Author Archives: Sean

About Sean

Hooked on BattleTech at an early age, Sean honestly can't remember whether it was the cartoon, the serial novels or the short-lived TCG that did him in. Whatever it was, his passion for giant shooty robots never died, so now he writes about the latest and greatest in 'Mech related news.

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 3-D 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.

Ukraine BattleTech 15

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. 

Ukraine BattleTech 3

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. 

BattleTech Ukraine Army 5

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.

Ukraine BattleTech 13

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?

Ukraine BattleTech 16

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.

Ukraine BattleTech 7

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.

Ukraine BattleTech 6

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. 

BattleTech Ukraine Army 7

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

HEXTECH Review – An Urban Battlefield In A Box

Timber Wolf In HEXTECH City

Painting models is already a time-consuming process. You know what’s equally time-consuming? Making terrain. That’s why I’ve always preferred BattleTech’s hex maps so you don’t have to do anything: just buy the map and you’re ready to go. But dedicated tabletop wargamers just aren’t satisfied with hexagons on a piece of paper (or neoprene if you get those fancy BattleMats). They want the real, miniaturized terrain. A few trees and hills aren’t too big of a task, but a full-fledged urban combat setting takes as much time to make as a whole regiment of ‘Mechs.

You could take the time to create a whole city’s worth of buildings and roads, or you could just buy the HEXTECH Battlefield in a Box: Trinity City set from Thunderhead Studios and Gale Force 9 Games.

HEXTECH Trinity City Box Wave 1 and toes

You can see my toes!

According to Thunderhead, the Trinity City buildings all come courtesy of Christopher Wailes. He got the idea a few years ago after his ‘Mech force was “devastated by cheap shots” (ie. long-range firepower) “when the flat hex map provided woefully inadequate buildings for protection.” Sounds like a tactical problem to me. But rather than change those tactics, Wailes vowed to create a dense urban jungle of pre-painted buildings that anyone could readily add to their tabletop games and hex maps. A few years later, Wailes and Thunderhead Studios have given us HEXTECH and these painted models.

HEXTECH Trinity City Box Wave 1 All Buildings

Gale Force 9, the makers of HEXTECH, was kind enough to send me an example of Wailes’s work. The Wave 1 box for Trinity City includes two condos, two corporate offices, two Trinity City Police Department precincts, two university buildings, two Trinity Estates, and a single Justice Tower that dwarves the rest of them. Prices range from $30 USD to $40 USD, and each building comes fully painted with a removable felt base that makes these buildings easy to slot onto a hex map or a flat tabletop.

As you can see from the photos, what you see on the box is pretty much exactly what you get in real life. The boxes even have helpful photos that show either a 100% or 90% image of what’s contained inside. There was a ton of bubble wrap that had to be removed, but this just ensured that each building arrived without any knicks or scratches. Be careful with your exacto knife as you extract these buildings from their bubbly prisons.

'Mechs in HEXTECH City 1

Each building is made of flex resin and seems extremely sturdy, so I wouldn’t be worried about accidentally breaking one. That said, they’re also pretty heavy, so try not to knock one onto your minis unless you want some realistic battle damage.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have an urban combat map handy to showcase how these buildings ought to be used, but I did have a BattleMat to showcase how these hex bases fit. As you can see, the bases have been carefully measured to exactly match the dimensions of BattleTech‘s hexagons. The bases are removable, so you can play without them if you prefer to measure your shots by hand.

'Mechs in HEXTECH City 2

I did notice that a few of the bases for these buildings didn’t exactly line up with the shape of the building itself. This certainly didn’t affect gameplay at all, but it did make a few buildings seem a bit wobbly. The handy among you could easily carve out the bases to better match the buildings to solve that particular issue.

The buildings themselves are perfect. They’re all highly detailed with roofs that have little air conditioning boxes and tiny fans for recirculating air inside. The precincts have large hatches for where tiny police hovercars would park, and you can see tiny little steps leading to the Justice Tower’s helipads. There are a few extremely minor painting errors, but nothing that detracts from the overall presentation. (Note: The fans don’t actually move and the hatches don’t actually open. They’re just painted details modeled into the building.)

'Mechs in HEXTECH City 3

There’s enough space for pretty much every ‘Mech to jump onto every building, except possibly the Trinity University buildings. If you’re hopping around with a particularly large ‘Mech–like say, the Marauder II–you might not have trouble fitting your 100-ton keister up there. Then again, I’m not sure any building would hold up under an extra 100 tons on the roof.

Overall, the Trinity City box seems like a great addition to any tabletop game that’s looking to add an urban combat setting with absolutely zero painting or assembly required. All you gotta do is get these buildings out of their protective coverings and you’re ready to fight.

'Mechs in HEXTECH City 4

You can head over to the HEXTECH site here (courtesy of Gale Force 9 Games) to order your “battlefield in a box.” Most of the buildings come in pairs, except for the Justice Tower which comes alone (it’s the biggest of the bunch). I’ve listed the prices (in USD) and links below for your convenience.

And if you were looking for more, Gale Force 9 offers a whole range of HEXTECH buildings and constructs, although they’re not fully painted like the Trinity City boxes. There’s the Trinity City Community Center, luxury condos, office towers, “affordable” apartments (3000 C-bills a month for 200 square feet is a steal!), a corporate plaza, turrets, city streets and highways, and more. There are even city walls and turrets if you fancy your urban environment to be more of a fortress. Keep in mind that these would need to be painted like any other miniature. Head on over to Thunderhead’s site for more.

'Mechs in HEXTECH City 5

Initially, I’d just been given HEXTECH’s first wave to review, which is why it might’ve sounded like I was wrapping things up in the earlier paragraph. But it turns out there’s actually more to this HEXTECH thing! After the buildings arrived in the mail, Thunderhead Studios sent me a bunch of terrain pieces called the Trinity City Wave 2, including the Atlean Stepps and Highways. The Steppes are perfect for placing ‘Mechs atop so they can shoot with the high-ground advantage. The tiles are outlined on the flat bits, although the bases are not, so you’ll have to do some eye-balling if you plan to use these Steppes on a hex map. Using these on non-hex maps is easier since the base is designed to look more like terrain than a hexagonally-shaped hill.

The Highways come in a variety of pieces that make creating your own designs easy. You can place several tiles next to each other to create a four-lane highway, or you can have them branch off to create an intricate downtown core. Each piece is textured with bumps so you could theoretically use these on inclined surfaces and still place your units without fear of having them slide around. Because the Highways use the same hex grid base as the Trinity City buildings, it’s easy to slot those buildings right next to the highway pieces to create some really cool urban combat zones.

'Mechs in HEXTECH City 6

While the Steppes seemed pretty solid, the Highways are likely a tad more fragile. They do bend a bit, but I’m certain if you bend them too much they’ll break along the convenient hex grid pattern they all come with. Treat these highways with care and be sure to store them where they won’t suffer any torsional forces.

Be careful with the Steppes too! Although they may look solid, they’re actually resin-coated foam. I managed to crack one of them through my own negligence and then tried to repair the cracked resin using superglue. Turns out that superglue actually melts the foam, so now my slight repair job has turned into a somewhat more major repair job. Good thing I’ve got some crafty friends up for a challenge.

'Mechs in HEXTECH City 6

As with the Trinity City pieces, head over to HEXTECH’s site for the Wave 2 terrain pieces. The Trinity City Highways comes with ten fully-painted highway pieces that are largely straight, while the Trinity City Highway Intersections comes with ten fully-painted pieces that curve or have intersections in various orientations. The Atlean Steppes box comes with four fully-painted hills of varying sizes.

Once again, I’ll list these new boxes below for your convenience.

Trinity City Highways – $40
Trinity City Highway Intersections – $40
Atlean Steppes – $40

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy


Your BattleTech News Round-Up For August, 2023

August has been a trip. I received my first communicable disease since the pandemic this month. It was just a cold, but after having evaded pretty much all infections for over two years, it still felt like I’d been run over by a mucus-filled buffalo. Worse, it came just as I was about to head to the wild Canadian north for a camping trip. I’m glad the vultures didn’t spot me (or hear my wheezing coughs) for they certainly would have correctly identified me as the weakest member of the herd and liable to drop dead at any moment.

As always, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover for this month’s BattleTech news round-up, starting a ‘Mech that has been patiently awaiting its time in the sun.

Tex Talks BattleTech: The Hunchback 

Tex Talks Battletech : The Hunchback
Watch this video on YouTube.

As promised, The Black Pants Legion has brought us Tex Talks BattleTech: The Hunchback last week. A two-hour tour de force, the video covers the Hunchback’s origins as a purpose-built city fighter prior to the Reunification War, the Hunchback’s many variants, and some of its veteran pilots. It also dives deep into the psychology of Hunchback pilots, which can largely be summarized as “big cannon goes boom.” 

I’m hardly criticizing. The Hunchback is probably one of the best medium ‘Mechs ever made, and after almost six centuries of iterations, it remains the preferred choice of a very specific type of MechWarrior.

And as you may have noticed from the video, there’s a lot of custom art and footage featured in the Hunchback video. Some of it comes from Locust Labs, which we’ll be speaking to shortly, and a lot of it also comes from EldoniousRex, our own resident Bad ‘Mechs artist. You’ll be able to purchase some of this fine art soon with the upcoming “Hunch-Pack,” which will contain five prints, two stickers, and several coasters. Stay tuned to Eldonious’s Twitter for when that becomes available.

I sincerely hope that the painting of the Hunchback 4P rockin’ out is one of those five prints. 

Opinion: Is It Swayback Or Partyback?

Sarna Complaints Department

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

I admit to being a late adherent to the Hunchback Orthydoxy. To me, the Hunchback has always been an AC/20 in the right shoulder and little else. Only with the release of MechWarrior Online did I discover there are actually a ton of Hunchbacks out there that are all wildly different, and many of them ditch the AC/20 for a collection of smaller, more reasonable weapons. These Hunchbacks are known collectively as “Swaybacks” because they generally lose the Hunchie’s characteristic hunch.

Except for the Hunchback HBK-4P. This Hunchback replaces the AC/20 with six more medium lasers and enough heat sinks to at least consider firing them all at once without immediately melting its reactor. Since these medium lasers are all where the AC/20 used to be, it’s still got a hunch. And for me, it also had a different name: “Partyback.”

I did not invent this name. It first came to me from TheB33F, who used it to describe a very specific custom variant of the 4P with all small pulse lasers. The Partyback’s genesis isn’t too hard to fathom as an all-laser Hunchback is basically a walking laser light show. And it just made more sense than “Swayback” to me, so for the 4P variant at least, the name has forever stuck.

But has it for you? Is the HBK-4P still a Swayback or is it a Partyback? And do Hunchbacks like the 4SP and 5H also receive the Swayback moniker, or do these have even more unique names that I’ve never heard of? Do let me know in the comments below.

The Urbie Has Risen

Found an Urbie.
by u/JSFetzik in Battletechgame

I wasn’t at Gen Con this year, but I hear it was a blast. And I also heard there was yet another giant inflatable UrbanMech sighting. Be sure to share your inflatable Urbie pics in the comments!

Valk Makes Zelda And Metroid Minis For Gen Con

Gen Con was earlier this month, and one of the events involved a BattleTech tournament where the winners were awarded custom-painted figures. Valk here decided to paint up a Night Gyr Prime and a Vindicator as Link from the Legend of Zelda and Samus from the Metroid series

I’m not surprised by how good these figures look. I am surprised how the Vindicator somehow became the perfect ‘Mech for Link. You’d think it would have been the Centurion with its built-in shield, but now I can’t think of any ‘Mech other than the Vindicator as Link’s ‘Mech.

There are a few other potential Samus ‘Mechs. The Vulcan comes to mind, as does the Nova Cat--all you really gotta have is a rounded cockpit and big shoulders. The Night Gyr is a fine choice though. Kudos to Valk for these exceptional pieces, and jealousy to whoever won these ‘Mechs at Gen Con!

Mercenaries Kickstarter Pledge Manager Is Set To Close September 15

Banshee Crusader Eridani Light Horse Mercenaries Kickstarter

Catalyst didn’t make any big announcements at Gen Con, but it did make some waves on the Mercenaries Kickstarter. The Pledge Manager is open for all to finalize their orders and pick up whatever add-ons they might like. I had an extra $5 kickin’ around when I went in to finalize my order, and that’s most of the way to a Salvage Box that I couldn’t help but pick up another Visigoth so I could have a flight of two. 

You too might have some cash left to spend, so be sure to check in on the Mercenaries Kickstarter Pledge Manager and complete the associated survey. The Pledge Manager is scheduled to end on September 15, with shipping details to be finalized afterward. If things stay on schedule, we might even see the Mercs Kickstarter arrive before Christmas.

BattleTech Now Third Biggest Miniature Franchise In The World

BT Wallpapers 2023 McCarrons Armored Cavalry

Courtesy of Catalyst Game Labs

Here’s an interesting statistic courtesy of ICv2: BattleTech has broken into the top three best-selling miniatures brands, beating out Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, Star Wars Legion, and even D&D Onslaught. According to the publication, sales have tapered off for Warhammer 40K, which suppliers blame on a lack of new products and available restocks. BattleTech, meanwhile, has started sets “widely available, which removed the biggest barrier to sales on the line.”

This comment seems to confirm Brent’s comments last month that BattleTech is seeing solid logistics for the first time in its history, and it’s translating into stronger sales. One interviewed store owner said that BattleTech‘s playerbase has even quadrupled since the beginning of the year. That’s great news for BattleTech!

Did You Know An Atlas Is Actually Just Four Urbies In A Trench Coat?

Anyone have stats for 4 Urbies in a big coat?
by u/opposhaw in battletech

I certainly didn’t know. But now that you mention it, that Atlas sure was walking funny… Kudos to Opposhaw on Reddit for mangling four UrbanMech minis to produce this work of art. 

CutesyTech Makes Clans, Houses, And Merc Units Adorable

As requested! More Cutesy tech!
by u/bleptarts in battletech

A few weeks ago, Bleptarts gave us a preview of the CutesyTech logos for several Clan factions. Now we’ve got a much larger selection of Clans, several mercenary companies and minor factions, and the Great Houses. If someone can turn these into a mod pack for MechWarrior 5, I’d be awful grateful, but I’ll settle for a few real-life sticker packs. 

Javelin Versus Spider, Who Ya Got?

Played Battletech with a friend for the first time and i decided to draw how it ended~! ( with my Spider blowing his Javelin’s head off point blank lol )
by u/ladynibiruart in battletech

Personally, I’m usually going to give this fight to the Javelin. It’s hard to argue with two SRM-6s in a one-on-one duel. Sure, you’ll probably run those ammo bins dry in a real battle, but honorable single combat? Few light ‘Mechs will survive 180 SRMs. Unless that is, that Javenlin takes two medium lasers to the face. 

That’s apparently how the fight between Lady Nibiru and her friend ended. I hope she was in the Spider. Thanks for the great art!

Gaming Jay’s Crescent Hawks Game Has Become Metal Mercs

MetalMercs - The Confederate Vanguard Union - Background and Demo
Watch this video on YouTube.


You may recall Gaming Jay’s Crescent Hawks remake from last year’s interview. Heavily inspired by Crescent Hawks’ Inception and Crescent Hawks’ Revenge, Jay updated these old games with new real-time mechanics, an expanded database of ‘Mechs, and a campaign that goes up to the Clan Invasion.

One year later, and Jay’s Crescent Hawks’ remake has become an entirely new game called Metal Mercs. The game is no longer set in the BattleTech universe, but it’s got an entirely new selection of Great Houses, ‘Mechs, history, tech, and lore. But don’t be fooled by the new coat of paint--this game is still essentially the same one that Jay has been previewing for the better part of a year. You still gotta take your mercenary lance from plane to planet, smashing mechs, salvaging mechs, and making sure your finances don’t fall into the red. 

Metal Mercs is still in development, but a playable demo is “just on the horizon.” To get access to it, sign up for Jay’s Patreon here, and head over to the Metal Mercs Discord for up-to-the-minute updates.

Alpha Strike App Made By Fan

I made a small web app to replace Alpha Strike Cards
by u/cool_dad69 in battletech


Unfortunately, the official BattleTech app only works on tablet-sized devices, so if you don’t have an iPad (or similar) you’re out of luck. Or at least we were until cool_dad69 made this Alpha Strike web app

The app is simple. First, add your units by clicking the button and searching for the ‘Mech’s (or vehicle’s) name. Select the skill level of the pilot in the card preview, then click “add unit to force.” You’ll then have the unit displayed on the site. You can click on armor, structure, critical hits, and heat scale icons to keep track of those statistics, and it even keeps track of when a critical hit reduces your damage or movement speed. Just keep adding units until your force is fully represented, then go out and play. 

The app isn’t perfect, mind you, as there’s not enough space on the page for larger engagements with multiple lances. But if you just want a quick lance-on-lance game, this app is perfect. I’m definitely saving this for my next Alpha Strike game, and you should too.

MechWarrior Online Gets New Weapons, New Legendary ‘Mechs In Latest Patch

MechWarrior Online August New Weapons
Watch this video on YouTube.

Big news for MechWarrior Online this month. For the first time in an age, MechWarrior Online is getting totally new weapons.

First up is the Hyper Assault Gauss Rifle family. These weapons appear to function like a ballstic version of a pulse laser, but they do have a projectile velocity, so don’t expect these to be hitscan weapons. What you can expect, however, is massve damage. The HAG-40 fires eight shells for 40 total damage, while the HAG-30 fires six for 30 total damage. The HAG-20 fires just four shells, has the smallest spread, lowest cooldown, and does a total of 20 damage per blast. Weight and crit-slot requirements are the same as the classic tabletop game. 

Next up is the Binary Laser Cannon. Essentially two large lasers fused together to fire at the same time, the Binary Laser Cannon deals somewhat different damage in MWO than it does on the tabletop, with 18 damage for a full blast and 13 total heat. The Binary Laser Cannon weighs nine tons and requires four critical slots, making it a somewhat lighter option for ‘Mechs that would otherwise mount two large lasers. 

And finally, the X-Pulse Lasers have arrived. These rapid-fire lasers offer low damage but higher overall DPS, able to chip their way through armor with prolonged firing. The downside is that you need to face your target for extended periods, making the wielder vulnerable to return fire. These will likely be best used on Inner Sphere light and medium ‘Mechs for hit-and-run strikes against unaware opponents.

MWO is also bringing two new Legendary ‘Mechs in the Stalker “War Emu” and the ViperScaleshot“. The “War Emu” is a great name, and it seems like a decent ‘Mech, with four AC/5s and four medium lasers in its stock build. There are still some missile mounts in the Stalker‘s stubby arms and an extra ballistic mount in the head, providing some alternative build options for tinkerers.

The Scaleshot offers lots of SRMs with some supporting missile quirks alongside some boosted armor. This thing looks like the perfect high-speed brawler, fast enough to dictate engagements and quickly destroy wounded or low-armor ‘Mechs. As with all Legendary ‘Mechs, the Scaleshot and War Emu both come with itty bitty battle passes that award cosmetics, C-bills, MC, and GSP. 

But that’s not all. The August patch also brings quirk adjustments to the Adder, Phoenix Hawk, Nova, Gargoyle, and BattleMaster, with a few select variants of other ‘Mechs getting a few tweaks too. Rifleman weapon slots have also been adjusted so that energy weapons on the arms will prioritize the higher secondary hardpoint, and you might notice your HUD’s damage readout more quickly updates damage done to your ‘Mech.

Last but not least, the MWO Competitive Championship Series for 2023 is back for another year, with the Comp Queue now open for you to create teams. For rules and potential rewards, check out this post here, and for more on the August patch, you can dive into the patch notes here

Move Over Centurion, This Roman-Themed Hunchback Is Coming For Your Job

Custom Hunchback Project
by u/Philbobagginzzz in battletech

In honor of the Hunchback‘s debut in Tex Talks BattleTech, here we have a Roman Gladiator-styled Hunchback from Philbobagginzzz. I have no idea what variant of the Hunchback this mini might be emulating or if it might be an entirely custom hunchback with a totally new armament. 

But something tells me guessing what this thing is bringing to the party isn’t nearly as important as how well it’s dressed. It’s got a shield, stylistic armor covering its crotch, and battlefists with giant brass knuckles. This thing is going to be the life of the arena, provided it survives the first round.

The Periphery Podcast Corporation Celebrates BattleTech In The Southern Hemisphere

Shrapnel, the kind bloke who has taken it upon himself to turn the Bad ‘Mechs series into short audio stories, has taken the next logical step in his auditory journey and started a podcast. The PPC (Periphery Podcast Corporation) has just had its inaugural episode over on Spotify where we get to meet Stuart (Shrapnel) and Jamal, hosts of the new podcast, and find out what topics they’ll be discussing in the coming months. Expect interviews with artists, designers, painters, and other content creators as the PPC explores the BattleTech community of the Southern Hemisphere. That’s the one with Australia in it, or so I’m told. 

Head on over to Spotify to subscribe. And for more of Shrapnel’s content, check out his YouTube channel here.

Andrewlik Offers Longform BattleTech Playthrough With Voice-Acted Lines

The Steel Beast - Battletech Shenanigans
Watch this video on YouTube.


Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH was and still is a fantastic game, and one that I encourage everyone to play--especially if you’re not a fan of first-person shooters like MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online. But as amazing as BATTLETECH was, it wasn’t perfect. For starters, it had very little voice acting in between missions.

Enter Andrewlik. He’s gone to the trouble of actually getting a crew together to read out the lines that never received voice acting in the original game and he’s posted his work to YouTube for your viewing entertainment. Expect a few memes here and there for good measure. It’s a great way to get a preview of BATTLETECH if you’ve never played before, but just keep in mind there’s less talky talky in the actual game.

Fly High, Phoenix Hawk

I’ve always loved ‘Mechs with more jump jets than makes sense, with the Phoenix Hawk being pretty high up on my list of jumpy jumpy ‘Mechs (just shy of the Spider, honestly). Here we have a flying example from the 2nd Tikonov Lancers courtesy of Oshlet on the app formerly known as Twitter. Great work. 

The Uziel Mod For MechWarrior 5 Is Here

The Uziel (classic) mech mod is now out
by u/BoukObelisk in Mechwarrior5

We can once again thank SankaraSamsara (aka The Art Of BattleTech) for bringing us MechWarrior 4‘s Uziel as a mod for MechWarrior 5. Pawel Czarnecki created the model, which was inspired by Mark Duncan’s original render for MechWarrior 4‘s promotional artwork, and SankaraSamsara did everything else. Just based on the screenshots, I can see there are at least two variants of the Uziel that’ll be available, although there may be more. 

Download the Uziel Mod at Nexus Mods or on MechWarrior 5‘s Steam Workshop pages. And if you don’t want to just wait for the Uziel to pop up at your local ‘Mech dealer, be sure to use the ‘Mech Delivery mod.

Gotta Go Fast, As They Say

Sonic Boom!
by u/Pale_Professional_73 in battletech

I’ll admit, the Spider is one of my favorite light ‘Mechs. And Sonic the Hedgehog is my favorite ‘90s-era Sega mascot. Combine the two and you get another video game crossover that I simply cannot ignore. Kudos to Pale_Professional_73 for turning the Blue Blur into a ‘Mech with a significantly higher risk of death. That’s not just due to the speed; the Spider doesn’t have an ejection seat. 

And that’s it for August! Join us next month as we enter into the terrible time between summer and winter where the trees turn color and it gets either very hot or very cold, often with little in between.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Community Outreach – Locust Labs And Creating The Hunchback For Tex Talks BattleTech

Welcome back to Community Outreach, where we sit down to chat with the movers and shakers in the BattleTech universe. With the release of Tex Talks BattleTech: The Hunchback, we thought it’d be a good idea to speak to one of the artists featured in the documentary. Locust Labs created many of the 3D models and animations seen in the Hunchback video, and she’s got dreams to go beyond fan animations to make a career out of 3D modeling. Please welcome Anna of Locust Labs.

Locust Labs

Courtesy of Locust Labs

Sean [Sarna]: My name’s Sean Murray. I’m the news writer for, the BattleTech Wiki. Maybe you’ve heard of us? 

Locust Labs: No, never really. No Sarna. Don’t know about that. Never heard of it. Never, never at all. 

Sean: You didn’t go to Sarna for, I don’t know, maybe pictures of the Hunchback?

Locust Labs: I don’t go to Sarna like every day to look up things while I work. No, that doesn’t happen. 

Sean: I do, but I also work there. 

“I’ve always just loved mecha in general too, but Tex’s videos–more specifically the videos on the Amaris Civil War–were what kind of got me back into BattleTech.”

Locust Labs: No, I obviously know of Sarna, all jokes aside. It’s been very helpful. I don’t actually use Sarna for pictures though, because you guys save the pictures on the site in some really weird format. And they don’t work in my reference image collector software, Pure Rev.

Sean: Sorry. I mean, I guess you could always just save them in a different format. That’s sort of what I do, believe it or not. But enough about me being bad at my job. What about you being good at your job? Tell me about Locust Labs. How did you get started? What is it exactly that you do for anybody who’s never heard of Locust Labs before?

Locust Labs: Well, it’s actually really funny because I mainly work in Blender as a 3D artist. And my first brush with Blender was when I was 14 and I was playing a video game called Unturned, which is a shooter. An artist that made low-poly weapons for the game joined the server, and I was interested, so he gave me a few lessons on how to make low-poly guns on Blender.

I kind of didn’t use it for a few years, and then I started getting into 3D Discords with my friends about 3D art and mecha. And one of my friends that I met there kind of started teaching me about how to use Blender. I started to relearn how to use Blender in general–which is not easy, which a lot of people will tell you–but eventually, you get the hang of it.

And then I started making buildings and vehicles and infantry for animations, and people seem to really like it. And a year ago, I told my girlfriend, “Wouldn’t it be really cool if someday I could work for Tex and work on a Tex Talks BattleTech with my silly little 3D models?” 

Then eight months later, I get a DM from the man himself. He’s like, “Hey, do you wanna work for me?”

Running Locust

Courtesy of Locust Labs

Sean: All right, so you’ve been watching Tex’s videos for at least eight months. Is that sort of what got you into the ‘Mech side of things?

Locust Labs: So my childhood was actually spent with BattleTech because my father is a huge BattleTech nerd. He probably has like a hundred books of battle texts. Some of the German-only books are there. I have his box of the old plastic line in my apartment as well as the ‘Mechs.

I’ve always just loved mecha in general too, but Tex’s videos–more specifically the videos on the Amaris Civil War–were what kind of got me back into BattleTech. I was huge into [Warhammer] 40K, but 40K was so incredibly inaccessible and expensive. Then I watched Tex’s videos on the Amaris Civil War, and I was reminded of BattleTech, of course. That was right around the time I had made my first 3D thing, which was bases to put figures on. And then I was like, “I could totally make a Locust,” which is my favorite ‘Mech. I was playing MechWarrior Online at the time. Basically only using the Locust “Pirate’s Bane“ and being a huge nuisance to people.

And I was like, I should totally just make a 3D model of a Locust. And then I made a 3D model of a Locust, and people were like, “This is really cool. You should keep doing this.” So I kept doing it, and here I am. 

Locust Labs Raven Animation

Sean: All right, so, you were into BattleTech from an early age. Uh, What like games and what parts of BattleTech have you engaged with before? 

Locust Labs: As I said, I’ve played MWO basically since it was a thing. ‘Cause my dad played it and he was like, “You should play MWO too.” And I did just like when he played World of Tanks, I played World of Tanks and it was just a great time.

I obviously played MechWarrior 5. Of the older games, my dad does own MechWarrior 4 and 3 and 2 in 1, and he basically played all the BattleTech games that are out there. But I only ever had a short brush-in with MechCommander and obviously classic BattleTech that I played with my dad.

That’s really it. I was mainly reading all the books that my dad had. I would sneak in and grab three of them and read them. He’d obviously be okay with it. It would just be like, “Oh, three books are gone.” I’m probably reading them. I even have his original run of the Grey Death Legion trilogy that I stole from him and have in my apartment.

“Tex was like, ‘Hey, I like this. Why don’t you make animations for my Hunchback video?’ I was like, oh God, is this real?”

Sean: Are you admitting to something in this interview then? 

Locust Labs: No, he’s fine. He knows I see them. It’s okay.

Sean: So you got into making ‘Mechs and then Tex reaches out after you’ve seen his videos starting from the Amaris Civil War. What does he ask you to do?

Locust Labs: Tex asks me, “Hey, we’re working on the Hunchback video.” I had just started making animations. I first kind of worked on just 3D models and I sent him an animation I had made of my second attempt to make a locust.

Basically, after a year, I was like, “Hey, I should totally make another Locust model.” And then he is like, “Hey, I like this. Why don’t you make animations for my Hunchback video?” I was like, oh God, is this real? But of course it was real. So first I have to make a Hunchback and then I have to animate it.

And then the project just kind of kept growing. First, he only wanted me to make four versions of the Hunchback, and then they were 10, and then he wanted the Hunchback IIC as well. It just kept getting more and more and I was like, okay, more Hunchbacks. Here you go, boss.

Sean: And there are a lot of Hunchbacks out there, so he probably could have gone through dozens of them.

Locust Labs: I made 19 models or color variations. Some of them range from little alterations, like there’s a different gun in where the AC/20 goes, all the way to redesigning the entire torso or actually just changing the entire ‘Mech around ’cause it’s the Clan. It was a lot of work, but I also had a hell of a lot of fun.

Sean: So these models are full 3S models, but also they’re fully animated. The torso moves, the legs move, and the arms move. It looks like a running Hunchback. How long did it take you to make the first Hunchback and get it fully animated so that we have this running gif here. 

Locust Labs Original Hunchback Model

Locust Labs: So my workflow starts before I even get to the animation. As you said, I obviously have to make the Hunchback. Depending on the complexity of what I’m working on, it might be a day or two for, let’s just say a tank, but because obviously this was for Tex Talks BattleTech, the big man himself, I put a lot of effort into it. I think it took me about a week just to make the base version of the Hunchback.

Starting from a very simplistic block like this where I just kind of box in the shapes and then slowly working my way over the details till I obviously arrive at the final result. In my process, I first paint them in Blender–hopefully in the future in Substance Painter, which is just a lot more sophisticated.

And then it comes to the rigging, which depending on what you’re doing, can be very sophisticated or very simple.

Since these Hunchbacks were only supposed to run, all I really needed to do was make a humanoid rig that fit onto the Hunchback, which is very simple. All you really need is two legs, feet, a torso, hip separation, and then the arms. So there’s nothing fancy, like if you were animating let’s say an animal or a dragon and you had to animate the wings or whatever.

Then it’s on to actually animating the thing, which is rather difficult in Blender ’cause it’s not sophisticated animation software. Blender kind of does everything; that means it might be good at everything, but it’s not the best. It takes a lot of effort to get good at rigging in Blender

Locust Labs Hunchback Final

I wouldn’t say I’m good at all, but I make it work. First of all, you basically set a time, which for a full walk cycle I need 60 frames. And then you set up your walk cycle. You obviously need to set up the middle, like the start and the middle of the walk cycle, which is one full cycle. Like a 60-frame, two-second thing, one full cycle. And then you need to make it so that in between those three frames–frame zero, frame 30, and frame 60–it actually looks like it’s walking. 

And that takes two things. First, you need to animate the model, and then you need to animate its surroundings so it actually looks like it moves.

Sean: And then also the shadows too.

Locust Labs: Yeah, you have a light source. In this case, there were actually three light sources to light it up evenly. There’s a little bit of a shadow, but it’s also supposed to kind of show everything, because if you only have one light source, sometimes the shadows are very dark in Blender.

It’s kind of necessary to have multiple from different angles. At that point, it’s just about kind of tweaking things. ’cause if you just had a running ‘Mech that’s just running straightforward or walking, it wouldn’t look very realistic. You need to have the torso balance and the arms shake, and maybe the hips are rotating along and bouncing as well.

Sean: I’m sure as much as Tex would like to, he can’t pay all your bills. What would be your goal beyond just making these kinds of 3D models for really cool internet videos?

Locust Labs Hunchback 4G Silverhawk Irregulars

Locust Labs: Currently I kind of have three main avenues. One of them is I simply continue doing this. I work on my portfolio. And eventually, my work is good enough to actually get hired by like a video game studio or for actual filmmaking or just in any kind of animator 3D model designer role at an actual company. I could be lucky and make enough of my animation commissions and so on to just live from it, or I might end up going to university because I am only 21 years old.

But if I had my way and I could make all my money just from the animation and so forth, I’d eventually want to actually come up with my own kind of setting, like BattleTech.

That’s been in my head for a while. I’ve even made a ‘Mech for it and a bunch of written lore for it. The problem is just there’s tons of systems for tabletop games and video games and books out there that nobody’s ever going to read. Because the person making them and writing them and working on them, nobody knows who they are. Why should people play your “homebrew” system that you developed when they can just play 40K

Sean: Yeah, that’s kind of a similar problem with a lot of RPGs. There are a lot of really great tabletop RPGs out there, but because Dungeons & Dragons is so well established, a lot of people are like, “Well, why bother doing any of these when we could all just be playing Dungeons & Dragons?”

I sympathize with kind of the challenge you have there. It’s not impossible, though.

“First, he only wanted me to make four versions of the Hunchback, and then they were 10, and then he wanted the Hunchback IIC as well.”

Locust Labs:  It’s also a problem we have in the tabletop RPG space is that there are a lot of great options, but a lot of people who want to make their own things end up making BattleTech lite or 40K lite. Here’s my grand scale strategy game for the tabletop, but in actuality it’s just the same rules as 40K with slightly different models. And then it’s like, why would I pick up a whole new system? Learn different rules, buy different minis when all my friends already have their Space Marine armies, and their 2,000 point, 6,000 BV list of ‘Mechs for BattleTech. Why wouldn’t I just buy BattleTech

Sean: Yeah. Another thing, especially with these older, established IPs, is that you’re kind of trying to advertise to an older audience that just doesn’t want that sort of thing. I think maybe the best strategy for trying to gain interest towards a newer IP is to actually go really young–like, single digits young. Try and hook kids on a game that will grow into something that they have that sense of nostalgia for as adults.

Locust Labs: I think it’s also a problem for a lot of people that they’re scared of even trying. ‘Cause. If you had told me that I’d be sitting here talking for a Sarna interview while my Hunchback animation is being shown off in a Tex Talks BattleTech video two years ago, I’d have told you you’re crazy. But here I am and it all kind of happened just ’cause I was like, I should totally model a Locust and that would be really fun.

Locust Labs Hunchback Animation

Sean: Take risks–you can’t really get anywhere without taking them. We should probably also describe where people can find you on the Internet. Where can people see Locust Labs and get the latest and greatest from Locust Labs?

Locust Labs: I have Twitter, I have Instagram, I have Facebook. I go by some version of “Locust_Labs” everywhere, even on Discord. I could also plug my Patreon if you’ll let me.

Sean: Does Locust Labs have any particular plans for the future?

Locust Labs: Making more animations–even just by myself making a longer fan animation–would be really interesting. I probably have to buy a better PC first because even the little Raven animation took my computer almost two hours to render and I’m still not really happy with it. But it’s also kind of the problem with my current pc, it can’t really do anything while I’m rendering.

Like I couldn’t watch YouTube or actually work on something else. My computer was basically just sitting there and churning out these video bits. So my first plan, once I have a little bit more money than I have right now, will be to buy a better computer.

So next time Tex hires me, he doesn’t have to wait as long and I don’t have to spend as long just sitting there watching my computer basically load.

“If I had my way, I’d eventually want to actually come up with my own kind of setting, like BattleTech.”

Sean: That’s probably not as fun for you if you can’t play some MechWarrior Online while you’re waiting for something to render. 

Locust Labs: Yeah. Like I can’t actually do anything while I’m waiting for it to render on my computer, so, yeah. 

Sean: I see you’ve made a Raven and of course, the Hunchback. Have you done any models of other ‘Mechs?

Locust Labs: Yeah. I’ve done a Warhammer. I don’t have anything to show these off, but I’ve done two Locusts. I recently did a Centurion that I think you saw on Twitter. I did a really cool Mackie for the cab team that does mods for MechWarrior 5. They asked me to make them a Mackie and I had a lot of fun doing that.

Sean: Do you have anything else you’d like to share?

Locust Labs: I could show off three of the more interesting versions of the Hunchback I made after the video.

Um, I guess we’d start with the most vanilla one. I don’t know if it’s the 5N or the 6N, but this is one of the painted versions of the Hunchback I made. We have a Free Worlds League Hunchback, and then a little bit more advanced is the pirate Hunchback, which is the one with two LRM-5s, an AC/5, and two extra medium lasers.

Not quite sure why we picked this one mainly ’cause it was the wildest version and it was the last one Tex asked for and I didn’t know what to do, so I was like, why don’t I turn it into a pirate ‘Mech? And it’s actually my favorite of all of them. 

Sean: That’s the 4N model.

Locust Labs: And then this last version I have. You can only show off if this is released after the video because technically I’m not supposed to talk about it. And Tex kind of wanted to keep it as a shocking surprise for everybody that watches. But this is the ugliest Hunchback in existence. Oh, yeah. I don’t remember which version this is, but it has a torso-mounted cockpit and a RAC/5 or an Ultra AC/20, I don’t remember [ed. It’s a UAC/10]. And then because it was already so bad looking, we gave it reactive armor after that meme with Ukraine. 

I’m really proud of all of these, which have all happened in the last six months.  I’m very proud of them.Locust Labs Hunchback 7X4

Sean: Anything else you want to shout out? 

Locust Labs: Yep. I’d shout out the Black Pants Legion and the Aux, which is the kind of fan community for techs. They’re great. I’m really glad that I get to be part of that whole group of really cool people and that I get to work with Tex ’cause I’m apparently really good at getting exactly where I say I would like to be, just by doing what I do best.

Sean: It’s a good skill to have. Alright, well, it was great talking to you. I very much appreciate you taking the time to talk to me about your work and share all these really cool models.

Locust Labs: Alright, peace. Take care. Bye-bye.

Locust Labs Mechs

Courtesy of Locust Labs

Thanks so much for showcasing your work for us both here and in the Tex Talks BattleTech video. Be sure to follow Locust Labs on her social media accounts to see where this up-and-comer winds up next.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

An Ode To Light ‘Mechs: Why BattleTech Needs More Light ‘Mech Love

BattleTech HBS Raven

So here’s an interesting tidbit I just found out about in MechWarrior Online. In a recent video from No Guts No Galaxy, Sean Lang discussed how PGI is working on “multiple MechWarrior projects,” one of which is the Dragon’s Gambit for MechWarrior 5 and another is mostly likely MechWarrior 6. In that same video, Lang also discussed some new Legendary ‘Mechs coming to MechWarrior Online, noting that they were both assault ‘Mechs. Most interestingly, he noted that light ‘Mechs apparently suffer from poor sales, with light ‘Mech packs selling far below medium, heavy, and assault ‘Mechs.

You could argue that light ‘Mechs simply have less battle impact in a competitive game like MechWarrior Online so players are far less likely to spend money on them. You could also argue that light ‘Mechs are far more difficult to pilot, what with their extreme speed and poor armor making them prone to running into walls or blowing up when they get hit by 18 PPCs. Or you could argue that the average BattleTech fan prefers to stomp around in a big hulking heap of metal rather than something relatively nimble.

Any of these hypotheses could be correct, or perhaps it’s a combination of two or even all three. And being unable to let any good hypothesis writhe on the vine, I set out to determine which is it through a number of polls on various BattleTech Discord servers.

BattleTech HBS Locust

I asked a very simple question: “What is your favorite class of ‘Mech?” My hope was to discover if MechWarrior Online’s distaste for light ‘Mechs was something that was felt across all BattleTech communities, or if there was something specifically going on in MWO. The results were surprising, to say the least.

We’ll start in the Star League Discord server–a diverse place with loads of Pride flags and references to Canopian cat people. My kinda place. Anyway, my impromptu survey initially started with very interesting results, with medium-class ‘Mechs just edging out heavies. And rather than lights, it’s assault-class ‘Mechs that are the least popular, with light ‘Mechs comfortably in third place.

Next, we head to the Focht Hyperpulse server, which is also a diverse place but there are fewer Canopians and more Canadians. Once again, we get a very interesting result. This time, heavy ‘Mechs come out well ahead, followed by mediums and then lights. Assaults are once again in last place as the least preferred ‘Mech class. 

Finally, I did another poll in the Sarna Discord server, perhaps the best place on the web outside of Sarna itself. I thought here we’d get a much more representative cross-section of BattleTech fans, but even here I was surprised by the results. Heavies are once again in the lead, but medium ‘Mechs managed just to squeak out ahead of assaults. Lights, finally, are dead last by a margin of two to one.

From my brief and very unscientific research, we see that heavy ‘Mechs are most likely the most popular class by a fair margin. It’s actually neck and neck between light ‘Mechs and assault ‘Mechs for who comes in dead last. 

Commando versus Locust

I’m as surprised as anyone. I would have expected assaults to be top of the heap as everyone seems to love their Awesomes and Atlases, but they’re actually as maligned as Locusts and Stingers. Meanwhile, mediums and heavies are far and away the most popular classes, which is slightly curious. You’d have expected to see more medium ‘Mechs being sold in MechWarrior Online, and a campaign with drop limits centered around heavies in MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, but instead you have lots of assault ‘Mechs being sold in MWO and an end-game in MW5 that basically requires the Steiner Scout Squad.

Perhaps there’s a bit of a disconnect between the data of these polls and what people really spend their money on. Perhaps people want assaults in PGI’s games because those games are designed around assaults being the most effective ‘Mechs. And perhaps with this data, they might decide to refocus things to favor mediums and heavies in MechWarrior 6. We can only hope.

But one thing is clear: light ‘Mechs are certainly the most maligned class. They’re tied for the least popular class in BattleTech, they’re not purchased in abundance in MechWarrior Online, and they’re mostly beginner Mechs or used for niche roles in MechWarrior 5. 

And that sucks, because I think light ‘Mechs are the best.

Think about it. For the price of one Atlas, you can have a demi-company of Locusts. You could even stack them two in a ‘Mech bay thanks to their narrow profiles, allowing you to stuff twice as many inside a DropShip. They rely on speed and stealth for protection, meaning you’re either a write-off or pristine, with very few repairs needed after a successful mission. Light ‘Mechs can still bring plenty of firepower to the table, as anyone who’s ever faced a lance of Panthers can attest. Plus, they’re cute! who hasn’t looked at a Locust or a Kit Fox and thought this thing looks freakin’ adorable?

I can hear your argument even now. “But Sean, there’s no great BattleTech heroes that ever piloted light ‘Mechs,” you complain erroneously. For indeed, there are loads of great light ‘Mech pilots!

Phelan Kell (Ward)Phelan Kell BattleTech Legends

The son of Morgan Kell and Salome Ward, that man who would eventually become the Khan of Clan Wolf-in-Exile spent the vast bulk of his career piloting a Wolfhound he named “Grinner.” That Wolfhound would get a Clan-spec upgrade after his capture by Clan Wolf, which would later be dubbed the Wolfhound IIC. At various points throughout his career, Phelan would also pilot a Kit Fox, a Mercury, and a Solitaire

Katie Ferraro 

Fox Patrol‘s founding member, Ferraro found a long-abandoned Kit Fox on her home planet of Jerangle. Once a Kell Hounds ‘Mech, it had been left abandoned in the jungle for decades. Ferraro would repair the Kit Fox, which she dubbed “Kagekitsune,” and used it to drive off a pirate gang to save her hometown. She’d eventually go on to found Fox Patrol where she pilots Kagekitsune to this day.

Aletha Kabrinski ERA Report 3052Aletha Kabrinski

The former Khan of Clan Ghost Bear spent most of her career in a custom Fire Moth armed with an ER large laser and a trio of ER small lasers. With little armor protecting her from enemy fire, Aletha relied exclusively on the Fire Moth‘s ludicrous speed to outmaneuver foes.

Daniel AllardDaniel Allard The Kell Hounds

The brother of Justin Allard and renowned commander in the Kell Hounds mercenary unit, Allard piloted a Valkyrie until a battle with the Genyosha on Styx. Afterward, he was given a new Wolfhound which he piloted until his death. 

Zane Nova Cat

MechWarrior Zane proved to be an instrumental figure during Clan Nova Cat‘s Abjuration in the 3060s. His visions provided guidance and warning to the Nova Cats, allowing them to survive during a tumultuous time in the Clan’s history. Zane started his career in a Jenner IIC 2 but later transferred to a Pack Hunter provided by Clan Wolf-in-Exile.

Minobu Tetsuhara

Liaison officer to Wolf’s Dragoons during the mercenary unit’s contract with House Kurita, Tetsuhara’s family Panther was called “Katana Kat.” After the ‘Mech was transferred to Testuhara’s brother, he’d pilot a DRG-1N Dragon

Robert Grey Sword and the DragonRobert Grey

A MechWarrior in The Fox’s Teeth of the Seventh Crucis Lancers, Grey served in the Third and Fourth Succession Wars, the Ronin War, the War of 3039, the Clan Invasion, the FedCom Civil War, and the Jihad. Grey piloted a Stinger, then a Hornet, and finally an ALM-8D Fireball.

As you can see, there are plenty of great and noble figures who can get the most out of their light ‘Mechs, and you can too! Just trade in your Atlas for a bevy of Commandos. You’ll be glad you did.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy. 

stay syrupy

Bad ‘Mechs – Ostscout

Bad 'Mechs Ostscout

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

Private Eastman wasn’t sure why he was even here, in the middle of Lee’s massive forests waving his Ostscout‘s arms around in an attempt to find a Capellan invasion force. The Fifth Davion Guards already had complete air superiority after the Davion aerospace forces had ambushed the Liao fighters in orbit, so there really was no need for him to be casually strolling through the dense foliage with his ‘Mech’s arms out looking like a blind metal giant stumbling through a jungle.

Constant air overwatch and reconnaissance flights would have found them eventually. But rather than wait, the top brass had demanded a MechWarrior risk their life just to prove how superior ‘Mechs were to every other military asset. Private Eastman, in his incredibly valuable Ostscout, drew the short straw. 

Unfortunately, Lee’s dense forests offered the Liao invaders an excellent location to hide. The foliage and geologic formations from previous ice ages meant there was a lot of data for the Ostscout‘s computer to crunch, preventing Eastman from trundling his 35-ton ‘Mech any faster than a slow walk. 

It wasn’t what the Light ‘Mech Pilot’s Handbook said to do when approaching a suspected enemy position. In fact, it was the exact opposite of what the Handbook said. 

“Fuck,” Eastman cursed under his breath, fearful that his voice would escape the Osctscout‘s cockpit. As though he could be any louder than the dozens of branches his ‘Mech’s giant feet were snapping with every step.

Just then, a blip. It was faint, a combination of magnetic and humidity sensors being tripped. The iron-filled rocks throughout the forest normally meant mag scans were unreliable, but the Ostscout’s scanners could combine that data with ambient humidity levels. If morning dew formed on cold metal, the system would pick it up. Which is exactly what his scanners were reading just over 900 meters ahead of him.

Eastman stopped. He double-checked his readings, confirming the combination of magnetic resonance and near 100 percent humidity. He brought the location up on infrared, and sure enough, a dark hole presented itself at the same location--something even colder than the atmosphere around it. Something trying to hide.

Now the Osctcout aped the movements of a man who’d just run straight into a bear. Frozen with fear, Eastman debated his options. He could break radio silence and ask for orders, but if there were Capellan troops out there, they’d certainly pick up his transmission. He could advance and get a closer look, but that seemed suicidal given his Ostscout was armed with a single Medium Laser. 

Or he could run. The noise would certainly awaken whatever was out there, but it seemed the safest option.

Then the decision was made for him as a pair of missiles arced out from the forest to impact his ‘Mech’s torso. 

“Fuck, fuck, fuck!” Private Eastman shouted, kicking his Ostscout around and high-tailing it back through the path his ‘Mech had already cut through the foliage. So hasty was his retreat that he didn’t notice how the missile impacts had accidentally flipped his mic to broadcast through his ‘Mech’s external speakers, treating the Capellan ambushers to an expletive-filled Doppler effect.

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

Ostscout TRO Succession Wars

Nearly a century after the highly successful Ostroc made a name for Ostmann Industries, the company decided to embark on an entirely new venture for what was then a new class of BattleMech. The Ostscout was designed purely and solely for the important and dangerous job of battlefield reconnaissance. Initially armed solely with potent targeting, communication, and sensor systems, only after vociferous protest from its pilots did Ostmann eventually provide the Ostscout with a single Medium Laser for self-defense. Even then, Ostscout pilots are advised never to engage the enemy and to use the ‘Mech’s extreme speed and long-range sensor equipment to avoid combat entirely. 

The first OTT-7J Ostscout rolled off the assembly line in the year 2600. Its powerful TRSS.2L3 target-tracking system and narrowband Barret 4000 comms system were at the time both state of the art, as were the various sensors located in the Ostscout‘s arms. Capable of recording everything from barometric pressure to geological data, the Ostscout‘s sensors took in so much data that its onboard computer proved incapable of processing it when the ‘Mech was traveling at top speed, forcing the Ostscout to move slowly through areas of interest. The location of the sensors also required the ‘Mech to wave its arms around--a humorous sight for bystanders as it would often appear like the ‘Mech was lost. 

Unfortunately, it also meant that the Ostscout was most vulnerable when it was performing in its intended role. As all light ‘Mech pilots are taught at various military academies throughout the Inner Sphere, speed is life. Without it, the fragile Ostscout is easy prey to anything that manages to evade its sensor array. 


Despite these flaws, the Ostscout became yet another commercial success for Ostmann Industries for two reasons. First, the Ostscout arrived at the start of the Star League and at the very height of BattleMechs being seen as the only military hardware worth having. As such, military procurement officers from both Star League and House militaries placed reduced emphasis on traditional (and cheaper) reconnaissance solutions, such as light-armored vehicles, VTOL aircraft, and unmanned drones. Second, Ostmann licensed the Ostscout to Kong Interstellar Corporation in 2700, allowing the Ostscout to flood the market and cement itself as the premiere reconnaissance BattleMech. 

Kong Interstellar’s factory on Connaught would be destroyed 100 years later at the onset of the First Succession War, but this actually proved somewhat beneficial to the Ostscout‘s survival. As new ‘Mechs and parts dried up, commanders started guarding their Ostscouts like ancient treasures, rarely using them but in the direst of circumstances. Many Ostscouts survived the Succession Wars in pristine condition, although others were forced to replace their delicate sensors with inferior (but easier to maintain) equipment. 

For centuries, the main model of Ostscout was the OTT-7J. Equipped with a VOX 280 fusion engine capable of kicking the 35-ton ‘Mech into a running speed of 129 kph, the Ostscout also came with eight Ostmann Sct-A jump jets capable of launching the ‘Mech up to 240 meters. Four-and-a-half tons of armor kept the ‘Mech safe for a salvo or two, while its single Medium Laser allowed it to fend off infantry and light vehicles, although pilots were instructed explicitly to avoid combat due to the Ostscout‘s extremely light armament. 

Ostscout_OTT-7J 2

The only other variant of the Ostscout produced by Ostmann was the OTT-7Jb, the SLDF Royal variant which replaced the standard chassis with Endo Steel in order to make room for a Beagle Active Probe. It wasn’t until 3050 that the OTT-7K arrived, although it merely used technology recovered from the Helm Memory Core to replace the OTT-7J’s single medium laser with Target Acquisition Gear, returning the Ostscout to its completely unarmed origins.

By 3064, a more substantial upgrade of the venerable Ostscout came courtesy of ComStar. The OTT-9CS not only used an Endo Steel chassis but also a 280 XL engine to save enough weight for a collection of acronymed equipment including BAP, ECM, TAG, and a C3i computer. It also more than doubled the Ostscout‘s firepower with two ER Medium Lasers and an ER Small Laser and provided almost half-again as much protection with six tons of ferro-fibrous armor. This variant was also the first to redesign the Ostscout‘s sensors such that pilots no longer needed to wave the ‘Mech’s arms around in order to obtain clear sensor data. The onboard computer was similarly upgraded so the pilot could maintain the Ostscout‘s full 129 kph running speed while still processing that data stream at full capacity.


Although ComStar had intended to retain the OTT-9CS for its own armed forces, a former Precentor leaked the design to both the breakaway Word of Blake as well as the Lyran Alliance. Both factions then began producing their own variants. The OTT-9S from the Lyrans retained the standard VOX 280 engine but used Endo Steel and ferro-fibrous armor to clear up enough space for two ER Medium Lasers and two anti-personnel pods along with BAP, ECM, and TAG. 

The Word’s OTT-10CS, produced by Krupp Armament Works and Odin Manufacturing, used an XL engine and gyro combination to replace the standard jump jets with ten Rawlings 45i Improved Jump Jets. The electronic equipment was paired back to just the C3i computer and the ER Small Laser was also dropped. Krupp would later improve the Ostscout further with the OTT-11J, upgrading the engine to a GM 315 XL for a running speed of 150 kph. The Improved Jump Jets were replaced with standard versions, but the two ER Medium Lasers were upgraded to two Light PPCs along with TAG.

Several decades went by as the Jihad and subsequent Dark Age curtailed ‘Mech development throughout the Inner Sphere. After the Draconis Combine captured the Robinson Standard Battleworks in the late 3140s, it retooled the factory to produce the new OTT-8J Ostscout. An extralight engine provides enough weight savings for an ECM and Bloodhound Active Probe, while the single Medium Laser is upgraded to a Martell-X Medium X-Pulse Laser. Double heat sinks keep the recon ‘Mech cool and six tons of ferro-fibrous armor keep it relatively well protected. 


The most advanced Ostscout comes courtesy of a joint venture between Kong Interstellar and Clan Sea Fox. Kong provides the stealth armor, ECM, light fusion engine, and endo-composite chassis, while the Sea Foxes provide a Clan-spec ER Large Laser and a network of arms dealers. The OTT-12R’s maneuverability, jump capacity, and armor protection remain unchanged from the original OTT-7J.

The evolution of the Ostscout has helped it retain its status as a superior scout ‘Mech, but the battlefield has changed in the many centuries since it was first introduced. Scout ‘Mechs of the modern battlefield are larger, more heavily armed and armored, and just as fast as the Ostscout. Further, the decades of the Dark Age have tarnished the BattleMech’s image as the best solution to every military problem. Combined arms and the efficiency of war have seen a resurgence in more traditional reconnaissance equipment, and if this trend continues, the Ostscout may find itself without a place in modern armies.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

It’s The Economy, Stupid! Understanding And Comparing MechWarrior 5 In Its Historical And Economic Context

When I asked for community opinions surrounding MechWarrior 5, Emil of The Art of BattleTech gave me everything you see below. Even quoting liberally, Emil had way more insightful things to say about how MechWarrior 5 fits into the MechWarrior franchise than I could fit into a single article. So rather than keep this treatise in my Google Drive, I thought I’d freshen it up for publication here. Light editing has been done for clarity.

MechWarrior 5 Firestarter Jagermech

Coming from an academic background in what’s called ‘game studies’ (I have a Ph.D. in the field and work in academia as a postdoc at the moment), I think understanding video games and their different qualities and features can go a long way in comparing and analyzing their strengths and flaws – at least when speaking about games that appear similar but still have very fundamental differences. This approach makes it easier for us to understand games better and more precisely.

Such as the over 30 years of excellent MechWarrior games that we’ve been very privileged to experience. Personally, I’d say that there are some things that previous MechWarrior games do better than what MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries does. One thing that’s very subjective to discuss is the tone and atmosphere. For me, MechWarrior 2 really excels at this, where it is not afraid to have quiet moments in between the intense ‘Mech combat moments. In each mission, there is this quiet lull on your way to a nav point or a mission objective until you’re greeted with the foreboding “enemy power up detected.”

This quiet but increasingly intense feeling as you head towards facing some very dangerous ‘Mech combat makes the different moments more distinct to really underscore the intensity of ‘Mech combat. All of this is juxtaposed with a really impressive soundtrack by Jeehun Hwang and Gregory Alpers. And that I think is one thing that I would like more of from MechWarrior 5; to be confident enough in its ability to build up atmosphere and let players soak in the environment; the heavy sounds of the ‘Mech, and the characters over the radio be the only companions on these desolate planets. Instead, much of MW5 suffers from a modern game design trope where there has to be something to shoot all the time otherwise it’s boring for the average player. Vehicles and VTOLs and turrets constantly spawn in the ‘quiet’ moments to make sure the player isn’t looking at their phone. This takes away from combat being important or distinct enough. “Too much of a good thing” is the expression, I think?

But I think I’m also in the minority in wanting more quiet moments because I’ve seen Twitch streamers complain about MechWarrior 5 when there have been instances of walking from A to B without any shooting or killing in the few instances that they appear. I could also imagine PGI’s own playtesting showed that players felt more entertained with having these vehicle spawns and no quiet moments. So, I definitely understand why game design from 1995 cannot be a thing in 2023 where there’s less time for things and more media and other games and phones vying for attention. As one solution, I’ve personally made the Atmospheric Vehicle/VTOL/Turrent Spawn mod that drastically reduces the amount of brainless fodder that the game throws at the player. I appreciate the modding tools that PGI has provided to give us niche players what we want.

MechWarrior 5 Hunchback Archer Jagermech

Another thing one might mention is the linear, scripted missions that are memorable or provide some interesting encounters that MW5 does not have as many of. I think MW2 is the best example of such memorable experiences. Just to name a few that to me provide such memories:

  • Blade Splint where you have to scan and inspect a building that functions as the Jade Falcon’s power converter. After you destroy it, a host of heavy mechs enter the mission area and start hunting you after you’ve already been bruised and damaged from battling several ‘Mechs defending the power converter.
  • Temper Edge where you have to defend the Tarantula quad mech. Because this little Quad ‘Mech is memorable.
  • Sable Flame where you have to defend the city on the moon with low gravity and if the dome gets destroyed, the population is jettisoned into space / killed off from the loss of oxygen. There’s no fire or smoke due to it being on this oxygen-less moon.
  • Aquiline Fire where you have to locate a crashed dropship. No nav points are available, so you have to rely on your satellite link and visual identification to locate it.
  • Velvet Hammer where the player has to pose as a Jade Falcon ‘Mech and infiltrate the base that houses a terraformer unit that you then destroy
  • Umber Wall where you have to defend a convoy where on the top of the mesa canyons, a Rifleman IIC and a Summoner jump jet down to attack the convoy
  • Or in MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries where you are captured by the Clans and have to escape in a vehicle. Or the memorable Kodiak mission that lets you keep it for yourself rather than return it to your employer (I think it was Kurita).

MechWarrior 5 does not have a lot of these scripted moments that stay with you. I guess I just really miss nav points. But I think the last part of the MW5 campaign has some cool moments such as the big crashed DropShip, finding the Nightstar in the hangar, having that last stand against ComStar, or destroying the Liao ‘Mech factories.

But does this mean that I would have wanted MechWarrior 5 to try to emulate or achieve the same as MW2 did for me back in 1995? No, actually not, because clamoring for something that was unique to that historical moment to be replicated again is simply not possible. More importantly, MW5 excels in other areas that I think we as old nostalgia-blinded MechWarrior and BattleTech fans tend to forget. MW5 is leaning more toward a free-roam mercenary Inner Sphere experience à la the first MechWarrior. This type of systems-oriented design can give rise to unique experiences and moments in every uniquely procedurally generated mission.

Speaking in terms of pure features, MW5 really trumps the previous games as this mech simulation game. Just to make a list of things:

  • Faction play lets you work for and against certain factions
  • Free-roam Inner Sphere map
  • 57 different ‘Mech chassis [soon to be 58! -ed] in very high-quality models that change their visual looks depending on the weapon loadout
  • First melee combat in a MechWarrior game!
  • Procedurally generated maps and missions that are sufficiently varied to make most missions feel unique (further enhanced by mods such as VonBiome and Coyote Missions) and enhance the free-roam mercenary experience.
  • High fidelity and animated environmental destruction. Having a ‘Mech fight among buildings that basically allows you to play the MechWarrior 3 intro segment with the Summoner.
  • Unique and highly detailed ‘Mech cockpits unique to each ‘Mech (exceeding the pinnacle that was MW3’s beautiful cockpits)
  • Procedurally generated pilot management and skill system
  • Airstrike support and artillery bombardment
  • 21 campaign missions in the vanilla game
  • 14 scripted missions in the Legend of the Kestrel Lancers DLC
  • 12 scripted missions in the Rise of Rasalhague DLC
  • Enemy ‘Mechs change their appearance according to the faction they represent
  • Tons of different camo patterns that players can customize the colors.
  • Lore accurate news segments and weapon and ‘Mech introduction dates.
  • 4-player coop across the entire experience
  • Modding tools and ongoing support to modders by PGI for over 3 years with some very high-quality mods

This amount of content and complexity has not been seen in a previous MechWarrior game and I think it does a disservice to the game’s strengths to demand that it does what MechWarrior 2, MechWarrior 3, and MechWarrior 4 did in their scripted campaign design, simply because they are very different games and emphasizing one aspect of a game in its development (e.g. allocating more resources toward more scripted campaign missions) takes away from other aspects of the game (procedural mission generator, faction play, free-roam Inner Sphere experience). In that sense, while I think MW5 could be strengthened in certain areas, it also excels in others to be its own unique and special MechWarrior experience. In a sense, you can look at the MechWarrior games as your children: you love them all equally and they do their own things in their own unique way.

MechWarrior 5 Jenner Cataphract Cockpit View

As a researcher, the crucial thing I’d also emphasize is the importance of historical contexts and their impact on genre qualities and game characteristics. In the early to mid-’90s, production budgets were lower and the team sizes were smaller, so more experimentation was encouraged as there was simply less financial risk. This is also why a lot of today’s genres were invented or came to be in the ’90s. At the same time, market realities and consumer expectations in the PC space were more open, as the PC was still a bit complex to handle in terms of user interface (think navigating DOS for instance), so the targeted consumers for games like MechWarrior 2 also had more familiarity with using the entire keyboard or owning a joystick. We saw this with the prevalence of the flight sim genre in the PC space which was simply one of the more popular and money-generating genres in the ’90s in the PC space (think back to Microprose’s portfolio). 

At the same time, it was normal to have games that lasted no more than 10-15 hours of playtime, and that was considered a premium game worthy of the $40 to $50 entry fee. These things are important to understand because they help explain MechWarrior 2; the lower budgets combined with the expected target audience and their own expectations for a quality product meant that MW2 was able to uniquely flourish and excel at the master level that it did back in ’95 (and I’d argue still today in many aspects).

Of course, production budgets and consumer expectations changed with time after MW2. Many ‘Mech sim games tried to replicate MW2’s smashing success (Shattered Steel, Earthsiege 2, G-Nome, even Activision themselves tried to do the same with Heavy Gear 1 & 2 after their license with FASA wasn’t renewed), but the genre just never could meet the rising production costs and the sim genre was not able to expand its consumer market enough to cover the rising costs. Microprose and Hasbro really tried their best with MechWarrior 3 and gave it a huge marketing campaign (see their E3 showing in 1998), but they also had money issues from other sectors that forced them to close soon after MechWarrior 3 was released. We probably saw this attempt to match the higher consumer expectations with MechWarrior 4 that included – at the time – lavish FMVs with actors and costumes and editing that really tried to appear big budget on the likes of Command & Conquer and other FMV-heavy games of the era. MW4 also famously went away from the gritty tone and simulation-heavy standards already set by MW2 and MW3 (lots of people complained about that online back in the day) and instead went towards a more colorful, round, and soft aesthetic with ‘Mechs looking more toy-like (see also MechCommander 2’s change in art direction), as well as more ‘arcadey’ and straightforward gameplay.

Unfortunately, the market never really grew enough to match the extra costs with higher fidelity productions in the late ’90s and early 2000s. As Mitch Gitelman himself noted in an interview with No Guts No Galaxy, MechCommander 3 was never greenlit by Microsoft because FASA Studios failed to grow the market; MechCommander 2 matched what MechCommander had sold, but it didn’t grow. This is also why we saw a lot of PC developers entering their twilight years instead of trying to expand towards the console market (also when you’re owned by Microsoft and have to push for their first entry into the console market against Sony, Nintendo, and Sega). Ultimately, this is also what made Microsoft kill off the MechWarrior series after MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries when they canceled FASA Studio’s MechWarrior 5 due to the Xbox (as per IGN reporting back in the day).

The point of why I’m bringing up the historical context is to understand the genre characteristics of the MechWarrior games. MechWarrior 2 was sim-heavy and followed both the complexity of the contemporary space sims and flight sims back in the day. MechWarrior 3 was the result of a tumultuous development where Zipper Interactive had to be brought in by Microprose and salvage the project that FASA couldn’t execute. MechWarrior 4 included relatively costly FMVs and a character-driven campaign to make the product seem more feature-heavy and competitive in the PC space at the time. It also made the gameplay more accessible and the aesthetics more appealing in order to widen the market.

MechWarrior 5 Stalker Hunchback

This brings us to MechWarrior 5 which should also be understood in its historical context. The story behind that game is that Piranha Games Interactive showed off their alpha trailer back in December 2016 and had a preliminary crew do the procedural mission generation. This preproduction occurred at the same time PGI was also doing content and updates for MechWarrior Online. Yet during its three years of production until its release in December 2019, PGI never got a publisher to help support the funding and development of MW5. At the same time, lead designer David Forsey was forced to take medical leave after being diagnosed with a terminal illness, but he’d later return to continue working until his recent retirement this year. This meant that PGI themselves had to bet the farm on MW5 and do everything by themselves in terms of QA, marketing, and distribution (things that publishers usually take care of).

Not even Microsoft helped out with things, despite this being their own IP. At the same time, PGI has never made a single-player product – they’ve always been a PvP-oriented studio. This of course means they’re relatively inexperienced when it comes to single-player design and narrative design (the latter of which has been criticized for the vanilla campaign in MW5, but much improved with the two mini-campaign DLCs like Kestrel Lancers and Rise of Rasalhague). Instead, what PGI was able to do was focus on game systems (procedural missions and biomes, faction play, pilot management, economy management, lore-accurate ‘Mechs and equipment) and content (tons of ‘Mechs, variants, biomes, destructible buildings). What I think MW5 really excels at is being a free-roam, high-fidelity mercenary simulator. It might not facilitate a great narrative and it might not have scripted, linear missions that are as memorable as earlier MechWarrior games, but it has a ton of features that cultivate a really amazing mercenary company simulation.

From a business perspective, I can tell you that MW5 would be absolutely dead in the water if they had gone with a scripted and linear campaign like MW2, MW3, or MW4 because the experience would be over after 10-20 hours and then you’d have 80 percent of consumers complain that there are not enough hours of gameplay per dollar spent. That’s just the market for premium titles these days – literally no mainstream medium or triple-A studio makes such smaller games these days due to market realities and expectations. This means that we could have potentially gotten a scripted campaign as memorable and epic as MW2 and MW3 and MW4, but then we wouldn’t have the game systems like the procedural and open-ended Inner Sphere map and faction play and tons of different ‘Mechs simply because game development is more about priorities and avoiding feature creep.

I think this is an important point for MechWarrior and BattleTech fans to understand: game development is not easy, it’s super tough, and it’s frankly a miracle that any type of video game even ships and gets released. Consumers are quick to ask for feature XYZ or say, “Why don’t the developers simply make this feature, it’s so easy,” without ever understanding how absolutely complex and difficult it is to make a game with all the interlocking segments affecting each other (design, art, code, sound, etc.). As a developer, it can be disheartening to see the blood, sweat, and tears you put into a game to make it work and then be met with some person who paid $50 for the product to call you lazy or talentless because “Why didn’t they just make a game with features only possible through the budget and manpower like Call of Duty?”. With MechWarrior 5’s case, you have zero funding, no publisher helping out, and you’re betting the company on this one title that would sink the ship if it didn’t meet sales expectations.

MechWarrior 2 had Activision behind it and millions of dollars in marketing and MechWarrior 4 had the juggernaut that is Microsoft behind its promotion, yet MechWarrior 5 had a small 60-person company in Vancouver and nothing else. This is not to excuse the differences between the different titles but to understand them and the condition they derive from. I think that’s key for MechWarrior and BattleTech fans to really understand.

MechWarrior 5 Warhammer Awesome Cockpit View

This brings me to my final point, that comparing and contrasting MechWarrior 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 to each other is not so much of a lesson in which game is better, but instead which context the games derive from. Given the circumstances, MW2 was a daring and innovative masterpiece that combined its adherence to simulation in terms of gameplay and audiovisuals in a sublime way that shattered sales and review scores at the time and spawned a dozen of copycats. MW3 followed in MW2’s trajectory and elaborated on this sim-heaviness in a time when mech/flight/space sims were in their twilight years. And MW4 provided a more character-driven, scripted MechWarrior experience that was more accessible and engaging for more people who weren’t necessarily enticed by the gritty simulation qualities that MW2 and MW3 had shown.

Finally, MechWarrior 5 excelled at providing tons of content and features that no other MechWarrior game had previously and provided a systems-oriented procedural experience that lends more from MechWarrior 1 in its free-roam, mercenary company nature than it does from the more scripted nature of something like MW3 or MW4: Mercs. And knowing what I know about the games industry and being risk averse, MW5 is a premium product appealing to a niche audience that I think MechWarrior and BattleTech fans should be cherishing the hard-working people at PGI for bringing into this world. If it had a different publisher or developer and a higher budget that would make more features possible, it also would be less sim-like and more straightforward. It is a miracle that MW5 and its three-and-a-half years of post-launch support exist and we should be super supportive and feel super privileged that we will be getting another MechWarrior from PGI in the future. 

Thanks again to Emil for sharing this thoughtful analysis of the MechWarrior franchise!

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy


The Black Pants Legion Presents: The Hunchback, Coming August 26

Tex Talks Battletech: The Hunchback (Trailer)
Watch this video on YouTube.

Of all BattleTech‘s content creators (and I know there are lots of you out there), The Black Pants Legion has produced my favorite deep-dive videos of BattleMechs. Ever since Tex’s sultry voice provided us with a nearly nine-minute retrospective of the Atlas, The Black Pants Legion has produced larger, more informative, and vastly more entertaining videos. And while most of these videos deal with specific ‘Mech models (such as the most recent Charger video), The Black Pants Legion has also covered some of BattleTech‘s most pivotal moments, from the Clan Invasion and the Battle of Tukayyid to the Amaris Civil War.

Although these videos started out with just animated images of old sourcebooks, recent videos have commissioned art, full animations, original songs, and even 3D models of the quality you’d expect to find in something like MechWarrior Online. The Black Pants Legion is producing BattleTech content of a size and scale that this universe has never seen. And to keep this machine running, we need you to do just one thing: watch it.

That’s why we’re proud to announce that Tex Talks BattleTech: The Hunchback arrives on August 26.

In addition to the kind of quality content you won’t find anywhere else, the Hunchback video will also mark the start of a fundraising drive to help charities supporting research to end Multiple Sclerosis (MS). You’ll actually note that every Tex Talks has an associated fundraising drive with an eminently worthy cause, and the Hunchback will be no different.

So please mark your calendars and subscribe to the Black Pants Legion to watch The Hunchback live on YouTube.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for something to lighten the mood in these dark times, the good people of Van Zandt have created a BattleTech-themed sing-along. Nobody can feel bad in a sing-along.

Watch this video on YouTube.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy