolster their war machines.

Still, the Stinger LAM did at least find niche applications where it was better suited than either an Aerospace Fighter or BattleMech. The SLDF navy often deployed Stinger LAMs in operations on minor planetoids such as asteroids or comets, or against forces that were unlikely to deploy fighters or ‘Mechs of their own.

Immediately following the Stinger LAM came the Wasp LAM from Harvard Company in 2690, which found success in similar niche roles and often served alongside its predecessor. Allied Aersospace’s second attempt at a Land-Air ‘Mech, the Phoenix Hawk LAM, finally vindicated the company in 2701. With harsh lessons learned from its earlier failure with the Shadow Hawk LAM, the Pheonix Hawk LAM proved a far more capable design, retaining the original Phoenix Hawk‘s performance while adding a bomb bay and other capabilities from the conversion technology.

Although there were a few smaller success stories, the crucible of the Succession Wars proved Land-Air ‘Mechs were too costly for all-out warfare between galaxy-spanning armies. Most commanders were loathed to commit the expensive designs for fear of losing them, and with limited stores of spare parts, the destruction of most LAM factories proved to be a death knell for the innovative technology. Only LexaTech’s factory on Irece was still producing Stinger LAM components by 3025, but the Nova Cats put a stop to that after their successful invasion in 3050.

Surprisingly, Land-Air ‘Mechs had a brief renaissance courtesy of the Word of Blake. During the Jihad, Blakist forces unveiled the Yurei, Pwwka, and Waneta LAMs based on its Spectral Series of OmniFighters. By this era, Clan-spec weapons and double heatsinks weren’t quite enough for the three Wobbie LAMs to stand against more traditional ‘Mechs and Aerospace Fighters, once again limiting their use to surprise attacks against inferior foes. The conclusion of the Jihad saw all Blakist factories destroyed, ending the saga of the Land-Air ‘Mech for good.

Spectral Series LAMs

Ultimately, Land-Air ‘Mechs proved that not every new technology has a place in war. I’m sure given more time, research, and investment, Land-Air ‘Mechs could have revolutionized combat as we know it. However, time is often the resource in the shortest supply during wartime. We may yet see the LAM return once again as technological advancement returns to the Inner Sphere, but for now, Land-Air ‘Mechs are dead. May they rest in peace.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy