Community Outreach – Preserving With Emil Of The Art Of BattleTech

Late last year, I spoke with Michael Todd about his efforts to preserve some of BattleTech‘s long-forgotten art. These classic pieces were produced before the digital age and, in some cases, had been forgotten in a basement for decades. But with BattleTech‘s ongoing renaissance, renewed interest brought these pieces out of the dark for fans to appreciate once again. Those pictures have been scanned in high-definition and posted online, while the originals are sold for thousands of dollars at auction.  

Like many fans, I’ve always appreciated BattleTech for the art it produces: dynamic images of massive fighting machines armed to the teeth and battling in brutal conditions. However, my appreciation doesn’t even begin to compare to the depth of emotion brought by Emil, curator of The Art of BattleTech archive. While Catalyst is doing the bulk of BattleTech‘s art preservation now, Emil has spent years preserving art from various BattleTech and MechWarrior video games, using modern technology to ensure these pieces can be appreciated for decades to come. 

That mission has since grown to include preserving even fan works in current games like MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, where Emil mods 3D ‘Mech designs that otherwise would never have been seen. I’ve been a fan of his work for years, and on this month’s Community Outreach, I got to speak to Emil and learn more about his tireless efforts. Enjoy.

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Bad ‘Mechs – Sentinel

Bad 'Mechs - Sentinel

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

“Shit,” Private Enzo cursed at the red blinking light on his Sentinel’s command console. “The missile launcher is jammed again.” 

“Again?” Enzo’s lancemate, Corporal Fritz-McCarrol, maneuvered his Crab close to where Enzo’s Sentinel stood on the firing range and brought its cockpit to within a few meters of the Defiance Streak SRM-2’s exhaust port. “Doesn’t look broken to me.”

Enzo frantically flipped several switches and turned even more knobs, but the red light continued to blink tauntingly. “I don’t friggin’ know, Fritz. It’s the third time today. I don’t know how I’m supposed to qualify for live rounds if I can’t get a missile to come out of the damned tube.” 

To onlookers, the two ‘Mechs then seemed to engage in a strange dance, where the Sentinel kept contorting itself in an attempt to clear the jam, while the Crab tried to peer into exhaust ports and heat sink vents to diagnose the problem. It was all in vain, and the Sentinel eventually straightened, then slumped its shoulders as its pilot mentally admitted defeat.

“The hell are you two doing?” Lieutenant Silva’s bewildered voice inquired from the firing range’s protected observation tower.

The Crab pointed to the Sentinel’s chest. “His launcher’s jammed,” said Corporal Fritz.


“Yes sir,” the two MechWarriors groaned. 

Lieutenant Silva rubbed the bridge of her nose. Private Enzo was the newest member of her lance, and as expected, he had a lot to learn about the weapons he would soon be employing on behalf of the Star League Defense Force. The first and most valuable lesson was that Star League Procurement didn’t always provide the most reliable tools. The second and equally valuable lesson was to enact field repairs quickly with whatever was currently available.

“Have you tried hitting it?” She suggested. “Works on the tri-vid player.” 

The Crab and the Sentinel looked at each other for a moment. “No sir,” Enzo said. 

“Try it,” then the radio crackled as Lieutenant Silva changed frequencies to explain to the range officer why two of her ‘Mechs were standing on the range without firing.

Fritz placed his Crab’s hand over the Sentinel’s Streak missile launcher like a carpenter readying a nail as he balled the ‘Mech’s other hand into a fist. “How hard do you think I should hit you?” 

Enzo brought his Sentinel’s arms up and pushed the Crab away before it could strike. “You shouldn’t! At least not there. That’s the launcher. The ammo feeder is more in this area.” Enzo brought the Sentinel’s hand up and made a small circle over his ‘Mech’s right breast. Or at least, where it might have been if the Sentinel had a more humanoid torso. 

Without warning, Corporal Fritz brought his Crab‘s first down onto the Sentinel’s torso in roughly the area indicated. Enzo’s damage display revealed armor had been shattered over the impact area, but the red light continued to blink stubbornly. “Try it again.” 

Another impact, harder than the last, shook Enzo around in his cockpit. More armor had been shattered under the Crab‘s fist, yet still, the red light blinked. “One more time.” 

This time, the Crab‘s fist missed and put its knuckle straight through the Sentinel‘s ferroglass cockpit, but luckily not far enough to crush its pilot. Enzo’s neurohelmet protected his face from the many shards of ferroglass that came pouring over him, but the rest of him was clad in the SLDF’s standard-issue cooling vest and shorts, which offered much less protection.

“Uh, whoops?” Fritz offered. Enzo didn’t reply. He couldn’t; his radio had been smashed by the Crab‘s finger. But he did note with some satisfaction that the red light on his mangled command console had finally gone dark. 

Sentinel STN-3M TRO 3050

While BattleMechs would reign as the king of the modern battlefield ever since the Mackie, infantry remains the backbone of most militaries. Protecting infantry from the tyranny of ‘Mechs became an increasingly difficult task throughout the 25th century, and by the 27th century, the Great Houses were requesting dedicated infantry support ‘Mechs.  

Before the SLDF had even thought to demand a dedicated infantry support BattleMech, the Lyran Commonwealth contracted Defiance Industries to produce just such a machine in 2651. Unfortunately for the LCAF, Defiance Industries’ board of directors was controlled by the Terran Hegemony, who informed Star League procurement of a new ‘Mech with a rather unique mission profile. The Star League charter prevented any House army from obtaining new weapons before the Star League Defense Force, which led Defiance Industries to produce two versions of the Sentinel in 2652: the STN-3L for the Star League Defense Force, and the STN-1S for the Lyran Armed Forces. The STN-3L was armed with state-of-the-art weapons largely unavailable to the Great Houses, while the STN-1S made do with technology that was already several generations old. 

Sentinel TCG

The SLDF jumping military procurement orders to ensure Terran Hegemony dominance was hardly new by the 2600s, and it would be several years before the Lyran Commonwealth would argue its way to an upgrade package that brought its STN-1S Sentinels up to the STN-3L standard. However, by then the Star League had accepted deliveries of the STN-3Lb model, which made all previous Sentinels obsolete. 

Being first in line for every new ‘Mech did produce some issues for the Star League. In the Sentinel‘s case, initial production models would consistently overheat during field maneuvers even if they weren’t strenuously engaged. Star League technicians first blamed the problem on faulty Pitban 240 fusion engines, but later analysis revealed a design error in the Sentinel‘s 10 single heat sinks reduced their heat dissipation well below their expected cooling rate. 

The heat sink issue was resolved relatively quickly with Defiance providing a free refit package and redesigning its future production. 

Another problem that would take longer to fix was an issue with the Defiance Streak SRM-2‘s automatic reloader. Defiance had swapped the Defiance A-1 Small Laser on pre-production models for the Defiance B-1A model, which was more robust but also necessitated moving the missile feed mechanism by half a meter. If the pilot were maneuvering the Sentinel at its top speed of 97.2 kph it could cause missiles to shift position in the belt and block the feeder. Sentinel pilots quickly learned that jostling the loader could clear the jam, which was best performed by slamming the Sentinel‘s right fist against its chest.

Sentinel TRO 3050U

However, this solution presented a new problem for Sentinel pilots. Opposition forces quickly learned to target Sentinel pilots slamming their chest as it meant an ammunition jam, forcing Sentinel pilots to retreat from the front line before attempting to clear the jam. 

Ironically, it was the Succession Wars that eventually solved the Sentinel‘s missile loader issue. As Streak missiles became Lostech during the Succession wars, Defiance Industries was forced to produce the downgraded STN-3K variant which instead used a standard SRM launcher less prone to jamming. 

The original STN-3L came equipped with some of the most advanced weapons the Star League could produce. A Kawabata Weapons Industries Ultra Autocannon/5 accompanied a Defiance Streak SRM-2 launcher to provide adequate support for infantry in almost any battlefield scenario. A single Small Laser gave the Sentinel another anti-infantry weapon not reliant upon ammunition. A Pitban 240 engine gave the Sentinel a speed of 97.2 kph, which was deemed more than sufficient for fast response on the front lines. Ten heat sinks kept the ‘Mech cool in all but the most dire battlefield conditions, and 5.5 tons of Valiant Lamellor standard armor gave the pilot decent protection. A StarLink/Benicia Model AS829G communications package allowed the Sentinel to maintain comms with multiple units, making it an excellent choice for a sub-commander overseeing infantry maneuvers.

Sentinel Shrapnel

By contrast, the Steiner’s STN-1S came armed with a Defiance Model F Autocannon/2 and a Coventry Quad-Rack SRM-4—both easier to procure but far less potent than the STN-3L’s armament. The 1S models would all eventually be upgraded to the 3L, but not before the Star League Royal STN-3Lb put the initial 3L to shame. No expense was spared on the 3Lb, with an Extralight engine and endo steel chassis offering enormous weight savings and seven tons of ferro-fibrous armor providing ample protection for a 40-ton ‘Mech. Its armament of a single Gauss rifle, Medium Laser, and Small Laser gave the 3Lb a potent punch for its size. 

Defiance Industries would remain remarkably untouched throughout the dark days of the Succession Wars, but as the Inner Sphere‘s technology decayed, Defiance found itself unable to procure either Ultra Autocannons or Streak missiles. This led to the downgraded STN-3K model. Armed with a Defiance Type J AC/5 and a Holly SRM-2 rack, the STN-3K was actually somewhat more durable than the 3L with six tons of standard armor and even had an extra ton of ammunition for its autocannon. This proved fortuitous as Succession Wars supply lines were rarely stable, which gave us both the STN-3KA and STN-3KB models. The 3KA replaced the autocannon with a Large Laser, three more heat sinks, and two tons of additional armor, while the 3KB replaced it with a PPC and three heat sinks.

No new Sentinel variants were produced until the War of 3039 and the STN-3M. Supplied by ComStar to the DCMS as part of Operation ROSEBUD, the STN-3M retains the Ultra AC/5 but uses a standard SRM-2 and Magna Mk II Medium Laser over the original Small Laser. House Kurita was initially pleased with the “new” design but later soured after learning the Streak missile launcher had been replaced by one manufactured by the Magistracy of Canopus. Even still, the 3M proved effective against confounded Davion forces facing advanced munitions for the first time in centuries.

Sentinel Rec Guide IlClan 14

The Sentinel would see a slight resurgence following the Clan Invasion. Many STN-3M models would be upgraded to the STN-C standard, removing the medium laser for access to C3 networks. Davion Sentinels saw their Ultra Autocannons removed for a then-new Rotary Autocannon, an Extended-Range Medium Laser, and seven tons of ferro-fibrous armor. During the Word of Blake‘s occupation of Hesperus, Defiance Industries produced the STN-5WB model. Equipped with a weight-saving light engine, it was equipped with two Light Autocannon/5s (albeit with a single ton of ammo between the two of them) and three ER Medium Lasers. In the modern era, the STN-6S leverages Defiance Industries’ access to Clan-spec technology, including a Clan 240 XL engine and a Clan ER Medium Laser. It’s still armed with an Inner Sphere-grade Ultra AC/5 but replaces the Streak launcher with two Thunderbolt 5 launchers.

One could argue that the most modern iteration of the Sentinel is in response to the proliferation of modern battle armor—something that previous versions didn’t have to contend with. The current STN-6S and even older 3L models provide adequate support to combined arms formations, but the Sentinel finds itself competing in an increasingly crowded market. 

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

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

Crashing ‘Mechs With Jennifer Brozek, Author Of The Rogue Academy Trilogy

A lot of what keeps BattleTech going is the fiction. I may have been introduced to the BattleTech universe through the MechWarrior video games, but what truly hooked me as a wee lad was reading my first BattleTech novel. My first book was Freebirth. With its intricate look at the inner workings of Clan society and ProtoMechs of all things, it was a heck of a way to start. These days, I’d recommend a teenager start with something a little more accessible. Something like Iron Dawn, the first part of the Rogue Academy Trilogy by Jennifer Brozek.

It’s been a while since we checked in with this prolific author. I sat down with Jennifer to get the inside story on the Rogue Academy Trilogy, her life growing up as an army brat, and talk about her latest project; a cozy ghost story that’s told through physical mail. Based on true events from Jennifer’s childhood, Dear Pen Pal: Belgium 1980 is available now on Kickstarter.

Continue reading

Getting The Word Out With Rem Alternis, Catalyst Community & Marketing Director

I’ve been writing for Sarna long enough to know that there’s a lot of stuff happening in the BattleTech world pretty much all the time. There’s also a lot of opinionated people that love to share their thoughts--sometimes more crassly than others. Trying to get the word out while also making sure everyone plays nice is a tough job, so I feel a certain kinship with Catalyst’s Community and Marketing Director Rem Alternis.

For Sarna’s next interview, I sat down with Rem to see how she’s settling into the role, some of the challenges she’s faced, and how to interpret Catalyst’s recently-released community guidelines. Enjoy.

Sean Murray (Sarna): Well, first of all, thank you for agreeing to chat with me. I’ve been chatting with a bunch of Catalyst folks to start the year, and we wanted to chat with you since you’re going to be one of the front-facing figures for Catalyst with the Discord and the YouTube channel getting a lot more focus as Catalyst builds its brands and its community outreach. So thank you very much. 

Rem Alternis (Catalyst): Of course. 

Rem Alternis

Sean: To start us off, what is your BattleTech journey? When did you hear about it, what BattleTech games have you played, and what’s your favorite product of the BattleTech brand?  And if you have any games that you’ve played, what have you played before? 

Rem: Yeah, so I’m fairly new to it. I first heard about it alongside Shadowrun when I was going to the cons, but I was always more of a role-playing person than a miniatures person so I didn’t really pay attention. But at a con in about 2021, I was talking to Rhett at the Catalyst booth, and he told me that I might like the fiction because it’s big stompy robots meets Game of Thrones, and I was like, “Ooh, that sounds fun.”

So I kind of started getting into it. I started reading En Garde from the Warrior Trilogy, and then, as I got hired for Catalyst, I was like, “Man, there’s so much in here,” so I stopped reading because I was like, “I’d love to put everything that I’m learning into a stream for others to learn with me.” That just hasn’t come to life yet because we’re so busy with everything. But yeah, that was the first start. 

Sean: Alright, cool. Have you played any of the games? RPG, tabletop, or video games?

“I started reading En Garde from the Warrior Trilogy, and then, as I got hired for Catalyst, I was like, ‘Man, there’s so much in here,'”

Rem: None of the video games. The RPG, not yet. But I have played Classic. I’ve done a grinder, which was a ton of fun, and I just got to play Alpha Strike with the Aces beta ruleset on Six Sides of Gaming. So that was my first Alpha Strike. I’m still not 100 percent clear on the rules for Alpha Strike, but I’ve got Classic down pretty well, I think.

Sean: Alpha Strike I find to be a lot easier, and faster paced, and with BattleTech Aces, it also lends itself to a lot of interesting cooperative scenarios. I’m very much looking forward to Aces coming out, along with many other people, I’m sure. 

So you’re fairly new to BattleTech, but I’m still going to ask this, do you have a favorite ‘Mech?

Rem: Well, the ones that I’ve learned, I got the Archer plushie, so I knew what that was. And I’ve painted the beginner box, so I have the Centurion and the Rifleman. And so when I did the grinder, I started with the Rifleman, and when he died I grabbed the Atlas, and all of a sudden people weren’t so nice to me anymore; everyone started trying to shoot me.

“When I did the grinder, I started with the Rifleman, and when he died I grabbed the Atlas, and all of a sudden people weren’t so nice to me anymore.”

And when that one died, I grabbed a random one, which happened to be the Daishi Widowmaker, and everyone still tried to murder me a whole bunch. But that one was the moment where I really started to be like, “Oh, this is fun,” you know? ‘Cause someone did a full alpha strike on me and, like, the damage could be called cute. Whereas I then unleashed my Ultra AC/20 and just demolished through armor and everything else. That was a ton of fun

Sean: Yep, that’s why people gravitate towards the big guns.

Rem: Yeah, yeah, it was a blast. 

Sean: Well, you mentioned earlier that you came into BattleTech through another FASA product. Are you a fan of any other FASA products under Catalyst’s umbrella today? 

Rem: Oh, I’m a big fan of Shadowrun. I was lucky enough that my first game was with one of the writers as the GM. He was in our D&D group and he was like, “I want to run this cyberpunk fantasy game for you.” And I was like, that sounds dumb, but here I am absolutely in love with the world. I love the setting. I love the characters. And it’s a dream to get to work for the company that creates it.

Sean: I love Shadowrun too. It’s a very cool merging of these two genres that, surprisingly, few others have really tried. People kind of stick with the cyber side of cyberpunk and ignore the punk.

Rem: Yep. From what I’ve noticed, they like sci-fi or fantasy but they don’t like to blend the two a whole lot. But I think it’s great. The option of having it in our world is very attractive to me. I’m actually GMing on a recorded episode on Six Sides of Gaming starting in March.

BattleTech Crescent Hawk Training Vid - Kell Hounds
Watch this video on YouTube.

Sean: So people have something to look forward to in March. I’m excited!

As you mentioned earlier, you wanted to kind of share things as you learn them. I’m guessing that was sort of what the Crescent Hawks video was like. What did you learn from that experience that you were then able to apply to make the Mercenaries Kickstarter even better? 

Rem: Well, I wasn’t around for the Clan Invasion Kickstarter,  but I have heard tales of trying to keep commitments small so that we don’t overburden ourselves with stuff. I started two weeks before the Mercenaries Kickstarter launched. And so, I knew the team was planning for just about as successful a Kickstarter as Clan Invasion. They had stretch goals planned up to two and a half million dollars, and that was it.

I was actually at GaryCon during the launch and I had to drive down to AdeptiCon and wrangle Loren and Randall to be like, “We need stretch goals! We need to hurry! The community’s waiting! We gotta go, we gotta go!” We were live streaming, so every time they were off camera, I had to kind of bustle them together for a quick ten minutes between shots and be like, “What are the ideas? Come on, let’s go!” So, it’s a lot of cat wrangling.

“I had to drive down to AdeptiCon and wrangle Loren and Randall to be like, “We need stretch goals! We need to hurry! … It’s a lot of cat wrangling.”

But in terms of the Crescent Hawks video, I was pretty excited about the opportunity to do that. It was not my start on the lore. I’m a producer; I make all the creatives look good, that’s what I do. So I actually got to work with an uber fan, some of the writers, some of the developers, and they created the script. Then it went through the whole line of fact-checkers and editors, the fiction director, the line developer, and an assistant line developer for BattleTech to make sure everything was accurate. And then it got sent to Trendane Sparks, who narrates a lot of the audiobooks—he did the recording for it. So I was kind of just moving the pieces. Like, we’re here, now it needs to go here, now it needs to go to editing, and so on. So I didn’t work a whole lot on that one, I just produced it and made sure it all happened.

We had plans to do more. We want to do more, but this is not a small job. Everything is always a priority, so it’s been hard to get the focus back on it. I’m just now getting a committee together to help me implement YouTube content and stuff like that, and then Crescent Hawks will be back on the table. So we’ll do more of that, but It’s gonna take a little time. 

Sean: I hear that everybody wants to get into video production but it’s just so much more work. 

Rem: Yeah, it’s a lot, but it’s a blast. Eventually, I could see this job becoming, like, there’s marketing, then there’s someone doing community, and then there’s someone doing content and I love content. It would be great to be able to do that full-time, but right now it’s like one day of my week.

Sean: Yeah, fair enough. Well, let’s see if maybe we can expand things so you can be the content manager, and someone else can deal with the community. I know you’ve only been in this job for a short time, but what do you think is the most challenging part of marketing for BattleTech?

Rem: I want to give a thoughtful answer here. I think probably one of the challenges is we’re all a bunch of creatives, you know? Everyone’s so excited to work on what they’re working on. Sometimes things get lost in the planning, and they’re still trying to integrate me into their plan. So, sometimes they forget to let me know what’s coming and when it’s coming. I think it actually happened just yesterday; there’s a new BattleTech book that just dropped, and I got the notification about it yesterday. So now it’s like, alright, we gotta put that together. 

I would love what I did for the Camo Specs Online painting guides. I got those several months in advance, so we were able to actually tease and talk about it before it launched. And the engagement from that was huge; we went from 30 reactions to 300 reactions. So, there’s value there that I’m still trying to convince everyone is there and to include me in the process so that I can get some of these dates early on and get them out and advertised. 

“I was able to announce so much at PAX Unplugged. That’s gonna be our con from here on out where we stream and say, ‘Here’s everything coming next year that we can talk about.'”

It has gotten better. I was able to announce so much at PAX Unplugged. That’s gonna be our con from here on out where we stream and say, “Here’s everything coming next year that we can talk about.” I’m excited that we get to kind of promo that stuff, but it’d be great to have more of this ahead of time.

Sean: It seems like that’s a bit of a process that is improving day by day. Alright, let’s talk about something that was a bit of a controversy recently. The Catalyst Community Guidelines came out last month, and if anybody’s wondering what those guidelines are, they’re available on the new Catalyst Discord.

A lot of it is pretty standard, I would say: be kind, stay on topic, no hate speech, no bullying, no spam, and respect privacy. But there was some blowback for one of the items being a discussion of real-world controversial topics, as well as protecting the IP. 

Let’s start with how the community guidelines developed, and who might have been consulted in their development.

Rem: Sure. It was a long process. So in June, there was the whole Reddit thing that happened. There was an issue with a fan Pride Anthology where someone had reached out to me and asked me to post about it, and I was like sure, so I did. And then they posted it to Reddit and it got deleted as being real-world politics. So there was a big uproar on the subreddit saying, “Well, why is Catalyst okay with this but not Reddit?”

2023 BattleTech Pride Anthology

It came to light that there was a lot of moderation against anything Pride-related. Any minis painted in rainbow colors or flag colors got taken down. Some people even spoke up and said, “I didn’t even know it was a flag color and mine got deleted for it.” So there was a pretty heavy hand in moderation in terms of anything LGBTQ+ related.

There was kind of an uproar that happened and I had a bunch of people reach out to me and tell me about it. And I was like, well, one of my initiatives Loren wanted was more communities for Catalyst to participate in and make into official spaces. So I decided; if the people want an official subreddit, we can do that.

Since I was away moving that weekend, I assigned someone to just go ahead and find mods and make it happen. Other than that one moderator, I didn’t know anybody. They set it up, there was a great migration, and by the end of the weekend, I got a message from the original Reddit owner that said, “Hey, I just caught up on everything that’s going on. Holy crap, sorry about that. I’d love to not see the community fractured, I’ve already removed all of my mods, what can we do to bring this back together?”

I don’t use Reddit. It was before I would have ever been ready to jump into managing a subreddit or anything like that, so I didn’t really want to fracture the community, and I know that’s ultimately not the goal of Reddit. So I was like, well, maybe if we can get some community guidelines in place and if you can follow those, it’ll be a little clearer where Catalyst’s lines are in terms of what to talk about or not talk about. He was like, “Cool, can I have your moderators?” And I was like, sure, you can reach out to them. So he did, and they all migrated over.

From there we closed the new Reddit, and everyone moved back to the old one, but we had the new moderators in place. But I don’t own the Reddit, I’m not involved in the Reddit. There’s one freelancer that is a moderator and the rest of them are fans. Some of them are demo agents, I think. I’ve heard about one or two, but that’s it in terms of Catalyst’s involvement. 

“You don’t have to agree, you don’t have to be politically on one side or the other. You just have to not be a jerk to other people in the community.”

The problem was the new Reddit moderators wanted community guidelines that didn’t exist. So, we kind of looked at a couple of online communities that were pretty positive places and cobbled together something quickly for the time being, but I realized that we needed something that’s gone through the process.

We took that as a kind of starting point, added them a little more, and then partnered with a bunch of different people. We had a lot of reviews. We brought in the BattleTech and Shadowrun forums and had them review our guidelines. They all had experience in this that we didn’t as a new community. Those moderators gave us feedback on what they’ve seen or not seen and how that could work. We also sent it to the demo team; they have a very robust operations guide to compare to that and see what the differences are. 

The thing is each of these communities is also different, so we wanted something all-encompassing that can be applied everywhere. But if we need more specific rules for the demo team, or more specific rules for the forums, or wherever else, then we can still do that. Then we had them reviewed by all of the directors, by Loren, we got some feedback, and finally, they were ready to post. We got that out in January.

So that was the process. We tried to do a lot of research on what was already existing out there and what we still needed. We were thoughtful about the language. And in terms of the controversy, it’s just honestly being respectful to each other. Like, you don’t have to agree, you don’t have to be politically on one side or the other. You just have to not be a jerk to other people in the community. That’s all it is. 

Sean: Some people might find that a little difficult, but It’s the internet. I’ve been here long enough to know how it goes. Well, let’s take one of the controversial topics head-on. What is okay, and what is not okay, in terms of discussing real-world topics? 

“Identity is not political. Anyone identifying themselves as transgender or any of the LGBTQ+ options that are out there: they exist.”

Rem: So real-world topics: if it’s politics within BattleTech, you’re welcome to talk about anything lore within the universe. 

What is also the defining factor for the team that built these community guidelines is that—and I think if it says this in the community guidelines—identity is not political. Anyone identifying themselves as transgender or any of the LGBTQ+ options that are out there: they exist. They exist, it is not political. They exist and deserve to be treated respectfully. Where it gets political is if you’re gonna talk about social movements, if you’re gonna talk about law or any of that stuff, that is politics. And that’s real-world politics, and it just doesn’t need to be talked about here. 

The example I’ve been using is, if you don’t believe in gay marriage, I’m not mad at you about that. That is your right to believe in what you want to believe, but we’re just not going to talk about it in the BattleTech spaces. Even if you don’t agree with that lifestyle, you should still be respectful of the people in the community who do live that lifestyle. 

Sean: I think that’s fair. Everybody should just get along. 

Rem: Yeah. Be nice.

Sean: That’s what we keep kind of circling back to: just be nice. Let people live their lives. Alright, and now let’s get into the other controversial topic that came from a bit more of the tech-focused people in BattleTech: protecting the IP.

There, the big topic is 3D printing and the sharing of 3D printing digital files (or STL files). Why would sharing STL files for BattleTech be a bannable offense, and what is okay and not okay for BattleTech fans to share in terms of 3D-printed materials?

Double Mech Bay

Terrain, like this Double ‘Mech Bay from Cross Electric Designs, is okay to share.

Rem: Well, we do want to give warnings. Like, someone might genuinely not know, and we don’t want to ban them immediately for making a mistake. But, in terms of protecting the IP, we are stewards of the IP. The IP, you know, belongs to Topps, which is in turn owned by Fanatics, and that whole relationship is messy too.

But as Catalyst, we have approached Topps previously about branching into 3D printing. We know that there’s profit to be made there. There’s a lot that you could do there, and they just have no interest. They don’t even want to have a conversation about it. And as stewards of the IP, we have to enforce that in our communities. So in our spaces, we just can’t talk about 3D prints, can’t talk about or promote STLs. 

Word of warning to the community out there: there has been stuff over the years that has been reported to us, and we do have to investigate that, and as kindly as possible do a cease-and-desist.

Not only does keeping it out of our community protect the commitments that we’ve made to Topps, but we also have deniability. We don’t go looking for people doing 3D printing or STLs, but if they find us and are loud about it, it’s something we have to investigate. It’s just better for everyone if we just leave that out of our communities.

“We don’t go looking for people doing 3D printing or STLs, but if they find us and are loud about it, it’s something we have to investigate. It’s just better for everyone if we just leave that out of our communities.”

Sean: Fair enough. It sounds like Topps is the one preventing Catalyst from adapting to this technology. One of the things that I would have liked to see is redesigned ‘Mechs that maybe aren’t popular enough to bother manufacturing into ForcePacks but could be sold as 3D-printable models. It’s relatively cheap to have an artist redesign the ‘Mech—the real expense is getting manufacturers set up to produce that design in plastic. Selling the 3D-printing files as something official and legal would be a nice new income stream, but it sounds like Topps is just digging their heels in and making sure the game remains in the 1990s.

Rem: I hope that changes in time, maybe with Fanatics getting involved.

Also, just because that is the rule for one IP does not mean it’s the rule for other IPs. So who knows, for Leviathans, maybe that’s something we look into in the future. I don’t know what the restrictions are on that IP, so I’m just making that up, but we have a lot of cool stuff coming for Catalyst with some different IPs. If we can have a good showing of it and try something to break into 3D-printing in another IP, and then be able to show those kinds of figures to Topps, maybe that’ll change their mind. But it’s not within the current horizon. 

Sean: Fair enough. So, don’t expect anything anytime soon. 

Rem: Right. 

Sean: Is managing BattleTech the most work of Catalyst’s brands, or are the Shadowrun or Leviathans folks even worse? 

"Operation Bulldog Ambush" by Florian Mellies

“Operation Bulldog Ambush” by Florian Mellies

Rem: I’m gonna make someone mad no matter what. So, when I started, my first event was GaryCon, and I was so excited. I was meeting people in the industry and saying, “Hi, I’m the new Catalyst Community and Marketing Director,” and I would get a very raised eyebrow look, and people would say to me, “Good luck with that community. They are opinionated, they are passionate,” is a very nice way to say it. There have been challenges, but in my experience, it’s been the vast majority of the community has been excited, supportive, and enthusiastic. 

I would say that it is the BattleTech community that’s the rowdiest. But when you look at the Kickstarters, that’s 25,000 people that back the Kickstarter and even one percent of 25,000 is going to be way louder than one percent of 2,000. So it could just be relative. 

Sean: Where do you see Sarna factoring into the larger Catalyst community that is currently being built? Would you consider Sarna as a partner?

Rem: Sarna is absolutely a partner. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with the developers or the freelancers where I asked a question and they’re like, “Oh, let’s check Sarna.” I think there is a close relationship there, and I am looking forward to ways that we can utilize the experience and the knowledge that’s within Sarna. 

There are a couple of ideas that are too preliminary for me to talk about publicly, but it would be an amazing platform to play within the lore and build on it with maps and campaigns and different things like that. Have it be a marketing tool as well as a community tool. There’s no way that we would be able to take on an undertaking like that without support from Sarna, in my opinion. So I think that there’s plenty of room for a partnership in the future.

“I want to make sure that all the social platforms have what they need and feel supported before I dive into a massive new project for the community.”

It’s one of the next agenda items for the community. Reddit has asked for more presence from Catalyst in terms of posts, perhaps a monthly post on announcements of what’s coming, or doing an AMA every quarter or something like that. So I want to implement that and get that moving. I want to make sure that all the social platforms have what they need and feel supported before I dive into a massive new project for the community. I need a break after Discord.

Sean: Fair enough. Well, whenever you’re ready, Sarna is waiting and ready to help. 

Rem: Awesome. I’m excited for that. 

Sean: Alright, now for the fun part. This comes from some of the Sarna staffers. If you had the opportunity to set up a BattleTech anime soap opera, featuring a Clan and a House, which Clan and which House would you choose, and which five BattleTech staff slash CGL staff would you enlist to be their voice actors?

Rem: Ooh. Alright, so I know enough that the drama would be great with Steiner versus Marik. That would lead to some good soap opera drama moments. And then, gosh, in terms of voice actors. Oh, I love my team, but they’re not faces. I think Randall would have to be a voice, because, I mean, he’s just legendary. Loren I would love to, but he talks so fast, so he’d have to be one of the fast-talking wheeler-dealer types. 

Sean: There’s always one of those. 

Tuesday Newsday: Episode 4
Watch this video on YouTube.

Rem: Yeah. Gosh. I would bring Jason Hardy in. He’s on the Shadowrun side, but I’d bring him in for the snark. Ooh, Ian would be a fun voice actor—Ian is the art director for Shadowrun and he sounds like Eeyore but way more sarcasm. So, I think that would be a fun one. Let’s see, I need one more, I think. You know what? I’ll say he’s a freelancer: Michael Ciaravella. He’s got a good voice, so I think he’d do it justice. 

Sean: Alright, next question. Henry Cavill’s interest in Warhammer has attracted much fan attention in recent years. If you could pick any media star to get hooked on BattleTech, who would you pick? 

Rem: So I know Sam Witwer is super into BattleTech, so there may or may not be some hopeful conversations in the future.

But gosh, you know what? I’d like to get the Game of Thrones actors in. Since it’s like big stompy robots meets Game of Thrones, I’ll go with Emilia Clarke. We’ll have the Mother of Dragons come and take over in BattleTech

Sean: Alright. Interesting. I don’t know who she’d play. 

Rem: Yeah, I’m not sure either. I’ve heard a couple of the female character names. Isn’t it Natasha  Kerensky?

Sean: Yes, although she’s typically portrayed as having big, fiery, ‘80s-style red hair. But maybe she’d be better at playing Anastasia Kerensky

Anyway, the last question we have here. What has been your favorite BattleTech-related experience so far? 

Rem: I did love that moment where I was like, “Oh, I get where the fun is.” Like, that was a cool moment when I bought in. But, I will say that my very first game was on Tabletop Simulator, I was learning, and we kind of were dancing around each other a whole lot, and I got bored with that, so I just charged in. He was up on a mountain, so he tried to Death from Above me and ended up missing, critting, and killing himself. So I won without ever touching him.

“I know I get flack because I came in on Shadowrun and people are like, ‘Oh, she doesn’t care about BattleTech.’ Trust me, I care about BattleTech.” 

Sean: Sometimes the dice giveth, and sometimes they taketh away.

Well, that’s everything I had. Was there anything else you wanted to shout out?

Rem: In terms of BattleTech, I’ll sneak this in. Can’t say too much about it because the project’s not approved yet, but Loren went around to all the directors and asked at the beginning of the year what is the one thing that we want to accomplish for this year. 

I have a massive BattleTech project that I want to see come to fruition. And I know I get flack because I came in on Shadowrun and people are like, “Oh, she doesn’t care about BattleTech.” Trust me, I care about BattleTech and I’m very excited for this to happen. It’s still early on, but I’m hoping that I at least get the approval this year and can move on it as soon as possible. 

Sean: I know that we don’t necessarily talk about these before approved projects, but it sounds interesting.

Rem: It’d be a big marketing spin, so that’d be cool.

Sean: It has been a while since we’ve seen a big marketing push from BattleTech outside of the Kickstarter, of course. 

Well, thank you so much for talking to me, sharing your thoughts, and clarifying a few things on the community guidelines. And even giving us some things to look forward to.

Rem: My pleasure, thank you.

Sean: Okay, thanks so much. Have a good day. 

Rem: You too! Bye! Bye!

Thanks to Rem for sitting down to chat, and looking forward to seeing what surprises she’ll have in store for us in the future!

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Bad ‘Mechs – Yeoman

Bad 'Mechs - Yeoman

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

Sergeant Bixonnen had fallen and couldn’t get up.

It wasn’t entirely her fault. Being struck by counter-battery fire isn’t expected to be a walk in the park for anyone, let alone a 60-ton walking death machine. What complicated the issue for her was that her Yeoman didn’t have arms--not really. Although labeled arms on her damage schematic, the boxy protrusions just contained a pair of long-range missile launchers that gave her ‘Mech impressive fire support capabilities.

When it was standing. Laying on its back, her Yeoman was little more than a 60-ton paperweight.

The irony was that she really wasn’t all that damaged. The likely Long Tom blast (she couldn’t say for sure, but the size of the explosion seemed a big hint) had removed a significant amount of her frontal armor, but the Yeoman was fairly well protected for an artillery ‘Mech. Far better than the LRM Carriers that her external cameras confirmed were smoldering wrecks around her. But she might as well have been a smoldering wreck for all the good her ablative protection did. 

Bixonnen knew that it was theoretically possible to right her ‘Mech without the help of upper limbs. She’d seen Solaris fighters do it, and amputee infantry did it all the time. At least, they did on the inspirational holos that she’d often watch before drifting off to sleep. A lot of them performed a sort of martial arts trick that she didn’t think was possible at 60 tons, but the rest of them just had to roll over onto their front, put one leg underneath, and then push. 

She tried just as she saw on the holos, envisioning herself rocking side-to-side a few times before finally tipping onto her front. The only problem was that she had two giant boxes on either side that prevented her from so much as budging. All she managed to do was scrape yet more armor off her backside. 

“Fire support, fire support, calling for grid coordinate zero alpha three six nine, fire for effect!” 

It was Captain Scarl. It sounded like the front lines were taking a pounding, but there was little she could do about it. 

“Sorry sir, this is Fire Lance Charlie, we’ve been hit by counter-battery fire. The firebase is a wreck and I’m flat on my back, over.” 

Scarl’s response was equal parts urgency and fury. “Bixonnen, I don’t care if you’re fending off the third coming of Kerensky! We’re getting slaughtered out here, and we need fire support NOW!”

Bixonnen flinched in her neurohelmet. She once again checked her external sensors to confirm that the three LRM Carriers and both J-27 Ordinance Trucks were either on fire or had been replaced by craters. Support staff were only now reaching the wounded while others wandered away from the blast zone like zombies, clearly shell-shocked. They wouldn’t be much help either.

Then an idea came to her. Bixonnen checked the requested grid coordinates and did a quick mental calculation, using all she’d learned in her ballistics and classical mechanics courses to calculate the theoretical range of her weapons. Then she reprogrammed her fire control computer to remove the missile safeties and to follow a non-standard flight path. Finally, she typed in the grid coordinates and squeezed the triggers on both her control sticks.

LRM’s erupted out of her Yeoman vertically but quickly bent in a ballistic arc toward the front lines. After the first flight left the tubes, she waited for the automatic reloader to clunk the next flight in before squeezing both triggers again. And again. And again. And again, until she’d completely emptied her ammo bins.

The radio crackled for a moment before Captain Scarl’s far calmer voice came through. “Great work, Fire Lance Charlie. We’ve got ‘em on the run. Drinks are on me tonight.” 

Bixonnen relaxed back into her command seat, satisfied with a job well done. And also because she wasn’t sure how to get out of her ‘Mech in this position and felt it’d be best just to wait until the astechs came to extract her.

Yeoman : Bad 'Mechs a Sarna Tale | Battletopia Stories
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Yeoman TRO 3060

Following Curtis Militech‘s debut with the highly successful Wraith BattleMech, the company’s next offerings targeted two requirements of any modern military: training and fire support. The Eagle offered a cheap trooper ‘Mech that could be produced en-masse and used to equip training battalions or fill out empty billets in garrison regiments. The Yeoman, introduced in 3060, offered a cost-effective platform that could provide more long-range warheads than older platforms like the Archer or Crusader.

Curtiss Militech sold the Yeoman to the Free Worlds League Military (FWLM) for most of its production run, with the occasional sale to some of the better-funded mercenary companies that operated within the League. It was seen as a serviceable design by most, with many commanders appreciating the increase in bombardment capacity despite the decreased cost. 

Pilots, however, were less enthused with the design. A lack of defensive weapons and no arms meant that the Yeoman was virtually helpless when enemies closed to within 210 meters. The lack of articulating limbs also limited the Yeoman‘s usefulness in logistics (where a big pair of mechanical arms could be quite helpful in moving munitions) and also made it exceptionally difficult for the pilot to right the machine should it ever topple over. 

Yeoman Mini by David Kerber

At the expense of these arguably non-critical components, the Yeoman does offer several mechanical advantages that further improve its fire support capabilities. Although early models could not torso twist as the legs integrated directly with the large missile pods that served as the ‘Mech’s “arms,” the extremely durable gear-shaped hips could be locked in place and its four-toed feet could dig into the ground to ensure the ‘Mech’s stability when firing volleys of 50 missiles at a time. 

As functional as they may be, these features couldn’t quite overcome the negative reaction to the Yeoman‘s outlandish appearance. Of the many nicknames given to the Yeoman by MechWarriors, the “boom box” is the most charitable. 

Only two variants of the Yeoman were ever produced. The original YMN-6Y came armed with twin Zeus LRM-15 launchers and two Zeus LRM-10 launchers mounted in the arms. Targeting data was provided by the reliable Dynatec MissileTracX system, while Curtiss’s own CurtisComm Mark IV provided communications. Ten double heat sinks kept the ‘Mech cool even when tasked with continuous fire suppression, and eight and a half tons of Kallon FWL Special ferro-fibrous armor provided sufficient protection for a ‘Mech that wasn’t expected to see front-line combat. A Pitban 240 engine gave the Yeoman a maximum running speed (which was more like a waddle given the width of the ‘Mech’s legs) of 64.8 kph.

Yeoman by DemonicForge (custom mini)

Yeoman by DemonicForge

Curtiss kept costs on the Yeoman low by utilizing standard components throughout the machine save for its endo steel chassis and ferro-fibrous armor. Conversely, The YMN-10-OR spared no expense during the tumultuous days of the Jihad. While the Zeus LRM-10 launchers were retained, the LRM-15 launchers were removed in favor of four MML-5s. These gave the Yeoman the ability to fire short-range missiles, providing a much-needed defensive capacity against close-in opponents. These state-of-the-art weapons were augmented with an XL Gyro, jump jets for added mobility, and additional armor protection.

Yeoman Mini by Psycho on Camo Specs Online

Mini by Psycho on Camo Specs Online

The Yeoman‘s tenure as the Free World’s standard artillery ‘Mech would be relatively short-lived. The League dissolved in 3079, with Curtiss quickly securing a contract with the Duchy of Graham-Marik to continue production from its factory on Paradise III. That factory would later fall victim to an atomic strike launched by the Principality of Regulus on February 26, 3080. With its production lines destroyed and Curtiss Militech unable to fulfill orders, parent company Curtiss Hydroponis liquidated Militech’s assets in 3085. The Wraith was sold to Hellespont Industrials, which continues to produce the ‘Mech to this day, while the Yeoman and Eagle designs were sold to the Duchy of Tamarind-Abbey. The Duchy manufactured a handful of new Yeomans over the years, but production numbers never rivaled Curtiss Militech’s, leading to the gradual phaseout of the design. 

Military reductions over the Republic years meant that Yeomans were often replaced by even less expensive LRM Carriers and other conventional armored units, while after Gray Monday and the reformation of the League in 3139, resurgent rivals such as the Crusader, Archer, and Longbow became more attractive purchases for the FWLM. Most remaining Yeomans can be found in garrisons within the Duchy of Graham-Marik, or the few mercenary units still operating this quirky design.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrup.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Round-Up For February, 2024

Normally this is when Southern Ontario enters its deep freeze, with heaps of snow up to my shoulders where the removal services can’t get to fast enough. But this year, it’s been relatively snow-free. In fact, we’ve had more above-freezing days this month than any other February on record. Yesterday it was 16 degrees C (or about 61 degrees F). It then dropped to -6 over five hours, which was about as weird. It was almost like the weather remembered what month it was.

I won’t have to wait long for the warm weather to return. Spring has sprung early where I live, with positive temperatures expected for the next two weeks at least. Given how sick I’ve been this winter, it can’t come soon enough.

But you’re not here for the weather report. You’re here for BattleTech news, and this month we’ve got a whole lot of it. Here’s everything that happened in the Inner Sphere this February.

Wolves Wave 3 Announces Ragnarok Returns In MechAssault Fan Game

Wolves Wave 3 (MechAssault Fangame) - The Assault Continues
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We start with a little love for MechAssault. Wolves, the MechAssault fan game, has been steadily working on its Wave 3 update. We already knew the Puma, Uziel, and Mad Cat would be coming in this update, but now we know the big bad of the game will also return. Prepare for Ragnarok.

Wolves Wave 3 Ragnarok

the Ragnarok (and its variant, the Ymir) aren’t specced out in official BattleTech terms, and that’s largely because they have an energy shield and a “Lava Gun.” Why the Word of Blake thought lava would somehow be more destructive than highly-excited ionic particles or a hypersonic slug I will never understand, but I do get why a forcefield might be difficult to write stats for using classic BattleTech rules.

Still, fans of the MechAssault games love the Ragnarok as much as BattleTech faithful love the Daishi or Atlas—it’s just a huge wrecking ball. And it’s coming in Woves Wave 3. It’s also coming to MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, according to a follow-up teaser that arrived the day after the Wave 3 trailer.

You can expect to experience Wolves Wave 3 and the Ragnarok soon(TM).

BATTLETECH Director Mike McCain Returns To Hairbrained Schemes As Executive Producer

Good news for HBS after a ton of bad. Mike McCain, game director for Shadowrun: Dragonfall and BATTLETECH, is back and taking over Mitch Gitelman‘s old job as Executive Producer (while Mitch takes a break and moves into an advisory role for the studio). 

“I’m thrilled to be back in the virtual office with this amazing team,” said Mike. “There will be plenty of challenges, but the creative momentum we have around this new project right now is exhilarating. We’re a small crew making something we really believe in and I can’t wait to share it!”

Mike did an incredible job adapting the tabletop BattleTech game into a turn-based video game that any fan will would love while still attracting fans of turn-based strategy games. The game started with an incredible narrative-driven campaign and later received DLC that improved the game’s galaxy-spanning sandbox into one where the player could create their own story.

The only downside to the news is yet further confirmation from Mitch that HBS hasn’t been given the license to make BATTLETECH 2. HBS has something in store, but it doesn’t sound like we’re going to get the sequel we all desperately want. A wild thing, considering BATTLETECH‘s success, but what can you do? These are wild economic times for the video games industry. We wish Mike and HBS all the success in whatever they’re working on.

A Realistic Depiction Of Ballistic Arcs Courtesy Of A Dragon

Commandos on Styk
byu/agentlou44 inbattletech

You know what I like most about this piece? Wild-Cat 144 gave the Dragon‘s autocannon rounds a ballistic arc. You’d think that a cannon on a BattleMech would fire fast enough that it might as well be a laser, but the only explanation why BattleTech‘s cannons have such short ranges is that they have extremely low muzzle velocity, so they’d drop a significant distance between leaving the barrel and impact. Kudos to you, Wild-Cat 144. I love accurate physics.

CGL Community Manager Rem Alternis Answers Questions About Community Guidelines

Catalyst Game Labs - Rem Alternis interview
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Catalyst announced its community guidelines last month, and there was quite a reaction. Rem Alternis, community manager for Catalyst, has been kindly answering questions regarding the community guidelines, starting with YouTuber Critical Rocket

And I say kindly because a few people had some curiously harsh reactions to being told they couldn’t play in official Catalyst spaces if they didn’t agree to be respectful of another human’s race, religion, culture, gender, or sexual orientation. 

Expect Rem to have more words to say about the community guidelines in an upcoming interview with Sarna. In the meantime, I think Critical Rocket covered the basics, clarified some of the new rules, and noted that some previous bans might be overturned with a new appeals process. Thanks to Critical Rocket for being first in line!

Opinion: You Can’t Put The 3D-Printing Genie Back In The Bottle

Sarna Complaints Department

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

I think the online reaction to Catalyst’s new community guidelines was overblown, but there’s one thing I did agree with. Simply barring 3D-printed stuff from being shared on official CGL channels isn’t going to stop its proliferation. There’s just no putting the technological genie back in the bottle.

Don’t get me wrong, I think CGL offers a superior product. I have both unofficial 3D-printed minis and official ones, and the CGL minis are consistently tougher, more detailed, and scaled correctly so you don’t have to worry about your Tempest accidentally being taller than an AtlasGiven a choice between a 3D-printed mini and an official one, you should always pick the official CGL mini.

But at the same time, some people just can’t get official minis. They’re either not sold everywhere, or shipping is impossible, or pewter is too expensive, and 3D printing provides a reasonable alternative to play the game. On top of that, CGL hasn’t redesigned every ‘Mech (although they’re working on it), and there are a lot of talented 3D modelers out there who are practicing their craft.

In keeping with Catalyst’s guidelines, Sarna won’t distribute mini models or tell you where to go to get them, but I do think trying to ignore them is short-sighted. 3D models could be an additional source of revenue for Catalyst. Perhaps not every ‘Mech is popular enough to deserve being manufactured in plastic and put into a ForcePack, but they’re popular enough to be redesigned in the same manner as the current generation of minis and then sold as a 3D-printable file. 

Hopefully, Catalyst’s stance (which is directed by the copyright holder, Topps, so it’s really Topps’ stance) will change in the future, especially as 3D printing technology continues to improve. If you’ve got a constructive opinion, leave it in the comments (and remember to be respectful). 

BattleTech Universe Book Reviewed By Guerilla Miniature Games

GMG Reviews - Battletech UNIVERSE by Catalyst Game Labs
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For most of us, the BattleTech Universe isn’t going to be available until later this year, but a few people have received the upcoming book a little early. One of those people is Guerilla Miniature Games

We don’t get to see much of the Universe book besides the cover and the opening insert, but from what GMG describes, it sounds like this new Universe book is going to be required reading for any new BattleTech player. The rest of us might not find it quite as compelling as something like ilKhan’s Eyes Only, but Ray and Aaron have promised me that Universe will be a big deal and will have plenty for veterans too.

Catalyst Launches New Discord, Double-Sized Shrapnel Celebrates Mercs, and Previews Shared Online

Mercenaries Update
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We got a load of Catalyst materials to get through, starting with the double-sized Shrapnel issue that was released earlier this month. Shrapnel Volume 15 is twice the Shrapnel you’re used to but only priced at a dollar more. Inside you’ll find tales from your favorite BattleTech authors, including Michael Stackpole, Bryan Young, and Chris Purnell, as well as newcomer Robin Briseño. On top of that value, it’s also focused on everyone’s favorite BattleTech faction: mercenaries. Grab it in digital or print-on-demand formats

Craig A Reed Blood Rage

On the book front, Herbert A. Beas’s Forgotten Worlds trilogy is now available with a new title: BattleTech: The Quest for Jardine. And for those who didn’t back the Mercenaries Kickstarter, Craig A. Lee’s Blood Rage is now available for individual purchase either on Catalyst’s store or Amazon. 

Those who were concerned with hearing about the pre-painted minis that’ll be coming in the Star League ForcePacks can (probably) rest easy. A post to the official BattleTech forums has revealed Aleksandr Kerensky‘s Orion looks pretty good. Sure, some of you folks might be able to do a better job painting an Orion, but I think this looks like a perfectly acceptable mini. I’m also told that it shouldn’t be hard to strip the paint off this thing if you don’t like it, although it’d probably be easier to just get a fresh Orion mini. 

Another surprise for Mercenaries Kickstarter backers is the Savannah Master hover tank. These speed bastards have been the bane of many a tabletop experience, and now we know what they’ll look like when they arrive later in June when Catalyst starts fulfilling orders. That’s thanks to Randall being unable to stop himself from sharing on YouTube.

Last, but not least: Catalyst has a Discord now! Wanna chat with like-minded individuals? Get the latest announcements as they happen? Share details on your preferred paint methods? You can do all this and more on the Catalyst Discord here.

Kelly Bonilla, Lead Designer For MechWarrior: Dark Age, Has Passed Away

Some sad news took place late last month but didn’t reach my ears until February. Kelly Bonilla, the lead designer for Wizkids’ MechWarrior: Dark Age, has died. 

Kelly Bonilla MechWarrior

MechWarrior: Dark Age was never the most popular BattleTech product, but I liked it. For a while in my first year of university, it was my collective obsession. The idea of getting smaller armies, pre-painted, that looked good and had simplified rules so you could fight little battles out using everything on your kitchen table held a lot of appeal. And just having play stats tracked using the circular base was genius. 

Of course, MechWarrior: Dark Age wasn’t perfect. While I liked the tanks, I didn’t like how the setting seemed to emphasize these lesser units over real ‘Mechs. And while the setting was interesting, it was a jarring mess from the Civil War and Jihad eras that didn’t get untangled until years later. 

But Kelly wasn’t involved in the story writing. She was the playtester and designer. She just cared if the game was fun, and in that, she succeeded admirably. We’re sorry to see you go, Kelly.

TheB33F Is Back!

The Longtom Artillery Incident
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Holy shit, TheB33F is back! He actually announced his return in December and posted his first video last month, but I hadn’t been paying attention since his long hiatus. But he’s back and better than ever! 

For those unaware, TheB33F is the MechWarrior Online streamer who does things… differently. His builds and strategies are typically aimed more toward having fun than following the current meta. His latest videos are still that, but he’s also making more tutorial-style videos that try to teach some basic tactics and ‘Mech builds (like the Centurion video he recently posted).

While his old videos were wildly amusing, his latest videos add some footage taken from MechWarrior 5 as well as animations taken from Tabletop Simulator. It makes for a far more cohesive and elevated experience, which I very much appreciate, and maybe you will too. Check out the video above, and if you like his material, be sure to subscribe to TheB33F’s channel here

And I almost forgot! TheB33F is also contributing to the future of MechWarrior Online by designing events. Look for those in the event queue in the coming weeks.

Brawl In The Bluegrass Tournament Coming To Kentucky In April

MRC Icon

In the Lexington area for the April 12 weekend? The Rusy Scabbard will host a Classic BattleTech tournament called “Brawl in the Bluegrass.” Entry is 25$ for this MRC-compliant event, with each player required to submit an 8,000-point Battle Value list with a maximum of six units. All units must be from a single faction during the Clan Invasion era as per the Master Unit List, and only ‘Mechs, battle armor, and combat vehicles. No artillery, no unique or extinct units, and no C3 or specialized armor types (although missile and autocannon ammo types are allowed). 

Sign-ups are allowed until April 11, but you might want to ensure your place sooner rather than later as no store has infinite seating capacity. You can get the full details on sign-ups from this document here, as well as the full list of rules. Any other questions should be directed to the MechCommander Review Circuit in this Discord channel

Have an event you want to be advertised in Sarna? Reach out and we’ll get you included in the next news blast.

Big Red-40Tech’s Warhammer IIC Video Is Out, And It’s A Doozy

Watch this video on YouTube.

I kinda always thought that the Warhammer IIC was just this Clan-wide design that everyone made and everyone fielded. And indeed, you’ll find it in pretty much every Clan touman, according to the Master Unit List. Little did I know that the ‘Mech actually got started in Clan Star Adder. And I wouldn’t have known that had Big Red-40Tech not decided to create a four-hour YouTube video on the subject.

Yes, that’s a lot of lore for a single ‘Mech, and that’s largely because Big Red goes into the entire history of Clan Star Adder from Exodus to Reaving. Then we get into the Diamond Sharks/Sea Foxes as they distributed the ‘Mech so thoroughly amongst the other Clans that it became a common site in second-line forces everywhere. And then into the ilClan era where the Warhammer IIC can now be seen among Inner Sphere and mercenary forces too.

I can’t disparage the ‘Mech, that’s for sure. There’s nothing a Warhammer IIC can’t do aside from jump and run fast enough to keep pace with an Ice Ferret. It’s better than the original Warhammer in every way, and I know how beloved that old warhorse is. 

Check out the video above if you want the deepest dive into a single ‘Mech you’ll ever see, with special guests Tex, Frog, Sven, TheB33F, Paul, and Rem offering their voices too.  

Duncan Fisher Returns In MechWarrior 5’s Sixth DLC: Solaris Showdown

I am Duncan Fisher
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Yes, he’s back. Duncan Fisher, the renowned Solaris announcer from MechWarrior 4, is returning in MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries – Solaris Showdown.

There’s still time for a Clan Invasion-themed DLC, but for now, we’re getting a story that revolves around Duncan Fisher and a mysterious plot centering around the game world of Solaris 7. According to PGI’s release, the DLC mini-campaign will start on the Mercenary Star of Galatea before moving to the planet Hardcore where Mason will bump into Duncan Fisher. The pair form an unlikely alliance as they fight to get into the FedCom Unification Tournament celebrating the recent alliance between the Federated Suns and Lyran Commonwealth.

It’s not clear why or what happens, but there seems to be some political intrigue going on that only a good ‘Mech stomping can fix. Best of all, we’ll have George Ledoux’s sultry tones guiding us the whole way. 

In addition to saving Solaris, the upcoming DLC brings a new ‘Mech: the Loader King. Fans of the Roughneck from MechWarrior Online will recognize this design immediately, but even if you haven’t played the PvP game, you might’ve noticed the Loader King as the same stationary IndustrialMech that you’ll sometimes see on urban maps or standing in enemy installations.

The Loader King will come with one Hero variant and five standard variants. We’re also getting new “arena” variants of the Corsair, Vulcan, Hunchback, Crusader, Cataphract, Orion, Zeus, Firestarter, UrbanMech, and Highlander. Expect them to come with superchargers and melee-focused weaponry.

Speaking of weapons, we’re getting a bunch of those too. New Burst-Fire variants of the Rifle series, Rapid-Fire variants of Autocannons, the Binary Laser, PPC-X (whatever that is), Medium Lance, Heavy Hammer, and Assault Greatsword. We’re also getting the Arena Supercharger, Black Market Countermeasures, and Black Market Probe. Not sure if those will be worse or better than their Star League counterparts.

While the DLC will certainly bring arena-style combat, it’s not just going to take place on Solaris 7. Arenas will appear in industrial areas throughout the Inner Sphere, which the player will progress through by accruing fame with each successful match. The more matches you win, the more variants of Arenas unlock, ranging from 1v1 matches to free-for-alls limited by ‘Mech class. There will also be optional objectives, open categories where anything goes, and more. Rewards will start at C-bills but eventually progress to “prized equipment.”

And as is ever the case with these DLC releases, everyone can expect to receive a free update with new features. This time we’re getting the new “heavy turret” as a potential spawn which has more hitpoints and hits harder than standard turrets. Otomo ‘Mechs will soon show up on the market as rare spawns, a new “repair all” option makes repairing post-mission easier, and enemy ‘Mechs will occasionally spawn with slightly different weapons than their base loadout. 

Solaris Showdown arrives on March 14 for $14.99. You can wishlist the DLC now to be informed as soon as it becomes available.

MechWarrior Online Gets Two New Legendary ‘Mechs As Talk Begins On A New PvP Game

MechWarrior Online Reaper II

Another month brings another patch for MechWarrior Online Legends and two new Legendary ‘Mechs. The first is WarhawkKasai,” which brings the game’s first supercharged chassis. The Supercharger is a locked piece of equipment and won’t be made available for other ‘Mechs (yet). It’s also lighter than MASC (usually) but doesn’t provide the same explosive speed. It only increases the ‘Mech’s maximum potential velocity and provides no boost to acceleration or turning speed.

Other than the Supercharger, the Kasai comes with three ATM-6s, two Large Pulse Lasers, and two ER Mediums. Missile velocity quirks make those ATMs a bit more deadly, and improved structure quirks give the Kasai a bit more staying power.

The Black KnightRed Reaper II” continues MechWarrior Online‘s tradition of having swords just for show. The heavy shield the Red Reaper II comes with, though, is a MASSIVE boost to the ‘Mech’s right arm armor. Two Snub PPCs, four SRM-6s, and five Small Lasers make this ‘Mech a deadly brawler, especially when you consider the shield you’ll have to chew through to start damaging this monster. Additional armor quirks for the rest of the ‘Mech make it extremely durable.

Other than the new ‘Mechs, the Cauldron has reduced the heat produced by Rotary Autocannons and Hyper Gauss Rifles, reverted the firing arc changes to LRMs from January’s patch, and given the Executioner a full quirk pass. For the full list of changes, check out the patch notes here.

And before we move on, it seems there are rumblings about a new PvP game coming out of PGI. Community manager Daeron commented in Discord that “internal discussions and planning for the next PvP MechWarrior game” are underway. No details on what this might look like or whether it’d be a stand-alone product or attached to the upcoming MechWarrior 5: Clans, but I’d put money on this being an Unreal Engine-powered game.

Raw, Sexual Charger

Next verse same as the first now in color.
byu/meltdonw14 inbattletech

I admit, I may have been too harsh on the Charger. The CGR-1A1 can jump in a lake, but the new Charger C is 80 tons of raw sexual energy—the exact same energy I’m getting from meltdonw14‘s piece here. This could be the cover of a Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure mecha manga.

MechWarrior Living Legends Update 0.16.2 Brings Fancy New Cockpits And Other QOL Improvements

MechWarrior Living Legends Timber Wolf Camos

Been a while since we talked about MechWarrior: Living Legends, the Battlefield-inspired MechWarrior game that’s entirely free-to-play because it is entirely community-supported. The latest patch arrived earlier this month and brought a slew of changes, including updated visuals for 28 ‘Mechs, AeroSpace fighters, and VTOLs, three new camo options, and the usual assortment of bug fixes. Thunderbolt missiles now have a slightly faster fire rate and the Warhawk model has been shrunken down ever so slightly. 

There’s more, but you can read about ’em over on MechWarrior: Living Legends ModDB page, which is coincidentally also where you can download this amazingly free standalone game.

Focht News Network Is Heading To Toronto Comicon

Focht Network Toronto Comicon 2024

If you’re in the Toronto area on the weekend of March 15, Comicon will be hosted at the Metro Toronto Convention Center, which is sure to be a good time. That’s because Focht News Network is putting on a BattleTech showcase, offering Alpha Strike previews to any passersby. I’m also told that Ronda Snord and a certain special Highlander might also make an appearance.

Of course, there’s going to be plenty of other stuff going on at Comicon, but BattleTech fans can certainly hang out and spread the good word of giant stompy robots. If you’re interested in local fans, head to the Focht Network Discord for more updates on local events.

A Halo Of Missiles

My brother surprised me with a commissioned Battletech x Halo crossover piece for my birthday
byu/odysseus91 inbattletech

Halo is cool and all, but I think we all know who’s going to win this battle of the brands. Not just because BattleTech is cooler, but Halo just isn’t quite as destructive as 75 tons of large lasers and way too many missiles. Unless Halo releases the Flood, but even then, I give us even odds. Kudos to tychorionDraws on Twitter for this piece.

Warframe, However, Has Too Much Space Magic

Since the Halo crossover pic was already posted here, thought I’d share the other Warframe x Battletech crossover I bought too. Credit to tychorionDraws, both pics were worth every penny!
byu/TrashCan_With_A_Gun inbattletech

I do love a good crossover, but as much as I love BattleTech, there’s not much you can do in a Crusader or Timber Wolf if you’re trying to fight cosmic forces beyond the knowledge of mere mortals. I’m not sure if there are enough LRMs in the entire Inner Sphere to bring down The Man In The Wall. More kudos to tychorionDraws, and to odysseus91 on Reddit for sharing. 

The Naga Hits MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Like An Arrow IV

I know the Longbow is still a recent addition, but you know what they say about artillery: when it rains, it pours. The Naga is the little-known Clan artillery ‘Mech specializing in delivering Arrow IV warheads to foreheads. I know Arrow IVs aren’t available in MechWarrior 5, so I assume those arms just contain large missile slots. Just throw an Artemis on your LRM-20 and it’s most of the way to an Arrow IV. 

You can get this mod on Nexus Mods or directly through the Steam Workshop.

And that’s it for February! Now I’m off to prepare my MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries company for Solaris Showdown. See you next month!

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Keeping BattleTech Consistent – An Interview Eric Salzman, Fact-Check Director At CGL

The year of BattleTech‘s 40th anniversary continues with yet another interview with brand stewards Catalyst Game Labs. This time we managed to snag Eric Salzman, a longtime fan who broke into writing and then ascended to become BattleTech‘s Fact-Check Director. This guy knows more about the universe than I ever will, which is why he’s in charge of keeping everyone else consistent with BattleTech‘s established lore—something we here at Sarna can certainly appreciate.

If you think you’re the “well actually” guy at your gaming table, then this interview is for you. And at the end, you can find out how to maintain the lore of the entire BattleTech community by joining the Fact-Check team. Enjoy.

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Bad ‘Mechs – Thunder Fox

Bad 'Mechs - Thunder Fox

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

“All I’m saying is, if the WOBbies are gone and the good times are here, why are we retooling a ‘Mech factory in the ass-end of Moscow?” 

Undago sighed, once again reminding his comrade that peace was never sustained without force of arms. “And besides, you still want a paycheck, right?” 

“Hah, you got that right,” Milia replied with a snort. “And it’s in this new ‘Republic of the Sphere’ script too. They haven’t even got a design figured out yet.” 

“It’s just numbers in a ledger on some server anyway,” Undago said. “I hear they’ll call be calling it the ‘Stone’ thanks to our fearless leader.” 

“Great. ‘I’ll give you two Stones for a hot dog,'” Milia seemed to ruminate on the sentence for several moments. “I can’t tell if that’s an offer or a threat.” 

Now it was Undago’s time to snort with derision. “Maybe that is the point.” 

The two silently returned to their task configuring the massive robotic arms that would soon have Skobel MechWorks churning out new ‘Mechs for the Republic Armed Forces. The facility itself was ancient, dating back to the original Star League where it would produce the Mercury and Jackrabbit for the SLDF. Then it had been Excaliburs for ComStar, then the Legacy and Omega for the Word of Blake. 

The Word. Undago stared at the screen as he involuntarily recalled the occupation, the camps, the re-education treatments, being forced to work day in and day out repairing WOB ‘Mechs as they fought tooth and nail against Stone’s coalition. He remembered the Word of Blake ‘Mechs that held both his and every other engineers’ families hostage. And the night that ‘Mechs turned their weapons on—

“Hey, you alright?” 

Undago snapped back to reality. “Yeah, yeah, sorry. Just… remembering.” 

Milia nodded but said nothing. She’d had to drag Undago out from dark memories more than once. She was usually successful, each time offering her silent support. Undago was silently grateful each time. 

“What are we even making here?” Milia asked. 

“A new design,” Undago grabbed a holopad and brought up the schematics to show her. “It’s called the Thunder Fox. Quadruped design, but other than that, it’s a simple standard chassis and fusion engine. Off-the-shelf parts keep Skobel’s per-unit cost to a minimum.” 

“And the Republic gets a cheap ‘Mech that they can fill out all those busted regiments with,” Milia nodded. “Smart.” 

“Even smarter, Skobel didn’t even have to pay for development.” Undago pointed at the Thunder Fox‘s frog-like skeleton and the weapon mounts next to its angular cockpit. “I’ve heard more than one rumor that the chassis and weapon coupling ports are essentially lifted from another design. But nobody is suing because everyone wants to play nice with Republic procurement.” 

“Or there’s nobody left to sue.” 

Milia meant it to be an off-hand comment, but it had sparked another memory within Undago. The big man froze as he stared at the Thunder Fox‘s schematics, recalling the night his family had been gunned down by a WOB ‘Mech with four legs. It had a more bulbous armored skin and rounded actuators, but the engineer in him saw the skeleton, the same weapon junctions, and the same deadly intent. 

“Hey! Are you—”

Before Milia could ask if he was alright, Undago grabbed the holopad and brought up the schematics for the Blue Flame, a 45-ton Blakist ‘Mech. He then superimposed it atop the Thunder Fox. Milia gasped as she saw the same thing Undago had; the two chassis was nearly identical.

“You were right,” Undago muttered with quiet dread. “The Word of Blake is no longer here to sue Skobel for copying its design.” He then got up and walked away as Milia stared at the schematics. He didn’t say a single word to anyone else at Skobel. He merely left his security pass at the door and never returned to work.

Thunder Fox : Bad 'Mechs a Sarna Tale | Battletopia Stories
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Thunder Fox Courtesy of Bishop Steiner

Courtesy of Bishop Steiner

With the destruction of the Word of Blake and the capture of Terra, Devlin Stone‘s nascent Republic of the Sphere conveniently found itself in possession of significant ‘Mech manufacturing facilities it could use to refill units devastated in the fight for humanity’s homeworld. Unfortunately, most of those facilities were manufacturing ‘Mechs that were now heavily associated with the most reviled group the Inner Sphere had ever seen, perhaps barring Stefan Amaris and the Rim Worlds Republic. To ask dispossessed MechWarriors to begin piloting ‘Mechs so recently taken from their villainous foe was simply not an option.

In the case of the Thunder Fox, a morally dubious solution was found. Rather than make a completely new ‘Mech, Skobel MechWorks would take an existing Word of Blake design and modify it so no one would assume it had been birthed by the Word. That original ‘Mech was the Blue Flame, a 45-ton trooper ‘Mech commonly seen in Word of Blake forces during the Jihad. 

How Skobel came to possess the schematics of the Blue Flame was only revealed during the trial of one Lara Harman, the lead designer of the Thunder Fox. Previously an engineer at Mitchell Vehicles Interstellar, Harman left her former employer in 3075. Whether she deliberately stole the Blue Flame‘s schematics in an act of corporate espionage or merely retained them in violation of her nondisclosure agreement was never proven in court. What is known is Harman used those schematics to quickly develop the Thunder Fox for Skobel MechWorks who then began manufacturing the ‘Mech for the Republic Armed Forces. By the time the ‘Mech’s progenitor came to light, the contracts had long been signed and deliveries were well underway. Harman was later convicted of war crimes and profiteering, and the Republic buried the scandal to ensure its new main medium ‘Mech would still have eager pilots.

Thunder Fox MWDA

The Republic was entirely successful in burying the scandal, and the Thunder Fox became the backbone of the early RAF. It was beloved by technicians for its simple construction and easy maintenance, while pilots appreciated a modern design with state-of-the-art weapons. Production would continue for half a century with the design being licensed to both Defiance Industries and Luthien Armor Works.

Introduced in 3077 (although full-scale production wouldn’t begin until a few years later), the TFT-A9 Thunder Fox had a DAV 220-rated standard fusion engine mated to a modified version of the Dennenbach-Mitchell Series 8 chassis using standard materials instead of endo steel. Although slow for a 55-ton design at 64 kph, the Thunder Fox‘s four jump jets gave it a degree of maneuverability. Nine tons of ferro-fibrous armor protected the ‘Mech with all ammunition stored in a cellular storage panel in the right torso. 

The Thunder Fox was armed with the best weapons the Republic could source cheaply at the time of its construction. This included a Corean Light Gauss Rifle, a Diverse Optics Sunbeam Extended-Range Large Laser, a Diverse Optics Extended-Range Small Laser, and a Guided Technologies 2nd-Gen Streak SRM-4 launcher. All weapons were mounted on either side of the Thunder Fox‘s torso in swivel mounts.

Thunder Fox TGT-L8

Although well-liked by pilots, the Thunder Fox did see some complaints over its relatively light main weapon. The Light Gauss Rifle, produced by the Free Worlds League over a decade before the Thunder Fox‘s introduction, managed to achieve the same tonnage savings as the Clans did with their version of the Gauss Rifle. However, the caliber of slugs fired in the Light Gauss Rifle was half that of a normal one, resulting in twice as much ammo being stored per ton but dealing roughly half as much damage per shot in return. 

Analysis of the Light Gauss Rifle’s performance revealed it to have a damage-per-ton ratio roughly on par with an AC/5, which was considered rather anemic by the late 3070s. It did offer a superior range, though, and when combined with the ER Large Laser and the stability of four legs, the TFT-A9 proved itself an ideal sniper.

Production at Luthien Armor Works resulted in the TFT-C3 in 3085. A C3 command ‘Mech, the Light Gauss and Streak missile launcher were removed in favor of a C3 master computer, Medium X-Pulse Laser, and ER Medium Laser. A light fusion engine was used to free up space for a Cockpit Command Console, making the TFT-C3 excellent in both training and C&C duties.

Thunder Fox TRO 3085

The Lyran Commonwealth’s TFT-L8 was introduced by Defiance Industries in 3082. This Thunder Fox opted for an XL 275 engine to provide a top speed of 86 kph and make room for a heavier weapons armament: two Snub-Nose PPCs and an LB 10-X autocannon. An additional jump jet was installed to further improve the TFT-L8’s mobility over its cousins.

Production would expand into the 3100s and the design would find its way into multiple factions before Gray Monday, each with its own subtle variations. Some would alter the missile launcher in favor of additional energy weapons, while others would swap the Light Gauss Rifle for other projectile-based weaponry. Almost a dozen variants were known to exist by the 3130s, although their schematics can be difficult to find.

Much like how the Word of Blake’s destruction led to the Thunder Fox, the destruction of the Republic has likely resulted in the Thunder Fox‘s original factory being retooled to manufacture a design less reviled by Clan Wolf MechWarriors. But with such widespread manufacture beyond Terra, it seems the Thunder Fox is likely to survive well into the future. 

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy