Bad ‘Mechs – Land-Air Mechs

Land-Air 'Mechs

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

“Alright, here’s the deal,” Major Sheffield began. He then pointed at Sergeant Donaldson. “You get in the front seat, and you,” Sheffield pointed to the SLDF navy pilot he knew as Lieutenant Barber, “get in the back seat.”

The two SLDF service members looked first at each other and then at the monstrosity before them. It looked like an aerospace fighter had crashed into a ‘Mech and somehow fused the two together. It was a grotesque abomination of all things both pilot and MechWarrior considered holy, and it didn’t exactly motivate either to comply with the Major’s orders.

“With respect sir, just who exactly is going to be in control of that… thing?”

“Great question, Donaldson,” Sheffield replied with a smirk. “You both are. On the ground, Donaldson is in charge. In the air, Barber takes the yoke. Or stick–I’m not sure what you spacers call the thing.”

“Yoke is technically correct, sir,” Barber replied, stone-faced.

“The idea here is to cut down on the training required for Land-Air ‘Mech pilots by simply having both MechWarrior and pilot in a dual cockpit arrangement. If these tests go well, it could usher in a new age of cooperation between SLDF services.”

Sheffield’s pitch sounded like it had come straight from the bureaucratic number crunchers at SLDF procurement, and it did nothing to instill confidence in either of them.

“Communication will be key,” Sheffield added. “You’ll both have the authority to convert your Stinger LAM to either Air or ‘Mech mode, but you should engage targets in the mode best suited for the engagement. Now, get suited up and start blasting targets.”

The two pilots again looked at each other, looked at the Stinger, and then sighed in unison. It was the last time either Donaldson or Barber performed any task in sync. The dual cockpit test would go down as a colossal failure for the dual-cockpit LAM concept, and SLDF training footage would later include recordings of Barber and Donaldson engaged in fisticuffs over who would take control of the LAM during various stages of the test.


First Lord Michael Cameron II ruled the Star League during a time of unprecedented technological innovation. During his reign, the Star League Defense Force would produce impressive and terrifying military machines such as the Awesome BattleMech, the Cameron-class Battlecruiser, and the Gotha Aerospace Fighter. However, it was also a time of completely unmitigated spending for the Terran Hegemony‘s military industrial complex, and as such, it resulted in just as many hits as it did misses. Some of the more spectacular failures have already been discussed in this article series, but none were more costly than the unfortunate Land-Air ‘Mech.

Commissioned in 2680 by Admiral David Peterson, the intent of the Land-Air ‘Mech was to produce a unit that combined the deployment speed of an Aerospace Fighter with the versatility of a ‘Mech. An Aerospace Fighter could rapidly strike targets but its ability to support ground forces was limited. Meanwhile, the BattleMech required DropShips to deploy but once fielded were the undisputed kings of the battlefield. The Land-Air ‘Mech, or LAM, would theoretically combine the advantages of both to create a weapon that ensures the SLDF and Terran Hegemony’s military dominance for centuries to come.

At least, that’s what Admiral Peterson envisioned on paper. The reality of the Land-Air ‘Mech was far from the ideal superweapon that SLDF generals and engineers wanted.

Shadow Hawk LAM

The first company to win an SLDF contract was Allied Aerospace, which created the SHD-X1 in 2680. Based on the already proven Shadow Hawk, the SHD-X1 was a bi-modal Land-Air ‘Mech, meaning it would convert directly from BattleMech to Aerospace Fighter without any intermediate steps.

The brand-new conversion technology proved problematic in multiple ways. First, the bulky tech added five additional tons to the SHD-X1 compared to the all-‘Mech SHD-2H, but also limited the space available for the fusion engine and internal fuel tanks. Thus, the SHD-X1 was slower than the SHD-2H on land by nearly 20kph and had a greatly limited combat radius in fighter mode. Additionally, the AC/5 was replaced by an ER Large Laser and the SRM-2 was removed in favor of an internal bomb bay. Newer technologies of the era such as extra light engines, an Endo Steel chassis, and Ferro Fibrous armor all couldn’t be employed due to the LAM conversion technology’s bulk.

SLDF procurement officers were already skeptical of the new design’s limitations, but things got worse for the SHD-X1 after several test platforms were lost during public reviews in 2681 and 2682. The engineering flaws that led to these lost machines were largely solved by the time the SHD-X2 arrived in 2684, but by then the platform had already gained a reputation as a dangerously flawed design. The SLDF canceled its order, and although Allied Aerospace built 20 SHD-X2 demonstrators, the company failed to attract a single buyer.

Stinger LAM

The first viable LAM came from LexaTech Industries in 2688 with the introduction of the Stinger LAM. Ten tons heavier than the original Stinger and armed with three medium lasers, LexaTech’s design introduced the first tri-modal Land-Air ‘Mech. A third mode allowed the Stinger LAM to deploy its wings and legs simultaneously, allowing it to rapidly travel at low altitudes thanks to the ground effect. Although lacking an internal bomb bay, the Stinger LAM retained the speed of the land-based chassis and impressive Aerospace performance as well.

However, the Stinger LAM revealed several flaws shared by all Land-Air ‘Mechs. While the Stinger LAM proved that the additional bulk of the conversion technology could be accounted for, it still reduced overall payload capacity for either a pure ‘Mech or Aerospace Fighter of similar size. Being completely unable to mount weight-saving technologies such as XL engines or Endo-Steel chassis meant LAMs were often outclassed in their engagements. Land-Air ‘Mechs also proved to be quite fragile. Damage taken to the conversion technology would effectively “lock” the LAM in whichever mode it was currently deployed.

Cost was another issue. Not only did pilots require twice as much training due to the twin mandates, but LAMs themselves cost many times the price of either a single ‘Mech or Aerospace Fighter. With no lack of manpower, the armed forces of the Inner Sphere had more than enough financial incentive to simply invest in proven technologies to bolster their war machines.

Still, the Stinger LAM did at least find niche applications where it was better suited than either an Aerospace Fighter or BattleMech. The SLDF navy often deployed Stinger LAMs in operations on minor planetoids such as asteroids or comets, or against forces that were unlikely to deploy fighters or ‘Mechs of their own.

Immediately following the Stinger LAM came the Wasp LAM from Harvard Company in 2690, which found success in similar niche roles and often served alongside its predecessor. Allied Aersospace’s second attempt at a Land-Air ‘Mech, the Phoenix Hawk LAM, finally vindicated the company in 2701. With harsh lessons learned from its earlier failure with the Shadow Hawk LAM, the Pheonix Hawk LAM proved a far more capable design, retaining the original Phoenix Hawk‘s performance while adding a bomb bay and other capabilities from the conversion technology.

Although there were a few smaller success stories, the crucible of the Succession Wars proved Land-Air ‘Mechs were too costly for all-out warfare between galaxy-spanning armies. Most commanders were loathed to commit the expensive designs for fear of losing them, and with limited stores of spare parts, the destruction of most LAM factories proved to be a death knell for the innovative technology. Only LexaTech’s factory on Irece was still producing Stinger LAM components by 3025, but the Nova Cats put a stop to that after their successful invasion in 3050.

Surprisingly, Land-Air ‘Mechs had a brief renaissance courtesy of the Word of Blake. During the Jihad, Blakist forces unveiled the Yurei, Pwwka, and Waneta LAMs based on its Spectral Series of OmniFighters. By this era, Clan-spec weapons and double heatsinks weren’t quite enough for the three Wobbie LAMs to stand against more traditional ‘Mechs and Aerospace Fighters, once again limiting their use to surprise attacks against inferior foes. The conclusion of the Jihad saw all Blakist factories destroyed, ending the saga of the Land-Air ‘Mech for good.

Spectral Series LAMs

Ultimately, Land-Air ‘Mechs proved that not every new technology has a place in war. I’m sure given more time, research, and investment, Land-Air ‘Mechs could have revolutionized combat as we know it. However, time is often the resource in the shortest supply during wartime. We may yet see the LAM return once again as technological advancement returns to the Inner Sphere, but for now, Land-Air ‘Mechs are dead. May they rest in peace.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For April, 2022

Taxes. I still need to do mine, and that’s why this intro is going to be extremely short. BattleTech news for April, go!

PseudoTech: Arcade Operations Released For April Fools Day

Eldonious is the fantastic artist who does the cover images for the Bad ‘Mechs series, so of course, I’m going to plug his recent work for Catalyst’s 2022 April Fools product, PseudoTech: Arcade Operations. It’s a tongue-in-cheek sourcebook that offers alternative styles of combat in Solaris with a classic arcade flavor. Think power-ups, boss fights, and even a Tetris mode, which is both confusing and concerning. You can pick up the PDF for three bucks over on Catalyst’s website.

Wolves Previews Puma As Part Of Wave 3’s Planned Multiplayer Update

Mechassault Fangame - Wolves Wave 3 Puma Showcase
Watch this video on YouTube.

Wolves, the MechAssault fan game that’s promising to bring MechAssault kicking and screaming into the future, is gearing up for its Wave 3 update. We’ve seen the folks over at New Day Fiction make significant progress on their passion project over the years, and now they’re gearing up for the release of a new wave of ‘Mechs to be added to Wolves’ roster.

One of those ‘Mechs just happens to be the Puma (or Adder, if you’re nasty). New Day Fiction’s Pajama Boy joined texture artist Knightly Doggo to showcase the Puma in a seven-minute video posted to the MechAssaultReborn YouTube channel. Doggo confirmed a few of the features coming to Wolves, including a planned multiplayer mode that will let players browse and join servers hosted by other players. Waves 3 will contain four ‘Mechs, one for each weight class, with the Puma being the light ‘Mech and the Timber Wolf as its heavy. Best of all, that multiplayer mode will arrive with Wave 3’s launch. 

The only bad news here is that there’s no concrete launch date for Wave 3. Wolves is a fan game, so these folks all have day jobs to attend to first. We’ll hopefully get that launch date in the coming weeks. 

MechWarrior Online Dev Blog Reveals Revamped Skill Tree

MechWarrior Online May Features Update
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Some time ago, MechWarrior Online introduced its worst feature, the skill tree. Requiring 92 clicks to complete and so confusing that you needed a degree in brain rocket surgery to understand, the skill tree was roundly criticized by the community at the time, and it hasn’t changed much since then. In my experience, what sucks the most about the skill tree is while it can offer substantial buffs to your ‘Mech’s performance, it becomes mandatory to take a fully-skilled ‘Mech onto the field the further up the MechWarrior Online skill rankings you are. Taking an unskilled ‘Mech into a tier-one match feels like taking a recently-be-shat baby into a sumo wrestling match. 

Thankfully, I have some good news. Developer PGI’s recent development vlog has revealed significant changes coming to MWO’s skill tree. The skill tree will become far easier to understand by breaking up trees into related groups, while the number of clicks will be reduced by letting the player just click once to unlock all skills in a node. 

What’s so amazing about this change is that you’ll finally be able to get the skills you want without being forced to pick skills you don’t want. Getting armor nodes won’t require getting skeletal density nodes, and getting the laser durations nodes won’t require getting every single other node in the firepower tree. Everything will have its own itty bitty tree so you’ll finally be able to customize your ‘Mech the way you want it.

With a few exceptions. Seismic is still locked behind at least four targeting nodes, and a fully-powered ECM is locked behind eight sensor nodes. Consumable slot upgrades are also locked behind several other nodes so perhaps MechWarrior Online will become less Airstrike Warrior Online in the near future.

Best of all is that no refunds will be necessary when the new skill tree rolls out and unlocking new skills will be a lot cheaper than before. This might even encourage new players to stick around for more than a few quick play matches. 

Matt Newman also mentions a few other upgrades coming in future patches, including a specific event queue that might arrive alongside the revamped skill tree. Both are tentatively planned for the May 24 update, according to the recently updated 2022 roadmap, so cross your fingers it all goes according to plan. 

In the meantime, there are two new Platinum ‘Mech Packs for both Inner Sphere and the Clans if you like your ‘Mechs looking like flat chrome, a few adjustments to weapon health, and several more ‘Mechs got a quirk pass in April’s patch. These include the Huntsman, Wolverine, Black Lanner, and Archer, alongside some more adjustments to the Rifleman, Hellbringer, and Dire Wolf. You can check ‘em all out in the patch notes here.

Renegade HPG Posts Remaster Of Remastered BattleTech Animated Series

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Renegade HPG and The Art of BattleTech did us all a public service by using modern technology to remaster the ’90s BattleTech cartoon last year. Unfortunately, some of the episodes were still of very low quality simply due to the degradation of the source material. However, Renegade HPG has recently sourced better versions of a few of the episodes that weren’t quite up to par in his initial remaster project and he’ll be replacing those episodes over the coming weeks.

All this is to say that BattleTech: The Animated Series is back and better than ever. Check it out over on Renegade HPG’s YouTube channel if you haven’t already. Or if you just wanna binge the whole series again.

MechWarrior 5 Announces Third DLC, “Call To Arms”

Call to Arms Key Art

Last month, we found out that the Hatchetman would make its MechWarrior debut, and that it’d bring its iconic hatchet with it. Now in April, we’re finding out that the third DLC is called Call to Arms, probably because it’s bringing a full suite of melee weapons to MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries.

Besides the Hatchetman‘s hatchet, Call to Arms is bringing eight other melee weapons, including Battleaxes, Claymores, Katanas, regular Axes, Trench Blades, Long Swords, Claws, and Maces. For some reason, these weapons are broken down into Assault, Heavy, and Medium categories, and it’s not entirely clear why. This might indicate that only Assault ‘Mechs can wield Battleaxes, or it might just be a handy short-hand for identifying the weight of the weapon itself. I certainly hope light ‘Mechs can still wield melee weapons since the Mjolnir seems to wield a mace just fine at 25 tons.

In addition to the melee weapons themselves, Call to Arms brings 23 new melee-focused ‘Mech variants, five more Hero ‘Mechs that are also wielding melee weapons, and an all-new animated Stormsurge skin. It certainly looks cool, but I don’t BattleMech technicians wasting optic camouflage tech on a paint job, so this skin seems a little out of place. We’ll also get three new biomes in Call to Arms to give players a little more variety in where they engage in giant robot mayhem.

Call to Arms will also launch alongside a free update that adds several new features to the game, including a flexible mission tonnage system that’ll let you take ‘Mechs way over the tonnage limit into missions at the cost of some C-bills. If I recall, there’s already a mod that basically eliminates the weight limit for no penalty, but I can see why it’d be a slightly more interesting game mechanic to sacrifice C-bills for bringing the Steiner Scout Lance on patrol. There are also a few updates to the star map and contracts screens, and a new mechanic that lets you switch to a lancemate’s ‘Mech if yours gets taken down.

And of course, there’s a five-mission questline that’ll take you to the Isle of Skye to capture a brand new Hatchetman. So you’ll at least be able to field the Hatchetman almost immediately upon getting the DLC.

So, when is Call to Arms coming out? That we don’t know. The official site says “coming soon,” so my guess is sometime this summer. After that, I suspect that’ll be a wrap for MechWarrior 5, and then hopefully onto MechWarrior 6. Fingers crossed on a Clan Invasion-themed game.

Don’t Piss Off A Wolverine

A painting of that one time my Wolverine pilot soloed a lance of light mechs and won. from battletech

Could a Wolverine solo a lance of light ‘Mechs and win? The answer to this question is apparently “yes” since that’s what happened to Reddit user 1001WingedHussars. They also immortalized the occasion in this fantastic piece showcasing the hero Wolverine charging a Wasp before blasting it in the back with a Gauss Rifle slug. Thanks for sharing, 1001WingedHussars, if you’re curious, you can get the full story straight from the source here.

Catalyst Announced New ‘Mech Packs And Mercenaries Kickstarter

Hansen's Roughriders

Catalyst just made a slew of announcements, which you can view on the official site here. Easily the biggest is Mercenaries Kickstarter, which will attempt to replicate the success of the Clan Invasion Kickstarter with 50 new plastic minis that range from both before and after the Clan Invasion. Examples include the Firestarter, Griffin IIC, Ostroc, and Kraken, but also several tanks such as the Galleon Light Tank, SRM/LRM Carrier, and Demolisher Heavy Tank. “A variety of mercenary-themed stretch goals will also be included,” Catalyst notes. If this is even half as successful as the Clan Invasion Kickstarter, I suspect we’ll see a bunch of those stretch goals become reality.

KS-Mercenaries

There are also several new ‘Mech Packs coming in autumn that might give us a taste of what’s to come in the Mercenaries Kickstarter. The Eridani Light Horse Hunter Lance includes the Sagittaire, Banshee, Cyclops, and Thunderbolt, while the Hansen’s Roughriders Battle Lance includes an Enforcer, Atlas (which is in a new pose), Hatchetman, and Penetrator. The Northwind Highlanders Command Lance includes a Highlander (of course), a Grasshopper, a Warhammer, and a Gunslinger (although the non-final example box has an Atlas), and the Kell Hounds Striker Lance includes a new Wolfhound, a Nightsky, a Griffin, and a Crusader. Later in 2023, the Gray Death Legion will bring a new variant of the Gargoyle (the C variant, from the looks of it), an all-new Regent, a Shadow Hawk, and a Catapult-K2.

New ‘Mech minis aren’t the half of what Catalyst has announced. In July, the first ilClan-era sourcebook arrives in Empire Alone, alongside two updated Tactical Operations Advanced Rules and Units with full errata. The third quarter of this year brings Technical Readout: Dark Age, which will combine ‘Mechs previously featured in Technical Readout: 3075, Technical Readout: 3085 (and Supplemental), Technical Readout: 3145, Technical Readout: Irregulars, Technical Readout: Prototypes, “and more.” Michael Ciaravella’s new novel, The Damocles Sanction, also comes out third-quarter this year, and Bryan Young’s new novel, A Question of Survival, comes out later this summer. And in the winter months, Dominions Divided tells us what’s going on between the Federated Suns and Draconis Combine, as well as how the Rashlhague Dominion is taking the news of Clan Wolf’s victory on Terra, and finally, a new BattleTech Universe primer will do its best to summarize all the important plot beats of BattleTech between now and the year 3150.

That’s not everything, of course, so check out Catalyst’s news update to get the full rundown of products coming.

Atlantic City To Host Classic BattleTech Tournament

Atlantic City Open

The Everything BattleTech Facebook page recently shared this link to what is being billed as a Classic BattleTech Championship in Atlantic City. The tournament is being hosted by Frontline Gaming Community, is being held at Harrah’s Resort, and will run the weekend of June 10. Sign-ups are available now.

I’m not a huge tabletop guy, but the rules sound pretty standard. No force may exceed a total Battle Value of 6,000, no Aerospace units are allowed, and ‘Mechs can be chosen from the BattleTech Force Packs Record Sheets Wave One, Wave Two, and Wolf’s Dragoons. Elemental battle armor is allowed if you’re going for a combined-arms Clan army. Older miniatures are allowed, but tournament organizers are encouraging at least 80% of fielded forces to use minis currently available from Catalyst and Iron Wind Metals. 3D-printed minis are banned.

Apparently, this tournament isn’t just going to be a free-for-all, and specific mission objectives will be announced in the coming days. This could greatly influence your unit composition, so check those objectives before you get your heart set.

Well, That’s A Lot Of Collateral Damage, But I Guess The Contract Has Been Satisfied…

Contract Complete from battletech

Sneaking this one just under the deadline is Reddit user yi-ngo, who posted this amazing piece to the BattleTech subreddit. It depicts the pained expression of a Davion liason seeing just what sort of mayhem this mercenary lance got up to in the service of the Prince. Or at least, that’s how I imagine it.

Tex Talks BattleTech Talks About The Warhammer

Tex Talks Battletech : The Warhammer
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It has been almost a full year since Tex Talks BattleTech brought us the Marauder. Now, Tex is back with the Warhammer, and as always, it was well worth the wait. This is an even longer video than the Marauder, as Tex and the Black Pants Legion seem to have no concept of the term “mission creep.” As in previous videos, Tex starts off with an interesting subject that seemingly has little relation to the Warhammer before bringing things full circle with an insightful and detailed dive into the Warhammer’s history, and also a rundown of the most popular Warhammer variants (although, not all of them, because there are a lot of Warhammer variants). There’s also a crapton of new art from various BattleTech artists, an all-new animation from D.C Bruins featuring Randolph P. Checkers, and a full 20 minutes of goofy bullshit at the end. And yes, drunken Duncan Fisher once again makes an appearance.

There are a lot of great BattleTech fan videos out there, but it’s hard to compare them with the monumental amount of effort that the Black Pants Legion put into this one. Watch it.

And that’s it for April! Join us next time as we dive deep into another Bad ‘Mechs ahead of everything that’s happened in May.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

Bad ‘Mechs – Banshee

Banshee Clown

Courtesy of EldoniousRex

“What. The. Fuck.” 

Hauptmann Müller turned to his chief technician, normally the best in the 3rd Lyran Guards, but now Müller was beginning to question his qualifications. 

“Yes, sir?”

Müller raised his arm and pointed at his Banshee’s cockpit. “What the hell is that?”

The tech sighed and shrugged. “We ran out of white paint, sir.” 

“So you thought it would be a good idea to substitute-” Müller paused to look at the pink skull that had been crudely drawn over the Banshee’s head, “-neon pink?”

“It’s all we had, sir.” 

Müller’s animated arm movements made it clear he was less than amused. “Well, scrub it off! I can’t take on the Dracs with a pink cockpit.” 

“We’re less than two hours from Vega and I’ve got the rest of the company to arm,” the tech held up a datapad to prove it. “What’s wrong with pink?” 

“It doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of hardened DCMS fighters,” Müller huffed. 

“Yeah? Well, neither does that popgun of an autocannon you got there,” the tech quipped. “Which, by the way, I gotta load up. If you’ll excuse me.” 

The chief technician left Müller staring at his ‘Mech, wondering if he still had enough time to just dump a bucket of paint thinner over the pink Banshee’s face. 


The Banshee is one of the oldest ‘Mech designs in existence thanks to a lineage that traces back to the Terran Hegemony. First produced in 2445, the original design largely attempted to mimic the Mackie in terms of firepower, using a combination of autocannon and PPC as its main armament and then backing it up with a pair of medium lasers and a single small laser. Although extremely well armored for a ‘Mech of the era, the BNC-1E Banshee was often criticized for its limited speed, even though its initial running gait matched the Mackie‘s 54kph.

By the year 2475, engineers at the Terran Hegemony decided it was time to solve the Banshee‘s single problem of low top speed. However, their solution was to replace the original engine with a massive GM 380 fusion reactor. This engine alone weighed over 40 tons and severely restricted the Banshee‘s ability to carry adequate firepower for an assault-class ‘Mech, forcing the removal of both medium lasers and a ton of AC/5 ammunition. Surprisingly, Hegemony engineers decided to retain the Banshee‘s 16 single heat sinks despite the fact there was almost no scenario in which even repeated firing of all its weapons would ever require all 16 heat sinks. 

Left with just a single PPC, an AC/5, and a small laser, the Banshee often found itself out-gunned by ‘Mechs half its size. Although adequately armored and surprisingly nimble for a 95-ton machine, the Banshee’s abject failure to deliver more ordinance than even a 50-ton Centurion forced the Terran Hegemony to relegate the 5,000 Banshees produced to provisional garrisons or training units.

Ironically, what saved the Banshee was its poor reputation for being an under-armed behemoth. The outbreak of the Succession Wars in 2786 forced House militaries to employ whatever ‘Mechs they had available, and this pushed the Banshee into active military use, although most commanders still kept it in second-line or fire-support units owing to its lack of firepower. Some forward-thinking commanders recognized one of the Banshee‘s greatest strengths lay in its massive fists, employing the Banshee as a sort of “brawler” ‘Mech to ensure better-armed allies weren’t forced into hand-to-hand combat during close-quarters assaults. Banshee MechWarriors employed in such a manner often took a page from the Atlas‘s playbook and painted their cockpits with a white skull. 

A full third of the original 5,000 Banshees produced were still in operation by the end of the Succession Wars, but even before then, engineers from various Houses attempted to rectify the Terran Hegemony’s original mistake in making the BNC-3E. The Free Worlds League first replaced the Banshee‘s AC/5 with another PPC and added back the two medium lasers in the BNC-3M, which first saw production in 2579. This solved the BNC-3E’s ammo problems with a more powerful energy weapon, but the same weapon overtaxed the Banshee‘s 16 single heat sinks.

Defiance Industries obtained the Banshee‘s design specifications and license in 3026, eventually creating the BNC-3S model. Defiance engineers felt that the Terran Hegemony had it all wrong in thinking the original Banshee was too slow, so they swapped the GM 380 for the smaller Pitban 285, dropping the chassis back down to a shambling 54kph top speed. However, the tonnage saved thanks to the smaller engine allowed Defiance to upgrade the autocannon to a larger caliber, add an entirely new PPC, four medium lasers, another small laser, and an SRM-6 missile launcher. An additional five heatsinks over the BNC-3E model keep the machine cool so long as the pilot avoids repeated alpha strikes. The BNC-3S would go on to become one of Defiance Industries’ most iconic ‘Mechs thanks to its popularity in the Lyran Armed Forces.

The BNC-3S would go on to inspire the BNC-5S following the discovery of the Helm Memory Core and its long-lost Star League technology. An XL engine allowed Defiance to bring the Banshee back to a more stately 64kph top speed while replacing the AC/10 with an even more powerful Gauss Rifle. Both PPCs were upgraded to their Extended Range counterparts, while the use of double heatsinks kept the BNC-5S far cooler than older models. 

More recent models use a Light Fusion Engine to retain at least some of the same durability as BNC-3E, while others make use of newer, harder-hitting weapons such as Heavy PPCs. The most recent model, the BNC-12S, upgrades the 5S with a Clan-tech XL engine, an Endo Steel chassis, and Clan-spec lasers. The saved weight allowed Defiance engineers to add several tons of additional armor, making it both the hardest-hitting and best-protected Banshee ever made. 

The moral of the Banshee’s story: a bad ‘Mech is eventually good, but a good ‘Mech gets deployed so often that they run out of spare parts when the factory gets destroyed.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy. 

stay syrupy

 

Your BattleTech News Roundup For March, 2022

Well hey, we’re not all dead! That’s a fancy turn of events that I was totally not expecting. Perhaps it’s the spring weather that’s finally got me in a cheerful mood. Or maybe it’s the fact that we haven’t all been vaporized in nuclear fire. Either way, I’m happy for March, and I’m sure you’ll be happy for all the news coming straight to your eyeholes through my fingertips. 

That sounds weird. Let’s just get to your BattleTech news for March while I go wash my hands. 

Renegade HPG Talks To BattleTech Animated Writer Robert Skir

Making BattleTech The Animated Series | with Writer Robert Skir
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Continuing last January’s interview with BattleTech: The Animated Series producer Kurt Weldon, Renegade HPG is back to talk with series writer Robert Skir. Perhaps better known for classic ’90s cartoons including X-Men, Batman, and Gargoyles, Robert still had plenty of fond memories to share with Travis. And perhaps surprisingly for people that are brought into the BattleTech universe, Robert did quite a bit of research on the universe before writing the series. Although not particularly interested in “space tanks” as he called them, Robert came to the understanding that BattleMechs are really an integral part of both the characters and the stories they’re trying to tell, making the series into as much a drama as it was a means to sell toys (which it generally failed to do, which perhaps explains with the show was canceled). 

If you want the lowdown on how a ‘90s cartoon gets written and very specific details on BattleTech: The Animated Series, this is the interview you need to see. 

MechWarrior Online’s Roadmap Was A Whole Lot Of Nothing

Mechwarrior Online - Roadmap 2022
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This technically came about in February, but it was a little late to hit that month’s news blast so we’re pushing it into March. We’re well into 2022 and well into MechWarrior Online‘s renaissance with multiple patches, multiple map revamps, and even a brand new map. It’s time for fans to get a roadmap, and what PGI delivered was a whole lotta nothin’.

To be fair to PGI, they’ve been bitten before by overpromising and underdelivering, so the 2022 roadmap was couched in language that made everyone aware that it was very much a work in progress. But with most of the year filled with “TBD” placeholders, the roadmap really didn’t reveal a whole lot to MechWarrior fans. 

A follow-up post from live ops manager Matt Newman clarified a few points on the roadmap. He said there’d be more ‘Mech variants coming in the year, but the exact number and delivery dates are up in the air. PGI is also committed to four brand new maps--the first of which arrives this month--but specific timetables are still unknown. The Cauldron is continuing its work on quirks and game balance and there will be more events and sales as the year goes on. 

So stuff is coming (as we’ll see more later in this very article), but there are not a lot of hard dates that can be set at the moment. Perhaps a roadmap was a bad idea and instead a more general post on future plans might have been sufficient. I’ll be the first to admit it’s tough to keep MechWarriors happy. 

MWO Supports Ukraine With Free ‘Mech (And Also Patch Notes And Limited-Time Events)

Uziel Free Mech

As with each month, there’s a new free ‘Mech being given away in MechWarrior Online. The Uziel UZP-6P is a decent medium energy boat, and this particular Uziel can come with a blue and yellow paint job--the same colors as the Ukrainian flag. There’s also a peace symbol on the right torso. It’s not quite an explicit political statement, but it’s close, and an interesting choice given the number of Russian players in MechWarrior Online.

Getting that Uziel only requires a combined match score of 8,000 rather than the 10,000 required for previous free ‘Mech giveaways. That might be due to another big change that happened over the March 12 weekend which was 8v8 quickplay matches. The official line was testing for the coming events queue, but it also provided an excellent opportunity for PGI to see if 8v8 games might make the wait time between matches somewhat shorter. I’ve played a few games and they certainly did arrive faster, but it seems the matchmaker had some difficulty ensuring a fair balance of ‘Mech classes and pilots on both sides. 

If you didn’t like 8v8, the good news is that things are back to the usual 12v12 matches now. The rest of the month is celebrating St. Patrick’s day by hosting the Lucky Charms lootbox event. Tons of free credits and skill points are being given away alongside several cockpit cosmetics that fit the Irish theme. 

And now let’s talk about that patch. Only a few ‘Mechs getting new quirks, including the Catapult, Charger, Bushwacker, Night Gyr, and Warhammer IIC, but there’s a litany of smaller tweaks being made to various ‘Mechs that have already received their quirk passes. It seems the Cauldron is slowing down a bit on the quirk passes to fine-tune some previously quirked ‘Mechs.

But the biggest news is two new ‘Mech variants coming, including the Kit Fox-P and the Summoner-G, as well as a brand new map. Emerald Valley brings beautiful, verdant highlands with plenty of rocky outcrops and buildings to take cover behind. Like MechWarrior Online‘s other new map, Emerald Vale looks pretty big, so hopefully that 8v8 change isn’t coming back anytime soon. Otherwise, folks will have trouble finding each other in this mountainous maze.

Don’t Forget BattleTech Fans In Ukraine

I know I said we weren’t going to get political, but this one was pretty heartbreaking. Kyiv still stands bravely in the face of Russian aggression (and if recent reports are to be believed, have even pushed Russian forces back), but it’s still a humanitarian crisis of a scale that Europe hasn’t seen since World War 2. Please give to Ukrainian charities if you have the means.

This Is What Happens To LRM-Boats Who Get Noticed

Notice me step-boat <3 from OutreachHPG

This one’s a bit MechWarrior Online-specific given the Flea poking a Nova Cat-B in the butt, but I felt it was relevant enough to BattleTech fans everywhere that it should be celebrated in the news. Credit to Reddit user acreamysquid for the pic and for noticing senpai.

Catalyst Returns To Conventions And Announces A New Tech Readout

With Covid on the wane (at least for now), it’s time to get back to the business, and that means conventions for Catalyst Game Labs. Adepticon just ended in Illinois where Catalyst revealed a brand-new product: Technical Readout: Dark Age.

A compilation of the most common ‘Mechs found in Technical Readout: 3067, Technical Readout: 3075, Technical Readout: 3085, Technical Readout: 3145, Technical Readout: 3150, Technical Readout: Irregulars, and Technical Readout: Prototypes, Technical Readout: Dark Age was available in limited quantities at Adepticon and will see a wider release at a later date. 

Catalyst also announced a new cover reprint for Surrender Your Dreams as well as the print-on-demand version of No Substitute for Victory, both of which are available now. Head to Catalyst’s website or follow these links to buy ’em.

The Great UrbanMech Uprising Is Why You Should Buy Shrapnel #8

Hello for the people that don’t know I’m an artist working on the Shrapnel magazine. And as some of you have already seen here #8 is out and I wanted to hear what your guys thoughts are on my latest work. This piece is for the story "The Great Urbanmech Uprising". from battletech

I don’t have Shrapnel issue 8, but this art is basically compelling me to purchase it. Reddit user meltdonw14, who has shared quite a bit of amazing art on the social media site, had his work featured in Shrapnel for the story “The Great UrbanMech Uprising.” Do you want to know how the UrbanMechs rose up to throw off the shackles of their oppressors? I know I sure do. Plus the story confirms the canonicity of a UrbanMech duelist association called the “Urbie Durbie.” That’s how you move magazines, people.

MechWarrior 5 Is Not Dead Yet

A little while ago, I talked about the future of MechWarrior 5, which wasn’t looking super great after publisher EG7 released a report saying MechWarrior 5‘s production was winding down. No Guts No Galaxy’s Sean Lang postulated that MechWarrior 5 was likely to see at least one more expansion for MW5, but that would likely be the end before PGI moves on to bigger and better things (like possibly MechWarrior 6). 

On March 22, PGI president Russ Bullock answered No Guts No Galaxy to reveal “significant amounts of development going on for both MechWarrior products,” which include MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online. More info is promised in the coming “days or weeks” and “not months.” 

In fact, we’ve already seen the first ‘Mech that’ll be coming in MechWarrior 5‘s third DLC. More details on that later on.

MechWarrior Living Legends Is Revamping Its VTOL Flight Model

Dev Preview: VTOL Flight Model Rework!
Watch this video on YouTube.

It’s been a while since we heard from MechWarrior: Living Legends, the stand-alone Crysis mod that is the absolute best way to play a PC-based BattleTech game for zero dollars (or Euros or Pesos or whatever other currency you’ve got jangling around in your digital pocketbook). It’s also the only BattleTech video game that offers combined arms combat--you can roll around in a tank, jet around as an Elemental, or fly around in an Aerospace fighter.

Or you can zip around in any of BattleTech’s many conventional VTOL aircraft, which range from the Hawk Moth for the Inner Sphere faction to the Clan’s Donar. Choppers are a great way of providing stable fire support or a fast defensive response, and although they’re vulnerable to fire from… well, pretty much everything (just like real-life choppers), there are some MWLL fans that swear by these zippy little monsters.

And now they’re getting a flight model revamp. In their current form, VTOLs can be quite difficult to get the hang of. You can’t move backward or sideways as most modern helicopters can, and you can’t pitch your VTOL in order to engage targets that are significantly above or below your flight path. All that’s changing in the upcoming VTOL flight model rework, along with several other new features that will make VTOLs more realistic. 

The latest trailer showcasing the flight model rework promises these changes will hit MWLL “soon,” so stay tuned. And as always, give MechWarrior: Living Legends a try if you’re tired of the more modern MechWarrior games.

MechWarrior Online Is Teasing A New ‘Mech And I’m Pretty Sure It’s The Crusader

This is a big deal. The Crusader has been one of the most requested Unseen ‘Mechs since MechWarrior Online got started way back in 2012, and with all the other Unseen ‘Mechs lumbering around (including the Shadow Hawk, Phoenix Hawk, Locust, Griffin, Warhammer, Marauder, and many more), the Crusader has been a conspicuous absence.

But that might soon change. The MechWarrior Online Twitter account appears to be teasing a brand new ‘Mech, and from what folks far more observant than I can tell, it appears to be the vaunted Crusader. Fans point to the feet and vents on the legs as telltale signs that the Crusader will soon arrive in MWO.

That said, we’ve yet to receive all the teaser images for anyone to put ‘em all together to create a conclusive, singular image. I’ll be following this Twitter thread to find out though. [Edit: It’s confirmed]

I don’t think the Crusader will upset the MWO meta all that much. Most missile boats are either Supernovas or Nova Cats, with the occasional Huntsman thrown in for funsies. I think I have a friend who loves his Stalker missilier, but Archers and Catapults aren’t particularly common. On the other hand, the Crusader offers an interesting mix of missile, energy, and ballistic hardpoints, so it’s possible that the Crusader could surprise me with a competitive build that’s very different from its stock loadout. 

…And The Hatchetman In MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

Same deal as above, but instead of MechWarrior Online (which doesn’t have melee combat options and likely never will) it’s MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries (which does have melee combat options, but so far limited to just punches). Hatchets (and axes and swords) can do a LOT of damage in the tabletop, so here’s hoping Mr. Hatchetman is as baller in MechWarrior 5. This basically confirms MechWarrior 5‘s third DLC, which will be officially announced in early April.

This UrbanMech Plush Is Really Going Places

You’ve heard of Elf on the Shelf. Let me present Urbie on a Journey! from battletech

I just liked the idea of replacing the Travelocity gnome with an UrbanMech plush. Kudos to ZookeeperD for this delightful arrangement of Urbie photos. 

Operation Lancaster Explores Jihad-Era With Over 500 Pages Of Stories, Art, Record Sheets, And More

Operation Lancaster: A BattleTech Fan Project led by Devin Ramsey (Launch Video)
Watch this video on YouTube.

Almost two years ago, Michael at Metal Core Collectibles informed me of an upcoming fan project called Operation Lancaster. What started as a fan-made TRO project has since ballooned into an absolutely massive tabletop expansion, complete with art, character profiles, record sheets, and even a fancy launch trailer. It even has MegaMekLab files if you prefer to play your BattleTech tabletop games digitally.

Operation Lancaster primarily tells the story of several mercenary units fighting against the Word of Blake during the Jihad. You’ll be able to get caught up thanks to several short stories included in the 500-plus page PDF file that you can find in the video description.

This project is a huge love letter to BattleTech. It’s also telling a story that most of the community has either glossed over or ignored--including Catalyst itself. The Jihad is a great opportunity to tell compelling stories during what is likely BattleTech‘s darkest hours, and it’s fun to see fans diving into this sera with such gusto.

And that’s it! I’m in the middle of buying and also renovating a new home, so I apologize for being a little light on content. I promise the next Bad ‘Mechs will be out soon™.

And as always MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy. 

stay syrupy

Bad ‘Mechs – Hornet

Hornet

Courtesy of EldoniousRex

It looks like an egg,” griped corporal Sumners sullenly. 

Lieutenant Garcia sighed. Losses had been heavy on Misery, and Sumners busted up Stinger had been replaced by an HNT-151 Hornet. She knew it wasn’t exactly an upgrade, but she hadn’t expected Sumners to be quite so morose about the assignment. 

“It looks like an escape pod that grew legs,” Sumners said when Garcia failed to respond. 

Garcia sighed again. “Your complaint has been noted, corporal.” 

“It looks like an angry peanut that’s trying to steal barrels of other peanuts so nobody can eat any peanuts.” 

“Sumners, I understand you had a rich and storied history with that Stinger, but you’re a soldier in Wolf’s Dragoons and you’ll pilot whatever the quartermaster damned well provides. Are we clear?” 

This minor dressing down did nothing to improve Sumners’ mood. “Yes ma’am.” 

“Good. We need everyone out there to meet the Third Ryuken regiment, and that includes you in your shiny new peanut-klepto metal egg.”

This managed to get a wry smirk from Sumners, who finally picked his head out of his hands, saluted, and trotted away from Garcia and off to the small ladder that would lead him to the Hornet’s cockpit. Now that she was looking at it, Garcia thought the Hornet really did look like an angry egg.


Following the success of the Crusader, which had gone on to become a workhorse of the SLDF, Kallon Industries started eyeing more niche defense manufacturing contracts. One of those was for an urban scout ‘Mech, a role that was becoming increasingly important in the fighting on Periphery worlds. However, Kallon’s proposal was a design that even on paper seemed ill-suited for the role. At 20 tons, with a top speed of 86 kph and armed with a single LRM-5 launcher and a medium laser, the Hornet was at best a light support unit masquerading as an urban scout. With little interest from SLDF procurement for a ‘Mech that didn’t even meet the most basic of requirements for urban combat, the initial HNT-171 Hornet variant was shelved for over two centuries.

As the Succession Wars finally began to ebb, Kallon Industries rediscovered the Hornet blueprints in the ruins of an ancient factory and decided to put the design back into production. Unfortunately, much of the advanced technologies used in the HNT-171 were no longer available, such as the Endo Steel chassis, Ferro-Fibrous armor, and anti-missile system. The downgraded HNT-151 Hornet was introduced in 2990 and sold on the open export market where it was advertised to mercenary units as a light support ‘Mech.

One of the initial buyers was Wolf’s Dragoons, which purchased a significant portion of all Hornets ever produced. There the Hornet served with distinction during the Battle of Misery, although the Hornet‘s success is perhaps best attributed to the battle acumen of Wolf’s Dragoons officers and MechWarriors than the ‘Mech itself. That said, the Hornet briefly became a favorite with the Federated Suns where it replaced ancient Stingers, Locusts, and Wasps with March Militia units. The Ceti Hussars and the Deneb Light Cavalry also equipped themselves with Hornets, but by the time of the second Star League and the FedCom Civil War, the Hornet had long been surpassed by superior designs in every role. 

Besides an almost ludicrous design that provides very little protection for the pilot, the MechWarrior suffers from the typical flaws of a light ‘Mech that sacrifices speed for a meager increase in armor and firepower. Although the extra armor allows it to withstand strikes from similarly light ‘Mechs such as the Locust or Stinger, and its LRM-5 launcher allows it to engage at distances typically reserved for much larger units, the Hornet lacks the speed to disengage when it’s confronted with a superior force. Jump jets only partially solve this issue, and commanders fielding Hornets were encouraged to use terrain wisely in order to provide a secure line of retreat for Hornet pilots. Note that this tactic didn’t save those Hornet pilots if the enemy force also had jump-capable ‘Mechs.

In an urban environment, the Hornet was at a strict disadvantage as it loses the benefit of the LRM-5’s longer range. An anti-missile system provides some additional protection from shoulder-fired missile launchers, but the closed-off spaces sometimes didn’t provide enough time for the anti-missile system to react to new threats. 

The Hornet was better employed as light support to heavier fire support ‘Mechs where it could add its long-range fire to whatever target the primary units were engaging while simultaneously defending them from return fire using their anti-missile systems. Jump jets and a medium laser provided some defense against armored infantry, but the Hornet‘s lack of arms made defending against Elementals difficult.

The Hornet did make a comeback in the later years of The Republic with the HNT-181 variant produced by Coalition Armory Inc. under license. Upgraded with an XL engine, Compact Heat Sinks, an MML-5, and a Small Re-Engineered Laser, the HNT-181 Hornet provided additional versatility without sacrificing performance, although the performance of the Hornet already left much to be desired. This cheap but modernized design was perfect for periphery militias to protect against bandits and pirates but failed to stand up against more threatening designs. 

Hornet

And finally, there’s the issue of the Hornet’s looks which were comical even for ancient Star League designs. I mean, just look at the thing. It looks like a soybean cosplaying as The Rocketeer

As always, leave a comment with your opinion of the Hornet below along with your suggestion for the next Bad ‘Mech.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For February, 2022

Hah! Just when you thought that Sarna’s monthly news reports were going to start off a little more cheerily with the waning pandemic, HERE COMES RUSSIA WITH A STEEL CHAIR!

But seriously, this whole Russian invasion of Ukraine is terrifying and I find little (read, no) humor in it. To everyone suffering in Ukraine, I hope this all ends soon with a minimum loss of life. To everyone outside of Ukraine, here’s how you can help.

And now, onto the news. 

Can I Interest You In Life Insurance With Kerensky Mutual? 

Elementals wrecking havoc on you Mercenary unit? Try Battle-Armor insurance! from battletech

We begin with something that just missed the cutoff for the January news blast. I’m all about the BattleTech memes, and this one from Agressive_Loafing is premium dank meme material. All they had to do was add a top hat and a briefcase and suddenly this Elemental is far less of a threat to this Zeus. Although, depending on the deductible, still a potential threat. 

The Savage Wolf Arrives In MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

Savage Wolf MechWarrior 5

So, remember that time a modder added the Timber Wolf to MechWarrior 5? Well, now we’ve got the Mad Cat Mk IV, better known as the Savage Wolf

Normally, this ‘Mech doesn’t show up in the Inner Sphere until the year 3136, but in this MechWarrior 5 mod, it’ll start appearing in 3058, albeit extremely rarely. Instructions on how to use a save editor to acquire the Savage Wolf immediately are listed at the bottom of the mod page.

According to the mod description by gomgom50, the Savage Wolf requires at least the Heroes of the Inner Sphere expansion and maybe the Legendo of the Kestrel Lancers, too. There’s also a version of the mod that works in conjunction with the YAML Mechlab and YAMC Clan Weapon mods. 

You might note there is a slight difference between the canon Savage Wolf and the version displayed in the mod, specifically where it comes to the placement of the Streak SRM-6s. The rear-facing launchers have been swapped to the front, making this basically the same as the Timber Wolf Alt. Config D. I think gomgom50 has done a decent job of retaining the Savage Wolf’s distinctive looks while modifying the weapons to work in MW5.

This may be the first and only time we see a Republic-era ‘Mech in MechWarrior, so be sure to give this one a try.

Renegade HPG Talks to Former FASA President Sam Lewis

Sam Lewis Talks BattleTech
Watch this video on YouTube.

Renegade HPG has once again proven in a fantastic resource for anyone looking to learn more about BattleTech’s past. This time, Travis has snagged Sam Lewis, BattleTech line developer and later FASA president between the years of 1987 to 1995. Travis went through Sam’s entire career with FASA and especially the formative years of BattleTech’s lore where Sam worked with the authors like Michael Stackpole and Anthony Pryor. He also had a hand in creating the BattleTech Animated Series, which given how much digging Renegade HPG has done on that topic, explains how Sam Lewis came to be on the opposite end of a Zoom call.

It’s a long interview that spans many topics, so be sure to set aside some time. But if you kinda already know Sam’s history and just want a bit of fun, Renegade HPG did a follow-up interview with Sam and DC Bruins where the three of them watched some recent BattleTech fan films. Sam’s delight is infectious and a real treat. Give ‘em both a watch.

Wait A Minute, It’s Not Halloween Yet!

The Black Marauder from OutreachHPG

Tychorion is an artist you should be following on Twitter. A true BattleTech fan, Tychorion shares a lot of great ‘Mech art, and I wanted to showcase one piece that recently popped up on Reddit that made me once again dive into Sarna’s vast data repository.

This is the Black Marauder, a ‘Mech that really oughtta be shared closer to Halloween. As noted in Sarna’s entry, “In some instances the ‘Mech was—always inconclusively—described to move in ways that are impossible for a Marauder (or any ‘Mech), including one tale where it was said to have turned its ‘head’ by bending its long snout just forward of the arm joints and revealed a maw with rows of serrated teeth.” 

What’s even spookier is that the ‘Mech seems to grow stronger when you line its armor with carcasses or how it turns its pilots into bloodthirsty demons. Tales of the Black Marauder started during the Fourth Succession War and extended all the way to the early Republic era. Either way, if you see a grinning Marauder turn without torso twisting, it’s time to run.

Hey Kid, Wanna Buy A Gauss Rifle? 

ArcFlash Labs' GR-1 Anvil Portable Gauss Rifle
Watch this video on YouTube.

Forgotten Weapons, a YouTuber who specializes in reviewing and dissecting firearms from throughout history both modern and ancient, recently decided to showcase something that’s on the bleeding edge of gun science. I present to you, the Arcflash Labs GR-1 Anvil; the world’s first commercially available Gauss Rifle.

Just like in BattleTech, the GR-1 uses a battery to charge a bank of capacitors that power a string of coils that magnetically accelerate a metal slug down and out the barrel. As Forgotten Weapons notes, the GR-1 is wildly impractical, not the least of which because it weighs over 20 pounds, will fry your cell phone if it’s still in your pocket when you pull the trigger and fires a small metal slug at roughly 230 feet per second. To put that into perspective, that’s basically a gun that weighs as much as two bowling balls firing a little metal pellet at about the same speed as a paintball gun. It’s enough to leave a pretty nasty bruise, but it’s not likely to penetrate the skin unless it’s fired at extremely close range. You can actually see the metal slugs drop significantly soon after leaving the barrel during the firing tests. 

Forgotten Weapons notes that the GR-1 is still in a technical alpha stage and isn’t being mass produced just yet, so we can forgive its lackluster performance. Getting one involves printing the parts via a 3D printer and then sourcing all the electrical bits yourself. And also machining the barrel and however many metal slugs you want. 

The GR-1 Anvil is a far cry from the Gauss Rifles of BattleTech which fires nickel-ferrous slugs at hypersonic speeds, but who cares? The technology is here, so you can check off Gauss Rifles from your BattleTech future bingo card.

Catalyst Announces New Wolfhound IIC Mini

Wolfhound IIC Grinner

When Phelan Kell was captured by Clan Wolf, then Khan Ulric ordered his prized Wolfhound be rebuilt from the ground up using Clan technology. This meant a brand-new XL engine, an Endo Steel chassis, Ferro-Fibrous armor, and a brand new weapons complement of one ER Large Laser, three Medium Pulse Lasers, a rear-firing ER Medium Laser, and an ECM Suite. An already capable Inner Sphere design suddenly became a powerhouse able to punch well above its 35 tons. Strangely, Clan Wolf didn’t decide to mass-produce the Wolfhound IIC, but Catalyst Game Labs isn’t making the same mistake.

The Wolfhound IIC is now available on Catalyst’s website for $14.99. Yes, that’s more than you’d typically pay per mini in other boxes, but you do get some extra goodies with the Grinner, including three different pairs of legs and four different arms to let you pose Grinner however you’d like. 

Catalyst expects the Wolfhound IIC to be a popular item, so sales are limited to two per person for the first week. They also promise that the Wolfhound IIC will be reprinted so even if they run out they’ll get more stock in future print runs.

On top of that, Catalyst is also making more Salvage Boxes available, but this time containing all 93 designs seen in the Clan Invasion Kickstarter campaign. These Salvage Boxes are fun little ways to augment your arsenal since you never know what you’re going to get. The new Salvage Boxes are available now at Barnes and Noble and Catalyst’s online storefront and will be available soon at your local game shop.

New BattleTech Plushies Have Leaked

The urbanmech is lonely no longer . . . New plushies leaked from battletech

First we got the UrbanMech, a choice that I will hardly fault Catalyst for because if any of BattleTech‘s many ‘Mechs should be turned into a plushie, it’s the Urbie. But it’s not my favorite ‘Mech by a wide margin, and I’d very much prefer something else instead. Thankfully, I might soon be able to purchase a replacement.

This photo got shared on the BattleTech subreddit. I don’t know where it originally came from (some are saying it was posted on Loren Coleman’s Facebook, but the post is gone now) and I don’t know what context this photo was taken under, but I find it difficult to believe someone would go to the trouble of photoshopping a bunch of fake ‘Mech plushies underneath the one real plushie we know about.

From what I can see, there’s a Phoenix Hawk at the bottom, an Archer on the right, an Atlas on the left beside the Urbie‘s left foot, and some strange blue ‘Mech just behind it that I absolutely cannot identify. It sort of looks like a Hatchetman, but without the right-arm hatchet. I’m sure someone will correct me, as I am also sure someone will alert me when these new ‘Mech plushies are officially announced.

New Hired Steel Episode Is Out Now!

Hired Steel: A Mech Machinima – Episode Two
Watch this video on YouTube.

Eldonious Rex, the superb artist who does the art for Sarna’s Bad ‘Mechs series, recently shared a poster done for the folks making Hired Steel, the equally superb fan-made MechWarrior video series. Hired Steel is probably the highest-quality and most intricate animation I’ve ever seen outside of a video game, so I highly encourage you to watch the latest episode which is now available on YouTube

Let’s Talk About Canopian Cat Girls

https://twitter.com/lewdwildcat144/status/1495494181757796358

So. We need to talk about Canopian Catgirls because I hear them mentioned quite a bit, and I don’t get it. I know that the Magistracy of Canopus has an exceptionally liberal and even wildly hedonistic society, which I can definitely get behind. The Magistracy even has a well-regulated sex industry where everyone is protected so long as there’s consent. Honestly, sounds like a great place compared to the rest of the Inner Sphere.

But Sarna doesn’t have an entry on Canopian Catgirls, and I can’t find anything that even mentions the possibility of ladies of the night with cat ears. My understanding here is that some of the Japanese origins of BattleTech got caught up in certain anime tropes which is how catgirls managed to make their way into the established canon. If anyone can help me sleuth this catgirl stuff out, that’d be swell. 

Something Big Is Coming From The Writer Of Star Wars: Rogue One

You might remember Gary Whitta as the screenwriter who wrote Rogue One, The Book of Eli, The Walking Dead, Star Wars Rebels, and a whole bunch of other stuff. He also hosted Animal Talking when that was a thing, and also created the pervy Wordle spinoff, Lewdle

The point is, the guy is connected in Hollywood, and now he’s teasing something big. Something with mechs.

We should note that the word “‘Mech” wasn’t used anywhere, so it seems whatever giant robot action flick Whitta is teasing won’t be a Hollywood adaptation of our beloved BattleTech. But I’m a fan of giant robots of all sorts and stripes, and I know a lot of you folks are too. I’ll stay tuned to this developing story.

Alright, that’s it for February! I seriously hope we stop living in interesting times very soon, except when it comes to BattleTech of course. Because “interesting” in a world context means “bad,” but in a BattleTech context means “cool.” 

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

The Future Of MechWarrior

By now, you’ve probably heard about Microsoft’s intent to purchase Activision Blizzard, the massive publisher slash developer which produced the first MechWarrior games. This will bring the entire MechWarrior IP back under a single roof for the first time, and it’s gotten some of our hopes up for the possibility of a re-release or even a full-blown remake of MechWarrior 2. Combined with some of the other momentous news beats I’ve heard, I think it’s time we take a critical look at the future of MechWarrior.

And that future should first start with the present, which is MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. As you know, MechWarrior 5 developer Piranha Games (PGI) was purchased by Swedish games publisher EG7 in late 2020. Since then, MechWarrior 5 has been released on Steam, Xbox, and PlayStation and received two expansions in Heroes of the Inner Sphere and Legend of the Kestrel Lancers

All told, it’s been a pretty good run for MechWarrior 5, but it’s starting to sound like that run is coming to an end. In its most recent financial report (as noted by No Guts No Galaxy‘s Sean Lang), production on MechWarrior 5 is ramping down. 

“Although the community reception [of PlayStation MW5 launch] was very positive, the overall sales on PlayStation had low impact, resulting in an operating loss for the quarter,” wrote EG7. “Piranha has largely finished its development on MechWarrior 5 with limited residual effort for future maintenance. In Q4 2021, as the team further ramps down on MechWarrior 5, the plan is to fully utilize Piranha’s talented team to staff various key projects for the group such as the Lord of the Rings Online update.”

Mechwarrior 5 Dead? We don't know!
Watch this video on YouTube.

It seems pretty clear that MechWarrior 5 is staring at the end. However, all hope is not yet lost. Lang mentions in his video that he’d at least heard of a third expansion that was in development at PGI and it seemed relatively close to being released. While production might be winding down, that doesn’t mean it’s completely ceased, and this unnamed expansion might yet see the light of day. 

After that though is a big question mark. PGI still has the MechWarrior license from Microsoft until 2025, and it seems like a giant waste for a company that has spent almost a decade working on MechWarrior to suddenly drop the IP and just become a support studio for Lord of the Rings. 

At the same time, we know PGI has been hiring and there are still a few positions available on the company’s career page. It’s possible that part of PGI will be supporting LotR Online while another part continues to support the MechWarrior license. That’ll mean continued updates for MechWarrior Online and maybe--just maybe--work will begin on MechWarrior 6

One could argue that some tentative work has already begun on MechWarrior 6. As The Art of BattleTech recently reminded me, the Warden Pack for MechWarrior Online included several new cosmetics, including Elemental armored suits. Those Elemental battle armor models would be awfully handy in a future MechWarrior game about the Clans, not to mention MechWarrior Online’s vast library of Clan ‘Mechs. 

Warden Pack MWO

If there is a MechWarrior 6 coming--and this is entirely unfounded speculation, so don’t go saying this is some sort of revelation--my hope is that it features a somewhat more curated campaign. Randomized missions are all well and good and I think MechWarrior 5 has great procedurally generated maps, but what I really remember from the first two Mercenaries games was how even side missions felt like their own memorable stories. 

PGI has a lot of experience with MechWarrior and it’d be foolish to throw away the MechWarrior license without using it at least one more time before 2025. 

But What About MechWarrior Remakes? 

Okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, the deal between Microsoft and Activision isn’t a sure thing. The FTC has already announced plans to review the merger and FTC chair Lina Khan has expressed growing concern about consolidation in big tech. That deal is by no means a guarantee. 

But let’s assume that the FTC doesn’t block the deal. We’ll likely see the acquisition finalize around next summer. Then, Microsoft will own every MechWarrior game produced except for PGI’s games (MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online). This significantly simplifies the legal complications that are inherent in the BattleTech franchise and opens the possibility for those older MechWarrior titles to be released or even entirely remade. 

MechWarrior 2, GBL, MW2:Mercs

In January’s news report I might have made it seem like Activision was the big barrier to getting MechWarrior 2 released on something like GOG, but it’s come to my attention that’s probably not accurate. 

Activision has actually been historically more inclined to release their back catalog on services like GOG, whereas Microsoft has been reluctant to do the same because of GOG’s anti-DRM policies. That’s why you’ll see games like Dark Reign, Interstate 76, and Diablo on GOG, but you won’t find many (or any) Microsoft games. 

So why didn’t Activision release MechWarrior 2 on GOG? It’s certainly not for a lack of demand, what with MechWarrior being the second most requested franchise for the platform. I asked Trevor Longino, former head of PR and marketing at GOG, what kept the two apart. “While I was definitely an internal champion for [bringing MechWarrior to GOG], the legal problems were insurmountable,” he told me over Twitter. 

Those legal problems were likely licensing issues. Activision owned the game, sure, but Microsoft owned the MechWarrior license, and getting MechWarrior 2 rereleased would have meant royalty payments to Microsoft. That could have all been hashed out by lawyers, but in the end, the market potential for a MechWarrior 2 rerelease was probably too small for either side to bother paying lawyers to duke it out in a boardroom. 

But with Microsoft owning Activision, there’d be no need for lawyers to get involved. They’d own the license and the games--all they’d have to do is update it to work on modern hardware. 

“There are still a lot of legal hurdles remaining,” Trevor added, “but I admit if I were at GOG these days I’d be agitating for us to bring it up to our legal contacts there.”

MechWarrior 2

Here’s where we run into the second major issue with a MechWarrior remaster. Yes, Microsoft is an immensely powerful company that certainly has the resources to update its back catalog (just look at Halo and the Master Chief Collection for proof of that), but it comes down to whether or not MechWarrior would be profitable enough to bother. There’s also a technical element involved where some games are cheaper and easier to update than others. For example, MechAssault still hasn’t been updated to work on Game Pass reportedly due to some issues with getting the game engine to work on a modern Xbox

If there were a third-party developer that specialized in updating old games and was willing to assume the financial risks of doing so, then maybe we’d see those old MechWarrior games return. There are a few game studios out there that specialize in this sort of thing, but one of them stands out in my mind, and that’s Nightdive Studios.

In case you’ve never heard of them, Nightdive has made a name for bringing old but not-quote-forgotten games back from the dead. Games like System Shock, Doom 64, Turok, Powerslave, Darklands, Metal Fatigue, and Strife. Thanks to Nightdive’s proprietary tech, they’ve figured out a way to bring back these old games in a way that’s profitable. 

“We’d love to see the classic catalog make a return,” Nightdive CEO Stephen Kick told me after I reached out on Twitter. “It’s long overdue.”

But will Nightdive me the ones to do it? Kick wasn’t able to make any promises just yet. “All I can say is that with the acquisition the chances of anything happening are greatly improved.”

Still, the possibility is there. For the first time, the biggest barriers to bringing those old MechWarrior games back from the dead are gone. All it took was $70 billion and the biggest merger in video game history, but nobody said BattleTech was a cheap franchise.

Remember to keep your fingers crossed, folks. We could be heading into one of the more exciting times to be a MechWarrior fan.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

Bad ‘Mechs – Nova

Nova on fire

Courtesy of Eldoniousrex

They scoffed at cadet Rual when he’d requested a Nova for his Trial of Position. An older machine with a long history, Rual’s sibkin ridiculed his choice as one outclassed by most of the new OmniMechs that had joined Clan Nova Cats’ touman in recent years. The Huntsman was just as rugged and possessed a far greater and more versatile arsenal. The Shadowcat was sleeker, faster, and had greater range in most of its configurations. Even the older Stormcrow outclassed the Nova in most metrics.

Rual didn’t care. This ‘Mech had called to him. It promised glory. 

The techs had promised him much worse. The Nova had already suffered a partial containment problem from its previous MechWarrior and had warned Rual to ensure all safety protocols remained enabled. But Rual had learned from his instructors that an automatic shutdown in a true combat scenario was a death sentence. What difference was it if it came from a fusion containment breach or high-explosive shell? 

Nova

So Rual had slapped the override almost as soon as he entered the Nova’s cockpit. In its primary configuration, the Nova possessed more firepower than it could safely use, but Rual had seen in a vision the glory that all 12 ER medium lasers would bring him. If only he could line up the perfect shot…

There. His first opponent, an Adder, had just crested the hill and was pelting him with PPC fire. A strike on his left torso burrowed worryingly deep and a blast of heat alerted Rual to what was most likely even more engine damage. Rual ignored the heat and ignited his jump jets, closing to within striking range of his arsenal of lasers.

Another hit, this time on the left knee. The actuator froze, causing Rual to stumble upon hitting the ground, but he managed to keep his ancient machine upright. Finally in range, Rual brought up his left arm and fired.

Immediately the Nova’s cockpit went from a pleasant sauna to a nearby volcanic blast. Sweat poured off Rual’s neurohelmet in great rivulets, obscuring his vision and splattering on his sensor screen. The Adder had taken damage, but not enough. It still had one functional ER PPC. 

Another hit. Another wave of heat. Alarms were blaring in his cockpit, but the Adder had made a fatal mistake. It had stumbled into the center of Rual’s targeting reticle. 

The Nova raised both its arms slowly, as though reluctant to follow its pilot’s commands. All 12 extended-range lasers fired at once in a brilliant display. Two struck the Adder in the opposite arm, severing its last remaining PPC. One struck the cockpit, dazzling the instructor fighting Rual in the trial. Six melted armor all over the Adder’s torso, while several more burrowed inside and slagged the 35-ton ‘Mech’s gyro, dropping it to the ground.

The last thing Rual saw was the Adder falling backwards. The last thing Rual heard was the warning of a containing breach. Then his world became a brief flash of white, searing heat, and then nothing at all.

Nova MWO

By many measures, the Nova is not truly a bad ‘Mech. In comparison to the multitude of Inner Sphere designs that the Nova bested during the first years of the Clan Invasion, the Nova is an excellent machine that was faster, more maneuverable, and better armored than anything fielded by the House militaries. However, in comparison to contemporary Clan OmniMechs, the Nova was a deeply flawed design already well past its prime.

Production of the Nova first began in 2870, soon after the introduction of Elemental infantry in Clan Hell’s Horses. The Nova was designed specifically as an infantry support ‘Mech capable of carrying a full point of Elementals into battle thanks to special handholds that dotted the ‘Mech’s chassis. A rugged design, the Nova proved itself just two years after entering service during the campaign against the Smythe-Jewel Kindraa. Production would continue for over half a century before Clan Ghost Bear conquered Tokasha Mechworks and repurposed it to produce more modern designs. But by then the Nova had already proliferated to every major Clan in such numbers that it remained a common sight well into the 3000s and even beyond. 

Nova IlClan Recognition Guide

However, even at the time of its introduction, the Nova’s primary configuration possessed a single and often fatal flaw. Its 12 ER medium lasers produced far more heat than the design’s 18 double heat sinks could handle. So much that a Nova pilot who fires all 12 lasers at once risks immediate shutdown. If the pilot can somehow survive the heat, repeated firings can result in engine damage, and should the pilot disable the automatic safeties, the Nova’s 250 XL engine could breach in an explosion worthy of its name.

That said, there’s no denying what devastation 12 medium lasers can cause. A pilot willing to risk it all can take down vastly larger threats provided they can remain conscious in the sauna-like atmosphere of the Nova’s cockpit.

As an OmniMech, there are many other variants of the Nova that do not suffer from this catastrophic heat problem, and many smart Nova pilots avoid the primary configuration whenever and wherever possible. One could posit that the only reason the Nova still exists at all is entirely because its OmniMech heritage allows it to evolve beyond the flaws of its initial design. 

Nova TCG

After a century’s-long hiatus, the Nova once again entered production with Clan Jade Falcon in 3073. Its ubiquity led to the production of an entirely Inner Sphere version under the Black Hawk moniker, and even Clan Sea Fox produces a non-Omni version of the Nova for export purposes. However, it’s noteworthy the Sea Fox design doesn’t imitate the original’s 12 medium laser armament, and newer variants similarly avoid overloading the Nova’s limited heat capacity.

I think this is the most controversial choice of a bad ‘Mech so far, but there are honestly very few truly bad Clan designs. But out of the Clan OmniMechs, the Nova is easily the least impressive and has largely been matched or surpassed by even modern Inner Sphere designs.

We got plenty of bad Inner Sphere ‘Mechs in the pipeline, but bad Clan ‘Mechs are harder to find. List your favorites in the comments below and I’ll add ’em to the list.

And until next time, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

Your BattleTech News Roundup For January 2022

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

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

Gotta Dodge Those Gauss Rifles Buddy

Headshot! by u/SU-SMD from battletech

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

Place Your Bets In Three-Way Medium ‘Mech Brawl

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

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

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

Hatchetman Mod Makes Melee Combat ‘Mech Available In MechWarrior 5

Hatchetman Nexus Mods

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

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

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

Dolgfer Shows His Pandemic Projects

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

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

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

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

MWO Jan 2022 Patch Notes

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

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

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

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

PGI Is Giving Away Their ‘Mech Pods!

MW5 Pods

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

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

Renegade HPG Interviews BattleTech Cartoon Producer Kurt Weldon

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

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

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

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

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

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

MechWarrior 2, GBL, MW2:Mercs

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

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

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

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

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

This UrbanMech Has Cat Ears And That’s Okay

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

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

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

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

Fancy Buildings Kickstarter

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

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

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

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

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

MM-Cover-1-Jan-2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For December, 2021

Well, another year has come and gone. This is where we normally wax nostalgic over the past year and look forward to 2022, but I’ll be honest, 2021 wasn’t all that great and 2022 isn’t shaping up to be much better. With COVID counts where they’re at, we’re certainly getting off on the wrong foot.

But I will offer some hope. Initial reports are calling Omicron slightly less deadly than previous COVID strains, so if the pattern holds with the 1918 flu pandemic, future COVID strains will continue to get milder and milder until it’s basically just another disease. To be clear, influenza still kills plenty of people each year, but it’ll be manageable to the point where things return to some semblance of normal, albeit where vaccines and masks are way more common.

It took two years for the 1918 flu to get to that point, so while 2022 probably won’t be great (certainly not at the beginning), we might see things improve by the end of 2022 and into early 2023. Hopefully.

In the meantime, Sarna will continue to be your one-stop shop for the best BattleTech news. Let’s see what happened in December.

Gingerbread Spider Goes Brrrrrr

The Gingerbread Spider: A Mechwarrior Dubstep Rock Opera
Watch this video on YouTube.

We’ll start off this last news blast of the year with some festive content sent in by a reader. Elfcat presents “The Gingerbread Spider.” It’s sort of like “The Nutcracker,” only the ballet is being performed by a light ‘Mech that was designed to fly. Almost.

I wouldn’t say that SPD-5K is a meta build, but it’s certainly effective as part of a light ‘Mech wolfpack. It’s also great for picking off stragglers that might have had most of their armor stripped from LRMs or taking fire. 

Personally, I think the Mist Lynx-G is the better Heavy Machine Gun platform, but to each their own. 

MechWarrior Online Is Giving Away A Lot Of Stuff Over The Holidays

MechWarrior Online Hellebore Outpost Preview
Watch this video on YouTube.

There’s a DropShip full of MechWarrior Online news to close out the year. First up, a patch was released earlier in the month that added MechWarrior Online‘s first new map in years. Called “Hellbore Outpost,” this map brings unparalleled verticality to an engagement. Cliffs, canyons, and raised platforms mean that fire can come from any angle, with geological formations providing ample cover for an ambush. I’ve only played it a few times, but so far I find it an interesting addition to the usual playlist.

Along with the new map comes the fifth quirk pass, and it hits some of my favorite ‘Mechs. The Quickdraw, JagerMech, Summoner, Firestarter, and Annihilator have all had their quirks adjusted. The Quickdraw in particular is finally viable in today’s meta and I quite enjoy my laserboat QKD-5K. It’s great when a bad ‘Mech turns good.

Single heat sinks also received a buff as part of this update, so certain Inner Sphere assault ‘Mechs will find it more useful to use single heat sinks than doubles.

And keeping with MechWarrior Online tradition, the holiday season brings back the Stocking Stuffer event for another year. The event is simple: play games and unlock rewards based on your match score. The more you get in a match, the more stockings you uncover. Stockings can include C-bills, MC, skill points, experience, premium time, and more. Now is the most rewarding time of the year to play MWO, but be sure to get your games in before Jan 4 when the Stocking Stuffer event ends.

But we saved the best part for last. MechWarrior Online is giving away two free ‘Mechs for everyone who logs in between December 26 and January 4 to play one match. The Mauler MAL-2P and Marauder IIC-A can be yours along with 25 Stocking Stuffers, 6.5 million C-bills, 1,250 MC, and seven days premium time. Oh, and both ‘Mechs come with a 30% C-bill boost too.

There’s also a new ‘Mech pack available with two new versions of the Sun Spider and the Roughneck. Go check ’em out on their website here.

Congrats To The 1st Jaguar Guards For Winning The MechWarrior Online World Championship Series

MWO CS2021 Grand Final - JGx vs 5JDx
Watch this video on YouTube.

The MechWarrior Online competitive scene got a big boost with the game’s renaissance this year, and although there wasn’t quite as much ceremony thanks to COVID and the lack of Mech_Con, the final games were still an exciting display of piloting from the best MechWarriors in the world.

Ultimately, the 1st Jaguar Guards came out on top, defeating the 5th Jaguar Dragoons in the final round. Ghosts of Nox came in third and the appropriately named “here 4 da loot” came in fourth. KDCM V: Trans Rights, the team that was initially told to change their name before PGI backtracked, came in seventh place.

I didn’t get a chance to see every match, but I did catch the final ‘Mech usage statistics and was incredibly surprised to see such a wide variety of chassis used by the world’s top players. Whereas previous years would often see the same ‘Mechs over and over again (I’m lookin’ at you, Hunchback IIC), this year had almost twice as many ‘Mechs make it to the finals.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the Firestarter, which has historically been one of those bad ‘Mechs that nobody really uses. I guess the recent balance passes have really shaken up the meta to the point where the Firestarter actually shines. Guess I’m going to have to give that ‘Mech a try.

The MechWarrior 5 Timber Wolf Mod Is Here

Timberwolf / Mad Cat Classic mod for Mechwarrior 5 Mercenaries Trailer #2
Watch this video on YouTube.

Remember that Timber Wolf mod that was mentioned in November’s news roundup? Well, The Art of BattleTech managed to get this beaut out for Christmas

Not only is the outside a highly detailed model that brings the classic Mad Cat look into the latest and greatest MechWarrior game, but it also has a custom cockpit courtesy of Alan Yeoh. Honestly, it looks a lot like a modern fighter pilot cockpit with a few extra screens on the ferro-glass windows. It can seem a little cluttered in first-person view, but that’s why MechWarrior 5 has a third-person camera. There’s also an alternate cockpit with fewer screens but more rearview mirrors. 

As expected, the Timber Wolf is pretty overpowered in comparison to most of MechWarrior 5‘s available chassis. That makes the Timby a great choice for pretty much everything that the game can throw at you. 

You can check out the mod in action here and then head to NexusMods or Steam Workshop to download the mod yourself. 

Also, Here’s A Mad Dog Mod For MechWarrior 5

Mad Dog / Vulture Classic mod for Mechwarrior 5 Mercenaries - Trailer
Watch this video on YouTube.

Not satisfied with just the Timber Wolf, Art is busy making the Mad Dog for MechWarrior 5 too. There should also be a Summoner on the horizon, but there’s no trailer of that delightful 70-tonner yet. Stay tuned. 

More Logistical Woes For Catalyst Orders

Don’t know if this has been shared yet from battletech

This really isn’t limited to Catalyst Games--lots of retailers are warning customers that orders aren’t arriving in a timely fashion this holiday season. Blame covid and the ongoing global logistical snafu, but if you didn’t get your Catalyst order in time for Christmas, you probably won’t get it until January.

On the bright side, the final two installments of the IlClan Recognition Guides have arrived, and since those are digital files, you can just download them now without waiting. 

Santa Nova Cat Is Coming To Town

https://www.reddit.com/r/battletech/comments/rnl9ok/santa_mech_is_here_to_bring_holiday_cheer_to_the/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share

I don’t know where Reddit user h_ahsatan got a beard to fit this Nova Cat, but I’m glad they did. Hopefully, it doesn’t catch fire when this thing lets loose with all those energy weapons. 

Duane Loose Reveals How The Stryker Was Updated Got HBS’s BATTLETECH

It’s no exaggeration to say that Duane Loose practically defined BattleTech‘s visual style for decades. The artist that penned the original drawings that appeared in TRO 3025 recently shared an interesting story on his Twitter account about how he teamed up with Hairbrained Schemes to redesign the Striker missile tank. 

Working with Mike McCain, Loose helped create several redesigned vehicles, including the Striker. Loose also dropped several sketches of the Swiftwind and Demolisher tanks, but the Striker received special attention with a set of eight sketches. You can see how the missile tanks started out with eight wheels before shrinking those down to just six by the time they arrived at the final product. 

Strikers were always the worst in that game, but at least they looked cool.

Duncan Fisher Wishes Us All A Happy Holidays!

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM DUNCAN FISHER
Watch this video on YouTube.

The Black Pants Legion, ever patrons of the fine arts, asked George Ledoux to put on his Duncan Fisher persona and wish us all happy holidays. Thanks, Duncan. I think we all needed that this year. 

And that’s it for 2021! I hope you’re all staying safe, staying healthy, and are looking forward to a better year to come.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy