Category Archives: Community

Your BattleTech News Round-Up For January, 2024

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

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

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

BattleTech Turns 40!

BattleTech 40th Anniversary
Watch this video on YouTube.

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

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

Catalyst Announces Coming Releases

40th-Boxed-Sets

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

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

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

BattleTech Universe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Reminder: BattleTech Is For Everyone

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

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

Play MechWarrior 5 In VR Thanks To New Mod

MechWarriorVR Launch Video
Watch this video on YouTube.

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

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

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

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

More Warhammer IIC Propaganda

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

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

Opinion: What Piece Of BattleTech Lore Is Too Deep?

Sarna Complaints Department

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Nightstar On Canvas

Nightstar “Painting”
byu/1001WingedHussars inbattletech

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

Kudos to 1001WingedHussars for this piece.

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

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

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

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

A Cornered Crusader

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

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

More MechWarrior 5 DLC Is On The Way

MechWarrior 5 DLC News 2024

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

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

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

MWO 2024 Q1 Intel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nova Cat Beams Into MechWarrior 5 In New Mod

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

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

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

Furries Are Making Neurohelmets?

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

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

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

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

BattleTech Museum 90s Toy Line Kenner

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

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

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

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

A Walking Ammo Explosion, Now Animated

Jagermech on Patrol
byu/_masaka inbattletech

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

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

ROMCon Focht's News Network

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

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

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

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

Night Gyr Getting Blasted In The City

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

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

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

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

BattleTech In 2024 – An Interview With Line Developer Ray Arrastia & Assistant Line Developer Aaron Cahall

We’re starting the year off with a bang here at Sarna. We’re asking the tough questions, getting the unexpected answers, and determining where BattleTech will go over the course of 2024. I recently sat down with BattleTech Line Developer Ray Arrastia and Assistant Line Developer Aaron Cahall for the lowdown on what’s coming to BattleTech this year as well as what’s been going on with BattleTech‘s recent history.

This is Sarna’s biggest interview yet, so I hope you brought some popcorn. Enjoy.

Continue reading

Sarna’s 50,000 Article Celebration!

Sarna 50,000 Articles

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

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

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

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

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Your BattleTech News Round-Up For December, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

And now, onto your BattleTech news. 

Tex Talks: The UrbanMech

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

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

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

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

Jade Turkey: It’s What’s For Dinner

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

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

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

Catalyst Announces A Ton Of Stuff At PAX Unplugged For 2024

More news from PAX Unplugged
byu/Available_Mountain inbattletech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPINION: Pre-painted ‘Mechs Are Fine, Actually

Sarna Complaints Department

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

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

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

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

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

BattleTech Comic Comes With 200% More Cat Ears

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

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

Happy 14th Anniversary To MechWarrior: Living Legends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bushwacker Classic Arrives In MechWarrior 5

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

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

Star Adder Warhammer IICs Under A Starry Sky

Star Adder Warhammer IIC By Alan Blackwell
byu/Big_Red_40Tech inbattletech

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

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

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

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

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Gets Pinball Mod

Traditional Mod Game play Short
Watch this video on YouTube.

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

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

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

Merry Christmas And Happy Holidays From Sarna To You And Yours

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

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

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

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

Christmas Mechs

Art, AI, And MechWarrior Underwear – An Interview With Catalyst’s Brent Evans

As a bit of a treat for year’s end, we sat down with BattleTech Art Director Brent Evans to have a chat on a variety of subjects. We talk about redesigning classic ‘Mechs, where AI fits into your next BattleTech campaign, and why we haven’t seen more AeroSpace fighters get the redesign treatment (and why Ray is having nightmares about it).

As always, Brent had a lot to say, so I won’t waste any more time getting to the good stuff. Enjoy!

Continue reading

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

Doug Shuler Warhammer

Warhammer by Doug Shuler

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

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

Doug Shuler Locust

Locust by Doug Shuler

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

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

Doug Shuler Rifleman

Rifleman by Doug Shuler

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

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

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

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

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

Michael with Shuler Art

Michael holding Doug Shuler’s Griffin and Shadow Hawk

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

How To Get To The Top Of The Mountain

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

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

Akuma by Dave Seely

Akuma by Dave Seely

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

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

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

Batu by Dana Knutson

Batu by Dana Knutson

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

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

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

Greg's wall of BattleTech art

Greg’s wall of BattleTech art

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

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

Greg Wright 3026 Cover

Greg’s TRO 3026 Cover

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

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

Puma CCG by Jim Pavelec, via Greg

Greg’s Puma by Jim Pavelec

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

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

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

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

Steve Art Christopher Moeller

Steve’s Warriors of Kerensky by Christopher Moeller

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

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

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

Preserving Art For The Future

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

"Slap Chop" by Eldon Cowgur

“Slap Chop” by Eldon Cowgur

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

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

"Operation Bulldog Ambush" by Florian Mellies

“Operation Bulldog Ambush” by Florian Mellies

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

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

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

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Round-Up For November, 2023

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

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

A Warrior Pope Approaches

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

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

Time To Kickflip A DropShip

Tony “Shadow” Pro Skater Hawk
byu/meltdonw14 inbattletech

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

Catalyst Teams Up With Veiled Resin For Unique Art

BattleTech Resin Reveal
Watch this video on YouTube.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Stackpole Paintining

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

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

Gustavus Gus Michaels Painting

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

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

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

BattleTech Pride Anthology 2024 Calls For Submissions

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

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

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

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

OPINION: Bring Back Naked MechWarriors

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

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

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

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

HBS Says No New BattleTech Or Shadowrun Games Coming

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

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

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

BattleTech 40th Anniversary News Coming At PAX Unplugged

Big BATTLETECH News:
Watch this video on YouTube.

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

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

Wanna See ForcePacks Being Made?

PVC Battletech Packaging CAT35756 102423
Watch this video on YouTube.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Fire Moth Goes Postal

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

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

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

PixelMech 3D Shares New Explosive Update

PixelMek 3D pre-alpha, now with 100% more destruction effects!
Watch this video on YouTube.

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

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

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

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

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

Mechwarrior, 2023
byu/Remmor inbattletech

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

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

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

The King Of Lego Crabs

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

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

MWO Introduces MechWarrior’s First Shield In Latest Patch

Centurion Onyx MechWarrior Online

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fafnir Arrives In MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

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

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

Magnetic ‘Mech Bay Blows Me Away

Mech Bay 2
byu/Fox-Fi inbattletech

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

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

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

Camo Specs Brings Us The Free Jade Falcon Paint Guide

Camo Specs Online Jade Falcon Paint Schemes

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

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

Happy Jade Turkey Day!

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

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

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

Cross Electric Designs Terrain Review – For A More Militarized Battlefield

Cross Electric Designs Cover

A few weeks back, I spoke with Matthew “Stinger” Cross of Cross Electric Designs. While it was fun debating the merits of the Thor and Thor II, Matt was also looking to showcase his line of ready-to-paint BattleTech terrain pieces. We got to see a few of those in the interview, but Matt was kind enough to send a few more of those pieces my way for a more in-depth review.

First, let’s talk about the physical terrain. You might have noticed that Cross tends to focus more on industrial and military-style buildings rather than HEXTECH’s urban set. You can certainly mix and match these pieces with HEXTECH for a city garrison, but on their own, most of the Cross Electric Designs structures will complement an industrial complex, aerodrome, or armed garrison setting.

Cross Electric Designs Double Mech Bay

Case in point are the ‘Mech Repair Bay and the Double ‘Mech Bay. Most ‘Mechs require frequent maintenance, and the ‘Mech Bay is the typical home of a ‘Mech that’s not on maneuvers. If you want your home base to really feel like it services ‘Mechs, then these structures are essential. 

Although the terrain I was supplied with doesn’t have hex bases, both the ‘Mech Repair Bay and the Double ‘Mech Bay have hex base indentations that precisely fit the base of any standard CGL model (and there are now ‘Mech Bays that do have hex bases–more on that later on). Not only that, but the bays are large enough to accommodate almost any size ‘Mech, from the tiny Locust to a massive hulking Atlas. Only the thickest of assault ‘Mechs–such as the Stone Rhino, Kodiak, and Turkina–manage to exceed the ‘Mech Bay’s volume constraints. The Turkina is a special case, however, as it would likely have fit had its custom arms been lowered in a typical “shut down” position.

Cross Electric Designs Mech Repair Bay

One notable feature about the ‘Mech Bays is that they come with channels for LED lights and a slot to fit a 2032-size battery. This makes these bays perfect as display pieces or if you just want to add an element of realism with interior lighting. 

The models themselves are plastic prints that arrive unpainted, letting you customize them to your heart’s content. I did mine to match the HEXTECH colors, but you certainly don’t have to! The models also come with plenty of intricate detail, allowing you to get as creative as you like with your paint scheme.

Following the military theme are the Control Tower and Vehicle Ops Center. Just like the ‘Mech Bays, both models have plenty of fine details perfect for painters to exploit. There are minimal 3D-print lines and flat panels to add your own decals, but some might find it difficult to get those flat sides to really pop. My painter reported having to go with a dry brush to highlight some of the flatter surfaces. He also reported some challenges painting the windows, suggesting that sharper edges would have made it easier to get clean glass panes (although as you can see, he still managed just fine). 

Cross Electric Designs Vehicle Ops Center

Finally, we arrive at the more generic pieces from the Building Pack and Office Tower Delta. Even industrial zones and military installations will have boxy towers to house administrators and civilian contractors, so these buildings still very much fit the overall theme of Cross Electric Designs’ other pieces. They’re on the smaller side compared to HEXTECH, but they’re certainly no less detailed. 

I’ve mentioned HEXTECH a few times, and I’m struck by how well these buildings complement my previous urban terrain by adding variety to the structures. Every city is a wild amalgam of differently-shaped buildings, and one of the problems I had with HEXTECH was how similar a lot of the structures appeared. Cross Electric’s buildings provide a variety of smaller structures that add a realistic quantity to an urban setting. 

Cross Electric Designs Small Buildings Office Tower Delta

Although I didn’t receive every piece offered by Cross Electric Designs, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also point out the Aerospace Hanger available to anyone who wants to create an aerodrome, the various Factory Facility pieces, and Fuel Pods for anyone who wants to fight in a truly industrial setting, and numerous turrets available to enhance the defenses of any military facility.

Speaking of turrets, I did receive two Muse Missile Turrets, which are modeled after the Calliope turrets from MechWarrior 4. These don’t come with hex bases, but their overall size neatly fits into a standard BattleTech hex. There’s an excellent amount of detailing on these turrets, and my painter offered gratitude for how easily the detail lines held washes. 

Cross Electric Designs Muse Turrets

Similar praise was heaped on the Belisarius Hover Tanks and the Olympia Command Vehicle. These are excellent models that were reportedly a joy to paint. Although not necessarily modeled after official BattleTech designs, the Belisarius has a certain Bellona look about it, and the Olympia Command Vehicle (modeled after the mobile turret control vehicle from MechWarrior 4)  is easily used for any Mobile HQ units you might require as part of your campaign. 

Not pictured are two Troop Transport units that weren’t painted in time for publication, but just like the Belisarius, it easily holds washes thanks to its numerous panel lines. 

Cross Electric Designs also has a Military Hover Barge in case you’re fighting in an aquatic scenario, wheeled and hover troop transports, as well as the Beluga DropShip in both map and full ‘Mech scale (the larger one is obviously more expensive, and although big enough to contain a ‘Mech, doesn’t actually have working doors to stick your ‘Mechs inside). 

Cross Electric Designs Olympia Command Belisarius Tanks

Overall, I’m quite pleased with everything Cross Electric Designs had to offer, and I’d certainly look at purchasing the factory terrain pieces for a future campaign in an industrial world. I especially like the turrets and ‘Mech bays, which can turn even a papertech ‘Mech base into a realistic military installation perfect for a MechWarrior RPG

For those looking to purchase these pieces for themselves, head over to Cross Electric Designs’ side of Aries Games & Minis for Fortress Minis. I’ll list each of the pieces below for your convenience.

Muse Missile TurretMuse Turret$6.00
Track Troop Transport 2-PackTracked Troop Transport 2-Pack$9.00
Belisarius Hover Tank 2-PackBelisarius Hover Tank 2-Pack$14.00
Olympia Command VehicleOlympia Command Vehicle$12.00
Double ‘Mech BayDouble Mech Bay$24.00
‘Mech Repair BayMech Repair Bay$15.00
Control TowerControl Tower$15.00
Building Pack: SmallBuilding Pack Small$18.00
Office Tower DeltaOffice Tower Delta$15.00
Vehicle Ops CenterVehicle Ops Center$15.00

My one complaint with the Cross Electric terrain pieces is that they didn’t come with hex bases, making them a little tricky to situate on a hex board (my preferred playstyle for tabletop). But I’ve got some great news! Cross has recently finished creating new designs for the ‘Mech Repair Bay and Double ‘Mech Bay that now include hex-shaped bases. They also appear to be a little wider than the standard models, so they may have a slightly easier time accommodating the biggest ‘Mechs. The Mastodon gives a pretty good impression of overall size, although I haven’t tested them personally to see if they’ll fit a Stone Rhino. And just like the standard ‘Mech bays, these Hex Bays have channels and slots for LED lights.

Hex Bay and Double Hex Bay

Head over to Aries Games or Fortress Minis for the new Hex Bays. For those with the hardware, Cross Electric Designs is also available to DIY on Hardware Studios.co.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Community Outreach – Exploring BattleTech Lore And History With Sven Van Der Plank

A few weeks ago, I mentioned Sven van der Plank and his eight-hour Star League Civil War video, which struck me as bizarrely long for YouTube content that didn’t involve repeating a single song over and over. And then I actually watched it front to back and realized there was some excellent content being presented for each of those eight hours, and that it continued even further with slightly (read: much) shorter videos covering the First Succession War.

Ever since then, I’ve been hooked. So I reached out to Sven to learn more about him, his process, and what we can expect in the future from Sven’s channel. This time on Community Outreach, I present Sven van der Plank and his deep dives into BattleTech history and lore. Enjoy.

Sven Thumbnails InnerSphere

Courtesy of Sven van der Plank

Continue reading

Your BattleTech News Round-Up For October, 2023

It’s the spooo00OO0oooo00oOOOooky month! I don’t really have anything scary to offer other than my ability to mix capital Os and zeroes together to create a ghostly sound, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all appreciate the terrors that October brings. And also some BattleTech news.

As always, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so we’re just going to hop right into it. Be sure to pack your pillow case, ’cause we’re going all night long.

Why You Never Shut Down In Front of A Wobbie

Hellish Celestial
byu/Akella333 inbattletech

We’ve got Akella to thank for this commissioned piece of a Seraph moments away from eviscerating an unfortunate Kodiak. This pic definitely gives me strong vibes of the original MechWarrior cover, only the Seraph is way more menacing than a Warhammer ever could be (no offense to the Warhammer). 

If you’re lookin’ for the ‘Mechs without the effects, check out this version over on Akella’s Twitter account

It’s Like A Snow Leopard, But Deadlier

Winter Patrol, digital oil painting by me.
byu/aa-ron-dakota inbattletech

This incredible digital oil painting comes courtesy of Aaron Harris, an artist currently working for Catalyst. I wish I was more of an artist so I could point to other famous paintings of pastoral war scenes that surely inspired this piece and nod sagely over my vast artistic wisdom, but I’m not, so I won’t. I just think this looks really good. Thanks for sharing, Aaron. 

Prints are also available for purchase. Check out this link here

OPINION: C-Bill ‘Mech Prices Never Really Made Any Sense

Sarna Complaints Department

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

I saw this post on the BattleTech subreddit a week ago, and I felt a certain kinship with iamfanboytoo. I might have made their point a little more diplomatically, but the gist is certainly true: C-Bill prices never really mattered. Don’t get me wrong--the Inner Sphere is still definitely a capitalist society (broadly speaking) and money still makes the galaxy go round, but even when the C-Bill was the dominant currency for everything, it still never made sense.

We’ll take 3025 as our base example. We have a bunch of ‘Mechs on Sarna with prices listed in C-Bills, which we assume to be the price you’d pay if you wanted to buy that ‘Mech from some theoretical ‘Mech dealership, but that’s hardly ever the case. For starters, ‘Mech dealerships aren’t really a thing in most places around the Inner Sphere at the time. Second, those prices would fluctuate wildly depending on where you are and who you’re buying from. Getting some junked-out heap in the middle of the Periphery is probably way cheaper than buying a ‘Mech straight from the manufacturer--if that manufacturer even lets you buy a ‘Mech at all, given how most factories’ production runs were already bought and paid for by House militaries.

Once you throw time into the mix, C-Bill pricing makes even less sense. Sure, standard fusion engines might start out cheap as they’re the most numerous engines produced in 3025, but by 3060, the standard had long since moved to XL engines. And just as your compact disc player became cheaper than a vinyl record player in the ’90s, so too would an XL engine become cheaper than a standard fusion engine as manufacturers all retool to mass-produce the latest and greatest tech. Therefore, doubling the price of all these 3060s-era ‘Mechs just because they have XL engines didn’t make sense then, and it doesn’t make sense now. 

And what about the Clans? They never used the C-Bill as a form of currency, so having a Timber Wolf listed at 24-million-odd C-Bills is an outright fabrication. The Clan lower castes have “work credits” to facilitate daily commerce, and the merchant castes all use the “Kerensky” as a unit of currency for larger industrial transactions, but both of those could be redistributed at the whims of the Clan leadership. (Having taken a few macroeconomics courses, one wonders how any of the central bankers at any of the Clans stayed sane.) In any case, nobody has ever gone to the Jade Falcons and asked to buy a Summoner for a cool 21 million C-Bills.

I get how it was helpful to understand the “cost” of a certain unit by assigning it a price in C-Bills, but it was always a misleading identifier at best. Just as they do today, prices would fluctuate wildly as time, technology, and universe-changing events progressed. As of the Dark Age and the IlClan eras, C-Bills are no longer the de-facto currency anyway. 

So, what’s expensive, and what’s cheap? As it does in the real world, that’ll depend on who you are, where you are, and what you’re trying to buy. By 3150, trying to buy a Griffin in the Lyran Commonwealth--an older design that’s been in mass production for centuries--would probably cost you just a few million Kroner. Meanwhile, trying to buy a Dominator from Clan Wolf would likely be outright impossible, given how it’s a brand-new design that’s being made specifically for a single military. You might be able to buy a Thresher Mk II from a wandering Sea Fox arms dealer, but you’ll probably have to pay a pretty penny--especially as the Sea Foxes will add a surcharge for currency conversion. 

I agree with iamfanboytoo; it’s time to leave the C-Bill behind. Don’t agree? Leave a message in the comments. Remember, no pitchforks allowed. 

News From Spiel Essen On Mercs Kickstarter And BattleTech Aces

GIANT Battletech News!
Watch this video on YouTube.

More news from Germany! Spiel Essen, one of the big gaming-related events out in Germany, brought with it some updates on the Mercenaries Kickstarter (with a shoutout to Big Red-40Tech for covering this earlier in the month). According to CGL folks at Spiel Essen, the miniatures are all done and raring to go, but we’re still waiting on a shipping date due to all the other stuff that came along with the Kickstarter--I’m talking dice and plushies and keychains. I’m still personally holding out hope that we’ll get shipping this year, but Big Red thinks it’s more realistic to think 2024. Considering that’s what the Kickstarter says, he’s probably right. 

Other news involves BattleTech Aces, the single-player BattleTech product that was playtested in the Mercs Kickstarter and I had quite a few positive things to say about it. We can likely expect an announcement for a new BattleTech Aces box set in “the next little while,” which might be as soon as two months. No word on what ‘Mechs might be in the box, which is likely what’s keeping the announcement from being sooner.

And finally, there’s demand for Catalyst to release more faction packs a la ComStar and the specific mercenary regiments rather than the generalist Inner Sphere and Clan packs that have been released in the two Kickstarters. Catalyst is looking into faction packs for various nations, Clans, and other major groups, but no timeframe on when we can expect an announcement.

Big Red also noted some tough news for Harebrained Schemes, which we’ll cover in our next section.

Tough Times For Hairbrained Schemes

Hairbrained Schemes Logo

Things aren’t looking so great for BATTLETECH developer Hairbrained Schemes. While its past licensed games--including the various Shadowrun titles and aforementioned BATTLETECH--were financial winners, its latest title hasn’t lived up to expectations. Although well-reviewed, The Lamplighters League didn’t capture sales, and with publisher Paradox falling on tough financial times, Hairbrained Schemes and Paradox have now parted ways. 

Worse, Hairbrained has reportedly been forced to lay off roughly 80% of its staff. There’s a resetera thread from a staffer that lays out the story. According to the post, HBS tried to sell Paradox on BATTLETECH 2, but Paradox didn’t want to pay Microsoft its licensing fee, so HBS went with The Lamplighters League. But without a built-in audience, Lamplighters League didn’t sell. Paradox then wrote the game off as a loss.

“Paradox has refocused its strategy towards its core niches within strategy and management games with endless qualities,” said Paradox chief operations officer Charlotta Nilsson in a prepared statement. “We and HBS’ leadership have been discussing what would happen after the release of The Lamplighters League, but a new project or sequel in the same genre was not in line with our portfolio plans. Hence, we believe that a separation would be the best way forward. We’re very happy that this talented, gifted studio has the chance to continue and can’t wait to see what they will make next.”

This doesn’t leave HBS in a great spot. We know that Paradox has retained the rights and source code to BATTLETECH, so if HBS wanted to make a sequel on their own, they’d have to start completely from scratch and with a drastically smaller workforce.

On the other hand, BATTLETECH was originally funded through a Kickstarter campaign, and with Microsoft saying they’d be more than willing to revisit old franchises, there’s nothing stopping HBS from simply Kickstarting BATTLETECH 2. Plus, HBS has a proven track record of being able to make fantastic games, so perhaps another publisher partnership isn’t outside the realm of possibility. Maybe they could go with a different game engine than Unity, though, given that company’s recent kerfluffle.

We’ll have to wait and see what Hairbrained does next, but at least the company seems to be in good spirits. I’d also be super interested in another Shadowrun game. Just sayin’.

The Art Of BattleTech Announces MechWarrior 2 Remake Project

Mechwarrior 2 Remake Showcase - Clan Wolf - Mission 1 Pyre Light
Watch this video on YouTube.

You might recall The Art of BattleTech (aka SankaraSamsara, or Emil) from various MechWarrior 5 mods that add classic Clan OmniMechs, or from an essay we recently published on what MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries gets right and what it gets wrong. Emil has just announced that he’s embarked on his most ambitious project to date: a recreation of MechWarrior 2 in MechWarrior 5: Mercs.

So far, the mod is mostly a proof of concept and only has the first mission for the Clan Wolf campaign, “Pyre Light.” It uses the modded ‘Mechs that Emil and company have created for Mercs, with players accessing the Clan Wolf campaign by starting a new career. This brings up a facsimile of MechWarrior 2‘s menus with a MechWarrior 5-style briefing screen.

Compared to a regular Mercenaries mission, Pyre Light in the mod is mostly an empty desert. You do indeed destroy a chemical plant, inspect a firebase, and blow away a few light ‘Mechs exactly as you did in MechWarrior 2, but with way more visual and audio fidelity. It’s a vastly different experience, one which Emil has previously described at length.

I’ve spoken with Emil about his most immediate future plans. Besides adding in other missions, he wants to throw in the original MechWarrior 2 cinematics and allow the user to choose between the original soundtrack by Jeehun Hwang or the remixed version from Timothy Seals. 

Remaking these missions is still a ton of work, so consider hopping over to Emil’s Patreon if this is something you’d like to support. You can download the MechWarrior 2 Remake Project over on Nexus Mods

And just in time for the MechWarrior 2 Remake Project, Emil has announced the Jenner IIC mod is now available for MechWarrior 5 with a model created by FarSeer Animation. Grab this one on Nexus Mods or Steam Workshop.

Camo Specs Online Partners With CGL To Offer Free Clan Smoke Jaguar Paint Guide

Camo Specs Online, your one-stop shop for BattleTech faction and unit paint schemes, has paired up with Catalyst to offer a guide to painting units within Clan Smoke Jaguar. This is likely to do with MechWarrior 5: Clans as you’ll be a Smoke Jaguar MechWarrior in the upcoming game, but it could just be the first of many guides as Camo Specs is warning us that something else will be arriving November 17

The guide itself is available from Catalyst’s online store for zero dollars. That’s right--it’s free. Inside the PDF you’ll find paint schemes and unit insignias for Alpha, Beta, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Kappa, Nu, Tau, Psi, and Omega Galaxies, as well as step-by-step instructions for how to recreate the complex jaguar fur pattern of Alpha Galaxy. If you’re looking to paint your own Smoke Jaguar units, then this is an invaluable resource you’ll definitely want to grab. Hats off to Camo Specs for putting this together!

PGI President Russ Bullock Shares More Details On MW5: Clans With No Guts No Galaxy

Podcast 232 - Russ Bullock - MW5 Clans, MW5 Mercs, MWO
Watch this video on YouTube.

We’ve got a few more tidbits on MechWarrior 5: Clans courtesy of No Guts No Galaxy. In an interview with the PGI president, Russ Bullock discussed the origins of MechWarrior 5: Clans as an offshoot of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, taking the opposite approach of MechWarrior 2 many decades ago (that game starting with the Clans and then going Mercenaries rather than the other way around). Bullock also admitted that MW5: Clans started life as an expansion, but it quickly became apparent that MW5: Mercs wouldn’t be able to handle all the things that PGI wanted to do, so when the decision to upgrade to Unreal Engine 5 came down the pipe, it only made sense to make an entirely new game. 

Russ had some really good things to say about the coming MechWarrior 5 sequel, with a lot of discussion centering around the storytelling that will be present in MW5: Clans. Specifically, the game will have over a dozen actual characters “with dialog” and “Unreal 5-quality cinematics.” Sounds like we’re going to have more than just Ryana doing the talking this time around.

My personal take? PGI is making the MechWarrior equivalent of Ace Combat 7 or Armored Core 6. Probably far less anime-inspired, but it sounds like there will be similarities in terms of structure, ie. missions having voiced briefings before (or perhaps after) they start, and major story beats will be accompanied by both in-game and cinematic sequences. And if that’s the case, I’m all for it. I love what Bandai Namco has done with its action franchises, with both games being some of my favorite action titles in recent memory.

There was also some discussion on how PGI is expanding its skill base by hiring actual character artists. MechWarrior 5: Merc‘s characters were either 2D avatars or stock Unreal models modified to become Ryana and Fahad. PGI now has a team of a dozen or so people who can create human characters from the ground up, including animation and mocap, so we can expect way more people to be part of MechWarrior 5: Clans‘ story. 

The cinematics themselves sound like they’ll be outsourced to other companies, one of which might just be TMC--the makers of Hired Steel and the MechWarrior 5: Clans teaser trailer we saw last month.

Other quick hits include “incremental improvements” in ‘Mech combat compared to MW5: Mercs, continued support for mods (yay!), and continued support for online co-op without committing to any sort of PvP gameplay in MW5: Clans

There’s more of course, with discussions on the future of MechWarrior Online (largely status-quo) and how a game like MechAssault might be a good thing for Microsoft to revisit as it brought a lot of folks into the BattleTech fold. But you can hear more about that in the video embedded above.

BungleTech And Other BattleTech Podcasts You Should Listen To

https://twitter.com/BungletechTweet/status/1717266361150513161?t=s8Wz-DJk-PJWpqyvrGqK-Q&s=19

I love podcasts. I listen to them every day while I’m cooking or cleaning or going to the gym. And now I’ve discovered an entire ring of BattleTech podcasts courtesy of BungleTech hosts Nathan and Mike.

BungleTech is itself a BattleTech podcast that recently interviewed a whole bunch of other BattleTech podcasts, including Renegade HPG (there’s literally nothing Travis doesn’t have his hand in), BattlePod, On The Origins of BattleMechs, The MechBay, Battle Babes, Mercenary Star, Of ‘Mech’s And Men, The Valhalla Club, Wolfnet, The Calgary BattleTech League (shoutout to my Western Canadian peeps), Battletopia Stories (who also does the lovely audio plays of the Bad ‘Mechs series), and Unicorn Company

Interviewing this many creators took a whopping four hours, so be sure to have a lot of cleaning/cooking/gyming to do before embarking on this particular journey, but know that you’ve got a great chance of picking up a new favorite podcast if you do.

The BungleTech podcast also recently conducted a survey of listeners where they revealed their favorite ‘Mechs in each weight class (Locust, Hunchback, Warhammer, and Awesome), favorite weapons (PPCs, of course), and even their favorite three design quirks. Nathan and Mike weren’t exactly scientific in their process, and respondents often added their own special flare (this is why you don’t leave blank fields for responses, guys), but any community outreach is good outreach.

Last of all, they’re giving away a cool new tabletop game mode where you hunt down the legendary Black Marauder. Nothing says it’s the spooky season like trying to destroy a ‘Mech possessed by a demon. Check ’em out on Spotify, Anchor FM, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get podcasts.

Grayson Carlyle’s Marauder Finally Becomes A Card

By now, you all should know Regengade HPG and his love of the BattleTech CCG. You should also know that he’s been expanding the CCG with brand-new cards that he personally created. Here we have Grayson Carlyle’s MAD-3R Marauder, which survived for 25 years until the Clans invaded Sudeten.

Art for the card comes courtesy of the prolific Eldon Cowgur (aka Eldoniousrex), but the text and stats are all Renegade HPG. Expect to see this and more in the upcoming Payback expansion, and head to the BattleTech TCG Discord server for more details.

MechWarrior 5 Concept Art From The Early 2000s Surfaces Online

Heinz Schuller, the art director for MechAssault, MechAssault 2, and MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries, has shared a number of concept art pieces that were to be used in the proposed MechWarrior 5 project that ultimately never received the green light back in 2003. Besides being cool concept art for a canceled game, what’s interesting here is just how wildly different these ‘Mechs are from their original designs.

The Wolf Trap, for example, bears almost no resemblance to the classic image from TRO 3050. It looks far more tank-like than the original, with its left hand replaced by a smaller autocannon and a head that’s just a sloped canopy. The Vindicator also loses its hand in favor of a weapon’s barrel, and the Fenris looks almost nothing like the Ice Ferret we all know and love.

The existence of the Toyama meant that it’s likely the Word of Blake would have been the game’s villain, but we can really only speculate. The game never got to the writing stage, and documents from the era are few and far between. That’s what makes this treasure trove so special. Thanks, Heinz!

BattleTech Universe Previewed By Catalyst

BattleTech Universe Preview
Watch this video on YouTube.

We know that CGL has been working on a new Universe book for BattleTech for some time. That’s the book that tries to explain the entire BattleTech universe in a single volume, which is quite the task given how big a universe it really is. Managing developer Randall Bills recently revealed just how much progress Catalyst has made in a preview posted to the CGL YouTube channel.

What we saw was… huge. Mostly because there will be several different versions of the new primer, one of which will include a packaged set with maps, art prints, and a lovely box that provides the “all systems nominal” message whenever you open it. Then there’s the BattleTech Universe book itself, which will contain all the relevant information players will need to get caught up to the current point in the BattleTech narrative, but also something called the BattleTech Remembrance, which will include personal messages from over 50 authors and creators, including BattleTech creator Jordan Weisman

Randall said he’d be “carefully scrutinizing” every page--and there are a lot of pages to look at--before sending the final version for printing. Randall expects it to become a “new high watermark” for the industry, and folks will be looking to BattleTech to see how games should be historically preserved. This looks like the sort of bespoke product that every BattleTech fan will want to have on their bookshelf or sitting on their coffee table. 

Still no word on when we’ll see the BattleTech Universe book hit store shelves, but it sure seems like we’re on the home stretch.

BattleTech World Wide Event Coming Next Month

You might have seen signs for this at your local store, but there’s a new worldwide event coming in November. “At The Cost Of Bootlaces” will see the Capellan Confederation face off against the IlClan in a titanic clash that will test Clan Wolf’s supremacy in the new era. 

Of course, which side wins will be totally up to you! Head on over to your local game store and sign up for the BattleTech 2023 Worldwide Event, which will be at various times and places between October 31 and December 31. 

MechWarrior Online Patch Brings New Legendary ‘Mechs And Halloween Events

Marauder Blight MechWarrior Online

Another month, another patch! MechWarrior Online has a ton of stuff going on, including the usual Halloween-themed event and sale, the ongoing MechWarrior Online Championship Series, several ‘Mech and map adjustments, and two new Legendary ‘Mechs.

The first is Blight, a Marauder with two guns on its armored carapace instead of one! They’re both Ultra AC/10s in the right and left torsos protected by CASE, which is a little weird since the ammo for these guns is located everywhere except the right and left torsos. Owners will likely modify this immediately after purchasing the ‘Mech for $15. 

The second is Gorewing, a new Legendary Vapor Eagle variant. A slow brawler rather than a jumping sniper, the Gorewing mounts twin LB 10-X autocannons and five ER Medium Lasers. It’s not particularly fast, but it’s got jump quirks and a lot of additional armor in those arms, so expect this thing to be a highly-mobile medium-range striker.

On the quirk side, the big winners this month are Locust, Blackjack, Trebuchet, Thunderbolt, and Charger with significant buffs across the board. A few variants from other ‘Mechs also received smaller tweaks, and the new Hyper Gauss Rifles have had their projectile spread drastically reduced. Finally, Viridian Bog no longer has a lily pad forest in the lowlands, which will go a long way to improving your odds of hitting a fleeing light ‘Mech on that map.

We know that PGI considers MechWarrior Online will maintain the status quo for the next year, but that doesn’t mean the Cauldron is sitting on its heels! Check out this interview between No Guts No Galaxy and Bear_Cl4w of the Cauldron to learn of the big changes coming in the MWO pipeline.

The Urbanhonk Strikes When You Least Expect It

I’ll be the first to admit the barrels on some BattleMechs are… questionable. The Thunder, Striker, Victor, and various other ‘Mechs with a veritable keg for an arm all come to mind. Which is probably what inspired hobo freelance artist DMoser to create what he calls “The Urbanhonk.”

I’m on the fence as to whether or not this is a significant enough improvement to warrant its own alphanumeric variant code. Thanks, DMoser, for this. Whatever it is.

BattleTech Instant Action Scenario Pack Available Now

Battletech: Instant Action, a Classic Battletech scenario pack for pickup play
byu/Rawbert413 inbattletech

Having trouble coming up with a scenario to play with your local BattleTech tabletop group? Or are you just looking to spice up your games with a little bit of chaos? Then the Instant Action Classic BattleTech Scenario Pack might be for you.

We have Rawbert413 to thank for this little download, which you can grab here. The PDF offers what is called the “Mission Matrix,” which determines the scenario you’ll be playing. Each player privately chooses either “Confront, Hold, Recon, Destroy,” or “Salvage.” Players then throw their choices in a hat and two of them are selected. Whatever two choices are drawn then determines the scenario based on the Mission Matrix.

Say the two choices are “Hold” and “Destroy.” You then consult the Mission Matrix and see you’ve selected the “Bombing Run” scenario, where the “Destroy” player has to run their ‘Mechs into the “Hold” player’s area in order to lay their held satchel charges and blow up some important objective. The defender has to “hold,” but the attacker is also “holding” something, and of course, there’s destruction all around.

What if you get two of the same choice? For example, if you get “Confront” and “Confront,” it’s assigned the scenario “Circle of Equals,” which is basically just two sides beating the crap out of each other until one side submits. “Recon” and “Recon” results in “Scout Clash,” where the objective is for each side to scan as many data nodes as possible and then retreat back to base. “Destroy” and “Destroy” results in “Hot Potato,” which eventually results in a hilariously large explosion, but not before there’s plenty of physical violence. 

I like this idea a lot, and I think it can definitely spice up a stale player group. Check it out courtesy of Rawbert’s Reddit post here.

Those Searchlights Aren’t Really Going To Help…

Lone scout, 2023
byu/Remmor inbattletech

I do wish searchlights were a feature you could activate in some MechWarrior games, but I don’t think they’re going to save this poor Phoenix Hawk. With thanks to Remmor for the post and Faut for the art (or possibly Faul, it’s hard to tell based on the font).

And that’s it for the spookiest of months! Join us next time as we head into the somber month of November before we catapult ourselves into the consumerist frenzy of December. We’ll be sure to report on all the new BattleTech products that hit store shelves this holiday season.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy