July is not traditionally a particularly busy month for BattleTech, with Gen Con usually taking up all the oxygen until August. However, we seem to have gotten a blockbuster month for BattleTech news, so I won’t waste time. We got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s hop to it!
New BattleTech Products From CGL For July
We’ve got a bunch of new product announcements from Catalyst Game Labs, starting with one that just snuck in at the end of June. The Proliferation Cycle pack is now available, containing seven of the earliest BattleMechs known to mankind. They include the Firebee, Gladiator, BattleAxe, Ymir, Icarus II, and of course, the Mackie. It also includes the first OmniMech, the Coyotl, which remains fairly effective even to this day.
Snord’s Irregulars Assault Lance is also available, which includes the Spartan, Guillotine, Highlander, and the utterly disgusting FrankenMech, and there’s an entire UrbanMech Lance with a new pose of the R60 and three new variants, including one from the ilClan era. Head on over to Catalyst’s web store to order these little beauties.
Later in July saw the release of the Gray Death Legion Heavy Battle Lance pack, which includes a jumping Shadow Hawk, new variants on the Gargoyle and Catapult (which appears to be the K2 variant), and the new Regent (which is like a Hauptmann, only it’s made by Sea Foxes). Grab that exclusively at Barnes & Noble. A collection of new plushy patterns have also been released (including Archers in both Wolf’s Dragoons and Kell Hounds colors) as well as the BattleTech Activity Book 02 in both print-on-demand and pay-what-you-want PDF.
And most recently, BattleMech Recognition Guide Vol. 1: Classics is available now in digital and print formats. This guide focuses on some of the best-known ‘Mechs of the Inner Sphere and Clans but rebuilt with ilClan-era tech. It contains materials originally published in the Recognition Guide: ilClan series. Grab it on the Catalyst Web Store or through DriveThruRPG.
CGL Has Stuff Going On At GenCon
Do you have painted minis you want to show off in battle?
Join us at Gencon 2023 at the BattleTech Championship Circuit Tournament.
The BTCC tournament is a multiple-round competitive BattleTech tournament.
— CatalystGameLab (@catalystgamelab) July 26, 2023
We are just days away from Gen Con Indy, and Catalyst Game Labs has a lot of stuff going on. So much stuff that I had to scroll for several pages before I finally got to the end of the CGL’s section of Gen Con’s event finder. A lot of the more popular events are already sold out, but there are stil plenty of activities with space available.
Thursday will see Alpha Strike Academy, BattleTech mini painting classes, the Solaris Melee Challenge, Raise the Flag, and both Grinder and Feature events, as well as BattleTech Bootcamp (which unfortunately seems to be sold out). The BattleTech Championship Circuit begins Friday, with continuations on Alpha Strike Academy, Raise the Flag, and the Solaris Melee Challenge. This continues into Saturday with an Alpha Strike scenario called “Battle of the Super Heavies,” and even more BattleTech Total Warfare scenarios.
And since Gen Con is BattleTech‘s biggest convention of the year, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about some new product announcements. Expect to hear more on that in next month’s news roundup.
Opinion: Is the Size And Weight Of ‘Mechs Accurate?
In this month’s opinion, we’re going to take a look at a question posed by user agent_venom_2099 over on the new-and-improved BattleTech subreddit. The question: does 31st (and 32nd) century weight seem accurate based on what we know of modern-day military hardware, such as tanks?
The key comparison is the M1A1 Abrams, America’s main battle tank. Weighing in at almost 70 tons, an Abrams is roughly 10 meters long, three meters high, and a little over three-and-a-half meters wide. The exact dimensions of ‘Mechs aren’t often discussed, but the similarly-massed Warhammer is often portrayed as around 12 meters tall and four meters wide at the shoulder.
The Warhammer seems larger dimensionally, but we should remember that the Abrams is basically a metal brick with tracks on each side and a turret in the middle. The Warhammer is a hollow armored carapace over a metal skeleton with a fusion engine in the center and PPCs on either side.
Is it accurate to say these two machines are equivalent mass? I’d say so. Sure, the Abrams is likely denser and smaller by volume, but that’s just tanks for you. ‘Mechs are supposed to move in ways that tanks can only dream of, and that additional mobility likely just means ‘Mechs aren’t as dense as traditional tanks. This could also explain why heavy tanks like the Manticore II are often shown as smaller (by volume) than ‘Mechs even though the Manticore II weighs in at 70 tons--even heavier than an Abrams.
What do you think? Should ‘Mechs be heavier than they are, or do you think their general size and volume are appropriate for their mass? Let me know in the comments below.
Lego Thor Comes With A Removable Reactor, Sensor Module, And Pilot
We love to see Lego ‘Mechs here at Sarna, and we’re even more impressed when you can actually put a little Lego figure inside one. I’m doubly impressed that this Thor not only has a functioning cockpit but also one that can eject the pilot before its ammo explodes.
On top of that, this Lego Thor has a removable reactor and sensor module so you can showcase it undergoing maintenance. Unfortunately, we still don’t have the schematics to make our own Lego Thor, but creator cosmicmoonglow has promised to post them after tinkering a bit with the design.
Longbow Coming To MW5 In The Dragon’s Gambit DLC
Piranha Games is pleased to announce a new expansion! MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries – The Dragon's Gambit. Brace yourself for the largest handcrafted campaign yet! https://t.co/ordA3PVNqb pic.twitter.com/xl0bUydiHT
— MechWarrior5Mercs (@MW5Mercs) July 25, 2023
As hinted last month, it turns out we haven’t seen the last of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries after all! The Dragon’s Gambit brings an all-new campaign that takes place during the War of 3039. Where in Legend of the Kestrel Lancers players sided with the Federated Commonwealth, this time you’ll be hired by the Draconis Combine and paired with the 5th Amphigean Light Assault Group on Vega. According to Sarna’s records, the 5th Amphigean faced off against the Grave Walkers, Seventeenth Recon Regiment, and Snord’s Irregulars before being eventually forced off-world. Does this mean we’ll be fighting a losing battle? We’ll find out in a “handcrafted campaign” that spans 15 missions--the most of any MechWarrior 5 DLC yet.
In addition to the new campaign, MW5 is also getting a new ‘Mech: the Longbow. A classic Unseen design, we haven’t seen the Longbow since MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries. At 85 tons, the Longbow is the classic assault artillery machine, capable of launching flights of 50 LRMs at a time. However, it’s not something you couldn’t already do in the Stalker. There will be a new Hero variant called the Hailstorm, however, so expect it to be the most unique of the Longbows.
Besides the new ‘Mech, there will also be “high-tier weapons caches” in every campaign mission, new “Otomo” variants of Combine ‘Mechs (including the Dragon, Mauler, Catapult-K2, BattleMaster, Charger, and Hatamoto-Chi), as well as new co-op instant action modes that will come as a free update to all MW5 owners.
The Dragon’s Gambit arrives on September 28. Check out the official site for more info.
Multiple MechWarrior Projects At PGI?
The Dragon’s Gambit might not be the last MechWarrior 5 DLC. According to No Guts No Galaxy’s Sean Lang, MW5 developer PGI has “multiple MechWarrior projects in development,” with at least one new title that’s almost certainly MechWarrior 6.
Speaking with Daeron “Bombadil” Katz over at PGI, Lang found out there’s a “new project” in the works that’s confirmed to be a new title release. He speculates that it’s MechWarrior 6 and it’ll be set during the Clan Invasion. Given how MechWarrior 5‘s DLC has been slowly working its way through the pre-invasion highlights, that theory doesn’t sound too far-fetched to me.
There’s also some speculation that MechWarrior Online 2 is in development, or that MechWarrior 6 will ship with expanded multiplayer capabilities that’ll effectively sunset MechWarrior Online. Note that this is purely speculation and we haven’t received any official announcements outside of The Dragon’s Gambit DLC.
I should also note that new games typically take a while to create, and Lang suspects we won’t see MechWarrior 6 for three to four years yet. This would necessitate an extension of PGI’s MechWarrior license, which is set to expire in 2025. Given the new game in development, I’d suspect that extension has already been granted or is basically a sure thing.
As for MechWarrior 5, PGI president Russ Bullock strongly hinted on Twitter that there’s more DLC on the way. But after the War of ‘39, there are basically no big in-universe events until the Clans are encountered in the deep periphery by ComStar in ‘48. One more DLC that serves as a prelude to a Clan Invasion-focused MechWarrior 6 would make a lot of sense. Maybe we’ll find out in “a couple of months.”
The Stone Rhino Arrives In MechWarrior Online
Lest we forget, MechWarrior Online is still here, and it’s still getting new ‘Mechs. The Stone Rhino has arrived, and it’s a terrifying monster of an assault ‘Mech that really seems to be the in-game equivalent of the Inner Sphere Fafnir. Every Stone Rhino variant is available save for the Stone Rhino 5 and 8, which is interesting given that the Stone Rhino 6 has 14 medium pulse lasers, enough to cause most ‘Mechs in MWO to self-destruct if fired all at once. In comparison, the Stone Rhino 5 would have merely brought four LB-5X autocannons and six ER medium lasers, while the Stone Rhino 8 would require Dark Age technology that isn’t available in-game yet.
Never fear, for the hero variant of the Stone Rhino, called the Koloss, is far more terrifying than any Stone Rhino ever produced. Five SRM-6s, two LB 10-X ACs, and five ER medium lasers are combined with MASC to make this a fast-moving brawler with punch enough to down most ‘Mechs in a single blow. Head on over to the MechWarrior Online store page to purchase the Stone Rhino packs now.
There are also two new Legendary ‘Mechs, and surprisingly, they’re both Annihilators. One, appropriately called Gausszilla, is armed with five Clan-spec Gauss Rifles, albeit at the steep price of a waddling speed of 32.4 kph. The other, called Stone Crusher, is armed with an array of Inner Sphere medium and large lasers tied to a targeting computer. Both come with mini battle passes that grant premium time, general skill points, ‘Mech credits, and cosmetics.
July’s update also brought us a new map, Ceres Metal Scrapyard, as well as adjustments to weapon performance and ‘Mechs. Most notably, Inner Sphere PPCs now deal some damage below 90m, Marauder IICs and Mad Cat Mk II’s have had their agility stats adjusted, and another round of quirk tweaks have hit a number of designs, but mostly seem centered on the Executioner, King Crab, and Uziel.
As always, get the full patch notes on MechWarrior Online‘s site.
Blood Asp And Masakari Mods Now Available For MechWarrior 5
My next classic mech mod for @MW5Mercs is out for early access: The Blood Asp, modelled in 2001-2 by the legendary Pawel Czarnecki. You can get early access here on my Patreon: https://t.co/tFgKzDoTYe #battletech #mechwarrior pic.twitter.com/gTyDhx2T8n
— Art of Battletech & Mechwarrior (@ArtofBattletech) July 2, 2023
You just can’t keep the Blood Asp down. Even though it’s only ever flirted with the video games, appearing in MechCommander 2, MechAssault 2, and MechWarrior Online, and even though I can think of no particularly noteworthy pilots, fans just love this 90-ton assault ‘Mech. I think it’s mainly down to its striking over-the-shoulder Gauss Rifles in its primary configuration. We’ll be seeing more of these beasts from Clan Snow Raven as we head into the ilClan-era, and we’re also going to see the Blood Asp make its debut in MechWarrior 5 thanks to yet another mod from SankaraSamsara.
We once again have Pawel Czarnecki to thank for providing these 3D models that have been up-scaled and animated for MechWarrior 5. As with the rest of SankaraSamsara’s mods, you can get the Blood Asp via Nexus Mods or from the MechWarrior 5 section of the Steam Workshop. The Mech Delivery mod can help you find your Blood Asp without having to visit a bajillion planets in the outer periphery.
And no sooner do we get the Blood Asp than we also get the Masakari, or the Warhawk for all you Clanners out there. As with the Blood Asp, head on over to either Nexus Mods or Steam’s Workshop page for MechWarrior 5 to download.
Myomer Muscles Once Again Inches Towards Reality
Myomer musculature is once again in the news thanks to a team of researchers from Penn State University. They’ve developed a new type of ferroelectric polymer nanocomposite that “significantly reduced” the amount of power required to obtain an effect, “expanding potential applications” to include things like medical devices and robotics.
We’ve been keeping tabs on the development of myomer for some time, and what’s always held these ferroelectric polymers back is how much power is required to actually get them to move. This new polymer requires “less than 10 percent” of the power other polymers required for a ferroelectric phase change.
“Typically, this strain and force in ferroelectric materials are correlated with each other, in an inverse relationship,” said Qing Wang, research lead and Penn State professor. “Now we can integrate them together into one material, and we developed a new approach to drive it using the Joule heating. Since the driving field is going to be much lower, less than 10%, this is why this new material can be used for many applications that require a low driving field to be effective, such as medical devices, optical devices, and soft robotics.”
Soft robotics refers to the development of robots that use flexible or “soft” materials in order to make them safer for humans to work with. Doesn’t sound like the sort of thing that a ‘Mech would be concerned with, but it does sound like the exact sort of thing that would be useful in a bionic arm, for example.
For more on this exciting development, head on over to SciTech Daily.
Warzone Houston To Host BattleTech Event And Alpha Strike Tournament
Warzone, Houston’s largest wargaming event, is back for its fifth year come September 22 to 23. Although I see Warhammer takes the top three slots on the Warzone homepage, BattleTech is going to be there too with a narrative event, casual games, and an Alpha Strike tournament.
On Friday, the “Death of Hope” narrative event will start at 11 AM sharp and pits FedSun and allied mercenary forces against House Kurita in a daring strike that takes place during the First Succession War. The event is expected to take all day long as players go through “a large-scale, integrated scenario at the scale we rarely have the time/logistics to pull off,” according to event organizers. Food and beverages will be available for purchase at the venue, and organizers will “likely order pizza” at around 5 PM, so feel free to pitch in for dinner.
The casual Grinder event will also take place on Friday but doesn’t have a specific start time. As a casual event, new players are encouraged to learn the rules of BattleTech, starting in a smaller ‘Mech and working their way to larger machines as their earlier rides get shot up. All supplies will be provided, so there’s no need to come with your own minis.
The Alpha Strike tournament on Saturday, however, will require people to bring their own 400 PV armies. You’ll also need to register for the tournament by providing a list. Games start at 10 AM and run into the evening, going through a series of missions that will have a two-hour time limit (or 15 turns, whichever comes first). For registration and the official rules, check out this PDF.
Focht News Network Coming to CNE And Other Convention
The fine folks over at the Focht News Network also have some big plans for August. You can expect to see them at GenCon, but also up in Canada, they’ll be the Gaming Garage at the CNE, Canada’s largest (and only) national expo. The Gaming Garage will also host an esports competition, a robotics competition, and a pinball tournament, but it’s the tables that’ll host Focht News that’ll have ‘Mech minis on an expansive battlefield.
I’ve been told that this year’s setup will be quite impressive, so if you’re in the Toronto area, come on down for some BattleTech games. I also got roped into volunteering on Saturday, so you can expect to see me there! Focht will be at the CNE from August 18 to 20.
You’ll also be able to find Focht at Fan Expo Canada at the Metro Toronto Convention Center from August 24 to 27. I’ve got a prior engagement, but I’ve been told that my absence won’t stop the BattleTech fun.
Unearthed Japanese Ad For MechAssault Is Very Early 2000s
Major BioMech recently unearthed this Xbox promo for the original MechAssault and man, it’s a trip. Thought lost to history, BioMech had it on a demo disk and uploaded it to YouTube for preservation purposes, and because it’s a neat look at advertising from the early 2000s.
MechWarrior Living Legends Gets Its Long-Awaited Heavy VTOLs In Latest Update
We’ve got updates for all the major MechWarrior titles this month, including MechWarrior: Living Legends. Update 0.16.0 has added all-new Heavy VTOL units, the Karnov and the Anhur, which are like the regular light VTOLs but with tank turrets mounted on their sides. In this way, players fly the VTOL and take aim with their turrets might like how they’d control a standard tank or ‘Mech.
Being larger and heavier than standard VTOLs, expect these Heavy VTOLS to maneuver more slowly but offer better firepower and increased armor protection. In addition, both the Karnov and the Anhur can act as Battle Armor spawn points or ammunition stores, allowing your team to put increased pressure on the front lines of battle.
There are some other tweaks and weapon changes, but you can read about ’em on the MechWarrior: Living Legends ModDB page here. You can also download the game there, which I hasten to remind you, is totally free.
That Crab Is About To Have A Very Bad Day
I’m not entirely sure what that Atlas is wearing on its head, but it sure does seem like it has a bit of a Christmas in July theme going on. Anyway, artist Panzerbunn is giving us a prime example of why you should keep your Crab well away from an Atlas, lest you eat a fist with 100 tons behind it.
Kudos to the stalking Stalker in the background, although I don’t think it’s going to have much left to do once that fist lands.
Renegade HPG Interviews BattleTech Art Director Brent Evans
CGL Art Director Brent Evans recently sat down with Trevor at Renegade HPG for a chat on the current state of BattleTech. It was a delightful conversation on where the game has been and where it’s going, as well as a fascinating look at the business of producing all those high-quality miniatures for the Clan Invasion and Mercenaries Kickstarter.
I won’t go into too much detail, but it was wild to hear how Chinese manufacturers have their own proprietary software that compels them to rebuild 3D models sent for manufacturing. There’s also the strange politics of plastic manufacturers where larger orders always get preferential treatment. Evans admitted that CGL has been bumped before, but after years of carefully cultivating business relationships, they now have a reliable pipeline to get minis into boxes.
Evans argued that BattleTech’s success today is built on the foundation of solid logistics--something that parallels well with a popular maxim in warfare. For the first time in BattleTech history, Evans said, CGL has been able to keep the primary edition of the boxed set in stock at retailers for over 12 months.
But perhaps the most interesting subject would be the upcoming products. There’s the BattleTech Universe book, an updated and expanded version of the small primer included in the introductory boxed sets that attempts to explain the BattleTech universe. That’s expected to arrive something in October or November. There are also Faction Box Sets on the horizon, although CGL is still working out the details on what ‘Mechs go in which box. Major Houses and Clans will come first, followed by Dark Age and other smaller factions.
Evans didn’t say this, but I suspect we’ll see individual new ‘Mechs appear in these Faction Boxes in order to provide a compelling reason for fans to open their wallets and to keep retailers from seeing certain boxes sit on store shelves. No time frame on when that’ll happen, but I’m going to throw my request for a Cestus in right here, right now.
There’s a lot more discussed, so do check out the full interview in the video here.
ProtoMechs Are Basically Aliens
I never liked ProtoMechs. They’re a neat concept, but they’re verging a little too closely to the realm of anime and exosuits rather than ‘Mechs. And it seems like I’m in the majority since ProtoMechs have been largely abandoned by the Clans that were tinkering with them.
The Delphyne, in particular, always seemed the most monstrous and alien of the ProtoMechs. Here we have Jared Blando’s piece for Shrapnel #12 showcasing just how monstrous this little devil can get as it blasts a Wasp‘s cockpit with its mouth-mounted medium pulse laser. Thanks for sharing, Blando!
The Black Marauder Doesn’t Wait For Halloween To Terrify MechWarriors
My first #battletech sculp…
The Black Marauder. pic.twitter.com/XcTgFrZoGa
— Dusk Haunters (@DuskHaunters) July 21, 2023
As we’re all aware by now, the Black Marauder is a personal favorite, and Dusk Haunters‘ sculpt naturally caught my attention. It’s got teeth, eyes, and even chains wrapping around this hell-born ‘Mech. Be sure to bring this piece back out for the spooky season.
Commandos Rock. Period.
Been playing some mechwarrior with the gang, got me in a battletech mood. COM-2D Commando Light Mech of the Capellan Confederation 360th Division, stalking through the alps, with its SRMs at the ready to swat any enemy recon it encounters.#mecha #battletech pic.twitter.com/YesatK48lE
— Oshlet (@LymphOwned) July 25, 2023
Give yourself five more tons to play with and never even consider running a Stinger or a Wasp again. Oshlet proves just how amazing the Commando is with this piece showcasing the many missiles this potent Steiner scout ‘Mech can spam at short range. Commando fans, unite!
Sooo… Superconductors Could Be A Thing
Pretty much everything in BattleTech, from fusion engines to Gauss Rifles, is predicated on the existence of superconducting materials. It’s not really discussed much in lore because it’s sort of boring to talk about wires, but it’s a technology that is essential for other technology to flourish. And now, three researchers at Cornell University say they’ve invented the world’s first room-temperature superconductor.
Previous superconductors have always been hard to make or only worked at super low temperatures--like, near zero degrees Kelvin. This superconductor can be made at room temperature using nothing but a mortal and pestle, a vacuum, and a furnace. And if it’s real, it’ll pave the way to fusion reactors, high-storage batteries, quantum computers, and more. This could very well be the discovery that saves humanity from climate change.
It could also give us giant robots. Fingers crossed for both.
Reminder: Override Engaged To Host BattleTech Event At Nashcon
I mentioned this event already back in May, but Sam has returned with more details and some informative videos to let people know what’s going on in Nashville.
As a reminder, Override Engaged/MRC will be hosting a BattleTech event at NashCon 2023 starting Thursday, August 17 at 7 PM. Opening night will be pickup games and socializing, while Friday will begin the narrative-focused Solaris Civil War scenario. Saturday will be a three-round Classic BattleTech tourney and a painting competition, and Sunday will be a three-round Alpha Strike tourney and the conclusion of the aforementioned painting competition. Expect rewards and prizes to be handed out following the conclusion of each event.
Apparently, MRC is a pretty active group. Sam gave me a rundown of the events they’ve run throughout May and June:
“In May we had the largest recent Classic Battletech tournament, with initially 39 players from all over the world joining the MRC Discord to battle out ‘Tukayyid Heat,’ with 74 matches played across the month of May using MegaMek,” Sam tells me. “In June we followed that with a 10,000 BV2 force limit set within the Late Republic era tournament, again within the MRC Discord, using MegaMek that saw another 20 players play 32 games across four weeks. This event saw most of the entire combined arms available unleashed, including vehicles, VTOLS, and Battle Armor/Infantry. Finally, we are wrapping up a July event, also within the MRC Discord and using MegaMek, focusing on the Pre-Operation Klondike preparations, using all 20 original Clans and First Succession War-era ‘Mechs, to which Organizer Pirate has put out a few fun introduction videos. And we do have one more tournament already being prepared, another combined arms, 10,000 BV2 force limit set within the Dark Age era, again within the MRC Discord and using MegaMek. All details can be found within the MRC Discord.”
If you’ve got any events you’d like advertised in Sarna, give drop me a line either here or via email.
And that’s it for July! Join us next month for another toasty recap of all the BattleTech news that’s already happened.
And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.