It’s the spooo00OO0oooo00oOOOooky month! I don’t really have anything scary to offer other than my ability to mix capital Os and zeroes together to create a ghostly sound, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all appreciate the terrors that October brings. And also some BattleTech news.
As always, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so we’re just going to hop right into it. Be sure to pack your pillow case, ’cause we’re going all night long.
Why You Never Shut Down In Front of A Wobbie
We’ve got Akella to thank for this commissioned piece of a Seraph moments away from eviscerating an unfortunate Kodiak. This pic definitely gives me strong vibes of the original MechWarrior cover, only the Seraph is way more menacing than a Warhammer ever could be (no offense to the Warhammer).
If you’re lookin’ for the ‘Mechs without the effects, check out this version over on Akella’s Twitter account.
It’s Like A Snow Leopard, But Deadlier
This incredible digital oil painting comes courtesy of Aaron Harris, an artist currently working for Catalyst. I wish I was more of an artist so I could point to other famous paintings of pastoral war scenes that surely inspired this piece and nod sagely over my vast artistic wisdom, but I’m not, so I won’t. I just think this looks really good. Thanks for sharing, Aaron.
Prints are also available for purchase. Check out this link here.
OPINION: C-Bill ‘Mech Prices Never Really Made Any Sense
I saw this post on the BattleTech subreddit a week ago, and I felt a certain kinship with iamfanboytoo. I might have made their point a little more diplomatically, but the gist is certainly true: C-Bill prices never really mattered. Don’t get me wrong--the Inner Sphere is still definitely a capitalist society (broadly speaking) and money still makes the galaxy go round, but even when the C-Bill was the dominant currency for everything, it still never made sense.
We’ll take 3025 as our base example. We have a bunch of ‘Mechs on Sarna with prices listed in C-Bills, which we assume to be the price you’d pay if you wanted to buy that ‘Mech from some theoretical ‘Mech dealership, but that’s hardly ever the case. For starters, ‘Mech dealerships aren’t really a thing in most places around the Inner Sphere at the time. Second, those prices would fluctuate wildly depending on where you are and who you’re buying from. Getting some junked-out heap in the middle of the Periphery is probably way cheaper than buying a ‘Mech straight from the manufacturer--if that manufacturer even lets you buy a ‘Mech at all, given how most factories’ production runs were already bought and paid for by House militaries.
Once you throw time into the mix, C-Bill pricing makes even less sense. Sure, standard fusion engines might start out cheap as they’re the most numerous engines produced in 3025, but by 3060, the standard had long since moved to XL engines. And just as your compact disc player became cheaper than a vinyl record player in the ’90s, so too would an XL engine become cheaper than a standard fusion engine as manufacturers all retool to mass-produce the latest and greatest tech. Therefore, doubling the price of all these 3060s-era ‘Mechs just because they have XL engines didn’t make sense then, and it doesn’t make sense now.
And what about the Clans? They never used the C-Bill as a form of currency, so having a Timber Wolf listed at 24-million-odd C-Bills is an outright fabrication. The Clan lower castes have “work credits” to facilitate daily commerce, and the merchant castes all use the “Kerensky” as a unit of currency for larger industrial transactions, but both of those could be redistributed at the whims of the Clan leadership. (Having taken a few macroeconomics courses, one wonders how any of the central bankers at any of the Clans stayed sane.) In any case, nobody has ever gone to the Jade Falcons and asked to buy a Summoner for a cool 21 million C-Bills.
I get how it was helpful to understand the “cost” of a certain unit by assigning it a price in C-Bills, but it was always a misleading identifier at best. Just as they do today, prices would fluctuate wildly as time, technology, and universe-changing events progressed. As of the Dark Age and the IlClan eras, C-Bills are no longer the de-facto currency anyway.
So, what’s expensive, and what’s cheap? As it does in the real world, that’ll depend on who you are, where you are, and what you’re trying to buy. By 3150, trying to buy a Griffin in the Lyran Commonwealth--an older design that’s been in mass production for centuries--would probably cost you just a few million Kroner. Meanwhile, trying to buy a Dominator from Clan Wolf would likely be outright impossible, given how it’s a brand-new design that’s being made specifically for a single military. You might be able to buy a Thresher Mk II from a wandering Sea Fox arms dealer, but you’ll probably have to pay a pretty penny--especially as the Sea Foxes will add a surcharge for currency conversion.
I agree with iamfanboytoo; it’s time to leave the C-Bill behind. Don’t agree? Leave a message in the comments. Remember, no pitchforks allowed.
News From Spiel Essen On Mercs Kickstarter And BattleTech Aces
More news from Germany! Spiel Essen, one of the big gaming-related events out in Germany, brought with it some updates on the Mercenaries Kickstarter (with a shoutout to Big Red-40Tech for covering this earlier in the month). According to CGL folks at Spiel Essen, the miniatures are all done and raring to go, but we’re still waiting on a shipping date due to all the other stuff that came along with the Kickstarter--I’m talking dice and plushies and keychains. I’m still personally holding out hope that we’ll get shipping this year, but Big Red thinks it’s more realistic to think 2024. Considering that’s what the Kickstarter says, he’s probably right.
Other news involves BattleTech Aces, the single-player BattleTech product that was playtested in the Mercs Kickstarter and I had quite a few positive things to say about it. We can likely expect an announcement for a new BattleTech Aces box set in “the next little while,” which might be as soon as two months. No word on what ‘Mechs might be in the box, which is likely what’s keeping the announcement from being sooner.
And finally, there’s demand for Catalyst to release more faction packs a la ComStar and the specific mercenary regiments rather than the generalist Inner Sphere and Clan packs that have been released in the two Kickstarters. Catalyst is looking into faction packs for various nations, Clans, and other major groups, but no timeframe on when we can expect an announcement.
Big Red also noted some tough news for Harebrained Schemes, which we’ll cover in our next section.
Tough Times For Hairbrained Schemes
Things aren’t looking so great for BATTLETECH developer Hairbrained Schemes. While its past licensed games--including the various Shadowrun titles and aforementioned BATTLETECH--were financial winners, its latest title hasn’t lived up to expectations. Although well-reviewed, The Lamplighters League didn’t capture sales, and with publisher Paradox falling on tough financial times, Hairbrained Schemes and Paradox have now parted ways.
Worse, Hairbrained has reportedly been forced to lay off roughly 80% of its staff. There’s a resetera thread from a staffer that lays out the story. According to the post, HBS tried to sell Paradox on BATTLETECH 2, but Paradox didn’t want to pay Microsoft its licensing fee, so HBS went with The Lamplighters League. But without a built-in audience, Lamplighters League didn’t sell. Paradox then wrote the game off as a loss.
“Paradox has refocused its strategy towards its core niches within strategy and management games with endless qualities,” said Paradox chief operations officer Charlotta Nilsson in a prepared statement. “We and HBS’ leadership have been discussing what would happen after the release of The Lamplighters League, but a new project or sequel in the same genre was not in line with our portfolio plans. Hence, we believe that a separation would be the best way forward. We’re very happy that this talented, gifted studio has the chance to continue and can’t wait to see what they will make next.”
This doesn’t leave HBS in a great spot. We know that Paradox has retained the rights and source code to BATTLETECH, so if HBS wanted to make a sequel on their own, they’d have to start completely from scratch and with a drastically smaller workforce.
On the other hand, BATTLETECH was originally funded through a Kickstarter campaign, and with Microsoft saying they’d be more than willing to revisit old franchises, there’s nothing stopping HBS from simply Kickstarting BATTLETECH 2. Plus, HBS has a proven track record of being able to make fantastic games, so perhaps another publisher partnership isn’t outside the realm of possibility. Maybe they could go with a different game engine than Unity, though, given that company’s recent kerfluffle.
The Art Of BattleTech Announces MechWarrior 2 Remake Project
You might recall The Art of BattleTech (aka SankaraSamsara, or Emil) from various MechWarrior 5 mods that add classic Clan OmniMechs, or from an essay we recently published on what MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries gets right and what it gets wrong. Emil has just announced that he’s embarked on his most ambitious project to date: a recreation of MechWarrior 2 in MechWarrior 5: Mercs.
So far, the mod is mostly a proof of concept and only has the first mission for the Clan Wolf campaign, “Pyre Light.” It uses the modded ‘Mechs that Emil and company have created for Mercs, with players accessing the Clan Wolf campaign by starting a new career. This brings up a facsimile of MechWarrior 2‘s menus with a MechWarrior 5-style briefing screen.
Compared to a regular Mercenaries mission, Pyre Light in the mod is mostly an empty desert. You do indeed destroy a chemical plant, inspect a firebase, and blow away a few light ‘Mechs exactly as you did in MechWarrior 2, but with way more visual and audio fidelity. It’s a vastly different experience, one which Emil has previously described at length.
I’ve spoken with Emil about his most immediate future plans. Besides adding in other missions, he wants to throw in the original MechWarrior 2 cinematics and allow the user to choose between the original soundtrack by Jeehun Hwang or the remixed version from Timothy Seals.
Remaking these missions is still a ton of work, so consider hopping over to Emil’s Patreon if this is something you’d like to support. You can download the MechWarrior 2 Remake Project over on Nexus Mods.
And just in time for the MechWarrior 2 Remake Project, Emil has announced the Jenner IIC mod is now available for MechWarrior 5 with a model created by FarSeer Animation. Grab this one on Nexus Mods or Steam Workshop.
Camo Specs Online Partners With CGL To Offer Free Clan Smoke Jaguar Paint Guide
A Guide to Faction Paint Schemes offers color photos of distinctive patterns & colors, descriptions of Clan Smoke Jaguar's combat commands, & tutorial on painting notable paint schemes.https://t.co/ULKH6pP0EV#paintschemes #miniatures painting #painting #miniatures #battletech pic.twitter.com/XprXuIvXCy
— CatalystGameLab (@catalystgamelab) October 20, 2023
Camo Specs Online, your one-stop shop for BattleTech faction and unit paint schemes, has paired up with Catalyst to offer a guide to painting units within Clan Smoke Jaguar. This is likely to do with MechWarrior 5: Clans as you’ll be a Smoke Jaguar MechWarrior in the upcoming game, but it could just be the first of many guides as Camo Specs is warning us that something else will be arriving November 17.
The guide itself is available from Catalyst’s online store for zero dollars. That’s right--it’s free. Inside the PDF you’ll find paint schemes and unit insignias for Alpha, Beta, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Kappa, Nu, Tau, Psi, and Omega Galaxies, as well as step-by-step instructions for how to recreate the complex jaguar fur pattern of Alpha Galaxy. If you’re looking to paint your own Smoke Jaguar units, then this is an invaluable resource you’ll definitely want to grab. Hats off to Camo Specs for putting this together!
PGI President Russ Bullock Shares More Details On MW5: Clans With No Guts No Galaxy
We’ve got a few more tidbits on MechWarrior 5: Clans courtesy of No Guts No Galaxy. In an interview with the PGI president, Russ Bullock discussed the origins of MechWarrior 5: Clans as an offshoot of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, taking the opposite approach of MechWarrior 2 many decades ago (that game starting with the Clans and then going Mercenaries rather than the other way around). Bullock also admitted that MW5: Clans started life as an expansion, but it quickly became apparent that MW5: Mercs wouldn’t be able to handle all the things that PGI wanted to do, so when the decision to upgrade to Unreal Engine 5 came down the pipe, it only made sense to make an entirely new game.
Russ had some really good things to say about the coming MechWarrior 5 sequel, with a lot of discussion centering around the storytelling that will be present in MW5: Clans. Specifically, the game will have over a dozen actual characters “with dialog” and “Unreal 5-quality cinematics.” Sounds like we’re going to have more than just Ryana doing the talking this time around.
My personal take? PGI is making the MechWarrior equivalent of Ace Combat 7 or Armored Core 6. Probably far less anime-inspired, but it sounds like there will be similarities in terms of structure, ie. missions having voiced briefings before (or perhaps after) they start, and major story beats will be accompanied by both in-game and cinematic sequences. And if that’s the case, I’m all for it. I love what Bandai Namco has done with its action franchises, with both games being some of my favorite action titles in recent memory.
There was also some discussion on how PGI is expanding its skill base by hiring actual character artists. MechWarrior 5: Merc‘s characters were either 2D avatars or stock Unreal models modified to become Ryana and Fahad. PGI now has a team of a dozen or so people who can create human characters from the ground up, including animation and mocap, so we can expect way more people to be part of MechWarrior 5: Clans‘ story.
Other quick hits include “incremental improvements” in ‘Mech combat compared to MW5: Mercs, continued support for mods (yay!), and continued support for online co-op without committing to any sort of PvP gameplay in MW5: Clans.
There’s more of course, with discussions on the future of MechWarrior Online (largely status-quo) and how a game like MechAssault might be a good thing for Microsoft to revisit as it brought a lot of folks into the BattleTech fold. But you can hear more about that in the video embedded above.
BungleTech And Other BattleTech Podcasts You Should Listen To
I love podcasts. I listen to them every day while I’m cooking or cleaning or going to the gym. And now I’ve discovered an entire ring of BattleTech podcasts courtesy of BungleTech hosts Nathan and Mike.
BungleTech is itself a BattleTech podcast that recently interviewed a whole bunch of other BattleTech podcasts, including Renegade HPG (there’s literally nothing Travis doesn’t have his hand in), BattlePod, On The Origins of BattleMechs, The MechBay, Battle Babes, Mercenary Star, Of ‘Mech’s And Men, The Valhalla Club, Wolfnet, The Calgary BattleTech League (shoutout to my Western Canadian peeps), Battletopia Stories (who also does the lovely audio plays of the Bad ‘Mechs series), and Unicorn Company.
Interviewing this many creators took a whopping four hours, so be sure to have a lot of cleaning/cooking/gyming to do before embarking on this particular journey, but know that you’ve got a great chance of picking up a new favorite podcast if you do.
The BungleTech podcast also recently conducted a survey of listeners where they revealed their favorite ‘Mechs in each weight class (Locust, Hunchback, Warhammer, and Awesome), favorite weapons (PPCs, of course), and even their favorite three design quirks. Nathan and Mike weren’t exactly scientific in their process, and respondents often added their own special flare (this is why you don’t leave blank fields for responses, guys), but any community outreach is good outreach.
Last of all, they’re giving away a cool new tabletop game mode where you hunt down the legendary Black Marauder. Nothing says it’s the spooky season like trying to destroy a ‘Mech possessed by a demon. Check ’em out on Spotify, Anchor FM, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get podcasts.
Grayson Carlyle’s Marauder Finally Becomes A Card
I'm here filling a quiet evening with some more custom #BattleTechTCG card designs. @Eldoniousrex's cover art for the recent Price of Glory reprint is one of my favorite official pieces of the last couple of years and I LOVE how it looks on this card! pic.twitter.com/XsbB0xQY3C
— RenegadeHPG (@renegadehpg) October 18, 2023
By now, you all should know Regengade HPG and his love of the BattleTech CCG. You should also know that he’s been expanding the CCG with brand-new cards that he personally created. Here we have Grayson Carlyle’s MAD-3R Marauder, which survived for 25 years until the Clans invaded Sudeten.
Art for the card comes courtesy of the prolific Eldon Cowgur (aka Eldoniousrex), but the text and stats are all Renegade HPG. Expect to see this and more in the upcoming Payback expansion, and head to the BattleTech TCG Discord server for more details.
MechWarrior 5 Concept Art From The Early 2000s Surfaces Online
Concept art from Fasa Studio's cancelled Mechwarrior 5 project (2003) code named 'Prime'. The artist was Richard Hescox. First round of this is 'mechs. #battletech #mechwarrior #fasa pic.twitter.com/LMLpfh22qW
— Heinz Schuller (@causticphoton) October 17, 2023
Heinz Schuller, the art director for MechAssault, MechAssault 2, and MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries, has shared a number of concept art pieces that were to be used in the proposed MechWarrior 5 project that ultimately never received the green light back in 2003. Besides being cool concept art for a canceled game, what’s interesting here is just how wildly different these ‘Mechs are from their original designs.
The Wolf Trap, for example, bears almost no resemblance to the classic image from TRO 3050. It looks far more tank-like than the original, with its left hand replaced by a smaller autocannon and a head that’s just a sloped canopy. The Vindicator also loses its hand in favor of a weapon’s barrel, and the Fenris looks almost nothing like the Ice Ferret we all know and love.
The existence of the Toyama meant that it’s likely the Word of Blake would have been the game’s villain, but we can really only speculate. The game never got to the writing stage, and documents from the era are few and far between. That’s what makes this treasure trove so special. Thanks, Heinz!
BattleTech Universe Previewed By Catalyst
We know that CGL has been working on a new Universe book for BattleTech for some time. That’s the book that tries to explain the entire BattleTech universe in a single volume, which is quite the task given how big a universe it really is. Managing developer Randall Bills recently revealed just how much progress Catalyst has made in a preview posted to the CGL YouTube channel.
What we saw was… huge. Mostly because there will be several different versions of the new primer, one of which will include a packaged set with maps, art prints, and a lovely box that provides the “all systems nominal” message whenever you open it. Then there’s the BattleTech Universe book itself, which will contain all the relevant information players will need to get caught up to the current point in the BattleTech narrative, but also something called the BattleTech Remembrance, which will include personal messages from over 50 authors and creators, including BattleTech creator Jordan Weisman.
Randall said he’d be “carefully scrutinizing” every page--and there are a lot of pages to look at--before sending the final version for printing. Randall expects it to become a “new high watermark” for the industry, and folks will be looking to BattleTech to see how games should be historically preserved. This looks like the sort of bespoke product that every BattleTech fan will want to have on their bookshelf or sitting on their coffee table.
Still no word on when we’ll see the BattleTech Universe book hit store shelves, but it sure seems like we’re on the home stretch.
BattleTech World Wide Event Coming Next Month
This year's BattleTech World Wide Event will be run by Catalyst Demo Agents between 10/31 & 12/31.
— CatalystGameLab (@catalystgamelab) October 20, 2023
You might have seen signs for this at your local store, but there’s a new worldwide event coming in November. “At The Cost Of Bootlaces” will see the Capellan Confederation face off against the IlClan in a titanic clash that will test Clan Wolf’s supremacy in the new era.
Of course, which side wins will be totally up to you! Head on over to your local game store and sign up for the BattleTech 2023 Worldwide Event, which will be at various times and places between October 31 and December 31.
MechWarrior Online Patch Brings New Legendary ‘Mechs And Halloween Events
Another month, another patch! MechWarrior Online has a ton of stuff going on, including the usual Halloween-themed event and sale, the ongoing MechWarrior Online Championship Series, several ‘Mech and map adjustments, and two new Legendary ‘Mechs.
The first is Blight, a Marauder with two guns on its armored carapace instead of one! They’re both Ultra AC/10s in the right and left torsos protected by CASE, which is a little weird since the ammo for these guns is located everywhere except the right and left torsos. Owners will likely modify this immediately after purchasing the ‘Mech for $15.
The second is Gorewing, a new Legendary Vapor Eagle variant. A slow brawler rather than a jumping sniper, the Gorewing mounts twin LB 10-X autocannons and five ER Medium Lasers. It’s not particularly fast, but it’s got jump quirks and a lot of additional armor in those arms, so expect this thing to be a highly-mobile medium-range striker.
On the quirk side, the big winners this month are Locust, Blackjack, Trebuchet, Thunderbolt, and Charger with significant buffs across the board. A few variants from other ‘Mechs also received smaller tweaks, and the new Hyper Gauss Rifles have had their projectile spread drastically reduced. Finally, Viridian Bog no longer has a lily pad forest in the lowlands, which will go a long way to improving your odds of hitting a fleeing light ‘Mech on that map.
We know that PGI considers MechWarrior Online will maintain the status quo for the next year, but that doesn’t mean the Cauldron is sitting on its heels! Check out this interview between No Guts No Galaxy and Bear_Cl4w of the Cauldron to learn of the big changes coming in the MWO pipeline.
The Urbanhonk Strikes When You Least Expect It
A quickie to slip in between pieces
"The Urbanhonk" A joke from some peeps I know with replacing barrels on battlemechs
Also, not dead just busy with things#battletech #mechwarrior #mecha #digitalart pic.twitter.com/6KXe9cqtEE
— DMoserArts (@ArtsMoser) October 22, 2023
I’ll be the first to admit the barrels on some BattleMechs are… questionable. The Thunder, Striker, Victor, and various other ‘Mechs with a veritable keg for an arm all come to mind. Which is probably what inspired hobo freelance artist DMoser to create what he calls “The Urbanhonk.”
I’m on the fence as to whether or not this is a significant enough improvement to warrant its own alphanumeric variant code. Thanks, DMoser, for this. Whatever it is.
BattleTech Instant Action Scenario Pack Available Now
Having trouble coming up with a scenario to play with your local BattleTech tabletop group? Or are you just looking to spice up your games with a little bit of chaos? Then the Instant Action Classic BattleTech Scenario Pack might be for you.
We have Rawbert413 to thank for this little download, which you can grab here. The PDF offers what is called the “Mission Matrix,” which determines the scenario you’ll be playing. Each player privately chooses either “Confront, Hold, Recon, Destroy,” or “Salvage.” Players then throw their choices in a hat and two of them are selected. Whatever two choices are drawn then determines the scenario based on the Mission Matrix.
Say the two choices are “Hold” and “Destroy.” You then consult the Mission Matrix and see you’ve selected the “Bombing Run” scenario, where the “Destroy” player has to run their ‘Mechs into the “Hold” player’s area in order to lay their held satchel charges and blow up some important objective. The defender has to “hold,” but the attacker is also “holding” something, and of course, there’s destruction all around.
What if you get two of the same choice? For example, if you get “Confront” and “Confront,” it’s assigned the scenario “Circle of Equals,” which is basically just two sides beating the crap out of each other until one side submits. “Recon” and “Recon” results in “Scout Clash,” where the objective is for each side to scan as many data nodes as possible and then retreat back to base. “Destroy” and “Destroy” results in “Hot Potato,” which eventually results in a hilariously large explosion, but not before there’s plenty of physical violence.
I like this idea a lot, and I think it can definitely spice up a stale player group. Check it out courtesy of Rawbert’s Reddit post here.
Those Searchlights Aren’t Really Going To Help…
I do wish searchlights were a feature you could activate in some MechWarrior games, but I don’t think they’re going to save this poor Phoenix Hawk. With thanks to Remmor for the post and Faut for the art (or possibly Faul, it’s hard to tell based on the font).
And that’s it for the spookiest of months! Join us next time as we head into the somber month of November before we catapult ourselves into the consumerist frenzy of December. We’ll be sure to report on all the new BattleTech products that hit store shelves this holiday season.
And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.