Category Archives: Art

Your BattleTech News Round-Up For February, 2024

Normally this is when Southern Ontario enters its deep freeze, with heaps of snow up to my shoulders where the removal services can’t get to fast enough. But this year, it’s been relatively snow-free. In fact, we’ve had more above-freezing days this month than any other February on record. Yesterday it was 16 degrees C (or about 61 degrees F). It then dropped to -6 over five hours, which was about as weird. It was almost like the weather remembered what month it was.

I won’t have to wait long for the warm weather to return. Spring has sprung early where I live, with positive temperatures expected for the next two weeks at least. Given how sick I’ve been this winter, it can’t come soon enough.

But you’re not here for the weather report. You’re here for BattleTech news, and this month we’ve got a whole lot of it. Here’s everything that happened in the Inner Sphere this February.

Wolves Wave 3 Announces Ragnarok Returns In MechAssault Fan Game

Wolves Wave 3 (MechAssault Fangame) - The Assault Continues
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We start with a little love for MechAssault. Wolves, the MechAssault fan game, has been steadily working on its Wave 3 update. We already knew the Puma, Uziel, and Mad Cat would be coming in this update, but now we know the big bad of the game will also return. Prepare for Ragnarok.

Wolves Wave 3 Ragnarok

the Ragnarok (and its variant, the Ymir) aren’t specced out in official BattleTech terms, and that’s largely because they have an energy shield and a “Lava Gun.” Why the Word of Blake thought lava would somehow be more destructive than highly-excited ionic particles or a hypersonic slug I will never understand, but I do get why a forcefield might be difficult to write stats for using classic BattleTech rules.

Still, fans of the MechAssault games love the Ragnarok as much as BattleTech faithful love the Daishi or Atlas—it’s just a huge wrecking ball. And it’s coming in Woves Wave 3. It’s also coming to MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, according to a follow-up teaser that arrived the day after the Wave 3 trailer.

You can expect to experience Wolves Wave 3 and the Ragnarok soon(TM).

BATTLETECH Director Mike McCain Returns To Hairbrained Schemes As Executive Producer

Good news for HBS after a ton of bad. Mike McCain, game director for Shadowrun: Dragonfall and BATTLETECH, is back and taking over Mitch Gitelman‘s old job as Executive Producer (while Mitch takes a break and moves into an advisory role for the studio). 

“I’m thrilled to be back in the virtual office with this amazing team,” said Mike. “There will be plenty of challenges, but the creative momentum we have around this new project right now is exhilarating. We’re a small crew making something we really believe in and I can’t wait to share it!”

Mike did an incredible job adapting the tabletop BattleTech game into a turn-based video game that any fan will would love while still attracting fans of turn-based strategy games. The game started with an incredible narrative-driven campaign and later received DLC that improved the game’s galaxy-spanning sandbox into one where the player could create their own story.

The only downside to the news is yet further confirmation from Mitch that HBS hasn’t been given the license to make BATTLETECH 2. HBS has something in store, but it doesn’t sound like we’re going to get the sequel we all desperately want. A wild thing, considering BATTLETECH‘s success, but what can you do? These are wild economic times for the video games industry. We wish Mike and HBS all the success in whatever they’re working on.

A Realistic Depiction Of Ballistic Arcs Courtesy Of A Dragon

Commandos on Styk
byu/agentlou44 inbattletech

You know what I like most about this piece? Wild-Cat 144 gave the Dragon‘s autocannon rounds a ballistic arc. You’d think that a cannon on a BattleMech would fire fast enough that it might as well be a laser, but the only explanation why BattleTech‘s cannons have such short ranges is that they have extremely low muzzle velocity, so they’d drop a significant distance between leaving the barrel and impact. Kudos to you, Wild-Cat 144. I love accurate physics.

CGL Community Manager Rem Alternis Answers Questions About Community Guidelines

Catalyst Game Labs - Rem Alternis interview
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Catalyst announced its community guidelines last month, and there was quite a reaction. Rem Alternis, community manager for Catalyst, has been kindly answering questions regarding the community guidelines, starting with YouTuber Critical Rocket

And I say kindly because a few people had some curiously harsh reactions to being told they couldn’t play in official Catalyst spaces if they didn’t agree to be respectful of another human’s race, religion, culture, gender, or sexual orientation. 

Expect Rem to have more words to say about the community guidelines in an upcoming interview with Sarna. In the meantime, I think Critical Rocket covered the basics, clarified some of the new rules, and noted that some previous bans might be overturned with a new appeals process. Thanks to Critical Rocket for being first in line!

Opinion: You Can’t Put The 3D-Printing Genie Back In The Bottle

Sarna Complaints Department

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

I think the online reaction to Catalyst’s new community guidelines was overblown, but there’s one thing I did agree with. Simply barring 3D-printed stuff from being shared on official CGL channels isn’t going to stop its proliferation. There’s just no putting the technological genie back in the bottle.

Don’t get me wrong, I think CGL offers a superior product. I have both unofficial 3D-printed minis and official ones, and the CGL minis are consistently tougher, more detailed, and scaled correctly so you don’t have to worry about your Tempest accidentally being taller than an AtlasGiven a choice between a 3D-printed mini and an official one, you should always pick the official CGL mini.

But at the same time, some people just can’t get official minis. They’re either not sold everywhere, or shipping is impossible, or pewter is too expensive, and 3D printing provides a reasonable alternative to play the game. On top of that, CGL hasn’t redesigned every ‘Mech (although they’re working on it), and there are a lot of talented 3D modelers out there who are practicing their craft.

In keeping with Catalyst’s guidelines, Sarna won’t distribute mini models or tell you where to go to get them, but I do think trying to ignore them is short-sighted. 3D models could be an additional source of revenue for Catalyst. Perhaps not every ‘Mech is popular enough to deserve being manufactured in plastic and put into a ForcePack, but they’re popular enough to be redesigned in the same manner as the current generation of minis and then sold as a 3D-printable file. 

Hopefully, Catalyst’s stance (which is directed by the copyright holder, Topps, so it’s really Topps’ stance) will change in the future, especially as 3D printing technology continues to improve. If you’ve got a constructive opinion, leave it in the comments (and remember to be respectful). 

BattleTech Universe Book Reviewed By Guerilla Miniature Games

GMG Reviews - Battletech UNIVERSE by Catalyst Game Labs
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For most of us, the BattleTech Universe isn’t going to be available until later this year, but a few people have received the upcoming book a little early. One of those people is Guerilla Miniature Games

We don’t get to see much of the Universe book besides the cover and the opening insert, but from what GMG describes, it sounds like this new Universe book is going to be required reading for any new BattleTech player. The rest of us might not find it quite as compelling as something like ilKhan’s Eyes Only, but Ray and Aaron have promised me that Universe will be a big deal and will have plenty for veterans too.

Catalyst Launches New Discord, Double-Sized Shrapnel Celebrates Mercs, and Previews Shared Online

Mercenaries Update
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We got a load of Catalyst materials to get through, starting with the double-sized Shrapnel issue that was released earlier this month. Shrapnel Volume 15 is twice the Shrapnel you’re used to but only priced at a dollar more. Inside you’ll find tales from your favorite BattleTech authors, including Michael Stackpole, Bryan Young, and Chris Purnell, as well as newcomer Robin Briseño. On top of that value, it’s also focused on everyone’s favorite BattleTech faction: mercenaries. Grab it in digital or print-on-demand formats

Craig A Reed Blood Rage

On the book front, Herbert A. Beas’s Forgotten Worlds trilogy is now available with a new title: BattleTech: The Quest for Jardine. And for those who didn’t back the Mercenaries Kickstarter, Craig A. Lee’s Blood Rage is now available for individual purchase either on Catalyst’s store or Amazon. 

Those who were concerned with hearing about the pre-painted minis that’ll be coming in the Star League ForcePacks can (probably) rest easy. A post to the official BattleTech forums has revealed Aleksandr Kerensky‘s Orion looks pretty good. Sure, some of you folks might be able to do a better job painting an Orion, but I think this looks like a perfectly acceptable mini. I’m also told that it shouldn’t be hard to strip the paint off this thing if you don’t like it, although it’d probably be easier to just get a fresh Orion mini. 

Another surprise for Mercenaries Kickstarter backers is the Savannah Master hover tank. These speed bastards have been the bane of many a tabletop experience, and now we know what they’ll look like when they arrive later in June when Catalyst starts fulfilling orders. That’s thanks to Randall being unable to stop himself from sharing on YouTube.

Last, but not least: Catalyst has a Discord now! Wanna chat with like-minded individuals? Get the latest announcements as they happen? Share details on your preferred paint methods? You can do all this and more on the Catalyst Discord here.

Kelly Bonilla, Lead Designer For MechWarrior: Dark Age, Has Passed Away

Some sad news took place late last month but didn’t reach my ears until February. Kelly Bonilla, the lead designer for Wizkids’ MechWarrior: Dark Age, has died. 

Kelly Bonilla MechWarrior

MechWarrior: Dark Age was never the most popular BattleTech product, but I liked it. For a while in my first year of university, it was my collective obsession. The idea of getting smaller armies, pre-painted, that looked good and had simplified rules so you could fight little battles out using everything on your kitchen table held a lot of appeal. And just having play stats tracked using the circular base was genius. 

Of course, MechWarrior: Dark Age wasn’t perfect. While I liked the tanks, I didn’t like how the setting seemed to emphasize these lesser units over real ‘Mechs. And while the setting was interesting, it was a jarring mess from the Civil War and Jihad eras that didn’t get untangled until years later. 

But Kelly wasn’t involved in the story writing. She was the playtester and designer. She just cared if the game was fun, and in that, she succeeded admirably. We’re sorry to see you go, Kelly.

TheB33F Is Back!

The Longtom Artillery Incident
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Holy shit, TheB33F is back! He actually announced his return in December and posted his first video last month, but I hadn’t been paying attention since his long hiatus. But he’s back and better than ever! 

For those unaware, TheB33F is the MechWarrior Online streamer who does things… differently. His builds and strategies are typically aimed more toward having fun than following the current meta. His latest videos are still that, but he’s also making more tutorial-style videos that try to teach some basic tactics and ‘Mech builds (like the Centurion video he recently posted).

While his old videos were wildly amusing, his latest videos add some footage taken from MechWarrior 5 as well as animations taken from Tabletop Simulator. It makes for a far more cohesive and elevated experience, which I very much appreciate, and maybe you will too. Check out the video above, and if you like his material, be sure to subscribe to TheB33F’s channel here

And I almost forgot! TheB33F is also contributing to the future of MechWarrior Online by designing events. Look for those in the event queue in the coming weeks.

Brawl In The Bluegrass Tournament Coming To Kentucky In April

MRC Icon

In the Lexington area for the April 12 weekend? The Rusy Scabbard will host a Classic BattleTech tournament called “Brawl in the Bluegrass.” Entry is 25$ for this MRC-compliant event, with each player required to submit an 8,000-point Battle Value list with a maximum of six units. All units must be from a single faction during the Clan Invasion era as per the Master Unit List, and only ‘Mechs, battle armor, and combat vehicles. No artillery, no unique or extinct units, and no C3 or specialized armor types (although missile and autocannon ammo types are allowed). 

Sign-ups are allowed until April 11, but you might want to ensure your place sooner rather than later as no store has infinite seating capacity. You can get the full details on sign-ups from this document here, as well as the full list of rules. Any other questions should be directed to the MechCommander Review Circuit in this Discord channel

Have an event you want to be advertised in Sarna? Reach out and we’ll get you included in the next news blast.

Big Red-40Tech’s Warhammer IIC Video Is Out, And It’s A Doozy

BATTLETECH: The Warhammer IIC
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I kinda always thought that the Warhammer IIC was just this Clan-wide design that everyone made and everyone fielded. And indeed, you’ll find it in pretty much every Clan touman, according to the Master Unit List. Little did I know that the ‘Mech actually got started in Clan Star Adder. And I wouldn’t have known that had Big Red-40Tech not decided to create a four-hour YouTube video on the subject.

Yes, that’s a lot of lore for a single ‘Mech, and that’s largely because Big Red goes into the entire history of Clan Star Adder from Exodus to Reaving. Then we get into the Diamond Sharks/Sea Foxes as they distributed the ‘Mech so thoroughly amongst the other Clans that it became a common site in second-line forces everywhere. And then into the ilClan era where the Warhammer IIC can now be seen among Inner Sphere and mercenary forces too.

I can’t disparage the ‘Mech, that’s for sure. There’s nothing a Warhammer IIC can’t do aside from jump and run fast enough to keep pace with an Ice Ferret. It’s better than the original Warhammer in every way, and I know how beloved that old warhorse is. 

Check out the video above if you want the deepest dive into a single ‘Mech you’ll ever see, with special guests Tex, Frog, Sven, TheB33F, Paul, and Rem offering their voices too.  

Duncan Fisher Returns In MechWarrior 5’s Sixth DLC: Solaris Showdown

I am Duncan Fisher
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Yes, he’s back. Duncan Fisher, the renowned Solaris announcer from MechWarrior 4, is returning in MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries – Solaris Showdown.

There’s still time for a Clan Invasion-themed DLC, but for now, we’re getting a story that revolves around Duncan Fisher and a mysterious plot centering around the game world of Solaris 7. According to PGI’s release, the DLC mini-campaign will start on the Mercenary Star of Galatea before moving to the planet Hardcore where Mason will bump into Duncan Fisher. The pair form an unlikely alliance as they fight to get into the FedCom Unification Tournament celebrating the recent alliance between the Federated Suns and Lyran Commonwealth.

It’s not clear why or what happens, but there seems to be some political intrigue going on that only a good ‘Mech stomping can fix. Best of all, we’ll have George Ledoux’s sultry tones guiding us the whole way. 

In addition to saving Solaris, the upcoming DLC brings a new ‘Mech: the Loader King. Fans of the Roughneck from MechWarrior Online will recognize this design immediately, but even if you haven’t played the PvP game, you might’ve noticed the Loader King as the same stationary IndustrialMech that you’ll sometimes see on urban maps or standing in enemy installations.

The Loader King will come with one Hero variant and five standard variants. We’re also getting new “arena” variants of the Corsair, Vulcan, Hunchback, Crusader, Cataphract, Orion, Zeus, Firestarter, UrbanMech, and Highlander. Expect them to come with superchargers and melee-focused weaponry.

Speaking of weapons, we’re getting a bunch of those too. New Burst-Fire variants of the Rifle series, Rapid-Fire variants of Autocannons, the Binary Laser, PPC-X (whatever that is), Medium Lance, Heavy Hammer, and Assault Greatsword. We’re also getting the Arena Supercharger, Black Market Countermeasures, and Black Market Probe. Not sure if those will be worse or better than their Star League counterparts.

While the DLC will certainly bring arena-style combat, it’s not just going to take place on Solaris 7. Arenas will appear in industrial areas throughout the Inner Sphere, which the player will progress through by accruing fame with each successful match. The more matches you win, the more variants of Arenas unlock, ranging from 1v1 matches to free-for-alls limited by ‘Mech class. There will also be optional objectives, open categories where anything goes, and more. Rewards will start at C-bills but eventually progress to “prized equipment.”

And as is ever the case with these DLC releases, everyone can expect to receive a free update with new features. This time we’re getting the new “heavy turret” as a potential spawn which has more hitpoints and hits harder than standard turrets. Otomo ‘Mechs will soon show up on the market as rare spawns, a new “repair all” option makes repairing post-mission easier, and enemy ‘Mechs will occasionally spawn with slightly different weapons than their base loadout. 

Solaris Showdown arrives on March 14 for $14.99. You can wishlist the DLC now to be informed as soon as it becomes available.

MechWarrior Online Gets Two New Legendary ‘Mechs As Talk Begins On A New PvP Game

MechWarrior Online Reaper II

Another month brings another patch for MechWarrior Online Legends and two new Legendary ‘Mechs. The first is WarhawkKasai,” which brings the game’s first supercharged chassis. The Supercharger is a locked piece of equipment and won’t be made available for other ‘Mechs (yet). It’s also lighter than MASC (usually) but doesn’t provide the same explosive speed. It only increases the ‘Mech’s maximum potential velocity and provides no boost to acceleration or turning speed.

Other than the Supercharger, the Kasai comes with three ATM-6s, two Large Pulse Lasers, and two ER Mediums. Missile velocity quirks make those ATMs a bit more deadly, and improved structure quirks give the Kasai a bit more staying power.

The Black KnightRed Reaper II” continues MechWarrior Online‘s tradition of having swords just for show. The heavy shield the Red Reaper II comes with, though, is a MASSIVE boost to the ‘Mech’s right arm armor. Two Snub PPCs, four SRM-6s, and five Small Lasers make this ‘Mech a deadly brawler, especially when you consider the shield you’ll have to chew through to start damaging this monster. Additional armor quirks for the rest of the ‘Mech make it extremely durable.

Other than the new ‘Mechs, the Cauldron has reduced the heat produced by Rotary Autocannons and Hyper Gauss Rifles, reverted the firing arc changes to LRMs from January’s patch, and given the Executioner a full quirk pass. For the full list of changes, check out the patch notes here.

And before we move on, it seems there are rumblings about a new PvP game coming out of PGI. Community manager Daeron commented in Discord that “internal discussions and planning for the next PvP MechWarrior game” are underway. No details on what this might look like or whether it’d be a stand-alone product or attached to the upcoming MechWarrior 5: Clans, but I’d put money on this being an Unreal Engine-powered game.

Raw, Sexual Charger

Next verse same as the first now in color.
byu/meltdonw14 inbattletech

I admit, I may have been too harsh on the Charger. The CGR-1A1 can jump in a lake, but the new Charger C is 80 tons of raw sexual energy—the exact same energy I’m getting from meltdonw14‘s piece here. This could be the cover of a Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure mecha manga.

MechWarrior Living Legends Update 0.16.2 Brings Fancy New Cockpits And Other QOL Improvements

MechWarrior Living Legends Timber Wolf Camos

Been a while since we talked about MechWarrior: Living Legends, the Battlefield-inspired MechWarrior game that’s entirely free-to-play because it is entirely community-supported. The latest patch arrived earlier this month and brought a slew of changes, including updated visuals for 28 ‘Mechs, AeroSpace fighters, and VTOLs, three new camo options, and the usual assortment of bug fixes. Thunderbolt missiles now have a slightly faster fire rate and the Warhawk model has been shrunken down ever so slightly. 

There’s more, but you can read about ’em over on MechWarrior: Living Legends ModDB page, which is coincidentally also where you can download this amazingly free standalone game.

Focht News Network Is Heading To Toronto Comicon

Focht Network Toronto Comicon 2024

If you’re in the Toronto area on the weekend of March 15, Comicon will be hosted at the Metro Toronto Convention Center, which is sure to be a good time. That’s because Focht News Network is putting on a BattleTech showcase, offering Alpha Strike previews to any passersby. I’m also told that Ronda Snord and a certain special Highlander might also make an appearance.

Of course, there’s going to be plenty of other stuff going on at Comicon, but BattleTech fans can certainly hang out and spread the good word of giant stompy robots. If you’re interested in local fans, head to the Focht Network Discord for more updates on local events.

A Halo Of Missiles

My brother surprised me with a commissioned Battletech x Halo crossover piece for my birthday
byu/odysseus91 inbattletech

Halo is cool and all, but I think we all know who’s going to win this battle of the brands. Not just because BattleTech is cooler, but Halo just isn’t quite as destructive as 75 tons of large lasers and way too many missiles. Unless Halo releases the Flood, but even then, I give us even odds. Kudos to tychorionDraws on Twitter for this piece.

Warframe, However, Has Too Much Space Magic

Since the Halo crossover pic was already posted here, thought I’d share the other Warframe x Battletech crossover I bought too. Credit to tychorionDraws, both pics were worth every penny!
byu/TrashCan_With_A_Gun inbattletech

I do love a good crossover, but as much as I love BattleTech, there’s not much you can do in a Crusader or Timber Wolf if you’re trying to fight cosmic forces beyond the knowledge of mere mortals. I’m not sure if there are enough LRMs in the entire Inner Sphere to bring down The Man In The Wall. More kudos to tychorionDraws, and to odysseus91 on Reddit for sharing. 

The Naga Hits MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Like An Arrow IV

I know the Longbow is still a recent addition, but you know what they say about artillery: when it rains, it pours. The Naga is the little-known Clan artillery ‘Mech specializing in delivering Arrow IV warheads to foreheads. I know Arrow IVs aren’t available in MechWarrior 5, so I assume those arms just contain large missile slots. Just throw an Artemis on your LRM-20 and it’s most of the way to an Arrow IV. 

You can get this mod on Nexus Mods or directly through the Steam Workshop.

And that’s it for February! Now I’m off to prepare my MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries company for Solaris Showdown. See you next month!

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Bad ‘Mechs – Thunder Fox

Bad 'Mechs - Thunder Fox

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

“All I’m saying is, if the WOBbies are gone and the good times are here, why are we retooling a ‘Mech factory in the ass-end of Moscow?” 

Undago sighed, once again reminding his comrade that peace was never sustained without force of arms. “And besides, you still want a paycheck, right?” 

“Hah, you got that right,” Milia replied with a snort. “And it’s in this new ‘Republic of the Sphere’ script too. They haven’t even got a design figured out yet.” 

“It’s just numbers in a ledger on some server anyway,” Undago said. “I hear they’ll call be calling it the ‘Stone’ thanks to our fearless leader.” 

“Great. ‘I’ll give you two Stones for a hot dog,'” Milia seemed to ruminate on the sentence for several moments. “I can’t tell if that’s an offer or a threat.” 

Now it was Undago’s time to snort with derision. “Maybe that is the point.” 

The two silently returned to their task configuring the massive robotic arms that would soon have Skobel MechWorks churning out new ‘Mechs for the Republic Armed Forces. The facility itself was ancient, dating back to the original Star League where it would produce the Mercury and Jackrabbit for the SLDF. Then it had been Excaliburs for ComStar, then the Legacy and Omega for the Word of Blake. 

The Word. Undago stared at the screen as he involuntarily recalled the occupation, the camps, the re-education treatments, being forced to work day in and day out repairing WOB ‘Mechs as they fought tooth and nail against Stone’s coalition. He remembered the Word of Blake ‘Mechs that held both his and every other engineers’ families hostage. And the night that ‘Mechs turned their weapons on—

“Hey, you alright?” 

Undago snapped back to reality. “Yeah, yeah, sorry. Just… remembering.” 

Milia nodded but said nothing. She’d had to drag Undago out from dark memories more than once. She was usually successful, each time offering her silent support. Undago was silently grateful each time. 

“What are we even making here?” Milia asked. 

“A new design,” Undago grabbed a holopad and brought up the schematics to show her. “It’s called the Thunder Fox. Quadruped design, but other than that, it’s a simple standard chassis and fusion engine. Off-the-shelf parts keep Skobel’s per-unit cost to a minimum.” 

“And the Republic gets a cheap ‘Mech that they can fill out all those busted regiments with,” Milia nodded. “Smart.” 

“Even smarter, Skobel didn’t even have to pay for development.” Undago pointed at the Thunder Fox‘s frog-like skeleton and the weapon mounts next to its angular cockpit. “I’ve heard more than one rumor that the chassis and weapon coupling ports are essentially lifted from another design. But nobody is suing because everyone wants to play nice with Republic procurement.” 

“Or there’s nobody left to sue.” 

Milia meant it to be an off-hand comment, but it had sparked another memory within Undago. The big man froze as he stared at the Thunder Fox‘s schematics, recalling the night his family had been gunned down by a WOB ‘Mech with four legs. It had a more bulbous armored skin and rounded actuators, but the engineer in him saw the skeleton, the same weapon junctions, and the same deadly intent. 

“Hey! Are you—”

Before Milia could ask if he was alright, Undago grabbed the holopad and brought up the schematics for the Blue Flame, a 45-ton Blakist ‘Mech. He then superimposed it atop the Thunder Fox. Milia gasped as she saw the same thing Undago had; the two chassis was nearly identical.

“You were right,” Undago muttered with quiet dread. “The Word of Blake is no longer here to sue Skobel for copying its design.” He then got up and walked away as Milia stared at the schematics. He didn’t say a single word to anyone else at Skobel. He merely left his security pass at the door and never returned to work.

Thunder Fox : Bad 'Mechs a Sarna Tale | Battletopia Stories
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Thunder Fox Courtesy of Bishop Steiner

Courtesy of Bishop Steiner

With the destruction of the Word of Blake and the capture of Terra, Devlin Stone‘s nascent Republic of the Sphere conveniently found itself in possession of significant ‘Mech manufacturing facilities it could use to refill units devastated in the fight for humanity’s homeworld. Unfortunately, most of those facilities were manufacturing ‘Mechs that were now heavily associated with the most reviled group the Inner Sphere had ever seen, perhaps barring Stefan Amaris and the Rim Worlds Republic. To ask dispossessed MechWarriors to begin piloting ‘Mechs so recently taken from their villainous foe was simply not an option.

In the case of the Thunder Fox, a morally dubious solution was found. Rather than make a completely new ‘Mech, Skobel MechWorks would take an existing Word of Blake design and modify it so no one would assume it had been birthed by the Word. That original ‘Mech was the Blue Flame, a 45-ton trooper ‘Mech commonly seen in Word of Blake forces during the Jihad. 

How Skobel came to possess the schematics of the Blue Flame was only revealed during the trial of one Lara Harman, the lead designer of the Thunder Fox. Previously an engineer at Mitchell Vehicles Interstellar, Harman left her former employer in 3075. Whether she deliberately stole the Blue Flame‘s schematics in an act of corporate espionage or merely retained them in violation of her nondisclosure agreement was never proven in court. What is known is Harman used those schematics to quickly develop the Thunder Fox for Skobel MechWorks who then began manufacturing the ‘Mech for the Republic Armed Forces. By the time the ‘Mech’s progenitor came to light, the contracts had long been signed and deliveries were well underway. Harman was later convicted of war crimes and profiteering, and the Republic buried the scandal to ensure its new main medium ‘Mech would still have eager pilots.

Thunder Fox MWDA

The Republic was entirely successful in burying the scandal, and the Thunder Fox became the backbone of the early RAF. It was beloved by technicians for its simple construction and easy maintenance, while pilots appreciated a modern design with state-of-the-art weapons. Production would continue for half a century with the design being licensed to both Defiance Industries and Luthien Armor Works.

Introduced in 3077 (although full-scale production wouldn’t begin until a few years later), the TFT-A9 Thunder Fox had a DAV 220-rated standard fusion engine mated to a modified version of the Dennenbach-Mitchell Series 8 chassis using standard materials instead of endo steel. Although slow for a 55-ton design at 64 kph, the Thunder Fox‘s four jump jets gave it a degree of maneuverability. Nine tons of ferro-fibrous armor protected the ‘Mech with all ammunition stored in a cellular storage panel in the right torso. 

The Thunder Fox was armed with the best weapons the Republic could source cheaply at the time of its construction. This included a Corean Light Gauss Rifle, a Diverse Optics Sunbeam Extended-Range Large Laser, a Diverse Optics Extended-Range Small Laser, and a Guided Technologies 2nd-Gen Streak SRM-4 launcher. All weapons were mounted on either side of the Thunder Fox‘s torso in swivel mounts.

Thunder Fox TGT-L8

Although well-liked by pilots, the Thunder Fox did see some complaints over its relatively light main weapon. The Light Gauss Rifle, produced by the Free Worlds League over a decade before the Thunder Fox‘s introduction, managed to achieve the same tonnage savings as the Clans did with their version of the Gauss Rifle. However, the caliber of slugs fired in the Light Gauss Rifle was half that of a normal one, resulting in twice as much ammo being stored per ton but dealing roughly half as much damage per shot in return. 

Analysis of the Light Gauss Rifle’s performance revealed it to have a damage-per-ton ratio roughly on par with an AC/5, which was considered rather anemic by the late 3070s. It did offer a superior range, though, and when combined with the ER Large Laser and the stability of four legs, the TFT-A9 proved itself an ideal sniper.

Production at Luthien Armor Works resulted in the TFT-C3 in 3085. A C3 command ‘Mech, the Light Gauss and Streak missile launcher were removed in favor of a C3 master computer, Medium X-Pulse Laser, and ER Medium Laser. A light fusion engine was used to free up space for a Cockpit Command Console, making the TFT-C3 excellent in both training and C&C duties.

Thunder Fox TRO 3085

The Lyran Commonwealth’s TFT-L8 was introduced by Defiance Industries in 3082. This Thunder Fox opted for an XL 275 engine to provide a top speed of 86 kph and make room for a heavier weapons armament: two Snub-Nose PPCs and an LB 10-X autocannon. An additional jump jet was installed to further improve the TFT-L8’s mobility over its cousins.

Production would expand into the 3100s and the design would find its way into multiple factions before Gray Monday, each with its own subtle variations. Some would alter the missile launcher in favor of additional energy weapons, while others would swap the Light Gauss Rifle for other projectile-based weaponry. Almost a dozen variants were known to exist by the 3130s, although their schematics can be difficult to find.

Much like how the Word of Blake’s destruction led to the Thunder Fox, the destruction of the Republic has likely resulted in the Thunder Fox‘s original factory being retooled to manufacture a design less reviled by Clan Wolf MechWarriors. But with such widespread manufacture beyond Terra, it seems the Thunder Fox is likely to survive well into the future. 

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Round-Up For January, 2024

Ugh. I’m sick again. The very first party I go to after recovering from COVID I come down with… something. I tested negative for COVID-19, but my friend tested positive the very next day, so maybe mine was a false negative and I actually caught COVID for the second time in less than a month.

The good news is that this second bout of (maybe) COVID seems way less harmful than the first time. My sense of smell remains entirely unaffected. The bad news is this time I have a cough that’s bad enough to keep me up at night, so despite being in bed for nine hours, I’m getting less than five hours of actual sleep.

But you didn’t come here to listen to me complain about being a plague-infested MechWarrior. You came here for the best BattleTech news of the past month, and I don’t aim to disappoint.

BattleTech Turns 40!

BattleTech 40th Anniversary
Watch this video on YouTube.

We’re starting off with a happy birthday to BattleTech! The specific birthday is August 29 with the first release of BattleDroids, but we’re naturally starting this celebration in January. I should start doing the same thing for my birthday.

We’ll have more to say on BattleTech‘s 40th anniversary later, but in the meantime, here’s Randall Bills with a message for fans from in front of more BattleTech loot than you could ever dream to collect. He’s also going on a world tour, so if you’re in Barcelona, Leeds, Edmonton, Indianapolis, Seattle, and a few other locales, you might see this bearded face playing BattleTech in your town.

Catalyst Announces Coming Releases

40th-Boxed-Sets

And by more 40th-anniversary news later, I mean right now. Catalyst has just announced two new covers for BattleTech: Beginner Box and BattleTech: A Game Of Armored Combat coming out in March/April of this year. The content of both boxes will remain the same, but they’ll have new box art with the 40th-anniversary logo.

In addition to the 40th-anniversary boxes, Catalyst has laid all of 2024’s releases, starting with the Star League Command Lance ForcePack. That’s the one announced at PAX Unplugged and will contain an Atlas II, Thunder Hawk, Phoenix Hawk 1b “Special”, and the pre-painted Kerensky Orion. Expect this ForcePack sometime this winter. The Second Star League Assault Lance will arrive in the second quarter bringing with it an Emperor, Argus, Helios, and pre-painted Daish Prometheus, along with a bonus Coolant Truck

The Third Star League Striker Star is set to arrive in the third quarter and will contain a Jackalope, Kintaro, Hammerhead, Havoc, pre-painted Lament, and a J-27 Ordnance Truck. The fourth quarter brings another Third Star League ForcePack, this time containing a Wendigo, Excalibur, Peacekeeper, Malice, and pre-painted Savage Wolf, as well as a Savior Repair Vehicle. Finally, McCarron’s Armored Cavalry is getting an Assault Lance ForcePack to round out the year’s new minis, bringing a Tian-Zong, a re-posed Black Knight, and new variants of the Awesome and jumping Starslayer. Expect that to arrive in the third quarter and be exclusive to Barnes & Noble.

BattleTech Universe

Running through the sourcebook releases, Force Manual: Davion is expected to arrive in May, and Force Manual: Kurita will arrive sometime in the third quarter. BattleTech Universe is expected sometime in the middle of 2024 (I’m guessing the summer), as is Recognition Guide Volume 2: ilClan (that’ll be mostly all the new designs seen in the ilClan Rec. Guides). 

For the latter half of 2024, we’ve got some exciting new books coming. Hot Spots: Hinterlands will arrive in September to discuss the fighting between Hell’s Horses, Tamar Pact, and Calamity Kell‘s Liberty Coalition. Then in November, we’ll get ilKhan’s Eyes Only, a sourcebook that describes the state of the Third Star League following Clan Wolf’s victory on Terra. And sometime this year, we can expect the Brush Wars series will return to describe lesser-known conflicts from throughout BattleTech history. 

Lastly, Catalyst is still working on getting more print-on-demand stuff available through DriveThruRPG, with Operation KLONDIKE, Brush Wars (rebranded as Brush Wars Volume 1), and Wars of the Republic Era (rebranded as Brush Wars Volume 2) set to get their POD releases. For more, check out Catalyst’s official news release here

Oh, I almost forgot! We’ve got some new BattleMats coming. Misery/Thunder Rift and Twycross will be out in the second quarter, and we’re getting a City/Lunar Mat too. Finally, I can stop fighting in a rocky forest and live out my urban combat dreams. 

Your Annual Reminder That Trans Rights Are Human Rights, Now From Michael Stackpole

https://twitter.com/EnbyKaiju/status/1737944154490212576

Just a quick reminder that Trans rights are human rights. Unfortunately, the fight for Trans rights in the USA has really taken a dark turn in 2023, with the ACLU reporting 508 bills targeting LGBTQ people by the end of the year. Things aren’t much better up here in Canada either, with many conservative provinces taking aim at trans kids.

So it’s encouraging to see folks like Michael Stackpole, Russel Zimmerman, and Bryan Young step up to confirm the truth: trans people are people and deserve the same rights as everyone else. In fact, we’ve got a whole video showcasing support of trans rights now in case you ever need to refer to it.

Another Reminder: BattleTech Is For Everyone

Catalyst has released its long-awaited community guidelines. They’re short, simple, and easy to understand. Respect people’s privacy and don’t release personal info. Don’t take official CGL art from a sourcebook and try to sell it on a t-shirt. And don’t make derogatory comments about “race, religion, culture, disability, career, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.” 

These guidelines have apparently touched off some controversy on social media, with some pretty wild accusations being thrown around. I’m not going to repost them here, but I’m sure we’ll talk about them more next month.

Play MechWarrior 5 In VR Thanks To New Mod

MechWarriorVR Launch Video
Watch this video on YouTube.

I’ve always thought that MechWarrior is perfect for a VR experience. Any vehicular combat game benefits from the full range of head motion that VR offers, but MechWarrior 5 would be super great to experience with a headset. And now you can, thanks to a new mod from sicsix!

This mod goes further than merely decoupling the camera from a fixed viewpoint. Sicsix (along with help from Perq and Stumblingdrunk) has reworked the cockpits of nearly every ‘Mech in the game to be interactable, with physical screens and a 3D heads-up display. 

I have a VR headset. It’s a little old, but I could give this a try. And yet I am hesitant—I’ve got so much muscle memory built up over the years from using a mouse and keyboard that I fear I’ll be back at square one the moment I plop the headset over my head and start playing with twin joysticks. 

I’m sure I’ll get over my trepidation eventually. In the meantime, head over to Nexus Mods to download the MW5 VR mod. And if you need some help, head to sicsix’s Discord here.

More Warhammer IIC Propaganda

Snow Raven Warhammer IIC on Moon by Alan Blackwell
byu/Big_Red_40Tech inbattletech

We had some lovely Warhammer IIC art from Alan Blackwell last month, and now here’s some more. Bonus Shadow Hawk IIC getting its arm blown off. This comes by way of Big Red-40Tech who is still mercilessly teasing his upcoming Warhammer IIC video. There’s gonna be some great art in them thar vid, I reckon. 

Opinion: What Piece Of BattleTech Lore Is Too Deep?

Sarna Complaints Department

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

I’ll give credit to jasonskye over on Reddit for posting this interesting discussion piece. It simply asks the question of what official lore in a particular universe is “too deep”? What piece of BattleTech lore is so specific, so granular, and so bizarre that there’s no way to “reverse the massive psychic damage you have inflicted on yourself”? 

Before I dive into some of the better responses, I’m quite keen on my Canopian catgirls and their wandering Pleasure Circuses. I think someone needs to redo the logo for Canopus Delights Limited to reflect said catgirls, but we can’t expect our BattleTech lorekeepers to spend resources on a fictional entertainment company that would likely be considered illegal in most states. 

I’ll list some of the better answers. Atmafox pointed out that the Regan-era Star Wars defense system actually launched in 1985 in the BattleTech universe, while rxmp4ge noted that the BattleTech Animated Series was semi-retconned to be an in-universe propaganda piece for the Lyran Commonwealth. And of course, we can’t forget Far Country‘s alien bird things, which Cassius_Rex so dutifully reminded us of. 

But both I and ComingUpPainting can’t help but remind you that furries exist in the BattleTech canon, and they’re technically part of an incredibly advanced society that managed to avoid the fallout of the Succession Wars, Clan Invasion, Jihad, and Dark Age. Although, those furries are still stigmatized for being kinda weird.

Okay, kinda really weird. I mean, there’s Canopus catgirls, and then there’s real catgirls. Or boys. Or in between. Or both. 

Anyway, leave your deepest lore in the comments below and try to blow some minds.

A Nightstar On Canvas

Nightstar “Painting”
byu/1001WingedHussars inbattletech

This is technically a digital oil painting, but I’m not good enough at art to tell the difference between digital oil and the real stuff. I’m a simple ‘Mech fan: I see a Nightstar, and I applaud it. Especially with the hypersonic slug making multiple shockwaves.

Kudos to 1001WingedHussars for this piece.

A “Heavily Modified” Urban’Mech Is Go For Launch

A few years back, Catalyst introduced us to the UM-L99 variant of the UrbanMech. As you might have guessed, it’s a LAM version of the UrbanMech. I’d always wondered how anything as slow as the UrbanMech could get anywhere close to flight speed, and the answer (courtesy of Eldoniousrex) is that it simply can’t; it needs catapult assistance in order to get airborne. 

I don’t know how many traditional aircraft carriers existed in the old SLDF, but this Jolly Rogers Urbie is still a worthy interceptor. Too bad I can’t see any AIM-54s on ‘er. 

If you’d like a print, coaster, t-shirt, or anything else having to do with this UrbanMech or any of the more canonically accurate UrbanMechs that are out there, Eldon is selling this design among many others over on his site. The fake magazines from Tex’s Christmas video? Those are available in The Urbie Pack

A Cornered Crusader

Here we have a commissioned piece from tychorion, and there’s so much we can unpack here. In the middle is obviously a Crusader, but I think it’s the 6T variant with all those medium lasers. To the left of it looks like a Hatchetman, but without a hatchet and instead firing SRMs. In the left distance is a Nova, although it’s been modified to have both 12 lasers and four machine guns. And finally, the ‘Mech on the right is a little too obscured for me to ID, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say Hankyu

A great piece, although I think the Crusader should abandon all pretense of subterfuge. 

More MechWarrior 5 DLC Is On The Way

MechWarrior 5 DLC News 2024

In a post that details MechWarrior Online‘s upcoming releases (more on that in a minute), we found out that MechWarrior 5 is getting yet another DLC. We don’t know what it’s about, but we should find out in early February. Possibilities include Clan First Contact out in the periphery, or possibly the Andurien Crisis. But my money is on a Clan First Contact DLC. It’d tie neatly into MechWarrior 5: Clans, and it’d be a great callback to MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries‘ first Clan contact mission where you steal a Kodiak

I’ll be sure to report on this as we learn more. 

MechWarrion Online’s First Quarter Includes New Legendary ‘Mechs And All-New Weapons

MWO 2024 Q1 Intel

I’m surprised at how MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries just keeps on truckin’, but I’m doubly surprised with the support MechWarrior Online is getting after all these years.

January brought two new Legendary ‘Mechs to MechWarrior Online in the form of the ExecutionerSovereign” and VictorLi Dok To“. The Sovereign looks like a long-range sniper with its quad ER PPCs and twin UAC/5s, plus some armor and mobility quirks to aim those guns a little easier. However, its top speed of 48 kph isn’t going to win any races, so expect to be in the backline for a while. 

The Li Dok To is the custom Victor belonging to the Kuritan general from the Fourth Succession War. In the lore, Tai-sho Li Dok To‘s Victor had an LRM-15 and 10 Medium Lasers, and that’s exactly what the Li Dok To has in MechWarrior Online. That right arm has an absolutely comical number of laser ports that make it ridiculously huge. It’s also got standard everything and far too little armor, so it desperately requires an overhaul. On the plus side, you can fire all ten of those lasers without suffering ghost heat, and the right arm has 40 extra armor. Double heat sinks alone would turn this thing into a bear. 

Elsewhere in the January patch, the Osiris received a quirk pass and the Cauldron continued to tweak with weapons, adding splash damage to the HAG series of weapons and changing LRM flight paths to be somewhat flatter. For more details, check out the patch notes here.

We also got a preview of what’s coming in February and March. February brings the Legendary ‘Mechs WarhawkKasai” and Black KnightRead Reaper II” with its introductory heavy shield (like the Centurion we got a while back). March, however, brings something exciting: new weapons. 

The Inner Sphere arsenal will receive the Light AC/2, Light AC/5, the Silver Bullet Gauss Rifle, the Magshot Gauss Rifle, and the Thunderbolt series of missiles ranging from five to 20. Clanners will get ProtoMech Autocannons/2, 4, and 8, the AP Gauss Rifle, something called a Beam Laser, and the dreaded Plasma Cannon

There will also be free ‘Mech events in February and March, with February’s ‘Mech being open to suggestions. Just leave a comment at the bottom of the announcement page with your preference for a freebie, and maybe it’ll happen.

Nova Cat Beams Into MechWarrior 5 In New Mod

The next classic mech mod for MW5 is out: The Nova Cat made by the old school legend Pawel Czarnecki
byu/BoukObelisk inMechwarrior5

The Art Of BattleTech, aka Emil, aka SankaraSamsara, has once again brought forth a great Clan ‘Mech to MechWarrior 5. The Nova Cat has the classic lines of the original model courtesy of Pawel Czarnecki, who created it back in 2002. Throw in some sweet Clan Wolf and Nova Cat paint jobs, and you’ve got something that’ll terrorize an Awesome back into its ‘Mech bays. 

Head on over to Nexus Mods or the Steam Workshop page to get your Nova Cat today.

Furries Are Making Neurohelmets?

I know I’ve already hit my quotient of mentioning furries no more than once per month, but this is actually kinda cool. Using a brain-computer interface (which presumably did not require invasive surgery), these furries can control their avatar’s ears. If it’s anything like I’ve seen in other medical fields, this involves training yourself to think a certain thing and then telling the computer that this thought pattern means twitching your non-existent fox ears. And it looks like I’m right since Rantis showcased this process in action over on their Twitter account. 

I know this is a long way from a real neurohelmet, but the concept is the same. A neurohelmet isn’t just so that a ‘Mech’s gyro can tap into the pilot’s inner ear to keep you standing. A MechWarrior is able to move their ‘Mech’s hands to grasp or even punch things by thinking it through their neurohelmet. Some ‘Mechs have actual heads that can move at a thought. Some MechWarriors are even known to perform little dance numbers with a properly tuned neurohelmet. 

There’s nothing to stop this tech from evolving from moving fake avatar ears to moving real metallic hands. Although these are furries, so it’ll probably be a mechanical tail first.

BattleTech Museum Reveals Secret Pitch Book For ‘90s BattleTech Toys

BattleTech Museum 90s Toy Line Kenner

Many of you are already aware of the Tyco toy line that was made in the mid-’90s to support the BattleTech Animated Series. I had a Mauler, a Bushwacker, and an Infiltrator. However, it turns out that FASA had been in talks with a toy company named Kenner to produce another line of BattleTech toys before the show’s release.

The BattleTech Museum showcased a pitch book featuring some very ’80s BattleTech art (and Natasha Kerensky showing an amount of cleavage appropriate for children [ie. none]) as well as some toy concepts. There’s a Kuritan general with an Atlas, a Lyran guy with an Awesome, another Lyran guy with a Warhammer that shoots missiles out of its PPC barrels, and whatever the hell a Slammer is. 

For whatever reason, Kenner didn’t jump on the toy line. Probably because they didn’t have a cartoon backing it up. That’d change a few years later with the Animated Series and the Tyco toyline, but it’s sure fascinating to see what could have been. 

Head on over to the BattleTech Museum on Facebook to see more.

A Walking Ammo Explosion, Now Animated

Jagermech on Patrol
byu/_masaka inbattletech

It’s mostly a MechWarrior 5 JagerMech with some cool new ammo feeds for its autocannons and a rotating radar dish, but I really like what masaka has done to make the JagerMech feel almost threatening. It’s too bad this thing is still going to erupt the moment I fire more than one PPC at it. Or even just the one PPC if I get lucky. 

Focht’s News Network Announces Alpha Strike Tourney For Feb 25

ROMCon Focht's News Network

In the Toronto area? The fine folks over at Focht’s News have announced an Alpha Strike tournament for Sunday, February 25. This all-day event has a $25 registration fee, but it also includes lunch, three raffle draw prizes to be held throughout the day, and prizes for placing first, second, and having the best-painted force as determined by a group vote.

Forces are 350 points, Clan Invasion era, and must adhere to a single faction (so that means no running a Hellion in your Clan Wolf Assault Star). No more than two of any single ‘Mech/vehicle, no more than five of any infantry, no more than two VTOLs total, and all attack rolls will be played with the Multiple Attack Rolls optional rules as defined on page 175 of the Alpha Strike: Commander’s Edition Rulebook.

There are more rules, but you can go to the Facebook announcement page for the full rundown. I’ll have to decide whether I want to bring the Bad ‘Mechs mercenary company or my solahma trinary of Nova Cats, but I’m certainly thinking about going. Provided I can manage to be healthy by the end of February.

Got an event you want advertised in Sarna? Drop me a line and I’ll get it in next month’s news blast.

Night Gyr Getting Blasted In The City

A Night (Gyr) Out On the Town
byu/Terraphond inbattletech

Terraphond gives us this lovely piece of a Night Gyr getting exactly what it deserves. This is why you don’t go for a night on the town alone. Always bring a wingman.

And that’s it for the first month of 2024! Join us next time as we bring all the best BattleTech news that’s safe for human consumption.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Bad ‘Mechs – Hellfire

Bad 'Mechs - Hellfire

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

Another explosion rocked MechWarrior Creden’s Hellfire as his star continued a fighting retreat. The Blood Spirits had launched their assault on York soon after the bulk of the Star Adder touman had left to attack the Snow Ravens, leaving a contingent of solahma and second-line clusters to defend the planet. 

Both Creden and his ‘Mech were past their prime by most Clan standards. Creden was 44, but if you counted back to when his Hellfire had started life as a Lupus, his ‘Mech was over 200 years old. Even the best Star Adder engineers hadn’t been able to build out the quirks his ancient machine had acquired over its many decades of combat service. Throw in the electromagnetic interference from the new Heavy Lasers, and Creden barely considered his ‘Mech combat capable.

But fight he must. A Blood Spirit Zorya bravely fired its autocannon at Creden at just over 600 meters, its flechette rounds shaving armor off his Hellfire’s jutting chest but failing to find a breach. Creden returned fire with his LRM racks, the swarm of thirty missiles throwing up a cloud of dirt and smoke. Creden didn’t have time to determine whether his missiles had finished the small tank or not. He fired his two extended-range medium lasers into the cloud–just to be sure–before turning to a new threat. 

A Crimson Langur came bounding over a crest, lasers firing wildly at the Star Adders below. With his missile rack reloading and his ER Medium Lasers rebuilding charge, Creden switched his target interlock to fire his Heavy Lasers. Although powerful, the interference caused by the lasers’ massive discharge shorted many of his ‘Mech’s systems. For this reason, Creden tended to use the Heavy Lasers only as a last resort.

Muttering a small prayer to the Great Father under his breath, Creden pulled the trigger on his weapons. The green beam of the Heavy Large laser connected his Hellfire and the Blood Spirit Crimson Langur for a brief moment before a cloud of vaporized metal seemed to obscure his sensors. The other two beams went wildly into the cloud as Creden’s HUD began to flicker. A warning light on his damage display confirmed internal damage to his sensors, yet he’d not taken a hit to any of the sensor cowlings covering his ‘Mech. 

“Stravag,” Creden cursed. It was the damned lasers. He’d begged his technician to harden the Hellfire’s electrical systems, and each time they’d assured him that there was nothing more they could do. 

While he was cursing his technician, a beam from the Langur struck his Hellfire, disabling the ammo feeder for his missile racks. All three LRM-10 systems went dark on his wire display, and Creden cursed again as he slammed the button that would eject his ammo stores. They were just a liability if they couldn’t be fired–even worse than those damned Heavy Lasers. 

As the Crimson Langur closed, Creden fired again with his full complement of lasers. His cockpit instantly became a sauna as the Hellfire’s fusion engine revved to meet the energy demand of so much collimated light. Unfortunately, the massive energy discharge proved too much for the old machine. 

Creden’s HUD flickered, then went dark. Through the cockpit glass, he could see his two extended-range Mediums strike the Crimson Langur dead in the chest, but his Heavy Lasers somehow all fired in separate directions. Worse, one of the Medium Heavy Laser tubes exploded as the heat spike melted its cooling sleeve. 

Recognizing a losing battle, Creden considered an expeditious retreat, only to be thwarted by two things. First, a Blood Spirit Stooping Hawk had appeared on his flank and fired enough autocannon rounds into his left torso to shatter his Heavy Large Laser cowling. Second, his Hellfire’s damage display revealed his MASC system had failed along with his HUD during the energy surge caused by his accursed lasers.

Creden shouted in rage. It was more at his failing ‘Mech than at the enemy, but he let his external speakers carry the sound as he charged into the Stooping Hawk’s fire.

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


Hellfire MWO Blueprints

There are many instances throughout human history where a weapon system was invented before it had a platform truly capable of supporting it. The atomic bomb is perhaps the best example. Ideally, the launching aircraft wants to be as far away as possible once the bomb detonates, but at the time of the bomb’s invention, all that was available were relatively slow high-altitude bombers. This resulted in the bomber still being within the shock wave radius when the bomb detonated, which although not catastrophic for the crew, was certainly less than ideal.

The Hellfire was likewise an unideal platform for a new weapon system. Clan Star Adder invented the Heavy Laser at the end of the 3050s but required a platform to put them to use. The solution was to refit mothballed first-generation Lupus OmniMechs, convert them into BattleMechs, and load them up with a collection of the new Heavy Lasers. The resultant ‘Mech was extremely powerful but also extremely temperamental.

Lupus

In 3058, Khan Cassius N’Buta ordered Lupuses to be refitted en masse to make use of the new Heavy Lasers and tasked Kappa Provisional Galaxy Commander Jenica Turgidson with overseeing the refit’s development. Galaxy Commander Jenica Turgidson in turn imagined a largely defensive heavy ‘Mech for second-line Galaxies, resulting in a unit that was slower and far more heavily armed than the original Lupus on which the Hellfire is based. 

The original Hellfire was armed with one Series 4D-2 Heavy Large Laser, two Series 6A Heavy Medium Lasers, and two Series 14 k. II Heavy Small Lasers. This assortment of Heavy Lasers was further augmented by two ER Medium Lasers, which had been in common use throughout the Clans for over two centuries, and three “Longbow” III LRM-10 launchers for adequate long-range firepower. 

Even if the Hellfire were equipped with standard lasers, such a massive quantity of weapons would tax the 17 double heat sinks tasked with keeping the ‘Mech cool. Unfortunately, Heavy Lasers were vastly more heat-intensive than either the extended range or pulse varieties and massively overtaxed the Hellfire‘s cooling capacity. Worse, the new weapons also arrived with several known defects. Best known is the inaccuracy of the Heavy Lasers thanks to the firing delay caused by the massive charge required in their operation. On top of that, the enormous discharge created electromagnetic interference which affected the firing ‘Mech’s targeting systems. Hellfire Crusader Clans

Sometimes the Heavy Lasers simply blew up during combat, their focusing tubes unable to endure the incredible heat and vast power required in their operation. It would take a decade for Clan Goliath Scorpion to correct this shortcoming, although the Improved Heavy Laser is still at risk of explosion should the focusing tube become damaged in combat.

Intended for defense, input from Star Adder MechWarriors noted the Hellfire‘s 64kph top speed as a detriment in running battles and asked to improve the ‘Mech’s engine. Unwilling to compromise on the Hellfire‘s weapons, Jenica Turgidson added MASC to provide the Hellfire with a temporary running speed of 86kph, albeit in short bursts. Nine tons of ferro-fibrous armor provided adequate protection, while a standard 240 engine gave the ‘Mech tremendous staying power even in the face of damage that would disable most Clan OmniMechs.

Hellfire 3067U

However, the addition of MASC to the platform resulted in another unforeseen detriment. Either due to the age of the Lupus chassis or interference from the Heavy Lasers, Hellfire MASC systems saw a 15 percent greater failure rate than other ‘Mechs. Star Adder engineers attempted to solve this issue after the Hellfire‘s adoption but were unsuccessful. Thus, Hellfire pilots are informed to use their acceleration signal circuitry sparingly or in dire circumstances.

The Hellfire would develop two alternate versions throughout its lifespan. The Hellfire 2 served as a testbed for the Advanced Tactical Missile system in the late 3060s. The ‘Mech would retain the Heavy Large and Heavy Medium lasers, replace the Heavy Small Lasers with a single ER Small Laser, and replace the LRM-10 launchers with two ATM 6s. The ‘Mech would also forgo MASC in favor of a 300 XL engine, providing a top speed of 86 kph without the possibility of myomer failure.

Hellfire MWO

The Hellfire 3 was developed through an alliance with Clan Hell’s Horses, which sought to refit the machine to perform dedicated support for its conventional forces. This saw the ‘Mech’s weapons stripped in favor of two ER Flamers, two regular Flamers, two SRM-6s, and four Plasma Cannons. These provided an unparalleled ability to eliminate infantry and conventional vehicles while being somewhat vulnerable to opposing ‘Mechs. The 240 standard engine was replaced by an extra-light version, and the MASC system was retained.

The Hellfire‘s story stops with the Wars of Reaving. The Adders are understood to have eventually secured total control of Arcadia, but it is unknown whether the factory that produced them continues to refit Lupuses. Even if it did, the potential number of Hellfires could never exceed the total number of viable Lupus OmniMechs, which among the Home Clans, is believed to be extremely limited. With such limited numbers and a reputation for being both a hanger queen and battlefield volatility, it seems likely that the Hellfire met its end at some point within the last half-century. Perhaps examples remain among the Hell’s Horses, but those are likely few and far between.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Sarna’s 50,000 Article Celebration!

Sarna 50,000 Articles

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

Sarna is ringing in the new year with a bang. We’ve been working hard all year long to bring you this extravaganza celebrating 50,000 articles. That’s 50,000 articles on the finer points of Clan mating behavior all the way to demonic possession of Marauders, and everything in between.

According to our own milestone tracker, Sarna actually surpassed 50,000 articles way back in November, but it takes a little while to set up a celebration of the kind Sarna deserves for such a momentous occasion. It also takes a while to get Nic to emerge from his techno-cave to discuss the finer points of operating a wiki, which involves many blood sacrifices to the Blesses Blake himself. 

In between the strangled yelps of goats being decapitated, I managed to ask him a few questions about where Sarna has been, where he sees Sarna going, and how he plans to get us all there. Spoiler alert: it’s technical. Enjoy.

Continue reading

Your BattleTech News Round-Up For December, 2023

I’d managed to avoid COVID for nearly three years, but my luck finally ran out just a few days before Christmas. I can now say from firsthand experience this disease sucks. Holiday plans dashed, gatherings with friends and family delayed, and my throat and sinuses are a mangled mess. Also, mint flavors are now… different. The best I can describe is that the spectrum of mint flavors has shifted. Spearmint now tastes like scotch mint, peppermint tastes like toothpaste, and toothpaste tastes like cinnamon soap. 

I’m lucky COVID merely tickled my olfactory nerve rather than shred it to pieces. Many folks who had COVID in the early days of the pandemic lost their sense of taste and smell entirely.

I will say, I’ve never experienced a virus go for the throat quite that hard. There was a moment when I was sitting naked on my couch with a fever of 103 F (that’s 39.5 C for the metric folk), elevated heart rate and heaving like I’d just run a marathon, and fan blasting away as I waited for what the bottle told me was an overdose of Tylenol to finally kick in, that I understood this was where a lot of folks didn’t make it. 

Perhaps that’s a little dramatic. There are treatments for COVID-19 now, although I’m not sure of their availability in Ontario. Nor am I sure I’d have received that treatment in time if I were to have gone to the ER, given how our healthcare system remains in tatters nearly three years later. 

All this is to say: hug your loved ones, wear a mask in public, and get every vaccine you possibly can. 

And now, onto your BattleTech news. 

Tex Talks: The UrbanMech

Battletech/Mechwarrior Lore - Tex Talks Battletech : The Urbanmech (DIRECTORS CUT)
Watch this video on YouTube.

Tex has given us a delightful Christmas gift this year in the form of Tex Talks: The UrbanMech. It’s a ‘Mech that a lot of folks have been requesting for a very long time, so I’m certain there were a lot of happy MechWarriors out there on Christmas Day. That’s nothing to say of the many thousands of dollars the Black Pants Legion raised for Toys for Tots. 

If you haven’t seen a Tex Talks, it’s a deep dive into the lore surrounding a particular BattleMech. Often that lore goes back way further than you’d expect since Tex takes a historian’s eye to his subject matter. Can’t talk about a modern jet fighter without first mentioning the Wright Brothers and maybe Leonardo (that’s DaVinci, not DiCaprio), so you can’t talk about the UrbanMech without first talking about the Star League and BattleMech development.

This one’s a little zanier than most Tex Talks, and it has way more 3D animations--both of which entertained me immensely. Enjoy it here or via the embedded video above.

Jade Turkey: It’s What’s For Dinner

Apologies to Bishop Steiner for missing this delightful custom design from last month. Twitter isn’t as consistent as it used to be. 

Broken social media platforms aside, here’s the Jade Turkey, a fan-made Jade Falcon BattleMech conceived by Dale Eadeh, modeled by Allen Blackwell, and then finally drawn on the back of an Enforcer by Bishop Steiner. It’s 95 tons, as slow as an Annihilator, and so packed full of laser heat sinks that it can actually use its arsenal of Heavy Lasers to baste any other ‘Mech alive. 

Special mention goes to the single jump jet exhaust port in the back that kinda looks like someone stuck a musket up its ass. For the full range of stats, check out the posts here

Catalyst Announces A Ton Of Stuff At PAX Unplugged For 2024

More news from PAX Unplugged
byu/Available_Mountain inbattletech

Way back at the beginning of this month was PAX Unplugged, where Catalyst Game Labs had a commanding presence. Catalyst announced a lot of great stuff coming in 2024, and we’re going to run it all down.

Let’s start with new ForcePacks. We got a preview of the Star League Command Lance, with Aleksandr Kerensky‘s Orion, an Atlas II,  the dreaded Thunder Hawk, and what appears to be the PXH-1b Phoenix HawkSpecial.” Kerensky’s Orion will be pre-painted in his canonical colors, cutting down on your paint time. Although not shown, three more Star League-era ForcePacks were announced, each of which will have its own pre-painted mini (kudos to Available_Mountain for the deets).

My Nova Cat/Spirit Cat unit will cry out for that Wendigo, but redesigned versions of the Argus, Emperor, Helios, and Kintaro all sound groovy to me! Also love how we’re getting a little extra scenery with those repair/coolant/ammo trucks. 

Along with a new ForcePack every quarter, we’ve got a DropShip load of new fiction coming too. Executive editor John Helfers along with author Michael Ciaravella broke all the good news (with a nod of the hat to Big Red for summarizing). 

As mentioned in my interview with Brent Evans, the Draconis Combine is going to be quite the hot spot for the Inner Sphere in 2024. Shadow of the Dragon by Craig Reed will reveal the fallout of the Davion invasion and how the Draconis royalty is getting along (which, if I were to guess, is violent). Phillip Lee follows up on Hunting Season with Letter of the Law, and Bryan Young will release the follow-up to A Question of Survival with Without Question

Our first book to proceed from Hour of the Wolf will be courtesy of Michael Ciaravella. Trial by Birthright will be set on Terra and continue the timeline forward with what ol’ Alaric has been up to since seizing the birthplace of humanity. And to tie a nice bow over the HPG Blackout, Bryan Young’s Void Breaker brings back Tucker Harwell in a BattleTech-style spy thriller. Expect both of these later next year.

A few more stories that may or may not be coming in 2024. Tom Leveen is going to come out with a story from the Capellan Confederation and how it’s dealing with the third Star League. Jason Schmetzer is bringing another story of the new Gray Death Legion and plans to release all three novellas in a single novel. Hansen’s Roughriders return in Blood Rage from Craig Reed, and in the more distant future, A Treachery of Ravens by Michael Ciaravella will bring us a Clan Snow Raven novel. There are also some Wars of Reaving novels in the works and a Tales of the Bounty Hunter anthology mentioned.

On the sourcebook front, we’re getting Force Manual: House Davion, Force Manual: House Kurita, and Force Manual: Mercenaries all in subsequent quarters in 2024. MechCommander’s Handbook will also be coming later in the year, as well as an ilClan-focused sourcebook called ilKhan Eyes Only. The Mercenaries Kickstarter should start seeing deliveries sometime in the spring (hopefully!), and we’re still waiting on some concrete news of how Catalyst plans to celebrate BattleTech‘s 40th anniversary—besides flooding us with a ton of new products of course.

There might be a few things that I missed, and if so, you can check out The HobbyHabit‘s videos for a more complete rundown. And before I forget, here’s MechFrog with a shot of the BattleTech Universe book’s cutaway image of an Overlord DropShip. There are also some new minis featured in the Mercenaries Kickstarter, but only for those with access. 

OPINION: Pre-painted ‘Mechs Are Fine, Actually

Sarna Complaints Department

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

I noted some weird backlash from mini enthusiasts at the news of pre-painted ‘Mechs. Some folks seemed upset at the idea of receiving an Orion already painted to look exactly like Alexander Kerensky’s ride at the moment he tore down the doors to Unity City and accepted Stefan Amaris’ surrender. And my question is: why? 

If you consider yourself an excellent artist capable of doing a better job than a manufacturer, nothing is stopping you from buying a standard Orion ON1-K and painting it like Kerensky’s machine. There’s a bit more of an argument to be made against the pre-painted Prometheus as it’d be much more difficult to kit-bash a Prometheus together, but I’m told there are ways of re-painting minis if you really don’t like Catalyst’s paint job. 

I think for the vast majority of BattleTech fans, a pre-painted ‘Mech is just one less ‘Mech you’ll have to paint yourself. I’m no painter, personally. Heck, part of the reason why I actually liked the MechClix game was because there was no painting involved. Sure, the models weren’t the best quality, but they were sufficient to plop down some pieces and start gaming. I think there should be an entirely pre-painted line of minis for folks who love the game but don’t have the time to paint. Perhaps these pre-painted legendary ‘Mechs will be the precursor to an expansion in this direction.

Either way, people who enjoy painting their minis themselves will always have plenty of opportunity to do just that, and I think some of the angry commenters are completely out to lunch. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below.

BattleTech Comic Comes With 200% More Cat Ears

https://twitter.com/wild_cat144/status/1731678132795588940

Wild_Cat144 is no stranger to these parts. She’s made a ton of art for Tex Talks BattleTech and released a ton more for public consumption. Her most recent project is the release of Epsilon Commandos, a webtoon featuring a diverse cast of ‘Mechs and cat-eared people. You can check it out here.

Happy 14th Anniversary To MechWarrior: Living Legends

I don’t mention the fine folks who run MechWarrior: Living Legends nearly often enough, so accept these birthday wishes as my apology. The best free MechWarrior game you can download just celebrated its 14th year with several games last month, which you can take part in yourself for the low price of zero dollars. You get a lot of game for zero down, and it also comes with a passionate community that loves to organize some wild Battlefield-style big games. Do celebrate by downloading the client here.

Equilibrium Are Your 2023 MechWarrior Online Champions (Plus Ongoing Christmas Events)

MechWarrior Online‘s competitive Championship Series recently concluded with Equilibrium defeating the 5th Jaguar Dragoons to become 2023’s champions. Equilibrium had a commanding performance in the final match, sweeping the Dragoons in three straight games. Congratulations to Equilibrium and everyone in the finals. Enjoy your fabulous prizes for getting so far in the season!

In other MechWarrior Online news, the patch came a bit early so PGI could have a nice Christmas break. In the most recent patch are two new Legendary ‘Mechs, the LongbowSpitfire” and the Stone RhinoAksum.” The Spitfire is a one-shot Rocket Splat with some PPCs for backup, while Aksum is all dakka all day. As usual, both come with their own mini battlepasses that provide escalating rewards the more you play with each Legendary ‘Mech.

There are loads of Christmas events still going on, as well as a free giveaway of two ‘Mechs. One is a special variant of the WHM-6R with a Santa hat and a festive paintjob (but is otherwise a standard Warhammer), and the other is the COM-D03, an all-laser Commando with a small cockpit and a compact gyro that allows all those lasers to be mounted in the head and center torso. This makes it an interesting light brawling zombie. You can get both of these for playing just one game and getting a match score above 50 points (not hard to do so long as you show up and shoot). Remember to redeem the event requirements on the event page here.

A couple of adjustments to review. LRM-5s and the ATM-3 are now able to be grouped with larger LRM launchers without contributing to heat penalties, which should make the new Longbow a little more attractive. Rotary Autocannons have had their damage tweaked, and ECM’s jamming effect has been reduced from 120m to 90m. The biggest ‘Mech adjustments have happened to the Annihilator, but there are a few other tweaks mentioned in the patch notes here.

Shrapnel 15’s Double-Wide Issue Brings Us Fox Patrol’s Katie Ferraro

You should already be subscribed to Shrapnel, but if not, you should definitely get December’s issue. Not just because it’s like getting two Shrapnels for the price of one, but because it’s got a portrait of Katie Ferraro, captain of The Fox Patrol mercenary group. It’s nice to be able to put a face to the name, especially for a rising star in BattleTech‘s fiction.

Bushwacker Classic Arrives In MechWarrior 5

The march of modding to MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries continues with the new Bushwacker Classic mod. The Bushwacker model already exists in MechWarrior Online, but this one more closely resembles the tabletop miniature version. It also has a pretty cool skin that harkens back to the BattleTech Animated Series

We once again have SankaraSamsara (aka The Art of BattleTech, or Emil around these parts) to thank for taking Twdwink66’s model and animating it for MechWarrior 5. You can grab this mod either on Nexus Mods or MechWarrior 5’s Steam Workshop.

Star Adder Warhammer IICs Under A Starry Sky

Star Adder Warhammer IIC By Alan Blackwell
byu/Big_Red_40Tech inbattletech

Big Red 40K is set to debut a video on the Warhammer IIC, perhaps one of the best Clan “upgrades” the Inner Sphere has ever seen. He contacted Alan Blackwell to paint this stunning piece of two Star Adder Warhammer IICs in a snowy tundra beneath a brilliant aurora borealis. It’s an incredible piece of art that absolutely deserves showcasing. And you should check out Big Red’s video on the ‘Mech when it arrives.

Your Reminder That Magistracy Monthly Is A Free-Fanzine With Production Value

https://twitter.com/MagestrixRiley/status/1734302506606293068

For example, here’s a piece you’ll find inside the December issue of Magistracy MonthlyIssue 24 has a bunch of things, including fan-made TROs for ‘Mechs, one for VTOL, tons of custom art, and short stories from fans about lesser-known people in the far-flung corners of the Periphery. It’s worth a read, especially since it’s free.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Gets Pinball Mod

Traditional Mod Game play Short
Watch this video on YouTube.

No, this isn’t a mod you can just download on Nexus Mods or Steam. This is an actual pinball machine. Most pinball machines are already so wildly complex in operation that I can’t even begin to describe them, let alone provide advice beyond “hit the ball with the paddles.” Any pinball machines made today are infinitely more complex than the machines I played as a kid. 

But I can appreciate the attention to detail in this mod. The playfield is covered in BattleTech art. The display screen uses actual MechWarrior 5 gameplay footage and sound effects. Ryana comes on every once in a while to quip about your progress (or lack thereof), and losing a ball results in your ‘Mech exploding. 

Beyond Pinball has an entire series of videos dedicated to this mod, and he’s even gotten the attention of PGI president Russ Bullock. Maybe we’ll see this pinball machine become an official product someday. 

Merry Christmas And Happy Holidays From Sarna To You And Yours

Running a holiday-themed event this weekend, just finished the terrain and main objective.
byu/AlwaysUpvotesTheVIII inbattletech

And thank you to AlwaysUpvotesTheVIII for this holiday-themed UrbanMech. Santa was very generous to this Urbie.

That’s it for December and 2023. It’s been a hell of a year for BattleTech, a hell of a year for me personally (with one hell of a sendoff), and judging by everything announced by Catalyst, it’s going to be one hell of a 2024. We’re getting a new MechWarrior game, we’re getting a ton of new fiction, we’re getting new sourcebooks, and we’re getting new minis. Who knows what else 2024 might have in store?

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

Christmas Mechs

From Covers To Cards: Classic BattleTech Art And The Collectors Who Hunt Them

Doug Shuler Warhammer

Warhammer by Doug Shuler

I recently saw Eye of the Beholder, a documentary on Amazon that looks at the art of Dungeons & Dragons. While it was fascinating looking at how D&D’s art has evolved over the years, one of the more interesting facets of the documentary was the existence of a massive market for D&D art collectors. Original pieces were selling for thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars, with collectors adorning their walls with the paintings that became the covers of D&D’s classic sourcebooks.

I never would have thought that BattleTech had a similar secondary market until I received an email from Michael Todd (whom you might remember from various impressive projects including a fan-made TRO that I remain quite fond of). Michael reached out to inform me of an incredible find: six original BattleTech paintings that were originally created in the ’80s for NOVA Games’ BattleTech Science Fiction Combat Book

Doug Shuler Locust

Locust by Doug Shuler

This is a pretty obscure piece of BattleTech nostalgia, so I’ll provide a brief refresher. NOVA Games had a series of books that were essentially duels between MechWarriors. Each player would have pilot/’Mech stat card and a book that corresponded with various actions. The players’ choices would determine where they’d flip the book to, which would present the players with more choices and more possible outcomes. All those outcomes would be recorded on the stat cards until one ‘Mech emerged victorious. 

The advent of modern computer games essentially put these books out of business, but we can thank their brief existence for producing some of BattleTech‘s earliest full-color art. NOVA Games commissioned Doug Shuler to produce the covers and interior art for the six books, each of which corresponded with an Unseen ‘Mech: the Shadow Hawk, Wasp, Rifleman, Warhammer, Griffin, and Locust

Doug Shuler Rifleman

Rifleman by Doug Shuler

You can see the covers on Sarna of course, but digitized images don’t really do them justice. These pieces are gorgeous, as Michael found out personally. 

The story of their discovery is quite the tale. Michael is a collector (as many BattleTech fans are) who merely wanted to find the remaining four NOVA BattleTech Combat Books he didn’t already possess. And as any good collector would, Michael figured the best way to enhance his complete collection was to get each book signed by the original artist. So he reached out to Doug Shuler and after some initial correspondence, he agreed to sign the books and mail them back. 

But then Michael made another discovery. He noted that each image was copyrighted to Shuler personally and not NOVA Games. This led him to inquire if Shuler also still possessed the original paintings that became the books’ covers. Shuler did, and this sparked a months-long negotiation for Michael to purchase all six paintings. 

“Once you’ve beheld an original work, all the mass-produced stuff just becomes pale reflections. I’ve been the mountaintop and am now forever changed.”

Michael didn’t provide me with a final sale price, but he did say he had to take out a loan on his credit card. On top of that, Michael sent the money via an unsecured cell phone (not necessarily the safest thing in our current cyberpunk dystopia), but thankfully, Shuler received the cash without issue. A few months later, Michael had six truly unique pieces of art—something he described in reverent tones.

Michael with Shuler Art

Michael holding Doug Shuler’s Griffin and Shadow Hawk

“At this point, all I’ve seen are the published NOVA covers and a set of low-resolution mobile phone pictures of the originals. To say I’m nervous is an understatement,” wrote Michael in our email correspondence. “I’m literally trembling as I open the box. I don’t consider myself a religious man, but when I first beheld Shuler’s original works, it was like a religious experience. It’s the difference between seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre and seeing a poster of it on your wall. They are two completely different works; two completely different experiences. And there is no going back. Once you’ve beheld an original work, all the mass-produced stuff just becomes pale reflections. I’ve been the mountaintop and am now forever changed.”

How To Get To The Top Of The Mountain

Let’s be clear about one thing right off the bat: collecting art isn’t cheap. Michael paid thousands for a series of six paintings, and from the prices I’ve seen, that’s not out of the ordinary for larger pieces—especially for art used on things like sourcebooks or novels. Buying a BattleTech painting isn’t exactly like buying a Rembrandt, but it’s difficult to start an art collection on a budget.

We’ll start with Heritage Auctions to give you a good idea. Here’s the cover of Mercenary’s Star by Boris Vallejo featuring Grayson Carlyle and his future wife, Lori Kalmar. This painting was originally sold back in 2007 and since then has received several offers, the largest of which was $4,000. 

Akuma by Dave Seely

Akuma by Dave Seely

For something under four figures, we head to Comic Art Shop.com for this original oil painting of an Akuma by Dave Seely. This was originally done for the BattleTech CCG back in the ’90s, but as far as I’m aware, was never used for an actual card. This piece is entirely unique, but it’s smaller than the Mercenary’s Star cover and it didn’t get the chance to be associated with an official product. Seeley is selling this piece for $650. 

Ebay is another great resource, but what you find there can be hit-or-miss. For example, here’s a collection of five pen-and-ink drawings for BattleTech and Call of Cthulu by Earl Geier for $200. There’s also a collection of Dana Knutson sketches of various AeroSpace and ground assets for $30 each. 

As you can see, what you find ranges from novel covers to trading card art to original sketches that may never have been published. And while these official channels might be pricey, I’ve heard from several people that the best way to get a deal is by going straight to the source. 

Batu by Dana Knutson

Batu by Dana Knutson

Michael’s story isn’t unique. A lot of artists still have the original paintings, and BattleTech is a franchise that has produced a lot of art. Some of that art is just sitting in the artist’s archive, either because the artist simply doesn’t have the time to put their older pieces up for auction or because they don’t know what their work is worth. 

I spoke to Greg, a collector with a wall of BattleTech art he estimates to be valued between $15,000 and $20,000 (after adjusting for inflation). Collecting for over five years, Greg told me that most of his 36 pieces came from direct negotiations with the artist. However, that can come with its own set of headaches.

“Getting it from the artist directly is almost always the best price,” he explained. “Highlander Gambit probably has the best story. After sitting in the artist’s studio for a couple of decades I bought it through their agent. They dropped it off at a third-party shipping store that gave it to the wrong delivery service. The artist backtracked through all possible options and eventually found it in the ‘lost’ packages section at the wrong company’s local distribution center.”

Greg's wall of BattleTech art

Greg’s wall of BattleTech art

Besides potential mailing mistakes, other obstacles could be that the original artist simply didn’t keep their original works or has already sold them to someone else. Also, negotiating with an artist can sometimes be a lengthy experience. Michael told me that it took him roughly six months before he and Doug Shuler finally arrived at a sale.

“Most artists—most creatives really—just aren’t like the rest of us. They operate on their own time, have their own priorities, and most of them are much more interested in creating more art, rather than spending time corresponding with people they, frankly, don’t know. So, you’ve got to be patient, keep things simple, and, above all else, don’t overflow their inbox with a flood of messages,” he explained. “In short, respect their time.”

Greg Wright 3026 Cover

Greg’s TRO 3026 Cover

Another issue is competition. The reason why these auctions feature prices pushing into the thousands is because there’s demand for original art. “I believe that as with everything else around the IP, there is more interest now than there was when I started,” Greg told me, although he admits it’s still nothing like what you see in the Magic: The Gathering or Japanese mecha art communities. 

One way to limit your expenditure is to limit the scope of your collection. “I think the way in which pieces have been sold over the years leads to more shall we say focused collections where the person has some things of interest but may not be actively expanding,” related Greg. “Two examples that come to mind: in the Clan Invasion Kickstarter’s Khan & Kerensky-tier Discord, someone there showed off their collection of all of the WarShip art from TRO: 2750 which they snagged when Noble Knight Games first listed it.

Puma CCG by Jim Pavelec, via Greg

Greg’s Puma by Jim Pavelec

“I also had someone reach out to me over Facebook to show some photos of some TRO art they had in their possession. A friend of theirs had managed to get the TRO art for the Black Knight and Highlander at a GenCon in BattleTech‘s infancy. Again both of these would generate significant community interest if they came back on the market but I do not believe this person was trying to pursue any additional works.” In other words, they got their favorite ‘Mechs and got out before prices skyrocketed. 

Of course, there’s always just throwing money at the problem. Michael put me in touch with another collector named Steven who has only recently started collecting BattleTech art. He estimates his collection of five works would fetch between $7,000 and $8,000 at auction, but that’s just a mere fraction of his total fantasy/sci-fi art collection, which he guesses to be worth over $700,000.

“I’d say much of the competition for most choice BattleTech art already took place before I arrived on the scene,” he told me. “Fortunately, there aren’t so many collectors that everything has been scooped up! It’s just a matter of persevering.”

“My jaw almost dropped when I was told he still had the original art for it—a Timber Wolf / Mad Cat original cover is pretty much a grail in this hobby.”

Steve Art Christopher Moeller

Steve’s Warriors of Kerensky by Christopher Moeller

His first piece was Christopher Moeller’s Dropship Captain Archetype from the MechWarrior Companion sourcebook. That came from an Ebay auction, but it was quickly followed up by reaching out directly to Moeller (through his representative) for any potential pieces he had left. That led to Steven purchasing what is now his pride and joy, the painting that served as the cover to The Clans:  Warriors of Kerensky

“My jaw almost dropped when I was told he still had the original art for it—a Timber Wolf / Mad Cat original cover is pretty much a grail in this hobby,” Steve said. “Alas, the Field Manual: Draconis Combine cover is long gone. I’ve always been a Drac at heart.”

Although clearly capable of throwing some big money to close a deal, Steve didn’t amass over half a million in sci-fi art just by spending big at auctions. Like both George and Michael, he recommends reaching out to artists and their representatives to see if you can snag a bargain. You never know when you might find an exclusive piece.

Preserving Art For The Future

There is one other big player in the BattleTech art collecting scene and that’s Catalyst Game Labs. You’d think that the makers of BattleTech would already have a repository of BattleTech art, but the guardians of the BattleTech IP haven’t always been careful about preserving their creative property. Anyone familiar with BattleTech‘s tumultuous legal history might already have an idea of how things got lost over time.

"Slap Chop" by Eldon Cowgur

“Slap Chop” by Eldon Cowgur

I spoke to art director Brent Evans at Catalyst Game Labs who told me the whole sordid story. For much of FASA‘s history, the BattleTech Art Archive was just a storeroom full of paintings, sketches, and other physical media. Later in the ’90s that media was digitized and put onto floppy disks, and then later still, it was all stored in a shipping container in a long-term storage facility. Unfortunately, shipping containers are not the best way to preserve either art or digital files. Throw in some misadventures when FanPro dissolved, and by the early 2010s, there was almost nothing of BattleTech‘s original art left. 

That’s why Brent and the Catalyst team agreed to create a far more comprehensive archiving plan, with multiple backups should the worst ever happen—and it has happened on several occasions. According to Brent, Randall Bills has lost several workstations, and one time, his quad backup lost two hard drives thanks to an errant Windows update. 

"Operation Bulldog Ambush" by Florian Mellies

“Operation Bulldog Ambush” by Florian Mellies

Catalyst now has the hardware to ensure the BattleTech Art Archive can keep images for future generations and is now on the hunt to restore what was lost. That’s why Michael didn’t have to carry that credit card loan for long, and why we may yet see Doug Shuler’s art return in future BattleTech products. 

If you’ve got some old BattleTech art that you’d like to see preserved, you can reach out to Brent at Catalyst Game Labs or fill out the contact form on the company website. Note that the BattleTech Art Archive is for preservation purposes only and is not open to view by the public.

As for Michael, I’m told he’s already on the hunt for more BattleTech art. I suspect he’ll be chasing that high for quite a while.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Bad ‘Mechs – Phantom

Phantom Bad Mechs

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

“MechWarrior Donovan! Report to ‘Mech bay 12 for your new assignment.” 

Donovan immediately excused himself from his Starmates and left the mess hall heading down the corridor that would lead him to the ‘Mech bays. They’d only just been discussing his mysterious assignment, a new ‘Mech design that would replace his aging Mist Lynx. Donovan would miss what was a fairly rare design for a Clan Wolf MechWarrior, but he was told that its replacement would be bigger and better.

And larger it certainly was. The squat, boxy design had none of the elegance of his old Mist Lynx, with a hunched back that extended into a shroud that nearly enveloped the cockpit. The right arm ended in what appeared to be a medium laser, while the left arm had five missile ports--half as many as his Mist Lynx

Donovan was examining the strange ports and lenses that dotted the ‘Mech’s torso when his commanding officer, Star Commander Rachel, appeared with his neurohelmet. “Donovan, good. You will be trained on your new ‘Mech for the rest of the day. This design is called the Phantom by our scientists, and it was made with direct input from Khan Phelan Ward himself.” 

“A design made by Khan Ward? I have heard of his custom ‘Mech, Grinner. This must share its firepower, quiaff?” 

“Well,” Star Commander paused and looked away while she ignored the expected answer to Donnovan’s inquiry. “It is faster and better armored than the Mist Lynx, that is certain, but its available pod space is somewhat less than you are used to.”

“A Mist Lynx is no Timber Wolf,” Donovan said with a chuckle. “How much less pod space?” 

“Approximately 25 percent,” Rachel replied, and Donovan grimaced. “There is more. That lens on the left side of the ‘Mech is for your Targeting Acquisition Gear, and the domed ports on the right contain an active probe and ECM equipment.”

Donovan stared blankly at his Star Commander as she seemed to mentally review a prepared speech. “The Phantom is designed to ensure accurate op-for assessment and to prevent ambushes at the binary and trinary engagement level. Additionally, its high speed allows it to designate targets for artillery bombardment and escape before opposing forces can effectively engage.”

Donovan continued to stare at Star Commander Rachel silently for several seconds. Then, “Star Commander, what is ‘artillery’?”

“This has not been made clear to me,” stated Rachel, flatly. “I am told that Khan Ward has plans to integrate Inner Sphere military tactics with Clan doctrine, and this ‘Mech is the result.” 

“I see,” replied Donovan. “Can it jump?” 

“Neg. But it can outrun a Mist Lynx by more than 30 kilometers per hour.”

Donovan gave a critical sniff. “Well, we cannot argue with the wisdom of a Khan, quineg?”

Rachel smiled, hopeful that this meant Donovan was at least open to the idea of a radical change in tactics. Those hopes were dashed as the rest of the afternoon was spent trying to convince Donovan that he was meant to merely observe his opponents using the Phantom’s advanced sensors rather than engage them himself. Only after he’d run headlong into the blast zone of an Arrow IV impact did Rachel seriously consider requesting a return of his old Mist Lynx

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


Phantom 3055r

The Phantom is a bizarre ‘Mech by Clan standards, but in hindsight, that was perhaps to be expected from the highly unconventional Clan Wolf. The Phantom takes the idea of the heavy scout to its extreme, eschewing almost all firepower in favor of maximum speed and armor. It is the quintessential team player, requiring assistance from other units (be those complementary ‘Mechs, artillery, or Elementals) in order to have an impact on the battlefield. 

This flies in the face of traditional Clan doctrine which emphasizes individual battle performance over all else. Even nonconformist Clan Wolf MechWarriors required some time to adjust to the Phantom‘s intended mission profile. They would have just five years to learn completely new tactics between the Phantom‘s introduction in 3052 and its trial by fire during the Refusal War, where light Stars led by Phantoms would harass Jade Falcon units and designate targets for artillery strikes.

However, the Phantom‘s efficacy was debatable. Although an admirable Elemental delivery ‘Mech with a top speed of 151 kph, its lack of firepower made it a mediocre ambusher, with other, older ‘Mechs able to fulfill the role of a high-speed harasser better. The Viper and Ice Ferret are both just over 10 kph slower than the Phantom, but with two and three tons of additional pod space respectively, both are able to mount much higher-damage configurations while maintaining a similar armor profile. Furthermore, both the Viper and Ice Ferret continued to develop new pod configurations for decades, with both receiving variants that mounted similar advanced electronics. 

Phantom 3055U

While one could argue the Viper is mostly found in the Ghost Bear touman, the Ice Ferret had been in production by Clan Wolf’s ‘Mech factories for over a century by the time the Phantom was introduced. Given the Ice Ferret‘s similar design, it’s a complete mystery why Clan Wolf commissed the Phantom to begin with, but it’s doubly baffling why both ‘Mechs remained in production simultaneously for decades. 

Clan Wolf factories on Arc-Royal would continue to produce both the Phantom and Ice Ferret throughout the Jihad, although production would cease temporarily after the planet was struck by Word of Blake forces. In the Clan Homeworlds, the one factory building Phantoms would exchange hands several times, causing the Phantom to proliferate among the Home Clans. It has reportedly replaced the Fire Moth due to its similar speed but heavier armor.

Phantom Prime CCG

The Phantom‘s end was thought to have come with the arrival of the Wulfen, an advanced light ‘Mech featuring stealth armor and an even higher top speed. However, demand for the Wulfen far outstretched supply, and Clan Wolf was forced to continue supporting Phantom-equipped Galaxies. With the invasion of Terra looming, Clan Wolf reached out to Clan Sea Fox to increase production of the older, heavier design. In return for retooling a Bloodhound factory to produce Phantoms, Clan Sea Fox was given the ‘Mech’s design schematics. The obsolete design is now freely available to any willing to pay Clan Sea Fox’s price. 

The Phantom‘s primary configuration exemplifies its role as a heavy scout. Its armament of one ER Medium Laser, one ER Small Laser, and a single LRM-5 launcher would be considered anemic even for an Inner Sphere light ‘Mech, but its arsenal of electronics (including TAG, ECM, and an Active Probe) makes it well-suited for armed reconnaissance or spotting for distant artillery. Six tons of ferro-fibrous armor is adequate for a ‘Mech of its size, but the Phantom‘s true defense is its blistering top speed of 151 kph.

Phantom Alt Config C CCG

It wasn’t long before Wolf MechWarriors began demanding more of the Phantom‘s six-and-a-half tons of pod space. However, with such limited pod space available, the Phantom‘s most threatening configurations typically feature groups of smaller weapon systems. The A and C configurations, for example, offer significant short-range punch multiple batteries of ER Small Lasers. Other configurations, such as the B, D, and F, mount more mid-range weapons such as SRMs and ER Medium Lasers.

Some even mount weapons originally intended for non-’Mech units. The E configuration sports an ATM-3 and eight Micro Pulse Lasers, while the G configuration has a ProtoMech-scale AC/4. The L configuration features three AP Gauss Rifles and a Plasma Cannon, both with a ton of ammunition.

More recent configurations utilize advancements in weaponry to help the Phantom punch above its weight. The I configuration has an Improved Heavy Large Laser and an ER Medium Laser tied to a Targeting Computer (with a Light TAG providing artillery with targeting data). The K configuration ties a single ER Large Laser to a targeting computer but manages to provide the primary configuration’s entire electronics complement with the Watchdog CEWS. And the R config mixes Inner Sphere and Clan tech with two IS-grade Medium Lasers, two Heavy Medium Lasers, and an SRM-6

Phantom ilClan Recognition Guide

Although the Phantom‘s popularity wanes in the Wolf Empire, its availability from the largest network of arms merchants the Inner Sphere has ever seen practically ensures the ‘Mech’s survival for many decades to come. It’s yet to be seen how populous the Phantom has become within the Home Clans or if the traditional emphasis on individual combat performance has resulted in the Phantom being relegated to second-line units. Perhaps even more potent Phantom configurations have been produced (using powerful yet light weaponry) that have yet to be observed in the Inner Sphere. Only time will tell.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Round-Up For November, 2023

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

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

A Warrior Pope Approaches

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

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

Time To Kickflip A DropShip

Tony “Shadow” Pro Skater Hawk
byu/meltdonw14 inbattletech

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

Catalyst Teams Up With Veiled Resin For Unique Art

BattleTech Resin Reveal
Watch this video on YouTube.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Stackpole Paintining

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

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

Gustavus Gus Michaels Painting

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

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

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

BattleTech Pride Anthology 2024 Calls For Submissions

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

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

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

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

OPINION: Bring Back Naked MechWarriors

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

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

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

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

HBS Says No New BattleTech Or Shadowrun Games Coming

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

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

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

BattleTech 40th Anniversary News Coming At PAX Unplugged

Big BATTLETECH News:
Watch this video on YouTube.

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

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

Wanna See ForcePacks Being Made?

PVC Battletech Packaging CAT35756 102423
Watch this video on YouTube.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Fire Moth Goes Postal

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

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

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

PixelMech 3D Shares New Explosive Update

PixelMek 3D pre-alpha, now with 100% more destruction effects!
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It looks like development of PixelMek 3D is coming along nicely. You may recall PixelMek from September’s news blast as the boomer shooter Doom-like version of MechWarrior that never quite existed but we always kinda wished had. The latest video update reveals a new milestone has been reached: you can blow stuff up

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

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

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

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

Mechwarrior, 2023
byu/Remmor inbattletech

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

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

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

The King Of Lego Crabs

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

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

MWO Introduces MechWarrior’s First Shield In Latest Patch

Centurion Onyx MechWarrior Online

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fafnir Arrives In MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

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

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

Magnetic ‘Mech Bay Blows Me Away

Mech Bay 2
byu/Fox-Fi inbattletech

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

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

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

Camo Specs Brings Us The Free Jade Falcon Paint Guide

Camo Specs Online Jade Falcon Paint Schemes

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

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

Happy Jade Turkey Day!

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

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

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

Bad ‘Mechs – Stinger

Stinger Bad 'Mechs

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Stinger 3025

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

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

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

Stinger 5M

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

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

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

Stinger 5R

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

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

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

Stinger IIC

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

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

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

Stinger_RGilClan_v13

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

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

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy