Your BattleTech News Round-Up For November, 2023

I’m pretty sure I’d like November more if Canada celebrated Thanksgiving this month instead of last. Halloween already sucks most of the air out of October so there’s not a lot left for a turkey to breathe. Worse yet, November brings the grey months to Ontario. I probably won’t see the sun again until sometime in February when snow and ice have turned the ground into a mirror so shiny you can’t go outside without welding goggles.

On the plus side, we’ve got some BattleTech news to cover. Bust out your Turkinas and get ready to bake this bird.

A Warrior Pope Approaches

For those unaware, Pope Leo XXI was previously known as Leonard Goodnight, a former member of the First Avalon Hussars and the Grand Master of the Knights Defensor at the time of his ascension to the papacy. That ascension only happened because Pope Beneficent XVII and the entire College of Cardinals were murdered during the DMCS occupation of New Avalon

His ‘Mech, a bright gold Regent named “Justicar,” took part in the fight against the DCMS. Although nowhere in volume 21 of the ilClan Recognition Guides does it mention a fancy hat, I’d like to think it looked a little something like what Cromwell300 has produced above. Also, any excuse to refer to the WarriorPope of New Avalon.

Time To Kickflip A DropShip

Tony “Shadow” Pro Skater Hawk
byu/meltdonw14 inbattletech

Pretty sure meltdonw14 has posted something similar before, but oh well. I think I’m just a sucker for skateboarding ‘Mechs. And the fact I didn’t come up with “Tony ‘Shadow’ Hawk” first is just going to bother me for a long time.

Catalyst Teams Up With Veiled Resin For Unique Art

BattleTech Resin Reveal
Watch this video on YouTube.

There’s no denying that art is an essential part of BattleTech. CGL knows this better than anyone, which is why Randall reached out to artist Steven Michael Bohls of Veiled Resin to commission several BattleTech pieces in his unique art style.

Besides the eye-popping finished product, what makes Veiled Resin so interesting is the process by which these pieces come to life. Each piece requires careful planning and days of repeated carving, pouring, and curing. Steven isn’t even sure what the finished product will look like until layers of tape have been removed from the surface.

You can take a look at the Veiled Resin process in several videos posted to CGL’s YouTube account. The first step is to create a vector art image, either from an existing traditional painting or from scratch on a computer. The second step is to take that vector art and use it to create instructions to send to a CNC machine. The CNC machine then carves out pieces from a flat piece of plexiglass that’s usually a half-inch thick, but Steven went with a full inch for his BattleTech piece (and we do like ‘em thick in BattleTech). 

Next comes the creation of the resin that’s poured into the parts carved out by the CNC machine. This can be the most arduous part of the process as there can be multiple layers of resin required and each layer needs to cure before the next layer can be cured. Curing also needs a relatively high temperature, which is a pain when the finished product is several feet on either side. 

All that hard work eventually leads to a stunning piece of art. The one revealed earlier this month is a take on the Banshee key art from the Mercenaries Kickstarter (done by the fabulous Marco Mazzoni), but Veiled Resin has plans to do 16 smaller pieces from across CGL’s games, including Shadowrun, Leviathan, The Stormlight Archive, and at least two more BattleTech pieces (one is a Jenner running from a Warhawk, and the other is a classic Marauder also by Marco Mazzoni). 

We should see a few more of these pieces unveiled at the Dragonsteel convention, but they haven’t been posted to CGL’s YouTube just yet. I’ll be sure to update things as soon as I find out more. 

Michael Stackpole Celebrates Birthday With A Stiff Drink (And A Cool Painting Too)

Michael Stackpole Paintining

Of the BattleTech authors, it’s hard to imagine one more formative of the game’s universe than Michael Stackpole. From defining the political intrigue of the Fourth Succession War to revealing the origins of the Kell Hounds, Stackpole has been with BattleTech almost every step of the way. And to honor his 66th birthday, fellow author Bryan Young commissioned a special gift.

Many of you likely know of Stackpole, but few know of his in-universe persona, Gustavus “Gus” Michaels. That’s because he’s somewhat ridiculous. He is Michael Stackpole, but also a time traveler who was almost a thousand years old by the time he reportedly died in 3052 (although there is evidence to suggest he’s still alive, somewhere). He attributes his longevity to “time travel, a regimen of Szechuan food and indoor soccer, or a plot by the Internal Revenue Service.”

Gustavus Gus Michaels Painting

Going from author to historian, Gus was present for most of the big events of the Inner Sphere between 3028 and 3052, escaping ComStar captivity to somehow travel to Strana Mechty to witness the election of Ulric Kerensky to ilKhan.

Gus is quite the character, but he’s never had his own portrait until now. Here we have Gus during his time with the Kell Hounds, who apparently broke him out of ComStar custody in 3030. Because of course they did.

For more on Gus’s antics, check out his Sarna article here. And Happy Birthday to the real Michael Stackpole. May he live long enough to witness our journey to the stars and the arrival of giant robot warriors.

BattleTech Pride Anthology 2024 Calls For Submissions

Battletech Pride Anthology 2024 announcement and call for writers! <3
byu/Detofoxy inbattletech

After a wildly successful debut earlier this year, the BattleTech Pride Anthology will return in 2024 with a new edition. To make it happen, though, requires folks to submit their stories! 

BattleTech Anthology 2024 is asking for LGBTQ+ BattleTech fans to write in with their stories focused on LGBTQ+ themes centered around several keywords: Pirates, Anarchists, Misfits, and the Deep Periphery. You can use any or all of these words as inspiration, with submissions expected to be between 4,000 and 6,000 words. 

For more details, check out the Open Call doc here, and to submit your story, head on over to this Google link. The deadline to submit is April 7, 2024, which gives y’all some time to think of something truly fabulous. 

OPINION: Bring Back Naked MechWarriors

This opinion might be a bit like an old MechWarrior shouting at clouds, but back in my day, ‘Mech pilots wore as little as possible so they could survive the often sauna-like temperatures of a ‘Mech cockpit. Sure, they had cooling vests, but those things rarely covered their entire bodies, which often led those pilots to leave the rest as bare as possible. That’s why we’ve got so many sexy images of Natasha Kerensky in a bathing suit. 

But that’s begun to change. I guess you could say it all started with the BattleTech Animated Series where Adam Steiner and the gang would often jump into their ‘Mechs wearing their standard military fatigues, but that was a kid show, so we could forgive them ruining the lore for modesty. MechCommander and MechWarrior 4 featured real-life cinematics of pilots in big helmets and skivvies, but MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries brought us the ‘Mech pilot with a typical sci-fi spacesuit aesthetic. And here we have Hired Steel continuing this farce with their handcrafted MechWarrior

I’ll give Hired Steel some credit for the extra tubing, but my MechWarriors fought in their underpants. In fact, some of them fought buck-fuckin’ naked. There are plenty of 3025 ‘Mechs that run hot enough to cook their pilot, and I could imagine fans of the Nova Prime found it comfier to be as naked as possible before letting loose with 12 lasers.

I think it’s time I took a stand. We need to bring back the naked MechWarrior. If you agree, leave a comment below.

HBS Says No New BattleTech Or Shadowrun Games Coming

More bad news out of Harebrained Schemes. A tweet from earlier this month confirmed the worst: HBS doesn’t have the license for BattleTech or Shadowrun, preventing the studio from starting work on a Shadowrun or BATTLETECH sequel. 

And it’s not for lack of trying. Apparently, the company contacted both Microsoft and PGI (the makers of MechWarrior 5) president Russ Bullock to see if something could be negotiated. We’re not sure whether Microsoft was charging too high a price or was simply unwilling to offer HBS a license (with Big Red 40-Tech suspecting it’s the former--see below), but either way, they came home empty-handed.

It’s a crying shame. I remember replaying each and every Shadowrun game several times, and BATTLETECH remains the best tabletop-style adaptation the franchise has ever seen. Hopefully, next month will bring a change of fortune for this world-class studio.

BattleTech 40th Anniversary News Coming At PAX Unplugged

Watch this video on YouTube.

More news courtesy of Big Red-40Tech: Catalyst plans to announce BattleTech’s 40th-anniversary celebration at PAX Unplugged, which takes place the December 1 weekend in Philadelphia. Badges are still available for you to find out the moment the announcement comes (whatever that may be), or you can wait until the end of next month when we close out the year with this big announcement in Sarna’s monthly news round-up.

Elsewhere in the video, sources say we’re getting a new cover for the Beginner Box and A Game Of Armored Combat, as well as new ForcePacks. This could be a continuation of the discussion last month where we get more faction-focused ForcePacks, but we’ll have to wait to find out (although probably not long given how soon PAX Unplugged arrives).

Wanna See ForcePacks Being Made?

PVC Battletech Packaging CAT35756 102423
Watch this video on YouTube.

On one of my many nights on YouTube, I came across a curious video recommendation. I’d always known that Catalyst’s minis were manufactured in China (CGL mentioned it many times during the Clan Invasion Kickstarter), but I never knew which of the many manufacturers in China it was.

Turns out it’s Liya International, an OEM Plastic Manufacturer. And if you want to see the secret sauce as it’s being made, they’ve got a whole YouTube channel full of CGL products being constructed.

These videos show everything from the plastic injection molds to the workers cutting the bits and pieces off just like it’s a plastic model kit. The assembly workers take those bits and pieces and assemble them into the ‘Mechs we all know and love. A lot of those pieces just snap together with a little dab of glueexactly like a plastic model.

Once the mini is assembled, they’re taken to an assembly line where the workers place each figure in a plastic tray which is then enclosed in the appropriate ForcePack box, ready for shipping. If you queue up a bunch of these in the right order, it’s basically like a How It’s Made video.

What’s interesting is that Liya doesn’t just do the plastic minis. They also have partners that print the posters, map packs, data sheets, cards, booklets, and everything else going into the completed Mercenaries box set. Everything is sent to Liya who then packages it all up. About a month ago, Liya posted a video showing completed Mercenaries boxes being assembled.

We don’t necessarily know how long ago this video was taken, but if you wanted proof that CGL is getting products, here it is. Because we don’t know when these videos will be uploaded, we can’t guess when the Mercs Kickstarter will ship (especially since CGL might still be waiting for boxes to arrive), but we can get a good look at what we’ll be receiving sometime next year.

A Fire Moth Goes Postal

Fire Moth PostalMech: Your package of Elementals is out for delivery!
byu/Stretch5678 inbattletech

The Fire Moth is famously considered the best Elemental taxi the Inner Sphere and Clan homeworlds have ever seen. That’s largely because it can dash (if you’ll pardon the pun) over 200 kph, dumping its Elemental passengers at the front and then retreating before the enemy can even blink.

Thanks to Stretch5678, we now have a Fire Moth model that accurately depicts its battlefield role. Keeping all its Elementals in a bag is perhaps not as efficient as having them cling to various handholds covering the ‘Mech, but it’s certainly adorable.

PixelMech 3D Shares New Explosive Update

PixelMek 3D pre-alpha, now with 100% more destruction effects!
Watch this video on YouTube.

It looks like development of PixelMek 3D is coming along nicely. You may recall PixelMek from September’s news blast as the boomer shooter Doom-like version of MechWarrior that never quite existed but we always kinda wished had. The latest video update reveals a new milestone has been reached: you can blow stuff up

Destruction is a key aspect of any MechWarrior game. There’s no sense of satisfaction if ‘Mechs just wink out of existence after receiving a threshold of damage; bits of them gotta come flying off as their ammo cooks off in bright, colorful explosions, culminating in a tiny supernova as fusion engines breach. Mechteric hasn’t quite reached that level of destruction, but turrets explode, choppers fall out of the sky leaving trails of smoke, and infantry disappear into red mist. 

‘Mechs seem to crumple in on themselves before disappearing in a fireball, which is a step in the right direction but not quite what I’m looking for. I want arms to shoot off in opposite directions once a ‘Mech’s reactor melts down. Perhaps lighter ‘Mechs can have custom animations where a leg comes off at the knee, causing it to face-plant into the ground before it explodes. 

There are also no shadows or light sources from these explosions, but one step at a time. Be sure to stay tuned to Mechteric for more updates.

Who Parked This Night Gyr In The Middle Of The Road?

Mechwarrior, 2023
byu/Remmor inbattletech

This Night Gyr seems to be posing for a Jade Falcon recruitment photo, which is a little weird considering the Falcons famously hate Freeborn recruits, but I guess times are tough for our little green birdies. At least they hand out some pretty sweet helmets. Kudos to Remmor for sharing. 

Owenses. That’s The Plural For Owens, Right?

I haven’t seen the Owens in action since MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries. It’s nice to see this 35-ton Omni Jenner hasn’t been entirely forgotten. Even the C variant on the right is no powerhouse, but I still like ’em. Thanks to Oswald for posting.

The King Of Lego Crabs

Very delayed, but finally done, My best friends favourite chassis from the Battletech Universe, the King crab, this variant of her’s has dual RAC/5’s, twin clan LRM/20’s, oh and of course our beloved C3 network, barely anything can escape her grasp :D
byu/Shotgunfrenzy inmechwarrior

We love Lego BattleTech around these parts, so when Shotgunfrenzy shared their latest commissioned piece, I had to make sure y’all saw it too. It’s a custom job with two RAC/5s and twin LRM-20s, but it looks good enough to be a cannon design. Tragically, I don’t think Shotgunfrenzy shares build instructions, but maybe some of you can figure this monstrosity out just by looking at a spinning gif.

MWO Introduces MechWarrior’s First Shield In Latest Patch

Centurion Onyx MechWarrior Online

MechWarrior Online introduced us to the idea of the “shield arm” way back when it first launched. The idea is to torso twist such that your arm takes incoming fire and not your more important bits. This works best when the shield arm doesn’t contain any weapons and has maybe a slightly enlarged shape to better obstruct the rest of the ‘Mech, such as with the Centurion or Griffin. It didn’t have any more armor than the other arm, but offering it up as a blood sacrifice effectively enhanced your ‘Mech’s overall toughness. 

Fast forward a few years and now MechWarrior Online is introducing the very first actual shield to ever arrive in a MechWarrior game. This shield, as part of the new Legendary Centurion “Onyx,” actually provides additional armor and structure to the Centurion‘s traditional shield arm. It’s also huge, protecting the majority of the ‘Mech. It cannot be removed, but you probably don’t want to. The LB 10-X autocannon and paired Snub-Nose PPCs provide exceptional punch while the shield absorbs incoming fire. Just twist, and fire, and twist, and fire like it’s an ’80s exercise cassette tape.

The Onyx is also delightfully colorful and comes with the usual Legendary battle pass, which provides escalating rewards of GSP, C-Bills, MC, Premium Time, and exclusive cosmetics the more you play it.

The next big surprise in the most recent patch is a new map: Bearclaw II. Krazzdaxx’s latest creation is a subterranean ‘Mech factory built into the side of a mountain. It offers plenty of close-in combat thanks to all those tunnels and buildings, but also longer sight lines if you wander outside to the surrounding ice lake. 

In terms of balance, lots of ballistic weapons have seen their ammo-per-ton increase, while a smaller quirk pass has adjusted several variants of the Viper, Centurion, Thunderbolt, Orion, and Marauder II. Players also received their Annual Rewards Program items in the latest update. For more details, check out the latest patch notes here.

And just in the nick of time, the Longbow is coming to MechWarrior Online. We probably could have guessed given its presence in MechWarrior 5′s latest DLC, but now we have confirmation. Unlike MechWarrior 5, not every variant is a missile boat either; PGI did some digging in the old archives to find a few ballistic-focused versions to field too. Head over to this page to learn more about the Longbow‘s variants and the current Longbow event.

The Fafnir Arrives In MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

We have yet another mod from The Art of BattleTech. Once again, we have Pawel Czarnecki to thank for this Fafnir model, which harkens back to the style of MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries rather than the one featured in MechWarrior Online. This Gauss-toting beast is more than capable of wrecking any ‘Mech a merc could meet and is especially adept at turning cockpits into crematoriums.

As usual, head on over to Nexus Mods or the Steam Workshop to download the Fafnir for MechWarrior 5.

Magnetic ‘Mech Bay Blows Me Away

Mech Bay 2
byu/Fox-Fi inbattletech

I’ve started to really get into BattleTech terrain that goes the extra mile. Recently, we looked at Cross Electric Designs’ ‘Mech Bay with its battery slot and inset grooves for adding your own LED lights (which you can read about in our previous coverage here). But if illumination isn’t your thing, how about a magnetic ‘Mech Bay door?

Here’s Fox-Fi’s personal project of a working magnetic ‘Mech Bay. Both the roof and door connect to the bay via magnets, allowing you to have the door in an open or closed position. It’s great, and their Reddit post has a lovely reference to MechWarrior 4

Fox-Fi’s love of MechWarrior 4 is apparent in another project: the Repair Bay! This one actually has sliding doors just like the repair bay in MW4 (which this is clearly modeled after). They even gave it the appropriate hazard stripes. Beautiful. Great work, Fox-Fi!

Camo Specs Brings Us The Free Jade Falcon Paint Guide

Camo Specs Online Jade Falcon Paint Schemes

Last month we had the Smoke Jags, and this month we’ve got the green birbs. Just like last time, this guide provides the color schemes for the Jade Falcon touman, with plenty of Galaxies to choose from. I’ll spoil things for you a bit: they’re mostly green, although I really dig Lambda Galaxy’s sandy paintjob with gray highlights. I also like how they’re mostly second-line garrison units. Give me Clanners with standard engines!

Head over to Catalyst’s store for your 100% free download. 

Happy Jade Turkey Day!

I had my Thanksgiving last month, but I know the majority of you celebrated this holiday last week. Here we have another ‘Mech that looks like a turkey courtesy of the Mercenary Star Podcast. Thank you for the turkey-’Mech.

That’s it for November! Join us next month as we find out how BattleTech will celebrate its big four-oh birthday next year, and what new products might arrive just in time for the holidays.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy


Cross Electric Designs Terrain Review – For A More Militarized Battlefield

Cross Electric Designs Cover

A few weeks back, I spoke with Matthew “Stinger” Cross of Cross Electric Designs. While it was fun debating the merits of the Thor and Thor II, Matt was also looking to showcase his line of ready-to-paint BattleTech terrain pieces. We got to see a few of those in the interview, but Matt was kind enough to send a few more of those pieces my way for a more in-depth review.

First, let’s talk about the physical terrain. You might have noticed that Cross tends to focus more on industrial and military-style buildings rather than HEXTECH’s urban set. You can certainly mix and match these pieces with HEXTECH for a city garrison, but on their own, most of the Cross Electric Designs structures will complement an industrial complex, aerodrome, or armed garrison setting.

Cross Electric Designs Double Mech Bay

Case in point are the ‘Mech Repair Bay and the Double ‘Mech Bay. Most ‘Mechs require frequent maintenance, and the ‘Mech Bay is the typical home of a ‘Mech that’s not on maneuvers. If you want your home base to really feel like it services ‘Mechs, then these structures are essential. 

Although the terrain I was supplied with doesn’t have hex bases, both the ‘Mech Repair Bay and the Double ‘Mech Bay have hex base indentations that precisely fit the base of any standard CGL model (and there are now ‘Mech Bays that do have hex bases–more on that later on). Not only that, but the bays are large enough to accommodate almost any size ‘Mech, from the tiny Locust to a massive hulking Atlas. Only the thickest of assault ‘Mechs–such as the Stone Rhino, Kodiak, and Turkina–manage to exceed the ‘Mech Bay’s volume constraints. The Turkina is a special case, however, as it would likely have fit had its custom arms been lowered in a typical “shut down” position.

Cross Electric Designs Mech Repair Bay

One notable feature about the ‘Mech Bays is that they come with channels for LED lights and a slot to fit a 2032-size battery. This makes these bays perfect as display pieces or if you just want to add an element of realism with interior lighting. 

The models themselves are plastic prints that arrive unpainted, letting you customize them to your heart’s content. I did mine to match the HEXTECH colors, but you certainly don’t have to! The models also come with plenty of intricate detail, allowing you to get as creative as you like with your paint scheme.

Following the military theme are the Control Tower and Vehicle Ops Center. Just like the ‘Mech Bays, both models have plenty of fine details perfect for painters to exploit. There are minimal 3D-print lines and flat panels to add your own decals, but some might find it difficult to get those flat sides to really pop. My painter reported having to go with a dry brush to highlight some of the flatter surfaces. He also reported some challenges painting the windows, suggesting that sharper edges would have made it easier to get clean glass panes (although as you can see, he still managed just fine). 

Cross Electric Designs Vehicle Ops Center

Finally, we arrive at the more generic pieces from the Building Pack and Office Tower Delta. Even industrial zones and military installations will have boxy towers to house administrators and civilian contractors, so these buildings still very much fit the overall theme of Cross Electric Designs’ other pieces. They’re on the smaller side compared to HEXTECH, but they’re certainly no less detailed. 

I’ve mentioned HEXTECH a few times, and I’m struck by how well these buildings complement my previous urban terrain by adding variety to the structures. Every city is a wild amalgam of differently-shaped buildings, and one of the problems I had with HEXTECH was how similar a lot of the structures appeared. Cross Electric’s buildings provide a variety of smaller structures that add a realistic quantity to an urban setting. 

Cross Electric Designs Small Buildings Office Tower Delta

Although I didn’t receive every piece offered by Cross Electric Designs, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also point out the Aerospace Hanger available to anyone who wants to create an aerodrome, the various Factory Facility pieces, and Fuel Pods for anyone who wants to fight in a truly industrial setting, and numerous turrets available to enhance the defenses of any military facility.

Speaking of turrets, I did receive two Muse Missile Turrets, which are modeled after the Calliope turrets from MechWarrior 4. These don’t come with hex bases, but their overall size neatly fits into a standard BattleTech hex. There’s an excellent amount of detailing on these turrets, and my painter offered gratitude for how easily the detail lines held washes. 

Cross Electric Designs Muse Turrets

Similar praise was heaped on the Belisarius Hover Tanks and the Olympia Command Vehicle. These are excellent models that were reportedly a joy to paint. Although not necessarily modeled after official BattleTech designs, the Belisarius has a certain Bellona look about it, and the Olympia Command Vehicle (modeled after the mobile turret control vehicle from MechWarrior 4)  is easily used for any Mobile HQ units you might require as part of your campaign. 

Not pictured are two Troop Transport units that weren’t painted in time for publication, but just like the Belisarius, it easily holds washes thanks to its numerous panel lines. 

Cross Electric Designs also has a Military Hover Barge in case you’re fighting in an aquatic scenario, wheeled and hover troop transports, as well as the Beluga DropShip in both map and full ‘Mech scale (the larger one is obviously more expensive, and although big enough to contain a ‘Mech, doesn’t actually have working doors to stick your ‘Mechs inside). 

Cross Electric Designs Olympia Command Belisarius Tanks

Overall, I’m quite pleased with everything Cross Electric Designs had to offer, and I’d certainly look at purchasing the factory terrain pieces for a future campaign in an industrial world. I especially like the turrets and ‘Mech bays, which can turn even a papertech ‘Mech base into a realistic military installation perfect for a MechWarrior RPG

For those looking to purchase these pieces for themselves, head over to Cross Electric Designs’ side of Aries Games & Minis for Fortress Minis. I’ll list each of the pieces below for your convenience.

Muse Missile TurretMuse Turret$6.00
Track Troop Transport 2-PackTracked Troop Transport 2-Pack$9.00
Belisarius Hover Tank 2-PackBelisarius Hover Tank 2-Pack$14.00
Olympia Command VehicleOlympia Command Vehicle$12.00
Double ‘Mech BayDouble Mech Bay$24.00
‘Mech Repair BayMech Repair Bay$15.00
Control TowerControl Tower$15.00
Building Pack: SmallBuilding Pack Small$18.00
Office Tower DeltaOffice Tower Delta$15.00
Vehicle Ops CenterVehicle Ops Center$15.00

My one complaint with the Cross Electric terrain pieces is that they didn’t come with hex bases, making them a little tricky to situate on a hex board (my preferred playstyle for tabletop). But I’ve got some great news! Cross has recently finished creating new designs for the ‘Mech Repair Bay and Double ‘Mech Bay that now include hex-shaped bases. They also appear to be a little wider than the standard models, so they may have a slightly easier time accommodating the biggest ‘Mechs. The Mastodon gives a pretty good impression of overall size, although I haven’t tested them personally to see if they’ll fit a Stone Rhino. And just like the standard ‘Mech bays, these Hex Bays have channels and slots for LED lights.

Hex Bay and Double Hex Bay

Head over to Aries Games or Fortress Minis for the new Hex Bays.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Community Outreach – Exploring BattleTech Lore And History With Sven Van Der Plank

A few weeks ago, I mentioned Sven van der Plank and his eight-hour Star League Civil War video, which struck me as bizarrely long for YouTube content that didn’t involve repeating a single song over and over. And then I actually watched it front to back and realized there was some excellent content being presented for each of those eight hours, and that it continued even further with slightly (read: much) shorter videos covering the First Succession War.

Ever since then, I’ve been hooked. So I reached out to Sven to learn more about him, his process, and what we can expect in the future from Sven’s channel. This time on Community Outreach, I present Sven van der Plank and his deep dives into BattleTech history and lore. Enjoy.

Sven Thumbnails InnerSphere

Courtesy of Sven van der Plank

Continue reading

Bad ‘Mechs – Stinger

Stinger Bad 'Mechs

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

“But these ‘Mechs have targeting computers!” Cadet Sebastien griped in the solitude of his ‘Mech’s cockpit to nobody in particular. “I joined the AFFS to become a MechWarrior, not to be some glorified infantryman.” 

Raising his Stinger‘s right arm, he brought the rifle-like medium laser up to its cockpit and attempted to line the iron sights up with the target 200 meters down the shooting range. He fired and noted with dismay how the green beam cut a dark scar in the sand dune roughly 10 meters from where the target stood. 

“Cadet-private Sebastien!” Sergeant Zhao shouted in Sebastien’s ear through his neurohelmet’s radio. “Bring your cockpit to the laser, like where you would place the butt of a rifle. Then try again.”

Sebastien wondered how it was even remotely analogous when there was over a meter between him and the iron sights on his laser, let alone whatever refraction might be caused by several centimeters of ferroglass. Still, he did as instructed and held down the trigger just as his eyes lined up with the laser’s sights. The green beam nicked the edge of the target where it left a small orange flame. 

“Congratulations, cadet,” came Zhao’s mocking tone. “You hit the target. Barely.”

Sebastien was considering a pithy retort when all hell broke loose. An explosion from behind knocked him forward and cut his Stinger’s sensors. Static told him that he’d also lost comms with the rest of his training battalion. Staggering, Sebastien looked around to see a crater in the middle of the parade grounds and trainers running for cover. In the distance, the yellow flare of a dropship bore the dao-in-fist of the Cappellan Confederation. It was a raid.

The procedure in such an event was for the cadets and trainers to get into the nearest available ‘Mech to meet the enemy head-on. Unfortunately for cadet Sebastien, without a functioning radio, he couldn’t be informed of the enemy’s location or the battalion’s rally point.

In the end, it didn’t matter. A bright green Locust bearing the Capellan crest came into view and began firing its machine guns into the battalion’s administrative building. If he didn’t engage, everyone inside would die.

Raising his right-arm medium laser to confront the marauding Locust, Sebastien made another unfortunate discovery: his heads-up display didn’t have a targeting pip. Worse, he didn’t have azimuth, range, or any indication his sensors had even picked up the 20-ton ‘Mech standing in front of him. 

It was then he saw the raised indentations of the laser’s iron sights. He hunched his Stinger slightly so the cockpit lined up with the laser, then took careful aim at the Locust. He breathed, then held down the trigger. 

The green beam cut through the Locust’s right leg at the knee, sending it toppling to the ground. 

Sebastien raised his ‘Mech’s arms in triumph and then realized he was still in the middle of a warzone. He also realized if his targeting computer had been working the active scanners likely would have alerted the Locust to his presence and prevented him from getting the first shot.  

“Maybe these low-tech exercises aren’t so bad after all,” he said to himself, before stalking off to find more Capellans to ambush.

Watch this video on YouTube.

Stinger 3025

We should have some compassion for the Stinger. As the second-ever mass-produced reconnaissance ‘Mech, and the second most numerous ‘Mech after the Wasp, ‘Mechs were simply less threatening at the time of its introduction in 2479. But between that year and the year 3025, the number of Stingers in active service dropped from 200,000 to a mere 5,000. Over 500 years of attrition would surely be murderous on most military systems, especially when those five centuries included such things as nuclear holocausts. 

And yet, over 97 percent of every Stinger ever made is now so much scrap metal. The Stingers that survived were mostly used as trainers and not front-line combatants. Many ‘MechWarriors began their career in a Stinger. The smart ones moved on to a different chassis. The dumb ones are dead.

As with many iterative technical advancements, the story of the Stinger begins with a lawsuit. Earthwerks Incorporated spent 20 years fending off a lawsuit from General Mechanics--the maker of the Wasp--for copyright infringement. General Mechanics argued that the Stinger was mostly just a Wasp that had swapped its SRM-2 launcher for a pair of Machine Guns. Indeed, the two ‘Mechs shared the same mass and had a very similar outward appearance. However, neither Earthwerks nor General Mechanics wanted their full ‘Mech designs as part of the public record. This allowed Earthwerks to enact a time-honored corporate defense--delay, delay, delay. After two decades, General Mechanics finally dropped the suit, and the Stinger would go on to stand beside the Wasp as the backbone of the Inner Sphere’s reconnaissance forces.

Stinger 5M

Unfortunately for the Stinger, many battlefield commanders felt that the highly numerous ‘Mech was expendable and used it in roles it was never intended, leading to accelerated attrition. One DCMS commander, Tai-i Mercer Ravannion, developed the “charge of the horde” tactic which called for massed quantities of lighter ‘Mechs (usually Stingers and Wasps) to be sent against comparatively larger targets expecting sheer numbers to carry the battle. Tai-i Ravannion attempted this tactic on three separate occasions, and on all three attempts lost the majority of his ‘Mechs. 

It wasn’t until after his death (on his third and final attempt) that his protege, a surviving Stinger pilot named Marge Sippers, evolved the tactic to include heavier and more powerful light ‘Mechs like the Jenner, proving that it was the Stinger‘s lack of firepower that prevented the strategy’s success. By 3140, the mercenary unit Ravannion’s Redemption proved that massed light ‘Mechs could be a credible threat, but the unit was comprised primarily of faster and more potent ‘Mechs than the Stinger.

Although not a credible threat to most larger ‘Mechs, the Stinger‘s popularity as a cheap recon trainer has kept it in service with almost every nation’s armed forces. Earthwerks factories on Keystone and Calloway VI continued to produce Stingers throughout the Succession Wars where the model found its way across the Inner Sphere even as far as the Periphery. Coventry Metal Works would also produce the design under license, although its focus would shift to the Commando during the Succession Wars. Other manufacturers included Bergan Industries, Vandenberg Mechanized Industries, Detroit Consolidated, and Hellespont Industrials. Variants would even be produced by the Clans, where they mostly served in an instructional capacity.

Stinger 5R

The original STG-3R, produced in 2479, came with a GM 120-rated engine, six Chilton 360 jump hets, a single Omicron 3000 Medium Laser, two LGN Lindbald Machine Guns, 10 single heat sinks, and three tons of standard armor. It became infamous for an extremely cramped cockpit where most MechWarriors required outside assistance to be removed from post-mission (and oversized MechWarriors couldn’t fit at all). The design matched the Wasp for speed at a running velocity of 91.6 kph and a maximum jumping distance of 180 meters. 

One notable feature of the original design was the old-school iron sights that remained the Medium Laser. It was argued by Earthwerks that this forced trainees to develop their fine motor skills as they adjusted the ‘Mech’s posture and stance to fire without the benefit of a targeting computer. The usefulness of this feature is arguable given that it was eventually dropped on later models.

Earthwerks produced only two other variants prior to the Clan Invasion. The STG-3G replaced the machine guns and ammunition with a second Medium Laser in the left arm with everything else remaining the same. The STG-3Gb, on the other hand, was introduced for the SLDF’s Royal Divisions in 2720. This model was upgraded to a 150 XL engine (offering a top speed of roughly 111 kph), an endo steel chassis, and double heat sinks. Its armament was exchanged for three Medium Lasers and a single Small Laser, although no additional armor meant the pilot had to rely on the ‘Mech’s speed and jump jets to avoid incoming fire.

Stinger IIC

With the rediscovery of Star League technology in the Helm Memory Core, the STG-5M began production in the early 3050s. It kept the standard engine but upgraded the chassis to endo steel and added an additional half-ton of armor. It also replaced the twin machine guns with a single Flamer and an anti-missile system with a single ton of ammo. Earthwerks continued to iterate on the Stinger after the Jihad with the STG-6M, which replaced the STG-5M’s weapons with an ER Medium Laser, an ER Flamer, and a Laser AMS. The most modern variant offered by Earthwerks is the STG-6R, which features a 160 XL engine for a top speed of 120 kph and eight jump jets for a potential leap of 240 meters. Two Heavy Machine Guns and an ER Medium Laser harken back to the original Stinger model.

Although most numerous in the Free Worlds League, Earthwerks licensed the design to many other manufacturers across the Inner Sphere. The Lyran Commonwealth‘s Coventry Metalworks is perhaps the most notable, which began producing its own variants in 3067. The STG-6S uses a light fusion engine and MASC for a potential running speed of 151 kph and a jumping distance of 210 meters. Two Light Machine Guns and an ER Medium Laser provide a lighter armament than the original, and a small cockpit makes it brutally cramped even by Stinger standards. The STG-7S listened to pilot complaints and replaced the small cockpit with a Full-Head Ejection System. It also swaps the light engine for an XL, provides an endo steel chassis, and eight Improved Jump Jets allow it to jump as far as it can run. Curiously, it only possesses a single ER Medium Laser for defense, and its left leg carries slightly more armor than its right.

The Taurian Concordat is now the second-largest producer of Stingers with factories on New Vandenberg and MacLeod’s Land producing the STG-5R and 6R since 3067. The Capellan Confederation and the Magistracy of Canopus also produce Stingers on Sian and Detroit, and Bergan Industries has launched its own line of Stingers with the G-series, culminating in the STG-6G in the early 3100s.


The Clans are also Stinger producers. The Stinger C was originally produced by Clan Hell’s Horses and has since become the main trainer of Clan Wolf. An all-Clan-spec weapons loadout is complimented by an endo steel chassis and an additional Small Pulse Laser. And in 3085, the Stinger IIC became a symbol of the newly formed Raven Alliance as the nation’s primary trainer and reconnaissance unit. The Stinger IIC maintained the original standard engine, speed, and jump distance, but upgraded the chassis to endo steel and the armor to ferro-fibrous. It also featured significant firepower in two Improved Heavy Medium Lasers and a single AP Gauss Rifle

It’s the Stinger‘s proliferation and not its capabilities that have kept it alive over the centuries. Modern incarnations have improved the design, but it’s telling that most nations have relegated the Stinger to training and garrison units. That said, the Stinger has found a niche that will likely ensure its survival for many more centuries to come.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Round-Up For October, 2023

It’s the spooo00OO0oooo00oOOOooky month! I don’t really have anything scary to offer other than my ability to mix capital Os and zeroes together to create a ghostly sound, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all appreciate the terrors that October brings. And also some BattleTech news.

As always, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so we’re just going to hop right into it. Be sure to pack your pillow case, ’cause we’re going all night long.

Why You Never Shut Down In Front of A Wobbie

Hellish Celestial
byu/Akella333 inbattletech

We’ve got Akella to thank for this commissioned piece of a Seraph moments away from eviscerating an unfortunate Kodiak. This pic definitely gives me strong vibes of the original MechWarrior cover, only the Seraph is way more menacing than a Warhammer ever could be (no offense to the Warhammer). 

If you’re lookin’ for the ‘Mechs without the effects, check out this version over on Akella’s Twitter account

It’s Like A Snow Leopard, But Deadlier

Winter Patrol, digital oil painting by me.
byu/aa-ron-dakota inbattletech

This incredible digital oil painting comes courtesy of Aaron Harris, an artist currently working for Catalyst. I wish I was more of an artist so I could point to other famous paintings of pastoral war scenes that surely inspired this piece and nod sagely over my vast artistic wisdom, but I’m not, so I won’t. I just think this looks really good. Thanks for sharing, Aaron. 

Prints are also available for purchase. Check out this link here

OPINION: C-Bill ‘Mech Prices Never Really Made Any Sense

Sarna Complaints Department

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

I saw this post on the BattleTech subreddit a week ago, and I felt a certain kinship with iamfanboytoo. I might have made their point a little more diplomatically, but the gist is certainly true: C-Bill prices never really mattered. Don’t get me wrong--the Inner Sphere is still definitely a capitalist society (broadly speaking) and money still makes the galaxy go round, but even when the C-Bill was the dominant currency for everything, it still never made sense.

We’ll take 3025 as our base example. We have a bunch of ‘Mechs on Sarna with prices listed in C-Bills, which we assume to be the price you’d pay if you wanted to buy that ‘Mech from some theoretical ‘Mech dealership, but that’s hardly ever the case. For starters, ‘Mech dealerships aren’t really a thing in most places around the Inner Sphere at the time. Second, those prices would fluctuate wildly depending on where you are and who you’re buying from. Getting some junked-out heap in the middle of the Periphery is probably way cheaper than buying a ‘Mech straight from the manufacturer--if that manufacturer even lets you buy a ‘Mech at all, given how most factories’ production runs were already bought and paid for by House militaries.

Once you throw time into the mix, C-Bill pricing makes even less sense. Sure, standard fusion engines might start out cheap as they’re the most numerous engines produced in 3025, but by 3060, the standard had long since moved to XL engines. And just as your compact disc player became cheaper than a vinyl record player in the ’90s, so too would an XL engine become cheaper than a standard fusion engine as manufacturers all retool to mass-produce the latest and greatest tech. Therefore, doubling the price of all these 3060s-era ‘Mechs just because they have XL engines didn’t make sense then, and it doesn’t make sense now. 

And what about the Clans? They never used the C-Bill as a form of currency, so having a Timber Wolf listed at 24-million-odd C-Bills is an outright fabrication. The Clan lower castes have “work credits” to facilitate daily commerce, and the merchant castes all use the “Kerensky” as a unit of currency for larger industrial transactions, but both of those could be redistributed at the whims of the Clan leadership. (Having taken a few macroeconomics courses, one wonders how any of the central bankers at any of the Clans stayed sane.) In any case, nobody has ever gone to the Jade Falcons and asked to buy a Summoner for a cool 21 million C-Bills.

I get how it was helpful to understand the “cost” of a certain unit by assigning it a price in C-Bills, but it was always a misleading identifier at best. Just as they do today, prices would fluctuate wildly as time, technology, and universe-changing events progressed. As of the Dark Age and the IlClan eras, C-Bills are no longer the de-facto currency anyway. 

So, what’s expensive, and what’s cheap? As it does in the real world, that’ll depend on who you are, where you are, and what you’re trying to buy. By 3150, trying to buy a Griffin in the Lyran Commonwealth--an older design that’s been in mass production for centuries--would probably cost you just a few million Kroner. Meanwhile, trying to buy a Dominator from Clan Wolf would likely be outright impossible, given how it’s a brand-new design that’s being made specifically for a single military. You might be able to buy a Thresher Mk II from a wandering Sea Fox arms dealer, but you’ll probably have to pay a pretty penny--especially as the Sea Foxes will add a surcharge for currency conversion. 

I agree with iamfanboytoo; it’s time to leave the C-Bill behind. Don’t agree? Leave a message in the comments. Remember, no pitchforks allowed. 

News From Spiel Essen On Mercs Kickstarter And BattleTech Aces

GIANT Battletech News!
Watch this video on YouTube.

More news from Germany! Spiel Essen, one of the big gaming-related events out in Germany, brought with it some updates on the Mercenaries Kickstarter (with a shoutout to Big Red-40Tech for covering this earlier in the month). According to CGL folks at Spiel Essen, the miniatures are all done and raring to go, but we’re still waiting on a shipping date due to all the other stuff that came along with the Kickstarter--I’m talking dice and plushies and keychains. I’m still personally holding out hope that we’ll get shipping this year, but Big Red thinks it’s more realistic to think 2024. Considering that’s what the Kickstarter says, he’s probably right. 

Other news involves BattleTech Aces, the single-player BattleTech product that was playtested in the Mercs Kickstarter and I had quite a few positive things to say about it. We can likely expect an announcement for a new BattleTech Aces box set in “the next little while,” which might be as soon as two months. No word on what ‘Mechs might be in the box, which is likely what’s keeping the announcement from being sooner.

And finally, there’s demand for Catalyst to release more faction packs a la ComStar and the specific mercenary regiments rather than the generalist Inner Sphere and Clan packs that have been released in the two Kickstarters. Catalyst is looking into faction packs for various nations, Clans, and other major groups, but no timeframe on when we can expect an announcement.

Big Red also noted some tough news for Harebrained Schemes, which we’ll cover in our next section.

Tough Times For Hairbrained Schemes

Hairbrained Schemes Logo

Things aren’t looking so great for BATTLETECH developer Hairbrained Schemes. While its past licensed games--including the various Shadowrun titles and aforementioned BATTLETECH--were financial winners, its latest title hasn’t lived up to expectations. Although well-reviewed, The Lamplighters League didn’t capture sales, and with publisher Paradox falling on tough financial times, Hairbrained Schemes and Paradox have now parted ways. 

Worse, Hairbrained has reportedly been forced to lay off roughly 80% of its staff. There’s a resetera thread from a staffer that lays out the story. According to the post, HBS tried to sell Paradox on BATTLETECH 2, but Paradox didn’t want to pay Microsoft its licensing fee, so HBS went with The Lamplighters League. But without a built-in audience, Lamplighters League didn’t sell. Paradox then wrote the game off as a loss.

“Paradox has refocused its strategy towards its core niches within strategy and management games with endless qualities,” said Paradox chief operations officer Charlotta Nilsson in a prepared statement. “We and HBS’ leadership have been discussing what would happen after the release of The Lamplighters League, but a new project or sequel in the same genre was not in line with our portfolio plans. Hence, we believe that a separation would be the best way forward. We’re very happy that this talented, gifted studio has the chance to continue and can’t wait to see what they will make next.”

This doesn’t leave HBS in a great spot. We know that Paradox has retained the rights and source code to BATTLETECH, so if HBS wanted to make a sequel on their own, they’d have to start completely from scratch and with a drastically smaller workforce.

On the other hand, BATTLETECH was originally funded through a Kickstarter campaign, and with Microsoft saying they’d be more than willing to revisit old franchises, there’s nothing stopping HBS from simply Kickstarting BATTLETECH 2. Plus, HBS has a proven track record of being able to make fantastic games, so perhaps another publisher partnership isn’t outside the realm of possibility. Maybe they could go with a different game engine than Unity, though, given that company’s recent kerfluffle.

We’ll have to wait and see what Hairbrained does next, but at least the company seems to be in good spirits. I’d also be super interested in another Shadowrun game. Just sayin’.

The Art Of BattleTech Announces MechWarrior 2 Remake Project

Mechwarrior 2 Remake Showcase - Clan Wolf - Mission 1 Pyre Light
Watch this video on YouTube.

You might recall The Art of BattleTech (aka SankaraSamsara, or Emil) from various MechWarrior 5 mods that add classic Clan OmniMechs, or from an essay we recently published on what MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries gets right and what it gets wrong. Emil has just announced that he’s embarked on his most ambitious project to date: a recreation of MechWarrior 2 in MechWarrior 5: Mercs.

So far, the mod is mostly a proof of concept and only has the first mission for the Clan Wolf campaign, “Pyre Light.” It uses the modded ‘Mechs that Emil and company have created for Mercs, with players accessing the Clan Wolf campaign by starting a new career. This brings up a facsimile of MechWarrior 2‘s menus with a MechWarrior 5-style briefing screen.

Compared to a regular Mercenaries mission, Pyre Light in the mod is mostly an empty desert. You do indeed destroy a chemical plant, inspect a firebase, and blow away a few light ‘Mechs exactly as you did in MechWarrior 2, but with way more visual and audio fidelity. It’s a vastly different experience, one which Emil has previously described at length.

I’ve spoken with Emil about his most immediate future plans. Besides adding in other missions, he wants to throw in the original MechWarrior 2 cinematics and allow the user to choose between the original soundtrack by Jeehun Hwang or the remixed version from Timothy Seals. 

Remaking these missions is still a ton of work, so consider hopping over to Emil’s Patreon if this is something you’d like to support. You can download the MechWarrior 2 Remake Project over on Nexus Mods

And just in time for the MechWarrior 2 Remake Project, Emil has announced the Jenner IIC mod is now available for MechWarrior 5 with a model created by FarSeer Animation. Grab this one on Nexus Mods or Steam Workshop.

Camo Specs Online Partners With CGL To Offer Free Clan Smoke Jaguar Paint Guide

Camo Specs Online, your one-stop shop for BattleTech faction and unit paint schemes, has paired up with Catalyst to offer a guide to painting units within Clan Smoke Jaguar. This is likely to do with MechWarrior 5: Clans as you’ll be a Smoke Jaguar MechWarrior in the upcoming game, but it could just be the first of many guides as Camo Specs is warning us that something else will be arriving November 17

The guide itself is available from Catalyst’s online store for zero dollars. That’s right--it’s free. Inside the PDF you’ll find paint schemes and unit insignias for Alpha, Beta, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Kappa, Nu, Tau, Psi, and Omega Galaxies, as well as step-by-step instructions for how to recreate the complex jaguar fur pattern of Alpha Galaxy. If you’re looking to paint your own Smoke Jaguar units, then this is an invaluable resource you’ll definitely want to grab. Hats off to Camo Specs for putting this together!

PGI President Russ Bullock Shares More Details On MW5: Clans With No Guts No Galaxy

Podcast 232 - Russ Bullock - MW5 Clans, MW5 Mercs, MWO
Watch this video on YouTube.

We’ve got a few more tidbits on MechWarrior 5: Clans courtesy of No Guts No Galaxy. In an interview with the PGI president, Russ Bullock discussed the origins of MechWarrior 5: Clans as an offshoot of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, taking the opposite approach of MechWarrior 2 many decades ago (that game starting with the Clans and then going Mercenaries rather than the other way around). Bullock also admitted that MW5: Clans started life as an expansion, but it quickly became apparent that MW5: Mercs wouldn’t be able to handle all the things that PGI wanted to do, so when the decision to upgrade to Unreal Engine 5 came down the pipe, it only made sense to make an entirely new game. 

Russ had some really good things to say about the coming MechWarrior 5 sequel, with a lot of discussion centering around the storytelling that will be present in MW5: Clans. Specifically, the game will have over a dozen actual characters “with dialog” and “Unreal 5-quality cinematics.” Sounds like we’re going to have more than just Ryana doing the talking this time around.

My personal take? PGI is making the MechWarrior equivalent of Ace Combat 7 or Armored Core 6. Probably far less anime-inspired, but it sounds like there will be similarities in terms of structure, ie. missions having voiced briefings before (or perhaps after) they start, and major story beats will be accompanied by both in-game and cinematic sequences. And if that’s the case, I’m all for it. I love what Bandai Namco has done with its action franchises, with both games being some of my favorite action titles in recent memory.

There was also some discussion on how PGI is expanding its skill base by hiring actual character artists. MechWarrior 5: Merc‘s characters were either 2D avatars or stock Unreal models modified to become Ryana and Fahad. PGI now has a team of a dozen or so people who can create human characters from the ground up, including animation and mocap, so we can expect way more people to be part of MechWarrior 5: Clans‘ story. 

The cinematics themselves sound like they’ll be outsourced to other companies, one of which might just be TMC--the makers of Hired Steel and the MechWarrior 5: Clans teaser trailer we saw last month.

Other quick hits include “incremental improvements” in ‘Mech combat compared to MW5: Mercs, continued support for mods (yay!), and continued support for online co-op without committing to any sort of PvP gameplay in MW5: Clans

There’s more of course, with discussions on the future of MechWarrior Online (largely status-quo) and how a game like MechAssault might be a good thing for Microsoft to revisit as it brought a lot of folks into the BattleTech fold. But you can hear more about that in the video embedded above.

BungleTech And Other BattleTech Podcasts You Should Listen To

I love podcasts. I listen to them every day while I’m cooking or cleaning or going to the gym. And now I’ve discovered an entire ring of BattleTech podcasts courtesy of BungleTech hosts Nathan and Mike.

BungleTech is itself a BattleTech podcast that recently interviewed a whole bunch of other BattleTech podcasts, including Renegade HPG (there’s literally nothing Travis doesn’t have his hand in), BattlePod, On The Origins of BattleMechs, The MechBay, Battle Babes, Mercenary Star, Of ‘Mech’s And Men, The Valhalla Club, Wolfnet, The Calgary BattleTech League (shoutout to my Western Canadian peeps), Battletopia Stories (who also does the lovely audio plays of the Bad ‘Mechs series), and Unicorn Company

Interviewing this many creators took a whopping four hours, so be sure to have a lot of cleaning/cooking/gyming to do before embarking on this particular journey, but know that you’ve got a great chance of picking up a new favorite podcast if you do.

The BungleTech podcast also recently conducted a survey of listeners where they revealed their favorite ‘Mechs in each weight class (Locust, Hunchback, Warhammer, and Awesome), favorite weapons (PPCs, of course), and even their favorite three design quirks. Nathan and Mike weren’t exactly scientific in their process, and respondents often added their own special flare (this is why you don’t leave blank fields for responses, guys), but any community outreach is good outreach.

Last of all, they’re giving away a cool new tabletop game mode where you hunt down the legendary Black Marauder. Nothing says it’s the spooky season like trying to destroy a ‘Mech possessed by a demon. Check ’em out on Spotify, Anchor FM, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get podcasts.

Grayson Carlyle’s Marauder Finally Becomes A Card

By now, you all should know Regengade HPG and his love of the BattleTech CCG. You should also know that he’s been expanding the CCG with brand-new cards that he personally created. Here we have Grayson Carlyle’s MAD-3R Marauder, which survived for 25 years until the Clans invaded Sudeten.

Art for the card comes courtesy of the prolific Eldon Cowgur (aka Eldoniousrex), but the text and stats are all Renegade HPG. Expect to see this and more in the upcoming Payback expansion, and head to the BattleTech TCG Discord server for more details.

MechWarrior 5 Concept Art From The Early 2000s Surfaces Online

Heinz Schuller, the art director for MechAssault, MechAssault 2, and MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries, has shared a number of concept art pieces that were to be used in the proposed MechWarrior 5 project that ultimately never received the green light back in 2003. Besides being cool concept art for a canceled game, what’s interesting here is just how wildly different these ‘Mechs are from their original designs.

The Wolf Trap, for example, bears almost no resemblance to the classic image from TRO 3050. It looks far more tank-like than the original, with its left hand replaced by a smaller autocannon and a head that’s just a sloped canopy. The Vindicator also loses its hand in favor of a weapon’s barrel, and the Fenris looks almost nothing like the Ice Ferret we all know and love.

The existence of the Toyama meant that it’s likely the Word of Blake would have been the game’s villain, but we can really only speculate. The game never got to the writing stage, and documents from the era are few and far between. That’s what makes this treasure trove so special. Thanks, Heinz!

BattleTech Universe Previewed By Catalyst

BattleTech Universe Preview
Watch this video on YouTube.

We know that CGL has been working on a new Universe book for BattleTech for some time. That’s the book that tries to explain the entire BattleTech universe in a single volume, which is quite the task given how big a universe it really is. Managing developer Randall Bills recently revealed just how much progress Catalyst has made in a preview posted to the CGL YouTube channel.

What we saw was… huge. Mostly because there will be several different versions of the new primer, one of which will include a packaged set with maps, art prints, and a lovely box that provides the “all systems nominal” message whenever you open it. Then there’s the BattleTech Universe book itself, which will contain all the relevant information players will need to get caught up to the current point in the BattleTech narrative, but also something called the BattleTech Remembrance, which will include personal messages from over 50 authors and creators, including BattleTech creator Jordan Weisman

Randall said he’d be “carefully scrutinizing” every page--and there are a lot of pages to look at--before sending the final version for printing. Randall expects it to become a “new high watermark” for the industry, and folks will be looking to BattleTech to see how games should be historically preserved. This looks like the sort of bespoke product that every BattleTech fan will want to have on their bookshelf or sitting on their coffee table. 

Still no word on when we’ll see the BattleTech Universe book hit store shelves, but it sure seems like we’re on the home stretch.

BattleTech World Wide Event Coming Next Month

You might have seen signs for this at your local store, but there’s a new worldwide event coming in November. “At The Cost Of Bootlaces” will see the Capellan Confederation face off against the IlClan in a titanic clash that will test Clan Wolf’s supremacy in the new era. 

Of course, which side wins will be totally up to you! Head on over to your local game store and sign up for the BattleTech 2023 Worldwide Event, which will be at various times and places between October 31 and December 31. 

MechWarrior Online Patch Brings New Legendary ‘Mechs And Halloween Events

Marauder Blight MechWarrior Online

Another month, another patch! MechWarrior Online has a ton of stuff going on, including the usual Halloween-themed event and sale, the ongoing MechWarrior Online Championship Series, several ‘Mech and map adjustments, and two new Legendary ‘Mechs.

The first is Blight, a Marauder with two guns on its armored carapace instead of one! They’re both Ultra AC/10s in the right and left torsos protected by CASE, which is a little weird since the ammo for these guns is located everywhere except the right and left torsos. Owners will likely modify this immediately after purchasing the ‘Mech for $15. 

The second is Gorewing, a new Legendary Vapor Eagle variant. A slow brawler rather than a jumping sniper, the Gorewing mounts twin LB 10-X autocannons and five ER Medium Lasers. It’s not particularly fast, but it’s got jump quirks and a lot of additional armor in those arms, so expect this thing to be a highly-mobile medium-range striker.

On the quirk side, the big winners this month are Locust, Blackjack, Trebuchet, Thunderbolt, and Charger with significant buffs across the board. A few variants from other ‘Mechs also received smaller tweaks, and the new Hyper Gauss Rifles have had their projectile spread drastically reduced. Finally, Viridian Bog no longer has a lily pad forest in the lowlands, which will go a long way to improving your odds of hitting a fleeing light ‘Mech on that map.

We know that PGI considers MechWarrior Online will maintain the status quo for the next year, but that doesn’t mean the Cauldron is sitting on its heels! Check out this interview between No Guts No Galaxy and Bear_Cl4w of the Cauldron to learn of the big changes coming in the MWO pipeline.

The Urbanhonk Strikes When You Least Expect It

I’ll be the first to admit the barrels on some BattleMechs are… questionable. The Thunder, Striker, Victor, and various other ‘Mechs with a veritable keg for an arm all come to mind. Which is probably what inspired hobo freelance artist DMoser to create what he calls “The Urbanhonk.”

I’m on the fence as to whether or not this is a significant enough improvement to warrant its own alphanumeric variant code. Thanks, DMoser, for this. Whatever it is.

BattleTech Instant Action Scenario Pack Available Now

Battletech: Instant Action, a Classic Battletech scenario pack for pickup play
byu/Rawbert413 inbattletech

Having trouble coming up with a scenario to play with your local BattleTech tabletop group? Or are you just looking to spice up your games with a little bit of chaos? Then the Instant Action Classic BattleTech Scenario Pack might be for you.

We have Rawbert413 to thank for this little download, which you can grab here. The PDF offers what is called the “Mission Matrix,” which determines the scenario you’ll be playing. Each player privately chooses either “Confront, Hold, Recon, Destroy,” or “Salvage.” Players then throw their choices in a hat and two of them are selected. Whatever two choices are drawn then determines the scenario based on the Mission Matrix.

Say the two choices are “Hold” and “Destroy.” You then consult the Mission Matrix and see you’ve selected the “Bombing Run” scenario, where the “Destroy” player has to run their ‘Mechs into the “Hold” player’s area in order to lay their held satchel charges and blow up some important objective. The defender has to “hold,” but the attacker is also “holding” something, and of course, there’s destruction all around.

What if you get two of the same choice? For example, if you get “Confront” and “Confront,” it’s assigned the scenario “Circle of Equals,” which is basically just two sides beating the crap out of each other until one side submits. “Recon” and “Recon” results in “Scout Clash,” where the objective is for each side to scan as many data nodes as possible and then retreat back to base. “Destroy” and “Destroy” results in “Hot Potato,” which eventually results in a hilariously large explosion, but not before there’s plenty of physical violence. 

I like this idea a lot, and I think it can definitely spice up a stale player group. Check it out courtesy of Rawbert’s Reddit post here.

Those Searchlights Aren’t Really Going To Help…

Lone scout, 2023
byu/Remmor inbattletech

I do wish searchlights were a feature you could activate in some MechWarrior games, but I don’t think they’re going to save this poor Phoenix Hawk. With thanks to Remmor for the post and Faut for the art (or possibly Faul, it’s hard to tell based on the font).

And that’s it for the spookiest of months! Join us next time as we head into the somber month of November before we catapult ourselves into the consumerist frenzy of December. We’ll be sure to report on all the new BattleTech products that hit store shelves this holiday season.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy


Bad ‘Mechs – Vulcan

Bad 'Mechs Vulcan

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

“You’re gonna be fine! I’m tellin’ ya, Dex has got you covered with a real Star League ‘Mech. You’ll eat this Drac dropout for breakfast.” 

Tychon’s words didn’t do much to assuage Vic’s growing unease. He needed this fight to go well--Dex had promised to have his arena license reinstated if he could beat Matsumoto’s Panther in an underground (and highly illegal) duel. Dex had even offered his own ‘Mech for the fight. All he had to do was win. 

And yet, something didn’t feel right. It wasn’t the fact he was dealing with perhaps the lowest rung of Solaris society. Vic was used to shady characters like Tychon. It was the fact that Dex had offered his own ‘Mech. Never mind the fact it was supposedly from the days of the fabled Star League--everyone said that, and everyone forgot that there were just as many shambling junkpiles in the Star League as there were today. Nobody at this level lent their ‘Mechs out, especially when they were already doing a huge favor. Least of all kingpins like Dex.

Vic crossed his arms and looked out the hoverlimo’s window. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” he said, half under his breath. 

It didn’t take long to reach the makeshift arena on the outskirts of Nowhere. A crowd had already gathered in the bleachers, protected by a sparking net that looked like it couldn’t stop a fly let alone an autocannon shell. Vic knew that civilian casualties weren’t uncommon at these fights. He’d already written half of them off.

The hover limo parked right next to the gantries where two dark colossi stood. One was a Panther, but the other was a ‘Mech that Vic had never seen before. It was taller than the Panther, but far more gangly, with long, thin limbs and a cockpit that seemed to erupt from the machine’s wide shoulders. Vic could make out the muzzle brake of a light autocannon and a right arm with the telltale scorch marks of flamer, but it was too dark to make out the rest. 

“Get suited up, hero,” Tychon mocked as he tossed Vic his beat-up neurohelmet. “Time to put on a show.” 

The next ten minutes were all downhill. Vic was dismayed to find out that his “Star League” ‘Mech had just a 60mm autocannon as its main armament. The flamer might be useful if he could get close, but he only had a single medium laser and a piddly machine gun when his autocannon’s ammo bin ran dry. Worse, he had no hands, so close combat brawling was out too.

The jump jets were a bonus and the ‘Mech felt reasonably nimble after taking it through a five-minute shakedown, but he was hardly confident his firepower would surpass his opponent. 

The other five minutes proved his suspicions correct. The Vulcan, a name he’d only discovered after cycling through his diagnostic displays, had less armor than the Panther. That discovery was made apparent after Matsumoto’s PPC sheared off his left arm at the shoulder. The arm only contained his machine gun, but it was an arm down when he’d barely pockmarked the Panther’s armored hide.

Vic fired with his autocannon, scoring minor hits across the Panther’s chest. Meanwhile, Vic’s damage display showed several red areas where previous PPC blasts had ruptured his wiry ‘Mech’s armor. His only hope was to close the distance, get underneath the PPC’s minimum range, and use his flamer to force Matsumoto into shutdown.

Kicking his Vulcan into gear, Vic charged forward in a slight zig-zag, firing his autocannon wildly as he went. Most of his shots missed, but Matsumoto’s did not. Another PPC blast removed his right arm, while a second punched through the Vulcan’s chest to nick the engine shielding. Immediately, the Vulcan’s normally temperate cockpit became a veritable sauna and his forward momentum slowed to a crawl.

Vic couldn’t hear it, but the crowd roared as the Vulcan seemed to stagger forward after a mortal blow. A few more defiant plinks from his autocannon merely bounced off the Panther’s scowling feline face as the crowd jeered. Then the Panther let loose a flight of SRMs. Three erupted all around the Vulcan’s cockpit, but one slipped right through the rents in the 40-ton machine’s armor to touch off the remaining autocannon rounds. The resulting explosion killed both Vic and 46 fans who were cheering right up until the shockwave blew the bleachers apart.

Vulcan : Bad 'Mechs a Sarna Tale | Battletopia Stories
Watch this video on YouTube.

Vulcan 3025

The bizarrely-shaped Vulcan is a ‘Mech made purely by necessity. In the closing years of the Amaris Civil War, the Star League Defense Force found itself fighting in the highly-populated urban centers of the Terran Hegemony. Ill-equipped for urban fighting, Alexander Kerensky ordered MatherTechno Incorporated of the recently liberated Northwind to produce a ‘Mech made to combat dug-in infantry--the most common threat faced by ‘Mechs when fighting in cities.

What MatherTechno came back with was quickly nicknamed the “Scarecrow” by SLDF MechWarriors. Tall and wiry for 40 tons, the VL-2T Vulcan also came with an odd assortment of weapons designed specifically to root out infantry. Its primary weapon was a 60mm Armstrong Autocannon/2, which was supported by a Firestorm Flamer and a Sperry Browning Machine Gun. The ‘Mech’s most powerful weapon, a single Medium Laser, was most often reserved for light-armored vehicles. 

The Vulcan‘s first combat action came during Operation Liberation, the battle for Terra. Primarily assigned to the SLDF’s Volunteer Regiments, the Vulcan quickly earned a reputation for being an effective city fighter. However, with only five tons of armor and an arsenal of light weapons, the Vulcan was vulnerable to other ‘Mechs or even heavy armored vehicles. In cases where the Vulcan found itself overmatched, a top speed of 97 kph and six jump jets theoretically allowed clever pilots to escape, but after years of bitter fighting, few Vulcan pilots opted for retreat during the Terran liberation.

Vulcan 3058

As MatherTechno’s first and only ‘Mech, the Vulcan also suffered from other design flaws beyond its armament. Without hands, the Vulcan was especially vulnerable to the sort of melee combat commonly found in urban settings. It also made the Vulcan less useful in non-combat scenarios and made it difficult to extract itself from rubble without damaging its Machine Gun or Flamer. The light autocannon was supposed to be a multipurpose weapon, but it was most often employed against hardened structures where the Flamer and Machine Gun proved ineffective. 

After Terra fell, the Vulcan temporarily found itself a weapon without a war. Luckily, MatherTechno soon found itself flooded with orders as every Great House frantically built up its arsenal in preparation for what would become the Succession Wars. This resulted in the proliferation of the Vulcan across the Inner Sphere, although their numbers would dwindle after MatherTechno’s factory was destroyed in the first few months of the First Succession War.

With its factory destroyed, MatherTechno was forced to sell the design to be produced under license by both Coventry Metal Works and Nimakachi Fusion Products Limited. This made the Vulcan most numerous in the Lyran Commonwealth and the Free Worlds League. In contrast, House Liao had the fewest number of Vulcans after the planet Sappho--where the majority of the Cappellan Vulcans were stationed--was lost to House Marik during the Second Succession War

Vulcan CCG

House Davion had a large stockpile of spare parts keeping its Vulcans operational, which were mostly the VL-5T variant. Introduced a year after the VL-2T, the 5T sacrificed the 60mm autocannon in favor of three additional Medium Lasers, two more tons of armor, and two extra heat sinks. This version of the Vulcan was far more effective at engaging ‘Mechs and other armored targets and proved instrumental in the retaking of Kentares IV during the First Succession War. 

It wasn’t until the recovery of the Helm Memory Core that new Vulcan variants started to be produced. The VT-5M from Nimakachi Fusion Products replaced the autocannon with a Large Pulse Laser, upgraded the laser to a Medium Pulse Laser, and upgraded the heat sinks to doubles. An endo steel chassis was used to make room for the additional firepower and an extra heat sink. Production of this variant would run from 3052 until 3069 when Nimakachi’s plant on Tematagi was destroyed by a pirate band known as the Order of the Faithful, a group unwittingly controlled by the Word of Blake.

The VT-6M, produced just before the factory was destroyed, upgraded the 5M’s arsenal with an ER Medium Laser and a Light Gauss Rifle with two tons of ammo. Only 30 examples of this variant were produced before the factory’s destruction and most of those were captured by the World of Blake.

Vulcan 3050 Update

With the Word of Blake’s de-facto takeover of the Free Worlds League, the VT-6C arose from the ashes of Nimakachi’s plant. This variant replaced the VT-5M’s lasers for an ER Large Laser, an ER Medium Laser, and a C3i Computer, and replaced the single Machine Gun with a trio of Light Machine Guns linked in a Machine Gun Array.

On the Lyran side, the VT-5S replaced the reliable Pitban 240 engine with an Extralight version, added ferro-fibrous armor and CASE for additional protection, and MASC for a temporary top speed of 129 kph. The lighter engine also allowed the Armstrong autocannon to be replaced by a much larger Ultra Autocannon/5. Unlike the Marik variant, the 5S would remain in production and even see a sub-variant upgrade produced during the Jihad. This variant--called the VT-5Sr--replaced the Ultra AC/5 with a Plasma Rifle and two additional heat sinks.

Following the Jihad, the Vulcan faced stiff competition from various OmniMechs sporting anti-personnel configurations, and the Republic disarmament meant that most militaries preferred to keep these adaptable designs over a dedicated infantry fighter like the Vulcan. With sales collapsing, Coventry and Nimakachi held a technical summit to redesign the Vulcan for the modern era. The result was the VL-7T. This entirely revamped Vulcan was armed with a Plasma Rifle, Heavy Machine Gun, Heavy Flamer, and an ER Medium Laser. A 240 XL engine and light ferro-fibrous armor allowed for the additional armament, all of which was linked to a Targeting Computer.

Vulcan RGilClan v30

Cheaper than competing OmniMechs, the VT-7T is the perfect design to defeat all sorts of armored infantry. The Targeting Computer ensures locks are maintained on squirrely targets such as Elementals, while the tried, tested, and true trio of Flamer, Machine Gun, and laser ensure that lightly armored and unarmored infantry can be cut down in droves. Today, the VL-7T is one of the top-selling ‘Mechs for both companies in no small part due to the prevalence of infantry on the modern battlefield.

However, that may not be the case forever. As infantry losses mount due to the deadly design, commanders may rethink their tactics to favor ‘Mechs once again. When that happens, the Vulcan will undoubtedly fall back on hard times.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy


Community Outreach – Matthew “Stinger” Cross’s Contributions To BattleTech

Welcome to another episode of Community Outreach! This time we’ve got someone who’s made truly significant contributions to BattleTech, whether it be model-making, technical writing, or fiction. Matthew “Stinger” Cross has truly done it all, and he’s recently embarked on terrain and accessories for your next tabletop BattleTech game. Together, we go over his prodigious career and why the original Summoner isn’t nearly as good as the Thor II. Enjoy. 

Sean (Sarna):  Let’s start with introductions. I’m Sean, the Sarna news guy. For any reader who hasn’t read your Sarna page already, who are you?

Cross Electric Designs Logo

Matthew Cross (Stinger): Hello! I am Matthew Cross (Matt or Matthew, I generally don’t care), and my typical handle online is Stinger. I am an Iron Wind Metals freelance 3D designer, CGL freelance artist and writer, and the owner and proprietor of Cross Electric Designs!  I kinda do everything these days.

Sean: And how long have you been a BattleTech fan?

Matthew: Oh gosh. For a very very long time. My first memories of anything BattleTech-related involved a random Freeware game in the early ’90s when I was probably five years old called Megatron. It had a Mad Cat and a Vulture (which now I see was an obvious ripoff), but it was cool at the time. Then came a version of MechWarrior 2 that didn’t actually work on my PC but we could look at the MechLab and read the archive. I really got into things with MechWarrior 4 when I was 11. So, pretty much my whole life!

Sean: That’s MechWarrior 2 and MechWarrior 4, what other MechWarrior or BattleTech games have you played?

Matthew: So, I’ve played a little bit of everything except MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries and Harebrained Schemes’ BATTLETECH. Back in 2009-2010 I even beat MechWarrior 1, played in Dosbox, without directly cheating. That game has an economic system that is easy to manipulate.

I’ve played chunks of Crescent Hawks Inception, the whole demo for MechWarrior 3 (never played the full game), and I was one of the first thousand beta testers for MechWarrior Online! MechWarrior 4 and its expansions are my favorite though, without a doubt. They’ve heavily inspired most of my 3D modeling career so far.

I’m a sucker for TROs, and 3075 is definitely a favorite. It was actually the first BattleTech sourcebook I purchased.

Sean: No MechWarrior 5 or BATTLETECH? Why avoid the two latest games? Just don’t have a rig for it?

Matthew: Don’t have the time! Well, for at least BATTLETECH. I actually backed the Kickstarter for that game, but it just came out at a busy time in my life and I guess I kept forgetting! Plus I’ve been busy with modeling, printing, writing, and not to mention the day job and being a dad! 

MechWarrior 5 I haven’t really played for two stupid reasons. First, I’m not a huge fan of the aesthetic of PGIs ‘Mechs, but worst, secondly, is that the scale of the ‘Mechs in the game is… wrong.

Let’s see if I can say this briefly without ranting… ‘Mechs are 6-12 meters tall. Some of the top assault ‘Mechs would obviously go over this number and some lights go under, but the PGI Atlas is like 20 meters tall. And the tanks are downright tiny. They feel like Honda Civics plinking at you from below. This issue more than anything has made me overall avoid MW5. It’s stupid, but I stand by it! 

And yes, I did hear about the mods for working around the scaling issue, which I should check out…

Sean: It’s true, mods do make MW5. But also, BATTLETECH is a triumph for anyone who likes turn-based tactics games.

Matthew: I know, I know! I really do need to play… 

Sean: Alright, let’s go through the list. Most important question: What’s your favorite ‘Mech?

Matthew: Ugh. Such a hard question. But let’s keep it simple. Hammerhands

It really caught my eye when I started getting really into BattleTech in college and the miniature was the first official BattleTech mini I’ve ever bought. And the mini, while scaled a little small, is absolutely fantastic.

I have so many more things to say are my favorites. Like the MW4 Daishi or the Mad Cat III (the XTRO version), the MW4 Vulture, heck even the Jenner is a favorite. I could go on and on and on, but I think Hammerhands is my final answer.

Sean: My favorite also meanders depending on my mood, so I totally understand where you’re coming from. What about your favorite era?

Matthew: Dark Age. Really anything post Jihad I would say.  I love the small stories that can be told in the era.  It feels like Succession Wars, but with higher tech.  So many little things happening that don’t have to be world-shattering, but interesting stories can be told nonetheless. Plus, most of my Ironwind Metals designs are Dark Age or Republic Era designs, so I have a bit of a soft spot I think.

Sean: Dark Age is a polarizing era–you either love it or you hate it. Or you get confused by it, which is where I’m at most of the time with all the factionalization of everything.

Matthew: Oh man, I think I have a strong attachment to the so-called “Pirate” factions because I had a small collection of MechWarrior: Dark Age figures. I got the “Premier” box set and probably only four to five boosters in total, but it cemented my love of the Blue and Green Swordsworn units. I think I have a good 20 minis painted in that scheme in my collection. Even my latest Shrapnel story, No Rest for the Accursed, actually dealt with two of the factions, the Highlanders and the Dragon’s Fury

Sean: I’m still getting caught up on Shrapnel, but I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for that story when it arrives. Any particular favorite bit of BattleTech media? A novel, video, or game?

Matthew: Well, excluding MechWarrior 4, I’m a sucker for TROs, and 3075 is definitely a favorite. It was actually the first BattleTech sourcebook I purchased. I’ve read a lot of novels as well, but I love the pure, crunchy, techy goodness that is a TRO or Recognition Guide.

Sean: Let’s get into your Sarna page. It says here your first contributions to BattleTech were to Ironwind Metals for the Vulture III and Thor II models. How does one even go about creating models for Ironwind? Is it like today with 3D modeling software or is it more old-school since these are pewter figures?

Matthew: I learned 3D modeling as a required one-credit course for my computer engineering degree at the beginning of college. This was 2008-2009 or so and 3D printing was barely a thing yet. But that class, combined with a weird summer internship where I was both working in CAD and writing code, in CAD, led me down a long journey of making BattleTech 3D models. I even tried teaching myself some techniques while modeling a Mad Cat at the internship. 

It’s… not pretty. 

Sean: It seems like it’s half a ‘Mech.

Matthew: I eventually finished it into what my friends commonly call the “Chibi-Cat”

Sean: Okay, I like chibi ‘Mechs. 

Matthew:  They say that everyone starts somewhere, and the Chibi-Cat was definitely my start. 


From there I did some more modeling, including my own version of a Manatee DropShip (from the aforementioned TRO: 3075), and then, right around the release of TRO: 3145: The Clans, I got images of the Vulture III and Thor II.  Being the big MechWarrior 4 and MWDA fan that I am, I know these two mechs are based on the MWDA versions of the ‘Mechs, which in turn were based on the MW4 versions of the ‘Mechs.  I jumped at the opportunity to model them for myself. Additionally, I knew Ironwind Metals was using 3D models for their minis, as this was around the time designs like the Dark Age Black Knight and the Ares tripods were released, so I knew that my models had potential. 

I also wanted to get my foot in the door, so I offered both models to IWM for free in an email to IWM president Mike Noe.  And private messages to Speck, the IWM admin. And general pestering. And while IWM opted not to use my Vulture III, and instead opted for a version closer to the MW4 art, they did ultimately go with my Thor II which was just hugely exciting. 

Sean: I see why that Mad Cat is considered the Chibi-Cat. Such tiny limbs! What other ‘Mech submissions did IWM accept? 

Matthew: Since 2014, I have had 21 accepted designs with Ironwind!  The Arion, Arctic Wolf II, Roadrunner, Pendragon, Centurion resculpt, and Centurion OmniMech.  A bunch of MechWarrior 4-based resculpts including the Cougar, Chimera, and Hellspawn.  I should really update my Sarna page with the full list.  My latest and greatest was the Mastodon, just released last month!

Sean:  Do you have a favorite IWM model that you created?

Matthew: It has to be the Catapult CPLT-C2, aka the Dark Age Catapult. Not the Catapult II, that’s a different ‘Mech.


I love the MWDA mini and decided to buy one off of eBay to use as a 3D modeling reference. I knocked out the first draft in like four hours straight (very fast for a model for me). I eventually was able to get the model through IWM’s Fan Funding program and the mini ultimately was made! I really tried to take everything that was good with that MWDA figure and mold it into something a bit more believable for the BattleTech universe.  Heck, I even made some TRO-style art for it from my model.

That, admittedly, was made even after the IWM model was made and includes some extra detailing, but it’s essentially the same design nonetheless

Sean: Rockin’. Alright, next on your page, I see you’ve also submitted game stats that have been officially published in multiple places, including the Clan Recognition Guides and TRO 3150. Does this mean you’ve made ‘Mechs that are now part of BattleTech canon?

Matthew: So, I’ve always been one to play around in the MechLab and try my hand at designing some loadouts. During the designing of the Pendragon for IWM, I wanted to design a bodyguard, dual C3 master version of the ‘Mech. This was 2015 I am pretty sure. The CGL assistant art director at the time was our now fearless leader, Ray Arrastia, who introduced me to the then XTRO developer (now the full TRO developer) Johannes “Jymset” Heidler who has become my good friend and mentor in all things BattleTech. We massaged the design a bit and got it included in the New Tech section at the back of TRO: 3150, whose record sheets were FINALLY released earlier this year!

Anyways, ever since, Johannes has been getting my ideas on loadouts and several of my Omni configs made it into the Rec. Guides along with the Jenner IIC 5I made a list recently!

Sean: Maybe you’d be a good person to ask since I see you worked on a lot of the “II” ‘Mechs. now, I have no problem with the IICs since they seem like a logical evolution for classic ‘Mechs that stuck around within the Clans. But the II ‘Mechs never made much sense to me. How do you feel about ‘Mechs like the Thor II and Loki II, especially with respect to the recent Clan Recognition Guides and the latest variants for the original Thor and Loki that have now been published?

Since 2014, I have had 21 accepted designs with Ironwind!  The Arion, Arctic Wolf II, Roadrunner, Pendragon, Centurion resculpt, and Centurion OmniMech. My latest and greatest was the Mastodon, just released last month!

Matthew: So, let’s talk about how the IIs came about.  Particularly the Thor II, Loki II, Kodiak II, Arctic Wolf II, Vulture III, and Mad Cat III. The Dark Age Black Knight and Atlas S3/II kinda also apply here and I may be missing a few, to be honest.

We’ll use the Thor as our main example here. We’ve got the original 3050 artwork. That in turn inspired its look in MechWarrior 4, but due to art style and whatnot, quite a bit changed. Also with that change came a change in default weapons loadouts, likely due to game balance. That MW4 design was translated into the MWDA dossier load out, which was (somehow) translated from real BattleTech stats. From there, CGL devs created fresh loadoats and artwork based on the dossiers and the looks of the Dark Age miniature, resulting in the Thor II. The lineage was original TRO art -> MW4 art -> MWDA art -> sequel Mech art.

It’s convoluted, but in the end, it ultimately makes some sense.  And frankly, I love the looks of many of the II designs.

The T configs on the other hand were created so you could buy a mini from the Clan Invasion box and play it in the Dark Age and IlClan eras. Does it make a ton of sense? Nah. Does it just give us more toys to play with? Definitely. 

I say majorly, to each their own. I love me the Thor II and will gladly use the extra 3.5 tons of equipment to pummel your original Thor into the ground.

Loki II and Thor II

Sean:  Well, that’s a fair answer. But if the Thor II and Loki II are attempts to canonize the MW4 ‘Mechs (and also MWDA ‘Mechs), then why the Catapult II and Raven II?

Matthew: Catapult II is a direct pull from an original MWDA ‘Mech whilst the Raven II was a production model of the experimental Raven from XTRO: Liao, I believe. Both are interesting cases that don’t follow the pattern.

Sean: You were first writing technical readouts, but then you swapped to fiction writing, the first being The Last Flight of the Black Condor in Shrapnel #10. Was that a big switch for you or were you always looking to be a fiction writer?

I love me the Thor II and will gladly use the extra 3.5 tons of equipment to pummel your original Thor into the ground.

Matthew: So, I actually tried my hand at fiction writing first. I wrote a story that was going to be in BattleCorps but, well, it was bad. Very bad. I tried writing in the first person, thinking it would be easier, then I tried converting it to third person, unsuccessfully. Tenses are hard.

Then, a few years after that I wrote a really fun article on why Clan ER medium lasers are better than standard ER medium lasers over in the fan articles section of the official BattleTech forums. I was inspired by another article I read on those forums to do it as a college lecture. My background as an engineer combined with my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, I have sat through a LOT of lectures. It was a style I felt I could do really well with. 

After showing off my article on the forums to Phil Lee, the Shrapnel Managing Editor, he was interested in me writing more articles for Shrapnel I was very excited about doing.  After getting four of those under my belt, I decided to tackle Black Condor, which was a scenario and setting I had in my mind for years and years. Heroic band of misfits saving the day, and getting picked off one at a time. I’m not going to lie to you, it was inspired by the climax of Shrek 2. It’s embarrassingly true.

The writing was hard and had A LOT of edits from the editors. It almost didn’t pass muster. No Rest for the Accursed was much easier on a whole. Getting the hang of dialog was a change from the lecture style and I think that was the hardest thing to do.

Sean:  Hah, well if Shrek 2 inspired Black Condor, what inspired No Rest for the Accursed?

Matthew:  A random violin piece by Lindsey Stirling. I’m not joking. 

Sean: Oh, I have a friend who really likes her!

I decided to tackle The Last Flight of the Black Condor, which was a scenario and setting I had in my mind for years and years. Heroic band of misfits saving the day, and getting picked off one at a time. I’m not going to lie to you, it was inspired by the climax of Shrek 2. It’s embarrassingly true.

Matthew: My kids found a song of hers, “Roundtable Rivals,” and I definitely thought immediately of a Highlander IIC having a slugfest with an entire lance, and wins. I did change the music to bagpipes in the story, but the effect remained all the same.  You really need to read this story…

Sean: Welp, I’m grinding my way through Shrapnel since it’s my preferred method of getting BattleTech short stories. 

I have a question for one that’s not canon–Welcome to Nebula California. I’ve never heard of this, and the art on the Sarna page makes it look like it’s about ‘Mechs versus superheroes. Can you tell me more about that and what you contributed to this sourcebook?

Matthew: Oh wow. Yeah, I forgot about Welcome to Nebula California!  That one was a collaboration between myself and CGL’s top layout guy, David “Dak” Kerber. Dak had a bunch of art he needed to create and we collaborated on using some of my IWM designs and integrating them into throughout the book. I did some renders (especially the cover) and Dak colorized them. Some of the silhouettes throughout the book are also my renders blacked out as well

It was just a free April Fools product, during some of the darker times for CGL, but that was a fun project to work on.

Sean: But, like, it is ‘Mechs versus super-powered people?

Matthew: I believe so! There is even an image of a Superman-type character punching my Thor II.  I honestly didn’t fully read the book myself, but it is very typical of an April Fools projectYou’ve got the Disney Princess ‘Mechs, XTRO 1945, Escape from Castle Wulfensteiner, etc. 

Sean: I’m gonna have to pick up some of these. I’ll grab the Nebula Californa one first. Now let’s take a look at your first official design: the Kamisori Light Tank. Seems like a fine vehicle, if on the lighter side. What was your inspiration for this spry little guy?

Kamisori pencil sketch

Matthew: So, this was another of my many collaborations with Johannes (mentioned earlier!). He and I were conspiring to make an XTRO that never materialized, but there was a tank that was mentioned one-off in some online-only MWDA fiction. The Kamisori Light Tank that was mentioned was transporting some battle armor, and Johannes whipped up some stats. The stats that he provided me in 2016 and I did a really fast pencil sketch that eventually became the final Kamisori.

From there, I made a basic model that I updated a few times over the years, but then we pulled in another good friend and excellent CGL artist Dale Eadeh to provide art direction. We took it from this:

Kamisori Light Tank Initial Design

To this:

Kamisori Final

Sean: I got some big T-34 vibes from this guy.

Matthew: With rumble seats in the back for battle armor! Originally the design was a flat-bed like a pickup truck, but we changed to the externally facing seats to make it more obvious in its role as a battle armor taxi

Sean: With a touch of mobile fire support on the side. Let’s talk about what you’re up to these days. I hear you’re making terrain for BattleTech, is that right?

Matthew: Terrain under my own label, Cross Electric Designs, yes! I am also doing more writing for Shrapnel and another mini for IWM, but I can’t really talk about those right now. So yeah! Terrain!

Sean: Alright, then let’s focus on the thing you can talk about. When did you start Cross Electric Designs and what products do you have available?

Mathew: So, back to Dale Eadeh.Dale runs his own little terrain studio, called Hardware Studios.  Dale was looking for some more terrain to fill out his digital files shop and I initially declined his offer to get my stuff onto his site. About a year later, with inflation being a pain in my rear end, I decided, hey, let’s try this digital files thing. I already had some terrain that I had previously made for various reasons, some to support Dale and some just for my own fun. I also had my Manatee DropShip that I designed years and years ago, and I decided to spruce that up, with a little extra art direction from Dale as well. Beyond all this, I had two 3D printers already and decided, “Hey, let’s sell some physical product as well!” 

Muse Missile Turret

I launched Cross Electric in and around the spring/summer of 2022, with just a handful of products. The Beluga DropShip (renamed for obvious reasons), my Vengeance Palace Wall set (inspired by the palace map in MechWarrior 4: Vengeance), the Muse Turret (inspired by the Calliope Turret from MW4 as well), and a few other bits and bobbles. I even started selling some prints on BattleTech International Trade and Sell and they were all a hit, much more so than I really expected. 

I moved from selling on BTI: Trade and Sell to Aries Games and Minis and I have recently expanded to having my stuff at conventions through BV traders and selling through Fortress Minis and Games.  And I think I have something like 30 different products, with more on the way!

Sean: That all sounds pretty great! I remember hating those Calliope Turrets. They’d make a great addition to a BattleTech scenario. Are all those homegrown designs on the Aries Games site now?

Matthew: Pretty much everything is on Aries, Hardware, and Fortress, yeah! There are a few designs that are less popular or too large to sell viably that I sell only on Hardware Studios as files, but otherwise, everything is on those sites!

Double Mech Bay

Sean: You mentioned a few MW4 inspirations for these designs, but I’m seeing a lot of MechCommander here too–like the gas tanks, the Double ‘Mech Bay, the Factory Facility Alpha, and the AeroSpace Hanger. Was MechCommander a big inspiration for these designs?

Matthew: So, actually the Double Mech Bay and the Gas Tanks were both direct MW4 inspiration, to be honest. The Double Bay was featured in the final mission of Vengeance (and a few other places) and the fuel tanks were present throughout! I played MOST of MechCommander 2 back when it was released as freeware by Microsoft in 2010 or so, and I am sure those inspirations were definitely still there, but they weren’t in the front of my mind. The Factory was something that kinda took off as I learned what my style was. It’s something that really needs to be established for an artist.  What is your style? You can see it in the MWO style of Alex Iglesias or the Catalyst style of Anthony Scroggins, but every artist has their own way of making things. I really am trying to learn from other’s styles still. I like to make things chunky with a lot of shapes, very similar to MechWarrior 4′s style because, back then, big boxy shapes were easy to make within the graphics limitations of the day.  But you have so many other interesting sci-fi styles to hit upon that I really do try to draw from other sources, but somehow I typically devolve into my chunky style.

Sean: Ah, you never played the original MechCommander? I think you can find MechCommander Gold as a free download somewhere. Might need to make an emulator to play it, though.

The Beluga DropShip seems very MW4. And I think the Military Hover Barge is also from a MW4 mission where you have to defend a bunch of barges. Turrets all seem MW4 too. So we can safely say MW4 really was your jam. What was your favorite part of MW4 that you wish could come back in MechWarrior 5?

Matthew: Hmmmm… Probably a few things. And I’ll likely be referring to MWO for comparison because I played a lot more of that game than I have MW5.


First off, and I know this won’t happen, but I loved the joystick support for MW4.  Playing with a joystick to properly control your mech felt like the absolute right way to be piloting a ‘Mech and it was the one thing that just felt so wrong about MWO to me. The ‘Mechs don’t shake around as much because you need to provide some stability to the mouse pointer MechWarrior 4 has some fairly turbulent fast ‘Mechs. Pointing and clicking with a mouse on an enemy just didn’t have the same effect as lining up a shot with the joystick and pulling the trigger.

We’ve already talked about scale, so we’ll skip that topic as well…

I think so of the speed of MechWarrior 4 is missing from MW5/MWO. The weapons hit faster in MW4, given the lasers were all hitscan (instant laser beam that just hits or doesn’t hit) versus the beam approach that MWO uses. The ‘Mechs felt faster and more nimble. And, well, to go to scale, the smaller scale but the same ground speeds of mechs make MW4 feel faster as well. MWO/MW5 ‘Mechs can feel floaty rather than stompy at times.

I’ve got some new factories in the works, a mostly finished Shrapnel draft, and a Mech assignment from Ironwind Metals. So many cool projects!

Finally, I think it really comes down to art style and the eras.  You weren’t able to get hyperrealism in 2002 vs. 2019 and sometimes, MWO/MW5 just seems too detailed and too real.  It’s a weird thing to complain about, but it feels more Modern Warfare than Halo sometimes.

Sean: MWO lasers are also hitscan, but they might not feel like it because of internet issues and the game polling rate. And I agree, MWO/MW5 is definitely going for hyper-realism with a dash of tacticool. There’s a winch on the front of the Marauder in the MW5 splash screen, for example.

I don’t think it’s a bad aesthetic, but if the ‘Mechs are hyper-realistic, then everything should be, and occasionally you’ll find some terrain that doesn’t make sense or foliage that seems too big or too small. I still really like the look of MW5 overall, and think it’s the best-looking MechWarrior ever made. But there was over a decade between MW5 and MW4.


Matthew: Oh, I’m referring to the lasers being an instant shot versus a beam that lasts for half a second or so for the hitscan. An MW4 laser is a single spot with a single spot for damage.  MWO/MW5 has a nice little beam.

But honestly, we are arguing a difference in huge game design decisions between 2001 and 2019. MW4 is practically an arcade game these days.

Sean: True, and I definitely appreciate the arcade feel of MechWarrior 4. I played it a bunch back in the day. Arcade doesn’t mean bad! It’s all just a matter of game mechanics, and MW4 was very solid mechanically speaking.

Anyway, we’ve talked a lot here. Did you have any other topics you’d like to discuss? Any other upcoming projects you’d like to announce?

Matthew: Haha, we have indeed talked a lot!

I think I have covered most of what I want to talk about, but I always have new stuff that I am working on. I’ve got some new factories in the works, a mostly finished Shrapnel draft, and a ‘Mech assignment from Ironwind Metals. So many cool projects! I try and share my stuff on my Facebook page, but I’m not amazing at keeping it updated.  My wife is supposedly going to be giving me a hand in that regard soon, but no promises! 

Sean: Alright, then that covers it. Thanks for sitting down to chat!

Thanks again to Matthew Cross for taking the time to speak to me, and be sure to check back soon as I take a look at some of the models offered by Cross Electric Designs.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Round-Up For September, 2023

It’s been an eventful September. We had the hottest summer in human history, Hollywood writers secured a historic contract that prevents them from losing their jobs to AI, and best of all, we’ve got a DropShip-load of BattleTech news to cover. So let’s skip all this historic garbage and get straight to the news that matters!

MechWarrior 5 Clans Announced 

MechWarrior 5: Clans Teaser
Watch this video on YouTube.

Looks like the speculation is over a lot sooner than I thought. The next MechWarrior game is not MechWarrior 6 but is instead being called MechWarrior 5: Clans

The news first broke through a leaked version of the article coming in the next issue of PC Gamer. We’re only discussing it here since most of what we learn in the article is also available to peruse on MechWarrior 5: Clan‘s Steam store listing, which went live a few days later (presumably because of the leak). 

We’ve got a lot to unpack here, so we’ll start with the article. It’s intended to explain the universe to non-BattleTech players, so we’ll skip a lot of the general stuff and get right to the specifics. We’re playing as Clan Smoke Jaguar during the invasion of the Inner Sphere. One early mission--perhaps even the introductory mission--is confirmed to take place on the pirate-controlled world of Santander V. This earliest known battle between the Smoke Jaguars and the Inner Sphere involved saKhan Sarah Weaver bidding against Clan Ghost Bear to destroy the pirate band Santander’s Killers, and would place the player as a MechWarrior in either the Shroud Keshik or the 362nd Assault Cluster

There are several confirmed ‘Mechs in the article, including the Timber Wolf, Mad Dog, Summoner, and Dire Wolf, although fighting against pirates and the Draconis Combine presumably means we’ll see a lot of Inner Sphere designs too. I think it’s safe to say we’ll see a bunch of Clan ‘Mech models that are already represented in MechWarrior Online and are era/faction-appropriate, such as the Mist Lynx, Nova, Stormcrow, Ebon Jaguar, Warhawk, and more.

MechWarrior 5 Clans Alex Igelsias Key Art

Emil has already talked at length about what MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries does right and what it does wrong, so I’ll be brief when I say Mercenaries‘ biggest shortcoming is storytelling. Too many missions said that we were trying to save the noble from an invading force, but what we actually did was fend off waves of randomly spawned ‘Mechs on a randomly generated map. We never saw the nobles, the invaders never acted like they were trying to complete their own objective, and the mission felt like every other mission--a festival of destruction that ends with you atop a pile of wrecked ‘Mechs. 

It sounds like PGI is taking a different direction with MW5: Clans. The terms “handcrafted,” “bespoke,” and “visual storytelling” all got bandied around in the article, with levels being designed to produce evocative visuals as well as memorable encounters. We can also expect a different audio experience. Where Mercenaries was all about chunky metal guitars evoking a similar soundscape to MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries, MW5: Clans will try to emulate the synthesized ambiance of the original MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat.

Head over to the Steam store listing and we find out MW5: Clans will have an “expansive campaign” with “well-crafted characters and moral quandaries.” There’s also going to be a “revamped MechLab” with a new “hardpoint and OmniPod system.” 

I gotta give kudos to PGI on this one. The first MechWarrior 2 covered Clans Wolf, Jade Falcon, and Ghost Bear (with the expansion). We’ve never had a MechWarrior game where the Smoke Jaguars were anything but the villain. There’s lots of room for storytelling here alongside some classic ‘Mech versus ‘Mech action.

There are a few other things worth noting. The teaser video you see above was created by the same folks who made Hired Steel, which explains its incredible quality. They’ve even released a behind-the-scenes video on how they made the teaser. For more analysis on where the campaign could go and what ‘Mechs to expect, I’ll direct you to Stormwolf’s excellent breakdown on the subject here. We know MechWarrior 5’s game engine is being upgraded from Unreal 4 to Unreal 5 (here’s hoping my current rig can keep up). And we’re getting MechWarrior 5: Clans way sooner than I expected. The game drops sometime in 2024. 

There’s more in PC Gamer’s article, so do pick up their next issue whenever it arrives. I don’t really follow print magazines, but I assume they’re still on a monthly schedule.

OPINION – ‘Mechs That Need To Be In MechWarrior 5: Clans

Sarna Complaints Department

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

Stormwolf has given us a list of ‘Mechs already modeled in MechWarrior Online that we could see in MechWarrior 5: Clans. However, I think it’d be a huge waste for PGI to release a new game without any new ‘Mechs that fans haven’t seen before (or at least, not in a long time). 

A new game means new ‘Mechs, and I’m going to throw out a few names for ‘Mechs that absolutely should be in MechWarrior 5: Clans. First and foremost, the Firemoth, Inner Sphere reporting name Dasher. This ‘Mech was deemed too fast to put into MechWarrior Online as a potential top speed of over 200 kph would outrun the game’s polling rate, making accurate prediction of shots utterly impossible. But that problem doesn’t exist in a PvE co-op game with at most five players.

We haven’t seen the Firemoth since MechWarrior 2. It’s time to bring this fast boy home.

Next on the list is the Kingfisher. Although more commonly found in Clan Ghost Bear’s touman, it’s still conceivable to find them in second-line Smoke Jaguar units. The Kingfisher is a personal fav since it’s one of the few Clan OmniMechs that doesn’t have an XL engine, making it an extremely tough ‘Mech to bring down. 

And finally, the Black Python, Inner Sphere reporting name Viper. No, it’s not an OmniMech, but it is still a powerful 75-ton machine with all the bells and whistles the Clans are famous for, plus a targeting computer to turn those Large Pulse Lasers into crit-seeking snipers. It’s a wonder this ‘Mech even exists in-universe, but it’d be amazing to see it in a new MechWarrior title.

A few more names to drop: Conjurer, Horned Owl, Bane, Glass Spider, and the unsung IICs. There are over a dozen ‘Mechs that haven’t been made in MechWarrior Online that are easily appropriate for the Smoke Jaguar invasion. List off any I’ve forgotten in the comments below. 

This EIGHT HOUR Video Comprehensively Tells The Story Of The Amaris Civil War

BattleTech Lore & History - Star League Civil War: A Complete 35 Year History (MechWarrior Lore)
Watch this video on YouTube.

Sven van der Plank has been producing long-form BattleTech videos on YouTube for some time now, with deep dives into some of BattleTech‘s most lore-heavy topics. However, none of them compare to the massive eight-hour video he produced for the Star League Civil War, with the help of many notable individuals from the BattleTech community. 

Each subject is accompanied by in-universe art or custom animations created to explain everything from the force dispositions of the Inner Sphere nations to the massive body count the war eventually generated. Occasionally, you’ll get the likes of Tex or BigRed40 jumping in to lend their voice when Sven needs a well-deserved break, but then he just gets back to explaining every facet of the subject in meticulously well-sourced detail. And it’s all set to music you’ll recognize from past BattleTech games. 

I’ve been leaving this video on in the background when I don’t necessarily need my language centers online, and I’m still only halfway through. This is an all-day lecture, but it’s so well done that it’s worth the investment unless you’re already well-versed in every aspect of the BattleTech timeline between the years 2700 and 2800.

As impressive as this video is, I think I prefer his more recent series which divides the First Succession War into more manageable 30-minute chunks. I’ll get through this video eventually, and you all should definitely subscribe to Sven’s channel for more.

Another MW5: Mercs DLC Is On The Way Alongside A New MechWarrior Game In 2027

EG7’s 2023 Capital Markets Day
Watch this video on YouTube.

Enad Global 7, the parent company of MechWarrior 5 developer PGI, released a video showcasing the company’s future plans, and MechWarrior is a big part of them. We already know about MechWarrior 5: Clans coming sometime in 2024, but I was surprised to see the presentation reveal yet more MechWarrior is on the way.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries won’t be finished after The Dragon’s Gambit. Another DLC is planned for sometime in the first quarter of 2024. There’s no info on what the DLC will entail, but given it’ll arrive before MechWarrior 5: Clans, I’m guessing it’ll link the two games by pitting our favorite lug-head mercenary against the Clans in the early years of the Clan Invasion. There are really no notable events after the War of ’39 until the Clans invade, and it’d make sense to join the two MechWarrior 5s narratively.

There’s also another MechWarrior game currently in the “ideation phase” that is targeting a release sometime in 2027. We again have little info as this phase is typically just folks spitballing ideas to see what sticks. It’ll be along the same lines as MechWarrior 5; a small-scale co-op game with an initial price tag and DLC released every few months. However, the future of this game is entirely dependent on whether Microsoft agrees to extend the MechWarrior license beyond 2025. 

Given MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries sold over a million units over the course of three years, I can’t imagine Microsoft saying no to an extension. 

The presentation also gave us a tiny insight into the financial performance of MechWarrior. The development budget for this new MechWarrior title coming in 2027 is around $20 million. Given the presentation said that it expects the financial performance of this game to be the same as MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, that means Mercs probably had a budget of around $20 million too. And since we know it sold a million copies priced at $40 bucks each, that’s at least $40 million in revenue, not counting DLC. Not exactly GTA money, but certainly a healthy profit.

PGI president Russ Bullock was in Stockholm to discuss the future of MechWarrior with his Swedish overlords last week. And judging by the fact there weren’t any follow-up tweets, I assume what we see in the presentation is what’s happening. I’ll be sure to keep my eyes peeled for news on this future MechWarrior game, which I’ll now start referring to as the new MechWarrior 6.

MW5: Mercs The Dragon’s Gambit DLC Has Arrived

The Dragon's Gambit Launch Trailer
Watch this video on YouTube.

Speaking of MechWarrior 5 DLC, The Dragon’s Gambit is here, and I haven’t had a chance to play it yet. I do own it, but it’s been a crazy month and I’m burning the midnight oil getting this news blast out. You can watch the launch trailer to get an idea of what we’re in for. I’m not sure why Arcturus is being showcased in the trailer as that planet wasn’t a battleground in the War of 3039, but I will find out just as soon as I get a chance to take the Bad ‘Mechs (that’s the name of my mercenary company of course) into the new campaign. 

We do have some new information to go over courtesy of a recent news post on the MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries site. Custom difficult options are now available under the Gameplay tab in the Options menu. These custom options allow players to adjust things like the storage cost of ‘Mechs and ‘Mech upkeep as well as the penalties applied to contract payouts for going over tonnage. You can even set these penalties to zero to effectively have no tonnage limit to any mission.

There are also the new “Otomo” ‘Mechs, which are upgraded versions of ‘Mechs typically found in the DCMS. For example, the DRG-1G-S Grand Dragon has near-maximum armor, an array of formerly LosTech lasers and enough heat sinks to use them. The HTM-26T-S Hatamoto-Chi carries a standard weapons complement but is slightly faster and more heat efficient than your typical Hatamoto. Conversely, the CLPT-K2-S Catapult is slightly slower than a typical K2 but replaces the machine guns with AC/2s. For more all the Otomo ‘Mechs and the customizable difficulty options, check out the news post here.

There’s also a huge sale going on where you can get MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries and most of its DLC 50% off. If you haven’t given this game a try, now’s a pretty good time.

Jason Youngblood’s Phoenix Hawk LAM

Jason Youngblood Phoenix Hawk LAM by Victor Yanez

It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from Gallery 3025, but I’m glad we have a new spectacle to share. Here we have Jason Youngblood‘s Phoenix Hawk LAM by Víctor Yáñez. As Travis states in the post, there’s very little LAM art out there that isn’t just Macross. It’s good to see this very unique ‘Mech in its prime. 

But also, I’m glad that BattleTech‘s design went more toward ‘Mechs “as tanks with legs” rather than “fighter jets with legs.” Still, great art here. Sign up to Gallery 3025 to help produce more great art like this. 

Wolves Previews Multiplayer Update

MechAssault Fangame | Wolves Multiplayer Preview 4K HDR | 5.1 Surround
Watch this video on YouTube.

MechAssault fans should already know all about Wolves, the MechAssault fan game from Pajama Boy and New Day Fiction. Previously, the game’s only mode pitted you against waves of enemies until your ‘Mech finally gave out. However, that will soon change with update 0.5.8 and Wave 3. Wolves is getting multiplayer.

The trailer above showcases three players in a free-for-all. I don’t know if that’s the maximum number of players possible, but I’m hoping Wolves will be able to add a few more for a real Grand Melee experience. 

Wave 3 will also add new ‘Mechs, new skins, and better graphics, including 4K and HDR. You can download the current build here, and expect more previews to be coming soon.

My Lil Mechwarrior: Hell’s Horses Ride at Dawn

She is mechwarrior
byu/Zemerpone inbattletech

I can’t take credit for that title. That belongs to Captain_Vlad, while the art belongs to Zemerpone. I love seeing BattleTech through the lens of different art styles. I was never a brony, but I can still appreciate good art when I see it. And a good joke.

There’s A Reason It’s Called The Executioner

byu/Procurator-Derek inOutreachHPG

This is but one of a three--part series from Tychorion. The first is of an Executioner getting the first blast on a Crusader, while a pack of Pheonix Hawks and Firestarters finish it off in the second piece. The third involves an Incubus taking on a pair of Blood Asps, which will certainly go just swimmingly for the 30-ton ‘Mech.

These are all clearly inspired by MechWarrior Online, with that third piece being set on Tourmaline. As I said, I love seeing BattleTech in different and unique styles, and this definitely fits the bill. Thanks, Tychorion!

Hover Crab Is The Next Step In Crab Evolution

John T. Railcrab presents the latest in hover craft technology…
byu/meltdonw14 inbattletech

I don’t really have an explanation for this, other than evolution generally seems to favor crab designs over all others. Maybe that’s true of hovercrafts too? Maybe we should ask meltdonw14.

Pretty Sure That Highlander Just Crushed An Aggro ‘Mech

No Rest For the Accursed – Ink piece for Shrapnel Mag
byu/TheRedEpicArt inbattletech

A piece from Jared Blando that was featured in Shrapnel issue #13 for the story No Rest For The Accursed. This is why you don’t take an AgroMech (or a logger ‘Mech, as in this case) against a Highlander IIC. Stunning ink work here. You can see another of Blando’s pieces in this post.

A New Giant Robot Has Arrived


You might remember Kuratas, the giant Japanese robot that fought Eagle Prime Mk III back in 2018. Afterward, Kuratas seemed to disappear from public view, but a new Japanese robot has arrived that seems to have picked up where Kuratas left off.

It’s called ARCHAX from Tsubame Industries, which plans to actually sell this four-legged robot for 400 million yen each (or roughly $2.7 million USD). ARCHAX is 4.5 meters tall (a little under 15 feet) and weighs in at 3.5 tons. The human pilot sits in ARCHAX’s chest and is propelled along by wheels located on the mech’s four legs. The pilot navigates using nine cameras placed around the exterior, and two joysticks control ARCHAX’s arms. 

It’s not exactly fast. With a top speed of just 10 kph, ARCHAX is slower than an UrbanMech. It also has no weapons as guns are illegal in Japan. 

This begs the question of who will buy ARCHAX and what it might be used for. The answer to both is “nobody knows.” The articulating hands could theoretically pick up and deposit cargo, but there’s no reason to use ARCHAX over a forklift at present. And it’s so slow that you might as well get on a bike if you want to get someplace. Probably easier to park too.

But hey, we’re not going to look a gift mech in the mouth. Expect to see more of ARCHAX during the Japan Mobility Show later this fall.

The Black Knight Leads The Way

This particular Black Knight, courtesy of fed0t, was clearly inspired by MechWarrior 5‘s BL-7-KNT-P. It looks like she’s seen better days, but is still more than capable of leading the fight for a band of less technologically advanced soldiers.

UrbanMech IIC Arrives In MechWarrior Online

UrbanMech IIC Hashke

MechWarrior 5: Clans sort of sucked all the MechWarrior oxygen out of the room, so we’re just going to quickly hit the highlights for this month’s MechWarrior Online patch.

The biggest that I can see are two new Legendary ‘Mechs that are both UrbanMech IICs. That’s right: now you can put Clan tech on your 30-ton trashcan. The two Legendary ‘Mechs, named “Hashke” and “Abbaddon,” basically just double down on the UrbanMech‘s penchant for having a big cannon supported by tiny lasers. They also have armor, heat, and firepower quirks that put the other Urbies to shame.

Along with the UrbanMech IICs comes a new Legendary Atlas, called “Warlord,” which mounts two LB 20-Xs and waddles somewhat faster than most Atlases. The patch also brings balance adjustments to ‘Mechs and weapons, including quirk passes for the Bushwacker, Orion, Executioner, and Stone Rhino

There’s a lot more in the patch notes, such as the MWO Champion Series support pack that’s on sale now as teams battle for MWO supremacy. Read all about it on MWO‘s website here.

Phil Spencer Says He’d Love Xbox To Return To MechAssault/MechWarrior Games

I know that one executive merely saying something doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, but it’s still nice to hear Phil Spencer reminisce about MechAssault and MechWarrior. Speaking at the Tokyo Game Show, the Xbox head honcho said, “I always wanted us to go back and revisit MechAssault MechWarrior space, I think there’s a lot we can do. There’s so much about that whole franchise that in some way was ahead of its time, and it would be nice to get to go back and revisit.”

No sooner did Spencer make the comment did the official Wolves account offer its assistance in reviving MechAssault. Considering these fine folks have done a great job making a fan game with literally zero budget, I could only imagine the amazing work they’d do with Microsoft’s money.

Spencer added Xbox doesn’t “have a plan today,” but maybe that’ll change with a little help from Wolves. Fingers crossed, guys.

The Mercenaries Kickstarter’s Pledge Manager Has Officially Closed

Eridani Light Horse Mercenaries Kickstarter

Catalyst is still hard at work on the wildly successful Mercenaries Kickstarter, which is why we haven’t heard from them in a while. The latest update is that the Pledge Manager has closed and everyone should see the charges appear on the credit cards (or whatever your payment method was) very shortly. 

Next will come the actual fulfillment of the orders, which will hopefully be fairly quick. I’d love to get these boxes in before Christmas, but Catalyst has not provided a specific timeline for when everyone will get their packages. Hopefully, we’ll get that timeline for next month’s news.

MechAssault 2 ‘Mechs Now Available For Gmod

Gmod: NEW Mechassault 2 Battlemech NPC Quick Showcase
Watch this video on YouTube.

Major BioMech has tipped me off to a new collection of ‘Mechs, tanks, and aircraft for everyone’s favorite stand-alone Half-Life sandbox, Gmod. This time, all the MechAssault 2 units are fully functional NPCs, allowing you to fight them in your own ‘Mech or watch them fight amongst themselves. You can even have those same ‘Mechs fight completely non-BattleTech characters to see who’d win.

The mod comes courtesy of Dopey, who also created the original driveable MechAssault ‘Mechs. Thanks for the great work!

The Kit Fox Arrives In MechWarrior 5

Kit Fox / Uller (Classic) mod for Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries
Watch this video on YouTube.

Speaking of mods, we have SankaraSamsara (also known as The Art Of BattleTech) and Maxim2016 to thank for the all-new Uller mod for MechWarrior 5. Maxim2016 provided the model, while SankaraSamsara created the animations. Note that it’s not a perfect recreation of the old-school Kit Fox design as MechWarrior 5 requires all ‘Mechs to torso twist, which the original ‘Mech couldn’t really do without having its arms hit its enormous backward-facing knees. The variants also don’t exactly match the canon versions, but they seem plenty powerful at least.

Head on over to Nexus Mods to download the Kit Fox mod.

And Also The Nova

SankaraSamsara also worked with Michael Long to bring the Nova to MechWarrior 5. Again, the same issues apply with the Kit Fox as the Nova shouldn’t be able to torso twist. The solution, much like in MechWarrior 2, is to give the Nova an extremely limited torso yaw value, allowing you to slightly wiggle your torso. Head on over to Steam or Nexus Mods to download this mod, including one compatible with Yet Another Mech Lab

Always Check Your Six

Little short comic me and a few of my friends help put together. Hope you guys enjoy
byu/meltdonw14 inbattletech

Meltdonw14 is back with another piece, this time a comic series featuring several AeroSpace fighters. I’ve always loved the Corsair, and it’s great to see one take out a Stingray even if it does get knocked out not a few moments later. The trouble with being an AeroSpace jockey is that you’re in pretty much the most hostile environment imaginable. ‘Mech pilots don’t always have the option of ejecting, but AeroSpace fighters can never just abandon their ship. That makes it all the more important to always check your six.

It seems like meltdonw14 is on a bit of an AeroSpace kick since there’s also a close-up of a Corsair pilot and the oft-forgotten MechBuster.

PixelMek 3-D Imagines MechWarrior As A Boomer Shooter

PixelMek 3D pre-alpha, now with music and sound effects!
Watch this video on YouTube.

Let’s consider an interesting hypothetical: what if MechWarrior 2 was made not with full 3D models but instead with Doom-like sprites? Then you’d probably wind up with something that looks a lot like PixelMek 3-D from Mechteric. 

We got to check out an early alpha build in the video above posted earlier this month. It’s very clearly not done as there are no sprites representing ‘Mechs that are not facing directly at the player, and there are no explosion animations, the basics are all here. Everything is being made with contributed pixel ‘Mech artwork and free assets, while the game itself is being written in Golang. 

You can also check out Mechteric’s older version of PixelMek, which is more of a strategy game rather than a first-person shooter.

Nick Kerensky Was A Furry Confirmed

This probably comes as no surprise to a lot of you, but I think this is the most logical explanation for the Clans. 

And that’s it for this month! Join us in October for yet more BattleTech action from around the Inner Sphere.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Community Outreach – BattleTech Corps Ukraine’s Gaming During Wartime

Ukraine BattleTech Belt Cover

A little while ago, Tex suggested that I reach out to a group of BattleTech players in a faraway place doing some pretty amazing things under pretty difficult circumstances. Despite having no local distributor, Ukraine has a small but thriving BattleTech community, and they won’t let a little thing like an invading foreign power keep them from having a good time.

This time on Community Outreach, we discover BattleTech Corps Ukraine. Ross shows us what these mad lads and lasses have been up to over the past 580-odd days, and provides some pretty good advice whether you’re living in or out of a warzone. 

Sean (Sarna): So, how about you briefly introduce yourself? 

Ukraine BattleTech 14

Ross (BattleTech Corps Ukraine): My name is Ross, which is… Well, I ask people to call me Ross.

It is short for Rostislav, which is my full name. Slavic name, which is very complicated for people not from here. And I usually don’t make people suffer and just tell them it’s Ross. 

And who am I is an interesting question. There is an inside joke going around our local Ukrainian community that I’m a minister of foreign affairs. We give everybody a minister position. We have a pretty small community and whenever somebody wants to be a minister of something, they just say I’m a minister of whatever.

Including the minister of being a smart ass. That’s also a position. 

Sean: Well, it’s good to be organized. 

Ross: Kind of. So, yeah, I’m mostly handling the communication with whatever foreign friends we have or foreign interactions that we might have as a community, and very proud of that position, really. It allows me to kind of use my real-life experience, so things that I do at my day job at my hobby, which is pretty nice. 

Sean: Very cool. We’ll focus on you, Ross, for the opening questions. When did you get into BattleTech as a game universe? 

Ross: Good question. I come from a group of people where some of the [sci-fi] universes passed them by in their youth.

So, our local community in my town is all made up of Warhammer refugees and we came in to play the tabletop game about two years ago. Exactly to a point this month, I think, even. Okay, so… Before that, I was familiar with BattleTech through HBS’s BATTLETECH computer game, and through some of the videos I saw on YouTube, including the BPL’s videos on the Mackie and Tex’s voiceover. Plus, some of the smaller channels with memes and whatnot.

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Sean: All right, so you’re actually relatively new to BattleTech. Like, Harebrained’s BATTLETECH, that’s 2018? So four years ago is about as far back as you go. 

Ross: Yeah, yeah, I think so.

Sean: Well, besides BATTLETECH and the tabletop game, is there anything else that you play that’s kind of BattleTech related, like MechWarrior Online

Ross: I do play MechWarrior 5. I tried playing MechWarrior Online, but it’s a particular type of game, which is a different conversation entirely. It reminds me too much of a lot of time spent in World of Tanks when I was a student and I don’t want to do that. Kind of don’t have enough commitment to play the game. You got to grind there. 

Sean: Yeah. It’s the same with World of Tanks and a lot of games that are set up, you gotta grind and spend a lot of money. It’s why I think PGI is moving towards the more traditional sort of premium game releases like MechWarrior 5 and away from the kind of microtransaction-filled games like MechWarrior Online. I think a lot of BattleTech players prefer that too.

Ross:  MechWarrior 5, with its capacity for mods, is a thing. And I understand what the MechWarrior Online would give you, as in the constantly, I don’t know, moving, living community, whatever size it is. It’s people that you can connect with online but in terms of what you can get out of the BattleTech universe. MechWarrior 5 with mods is obviously something much more tasty, I think. 

Sean: Yeah, same here. Well then, we arrive at maybe the most important question I’ll ask: What’s your favorite ‘Mech? 

Ross: That’s a good question. I will say the Thunderbolt because it was one of the first I’ve seen, one of the first I’ve tried in the computer games, and it was the first ever miniature I got. First miniature I painted, and the first miniature I played on the tabletop, so I’ll keep it at that. 

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Sean: It’s a good ‘Mech. It’s a solid heavy. I think I have one in my current MechWarrior 5 playthrough, where it’s just so handy to have all those weapons. You have machine guns to tear down buildings, you’ve got all those lasers to pretty much take out whatever you need, and missiles to take out things that are just too far. 

Ross: Yeah, it’s a solid all-rounder. It’s a solid weight, solid speed, solid set of weapons, which are long ranges, short ranges, and medium ranges. And it’s a big, burly, bulky machine that looks very, very good. What’s not to love? 

Sean: Exactly. Okay, do you have a favorite faction in BattleTech?

Ross: Yes, I am a Magistracy of Canopus fanboy. I see it’s a popular thing nowadays, right? With a lot of new players coming in. And they see a catgirl faction and they grab onto it. 

Sean: I mean, it’s hard to argue against catgirls.

Ross: Right, right. But I stayed with the faction because I dug deeper. At one point, I wanted to make–if only I had the time–a deep lore dive video that explains the underlying lore of the Magistracy of Canopus.

Because it’s not all sunshine and roses, as you say. There is a lot of darkness going on there, like the underworld of these old implants and people with implant rejections, it’s very grimdark. I dug into it in the old sourcebook, and this is like… This is tough. You read it and you’re like, oh, that’s uh, that’s very dark. And I stayed for that because that’s interesting. 

Ukraine BattleTech 1

Sean: Absolutely. I would call it like cyberpunk dystopia, honestly. 

Ross: Yeah. 

Sean: What about a favorite era? What kind of eras of BattleTech have you experienced?

Ross: So, we are a slowly developing group within our community. We started off, obviously, at the classic 3025, and we got stuck on it for a really long time. Some of the local community members behave like old people when they don’t want to try new things because they look scary. It’s like, what is your ER Medium Laser? Why? What? No, it’s too powerful. Double heat sinks? Ridiculous. We need to play tractors. 

But no. We tried a little bit of Star League era, just the very end. Right after or right before Kerensky left, we played a role-playing campaign in that era, which was pretty interesting, I liked that.

Tried a little bit of Clans, a little bit of Civil War, but not too much. Still quite interesting, new ‘Mech designs, upgraded things. I think it’s the right era that the Omni Blackjack comes in with Rotary Autocannons. That thing is very nice. So the future, very cool. 

But in general, the most popular era for here would be probably 3025, maybe Clan Invasion just to try some faster stuff.

In the entirety of the community, it differs because everybody kind of started playing at a different time and they were enticed to BattleTech with different materials. So somebody came in already on the Clan Invasion, somebody was into BattleTech for the last 20 years–very different people playing and you can’t pick just one. There is a lot of different kind of groups who play whatever. We have people playing IllClan, we have people stuck in the Clan Invasion, it’s everything. 

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Sean: Let’s move over to what you refer to as the Ukrainian BattleTech group. Do you guys have an official name, or is it just the Ukrainian BattleTech group?

Ross: We have several ideas on the official name where we call us: BCU is kind of a reference to our Ukrainian Armed Forces, which is written in the very same letters as it’s written in Ukrainian. BattleTech Corps, Ukraine. It’s a fun name, which is why we have it.

We have an official website where we post some articles. We have a big Telegram channel where we communicate and coordinate–if we want to have events, find people, invite somebody somewhere, sell something, stuff like that. And just also in general to discuss gameplay, the rules, whatever it is.

We have a lot of prominent personalities in our community, and the size of it is interesting. When I’m trying to explain to people from the West, although the West itself is very different. There are people from the UK, there are people from Europe, from the US, and everybody has their own approach to their community and their own style of the community. I try to describe it as if you take a couple of states in the US, remove the border between the states, and decrease the number of people playing by about 50 percent–if not more–because it’s not as popular, not as available.

All of those people would be all of your community. That’s it. So it’s a pretty tightly-knit group, and it’s an interesting feeling. Our group is about 140 people. The most active ones are about 30 to 40 people, plus 30 to 40 more of on-and-off players. That’s the ones that we have, which is not too much.

Sean: But not too little still. It’s certainly enough to get actual campaigns going. You probably even have like a few RPG games going at a time, right? 

Ross: I think like for the entire country, it’s a couple. We just have one main one run by the guru of our community. We have one outstanding person who’s been doing BattleTech for, I think, 20-plus years. And this man is the man who knows all, sees all, and has read every single book, every technical readout, every page of Total Warfare. If there is a rule that you’re seeing for the first time, you ask this man and he has all of the answers. Plus the FAQ in his head. He’s the local BattleTech knowledge-based human person. 

Ukraine BattleTech 5

Sean: Well, every group needs one of those. 

Ross: Yeah, yeah. 

Sean: Do you know when the when the BCU got started? 

Ross: Hard to say, since I have joined pretty recently. The community itself has existed for a while now, I think for at least six years up to this point. So, say, 2017. Before that, I would assume that the community was kind of scattered, so whatever big city groups were playing together, they didn’t really communicate outside of their town and weren’t really looking for players in different towns across the country.

Sean: What do you think made all the fragments coalesce into a sort of a national group? 

Ross: It’s a good question. I think it was a lot of different reasons and factors. Catalyst was one of them. BattleTech went through a bit of a renaissance within the last decade all around the world. It brought in new players and brought back the old-timers. And it had its own form of rebirth here. 

Plus the availability of the internet, having all kinds of messengers and whatnot, also encouraged people looking for stuff. Even if they occasionally saw something of BattleTech being sold on local markets. We have about three larger wargaming and tabletop trading groups, and one of them is basically number one in the country. It has a bunch of people, most of them very involved with wargaming and tabletop in Ukraine. If somebody starts selling something BattleTech, everybody who knows what that is will notice it and be like, “Okay, this person from this city is interested in this stuff. We have more people than just two of us sitting in this town? Okay, let’s try to communicate with that person.” So the modern version of the internet really helped with that too. 

BattleTech Ukraine Army 4

Sean: You said there are a lot of notable personalities. Any of them you want to maybe name-drop here?

Ross: One of our guru people, Stas Zlyanka. Then there is one of our friends who is currently serving, which is Mykita Bondarenko. These two people have been running, our Ukrainian BattleTech website, where we have translated rules, friendly stores, game stores where you can play, and links to our Telegram channel. We also have an article section where our friend Stas does–kind of like Sarna–articles about the ‘Mechs in Ukrainian which we post there.

Sean: Uh oh, are you trying to compete with Sarna? Or is this like just a translation? 

Ross: I think it’s really hard to compete because we’re doing this for a niche audience. The articles are in Ukrainian. So the audience we’re stealing from you is the Ukrainian audience. 

Sean: Well, that’s okay I guess. So you mentioned that there was a collaboration a little bit between the Ukrainian group and Catalyst Game Labs?

BattleTech Ukraine Army 6

Ross: We are trying to have one. So here’s the deal. In the past, if we wanted to get whatever BattleTech stuff, we had two choices.

Either get the original stuff, which is to go to the original website and order from outside the country. Or we had the Russian distributor here, which we, for obvious reasons, don’t really want to interact with or buy anything from at this point. 

We’re looking to get a distributor’s license from Catalyst that would allow us to translate the books into Ukrainian, print, and sell them here. We obviously understand that this investment is mostly for our own benefit. We understand that we will probably not make money off this, because we’re a little niche market, and we are basically getting this just to make our own Ukrainian BattleTech rulebooks. We’re completely aware of that. But still, we want to go through with it in any case. Even if we have to fund it from our own pocket, and the only people who will have the books are us.

Sean:  Well if you guys can get the money, I don’t see why they would say no.

Ross: I am yet to have a conversation. I’ve been trying to reach Loren for a little while now–it’s definitely months. I’ve tried to get, getting in touch through the Facebook page. Then I got hold of his email through an agent person that they have, and I’ve been following up, but I haven’t gotten a response yet.

I can completely understand that this stuff is not the number one priority especially with the Kickstarter going on. But I am hoping at some point to get to talk to him to figure out what kind of legal work we need to do on our end. I imagine that getting a license is not like somebody sending you a paper by mail saying, “Now you can sell.” There’s probably some legal paperwork on our end. Once I figure that out, we’ll try to work on it and do it as fast as possible.

Ukraine BattleTech 2

Sean: Well, I hope that maybe this interview can provide you with a little bit of a signal boost. 

Ross: Hopefully, that’d be awesome. I have to plug Tex, who has been helping and supporting a lot from the very beginning of the invasion. He was one of the first people to reach out. We kind of got to know each other in a weird way. I think the first thing that I sent him is we had a little BattleTech tournament right before the beginning of February last year.

I reached out to Tex, sent him some stuff, and said, “Hey, here’s an interesting thing we’re doing over here in Ukraine. If you like it, let me know.” He said “cool,” like just the one word and I was like, okay, I probably pissed him off or maybe he’s busy. So I just forgot about it. As soon as the invasion happened he reached out to me and asked if I needed any help. He has been a lot of help on fundraisers, on donations, on getting this signal boosted out there, giving us the platform on Discord, introducing me to interesting people like yourself, and doing all kinds of crazy stuff.

So yeah, I’m really thankful to the man.

Ukraine BattleTech 12

Sean: And same here for all the work he’s done and for putting me in touch with you as well for this interview. So, what kind of events? You mentioned that the BCU had a tournament in February. What kind of tournament are you talking about here? 

Ross: So, since the Warhammer refugees from my little town dropped into the community and decided to make some noise, we have a lot of experience organizing events, and we have a lot of experienced people here with mode-building who are really good at making terrain, painting miniatures, doing whatever. They’ve been doing all kinds of things. The Horus Heresy, the Necromunda, Saga, and all the GW products are also very popular here. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it.

Sean: I mean, I recognize some of the words you said. 

Ross: That experience was applied to organize this first event by our local community. And as far as we figured out later on, I think it was the first event for BattleTech in Ukraine in general. We didn’t know. We didn’t really care either. We just wanted to have a good time and organize something for the people. So how it went is we rented a house outside of town with a little road to the river and a lot of space. It’s basically a house with a pool, sauna, and a pool table. 

And people have a good time. They’re usually like making barbecue and whatever, wrangling it out. But it’s a good space to play BattleTech if there are more than 10 of you. And there were 12 active players, I think. Plus some friends, support staff, wives that came over, and whatnot. We invited people from all over the country. People from the capital, from Kyiv, from Zaporizhia, from Dnipro. Basically, whoever wanted to take part, whoever could come, did come. 

Ukraine BattleTech Belt

We had a narrative sports event. We didn’t want to go for a full-on tournament where you have to be a super-good player. We came up with a narrative idea that… A noble somewhere on the periphery is organizing the tournament between mercenaries and whoever wins gets an Atlas, a million C-bills, and a contract for 10 years for guard duty. We even had a little flavor piece written out: an official letter sent to everybody who took part.

We played 3025, up to eight ‘Mechs with a lot of limitations. You could only bring ‘Mechs because it’s a proper tournament for people who drive big robots. No little tanks and planes and whatnot. No copying ‘Mechs, so no like 10, 12 Locusts of the same model. You could only bring two of each chassis. And you had to be painted. 

We came up with some interesting missions where you have to capture stuff, steal stuff, carry it off the table, all kinds, with a secret surprise prize at the end where the first four places got a painted miniature. Everybody got a little patch and a pair of dice with the Atlas head on them. 

The winner got a championship belt, like a wrestling champion championship belt. We’re very proud of making it because we basically ordered parts and then assembled it ourselves. And yeah, that was a pretty crazy and cool moment and a cool prize.

Ukraine BattleTech Championship Belt

Sean: I’ve seen it. It looks very cool. It looks kind of heavy, but it also looks kind of like an authentic wrestling belt. 

Ross: It is heavy. It is very heavy because it’s steel and belt leather. It’s no joke. When I asked the person who’s holding it right now to bring it over on the last tournament that I had a week ago in Kyiv, he said, “Please don’t make me. Please, it’s heavy.”

Sean: Where did this tournament take place? You mentioned it wasn’t in Kyiv.

Ross: It was near the city of Poltava, which is a place where I live, and we have a little village near the city called Kavalovka, which is like, I don’t know, suburbs. It would be hard to call this part of the country the suburbs because the city I live in is really small, it’s 300,000 people. Not too many buildings taller than 10 stories.

Sean: I mean, that’s not the smallest city. I’ve been to smaller cities than that.

Ross: True, but it’s still like a pretty small town.

Sean: Getting back to the BattleTech renaissance that’s been sweeping the world and also in Europe, have you reached out to other European communities to do any kind of cross-national gaming event?

Ross: Well, we would be happy to, but. For now, we unfortunately can’t. You can imagine that 99 percent of the players we have in our community are males, and males cannot leave the country right now. It’s martial law–you can’t just cross the border. We’re hoping when we get our victory and everything’s done, we will definitely travel to Europe.

I think the first stop would be Poland. I believe they have this very close relation to whatever we have in terms of the community size and organization. Yeah, the Poles are friends. 

Sean: Do you have any plans to do more events in the immediate future in Ukraine? 

Ross: Yeah, absolutely. The first tournament we had, the reception was outstanding. Everybody was absolutely happy that it happened. And they were like, “Oh, old man, you set a very serious bar because whoever has to follow this up will have a tough time because you did a really good job.” And we had a team of about six people working on it. It was me and a couple of friends who are doing the Ukrainian-painted ‘Mechs, which became very popular. I’ll provide the link, but it’s one of the things that Tex helped us promote.

First, they painted Javelins in yellow and blue, and part of the proceeds went to the defense of the country. I checked in with them last November and they said they already sold over a hundred ‘Mechs. By now it’s even more than that, and they told me it was about $10,000 in donations at least.

Which is a lot of painted mechs. And a lot of money. That’s a really good job. But not without the clients, which 99 percent of them come from abroad. People from all over the world just ordering the stuff. And I think people like it, which I’m pretty happy about. They are a very talented couple. 

So yeah, they were helping with the terrain, and with the organization and a couple more people helping to assemble the belt, rent the place, organize the food, organize the missions, and print the maps. We did it all together and everybody was really happy.

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We thought that we’d be able to follow it up with an event in summer, which would be Clan-oriented instead of 3025, but the invasion happened. Everybody got lost and confused and we lost our schedule completely. At the end of that same year, in December, we had our first tournament after the invasion, which was held in Kyiv.

It was a smaller group, about eight people, I think. And after that, we had another one, which I unfortunately missed, and the one after that, just now, about a week ago in Kyiv, which was also a small tournament where we had seven players. But we still had a really good time. 

It’s quite hard to organize something right now. Not everybody’s able to travel. Everybody’s schedules are mixed up, but we’ll still keep trying. Hopefully, we will be able to announce something well in advance so that people align their schedules and we will have a bigger group and hopefully maybe we will actually do our Clan event.

But who knows? The future is very murky.

Sean: Fair enough. I had a few questions related to the war, but it seems like you’ve kind of already covered them. Everything’s still kind of up in the air and you’re doing the best you can under the circumstances. What would be the biggest challenges you have faced in trying to get these kinds of events going?

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Ross: Well, I know for a fact that amongst wargaming communities in Ukraine, most people from our community serve. A lot of our people are serving either directly at the front or maybe in the headquarters and you can’t always get them to travel to an event.

So we lose that part. Plus some people got their lives turned over. They had to move, change towns, change cities, and find a new job. General chaos influences the ability of people to travel and get together in one big town. Plus, in the first year of the invasion, everybody was very scared since the missile strikes can get you anywhere. People didn’t want to be near any big train stations, really. 

Sean: I think now we should probably do like a big link dump. You mentioned the website. Do you have any social media pages or anything you want to promote that way? 

Ross: Well, mine, I can only promote my Discord (#1888). If anybody ever wants to have a conversation with me for any reason whatsoever, whether you want to help, you want to interact with the Ukrainian community, come over and meet. You can use my discord and message me directly. I usually try to respond to anybody who’s reaching out within at least a day.

I’ve been graciously invited to a BPL podcast by Tex. There’s an episode with me that you can listen to, which was made early in the invasion. I was quite excited to be there, and it was a very pleasant experience. 

Sean: I think I may have listened to that one.

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Ross: For the miniatures people, they have their little YouTube channel that has a couple of videos of our battle reports in Ukrainian, and some of the miniatures they made with cool spinning camera shots. There’s one thing that I can promote from there; our guys made a lance based on the Hired Steel ‘Mechs, and they made a little diorama that we then sent over to people.

Sean: Oh, and the latest one is of course. I remember seeing this on Reddit. It’s the Hunchback and the Sentinel, but they’ve all got little reactive armor plates on them.

Ross: I don’t know if we started it, but we definitely played into the trend, that’s for sure. Somebody from the general BattleTech community came up with it, but we definitely played up to it. 

Sean: It looks cool, but it also seems like it would be so time-consuming to just have those itty bitty plates and just glue them on every couple of millimeters.

Ross: That is why all of that is 3D printed. God bless 3D printers. You make a 3D model with that and you only spend time gluing them on in the 3D model editing program and you run that into a printer and it looks very nice. 

Sean: Do you guys have a lot of 3D printers over there? 

BattleTech Ukraine Army 3

Ross: Most people here are running 3D-printed models rather than Catalyst ones. But that’s a question of availability. It’s not something that you can go to a local game store and just pick off the shelf.

Sean: I imagine that it’s a little difficult to get these kinds of imports with the whole conflict going on. 

Ross: The conflict going on influences things, but it was hard before. It’s the same hard right now–you have to order something from abroad and wait for at least a couple of months for it to arrive.

It’s not something you can get on store shelves. I think we have 13 people pledged to the Mercenaries Kickstarter from Ukraine. Which is a solid number, considering that our total community is about 140 people. That’s 10 percent, so that’s a good outcome.

Sean: But you’re still gonna get an influx of however many boxes those 13 people were able to order in the Kickstarter. 

Ross: Right, right, true. And a lot of people organize through one person to buy a bunch of stuff and then just divide it when it comes over. 

Sean: I actually coordinate purchases with my brother a bit so that we get all the ‘Mechs that we want. I want all the really bad ones, he wants all the really good ones, so it works out. 

Ross: Hey, come on. I still like the Assassin because it looks cool.

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Sean: Oh yeah, absolutely. I don’t think it’s the worst ‘Mech you could get, you still have something that’s fast and can generally out-compete the light ‘Mechs it’s supposed to. It’s just that a few dinky missile launchers and a medium laser don’t seem like a lot of firepower. 

Ross: Yeah, yeah, that seems very sad for a weapon loadout. 

Sean: There are very few truly horrible ‘Mechs. Even the ‘Mechs that are 40 tons and have an AC/5 and no reason to have it because it’s just strictly worse than having four medium lasers and a couple of heat sinks. They’re awful, but they have a lot of flavor to me. I like those ‘Mechs the best. 

Ross: I like them because–mostly in the context of the universe–they make sense. People use those parts and those weapons to assemble those ‘Mechs in those conditions and situations where they have to use them for whatever. Was it graft? Was it a necessity? And that paints a picture of a ‘Mech for me much more than just the table of his abilities and that’s cut away from the lore itself.

Sean: Absolutely. And that is something I have been keeping up with–the latest ‘Mechs that are being produced. And I feel like there needs to be more deliberately bad ‘Mechs. Because those are the ones that have that sort of flavor to them. 

Ross: I agree. There are a lot of very powerful, new, cool machines that come out. And I think that there is a lot of space to create bad machines with really expensive technologies. 

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Sean: Yeah, it gets harder to do, but I think, I think it’s possible.

Well, was there anything else you wanted to give a shout-out to? Anything else you want to bring attention to? The mic is yours. 

Ross: That’s a good ask. In general, I just wanted to give people advice, which I did in the BPL podcast: be nice to each other. Do good, which is very hard. Being nice is very hard. As a representative of a people who had their life values re-evaluated in really intense stressful conditions. 

Just wanted to remind everybody to hug your loved ones. Be nice. Plant the plants, feed your dog, and help the granny cross the street. It just helps you smile and live another day in a happier state.

That’s one important thing. The other is whatever ways you can to help the war effort– whether you want to help the refugees or just want to help the animals. There are charities for that. If you are not sure where to donate and everything scares you because everything is Cyrillic, just reach out to me, and I’ll try to translate for you.

BattleTech Ukraine Army 2

Sean: Well, it was great talking to you, and thanks again for doing this interview.

Ross: Thanks so much, man, for taking the time to listen to me. I hope this was interesting. I hope you have stuff to tell to the world community. And thank you for doing whatever you’re doing, Sarna, because it’s one of the links that we’re opening very often when we need answers to questions.

Sean: Thank you. I just mostly do the news, but there are other people on the Wiki side of things. They’re the people who really deserve the shout-out.

Ross: Right. Oh, also one last thing. My partner Helen, my lady who’s a digital artist. She has done arts for BPL’s charter. There are five house lords. One of them is Minoru Kurita, I think, in black and white in front of the Kuritan emblem. One of the best arts that came out of that. 

And yeah, if anybody needs any character art, human, humans made for BattleTech, she can draw stuff.

Sean: All right, awesome. Thanks again. And take care. 

Ross: Yeah. You too, man. Thanks so much. Bye.

Ukraine BattleTech 11

Thanks to Ross for speaking to me. If you’d like to help Ukraine, consider donating to any of these charities.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Bad ‘Mechs – Kintaro

Bad 'Mechs - Kintaro

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

“Alright, Striker Lance, we’re two clicks out from the city of Harmony, but the Marshal has called for the city’s fall by the 21st,” Corporal Benson’s radio crackled as Captain Mohaney repeated exposition already discussed during this morning’s briefing.

“That’s why we’re sending you in with your new Kintaros. The hope is that you’ll be able to mark enemy fortifications with your Narc beacons so we can call in accurate long-range missile fire. Bombardment lance is locked and loaded, but expect the Taurians to be in defensive positions.” 

Benson rolled his eyes. In other words, they’d be waiting for him. 

“Your mission is to run in, tag a few tanks, and then retreat under fire,” Mohaney added. “Maintain situational awareness and look out for your lancemates.” 

Benson hated how his captain always ended his transmissions with some generic encouragement. As though he hadn’t been checking his six every five minutes since landing on New Vandenberg. If over a month of orbital bombardment hadn’t convinced the Taurians to stop fighting the SLDF, he doubted a slightly more accurate LRM barrage would do the trick. 

Still, orders were orders, and Benson pushed his Kintaro’s throttle to the stops as he rose above the final berm between his lance and the Taurian’s supposed position. Nothing popped on his sensors at first, but then a barrage of tracers revealed several machine gun and autocannon emplacements. Rounds pinged off his Kintaro’s armor as Benson charged forward, desperately searching for somewhere to place his Narc beacon.

There. A tank in between two apartment buildings. The Kintaro’s Starbeam 3000 targeting computer didn’t recognize the model, but it could lock onto a tracked vehicle without issue. Benson weaved around the incoming fire, clusters of rockets passing over his ‘Mech’s left shoulder as a lucky depression brought him just beneath the missiles’ ballistic arc. Benson stumbled, but quickly righted the Kintaro to bring his crosshairs back onto the now-reversing tank.

“Striker 4, I’m in range. Firing the payload,” announced Benson as he loosed his Narc beacon. The single rocket motor spiraled into the tank, but instead of exploding, Benson’s targeting computer buzzed with a strong missile lock.

“I’ve got tone!” Benson’s radio crackled as Bombardment lance acknowledged the Narc signal. “Package incoming!” 

Even through his cockpit’s soundproofing, the roar of hundreds of missiles was enough to drown out the cacophony of combat surrounding Benson. The tank–and much of the residential block it was hiding in–disappeared in a cloud of smoke as dozens upon dozens of missiles fell. 

“Hey, it worked!” Benson shouted on the open comms, but none of his lancemates responded. 

“Striker 4 to Striker actual, come in?” Static. Benson checked his HUD but couldn’t find the green carets of his lancemates. Only then did he see Sergeant Johansen’s Kintaro face-down in the dirt about 200 meters to his left. The boxy limbs of another Kintaro could be seen on his right, although the ‘Mech’s ape-like torso was nowhere to be found.

Before Benson could bolt in panic, the smoke cleared, revealing three more tanks rolling through the crater left by Bombardment lance. They all leveled their barrels at Benson’s Kintaro and fired.

Kintaro KTO-20 3050

The Kintaro is a good ‘Mech built around a bad idea. Designed to employ what was then the new Narc Missile Beacon, the Kintaro‘s mission was to charge enemy lines, fire the Narc at targets of opportunity, and then overwhelm opponents with its improved missile performance. Kintaros often operated in missile-heavy lances alongside companies with long-range missile launchers able to destroy from afar whatever the Kintaro‘s Narc beacon had attached to.

Unfortunately, the Kintaro‘s designers failed to foresee the difficulty of this mission profile. Although a top speed of 86 kph was fairly nimble when the Kintaro was introduced in 2587, it was insufficient to allow the Kintaro to effectively disengage after its Narc beacon was fired. Worse, the Kintaro‘s primarily short-ranged armament meant that pilots were often knife-fighting with opponents while simultaneously trying to dodge incoming long-range missile fire from friendly units. 

The original KTO-19 from General Mechanics was a fairly well-armed and armored ‘Mech. Two medium lasers, two SRM-6 batteries, and a single LRM-5 launcher constituted the Kintaro‘s offensive armament, with the ‘Mech’s signature Narc beacon placed directly in the center torso. Eleven tons of ferro-fibrous armor meant the Kintaro was well protected for a ‘Mech of its size, although this didn’t prevent Kintaro pilots from earning a reputation for recklessness, nor did it keep their ‘Mechs from returning battered and bruised due to their dangerous mission profile. 


A dangerous job wasn’t the Kintaro‘s only problem. Because the Kintaro was literally built around the Narc beacon launcher in its chest, the bulk of the ‘Mech’s missile armament was pushed to its left arm. With its ammunition bins in its chest, the Kintaro‘s ammunition linkages were extremely complex. Pilots had to lock the arm in place for a full three seconds in order to reload the launchers after firing, and any sudden movement would often cause the SRM system to jam. For some reason, the LRM launcher rarely saw similar issues despite using a nearly identical ammo feeder. 

For over 200 years, the KTO-19 (and the KTO-19b, the upgraded variant produced for the SLDF Royal Brigades) remained unchanged until the destruction of the Narc missile beacon factory in 2792 soon after the start of the First Succession War. KTO-19s remained in service for some time using stockpiled beacons, but field refits soon saw the Narc launcher removed in favor of a third SRM-6 launcher as the supply of beacons dried up. 

Kintaro KTO-20

An effective brawler, the Kintaro‘s numbers continued to dwindle over the centuries of conflict until it was nearly extinct by the Third Succession War. The Kintaro was then saved by General Dynamics, which began producing the common field refit under the designation KTO-18 on the planet Ozawa. Unable to produce the now Lostech ferro fibrous armor, the KTO-18 had eleven tons of standard armor, as well as three SRM-6 launchers, one LRM-5, and two medium lasers. With only 10 single heatsinks, the KTO-18 “ran hotter than hell’s saunas,” but was still a powerful, fast, and well-armored ‘Mech that used cheap and plentiful ammunition, making it a popular choice for cash-strapped Periphery militias. 

The KTO-19b, produced by the Kintaro‘s original manufacturer General Mechanics, upgraded the ‘Mech with an XL 275 engine, replaced the LRM-5 launcher with an LRM-15, and provided both ammunition bins with CASE alongside an additional half-ton of armor. Already a rare sight during the days of the SLDF, the Royal Brigade variant would virtually disappear with Kerensky‘s exodus from the Inner Sphere.


The KTO-18 would be the most common Kintaro variant for some time even after ComStar introduced the KTO-20. Built from the KTO-19, the ‘Mech replaced the center-torso Narc beacon launcher with a large laser and upgraded the single heat sinks to doubles. This kept the ‘Mech from overheating while simultaneously improving its firepower. The existence of the KTO-20 would remain a closely guarded secret until the War of 3039 when ComStar gifted a number of these ‘Mechs to the Draconis Combine as part of Operation Rosebud. The KTO-20’s performance proved so much greater than the KTO-18 that FedCom units made them priority targets whenever they appeared on the battlefield. 

The Draconis Combine would continue to favor the Kintaro into the 3050s with the KTO-C. Designed as a testbed for the new C3 system, the KTO-C was identical to the KTO-20 but dropped a single medium laser for the C3 slave unit. ComStar and the World of Blake would improve on the KTO-C with the KTO-21 in the mid-3060s. A C3i computer and an Improved Narc Beacon replaced the LRM-5, while the two medium lasers were upgraded to extended-range models. An endo steel chassis helped account for the bulkier equipment, although it was still necessary to remove a half-ton of armor.

Kintario KTO-20

The final variant of the Kintaro, the KTO-K, was introduced by the Draconis Combine in the late 3060s. Armed with two Streak SRM-6s and three ER medium lasers, the KTO-K also had a C3 slave unit and five jump jets for added mobility.

For a time, the Kintaro would also see service amongst the Clans, where it was particularly favored by Clan Cloud Cobra. The Naja, introduced in 2826, was armed with Clan-spec weapons, including an LRM-20, two SRM-6s, two SRM-4s, two ER medium lasers, and an ER small laser. Fourteen double heat sinks struggled to keep the Naja cool, although 12 tons of standard armor and a standard engine made it an extremely easy-to-maintain ‘Mech. Clan Cloud Cobra remained the exclusive operator of the Naja until the Cobras switched their manufacturing focus from ‘Mechs to aerospace assets. The Cobras would quietly retire the Naja with the advent of the OmniMech

The Kintaro’s fate has remained tied to the Narc beacon, and as the Narc has fallen out of favor, so too has the Kintaro. Even the Draconis Combine has relegated its remaining KTO-Ks to second-line garrisons by the late 3130s. Few examples remain today outside the Periphery, and as those fall into disrepair, the Kintaro’s future is in serious doubt.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy