Category Archives: Art

Your BattleTech News Roundup For June, 2022

June is the best month. The start of summer brings the heat, while the month of Pride brings back the festival atmosphere that has been missing from Toronto for the past two years. Not that I’m willing to bake myself in the sun for hours just to watch a bunch of scantily-clad dudes walk down Yonge Street, but it’s still a nice return to normalcy.

Speaking of normalcy, it’s the end of the month, and that means it’s time for your regularly schedule BattleTech update! Let’s get started!

Call To Arms Hits MechWarrior 5 Like A Hatchet

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries DLC 3 Call to Arms Launch Trailer
Watch this video on YouTube.

We’ll start off with something that you likely already know from our previous reporting, but MechWarrior 5‘s third (and possibly last) DLC is available now. Building on the melee combat added in Legend of the Kestrel Lancers, Call to Arms adds a whole armory’s worth of melee weapons to MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. Quickdraws are a lot scarier when they’re comin’ at you with a giant sword instead of an LRM-10.

In addition, Call to Arms adds several new biomes, 23 new “weapon-focused” ‘Mech variants, five new weapon-focused Hero ‘Mechs, and a small quest to retrieve the Hatchetman on behalf of some Lyran rebels. Contract tonnage is also a lot more flexible, and dying will just mean swapping to another MechWarrior in your lance. 

As for what’s coming next, I have no idea and everything is pure speculation at this point. But if this is truly the last MechWarrior 5 expansion, the modders are finally free to go buckwild with this game, and that’s pretty exciting on its own. 

Someone Is Making A BattleTech Player-Finder App

BattleSpots

As we emerge from the COVID pandemic, people are naturally looking to be more social. And what better way to be more social than to find a bunch of like-minded BattleTech fans to play the hit tabletop game? I’ve been seeing a lot of folks posting pictures of all those fancy new minis and complaining about not having anyone to play with, but a new app might soon eliminate that problem.

Reddit user vonseiten posted to the BattleTech subreddit their idea for a BattleTech Player-Finder and Battlereport app. Called “BattleSpots,” the app seems to be powered by another app called Spotteron, which basically just lets you geolocate other people using the app under certain categories. There’s a Discord up for those lookin’ to sign up, provide feedback, or to answer any questions you have with how the whole thing works. 

BattleSpots is available now on Google and iOS. The official site will link you to the Google Play and App Store pages.

Myomer Muscles Inch Closer To Reality

Myomer

We’ve seen a few stories about technological breakthroughs in material science that made Myomer Muscle-like fibers, but this most recent paper published in Nature Nano seems the closest yet to commercial applications. 

Researchers at Texas U. at Austin and Penn State University have created a block copolymer (fiber material) that assembles itself in water, making it easier to create than previous fibers. These fibers are also 75% more efficient than current electrical actuators, and up to 900% tougher too. Best of all, the fibers are recyclable, meaning it’s easy to reverse their water-born assembly to be used in other applications. Apparently, the researchers were initially looking for a new material to make water filtration membranes, but instead they discovered a material that could have massive applications in both robotics and medicine. 

As usual, this is all still in the research stages and hasn’t actually seen any real-world applications. But I’m hopeful for some cool bionics by the time I need my hip replaced. You can read more about these fibers over at the University of Texas’s website.

Aerospace Hangar Bay By Bruce Patnaude

Aerospace Hangar Bay By Bruce Patnaude

We’ve got two pieces from Gallery 3025 to share this month, and both of them are by artist Bruce Patnaude. The first, shown above, depicts a busy hangar bay full of Aerospace pilots undergoing preflight checks. These fighters appear to be Sholagars, but my knowledge of Drac spacers is not particularly extensive. Correct me on this one if I’m wrong. 

If you want to see more, be sure to visit the Gallery 3025 Patreon and sign up for as little as $2 a month. 

DOS Game Club Dives Deep Into MechWarrior 2 In Latest Podcast

mechwarrior_2_cover

Emil from The Art of BattleTech recently guest starred on the DOS Game Club podcast where the subject of the episode was MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat. The game that truly catapulted the series to its legendary status and cemented ‘Mech combat as its own video game genre, DOS Game Club spent just over three hours discussing the development, gameplay, and legacy of MechWarrior 2. It also started with the audio of the intro cinematic, which brings back so many memories even without the visuals. 

I knew quite a bit of the development of MechWarrior 2 from a deep dive into the 1995 classic from a few years ago, some of which was discussed during the podcast, but a lot of it was MechWarrior 2’s overall gameplay and its contribution to gaming history. No spoilers, just listen to the podcast. And of course, check out The Art of BattleTech on Twitter for even more tidbits (and some great art) from your favorite BattleTech games.

More LAMs For The LAM God

Phoenix Hawk LAM commission from battletech

We recently discussed the Phoenix Hawk LAM in a recent Bad ‘Mechs article, although the Phoenix Hawk was probably the best LAM ever produced. It never quite looked as well as it performed, which is why we can thank Reddit user fedOtich for giving the Phoenix Hawk LAM a well-deserved makeover.

Despite the quality of the image, it doesn’t seem to have created any LAM converts, judging by the comments. I’m still of the mind that LAMs should stick with their anime roots, but maybe if they had designs like this one I’d change my mind. 

UrbanMech, UrbanMech, Doing Exactly What An UrbanMech Does

UrbanMech Thumper Gallery 3025

Our second Bruce Patnaude piece showcases the venerable UrbanMech in its natural environment. It occurs to me we still haven’t discussed the severe restrictions placed on the UrbanMech due to its awful performance in several key BattleMech metrics, but I’m sure we’ll get to it eventually. It’s gotta be special for this little trashcan. 

MechWarrior Online Adds The Crusader In Latest Update

MechWarrior Online Crusader

Ever since the Unseen drama ended with the designs returning to BattleTech, fans have asked for the Crusader to be added to MechWarrior Online almost as much as they did the Rifleman, Marauder, and Warhammer. For some reason, those requests were… I don’t want to say “ignored,” but definitely filed for later consideration, which has taken years for those requests to finally be considered. And now, the Crusader is finally in MechWarrior Online.

Added in the latest patch, the Crusader comes in four different variants (the CRD-3R, 5K, 5M, and 7L) as well as the “Crael” Hero variant. All variants get +10 armor to the torso and legs as well as +15 armor for each arm, bringing it to rough parity with other Inner Sphere heavy ‘Mechs in terms of toughness. I’m no ‘Mech guru so I couldn’t tell you what the meta variants will be, but I’m lookin’ at the 3R for that extra top speed. 

June’s update also brings an all-new map to MechWarrior Online. Vitric Station is based on the Vitric Forge Faction Play map, which is a high-tech installation located on a red planet. High ground snipe lines are interrupted by larger structures in the middle along with ramps to bridges that will provide light ‘Mechs with quick access to enemy positions. It looks like teams will spawn on either end of the map and then clash in either the dense urban environment of the upper section or fire across chasms in the lower area. The shimmering blue sun is a nice touch. 

Snub Nose PPCs, Heavy Gauss Rifles, and Light Machine Guns have all been buffed, while ER PPCs have been nerfed. For the rest of the balance changes and the few ‘Mechs that have received slight quirk adjustments, check out the patch notes here

Zeus. Just Zeus.

One more before bed. Here is a Zeus. from battletech

I love the Zeus. It’s not not quite a bad ‘Mech, but having that AC/5 on the 6S model gives it a hint of that bad ‘Mech flavor. But the design just oozes charm, from those massive shoulders to the distinctive cockpit to that iconic arm-mounted missile launcher. There’s a reason why the Zeus is a classic that’s withstood the test of time. 

Here’s a Zeus courtesy of meltdonw14 on the BattleTech subreddit. It gives me the vibe of something you’d see in the middle pages of one of the earlier BattleTech novels back when they still had a few illustrations in them.

Lego Cicada Go Brrrr

Just a personal render this time, for one of the heroes in my Current Battletech (2018) run, so here, enjoy my best Melee/Flank alpha striker. The Cicada :D from battletech

We haven’t heard from the Lego BattleTech fans in a little while, so here’s a Lego Cicada from Shotgunfrenzy. The Cicada is just one of those ‘Mechs that can’t stay down despite being an objectively terrible design. I’m not sure why I haven’t covered it in a Bad ‘Mechs piece, but I’m sure the Cicada‘s day is coming. 

But you can’t deny that the Cicada is a ‘Mech with an unmistakable style. You know when you’re fighting a Cicada that it’s probably just going to run away until it can lull you into a false sense of security and then stab you in the back with it’s two medium lasers. Plus, you can never really tell if the lasers are coming from the arms or the side torsos. A mysterious ‘Mech, the Cicada.

Gaming Jay’s Crescent Hawk’s-Inspired Retro BattleTech Game Is Now Available For Download

Battle Mercs Public Alpha Release Stream – Crescent Hawks Fan Game
Watch this video on YouTube.

Earlier this month, we sat down with Gaming Jay to discuss his personal fan project creating a new version of the classic Crescent Hawk’s games. Called Battle Mercs, the game combines the metagame features of the Crescent Hawk’s games with an updated real-time combat engine that’s been compared favorably to Faster Than Light’s. Gaming Jay had been looking for private alpha testers earlier in the month, but now he’ll be looking to gather more data thanks to Battle Merc’s first public release. 

Head on over to Gaming Jay’s Google Drive to pick up your free public alpha. Keep in mind that this is still an alpha version of Battle Mercs, so it likely won’t be entirely feature complete and there might be a few bugs to contend with. Jay is looking for feedback, so be sure to join the Battle Mercs Discord to discuss the game.

Well-Equipped Mercenaries Choose The Bombardier For All Their Fire Support Needs

Double Trouble from battletech

I mostly wanted to bring attention to this piece by SU-SMD of Reddit user SupriseFormer’s merc company due to the Bombardier in the background. In an era where Archers are literally a dime a dozen, it’s nice to see the Bombardier strut its stuff. There’s also a Valkyrie, a ‘Mech that deserves more credit than it’s given, and a Marauder but for me, it’s the Bombardier the show. 

Yes, This Is A Hammerhead Miniature You Need To Buy 

Hammerhead Model

And just in the nick of time, Catalyst comes in with some great new products for June. The Hammerhead just got its first ever miniature design and that’s something worth celebrating. A 45-ton ‘Mech made by Clan Sea Fox during the Dark Age, the Hammerhead was a workhorse design that was sold far and wide. It’s Hardened Armor made it tougher than any sub-50-ton design ought to be, and its spread of energy weapons and Streak SRMs made it a threat to nearly anything at long range.

All profit from Hammerhead sales are being directed to cover the healthcare costs of one of the owners of Iron Wind Metals who has sadly been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Catalyst has also brought back the Warrior Trilogy in both hardcover and leatherback cover forms, and there’s a new novel from Bryan Young on the horizon. A Question of Survival will focus on Clan Jade Falcon’s efforts to rebuild after their loss on Terra, with the easiest way to replacing dead MechWarriors is to simply take them from a neighboring Clan. Expect A Question of Survival to receive a release date soon.

And that’s it for June! Join us next month for all the BattleTech news that’s fit for human consumption (and some that’s only been rated for dogs and cats).

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Bad ‘Mechs – Hoplite

Courtesy of Eldonious Rex

“This thing is the coolest ‘Mech you’ll ever drop feet-first into a firefight.” 

The claim sounded dubious even as the ‘Mech salesman attempted to accentuate the point with several slaps to the Hoplite‘s shin armor. Lieutenant Brooke Casia, executive officer of the Crimson Tigers mercenary company, was in the market after having her Centurion shot out from under her during her last contract. The squat ‘Mech certainly didn’t appear “cool” by her standards, looking more like a cleaning drone that had grown legs and an autocannon.

“Alright,” Casia offered with a sigh, “what’s so ‘cool’ about it?”

“The air-conditioning!” Another set of slaps once rang off the Hoplite‘s hull while the salesman laughed at his own pun. “Plus, this ‘Mech has sixteen whole heat sinks. You could fire everything this bad boy has while running full-tilt through a desert and you’ll be cool as a cucumber inside the cockpit.” 

This was enough for Casia to raise an eyebrow at least. She’d never enjoyed the sauna-like temperatures that ‘Mech combat frequently produced. A ‘Mech that couldn’t overheat would be an asset.

Hoplite

But there’s always a catch, Casia thought. “I can see an autocannon port here,” she pointed at the Hoplite‘s right arm, “and five missile ports here,” she pointed again at the launcher jutting from beneath the ‘Mechs cockpit. “This thing got anything else in terms of firepower?” 

The question seemed to finally reign in the ‘Mech salesman’s enthusiasm. “What you see is what you get,” he said. Casia noted this statement was made without a single slap.

“So that’d be, what, a 10-class autocannon and an LRM-5 launcher? Not exactly standing up to my old Centurion. Does it go faster at least?” 

Now the salesman seemed utterly crestfallen. “Same running speed as the Centurion. And before you ask, no, it doesn’t have any jump jets either.” 

Casia blinked. “Alright, so what does it have over a Centurion?” 

“About three tons of armor. That’s it.” 

“So you’re saying I lose half my firepower, a battle fist, and the ability to shoot upward without tilting the whole damned ‘Mech for just three tons of armor?” Casia ended the question with a slap to the Hoplite‘s other shin. It seemed far more intimidating than encouraging coming from her.

The ‘Mech salesman winced as though physically struck. He could already tell that this sale was as good as gone. “Ah, well, we do have other ‘Mechs’ in our garage…” 


While later Star League ‘Mechs often pushed boundaries in search of a technological edge, the Hoplite was born in the League’s early years, well before the rise of the massive industrial complex that would produce such unnecessary machines as the Charger and the Assassin. The Hoplite was designed and built to fulfill a specific military requirement for the least possible expense. As such, the Hoplite is a simple, rugged, and dependable ‘Mech that achieves its objective and little else.

Hoplite

Introduced by Martinson Armaments in the year 2758, the Hoplite is an infantry support ‘Mech. The HOP-4D comes armed with a dual-purpose LB 10-X Autocannon and a five-rack LRM launcher. The autocannon is effective against almost all targets, able to fire single slug rounds at armored targets and scatter-shot against infantry and light-armored vehicles. The LRM-5 launcher offers infantry with long-range suppressive fire and counter-battery fire on a mobile chassis. The Hoplite is durable, with an impressive eleven and a half tons of armor that allow it to withstand withering fire in order to protect Star League infantry, but its ability to combat enemy ‘Mechs is somewhat lacking. 

Although the LB 10-X is a reliable weapon, its limited ammunition and lack of secondary weapons make it vulnerable should the autocannon become disabled. The LRM-5 launcher is sufficient to support infantry, but most ‘Mechs will find it a minor nuisance at worst. The Hoplite can take serious punishment, but its inability to return that punishment ultimately makes it vulnerable in the modern battlefield.

Back in its heyday, however, the Hoplite was a popular machine. Part of that was due to the simplicity of the design: without arms, pilots didn’t have to learn how to control upper limbs, and with a curiously high number of heatsinks–16, in fact–pilots also didn’t have to worry about heat build-up. The Hoplite could fire all of its weapons until its ammo bins ran dry while running over a volcanically active mudflat and never have to worry about spiking its heat gauge. Combined with its massive armor and simple weapons loadout, Star League MechWarriors often considered Hoplite pilots just a step above tankers.

Star League generals, however, loved the Hoplite. It was a cheap, no-nonsense machine that was ideal for bolstering forces and filling out billet slots. The SLDF eventually came to possess thousands of the dependable machines, and many examples could be found in Alexander Kerensky‘s forces prior to their flight from the Inner Sphere. In fact, the design was so common during the Star League era that Wolf’s Dragoons thought it would be an innocuous design that wouldn’t arouse suspicion during its mission to spy on the Great Houses. Little did they know that the Hoplite had actually died out during the Succession Wars precisely because of its popularity with military leaders.

Hop-4bb Hoplite

The only notable variant was the HOP-4B, which replaced the AC/10 with a PPC and upgraded the LRM-5 to an LRM-15. This gave the ‘Mech better long-range engagement and improved firepower. A Star League “Royal” variant of the HOP-4B was also produced, adding Artemis IV tracing to the LRM launcher, Guardian ECM, CASE, double heat sinks, and an anti-missile system

The Hoplite would once again become a dying breed after Wolf’s Dragoons cut ties with the Clan Homeworlds in 3020. By the Jihad era, the Hoplite was again facing extinction, both due to a lack of factories creating replacement parts and due to the fact the Hoplite had long been outclassed by more contemporary designs. Even during the Star League era, ‘Mechs like the Griffin, Shadow Hawk, and Wolverine offered similar firepower with far greater mobility, and most skilled generals knew that mobility was the key to winning conflicts. 

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Bad ‘Mechs – Land-Air Mechs

Land-Air 'Mechs

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

“Alright, here’s the deal,” Major Sheffield began. He then pointed at Sergeant Donaldson. “You get in the front seat, and you,” Sheffield pointed to the SLDF navy pilot he knew as Lieutenant Barber, “get in the back seat.”

The two SLDF service members looked first at each other and then at the monstrosity before them. It looked like an aerospace fighter had crashed into a ‘Mech and somehow fused the two together. It was a grotesque abomination of all things both pilot and MechWarrior considered holy, and it didn’t exactly motivate either to comply with the Major’s orders.

“With respect sir, just who exactly is going to be in control of that… thing?”

“Great question, Donaldson,” Sheffield replied with a smirk. “You both are. On the ground, Donaldson is in charge. In the air, Barber takes the yoke. Or stick–I’m not sure what you spacers call the thing.”

“Yoke is technically correct, sir,” Barber replied, stone-faced.

“The idea here is to cut down on the training required for Land-Air ‘Mech pilots by simply having both MechWarrior and pilot in a dual cockpit arrangement. If these tests go well, it could usher in a new age of cooperation between SLDF services.”

Sheffield’s pitch sounded like it had come straight from the bureaucratic number crunchers at SLDF procurement, and it did nothing to instill confidence in either of them.

“Communication will be key,” Sheffield added. “You’ll both have the authority to convert your Stinger LAM to either Air or ‘Mech mode, but you should engage targets in the mode best suited for the engagement. Now, get suited up and start blasting targets.”

The two pilots again looked at each other, looked at the Stinger, and then sighed in unison. It was the last time either Donaldson or Barber performed any task in sync. The dual cockpit test would go down as a colossal failure for the dual-cockpit LAM concept, and SLDF training footage would later include recordings of Barber and Donaldson engaged in fisticuffs over who would take control of the LAM during various stages of the test.


First Lord Michael Cameron II ruled the Star League during a time of unprecedented technological innovation. During his reign, the Star League Defense Force would produce impressive and terrifying military machines such as the Awesome BattleMech, the Cameron-class Battlecruiser, and the Gotha Aerospace Fighter. However, it was also a time of completely unmitigated spending for the Terran Hegemony‘s military industrial complex, and as such, it resulted in just as many hits as it did misses. Some of the more spectacular failures have already been discussed in this article series, but none were more costly than the unfortunate Land-Air ‘Mech.

Commissioned in 2680 by Admiral David Peterson, the intent of the Land-Air ‘Mech was to produce a unit that combined the deployment speed of an Aerospace Fighter with the versatility of a ‘Mech. An Aerospace Fighter could rapidly strike targets but its ability to support ground forces was limited. Meanwhile, the BattleMech required DropShips to deploy but once fielded were the undisputed kings of the battlefield. The Land-Air ‘Mech, or LAM, would theoretically combine the advantages of both to create a weapon that ensures the SLDF and Terran Hegemony’s military dominance for centuries to come.

At least, that’s what Admiral Peterson envisioned on paper. The reality of the Land-Air ‘Mech was far from the ideal superweapon that SLDF generals and engineers wanted.

Shadow Hawk LAM

The first company to win an SLDF contract was Allied Aerospace, which created the SHD-X1 in 2680. Based on the already proven Shadow Hawk, the SHD-X1 was a bi-modal Land-Air ‘Mech, meaning it would convert directly from BattleMech to Aerospace Fighter without any intermediate steps.

The brand-new conversion technology proved problematic in multiple ways. First, the bulky tech added five additional tons to the SHD-X1 compared to the all-‘Mech SHD-2H, but also limited the space available for the fusion engine and internal fuel tanks. Thus, the SHD-X1 was slower than the SHD-2H on land by nearly 20kph and had a greatly limited combat radius in fighter mode. Additionally, the AC/5 was replaced by an ER Large Laser and the SRM-2 was removed in favor of an internal bomb bay. Newer technologies of the era such as extra light engines, an Endo Steel chassis, and Ferro Fibrous armor all couldn’t be employed due to the LAM conversion technology’s bulk.

SLDF procurement officers were already skeptical of the new design’s limitations, but things got worse for the SHD-X1 after several test platforms were lost during public reviews in 2681 and 2682. The engineering flaws that led to these lost machines were largely solved by the time the SHD-X2 arrived in 2684, but by then the platform had already gained a reputation as a dangerously flawed design. The SLDF canceled its order, and although Allied Aerospace built 20 SHD-X2 demonstrators, the company failed to attract a single buyer.

Stinger LAM

The first viable LAM came from LexaTech Industries in 2688 with the introduction of the Stinger LAM. Ten tons heavier than the original Stinger and armed with three medium lasers, LexaTech’s design introduced the first tri-modal Land-Air ‘Mech. A third mode allowed the Stinger LAM to deploy its wings and legs simultaneously, allowing it to rapidly travel at low altitudes thanks to the ground effect. Although lacking an internal bomb bay, the Stinger LAM retained the speed of the land-based chassis and impressive Aerospace performance as well.

However, the Stinger LAM revealed several flaws shared by all Land-Air ‘Mechs. While the Stinger LAM proved that the additional bulk of the conversion technology could be accounted for, it still reduced overall payload capacity for either a pure ‘Mech or Aerospace Fighter of similar size. Being completely unable to mount weight-saving technologies such as XL engines or Endo-Steel chassis meant LAMs were often outclassed in their engagements. Land-Air ‘Mechs also proved to be quite fragile. Damage taken to the conversion technology would effectively “lock” the LAM in whichever mode it was currently deployed.

Cost was another issue. Not only did pilots require twice as much training due to the twin mandates, but LAMs themselves cost many times the price of either a single ‘Mech or Aerospace Fighter. With no lack of manpower, the armed forces of the Inner Sphere had more than enough financial incentive to simply invest in proven technologies to bolster their war machines.

Still, the Stinger LAM did at least find niche applications where it was better suited than either an Aerospace Fighter or BattleMech. The SLDF navy often deployed Stinger LAMs in operations on minor planetoids such as asteroids or comets, or against forces that were unlikely to deploy fighters or ‘Mechs of their own.

Immediately following the Stinger LAM came the Wasp LAM from Harvard Company in 2690, which found success in similar niche roles and often served alongside its predecessor. Allied Aersospace’s second attempt at a Land-Air ‘Mech, the Phoenix Hawk LAM, finally vindicated the company in 2701. With harsh lessons learned from its earlier failure with the Shadow Hawk LAM, the Pheonix Hawk LAM proved a far more capable design, retaining the original Phoenix Hawk‘s performance while adding a bomb bay and other capabilities from the conversion technology.

Although there were a few smaller success stories, the crucible of the Succession Wars proved Land-Air ‘Mechs were too costly for all-out warfare between galaxy-spanning armies. Most commanders were loathed to commit the expensive designs for fear of losing them, and with limited stores of spare parts, the destruction of most LAM factories proved to be a death knell for the innovative technology. Only LexaTech’s factory on Irece was still producing Stinger LAM components by 3025, but the Nova Cats put a stop to that after their successful invasion in 3050.

Surprisingly, Land-Air ‘Mechs had a brief renaissance courtesy of the Word of Blake. During the Jihad, Blakist forces unveiled the Yurei, Pwwka, and Waneta LAMs based on its Spectral Series of OmniFighters. By this era, Clan-spec weapons and double heatsinks weren’t quite enough for the three Wobbie LAMs to stand against more traditional ‘Mechs and Aerospace Fighters, once again limiting their use to surprise attacks against inferior foes. The conclusion of the Jihad saw all Blakist factories destroyed, ending the saga of the Land-Air ‘Mech for good.

Spectral Series LAMs

Ultimately, Land-Air ‘Mechs proved that not every new technology has a place in war. I’m sure given more time, research, and investment, Land-Air ‘Mechs could have revolutionized combat as we know it. However, time is often the resource in the shortest supply during wartime. We may yet see the LAM return once again as technological advancement returns to the Inner Sphere, but for now, Land-Air ‘Mechs are dead. May they rest in peace.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For April, 2022

Taxes. I still need to do mine, and that’s why this intro is going to be extremely short. BattleTech news for April, go!

PseudoTech: Arcade Operations Released For April Fools Day

Eldonious is the fantastic artist who does the cover images for the Bad ‘Mechs series, so of course, I’m going to plug his recent work for Catalyst’s 2022 April Fools product, PseudoTech: Arcade Operations. It’s a tongue-in-cheek sourcebook that offers alternative styles of combat in Solaris with a classic arcade flavor. Think power-ups, boss fights, and even a Tetris mode, which is both confusing and concerning. You can pick up the PDF for three bucks over on Catalyst’s website.

Wolves Previews Puma As Part Of Wave 3’s Planned Multiplayer Update

Mechassault Fangame - Wolves Wave 3 Puma Showcase
Watch this video on YouTube.

Wolves, the MechAssault fan game that’s promising to bring MechAssault kicking and screaming into the future, is gearing up for its Wave 3 update. We’ve seen the folks over at New Day Fiction make significant progress on their passion project over the years, and now they’re gearing up for the release of a new wave of ‘Mechs to be added to Wolves’ roster.

One of those ‘Mechs just happens to be the Puma (or Adder, if you’re nasty). New Day Fiction’s Pajama Boy joined texture artist Knightly Doggo to showcase the Puma in a seven-minute video posted to the MechAssaultReborn YouTube channel. Doggo confirmed a few of the features coming to Wolves, including a planned multiplayer mode that will let players browse and join servers hosted by other players. Waves 3 will contain four ‘Mechs, one for each weight class, with the Puma being the light ‘Mech and the Timber Wolf as its heavy. Best of all, that multiplayer mode will arrive with Wave 3’s launch. 

The only bad news here is that there’s no concrete launch date for Wave 3. Wolves is a fan game, so these folks all have day jobs to attend to first. We’ll hopefully get that launch date in the coming weeks. 

MechWarrior Online Dev Blog Reveals Revamped Skill Tree

MechWarrior Online May Features Update
Watch this video on YouTube.

Some time ago, MechWarrior Online introduced its worst feature, the skill tree. Requiring 92 clicks to complete and so confusing that you needed a degree in brain rocket surgery to understand, the skill tree was roundly criticized by the community at the time, and it hasn’t changed much since then. In my experience, what sucks the most about the skill tree is while it can offer substantial buffs to your ‘Mech’s performance, it becomes mandatory to take a fully-skilled ‘Mech onto the field the further up the MechWarrior Online skill rankings you are. Taking an unskilled ‘Mech into a tier-one match feels like taking a recently-be-shat baby into a sumo wrestling match. 

Thankfully, I have some good news. Developer PGI’s recent development vlog has revealed significant changes coming to MWO’s skill tree. The skill tree will become far easier to understand by breaking up trees into related groups, while the number of clicks will be reduced by letting the player just click once to unlock all skills in a node. 

What’s so amazing about this change is that you’ll finally be able to get the skills you want without being forced to pick skills you don’t want. Getting armor nodes won’t require getting skeletal density nodes, and getting the laser durations nodes won’t require getting every single other node in the firepower tree. Everything will have its own itty bitty tree so you’ll finally be able to customize your ‘Mech the way you want it.

With a few exceptions. Seismic is still locked behind at least four targeting nodes, and a fully-powered ECM is locked behind eight sensor nodes. Consumable slot upgrades are also locked behind several other nodes so perhaps MechWarrior Online will become less Airstrike Warrior Online in the near future.

Best of all is that no refunds will be necessary when the new skill tree rolls out and unlocking new skills will be a lot cheaper than before. This might even encourage new players to stick around for more than a few quick play matches. 

Matt Newman also mentions a few other upgrades coming in future patches, including a specific event queue that might arrive alongside the revamped skill tree. Both are tentatively planned for the May 24 update, according to the recently updated 2022 roadmap, so cross your fingers it all goes according to plan. 

In the meantime, there are two new Platinum ‘Mech Packs for both Inner Sphere and the Clans if you like your ‘Mechs looking like flat chrome, a few adjustments to weapon health, and several more ‘Mechs got a quirk pass in April’s patch. These include the Huntsman, Wolverine, Black Lanner, and Archer, alongside some more adjustments to the Rifleman, Hellbringer, and Dire Wolf. You can check ‘em all out in the patch notes here.

Renegade HPG Posts Remaster Of Remastered BattleTech Animated Series

BattleTech Cartoon | Episode 3 [Remastered]
Watch this video on YouTube.

Renegade HPG and The Art of BattleTech did us all a public service by using modern technology to remaster the ’90s BattleTech cartoon last year. Unfortunately, some of the episodes were still of very low quality simply due to the degradation of the source material. However, Renegade HPG has recently sourced better versions of a few of the episodes that weren’t quite up to par in his initial remaster project and he’ll be replacing those episodes over the coming weeks.

All this is to say that BattleTech: The Animated Series is back and better than ever. Check it out over on Renegade HPG’s YouTube channel if you haven’t already. Or if you just wanna binge the whole series again.

MechWarrior 5 Announces Third DLC, “Call To Arms”

Call to Arms Key Art

Last month, we found out that the Hatchetman would make its MechWarrior debut, and that it’d bring its iconic hatchet with it. Now in April, we’re finding out that the third DLC is called Call to Arms, probably because it’s bringing a full suite of melee weapons to MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries.

Besides the Hatchetman‘s hatchet, Call to Arms is bringing eight other melee weapons, including Battleaxes, Claymores, Katanas, regular Axes, Trench Blades, Long Swords, Claws, and Maces. For some reason, these weapons are broken down into Assault, Heavy, and Medium categories, and it’s not entirely clear why. This might indicate that only Assault ‘Mechs can wield Battleaxes, or it might just be a handy short-hand for identifying the weight of the weapon itself. I certainly hope light ‘Mechs can still wield melee weapons since the Mjolnir seems to wield a mace just fine at 25 tons.

In addition to the melee weapons themselves, Call to Arms brings 23 new melee-focused ‘Mech variants, five more Hero ‘Mechs that are also wielding melee weapons, and an all-new animated Stormsurge skin. It certainly looks cool, but I don’t BattleMech technicians wasting optic camouflage tech on a paint job, so this skin seems a little out of place. We’ll also get three new biomes in Call to Arms to give players a little more variety in where they engage in giant robot mayhem.

Call to Arms will also launch alongside a free update that adds several new features to the game, including a flexible mission tonnage system that’ll let you take ‘Mechs way over the tonnage limit into missions at the cost of some C-bills. If I recall, there’s already a mod that basically eliminates the weight limit for no penalty, but I can see why it’d be a slightly more interesting game mechanic to sacrifice C-bills for bringing the Steiner Scout Lance on patrol. There are also a few updates to the star map and contracts screens, and a new mechanic that lets you switch to a lancemate’s ‘Mech if yours gets taken down.

And of course, there’s a five-mission questline that’ll take you to the Isle of Skye to capture a brand new Hatchetman. So you’ll at least be able to field the Hatchetman almost immediately upon getting the DLC.

So, when is Call to Arms coming out? That we don’t know. The official site says “coming soon,” so my guess is sometime this summer. After that, I suspect that’ll be a wrap for MechWarrior 5, and then hopefully onto MechWarrior 6. Fingers crossed on a Clan Invasion-themed game.

Don’t Piss Off A Wolverine

A painting of that one time my Wolverine pilot soloed a lance of light mechs and won. from battletech

Could a Wolverine solo a lance of light ‘Mechs and win? The answer to this question is apparently “yes” since that’s what happened to Reddit user 1001WingedHussars. They also immortalized the occasion in this fantastic piece showcasing the hero Wolverine charging a Wasp before blasting it in the back with a Gauss Rifle slug. Thanks for sharing, 1001WingedHussars, if you’re curious, you can get the full story straight from the source here.

Catalyst Announced New ‘Mech Packs And Mercenaries Kickstarter

Hansen's Roughriders

Catalyst just made a slew of announcements, which you can view on the official site here. Easily the biggest is Mercenaries Kickstarter, which will attempt to replicate the success of the Clan Invasion Kickstarter with 50 new plastic minis that range from both before and after the Clan Invasion. Examples include the Firestarter, Griffin IIC, Ostroc, and Kraken, but also several tanks such as the Galleon Light Tank, SRM/LRM Carrier, and Demolisher Heavy Tank. “A variety of mercenary-themed stretch goals will also be included,” Catalyst notes. If this is even half as successful as the Clan Invasion Kickstarter, I suspect we’ll see a bunch of those stretch goals become reality.

KS-Mercenaries

There are also several new ‘Mech Packs coming in autumn that might give us a taste of what’s to come in the Mercenaries Kickstarter. The Eridani Light Horse Hunter Lance includes the Sagittaire, Banshee, Cyclops, and Thunderbolt, while the Hansen’s Roughriders Battle Lance includes an Enforcer, Atlas (which is in a new pose), Hatchetman, and Penetrator. The Northwind Highlanders Command Lance includes a Highlander (of course), a Grasshopper, a Warhammer, and a Gunslinger (although the non-final example box has an Atlas), and the Kell Hounds Striker Lance includes a new Wolfhound, a Nightsky, a Griffin, and a Crusader. Later in 2023, the Gray Death Legion will bring a new variant of the Gargoyle (the C variant, from the looks of it), an all-new Regent, a Shadow Hawk, and a Catapult-K2.

New ‘Mech minis aren’t the half of what Catalyst has announced. In July, the first ilClan-era sourcebook arrives in Empire Alone, alongside two updated Tactical Operations Advanced Rules and Units with full errata. The third quarter of this year brings Technical Readout: Dark Age, which will combine ‘Mechs previously featured in Technical Readout: 3075, Technical Readout: 3085 (and Supplemental), Technical Readout: 3145, Technical Readout: Irregulars, Technical Readout: Prototypes, “and more.” Michael Ciaravella’s new novel, The Damocles Sanction, also comes out third-quarter this year, and Bryan Young’s new novel, A Question of Survival, comes out later this summer. And in the winter months, Dominions Divided tells us what’s going on between the Federated Suns and Draconis Combine, as well as how the Rashlhague Dominion is taking the news of Clan Wolf’s victory on Terra, and finally, a new BattleTech Universe primer will do its best to summarize all the important plot beats of BattleTech between now and the year 3150.

That’s not everything, of course, so check out Catalyst’s news update to get the full rundown of products coming.

Atlantic City To Host Classic BattleTech Tournament

Atlantic City Open

The Everything BattleTech Facebook page recently shared this link to what is being billed as a Classic BattleTech Championship in Atlantic City. The tournament is being hosted by Frontline Gaming Community, is being held at Harrah’s Resort, and will run the weekend of June 10. Sign-ups are available now.

I’m not a huge tabletop guy, but the rules sound pretty standard. No force may exceed a total Battle Value of 6,000, no Aerospace units are allowed, and ‘Mechs can be chosen from the BattleTech Force Packs Record Sheets Wave One, Wave Two, and Wolf’s Dragoons. Elemental battle armor is allowed if you’re going for a combined-arms Clan army. Older miniatures are allowed, but tournament organizers are encouraging at least 80% of fielded forces to use minis currently available from Catalyst and Iron Wind Metals. 3D-printed minis are banned.

Apparently, this tournament isn’t just going to be a free-for-all, and specific mission objectives will be announced in the coming days. This could greatly influence your unit composition, so check those objectives before you get your heart set.

Well, That’s A Lot Of Collateral Damage, But I Guess The Contract Has Been Satisfied…

Contract Complete from battletech

Sneaking this one just under the deadline is Reddit user yi-ngo, who posted this amazing piece to the BattleTech subreddit. It depicts the pained expression of a Davion liason seeing just what sort of mayhem this mercenary lance got up to in the service of the Prince. Or at least, that’s how I imagine it.

Tex Talks BattleTech Talks About The Warhammer

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

It has been almost a full year since Tex Talks BattleTech brought us the Marauder. Now, Tex is back with the Warhammer, and as always, it was well worth the wait. This is an even longer video than the Marauder, as Tex and the Black Pants Legion seem to have no concept of the term “mission creep.” As in previous videos, Tex starts off with an interesting subject that seemingly has little relation to the Warhammer before bringing things full circle with an insightful and detailed dive into the Warhammer’s history, and also a rundown of the most popular Warhammer variants (although, not all of them, because there are a lot of Warhammer variants). There’s also a crapton of new art from various BattleTech artists, an all-new animation from D.C Bruins featuring Randolph P. Checkers, and a full 20 minutes of goofy bullshit at the end. And yes, drunken Duncan Fisher once again makes an appearance.

There are a lot of great BattleTech fan videos out there, but it’s hard to compare them with the monumental amount of effort that the Black Pants Legion put into this one. Watch it.

And that’s it for April! Join us next time as we dive deep into another Bad ‘Mechs ahead of everything that’s happened in May.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

Bad ‘Mechs – Banshee

Banshee Clown

Courtesy of EldoniousRex

“What. The. Fuck.” 

Hauptmann Müller turned to his chief technician, normally the best in the 3rd Lyran Guards, but now Müller was beginning to question his qualifications. 

“Yes, sir?”

Müller raised his arm and pointed at his Banshee’s cockpit. “What the hell is that?”

The tech sighed and shrugged. “We ran out of white paint, sir.” 

“So you thought it would be a good idea to substitute-” Müller paused to look at the pink skull that had been crudely drawn over the Banshee’s head, “-neon pink?”

“It’s all we had, sir.” 

Müller’s animated arm movements made it clear he was less than amused. “Well, scrub it off! I can’t take on the Dracs with a pink cockpit.” 

“We’re less than two hours from Vega and I’ve got the rest of the company to arm,” the tech held up a datapad to prove it. “What’s wrong with pink?” 

“It doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of hardened DCMS fighters,” Müller huffed. 

“Yeah? Well, neither does that popgun of an autocannon you got there,” the tech quipped. “Which, by the way, I gotta load up. If you’ll excuse me.” 

The chief technician left Müller staring at his ‘Mech, wondering if he still had enough time to just dump a bucket of paint thinner over the pink Banshee’s face. 


The Banshee is one of the oldest ‘Mech designs in existence thanks to a lineage that traces back to the Terran Hegemony. First produced in 2445, the original design largely attempted to mimic the Mackie in terms of firepower, using a combination of autocannon and PPC as its main armament and then backing it up with a pair of medium lasers and a single small laser. Although extremely well armored for a ‘Mech of the era, the BNC-1E Banshee was often criticized for its limited speed, even though its initial running gait matched the Mackie‘s 54kph.

By the year 2475, engineers at the Terran Hegemony decided it was time to solve the Banshee‘s single problem of low top speed. However, their solution was to replace the original engine with a massive GM 380 fusion reactor. This engine alone weighed over 40 tons and severely restricted the Banshee‘s ability to carry adequate firepower for an assault-class ‘Mech, forcing the removal of both medium lasers and a ton of AC/5 ammunition. Surprisingly, Hegemony engineers decided to retain the Banshee‘s 16 single heat sinks despite the fact there was almost no scenario in which even repeated firing of all its weapons would ever require all 16 heat sinks. 

Left with just a single PPC, an AC/5, and a small laser, the Banshee often found itself out-gunned by ‘Mechs half its size. Although adequately armored and surprisingly nimble for a 95-ton machine, the Banshee’s abject failure to deliver more ordinance than even a 50-ton Centurion forced the Terran Hegemony to relegate the 5,000 Banshees produced to provisional garrisons or training units.

Ironically, what saved the Banshee was its poor reputation for being an under-armed behemoth. The outbreak of the Succession Wars in 2786 forced House militaries to employ whatever ‘Mechs they had available, and this pushed the Banshee into active military use, although most commanders still kept it in second-line or fire-support units owing to its lack of firepower. Some forward-thinking commanders recognized one of the Banshee‘s greatest strengths lay in its massive fists, employing the Banshee as a sort of “brawler” ‘Mech to ensure better-armed allies weren’t forced into hand-to-hand combat during close-quarters assaults. Banshee MechWarriors employed in such a manner often took a page from the Atlas‘s playbook and painted their cockpits with a white skull. 

A full third of the original 5,000 Banshees produced were still in operation by the end of the Succession Wars, but even before then, engineers from various Houses attempted to rectify the Terran Hegemony’s original mistake in making the BNC-3E. The Free Worlds League first replaced the Banshee‘s AC/5 with another PPC and added back the two medium lasers in the BNC-3M, which first saw production in 2579. This solved the BNC-3E’s ammo problems with a more powerful energy weapon, but the same weapon overtaxed the Banshee‘s 16 single heat sinks.

Defiance Industries obtained the Banshee‘s design specifications and license in 3026, eventually creating the BNC-3S model. Defiance engineers felt that the Terran Hegemony had it all wrong in thinking the original Banshee was too slow, so they swapped the GM 380 for the smaller Pitban 285, dropping the chassis back down to a shambling 54kph top speed. However, the tonnage saved thanks to the smaller engine allowed Defiance to upgrade the autocannon to a larger caliber, add an entirely new PPC, four medium lasers, another small laser, and an SRM-6 missile launcher. An additional five heatsinks over the BNC-3E model keep the machine cool so long as the pilot avoids repeated alpha strikes. The BNC-3S would go on to become one of Defiance Industries’ most iconic ‘Mechs thanks to its popularity in the Lyran Armed Forces.

The BNC-3S would go on to inspire the BNC-5S following the discovery of the Helm Memory Core and its long-lost Star League technology. An XL engine allowed Defiance to bring the Banshee back to a more stately 64kph top speed while replacing the AC/10 with an even more powerful Gauss Rifle. Both PPCs were upgraded to their Extended Range counterparts, while the use of double heatsinks kept the BNC-5S far cooler than older models. 

More recent models use a Light Fusion Engine to retain at least some of the same durability as BNC-3E, while others make use of newer, harder-hitting weapons such as Heavy PPCs. The most recent model, the BNC-12S, upgrades the 5S with a Clan-tech XL engine, an Endo Steel chassis, and Clan-spec lasers. The saved weight allowed Defiance engineers to add several tons of additional armor, making it both the hardest-hitting and best-protected Banshee ever made. 

The moral of the Banshee’s story: a bad ‘Mech is eventually good, but a good ‘Mech gets deployed so often that they run out of spare parts when the factory gets destroyed.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy. 

stay syrupy

 

Your BattleTech News Roundup For March, 2022

Well hey, we’re not all dead! That’s a fancy turn of events that I was totally not expecting. Perhaps it’s the spring weather that’s finally got me in a cheerful mood. Or maybe it’s the fact that we haven’t all been vaporized in nuclear fire. Either way, I’m happy for March, and I’m sure you’ll be happy for all the news coming straight to your eyeholes through my fingertips. 

That sounds weird. Let’s just get to your BattleTech news for March while I go wash my hands. 

Renegade HPG Talks To BattleTech Animated Writer Robert Skir

Making BattleTech The Animated Series | with Writer Robert Skir
Watch this video on YouTube.

Continuing last January’s interview with BattleTech: The Animated Series producer Kurt Weldon, Renegade HPG is back to talk with series writer Robert Skir. Perhaps better known for classic ’90s cartoons including X-Men, Batman, and Gargoyles, Robert still had plenty of fond memories to share with Travis. And perhaps surprisingly for people that are brought into the BattleTech universe, Robert did quite a bit of research on the universe before writing the series. Although not particularly interested in “space tanks” as he called them, Robert came to the understanding that BattleMechs are really an integral part of both the characters and the stories they’re trying to tell, making the series into as much a drama as it was a means to sell toys (which it generally failed to do, which perhaps explains with the show was canceled). 

If you want the lowdown on how a ‘90s cartoon gets written and very specific details on BattleTech: The Animated Series, this is the interview you need to see. 

MechWarrior Online’s Roadmap Was A Whole Lot Of Nothing

Mechwarrior Online - Roadmap 2022
Watch this video on YouTube.

This technically came about in February, but it was a little late to hit that month’s news blast so we’re pushing it into March. We’re well into 2022 and well into MechWarrior Online‘s renaissance with multiple patches, multiple map revamps, and even a brand new map. It’s time for fans to get a roadmap, and what PGI delivered was a whole lotta nothin’.

To be fair to PGI, they’ve been bitten before by overpromising and underdelivering, so the 2022 roadmap was couched in language that made everyone aware that it was very much a work in progress. But with most of the year filled with “TBD” placeholders, the roadmap really didn’t reveal a whole lot to MechWarrior fans. 

A follow-up post from live ops manager Matt Newman clarified a few points on the roadmap. He said there’d be more ‘Mech variants coming in the year, but the exact number and delivery dates are up in the air. PGI is also committed to four brand new maps--the first of which arrives this month--but specific timetables are still unknown. The Cauldron is continuing its work on quirks and game balance and there will be more events and sales as the year goes on. 

So stuff is coming (as we’ll see more later in this very article), but there are not a lot of hard dates that can be set at the moment. Perhaps a roadmap was a bad idea and instead a more general post on future plans might have been sufficient. I’ll be the first to admit it’s tough to keep MechWarriors happy. 

MWO Supports Ukraine With Free ‘Mech (And Also Patch Notes And Limited-Time Events)

Uziel Free Mech

As with each month, there’s a new free ‘Mech being given away in MechWarrior Online. The Uziel UZP-6P is a decent medium energy boat, and this particular Uziel can come with a blue and yellow paint job--the same colors as the Ukrainian flag. There’s also a peace symbol on the right torso. It’s not quite an explicit political statement, but it’s close, and an interesting choice given the number of Russian players in MechWarrior Online.

Getting that Uziel only requires a combined match score of 8,000 rather than the 10,000 required for previous free ‘Mech giveaways. That might be due to another big change that happened over the March 12 weekend which was 8v8 quickplay matches. The official line was testing for the coming events queue, but it also provided an excellent opportunity for PGI to see if 8v8 games might make the wait time between matches somewhat shorter. I’ve played a few games and they certainly did arrive faster, but it seems the matchmaker had some difficulty ensuring a fair balance of ‘Mech classes and pilots on both sides. 

If you didn’t like 8v8, the good news is that things are back to the usual 12v12 matches now. The rest of the month is celebrating St. Patrick’s day by hosting the Lucky Charms lootbox event. Tons of free credits and skill points are being given away alongside several cockpit cosmetics that fit the Irish theme. 

And now let’s talk about that patch. Only a few ‘Mechs getting new quirks, including the Catapult, Charger, Bushwacker, Night Gyr, and Warhammer IIC, but there’s a litany of smaller tweaks being made to various ‘Mechs that have already received their quirk passes. It seems the Cauldron is slowing down a bit on the quirk passes to fine-tune some previously quirked ‘Mechs.

But the biggest news is two new ‘Mech variants coming, including the Kit Fox-P and the Summoner-G, as well as a brand new map. Emerald Valley brings beautiful, verdant highlands with plenty of rocky outcrops and buildings to take cover behind. Like MechWarrior Online‘s other new map, Emerald Vale looks pretty big, so hopefully that 8v8 change isn’t coming back anytime soon. Otherwise, folks will have trouble finding each other in this mountainous maze.

Don’t Forget BattleTech Fans In Ukraine

I know I said we weren’t going to get political, but this one was pretty heartbreaking. Kyiv still stands bravely in the face of Russian aggression (and if recent reports are to be believed, have even pushed Russian forces back), but it’s still a humanitarian crisis of a scale that Europe hasn’t seen since World War 2. Please give to Ukrainian charities if you have the means.

This Is What Happens To LRM-Boats Who Get Noticed

Notice me step-boat <3 from OutreachHPG

This one’s a bit MechWarrior Online-specific given the Flea poking a Nova Cat-B in the butt, but I felt it was relevant enough to BattleTech fans everywhere that it should be celebrated in the news. Credit to Reddit user acreamysquid for the pic and for noticing senpai.

Catalyst Returns To Conventions And Announces A New Tech Readout

With Covid on the wane (at least for now), it’s time to get back to the business, and that means conventions for Catalyst Game Labs. Adepticon just ended in Illinois where Catalyst revealed a brand-new product: Technical Readout: Dark Age.

A compilation of the most common ‘Mechs found in Technical Readout: 3067, Technical Readout: 3075, Technical Readout: 3085, Technical Readout: 3145, Technical Readout: 3150, Technical Readout: Irregulars, and Technical Readout: Prototypes, Technical Readout: Dark Age was available in limited quantities at Adepticon and will see a wider release at a later date. 

Catalyst also announced a new cover reprint for Surrender Your Dreams as well as the print-on-demand version of No Substitute for Victory, both of which are available now. Head to Catalyst’s website or follow these links to buy ’em.

The Great UrbanMech Uprising Is Why You Should Buy Shrapnel #8

Hello for the people that don’t know I’m an artist working on the Shrapnel magazine. And as some of you have already seen here #8 is out and I wanted to hear what your guys thoughts are on my latest work. This piece is for the story "The Great Urbanmech Uprising". from battletech

I don’t have Shrapnel issue 8, but this art is basically compelling me to purchase it. Reddit user meltdonw14, who has shared quite a bit of amazing art on the social media site, had his work featured in Shrapnel for the story “The Great UrbanMech Uprising.” Do you want to know how the UrbanMechs rose up to throw off the shackles of their oppressors? I know I sure do. Plus the story confirms the canonicity of a UrbanMech duelist association called the “Urbie Durbie.” That’s how you move magazines, people.

MechWarrior 5 Is Not Dead Yet

A little while ago, I talked about the future of MechWarrior 5, which wasn’t looking super great after publisher EG7 released a report saying MechWarrior 5‘s production was winding down. No Guts No Galaxy’s Sean Lang postulated that MechWarrior 5 was likely to see at least one more expansion for MW5, but that would likely be the end before PGI moves on to bigger and better things (like possibly MechWarrior 6). 

On March 22, PGI president Russ Bullock answered No Guts No Galaxy to reveal “significant amounts of development going on for both MechWarrior products,” which include MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online. More info is promised in the coming “days or weeks” and “not months.” 

In fact, we’ve already seen the first ‘Mech that’ll be coming in MechWarrior 5‘s third DLC. More details on that later on.

MechWarrior Living Legends Is Revamping Its VTOL Flight Model

Dev Preview: VTOL Flight Model Rework!
Watch this video on YouTube.

It’s been a while since we heard from MechWarrior: Living Legends, the stand-alone Crysis mod that is the absolute best way to play a PC-based BattleTech game for zero dollars (or Euros or Pesos or whatever other currency you’ve got jangling around in your digital pocketbook). It’s also the only BattleTech video game that offers combined arms combat--you can roll around in a tank, jet around as an Elemental, or fly around in an Aerospace fighter.

Or you can zip around in any of BattleTech’s many conventional VTOL aircraft, which range from the Hawk Moth for the Inner Sphere faction to the Clan’s Donar. Choppers are a great way of providing stable fire support or a fast defensive response, and although they’re vulnerable to fire from… well, pretty much everything (just like real-life choppers), there are some MWLL fans that swear by these zippy little monsters.

And now they’re getting a flight model revamp. In their current form, VTOLs can be quite difficult to get the hang of. You can’t move backward or sideways as most modern helicopters can, and you can’t pitch your VTOL in order to engage targets that are significantly above or below your flight path. All that’s changing in the upcoming VTOL flight model rework, along with several other new features that will make VTOLs more realistic. 

The latest trailer showcasing the flight model rework promises these changes will hit MWLL “soon,” so stay tuned. And as always, give MechWarrior: Living Legends a try if you’re tired of the more modern MechWarrior games.

MechWarrior Online Is Teasing A New ‘Mech And I’m Pretty Sure It’s The Crusader

This is a big deal. The Crusader has been one of the most requested Unseen ‘Mechs since MechWarrior Online got started way back in 2012, and with all the other Unseen ‘Mechs lumbering around (including the Shadow Hawk, Phoenix Hawk, Locust, Griffin, Warhammer, Marauder, and many more), the Crusader has been a conspicuous absence.

But that might soon change. The MechWarrior Online Twitter account appears to be teasing a brand new ‘Mech, and from what folks far more observant than I can tell, it appears to be the vaunted Crusader. Fans point to the feet and vents on the legs as telltale signs that the Crusader will soon arrive in MWO.

That said, we’ve yet to receive all the teaser images for anyone to put ‘em all together to create a conclusive, singular image. I’ll be following this Twitter thread to find out though. [Edit: It’s confirmed]

I don’t think the Crusader will upset the MWO meta all that much. Most missile boats are either Supernovas or Nova Cats, with the occasional Huntsman thrown in for funsies. I think I have a friend who loves his Stalker missilier, but Archers and Catapults aren’t particularly common. On the other hand, the Crusader offers an interesting mix of missile, energy, and ballistic hardpoints, so it’s possible that the Crusader could surprise me with a competitive build that’s very different from its stock loadout. 

…And The Hatchetman In MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

Same deal as above, but instead of MechWarrior Online (which doesn’t have melee combat options and likely never will) it’s MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries (which does have melee combat options, but so far limited to just punches). Hatchets (and axes and swords) can do a LOT of damage in the tabletop, so here’s hoping Mr. Hatchetman is as baller in MechWarrior 5. This basically confirms MechWarrior 5‘s third DLC, which will be officially announced in early April.

This UrbanMech Plush Is Really Going Places

You’ve heard of Elf on the Shelf. Let me present Urbie on a Journey! from battletech

I just liked the idea of replacing the Travelocity gnome with an UrbanMech plush. Kudos to ZookeeperD for this delightful arrangement of Urbie photos. 

Operation Lancaster Explores Jihad-Era With Over 500 Pages Of Stories, Art, Record Sheets, And More

Operation Lancaster: A BattleTech Fan Project led by Devin Ramsey (Launch Video)
Watch this video on YouTube.

Almost two years ago, Michael at Metal Core Collectibles informed me of an upcoming fan project called Operation Lancaster. What started as a fan-made TRO project has since ballooned into an absolutely massive tabletop expansion, complete with art, character profiles, record sheets, and even a fancy launch trailer. It even has MegaMekLab files if you prefer to play your BattleTech tabletop games digitally.

Operation Lancaster primarily tells the story of several mercenary units fighting against the Word of Blake during the Jihad. You’ll be able to get caught up thanks to several short stories included in the 500-plus page PDF file that you can find in the video description.

This project is a huge love letter to BattleTech. It’s also telling a story that most of the community has either glossed over or ignored--including Catalyst itself. The Jihad is a great opportunity to tell compelling stories during what is likely BattleTech‘s darkest hours, and it’s fun to see fans diving into this sera with such gusto.

And that’s it! I’m in the middle of buying and also renovating a new home, so I apologize for being a little light on content. I promise the next Bad ‘Mechs will be out soon™.

And as always MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy. 

stay syrupy

Bad ‘Mechs – Hornet

Hornet

Courtesy of EldoniousRex

It looks like an egg,” griped corporal Sumners sullenly. 

Lieutenant Garcia sighed. Losses had been heavy on Misery, and Sumners busted up Stinger had been replaced by an HNT-151 Hornet. She knew it wasn’t exactly an upgrade, but she hadn’t expected Sumners to be quite so morose about the assignment. 

“It looks like an escape pod that grew legs,” Sumners said when Garcia failed to respond. 

Garcia sighed again. “Your complaint has been noted, corporal.” 

“It looks like an angry peanut that’s trying to steal barrels of other peanuts so nobody can eat any peanuts.” 

“Sumners, I understand you had a rich and storied history with that Stinger, but you’re a soldier in Wolf’s Dragoons and you’ll pilot whatever the quartermaster damned well provides. Are we clear?” 

This minor dressing down did nothing to improve Sumners’ mood. “Yes ma’am.” 

“Good. We need everyone out there to meet the Third Ryuken regiment, and that includes you in your shiny new peanut-klepto metal egg.”

This managed to get a wry smirk from Sumners, who finally picked his head out of his hands, saluted, and trotted away from Garcia and off to the small ladder that would lead him to the Hornet’s cockpit. Now that she was looking at it, Garcia thought the Hornet really did look like an angry egg.


Following the success of the Crusader, which had gone on to become a workhorse of the SLDF, Kallon Industries started eyeing more niche defense manufacturing contracts. One of those was for an urban scout ‘Mech, a role that was becoming increasingly important in the fighting on Periphery worlds. However, Kallon’s proposal was a design that even on paper seemed ill-suited for the role. At 20 tons, with a top speed of 86 kph and armed with a single LRM-5 launcher and a medium laser, the Hornet was at best a light support unit masquerading as an urban scout. With little interest from SLDF procurement for a ‘Mech that didn’t even meet the most basic of requirements for urban combat, the initial HNT-171 Hornet variant was shelved for over two centuries.

As the Succession Wars finally began to ebb, Kallon Industries rediscovered the Hornet blueprints in the ruins of an ancient factory and decided to put the design back into production. Unfortunately, much of the advanced technologies used in the HNT-171 were no longer available, such as the Endo Steel chassis, Ferro-Fibrous armor, and anti-missile system. The downgraded HNT-151 Hornet was introduced in 2990 and sold on the open export market where it was advertised to mercenary units as a light support ‘Mech.

One of the initial buyers was Wolf’s Dragoons, which purchased a significant portion of all Hornets ever produced. There the Hornet served with distinction during the Battle of Misery, although the Hornet‘s success is perhaps best attributed to the battle acumen of Wolf’s Dragoons officers and MechWarriors than the ‘Mech itself. That said, the Hornet briefly became a favorite with the Federated Suns where it replaced ancient Stingers, Locusts, and Wasps with March Militia units. The Ceti Hussars and the Deneb Light Cavalry also equipped themselves with Hornets, but by the time of the second Star League and the FedCom Civil War, the Hornet had long been surpassed by superior designs in every role. 

Besides an almost ludicrous design that provides very little protection for the pilot, the MechWarrior suffers from the typical flaws of a light ‘Mech that sacrifices speed for a meager increase in armor and firepower. Although the extra armor allows it to withstand strikes from similarly light ‘Mechs such as the Locust or Stinger, and its LRM-5 launcher allows it to engage at distances typically reserved for much larger units, the Hornet lacks the speed to disengage when it’s confronted with a superior force. Jump jets only partially solve this issue, and commanders fielding Hornets were encouraged to use terrain wisely in order to provide a secure line of retreat for Hornet pilots. Note that this tactic didn’t save those Hornet pilots if the enemy force also had jump-capable ‘Mechs.

In an urban environment, the Hornet was at a strict disadvantage as it loses the benefit of the LRM-5’s longer range. An anti-missile system provides some additional protection from shoulder-fired missile launchers, but the closed-off spaces sometimes didn’t provide enough time for the anti-missile system to react to new threats. 

The Hornet was better employed as light support to heavier fire support ‘Mechs where it could add its long-range fire to whatever target the primary units were engaging while simultaneously defending them from return fire using their anti-missile systems. Jump jets and a medium laser provided some defense against armored infantry, but the Hornet‘s lack of arms made defending against Elementals difficult.

The Hornet did make a comeback in the later years of The Republic with the HNT-181 variant produced by Coalition Armory Inc. under license. Upgraded with an XL engine, Compact Heat Sinks, an MML-5, and a Small Re-Engineered Laser, the HNT-181 Hornet provided additional versatility without sacrificing performance, although the performance of the Hornet already left much to be desired. This cheap but modernized design was perfect for periphery militias to protect against bandits and pirates but failed to stand up against more threatening designs. 

Hornet

And finally, there’s the issue of the Hornet’s looks which were comical even for ancient Star League designs. I mean, just look at the thing. It looks like a soybean cosplaying as The Rocketeer

As always, leave a comment with your opinion of the Hornet below along with your suggestion for the next Bad ‘Mech.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For February, 2022

Hah! Just when you thought that Sarna’s monthly news reports were going to start off a little more cheerily with the waning pandemic, HERE COMES RUSSIA WITH A STEEL CHAIR!

But seriously, this whole Russian invasion of Ukraine is terrifying and I find little (read, no) humor in it. To everyone suffering in Ukraine, I hope this all ends soon with a minimum loss of life. To everyone outside of Ukraine, here’s how you can help.

And now, onto the news. 

Can I Interest You In Life Insurance With Kerensky Mutual? 

Elementals wrecking havoc on you Mercenary unit? Try Battle-Armor insurance! from battletech

We begin with something that just missed the cutoff for the January news blast. I’m all about the BattleTech memes, and this one from Agressive_Loafing is premium dank meme material. All they had to do was add a top hat and a briefcase and suddenly this Elemental is far less of a threat to this Zeus. Although, depending on the deductible, still a potential threat. 

The Savage Wolf Arrives In MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

Savage Wolf MechWarrior 5

So, remember that time a modder added the Timber Wolf to MechWarrior 5? Well, now we’ve got the Mad Cat Mk IV, better known as the Savage Wolf

Normally, this ‘Mech doesn’t show up in the Inner Sphere until the year 3136, but in this MechWarrior 5 mod, it’ll start appearing in 3058, albeit extremely rarely. Instructions on how to use a save editor to acquire the Savage Wolf immediately are listed at the bottom of the mod page.

According to the mod description by gomgom50, the Savage Wolf requires at least the Heroes of the Inner Sphere expansion and maybe the Legendo of the Kestrel Lancers, too. There’s also a version of the mod that works in conjunction with the YAML Mechlab and YAMC Clan Weapon mods. 

You might note there is a slight difference between the canon Savage Wolf and the version displayed in the mod, specifically where it comes to the placement of the Streak SRM-6s. The rear-facing launchers have been swapped to the front, making this basically the same as the Timber Wolf Alt. Config D. I think gomgom50 has done a decent job of retaining the Savage Wolf’s distinctive looks while modifying the weapons to work in MW5.

This may be the first and only time we see a Republic-era ‘Mech in MechWarrior, so be sure to give this one a try.

Renegade HPG Talks to Former FASA President Sam Lewis

Sam Lewis Talks BattleTech
Watch this video on YouTube.

Renegade HPG has once again proven in a fantastic resource for anyone looking to learn more about BattleTech’s past. This time, Travis has snagged Sam Lewis, BattleTech line developer and later FASA president between the years of 1987 to 1995. Travis went through Sam’s entire career with FASA and especially the formative years of BattleTech’s lore where Sam worked with the authors like Michael Stackpole and Anthony Pryor. He also had a hand in creating the BattleTech Animated Series, which given how much digging Renegade HPG has done on that topic, explains how Sam Lewis came to be on the opposite end of a Zoom call.

It’s a long interview that spans many topics, so be sure to set aside some time. But if you kinda already know Sam’s history and just want a bit of fun, Renegade HPG did a follow-up interview with Sam and DC Bruins where the three of them watched some recent BattleTech fan films. Sam’s delight is infectious and a real treat. Give ‘em both a watch.

Wait A Minute, It’s Not Halloween Yet!

The Black Marauder from OutreachHPG

Tychorion is an artist you should be following on Twitter. A true BattleTech fan, Tychorion shares a lot of great ‘Mech art, and I wanted to showcase one piece that recently popped up on Reddit that made me once again dive into Sarna’s vast data repository.

This is the Black Marauder, a ‘Mech that really oughtta be shared closer to Halloween. As noted in Sarna’s entry, “In some instances the ‘Mech was—always inconclusively—described to move in ways that are impossible for a Marauder (or any ‘Mech), including one tale where it was said to have turned its ‘head’ by bending its long snout just forward of the arm joints and revealed a maw with rows of serrated teeth.” 

What’s even spookier is that the ‘Mech seems to grow stronger when you line its armor with carcasses or how it turns its pilots into bloodthirsty demons. Tales of the Black Marauder started during the Fourth Succession War and extended all the way to the early Republic era. Either way, if you see a grinning Marauder turn without torso twisting, it’s time to run.

Hey Kid, Wanna Buy A Gauss Rifle? 

ArcFlash Labs' GR-1 Anvil Portable Gauss Rifle
Watch this video on YouTube.

Forgotten Weapons, a YouTuber who specializes in reviewing and dissecting firearms from throughout history both modern and ancient, recently decided to showcase something that’s on the bleeding edge of gun science. I present to you, the Arcflash Labs GR-1 Anvil; the world’s first commercially available Gauss Rifle.

Just like in BattleTech, the GR-1 uses a battery to charge a bank of capacitors that power a string of coils that magnetically accelerate a metal slug down and out the barrel. As Forgotten Weapons notes, the GR-1 is wildly impractical, not the least of which because it weighs over 20 pounds, will fry your cell phone if it’s still in your pocket when you pull the trigger and fires a small metal slug at roughly 230 feet per second. To put that into perspective, that’s basically a gun that weighs as much as two bowling balls firing a little metal pellet at about the same speed as a paintball gun. It’s enough to leave a pretty nasty bruise, but it’s not likely to penetrate the skin unless it’s fired at extremely close range. You can actually see the metal slugs drop significantly soon after leaving the barrel during the firing tests. 

Forgotten Weapons notes that the GR-1 is still in a technical alpha stage and isn’t being mass produced just yet, so we can forgive its lackluster performance. Getting one involves printing the parts via a 3D printer and then sourcing all the electrical bits yourself. And also machining the barrel and however many metal slugs you want. 

The GR-1 Anvil is a far cry from the Gauss Rifles of BattleTech which fires nickel-ferrous slugs at hypersonic speeds, but who cares? The technology is here, so you can check off Gauss Rifles from your BattleTech future bingo card.

Catalyst Announces New Wolfhound IIC Mini

Wolfhound IIC Grinner

When Phelan Kell was captured by Clan Wolf, then Khan Ulric ordered his prized Wolfhound be rebuilt from the ground up using Clan technology. This meant a brand-new XL engine, an Endo Steel chassis, Ferro-Fibrous armor, and a brand new weapons complement of one ER Large Laser, three Medium Pulse Lasers, a rear-firing ER Medium Laser, and an ECM Suite. An already capable Inner Sphere design suddenly became a powerhouse able to punch well above its 35 tons. Strangely, Clan Wolf didn’t decide to mass-produce the Wolfhound IIC, but Catalyst Game Labs isn’t making the same mistake.

The Wolfhound IIC is now available on Catalyst’s website for $14.99. Yes, that’s more than you’d typically pay per mini in other boxes, but you do get some extra goodies with the Grinner, including three different pairs of legs and four different arms to let you pose Grinner however you’d like. 

Catalyst expects the Wolfhound IIC to be a popular item, so sales are limited to two per person for the first week. They also promise that the Wolfhound IIC will be reprinted so even if they run out they’ll get more stock in future print runs.

On top of that, Catalyst is also making more Salvage Boxes available, but this time containing all 93 designs seen in the Clan Invasion Kickstarter campaign. These Salvage Boxes are fun little ways to augment your arsenal since you never know what you’re going to get. The new Salvage Boxes are available now at Barnes and Noble and Catalyst’s online storefront and will be available soon at your local game shop.

New BattleTech Plushies Have Leaked

The urbanmech is lonely no longer . . . New plushies leaked from battletech

First we got the UrbanMech, a choice that I will hardly fault Catalyst for because if any of BattleTech‘s many ‘Mechs should be turned into a plushie, it’s the Urbie. But it’s not my favorite ‘Mech by a wide margin, and I’d very much prefer something else instead. Thankfully, I might soon be able to purchase a replacement.

This photo got shared on the BattleTech subreddit. I don’t know where it originally came from (some are saying it was posted on Loren Coleman’s Facebook, but the post is gone now) and I don’t know what context this photo was taken under, but I find it difficult to believe someone would go to the trouble of photoshopping a bunch of fake ‘Mech plushies underneath the one real plushie we know about.

From what I can see, there’s a Phoenix Hawk at the bottom, an Archer on the right, an Atlas on the left beside the Urbie‘s left foot, and some strange blue ‘Mech just behind it that I absolutely cannot identify. It sort of looks like a Hatchetman, but without the right-arm hatchet. I’m sure someone will correct me, as I am also sure someone will alert me when these new ‘Mech plushies are officially announced.

New Hired Steel Episode Is Out Now!

Hired Steel: A Mech Machinima – Episode Two
Watch this video on YouTube.

Eldonious Rex, the superb artist who does the art for Sarna’s Bad ‘Mechs series, recently shared a poster done for the folks making Hired Steel, the equally superb fan-made MechWarrior video series. Hired Steel is probably the highest-quality and most intricate animation I’ve ever seen outside of a video game, so I highly encourage you to watch the latest episode which is now available on YouTube

Let’s Talk About Canopian Cat Girls

https://twitter.com/lewdwildcat144/status/1495494181757796358

So. We need to talk about Canopian Catgirls because I hear them mentioned quite a bit, and I don’t get it. I know that the Magistracy of Canopus has an exceptionally liberal and even wildly hedonistic society, which I can definitely get behind. The Magistracy even has a well-regulated sex industry where everyone is protected so long as there’s consent. Honestly, sounds like a great place compared to the rest of the Inner Sphere.

But Sarna doesn’t have an entry on Canopian Catgirls, and I can’t find anything that even mentions the possibility of ladies of the night with cat ears. My understanding here is that some of the Japanese origins of BattleTech got caught up in certain anime tropes which is how catgirls managed to make their way into the established canon. If anyone can help me sleuth this catgirl stuff out, that’d be swell. 

Something Big Is Coming From The Writer Of Star Wars: Rogue One

You might remember Gary Whitta as the screenwriter who wrote Rogue One, The Book of Eli, The Walking Dead, Star Wars Rebels, and a whole bunch of other stuff. He also hosted Animal Talking when that was a thing, and also created the pervy Wordle spinoff, Lewdle

The point is, the guy is connected in Hollywood, and now he’s teasing something big. Something with mechs.

We should note that the word “‘Mech” wasn’t used anywhere, so it seems whatever giant robot action flick Whitta is teasing won’t be a Hollywood adaptation of our beloved BattleTech. But I’m a fan of giant robots of all sorts and stripes, and I know a lot of you folks are too. I’ll stay tuned to this developing story.

Alright, that’s it for February! I seriously hope we stop living in interesting times very soon, except when it comes to BattleTech of course. Because “interesting” in a world context means “bad,” but in a BattleTech context means “cool.” 

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Bad ‘Mechs – Nova

Nova on fire

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

They scoffed at cadet Rual when he’d requested a Nova for his Trial of Position. An older machine with a long history, Rual’s sibkin ridiculed his choice as one outclassed by most of the new OmniMechs that had joined Clan Nova Cats’ touman in recent years. The Huntsman was just as rugged and possessed a far greater and more versatile arsenal. The Shadowcat was sleeker, faster, and had greater range in most of its configurations. Even the older Stormcrow outclassed the Nova in most metrics.

Rual didn’t care. This ‘Mech had called to him. It promised glory. 

The techs had promised him much worse. The Nova had already suffered a partial containment problem from its previous MechWarrior and had warned Rual to ensure all safety protocols remained enabled. But Rual had learned from his instructors that an automatic shutdown in a true combat scenario was a death sentence. What difference was it if it came from a fusion containment breach or high-explosive shell? 

Nova

So Rual had slapped the override almost as soon as he entered the Nova’s cockpit. In its primary configuration, the Nova possessed more firepower than it could safely use, but Rual had seen in a vision the glory that all 12 ER medium lasers would bring him. If only he could line up the perfect shot…

There. His first opponent, an Adder, had just crested the hill and was pelting him with PPC fire. A strike on his left torso burrowed worryingly deep and a blast of heat alerted Rual to what was most likely even more engine damage. Rual ignored the heat and ignited his jump jets, closing to within striking range of his arsenal of lasers.

Another hit, this time on the left knee. The actuator froze, causing Rual to stumble upon hitting the ground, but he managed to keep his ancient machine upright. Finally in range, Rual brought up his left arm and fired.

Immediately the Nova’s cockpit went from a pleasant sauna to a nearby volcanic blast. Sweat poured off Rual’s neurohelmet in great rivulets, obscuring his vision and splattering on his sensor screen. The Adder had taken damage, but not enough. It still had one functional ER PPC. 

Another hit. Another wave of heat. Alarms were blaring in his cockpit, but the Adder had made a fatal mistake. It had stumbled into the center of Rual’s targeting reticle. 

The Nova raised both its arms slowly, as though reluctant to follow its pilot’s commands. All 12 extended-range lasers fired at once in a brilliant display. Two struck the Adder in the opposite arm, severing its last remaining PPC. One struck the cockpit, dazzling the instructor fighting Rual in the trial. Six melted armor all over the Adder’s torso, while several more burrowed inside and slagged the 35-ton ‘Mech’s gyro, dropping it to the ground.

The last thing Rual saw was the Adder falling backwards. The last thing Rual heard was the warning of a containing breach. Then his world became a brief flash of white, searing heat, and then nothing at all.

Nova MWO

By many measures, the Nova is not truly a bad ‘Mech. In comparison to the multitude of Inner Sphere designs that the Nova bested during the first years of the Clan Invasion, the Nova is an excellent machine that was faster, more maneuverable, and better armored than anything fielded by the House militaries. However, in comparison to contemporary Clan OmniMechs, the Nova was a deeply flawed design already well past its prime.

Production of the Nova first began in 2870, soon after the introduction of Elemental infantry in Clan Hell’s Horses. The Nova was designed specifically as an infantry support ‘Mech capable of carrying a full point of Elementals into battle thanks to special handholds that dotted the ‘Mech’s chassis. A rugged design, the Nova proved itself just two years after entering service during the campaign against the Smythe-Jewel Kindraa. Production would continue for over half a century before Clan Ghost Bear conquered Tokasha Mechworks and repurposed it to produce more modern designs. But by then the Nova had already proliferated to every major Clan in such numbers that it remained a common sight well into the 3000s and even beyond. 

Nova IlClan Recognition Guide

However, even at the time of its introduction, the Nova’s primary configuration possessed a single and often fatal flaw. Its 12 ER medium lasers produced far more heat than the design’s 18 double heat sinks could handle. So much that a Nova pilot who fires all 12 lasers at once risks immediate shutdown. If the pilot can somehow survive the heat, repeated firings can result in engine damage, and should the pilot disable the automatic safeties, the Nova’s 250 XL engine could breach in an explosion worthy of its name.

That said, there’s no denying what devastation 12 medium lasers can cause. A pilot willing to risk it all can take down vastly larger threats provided they can remain conscious in the sauna-like atmosphere of the Nova’s cockpit.

As an OmniMech, there are many other variants of the Nova that do not suffer from this catastrophic heat problem, and many smart Nova pilots avoid the primary configuration whenever and wherever possible. One could posit that the only reason the Nova still exists at all is entirely because its OmniMech heritage allows it to evolve beyond the flaws of its initial design. 

Nova TCG

After a century’s-long hiatus, the Nova once again entered production with Clan Jade Falcon in 3073. Its ubiquity led to the production of an entirely Inner Sphere version under the Black Hawk moniker, and even Clan Sea Fox produces a non-Omni version of the Nova for export purposes. However, it’s noteworthy the Sea Fox design doesn’t imitate the original’s 12 medium laser armament, and newer variants similarly avoid overloading the Nova’s limited heat capacity.

I think this is the most controversial choice of a bad ‘Mech so far, but there are honestly very few truly bad Clan designs. But out of the Clan OmniMechs, the Nova is easily the least impressive and has largely been matched or surpassed by even modern Inner Sphere designs.

We got plenty of bad Inner Sphere ‘Mechs in the pipeline, but bad Clan ‘Mechs are harder to find. List your favorites in the comments below and I’ll add ’em to the list.

And until next time, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

Your BattleTech News Roundup For January 2022

It’s January. The nights are long, the days are cold, and I’m basically waiting for lockdowns to end. Which to be fair to COVID, probably won’t change my behavior all that much. I tend to hibernate through the winter as much as humanly possible.

But just because I’d prefer to sleep my way through winter doesn’t mean you have to, and neither should you. Not because humans are terrible at hibernating, but because there’s so much BattleTech news to consume! Sarna has the best news in the Inner Sphere to start off your new year. Join me as I take a meandering tour of what’s new for BattleTech in January 2022.

Gotta Dodge Those Gauss Rifles Buddy

Headshot! by u/SU-SMD from battletech

SU-SMD is back with more art, although this time it was posted by commissioner FKDesaster. It pictures a slightly different BattleTech universe where the Goliath Scorpions were an invading Clan that met the Davion Guards on some forlorn Steiner planet. The meeting ends with a Battlemaster getting its head blown off. A great piece all around! 

Place Your Bets In Three-Way Medium ‘Mech Brawl

Hype Poster – ATOW/CBT Solaris Match-up – any predictions? from battletech

Next up we have this Solaris VII poster from mikey39800. A three-way battle pits a Nightsky against a Uziel and a four-legged Bishamon. Honestly, I’d give it to the Nightsky in this threeway, but the Bishamon has a definite mobility advantage. It’ll all depend on how tight these “garden ruins” are.

It sounds like Mikey has a bit of a backstory for these fighters which might give you an idea on where to place your bets.

Hatchetman Mod Makes Melee Combat ‘Mech Available In MechWarrior 5

Hatchetman Nexus Mods

The Hatchetman has been available in Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH for some time, marking the first ax-wielding ‘Mech to appear in anything other than the tabletop and card games. With MechWarrior 5 getting melee combat options with the Kestrel Lancers expansion, there was some expectation that the Hatchetman might find its way into the latest MechWarrior entry. Sadly, that didn’t happen, but thankfully, there are mods.

Courtesy of mod creator KodiakJ, you can now play with the Hatchetman in MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. The design here is more based on the re-worked CGL ‘Mech from Recognition Guide: ilClan, vol. 12 rather than BATTLETECH, but it still looks great. 

The mod adds two variants: the original HCT-3F, which was introduced in 3023, and the HCT-5S, which was introduced in 3049. Unfortunately, the hatchet is mostly decorative in terms of combat, but it does have a custom slashing animation that differs significantly from all the punches being thrown by other ‘Mechs. Trust me, you’re gonna love it. 

Dolgfer Shows His Pandemic Projects

Battletech - Lego - Birth of a Battle Mech - Battlemechs of 2020 + 2021
Watch this video on YouTube.

Dolgfer is someone that I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to thanks to his incredible talents at turning BattleTech into Lego models. He recently recapped his ‘Mech hangar’s additions over the course of the pandemic, showcasing the Longbow, Hollander, Commando, Ryoken, King Crab, and Marauder. He also previewed his next project, the Dragonfly, which will be modified to be more like the MechWarrior Online version and not the torso-less canon version.

If you’ve ever wanted to combine a love for BattleTech and Lego, Dolgfer is a great place to find out how.

MechWarrior Online’s January Patch Brings Another Quirk Pass And New Variants Of Clan ‘Mechs

MWO Jan 2022 Patch Notes

January brings yet another update for MechWarrior Online. We don’t have a new map, but we do have the Predator Booster Pack bringing the Blood Asp-E and the Shadow Cat-D, a few adjustments to weapons, as well the sixth quirk pass for some underloved ‘Mechs. Well, underloved except by me of course. 

The Nova, Linebacker, Black Knight, Battlemaster, and Blood Asp all received new quirks and/or quirk adjustments. Honestly, the quirks on the Nova seem a little underwhelming compared to its immediate competition, the Hunchback IIC, so I hope that The Cauldron gives this chassis another look after obtaining some gameplay data. The Linebacker was also only slightly tweaked, but it’s somewhat more played than the Nova in the current meta so I can understand the caution here.

The Black Knight will be an energy monster with its structure quirks converted to armor and several newly added quirks across all variants. The Battlemaster should also prove to be a beast with the BLR-3M being of particular interest for its extra 7.5% top speed.

There are several other adjustments to ‘Mechs, but you can read about it in the patch notes here. And don’t forget that January’s free ‘Mech is the Hunchback IIC-A, which will be available until February 7 (provided you play the game enough, of course). 

PGI Is Giving Away Their ‘Mech Pods!

MW5 Pods

Oh, and before I forget, MechWarrior Online and MW5 developer PGI is giving away their ‘Mech pods. You might recall these custom-built pods from the Mech_Con‘s of yesteryear. Well, since everyone is working from home, PGI is downsizing its office and needs to find a good home for these old simulator pods.

The bad news is that the Razer-supplied rigs that were powering these pods won’t be coming with them, and neither will the monitors or joysticks. It’s really just the ‘Mech-inspired scaffolding. But hey, if you want your battle station to feel like a giant walking death machine (and you live in the Vancouver area), reach out to PGI to take these pods off their hands.

Renegade HPG Interviews BattleTech Cartoon Producer Kurt Weldon

Making BattleTech The Animated Series | with Producer Kurt Weldon
Watch this video on YouTube.

Renegade HPG is starting the year off right with a new interview featuring Kurt Weldon, a producer who worked on the BattleTech cartoon series. Renegade HPG remastered BattleTech: The Animated Series starting in late 2020 and thanks to his fascination with the ’90s cartoon, we get to hear some truly wild stories about the show’s development. 

This won’t come as too big of a surprise to anyone with knowledge of kids’ toys, but BattleTech: The Animated Series never would have gotten made without a merchandising deal for kids’ toys. However, the show never really hit it off with kids and was instead number one for 16 to 24-year-olds. Sadly, none of those guys are buying children’s toys (usually--I still have a Bushwacker rolling around somewhere), so the show was ultimately canceled. 

Well, that and because of FASA’s tumultuous legal issues.

There’s a lot more in the interview, like how primitive CG was integrated into the cartoon and how sometimes episodes would arrive out of order, requiring some creative editing. I highly recommend you give this interview a listen. 

Microsoft’s Activision Acquisition Brings MechWarrior IP Back Under One Roof

MechWarrior 2, GBL, MW2:Mercs

Microsoft announced on January 18 that it intended to acquire Activision Blizzard for around $70 billion. That easily makes it the biggest purchase in gaming history, ten times larger than when Microsoft purchase Bethesda last year. The deal is expected to require regulatory approval and also the approval of Activision’s shareholders, but if it does, the MechWarrior IP will be entirely controlled by Microsoft.

Right now, Microsoft licenses MechWarrior to PGI to make MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online. Microsoft already owns the rights to MechWarrior 3 & 4, as well as the various MechCommander and MechAssault games, but as The Art of BattleTech notes, anything before January 1999 was still owned by Activision. This includes MechWarrior 1 & 2, Ghost Bear’s Legacy, and MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries.

Activision, being one of the worst companies in America and only interested in re-releasing games that could make them a ton of money, never bothered to make the earliest MechWarrior games available even on retro-oriented platforms like GOG. However, Microsoft has proven to be far more charitable with its older IPs.

I’m not saying that Microsoft is immediately going to remaster the old MechWarrior games and release them on Steam, but the possibility at least exists now. It’s certain that Activision was never going to do anything that wasn’t related to Call of Duty, so now there’s at least a chance.

Who knows? Maybe we really will see MechWarrior 2 remastered. 

This UrbanMech Has Cat Ears And That’s Okay

Hatchy recently shared her personal ride on Twitter, which just so happens to be a customized UM-R60 UrbanMech. But not just any UrbanMech--this is an Urbie with cat ears. I give you, the Cheap-N-Easy.

It’s a bit of a misnomer since the R60 has been upgraded with double heatsinks, Ferro Fibrous armor, and a C3 Command Unit, making it anything but cheap. The autocannon has been replaced by an ER Large Laser, the small laser replaced by a machine gun, and an SRM-2 was placed in the chest. Or what counts as the chest of a walking trash can.

Look, no one’s going to argue that putting a C3 unit in an UrbanMech is a good idea. What’s great about this thing is that it just oozes flavor out of every actuator. The Cheap-N-Easy has a story to go along with those cat ears, and you can read that story by clicking this link. 

3D-Print Some Cool Buildings For Your Next Tabletop Game

Fancy Buildings Kickstarter

3D-printing BattleMechs is no bueno since CGL owns the rights to them and they’d rather you didn’t. But 3D-printing terrain for your next tabletop game is fair play, and Rod Genardini of Melbourne Australia recently kicked off a Kickstarter campaign to bring you an array of cityscape models perfect for your next BattleTech game.

The Kickstarter features 25 files with optional hex skirts for BattleTech. Or if you want to play with these things in different tabletop games, print them without the hex base. I’m not here to tell you what games to play.

These also don’t necessarily need to be for a city campaign. Just use a smattering of these structures for a research facility or a communications array. Maybe even an HPG station. Smaller sheds and bunkers are perfect for military outposts, while skyscrapers make the perfect backdrop to an urban assault.

The campaign got started just a few days ago, so you’ve got plenty of time to figure out what level you’d like to back the project at. Deliveries of digital files are expected in April. Note, you’ll still need a 3D printer to actually turn these files into playing pieces.

Watch Out, Shrapnel—Lady Centrella Has Started A Monthly BattleTech E-Magazine

MM-Cover-1-Jan-2022

Not satisfied with turning MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries and Haribrained’s BATTLETECH into a tabletop campaign sourcebook, Riley Centrella is now after my job with a monthly e-magazine. That’s fine, Lady Centrella--there’s enough BattleTech news for the both of us. 

I kid. To be fair, this e-magazine has way more fan projects and literature than I normally get to in our monthly news blasts, and some pretty sweet fan art too. It’s really Shrapnel that should be concerned. 

You can download the first issue for free by heading over to Lady Centrella’s Patreon. Patrons get first access before the issues will become freely available. 

Wolves Teases Wave 3 ‘Mechs, Including Everyone’s Favorite

Wolves Wave 3 is coming. As a reminder, Wolves is the MechAssault fan-made game that absolutely blows my mind every single time I look at the work being done on it. We recently got to see the Raven, and now we’re getting a good look at the Mad Cat, a 75-ton beast that’s been the posterchild of the BattleTech franchise for decades. 

While Wolves’ version of the venerable Timber Wolf has all the classic lines of the original, you can see a few unique aesthetic choices that give this version a distinctly MechAssault feel. Those rotary cannons in the torso, for example, can easily be machine guns or autocannons depending on what power-up you’ve grabbed. 

If you still haven’t played Wolves, pick up the free download over on its dedicated website and stay tuned for Wave 3’s arrival.

Tamar Rising, First Of The IlClan-Era Sourcebooks, Is Available Now

Oh, almost forgot! The first of the post-IlClan sourcebooks just came out. Tamar Rising explores what happens when the two biggest Clans in the Inner Sphere beat themselves half to death and leave a whole bunch of Steiners to their own devices. Spoiler alert: things get schemy real fast.

Tamar Rising looks specifically at the former Clan Jade Falcon Occupation Zone and the many, many conflicts that arise following the Jade Falcon’s loss on Terra. The Lyrans have had a chance to lick their wounds and are itching for revenge, or maybe just an opportunity to expand their own holdings.

You can get the PDF for $14.99 or the book and PDF combo for $34.99 over at Catalyst’s storefront. There’s also going to be a live YouTube AMA on February 5 at 2 PM ET where you can ask line developer Ray Arrastia questions about the new sourcebook.

And that’s it for January! Join us next month for more giant stompy robot action.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy