Welcome to 2023, and damn, we’re starting this year off with a bang. I’ve been working non-stop this month collating everything that’s going on, all the fantastic new art, and charting the movements of BattleTech‘s celestial bodies. My oracles have all come home to roost, so before I mix enough metaphors to make a pretty solid gumbo, let’s get to all the BattleTech news that happened this month.
Catalyst Kicks Off 2023 With Pre-Launch Mercenaries BackerKit
We’re starting the month off with some big Catalyst news. The pre-launch Mercenaries BackerKit is live and offers a look at what’s in the coming Kickstarter. This includes a list of all the ForcePacks, the new four-inch Timber Wolf figure, and the new Salvage Box containing the Visigoth AeroSpace fighter. There’s also a preview of all the merch coming with the campaign, including mercenary unit badges and pins, new t-shirts, and new short stories. The t-shirts will be available on the Catalyst store page so you won’t have to wait for the Kickstarter to purchase some new threads.
Sign-ups are available now, and if you do, you’ll also gain access to the Battlefield Support Open Beta, which will test the new tabletop rules. These rules will appear in the Mercenaries box unlocked through Kickstarter. The BackerKit page also promises regional Mercenaries launch parties to be held in conjunction with the larger celebration at AdeptiCon, which will include plastic minis that stores can give away as part of prizes for the event and funding for food and drinks.
Over 10,000 people have already signed up on the BackerKit page, so it’s already off to a good start. I suspect we’ll have another Clan Invasion on our hands when Mercenaries goes live on March 23.
We’re going to throw in a couple of new products that are also available this month. There are three new Mercenary ForcePacks available, covering Hansen’s Roughriders, Northwind Highlanders, and the Kell Hounds. New ‘Mechs include the Penetrator, the Gunslinger, and the Nightsky, alongside re-posed existing ‘Mechs and new variants of classics like the Warhammer, Grasshopper, and Enforcer. Pre-orders for all three packs are available now. There’s also a new sourcebook, Dominions Divided, which tells the story of the Federated Suns, Draconis Combine, and Rasalhague Dominion from 3151 to mid-3152. Check that out on the Catalyst store.
A Shadow Cat Waits
This Shadow Cat piece from RJF Faut (or Faul? I can’t quite tell from the signature) was already pretty enough to catch my eye, but it’s the tagline from the peanut gallery at OutreachHPG that made me guffaw. “Somewhere just outside HPG Manifold, a Shadow Cat patiently runs the match clock down,” wrote Reddit user DAFFP. “A tale as old as MWO.”
BattleTech Plans To Sell Over 9 Million Minis By The Summer
Polygon recently did a write-up on BattleTech where the publication called it “one of the biggest names in tabletop gaming.” That’s cool of them to say, and probably even true too. Especially since Catalyst gave a nifty little figure to back up the claim. Since the new sculpts started appearing with the redesigned BattleTech Box Set and the Clan Invasion Kickstarter (and will be continued in the upcoming Mercenaries Kickstarter), Catalyst has sold many millions of minifigures and expects that number to reach 9 million by the middle of summer.
Now, that number might include estimates for the Mercenaries Kickstarter as that’s going live in March, but it’s still a pretty big number for a game that doesn’t necessarily want its players to be fielding armies of dozens or even hundreds of figures (although, you certainly still can if you want to).
The article also notes how MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online developer PGI, Catalyst, and Harebrained Schemes are sharing resources to help build the franchise. “By any metric, BattleTech is now more successful and more popular than ever before,” Catalyst told Polygon. “With the coming Mercenaries Kickstarter and the lead-up to BattleTech’s 40th anniversary, there’s an excellent chance our current staggering success will be eclipsed as BattleTech reaches even more fans.”
Opinion Piece: “BattleTech Has Always Been Woke”
Welcome to Sarna’s new editorial column. I’ve noticed that a lot of you seem to dislike the idea of me throwing in some opinions throughout our monthly news round-ups, so I thought to break off the majority of that opinionated writing and throw it into a new column that you can easily skip if you’d prefer to stick to the news.
Our inaugural editorial comes courtesy of esteemed novelist and BattleTech writer Michael A. Stackpole, who declared on Twitter that “BattleTech has always been woke” following a post from Catalyst outlining the success BattleTech has achieved in recent years which counters the right-wing battle cry of “go woke, go broke.”
We’re going to set aside the saying, for which you can find plenty of examples for and against, and instead focus on Stackpole’s comment of BattleTech always having been woke. For those unaware, “woke” is defined as “alert to racial prejudice and discrimination.” Stackpole’s example is naturally his own work in the Warrior Trilogy. “The anti-prejudice/anti-racism theme roars through it all,” stated Stackpole, and it’s hard to disagree there. One could argue the only reason why Justin Xiang Allard was able to infiltrate the Liao government so thoroughly was because of racial prejudice.
But has BattleTech always been woke? A certain tank that will no longer be reprinted seems evidence to the contrary. And the fact that both House Kurita and House Liao are still largely ethnically and racially defined, would beg to differ
Things got a lot better with the introduction of the Clans, with its egalitarian society that cared little for race or gender, only whether you were born in a test tube with combat-capable genes. And the problematic similarities between the freebirth/trueborn argument and racist ideology steeped in geneticism get addressed in books like Freebirth and characters like Phelan Kell and Alaric Ward (although Alaric has his own problems, that’s a topic for another editorial).
So I think it might be more accurate to say that BattleTech didn’t arrive woke, but it’s been moving in that direction for decades. And with recent stories even venturing into LGBTQ+ characters, it certainly isn’t slowing down.
A ‘Mech By Any Other Name
“Years ago I had a BTA3062 game, and during a mission, my Assassin was legged by an unlucky Gauss shot. There were still many enemies left in the turn order and my Assassin was in serious danger. My only hope was to plant my Awesome‘s chunky frame between the Assassin and the enemy. With an assault mech blocking their view, the enemy took shots at it instead. The Awesome took a pummeling, but held the line long enough to let the crippled mech jump jet to safety.”
MechAssault’s Dragoon Suit, MechWarrior 4’s Hellhound Canonized In Latest IlClan Recognition Guides
Big news for fans of some classic ‘Mech games. Both the battle armor from MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf and MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries take on the Hellhound have been canonized in the latest releases of the IlClan Recognition Guides.
We’ll start with the Dragoon Suit, which was the star of MechAssault 2. This little guy, simply referred to as “battle armor” in-game, has been given a name and backstory in IlClan Recognition Guide 29. Equipped with a Light Mortar and either a Flamer or Micro Pulse Paser, the Dragoon mirrors the capabilities of MechAssault‘s armor but for the highly advanced neuro-hacking, which allowed it to force-eject an enemy MechWarrior from their ride.
But what’s really cool is Guide 29 canonizes “The MechWarrior” and many of the events that occur in MechAssault 1 & 2--specifically the invasion of Helios and operations against the Word of Blake during the Jihad.
Next, we have MechWarrior 4’s Hellhound, which has been renamed the Hellcat and slightly redesigned from its debut in MW4: Mercenaries. The standard loadout of twin ER Large Lasers, LB 10-X AC, and SRM-6 remains, but the visual design of the Hellhound--sorry, Hellcat--has been modified to more accurately reflect its loadout. And rather than being introduced at the end of the Refusal War as suggested in MW4: Mercs, the Hellcat arrived in the 3130s when it became freely available through Clan Sea Fox.
IlClan Recognition Guide 30 provides us with the Hellcat and the Onuris Attack VTOL, which sure looks a lot like the Igor VTOL from MechWarrior 5. It’s not quite the same, but it’s possibly yet more evidence of how PGI and Catalyst are collaborating on the future of BattleTech.
This Metal Remix Of The BattleTech Theme Will Take Back The Galaxy
Do I like metal remixes of classic cartoon intro themes? Of course I do. So here’s andrewlik belting out the one-minute intro to BattleTech: The Animated Series. I’ll let those two guitars do the rest of the talking.
Tex Talks BattleTech Back Online After Black Pants Legion Gets Hacked By Tesla Fans
Elongated Muskrat whatever stream stopped.
Now to begin rebuilding. Thanks to all who helped. Today has sucked.
But look on the bright side. I can get another 100k plaque when I pass it again…
Thank you all
— Tex (@BPLTEX) January 8, 2023
If you were wondering where Tex’s latest video on the Charger went soon after the beginning of the new year, it was taken offline after the Black Pants Legion got hacked by Tesla fans. Apparently, Elon Musk’s personal army of internet trolls has nothing better to do than take on a small group of independent content creators and BattleTech fans.
I’m not even going to guess at their motivations. Internet vandals are just a fact of life in the cyberpunk dystopia we all find ourselves in. The good news is that Tex and the Black Pants Legion managed to regain access to their channel and get all that wonderful content back online. From what Tex described in his recent podcast, it was quite the ordeal.
Things are alright now, but folks who were previously subscribed to the Black Pants Legion will want to verify that their subscription remains intact.
Renegage HPG Is Looking To Revive The BattleTech Trading Card Game
Want to learn how to play the BattleTech Trading Card Game online and join some organized play events?
Check out the link here for details on how to setup a one-on-one demo game with an experienced player.https://t.co/GymtmmrK1q pic.twitter.com/pLeSEWmlr7
— RenegadeHPG (@renegadehpg) January 21, 2023
You’ll all remember Renegade HPG as the owner of a fabulous YouTube channel where he interviews BattleTech creatives, and also the owner and operator of Gallery 3025, a Patreon which creates beautiful new BattleTech art. Fans of Tracis’ channel will know that he’s a die-hard BattleTech TCG fan, and now he’s aiming to revive the game.
And when I say revive, I mean bring back from the dead and turn it into a living game. That means new cards (unofficial, of course), revised and new mechanics, monthly tournaments, and an open and active community of folks who want to contribute and play BattleTech in card form. There are already a bunch of new cards posted on the Facebook Group, along with an experimental format to playtest all these new cards.
For those looking to play along, you’ll want to download LackeyCCG and the BattleTech plugin, instructions for which can be found in this post here. League games are already underway, but newcomers are always welcome.
Highlander Posts Up For The Dunk
— BigRock! (@BigRockBMP) January 9, 2023
What do you get when you have an undying love for NBA Jam and the Highlander? This. At least, I assume. Big thanks to BigRock! On Twitter for creating this unusual but timeless piece. My heart goes out to that Elemental’s sibkin.
A New MechWarrior Game Is Coming
It’s confirmed: a new MechWarrior game is in development at PGI. That’s according to Piranha Games president Russ Bullock, who finally confirmed what we kinda suspected for a while in the latest No Guts No Galaxy podcast.
“We’re still working on MechWarrior, which has been somewhat surprising to me, that we’ve been able to work on it this long, which is great,” Bullock told Sean Lang. “Everyone knows we have DLC four coming out for MechWarrior 5, and there is another MechWarrior game in development at Piranha.”
Before anyone gets too up in arms, it won’t be MechWarrior Online 2. It’ll be a single-player game “in line with MechWarrior 5,” and it’ll be a “standalone game.” As for when we’ll hear more, that might not be for a while.
“It’ll be announced later – don’t know, if I had to guess it may even be until… oh, who knows,” added Bullock. “Somewhere in 2023. Maybe even as late as the fall, like September or something. So it’ll be a while, you’ll have to wait around to see what that is. But yeah, more in-line with a MechWarrior 5 type of experience, meaning it’ll be a game that comes out on all the platforms, PC and console.”
Bullock said that this new MechWarrior game will build on the technology already created in MechWarrior 5, which sounds great to me. There’s a lot of good tech in MechWarrior 5, from procedurally-generated maps to the co-op gameplay mechanics, but what has always held MechWarrior 5 back in the eyes of most fans was the lack of a hand-crafted campaign. With this presumed MechWarrior 6 using all the tech already built in MechWarrior 5, hopefully, more resources can be spent focusing on missions with scripted events and cut scenes, and more intricate mission mechanics.
And what about MechWarrior Online? Bullock confirmed PGI has the MechWarrior license until 2025, but creating a sequel to the PvP game would need “more runway than that.”
“You’re not going to make a MechWarrior Online 2 if your license is maybe over in 2025,” Bullock said. “We’d have to know that we have a minimum of five years once the game is done, so we probably need an extension to 2030.”
Could that mean PGI is going to shoot for a license extension? I suppose we’ll have to see how well MechWarrior 6 performs first.
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries – Rise Of Rasalhague Drops On All Platforms Alongside Free Update
But before we get too excited about a new MechWarrior game, I’m here to remind you that MechWarrior 5 just received its new Rise of Rasalhague DLC. As previously discussed, this DLC features a new 12-mission quest line, 11 variants of the Crusader ‘Mech, and the all-new Rival Mercenaries feature that will pit you against well-known Merc outfits from throughout the Inner Sphere.
MechWarrior 5 is also receiving a free update along with Rise of Rasalhague, so even if you don’t have the cash to buy the new DLC right this second, you’ll still benefit from various improvements outlined on this page here. In my eyes, the biggest QOL changes here will be the improved lancemate AI that makes them fire more often, get stuck in dropships less often, and will entirely stop them from Kool-Aid-Maning their way through buildings you’re trying to defend. Additionally, PGI has updated the ‘Mech hangar to allow up to 40 active ‘Mechs instead of just 12. Those additional ‘Mechbays need to be leased for a quarterly fee, but I know I have over 100 million C-bills by the end of the main campaign, so a few more active ‘Mechs will be a godsend.
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries – Rise of Rasalhague is available now on all platforms.
MechWarrior Online’s Plans For 2023 Include New Maps, A Battlepass, And A New ‘Mech
The other existing MechWarrior game that we have yet to discuss is MechWarrior Online. Matt and Daeron over at PGI recently sat down to talk about the future of MechWarrior Online, where they laid out what fans can expect in 2023. The big takeaway here is that PGI isn’t done with MechWarrior Online yet and plans to update the venerable PvP game with yet more content.
That content includes four “new” maps, where some will be entirely new and others will be revamped versions of existing maps that could use a little love. There’s also an entirely new ‘Mech chassis that will come sometime this year. The Crusader and Hatchetman were apparently very successful for PGI, so making a new ‘Mech is still profitable. No idea what the ‘Mech will be, but Matt said that we’ll likely guess it just as soon as the first teaser goes live.
Additionally, MechWarrior Online might be rebranding itself to MechWarrior Online Legends. The new name would follow a new monthly battle pass that would feature an all-new Legendary ‘Mech with unique quirks to make it stand out from existing Hero ‘Mechs. Legendary ‘Mechs will have unique skins and Champion-style loadouts that might be playable straight out of the box. Nothing is finalized as of yet, but it’s certainly in line with what other live-service games have done to monetize themselves. Expect the battlepass to include other items like C-Bills, GSP, Bolt-ons, Cockpit items, MC, engines, and more.
There’s lots more discussed, like retiring old ‘Mech bundles, reworking faction play, adding new weapons, and more events for the event queue, but you can hear all that straight from Matt and Daeron’s mouths in the video linked above.
In the near term, there’s still a Dire Wolf DWF-C up for grabs as January’s free ‘Mech, and the most recent patch has made quite a few adjustments to existing maps and ‘Mechs. The Raven, Incubus, Panther, Mist Lynx, Timber Wolf, and Marauder IIC have all seen their armor adjusted, while two variants of the Crab now have additional heat quirks to enhance their gameplay. Standard AC/10s and 20s have seen their cooldown decrease, and 13 maps have received adjustments and fixes. You can check out the full patch notes here.
Gallery 3025 Brings Us A “Wetlands Skirmish”
This stunning piece from Gallery 3025 contributors Bruce Patnaude and Jayden Morris depicts a Marauder taking part in some combined arms combat with unmounted infantry in a swamp. Perhaps this is the Eridani Light Horse on Huntress in the very middle of eliminating the Smoke Jaguar Clan. Or maybe they’re just on a nameless rock in the deep periphery fighting for the highest bidder. Either way, this is just another example of why Gallery 3025 deserves your support.
Some Say Kerensky Never Smiled Again After The Civil War
— Jod the Cod (@JodTheCod) January 22, 2023
People tend to focus on the ‘Mechs in BattleTech, as they rightly should, but let’s not entirely forget the people. It doesn’t get more iconic than Alekandr Kerensky taking down the Amaris Empire in his Orion. I suspect he maintained that exact expression for the two decades it took him, too.
More Art, But Faster This Time
This thing is already pushing 3,500 words, and I just don’t have the space to give every artist their due, so we’re going to speedrun through the rest of ‘em. Meltdonw14, you got two great pieces this month--keep up the good work. Matt Plog gives us this phenomenal Guillotine IIC, one of my favorite weird-ass ‘Mechs. I know this is mostly a trace and recolor of the Recognition Guide redesign, but I don’t care, this is a great Griffin. And Michael Long provides us with a hot-wheels take on the classic Timber Wolf from his MechWarrior 5 mod.
BattleMercs, The Crescent Hawks-Like Fan Game, Releases Into Open Beta
You might recall Battle Mercs, the Crescent Hawks’ Inception-like game coming from a die-hard fan? Gaming Jay has informed me that Battle Mercs has just released into open beta, meaning everyone can download the game to give it a try.
Jay tells me this is the most stable version of the game yet, and the most recent patch notes reveal a whole bunch of improvements, from long-term campaign-style missions to DropShip animations to the inclusion of vehicles like the Pegasus, Galleon, and even the Rommel.
The neat part about Battle Mercs is that the game has been made with modding in mind. Jay has hosted a few livestreams where he basically provides a tutorial on how to make your own maps and missions. As we discussed in our previous interview, the dream is for Jay to make the tech and for someone else to come along and create a massive story-based campaign along the same lines as the Crescent Hawks games.
That’s not me, though. I don’t have the patience to learn how to do any amount of coding, and besides, I’m playing through the new Rise of Rasalhague DLC in MechWarrior 5. But that could be you! So if it is, head on over to the Battle Mercs Discord to learn more and to download the beta client. You’ll also be able to download Battle Mercs directly from Sarna at some point, but we’re still getting that worked out. I’ll be sure to get that posted next month once the link goes live.
By Blake’s holy word, we made it. January kicks off 2023 with a bang, and we’re not even at the Mercenaries Kickstarter yet. Join us next month when I hopefully don’t have to pull an all-nighter just to get this thing out before February ends.
And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.