We’ve all done it. At some point in our lives as BattleTech fans, each one of us has taken a look at how something played out and asked, “What if….?” This series of articles will attempt to take a look at both pivotal and seemingly unimportant events in the BattleTech timeline and ask this very question. My take on how events might have happened might be different from yours. Please, feel free to share in the comments how you think an event might have played out.
The War of 3039. It is sometimes forgotten as a pivotal war in the Inner Sphere. Post Fourth Succession War and pre Clan Invasion, this little war manages to fill a pocket niche in the BattleTech timeline that, while on the surface may seem unimportant, ended up as potentially the most critical event in the Inner Sphere leading up to the Return of Kerensky.
Imagine with me, if you will, what the Inner Sphere might have been like should the War of 3039 had never happened. If Hanse Davion had not decided to pursue his bitter rivalry with Takashi Kurita and launch a full scale invasion of the Draconis Combine, perhaps the Clans would have found a very different Inner Sphere when they arrived at the Periphery ten years later.
So what might have changed?
Well, the obvious change would be the stark lack of Free Rasalhague Republic conveniently located in the center of Clan Wolf’s invasion corridor. But let’s get back to that in a moment.
I want to focus first on the two main players of the War of 3039, House Davion and House Kurita.
The Draconis Combine is a bit of a tough nut to crack on this one, as their relatively late access to the Helm Memory Core was partially offset by ComStar’s deal to provide them with Star League era technology to have a fighting chance in the War of 3039. Takashi’s bluff that stalemated the war, even while Hanse Davion was unwittingly within weeks of breaking the Dragon and winning the war, was only possible due to ComStar’s intervention. A decade later, the arrival of the Clans would find a Draconis Combine that was even less prepared to handle the invasion.
As for the Federated Suns, an extra decade of research and development using the Helm Memory Core without the strain of rebuilding from the War of 3039 would have put the Davion run state in a great position to help out the Lyran Commonwealth when the Clans arrived.
Meanwhile, border skirmishes between the Federated Suns and the Draconis Combine would have continued going poorly for the Combine, and the Suns may very well have eaten up a planet here or there without triggering a larger scale conflict.
With no Free Rasalhague Republic serving as a buffer between the Combine and the Lyran Commonwealth after 3039, border skirmishes would have continued on that front as well, with the Fed Suns supported Lyrans gaining the same technology advantage over the Combine over the next decade.
Additionally, because both the Lyran and Combine states were not weakened by the formation of the Free Rasalhague Republic originally, if there was no FRR, the states’ respective military forces would have been even more spread out and hard pressed to repel the Clan invaders. In basic, the Free Rasalhague Republic’s existence actually ended up taking some of the pressure off of the other realms in terms of defense resources.
Things could just get more complicated from here, so I’ll stop this “What if….” right about here with a simple assertion, submitted for your approval. Without the War of 3039, the Clans would have found:
- A significantly less technologically advanced Draconis Combine. Without the opportunity to reverse engineer the ‘Mechs and technology given to them by ComStar, the Combine would have fallen behind the Federated Suns and Lyran Commonwealth by a wide margin in terms of battlefield technology.
- Both the Lyran and Combine territories would have fallen faster, plant by planet, without the doomed FRR to help blunt the Clans’ invasion.
- The Lyran front may have found itself in a slightly better position to fight the Clans with the help of the Federated Suns due to the Fed Suns not needing to rebuild from the War of 3039.
- ComStar may have been ultimately unable to act fast enough to stop the Clans at Tukayyid. The unique situation in which the FRR found itself allowed ComStar the opportunity to swoop in and be the heroes. Without the FRR wanting special help from ComStar, the Lyran and Combine states would have had to find themselves asking for the same help, which I find unlikely.
Asking “What If….?” can sometimes lead down a rabbit hole that you never saw coming. Other times, it leads to a brand new universe of possibilities limited only by the bounds of the question itself.
So, what do you think might have changed if the War of 3039 never happened?
Interested in reading more about the War of 3039? Check out these BattleTech Sourcebooks: