August has been a trip. I received my first communicable disease since the pandemic this month. It was just a cold, but after having evaded pretty much all infections for over two years, it still felt like I’d been run over by a mucus-filled buffalo. Worse, it came just as I was about to head to the wild Canadian north for a camping trip. I’m glad the vultures didn’t spot me (or hear my wheezing coughs) for they certainly would have correctly identified me as the weakest member of the herd and liable to drop dead at any moment.
As always, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover for this month’s BattleTech news round-up, starting a ‘Mech that has been patiently awaiting its time in the sun.
Tex Talks BattleTech: The Hunchback
As promised, The Black Pants Legion has brought us Tex Talks BattleTech: The Hunchback last week. A two-hour tour de force, the video covers the Hunchback’s origins as a purpose-built city fighter prior to the Reunification War, the Hunchback’s many variants, and some of its veteran pilots. It also dives deep into the psychology of Hunchback pilots, which can largely be summarized as “big cannon goes boom.”
I’m hardly criticizing. The Hunchback is probably one of the best medium ‘Mechs ever made, and after almost six centuries of iterations, it remains the preferred choice of a very specific type of MechWarrior.
And as you may have noticed from the video, there’s a lot of custom art and footage featured in the Hunchback video. Some of it comes from Locust Labs, which we’ll be speaking to shortly, and a lot of it also comes from EldoniousRex, our own resident Bad ‘Mechs artist. You’ll be able to purchase some of this fine art soon with the upcoming “Hunch-Pack,” which will contain five prints, two stickers, and several coasters. Stay tuned to Eldonious’s Twitter for when that becomes available.
I sincerely hope that the painting of the Hunchback 4P rockin’ out is one of those five prints.
Opinion: Is It Swayback Or Partyback?
I admit to being a late adherent to the Hunchback Orthydoxy. To me, the Hunchback has always been an AC/20 in the right shoulder and little else. Only with the release of MechWarrior Online did I discover there are actually a ton of Hunchbacks out there that are all wildly different, and many of them ditch the AC/20 for a collection of smaller, more reasonable weapons. These Hunchbacks are known collectively as “Swaybacks” because they generally lose the Hunchie’s characteristic hunch.
Except for the Hunchback HBK-4P. This Hunchback replaces the AC/20 with six more medium lasers and enough heat sinks to at least consider firing them all at once without immediately melting its reactor. Since these medium lasers are all where the AC/20 used to be, it’s still got a hunch. And for me, it also had a different name: “Partyback.”
I did not invent this name. It first came to me from TheB33F, who used it to describe a very specific custom variant of the 4P with all small pulse lasers. The Partyback’s genesis isn’t too hard to fathom as an all-laser Hunchback is basically a walking laser light show. And it just made more sense than “Swayback” to me, so for the 4P variant at least, the name has forever stuck.
But has it for you? Is the HBK-4P still a Swayback or is it a Partyback? And do Hunchbacks like the 4SP and 5H also receive the Swayback moniker, or do these have even more unique names that I’ve never heard of? Do let me know in the comments below.
The Urbie Has Risen
I wasn’t at Gen Con this year, but I hear it was a blast. And I also heard there was yet another giant inflatable UrbanMech sighting. Be sure to share your inflatable Urbie pics in the comments!
Valk Makes Zelda And Metroid Minis For Gen Con
Gen Con was earlier this month, and one of the events involved a BattleTech tournament where the winners were awarded custom-painted figures. Valk here decided to paint up a Night Gyr Prime and a Vindicator as Link from the Legend of Zelda and Samus from the Metroid series.
I’m not surprised by how good these figures look. I am surprised how the Vindicator somehow became the perfect ‘Mech for Link. You’d think it would have been the Centurion with its built-in shield, but now I can’t think of any ‘Mech other than the Vindicator as Link’s ‘Mech.
There are a few other potential Samus ‘Mechs. The Vulcan comes to mind, as does the Nova Cat--all you really gotta have is a rounded cockpit and big shoulders. The Night Gyr is a fine choice though. Kudos to Valk for these exceptional pieces, and jealousy to whoever won these ‘Mechs at Gen Con!
Mercenaries Kickstarter Pledge Manager Is Set To Close September 15
Catalyst didn’t make any big announcements at Gen Con, but it did make some waves on the Mercenaries Kickstarter. The Pledge Manager is open for all to finalize their orders and pick up whatever add-ons they might like. I had an extra $5 kickin’ around when I went in to finalize my order, and that’s most of the way to a Salvage Box that I couldn’t help but pick up another Visigoth so I could have a flight of two.
You too might have some cash left to spend, so be sure to check in on the Mercenaries Kickstarter Pledge Manager and complete the associated survey. The Pledge Manager is scheduled to end on September 15, with shipping details to be finalized afterward. If things stay on schedule, we might even see the Mercs Kickstarter arrive before Christmas.
BattleTech Now Third Biggest Miniature Franchise In The World
Here’s an interesting statistic courtesy of ICv2: BattleTech has broken into the top three best-selling miniatures brands, beating out Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, Star Wars Legion, and even D&D Onslaught. According to the publication, sales have tapered off for Warhammer 40K, which suppliers blame on a lack of new products and available restocks. BattleTech, meanwhile, has started sets “widely available, which removed the biggest barrier to sales on the line.”
This comment seems to confirm Brent’s comments last month that BattleTech is seeing solid logistics for the first time in its history, and it’s translating into stronger sales. One interviewed store owner said that BattleTech‘s playerbase has even quadrupled since the beginning of the year. That’s great news for BattleTech!
Did You Know An Atlas Is Actually Just Four Urbies In A Trench Coat?
CutesyTech Makes Clans, Houses, And Merc Units Adorable
A few weeks ago, Bleptarts gave us a preview of the CutesyTech logos for several Clan factions. Now we’ve got a much larger selection of Clans, several mercenary companies and minor factions, and the Great Houses. If someone can turn these into a mod pack for MechWarrior 5, I’d be awful grateful, but I’ll settle for a few real-life sticker packs.
Javelin Versus Spider, Who Ya Got?
Personally, I’m usually going to give this fight to the Javelin. It’s hard to argue with two SRM-6s in a one-on-one duel. Sure, you’ll probably run those ammo bins dry in a real battle, but honorable single combat? Few light ‘Mechs will survive 180 SRMs. Unless that is, that Javenlin takes two medium lasers to the face.
Gaming Jay’s Crescent Hawks Game Has Become Metal Mercs
You may recall Gaming Jay’s Crescent Hawks remake from last year’s interview. Heavily inspired by Crescent Hawks’ Inception and Crescent Hawks’ Revenge, Jay updated these old games with new real-time mechanics, an expanded database of ‘Mechs, and a campaign that goes up to the Clan Invasion.
One year later, and Jay’s Crescent Hawks’ remake has become an entirely new game called Metal Mercs. The game is no longer set in the BattleTech universe, but it’s got an entirely new selection of Great Houses, ‘Mechs, history, tech, and lore. But don’t be fooled by the new coat of paint--this game is still essentially the same one that Jay has been previewing for the better part of a year. You still gotta take your mercenary lance from plane to planet, smashing mechs, salvaging mechs, and making sure your finances don’t fall into the red.
Metal Mercs is still in development, but a playable demo is “just on the horizon.” To get access to it, sign up for Jay’s Patreon here, and head over to the Metal Mercs Discord for up-to-the-minute updates.
Alpha Strike App Made By Fan
Unfortunately, the official BattleTech app only works on tablet-sized devices, so if you don’t have an iPad (or similar) you’re out of luck. Or at least we were until cool_dad69 made this Alpha Strike web app.
The app is simple. First, add your units by clicking the button and searching for the ‘Mech’s (or vehicle’s) name. Select the skill level of the pilot in the card preview, then click “add unit to force.” You’ll then have the unit displayed on the site. You can click on armor, structure, critical hits, and heat scale icons to keep track of those statistics, and it even keeps track of when a critical hit reduces your damage or movement speed. Just keep adding units until your force is fully represented, then go out and play.
The app isn’t perfect, mind you, as there’s not enough space on the page for larger engagements with multiple lances. But if you just want a quick lance-on-lance game, this app is perfect. I’m definitely saving this for my next Alpha Strike game, and you should too.
MechWarrior Online Gets New Weapons, New Legendary ‘Mechs In Latest Patch
Big news for MechWarrior Online this month. For the first time in an age, MechWarrior Online is getting totally new weapons.
First up is the Hyper Assault Gauss Rifle family. These weapons appear to function like a ballstic version of a pulse laser, but they do have a projectile velocity, so don’t expect these to be hitscan weapons. What you can expect, however, is massve damage. The HAG-40 fires eight shells for 40 total damage, while the HAG-30 fires six for 30 total damage. The HAG-20 fires just four shells, has the smallest spread, lowest cooldown, and does a total of 20 damage per blast. Weight and crit-slot requirements are the same as the classic tabletop game.
Next up is the Binary Laser Cannon. Essentially two large lasers fused together to fire at the same time, the Binary Laser Cannon deals somewhat different damage in MWO than it does on the tabletop, with 18 damage for a full blast and 13 total heat. The Binary Laser Cannon weighs nine tons and requires four critical slots, making it a somewhat lighter option for ‘Mechs that would otherwise mount two large lasers.
And finally, the X-Pulse Lasers have arrived. These rapid-fire lasers offer low damage but higher overall DPS, able to chip their way through armor with prolonged firing. The downside is that you need to face your target for extended periods, making the wielder vulnerable to return fire. These will likely be best used on Inner Sphere light and medium ‘Mechs for hit-and-run strikes against unaware opponents.
MWO is also bringing two new Legendary ‘Mechs in the Stalker “War Emu” and the Viper “Scaleshot“. The “War Emu” is a great name, and it seems like a decent ‘Mech, with four AC/5s and four medium lasers in its stock build. There are still some missile mounts in the Stalker‘s stubby arms and an extra ballistic mount in the head, providing some alternative build options for tinkerers.
The Scaleshot offers lots of SRMs with some supporting missile quirks alongside some boosted armor. This thing looks like the perfect high-speed brawler, fast enough to dictate engagements and quickly destroy wounded or low-armor ‘Mechs. As with all Legendary ‘Mechs, the Scaleshot and War Emu both come with itty bitty battle passes that award cosmetics, C-bills, MC, and GSP.
But that’s not all. The August patch also brings quirk adjustments to the Adder, Phoenix Hawk, Nova, Gargoyle, and BattleMaster, with a few select variants of other ‘Mechs getting a few tweaks too. Rifleman weapon slots have also been adjusted so that energy weapons on the arms will prioritize the higher secondary hardpoint, and you might notice your HUD’s damage readout more quickly updates damage done to your ‘Mech.
Last but not least, the MWO Competitive Championship Series for 2023 is back for another year, with the Comp Queue now open for you to create teams. For rules and potential rewards, check out this post here, and for more on the August patch, you can dive into the patch notes here.
Move Over Centurion, This Roman-Themed Hunchback Is Coming For Your Job
In honor of the Hunchback‘s debut in Tex Talks BattleTech, here we have a Roman Gladiator-styled Hunchback from Philbobagginzzz. I have no idea what variant of the Hunchback this mini might be emulating or if it might be an entirely custom hunchback with a totally new armament.
But something tells me guessing what this thing is bringing to the party isn’t nearly as important as how well it’s dressed. It’s got a shield, stylistic armor covering its crotch, and battlefists with giant brass knuckles. This thing is going to be the life of the arena, provided it survives the first round.
The Periphery Podcast Corporation Celebrates BattleTech In The Southern Hemisphere
Shrapnel, the kind bloke who has taken it upon himself to turn the Bad ‘Mechs series into short audio stories, has taken the next logical step in his auditory journey and started a podcast. The PPC (Periphery Podcast Corporation) has just had its inaugural episode over on Spotify where we get to meet Stuart (Shrapnel) and Jamal, hosts of the new podcast, and find out what topics they’ll be discussing in the coming months. Expect interviews with artists, designers, painters, and other content creators as the PPC explores the BattleTech community of the Southern Hemisphere. That’s the one with Australia in it, or so I’m told.
Andrewlik Offers Longform BattleTech Playthrough With Voice-Acted Lines
Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH was and still is a fantastic game, and one that I encourage everyone to play--especially if you’re not a fan of first-person shooters like MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online. But as amazing as BATTLETECH was, it wasn’t perfect. For starters, it had very little voice acting in between missions.
Enter Andrewlik. He’s gone to the trouble of actually getting a crew together to read out the lines that never received voice acting in the original game and he’s posted his work to YouTube for your viewing entertainment. Expect a few memes here and there for good measure. It’s a great way to get a preview of BATTLETECH if you’ve never played before, but just keep in mind there’s less talky talky in the actual game.
Fly High, Phoenix Hawk
I'm back, and *marginally* more together. Getting back into it with a Capellan Phoenix Hawk of the 2nd Tikonov Lancers, flying high with its jump jets and letting loose with its Large Laser.#mecha #mechwarrior #battletech pic.twitter.com/WbGWhLyMhZ
— Oshlet (Comms Open) (@LymphOwned) August 21, 2023
I’ve always loved ‘Mechs with more jump jets than makes sense, with the Phoenix Hawk being pretty high up on my list of jumpy jumpy ‘Mechs (just shy of the Spider, honestly). Here we have a flying example from the 2nd Tikonov Lancers courtesy of Oshlet on the app formerly known as Twitter. Great work.
The Uziel Mod For MechWarrior 5 Is Here
We can once again thank SankaraSamsara (aka The Art Of BattleTech) for bringing us MechWarrior 4‘s Uziel as a mod for MechWarrior 5. Pawel Czarnecki created the model, which was inspired by Mark Duncan’s original render for MechWarrior 4‘s promotional artwork, and SankaraSamsara did everything else. Just based on the screenshots, I can see there are at least two variants of the Uziel that’ll be available, although there may be more.
Download the Uziel Mod at Nexus Mods or on MechWarrior 5‘s Steam Workshop pages. And if you don’t want to just wait for the Uziel to pop up at your local ‘Mech dealer, be sure to use the ‘Mech Delivery mod.
Gotta Go Fast, As They Say
I’ll admit, the Spider is one of my favorite light ‘Mechs. And Sonic the Hedgehog is my favorite ‘90s-era Sega mascot. Combine the two and you get another video game crossover that I simply cannot ignore. Kudos to Pale_Professional_73 for turning the Blue Blur into a ‘Mech with a significantly higher risk of death. That’s not just due to the speed; the Spider doesn’t have an ejection seat.
And that’s it for August! Join us next month as we enter into the terrible time between summer and winter where the trees turn color and it gets either very hot or very cold, often with little in between.
And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.