Category Archives: Miniatures

HEXTECH Review – Wave 3 Brings More Urban Options To Your Battlefield

HEXTECH Megablock Building

Gale Force 9 and Thunderhead Studios, makers of HEXTECH, have once again expanded their offerings with a third wave of products. This wave is yet more Trinity City buildings, including the Trinity City Megablock, the Trinity City Tri-Towers, and the Trinity City Binary Towers.

HEXTECH Binary Towers

HEXTECH Tri-Towers

For those who missed my last review, HEXTECH is a series of terrain products for BattleTech and Alpha Strike that come fully painted and ready to play straight out of the box, hence the tagline “a battlefield in a box.” The Trinity City products—as the name might suggest—are a full range of urban terrain options. That is to say, they’re ‘Mech-scale buildings that you can scatter over your playmat to offer realistic obstacles for your opponents. The whole idea came from Christopher Wailes who got tired of being destroyed by snipers and artillery on more open hex maps. Rather than complain, he decided to do something about it.

Flash forward a few years and HEXTECH is creating urban environments for your forces to face off at ranges where your MechWarriors can practically spit on each other. The last batch of buildings already provided phenomenal variety and roads that could be arranged to create any urban environment you pleased, from a suburban township to a dense metropolis. And now, Wave 3 brings three more buildings to add yet more options.

Hextech Megablock 1

First up is the Trinity City Megablock. This is a chonker of a building measuring five hexes long (if you count the two half-hexes at the ends as a full hex). This structure could be your downtown shopping mall or a massive electronics factory with several floors and multiple air conditioning units on the roof. As with all HEXTECH’s products, it’s well-painted in three colors with no noticeable issues like drops or smudges. 

One of the things I appreciated most about Wave 3 is how the felt bases are better notched to match the actual base of the building. I had no trouble fitting the building between the grooves so there was no wobbling or precarious tilts. Not that there were many issues in previous waves, but I do recall one of the older wave’s buildings that didn’t quite fit the grooves as well as I would’ve liked. The hexes also perfectly match up with official BattleTech playmats and HEXTECH’s own branded roads.

Hextech Binary Towers 2

Next, we have the Trinity City Binary Towers. These are two towers that are connected by a sky bridge which is held by magnets. You’ll need to glue the two rare earth magnets into their cutouts, but make sure you don’t have the incorrect polarities before you do, otherwise getting the bridge to stick gets way harder—don’t ask me how I know that. There are also two options for the bridge: one long boy that’s the same three-hex width as HEXTECH’s roads, and a smaller bridge that lets you place these buildings right next to each other.

Skybridges are a pretty common sight in the downtown cores of most cities I’ve been to, so the Binary Towers bring a sense of realism to these futuristic cityscapes. It’s also pretty cool watching your ‘Mechs stomp underneath these bridges. Most ‘Mechs will fit underneath, but once you get into the colossal 100-ton assault ‘Mechs, you’ll find their heads might tear the bridge off. 

Hextech Tri-Towers

And finally, we have the Trinity City Tri-Towers. Despite the name, there are only two of these somewhat smaller towers. They get the “tri” from their three-sided nature. They’re a little smaller than the individual Binary Towers, and they have neat little cutouts that don’t make any architectural sense but sure do look cool. Each is painted with a slightly different color scheme, and both occupy three hexagons on a playmat.

These buildings are similar to the offerings in HEXTECH’s previous waves, but variety is the spice of urban planning. Very few cities have two buildings that look exactly the same given the enormous cost of erecting these edifices, so the more variety you have in buildings, the better. These buildings also offer a lovely debate with your opponents as to whether those gaps represent partial cover for shooting through. 

Hextech Wave 3 Buildings

You may be wondering just where you can get these fantastic new buildings. For that, I direct you to the Gale Force 9 website or your local Gale Force 9 distributor. Prices are extremely reasonable, given the quality of the product, and are comparable to the previously released buildings.

  • Trinity City Megablock – $30 USD
  • Trinity City Tri-Tower – $35 USD
  • Trinity City Binary Towers $35 USD

Huge thanks to Gale Force 9 and Thunderhead Studios, who were kind enough to send me samples of the Wave 3 buildings for this review. 

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Round-Up For March, 2024

It was a busy month! We’ve had AdeptiCon and KerenskyCon happen this month, which means we have a lot of stuff to cover. And since I don’t really have anything else to complain about this month, we’ll just jump straight to the news!

Catalyst Announces New BattleTech Products At AdeptiCon

BattleTech Mercenaries Paint Set

Before we get into the new stuff that Catalyst presented at AdeptiCon, a brief note about the early release of BattleTech: Encounters at Barnes & Noble. This game was supposed to be released after the Mercenaries Kickstarter fulfillment (on track for June), but it looks like Barnes & Noble didn’t get the memo. Higher-level Mercenaries backers will get this tabletop dice game as part of their fulfillment, so there’s no need for everyone to rush off to Barnes & Noble unless you really want to get it earlier than planned. Then I guess you’ll have two, which you can share with someone else who might want a BattleTech board game.

With that out of the way, we got two big deals out of AdeptiCon. Earlier this month we found out that BattleTech was getting its own paint set, and now we’ve learned what that will look like. Images posted to the BattleTech forums (and spread to other BattleTech social accounts) reveal a selection of colors that includes 10 acrylic paints, seven speed paints, one metallic, one wash, one primer, and one base-coating paintbrush. You can expect this to arrive later this spring.

The other big announcement is a new premium Vulture mini, or Mad Dog if you’re a Clanner. I can’t quite tell from the posted images I’ve seen whether this will turn out to be a different variant or just a repose of the existing one, but my hope is that it’s a Mad Dog Alt Config A. If anybody has a better picture, send it to me!

Mercenaries Interior Box

Beyond that, a display case at AdeptiCon shows completed versions of several previously-announced products, including Force Manual: Davion, the Legendary MechWarriors III ForcePack, the 1st Somerset Strikers ForcePack, the Battlefield Support: Battle & Fire ForcePack, the Battlefield Support: Objectives pack, a whole bunch of mugs and badges, and the fully-completed Mercenaries box set. 

And what’s inside that box set? Well, this intersects with what we’ve learned from KerenskyCon, but besides the promised minis (which look great), there are also two cardboard sheets of standees for Elementals, Battle Armor, fixed gun emplacement, ammo dumps, field hospitals, Maxim, Vedette, and Demolisher tanks, and plenty of standard infantry. There’s more, which you can see courtesy of snapshots taken by Detocroix.

One more thing announced at the most recent Catalyst news stream: BattleTech is getting a graphic novel series! It’ll be co-written by Michael Stackpole and Bryan Young (creator of the Fox Patrol), with art by our very own Eldoniousrex. A post from Young on Reddit outlines what to expect: four graphic novels, 88 pages each, one overarching story, ilClan era, mercs, and a few guest writers coming in later on. We don’t have a release date yet, but I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how this rolls!

Also, Some Upcoming Fiction Releases

Shrapnel 16 Cover

Also courtesy of Rem’s recent news stream, a brief update on upcoming fiction. Next month, Craig Reed brings us In the Shadow of the Dragon, which details Yori Kurita‘s rise to Coordinator. Bryan Young’s Without Question returns to Terra to tell the story of the defeated Jade Falcons in the ilClan era and arrives on May 15. Coming in July is Michael Cieravella with Trial of Birthright, which tells the story of Clan Wolf following their victory. And finally, Philip Lee’s Letter of the Law brings us back to the reformed Free Worlds League in November with the sequel to Hunting Season.

Shrapnel 16 is out with a new Fox Patrol story and cover. And for those of you who prefer to get your BattleTech fiction in audio, Close Quarters, Rock and a Hard Place, and A Splinter of Hope are all available now as audiobooks. 

The UrbanMech LAM Is Real And It Can Hurt You

Urbie LAM Box Set

Several years ago, I reported on the theoretical existence of the UrbanMech LAM. It was just sketches and mockups at the time, but the idea was there, and ideas can be very powerful. So powerful, in fact, that they can make an UrbanMech fly.

Blurry photos posted on Facebook later became an official prototype mockup, until finally at AdeptiCon, we received confirmation that the UrbanMech LAM exists physically and will be made available as part of a dedicated UrbanMech LAM Salvage Box. The box will contain all modes of the UrbanMech LAM, including BattleMech, AirMech, and aerospace fighter mode.

While the UrbanMech LAM will be a real product with actual cards for Alpha Strike, it won’t be real in the BattleTech universe. That’s because the Urbie LAM will remain non-canon and without official record sheets, even though it’s something fans are clearly clamoring for. I suspect once the record sheet issue is solved we’ll revisit the issue of the Urbie LAM’s canonicity.

Is this the April 1st product that Eric warned us about? Maybe. We’ll find out if the Urbie LAM suddenly becomes available via the Catalyst store on April 1st.

Pre-Release Urbie LAM Has Serious Up Vibes

Got a pre-release Urbie LAM from some dude on the internet. Starting to suspect it’s not an official BT product…
byu/Horseburd inbattletech

This is probably what I had in mind when the words “Urbie” and “LAM” were first introduced to each other. I’m not sure why this Urbie had to be a Pikachu as the joke totally landed without the Pokemon, but I’ll take the double-whammy. Thank you to Horseburd for… this.

Motor City Mayhem Alpha Strike Tournament Coming In May

Last month we learned about the MRC hosting a Classic BattleTech tournament in Kentucky, and this month they’ve announced an Alpha Strike tournament coming to a Detroit suburb in May. Motor City Mayhem is a 300-point Alpha Strike tournament in Livonia, Michigan starting at 8 AM on Saturday, May 18, and running all day long. 

As for the rules, your army can’t exceed 300 points and must be available during the Civil War era. You may select any faction, but your unit choices must be available to that faction. Banned units include aerospace fighters, support vehicles, experimental tech, and units with the “unknown” or “unique” designation, but ‘Mechs, combat vehicles, battle armor, and conventional infantry are fair game. You’ll also have to designate a Force Commander who must drive a size two or larger ‘Mech.

There are also several other restrictions, but you can read about ’em on the event’s rules sheet here.

The important thing to remember is that food will not be provided, so pack a lunch or prepare to get some chow locally, and the tournament scoring system isn’t just about winning games. Being courteous and respectful, having beautifully painted minis, and having a creative army list that’s fun to play against are all factors that will determine the overall tournament winner. However, there will be secondary awards provided for these more nuanced categories.

Signups are available now. And be sure to sign up as soon as possible as the venue space is limited. Also, if you want your event advertised in Sarna, just leave a comment or send me an email and we’ll get you into the next monthly news blast.

This Underwater Thunderbolt Is Shocking

Thunderbolt “Tidehunter”
byu/Existing_Notice2033 inbattletech

BioShocking, if you’ll pardon the pun. Armed with an LR Torpedo/15, three SR Torpedo/4s, several lasers, and a giant fricken anchor, you’ll never have to worry about your little sister running away ever again. Probably. Credit to Existing_Notice2033 on Reddit for this one.

Meanwhile, At KerenskyCon…

The biggest news to come out of KerenskyCon is a preview of new ForcePacks. Randall Bills revealed a series of internal spreadsheets that show tentative release schedules for a ton of new ‘Mechs. Keep in mind that these units and dates are more tentative the further out you go, but that said, there are a lot of great ‘Mechs and other units to look forward to. Kudos to Available_Mountain on Reddit for giving us an easy-to-copy list (which I’ve linked to their respective Sarna entries). 

KerenskyCon Upcoming Minis 2

KerenskyCon Upcoming Minis

And a few ForcePacks without release dates and are more just ideas at this point, but wouldn’t require much work:

Ray Arrastia pointed out on the Catalyst Discord that this list—although extensive—isn’t set in stone. Expect things to change over the year, especially for ‘Mechs that haven’t received official redesigns yet.

The good news is that some of these ‘Mechs have been redesigned, and we got to see a few of them at KerenskyCon. The Helios, Thanatos, Emperor, Argus, Hellspawn, Tian-zong, and Dire Wolf Prometheus all looked incredible, as did the Thunderbolt NAIS and hopping Starslayer. As per our January report, expect these to come in this year’s second half. 

Another interesting item shown at KerenskyCon was BattleTech: Resurgent Empires. This tabletop board game features the major houses during the Succession Wars, with plenty of cards, tokens, and little mini figures of ‘Mechs and JumpShips. I don’t know the rules, but it sure looks like a fun time.

Finally, there were several interviews conducted at KerenskyCon with BattleTech‘s creatives, but you really can’t go wrong with Jordan Weisman and Mike Stackpole talking about the early development of BattleTech. Kudos to Battle Bound for bringing this interview to the masses.

It’s Always Cooler To Look Away From The Explosion

Ammo explosion, 2024, OC
byu/Remmor inbattletech

I love the Griffin, but I’d put most Bushwacker variants over the Roundfacer. Certainly, any variants that don’t include CASE, which seems to be this particular Griffin‘s Achilles’ heel.  A fantastic art piece from Remmor over on Reddit.

MechWarrior: Living Legends Is Hiring!

MechWarrior Living Legends Logo

Got some experience with CryEngine? Want to help make an amazing free-to-play (and I mean free) MechWarrior game? MechWarrior: Living Legends is looking for a programmer to help build the award-winning mod that’s now a standalone game. 

While it’s a big plus to have prior knowledge of the Crysis engine, the ad doesn’t say you necessarily need it. What you’ll really need is C++, Lua, and Flash. It’d also be good if you understood Git and had some prior experience working on games too, but given the fact this is a passion project and nobody is getting paid (not even the applicant), enthusiasm is probably what counts most here.

Check out this link for the details and be ready to communicate with the development team via Discord.

SAN-1C, He Can Really Move

Behold the Firemoth’s true form: the SAN-1C (Finished).
byu/GillyMonster18 inbattletech

This could very well be the saddest Dasher variant I’ve ever seen. GillyMonster18, you truly are a monster.

Celebrating The Women Of BattleTech For International Women’s Day

Natasha Kerensky BattleTech Legends

International Women’s Day was March 8. I haven’t exactly conducted a census of BattleTech players, but just looking around, I’d say the vast majority of them are male. And yet, women do play BattleTech, women write BattleTech, women create BattleTech, and women are incredibly important in the BattleTech universe.

Sarna recently sat down with two women to talk about how they’re creating the BattleTech universe we all love. Jennifer Brozek has written both The Nellus Academy Incident and the Rogue Academy Trilogy, two page-turners that you should definitely read. Rem Alternis handles both community management and marketing for all of Catalyst’s games, which I know is a tough job. You can check out these interviews here.

Yori Kurita

As for in-universe women, you don’t get more badass than Natasha Kerensky, up there as the best MechWarrior who ever lived. Katrina Steiner was an incredible politician, as were Candace Liao and Jessica Marik. Yori Kurita rose from nothing to become Coordinator of the Draconis Combine, while Callandre Kell not only reformed the Kell Hounds but also regularly took down ‘Mechs in a mere tank. And let’s not forget the entire Magistracy of Canopus, a matriarchal nation in the periphery with the best healthcare in the Inner Sphere (which is perhaps the biggest reason why we should put women in charge). 

Not cool enough? Hanni Schmitt was the commander of the Black Watch during the Amaris Coup. It took two nukes to finally take her out, and she nearly destroyed the entire 4th Amaris Dragoons with just eight ‘Mechs and her Atlas. Captain Elizabeth Hazen survived the first nuke that destroyed most of the Black Watch and led a resistance movement for years before Kerensky liberated Terra. She’d eventually go on to be the founding Khan of Clan Jade Falcon, while Hanni Scmitt’s granddaughter, Colleen, would be the founding Khan of Clan Blood Spirit.

Aletha Kabrinsky BattleTech CCG

But the woman who doesn’t get nearly enough credit is Aletha Kabrinski. She became Khan of Clan Ghost Bear in nothing but a Fire Moth, a ‘Mech so fragile it’d explode if it were presented with an offensive odor. She also was a key Clan politician who managed to convince the Snow Ravens to join Stone‘s coalition to end the Jihad. Most people are either MechWarriors or politicians in BattleTech, but Aletha proved you can do both. 

Wanna learn more about the cool women of BattleTech? Come to Sarna’s Discord server and join the discussion.

Solaris Showdown Arrives In MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries - Solaris Showdown Launch Trailer
Watch this video on YouTube.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries received its sixth DLC this month in Solaris Showdown. Of all the DLC releases, this has got to be one of the smoothest—at least in terms of mod support. I saw some mods were updated for DLC 6 before it was even released, so kudos to both PGI and the many mod makers for getting things ready for Solaris Showdown

Having announcers give you the play-by-play of your destructive exploits in the arena should be core to the MechWarrior experience these days. It was also hilarious seeing the origins of Duncan Fisher, and of course, George Ledoux‘s performance was exceptional. This DLC probably has the best voice acting in the entire game. The new weapons were great, and the new ‘Mechs are even better.

But it wasn’t a perfect release. As many fans noted, the friendly AI would often get stuck in the spawning area of the later maps, making those missions incredibly difficult. We also learned that most of the new ‘Mechs added weren’t able to be salvaged when the DLC was released. That was fixed as of last week’s patch, so if like me you’re still searching for that Hunchback VEST, you should be able to salvage it from a medium ‘Mech arena contract.

Also, if you’re running into a consistent crash whenever you try to start the sixth mission in Solaris Showdown, turn off ray tracing. I kept getting a “DEVICE HUNG” error and thought it might have been a mod conflict, but it kept happening even after I’d turned off all mods. Hopefully, this will be patched soon.

Solaris Showdown is available now wherever you can download MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries.

Not Even A King Crab Can Ignore Battle Armor Forever

King Crab Diorama ErofeaN

I hate battle armor, either in tabletop or video games. This King Crab, courtesy of ErofeaN, is definitely getting the worst of it from these jumping bastards. I hope they get the clamps, but I’m not holding my breath.

Hail Caesar! Now In MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

Caesar Mod MW5

I’ve always loved the Caesar. Even before I read Double Blind, the Caesar‘s bizarrely sloped chassis and rounded vents just called to me. I’ve been able to make a reasonable facsimile of the Caesar using Cataphracts in MechWarrior 5, but it just isn’t quite the same.

Well, now I can finally drive a Caesar in MechWarrior courtesy of SirMortimer and SankaraSamsara. The new mod uses Sir Mortimer Bombito’s model, with the animation provided by SankaraSamsara. It sure seems that cockpit will be easy to headshot, though, so maybe take as much extra armor there as you can.

You can get the Caesar over on Nexus Mods or Steam (for both vanilla and YAML). You can also check out SankaraSamsara’s ever-growing list of MechWarrior 5 mods over on Nexus Mods, which now includes the classic King Crab and Executioner.

MechWarrior 5: Clans Teased At GDC


GDC has provided us with a tantalizing second look at MechWarrior 5: Clans. We didn’t get to see any actual gameplay, but we did get to see the game’s home screen courtesy of Narrative Director Chris Lowrey.

As you can see, there’s a Timber Wolf standing above a star of five characters, all of whom are wearing quite a lot for a MechWarrior (I still ascribe to the “underpants and cooling vest” MechWarrior aesthetic). The menu reveals instant action, co-op, and “Switch Campaign,” which I assume means we’ll have the option to play more than a single save file’s campaign.

Sadly, we didn’t actually get to see the demo, but hopefully, that’ll arrive sooner rather than later.

Please Animate The Gimp Atlas, Please

Super Deformed hunchback IIc, warhammer IIc, atlas refit, stinger refit (my art)
byu/geergutz inmechwarrior


Please geergutz, give me adorable little gifs of these guys doing crazy things. I promise I’ll only use them to harass my friends and enemies. 

MechWarrior Online Receives New Weapons In March Patch

MWO March 2024 Patch Notes

This may very well be MechWarrior Online‘s biggest patch in years. We’ll gloss over the returning Lucky Charms Event, the Duncan Fisher Hero Thunderbolt, and the Otomo Pack which brings MechWarrior 5‘s Otomo ‘Mechs to MWO (with skins, bolt-ons, and a 30-percent C-bill bonus). What really makes this patch are more than a dozen new weapons and equipment that are sure to shake up the meta.

Those weapons included the Light Autocannon/2 and 5, ProtoMech Autocannon/2 to 8, Thunderbolt Missile launchers, the Magshot and AP Gauss Rifles, the Silver Bullet Gauss Rifle, the Beam Laser, the Plasma Cannon, and the Light TAG. Each of these weapons will have the same large the same stats as their tabletop versions (except for the Beam Laser, which doesn’t exist in tabletop). 

For a look at how each of these weapons performs, we turn to No Guts No Galaxy’s in-depth review. The autocannons all seem like tiny variations on fast-firing Bushmaster-style cannons, the Beam Laser is just a continuous beam that slowly builds heat, the Plasma Cannon is like a green PPC with added head damage, and the Magshot and AP Gauss Rifles are like teeny tiny Gausses. 

Watch this video on YouTube.

As Sean mentions in his review, the Cauldron is aware that some of these weapons (particularly the Plasma Cannon and ProtoMech ACs) are underperforming slightly at launch, but the Cauldron would rather launch undercooked and then buff them later rather than release a completely busted weapon that warps the meta. You can expect those adjustments in April’s patch, as well as ‘Mechs being assigned quirks that affect these weapons specifically.

March’s patch has made the Cicada a bit more maneuverable, Vindicator, Nova, Kintaro, Thanatos, BattleMaster, and Highlander variants have all received buffs, and several maps have received fixes, including Solaris, Bearclaw II, Mining Collective, and Emerald Taiga. You can get the full details in the patch notes here.

This Is Why It’s Always Better For A ‘Mech To Have Fists

Brutal Punch was never the best card in the BattleTech TCG, but it sure had great art. And now, thanks to Alan Blackwell, we can experience the brutality of this punch in 3D. An incredible piece that just proves the dominance of the Atlas and why you should never close with one.

3D Artist Previews Upcoming Merlin Mini

Merlin Redesign Reddit

I’m getting a Merlin in my Mercenaries Kickstarter order, so I was extremely excited to see this preview courtesy of the modeler who created the new Merlin mini. Lizzie’s Reddit post takes us from the earliest sketch to her initial models, slowly adding detail until we finally get to a finished product ready for posing. 

I love the Merlin. Like the Grasshopper, it’s just one of those efficient heavy ‘Mechs from the 3025 era that can actually fire its entire weapons payload every turn without overheating. Plus it’s got jump jets for maneuverability, and enough armor to outlast anything in its weight class. Throw on the Easy to Maintain and Rugged quirks, and it’s a wonder you don’t see these in every major military across the Inner Sphere. Instead, you’ll see them in multiple mercenary outfits.

You can find the Merlin in the Inner Sphere Heavy Recon Lance ForcePack alongside the Charger (also redesigned by Lizzie), the Ostsol, and the Assassin. This pack will form the core of my mercenary unit as soon as it arrives in June. Lizzie, you’ve my undying gratitude for bringing these ‘Mechs to the 21st century.

Definitely Not The Battledroids You’re Looking For

These are not the Mechs you’re looking for…
byu/OhioYeti inbattletech

May the Fourth isn’t for another month, OhioYeti. Bring these two back then.

And that’s it for March! Join us next time, same BattleTech time, same BattleTech channel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Community Outreach – Matthew “Stinger” Cross’s Contributions To BattleTech

Welcome to another episode of Community Outreach! This time we’ve got someone who’s made truly significant contributions to BattleTech, whether it be model-making, technical writing, or fiction. Matthew “Stinger” Cross has truly done it all, and he’s recently embarked on terrain and accessories for your next tabletop BattleTech game. Together, we go over his prodigious career and why the original Summoner isn’t nearly as good as the Thor II. Enjoy. 

Sean (Sarna):  Let’s start with introductions. I’m Sean, the Sarna news guy. For any reader who hasn’t read your Sarna page already, who are you?

Cross Electric Designs Logo

Matthew Cross (Stinger): Hello! I am Matthew Cross (Matt or Matthew, I generally don’t care), and my typical handle online is Stinger. I am an Iron Wind Metals freelance 3D designer, CGL freelance artist and writer, and the owner and proprietor of Cross Electric Designs!  I kinda do everything these days.

Sean: And how long have you been a BattleTech fan?

Matthew: Oh gosh. For a very very long time. My first memories of anything BattleTech-related involved a random Freeware game in the early ’90s when I was probably five years old called Megatron. It had a Mad Cat and a Vulture (which now I see was an obvious ripoff), but it was cool at the time. Then came a version of MechWarrior 2 that didn’t actually work on my PC but we could look at the MechLab and read the archive. I really got into things with MechWarrior 4 when I was 11. So, pretty much my whole life!

Sean: That’s MechWarrior 2 and MechWarrior 4, what other MechWarrior or BattleTech games have you played?

Matthew: So, I’ve played a little bit of everything except MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries and Harebrained Schemes’ BATTLETECH. Back in 2009-2010 I even beat MechWarrior 1, played in Dosbox, without directly cheating. That game has an economic system that is easy to manipulate.

I’ve played chunks of Crescent Hawks Inception, the whole demo for MechWarrior 3 (never played the full game), and I was one of the first thousand beta testers for MechWarrior Online! MechWarrior 4 and its expansions are my favorite though, without a doubt. They’ve heavily inspired most of my 3D modeling career so far.

I’m a sucker for TROs, and 3075 is definitely a favorite. It was actually the first BattleTech sourcebook I purchased.

Sean: No MechWarrior 5 or BATTLETECH? Why avoid the two latest games? Just don’t have a rig for it?

Matthew: Don’t have the time! Well, for at least BATTLETECH. I actually backed the Kickstarter for that game, but it just came out at a busy time in my life and I guess I kept forgetting! Plus I’ve been busy with modeling, printing, writing, and not to mention the day job and being a dad! 

MechWarrior 5 I haven’t really played for two stupid reasons. First, I’m not a huge fan of the aesthetic of PGIs ‘Mechs, but worst, secondly, is that the scale of the ‘Mechs in the game is… wrong.

Let’s see if I can say this briefly without ranting… ‘Mechs are 6-12 meters tall. Some of the top assault ‘Mechs would obviously go over this number and some lights go under, but the PGI Atlas is like 20 meters tall. And the tanks are downright tiny. They feel like Honda Civics plinking at you from below. This issue more than anything has made me overall avoid MW5. It’s stupid, but I stand by it! 

And yes, I did hear about the mods for working around the scaling issue, which I should check out…

Sean: It’s true, mods do make MW5. But also, BATTLETECH is a triumph for anyone who likes turn-based tactics games.

Matthew: I know, I know! I really do need to play… 

Sean: Alright, let’s go through the list. Most important question: What’s your favorite ‘Mech?

Matthew: Ugh. Such a hard question. But let’s keep it simple. Hammerhands

It really caught my eye when I started getting really into BattleTech in college and the miniature was the first official BattleTech mini I’ve ever bought. And the mini, while scaled a little small, is absolutely fantastic.

I have so many more things to say are my favorites. Like the MW4 Daishi or the Mad Cat III (the XTRO version), the MW4 Vulture, heck even the Jenner is a favorite. I could go on and on and on, but I think Hammerhands is my final answer.

Sean: My favorite also meanders depending on my mood, so I totally understand where you’re coming from. What about your favorite era?

Matthew: Dark Age. Really anything post Jihad I would say.  I love the small stories that can be told in the era.  It feels like Succession Wars, but with higher tech.  So many little things happening that don’t have to be world-shattering, but interesting stories can be told nonetheless. Plus, most of my Ironwind Metals designs are Dark Age or Republic Era designs, so I have a bit of a soft spot I think.

Sean: Dark Age is a polarizing era–you either love it or you hate it. Or you get confused by it, which is where I’m at most of the time with all the factionalization of everything.

Matthew: Oh man, I think I have a strong attachment to the so-called “Pirate” factions because I had a small collection of MechWarrior: Dark Age figures. I got the “Premier” box set and probably only four to five boosters in total, but it cemented my love of the Blue and Green Swordsworn units. I think I have a good 20 minis painted in that scheme in my collection. Even my latest Shrapnel story, No Rest for the Accursed, actually dealt with two of the factions, the Highlanders and the Dragon’s Fury

Sean: I’m still getting caught up on Shrapnel, but I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for that story when it arrives. Any particular favorite bit of BattleTech media? A novel, video, or game?

Matthew: Well, excluding MechWarrior 4, I’m a sucker for TROs, and 3075 is definitely a favorite. It was actually the first BattleTech sourcebook I purchased. I’ve read a lot of novels as well, but I love the pure, crunchy, techy goodness that is a TRO or Recognition Guide.

Sean: Let’s get into your Sarna page. It says here your first contributions to BattleTech were to Ironwind Metals for the Vulture III and Thor II models. How does one even go about creating models for Ironwind? Is it like today with 3D modeling software or is it more old-school since these are pewter figures?

Matthew: I learned 3D modeling as a required one-credit course for my computer engineering degree at the beginning of college. This was 2008-2009 or so and 3D printing was barely a thing yet. But that class, combined with a weird summer internship where I was both working in CAD and writing code, in CAD, led me down a long journey of making BattleTech 3D models. I even tried teaching myself some techniques while modeling a Mad Cat at the internship. 

It’s… not pretty. 

Sean: It seems like it’s half a ‘Mech.

Matthew: I eventually finished it into what my friends commonly call the “Chibi-Cat”

Sean: Okay, I like chibi ‘Mechs. 

Matthew:  They say that everyone starts somewhere, and the Chibi-Cat was definitely my start. 


From there I did some more modeling, including my own version of a Manatee DropShip (from the aforementioned TRO: 3075), and then, right around the release of TRO: 3145: The Clans, I got images of the Vulture III and Thor II.  Being the big MechWarrior 4 and MWDA fan that I am, I know these two mechs are based on the MWDA versions of the ‘Mechs, which in turn were based on the MW4 versions of the ‘Mechs.  I jumped at the opportunity to model them for myself. Additionally, I knew Ironwind Metals was using 3D models for their minis, as this was around the time designs like the Dark Age Black Knight and the Ares tripods were released, so I knew that my models had potential. 

I also wanted to get my foot in the door, so I offered both models to IWM for free in an email to IWM president Mike Noe.  And private messages to Speck, the IWM admin. And general pestering. And while IWM opted not to use my Vulture III, and instead opted for a version closer to the MW4 art, they did ultimately go with my Thor II which was just hugely exciting. 

Sean: I see why that Mad Cat is considered the Chibi-Cat. Such tiny limbs! What other ‘Mech submissions did IWM accept? 

Matthew: Since 2014, I have had 21 accepted designs with Ironwind!  The Arion, Arctic Wolf II, Roadrunner, Pendragon, Centurion resculpt, and Centurion OmniMech.  A bunch of MechWarrior 4-based resculpts including the Cougar, Chimera, and Hellspawn.  I should really update my Sarna page with the full list.  My latest and greatest was the Mastodon, just released last month!

Sean:  Do you have a favorite IWM model that you created?

Matthew: It has to be the Catapult CPLT-C2, aka the Dark Age Catapult. Not the Catapult II, that’s a different ‘Mech.


I love the MWDA mini and decided to buy one off of eBay to use as a 3D modeling reference. I knocked out the first draft in like four hours straight (very fast for a model for me). I eventually was able to get the model through IWM’s Fan Funding program and the mini ultimately was made! I really tried to take everything that was good with that MWDA figure and mold it into something a bit more believable for the BattleTech universe.  Heck, I even made some TRO-style art for it from my model.

That, admittedly, was made even after the IWM model was made and includes some extra detailing, but it’s essentially the same design nonetheless

Sean: Rockin’. Alright, next on your page, I see you’ve also submitted game stats that have been officially published in multiple places, including the Clan Recognition Guides and TRO 3150. Does this mean you’ve made ‘Mechs that are now part of BattleTech canon?

Matthew: So, I’ve always been one to play around in the MechLab and try my hand at designing some loadouts. During the designing of the Pendragon for IWM, I wanted to design a bodyguard, dual C3 master version of the ‘Mech. This was 2015 I am pretty sure. The CGL assistant art director at the time was our now fearless leader, Ray Arrastia, who introduced me to the then XTRO developer (now the full TRO developer) Johannes “Jymset” Heidler who has become my good friend and mentor in all things BattleTech. We massaged the design a bit and got it included in the New Tech section at the back of TRO: 3150, whose record sheets were FINALLY released earlier this year!

Anyways, ever since, Johannes has been getting my ideas on loadouts and several of my Omni configs made it into the Rec. Guides along with the Jenner IIC 5I made a list recently!

Sean: Maybe you’d be a good person to ask since I see you worked on a lot of the “II” ‘Mechs. now, I have no problem with the IICs since they seem like a logical evolution for classic ‘Mechs that stuck around within the Clans. But the II ‘Mechs never made much sense to me. How do you feel about ‘Mechs like the Thor II and Loki II, especially with respect to the recent Clan Recognition Guides and the latest variants for the original Thor and Loki that have now been published?

Since 2014, I have had 21 accepted designs with Ironwind!  The Arion, Arctic Wolf II, Roadrunner, Pendragon, Centurion resculpt, and Centurion OmniMech. My latest and greatest was the Mastodon, just released last month!

Matthew: So, let’s talk about how the IIs came about.  Particularly the Thor II, Loki II, Kodiak II, Arctic Wolf II, Vulture III, and Mad Cat III. The Dark Age Black Knight and Atlas S3/II kinda also apply here and I may be missing a few, to be honest.

We’ll use the Thor as our main example here. We’ve got the original 3050 artwork. That in turn inspired its look in MechWarrior 4, but due to art style and whatnot, quite a bit changed. Also with that change came a change in default weapons loadouts, likely due to game balance. That MW4 design was translated into the MWDA dossier load out, which was (somehow) translated from real BattleTech stats. From there, CGL devs created fresh loadoats and artwork based on the dossiers and the looks of the Dark Age miniature, resulting in the Thor II. The lineage was original TRO art -> MW4 art -> MWDA art -> sequel Mech art.

It’s convoluted, but in the end, it ultimately makes some sense.  And frankly, I love the looks of many of the II designs.

The T configs on the other hand were created so you could buy a mini from the Clan Invasion box and play it in the Dark Age and IlClan eras. Does it make a ton of sense? Nah. Does it just give us more toys to play with? Definitely. 

I say majorly, to each their own. I love me the Thor II and will gladly use the extra 3.5 tons of equipment to pummel your original Thor into the ground.

Loki II and Thor II

Sean:  Well, that’s a fair answer. But if the Thor II and Loki II are attempts to canonize the MW4 ‘Mechs (and also MWDA ‘Mechs), then why the Catapult II and Raven II?

Matthew: Catapult II is a direct pull from an original MWDA ‘Mech whilst the Raven II was a production model of the experimental Raven from XTRO: Liao, I believe. Both are interesting cases that don’t follow the pattern.

Sean: You were first writing technical readouts, but then you swapped to fiction writing, the first being The Last Flight of the Black Condor in Shrapnel #10. Was that a big switch for you or were you always looking to be a fiction writer?

I love me the Thor II and will gladly use the extra 3.5 tons of equipment to pummel your original Thor into the ground.

Matthew: So, I actually tried my hand at fiction writing first. I wrote a story that was going to be in BattleCorps but, well, it was bad. Very bad. I tried writing in the first person, thinking it would be easier, then I tried converting it to third person, unsuccessfully. Tenses are hard.

Then, a few years after that I wrote a really fun article on why Clan ER medium lasers are better than standard ER medium lasers over in the fan articles section of the official BattleTech forums. I was inspired by another article I read on those forums to do it as a college lecture. My background as an engineer combined with my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, I have sat through a LOT of lectures. It was a style I felt I could do really well with. 

After showing off my article on the forums to Phil Lee, the Shrapnel Managing Editor, he was interested in me writing more articles for Shrapnel I was very excited about doing.  After getting four of those under my belt, I decided to tackle Black Condor, which was a scenario and setting I had in my mind for years and years. Heroic band of misfits saving the day, and getting picked off one at a time. I’m not going to lie to you, it was inspired by the climax of Shrek 2. It’s embarrassingly true.

The writing was hard and had A LOT of edits from the editors. It almost didn’t pass muster. No Rest for the Accursed was much easier on a whole. Getting the hang of dialog was a change from the lecture style and I think that was the hardest thing to do.

Sean:  Hah, well if Shrek 2 inspired Black Condor, what inspired No Rest for the Accursed?

Matthew:  A random violin piece by Lindsey Stirling. I’m not joking. 

Sean: Oh, I have a friend who really likes her!

I decided to tackle The Last Flight of the Black Condor, which was a scenario and setting I had in my mind for years and years. Heroic band of misfits saving the day, and getting picked off one at a time. I’m not going to lie to you, it was inspired by the climax of Shrek 2. It’s embarrassingly true.

Matthew: My kids found a song of hers, “Roundtable Rivals,” and I definitely thought immediately of a Highlander IIC having a slugfest with an entire lance, and wins. I did change the music to bagpipes in the story, but the effect remained all the same.  You really need to read this story…

Sean: Welp, I’m grinding my way through Shrapnel since it’s my preferred method of getting BattleTech short stories. 

I have a question for one that’s not canon–Welcome to Nebula California. I’ve never heard of this, and the art on the Sarna page makes it look like it’s about ‘Mechs versus superheroes. Can you tell me more about that and what you contributed to this sourcebook?

Matthew: Oh wow. Yeah, I forgot about Welcome to Nebula California!  That one was a collaboration between myself and CGL’s top layout guy, David “Dak” Kerber. Dak had a bunch of art he needed to create and we collaborated on using some of my IWM designs and integrating them into throughout the book. I did some renders (especially the cover) and Dak colorized them. Some of the silhouettes throughout the book are also my renders blacked out as well

It was just a free April Fools product, during some of the darker times for CGL, but that was a fun project to work on.

Sean: But, like, it is ‘Mechs versus super-powered people?

Matthew: I believe so! There is even an image of a Superman-type character punching my Thor II.  I honestly didn’t fully read the book myself, but it is very typical of an April Fools projectYou’ve got the Disney Princess ‘Mechs, XTRO 1945, Escape from Castle Wulfensteiner, etc. 

Sean: I’m gonna have to pick up some of these. I’ll grab the Nebula Californa one first. Now let’s take a look at your first official design: the Kamisori Light Tank. Seems like a fine vehicle, if on the lighter side. What was your inspiration for this spry little guy?

Kamisori pencil sketch

Matthew: So, this was another of my many collaborations with Johannes (mentioned earlier!). He and I were conspiring to make an XTRO that never materialized, but there was a tank that was mentioned one-off in some online-only MWDA fiction. The Kamisori Light Tank that was mentioned was transporting some battle armor, and Johannes whipped up some stats. The stats that he provided me in 2016 and I did a really fast pencil sketch that eventually became the final Kamisori.

From there, I made a basic model that I updated a few times over the years, but then we pulled in another good friend and excellent CGL artist Dale Eadeh to provide art direction. We took it from this:

Kamisori Light Tank Initial Design

To this:

Kamisori Final

Sean: I got some big T-34 vibes from this guy.

Matthew: With rumble seats in the back for battle armor! Originally the design was a flat-bed like a pickup truck, but we changed to the externally facing seats to make it more obvious in its role as a battle armor taxi

Sean: With a touch of mobile fire support on the side. Let’s talk about what you’re up to these days. I hear you’re making terrain for BattleTech, is that right?

Matthew: Terrain under my own label, Cross Electric Designs, yes! I am also doing more writing for Shrapnel and another mini for IWM, but I can’t really talk about those right now. So yeah! Terrain!

Sean: Alright, then let’s focus on the thing you can talk about. When did you start Cross Electric Designs and what products do you have available?

Mathew: So, back to Dale Eadeh.Dale runs his own little terrain studio, called Hardware Studios.  Dale was looking for some more terrain to fill out his digital files shop and I initially declined his offer to get my stuff onto his site. About a year later, with inflation being a pain in my rear end, I decided, hey, let’s try this digital files thing. I already had some terrain that I had previously made for various reasons, some to support Dale and some just for my own fun. I also had my Manatee DropShip that I designed years and years ago, and I decided to spruce that up, with a little extra art direction from Dale as well. Beyond all this, I had two 3D printers already and decided, “Hey, let’s sell some physical product as well!” 

Muse Missile Turret

I launched Cross Electric in and around the spring/summer of 2022, with just a handful of products. The Beluga DropShip (renamed for obvious reasons), my Vengeance Palace Wall set (inspired by the palace map in MechWarrior 4: Vengeance), the Muse Turret (inspired by the Calliope Turret from MW4 as well), and a few other bits and bobbles. I even started selling some prints on BattleTech International Trade and Sell and they were all a hit, much more so than I really expected. 

I moved from selling on BTI: Trade and Sell to Aries Games and Minis and I have recently expanded to having my stuff at conventions through BV traders and selling through Fortress Minis and Games.  And I think I have something like 30 different products, with more on the way!

Sean: That all sounds pretty great! I remember hating those Calliope Turrets. They’d make a great addition to a BattleTech scenario. Are all those homegrown designs on the Aries Games site now?

Matthew: Pretty much everything is on Aries, Hardware, and Fortress, yeah! There are a few designs that are less popular or too large to sell viably that I sell only on Hardware Studios as files, but otherwise, everything is on those sites!

Double Mech Bay

Sean: You mentioned a few MW4 inspirations for these designs, but I’m seeing a lot of MechCommander here too–like the gas tanks, the Double ‘Mech Bay, the Factory Facility Alpha, and the AeroSpace Hanger. Was MechCommander a big inspiration for these designs?

Matthew: So, actually the Double Mech Bay and the Gas Tanks were both direct MW4 inspiration, to be honest. The Double Bay was featured in the final mission of Vengeance (and a few other places) and the fuel tanks were present throughout! I played MOST of MechCommander 2 back when it was released as freeware by Microsoft in 2010 or so, and I am sure those inspirations were definitely still there, but they weren’t in the front of my mind. The Factory was something that kinda took off as I learned what my style was. It’s something that really needs to be established for an artist.  What is your style? You can see it in the MWO style of Alex Iglesias or the Catalyst style of Anthony Scroggins, but every artist has their own way of making things. I really am trying to learn from other’s styles still. I like to make things chunky with a lot of shapes, very similar to MechWarrior 4′s style because, back then, big boxy shapes were easy to make within the graphics limitations of the day.  But you have so many other interesting sci-fi styles to hit upon that I really do try to draw from other sources, but somehow I typically devolve into my chunky style.

Sean: Ah, you never played the original MechCommander? I think you can find MechCommander Gold as a free download somewhere. Might need to make an emulator to play it, though.

The Beluga DropShip seems very MW4. And I think the Military Hover Barge is also from a MW4 mission where you have to defend a bunch of barges. Turrets all seem MW4 too. So we can safely say MW4 really was your jam. What was your favorite part of MW4 that you wish could come back in MechWarrior 5?

Matthew: Hmmmm… Probably a few things. And I’ll likely be referring to MWO for comparison because I played a lot more of that game than I have MW5.


First off, and I know this won’t happen, but I loved the joystick support for MW4.  Playing with a joystick to properly control your mech felt like the absolute right way to be piloting a ‘Mech and it was the one thing that just felt so wrong about MWO to me. The ‘Mechs don’t shake around as much because you need to provide some stability to the mouse pointer MechWarrior 4 has some fairly turbulent fast ‘Mechs. Pointing and clicking with a mouse on an enemy just didn’t have the same effect as lining up a shot with the joystick and pulling the trigger.

We’ve already talked about scale, so we’ll skip that topic as well…

I think so of the speed of MechWarrior 4 is missing from MW5/MWO. The weapons hit faster in MW4, given the lasers were all hitscan (instant laser beam that just hits or doesn’t hit) versus the beam approach that MWO uses. The ‘Mechs felt faster and more nimble. And, well, to go to scale, the smaller scale but the same ground speeds of mechs make MW4 feel faster as well. MWO/MW5 ‘Mechs can feel floaty rather than stompy at times.

I’ve got some new factories in the works, a mostly finished Shrapnel draft, and a Mech assignment from Ironwind Metals. So many cool projects!

Finally, I think it really comes down to art style and the eras.  You weren’t able to get hyperrealism in 2002 vs. 2019 and sometimes, MWO/MW5 just seems too detailed and too real.  It’s a weird thing to complain about, but it feels more Modern Warfare than Halo sometimes.

Sean: MWO lasers are also hitscan, but they might not feel like it because of internet issues and the game polling rate. And I agree, MWO/MW5 is definitely going for hyper-realism with a dash of tacticool. There’s a winch on the front of the Marauder in the MW5 splash screen, for example.

I don’t think it’s a bad aesthetic, but if the ‘Mechs are hyper-realistic, then everything should be, and occasionally you’ll find some terrain that doesn’t make sense or foliage that seems too big or too small. I still really like the look of MW5 overall, and think it’s the best-looking MechWarrior ever made. But there was over a decade between MW5 and MW4.


Matthew: Oh, I’m referring to the lasers being an instant shot versus a beam that lasts for half a second or so for the hitscan. An MW4 laser is a single spot with a single spot for damage.  MWO/MW5 has a nice little beam.

But honestly, we are arguing a difference in huge game design decisions between 2001 and 2019. MW4 is practically an arcade game these days.

Sean: True, and I definitely appreciate the arcade feel of MechWarrior 4. I played it a bunch back in the day. Arcade doesn’t mean bad! It’s all just a matter of game mechanics, and MW4 was very solid mechanically speaking.

Anyway, we’ve talked a lot here. Did you have any other topics you’d like to discuss? Any other upcoming projects you’d like to announce?

Matthew: Haha, we have indeed talked a lot!

I think I have covered most of what I want to talk about, but I always have new stuff that I am working on. I’ve got some new factories in the works, a mostly finished Shrapnel draft, and a ‘Mech assignment from Ironwind Metals. So many cool projects! I try and share my stuff on my Facebook page, but I’m not amazing at keeping it updated.  My wife is supposedly going to be giving me a hand in that regard soon, but no promises! 

Sean: Alright, then that covers it. Thanks for sitting down to chat!

Thanks again to Matthew Cross for taking the time to speak to me, and be sure to check back soon as I take a look at some of the models offered by Cross Electric Designs.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

HEXTECH Review – An Urban Battlefield In A Box

Timber Wolf In HEXTECH City

Painting models is already a time-consuming process. You know what’s equally time-consuming? Making terrain. That’s why I’ve always preferred BattleTech’s hex maps so you don’t have to do anything: just buy the map and you’re ready to go. But dedicated tabletop wargamers just aren’t satisfied with hexagons on a piece of paper (or neoprene if you get those fancy BattleMats). They want the real, miniaturized terrain. A few trees and hills aren’t too big of a task, but a full-fledged urban combat setting takes as much time to make as a whole regiment of ‘Mechs.

You could take the time to create a whole city’s worth of buildings and roads, or you could just buy the HEXTECH Battlefield in a Box: Trinity City set from Thunderhead Studios and Gale Force 9 Games.

HEXTECH Trinity City Box Wave 1 and toes

You can see my toes!

According to Thunderhead, the Trinity City buildings all come courtesy of Christopher Wailes. He got the idea a few years ago after his ‘Mech force was “devastated by cheap shots” (ie. long-range firepower) “when the flat hex map provided woefully inadequate buildings for protection.” Sounds like a tactical problem to me. But rather than change those tactics, Wailes vowed to create a dense urban jungle of pre-painted buildings that anyone could readily add to their tabletop games and hex maps. A few years later, Wailes and Thunderhead Studios have given us HEXTECH and these painted models.

HEXTECH Trinity City Box Wave 1 All Buildings

Gale Force 9, the makers of HEXTECH, was kind enough to send me an example of Wailes’s work. The Wave 1 box for Trinity City includes two condos, two corporate offices, two Trinity City Police Department precincts, two university buildings, two Trinity Estates, and a single Justice Tower that dwarves the rest of them. Prices range from $30 USD to $40 USD, and each building comes fully painted with a removable felt base that makes these buildings easy to slot onto a hex map or a flat tabletop.

As you can see from the photos, what you see on the box is pretty much exactly what you get in real life. The boxes even have helpful photos that show either a 100% or 90% image of what’s contained inside. There was a ton of bubble wrap that had to be removed, but this just ensured that each building arrived without any knicks or scratches. Be careful with your exacto knife as you extract these buildings from their bubbly prisons.

'Mechs in HEXTECH City 1

Each building is made of flex resin and seems extremely sturdy, so I wouldn’t be worried about accidentally breaking one. That said, they’re also pretty heavy, so try not to knock one onto your minis unless you want some realistic battle damage.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have an urban combat map handy to showcase how these buildings ought to be used, but I did have a BattleMat to showcase how these hex bases fit. As you can see, the bases have been carefully measured to exactly match the dimensions of BattleTech‘s hexagons. The bases are removable, so you can play without them if you prefer to measure your shots by hand.

'Mechs in HEXTECH City 2

I did notice that a few of the bases for these buildings didn’t exactly line up with the shape of the building itself. This certainly didn’t affect gameplay at all, but it did make a few buildings seem a bit wobbly. The handy among you could easily carve out the bases to better match the buildings to solve that particular issue.

The buildings themselves are perfect. They’re all highly detailed with roofs that have little air conditioning boxes and tiny fans for recirculating air inside. The precincts have large hatches for where tiny police hovercars would park, and you can see tiny little steps leading to the Justice Tower’s helipads. There are a few extremely minor painting errors, but nothing that detracts from the overall presentation. (Note: The fans don’t actually move and the hatches don’t actually open. They’re just painted details modeled into the building.)

'Mechs in HEXTECH City 3

There’s enough space for pretty much every ‘Mech to jump onto every building, except possibly the Trinity University buildings. If you’re hopping around with a particularly large ‘Mech–like say, the Marauder II–you might not have trouble fitting your 100-ton keister up there. Then again, I’m not sure any building would hold up under an extra 100 tons on the roof.

Overall, the Trinity City box seems like a great addition to any tabletop game that’s looking to add an urban combat setting with absolutely zero painting or assembly required. All you gotta do is get these buildings out of their protective coverings and you’re ready to fight.

'Mechs in HEXTECH City 4

You can head over to the HEXTECH site here (courtesy of Gale Force 9 Games) to order your “battlefield in a box.” Most of the buildings come in pairs, except for the Justice Tower which comes alone (it’s the biggest of the bunch). I’ve listed the prices (in USD) and links below for your convenience.

And if you were looking for more, Gale Force 9 offers a whole range of HEXTECH buildings and constructs, although they’re not fully painted like the Trinity City boxes. There’s the Trinity City Community Center, luxury condos, office towers, “affordable” apartments (3000 C-bills a month for 200 square feet is a steal!), a corporate plaza, turrets, city streets and highways, and more. There are even city walls and turrets if you fancy your urban environment to be more of a fortress. Keep in mind that these would need to be painted like any other miniature. Head on over to Thunderhead’s site for more.

'Mechs in HEXTECH City 5

Initially, I’d just been given HEXTECH’s first wave to review, which is why it might’ve sounded like I was wrapping things up in the earlier paragraph. But it turns out there’s actually more to this HEXTECH thing! After the buildings arrived in the mail, Thunderhead Studios sent me a bunch of terrain pieces called the Trinity City Wave 2, including the Atlean Stepps and Highways. The Steppes are perfect for placing ‘Mechs atop so they can shoot with the high-ground advantage. The tiles are outlined on the flat bits, although the bases are not, so you’ll have to do some eye-balling if you plan to use these Steppes on a hex map. Using these on non-hex maps is easier since the base is designed to look more like terrain than a hexagonally-shaped hill.

The Highways come in a variety of pieces that make creating your own designs easy. You can place several tiles next to each other to create a four-lane highway, or you can have them branch off to create an intricate downtown core. Each piece is textured with bumps so you could theoretically use these on inclined surfaces and still place your units without fear of having them slide around. Because the Highways use the same hex grid base as the Trinity City buildings, it’s easy to slot those buildings right next to the highway pieces to create some really cool urban combat zones.

'Mechs in HEXTECH City 6

While the Steppes seemed pretty solid, the Highways are likely a tad more fragile. They do bend a bit, but I’m certain if you bend them too much they’ll break along the convenient hex grid pattern they all come with. Treat these highways with care and be sure to store them where they won’t suffer any torsional forces.

Be careful with the Steppes too! Although they may look solid, they’re actually resin-coated foam. I managed to crack one of them through my own negligence and then tried to repair the cracked resin using superglue. Turns out that superglue actually melts the foam, so now my slight repair job has turned into a somewhat more major repair job. Good thing I’ve got some crafty friends up for a challenge.

'Mechs in HEXTECH City 6

As with the Trinity City pieces, head over to HEXTECH’s site for the Wave 2 terrain pieces. The Trinity City Highways comes with ten fully-painted highway pieces that are largely straight, while the Trinity City Highway Intersections comes with ten fully-painted pieces that curve or have intersections in various orientations. The Atlean Steppes box comes with four fully-painted hills of varying sizes.

Once again, I’ll list these new boxes below for your convenience.

Trinity City Highways – $40
Trinity City Highway Intersections – $40
Atlean Steppes – $40

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy


Your BattleTech News Round-Up For August, 2023

August has been a trip. I received my first communicable disease since the pandemic this month. It was just a cold, but after having evaded pretty much all infections for over two years, it still felt like I’d been run over by a mucus-filled buffalo. Worse, it came just as I was about to head to the wild Canadian north for a camping trip. I’m glad the vultures didn’t spot me (or hear my wheezing coughs) for they certainly would have correctly identified me as the weakest member of the herd and liable to drop dead at any moment.

As always, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover for this month’s BattleTech news round-up, starting a ‘Mech that has been patiently awaiting its time in the sun.

Tex Talks BattleTech: The Hunchback 

Battletech/Mechwarrior Lore - Tex Talks Battletech : The Hunchback
Watch this video on YouTube.

As promised, The Black Pants Legion has brought us Tex Talks BattleTech: The Hunchback last week. A two-hour tour de force, the video covers the Hunchback’s origins as a purpose-built city fighter prior to the Reunification War, the Hunchback’s many variants, and some of its veteran pilots. It also dives deep into the psychology of Hunchback pilots, which can largely be summarized as “big cannon goes boom.” 

I’m hardly criticizing. The Hunchback is probably one of the best medium ‘Mechs ever made, and after almost six centuries of iterations, it remains the preferred choice of a very specific type of MechWarrior.

And as you may have noticed from the video, there’s a lot of custom art and footage featured in the Hunchback video. Some of it comes from Locust Labs, which we’ll be speaking to shortly, and a lot of it also comes from EldoniousRex, our own resident Bad ‘Mechs artist. You’ll be able to purchase some of this fine art soon with the upcoming “Hunch-Pack,” which will contain five prints, two stickers, and several coasters. Stay tuned to Eldonious’s Twitter for when that becomes available.

I sincerely hope that the painting of the Hunchback 4P rockin’ out is one of those five prints. 

Opinion: Is It Swayback Or Partyback?

Sarna Complaints Department

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

I admit to being a late adherent to the Hunchback Orthydoxy. To me, the Hunchback has always been an AC/20 in the right shoulder and little else. Only with the release of MechWarrior Online did I discover there are actually a ton of Hunchbacks out there that are all wildly different, and many of them ditch the AC/20 for a collection of smaller, more reasonable weapons. These Hunchbacks are known collectively as “Swaybacks” because they generally lose the Hunchie’s characteristic hunch.

Except for the Hunchback HBK-4P. This Hunchback replaces the AC/20 with six more medium lasers and enough heat sinks to at least consider firing them all at once without immediately melting its reactor. Since these medium lasers are all where the AC/20 used to be, it’s still got a hunch. And for me, it also had a different name: “Partyback.”

I did not invent this name. It first came to me from TheB33F, who used it to describe a very specific custom variant of the 4P with all small pulse lasers. The Partyback’s genesis isn’t too hard to fathom as an all-laser Hunchback is basically a walking laser light show. And it just made more sense than “Swayback” to me, so for the 4P variant at least, the name has forever stuck.

But has it for you? Is the HBK-4P still a Swayback or is it a Partyback? And do Hunchbacks like the 4SP and 5H also receive the Swayback moniker, or do these have even more unique names that I’ve never heard of? Do let me know in the comments below.

The Urbie Has Risen

Found an Urbie.
by u/JSFetzik in Battletechgame

I wasn’t at Gen Con this year, but I hear it was a blast. And I also heard there was yet another giant inflatable UrbanMech sighting. Be sure to share your inflatable Urbie pics in the comments!

Valk Makes Zelda And Metroid Minis For Gen Con

Gen Con was earlier this month, and one of the events involved a BattleTech tournament where the winners were awarded custom-painted figures. Valk here decided to paint up a Night Gyr Prime and a Vindicator as Link from the Legend of Zelda and Samus from the Metroid series

I’m not surprised by how good these figures look. I am surprised how the Vindicator somehow became the perfect ‘Mech for Link. You’d think it would have been the Centurion with its built-in shield, but now I can’t think of any ‘Mech other than the Vindicator as Link’s ‘Mech.

There are a few other potential Samus ‘Mechs. The Vulcan comes to mind, as does the Nova Cat--all you really gotta have is a rounded cockpit and big shoulders. The Night Gyr is a fine choice though. Kudos to Valk for these exceptional pieces, and jealousy to whoever won these ‘Mechs at Gen Con!

Mercenaries Kickstarter Pledge Manager Is Set To Close September 15

Banshee Crusader Eridani Light Horse Mercenaries Kickstarter

Catalyst didn’t make any big announcements at Gen Con, but it did make some waves on the Mercenaries Kickstarter. The Pledge Manager is open for all to finalize their orders and pick up whatever add-ons they might like. I had an extra $5 kickin’ around when I went in to finalize my order, and that’s most of the way to a Salvage Box that I couldn’t help but pick up another Visigoth so I could have a flight of two. 

You too might have some cash left to spend, so be sure to check in on the Mercenaries Kickstarter Pledge Manager and complete the associated survey. The Pledge Manager is scheduled to end on September 15, with shipping details to be finalized afterward. If things stay on schedule, we might even see the Mercs Kickstarter arrive before Christmas.

BattleTech Now Third Biggest Miniature Franchise In The World

BT Wallpapers 2023 McCarrons Armored Cavalry

Courtesy of Catalyst Game Labs

Here’s an interesting statistic courtesy of ICv2: BattleTech has broken into the top three best-selling miniatures brands, beating out Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, Star Wars Legion, and even D&D Onslaught. According to the publication, sales have tapered off for Warhammer 40K, which suppliers blame on a lack of new products and available restocks. BattleTech, meanwhile, has started sets “widely available, which removed the biggest barrier to sales on the line.”

This comment seems to confirm Brent’s comments last month that BattleTech is seeing solid logistics for the first time in its history, and it’s translating into stronger sales. One interviewed store owner said that BattleTech‘s playerbase has even quadrupled since the beginning of the year. That’s great news for BattleTech!

Did You Know An Atlas Is Actually Just Four Urbies In A Trench Coat?

Anyone have stats for 4 Urbies in a big coat?
by u/opposhaw in battletech

I certainly didn’t know. But now that you mention it, that Atlas sure was walking funny… Kudos to Opposhaw on Reddit for mangling four UrbanMech minis to produce this work of art. 

CutesyTech Makes Clans, Houses, And Merc Units Adorable

As requested! More Cutesy tech!
by u/bleptarts in battletech

A few weeks ago, Bleptarts gave us a preview of the CutesyTech logos for several Clan factions. Now we’ve got a much larger selection of Clans, several mercenary companies and minor factions, and the Great Houses. If someone can turn these into a mod pack for MechWarrior 5, I’d be awful grateful, but I’ll settle for a few real-life sticker packs. 

Javelin Versus Spider, Who Ya Got?

Played Battletech with a friend for the first time and i decided to draw how it ended~! ( with my Spider blowing his Javelin’s head off point blank lol )
by u/ladynibiruart in battletech

Personally, I’m usually going to give this fight to the Javelin. It’s hard to argue with two SRM-6s in a one-on-one duel. Sure, you’ll probably run those ammo bins dry in a real battle, but honorable single combat? Few light ‘Mechs will survive 180 SRMs. Unless that is, that Javenlin takes two medium lasers to the face. 

That’s apparently how the fight between Lady Nibiru and her friend ended. I hope she was in the Spider. Thanks for the great art!

Gaming Jay’s Crescent Hawks Game Has Become Metal Mercs

MetalMercs - The Confederate Vanguard Union - Background and Demo
Watch this video on YouTube.


You may recall Gaming Jay’s Crescent Hawks remake from last year’s interview. Heavily inspired by Crescent Hawks’ Inception and Crescent Hawks’ Revenge, Jay updated these old games with new real-time mechanics, an expanded database of ‘Mechs, and a campaign that goes up to the Clan Invasion.

One year later, and Jay’s Crescent Hawks’ remake has become an entirely new game called Metal Mercs. The game is no longer set in the BattleTech universe, but it’s got an entirely new selection of Great Houses, ‘Mechs, history, tech, and lore. But don’t be fooled by the new coat of paint--this game is still essentially the same one that Jay has been previewing for the better part of a year. You still gotta take your mercenary lance from plane to planet, smashing mechs, salvaging mechs, and making sure your finances don’t fall into the red. 

Metal Mercs is still in development, but a playable demo is “just on the horizon.” To get access to it, sign up for Jay’s Patreon here, and head over to the Metal Mercs Discord for up-to-the-minute updates.

Alpha Strike App Made By Fan

I made a small web app to replace Alpha Strike Cards
by u/cool_dad69 in battletech


Unfortunately, the official BattleTech app only works on tablet-sized devices, so if you don’t have an iPad (or similar) you’re out of luck. Or at least we were until cool_dad69 made this Alpha Strike web app

The app is simple. First, add your units by clicking the button and searching for the ‘Mech’s (or vehicle’s) name. Select the skill level of the pilot in the card preview, then click “add unit to force.” You’ll then have the unit displayed on the site. You can click on armor, structure, critical hits, and heat scale icons to keep track of those statistics, and it even keeps track of when a critical hit reduces your damage or movement speed. Just keep adding units until your force is fully represented, then go out and play. 

The app isn’t perfect, mind you, as there’s not enough space on the page for larger engagements with multiple lances. But if you just want a quick lance-on-lance game, this app is perfect. I’m definitely saving this for my next Alpha Strike game, and you should too.

MechWarrior Online Gets New Weapons, New Legendary ‘Mechs In Latest Patch

MechWarrior Online August New Weapons
Watch this video on YouTube.

Big news for MechWarrior Online this month. For the first time in an age, MechWarrior Online is getting totally new weapons.

First up is the Hyper Assault Gauss Rifle family. These weapons appear to function like a ballstic version of a pulse laser, but they do have a projectile velocity, so don’t expect these to be hitscan weapons. What you can expect, however, is massve damage. The HAG-40 fires eight shells for 40 total damage, while the HAG-30 fires six for 30 total damage. The HAG-20 fires just four shells, has the smallest spread, lowest cooldown, and does a total of 20 damage per blast. Weight and crit-slot requirements are the same as the classic tabletop game. 

Next up is the Binary Laser Cannon. Essentially two large lasers fused together to fire at the same time, the Binary Laser Cannon deals somewhat different damage in MWO than it does on the tabletop, with 18 damage for a full blast and 13 total heat. The Binary Laser Cannon weighs nine tons and requires four critical slots, making it a somewhat lighter option for ‘Mechs that would otherwise mount two large lasers. 

And finally, the X-Pulse Lasers have arrived. These rapid-fire lasers offer low damage but higher overall DPS, able to chip their way through armor with prolonged firing. The downside is that you need to face your target for extended periods, making the wielder vulnerable to return fire. These will likely be best used on Inner Sphere light and medium ‘Mechs for hit-and-run strikes against unaware opponents.

MWO is also bringing two new Legendary ‘Mechs in the Stalker “War Emu” and the ViperScaleshot“. The “War Emu” is a great name, and it seems like a decent ‘Mech, with four AC/5s and four medium lasers in its stock build. There are still some missile mounts in the Stalker‘s stubby arms and an extra ballistic mount in the head, providing some alternative build options for tinkerers.

The Scaleshot offers lots of SRMs with some supporting missile quirks alongside some boosted armor. This thing looks like the perfect high-speed brawler, fast enough to dictate engagements and quickly destroy wounded or low-armor ‘Mechs. As with all Legendary ‘Mechs, the Scaleshot and War Emu both come with itty bitty battle passes that award cosmetics, C-bills, MC, and GSP. 

But that’s not all. The August patch also brings quirk adjustments to the Adder, Phoenix Hawk, Nova, Gargoyle, and BattleMaster, with a few select variants of other ‘Mechs getting a few tweaks too. Rifleman weapon slots have also been adjusted so that energy weapons on the arms will prioritize the higher secondary hardpoint, and you might notice your HUD’s damage readout more quickly updates damage done to your ‘Mech.

Last but not least, the MWO Competitive Championship Series for 2023 is back for another year, with the Comp Queue now open for you to create teams. For rules and potential rewards, check out this post here, and for more on the August patch, you can dive into the patch notes here

Move Over Centurion, This Roman-Themed Hunchback Is Coming For Your Job

Custom Hunchback Project
by u/Philbobagginzzz in battletech

In honor of the Hunchback‘s debut in Tex Talks BattleTech, here we have a Roman Gladiator-styled Hunchback from Philbobagginzzz. I have no idea what variant of the Hunchback this mini might be emulating or if it might be an entirely custom hunchback with a totally new armament. 

But something tells me guessing what this thing is bringing to the party isn’t nearly as important as how well it’s dressed. It’s got a shield, stylistic armor covering its crotch, and battlefists with giant brass knuckles. This thing is going to be the life of the arena, provided it survives the first round.

The Periphery Podcast Corporation Celebrates BattleTech In The Southern Hemisphere

Shrapnel, the kind bloke who has taken it upon himself to turn the Bad ‘Mechs series into short audio stories, has taken the next logical step in his auditory journey and started a podcast. The PPC (Periphery Podcast Corporation) has just had its inaugural episode over on Spotify where we get to meet Stuart (Shrapnel) and Jamal, hosts of the new podcast, and find out what topics they’ll be discussing in the coming months. Expect interviews with artists, designers, painters, and other content creators as the PPC explores the BattleTech community of the Southern Hemisphere. That’s the one with Australia in it, or so I’m told. 

Head on over to Spotify to subscribe. And for more of Shrapnel’s content, check out his YouTube channel here.

Andrewlik Offers Longform BattleTech Playthrough With Voice-Acted Lines

The Steel Beast - Battletech Shenanigans
Watch this video on YouTube.


Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH was and still is a fantastic game, and one that I encourage everyone to play--especially if you’re not a fan of first-person shooters like MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online. But as amazing as BATTLETECH was, it wasn’t perfect. For starters, it had very little voice acting in between missions.

Enter Andrewlik. He’s gone to the trouble of actually getting a crew together to read out the lines that never received voice acting in the original game and he’s posted his work to YouTube for your viewing entertainment. Expect a few memes here and there for good measure. It’s a great way to get a preview of BATTLETECH if you’ve never played before, but just keep in mind there’s less talky talky in the actual game.

Fly High, Phoenix Hawk

I’ve always loved ‘Mechs with more jump jets than makes sense, with the Phoenix Hawk being pretty high up on my list of jumpy jumpy ‘Mechs (just shy of the Spider, honestly). Here we have a flying example from the 2nd Tikonov Lancers courtesy of Oshlet on the app formerly known as Twitter. Great work. 

The Uziel Mod For MechWarrior 5 Is Here

The Uziel (classic) mech mod is now out
by u/BoukObelisk in Mechwarrior5

We can once again thank SankaraSamsara (aka The Art Of BattleTech) for bringing us MechWarrior 4‘s Uziel as a mod for MechWarrior 5. Pawel Czarnecki created the model, which was inspired by Mark Duncan’s original render for MechWarrior 4‘s promotional artwork, and SankaraSamsara did everything else. Just based on the screenshots, I can see there are at least two variants of the Uziel that’ll be available, although there may be more. 

Download the Uziel Mod at Nexus Mods or on MechWarrior 5‘s Steam Workshop pages. And if you don’t want to just wait for the Uziel to pop up at your local ‘Mech dealer, be sure to use the ‘Mech Delivery mod.

Gotta Go Fast, As They Say

Sonic Boom!
by u/Pale_Professional_73 in battletech

I’ll admit, the Spider is one of my favorite light ‘Mechs. And Sonic the Hedgehog is my favorite ‘90s-era Sega mascot. Combine the two and you get another video game crossover that I simply cannot ignore. Kudos to Pale_Professional_73 for turning the Blue Blur into a ‘Mech with a significantly higher risk of death. That’s not just due to the speed; the Spider doesn’t have an ejection seat. 

And that’s it for August! Join us next month as we enter into the terrible time between summer and winter where the trees turn color and it gets either very hot or very cold, often with little in between.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Alpha Strike’s BattleTech Aces Got Me To Love Tabletop Again

Being part of the Mercenaries Kickstarter, I recently got to try out some of the playtest materials for BattleTech Aces, a single-player or cooperative version of Alpha Strike. It was also, coincidentally, my first time playing Alpha Strike, and let me say, I’m a big fan. But I’m especially a fan of the Aces playtest for what it means for tabletop BattleTech.

Despite some rumors to the contrary, I have actually played tabletop BattleTech before. More than once, in fact! I found it to be a fun enough experience and certainly helpful for discovering the origins of BattleTech’s many rules, but it was also… slow. Especially by modern tabletop standards. Rolling dice for each individual weapon (sometimes multiple dice, as is the case with missiles) just slows combat to a crawl, and tracking damage likewise proves time-consuming (even though it’s a far more accurate representation of battle damage).

Alpha Strike fixes all that. For those who haven’t played it, Alpha Strike simplifies combat to just a single dice roll. You move, you shoot, and then repeat. ‘Mech stats are simplified to a single card rather than an entire sheet of paper (or two), with armor and structure tracking that’s actually oddly reminiscent of the old BattleTech CCG. Best of all, you can get the Alpha Strike card for every single ‘Mech (including its variants) over on the Master Unit List website absolutely free.

BattleTech Aces Meet And Greet Modified Crab Wraith Stinger Spider

They’ll be in black and white and they won’t look as nice as the real cards you can buy, but you can play Alpha Strike right now for zero money. All you need is a token to denote what ‘Mechs you wanna field and the stat cards on the Master Unit List site.

Alpha Strike also provides an easy onboarding game for Warhammer converts. The “standard” version of Alpha Strike forgoes BattleTech’s classic hex maps and instead has you measure distances for moving and shooting. It’s a bit slower, but it provides a familiar system for Warhammer folks.

Personally, I’m a much bigger fan of using hexes as they simplify measuring distances. Alpha Strike does contain rules to play on hex maps, so old-school BattleTech fans can still use all their beloved paper maps. You have the option of playing with more elaborate custom maps, or you can just play on your kitchen table using whatever household items you can imagine as mountains, forests, or other geological features.

BattleTech Aces Meet And Greet Nova Pouncer

You’re probably all thinking, “That’s great Sean, really didn’t need the recap for a game system that’s been around for a decade.” And to that, I’ll say hey now! We’ve got a lot of folks coming over to us from Warhammer 40K that might want to know where to get started, and I can heartily recommend Alpha Strike as the best place to get their newfound giant robot feet wet.

BattleTech Aces, however, will change the format of the game. Rather than two (or more) players facing off in simulated miniature combat, now you can play against the game itself either by yourself or with friends. Alpha Strike goes from competitive to cooperative, and that’s a paradigm shift I’m here for.

BattleTech Aces: From Competitive To Co-op

To get access to BattleTech Aces, you’ll need to have signed on to the Mercenaries Kickstarter at any pledge level. What’s available right now is still in beta, so there are some ‘Mech types that are missing and some AI-recommended actions might not always make the most sense. However, what we have is a good idea of what to expect in a final product.

BattleTech Aces Card Anatomy

Courtesy of CGL

BattleTech Aces is basically a deck of cards that you can assign to the enemy ‘Mechs in order for them to take actions not made by any player. It’s you against the board, as tabletop fans might say. Each of Alpha Strike‘s ‘Mech types is assigned a deck of cards and each turn that ‘Mech draws a card that will determine what actions it takes.

On the back of a card is a number that will determine what priority that ‘Mech has over its AI-controlled teammates. The lower the number, the earlier in the turn order that ‘Mech will move. Where that ‘Mech goes and what it does is then determined by what’s written on the front of the card.

On the front is basically a list of priorities for that ‘Mech. Top of the list is the thing it should definitely do above all else, like “move into woods/cover from most enemies” or “move to most enemies within line-of-sight.” Those priorities will depend on the card and the type of unit assigned to that deck. There are usually four to five instructions for movement, with that unit attempting to achieve as many as possible.

BattleTech Aces Pouncer

When it comes time to start shooting, there’s a list of instructions in the Combat Phase section at the bottom of the card. These instructions will determine where that unit aims its guns and pulls the trigger. Typically, those instructions will be to aim at whatever ‘Mech it can most easily destroy or is the easiest to hit (slow ‘Mechs out in the open, for example), but I can easily see a set of Clan-focused cards that require the unit to follow the rules of zellbrigen until the cowardly Spheroids start focusing fire.

After the instructions on each card have told every AI-controlled unit where to move and where to shoot, the old card is discarded and a new card is drawn at the beginning of the next turn. If the game goes long enough to run out of cards, then you just shuffle them up to draw from a fresh deck.

It takes a few turns to get into the flow of things, but once you get used to the symbols on the cards, you can generally have the enemy team’s turn sorted out in short order. This makes games go even faster because one of the sides doesn’t have to think about what to do; their turns are already decided by the cards.

When I played BattleTech Aces, I used the Meet & Greet scenario where the player-controlled side of green Inner Sphere forces (with some minor alterations to account for the ‘Mechs we had on hand, including a Crab, a Wraith, a Spider, and a Stinger) took on a pair of deck-controlled veteran Clan ‘MechWarriors (driving a Nova C and a Pouncer Prime). Even though the Clanners had a cardboard brain, they still put up a hell of a fight, leaving just the Wraith alive by the end.

BattleTech Aces Nova C

What struck me most is how effective these instructions were for providing a challenging opponent. You could even increase the challenge yourself by simply giving the bad guys a greater point value.

The other thing that I really liked about BattleTech Aces was just the fact it was a cooperative game. You can play with as many folks as you have ‘Mechs on the friendly side. It’s truly a shared experience, and you can have just as many nail-biting dice rolls without any of the hurt feelings (you can tell I’m maybe a big fan of co-op games).

And–I can’t stress this enough–having one side’s decisions already made makes the game go even faster than before. Depending on the number of units you field, you could potentially have several BattleTech Aces games done in a single afternoon. That’s a big swing from old-school tabletop BattleTech where games could take an entire weekend or even longer.

I totally recommend BattleTech Aces to anyone who’s got access to the digital rewards from the Mercenaries Kickstarter. And if you don’t, there’s still time to be a late backer.

BattleTech Aces Modified Meet And Greet Battle Scenario

As a note of warning, don’t expect the final product to just be those PDF files. Catalyst has stated that the final product might be several smaller releases or a “larger, more comprehensive product,” depending on the feedback it received from the playtest in May. Product development takes time and all that, but I can totally see a boxed product similar to Alpha Strike itself with its nicely-printed cards.

Catalyst has also told us to be patient for a version of Aces that might work with standard Total Warfare BattleTech. When standard BattleTech gets granular enough for you to target individual components, creating a single deck of cards to drive those ‘Mechs is a herculean task.

That’s fine though. I’m a much bigger fan of Alpha Strike anyway. Here’s hoping the Mercenaries Kickstarter arrives soon so I’ll be able to field my merc company against an AI-controlled team of Clanners once again.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy