It’s January. The nights are long, the days are cold, and I’m basically waiting for lockdowns to end. Which to be fair to COVID, probably won’t change my behavior all that much. I tend to hibernate through the winter as much as humanly possible.
But just because I’d prefer to sleep my way through winter doesn’t mean you have to, and neither should you. Not because humans are terrible at hibernating, but because there’s so much BattleTech news to consume! Sarna has the best news in the Inner Sphere to start off your new year. Join me as I take a meandering tour of what’s new for BattleTech in January 2022.
Gotta Dodge Those Gauss Rifles Buddy
SU-SMD is back with more art, although this time it was posted by commissioner FKDesaster. It pictures a slightly different BattleTech universe where the Goliath Scorpions were an invading Clan that met the Davion Guards on some forlorn Steiner planet. The meeting ends with a Battlemaster getting its head blown off. A great piece all around!
Place Your Bets In Three-Way Medium ‘Mech Brawl
Next up we have this Solaris VII poster from mikey39800. A three-way battle pits a Nightsky against a Uziel and a four-legged Bishamon. Honestly, I’d give it to the Nightsky in this threeway, but the Bishamon has a definite mobility advantage. It’ll all depend on how tight these “garden ruins” are.
It sounds like Mikey has a bit of a backstory for these fighters which might give you an idea on where to place your bets.
Hatchetman Mod Makes Melee Combat ‘Mech Available In MechWarrior 5
The Hatchetman has been available in Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH for some time, marking the first ax-wielding ‘Mech to appear in anything other than the tabletop and card games. With MechWarrior 5 getting melee combat options with the Kestrel Lancers expansion, there was some expectation that the Hatchetman might find its way into the latest MechWarrior entry. Sadly, that didn’t happen, but thankfully, there are mods.
Courtesy of mod creator KodiakJ, you can now play with the Hatchetman in MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. The design here is more based on the re-worked CGL ‘Mech from Recognition Guide: ilClan, vol. 12 rather than BATTLETECH, but it still looks great.
The mod adds two variants: the original HCT-3F, which was introduced in 3023, and the HCT-5S, which was introduced in 3049. Unfortunately, the hatchet is mostly decorative in terms of combat, but it does have a custom slashing animation that differs significantly from all the punches being thrown by other ‘Mechs. Trust me, you’re gonna love it.
Dolgfer Shows His Pandemic Projects
Dolgfer is someone that I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to thanks to his incredible talents at turning BattleTech into Lego models. He recently recapped his ‘Mech hangar’s additions over the course of the pandemic, showcasing the Longbow, Hollander, Commando, Ryoken, King Crab, and Marauder. He also previewed his next project, the Dragonfly, which will be modified to be more like the MechWarrior Online version and not the torso-less canon version.
If you’ve ever wanted to combine a love for BattleTech and Lego, Dolgfer is a great place to find out how.
MechWarrior Online’s January Patch Brings Another Quirk Pass And New Variants Of Clan ‘Mechs
January brings yet another update for MechWarrior Online. We don’t have a new map, but we do have the Predator Booster Pack bringing the Blood Asp-E and the Shadow Cat-D, a few adjustments to weapons, as well the sixth quirk pass for some underloved ‘Mechs. Well, underloved except by me of course.
The Nova, Linebacker, Black Knight, Battlemaster, and Blood Asp all received new quirks and/or quirk adjustments. Honestly, the quirks on the Nova seem a little underwhelming compared to its immediate competition, the Hunchback IIC, so I hope that The Cauldron gives this chassis another look after obtaining some gameplay data. The Linebacker was also only slightly tweaked, but it’s somewhat more played than the Nova in the current meta so I can understand the caution here.
The Black Knight will be an energy monster with its structure quirks converted to armor and several newly added quirks across all variants. The Battlemaster should also prove to be a beast with the BLR-3M being of particular interest for its extra 7.5% top speed.
There are several other adjustments to ‘Mechs, but you can read about it in the patch notes here. And don’t forget that January’s free ‘Mech is the Hunchback IIC-A, which will be available until February 7 (provided you play the game enough, of course).
PGI Is Giving Away Their ‘Mech Pods!
Oh, and before I forget, MechWarrior Online and MW5 developer PGI is giving away their ‘Mech pods. You might recall these custom-built pods from the Mech_Con‘s of yesteryear. Well, since everyone is working from home, PGI is downsizing its office and needs to find a good home for these old simulator pods.
The bad news is that the Razer-supplied rigs that were powering these pods won’t be coming with them, and neither will the monitors or joysticks. It’s really just the ‘Mech-inspired scaffolding. But hey, if you want your battle station to feel like a giant walking death machine (and you live in the Vancouver area), reach out to PGI to take these pods off their hands.
Renegade HPG Interviews BattleTech Cartoon Producer Kurt Weldon
Renegade HPG is starting the year off right with a new interview featuring Kurt Weldon, a producer who worked on the BattleTech cartoon series. Renegade HPG remastered BattleTech: The Animated Series starting in late 2020 and thanks to his fascination with the ’90s cartoon, we get to hear some truly wild stories about the show’s development.
This won’t come as too big of a surprise to anyone with knowledge of kids’ toys, but BattleTech: The Animated Series never would have gotten made without a merchandising deal for kids’ toys. However, the show never really hit it off with kids and was instead number one for 16 to 24-year-olds. Sadly, none of those guys are buying children’s toys (usually--I still have a Bushwacker rolling around somewhere), so the show was ultimately canceled.
Well, that and because of FASA’s tumultuous legal issues.
There’s a lot more in the interview, like how primitive CG was integrated into the cartoon and how sometimes episodes would arrive out of order, requiring some creative editing. I highly recommend you give this interview a listen.
Microsoft’s Activision Acquisition Brings MechWarrior IP Back Under One Roof
Microsoft announced on January 18 that it intended to acquire Activision Blizzard for around $70 billion. That easily makes it the biggest purchase in gaming history, ten times larger than when Microsoft purchase Bethesda last year. The deal is expected to require regulatory approval and also the approval of Activision’s shareholders, but if it does, the MechWarrior IP will be entirely controlled by Microsoft.
Right now, Microsoft licenses MechWarrior to PGI to make MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online. Microsoft already owns the rights to MechWarrior 3 & 4, as well as the various MechCommander and MechAssault games, but as The Art of BattleTech notes, anything before January 1999 was still owned by Activision. This includes MechWarrior 1 & 2, Ghost Bear’s Legacy, and MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries.
Activision, being one of the worst companies in America and only interested in re-releasing games that could make them a ton of money, never bothered to make the earliest MechWarrior games available even on retro-oriented platforms like GOG. However, Microsoft has proven to be far more charitable with its older IPs.
I’m not saying that Microsoft is immediately going to remaster the old MechWarrior games and release them on Steam, but the possibility at least exists now. It’s certain that Activision was never going to do anything that wasn’t related to Call of Duty, so now there’s at least a chance.
Who knows? Maybe we really will see MechWarrior 2 remastered.
This UrbanMech Has Cat Ears And That’s Okay
— HatchyArt! (@Hatchy86753o9) January 22, 2022
Hatchy recently shared her personal ride on Twitter, which just so happens to be a customized UM-R60 UrbanMech. But not just any UrbanMech--this is an Urbie with cat ears. I give you, the Cheap-N-Easy.
It’s a bit of a misnomer since the R60 has been upgraded with double heatsinks, Ferro Fibrous armor, and a C3 Command Unit, making it anything but cheap. The autocannon has been replaced by an ER Large Laser, the small laser replaced by a machine gun, and an SRM-2 was placed in the chest. Or what counts as the chest of a walking trash can.
Look, no one’s going to argue that putting a C3 unit in an UrbanMech is a good idea. What’s great about this thing is that it just oozes flavor out of every actuator. The Cheap-N-Easy has a story to go along with those cat ears, and you can read that story by clicking this link.
3D-Print Some Cool Buildings For Your Next Tabletop Game
3D-printing BattleMechs is no bueno since CGL owns the rights to them and they’d rather you didn’t. But 3D-printing terrain for your next tabletop game is fair play, and Rod Genardini of Melbourne Australia recently kicked off a Kickstarter campaign to bring you an array of cityscape models perfect for your next BattleTech game.
The Kickstarter features 25 files with optional hex skirts for BattleTech. Or if you want to play with these things in different tabletop games, print them without the hex base. I’m not here to tell you what games to play.
These also don’t necessarily need to be for a city campaign. Just use a smattering of these structures for a research facility or a communications array. Maybe even an HPG station. Smaller sheds and bunkers are perfect for military outposts, while skyscrapers make the perfect backdrop to an urban assault.
The campaign got started just a few days ago, so you’ve got plenty of time to figure out what level you’d like to back the project at. Deliveries of digital files are expected in April. Note, you’ll still need a 3D printer to actually turn these files into playing pieces.
Watch Out, Shrapnel—Lady Centrella Has Started A Monthly BattleTech E-Magazine
Not satisfied with turning MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries and Haribrained’s BATTLETECH into a tabletop campaign sourcebook, Riley Centrella is now after my job with a monthly e-magazine. That’s fine, Lady Centrella--there’s enough BattleTech news for the both of us.
I kid. To be fair, this e-magazine has way more fan projects and literature than I normally get to in our monthly news blasts, and some pretty sweet fan art too. It’s really Shrapnel that should be concerned.
You can download the first issue for free by heading over to Lady Centrella’s Patreon. Patrons get first access before the issues will become freely available.
Wolves Teases Wave 3 ‘Mechs, Including Everyone’s Favorite
The Mad Cat will feature a wide variety of ambient animations. Turbines will spin, vents will open and close and the machine guns will dynamically deploy and stow when switching to and from them in-game.
Wave 3 is our biggest development effort yet! Thank you for your patience! pic.twitter.com/f1lE1RUUti
— Wolves (@Wolves_Game) January 27, 2022
Wolves Wave 3 is coming. As a reminder, Wolves is the MechAssault fan-made game that absolutely blows my mind every single time I look at the work being done on it. We recently got to see the Raven, and now we’re getting a good look at the Mad Cat, a 75-ton beast that’s been the posterchild of the BattleTech franchise for decades.
While Wolves’ version of the venerable Timber Wolf has all the classic lines of the original, you can see a few unique aesthetic choices that give this version a distinctly MechAssault feel. Those rotary cannons in the torso, for example, can easily be machine guns or autocannons depending on what power-up you’ve grabbed.
If you still haven’t played Wolves, pick up the free download over on its dedicated website and stay tuned for Wave 3’s arrival.
Tamar Rising, First Of The IlClan-Era Sourcebooks, Is Available Now
Long Live the Pact! The first ilClan era sourcebook, Tamar Rising, is now available in hardcover, full-color print+PDF format, and in PDF-only format. https://t.co/mYsQ4nTIJw
— CatalystGameLab (@catalystgamelab) January 19, 2022
Oh, almost forgot! The first of the post-IlClan sourcebooks just came out. Tamar Rising explores what happens when the two biggest Clans in the Inner Sphere beat themselves half to death and leave a whole bunch of Steiners to their own devices. Spoiler alert: things get schemy real fast.
Tamar Rising looks specifically at the former Clan Jade Falcon Occupation Zone and the many, many conflicts that arise following the Jade Falcon’s loss on Terra. The Lyrans have had a chance to lick their wounds and are itching for revenge, or maybe just an opportunity to expand their own holdings.
You can get the PDF for $14.99 or the book and PDF combo for $34.99 over at Catalyst’s storefront. There’s also going to be a live YouTube AMA on February 5 at 2 PM ET where you can ask line developer Ray Arrastia questions about the new sourcebook.
And that’s it for January! Join us next month for more giant stompy robot action.
And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.