February is the worst month. Partially because it’s in winter, but mostly because it has three fewer days than the other months, so I’m always caught off-guard when the end of the month arrives much earlier than usual. And yet, as with every month, I’ve still managed to scrounge together all the best BattleTech news that’s fit for the Inner Sphere. Plus a whole bunch of wild UrbanMech pics. You’re welcome.
So without further adieu, here’s your BattleTech news for February 2023.
Art Of BattleTech Brings The Hellcat To MechWarrior 5
— Art of Battletech & Mechwarrior (@ArtofBattletech) February 5, 2023
Last month, Catalyst gave us the canonized version of MechWarrior 4‘s Hellhound, now renamed the Hellcat. And no sooner does the Hellcat join the annals of BattleTech canon than does The Art of BattleTech bring us a new MechWarrior 5 mod that lets players return to what is quite possibly the best medium ‘Mech from MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries.
The Hellcat model is courtesy of Ion Raptor who based their design on the MechWarrior 4 model by David A. White. It looks like the mod’s design is largely based on the TRO from ilClan Recognition Guide Volume 30, which includes two ER Large Lasers, an LB-10X autocannon, and an SRM-6. As usual, Arty advises players to get the ‘ Mech Delivery mod to make it a bit easier to find the new Hellcat in the vastness of the Inner Sphere. Head on over to Nexus Mods to get both the Hellcat and the ‘Mech Delivery mods.
Be Afraid: The Black Marauder Is Also Coming To MechWarrior 5
I’m sure I’ve talked about the Black Marauder a little closer to Halloween, but just as a reminder, the Black Marauder is a BattleTech ghost story of a demonic Marauder that was found on an airless asteroid in an uninhabited system one jump from Malagrotta. You can’t blame the Ninth FedCom RCT for nabbing a free heavy ‘Mech, but every tech that touched the Black Marauder and every MechWarrior that sat in its seat suffered a horrible fate. The Black Marauder has changed hands multiple times over the decades, bringing misfortune and calamity to everyone near it.
I love the Black Marauder, and now Volfegan is making it real and pilotable in MechWarrior 5. I’m not sure if it’ll be as cursed as it is in the lore, but its weapon layout certainly seems desirable enough to risk a curse or two. Stay tuned for this mod’s release date.
Hired Steel Episode 3 Is Here And It Is Glorious
As promised, Hired Steel 3 is here, and damn if this isn’t the best footage of ‘Mech combat you’ll find outside of a MechWarrior game. I’m not going to go too far into it, but everything is still there from the previous episodes, only with way more explosions going on. George Ledoux, mister Duncan Fisher himself, provides a lovely opening narration that describes the creation of the Atlas as told by Aleksandr Kerensky, and Tex of the Black Pants Legion continues to lead Eques lance in his Shadow Hawk. Let’s not forget Mr. Paladin in the Catapult, Baradul in his custom Rifleman, AggieLawGirl in the Hunchback, and the villainous Thunderbolt is piloted by Ken Marsiglia.
Couple of points--not sure when the Trebuchet became a baddie ‘Mech, but I’m here for it. Also, I’m available to voice a wise-cracking Quickdraw if one were needed in Hired Steel Episode 4. Or maybe a Grasshopper. I’ve been really digging the Grasshopper lately.
It’s really a shame that we have to go a year between episodes because they’re just so technically impressive and these guys are basically doing it in their spare time. Go subscribe on Twitter and YouTube for updates, behind-the-scenes stuff, and cool sketches of that Hunchback with reactive armor.
All Good Things Come To Crabs Who Wait
TMC has a whole team making BattleTech machinima, but even the best animations start from the humblest of gifs. Here we have AwkwardSmilesCo dipping their claw into the world of BattleTech animation. It looks like it’s probably a King Crab claw, judging by its overall girth, but it could also be the Hermit Crab, a new light ‘Mech entry into the crab family.
Awkward Smiles said they’re planning on making this part of a larger five-minute animation titled “Mechwarrior: Rough-Housing.” But as animation takes a lot of time and effort, don’t expect it for another few months. As with Hired Steel, we must be patient.
BattleTech TCG Summer League Opens Registration
Registration is open for the online BattleTech TCG Summer league at https://t.co/KICgFsXxfB
If you want to dive in earlier, we are still taking players for the Winter league which starts competitive play this week.
Don't know how to play? No problem. We will teach you! pic.twitter.com/NcFvcf4zVX
— RenegadeHPG (@renegadehpg) February 13, 2023
I might have been a little late in letting people know about the BattleTech TCG renaissance happening online. Never fear, because RenegadeHPG has announced a summer league will get started on June 1. Registration is open, and you don’t even need any actual cards to take part. All the cards are available online for free with a few simple downloads, although registration is $35 to cover the cost of prizes and such. Oh yeah, there are prizes. Those can be anything from playmats to card sleeves to signed artist proofs to signed BattleTech novels.
Check this post here for the sign-ups and rules. And head to the BattleTech Trading Card Game Revival Facebook Group for more cool card stuff, like totally new cards that Wizards of the Coast never bothered to produce.
Opinion Piece: Is The Crusader A ‘Bad ‘Mech?
This week for the editorial, I thought I’d peel back the curtain slightly and talk about what makes a Bad ‘Mech. I know there have been a few, shall we say, controversial choices made, so I thought it might be neat to provide a little insight into the internal debates I have when determining what is and is not a Bad ‘Mech.
And I’m going to do that by talking about the Crusader, a beloved missile boat from the classic 3025 TRO era. One of the Unseen ‘Mechs, the Crusader would be visually redesigned and updated during the Project Phoenix years, but wouldn’t be seen in its classic form again until just recently with the ilClan Recognition Guides. We’d also see a visually distinct and slightly modified version come out of PGI for MechWarrior Online and MechWarrior 5 with the Rise of Rasalhague expansion.
I gotta say, I really like the Crusader. It has a cool design, a bunch of notable pilots, and in the MechWarrior games, it’s depicted as being slightly more nimble than your average 65-ton heavy ‘Mech. But the CRD-3R is critically flawed. It’s too hot and it has virtually no ammo to feed all those missile launchers. A single ton for two SRM-6 launchers is nothing, and two tons for its paired LRM-15s gives this thing a few salvos before it has to run back to its supply lines. Plus, mounting those SRM-6s on the legs (at least, in the tabletop version) means they can’t be fired while torso twisting and they’re offline as soon as the pilot steps into a waist-high pond.
But is that enough to make the Crusader a Bad ‘Mech? I’m on the fence. The Crusader has great armor--better than most 65-tonners at the time. And it doesn’t try to shoe-horn jump jets for added mobility (not that it has any tonnage to spare for them). And while leg-mounted weapons are certainly uncommon, they’re also kinda cool just for being unique.
Plus, BattleTech even acknowledges the CRD-3R is critically flawed as pretty much every major house has its own version that tries to fix it. The Davions have the 3D which downgrades the SRM-6s for SRM-4s and gets rid of the machine guns for heat sinks. The Kuritans gave us the 3K version that downgrades to LRM-10 launchers and also removes the machine guns for heat sinks. The 3L combines both the LRM-10 and SRM-4 launchers of the other two models for a much more reasonable strain on its ammo supply, and then the Liaos ruin it by throwing in some jump jets.
On top of that, how much of the Crusader‘s problems are based on the fact LRMs just aren’t a particularly potent main armament, either for tabletop or in video games? Are all missile boats just bad? Maybe in terms of game mechanics, but in terms of lore, the Crusader has never been described as anything but effective, so maybe those missiles are more narratively potent than game mechanics allow.
It’s borderline, but ultimately, I don’t think the Crusader hits the low bar of a Bad ‘Mech. Disagree? Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments below.
Eldonious Unveils More UrbanFest Art
More UrbanFest art! I've seen this one make the rounds on a few BT forums. But, it's my turn to generate some sweet, sweet engagement.
— Eldoniousrex (@Eldoniousrex) February 16, 2023
December’s PseudoTech release of Arcade Operations: UrbanFest brought some hilarious UrbanMech-centric scenarios for BattleTech players to try on tabletop, and it also brought some amazing takes on UrbanMech mythology courtesy of Eldoniousrex. He’s been sharing several iterations of UrbanMech online, including a cowboy, a wizard, a superhero, a Goku-analog, and a rogue. Basically a full party, although I’ll bet Goku and Super Urb will have some harsh words at some point.
There’s also this American Gladiator-style UrbanMech that describes itself as “firestarter.” I assume that means the small laser has been tossed for a flamer, but I can’t tell from the image since it’s mostly about the amazing physicality of this muscular and patriotic UrbanMech.
Anyway, y’all should pick up PseudoTech’s new Arcade Operations: UrbanFest over on Catalyst’s site.
PGI Promises Patch For Pathfinding Problems
Attention Mercs! The new DLC has shipped, and the battle for Rasalhague rages on. But that's not all! We've been hard at work on a March patch that will include fixes to AI and pathfinding, improvements to the new FPS mode, and more! So stay tuned for what's coming to #MW5Mercs! pic.twitter.com/qee8U9U3B7
— MechWarrior5Mercs (@MW5Mercs) February 16, 2023
I’ve already played through the Rise of Rasalhauge DLC twice now and it’s great--definitely the direction MechWarrior 6 should go. And the improved AI is definitely leading to higher damage numbers from your AI-controlled lancemates, but it’s also caused some issues with getting them to the fight. Sometimes they’re getting stuck on buildings or just not moving from the initial drop point, leaving Mason alone to face entire companies of Steiner and Drac ‘Mechs. I mean, I still won, but my new Crusader got chewed to pieces.
Thankfully, support for MechWarrior 5 isn’t over just because the fourth and presumably final DLC has dropped (although I’ve been wrong about MW5’s DLC count before and I’ll gladly be wrong again). PGI has promised a new patch is coming in March that’ll fix those stuck lancemates. It’ll also have improvements to the new FPS mode, which is the mode with “conventional” shooter controls for console players unfamiliar with MechWarrior games. No word on when the patch’ll drop, but I’ll be sure to mention it in next month’s newsletter.
MechWarrior Online Gets ‘Mech Adjustments For February, New Map Coming In March
Feburary’s patch for MechWarrior Online brings 10 new Platinum variants and the ability to create your own Platinum Custom Collection package, allowing you to select one light, medium, heavy, and an assault ‘Mech.
On top of that, we’ve got some new ‘Mech adjustments to celebrate, and many of them specifically deal with missile launchers. The Hellbringer, Timber Wolf, Battlemaster, Madcat MkII, and Banshee will all take less damage in their side-torsos so long as they’ve equipped missile launchers of sufficient size. The damage reduction is between 10 to 15 percent, but that’s quite substantial for a ‘Mech with as much armor as the Madcat MkII or the Banshee. Note that these bonuses do not apply if you’re slapping Rocket Launchers on that Banshee. We’ve also got some quirk adjustments for the UrbanMech, Jenner IIC, Cicada, Vulcan, Viper, Hatchetman, Vindicator, Nova, Dragon, Victor, and Kodiak.
Finally, new level designer Krazzdaxx will have a new map available for March, with previews set to arrive in the coming days. PGI is also investigating changes to the matchmaker system that will “hopefully improve the matchmaking process,” with more details to come in a new Dev Vlog. There’s also a new sale going on that gives you half-off all engines, weapons, consumables, ‘Mech bays, Premium Time, and every ‘Mech mentioned in February’s patch notes.
New Books, New Recognition Guide, and New Mercenaries Preview From Catalyst
We're celebrating the successful conclusion of the BattleMech Recognition Guide: ilClan series with the publication of Volume 32, available now! Plus, information for store owners seeking to host a Mercenaries Kickstarter launch party! https://t.co/CS2E0iUtBq pic.twitter.com/GmERO8hEkz
— CatalystGameLab (@catalystgamelab) February 17, 2023
It wouldn’t be a Sarna newsletter without some updates from Catalyst! This month we have a new preview for the upcoming Mercenaries Kickstarter, including the new Starslayer sculpt and the remade Galleon light tank. I still can’t get over the glow-up the Starslayer had to become the poster boy of the new box set. It’s like how the King Crab somehow got to be the cover ‘Mech for MechWarrior 5.
We’ve also got a new book and a new short story. Innocent and Defenseless is a new short story from Jason Hansa featuring the Eridani Light Horse and set during the Star League. The new book is Escape from Jardine from Herbert A. Beas II. This full novel features an intrepid explorer from Interstellar Explorations who stumbles upon a Word of Blake remnant on the lost planet of Jardine. She and her compatriots get stuck, and the rest of the book follows the title. You can nab both on Amazon or your e-publication site of choice.
And don’t forget about Recognition Guide: ilClan Volume 32! This one has a Blood Asp on the cover and a bunch of tanks on the inside. That might make this edition a little less exciting for ‘Mech fans, but I gotta admit, it just ain’t BattleTech with a J. Edgar light hover tank. You can snag that over on Catalyst’s website.
Lastly, Catalyst will announce the selected venues for the Mercenaries Kickstarter launch party on March 3. The Mercenaries Kickstarter launches on March 23.
The Steiner Scout Lance Is A Master Of Subterfuge
The first two members of my Steiner Scout Lance for #battletech are (mostly) done!
Truly, they are the most stealthy unit in the Commonwealth!
(Apologies to @Eldoniousrex go buy the shirt I used for the billboard!) pic.twitter.com/OrEyD1wwvq
— Alec Christian (@Dharma_Abelian) February 18, 2023
The Steiner Scout Lance is already perhaps the best scouts in the Inner Sphere, able to rumble up to any location, thoroughly examine the area, and then retreat to report back to Lyran command how many ‘Mechs they blew up. But even the Steiner Scout Lance can sometimes find it difficult to approach a heavily fortified enemy position. In those rare instances, the Steiner Scout Lance resorts to a time-honored military tactic: subterfuge.
Alec Christian showcases two examples of how the Steiner Scout Lance can camouflage itself to quietly approach the enemy without being detected. Kudos to Eldonoious for providing the Canopus Cat-House Buffet poster.
MechWarrior Living Legends Announces Events For March
Don’t like MechWarrior Online? Don’t have the gaming rig for MechWarrior 5? MechWarrior: Living Legends is here to give you your ‘Mech fix, and it’s absolutely free. It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the folks at MechWarrior Living Legends, so I’m happy to report that they’ve got some plans for March.
Expect an event every weekend in March. Most of them will be organized TC games, but Sunday, March 19 will be single-life matches. All games are scheduled to start at 7 PM UTC (2 PM ET), so mark your calendars. For more info, head on over to the MechWarrior Living Legends Discord server.
Two UrbanMechs In A Trenchcoat Try To Get Into A Canopus Caberet
— HatchyArt! Commissions Open (@Hatchy86753o9) February 25, 2023
I initially wanted to call this a cat-beret but felt that might’ve been too confusing to hat enthusiasts. Eldonious isn’t the only artist out there that’s putting up great UrbanMech art. I’m not sure when the Quickdraw became the ‘Mech of choice for customer service, but I’m digging it. I might also be partially responsible.
Just in case you need reminding, it’s official BattleTech canon that cat girls exist. They’re on Canopus, and they’re technically mechanical prostheses rather than true biological mutations or whatever, but they exist. God bless the Magistracy.
And that’s all we got for February! Not as exciting as January, but February also has fewer days to play with. I expect March to be full of announcements, so join us next month as Sarna brings you all the BattleTech news that happened in the preceding weeks.
And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.