Welcome to a new series here on Sarna I’m cleverly calling “Bad ‘Mechs.” It’s a deep dive into some of BattleTech’s least appreciated, least effective, but most awesome designs. You might think some of the ‘Mechs are completely undeserving of the Bad ‘Mechs title but don’t worry–even bad ‘Mechs have a story to tell.
We’re going to kick things off with one of my favorite Bad ‘Mechs, the Assassin: a light ‘Mech hunter that was often no better than the light ‘Mechs it was ostensibly designed to hunt. Despite being born of corporate fraud to having the tightest cockpit of any ‘Mech in the Inner Sphere, It took over four centuries for the Assassin to finally meet its end, and man, what a wild ride that was. Let’s take a brief trip down memory lane and remember the Assassin.
Waiting in an underground parking garage, Jenson couldn’t help but feel the clandestine nature of his business was entirely appropriate for a ‘Mech called “Assassin.” Maltex Corporation would never officially condone his actions, but Jenson knew the project was in trouble. Maltex could try to woo SLDF procurement officers with performance reports that stank so bad that even he could tell they were bullshit, but none of that would matter.
Money talks. Money gets you noticed by the right people. Not the official kind, or the kind that cared about budget estimates and cost projections; anyone who could put two and two together knew there was no way Maltex could produce the Assassin at the same price per unit as a Stinger. The unofficial kind. The illicit kind. The kind that gets exchanged underground in the middle of the night.
Which is exactly where Jenson was, and exactly where his contact would be in the next 45 seconds.
Sure enough, a black hovercar approached the parking spot where Jenson was standing. No words were exchanged. The black tinted window rolled down, an arm wearing a pinstripe sleeve poked out, and Jenson handed it the briefcase. Then it sped off back up the ramp and into the cool, damp night.
Jenson let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. The project would be saved, the Assassin would get made, and he’d make his Maltex overseer a very happy lady.
To understand the Assassin, one has to understand the heady days of the Star League. With one central, major military power, the military-industrial complex had just one place to turn to for funding, and it was often easier to bribe one’s way to a new ‘Mech contract than to create a quality product. Star League procurement was sensationally corrupt at its height, with corporations greasing palms more often than a thirteen-year-old after midnight.
Hence, we get the Assassin, a ‘Mech that fulfilled a niche that never really existed to begin with. Maltex Corporation marketed the Assassin as a replacement for the Stinger and Wasp, proposing it as a cheaper and more cost-effective alternative. They managed to convince Star League procurement of this through false budget reports and overly optimistic service life projections–the actual price of the Assassin was over twice that of the Stinger or Wasp it was meant to replace.
Costs aside, much of the Assassin‘s marketing centered around how the ‘Mech would out-perform its intended replacements, and in this regard, the marketing wasn’t too far off. With greater speed, jump capacity, armor, and weapons, the Assassin could dictate the terms of engagement with either the Stinger or Wasp, assuring victory in the hands of any competent pilot. This led to the Assassin‘s undeserved reputation as a light ‘Mech hunter.
Even when the Assassin was introduced, several Star League-era light ‘Mechs could outrun, out-shoot, or outlast the Assassin. The Commando offered nearly as much armor and speed but far surpassed the Assassin in firepower. Both the Mongoose and Hussar could outrun the Assassin, and even the humble UrbanMech had immense firepower and armor in comparison, albeit at the cost of near-immobility.
A century later the Assassin was falling behind in most areas. The Draconis Combine’s new Jenner equaled the Assassin in speed but far surpassed it in firepower. The Valkyrie could out-trade LRM fire with the Assassin until both their ammunition bins ran dry, at which point the Valkyrie‘s tougher armor would carry the day in a direct engagement. The Panther‘s PPC could blow holes in the Assassin‘s armor while enduring what little return fire it could muster.
But the Assassin would lead a charmed life. The chassis wouldn’t see large-scale engagement until 2980, when the Free Worlds League repelled a Fed Suns assault on Rochelle during the Third Succession War. Taking less damage than their slower comrades (which was probably better explained by selection bias than any true durability on the Assassin‘s part), the Assassin‘s reputation remained intact even as spare parts meant that House militaries fielded fewer and fewer Assassins as the Succession Wars dragged on. By the time the Clans invaded, there were very few Assassins left.
Maltex would later attempt to revive the chassis during the FedCom Civil War. The ASN-30 variant replaced the missile weapons with an LB-X AC/5 while the medium laser was upgraded with an extended range model. However, during those combat-heavy years, Maltex found that performance was the only metric that truly mattered to Lyran military procurement in the middle of a war, and the lightly armed Assassin simply couldn’t compete on the modern battlefield.
Hellespont Mech Works would attempt to field a further upgraded ASN-99 with Stealth Armor and a sword, but by then the Assassin‘s luck had run out and no new variants have been produced since the Jihad.
The Assassin leaves a complicated legacy, proving that with the right connections even a bad idea can become a highly profitable reality. But time has a way of ending lies, and so time eventually caught up with the Assassin and ended it.
Don’t think the Assassin deserved to be a Bad ‘Mech? Let me know in the comments, and also let me know what next Bad ‘Mech deserves a showcase.
September will be a month to remember. This month, not only did many of us receive our Clan Invasion Kickstarter packages, but we’re also getting a very special present in MechWarrior 5. For the first time in a MechWarrior game, we’re going to be able to play giant rock ’em sock ’em robots.
And yes, I’m aware Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH did melee combat first (and also allowed shoulder charges and mule kicks, too), but there’s something viscerally satisfying about punching a ‘Mech in first-person. It’s going to be so sweet.
As usual, we got a lot to talk about so we’re not going to dwell too much on the arrival of melee combat in a MechWarrior game for the first time, ever. Don’t worry, we’ll pick that thread up later. For now, on to the news!
The MechWarrior Online World Championships Are Back
The last time we saw an officially sanctioned competitive MWO tournament was back in 2019 when PGI held an invitational-style tournament due to falling player numbers. The 2020 tournament never happened, which was unsurprising given how PGI was hard at work on MechWarrior 5 and the pandemic was putting a stop to many game events and tournaments.
But that’s all in the past. The MWO Champion Series returns in 2021 in collaboration with the MWO Comp community, a group of die-hard MechWarriors who kept the competitive spirit alive while MechWarrior Online went through its Cauldron-fueled metamorphosis.
The rules seem to be mostly the same as previous championships, with 8v8 games featuring all tech and ‘Mechs available with a maximum of 3 ‘Mechs in each class with no duplicates allowed. A 480-ton maximum is also applied, so there’s no loading up on heavies and assaults allowed.
The competitive queue is already available to all MechWarrior Online players who are part of a competitive team, with the queue open on Thursdays and Saturdays. The competitive queue closes on October 18, and then round one of the double-elimination finals begins on October 30 with the grand finals on December 11. Prizes will be both in-game and real-life cash prizes.
It’s going to be a very interesting tournament with all the changes that the Cauldron have instituted. New builds, new ‘Mechs, and new strategies will be employed to account for the refreshed maps that have arrived throughout 2021. It’ll also be exciting to see if there are any new faces that have arrived in the competitive scene thanks to MechWarrior Online’s renaissance.
But speakin’ of new maps, a brand new refreshed Caustic map arrived on September 21’s patch, along with another quirk pass. ‘Mechs like the Griffin, Enforcer, Thanatos, Ebon Jaguar, and Rifleman are all getting revamped quirks along with many, many more designs. Check out the patch notes to see if your favorite ‘Mech just got a facelift that’ll bring it into the current MechWarrior Online meta.
See The Timber Wolf In All Its Glorious Variations
SU-SMD recently started on an expedition to draw every version of the Timber Wolf, from Prime to Z, along with unique camo schemes for various Clans employing each design. I like ’em, since you hardly ever see a Timber Wolf other than the Prime variant, with its big, boxy launchers and paired laser pods. I can’t wait till we get to the U alternate configuration for some underwater Mad Cat action [UPDATE: it’s everything I imagined.]
Sarna Unveils A Searchable Map Of The Known Universe
First off, I want to make it clear that I had absolutely nothing to do with this herculean effort. That credit all falls to Sarna Cartographer Gruese, founder and editor-in-chief Nic, as well as the team members of Operation: Doneve. This searchable map will be made available on the main site as well as in the Discord, which you can find here.
This map covers the Inner Sphere and the rest of the known universe right up until the year 3151. Additionally, each planet will have its own centered map which allows you to see which factions owned it during which period. Just click the little arrow over the map to bring yourself forward or backward through BattleTech‘s eras.
You can see the whole map of the Inner Sphere here, and get an example of the planetary-focused maps by looking at Park Place here. It took over 6 years to catalog over 3,000 planets/systems, but the results I’d say are worth it.
MechWarrior 5 Generated 160,000 Sales For Steam Release
We don’t know how many copies MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries sold when it was first released on the Epic Games Store, but we do know how many it sold on Steam and Xbox. This comes courtesy of a recent financial report from EG7, developer PGI’s new Swedish overlords. An additional 160,000 units were sold when MechWarrior 5 was re-released on Steam and Xbox in May, with 75,000 Heroes of the Inner Sphere DLC purchases on top of that. About 81% of those sales were on Steam, so Xbox/GOG and Epic accounted for the remaining 30,000 in new sales.
That might not sound like a lot compared to all the many million-unit franchises out there, but EG7 considers this a financial success, and that’s all that really matters. EG7 will foot the bill for marketing and publishing, while PGI focuses on making new DLC and adding features to MechWarrior 5--such as the recently-announced Legend of the Kestrel Lancers. We’ll dive into that in just a second, but first…
MechWarrior 5 VR Mod Goes Into Beta
Virtual reality compatibility was initially touted as one of MechWarrior 5‘s features back in the day, but the complexities of VR proved too much for PGI’s small development team. The feature was cut ahead of the game’s Epic release and there hasn’t been much discussion about it since then. Perhaps VR will get official support in the future, but in the meantime, we have mods.
Specifically, we have VRWarrior from modder Kitt, now available on Nexus Mods. This mod provides support for Oculus, HTC, SteamVR, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets to experience MechWarrior as never before.
As someone who only recently got their first VR headset, there is nothing that compares to the level of immersion you achieve with VR, and especially for games that put you in some sort of vehicle. Games like Beatsaber and Superhot are fun and all, but when you can only move a few feet in any given direction before you hit an invisible wall, it sort of ruins the experience.
Sitting down in a chair with a headset and a game controller doesn’t have that problem. What VR does is allow you to move your head and look in the direction your head is pointing. This makes you feel like you’re really in the cockpit of a giant death machine, and that’s a feeling that’s difficult to replicate outside of VR.
However, VRWarrior isn’t perfect. The mod only works when you actually get into a mission, with all the in-between menus and dropship scenes still happening on a flat monitor. It’s also still in very early beta, so expect there to be bugs (many of them are already noted on the Known Issues portion of the mod’s page). But either way you look at it, I’m excited for VR to finally find its way to MechWarrior.
Gallery 3025 Brings Us Yet More Great Art
A little while ago, we saw this Archer as a work in progress, but now Jayden Morris has unveiled the finished product on Gallery 3025. It’s pretty amazing, and as always, I encourage you to assist Gallery 3025 by subscribing so they can bring even more precious BattleTech art like this into the world.
MechWarrior 5 Punches Onto PlayStation Along With New Legend Of The Kestrel Lancers DLC
MechWarrior5: Mercenaries - Legend of the Kestrel Lancers Expansion Pack Features.
Big, big news for MechWarrior 5. First, the game is heading to PlayStation. PGI senior community manager Daeron “Bombadil” Katz made the announcement on the official PlayStation blog earlier this month, noting that this will be the first time that a MechWarrior game has come to a Sony-branded console since MechWarrior 2: Arcade Combat Edition for the PlayStation.
Besides receiving full crossplay with both the PC and Xbox versions, the PlayStation 5 version of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries will include support for the DualSense controller’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. It’ll also come alongside a free update that lets players swap control of lancemate ‘Mechs during gameplay--another all-new feature never-before-seen in a MechWarrior game.
There’s also one other new feature coming with the free update. Fans noted in the PlayStation 5 announcement that there were some UI tweaks, and in the weapon’s table there was something labeled “HANDS.” A follow-up tweet from PGI offered a tongue-in-cheek “no comment,” but basically confirmed that the game was getting melee-based combat--a first for any MechWarrior game.
There’s also going to be new ‘Mech skins, 23 new ‘Mech variants (with a lot of Archers, for some reason), three new biomes (Jungle, Tourmaline Desert, and Megacity), five new random mission types (Scorched Earth, Objective Raid, Targeted Kill, Guard Duty, and Battlefield), and seven new quest lines including the new “all-out-war” battle scenario.
Also confirmed with the DLC features trailer was what MechWarriors have been asking for since as far back as I can remember. Melee combat will finally appear in a MechWarrior game.
It seems like it’ll be limited to just punching, which means only ‘Mechs equipped with fists will get the option to play rock ’em sock ’em robots. However, ‘Mechs with fists are the ones that often needed a little extra to feel the most impactful in the game. My Quickdrawsuddenly shoots from bottom-tier to top-tier heavy ‘Mech, along with the Commando and Panther.
The mighty Atlas probably didn’t need the help, but I doubt anyone is going to complain.
We still don’t know exactly how melee will work, but I’ll assume it’ll be like a weapon system that you can bind to a button and then launch a haymaker at anything that’s close enough.
Lancemate ‘Mech-swapping and melee combat are included in the free update that launches alongside the PlayStation release of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. Legend of the Kestrel Lancers will include the new campaign, sidequests, and 23 new ‘Mech variants. Both are launching on September 23.
Hatamoto-Chi Is The True ‘Mech Of The Samurai
I couldn’t go without featuring SU-SMD’s other BattleTech piece, a commission from Everything BattleTech’s David for a Hatamoto-Chi in full Draconis Combine samurai regalia. This is the sort of thing that reminds you that the Dracs have a lot of very pretty ‘Mechs so long as you can get over the retro-futuristic aesthetic.
BattleTech Is Slowly Being Turned Into Audiobooks
I’m not sure if any of y’all knew this since I didn’t know it until a helpful Sarna reader pointed it out, but BattleTech’s many novels are slowly being converted into audiobooks. You can head on over to Audible to see which books are currently available, such as The Gray Death Legion saga, Wolves on the Border, and A Bonfire of Worlds. I’m a big podcast guy, so audiobooks are a great thing to slip into my usual listening habits.
The narrators for books already converted are fine, but I’m holding out for Tex’s rendition of Michael Stackpole’s Blood of Kerensky series. Tex made the announcement on the official Black Pants Legion YouTube page, adding he’s under an NDA so he really can’t offer too much in terms of comments. All he told me was that he needed to upgrade his computer hardware just to render the audio of sufficient quality and that he considers himself an “ultimate amateur” in the audiobook biz, so don’t get too excited.
He also wasn’t able to offer me a timeline, so patience is a virtue and all that.
BattleTech Returns To GenCon 2021
Catalyst Game Labs was at Gen Con this past weekend to showcase many of the new miniatures that arrived with the Clan Invasion Kickstarter Wave 2 packages. I got mine, by the way, and the minis are superb. I hope y’all get your packages in the coming weeks.
To really make these new minis pop, CGL, Arcturus Rising, and Iron Wind Metal set up a diorama featuring a mixed landscape battle bookended by boxes of Clan Invasion ‘Mech Packs. You can even spot a few new Iron Wind sculpts in there, including the Goliath C, Sojourner, and Archer ARC-9W.
We’ve got Guardian982 on Reddit to thank for these pictures, which also show a brand new official Annihilator hiding behind a building. The Iron Wind Metals ‘Mechs are available on its website now, while that Annihilator comes as part of a brand new Wolf’s Dragoons Assault Star Force Pack available from Barnes and Noble. This is an exclusive item, so you can ONLY get ’em from Barnes and Noble, and it’s a pre-order item too. Shipping for these Wolf’s Dragoons Force Packs starts December 15. Inside you’ll find the aforementioned Annihilator, but also a Rifleman, Archer, Blackjack, and a re-posed Timber Wolf.
And that’s in for September! Join us next month as we head into the spooky season with some more scary announcements.
No jokes, no quips, no higgeltybips. We’re jumping straight to the straight facts today because there’s a load of BattleTech news this month and it ain’t gonna get spoon-fed to your eye holes with flowery language about summer rains.
If you’re like me, you probably thought that combining all your Clan Invasion toys into a single shipment made sense. This was before a global pandemic, a global shipping slowdown, and that stupid tanker that got stuck in the Suez Canal. Time makes fools of us all, as they say, and I felt very foolish indeed for my naive decision from so long ago.
That said, our long wait is almost over. Clan Invasion Kickstarter backers will soon be shipping their Second Wave packages over the next few weeks, with deliveries expected to last into September. Emails have already started going out for people to confirm their addresses. If your address hasn’t changed, no action is required, but you might as well double-check that nothing weird has happened between now and what feels like a lifetime ago.
Sarna has a Discord!
A few months ago, an official Sarna Discord was created. It’s already grown to over 750 members, and is a great way to connect with others in the BattleTech/Sarna/Wiki community.
The focus of the Discord is as an aid to the wiki — join the #research-desk, or as #wiki-questions. If you have any technical problems with the site you can post in #wiki-issues.
Of course you’re welcome to discuss is #general BattleTech stuff or about #videogames-general — we love talking BattleTech.
Our first artist spotlight is PhearTheHam on Reddit, who posted this phenomenal image of an UrbanMech in a police uniform. We’re not sure which planet this Urbie is on, but whatever it is, it’s got an urban center with a crime problem big enough to warrant an AC/10.
So Detroit, basically.
Wolves Remakes Terra In Its Own Image
Some of you may be familiar with Founder's work already. For the past few months he's been working on bringing Terra to life with original assets taking strong inspiration from the original MA2 levels. Here's how that's looking so far… pic.twitter.com/SqQzble8f4
Another month, another Wolves update. This one brings back one of MechAssault 2‘s levels using some of the original assets completely new, custom assets [ed. PajamaBoy has corrected me--sorry about that!]. Terra certainly looks a lot different in the 31st century thanks to ComStar rule. This is what the world would look like if a telecom company took over.
I gotta say, for a completely fan-made game, the Wolves folks are better at keeping their players up to date than most AAA developers.
Eldonious Rex Makes The Best BattleTech Paperback Cover Ever
Oh, Eldonious Rex, you’ve done it again. Eldonious recently released his Marauder Print Pack, a collection of original prints that would look great on a wall or the cover of the latest CGL novel. Here we see a Marauder II taking on two Hatchetmen in close-quarters combat. It’s gotta be one of the most dynamic still images of ‘Mechs fighting I’ve ever seen. Catalyst, I hope you’ve hired this guy to be your cover artist.
You can get this image along with several other Marauder-themed items (including a coaster) over on Eldonious Rex’s commerce site here.
MechWarrior: Living Legends Releases Update 0.14.4
Development continues on the old Living Legends even as a new standalone Living Legends is also under development. Honestly, there’s not a whole lot new in update 0.14.4 but there are a few notable fixes.
First, ambient temperature wasn’t updating correctly on vehicle HUDs, so that was fixed, and damage modifiers that were allowing splash weapons to crack through a ‘Mech’s head armor have been tweaked to stop providing quick and undeserved kills. Third, all ASF build timers have been set to 45 seconds from 10 seconds to prevent players from just Kamikazeing into ground objectives over and over again and wasting team tickets.
There’ve also been a few tweaks to the Kagoshima map, including added ammo buy zones on the side caps, rolling fog has been added to the lower part of the river valley, and the Karnov has been moved from the middle of the map. You should see these changes live on servers now.
Games Workshop Drives Warhammer Fans To BattleTech
I was a little late for this drama because I’m not much of a Warhammer fan, but apparently, Games Workshop has declared war on its own fanbase.
Earlier this month, Games Workshop updated its intellectual property guidelines to have a “zero tolerance” policy towards infringements. This includes “pirating books, using a 3D printer to make copies of their models, and a ban on fan animations,” according to an article from Vice.
The weird part here is that even though I’m not a Warhammer 40K nerd, I’ve still seen the incredible fan-made Astartes series on YouTube. Games Workshop actually hired that guy as well as a bunch of other talented individuals to make original content for a new streaming platform that Games Workshop is launching on August 25, so you can imagine how awful it looks for Games Workshop to suddenly turn around and say “no more fan animations, now you gotta pay for it.”
This led r/GrimDank, the official Warhammer meme subreddit, to switch to entirely BattleTech memes for an entire week, driving untold hordes of Warhammer fans to discover BattleTech for the first time.
You remember MechCommander Mercenaries? The MechWarrior 5: Mercs mod that turned the game from a game where you command a single lance from the cockpit of your personal ‘Mech to a game where you command an entire company from the safety of your DropShip? Well, the Steam release of MechWarrior 5 and its Heroes of the Inner Sphere DLC sort of broke the mod for a while, but version 1.3 fixes it, and it’s available now over on Nexusmods.
Besides being playable again, MechCommander Mercs 1.3 adds a few new features, such as squadmates sharing sensor data for the purposes of long-range missiles, new empty/low ammo message on the game’s UI, and has better ‘Mech AI that should be compatible with other mods (like the TT AI mods).
However, there are still a bunch of things left to do, and also several known issues in the current release. For example, if you decide you’re tired of being a bystander and you want to get back into the action by entering back into Mason’s cockpit via the F6 button, you’ll break the Mason AI if you try to leave again.
I love the Assassin. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a bad ‘Mech; it’s under-gunned and under-armored compared to anything in its class, and it’s not particularly effective in its singular role of hunting down and killing light ‘Mechs. It’s a poorly designed ‘Mech built by corporations that were looking to milk the Star League military-industrial complex and it honestly hasn’t gotten any better in the half-millennia since its introduction.
But man, it just looks so damned good, and I just love me a recon-in-force ‘Mech that can fly (even though there are many, MANY other ‘Mechs that can do it better than the Assassin).
So thank you, fed0tich, for indulging in my unabashed love of the Assassin. Please feel free to do so again at your earliest convenience.
Tex, Stackpole, Pardoe, And HPD Renegade Talk All Things BattleTech
Tex, Michael Stackpole, Blaine Lee Pardoe and Renegade HPG Talk BattleTech
What do you get when you combine two of BattleTech‘s most prolific authors, Renegade HPG, and Tex? Two hours of the most fascinating conversation interspersed with some amusing anecdotes and Tex’s… unique brand of humor. This interview winds its way from the Minnesota Tribe and Clan Wolverine to the author’s favorite missed opportunities for cover art to some interesting “what if” scenarios.
If you’ve got two hours to kill, you could do a lot worse than Renegade HPG’s latest interview. Check it out in the video here.
Battle Bound Answers Who Would Win In A Fight Between The Black Widow Company And The Gray Death Legion
Battletech: Battle Bound S2E2 - The Black Widow Company vs The Gray Death Legion
I stumbled across Battle Bound in one of my many jaunts across the wider world of BattleTech, which is to say it popped up in the subreddit and thought it was amusing enough to watch while I work.
What we’ve got here is a group of creatives that are essentially jazzing up a BattleTech playthrough with some nice editing, some video game-inspired effects, and narration courtesy of the one and only Tex. Frankly, I’m OK with Tex becoming the voice of BattleTech--it’ll give George a break from doing Duncan Fisher all the time.
Before the main event, Battle Bound shows us a bit of BattleTech history with an unboxing of the Gray Death Legion and Black Widow Company‘s Japanese sourcebooks and even goes deep into each company’s dossier, outlining each pilot, machine, and even their ‘Mechs unique quirks. This is circa 3025, so ‘Mechs often went into battle with damaged systems that just couldn’t be fully repaired.
If you want to see a BattleTech tabletop game made as exciting as it basically can be, this is it.
Boston Dynamics Shows Off Precisely The Wrong Kind Of Robot We Should Be Making
It’s a little sad to see current robotics going in the direction of small and dextrous rather than giant and lumbering, but I guess we gotta start with baby steps, right?
Boston Dynamics is a name we’ve covered before around these parts. Being on the forefront of robotics design means we’re just itching for the folks over in Boston to invent myomer musculature, fusion engines, gyroscopes capable of keeping an 80-ton death machine from toppling over.
Instead, we get Atlas running a parkour course and then doing a backflip. It’s impressive, yes, but I think we need to collectively remind Boston Dynamics that we’re not at all interested in the cyberpunk future of robot ninjas. Give me giant stompy robots, thanks.
MWO August Patch Brings The First ‘Mech Quirk Pass And Revamps HPG Map
MechWarrior Online’s renaissance continues with yet more updates! This time we’ve got a first quirk pass to several underused ‘Mechs as well as a massively updated HPG map.
You can see the new HPG over on MechWarrior Online’s website, but it looks like the giant satellite dish has been pushed to the side and the actual battlefield is going to be a collection of ramps and technologically infused boxes. This might make the map seem a little more boring from an aesthetic perspective, but this is all to prevent games from devolving into two teams constantly circling around the HPG in a maneuver affectionately referred to as “NASCARing.”
In MWO’s first quirk pass since the Cauldron took the reins of development, a collection of underused ‘Mechs is getting a much-needed performance boost in the form of quirks. Although somewhat controversial to BattleTech purists, quirks are basically MWO’s method of balancing BattleMech designs. Because ‘Mechs come in all different shapes and sizes, some are just easier to hit than others. Some have big arms that protect the torso, some have no arms at all, and some are just giant boxes that are so easy to hit that they turn into a walking bullet sponge on the battlefield.
On top of that, certain ‘Mechs have better hardpoints, better omni-pods, or other non-equipment factors that just make them better or worse than other ‘Mechs in their weight class. Quirks give MechWarriors a reason to use a particular ‘Mech that’s just objectively worse without a little help.
I’m particularly interested in the Ice Ferret quirks, as it’s one of my favorite ‘Mechs and it’s going to be quite a bit tougher following Tuesday’s patch. The Incubus and Cougar also look very interesting, as does the Centurion, which looks like it’ll suddenly become the tankiest medium ‘Mech in the game.
Both the new quirks and HPG remaster are live now, so go out there and blast people with some of these quirked-out ‘Mechs!
It’s raining here where I am right now. A summer thunderstorm, the sort that comes on quickly, blocks out the sun, and then dumps a bucket of water over your head before leaning back into a more sustainable downpour that comes with the occasional far-off thundercrack and enough wind to rattle the branches of trees and bushes. It’s the sort of weather where you wish you could just stop whatever it is you’re doing and just read a book by candlelight.
Mostly because I’m worried one of those lightning bolts will strike my house and fry my laptop.
But that’s just how dedicated I am to ensuring you, dear Sarna reader, get all the BattleTech news that’s fit for human consumption. And trust me, there’s always a heap of BattleTech news to consume, so let’s hop to it.
What If MechAssault Was A SNES Rail Shooter?
Just as July arrived, so too did these delightful images from MrTalida. They imagine MechAssault, a game we’ve discussed a few times around these parts, but as a SNES rail shooter instead of a 3D action game. Think After Burner, but with ‘Mechs instead of jet fighters.
As a huge fan of these classic arcade games, this set of pics hit me right in the nostalgic feels. But better, since it’s Mechs. It almost makes me wish that we had these MechAssault games instead of the brutally hard BattleTech game we got on the Sega Genesis (called MechWarrior 3050 on the SNES).
This is still a mod for Garry’s Mod, so you’ll need to own Garry’s Mod in order to install the MechAssault 2 pack. It’s also still in beta, although the mod creators are currently looking for others to help them complete the project and maybe recreate all of MechAssault 2 inside Gary’s Mod.
It looks like these guys have already made quite a bit of progress with almost 30,000 downloads. If you’ve got Gary’s Mod and loved MechAssault 2, check out the mod here.
MechWarrior: Living Legends 2 Will No Longer Need MechWarrior 5 To Play
So remember MechWarrior: Living Legends? The same folks are making a sequel, which was announced last March. At the time they planned on making it using MechWarrior 5, which would have meant you’d need to own MechWarrior 5 to play Living Legends 2, but now the dev team has announced that’s no longer the case.
This, unfortunately, means that JPL Studios is going to have to make an entirely new game from scratch. Well, almost scratch. It’ll be made in Unreal Engine (same as MechWarrior 5), but JPL will need to make all their assets, animations, and everything else on their own. And because the only way to get this done under Microsoft’s Game Content Usage Rules is to do all this without actually selling the game, MechWarrior: Living Legends 2 will remain totally free.
It’ll also drop the “MechWarrior ” moniker because it’s copyrighted and just go by Living Legends 2. But we can call it MechWarrior: Living Legends 2 here because that’s basically what it is.
Don’t expect any updates on this project for a while. Scuttlebutt around the Living Legends 2 Discord is that we might see an alpha build later this year, but don’t hold your breath.
As for the original Living Legends, expect to find new VTOLs in the future along with some “thoroughly reworked” flight models.
Now This Is A Poster That Could Get Me To Leave My House
I’ve never been a huge fan of the Puma aesthetically speaking. It’s a great little ‘Mech, don’t get me wrong, it just looks sort of like if a Kit Fox found a home that it started carrying around everywhere it went. The Cougar looks a lot cooler, which is likely why you see a lot more of it in various video games including MechAssault.
Wolves, the MechAssault fan game that we’ve been following for a while now, is getting ready for its Wave 3 release of ‘Mechs. And one of those ‘Mechs just so happens to be the Puma.
I’m not going to say that the Wolves version of the Adder improved substantially on the ‘Mech’s hermit crab aesthetic, but I will say it looks exceptionally unique. I’m here for it.
Now THIS Is A Grasshopper
Reddit user Philbobagginzzz is a hobby enthusiast from Alberta, Canada who loves painting miniatures. Warhammer and BattleTech are both parts of Phil’s repertoire, but we’re going to focus on the BattleTech side in this post.
It’s a Grasshopper. But not just any Grasshopper--it’s a PURPLE Grasshopper. And the base is also the size of your fist, so it’s less of a tabletop mini and more of a figurine. It’s something that I’d be proud to mount on my mantle, and I love Grasshoppers, so it gets a pass in this month’s news dump.
Alpha Strike Cards Out Now For WarShips, JumpShips, DropShips, And Small Craft
Alpha Strike might not get all that much attention around these parts, but it does something that I think is very important in BattleTech: it makes things simpler. BattleTech is fine for an afternoon of fighting between lances, but blow that up to a company-level engagement and you’ll be playing for a week. Alpha Strike cuts down on the dice rolls and makes it a lot easier to include large-scale engagements in your tabletop nights.
It also makes space combat a lot easier, and now that you can get Alpha Strike cards for WarShips, JumpShips, DropShips, and Small Craft, you can have a massive space fight that won’t take the rest of the year to finish.
Both Alpha Strike card packages are now available on Catalyst’s store and Drive-Thru RPG for pay-what-you-want. That’s 140 WarShips and JumpShips along with almost 200 DropShips and smaller spacecraft.
Also, a recent update on the Clan Invasion Wave 2 shipping: Australia and the UK within the next two weeks, mid to late August for the USA and EU, no word on Asia and “the rest of the world.” Here’s hoping Canada is considered part of the USA for the purposes of shipping.
This particular image will soon be featured on a custom BattleTech card courtesy of Renegade HPG over on Gallery 3025. Speaking of which…
A Reminder That Gallery 3025 Exists And Is Doing Good Things™
We’ve talked about Gallery 3025 before, and we’re going to talk about it again right now. Do you want new BattleTech art? Animations? Even more elaborate fan projects that bring the BattleTech universe to life in new ways? Then you should sign up to Gallery 3025. For a very low monthly donation, you can get quick and easy access to brand new BattleTech art and also bask in the satisfaction of knowing you’re one of the noble few keeping BattleTech alive.
Canyon Network has flooded as of this match! No idea what this means for gameplay (yet), but maybe it’ll mean ‘Mechs that stay low in the floodwaters will get bonus cooling while peeking above the hills will give better sightlines on your opponents. Also, it’s neat for any part of MechWarrior Online to change this rapidly, so kudos to Francois on this map update!
Another big change in this patch is to jump jets. Jumping has always felt better in certain ‘Mechs, with usually the lighter end of each class enjoying the best jump performance. The 40-45 tonners in particular made the best jumpers since their jump jets cost only half a ton but provided as much lift as you’d get on a lighter machine.
The Cauldron’s latest changes help to smooth out jump jet performance disparity so that mounting jets on heavy and assault ‘Mechs isn’t quite so useless. Smaller ‘Mechs will enjoy increased initial thrust, while heavier ‘Mechs will have improved burn time so they can still make those high jumps, they’ll just do it more slowly.
Ahh, June. Honestly, my favorite month, and not just because it contains my birthday (ah, but which day? I’ll never tell!). It’s hot, but not too hot, it’s wet, but not too wet, and the bug population hasn’t had quite enough time to explode like it will in July and August. June is, in my mind, the perfect month.
Not to mention there’s a whole bunch of BattleTech news to get caught up on, so let’s hop to it!
Latest Tex Talks BattleTech Dives Deep Into The Marauder
The latest Tex Talks BattleTech came out just after I posted May’s news blast, so I wasn’t able to promptly advertise the majesty of Tex’s latest project. For that, I apologize and beg your forgiveness.
The Marauder was never my favorite ‘Mech even though I acknowledge it shares a special place in BattleTech and among most BattleTech fans. Like the Shadow Hawk, Locust, and Warhammer, the Marauder is a ‘Mech that will never die. Not even a decade of litigation can keep the Marauder from being perhaps the most famous BattleMech ever made.
Tex does the Marauder sweet justice in this hour-and-a-half-long documentary. I think it’s Tex’s best work yet, and I encourage you all to learn more about both the machine and the history which produced it.
I’m really hoping the Charger is next. There’s a ‘Mech with a story that deserves Tex’s special attention.
Timothy Seals Just Updated His MechWarrior Remix Album, And You Can Still Download It For Free
I’ve probably gone on at length about Timothy Seals and his great work remixing and reimagining the original MechWarrior 2 soundtracks, so I won’t go into it again. All I’ll say is that the original MechWarrior soundtrack still holds up, and Timothy Seals only improves it further.
And now you can get the definitive version of Timothy Seals’ “Bred for War” album over on Bandcamp. This 19-track album includes several songs that were previously only available on YouTube, as well as the rest of the songs that were already on Bred for War.
You can download the whole thing on his Bandcamp page paying for what you want, although only honorable MechWarriors will throw this bard a few coins.
I can’t remember when I first reported on someone remaking MechWarrior 2 in Unity, but here have an update on how things are going.
And it looks like things are going well! Silent Thunder, the first mission in the Jade Falcon campaign, seems to have loaded just fine, although there are some issues with the enemy AI not really responding to the player’s presence. The game uses all the original sound files but updates the laser and explosion effects to be a little bit better than the original. There are also some issues with the explosions not lighting up the terrain as much as they should. There’s still no minimap, heat implementation, nav points, or music. You can basically walk around, shoot the objectives, and quit.
But hey, that’s something! And it’s a lot of progress over where the team was last we checked in. We might see MechWarrior 2 reborn in Unity before the end of the year!
MechWarrior Online’s Revival Continues With ‘Mech Agility Pass And A Reborn Polar Highlands
The first is the remastered Polar Highlands, which got a preview earlier in the month. Previously, Polar Highlands was relatively flat. Low, rolling hills provided breaks to line of sight, but the map was notorious for favoring LRM-focused builds which could utterly decimate an opposing team. Combine that with a lance of players dedicated to supporting their missile boats and Polar Highlands often turned into a match of who’s LRMs struck first.
Although LRM-boating is a legitimate strategy, it’s not conducive to fun gameplay. The best and most reliable strategy against missiles is to stick to cover, so the new Polar Highlands adds larger hills, bases, structures, and long winding trenches to ensure ‘Mechs have an escape route when they find themselves under fire.
And second is the agility pass. The Cauldron warned us of the impending agility changes in our recent interview, with the majority of ‘Mechs receiving a big boost to their acceleration, deceleration, run rate, torso twist speed, and torso pitch and yaw angles. These changes are designed to make the game feel more fluid and less like you’re fighting against the controls of a gigantic robot. Which you are, but fusion engines and myomer musculature shouldn’t feel cumbersome.
Great art from Reddit user SU-SMD of a Clan Wolf star dropping from a Union-C and then moving onto their objectives. That Viper and Shadow Cat are jumping quite aggressively, but that seems to be the standard operating procedure for Wolf maneuvers.
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Took Over E3’s PC Gaming Show
Let's get things started ... | PC Gaming Show E3 2021
If you were watching E3 as closely as I was, then you likely noticed how MechWarrior 5 featured quite prominently in the PC Gaming Show. In fact, Day9 was in the cockpit of a dropship, while Frankie was in the cockpit of a 65-ton CPLT-C1 Catapult. The hosts frequently swapped back and forth between various set pieces from MechWarrior 5, and the big interview during the show was with PGI’s community manager, Daeron Katz (who wore a stylish hat for the occasion).
It was a fun surprise to see how much pull MechWarrior still has in the wider gaming world. Sadly, the PC raffle where someone would win a MechWarrior-inspired computer was only available to US residents, so my Canadian passport disqualified me from entering.
Anyway, although this was clearly just a marketing stunt, it was cute and fairly well done. There wasn’t really anything new discussed, so just catch a glimpse of the clips for everything you need to know.
Lego Mad Dog? Lego Mad Dog
We like Lego, and here we have a 1:21-scale Lego model of a Mad Dog courtesy of EngineeredEntropy on Reddit. This model is extremely well done, with the only issue being that it’s not quite strong enough to stand up on its own. Plastic just doesn’t have the same structural support as Endo Steel, sadly. Bonus Timber Wolf at the end of the 20-slide carousel.
In Honor Of Brood X, Someone Held A Cicada Death Race
As many of you in America’s East and Midwest are already painfully aware, Brood X has arrived with a vengeance. Brood X is one of 15 Cicada broods that periodically rise from the earth to sing us the song of their people, and they do it every 17 years or so. It is the largest and furthest-ranging brood of Cicadas in the United States, filling the air with their characteristic buzz before mating and then dying off due to mass predation.
What makes VonJankmonBT’s fictional death race so exceptional is that they really went all-out on it. Check out the Reddit post for a full race report and a collection of pictures showing each lap of the Cicada Death Race.
Because the Cicada‘s lasers are technically part of the torso and not the arms, the leading Cicada isn’t able to flip its arms around to start firing back at its pursuers. Thus, being in the lead is actually a very dangerous proposition for a Cicada racer, making this race a real blood bath.
Now we just need someone to put as much effort into an UrbieDurbie.
Is America About To Make Real ‘Mechs?
Well, no, not really, but a study from the US Army Research Lab looked into the idea and determined it’s at least possible. But they don’t really recommend it.
This comes courtesy of Popular Mechanics, which looked into the study published in the journal PLOS ONE. The study specifically examines something called the Heglund Formula, “which estimates the energy required for animal locomotion.” Physicists determined that the power required to move an object using legs is roughly the same as using wheels or treads up to 35 tons, so it’s no less efficient energy-wise to get around in a Jenner than it is a light tank.
So, great news for ‘Mechs right? The US Army is saying, “Well, we can make giant robots if we really wanted.” But that doesn’t mean they’re going to do it. The study also notes that walking vehicles are taller and thus more vulnerable than low-slung tanks and armored combat vehicles. And while ‘Mechs have an easier time getting down steep slopes, there’s not a lot of call for armored combat on the side of a mountain.
The study also doesn’t go into determining exactly how to power a theoretical BattleMech, just that it’s not immediately a bad idea from a power perspective. But hey, we’re one step closer to real ‘Mechs. Now we just need to have a century of warfare involving nukes and orbital bombardments before we sign a piece of paper that makes ‘Mechs the best means of waging war.
Farseer Animation Teases Next Project, And It’s Also About The Marauder
Farseer Animation is back with a teaser video for their latest project, “Marauder.” If you’ll recall from around the same time last year, these are the folks that brought us that fabulous “Battle of the Crescent Fortress” animation, which is almost ten full minutes of some of the best fan-made fiction around.
This time we only have a minute to figure out what’s going on, but it looks like there’s Clan Jade Falcon going up against a lone FedCom Marauder. Dig the old-school Novamodel being used here, as well as the Elemental infantry battle.
“Coming eventually” is about the best time frame we can hope for in what looks to be Farseer’s most ambitious project yet, so be patient on this one.
Clan Wave 2 Shipments Delayed Because We Can’t Have Nice Things
Sorry to end the June news on a bummer, but this just came in over the wire. Catalyst has just told Clan Invasion Kickstarter backers that Wave 2 has been delayed because the ship that was supposed to pick up the last two containers today didn’t even stop in port due to a COVID outbreak.
Yeah, COVID ain’t over, and it probably won’t be for years to come even as we all get vaccinated (and if you haven’t yet, I certainly hope you do soon). Catalyst is now calling for delivery around the first of August.
On the plus side, we got to see some ComStar minis, so that’s cool.
It’s May, and I’m finally vaccinated! It hurt like hell and I was feeling like hot garbage for several days, but it’s a small price to pay for life to get back to some semblance of normal. A normal that probably won’t come for at least several more months as more people need to be vaccinated. And then we’ll all have to get boosters as we accept COVID as a seasonal disease like influenza.
But whatever. As far as I’m concerned, May is full of good news, and that includes BattleTech. So let’s get to it!
MechWarrior 5 Steam Release Includes Full Crossplay On May 27
There are two big news beats for May, those being Catalyst and the imminent shipping of Wave 2 of the Clan Invasion Kickstarter, and MechWarrior 5 releasing on Steam. We’ll start with MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries because it’s just days away from arriving.
All the deets recently got published on the MechWarrior 5and MechWarrior Online websites. The base game will clock in at $29.99, while the Heroes of the Inner Sphere DLC will hit you for another $19.99. Not a bad price for those who’ve been willing to wait for the game to release on Steam.
Ahh, but MechWarrior 5 isn’t just getting a Steam release! The game is also coming to the Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, making it the first console MechWarrior game since MechAssault 2. And if you’re a PC snob, you can even get it on GoG too.
Even better, MechWarrior 5 will have full crossplay across all platforms. For co-op play, only the host will need to have purchased the DLC to give access to everyone playing, so if you’ve got your lancemates already arranged you can save a few bucks with only one of you purchasing Heroes of the Inner Sphere.
A massive free game update is also coming with the Steam release, which includes a revamped intro sequence, the ability to skip the tutorial, rebalanced difficulty and economy, and greater variety in missions and maps. There’s even going to be infantry running around so the levels will feel more like an actual planet and not just some ‘Mech-sized set-piece.
We’ve already gone over most of what Heroes of the Inner Sphere will get you (such as a new career start option, seven new ‘Mechs, new missions, biomes, and equipment), but you’ll also get an expanded Inner Sphere map with 18 more warzones and 11 more side quests.
Clan Invasion Wave 2 Shipping Soon And IlCan Coming In June
And now for the news you’ve all been waiting for: Clan Wave 2 shipping is imminent! I just got an email warning me to update my shipping address if anything’s changed between now and Wave 1 (if your address is the same listed in the email, then there’s no further action required). Catalyst is still waiting on one last container shipment as of May 20, and I have no idea how long it takes for a box to cross the Pacific ocean (or even if it necessarily is arriving via the Pacific), but I’d say a June delivery is likely.
Catalyst also treated us to a State of the Game update earlier in May that revealed an equally momentous occasion: The IClan sourcebook arrives in June too! Get the full story for the Battle of Terra, including tactical maps, new ‘Mechs, and insights into how the other Great Houses reacted to this momentous conflict.
There’s a whole list of things coming in the next few months! Recognition Guide: IlClan gets its fourth cycle from August to November, Rock and a Hard Place brings the first new Gray Death Legion story in years in July, and Tamar Rising takes a look at the Tamar region of Lyran space during the Battle for Terra in September.
Check out Catalyst’s website for the full rundown on what’s coming in the latter half of 2021.
This Guy Added A ‘Mech Bay To His Computer
My computer hasn’t had a disk drive in some time, and even the days of my solid-state drives requiring a bay are numbered. When I eventually swap to NVMe drives, I’ll have nothing to put in the front of my case.
Nothing, except for a bad-ass ‘Mech bay.
Toukejin, thank you for creating this articulated Timber Wolf model and then throwing it on Thingiverse for me. Now I just need to find a 3D printer to make one of these for my next build.
MechWarrior Online’s May Patch Brings Phase 1 Mobility Pass And A New Canyon Map
We covered a lot of what’s going on in the May patch in my recent interview with the Cauldron’s Bear_cl4w, but a quick recap never hurts!
The biggest change with MechWarrior Online’s May patch is the reworked Canyon Network map. Spawn points and differences in cover have been fixed along with newly added ramps, bridges, and other terrain fixes that will make it a little easier to get around if you’re a non-jump-capable ‘Mech, but still provides a benefit for bringing a ‘Mech with jump jets.
April’s weapon pass has been fine-tuned with additional tweaks to various over-performing weapons, such as the Snub-Nose PPC, Clan Micro Pulse Laser, and Light Gauss Rifle. These adjustments hardly remove these weapons from viability, so all the cool new builds that came out of April’s patch will still work just fine. As always, the Cauldron is keeping a watchful eye on weapon performance for next month’s patch.
May also brought phase one of the ‘Mech agility pass. The Centurion, Hunchback, Hunchback IIC, Firestarter, Night Gyr, Timber Wolf, Atlas, and Kodiak are all more nimble to varying degrees to bring them into line with other ‘Mechs in their class. The Centurion and Hunchback IIC in particular were both extremely cumbersome chassis despite being medium-class machines, often getting outmaneuvered by ‘Mechs much heavier.
A few ‘Mechs also received armor and structure quirk alterations, namely the Stalker, Jagermech, Cicada, Jenner, and Jenner IIC. Generally, this involved providing more base armor to these fragile ‘Mechs while also redistributing their structure values somewhat so that they’re all tougher and hopefully more viable to bring into a pug.
I’ve tried the new Hunchback and Jenner, and both feel a lot better. I’m looking forward to my Novagetting the same treatment eventually.
Sean Lang Interviews Iqfish, Creative Director For Hired Steel
So I somehow missed Hired Steel‘s debut episode on Sarna’s April news blast, which is an unforgivable offense given how this is quite possibly the most amazing fan-made BattleTech machinima ever made. For those that missed it (including myself), I’ll embed the video above.
Now that you’ve seen it, here’s No Guts No Galaxy’s Sean Lang’s interview Constantin “Iqfish,” Hired Steel’s creative director over at TMC. Apparently, this whole thing got started as a COVID project since Germany had a bunch of lockdowns that resulted in reduced work hours for most of the population. With more free time, TMC came up with this amazing new video series.
Earlier this month, Wolves got its Wave 2 update, including the Raven, Raptor II, Hellbringer, and Mad Cat Mk II. And to celebrate the occasion, New Day Fiction gave us this sweet new trailer. The maps are all still fairly basic-looking, but they’re working on it.
Oh, and Wave 3 is currently in development. No word on what ‘Mechs that will include, but there’s a hint on the Wolves Twitter suggesting that the Puma will be in it. The Puma isn’t as cool as the Cougar, but it’s still a worthy addition and a ‘Mech we don’t see all that often in MechWarrior games.
As always, you can download Wolves and play for free from their website. If you’re a fan of MechAssault, then you’ll love Wolves.
The Ostsol is a ‘Mech that doesn’t get nearly enough love. Especially the bizarre, spindly-limbed original drawings by Duane Loose. So when I saw SU-SMD‘s take on the Ostsol on the BattleTech subreddit, I just had to share it.
What I love about this drawing is how it combines the abstract and “rough” style of the original BattleTech card game with the more hyper-realistic style of modern BattleTech artists.
Well, not really. But as the story goes, Tex had a VERY strong girlfriend at one point, so the meme is that he’s into big strong ladies, and it doesn’t get any bigger or stronger than an Elemental. Thus, the incredibly talented EldoniousRex created this image of Randolph P. Checkers on his wedding day with one very lucky Ghost Bear woman.
The lore of Randolph P. Checkers, Tex’s now-canonized character, still needs to be fleshed out with this story on Sarna’s wiki, so somebody hop to it!
And that’s it for May. Join us next month for more BattleTech action.
Man, March turned into a whirlwind of announcements! First it was MechWarrior Online getting a controversial patch, then MechWarrior 5 getting a Steam release date, and then MechWarrior Living Legends announced that they’re making a sequel mod. Plus there’s an update from Catalyst on the Clan Invasion Kickstarter, and as always, some delightful new art to share from around the web.
So no more small talk. Let’s get to the news!
Shrapnel Celebrates Its First Year And Updates On Wave 2
We’ll get the good news out of the way first. Clan Invasion Wave 2 is on track to start shipping out in May/June, according to the most recent Kickstarter update. Manufacturing should be done by the end of the month, with freight happening in April.
There are, apparently, a few things that are running “a few weeks behind” due to delays, but Catalyst isn’t letting that delay Wave 2 shipping. No word on what those items are, but they better not be my goddamn Urbie plushes or I will start a riot.
In other news, Shrapnel – The Official BattleTech Magazine has just completed its first full year of print. That’s a pretty big deal, if you ask me, as Shrapnel has a lot of BattleTech content you won’t find anywhere else. And these magazines aren’t like picking up a copy of People--they’re more like grabbing the latest Reader’s Digest or National Geographic with 160+ pages to go through. This includes stories from vets and first-time authors, actually playable scenarios for your next tabletop game, and tons and tons of new art.
Frankly, they could use more art, but I’m not complaining about what we got.
New this month is Fall from Glory, the Founding of the Clans series’ first book, as well as Fang and Claw, a short story from Michael J. Caravella. That’ll come to Clan Invasion Kickstarter backers Ristar and above, with no word on a wider release as of yet. Check your emails for the link for this short story.
MechWarrior Online’s First Major Update In Years Was A Bit Rough…
MechWarrior Online recently got its first major patch in two years, and wow, people were not happy. There were a few map tweaks, some new trials ‘Mechs that don’t suck, and a few other miscellaneous tweaks and bug fixes (not the least of which was a new intro that won’t blow out your headphones every time you boot the game up).
But the new patch also included some weapon and equipment changes that nobody really asked for. You can go over the exact numbers on the MechWarrior Onlinewebsite, but in general, PPCs do 20% more up-front damage at the cost of 20% less DPS. That means a far slower recharge rate than you might be used to.
The reason for these tweaks as given by PGI was to open up more “space” for other weapon tweaks down the road and to make PPCs (and Gauss Rifles) more specialized weapons. In this case, specialized means dedicated sniper weapons. You get a whole bunch of bang, but if you can’t reposition while your PPC/Gauss recharges, you’re kinda pooched.
There’s a lot of talk online about this patch being an overall nerf, but I don’t think so. They certainly succeeded in making PPCs/Gauss Rifles into sniper weapons, and in the hands of a coordinated lance, this means trained PPC fire can bring down a ‘Mech in a single salvo. In those scenarios, the longer cooldown doesn’t matter because the target is already dead.
But I don’t play in those sorts of matches. I just play in PUGs, where it’s basically controlled mayhem every match. A 7-second Clan ER PPC cooldown means that my Nova-A has absolutely no ability to plug a hole in a line if the enemy side charges. I’ll get one shot off and then I have to wait an eternity to fire again, at which point faster-firing Medium Pulse Lasers or SRM-6s have chewed me to pieces.
To me, this change doesn’t feel great. It pigeon holes PPC-boating ‘Mechs into dedicated snipers and punishes pilots with poor aim. That’s fine for pro players, but for a game that’s trying to encourage a renaissance with new blood, it just seems too unforgiving to newbies to be the right call.
To me, the changes to PPCs/Gausses (and even the MASC changes that were included) feel like PGI is just trying to introduce some sweeping changes to the MechWarrior Online meta. I get that--established MMO and online service games do it all the time to keep things fresh and interesting. But it’s easy to get carried away with that sort of thinking and make changes that look like they’ll really shake things up on paper but really don’t feel great for existing players.
Plus, MWO players are a curmudgeonly lot that don’t take change particularly well, especially if they didn’t ask for it.
Mechwarrior Online Patch Notes Review - March 2021
On the plus side, MechWarrior Online is giving away a free Grasshopper-5H for the Month of March and also hosting a public test server with a slew of changes that have been suggested by a group of players calling themselves “The Gulag.” Those changes include an overhaul of pretty much everything based on input from both casual and professional MWO players alike, so it’ll be interesting to see how it compares to the latest official patch from PGI.
UPDATE: Oh hey, looks like PGI has decided to rollback the weapon and MASC changes in the latest patch after all. I gotta say, that’s a big change for PGI, which has typically ignored public outcry from its players after unpopular changes. If that’s not a positive sign, I don’t know what is.
The game Rust also hosted its save data at the same location and suffered far worse losses. Monthly backups meant that it wasn’t a total loss, but community-hosted servers that didn’t have backups were just… gone.
MechWarrior Onlinegot a new server the next day and is back and running for you fancy Europeans, so there’s no need to deal with a 200 ping when you’re playing with me here in North America.
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Gets A Release Date On Steam, GoG, and Xbox
Hey, so, remember when MechWarrior 5’s Steam release got delayed till the spring, but then PGI said that they’d also come out with the Heroes of the Inner Sphere DLC as well as an Xbox release at the same time? Well, we’ve got a date: May 27.
“We are very excited to also be able to give Xbox and Steam players a good dose of MechWarrior fun,” said EG7 CEO Robin Flodin in a statement. “It is also great to be able to present yet another example of the EG7 companies working together to bring a world-class title to market.”
The funny part (at least to me) is that MechWarrior 5 was initially delayed from December to avoid getting stomped on by Cyberpunk 2077, and then Cyberpunk turned out to be a slow-motion train wreck. Now May is coming up with games like Biomutant, Subnautica: Below Zero, Resident Evil Village, and the remade/remastered Mass Effect trilogy, with more announcements being made all the time. It’s sort of an out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire situation if you ask me.
But hey, if you were among the many who thought that the Epic Games Store release was like an early access preview, then the real deal is just two months away.
Tex Talks BattleTech Returns To Discuss The Marauder Soon™
A little while back, I gave MechWarrior: Living Legends a try. It was great fun, but it’s a game that’s definitely showing its age. MechWarrior: Living Legends, for those unaware, is the total-conversion mod built on the original Crysis engine, which is pushing 14 years old at this point--old enough that it’s already received a remake on a brand new engine.
Rather than use the Crysis Remake for MechWarrior: Living Legends 2, the fine folks at JPL Studios have decided to use the far more moddable MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries as their starting point. This makes creating another total-conversion mod much easier since a lot of the assets they’d be using (like all the ‘Mechs, for example) are already present in the game.
That and MechWarrior 5 is built on the Unreal 4 Engine, which just has more knowledge and support out there.
JPL just announced MechWarrior: Living Legends 2over on Reddit, revealing that it’s been a passion project a year in the making. The team is made up of many of the same people who worked on the first MechWarrior: Living Legends, but I’ve been told there has been a lot of new blood brought in thanks to MWLL2 going public.
According to the Reddit post, alpha tests are coming “within a couple of weeks,” and MWLL2 project lead Nathan reports that the team will be hosting smaller stress tests before then to make sure everything works. Support will start out for 32-player matches, but that number might increase over the course of the mod’s development.
Nathan tells me that MWLL2 will follow the same format as the original mod, which is a sort of Battlefield-style persistent battle with matches focusing on taking control points for resources. The team with the most points gets declared the winner after roughly an hour of play.
Obviously, more MechWarrior is always great, but I think MechWarrior: Living Legends 2 has a lot going for it. First, it’ll be in a modern engine with way more technical support and it’ll be made by a proven team of modders with a passion for MechWarrior/BattleTech. Second, it might even add a multiplayer component to MechWarrior 5 that PGI has no particular interest in making. Sure, co-op campaigns are great, but competitive multiplayer adds a level of replayability that you just can’t beat.
I’m excited to see what JPL comes up with, especially given the quality of product they’ve put out with the original MWLL. For updates, follow MechWarrior: Living Legends 2 on Twitter, and for (possible) access to some of the upcoming stress tests or even the technical alpha, head on over to the MechWarrior: Living Legends 2Discord.
From Mice To Elementals?
So, this isn’t exactly BattleTech news, per se, but it does seem to have a direct link to the BattleTech universe in that it’s yet another piece of technology common to the Clans in the far future that has just been invented right now. Thanks go out to an eagle-eyed Sarna reader for giving me the heads up.
A group of scientists in Israel has just grown a mouse embryo in an artificial womb. That’s according to the MIT Technology Review, who interviewed biologists at the Weizmann Institute of Science. The embryos were grown by adding blood serum from human umbilical cords along with a pressurized oxygen mixture.
The mouse embryos only lasted between 11 to 12 days before they grew too large for the glass containers they were in to continue supplying them with adequate oxygen, but the basic concept has been proven: conception without a womb.
The crux of the article is the huge ethical concerns such technology raises for humans, specifically with the ongoing abortion debate. However, for us BattleTech nerds, this is the first step towards a true Iron Womb.
And that’s all I got for March! Join us next time for more BattleTech news, and hopefully some teasers for Heroes of the Inner Sphere.
Welcome to 2021! It’s a new year, and that means new beginnings. There’s a new president, there’s a new sense of calm and orderliness that--ah, sorry, I’m being told that only one of those things is true and that we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic that’s killing thousands on the daily. Well, great, off to a good start then.
On the plus side, BattleTech is still here, and it’s still great. Here’s all the news worth knowing for January.
MechCommander Gold: Prometheus Gets Beta Release
We start off the January news with a piece of news I missed from last December because it came out over Christmas and I was knee-deep in the nog, if you know what I mean.
RizZen, the guy responsible for the fantastic Darkest Hours expansion of MechCommander Gold, has once again returned with a new expansion: Prometheus. This time he’s straying away from the Inner Sphere and goes fully into Clan Wolf territory with a brand new Wolf-themed expansion.
What started as a passion project due to COVID-19, RizZen describes Prometheus as the version of MechCommander Gold “I would like to have done in the first place while starting to mod MechCommander wayback 2016.” It will eventually contain an absolutely astonishing 200 missions, but so far the beta release just has 33 of the planned Wolf campaign. It’s also got all eight Darkest Hours campaigns, for a total of 89 missions.
There’s also new voice packages planned for various new MechWarrriors, although the current beta release only has one of them recorded so far. RizZen also needs to finish the story writing and full briefings for each of the missions, which are planned for future updates.
You can download the whole thing over on ModDB and take a look at the differences between Prometheus and Darkest Hourson this comparison post here. Best of all, there’s no need to have the original game. Just like Darkest Hours, everything is downloadable as a standalone game.
Speaking Of MechCommander, MechCommander Mercenaries Update Delayed Until MechWarrior 5 Spring Release
As we’re all aware, PGI has recently been acquired by EG7 and that led to a delay on the release of Heroes of the Inner Sphere, the first major update to MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, as well as a delay on the Steam release. On the plus side, MechWarrior 5 is also getting an Xbox Series X version that’ll bring MechWarrior back to consoles for the first time since MechAssault.
This means expected editor updates have also been delayed which means work on MechCommander Mercenaries has stalled (that’s the mod that turns MechWarrior 5 into an RTS styled after the classic MechCommander games).
But not all work has ceased on MechCommander Mercenaries. Redditor yrrot gave us an update a few weeks ago that showed a brand new drop pod model ready for game integration as well as a new repair vehicle that’ll let you do battlefield repairs while your ‘Mechs are on deployment.
Another planned feature is a Mechlab overhaul that adds more MechWarrior 4 elements over what we have in MechWarrior 5. It’ll be “a little more complicated than just MW4‘s mechlab,” writes yrrot, mentioning that they want to deal with certain issues like hardpoint inflation.
Since mods like MercTech And MechWarrior 5: Reloaded are so popular, the MechCommander Mercenaries team wants to release MCM as a standalone mod so that it can play nice with other mods. That might take a while even if PGI releases the editor update on time in the spring. In the meantime, the mod is in a holding pattern until we see Heroes of the Inner Sphere.
Catalyst January Products And Clan Invasion Update
Clan Invasion Kickstarter backers also got their first look at the Marauder II and Marauder IIC, which should be coming out in the second wave of Kickstarter orders. I get a lot of Phoenix redesign aesthetic from the Marauder II, especially in the cockpit and torso-mounted autocannon. The Marauder IIC has a more streamlined, deadly appearance, which totally fits the ‘Mechs amazing firepower thanks to three ER PPCs.
Speaking of Wave 2, Catalyst should have all the Wave 2 orders squared away by now, so we’re just waiting for the manufacturer to complete the order and get things sent back overseas. By all accounts, I should have my ‘Mechs by the spring, and maybe even sooner [editors’ note: Sean has no idea when Wave 2 will ship and should not be counted on to provide an accurate guesstimate of when eager BattleTech fans will get their minis].
What’s a monthly update without some great art? I spotted this Shadow Hawk battling a Wolverinefrom Reddit user meltdonw14 and felt that it really captures that classic art style you really don’t get with the redesigns and MechWarrior 5-style art. I can appreciate the classics too sometimes.
A few days later, meltdonw14 gave us another great image of a more modern-looking Thunderbolt. This one seems to have seen some battle, and I’m very appreciative of the shell craters and laser scars on this ‘Mechs armor. Lovely attention to detail.
MechWarrior Online Delivers January Development Update
It’s January, and as promised, PGI has given us their preliminary plans for MechWarrior Online. Bombadil and Matt sat down to deliver a January update on the state of the game, noting that MechWarrior Online had some good player counts and sales numbers throughout the holiday season. That’s good news for heading into 2021, with plans for more content and updates coming together.
In the update video, the two describe patches coming in Q1 2021 as being dedicated to “low-hanging fruit.” These are quick, fast, easy changes that will directly improve the quality of life for players and will be delivered in an upcoming patch tentatively planned for February (but no promises there).
On the docket are lowering or removing unit C-bill membership costs to make it easier to join units for faction play, as well as doubling the reconnection penalty time from two to four minutes. This will punish players that deliberately disconnect from a match before completion.
Also planned for the patch are keeping the match time-of-day static as well as making it so bolt-on cosmetics stay on your ‘Mechs permanently and can’t just be shot off at the beginning of a match. This should hopefully make them a bit more relevant as they typically got destroyed in the first five seconds of fighting, making them mostly irrelevant since nobody could see how badass your ‘Mechs mohawk looked.
The second quarter will see PGI looking at new ‘Mech bundles to give players a better deal on some new toys, fixing Solaris maps in private matches, moving spawn points around, and maybe even adding new ‘Mech variants.
Q3 will be about new content and features, but neither Matt nor Daeron are even willing to hazard a guess as to what that might look like as of yet. They stress that a lot of resources are being poured into MechWarrior 5‘s coming Steam release and expansions, but they are hiring some dedicated devs to work on MechWarrior Online. If you’re still playing MWO after all this time, you’ve probably already learned how to be patient with this game, and that skill will serve you well.
Here’s Some Sweet Covers Of The MechWarrior 3 Soundtrack
MechWarrior 3 certainly wasn’t my favorite MechWarrior soundtrack, but maybe Joey Cramsey’s covers will change my mind. He recently posted a few covers of MechWarrior 3‘s main theme to the MechWarrior subreddit, and they’re pretty good! You can check ’em out over on his Bandcamp, and even pay for them if you want.
“Please excuse the silence. We at #TMC are working hours every day on Ep1 and pushed through >100 tasks since Christmas,” wrote the 3D artist. “I can’t share much without spoiling too much. I think [this] image is OK though. Bear with us please.”
I feel like we’re very close to a release date, although specifics were never provided. We did get a pretty nice screengrab from a work-in-progress, so hopefully that’ll tide us over for a bit.
Aces Wild To Host To Host Inner Sphere Coalition MechWarrior Online Tournament Starting February 1
Even as we await MechWarrior Online‘s February patch, The Inner Sphere Coalition is barreling straight to its third-ever community tournament.
Hosted by Aces Wild, you can head on over to their website to register your team. Exhibition games take place throughout January, with official games scheduled to start on February 1. Teams will be seeded based on their individual members’ Jarls’ List rankings to make sure that initial games aren’t complete blowouts.
Games are 6v6 and as the name suggests are limited to Inner Sphere ‘Mechs and technology only (sorry, Clanners, you’ll have to sit this one out). Each match will include five drops of escalating tonnage so that you’ll get the full range of MechWarrior Online games, from highly mobile light and medium ‘Mech fights to assault and heavy ‘Mech-anchored brawls.
Interestingly, you can only use a particular chassis three times over the course of those five drops, and since matches are 6v6, each team will need a variety of ‘Mechs to compete.
Winners are awarded 1000 MC per drop win, but the real incentive to compete is to not have to worry about queue times thanks to the scheduled matches.
And some of these times must have been set with folks running around in Fire Moths, ’cause they are FAST. ProxInDaBox is blowing through the Wolf campaign’s “Pyre Light” in a blistering 1 minute and 2 seconds, while jangler throws down the gauntlet on the third mission of the Jade Falcon campaign, “Mirror Cage,” at an eye-watering 43 seconds!
That time was established in jangler’s world record run, which you can watch in the video above. Their ride is not in fact a Fire Moth but is instead either a custom Jenner IIC or a Stormcrow, both equipped with jump jets and making frequent use of a glitch that maintains forward momentum from jump jetting after shutting down.
Since When Did HBS’s BATTLETECH Become An RPG?
I’ll be honest, I sort of put Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH down for a little bit. I certainly think it was great and I put about 100 hours into BATTLETECH, playing through the main campaign twice, but I never did get to experience the three DLC that HBS put out over the course of 2019.
This time will be different for me, however. I’m not going to play the main campaign, and I’ve embarked on the new “Career” mode that was added in the Flashpoints expansion. This will help me get to the Flashpoints as quickly as possible and allow me to access all the new ‘Mechs that were added with each of the DLC.
I’ve played through a few missions and gotten my little starter merc company a fancy new Javelin-10F and an Enforcer, and then it really hit me--with all the new random events, Flashpoints, and additional mission-types and dialog, BATTLETECH went from being a pretty standard turn-based tactical wargame into a fully-fledged RPG.
I’m digging it, is all I’m saying. I may be late to the party, but y’all should really be playing BATTLETECH if you haven’t already downloaded it. It’s still the best BattleTech game out there.
Now that we’ve gotten that crucial meme out of the way, welcome to September. I’ve got more than enough existential dread to make writing this intro extremely difficult. So instead, I’m just going to rely on that cheap laugh and jump right into the news. Because nothing blows away anxiety over the potential fall of Western Civilization than a game universe about constant, unending warfare. And giant robots.
This has a whole lot of potential. The animation is only two minutes long, but the quality is superb. They’ve even got a DropShip flight deck where people move around and stuff! MechWarrior 5 could take a lesson here. Hint hint.
Not a whole lot happens; a lance consisting of a Shadow Hawk, a Catapult, a Hunchback, and a Rifleman land on a nameless world before the screen lets us know that this story will continue later. What is this lance of medium and heavy ‘Mechs doing on this apparently verdant world? Find out next month, hopefully.
Also, TMC got George Ledoux to do the opening narration, and that’s just sweet of ‘em.
Lostech: 30 Years of Heavy Metal Mayhem
Lostech: The BattleTech Center: 30 Years of Heavy Metal Mayhem
Last month’s preview has given way to the real thing. Lostech is here, and it’s a story about Virtual World and FASA’s BattleTech Centers, two places I’ve sadly never had the pleasure of attending because I live in Canada. But I have at least experienced a BattleTech simulator pod, so I know a bit of what I’m missing.
Lostech explores not just the construction and evolution of those simulator pods, but the business side of things as well. With BattleTech and FASA founders Ross Babcock and Jordan Weisman, Virtual World developers Greg Corson, Dave McCoy, JM Albertson, and Bill Redman, as well as Virtual World staff David Abzug, Jose Corpuz, and Paul Tierney, Lostech is a meandering romp down memory lane directed by Chris “Lynx” Chapman (whom you might know from a certain MechCommander game).
There’s a wealth of information here that I am almost certain to source when it comes time for me to revisit Virtual World and the BattleTech simulator pods. It’s also great to see where FASA and Virtual World fit into the wider arcade phenomenon back in the early ‘90s. Check it out when you get the chance! Just make sure you’ve got a spare two hours or so--this is definitely a dense documentary.
Tex Impresses Again With New Documentary On The Mackie
Battletech/Mechwarrior Lore : The Mackie, The Rise of the Battlemech
I’ve probably said enough kind words about Tex’s videos to fill an entire article on its own, but I’ll say ‘em again because the Black Pants Legion just keeps getting better and better. The latest video features the same wonderful writing and narration we’ve come to expect from Tex and company, but now goes one step further thanks to community support.
In the latest Tex Talks BattleTech, we have the wonderful voice stylings of BB Wolfe and George Ledoux, as well as all-new art from D.C. Bruins, Spacer, and Eldosiousrex, plus a ton of music from Goat, Kumakin, and Jekyll. The production value has really gone through the roof thanks to all these collaborations, and I can honestly say this is the best BattleTech content being made and distributed for free anywhere on the internet.
Plus, the full story of the Mackie is truly fascinating. Not just because it’s about the BattleTech universe’s first ‘Mech, but because it’s also about the story of how all of human conflict came to be dominated by giant stompy robots. With a clear sequence of events, Tex and the Black Pants Legion make a rational case for how all war went from space-based warship battles to ground-based robo-fights without making the whole thing sound hokey or downright stupid. That’s a talent I’m not sure I could replicate.
Sadly, COVID-19 has rendered it impossible for PGI to host an actual live tournament, but that hasn’t stopped players from organizing an unofficial MechWarrior Online World Championships anyways with their support.
The competitive queue opens to all-comers on September 29 and closes on November 10. Matches are every Thursday and Saturday, with the top teams moving on to the finals starting on November 13. The grand finals will take place on December 12.
There will be both in-game and cash prizes, with the cash portion being crowdsourced over on Matcherino. PGI will supply the in-game rewards, which can be pretty substantial. First place gets a 3x Ultimate Pack consisting of 25,000 MC, 74 million C-bills, 2,500 GSP, and some titles. The top 500 players get a consolation prize of five ‘Mech Bays, 3 million C-bills, 373 GSP, and some free paint colors.
Rules are similar to previous years, with matches being fought with teams of 8 on Conquest mode. There are five maps to choose from along with a map ban phase, with air and artillery strikes allowed on both sides. Each team is limited to 480 tons, must have 3 ‘Mechs from each class, and all weapons, tech, and ‘Mechs are allowed, including Hero ‘Mechs.
Sign-ups are available via the Comp Play tab in-game, but also head on over to the MWO Comp Discord to verify your roster and ensure you’re signed up for the many rewards this tournament has to offer. The fine folks over there would also be happy to answer any questions you may have. You can read the full rules here.
Let’s Show Some Quickdraw Love
I’m currently maining a Quickdraw in my MechWarrior 5 playthrough, so these images couldn’t have better timing.
First, we have this one from RedCometComith. This is technically a redesign, but I can see a lot of MechWarrior Online/MW5 influence in the arms and chest. I think I like this one a little more though. MechWarrior 5‘s Quickdraw is sort of squat while this one stands a bit taller and retains some iconic features from the tabletop like those rounded ankle actuators.
And then we have judosavarnas with a 3D model released on the exact same day. This one is far more traditional but no less amazing. They’re both great, and they’re both fueling my love of the Quickdraw as my current favorite ‘Mech. But to be fair, my favorite ‘Mech changes more often than the seasons, so next month it’ll probably be a Doloire or something.
Catalyst Clan Invasion Shipping Update And Shrapnel Issue No. 2
via Catalyst Game Labs
Catalyst gave us an update earlier in the month to let us know how things are going with the Clan Invasion. The big takeaway was this: “All hubs are expected to ship to backers in the early weeks of October.” So people should start to get their first wave orders sometime in October, provided of course that the USPS hasn’t been completely dismantled by then.
In the meantime, we’ve got yet more photos, yet more 3D renders of second-wave ‘Mechs, and other merch that will get shipped with the first wave. My only problem is that there’s absolutely nothing here about the UrbanMech plushie, and I’m starting to get desperate. Who do I gotta suck up to in order to spend every waking moment with a soft UrbanMech toy surgically grafted to my ass?
Oh, and there’s a new book coming out on Friday: Icons of War by Craig A. Reed Jr. This one takes us back to the home Clans to see what they’ve been up to leading into the invasion of Terra. And in typical Clan fashion, they’re all trying to kill each other. At least, I assume.
Wolves Is Gearing Up For A Big Update, So Here’s A Few Teasers
Along with brand new mechs, Wave 2 will of course launch with a shiny set of new skins. Some are completely original while some take inspiration from all corners of our favorite franchise and maybe even beyond… WIP. pic.twitter.com/elvtM1gxLq
I’ve been keeping tabs on Wolves, the free-to-play fan-made MechAssault game, and it looks like there’s going to be a new update soon. There will be new ‘Mechs, new skins, a brand new HUD, and some visual effects, according to the game’s Twitter page.
Geergutz over on Reddit recently posted this, and I felt like it was something worth sharing. They plan to start a BattleTech-inspired webcomic about ProtoMechs, of all things. These much-maligned overgrown battlesuits aren’t really something that gets a lot of attention these days, even in the post-Dark Age era where everyone and their pet dog have a set of power armor in their closet.
This is what happens when we don’t get a new BioWare game every year.
Also, I LIVE in Canada and I’m only hearing about the Canadian Game Awards just now. The selection committee is a bunch of people I’ve never heard of, except for Marc Salzman and that’s only because he’s at the beginning of every in-theatre movie to hawk overpriced tech at me during the pre-show.
PGI president Russ Bullock has even admitted that MechWarrior 5‘s narrative is not the main draw, so there’s really no logic to be found here. There’s also no explanation from the judges or even a quick blurb about why MechWarrior 5‘s narrative was considered better than every other Canadian game produced in 2020. We’ll probably never know.
And that’s it for this month! Join us next month where we’ll all hopefully have our Clan Invasion Kickstarter minis and maybe the world won’t be quite so on fire.
Welcome to your BattleTech News Roundup for the month of June, 2020. Now we’ve got protests against police brutality and massive civil unrest to go along with the global pandemic, so that’s cool. Who had race riots on their Apocalypse: 2020 Bingo card? Someone’s gotta be close to winning by this point. I’m still waiting on “volcanic eruption” and “meteorite impact” to complete my set, although I’m eyeing “alien invasion” with more and more suspicion.
MechWarrior 5 Adds Mod Support To Microsoft Store-Bought Games
While MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries has remained an Epic exclusive, it’s not 100% exclusive to Epic. If you’re really against Epic, you could always buy the game on the Microsoft Store for the same price.
But there was a problem in that the Microsoft version of MechWarrior 5 didn’t have mod support, which was one of the key features of the game. That’s changed as of earlier this month with a brand new patch that brought mod support to the Microsoft Store and Xbox GamePass versions of MechWarrior 5.
There was a bit of a hiccup as PGI also changed the save data location to make things a little more accessible, but this caused players to lose their save files and campaign progression if they had the game installed anywhere other than their C drives. Players had to go digging around for their save files to put them in the new location in order to get their campaign back.
Minor bug aside, this is a welcome change for Microsoft Store players since mods can greatly enhance your experience in MechWarrior 5. Welcome to the fold, Microsoft Store and Xbox GamePass MechWarriors!
Shrapnel, The Official BattleTech Magazine, Has Officially Arrived
Kickstarter backers got their inaugural issue of Shrapnel a few weeks ago, but now The Official BattleTech Magazine is available for everyone via Amazon.
Shrapnel represents a return to more serialized BattleTech fiction, filling the void left by BattleCorps when it shut down in 2017. It’s definitely a tome, clocking in at 172 digital pages when you include the index (the magazine portion itself is more like 150 pages). Within this digital magazine, you’ll find short stories from recognizable authors like Blaine Lee Pardoe and Kevin Killany, a forward from editor Philip A. Lee, and some more technical pieces about sniper rifles and the Eridani Light Horse.
They’re also publishing Michael A. Stackpole’s recent Kell Hounds novella If Auld Acquaintances Be Forgot. Which sort of explains why this thing is about the size of a small novel, and why it’s being priced at $5.95 on Amazon. That’s good value, considering the amount of text you’re getting.
As Blaine points out, the first issue of Shrapnel is very wordy without a lot of visual aids. Shrapnel is taking submissions for future issues, but so far the submission guidelines are all about word limits and preferred subject material (which is to say character-focused BattleTech stories). There’s nothing about fanart submissions, but reach out anyway. I’m sure Catalyst would love to spruce things up with a bit of fanart.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Sean, you’re a writer, why don’t you submit something to Shrapnel?” Well, I did have this idea about a gay romance between star-crossed Elementals from different Clans, but I don’t think anyone wants to read that. Plus I’d have to edit out the sex scenes to meet the PG-13 requirement and trust me, that’d be A LOT of work.
Catalyst Sends C&D’s To Thingiverse Accounts Over BattleTech Copyrights
courtesy of Fried Eggs on Discord
Well, this was a long time coming. Catalyst has finally taken action against the burgeoning 3D printing community to remove all copyrighted materials from Thingiverse, perhaps the largest 3D printing design site on the internet. This has resulted in many ‘Mech designs being removed at their request.
Takedown requests started getting sent out at the beginning of June, and according to a copy of the request posted by Reddit user AceTimberwolf, those requests are coming directly from BattleTech line developer Ray Arrastia.
You can’t blame Catalyst for protecting their copyrighted ‘Mechs, but it looks like this was a takedown of anything that was tagged “BattleTech” on Thingiverse. This meant things that aren’t technically copyrighted also got taken down, including stuff like buildings, trees, and other hex-based terrains. Custom designs that were based on copyrighted ‘Mechs also got the ax.
It was all a little heavy-handed, and it has left a bad taste in the mouths of the 3D-printing community. The BattleTech International 3D Printing Facebook group has taken to taggingtheirdesigns “America Mecha Game” to both protest the mass removal and also avoid future takedown notices, with various pirate memes dominating the recent postings (kudos to Fried Eggs on the Everything BattleTech Discord server for coming up with this delightful UrbieCop meme).
My take? Catalyst is staring down an existential threat. Printing minis at home means they lose their market, which means they lose some pretty essential revenue. They’d rather BattleTech fans buy minis they make instead. That’s how their business works, how it’s always worked.
But there’s really no putting this genie back in the bottle. Just as how music had to transform decades ago thanks to the advent of MP3s, so too will gaming miniature providers have to change how they do things thanks to 3D printers. C&D’s and takedown requests might slow things down for now, but they won’t stop it. The technology is out there, and it’ll only get harder and harder to police as 3D printers get cheaper and 3D designs get easier to make.
I won’t link them here, but I can tell you that certain Facebook groups are already throwing Dropbox links around with all those removed Thinigverse designs inside them. This fight is only going to get spicier in the coming months as the Clan Invasion Kickstarter shipments start later this year.
Reddit user Maaxxim posted this one and I really like it. Javelins don’t get enough love (even though you’re basically given one for free in MechWarrior 5), so I’m glad to see someone else is giving the Javelin some long-overdue attention.
BattleTech Recognition Guide: IlClan Volume One Now Available
People have been wondering when we’ll see IlClan. Well, here’s our first good taste. The IlClan TRO is being handed out piece by piece as it’s being created in the form of the BattleTech Recognition Guide: IlClan.
What will eventually span 22 PDF files, these Recognition Guides will include at least one all-new ‘Mech per volume and also redesigns on classic ‘Mechs rebuilt using Dark Age tech. They’ll also include “in-universe development notes, battle histories, notable pilots, and record sheets for each ‘Mech.”
After all 22 PDFs are published, they’ll be combined into a single print volume. If this doesn’t eventually become the IlClan TRO, I don’t know what will.
Back in March, we heard about a “crack commando team” that was looking to rebalance everything in BATTLETECH, from ‘Mech hardpoints to weapon stats. We were promised an update later, and it seems that time has come.
BATTLETECH Revised is now available on Nexus Mods and it brings with it a totally new BATTLETECH experience. ‘Mechs now have quirks based on their lore that gives them… well, quirks. Strong ‘Mechs were given debuff quirks, while weaker designs got helpful quirks.
Although the mod description states that the quirks are designed to respect a ‘Mech’s lore, the example provided isn’t exactly doing that. Apparently the Commando is considered a “sniper” ‘Mech that now has 50% more firepower for weapons mounted in the right arm. Although the COM-1B has a large laser that might make it slightly sniper-y, the vast majority of Commando variants have short-range missiles and are more harassers and reconnaissance machines than snipers. [Ed. It has been brought to my attention that the prototype and early model Commandos were actually snipers armed with large lasers and AC/2, notably the COM-1A, COM-1B, and COM1-C. So this is more in keeping with BattleTech than previously indicated. My bad!]
On the plus side, weapons have been rebalanced so that some of the more maligned weapon systems such as the AC/2 are now much more of a threat. On top of that, there are big changes to the game’s economy, story, and pilot abilities, with pilots now receiving special bonuses if they’re sent into combat in their personal rides.
It sounds like a much-expanded experience, even if the designers aren’t quite aware of the full BattleTech lore, so if you’re looking to change up your game, try BATTLETECH Revised.
MechWarrior Destiny, Dice Sets, And Puzzles Now Available
June is a big month for Catalyst! They’ve already taken up most of this recap, but we still have a few more newsworthy updates to make with new BattleTech products.
Starting with MechWarrior: Destiny, the new RPG based on the Cue system. I have not played anything using the Cue system, but it certainly sounds interesting. Rather than having a GM, the Cue system gives each player a turn at being the Lead Narrator using “cues” on their character sheet to move each scene forward. It’s designed to be easy to learn, so it shouldn’t add too much of a complicating layer to regular BattleTech tabletop gameplay.
And finally, we got some brand new jigsaw puzzles. Each puzzle is 500 pieces, 18×24-inches, and features box and cover art from some of the most iconic BattleTech products out today. Only 1,000 puzzles of each design will be made, and they’ll be foil-printed too. Combine this with the coloring books from last month and you got yourself the perfect way to keep the kids entertained during social distancing.
Reddit user u/juodasvarnas is back with another 3D design, this time the Hornet. It looks sort of like half an UrbanMech with jet engines strapped to the back, which I’m sure is perfectly safe. We need more Hornets out there hopping along and shooting their LRM-5s at nothing in particular–much like how a yellow jacket is inclined to sting for no particular reason.
And that’s it! Join us next month where we talk about all the stuff that happened in the next few weeks, barring an even greater global catastrophe that makes this whole giant robot stuff seem kinda trivial. Unless that global catastrophe IS giant robots. Then I guess we’ll talk about that.