I, Dædalus; my poor boy, Icarus;
Thy father, Minos, that denied our course;
The sun, that sear’d the wings of my sweet boy,
Thy brother Edward, and thyself the sea,
Whose envious gulf did swallow up his life.
Ah! kill me with thy weapon, not with words.
– William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3, Act 5, Scene 6
Was I the only when a little angry when Technical Readout: 3150 was released with absolutely no original designs?
Okay, I get it. The Technical Readout: 3145 series – with each major faction receiving its own book – was fairly massive in the sheer amount of content produced. We received a relatively huge amount of new ‘Mechs, battle armors, vehicles of every kind, DropShips, Aerospace fighters and even ProtoMechs. Heck, we even got a new class of unit: the QuadVee. Vehicles transforming into four legged ‘Mechs. For those people who thought the “beloved” Land Air ‘Mech wasn’t bastardized enough. Or possibly for those people who thought that BattleTech needed to be more like The Transformers. One of those. So in a sense, it is understandable that Catalyst Games would release a significant sampling of choice units from the books of the 3145 series. It is totally understandable, in fact.
“For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison’d by their wives: some sleeping kill’d;
All murder’d: for within the hollow crown”
– William Shakespeare, The Life and Death of Richard the Second, Act 3, Scene 2
How do you tell the story about the death of a legend?
Those of you who have read my articles may be aware that my introduction into BattleTech was the start of the Clan Invasion era, beginning with the novel Lethal Heritage. Michael Stackpole introduced us to a generation of larger-than-life characters. Victor Steiner-Davion. Phelan Kell. Shin Yodama and Hohiro Kurita. And, of course, Kai Allard-Liao; the greatest MechWarrior of his time and era, with the self-confidence of a mollusk threatened by a salt-shaker. The confidence part changed, of course, over the course of the novels. Kai, sadly, lost his precedence and became a secondary character to Victor, but perhaps part of that was the fact that the character evolved to the point where further exploration would have been superfluous, at least from a development standpoint. Nevertheless, Kai Allard-Liao was the best of the best. (In fact, the flavor text in this product firmly and definitively establishes this.) I certainly still found him interesting and relevant. (Heck, I even wrote a Sarna Wiki article on his ex-girlfriend.)
Blood from the Stone!
Last week my order of Technical Readout: 315 arrived from BattleCorps. I’ve since gotten a chance to read through the book twice, and there are several designs that tweak my interest. What are the early impressions from the book?
The Scapha – one of my favorite vehicles of 3145
In this article, I continue my overall review of the units offered in the Technical Readout: 3145 series, specifically those units that have captured my eye, and stand above the rest. This entry, covering combat vehicles, continues from the previous article which addressed the ‘Mechs. One of the most enjoyable things about the post-Dark Age era is that technology has proliferated so much that most of these machines are no longer limited to a specific faction. Heck, even former third-rate Periphery powers are turning out units with advanced technology and examples of Clan tech in some examples.
From the Star League With Love
3058 is a bit of an odd duck when it comes to Technical Readouts (TRO), and that always made it harder for me to suss out. It introduces Inner Sphere omni technology in BattleMech form in the TRO series. It also features a large number of older designs, such as the Chameleon, Mackie, and Merlin and Striker that had been around for a long time. As a player I was never sure why they did that, and our playgroup had a lot of questions. But the TRO gave us some fun new ‘Mechs rolling off the lines with the latest tech as well.
So after all of these years, which of these are your favorite Inner Sphere units?
When the Clans arrived, they brought some seriously dangerous heavy metal to the Inner Sphere. To this day, it’s arguably the most significant event in recent Inner Sphere history. They came to fight, with OmniMechs that had flexible designs the pod space to fix them to your taste, terrain, and mission profile.
At first I thought it would be fun to have us all look at our favorite Clan OmniMech designs from Technical Readout: 3050. But there’s such a small number of their designs, and without using any payloads, Omnis tend to be a bit generic. So instead I figured we could just look at our top Clan OmniMechs from any era. That way we can include stuff like the Crossbow, Naga, or Blood Asp.
Let’s begin by looking at my own Top 5 Clan Omnis, and then ask what yours are!
Jumping Over You Since 1990.
5. Dragonfly/Viper – I never liked the Dragonfly at first. It didn’t hit any of my buttons for a good, quality BattleMech. After a couple of opponents had some success with it hopping all over the map, I just chalked that up to the luck of the dice. Then I played it once, and then again, and duplicated their efforts. After about a year of ignoring this 40 ton horse, I eventually embraced it in my playgroup and began to add it to the stable of ‘Mechs I would dip into regularly. It’s always played better for me than it looks. It has virtually maxed armor with ferro-fibrous combined with that strong 8/12/8 speed. It’s hard to hit, and when you do, it has the armor to protect critical components. Plus it almost has 9 tons of pod space available for stuff. It’s good combination of weapon space and survivability.
Getting Interstellar With It!
After sometimes feeling like Vaporware, an update on Interstellar Operations was posted on BattleTech.com on Tuesday, November 18th. This long-awaited release has been highly anticipated by the community for years. The good news is that we have a Table of Contents ready to go, and so so much material that it will require two sourcebooks to cover. On the other hand, a release does not appear imminent.
Some online stores will need to change anticipated release dates for Interstellar Operations that are no longer. For example, FRPGames has the release date of November 30, 2014. Meanwhile, it looks like Spring on 2015 is the best guess for Interstellar Operations and it’s release.
The best news is that we have a beta release of the Abstract Combat System available for your use and comments. Why not check it out and whet your appetite for some operations at the highest levels? The long quiet wait is over! Now it’s just a matter of counting down the days.
You can also follow Joel “Welshman” Bancroft-Connors, @welshman_bc, who’s a writer on Interstellar Operations and is tweeting about its’ progress.
The Tomahawk II
Over the course of writing my reviews on the Technical Readout : 3145 series, I feel the need to regain perspective and look at the series as a whole, with respect to the units offered. The ‘Mechs, combat vehicles, battle armor suits, AeroSpace fighters and other units covered in these technical readouts essentially represent a new era. We shouldn’t compare them to every other ‘Mech ever made, we’re comparing them to their contemporaries. So I’m starting over, taking a second look at everything, and then we’ll see how close my original assessments were to how I feel about them now. For this article, I’m reviewing the BattleMechs. I was originally going to make this a comprehensive article, but I felt the size just didn’t work for the kind of detail I wanted.
The Bigger the ‘Mech, the Harder They Fall
I have a personal love affair with the 3055 Technical Readout. Sure, it may have been the 4th readout in my hands (3025, 3050 and 2750 beat it to my bookshelves) but it was always number one in my heart. Some of my favorite Inner Sphere BattleMech designs are inside these covers.
Having mainly missed PC gaming in the ’90s (with a few exceptions) I only recently discovered the 4X empire-building sub genre. According to the Wikipedia entry, 4X is described as: “a genre of strategy-based video and board games in which players control an empire and “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate”. The term was first coined by Alan Emrich in his September 1993 preview of Master of Orion for Computer Gaming World. Since then, others have adopted the term to describe games of similar scope and design.”
Empires in Exile, like Star Traders RPG before it, is a 2D grid-based game set in space. Unlike RPG where you navigate established shipping lanes and take jobs or explored colonized or surveyed worlds, this time you are the hand that establishes and guides an empire of your own. It seems similar in scope and concept to BattleTech’s Interstellar Operations, if it were played during the Star League era since you are essentially the Star Lord. Different factions within your empire quarrel, sometimes with trade restrictions or clandestine operations. And sometimes with open warfare. Either way, it’s in your interest to quell the problems at home while expanding your empire.