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.

Community Outreach – BattleTech Pride with Anthology Authors Detocroix, Albatross, And Blimpy

Pride Anthology 2024 Locust Logo

Last month’s fan-made BattleTech Pride Anthology was bigger and better than ever, with a total of 13 stories and one technical readout all with decidedly queer quirks. There’s not a lot of queer representation in BattleTech, so when the first Pride Anthology hit the scene last year, I gobbled it up. The second one took a little longer to chew, but I’ve gone through each and every story, and I can once again provide my stamp of approval (not that it needed it given Mike Stackpole returned to provide this year’s closing remarks).

With planning for next year’s Anthology already underway, I reached out to the folks behind the BattleTech Pride Anthology to talk about the fan project’s rapid growth, its future, and the intersection between LGBTQ+ stories and giant stompy robots. Enjoy. 

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Talking MechWarrior 5: Clans With Narrative Director Chris Lowrey

We have a special treat for you this week! I’ve been in contact with Chris Lowrey, Narrative Director for the upcoming MechWarrior 5: Clans. He managed to escape PGI’s brutal internal security service for just long enough to send out an encoded message that shares new details on what we can expect to find in MechWarrior 5: Clans. He risked his life to get this message out, so the least we can do is read his kind words. We salute you, Mr. Lowrey!

MW5 Clans Cover Shot

Courtesy of PGI


Sean (Sarna): How was everyone at PGI feeling about getting to the Clan Invasion in the MechWarrior 5 timeline?

Chris (PGI): On the team side, there is a lot of excitement for multiple reasons. The biggest one on the narrative team is that we can not only tell the story of the Clans and Operation REVIVAL for the first time since MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries, but that as a standalone product, we can deliver on the story of the Clans in a much more epic and cohesive way then we ever could if we tried to cram it into the scope of a single DLC expansion for MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. But that’s not to say that it’s the only thing the team’s excited about. The update to Unreal 5, and all the possibilities across different departments that come with the engine update are also high on the list of things the team is excited about. As it allows for so many development options that would not have been feasible with Mercs.

MechWarrior 5 Clans Preview Shot 1

Sean: What are the narrative tools that you’re most excited to play with in MW5: Clans that you didn’t have in MW5: Mercs?

Chris: MW5: Mercs at its heart was built as a sandbox game that gave you the entire Inner Sphere to travel and explore however you want. So, for the initial release of the game, the narrative tools were very limited since the main story was written primarily to facilitate the open exploration of the core game. For Legend of the Kestrel Lancers, we greatly expanded on the narrative toolset to allow us to tell more narratively driven stories, and we’ve continued to touch up on those tools as needed for Rise of Rasalhague and The Dragon’s Gambit.  But even these were limited by the core sandbox systems that Mercs was built on. Especially as it relates to Co-op play, which always complicates things in very unpredictable ways. 

For MW5: Clans, experiencing Operation REVIVAL firsthand from the Smoke Jaguar‘s perspective is the core thrust of the game. Which by necessity is a much more linear experience than having carte blanche to travel wherever you please in the Inner Sphere (otherwise, why wouldn’t you just beeline the Clan armada straight to Terra?). So, the narrative becomes a much larger focus in telling the story of the Clan invasion. This means a lot of focus is being placed on giving us more robust tools to tell that story well, especially for those within our audience who were not around nearly thirty years ago to experience the last game that featured a Clan perspective.

Sean: Why Smoke Jaguar? Why not return to Clan Wolf, Jade Falcon, or Ghost Bears? Or even my personal favorite, the Nova Cats?

Chris: I find this question hilarious at this point. Because between pitching this story internally, chatting about MW5: Clans with the Catalyst Games Lab team, and talking with various media outlets, this question, without fail, has always been one of the first questions that everyone asks coming out of the gate. 

MW5 Leo Showers 1

But to me, Smoke Jaguar was always the obvious, and only, choice when it came to telling the story of the Clan Invasion in a MechWarrior game from the Clan side of the conflict.  Sure, it’s fun to point out that they are the only clan out of the big four that didn’t get their own campaign in MechWarrior 2. (And that sure helped the Jaguar’s case when I pitched the initial story outline internally.) But if you want to know the truth, that has always just been a fun little side benefit. 

The real reason is that to truly tell the story of Operation REVIVAL from the clan’s perspective is to tell the story of Clan Smoke Jaguar.  It was the Smoke Jaguars who were the most fanatical proponents of Kerensky’s Hidden Hope Doctrine that galvanized the Crusader philosophy in the Kerensky Cluster. It was Leo Showers who was the principal architect of the invasion, and it was the Smoke Jaguars that led the charge into the most coveted invasion corridor into the Draconis Combine where some of the most pivotal events of the invasion happened. No matter what Clan we chose to center our story around, it would be impossible to tell the full story of the Clan Invasion without telling the story of Clan Smoke Jaguar. So, to me, they have always been the obvious choice as MW5: Clans’ headlining faction. 

Additionally, in much the same way as MW5: Mercs was designed to cater to a new generation of fans after a very long period of stagnation with the mainline MechWarrior games, Clans is very much taking a similar approach to fully “introduce” the Clans to newer fans, that might have only been recently exposed to the franchise through MechWarrior Online and MW5: Mercs, in a way that hasn’t been done in nearly 30 years since the original MechWarrior 2

MechWarrior 5: CLANS - Release Date Reveal Trailer
Watch this video on YouTube.

And finally, let’s be honest; If you were to chart all the pivotal moments of the Clan Invasion, the conflicts that the Jaguars take part in are the most natural fit for a MechWarrior game given that the core drama from the Clan perspective doesn’t hinge on very specific events that live and die on the decisions of pre-established novel characters. As narratively satisfying as the conquest of Gunzburg and Clan Wolf’s face-off with Tor Miraborg is on the written page, it doesn’t make for the most compelling gameplay loop in a MechWarrior game.

Sean: Some Jaguars have always been the villains of the Clan Invasion. Is the player going to be part of that villainy, or will the player have to make a choice to go along with something like Turtle Bay or voice their objections?

Chris: Well first off, I would object to the villain characterization. Like all factions in the BattleTech universe, who the real “villain” is will always be a matter of perspective. While he may have been the hero of Davion-centered stories, Hanse Davion was never seen as a benevolent liberator to the Capellan and Combine people. And even within the Warrior Trilogy, there were moments where the mask came down. Such as when he openly admits to knowingly sending the 5th Syrtis Fusiliers, his own citizens, to die on Sarna for being closely aligned with a political rival who was already dead. “I will reward those who serve me well, and discard those that don’t” is hardly what a completely altruistic hero would say. 

MW5 Leo Showers 2

The Jaguars throughout the fiction have received a bit of an inverse to the treatment Davion got.  The Blood of Kerensky Trilogy’s point of view solely rested on the perspectives of Inner Sphere factions, with the main clan perspective being from a warden clan whose Khan was actively attempting to undermine the Crusader cause. Even the Jaguar-focused Exodus Road was from the perspective of a disenfranchised warrior who eventually turned traitor/defector. Both examples make them hardly the most reliable narrators when it comes to a full picture of the Smoke Jaguar’s perspective during the initial invasion. 

In practice, the Smoke Jaguars see themselves as the true champions of the Crusader cause. To return to the Inner Sphere and bring Kerensky’s vengeance down on the tyrants and despots that brought about the downfall of the ancient Star League. And plunged humanity into nearly 300 years of darkness. To them, they are the only Clan with the strength and conviction to do what is necessary to break the deadlock in the grand council and lead Kerensky’s descendants home to reclaim their birthright. 

This is the clan that the player will find themselves introduced to. One that isn’t a mustache-twirling villain but a Clan that zealously believes itself the only Clan with the strength and conviction to do what is necessary to bring Kerensky’s people home and help liberate humanity from the petty warlords of the Great Houses by taking Terra and reestablishing the Star League. This feeling of manifest destiny is only galvanized when Khan Leo Showers does indeed break the deadlock within the Grand Council and takes charge as the supreme commander of the unified Clan invasion.  

From there, like all other ‘MechWarrior games, the player will receive a “boots on the ground” perspective of the events of the clan invasion, both the highs and the lows. Where those events take the player will have to be left to everyone’s imagination for now, as we would hate to ruin the ride for everyone. Even for those who might already know the wider events that may or may not appear during the journey. 

MechWarrior 5 Clans Preview Shot 2

Sean: We know that the Smoke Jaguars mostly won their battles during the invasion, but they also suffered some high-profile losses. How will the player still “win” at Wolcott or Luthien while the Smoke Jaguar Clan as a whole loses? Will BattleTech fans find themselves rooting for the Smoke Jaguars despite knowing these losses are coming?

Chris: The story of MW5: Clans doesn’t revolve around the trials and tribulations of Clan Smoke Jaguar as a Clan, but on the personal story of the player’s star of newly anointed Smoke Jaguar warriors. While the larger Clan politics may shape the events that directly influence your story, the core of the game’s narrative will focus on how the events of the Clan invasion shape your star from their initial adoption into the Clan through the point at which their journey ends. 

Because of this, the story of MW5: Clans can be seen as being similar to movies like All Quiet on the Western Front, Valkyrie, and Saving Private Ryan. Where the story might use major wars as the backdrop, but the core focus is on the personal journey of the characters as they react to events in the larger conflict. To the point where the beginning and end of our story may not coincide with the beginning and end of the larger conflict.

So, with this as our framework, we’re hoping that BattleTech fans find themselves invested and rooting for the core cast of characters and their own personal journey through the events of the Clan Invasion. Whether you find yourself rooting for Clan Smoke Jaguar as a whole, well, we’ll leave that up to the individual to make up their own mind.

Sean: Being a Clan warrior is enormously different narratively from being the captain of your own mercenary company; you’re taking orders rather than giving them. We know that there will be a vast change in the gameplay loop, with MW5: Clans being a more linear campaign. 

Chris: Yes, the gameplay perspective is very different compared to Mercs. Where in Mercs, you were a single, small mercenary outfit scrounging for resources to stay afloat, in MW5: Clans, you are a cog in the much larger Clan armada. The Jaguar’s touman, by comparison, has no shortage of ‘Mechs and equipment and no threat of ever going bankrupt, but that won’t mean they’ll allow you to have a complete run of the place. Like all Clan warriors, you must prove yourself worthy of being allowed to requisition the touman‘s most valued assets. MechWarriors whose Codices are filled with victorious conquest will find themselves to have much more affordances within the Clan than the unblooded recruits that the player starts as. 

MechWarrior 5 Clans Preview Shot 3

Sean: How will the story be told? Previous MechWarrior games had very few cutscenes, with most of the story being told either through gameplay or text before and after each mission. How much of MechWarrior 5: Clans’ story be told through gameplay/text/cutscenes? Will there be animated mission briefings/debriefings a la Armored Core 6 or Ace Combat 7?

Chris: Story delivery is one of those key pillars we are looking to improve for MW5: Clans across the board. One of the largest challenges I’ve always found in writing the various DLC stories is that we only had four limited venues for telling the story: The cinematics, the mission briefings, the in-game mission dialogue, and the transmission messages. And with mission briefings and transmissions, you are mechanically forced to tell the story through only one character. So that meant that even the simple act of having two NPCs interact with one another forced you to do that in the in-mission dialogue or the cinematics. 

This resulted in multiple things that the team found less than ideal for delivering a narrative. One of the primary things that we pushed for when it came to improving our narrative tool set for Clans was to give us more of a way to “break up” these interactions. For example, allowing mission briefings to be a dialogue between multiple characters rather than always being a giant monologue from a single character allows us to leverage more NPCs to shuffle more of the world-building on their shoulders rather than having only one or two characters be the sole vehicles for storytelling. We’ll have all the same tools to deliver the narrative that we have in Mercs, but we’ll have much more flexibility in how we can deploy those tools which will hopefully make the overall narrative more engaging and digestible for newer players.

On the briefing end, while there will be many improvements over what we do in MW5:Mercs, I wouldn’t say that we’re aiming for briefings similar to Armored Core or Ace Combat, which are much more like the old MechWarrior 3 briefings. In those games, the briefings were the primary way that the story was conveyed to the player, so it makes sense for those products. But for MW5: Clans, the core thing that will set us apart will be a heavier focus on more traditional character-centric sequences as showcased in our latest trailers.

MechWarrior 5: Clans GDC Demo Trailer
Watch this video on YouTube.

This is probably the single most exciting thing for us on the narrative team, as it allows us to play up the character drama in a way that has never been done before in earlier MechWarrior games. These also won’t just be used as simple act breaks or campaign book-ends either. We are aiming to integrate quite a few of them into the core campaign. While we can’t give exact specifics yet, I’m confident in saying that we’re currently targeting an exponentially higher number of story sequences (which accounts for both in-game sequences and pre-rendered cinematics) than any other MechWarrior game to date. And when all is said and done, we could be looking at a cinematics run-time that runs longer than all previous MechWarrior game cinematics combined. 

So overall we’ll have a much wider net of options to leverage to communicate the story of the game rather than attempting to shove everything into the mission briefings or the in-game dialogue. Which makes it an exciting time for those who have been wanting a story-focused MechWarrior experience. 

Sean: MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries gave us phenomenal improvements to MechWarrior with the additions of melee combat and a ‘Mechbay where you can walk around your customized ‘Mech. What improvements might we see in MechWarrior 5: Clans?

MechWarrior 5 Clans Preview Shot 4

Chris: You can’t have the Clan Invasion and not have OmniMechs and the benefits they bring are front and center when it comes to customization. And unlike MWO where OmniMechs were more of a late addition that had to conform with a pre-existing Mechlab, for MW5: Clans the Mechlab and mission deployment screens are being redesigned from the ground up with OmniMechs in mind.

Unfortunately, this is all you’re going to be able to get from me for now. I’m sure we’ll revisit this subject as we get closer to launch. 

Sean: In MechWarrior 2, you went from mere MechWarrior to Khan, although it never really seemed to affect the missions or the player’s duties. Will the player’s rank progress throughout MechWarrior 5: Clans, and if so, will it change anything in terms of gameplay or story?

Chris: I think it’s safe to say that we won’t have players start the game as a Smoke Jaguar Kit only to become Khan of the whole Clan in the span of a year like MechWarrior 2 had (I’m sure Lincoln Osis might have something to say about that). While we don’t want to tip our hat to how our story is going to go, all I’ll say for now is that there will be a sense of progression to your standing within the Clan throughout the game. So, by the time the credits roll, you’ll be in a much different spot from where you were when your journey started. But we are striving to make that feel as organic and authentic as possible within the context of the BattleTech universe itself.  

Sean: There is lots to love in MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, but one of the things I hated was how I always felt forced into heavier ‘Mechs during the later stages of the game. It’s really hard to kill dozens of ‘Mechs without the armor and firepower of heavy and assault-class ‘Mechs. Will MechWarrior 5: Clans be a little friendlier to light and medium-class ‘Mechs? Will the game be doable in lighter ‘Mechs, either due to mission design or due to pilot skill bonuses that might help with these somewhat smaller ‘Mechs? Or am I just going to have to git gud?

Chris: I would not be too hasty to completely discount the light and medium roster in MW5: Clans.  While OmniMechs are renowned for their adaptability and rapid deployment, they still need time in the shop to undergo repairs between missions. Beyond that, I can’t speak much on this since gameplay systems are far outside the narrative team’s wheelhouse.  

MechWarrior 5 Clans Preview Shot 5

Sean: Will the player be able to create their own character? Or is the player pre-defined like in MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries? Or is the player character entirely invisible like in other games?

Chris: It will be a pre-defined character, but far from invisible. As mentioned above, you’ll be seeing a lot more of not only your character but your entire star as we open our storytelling tools to make them a much more active part of the narrative experience.

Sean: There were relatively few real characters in MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries and many of them were just introduced as talking heads for a few missions and then never heard from again. How will the player interact with them? Will the player be an entirely silent protagonist? 

Chris: The player will be far from a silent protagonist. And will take a central role in the storytelling of MW5: Clans

I would also argue that MW5: Mercs still had plenty of “real” characters, that, by necessity had to be spread around to populate the universe and work with the core “taking contracts as you go” loop of the Mercs games. But the more focused story of MW5: Clans will mean that while we won’t have the sheer number of different characters that MW5: Mercs had, the characters that we do introduce will be much more focused and be able to have much more narrative weight since they can stick around the story much longer than someone that is only around for a single odd-job high-reward quest chain. 

And obviously, a large amount of character-driven cinematic storytelling will breathe life into the characters in a way that hasn’t been seen in MechWarrior before. As nice as the live-action thumbnail briefings of MechWarrior 4 were at the time, they don’t hit as hard as seeing your Starmates interact with one another after a difficult mission, or getting a briefing from your Galaxy Commander or Star Colonel that throws a wrench into a well-laid plan. 

Sean: At one point in the IGN trailer, we see a Gazelle being shot at by the player Timber Wolf. Does that mean we’re going to have actual DropShip combat in MechWarrior 5: Clans?

MechWarrior 5 Clans Preview Shot 6

Chris: Yes, but I wouldn’t say it’s a major gameplay expansion where you’ll see them spawn as common enemies every mission.  Thematically, military DropShips are still considered indispensable to the Inner Sphere at this point in the timeline. But as many know, the Clan Invasion pushed many of the Inner Sphere powers to the brink. And in the face of total annihilation, some commanders might rather break taboo over falling to unknown invaders from beyond known space. 

Sean: Also in the most recent release date trailer, who’s that guy giving the rousing speech and calling the Draconis Combine a bunch of fascists? He seems nice. 

Chris: As many deduced, he’s a Galaxy Commander… More specifically, the Galaxy Commander of Smoke Jaguar’s Beta Galaxy, Cordera Perez. We recently released a new trailer highlighting him.

Sean: And he also seems to be indicating there’s going to be even more characters in MechWarrior 5: Clans than just your star and your sibko instructor.

Chris: Much more. While the core cast of star mates will clearly be the focus of the game’s narrative, there will be plenty of other supporting characters to immerse yourself in the story of the Clan invasion. Some of them, fans have already picked out from our GDC trailer, but many more have yet to be shown. 

But as we get closer to release, that will change. The next batch of trailers coming down the pipe will introduce some of the characters in MW5: Clans and the actors that have brought them to life. So, stay tuned for those to come out soon, and look forward to even more as we get closer to October 3rd!

MechWarrior 5: CLANS - Character Featurette - GALAXY COMMANDER CORDERA PEREZ
Watch this video on YouTube.


Once again, we thank you for your brave service, Chris, and we’re definitely looking forward to the release of MW5: Clans on October 3, 2024. Mark your calendars for what is sure to be a blockbuster MechWarrior experience.

PS: A couple of our questions weren’t answered by Chris, but were at least partially answered by PGI President Russ Bullock in an interview with No Guts No Galaxy. You can check out that interview in last month’s news roundup.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Round-Up For June, 2024

Hey guys. It’s June. That means several wonderful things. First, it was my birthday. Second, the Mercenaries Kickstarter is being shipped, which is a wonderful birthday gift. And third, it’s Pride month, which means the 2024 BattleTech Pride Anthology is here. It’s the month that keeps on giving.

And it’s giving way more than just these three things. We’ve got an entire month of news to cover, including new stuff on MechWarrior 5: Clans, new Catalyst products, and new BattleTech events. It’s a packed month, so let’s dive right in.

Mercenaries Kickstarter Order Have Begun Shipping

QML Mercenaries Packages

You can read a few updates on the Mercenaries Kickstarter page to see proof of all the packages being prepared for shipping, but the real proof was when QML (the shipping company) asked to confirm my address. With one click, I’m not mere weeks away from receiving the long-awaited Mercenaries Kickstarter.

If you’ve got any problems, or you need to make an address change and haven’t received your email, reach out using this link here.

American and Canadian backers will be receiving their orders first. With orders out by the end of the month, I’m guessing I’ll receive my order the first or second week of July. Global orders will be sometime later, depending on how fast mail is in your locale. 

And as much as we love these big, splashy orders, Catalyst has stated there won’t likely be another one of the same size and scale as Mercenaries in the future. You can read our interview with Ray and Aaron from earlier this year, but the Cole’s notes version is it’s just a ton of work when these days BattleTech is large enough that retailers don’t have a problem dealing with all the logistics of selling to customers themselves.

BattleTech Pride Anthology 2024 Is Here And Additionally Queer

BattleTech Pride Anthology 2024

And of course, how could we forget this year’s Pride Anthology? Last year we received the Pride Anthology after some ado, which you can read about here. This year things have thankfully been much more mellow. After some incorrigible scamps briefly attempted to mass report the Anthology (presumably because their parents didn’t hug them enough as children), Itch.io now has it freely available to download

This year’s Anthology is bigger and better than ever, with the likes of Bryan Young and Russell Zimmerman contributing short stories, as well as Michael Stackpole writing the forward. Robin Briseno, Milla Koponen, and Albert Ross return from last year’s anthology and are joined by newcomers Jason ‘Po Ding’ Livermore, Kyle ‘Blimp’ Kruso, Ryn Mackie, Jordan Versus, Eric Haiko, Dana Harris, and Griffin Souza. There’s even a custom Longbow CRT for those who really love ATMs courtesy of Clan Sea Fox, with cover art by our very own Eldoniousrex. There’s also some delightful art from Tera, Jordan, and Samantha Richardson.

It’s kinda ludicrous the jump in both size and quality from last year. I’ve also been told that they basically got twice as many submissions as they could pack into a single anthology without making it something like 400 pages long (as it stands, it’s already a full-size paperback at 272 pages). 

And if you wanted to know what the Anthology would look like in hardcover, look no further than blimpeh’s hand-made covering here. Note the custom pin and Trans Rights Mad Dog

Head on over to Itch.io for the free download.

Pride ‘Mechs Are My Favorite Part Of June

The only thing Binary at this Pride is the TO&E
byu/AGBell64 inbattletech

There was a lot of hubbub with last year’s Pride Anthology, so when this year seemed to arrive without much controversy, it was kind of a relief. That’s not to say the fight is over--I still filter out a lot of repugnant comments on the daily, and I’m told there was still a half-hearted attempt to mass-report the Pride Anthology to get it blocked on itch.io. That failed, of course, and now there’s no warning message when you try to download the PDF or epub file. 

So instead, I’m just going to use this section of the monthly news blast to showcase some more queer ‘Mechs. That was my favorite part of last year’s Pride-Splosion anyhow. If you’ve got any queer ‘Mechs, post links in the comments. And if you need a reminder, BattleTech has a diverse community of players from all kinds of backgrounds. Don’t let the haters get you down. BattleTech is for everyone.

Pre-Painted Retailer Grinder Kit Revealed

Battletech PVC Assembly 051501j
Watch this video on YouTube.

Earlier this month, we received confirmation during one of the Catalyst newscasts that there are more pre-painted ‘Mechs coming our way. Or perhaps it’d be more accurate to call these “pre-colored.” While the pre-painted Orion from last month is all done up in Star League livery as befitting Alexsandr Kerensky’s personal ride, videos from Liya International (Catalyst’s manufacturing partner) confirm these seem to be ‘Mechs that are made in differently-colored plastics with a simple wash applied.

From the videos, we can see blue plastic BattleMasters, Awesomes, and Marauder IIs, red Catapults and Thunderbolts, grey Shadow Hawks, Wolverines, and Novas, purple Stingers and Locusts, and green Pumas and Grendels. The idea is that these ‘Mechs will go in Grinder Packs, which is the sort of introductory game format where players start off with weak ‘Mechs and work their way to more powerful ‘Mechs. Each ‘Mech is color-coded so the player can choose what ‘Mech they upgrade to when their previous ‘Mech gets destroyed.

With the ‘Mechs already coming in certain colors, all you’d have to do as a painter is apply detailing and decals. That would potentially cut down on a lot of work. We’re expecting more details in the coming weeks, but from the Tuesday livestream, it seems these kits will be for retailers only.

Oh, and if you were wondering if this might mean the potential for entire pre-painted ForcePacks, the Assistant Line Developer said “no immediate plans” in a recent AMA. More on that later. 

You Just Gotta Believe In Yourself

Luck of the Cards by DMoser

It’s been my experience that so long as you keep firing every weapon you have, even a Dragon can take down a Fafnir. But I think it’d be a good idea for the Dragon to use those feet to get behind the Fafnir first. A lot safer that way. Thanks to DMoser for this one.

MRC Announces NashCon BattleTech And Alpha Strike Tournament

MRC Icon

The MRC is back at NashCon 2024 with yet another community tournament for both Classic BattleTech and Alpha Strike. NashCon, of course, is held in Nashville Tennessee from August 15 to 18. Thursday (that’s the 15th) will just be pick-up games and socializing, while Friday will include a narrative event. Saturday will be the three-round Classic BattleTech tournament and painting competition, while Sunday will be the Alpha Strike tournament. 

Because of the need for relatively quick games, the Classic BattleTech tournament will be limited to 9,000 BV and between two to six ‘Mechs. The Alpha Strike tournament will have a 500 PV limit and between four to 30 units, and all units must be in some kind of formation. While the CBT tourney is just ‘Mechs, Alpha Strike can include vehicles, infantry, and ProtoMechs. Each round will be a primary and two secondary objectives, and points will be awarded for completing objectives and getting kills. 

For the full rules, check out these Google docs here, and for the schedule of events, check out this post here. Tickets for getting into NashCon for the whole weekend start at $55, but you can probably get a discount if you just want to go for a single day. For more information, head over to the MRC Discord or email the organizers here.

I’m Not Sure What To Call This Style, But I Like It

Trio of lights by me
byu/SirTidehunterThe2nd inbattletech

SirTidehunterThe2nd brings us a few new takes on three classic light ‘Mechs: a Raven, a Firestarter, and a Piranha. The Piranha gives me the most “eek” vibes (probably due to the insect-like fingers), but the other two are very very cool. Many thanks to you for these pieces, SirTidehunterThe2nd. Also, because I so rarely get to do this, the Piranha is 20 tons, not 25. 

MechWarrior 5: Clans Launches October 3

MechWarrior 5: CLANS - Release Date Reveal Trailer
Watch this video on YouTube.

Summer Games Fest has come and gone, but it brought us a brand new MechWarrior 5: Clans trailer that also gives us a release date of October 3.

The trailer is a bit different from the one earlier this year. It focuses more on the cinematic aspects of MechWarrior 5: Clans and not the gameplay, although we do get to see a Star fight a Gazelle DropShip. That Star is made of classic Clan ‘Mechs, including a Timber Wolf, Mad Dog, Hellbringer, Summoner, and Stormcrow. As expected, they’re all ‘Mechs we’ve seen in MechWarrior Online and they all use essentially the same model.

Which is fine by me. The ‘Mechs have looked great for years; what we wanted was a good story to go along with them. And that’s what this trailer certainly seems to promise with its exuberant Star Colonel (edit: apparently he’s a Galaxy Commander, according to Phil) espousing the virtues of Clan Smoke Jaguar while disparaging the “fascist” Draconis Combine. That’s quite the take, but it sounds like something a rabid Crusader Smoke Jaguar warrior would say to fire up his invasion force.

There are only a few hints of what we can expect in MechWarrior 5: Clans in the trailer, but I’m hoping we’ll see more before the game launches on October 3.

No Guts No Galaxy Interview With PGI President Russ Bullock Provides New Details On MechWarrior 5

Podcast 233 - Russ Bullock - MWO, MW5 Mercs, MW5 Clans
Watch this video on YouTube.

Not only did we get MechWarrior 5: Clans‘ release date, but in an interview with Phil over at No Guts No Galaxy, PGI President Russ Bullock gave us lots more to look forward to.

A big thing we’ve already seen from previous trailers is the cinematic experience, with Russ confirming PGI now has “dozens” of people working on motion capture. PGI hired actors from Vancouver to play MW5: Clans‘ various characters, with one even getting the esteemed role of Leo Showers (screenshots of which were shared in the podcast). In total, the game has between 90 and 100 minutes of motion-captured cinematics, making this the most cinematic MechWarrior experience ever.

We also have more information on how the game’s progression system will work. Whereas in Mercenaries pilots would level up linearly without any input from the player, now it seems like players will be able to choose MechWarrior skills at the “barracks.” There will also be a “science lab” where players will be able to upgrade equipment. There will still be some sort of currency where you’ll be able to purchase prime variants of new ‘Mechs, but new OmniPods will have to be earned through gameplay. Customization is still possible for ‘Mechs even beyond swapping OmniPods, which will require this so-far unnamed currency.

Thankfully, the Clan will at least cover your repair costs, so don’t worry if your ride gets too banged up.

MW5 Leo Showers 1

Leo Showers, courtesy of PGI

Russ also confirmed the game starts on Huntress with training and then takes the player to the outskirts of the Periphery before driving through the Draconis Combine on the way to Luthien. We know the broad strokes of how that’ll go, but the specifics of what happens to your Star will be a new story.

Mod support will be coming to MechWarrior 5: Clans, but not right away. Likewise, a physical version of the game is planned, but it’ll probably arrive after release but before Christmas. There is some “way to continue to play outside of the campaign,” with Russ hinting at a sort of new-game-plus mechanic.

One thing Russ was cagey about was the ‘Mechs in MechWarrior 5: Clans. We’ve seen a lot, and Russ also confirmed the Arctic Cheetah is on the roster, but he declined to provide a hard number of total ‘Mechs. We know there are Inner Sphere ‘Mechs too, and that you’ll need to salvage them in order to gain “resources to do your own research,” but this seemed like part of the tech upgrading path and not an admission that you’ll be able to pilot captured Inner Sphere ‘Mechs. I don’t know why you’d even want to, given how bad they are compared to Clan tech.

Later on in the interview, the two also discussed the existing MechWarrior products. First up, there might be a seventh MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries DLC on the way, but if it is, it won’t be here until early next year. All hands at PGI are working on Clans. Discussion is also underway about MechWarrior Online‘s successor, but it’s unknown if it’ll be MechWarrior Online 2 or just MechWarrior 6. Russ said it will for sure not be a F2P PvP game, and would more likely be a premium game with PvE elements. It could hypothetically take the same path as Call of Duty with a campaign and multiplayer elements separate from each other, but everything is still very much in the planning stages.

There’s more, so I encourage you to listen to the whole interview to get the inside scoop.

More Legendary ‘Mechs For MechWarrior Online

MechWarrior Online June 2024 Patch

It’s a new month and that means a new MechWarrior Online patch. This month we have two new Legendary ‘Mechs in the Stone RhinoBehemoth” and the CatapultFerroblast.” What makes the “Behemoth” special is that it’s based on the custom machine belonging to Gordon Zed of Wolf’s Dragoons Alpha Regiment. Being a trueborn Clan warrior, he kept his Stone Rhino but allowed it to be downgraded with Succession Wars-era Inner Sphere tech. It comes armed with two AC/10s and two PPCs alongside a single small laser. Without any weight-savings tech and no double heat sinks, Gordon had to decrease his Stone Rhino‘s engine to a standard 200, making it absolutely glacial. Those who purchase this Legendary ‘Mech will certainly want to re-apply many of the technologies Gordon removed in order to be competitive in MechWarrior Online.

The “Ferroblast” is somewhat more exciting. This thing has a top speed of 106 kph thanks to a 355 XL engine. It comes armed with two Snub-Nose PPCs and six Magshots, which is barely enough to be a threat at 65 tons, but I’ve always preferred speed over firepower. Both come with the usual C-Bill booster and mini battle pass providing extra rewards, including GSP, Mech Credits, Premium Time, and exclusive decals, cockpit items, colors, and bolt-on aesthetics.

On the balance side, most autocannons have seen their projectile velocity increase, all Cyclops models have received an additional 100m to their sensor range, and there are a few minor tweaks to variants of the Viper, Phoenix Hawk, Hatchetman, Cicada, Shadow Cat, and Raven. You can read all about it in the official patch notes here.

Inside Of You Are Three Timber Wolves

Three Timberwolf Moon
byu/Chainclaw inbattletech

Yes, it’s the sort of thing a ‘Mech bunny on Solaris would have on a t-shirt, but I just like the alternate take on the Timber Wolf. I’m not sure what variant has rotary cannons/machine guns in the arms alongside a pair of larger weapons, but I dig it. Kudos to Chainclaw for this one. 

It’s A Prideful Mackie

Happy Pride! Behold the Pride Mackie
byu/VersusJordan inbattletech

You’re not getting out of this without some more Pride ‘Mechs. Here we have a gay Mackie from Jordan Versus, one of the contributors to this year’s Pride Anthology. extremely clean color fades on this one alongside some excellent detail work. The only problem is getting this sort of paint job in the field would send your ‘Mech techs into conniptions. Even if you bribed him with some Timbiqui Dark, I don’t know if Fahad would get this done in time to drop.

The Gargoyle Stalactites Its Way Into MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

Gargoyle Nexus Mods Mw5

Do you like the absolutely wild look of the original Gargoyle? You know, the one with the chrome dome, the big feet, and arms that end in autocannons but no SRMs? Well, we can’t have a modern ‘Mech firing missiles from nowhere, so Farseer made an updated version of the Steve Venters original, and then Emil of The Art of BattleTech modded it into MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. They also recently did the Rifleman IIC, another MechWarrior 2 classic that looks absolutely wild in MechWarrior 5. Mostly because it has a flat-paneled cockpit beneath a giant saucer. 

Head to Nexus Mods to download either of these mods, or look for them on the Steam Workshop.

Devastator Versus Fenris, Who Ya Got?

“Firefight” – BT Private Commission Ink piece #2.
byu/TheRedEpicArt inbattletech

I never bet against the Fenris. It’s been one of my personal favorites since forever, with enough space to mount a PPC and some supporting weapons, enough armor to endure a firefight, and enough speed to dictate the terms of engagement. But a Demolisher has two AC/20s, and that’s still lights-out for the likes of a Fenris.

Kind regards to Jarden Blando for inking this up in Procreate for us and Jeremy Thompson’s Classic BattleTech campaign.

Additional Pride Reinforcements Detected

Happy Pride Month
byu/ElroyScout inbattletech

Elroy Scout has shared their Star of a lesbian Shadow Hawk, a gay Mad Cat III, a bisexual Mauler, a trans Savage Wolf, and a generally queer Black Knight. Props go to the Mad Cat III for being so gay that it needs an extra slice of hex base to handle that stride. Sashay away!

Alpha Strike Is Still Not The Default Way To Play BattleTech

Results of the Game Frequency Survey
byu/AloneHome2 inbattletech

I remember playing the original Classic BattleTech and finding it… dense. After that, I stuck with the video games until I was finally convinced to give Alpha Strike a try, and now I’m loving it. I have an entire wall of minis strictly because Alpha Strike is such a vastly superior game system.

And yet, it seems I’m in the minority. According to a poll on the BattleTech subreddit conducted by AloneHome2, roughly two-thirds of the subreddit plays Classic, while one-third plays Alpha Strike with any regularity.

Admittedly, this was less than 200 respondents so there’s no telling how accurate this would be over the total BattleTech population, but still, I’m disappointed to see Alpha Strike so far behind. Is it a marketing problem, or am I just totally out of touch? Do let me know your opinion in the comments below.

The Republic Is Dead, But The Spirit Cats Are Not

AMA with Line Developers Ray Arrastia and Aaron Cahall LIVE
byu/AdrianGideon inbattletech

As is their new habit, Catalyst did another AMA on Reddit this month. As usual, there were a lot of questions asked and a lot of answers provided, but I wanted to pick out two interesting points.

First of all, the Republic of the Sphere is dead. Both Aaron and Ray confirmed that, while they loved the faction, they wouldn’t resurrect it after the thorough thrashing it received at the hands of Clans Wolf and Jade Falcon. We will, however, see something that keeps the spirit of the faction alive in some way, and we’ll find out more about that in Trial of Birthright and ilKhan’s Eyes Only.

Second, the Spirit Cats aren’t dead! Apparently, Randall Bills will continue the story of Kisho in an upcoming novel. No draft yet, or timeline on when we can expect that story to arrive, but the universe needs more Spirit Cats, so I’m signal boosting this.

There are, of course, many more topics discussed, which you can read about here.

My Dear, I Give You The Kermit Confederation

Muppet Hanse Melissa Marriage

As a follow-up to April’s shirtless Alaric Wolf image, Eldoniousrex was contractually obliged to create a very special rendition of the marriage between Hanse Davion and Melissa Steiner. The catch? It had to be Muppet-themed. So in this most auspicious month of love, here we have the Muppets in one of BattleTech‘s most iconic moments. Kermit throwing up his frog paws as Maximilian definitely made my week, so thanks for that.

And that’s it for June! Join us next month for yet more BattleTech action.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Answering Questions – An Interview with Author Bryan Young

In terms of BattleTech writers, Bryan Young is relatively new, but he’s made a big impact in a short amount of time. He’s rehabilitated the hated Clan Jade Falcon into something a little more likable in A Question Of Survival and Without Question, the Fox Patrol is already a beloved mercenary unit, and VoidBreaker will (hopefully) end the Dark Age HPG Blackout once and for all.

With the events of Without Question settling the Jade Falcons into an uncertain future, Bryan and I sat down to discuss the greenest of the Clans, where Jiyi, Katie, and Bugsy are headed, and what Jar Jar Binks could do for BattleTech. Enjoy.

WARNING: There are a few spoilers for Without Question discussed in this interview.

Continue reading

Bad ‘Mechs – Blackjack

BM_Blackjack_fin

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

“Why the hell do they have us stripping these relics anyhow?” Helen asked. It had only been a day since news came down from the college that NAIS would receive several Blackjacks for evaluation, but when Hanse Davion made a proclamation, people tended to move fast.

BattleMech engineering lead Jameson looked honestly surprised. “You mean you didn’t get the briefing? Or I dunno, catch the six o’clock news?”

Helen rubbed an oily palm against her face, smearing a black line from ear to eye. “I had a bit of a late night. You know what time of year it is, right?” Helen glanced at the colorful flag on her toolkit. 

Jameson laughed. “Of course, how could I forget?” The family man moved to help the party girl with removing the Blackjack‘s knee assembly, taking the crane controls while he explained the situation. “Some hot shot on Xhosa VII apparently used a lance of these things to take out an entire battalion of Dracs. Got himself a medal for his efforts from the big cheese himself.” 

“Cool,” Helem grunted as she grabbed a piece of the Blackjack‘s kneecap and placed it on a waiting rack. “Doesn’t explain why I’m doing heavy labor with a hangover.” 

“Well, conventional wisdom is that Blackjacks are awful ‘Mechs that only survived the Succession Wars because nobody wanted to take ’em into battle.” 

“Yeah, something about brittle armor and being inherently unstable?”

“Something like that, yeah,” Jameson tapped at the crane controls to bring the hook to the Blackjack‘s other knee. “But with our young hot shot becoming a national hero in a BJ-1, Hanse is seeing an opportunity to build some national pride. He wants his best engineers to look at these old heaps to see if we can do something to fix ’em.” 

“That explains why you’re here, it doesn’t explain why I’m here so early.” 

Jameson grinned. “Somebody’s gotta do the heavy lifting around here.” He ducked as Helen tossed a bundle of extracted myomer at his head.

The rest of the unscheduled teardown went without incident bar a few muttered curses and demands for ibuprofen to quell Helen’s raging headache. Each part was meticulously categorized and evaluated, and each one was found to be totally without fault. Every armor plate removed seemed just as solid and sturdy as the armor you’d find on a brand-new Enforcer fresh off the Achernar production lines. And while the Blackjack‘s feet might not have been as wide as a Catapult‘s, Jameson’s analysis couldn’t find any problems with keeping the ‘Mech upright.

By the time they were done and the sun was setting over The College of Military Science, Jameson was utterly flummoxed. “I don’t get it. There’s nothing wrong with this thing. By all rights, it should maneuver at least as well as an Enforcer, and your impact tests proved there’s nothing wrong with its armor placement either.” 

“Maybe it’s a fluke,” Helen said, wiping the sweat off her brow with a rag about as filthy as her coveralls.

“The other teams taking apart BJ-1s are reporting the same thing: ain’t nothing broke to fix,” Jameson spat. “Hell, we have dozens, maybe hundreds of these things being used for training and security that could’ve been on the front lines this whole time.”

“Well, no sense crying over under-utilized BattleMechs this late in the day,” Helen announced as she threw her dirty rag in a nearby bin. 

“Where do you think you’re going? We gotta put this thing back together, and I see a couple of light autocannons that could definitely be improved with the latest-gen laser tech.” 

Helen groaned. “Ugh, just lemme get some more coffee, you sadist.” 


Blackjack TRO 3025

The story of the Blackjack is one of rags to riches, from a virtually forgotten ‘Mech by the end of the Star League to a beloved workhorse design by the time of the Fourth Succession War

In the mid-2750s, the Star League Defense Force requested a combination of anti-insurgency and fire support ‘Mech that could effectively quell uprisings in the occupied Periphery. The original BJ-1X prototype satisfied this requirement with a pair of GM Flashpoint Flamers, several medium-class lasers, and a 45-ton chassis capable of maneuvering at over 85 kph. Although manufacturer General Motors found the prototype effective at counter-insurgency operations during testing, it proved woefully inadequate at providing fire support for ground forces. This led GM to replace the flamers with light autocannons. However, this necessitated the reduction of the Blackjack‘s engine to a GM 180 capable of just 64 kph—barely sufficient to keep up with allied units in a running battle, but fast enough to support infantry and armored vehicles.

Satisfied with the BJ-1 model, Star League procurement handed GM an initial order of several hundred units in 2757. By all accounts, the Blackjack should have gone on to serve in the SLDF with distinction if not unremarkable performance, but a flood of negative press claiming unsubstantiated manufacturing faults buried any positive reports from actual pilots. Everything from claims that the BJ-1’s Star Guard II armor was so brittle that entire panels fell off during combat, to accusations the Blackjack‘s feet were so narrow that pilots constantly had to correct the ‘Mech’s stability to prevent it from falling over even at rest.

Blackjack BJ-1 CCG

No one knows where the sudden media blitz originated to this day, but most historians attribute these rumors to GM’s competitors. The malicious media coverage worked, and despite having no proof, the Blackjack gained such a toxic reputation that the SLDF canceled its order for the BJ-1 and GM was forced to halt production. All existing BJ-1s were sold to militia units or the armed forces of the Great Houses at a considerable discount. Most found their way to the Federated Suns and Capellan Confederation, but only their love of autocannons gave the Blackjack much service within the AFFS.

General Motors is no stranger to bad press. The company would survive the boondoggle and even the destruction of the Blackjack‘s production line on Kathil in 2796. The Blackjack, however, would spend centuries on the sidelines, considered by all to be a flawed ‘Mech only worthy of light combat, garrison duty, and armed training. This perhaps explains why so many Blackjacks survived the Succession Wars despite so few having been produced.

The Blackjack might have remained an underutilized and unloved ‘Mech were it not for the battle of Xhosa VII in 3022. There, a single lance of NAIS cadets piloting Blackjacks held off nearly a battalion of Kuritan light ‘Mechs (mostly comprised of Wasps and Stingers) under the charge of Tai-i Mercer Ravannion, now notorious for his largely ineffective “charge of the horde” tactic. Cadet Michael Ubodo is credited for arranging the Blackjacks in his command in a defensive posture that leveraged the ‘Mech’s exceptional range to focus fire on individual DCMS ‘Mechs before they could close in with the NAIS cadre. When they did, the Blackjacks’ medium lasers shredded the damaged light ‘Mechs, sending them into a full retreat. 

Blackjack TRO 3050

Once word of his victory reached New Avalon, First Prince Hanse Davion invited Ubodo to receive his commendations as well as a promotion to the Eighth Deneb Light Cavalry. At the same time, Hanse ordered all existing BJ-1s to undergo examination for frontline duty. Fed Sun engineers were astounded to learn that despite a poor reputation spanning centuries, all technical claims against the Blackjack were false. The ‘Mech was sturdy, well-armored, and perfectly balanced. The only criticism MechWarriors had was its light autocannons being less useful against larger targets—a critique that Hanse immediately ordered solved with updated variants.

The original BJ-1 came armed with four medium lasers, two 40mm Whirlwind-L autocannons, and a single extra heat sink to deal with the additional heat load. A GM 180 propelled the design up to 64 kph, with four Whitworth Jetlift jump jets providing additional mobility. The BJ-1DB replaced the light autocannons, a ton of armor, and two medium lasers with two large lasers and six additional heat sinks, providing the ‘Mech with significant firepower at the expense of some range and protection. The BJ-1DC instead removes the jump jets to add two small lasers and one additional heat sink. Both variants were produced as refit packages for existing BJ-1s. 

It wasn’t until 3042 that a brand-new Blackjack variant was produced in the BJ-3. Utilizing rediscovered double heat sink technology, the BJ-3 was armed with two Ceres Arms Smasher PPCs and four medium lasers. These models were built by Ceres Metals Industries for the St. Ives Compact, suggesting that the Capellan Confederation had stolen plans for double heat sinks from the Federated Suns years before the BJ-3s introduction. 

Blackjack BJ-2 CCG

General Motors didn’t produce a new Blackjack variant until the BJ-2. Like the BJ-3, the BJ-2 used double heat sinks, but it was entirely armed with formerly Lostech weapons. Two Diverse Optics Sunbeam ER large lasers replaced the BJ-1’s autocannons, and the medium lasers were replaced by four torso-mounted Hovertec Streak SRM-2 launchers. Initial BJ-2s were refits of existing BJ-1s, but entirely new BJ-2 chassis were produced from 3054 onward on Talcott until GM lost the factory during the Jihad.

The BJ-2 would become so popular that Luthien Armor Works contracted Ceres Metals to acquire the plans for the BJ-2, which it then used to create the Blackjack OmniMechthe BJ2-O—in 3057. Increased to 50 tons, the primary configuration mirrored the original Blackjack‘s primary armament, with four medium lasers and Ultra AC/5s offering significantly more firepower than the 40mm Whirlwinds of the BJ-1. Four machine guns also offered vastly improved anti-infantry capabilities. LAW would produce other variants of the BJ2-O and sell these OmniPod kits to Irian Technologies, General Motors, and Ceres Metals. 

Luthien Armor Works also stated that the BJ2-O would be compatible with Clan technology, a claim that Irian and Ceres both disputed after discovering export models of the BJ2-O could not. It was later discovered that only LAW-produced BJ2-O models were compatible with Clan tech. This diplomatic incident would only be solved years after LAW finally agreed to release schematics and software upgrades that brought export variants of the BJ2-O up to domestically produced standards.

Blackjack IlClan

After the devastation of the Jihad, most license holders sold their Blackjack rights to raise funds to rebuild. This resulted in the Blackjack proliferating across the Inner Sphere. Recent models include the BJ-5, with its quad-pack of Light PPCs and paired Light AC/2s offering exceptional range and flexibility. Even the Clans field a retrofitted version of the Blackjack, dubbed the Blackjack C, with twin Large Pulse Lasers and twin Streak SRM-4 launchers. 

It’s hard to imagine a more successful “bad” ‘Mech, one that rose from obscurity to become a workhorse machine across every military of the Inner Sphere. Both the 45-ton BattleMech and the 50-ton OmniMech continue to serve with distinction, and it seems likely both will continue to serve well into the future.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Round-Up For May, 2024

April showers? More like May showers. And they’ll also certainly bring hordes of angry mosquitoes even this close to the urban centers of Southern Ontario. But you know what makes inclement weather and ravenous insects bearable? Spirit Cat Irregulars reinforcements! I love all these little guys, from the Crimson Hawk‘s goofy sculpt to the Avalanche doing its best “we have Shadow Cat at home” impression. Special thanks go to my brother for not only painting and sourcing these minis but also kitbashing the Koshi P and its many Micro Lasers.

I’m expecting a Scorpion Empire trinary to follow alongside plans for a new Bad ‘Mechs mercenary company. But that’ll be in June. For now, we’ve got a bunch of May BattleTech news.

Mercenaries Kickstarter Fulfillment Confirmed For June!

Tuesday Newsday: Episode 15
Watch this video on YouTube.

The biggest news of the month is easily a shipping update on the Mercenaries Kickstarter. According to Rem and Loren on the most recent Tuesday News Day broadcast, the Mercenaries Kickstarter will begin fulfillment next week. Loren specifically stated packages will begin leaving the warehouse within “seven to ten days” (just after they receive a few remaining “tchotchkey items”) and then it’s however long it’ll take the shipping company to get things to your specific locale.

Basically, June will be the month of Mercenaries. Excite!

For those still looking for an explanation of what went wrong with shipping, several updates on the Mercenaries Kickstarter have confirmed details on what went wrong, such as taxes being incorrectly applied or box quantity being increased due to the Savannah Master Salvage Box surprise. All of these corrections were completed earlier in the month and cards were charged on May 13. Any and all questions surrounding shipping fees, or requests for additional consideration due to unexpectedly large shipping charges, should be sent to Catalyst through Kickstarter’s message system (go to the project page, click the Catalyst Game Labs name, and then select ‘Contact Me’ in the pop-up menu). 

Without Question Is Out Now!

Without Question

This is your reminder that Without Question is available now. I reviewed this novel earlier this week, and I must say it’s a page-turner. Definitely didn’t think I’d ever feel sympathetic toward Clan Jade Falcon, but Bryan Young can sure write a sympathetic character. There’s still a lot of “please forgive the war crimes, we’re better now” going on, but BattleTech is a universe where people seem to either forgive or forget war crimes relatively easily (giant robots with lots of guns will do that to ya).

Hungry Like The Wolf Answers The Question Nobody Asked: How Horny Is Alaric Ward?

BATTLETECH: Hungry Like the Wolf
Watch this video on YouTube.

I had originally assumed that Hungry Like The Wolf was just a fun April Fools cover for a novel that would never exist. Little did I know that Stackpole had actually written the opening pages of this novel, which you can download from his Patreon. And then Big Red came along and narrated this passage in his absolute horniest voice

For years, I’d threatened to create a BattleTech pornography starring some enormous Elementals. Now I’m not sure if I should bother. Clearly, BattleTech will never be hornier than this.

Big Red Provides A Full Overview Of The Upcoming BattleTech Universe Book

Battletech: Universe
Watch this video on YouTube.

It’s been described by multiple folks at Catalyst as the most important sourcebook they’ve ever worked on, and indeed, could be the most important sourcebook in the entire BattleTech canon. BattleTech Universe will bring a brief summary of the entire BattleTech lore under one roof up until the ilClan era. It will certainly become the book recommended to anyone looking to get started with BattleTech as a hobby in order to center them with several centuries’ worth of history. And it will be coming out alongside the hotly anticipated Mercenaries Kickstarter.

We’ve seen a few hints of what’s inside BattleTech Universe, but Big Red provides us with a full overview of the book as well as more peeks inside its cover. This is probably the best look we’ll get before the book arrives with the Mercs Kickstarter, so I encourage you to view the video above.

Star League Command Lance Reveals Kerensky’s Orion Looks Pretty Good

Star League Command Lance has arrived
byu/phoenixgsu inbattletech

Speaking of upcoming products, here’s the Star League Command Lance in the wild. There were some concerns that the pre-painted Aleksandr Kerensky Orion wouldn’t be up to snuff, but I think it looks pretty good. It’s certainly not as good as I’ve seen from some of BattleTech’s more prolific painters, but I think it’s certainly better than the average mini painter, and definitely worth it for the time you’d save, provided you wanted to recreate this iconic ‘Mech yourself. Kudos to phoenixgsu for the reveal.

I’ve also just been informed that the Star League Command Lance ForcePack is now available for purchase. Catalyst says they’re available now and I’ve got confirmed reports of people receiving their Star League ForcePacks in the mail. 

Why Isn’t There A Crab IIC?

Marauder IIIC (art by Jesse Serrano)
byu/krika-makura inbattletech

I know this is supposed to be some fictional version of the Marauder IIC, but it’s hard not to agree with the top comment: all things evolve to crab eventually. Even the venerable and iconic Marauder. Credit goes to Jesse Serrano for bringing us yet more evidence that carcinization is inevitable. 

This sort of made me wonder why we haven’t seen a Crab IIC? Certainly, the Star League Exodus fleet had a number of Crabs, and certainly these ‘Mechs would have been beloved enough to warrant re-making in the IIC way. It makes you wonder if all things truly do lead to Crab or if maybe Crab needs a better publicist.

MechWarrior 5: Clans Expected To Launch In Q4

This comes from Phil over at No Guts No Galaxy, who dove into MechWarrior 5 publisher EG7’s recent financial release for clues on when we can expect MechWarrior 5: Clans to hit digital store shelves. That date still hasn’t been disclosed, but EG7 did have a section discussing its expected game releases, and MechWarrior 5: Clans was listed as arriving in the fourth quarter of the 2024 financial year. Unlike a lot of companies, EG7 seems to have their financial year line up with the calendar year, so we can expect to receive MechWarrior 5: Clans somewhere between October and December. 

Also of note, there’s no mention of any additional MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries DLCs or expansions, so it looks like MW5: Mercs is finally done. On the one hand, pour one out for what eventually became one of the best MechWarrior games ever released. On the other hand, now the modders can go to town on Mercs without fear of having their work invalidated by another DLC (although it should be noted that PGI has done a great job working with modders to keep things working smoothly on the mod front). 

However, there are still some persistent rumors that there will be one more DLC dropped just before Clans that ties the two games together. I’d expect anything like that to be extremely small, maybe just a mission or two, with a fun and foreboding cinematic to get us all in the mood. If we’re really lucky, it might even be free.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Gets Patch For Solaris Showdown 

MW5 Mercs Patch Notes

Speaking of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, the older MechWarrior title got a patch this month to fix some of the lingering issues with the latest DLC, Solaris Showdown. Arena Exhibition Missions were some of the most problematic, with some maps spawning too many enemies, some ‘Mechs spawning underground, and some enemy ‘Mechs standing completely still even after the match had begun. Those have all been fixed, as has another bug that would cause lancemates to freeze up when ordered to attack a specific target. 

There are still a few complaints regarding Solaris Showdown, so I’d expect to see another patch before PGI lays this game to rest to focus solely on MechWarrior 5: Clans

The Bullshark Comes To MechWarrior Online (And There’s A Free ‘Mech Available)

MechWarrior Online Bullshark

Last on the MechWarrior front are a slew of announcements for MechWarrior Online, starting with the Bullshark. You might remember this 95-ton behemoth from BATTLETECH‘s Heavy Metal expansion. Assumed to be designed by Clan Wolverine, the Bullshark originally came equipped with four ER medium lasers, two UAC/5s, two LB 10-X autocannons, and a Thumper Artillery Cannon. Thumper Cannons don’t exist in MWO, so instead, you’ll get a selection of different assault ‘Mechs armed with autocannons, PPCs, missiles, and lasers. The full details of each variant are available on MWO‘s site here. Note that some variants are based on Inner Sphere tech while others are Clan. 

The Bullshark arrived in MechWarrior Online on May 21st along with a new patch. May’s patch contained just a few adjustments, with Hyper Assault Gauss Rifles all getting their heat reduced, Thunderbolt Missiles having their spread increased and their velocity reduced, and a few ‘Mech quirks being adjusted. All Cougars and Jenner IICs now have 15-percent heat reduction, all Victors and Hunchback IIC variants now have 100 percent increased jump jet initial thrust, and several adjustments have been applied to variants of the Nova, Black Hawk-KU, and LinebackerYou can read more about MWO‘s recent patch in the notes here and purchase one of the Bullshark packages on its dedicated site here.

And finally, there’s a free ‘Mech up for grabs! To celebrate the Cauldron’s anniversary of taking the reins with balancing MWO, you can grab a free Ebon Jaguar B (which was designated Cauldron Born when it was first seen by the Inner Sphere) with a 30 percent C-bill boost and a green glow effect by taking part in this event. The event runs until June 3, so you still have a few days to grab this 65-ton ‘Mech.

Redesigned ‘Mech Sculpts Seen In The Wild

Besides Mr. Kerensky’s Orion, the Atlas II, the Thunder Hawk, and that fancy Phoenix Hawk, we have several other new ‘Mechs on the way. The Grizzly, Thanatos, and Black Python are coming in various ForcePacks in the Mercs Kickstarter, while the Argus arrives with the second Star League ForcePack later this year (hopefully). We got to see painted versions of all four as well as a Demolisher and more courtesy of FaithAndHeresy over on Twitter.

Gotta Keep Those Cat Paws Clean

Tech, 2023, OC
byu/Remmor inOutreachHPG

Working on your Mad Cat is (probably) a tough job. Keeping those laser lenses clean is priority number one, otherwise, you’ll just be a light show on the battlefield. Here we see a MechWarrior doing her best to keep those lenses clean, starting with what appear to be the heat sinks. Or maybe they’re the power couplings--I’m not a technician. Kudos to Remmor for sharing this piece.

MegaMek Celebrates Milestone Release, MRC Announces MegaMek Tourney In June

MegaMek Cover Image

We talked about MegaMek getting a big story-based beta update last month, but this month brings another big milestone for MegaMek: the release of MegaMek v.0.49.19.1, or “One-Ninety-One” as it’s being called. This is the first new stable release of the year and the first stable release under the development team’s new milestone system. This release backports fixes from the development version of MegaMek, including fixes to one-shot weapons, issues with the Partial Wing, and a “nasty surprise around Gun Emplacements.” 

MRC Icon

There are a bunch of changes players should be made aware of, which you can review in MegaMek‘s official release here.

Also, the MechCommander Review Circuit (MRC) has announced a MegaMek tournament for June. The “Summer of Profit”, as the tourney is being called, takes place in the year 3152 with Clan Sea Fox hosting. Teams will take part in combat trials based on famous past battles that heavily featured mercenary units. For more details, check out this video explainer or ask around in the MRC Discord.

Opinion: Clan Sea Fox Is Great, Actually

Sarna Complaints Department

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

One of the problems with BattleTech is having a favorite ‘Mech that wasn’t part of your favorite faction. You might love the Jenner, but it’s a hard thing to explain how a Draconis Combine ‘Mech managed to make it all the way out to the deep periphery to become part of the Magistracy Armed Forces, for example. It could happen, but it’d require a big story as to how that Jenner traveled a couple of hundred light years.

That’s all changed thanks to Clan Sea Fox. Now, if you want a ‘Mech, or a tank, or anything at all, anywhere at all, you could always just say a traveling Sea Fox sold it. How’d they get it? Who cares. Sea Foxes trade with anyone and everyone in a vast galaxy-spanning network that can easily transport any given weapon system from one end of the Inner Sphere to the other. And maybe even beyond. 

In the ilClan era, if you want a Turkina but you’re in the Taurian Concordat, just say a Sea Fox sold it to you. Want an ancient Star League Excalibur (and not one of those WOB models), just tell ’em a Sea Fox sold you a museum piece. Want something cutting edge, like an Alpha Wolf? An indebted Sea Fox trader gave it to you as a gift. Narrative explanation solved.

Of course, some of you prefer coming up with wild backstories for how you managed to steal a Malice from a former Republic garrison and smuggle it aboard a DropShip without anyone noticing, but for those of us who just want to play with whatever ‘Mechs we want, there’s Clan Sea Fox. 

Leave your thanks in the comments for these mercantile foxes, and thanks to Ollie Garkey for this humorous take on the Sea Fox menace.

Remembering Tukkayyid

REMEMBER MAY 20TH
byu/agentlou44 inbattletech

May 20th is the day we all remember ComStar‘s sacrifice in defending the Inner Sphere from Clan aggression after spending centuries fucking with the major Houses. Meanwhile, the Clans collectively found out after fucking with the Inner Sphere for just two and a half years. Nobody would have expected the galactic phone company to be the deliverer of justice, but remember: if the Clans took over, ComStar would have been out of a job. Thanks to agentlou44 for the reminder of this blessed day.

BattleTech’s 40th Anniversary Edition Box Set Now Available

40th-Boxed-Sets

Earlier this year, I asked Ray and Aaron at Catalyst how they planned to celebrate BattleTech‘s 40th anniversary. Their answer was to send Randall on a world tour and release a special 40th-anniversary version of BattleTech: A Game Of Armored Combat. Inside you’ll find the usual eight ‘Mechs (Locust, Commando, Griffin, Shadow Hawk, Wolverine, Catapult, Thunderbolt, and Awesome), the same 56-page rulebook, the same 16-page universe primer, and the novella Eyestorm. What new stuff you’ll find are eight ilClan-era Record Sheets for the eight ‘Mechs in the box, a one-page ilClan rules sheet for some of the new tech on those modern variants, and a four-page ilClan primer to add onto the universe primer. Oh, and a special new box, of course.

Pre-orders are available now on Amazon and at your local games stores. BattleTech’s 40th Anniversary Edition arrives on June 12 if you order through Amazon, but I’ve got reports that folks are getting these boxes now from other sources.

How To Fit A PPC Onto An Archer

Archer ARC-7P
byu/_masaka inbattletech

It’s a bit of a FrankenMech, but this Archer has the goods courtesy of a Shreck. If by goods I mean PPC, which I do. Kudos to _masaka for sharing, and for this similar animation of a custom Centurion.

Itty Bitty Orion Diorama Shows The Star League Bracing For War

Bracing for the Oncoming Storm: A BattleTech Diorama
byu/TheLegendBoss inbattletech

This tiny diorama by TheLegendBoiss is roughly two and a half hexes long, which makes it absolutely incredible. The Orion is already a very clean paint, but then there’s the cherry picker, the fuel and ammo trucks, the tiny garage with the soldiers standing watch, and “fuck Amaris” graffiti on the back wall. Throw in a bunch of battle damage and this is one of the coolest dioramas I’ve ever seen. Click the pics for some fun dialogue, and check the comments for info on where some of these models were sourced (the Orion is all CGL).

Someone, Please Animate This Hunchback Sprite

Pixel Art Sprite of the Hunchback (Took longer than I thought it would, but I love how it turned out. Tell me what you think.)
byu/PanzerMagus inbattletech

It’s hard not to love the Hunchback. Even folks that are normally assault ‘Mech fans still hold the plucky little Hunchback in high esteem. That’s probably because the Hunchback still demands respect from even the largest of ‘Mechs thanks to its heavy armament and decent armor. A ‘Mech that can take your head off in a single lucky roll is something you can’t write off. And for the rest of us, it’s the medium ‘Mech that punches way above its weight class. It’s efficient, cost-effective, and best of all, cool.

And what’s cooler than a pixel art remake of five Hunchback variants? Thanks to PanzerMagus for giving us these gems. Somebody give these bad boys a 2D fighting game stance (maybe with their weapons firing) so I can start throwing them around on Discord. 

Fan TRO Reveals Way More Stone Rhinos Than I Ever Knew

TRO Behemoth

I’ve seen high-quality, fan-made TROs, but I’ve never seen a TRO dedicated to a single chassis. To close out this month’s news blast, I present Technical Readout: Behemoth, by Mark Charke. He started working on this TRO back in 2018 but decided that the release of the Stone Rhino in MechWarrior Online was as good a time as any to unleash this beast onto the world.

As you’d expect, there are a lot of Behemoth variants inside, from the standard Gauss-toting Stone Rhino to the progenitor Matar, better known as Amaris’ Folly. Once done with the official stuff (with some excellent edits of the original Behemoth artwork by Dana Knutson), Mark then gets into the fan-made stuff with some pretty great original artwork. My personal favorite is the Smoker, which looks like a steampunk version of the Stone Rhino. You can head to Mark’s website to download the PDF.

And that’s it for May! Join us next month for a celebration of plastic!

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

Without Question Review – Jade Falcons Redeemed

BattleTech‘s most recent novel is Without Question by Bryan Young, who was kind enough to send a copy to Sarna for review. I’ve tried to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but know there are a few plot hooks discussed below. 


Without QuestionThroughout my reading of Without Question, I kept running into the same problem: how do you root for the bad guys? I know the Jade Falcons aren’t the bad guys anymore—not after being nearly annihilated, anyway. They’re the scrappy underdogs just out to survive in a universe that eats up anything that can’t defend itself.

But for my entire life, the Jade Falcons were the bad guys. Oh sure, there were good people within Clan Jade Falcon, like Aidan and Diana and Marthe Pryde, Horse, and Johanna (sort of), but these were the exceptions that made their stories so interesting to read about. The tension of these characters trying to be good and honorable when everyone else is trying to be assholes made them likable.

Even with these great characters, I’ve never liked the Jade Falcons. They’ve always been one of the worst Clans doing some of the cruelest things and calling it honorable behavior in the name of their high and mighty Clan. Indeed, most of BattleTech history has Clan Jade Falcon as the villains in most stories.

Things are different now. Malvina Hazen is dead, her Mongol Doctrine gone with her, and the vast majority of Clan Jade Falcon lies in ruins.  Everyone left behind is basically the opposite of what Clan Jade Falcon stood for. Instead of rigidity, you’ve got adaptability. Instead of truebirth warrior purity, you’ve got a Clan embracing freebirths. And instead of threats and bullying, you’ve got this strange thing called compromise.

Clan Jade Falcon

With everything that was so unlikeable about the Jade Falcons gone, you’re left with something you should be sympathetic to. And yet, I’ve got such a history of hating this Clan that there’s always a part of me thinking they should just get obliterated so we can finally be done with Clan Jade Falcon once and for all. Even if what’s left of Clan Jade Falcon has almost nothing to do with what came before.

Without Question is the culmination of Clade Jade Falcon’s redemption arc. From treacherous jerks during the Clan Invasion to literal Space Fascists during the Dark Age, and finally, the plucky band of MechWarriors desperately attempting to rehabilitate their image after almost a century of bad press. 

I will begrudgingly admit that Without Question managed to pull it off. It feels gross to even say it, but the remaining Jade Falcons (bar a few who don’t survive for too long) are all just so damned likable. Every character embodies the wisdom of second chances, from the kid taken off the streets of a Ghost Bear world to become a Star Commander in the Jade Falcon touman to the failed MechWarrior given a second Trial of Position just because the Clan was so desperate for bodies. Even Khan Jiyi Chistu is given a second chance as he would never have risen to the position had Malvina survived. 

But while all the individual characters have received second chances, it’s slightly less believable that Clan Jade Falcon has also been given a second chance. The reader is reminded throughout the book of the utterly horrible atrocities Clan Jade Falcon performed following its invasion, especially under the reign of Malvina Hazen. She massacred civilians by the score, leveling cities and leaving millions to starve after she stripped entire worlds to prepare for her mad dash to Terra. There’s a reason why The Hinterlands are this hodgepodge of proto-nations and independent worlds: nobody wants to be ruled by Clan Jade Falcon. Period. 

Jiyi Chistu

This, of course, makes it a completely uphill battle for Jiyi Chistu to rebuild the Clan and retake worlds that have declared their independence. A large section of Without Question deals with exactly how Clan Jade Falcon can convince civilians that they’re a different sort of Clan, and how they can make amends for the atrocities performed while Malvina was Khan. 

This portion of the narrative felt strained. Maybe this is the Nova Cat/Spirit Cat fan in me talking, but there’s a point at which renaming should be discussed along with rebranding—especially with so few Jade Falcons remaining and even more especially when part of your touman is composed of former Ghost Bears (see A Question of Survival for the story there). Then again, Germany and Japan didn’t rename themselves after World War 2, but those nations still had large populations that saw themselves as German and Japanese. The civilians of the former Jade Falcon Occupation Zone often didn’t see themselves as Falcons; that’s why The Hinterlands even exists, after all. 

I dunno what I’d call a hypothetical rebranded Clan Jade Falcon. I know people have been referring to the remnants as New Jade Falcon, but that just seems far too New Coca-Cola. They could’ve taken a page out of the Scorpion Empire, but with so few worlds under their control, calling the remaining Falcon worlds an empire is a bit of a stretch. 

Anyway, if it’s not abundantly clear after the first few chapters that Without Question is a story of reformation and redemption, then the final chapter spells it out when one of the characters says she “never wants to be looked at as a monster ever again.” Whether that happens or not will have to be answered in future books, but after some heroics, some victories, and a few compromises that the old Jade Falcons would never have agreed to, it becomes apparent that the new Jade Falcons are a very different breed. And whether or not you want the Jade Falcons to be rehabilitated will definitely color your view of the novel. 

Gyrfalcon

The presence of mercenary units and the general feel of combat in Without Question are likely to be universally well-received, as is the trend toward smaller engagements in novels, with rarely more than a Star of ‘Mechs on either side being described at any time. It makes things a little easier to follow for the reader and a little easier to re-enact for casual players. 

It also brings BattleTech back to a simpler time when individuals mattered far more in determining the outcome of events. Instead of the high politics of national leaders, you have negotiations between single officers within the Clan. I’d almost describe the feeling as cozy if one could ascribe the notion to anything in BattleTech. Intimate is perhaps a better term. 

One of the things that Without Question made me realize is just how the Clans have changed entirely from being conquerors to being actual protectors and even political reformers—something the Inner Sphere has rarely seen. The Great Houses have a long history of being awful to their citizens and the citizens of other nations, and then the Clans arrive and eliminate the aristocratic hold on a lot of worlds. Say what you will about the Clan’s caste system and military dictatorship, but fast-forward a century and many Clans are abandoning the caste system (and sometimes even their eugenics programs) in favor of being merely a national military. One could even argue the Clans returned interplanetary democracy to the Inner Sphere with the Rasalhague Dominion and Raven Alliance

Turkina

As with their rebranding efforts, it remains to be seen exactly how the Jade Falcons will manage things, but there are some hopeful signs that a far more progressive form of civilian self-governance is emerging in this reborn Clan. That, perhaps more than anything, points to the Jade Falcons now being on the short list of BattleTech’s ‘good guys’ (if you can call any particular faction in BattleTech that).

It’s nice having someone to root for again, especially after the Ghost Bears have become mired in a civil war and I still haven’t heard hide nor hair of the Nova Cat/Spirit Cats. Perennial good guy Clan Wolf seems to be moments away from a heel turn, so I’m mistrustful of this new Star League. Frankly, I’d rather hear about the smaller-scale stuff anyway. And if the Spirit Cats are still out of order, then I guess the Jade Falcons will do.

Without Question is available now directly from Catalyst or wherever good books are sold.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Community Outreach – Honoring The Purple Bird With Big Red-40Tech

Welcome back to Community Outreach, the Sarna series where we reach out to BattleTech creators and creatives to learn more about their work. This month we sat down with Big Red-40Tech, a YouTuber with a curious name who dives deep into the lore behind some of the most popular and not-so-popular ‘Mechs. I start us off by learning the interesting origins of his name before diving into the meat of the matter: how the only thing powerful enough to defeat the Free Worlds League is the Free Worlds League. Yes, Purple Bird is indeed strong (and I’m not just saying that because the Spirit Cats are currently refugees hiding out in the League).

Continue reading

Bad ‘Mechs – Icestorm

Bad 'Mechs - Icestorm

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

“Star Commander, I have the target in sight. Grid coordinate zulu-alpha-three-six-three. Fire for effect, over.” 

Clan Ice Hellion MechWarrior Liam waited for several tense moments, but there was no scream of incoming shells and no explosions on the enemy encampment. “Star Commander, I repeat, I have them marked with my TAG. Grid coordinate zulu-alpha-three-six-three.” Still, no artillery sounded. Liam noted with dismay as several Galleons discharged their infantry who began setting up gun emplacements.

Running a self-diagnostics on his communications systems, Liam was disquieted to see his Icestorm‘s computer report ‘100-percent operational’. “No fire on target, Star Commander. What is the delay?”

Liam endured another few moments of silence as he tried to burrow his Icestorm further into the snowy berm that was all that stood between him and the rebels fortifying their location. He felt exposed—his Icestorm’s speed was its only real defense. Spotting for allied artillery forced him to do something terribly dangerous for any light ‘Mech: stop. Every Hellion knew that speed was life. Without it, he was as much a target as the armored vehicles his TAG designated.

Finally, Liam’s radio crackled with Star Commander Janise’s voice. “Um, apologies MechWarrior Liam. There will be no artillery.” 

Liam could no longer hide his frustration. “What in Kerensky’s name are you talking about?!” 

“It has come to my attention that artillery is un-Clanlike tactics,” Star Commander Janise announced. “Apparently, it causes too much collateral damage to be considered honorable.”

Liam scanned his surroundings through his ‘Mech’s 360-degree visor. Everywhere he looked was just more tundra. Not even a surat to be found, save for the encampment roughly 500 meters from his position. “Star Commander, there is nothing here but snow and enemy contacts. Perhaps we can debate the honor of artillery after we’ve eliminated these rebels?”

Neg, MechWarrior,” Janise sighed. “You are to engage targets of opportunity and return to base.” 

At that, Liam slammed his fist on his command console, causing his viewscreen to flicker briefly. “Star Commander, my position is exposed. If I were to engage, I do not believe my Icestorm will survive.” 

“Are you saying you lack the bravery of an Ice Hellion warrior, quineg?” Star Commander Janise’s response was filled with taunting disbelief.

Neg, Star Commander,” Liam replied, stone-faced. “I will do my duty.” 

“See that you do, MechWarrior.” With that, Liam’s radio went dead, leaving him cold and alone in his Icestorm’s cockpit. He scanned the enemy encampment, noting the three Galleons and what appeared to be light autocannons in fixed emplacements. He could outrange the Galleon’s inferior lasers and he could simply run around the fixed guns, but he knew it wouldn’t take many hits to put his Icestorm down. 

“Let speed be my ally,” Liam muttered as he brought his Icestorm up to its full nine-meter height. He kept his TAG system painting the enemy encampment in case the officers at base changed their mind about the novel concept of zellbrigen, and then brought his Icestorm up to a trot, then a full run. Stationary, he could hide his 25-ton ‘Mech behind snow and ice, but there was no hiding the trembles soldiers could feel as his Icestorm charged headlong at their position.

Light tracers whizzed past his ‘Mech as the soldiers began firing well beyond their weapon’s effective range. Green beams soon followed as the Galleons rotated their turrets. Liam began to weave through the snowy banks as he pushed his ‘Mech to its full speed of nearly 200 kph, rapidly closing the distance between his machine and dozens of enemies. He fired his laser, lighting several soldiers and melting the barrel of a towed autocannon. He followed that up with a pair of short-range missiles which hit one of the Galleons on the side, knocking a tread off its wheels.

Incoming fire soon rivaled the downpour of snow from the sky, with pings ringing off his cockpit from small arms. A Galleon got lucky and scored a hit with a small laser, but it was enough to reduce the armor protecting his left side by half. Liam turned his Icestorm just in time to prevent an autocannon round from taking his leg off at the knee. 

As he made another strafing pass and blew up a tent with another pair of missiles, Liam’s luck ran out. One of the Galleons’ medium lasers managed to strike his Icestorm’s hip, locking the leg and sending him hurdling toward the ground. The last thing Liam thought before his cockpit slammed into the snowy dirt was how pointless his loss was compared to a few artillery rounds.


Icestorm

The Icestorm is a perfect example of what can happen when a weapon’s requirements are changed without informing everyone down the military procurement chain. At best, you wind up with a weapon that doesn’t meet the new battlefield requirements. At worst, your weapon is obsolete before a warrior even has a chance to wield it. 

Compared to the standard of Inner Sphere technology following the First Succession War, the Icestorm is a perfectly respectable reconnaissance unit. Its armament matches that of the Wasp, it’s more than 33 percent faster than the Locust, and it mounts Target Acquisition Gear as standard, making it the perfect spotter ‘Mech for friendly artillery. Icestorms could quickly close on enemy positions, paint targets for destruction, and then extract without any risk of being caught by pursuers. 

Icestorm by Hordwon on Reddit

However, the Icestorm is not an Inner Sphere BattleMech; it’s a Clan BattleMech produced shortly after the events of Operation KLONDIKE. This tumultuous time in early Clan history formed what would become the Clan rules for zellbrigen, or honorable combat. In addition to adopting a dueling format for most warfare, zellbrigen prohibited the use of weapons of mass destruction, liberally defining these weapons to include large air-dropped bombs and artillery. The existence of systems that could accurately apply these weapons—such as the very TAG that came standard on the Icestorm—wasn’t enough to dissuade Clan leaders horrified at civilian casualty statistics following the conquest of the Pentagon worlds. 

One of the slowest Clans to adopt the rules of zellbrigen was Clan Ice Hellion. The Hellions famously relied on smaller, faster ‘Mechs and swarm tactics to engage heavier foes, which was directly contradicted by zellbrigen‘s rules for dueling. The Hellions would eventually adopt a modified form of zellbrigen that allowed entire Stars to engage a single target, and then once that target was wounded, the Star would bid against itself for the honor of finishing it off. The Hellions also relied on its smaller ‘Mechs to spot for its artillery, mitigating their ‘Mechs’ lack of firepower with firepower from afar.

Icestorm by Bishop Steiner

Perhaps it’s this reluctance to adopt zellbrigen that explains the Icestorm‘s existence. The rules for zellbrigen would have percolated amongst the Clans following the end of Operation KLONDIKE in 2822, but the Icestorm‘s arrival in 2830 implies that either the Hellions were not yet aware of zellbrigen or were simply ignoring it. The death of ilKhan Nicholas Kerensky in 2834, however, enshrined zellbrigen into the soul of the Clans, and it seems highly unlikely that the Hellions would have been able to drag their feet on zellbrigen past this event.

With little firepower or armor, extreme speed, and sophisticated targeting sensors, the Icestorm was designed to locate the enemy and pound them into the dirt using artillery. Clan trials made finding the enemy unnecessary, and Clan rules of engagement prevented the use of artillery, rendering the Icestorm almost completely redundant. 

Prior to their absorption by Clan Goliath Scorpion, the Icestorm could be found in most Hellion Galaxies, although they were increasingly relegated to garrison and solahma units after the advent of the OmniMech. Multiple examples found their into the Clan Wolf touman thanks to their many victories over the Hellions, and by the time of the Jihad, Icestorms could also be found in Clan Hell’s Horses and the Escorpión Imperio

Icestorm via Camospecs

Desperation during the Jihad era led Clan Wolf to press their Icestorms into front-line units. The original Icestorm—based on the Star League‘s Cameroon—carried a single ER Medium Laser, an SRM-2, and TAG to complement its 10 single heat sinks and 190 kph top speed. The Icestorm‘s speed is its armor and certainly not the mere 3.5 tons of Compound Alpha Standard begrudgingly covering its standard chassis. The Icestorm 2 upgraded the armor to ferro-fibrous and replaced the single heat sinks with doubles. Its armament was also completely replaced by two Heavy Medium Lasers (one in the arm and the other in the right torso) and a single ER Flamer mounted in the head. A Light TAG replaced the original TAG to retain the Icestorm‘s capacity as an artillery spotter, something Clan Wolf did with increasing frequency as the rules and norms governing warfare lapsed during the Jihad. 

By the ilClan era, the Icestorm is mostly extinct. Perhaps a few still exist within the Clan Homeworlds, or in Brian Caches, or being piloted by an ancient former Hellion still serving in the Scorpion Empire, but the Icestorm had long been surpassed by various OmniMechs almost two centuries ago. Even if the plans were found and factories restored, it would be hard to argue for the Icestorm‘s resurrection.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Round-Up For April, 2024

Did you know the Locust IIC is over 40 points in Alpha Strike? The Fire Moth Prime is close to 30, and there’s even a Kit Fox that’s 40 points. My point is, it’s hard to find a cheap Clan ‘Mech to round out a 200-point Star. Even Elementals are around the same point value as a Succession Wars Stinger. The good news is that most Clan factions have a few random Spheroid ‘Mechs thrown into the Master Unit List, so if you see a Star of Timber Wolves with one random Hunchback, just know that there’s no big story behind that Hunchie—they just couldn’t afford another OmniMech.

The good news is I kinda dig the weird mix of Inner Sphere and Clan ‘Mechs you get in the current era. And with that small rant out of the way, onto the BattleTech news for April 2024.

Clan Spaniel Leads A Packed April Fools

Clan Spaniel Sourcebook

We had a bumper crop of April Fools Day content earlier this month, starting with the BattleTech: Clan Spaniel Sourcebook. Yes, the Clan propaganda piece first mentioned over a quarter-century ago in Warriors of Kerensky has evolved into… well, still an in-universe fictional Clan comprised of anthropomorphic animals who teach young Clanners the virtues of proper Clan etiquette, morals, and behavior. The latest sourcebook reveals how the in-universe show The Adventures Of Clan Spaniel evolved before and during the ilClan era, how the Inner Sphere reacted to Clan Spaniel broadcasts, and how modern Clanners are having their worldview shaped by these honorable yet furry creatures.

I guess we could say that Clanners aren’t really closeted furries anymore.

Hungry like the Wolf

The Clan Spaniel Sourcebook is available through Catalyst’s website for a steal at $3. It includes tons of lore, a full episode script, and several episode scenarios for you to live out your Clan Spaniel fantasies. Dibs on Ferdinan. If anybody out there is thinking about creating a new BattleTech Animated Series, it should definitely be about Clan Spaniel.

But Catalyst didn’t stop there. We were also treated to a new harlequin romance novel called Hungry Like the Wolf by Mykaelya Stakepoole featuring a very shirtless Alaric Ward. The April issue of Shrapnel also featured the recently-announced Urbie LAM on the cover and contained non-existent stories of the UrbanMech LAM’s exploits

Shrapnel Urbie LAM

And of course, it’s not all official April Fools jokes. BattleTech podcasts from around the Inner Sphere all joined forces with writer Jason Hansa to announce a series of entirely contradictory plot points for the upcoming non-sequel Farther Country. This one was more of a slow-burn joke that I didn’t quite hit until I’d actually listened to several podcasts (and also had someone kindly explain it to me). Kudos to BungleTech, BigRed, Mercenary Star, Of ‘Mechs and Men, On the Origins of BattleMechs, The Periphery Podcast Corporation, The Valhalla Club, and WolfNet.

We also had a few great art pieces produced by RealMechIsLove, aka geergutz. Thanks to everyone for making this April Fools extra weird.

MekHQ & MegaMek Begins Story Arc Beta Test

MegaMek Story Arc Beta Test

Before there was Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH, there was MegaMek, a totally free adaptation of Classic BattleTech‘s turn-based rules. I don’t talk about MegaMek nearly as often as I should (partially because it’s been around almost longer than I have), but it’s been continually updated for years with new and better features. And soon, you’ll be able to add a branching story to your MegaMek campaigns.

For those who aren’t aware, MegaMek isn’t the only program you can download to play a digital version of tabletop BattleTech. MegaMek handles the battles you’d normally keep track of with pen and paper, while MekHQ handles unit-based logistics such as personnel, salvage, and repairs, while also allowing you to create missions and manage campaigns. There’s also MegaMekLab that lets you create custom ‘Mechs, and MekWars to help you matchmake games against other players. The team behind MegaMek has just announced Story Arcs, which allows you to create branching stories associated with your campaigns in MegaMek.

For now, Story Arcs is just a beta with a single campaign revolving around “a Trinary of young Wolf warriors eager to write their own line in the Remembrance through glory and sacrifice.”  You can try Story Arcs by downloading the beta here, which also has links to submit feedback. Hopefully, this will lead to a fully functioning custom story creator that allows players to make campaigns that could include multiple mission chains depending on their actions.

MRC To Host MegaMek Tournament In May

BATTLETECH Clan Invasion tourny & mech review! The best mechs of the clan invasion era reviewed!
Watch this video on YouTube.

Speaking of MegaMek, the MRC is hosting a “semi-narrative event” that showcases the Great Refusal between the Clans and the Second Star League. Participants will be split into either the Clans or Star League, use era-appropriate gear, and then fight four rounds in a Swiss Pairings tournament system. Scores are tabulated after each match, and whichever faction has the most points wins.

MRC Icon

The fun part of this tournament will be bonus points for the side that adheres to Zellbrigen the longest. You get an additional five victory points if you force your opponent to break Zellbrigen first. The rules for this are outlined in the overall tournament rules document, but those familiar with the Clan way of combat won’t find anything too surprising. Players are encouraged to verbally spar before issuing their challenges during the weapon attack phase. Note that challenges may be refused if the challenging ‘Mech is of a different weight class and a more appropriate target is available (so no challenging a Fireball if you’re a Dire Wolf and there’s an Atlas two hexes away). 

Players will need to submit their 9,000 BV lists to the MRC email address by midnight on May 3, 2024. The first round begins on May 6. Since this is supposed to be a battle of the best tech each faction had to offer, Clan factions can only take OmniMechs and battle armor, while the Star League is barred from taking introtech units. For more restrictions and the scoring system, check out the rules here or watch the video above.

Michael Ciaravella Becomes Catalyst Game Labs’ New Events Manager And Demo Team Coordinator

All hail the new Coordinator! Michael Ciaravella is now the commander-in-chief of the Catalyst Demo Team, which surely has accepted their new leader by signing an oath of fealty with a bloody thumbprint. Ciaravella is also the new Events Manager for Catalyst Game Labs, which probably comes as little surprise to anyone who’s seen a Catalyst livestream at a convention.

I can point you to Catalyst’s press release for proof that Ciaravella has the business knowledge to excel at the job. Still, the proof was already there in his incredible ability to be everywhere at once. Even if you’ve never met him during his nine years as a Special Agent on the Catalyst Demo Team, you’ve almost certainly read one of his books in either the BattleTech or Shadow Run universes.

Congrats to you, oh beneficent Coordinator! May the Dragon shine through your deeds. 

Bryan Young’s Without Question Gets Ad Ahead Of May Release

BattleTech Fiction: Without Question
Watch this video on YouTube.

I can’t remember the last time a BattleTech book got an ad, but I guess that’s just how important Without Question is! Or it will be when it releases on May 15. 

The sequel to A Question Of Survival (which you can get in the recent Humble Bundle—more on that later), Without Question tells the tale of poor Jiyi Chistu, Khan of a beleaguered Clan Jade Falcon beset on all sides. Clan Hell’s Horses have finally come to Sudeten to take the Jade Falcon capital, leaving Jiyi in a desperate situation. He not only has to fend off the Horses, but he also has to maintain a supply line with the rest of the Jade Falcons on Terra—or what’s left of them after their disastrous fight against the Wolves.

We know Jiyi will be doing some fighting since his Gyrfalcon is on the cover. Will he successfully defend Sudeten, or will the Falcons finally be crushed forever? Find out May 15.

Learn To Play BattleTech: Encounters With Battle Born’s Handy Video

Let's Play Battletech Encounters! Learn-to-Play | TUTORIAL | REVIEW #battletech
Watch this video on YouTube.

With all the hubbub last month surrounding BattleTech: Encounters, you may have asked yourself just what the heck is BattleTech: Encounters and how does one even play this new tabletop game? To answer these questions, Battle Bound has created this instructional video set to one of my favorite tunes from MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries.

The video is roughly 25 minutes long, so you’ll want to watch it for the full explanation. My quick summary: you play as one of the big-name mercenary units pulling contracts for the Great Houses. Your goal is to gain 10 Reputation Points by completing contracts, using salvaged and purchased equipment to improve your battlefield performance.  You’ll face opposing House forces, fellow mercenaries, and even Clanners during each contract, rolling dice to determine your success or failure.

It looks like the general idea is to take easy-to-complete contracts early on, gaining C-bills over Reputation to start. But once you’ve been able to purchase enough equipment to up your firepower, you can take on more difficult contracts that offer Reputation rewards in addition to C-bills.  

You can play alone or with up to seven other players. You don’t fight other players directly, but you can steal their contracts whenever they fail. The benefit to stealing contracts is knowing what you’ll be up against rather than having to deal with the random contests you’ll face when drawing new contracts yourself. For games that have more than one player, there’s also a fairness mechanic that provides the player with the fewest C-bills a guaranteed income for their turn, while the leading player is forced to accept the hardest contracts that could leave them destitute.

Once you get your groove, it doesn’t seem like BattleTech: Encounters is a particularly hard game to play, and the fact that it’s just cards and dice keeps this tabletop game’s footprint down to a minimum. You can get BattleTech: Encounters at Barnes & Noble, but some of the Mercenaries Kickstarter backers will already get the game as part of your tier’s rewards, so be sure to check before you run off to your local mall.

Mercenaries Kickstarter Shipping Errors Being Corrected

Tuesday Newsday Episode 8
Watch this video on YouTube.

Around the end of last month, some of you might have been more than a little shocked after logging into your Mercenaries Kickstarter order to view the shipping fees. For more than a few of you, the shipping charges came out to be more than the total value of the items you ordered. 

CGL had mentioned they were going with a new shipping company than the one used during the Clan Invasion Kickstarter to avoid some issues, but it seemed like the swap created an even larger issue. Thankfully, CGL was quick to get ahead of the problem and promised to talk to QML (the new shipping company) to correct these shipping invoices.

We’ve received regular updates since then and a promise earlier in the month that nearly everyone’s shipping invoice will be under $150 once the review has been completed, but it looks like this is a process that’ll take a bit of time. Seeing as how this will save us all money (and some of us a lot of money), I’m not going to suggest rushing things. Still waiting to hear the final verdict, and fingers crossed we’ll still receive the Mercs Kickstarter in June as planned.

MechWarrior 5: Clans Reveals Demo At GDC

MechWarrior 5: Clans GDC Demo Trailer
Watch this video on YouTube.

At the end of March, some lucky individuals got to see MechWarrior 5: Clans in action over at GDC. The rest of us didn’t get to see the demo right away, but after a few tense weeks, PGI gave us a peek at what they’ve been working on. And boy oh boy, we’ve got a lot to discuss.

The big deal here is seeing actual MechWarrior 5: Clans gameplay for the very first time. It’s confirmed that you’ll command a full Star of Clan ‘Mechs, with five characters from the same sibko taking part in Operation: REVIVAL. The trailer and demo reveal the opening stages of the operation with fights against pirate kingdoms in the deep periphery. Naturally, the player’s Clan Smoke Jaguar Star easily annihilates all opposition. 

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries only granted the most basic control over your Lancemates, but MechWarrior 5: Clans gives you a top-down overlay to command your Starmates, allowing you to issue more nuanced commands. You can even queue commands for friendlies and tell them to perform specific tasks in a specific order, like going to a specific location to destroy an enemy building before heading to a second location to defend it from enemy ‘Mechs.

The UI is updated to be cleaner and a little less cluttered, there’s a new scan mechanic that harkens back to the Enhanced Imaging system from the BattleTech Animated Series, and best of all, there are fully animated character portraits with great voice acting and mocap. This really looks like a game that’s going all out on the story.

I spotted the Koshi, Viper, Hankyu, Blackjack, Locust, Kit Fox, Spider, Flea, Shadow Hawk, Cicada, and Centurion in the demo, confirming that we’ll be fighting Inner Sphere ‘Mechs with Smoke Jaguar machines you’ll have seen in MechWarrior Online. There don’t appear to be rules for Zellbrigen, which is a shame, and it’s still unclear how the player will progress from piloting a Shadow Cat to something more substantial. My hope is that you’ll have to pass Trials of Possession to acquire new ‘Mechs, but I’m still waiting on answers along with everyone else.

For more, No Guts No Galaxy provides a great review of the demo and story trailer, and IGN has an article available to peruse. Still no release date yet, but PGI has promised we’ll see MechWarrior 5: Clans sometime later this year.

Trains Are Still A Highly Efficient Method Of Timber Wolf Transportation

My Timberwolf
byu/Due-Essay9897 inbattletech

I don’t normally care to showcase a Timber Wolf since I think it’s already a poster child for the franchise, but this was just too good to pass up. This hand-painted piece is based on a diorama that apparently confirms the existence of railroad tracks in the far future. Even a thousand years from now, trains are still the most efficient form of mass transportation. With kind regards to Due-Essay9897, a lover of Timber Wolves and trains.

I Just Like Assassins, Okay?

Long deployments in the lawless periphery are enough to keep any MechWarrior on edge
byu/Rabbit_Food_HCE inMechwarrior5

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: I like Assassins. They just look cool, okay? They’re not actually good or effective, and they’re certainly no better at killing light ‘Mechs than other light ‘Mechs, but there’s a certain vibe to the Assassin that’s hard to overlook. I think Senerae captures that vibe perfectly.

Catalyst Gathers For First AMA Of 2024 On Official Subreddit

Hermit Crab

This month, fans got to ask nearly everyone at Catalyst Game Labs whatever questions they wanted. We had Line Developer Ray Arrastia and Assistant Line Developer Aaron Cahall, developers Joshua Perian, Joshua Franklin, and Eric Salzman, as well as authors Bryan Young, Craig Reed, Jason Hansa, and Stephen Toropov all in a single thread fielding hundreds of questions

Now, you could read the whole AMA to glean what information you could, or you could just read my quick summary of the event below:

  • Hermit Crab model requested, many ilClan-era ‘Mechs that are likely to come first. However, all things lead to Crab eventually.
  • Fox Patrol swag? Maybe
  • More audio books from ilClan and older eras coming
  • No Alpha Strike version of AeroTech, even though Joshua Franklin loves the idea
  • Working on an ” easy introductory Classic format or mission packet outside of the campaign books”, possible updates to Classic rules
  • Chance to see IndustrialMechs
  • Will see more “era” ForcePacks, but unlikely to see more era Kickstarters
  • Likely to see “a new edition of A Time of War/A new Battletech RPG”
  • No baseless minis on the horizon
  • House Arano/Aurigan Reach fell apart before the Fourth Succession War but might reappear somehow in the ilClan era.
  • Looking into more optional ‘Mech parts, possibly as separate products
  • New paint schemes for ilClan-era Jade Falcons and reformed Smoke Jaguars 

There’s of course more, but you’ll have to sift through a lot of comments yourself.

Bryan Young Fox Patrol AMA Confirms New Book Is On The way

The BattleTech: Lone Wolf and Fox serial novel is now complete, I’m the author – AMA
byu/swankmotron inbattletech

In addition to the larger Catalyst AMA, Bryan Young did his own AMA to celebrate the release of the Shrapnel #16 and the thrilling conclusion to the Lone Wolf and Fox serial novel. And as before, I have a summary of important responses:

  • Another Fox Patrol story is in the works! 
  • Creamy peanut butter, not chunky
  • Katie is ace, Evan inherited his Locust from his aunt who won it in a card game, and Arkee took catechism classes (which he didn’t enjoy) so he and Evan could get married at St. Michaels
  • Bryan can draw a dragon, but not well

We’re Here To Discuss Your BattleMech’s Extended Warranty

Critical Elements
byu/ThePBG48 inbattletech

 

You never really think about your ‘Mech’s extended warranty until an Elemental is shattering your cockpit glass and sticking a battle claw through your chest. Zoom in on the pistol for a surprise. Kudos to Zaku for this piece.

Humble Bundle Gives $900-worth of Fiction For Thirty Bucks

Or forty bucks if you’re Canadian. Anyway, doesn’t matter what currency you’re using, because this is by far the best deal you’ll ever get for a DropShip-load of fiction. I’m not even going to bother listing the novels because I’d be here all day. Let’s just say it’s everything published since 2003 or so. That’s 71 items, including a bundle of classic BattleTech books that you can eliminate if you’ve already read them a dozen times. That brings it down to about $25 CAD, which is under twenty bucks in USD (I think). 

This deal is only available until May 1, so don’t wait! Buy it now!

Bruce Jensen Shares Unreleased BattleTech Covers

Freebirth Cover Bruce Jensen

Threads of Ambition Bruce Jensen Cover

Emil and I recently spoke about his work preserving BattleTech art, and he pointed me to two recent posts from Bruce Jensen, the cover artist for both Threads of Ambition and Freebirth. And now that he’s completed scanning these incredible pieces, we’ll be able to enjoy these covers in perpetuity. Or at least for as long as the internet lasts. 

Virtual World Pods Hosting Open House Next Month In Kalamazoo

Come play VWE BattleTech VR Sim Pods for FREE in Kalamazoo, MI Apr 27 and May 18th at our Open Pod Nights compliments of our Patreon backers and Catalyst Game Labs. Will also have tabletop BattleTech on site as well. DM or post for more info.
byu/VWE_PropWash inbattletech

It’s been a minute since I discussed Virtual World Entertainment and they’re incredible BattleTech: Firestorm pods. I remember checking one of these pods out as a kid, and I’d love to give ’em a try again sometime. Sadly, I’m in Canada, but if you live anywhere near Kalamazoo, Michigan, you should check out the Virtual World open night to be hosted on May 18. Details are in the Facebook post here. Besides having free use of the pods, there will be tabletop BattleTech being played if you get motion sickness from such an immersive system.

Cockpit Guide Reveals Where The Glass Is On Your Favorite ‘Mechs

Canon Cockpit Guide Bishop Steiner

Us BattleTech veterans already know where the cockpit is on a Thunderbolt, Marauder, and Wraith, but there are a lot of newcomers to BattleTech these days who don’t necessarily know where to paint the glass on an Assassin. For those newcomers, Bishop Steiner has created the Canon Cockpit Compendium, now with Volume 2 covering the Essentials and Beginners Box Set, the Alpha Strike Box Set, and quite a few of the more popular ForcePacks.

If you know a Warhammer (the game, not the ‘Mech) convert who needs some help finding the ferroglass on their favorite ‘Mechs, send ‘em here for a free .pdf download

The Black Hawk-KU Arrives In MechWarrior Online’s Latest Patch

Black Hawk-KU MechWarrior Online

April brings a new patch for MechWarrior Online Legends, and this month we get yet another new ‘Mech! This time, it’s the Black Hawk-KU, the Kurita-built copy of the Clan Nova. This is the first Inner Sphere OmniMech to arrive in MechWarrior Online, giving the same pod-based bonuses as its Clan counterparts.

As expected, there’s a lot of visual similarity between the Nova and the Black Hawk-KU. In comparison, the Black Hawk-KU is a little taller, has slightly different cockpit geometry, and has more bits and pieces sticking out of the design. It’s also armed with Inner Sphere weapons and it’s 10 tons heavier than the Nova, which provides interesting new options for builds. 

Curiously, PGI didn’t release a full suite of variants for the Black Hawk-KU, but you do get two left-arm pods and one right-arm pod that will allow you to customize the standard BHKU-O to be more than just a medium laser boat. The Black Hawk-KU is available now for just $20 USD, with an expected release later for C-bills. 

There have also been a few adjustments made to weapons and ‘Mechs. Light Autocannons and ProtoMech Autocannons have been buffed, while Magshot and AP Gauss Rifles have been slightly nerfed to no longer have bonus critical hit chance over base values, but also buffed in that they’re now affected by the same quirks that benefit regular Gauss Rifles. Thunderbolt Missiles are now faster and more accurate but inflict less screen shake to the target. 

As for ‘Mechs, the Arctic Cheetah now has an additional 10 percent heat dissipation, the UrbanMech IIC now has 15 percent heat dissipation, and the Ice Ferret tree all have five percent more heat dissipation (except for the Prime, which has 10 percent). There are a few other ‘Mechs with slight tweaks and a huge list of ammo quirk adjustments, but you can read about them in the patch notes here.

And we also have a few tips for what’s to come! May will bring yet another new ‘Mech to MWO, while June will bring two more Legendary ‘Mechs. We don’t know what they are, but we’ll be sure to report back once we find out.

The Sentinel Stands Guard In MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Mod

My next mech mod is out: The Sentinel
byu/BoukObelisk inMechwarrior5

It’s not often I get to link back to two recent pieces here on Sarna, first my hit piece on the Sentinel, and second, my interview with Emil of The Art of BattleTech. Emil’s latest mod brings the Sentinel to MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries courtesy of a model made by SirMortimer Bombito. I’d say it’s definitely a different take on the Sentinel with its far-chunkier build, but you still have the rounded cockpit, the Ultra Autocannon in the left arm, and a generally menacing attitude. 

You can grab the Sentinel over on Nexus Mods or MechWarrior 5‘s Steam Workshop. Emil has also given us the classic Warhammer mod, which makes the in-game Warhammer look more like Robotech‘s Tomahawk. If that’s an aesthetic you’d jive with, then grab the mod in the usual locations.

Boston Dynamics New Atlas III Robot Is Terrifying

Boston Dynamics, everyone’s favorite bot factory, has created its third iteration of the Atlas robot. Unlike previous robots, Atlas III isn’t just trying to mimic human movements, as you can see in the way it erects itself from a prone position. Nearly every joint now offers 360 degrees of movement, allowing it to perform actions that one might previously have associated with demons in a Japanese horror film.

Still, this is progress. Horrible, terrifying progress, but progress nonetheless. 

You Can Buy This Laser & Flamer-equipped Robot For Under $10,000

https://twitter.com/throwflame/status/1781390190637941007

I originally saw this a few weeks ago and thought it was a gasoline-powered version of Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot. Turns out, it’s actually a much cheaper four-legged robot equipped with a flamethrower and a laser sight. Because you can’t be too accurate with a flamethrower.

Best of all, you can get this robot for just $9,420.00 anywhere in the continental US (where—for now—it’s still legal to own a robot with a flamethrower). I suspect this year’s wildfire season will be apocalyptic.

Lo-Fi Thors To Chill Out And Relax To

Lo-Fi Thor – This one even shoots!
byu/hzzzln inmechwarrior

For the past month, hzzzln on Reddit has been using Blockbench to create low-fi versions of their favorite ‘Mechs. It all started with the Hellspawn, then it escalated to the Thor, and most recently, the Fire Moth. I love them all and wonder if perhaps this is the first step to a MechWarrior 2 remake. Thank you, hzzzln.  

Battle Bound Reminds Us Of The Toons That Made BattleTech

The 'Toons That Made 'Tech - CRUSHER JOE | A Short #battletech #retrospective
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In case you’re new to the BattleTech franchise, it wasn’t always the case that we had beautiful Shadow Hawks, Griffins, Warhammers, Riflemen, and Marauders running around. For a long time, these ‘Mechs were considered Unseen due to a lengthy court battle with the IP holding company that claimed ownership over these designs. That’s because those five ‘Mechs (and several more) were actually derived from designs taken from Japanese mecha animes from the 1980s. 

It’s a long story that’s better reviewed in Sarna’s wiki entry. The good news is that the bad guys lost (in no small part due to the legal battle waged by MechWarrior 5 developer PGI), and now we get to play with all these great ‘Mech designs that have since evolved well beyond their anime origins.

But just because the new ‘Mechs are better doesn’t mean the old ‘Mechs were bad, or that the shows they come from aren’t worth a watch. Battle Bound once again comes up in this news blast to give modern BattleTech fans a taste of what it was like to watch these ‘Mechs in the 1980s with a retrospective look at Fang of the Sun Dougram and Crusher Joe. If you’re looking for where BattleTech got not only its giant robots but also its star-spanning universe and its love of mercenaries, you need look no further than these two shows. 

Battle Bound plans for these retrospectives to be a series, so I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Robotech and Macross featured in the not-too-distant future.

Get To Know Sarna Senior Editor Deadfire In New Interview

Roll with Rem Alternis w/ Guest Shaun Cochrane || Shadowrun: Emerald Glitch "Where's the Rain?"
Watch this video on YouTube.

And to end things for the month, Catalyst Community Manager Rem Alternis interviewed Sarna’s very own Senior Editor, Deadfire! He does a lot of stuff here behind the scenes, including templates, automation, and other technical stuff that goes beyond my beginner-level understanding of HTML and C++. The interview was broadcast live on Twitch via GenConTV just before Rem continued her ongoing Shadowrun campaign, and can now be viewed in full on YouTube.

Turns out, Sarna has a diverse group of people helping to keep the greatest BattleTech resource on the internet running! And we’re not just all about BattleTech. Deadfire, for example, plays a lot of Magic: The Gathering, plays a bunch of shooters (Managed Democracy salutes you!), and also came into BattleTech through the MechWarrior: Dark Age clicks game! Okay, so I still circled back to BattleTech, but I don’t see a lot of folks who hold Dark Age in such high esteem, and I think that’s laudable.

Deadfire puts a lot of effort into the wiki and his journey to becoming a senior editor is full of hard work and good ideas. It’s a fascinating talk that once more pulls back the curtain to Sarna, and also how we’re always looking for folks to contribute towards Sarna’s improvement. I encourage you all to give the first 45 minutes of the above video a look-see

That does it for April! Join us next time as the BattleTech universe continues to expand.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy