Category Archives: Software

Your BattleTech News Roundup For January 2022

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

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

Gotta Dodge Those Gauss Rifles Buddy

Headshot! by u/SU-SMD from battletech

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

Place Your Bets In Three-Way Medium ‘Mech Brawl

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

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

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

Hatchetman Mod Makes Melee Combat ‘Mech Available In MechWarrior 5

Hatchetman Nexus Mods

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

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

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

Dolgfer Shows His Pandemic Projects

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

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

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

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

MWO Jan 2022 Patch Notes

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

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

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

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

PGI Is Giving Away Their ‘Mech Pods!

MW5 Pods

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

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

Renegade HPG Interviews BattleTech Cartoon Producer Kurt Weldon

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

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

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

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

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

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

MechWarrior 2, GBL, MW2:Mercs

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

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

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

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

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

This UrbanMech Has Cat Ears And That’s Okay

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

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

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

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

Fancy Buildings Kickstarter

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

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

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

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

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

MM-Cover-1-Jan-2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For November, 2021

I hope y’all had a good Thanksgiving weekend. Being Canadian, I already had my Thanksgiving a month ago, but that doesn’t mean I can’t eat a turkey twice. Or rather, two different turkeys. I don’t bury the turkey for a month to ferment and then eat what’s left a month later. That’d be weird.

Anyway, we’ve got a bunch of BattleTech news for you, so let’s get straight to it.

Last-Minute Halloween Video Serves Up A Spooky Hellbringer

HELLBRINGER
Watch this video on YouTube.

I didn’t manage to get this one into the October news blast because Farseer Animation released it on Halloween. Given the spooky themes, it was only appropriate of them to do so, but that meant it missed my deadline by a hair.

So we’ll have a brief throwback to Halloween in today’s news. Farseer has managed to create a believable and chilling campfire tale about a cursed Hellbringer. I won’t ruin the surprise ending, but I will say it’s pretty spooky. 

PGI Dev Says Those Datamined MechWarrior 5 Files Aren’t A Clan Expansion

Another follow-up to our October news about hidden files in MechWarrior 5 that might hint at a Clan Invasion expansion. Chris Lowrey, who worked as narrative director on Legend of the Kestrel Lancers, responded on Twitter to say that the files found are mostly future-proofing for modders who might want to add that sort of content themselves. They’re mostly blank faction files that modders can use to add whatever factions they want, and because PGI put them there to begin with, it makes the odds of a future update breaking those mods entirely a lot lower.

It’s plausible, and also fits with what PGI has been saying all along in that the Clans are not coming to MechWarrior 5. At least, not officially. More on that later.

On the other hand, Lowrey also recently told The First Circuit Podcast that he couldn’t entirely rule out the possibility of a Clan-themed DLC, saying “Nothing is decided on that front.” And so far I haven’t heard of any decisions one way or another. 

Catalyst Releases New BattleTech Companion App For Black Friday Sale With Force Packs Back In Stock

BattleTech Force Packs

Of course, Catalyst is cashing in on the consumerist frenzy that happens from basically now until December 25, but I won’t go into a full breakdown of what’s available because, frankly, it’s a lot. Clan Invasion Force Packs are available if you missed out on the Kickstarter, including ComStar Level IIs, Clan Stars, and a bevy of Inner Sphere Lances, including some that weren’t available the first time around such as the Clan Ad Hoc Star and Inner Sphere Heavy Battle Lance. There’s also a bunch of non-miniature items that are back in stock, so head on over to the Catalyst store to fulfill your intense desire to spend money on BattleTech merch.

But along with all those new toys, Catalyst brings us another. The BattleTech Tactical Companion App is now available for download for iOS and Google Play. The app contains digital record sheets for every ‘Mech in the Beginner Box Set and A Game Of Armored Combat that keeps track of ammo, heat, and armor, a custom MechWarrior creator as well as several pre-set pilot cards, a lance creator, and a full game state phase tracker to keep track of your games.

And if you prefer things on paper, you can always send your ‘Mech sheets to a printer to hold something other than your phone.

More Tiny BattleTech Stores? More Tiny BattleTech Stores

I’m not sure what a chain marketing itself as Solaris VII BBQ & Bar would be offering other than booze and barbecued meats. Do they just have Solaris VII matches playing on the overhead vids? Do they have holo tables where patrons can battle it out in miniature? Do they have simulator pods where they can get as close as they can to a real-life fight? I don’t have the answers, but I’d love to find out.

I had to look up what “Chava” is, and it’s apparently a beverage served on Trell 1. Nobody knows what Chava actually is, but given the name and context of it being drunk by military figures in Decision at Thunder Rift, it’s probably sort of like tea or coffee. I imagine Chava Garden is therefore something like Starbucks, only hopefully less obnoxious with its size names. Why the fuck is a “tall” a small? Truly baffling. 

A Discussion On Why You Should Be Okay With BattleTech’s Spheroid DropShips

I suppose the Union of the two ball-type craft we've talked about would require a joystick
Watch this video on YouTube.

Space travel is hard, atmospheres suck, so an armored re-entry vehicle with tons of weapons makes a lot of sense--at least, once you have a fusion reactor that can pump out the juice to power one. But why are most DropShips basically spherical? 

A good discussion on the subject can be heard from Sacred Cow Shipyards, a dude who’s been discussing the finer points of sci-fi space travel for some time. BattleTech isn’t often a topic over those parts, but recently he did a dive into the Union DropShips and the concept of spherical re-entry vehicles in general. There are a lot of good points raised, so you should listen. Because I listened and I thought they were good points, and you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t trust my opinion at least that much. 

Clever Title About More Pokemon ‘Mechs

Lightning Lance – fourth completed Pokemech Lance. from battletech

I’ve posted a lot of Pokemon ‘Mechs over the few years I’ve been doing this. I don’t think I’ll ever stop. If you want my attention, mash together Pokemon and BattleTech minis. That’ll get you a spot in the Sarna news blast for sure. Here we have an entry from feor1300 who deserves all the praise for turning a Turkina into a Magnezone. Bonus points for the Raichu Imp. I think that Awesome is supposed to be Electivire, but I’m not too sure. It’s mostly just an Awesome with tiger stripes. 

MWO Free ‘Mech, November Patch, And Annual Rewards Program

We’ve got the usual MechWarrior Online stuff, including a free ‘Mech, not-free ‘Mechs, and a patch. 

We’ll start with the free ‘Mech, which is the Ebon Jaguar Alt. Config B. This laser boat used to be a powerful meta choice in MechWarrior Online, and it seems to still be plenty powerful. Win enough games and accrue enough match score and you’ll get one of these 65-ton monsters for free.

Next we have the annual rewards program. If you’ve purchased any amount of ‘Mech Credits in MechWarrior Online over the past year, you get the Urbanmech UM-R80. It’s basically a K9 with ECM, which means it’s the strictly better ‘Mech. If you bought any ‘Mech pack, bundle, new player pack, or more over the past year, you get the Viper Alt. Config F. It’s a machine gun boating medium ‘Mech that can fly and is my personal pick of the litter. The third and final ‘Mech is the Atlas AS7-K3 which you receive if you’ve purchased either the Stryker, Warden, Hunter, or Predator packs. This Atlas also comes with ECM and has jump jets, which is pretty terrifying on a 100-ton ‘Mech. 

If you qualify for any of these ‘Mechs, you should see them injected into your account already. If not and you think you should qualify, contact PGI support.

Last but certainly not least, we got a new patch on Tuesday. This patch is a little smaller than previous ones with fewer changes overall, but it does bring the fourth quirk pass for some of the ‘Mechs that still haven’t been looked at. The Vulcan, Dragon, Cataphract, Hellbringer, and Executioner have all received buffs, some big, some small, and some much-needed. All Dragon variants, for instance, now have armor quirks that match the Grand Dragon that was issued earlier this year. 

Next month will bring a new map and a return of the Stocking Stuffers event, so stay tuned for December stuff. I’ll hopefully have an update out before Christmas this time. 

The Clans Might Not Invade MechWarrior 5, But The Timber Wolf Will

Timberwolf / Mad Cat Classic mod for Mechwarrior 5 Mercenaries
Watch this video on YouTube.

The Art of BattleTech reached out to reveal another new mod being made for MechWarrior 5 besides the one that replaces the male protagonist with a female version. It’s something that the Inner Sphere was totally unprepared for and possesses more firepower than even most assault ‘Mechs in MW5

I of course speak of the venerable Mad Cat. Or Timber Wolf, if you’re nasty.

And not just any Mad Cat. This mod is based on the original art by Steve Venters and has been modeled and textured by the “supremely talented” Alan Yeoh. It’s basically the best a Mad Cat has ever looked in a MechWarrior game.

Art tells me that the plan is to have the Mad Cat out by Christmas with the Vulture and Thor arriving in early 2022.

Lady Centrella Has Now Ported MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries To Tabletop

MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries

A little while ago, I interviewed Riley Centrella about her massive project to convert Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH into tabletop rules. Now she’s done it again but this time for the best MechWarrior game of all time, MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries. And best of all, you can download the whole thing for free.

This is certainly not a campaign for the faint of heart. It contains 43 Operations spread of a 98-page document. There are 43 maps, a special record sheet for the possibly fictional Commando COM-7X, and 165 Record Sheets for all ‘Mechs, vehicles, aerospace fighters, and battle armor featured in the original game.

You can download the whole thing from Magistrex Centrella’s Patreon. So long as I get to play Deadeye’s lines during the campaign, I’ll be happy.

Robert Thurston, Author of The Jade Phoenix Trilogy, Has Passed Away

We’ve lost a legend this month. Robert D. Thurston, author of the Jade Phoenix Trilogy, I Am Jade Falcon, Freebirth, and Falcon Rising, died on October 20 at the age of 84. A decades-long career that spanned over 40 stories, Thurston provided a unique voice to BattleTech that powered some of its most memorable and defining characters. 

“In his writing and thought, he was interested in exploring alternate worlds,” his family wrote in his obituary. “We hope he is finding some good ones now.”

You can read more about Robert’s life in Catalyst’s tribute here

Personally, I will always remember Thurston’s works as just being unique amongst BattleTech fiction. He brought a nobility and clarity to the Jade Falcons that has yet to be matched by any other author. Robert, you will be missed.

Microsoft Can’t Bring Back MechAssault Because Of Engine Troubles

MechAssault

Xbox recently celebrated its 20th-anniversary event by re-releasing a ton of old Xbox and Xbox 360 games via its backward compatibility program. Although there were quite a few big names on this list of over 70 titles, MechAssault and MechAssault 2 weren’t among them. Worse still, this was Xbox’s last hurrah at updating old games for modern hardware, which means we’re probably never going to see an updated version of MechAssault

Which is a bit strange considering MechAssault was basically one of the original Xbox’s launch titles. You’d think that they’d have a vested interest in preserving their legacy. Well, it turns out they tried, but there were problems with getting MechAssault’s engine to work. 

Answering ArtOfBattleTech, MechAssault game writer and designer Tom Dowd said that early iterations with Xbox Live didn’t play well with the game’s engine, so to get it to work Microprose had to cobble something together that just fell apart when modern Xbox folks tried to make it work on something like the Xbox Series X. Fixing it would involve a lot more than just mere emulation, so Microsoft cut its losses and just gave up on it. 

A shame for MechAssault fans, but don’t fret! There’s a new MechAssault game being made by some very talented individuals that you can play for free

A Lego Catapult You Can Build In Less Time It Takes To Read This Article

Catapult-Lego

Most of the Lego sets that I showcase have been fairly intricate affairs with hundreds, if not thousands of individual pieces. Here we have something that you could probably snap together in less than 20 minutes. And it still looks damn good.

This Catapult diorama comes courtesy of xig_brick, who also posted the instructions too. If you’re not into the Catapult, you can always go for the Marauder, although it’s somewhat larger. And if you don’t have the pieces because you’re a grown-ass adult who doesn’t have a bajillion Lego sets lying around (not me, of course), then you can purchase the pieces individually from Lego. Although the future is fast turning into the cyberpunk dystopia that games like Shadowrun warned us about, at least we have Lego on-demand. 

Unreleased Prototype Turn-Based BattleTech Game Debuts After 23 Years Of Waiting

Last, but not least, we’ve got a special Thanksgiving treat for you. 

MrTalida has just published a prototype build for a canceled turn-based BattleTech PC game that was being worked on by FASA Interactive and spearheaded by Asylum Entertainment way back in 1998. Unlike MechCommander, this would be a more faithful adaptation of the turn-based mechanic of tabletop BattleTech, with little digital ‘Mechs shooting over a hex-grid digital battle map. 

The game was never announced and judging by the Powerpoint presentation I saw, FASA had trouble getting investors to put money into a turn-based PC game. A shame, since then we might’ve had something before Hairbrained’s fabulous BATTLETECH from 2018. 

Over on the archive site is a Milestone 8 build of the game that was created in January 1998. The build comes with a playable scenario, ‘Mech editor, and map editor, but it doesn’t have all the planned ‘Mechs or assets. The final product was supposed to have 120 ‘Mechs, over 40 vehicles and infantry types, and have both multiplayer and a single-player campaign.

Getting this to work will be tricky as it was designed for Windows 98. I’m no expert, but you’ll need to at least start with an emulator and then cross your fingers. Even if you get it to work it’s still a prototype and not a finished game, so don’t expect much. But it is a very interesting look at what might have been. 

And that’s it for November! Join us next month as we go over your favorite Holiday-themed gift ideas. Although by then it’ll probably be way too late to purchase a gift and have it shipped in time for Christmas. Ah well.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Community Outreach – Mark Nicholson, 3D Artist At MechWarrior Online Developer PGI

Courtesy of PGI

Welcome back to another edition of Community Outreach. This week, Sarna sat down to talk to Mark Nicholson, 3D artist at PGI, and one of the architects turning ‘Mechs from mere ink on a page (or pixels in a digital image) into an actual moving, stomping, Autocannon-blasting giant robot.

Mark has been talking about his work over on the MechWarrior Online forums revealing some of the finer aspects of his job, but I wanted to get a little bit more into some of the technical issues of building ‘Mechs designed for customization. MechWarrior Online is the first MechWarrior game that really changes the look of your ‘Mech as you change its loadout, which makes building modular 3D models an enormous technical challenge. I find the whole thing fascinating, and I hope you do too. Enjoy.

Continue reading

The Succession Wars and so much more…

Way back in August 2013 we featured an article on Scrapyard Armory’s Succession Wars online game. With the surge in popularity of BattleTech both in virtual and physical formats we thought now was a good time to revisit this great game.

Based on the 1987 table top board game by FASA, Scrapyard Armory’s Succession Wars recreates the struggles of the five Great Houses in an online multiplayer environment. Players take control of the Great Houses and fight, negotiate and backstab their way to domination over the entire Inner Sphere. The board game featured two scenarios: the primary one is set in 3025, around the time of the 4th Succession War, with an alternate set at the outbreak of the 1st Succession War in 2786. Both of these scenarios have been lovingly recreated.

Since our last article the community at Scrapyard Armory has grown considerably and a team of content creators have expanded the free, playable scenarios (also called Orders of Battle) to phenomenal levels. Now you can play games ranging through the BattleTech timeline from 2550 to 3145. Custom maps for many of these games let you recreate The Age of War, the rise and the fall of the Star League, The Clans: Operation Klondike (a 2 player scenario), the 1st, 2nd and 4th Succession Wars, the Clan Invasion, the rise of the Word of Blake, and on to the Renaissance of 3145.

One of SYA’s content creators and a six-year veteran of the site, ‘Jimmy the Tulip’, spoke to us about creating Succession Wars scenarios. “What I love about what Scrapyard Armory has developed here is the flexibility to really get in and create something in incredible detail. The ability to create new maps, adding units and leaders and coming up with new ways of using the game mechanics to make something truly unique keeps me coming up with new ideas.”

Jimmy went on to talk about playing the games. “The tension can really be palpable at times, especially when you have a group all online simultaneously. Even when you’re waiting for actions to be taken you can study the map, think about strategies for taking out your opponents and really delve into what makes grand scale strategic games great. I’ve made some great friends while playing this game too. The community is fantastic.”

With a total of 19 different scenarios currently live (and more in development) Scrapyard Armory’s Succession Wars offers an immersion into the BattleTech universe in unprecedented fashion. There is a small amount of variation in the rules from the original board game in order to better facilitate the online nature of the game but, aside from that, the games play true to the nature and feel of its originator. The Development Team continues to work on ironing out the occasional bug and has provided a wide array of Orders of Battle and game options, including custom cards, the ability to play with Battle Armor units and over-size JumpShips, to provide nearly limitless replayability. A small team of Admins are also active to assist new players and veterans alike.

If you haven’t already signed up, run on over and check them out at Succession Wars. Join in one of the many games on offer or, if you’re bold, create a game of your own and take on the community there. Remember…. No guts, no galaxy!

Did You Know? Tabletop Simulator has BattleTech in VR

Nothing quite beats the feeling of sitting down around a big table with your friends and spending an evening playing tabletop BattleTech. The sound of rattling dice, the camaraderie, the drinking (at least when I do it), and the inevitable hollering that follows when someone bumps into the table and knocks over everyone’s ‘Mechs. Priceless.

Sadly this option isn’t available to everyone. Sometimes there’s just not enough people around to get a good playgroup going. For those ‘Mech heads there’s always been MegaMek to get there giant stompy robot fix, but the virtual world has never really lived up to the meat world in terms of delivering the authentic games night experience.

That remained the case until 2015, when a hitherto PC game got some much needed giant robot love.

Battletech - An Introduction Ep. 1 [Tabletop Thursday]
Watch this video on YouTube.


Tabletop Simulator is a game available for download on Steam (or Humble Store or- y’know what? Just go to their website for the full list) that’s really not much of a game at all. It’s more like a physics sandbox designed to mimic real life as much as possible. The game comes with a few classic board games (like checkers, pachisi, and go), but in a terrible oversight from the designers, it did not ship with BattleTech as an available game to play.

Lucky for us, Tabletop Simulator is easily modified by enterprising individuals with a little modeling experience and a love of the game.

“When I heard of Tabletop Simulator I found out that there was nothing on the Workshop for BattleTech.”

“I’ve been playing BattleTech since… well, yeah I started playing MechWarrior since I was, like, you know, three,” says Steam user Turduckens, who was the first to see the potential for Tabletop Simulator and its glaring omission of BattleTech. “When I heard of Tabletop Simulator I found out that there was nothing on the Workshop for BattleTech. And I think the game had only come out for, like, a year or so, so then I decided I’d get to work on that.”

Bringing BattleTech to Tabletop Simulator wasn’t entirely a walk in the park. Because the game has almost no scripting outside of rolling dice, everything that exists in real life has to be made to work in game. That means hex maps, ‘Mech models, even the Record Sheets had to be recreated by hand to work in Tabletop.

“The hardest thing was originally trying to find good sources for models. Like, there was always the paper models, which a lot of the times were MechWarrior 4 and 3 models, which I don’t know what magic they used to rip those from the game because I could not figure it out.”

And of course there were some mishaps along the way. When developing the original hex boards for use in Tabletop, he ran into a few minor issues. “I didn’t know how to use the hexagonal snap at the time so all of my hexes were slightly uneven and disjointed, haha!”

Fortunately for Turduckens, after the initial release of the hex boards he didn’t have to work alone. “As the word got out it kind of blossomed. Like, a lot of people started making stuff for Tabletop Simulator,” says Turduckens after his initial release of the BattleTech game boards.

Soon a community of user created content would develop around the project, culminating in the BattleTech Collection page under the Tabletop Simulator Workshop. Turduckens curates the page where he compiles and collates all the latest and greatest in BattleTech mods for Tabletop Simulator.

And there is quite a lot available. From hundreds of Record Sheets from Steam user Insaniac99, to a full fledged campaign from Steam user WuSu. There’s even other BattleTech games like the TCG and Alpha Strike.

Getting started in BattleTech Tabletop Simulator is easier than ever, with many user created quick-start scenarios. Turduckens has his hosted on Nexus called Davion vs. Mercenaries, a well balanced 4v4 scenario that pits a Federated Suns lance against a mercenary lance of classic 3025 era Battlemechs. For more experienced users, there’s more comprehensive collections such as Steam user ItchyDani3l’s Skirmish, which gives players dozens of ‘Mechs to choose from, both Clan and Inner Sphere.

Best of all, Tabletop Simulator has recently gotten VR support, adding a level of immersion never before seen to simulated BattleTech. Turduckens sadly didn’t have a working VR headset to test out his designs, but he did have a friend do it for him.

“One of my favorite moments when I was making this stuff was my friend joined and he had his VR headset on, and it shows you in-game exactly where his head is and where his arms are and he was, like, picking stuff up and he was looking at these ‘Mech models I imported and it was just so cool.”

It may be soon that the virtual world will be the space of choice for tabletop BattleTech fans.

For those looking to find Tabletop Simulator players, Turduckens recommends Clan Ghoul as a place to start. “They were so fun to play with, oh my god. Our gamemaster was running, like, eight ‘Mechs at a time versus us, and he was such a good host.”

Of course, we couldn’t leave Turduckens without asking him his favorite ‘Mech. “Oh, I’d have to say the Awesome. Yeah, I love ‘Mechs that can peek out and do a crap-ton of damage and then just go back into cover and cool off.”

Until next time, ‘Mech fans. Stay syrupy.

Solving the Range Problem with Armor Piercing Pancakes

There are two types of sci-fi universes: there’s the universe that provides no explanation and uses science as a substitute for magic (like Star Wars), or there’s the universe that tries to justify its awesomeness with plausible explanations. BattleTech has always erred on the latter side but for a few exceptions (the largest, of course, being the Kearny-Fuchida Jump Drives). However, one logical inconsistency in BattleTech has bugged me more than any other.

The guns.

I can understand from a game balancing perspective why the range of your cannons will decrease as the bore size increases, but from a pure physics perspective, this makes absolutely no sense.

image courtesy of Taurus Manufacturing Inc.

Allow me to illustrate. Here, we have a standard 9mm pistol, available anywhere in the United States (depending on the state), and available nowhere in Canada. Effective range: ‘bout 100 meters, if you’re a reasonably good shot.

image courtesy of warfaretech.blogspot.ca

Moving on up, here we have a much larger round, the 30mm M230 cannon (of Apache attack helicopter fame). Effective range: 2000 meters.

image courtesy of turbosquid.com

Next up, the 155mm howitzer. Effective range: well, it’ll depend on which round you use, but the standard M107 HE is 24,000 meters or 24 kilometers.

Anyway, you see the pattern here, right? As a general rule, the bigger the gun, the further your projectile goes.

Now let’s go to BattleTech. The actual bore size of autocannons vary by manufacturer and can range from 25mm to 203mm. Curiously, however, the range on these autocannons decreases as you go higher, with the 25mm AC/2 having an effective range of 720 meters, while the massive AC/20 has an effective range of a mere 270 meters.

Thus, the question for the BattleTech universe becomes what happened to cannons to make them lose range instead of gain it as the bore size gets larger?

The answer, my friends, is in the math.

Curiously, however, the range on these autocannons decreases as you go higher, with the AC/2 having an effective range of 720 meters, while the massive AC/20 has an effective range of a mere 270 meters.

We all know that 1 ton of ammunition gets a standard amount of ammo completely dependant on the size of the autocannon; AC/2 gets 40 shots per ton, AC/5 gets 20, and so on and so forth. On the surface, this seems to make sense, as the bore size also decreases at a similar “divide by 2” rate – 203mm for an AC/20, 101mm for an AC/10, etc. But ammunition doesn’t just take up a linear length – it takes up volume. Simply making the diameter of each round smaller by half doesn’t allow you to keep jamming in half as many rounds in the same amount of space.

I’ll show you what I mean. We’re going to compare the volume of ammunition taken up by an AC/20 versus an AC/2. We’re also going to simplify the shape of each bullet into a rectangle to make the math easier (also to avoid the whole “stacking” problem), and also assume that the length of each round will grow proportionately to the “divide by 2” rate we saw in the bore sizes. Also, since the bore size is in metric, and BattleTech is a metric universe, we’re going to stay metric.

We begin with the AC/2. We know the diameter of the round is the same as the bore size (25 mm), so let’s assume the length of the round is about twice that, so 50mm. A rectangle is length by width by height, and through the power of math we get 31,250 mm3 (or 31.25 cm3)

I’m not going to bore you with the math for the AC/20 – because the numbers are vastly larger, it comes out to 16,730,854 mm3 (or 16,730 cm3, or 0.01673 m3).

Now we do a little more math. An AC/2 is 31.25cm3, times 40 rounds, means we need  1250 cm3 of space to hold those 40 rounds.

For an AC/20 with 5 rounds, we’d need 83,605 cm3. That’s actually 66 times larger than the space needed to house 40 AC/2 rounds.

But if a ton of ammunition holds a proportionate, “divide by two”  number of rounds, how can they not also take up the same space?! The only possible answer is one of our assumptions is wrong; the volume of each round does not remain proportional as you go up from AC/2 to AC/20.

In fact, we can work out what the proportion should be based on our above math. In order for the five AC/20 rounds to take up the same volume as forty AC/2 rounds, and keeping the known variable of bore size fixed (203 mm), then the length of each round would have to be a ridiculously short 0.76 mm.

Thus, through the power of math, we have determined that the reason an AC/20 range is so vastly reduced compared to an AC/2 is simply that instead of shooting bullets the AC/20 fires armor-piercing pancakes.

Tasty, tasty Hunchback pancakes. Servin’ ‘em up, hot ’n fresh!

Alright, I know at 0.76 mm the thickness of these pancakes is a shave wider than a human hair, but you cannot deny the amazing image they produced.

‘Till next time, Mechwarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

The First Slate of Changes at MegaMekNet is Complete

MMNET LOGO

Many Operations Await

As mentioned in a previous post, the online server for playing people online via MegaMek called MegaMekNet had instituted a new set of changes to shake things up.  The longest running server online, MMNet has decided to place the decisions for the latest cycle into the hands of the players.  Each faction elects a person to represent them on the stage, and then they suggest and vote on various rules changes that are fully player-suggested and supported.

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