April Fools has come and gone, and with it came the usual assortment of online jigs and japes. Catalyst, as usual, got in on the action with perhaps the best idea BattleTech has ever had: the UrbanMech LAM.
LAMs, as many of you likely recall, were early attempts by FASA to reconcile the Macross/Robotech models used in BattleTech with the transforming robot/planes of the anime. It never really worked out, so the Stinger, Phoenix Hawk, and Wasp LAMs were all relegated to the dustbin of BattleTech history, their presence hand-waved away as merely more Star League-era Lostech.
Save for a few Word of Blake LAMs that showed up during the Jihad, LAMs have remained dead and buried for most of BattleTech’s history. At least, until now.
We present… the UrbanMech LAM!
Truly a work of finesse and artistry, this literal flying rust bucket is the creative genius of Bishop Steiner, who regularly posts fancy drawings on his Twitter feed (so you should follow him). Mr. Steiner teamed up with Catalyst to provide a bit of an April Fool’s day joke, but one that I certainly hope gets turned into canon by the various powers that be.
Oh, and because UrbanMechs are the best thing ever, someone on Reddit has even created a 3D model of the Urbie LAM so you can make your own miniatures. Catalyst certainly won’t do it, but maybe an enterprising materials engineer will.
(PS: I’m aware that the odds of this thing ever getting rubber-stamped as canon are about as good as me flying to the moon by flapping my arms really fast, but in these troubled times, one can freakin’ dream, capiche?!)
In our recent March update, we found out that the Clan Invasion Kickstarter was sadly going to be delayed as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This was pretty much guaranteed as the ongoing outbreak continues to play havoc with the global economy as well as global supply chains.
We didn’t know how long the delay would be, but we do now: 2 more months.
Our first delay pushed production from March to May, but now we’re going to be waiting until July for the first wave of box sets to get in the mail.
“Our primary factory responsible for ALL plastics and 90% of the product for this Kickstarter Campaign has reportedly just come back up to 80% of their normal production speed,” wrote Catalyst in their most recent update. “Currently, they won’t promise anything before July, 2020.”
Keep in mind that’s a best-case scenario. We might be looking at later in the summer for the first wave to come out. Personally, if the pandemic gets even worse in the US, I think we might be waiting till the fall. But what can you do? Other than try to encourage China to close their illegal wildlife markets that allowed COVID-19 to jump from bats to humans in the first place.
Anywhoodle, the good news is that we’ll have some sample products to check out soon, and Catalyst has recently released Technical Readout: Jihad on PDF. Oh, and there’s still that BattleTechcoloring book, which is all kinds of amazing and even for all ages of BattleTech fan. Oh, and have a Stone Rhino.
Welcome to your March news roundup in the wide world of BattleTech! As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, I’m self-isolating at home and scouring the internet for the latest in BattleTech news. Believe it or not, just because the world is shutting down due to a viral outbreak doesn’t mean BattleTech‘s gears stop churning.
Anyway, we’re not going to dwell on all the awful stuff that’s going on since you’ve got lesser news organizations for that. Instead, we’re going to get caught up on what’s happened this March in BattleTech. Let’s get to it!
Wolves, the fan-made MechAssault remake that we previewed a few months ago, now has the Summoner (or Thor, if you’re a Spheroid) as a pilotable ‘Mech. I really like how they redid the Summoner, from the more angular cockpit to the torso-mounted lasers. They even posted a gameplay video of the Summoner in action and it definitely looks like a 70-ton ‘Mech lumbering around.
The team working on Wolves has also got an Atlas under development. Stay tuned for when that will be available in the downloadable alpha, which you can grab here.
The full Atlas reveal will happen in the form of a trailer we're thinking. What are some of the things you guys would like to see in an Atlas trailer? pic.twitter.com/33hQVdnFnd
This actually happened last month, but it definitely bears mentioning. Bombadil announced that he was leaving No Guts No Galaxy and the gaming industry in general to pursue other interests. Everything has now been handed over to Phil, including the Twitch channel, podcast, and Twitter account.
Hey everyone, it's been an epic 10 years, but I am parting ways with the gaming industry and streaming. @NoGutsNoGalaxy is now fully owned and operated by Phil, and I wish him much success and happiness with it. Peace and love to all! pic.twitter.com/Xpub7iGaQ9
We don’t know what those other interests are, but we definitely wish Bombadil luck in whatever he chooses to pursue.
Clan Invasion Character Site Is Live
At the Star Colonel level of backing and above, Clan Invasion Kickstarter backers were rewarded with having their names added to the official BattleTech canon. This guarantees that their name will appear somewhere in sourcebooks or fiction, although the precise details of that were to be discussed at a later date.
In order to get everyone to provide their info, Catalyst has set up a website where backers can add their personal (or online persona’s) info. I see Tex has already added his “Randolph P. Checkers” character to the database, and there are plenty of other colorful characters for you to peruse there as well even if you haven’t backed at the $300 level.
If you’re a backer, head to the website now to get your name added to the list of soon-to-be canon characters.
Since Catalyst Games is a mostly virtual company, its operations are continuing as per normal. It’s everything else that’s coming to a screeching halt, and there’s not much that can be done about it other than wait it out.
Catalyst says the delay will be “several weeks” for production and shipment, and that they’re “exploring alternative options to mitigate delays, including domestic U.S. printing.” We’ll keep everyone up to date on this one.
In the meantime, Catalyst has a 20% off sale on everything in their online store, with an additional 20% off for non-BattleTech, non-Shadowrun products. I’m not sure what those are, but you can head on over to Catalyst’s website to check out the deals.
According to the earlier Reddit post, a “crack commando team” plans on taking BATTLETECH and rebalancing everything to be less in-line with the tabletop game and more interesting from the strict video game perspective. This means that hardpoints might be changed, damage values will be tweaked, heat will be toned down or turned up (depending on the laser/PPC), and new, non-canon variants of ‘Mechs might be added.
This sounds like a pretty ambitious project and one to keep an eye out for. I can honestly say that certain weapons in BATTLETECH definitely feel underpowered due to adhering too closely to the tabletop rules, so this might be a way of changing things up to make more ‘Mechs and builds viable at higher difficulties.
No news on when BATTLETECH Revised will release, but expect more details “soon.”
Someone Has Finally Figured Out The Actual Damage Numbers In MechWarrior 2
MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat originally released with a manual that pretty much copied the weapon damage values from the tabletop game. However, anyone who actually played the game can tell you that they were utter BS. PPCs and LRMs did WAY more damage than they should, while Small Lasers were like shooting someone with a squirt gun.
Someone has finally gone through each and every weapon in MechWarrior 2 and figured out what the REAL damage values are. Kudos to you, Pixelmusement, for taking the time to go through every weapon and see what’s what.
I thought this was really neat and well worth a look.
Toy Galaxy Takes A Look At BattleTech: The Animated Series
Finally, YouTube channel Toy Galaxy did an interesting dive into BattleTech: The Animated Series. The video specifically looks at the cartoon and the toys that it generated, as well as the rival cartoon from Harmony Gold and the ludicrous legal battle that ensued. It’s an angle on the Harmony Gold thing that rarely gets coverage thanks to the Unseen ‘Mechs, and is again, well worth a look.
One Last Thing: Catalyst Made A BattleTech Coloring Book
Some of you might be bored because of this whole coronavirus thing. Others might have children at home due to school closures. Or maybe you just like pictures of big stompy robots. But for whatever reason, Catalyst has created a BattleTech coloring book.
It’s pay-what-you-want, which of course means “free” in my lexicon, but you do you. The BattleTech Activity Book is 56 pages and contains line art from the upcoming Clan Invasion as well as the previous Inner Sphere BattleTech Box Sets. Currently, you can only print it out in PDF form, but soon there should be a physical copy that you can order. It will likely cost more than $0, though.
That’s it for March! Join us next month for another BattleTech news roundup.
It’s been a busy month! There are lots of things happening in the BattleTech world, so instead of bombarding you all with a bunch of smaller updates, I decided to try and make things a little easier to digest. Hence the digest-style post.
We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get to it!
BattleTech Clan Invasion Kickstarter Delayed
Is this really much of a surprise? If you told me that something like 90% of Kickstarters get delayed, I’d believe it. In fact, CNN says that number is around 84% (in 2012, which is a number that likely hasn’t improved in the 8 years since). I don’t think I’ve ever had a Kickstarter ship on the day they said it would at the start of the campaign, and BattleTech Clan Invasion is no different.
In an update delivered to backers a few weeks ago, Catalyst said that issues with the plastic miniature supplier mean that the first wave of shipments won’t go out until May, with the final shipments expected to complete by May 31st. Sucks, but what’re you gonna do? Nature of the beast and all that.
As Reddit user and Clan Invasion backer Halabis so eloquently put it: “If this one ships 45 days late it will still be the least late out of every Kickstarter I’ve ever backed.”
So far I haven’t heard anything about the Wuhan coronavirus adding more delays, but if the outbreak continues I wouldn’t be surprised. Knock on wood.
Harebrained Is Done With BattleTech, Now Working On 2 New Projects
In even worse news, Harebrained Schemes has decided that a single season of DLC is all that BATTLETECH deserves. In an announcement broadcast online earlier this week, HBS head honcho Mitch Gitelman revealed that the studio has moved on to new projects.
The last four years has been amazing for us, in large part thanks to every single one of you MechWarriors out there. The team at HBS are moving on to exciting new projects and we can't wait to tell you more about them, later down the line.https://t.co/dDuiazm5D7pic.twitter.com/nfCjaxvCwn
“I’ve returned to the BattleTech universe many times over the last 25 years and it’s become woven into the fabric of my life,” Gitelman wrote in a follow-up tweet. “My deep appreciation to the community and the amazing teammates I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside. I’m personally honored to be part of its history.”
This means no more expansions, and no ratcheting forward of the timeline so that we have a Clan Invasion. I know that many of you are extremely disappointed to hear this, but there is at least a tiny silver lining. First, HBS will still throw out one more free update, update 1.9, scheduled for later this month. This will include 16 new ‘Mech variants, 8 new vehicle variants, fast-forwarding travel scenes, and some additional upgrade options for the Argo.
Second, mods are a thing, and the mod community that has sprung up around BATTLETECH will be sure to continue to do great things with the game.
In a farewell post, we also got some interesting stats from the game. Apparently the most-used ‘Mechs are the Shadow Hawk, Centurion, and surprisingly the Vindicator. I suspect this is simply due to the Vindicator being one of your starting ‘Mechs and is probably the strongest one you start with. Also, Decker dies over 10,000 times per month, a number which seems ludicrously low.
As for what Harebrained is working on now, I have no idea. I certainly hope it’s another Shadowrungame, but your guess is as good as mine.
Someone Did The Math, And Burst-Fire A/Cs Are Way Better DPS In MechWarrior 5
This is kinda nuts, but it explains why I vastly prefer burst-fire autocannons to single-shot versions in MechWarrior 5.
We’ve got Reddit user kirby3021 to thank for sitting down and doing the math on the two types of autocannons available in MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. As you likely know, there are two options. The first is the usual single-shot cannon round that deals a set amount of damage to a single ‘Mech component. The other is a burst-fire that flings several munitions in a bit of a spread. This trades single-target accuracy for greater overall damage.
How much greater? According to kirby, burst-fire autocannons deal 46% more damage over time and produce 19% less heat than their single-shot counterparts.
That’s a lot, but as all MechWarriors know, DPS isn’t everything in MechWarrior. Burst-fire autocannons make it harder to hit specific components and harder to hit opponents at range, meaning it can be more difficult to down enemy ‘Mechs before they start hammering your armor. On the other hand, 46% more DPS makes it easier to core your enemies after they get up close and personal.
I’m an up-close and personal kinda guy, so I like my burst-fire cannons. Plus they sound cooler.
This Australian Guy Is Building His Own ‘Mech
And by the looks of things, it’s going to be an UrbanMechwith some sort of weird ripper claw. I don’t really have anything else to say about it, but I certainly hope he succeeds. This world needs more ‘Mechs in it.
The Flashman Redesign Is Everything To Me
Courtesy of Shimmering Sword
Last, but certainly not least, Shimmering Sword has redesigned the Flashman, and I am in literal awe. Look at this beauty. Can you imagine that something that used to look like this could one day become this menacing machine?
It doesn’t hurt that the Flashman is one of my favoritist ‘Mechs and one that I am eagerly awaiting in Wave 2 of the Catalyst Kickstarter.
That said, I do have one niggling complaint in that the redesign makes it appear like you can’t get away with calling the Flashman the “flashbulb.” Sure, it has a certain bulbousness to it, but it seems to have been greatly overshadowed by all that angular awesomeness.
Regardless, I want it, and it almost seems criminal that I’ll have to wait 6-8 months to get it.
Yes, I know the big news is that MechWarrior 5 is out, but that doesn’t mean I’ve completely lost sight of everything. I mentioned in my earlier piece that MechWarrior 5 might be light on story, but you know what’s not light on story? An actual story that was written as a prelude to MechWarrior 5.
Also, it’s free to everyone and not just MechWarrior 5 owners.
It’s called the MechWarrior 5 Origin Series, and you can find it on the MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries website in 8 installments. Written by Randall N. Bills (whom you might know from his six previous BattleTech novels and as the guy involved in BattleTech development for over 20 years), the eight-part novella tells the story of Nikolai Mason and how he came to create Nik’s Cavaliers, the mercenary company you take over in MechWarrior 5.
Any amount of BattleTech fiction is, of course, a welcome addition, but a free novella? Free is the best price of all.
You can head on over to the MW5 website to download the novella’s 8 parts in either mobi or epub formats. Or you can get it from various online retailers for exactly $0.00. I think it’s pretty spectacular that someone managed to convince Indigo to host a novel for exactly zero pay.
The Origin Series also goes a long way to fixing one of the larger omissions from MechWarrior 5. I know that the game is geared towards getting action fans into a ‘Mech simulator game, but BattleTech fans still prefer to have a bit of backstory. Motivation is key, and with the game set during the “in-between” eras means that there are no galaxy-spanning conflicts to insert ourselves into.
If you use a Kindle (like I do), use the DriveThruFiction download link. That’ll get you set up. For everyone else, you can download your own e-reader to your phone, use the online store of preference, or just murder a tree by printing the whole thing out on paper. I personally prefer the less herbicidal approach, but you do you.
A few weeks ago, Nic managed to catch up to prolific BattleTech writer Philip A. Lee at GenCon 2019, who graciously agreed to an interview. I’ve read a few of Philip’s stories, so it was my absolute pleasure to pick his brain on how he got into BattleTech, how he started writing BattleTech, and how he managed to kill a Jenner in the most hilarious way possible. Well, he didn’t really kill the Jenner, but it was still hilarious and you should read about it.
On top of that, we also get a grade A. Lee-preview of the next story we can expect from the prolific author. So once again, sit back, relax, and enjoy another story from the many corners of BattleTech.
So the Clan Invasion is barreling towards the $2 million milestone with about $50,000 to go as of the time of this writing (it will almost certainly be higher by the time this gets published, and hopefully be over the $2 million threshold).
I think it’s safe to safe to say that this Kickstarter has been far more successful than anyone could have hoped. But in the waning hours of this crowdsourcing project, I come to you with a final desperate plea: we have to get over the $2 million mark.
In the utterly insane pace that this Kickstarter has been climbing, Catalyst has been adding more and more stretch goals. When it passed $1,500,000, backers unlocked the coveted Double Forces Rapid Redeployment, which allowed them to select what Star/Lance/Level II pack they’d prefer to receive rather than merely doubling whatever Star/Lance/Level II was unlocked at their backer level.
Then at $1,875,000, backers unlocked the “Beard-Off Rematch” which will see bearded Catalyst and Harebrained Schemes team members compete in a live-streamed tabletop game of BattleTech where the losers will ceremoniously remove their beards.
But the $2,000,000 mark is the true prize. The creme de la creme, the piece de resistance, the other-French-words-that-have-great-meaning-but-I-forget, is the UrbanMech plush toy.
I want it. I wasn’t going to back this Kickstarter. Even though I love BattleTech and certainly love the new designs that Catalyst has put out, I don’t really do much tabletop gaming. Worse, I don’t really have a whole lot of shelf space to display miniatures on, as pretty as they may be.
But I don’t care. I will make space for an UrbanMech plush toy. I will store everything else in a box if I can cuddle an UrbanMech to sleep at night.I WILL REMOVE EVERY ANCILLARY PIECE OF TECHNOLOGY CONNECTED TO MY COMPUTER IN ORDER TO MAKE SPACE ON MY DESK IN ORDER TO BASK IN THE GLORY OF A PLUSH URBANMECH.
I have backed the Clan Invasion Kickstarter at the $75 USD level (which works out to something like $15,000 Canadian) in order to make this dream come true. I implore you all to do the same. If you have donated, up your donation. Convince your friends to donate, even if they’re not BattleTech fans. We have just two days left. Together, we can make the plush UrbanMech a reality.
With GenCon 2019 behind us, I can share a few tidbits from the Catalyst Game Labs crew via their What’s up with Catalyst? session.
Present were John Helfers (fiction director), Bryn Bills (Leviathans line developer), Randall N. Bills (managing director), Loren L. Coleman (owner), Brent Evans (BattleTech line developer), and Jason Hardy (Shadowrun line developer).
Catalyst’s Clan Invasion Kickstarter was fully funded in 7 freakin’ minutes. That’s pretty amazing. Then they hit all their stretch goals in just 20 minutes, resulting in Catalyst’s top brass frantically trying to create stretch goals to keep the momentum going. That momentum seems to show no sign of slowing down, even after having reached their stretch goal of $1 million on July 24th.
Currently, the Clan Invasion Kickstarter is sitting at $1.134 million as of the time of this writing, but that number is climbing so fast that I’m certain it will be out of date by the time this story gets printed.
The benefit of all this incredible support is an ever-expanding list of new ‘Mechs being added to other both Clan and Inner Sphere ‘Mech packs. You’ll have to go to the Kickstarter for the full listing, but a few standouts include a new Clan Fire Star pack with a Kit Fox, Cougar, Fire Moth, Nova Cat, and Warhawk. These, like every ‘Mech to be released here, are all brand new sculpts with Catalyst teasing their updated designs on both the Kickstarter page as well as their Twitter account.
You incredible people have hit 500 retweets for our Kickstarter post. As promised, here are three more in development drawings!! pic.twitter.com/8FmPlLLC4s
If you didn’t read your favorite ‘Mech in the above paragraphs, don’t fret–it’s probably somewhere in the ever-expanding list of stretch goals. Head to the Kickstarter page to see what else might be in store and maybe make a pledge of your own to grab your ride in miniature form.
With 19 days left to go, the $1.5 million stretch goal seems totally doable, and $2 million isn’t outside the realm of possibility. There’s some really need stuff left to unlock, including a charity event stream of MechWarrior 5 and the potential to choose two different ‘Mech packs instead of just getting one for eligible backers.
And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.
(UPDATE: Apparently a lot of these stretch goal ‘Mech packs have already changed. This Kickstarter is a very living project. The latest changes have been summarized on this Reddit thread courtesy of Cataphract40, but they could change even more over the next 2-and-a-half weeks.)
Hey everyone! The Clan Invasion boxed set Kickstarter is live. Looks like it’s already well past its funding goal and Catalyst is busy making up stretch goals like a bunch of madmen. You should head on over there and show your support if you haven’t already.
We’ll have more coverage on this madness after the dust clears a bit. Promise.