You know, I’d be pretty upset about the fact that winter is clearly trundling along into April this year if it weren’t for all this great BattleTech news. The Mercenaries Kickstarter was a huge success even after just 24 hours, and it looks like it could even double the funds generated by the Clan Invasion. People love their mercs, I guess.
But besides the Mercenaries Kickstarter, we’ve got plenty of other Catalyst products to share, some MechWarrior updates to peruse, and plenty of exceptional pieces from the BattleTech community. So let’s get to it.
Mercenaries Kickstarter Blows Past Clan Invasion Funding In Less Than Six Hours
We’ll start things off with the biggest news for March which was always going to be the Mercenaries Kickstarter, which kicked things off on March 23. The crowd-funding goal of $50,000 was reached pretty much as soon as the Kickstarter went live. It took just 20 minutes for the funding total to climb past $780,000, and it blew past the Clan Invasion Kickstarter’s total of around $2.5 million in less than six hours. By Friday evening, the Mercenaries Kickstarter broke 15,000 backers and $4 million, and we’re already well past $4.5 million.
As of the time of this writing, the Mercenaries Kickstarter is cruising towards $5 million, with a very achievable stretch goal that will give everyone who backs at Company level and above a free ForcePack, and everyone who backs at Battalion level and above another free ForcePack. That’ll bring Company-level backing to 3 ForcePacks total.
What’s interesting here is that a lot of folks backed at Company level and above without even seeing the full list of ForcePacks, which only went live by the weekend. Now we know just what new ‘Mechs Mercenaries is bringing to the table, although we had a pretty good idea of what to expect from the ilClan Recognition Guides. I’m personally going to try and complete my set of Bad ‘Mechs, so that likely means the Inner Sphere Heavy Recon and Pursuit Lances, and then when the $5 mil unlock hits, probably the Security Lance.
But the physical minis are really only half of what’s available in the Kickstarter. The digital rewards even at the Company level include six novellas, No Greater Honor, Tales of the Bounty Hunter, the Mercenaries issue of Shrapnel, and BattleTech‘s new Graphic Novel #1 all in digital form, plus a few wallpapers to bring the Mercenaries Kickstarter to your desktop. That’s a lot of BattleTech media to go along with your minis.
Sadly, it’s too late for you to get the free Visigoth fighter, but there’s still plenty of time to join in on the Mercenaries Kickstarter to get loads of BattleTech swag for an extremely good price.
More ForcePacks Brings Ancient Designs Back From The Dead
Find out what new products we'll have at Adepticon (and through general retail soon after), and where the first Mercenaries Kickstarter Launch Parties will be held! https://t.co/kWB9ecqG0B pic.twitter.com/YGvyPcE2ud
— CatalystGameLab (@catalystgamelab) March 3, 2023
And now for some Catalyst news from earlier this month. The Proliferation Pack brings seven ancient BattleMech designs including the Mackie, Ymir, BattleAxe, Gladiator, Icarus II, Firebee, Coyotl. I’m a particular fan of the Gladiator, which I’d take over a Griffin any day of the week, but there’s no denying the Mackie‘s charm either. The Proliferation Pack arrives this spring for $44.99.
In addition, Snord’s Irregulars are getting a ForcePack which contains a Highlander, a Guillotine, a Spartan, and even the unique FrankenMech that’s basically if a Rifleman, a Warhammer, and an Archer got tossed into a blender and came out lookin’ like an Unseen smoothie. This one is also coming out in the spring.
Not to be outdone by all the new ilClan ‘Mechs, Catalyst has announced a Classics Recognition Guide which compiles all those old-school cool ‘Mechs into a single volume. The Classic Recognition Guide will contain material already published under the ilClan Recognition Guides but will be limited to classic ‘Mechs like the Wasp, Wolverine, Crusader, and others that you’ll probably recall best from the 3025 TRO. Each design has been updated with current-era variants and new art.
Those plushies that have been relentlessly teased for a while now are finally fully revealed and on sale, a Destiny-sized Marauder will also be available in limited numbers, and there are some new t-shirts for sale too. And before I forget, Perception of Victory, a new Mercenary Tales short story by Michael J. Ciaravella, is now available as well as No Greater Honor in audiobook form.
BattleTech Aces Lets You Play Alone Or With A Friend Against An AI Opponent
There was a lot to come out of the Mercenaries Kickstarter, but I wanted to highlight this since it really seems like a game changer for BattleTech. It’s called BattleTech Aces, and it turns a competitive tabletop game that can take all afternoon into a solo or cooperative game that takes about an hour or two--along the same lines as your typical boxed tabletop game.
You can see Josh and Randall playing this at AdeptiCon in the Twitch clip above. The “AI” portion of BattleTech Aces is represented by a deck of cards that tells the opposing force where to move and what to attack. Combine that with the quicker rules of Alpha Strike and you get something that really appeals to those who want multiple games in an afternoon rather than one that might stretch into next week.
Mercenaries backers get free access to the open beta at all levels, with a digital version of the playtest sent out via email. I haven’t gotten it yet, but given CGL has over 16,000 people to get back to, I think we might just have to be patient [ED: Actually, the link to the playtest material and the digital goods are in the Kickstarter update posts!]. I’m excited to give it a try though!
MechWarrior 5 Patch Tweaks AI, FPS Controls
We got a patch for MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries earlier this month, and it’s the first one since the Rise of Rasalhague DLC brought both the Crusader, a new series of campaign missions, and AI improvements to what were previously some pretty useless lancemates. And while the improved AI did cause lance members to fire their guns twice as often and sometimes even hit what they were shooting at, it also caused some pathing issues that would occasionally result in your teammates getting stuck on a ruck or just never even leaving the drop zone.
March 9th’s patch fixed that issue, but also introduced a new one. I’m noticing that if you don’t assign targets, your lancemates will bunch up close, often to the detriment of clean sight lines. This will make them fire less often than before, which is a bummer. However, if you manually assign targets, they’ll do some serious work. So it’s a bit of a tradeoff--you get more reliable pathing and excellent manual control, but less reliable automatic AI engagement. I’m sure we’ll get another fine-tuning pass on the AI at some point, but just remember to manually assign targets wherever possible.
Elsewhere in the patch, those new FPS controls are being well-received by console players, and Infiltration missions have been rebalanced so the rewards are more in line with the other mission types. They’ve also gotten slightly harder as now you can’t just pick off every enemy group without triggering the general alarm.
Of course, there’s also a crapton of squashed bugs in the patch too, so be sure to have it downloaded to get the full benefit of all those fixes.
A Lance After My Own Heart
I had @attack_llamas make art for me and my lancemates in mw5 enjoy
by u/Professional-Help931 in battletech
Here’s a piece from @attack_llamas made for Reddit user Professional-Help931. It portrays their lance as they stomp around in MechWarrior 5, and it’s a pretty great lance. It can be really tough to be a light ‘Mech pilot solo, but it’s a whole different story when you team up with friends. Suddenly, that Jenner turns from a liability into an incredible asset, being able to quickly respond to threats and go on scouting missions to take out enemy artillery before they can blow your poor Awesome to bits. I very much approve this lance’s composition.
Kaiju Vs. Warhammer, Who Ya Got?
Artwork I created for the upcoming Anime North 2023 event!
It's a climactic battle of stunt doubles!#scifi #mech #mecha #kaiju #tabletopgaming #tabletopgames #boardgames #anime https://t.co/wLjfceF8cA
— Eldoniousrex (@Eldoniousrex) March 7, 2023
Anime North is coming up, bringing with it Toronto’s most excellent anime convention. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend coming down for a visit, but even if you’re not, you can definitely enjoy this piece of a kaiju fighting a Warhammer-like ‘Mech in some unfortunate Draconis city.
I dunno if this Warhammer has the gumption to survive against what is most certainly not Godzilla, but I’m still rootin’ for it all the same. Also, the Focht News Network will be there to do stuff, and that sounds like a swell time.
No words. None. I don’t know what this is, and I don’t want to know. Don’t explain this to me, don’t even mention it ever again. I’m just showing it to you because I don’t want you to find out from anywhere else.
That’s How You Deal With Fleas
Timber Wolf Lego build (work in Progress
by u/ecdmuppet in mechwarrior
I’m pretty certain that the ‘Mech this Timber Wolf is unceremoniously stomping over is a Flea, but if not, I apologize for the wonky title. This model, courtesy of ecdmuppet, hits a level of dynamism that I rarely see in Lego. Apparently, there’s a gearing system in the pelvis that allows the legs to be locked at multiple angles, so we could theoretically see this Timber Wolf stomping on anything from a Cicada to a Summoner. Ecdmuppet said we’ll get instructions to make this model yourself once they’re done with the build.
MechWarrior 5 Developer PGI Is Doing “Significant Hiring”
Significant hiring going on at Piranha Games right now. I should also mention to the MechWarrior community, many if not most of this hiring is MW related development. If it is your dream to work professionally on this type of content. Now is the time.https://t.co/eCw6u2B9T3
— Russ Bullock (@russ_bullock) March 8, 2023
How would you like to work on the next MechWarrior game? PGI is hiring right now across multiple positions, so if you’re a 3D environment artist, a lighting artist, a VFX artist, or a software engineer (and a few others besides), then head over to PGI’s site to apply for any of the eleven positions currently open.
But because we’ve got a bunch of job listings, we also have a unique opportunity to see what PGI is up to. For example, we know that PGI is looking to create new ‘Mechs for MechWarrior Online thanks to the 3D Artist II listing. “This role will play a key artistic and technical part in implementing new ‘Mechs in MechWarrior Online,” reads the listing, “modeling and texturing weapons mounts and cosmetic attachments for hard surface export/import to game engine, addressing bugs and creating ‘Mech Patterns with customizable colors.”
There aren’t too many clues for the next MechWarrior game to be found in this listing, but the Level Designer II position will require experience in Unreal Engine 4, which is what MechWarrior 5 currently runs on. This could suggest that MechWarrior 6 (or whatever the next MechWarrior game will be called) will also run on Unreal Engine 4, or that particular position will be for continued work on MechWarrior 5.
Remote work options are available, and PGI also has some pretty great perks, like flexible hours and social events (at least for those that can work in and around Vancouver). Head to the links above if you’d like to check ‘em out.
The Black Marauder Stalks The News Blast Once Again
From Lego to a completely different type of model. We talked about one MechWarrior 5 mod-maker who’s bringing the dreaded Black Marauder to the game, here we have makenzie71 bringing the Black Marauder to the tabletop. Actually, it’s probably a bit too big for the tabletop game, but it’s certainly a great-looking figure to decorate your desk with. It’s also far more terrifying than any depiction of the Black Marauder I’ve seen, although I will give credit to Juodas Varnas for this version from a few years back.
BattleTech Pride Anthology Announced
BattleTech has come a long way in terms of representation (tip of the rainbow hat to you, Fox Patrol) but if Steven Universe has taught me anything, it could always be gayer. So I’m happy to report an open call for the BattleTech Pride Anthology 2023, a fan-made collection of short stories featuring LGBTQ+ characters.
All submissions should be between 2,000 to 5,000 words in manuscript format and fit neatly into pre-existing lore and timelines. No making up entire Clans, planets, or climactic battles between Great Houses that nobody has ever heard of, but skirmishes on the periphery between two small-time mercenary outfits are A-Ok. All submissions must be in before May 1 so that there’s plenty of time to get them edited and assembled for release in June. I’m assuming June because that’s Pride Month. More deets are available here.
Opinion: Did TRO 3058 Kick All The Fun Out Of Inner Sphere ‘Mechs?
I remember way back when I was still in high school I went looking for an Inner Sphere ‘Mech that could mop the floor with any Clanner out there, and I found it in the Thunder Hawk. How can you go wrong with three Gauss Rifles? You can’t. And that’s why it was good. Maybe even a little too good--45 damage per heatless salvo that could luck out and decapitate a ‘Mech is just plain unfair.
And it seems I wasn’t alone in this opinion. Bishop Steiner recently doodled the Thunder Hawk (or ThunderChicken, as he likes to call it) where he went into detail about how the ‘Mech was emblematic of the issues with Inner Sphere ‘Mech designs from the era. It was all mostly Gauss Rifles and lasers placed on ‘Mechs that were the most efficient in their weight class.
Did that make these ‘Mechs boring? I’m not so sure. I think we need to look at these ‘Mechs in the context of the still relatively recent Clan Invasion. Inner Sphere armies were looking at what they had that could compete with the Clans, and that meant making ‘Mechs as efficient damage dealers as possible. That naturally works out to lasers and Gauss Rifles--the latter for dealing the same damage at similar range, and the former for simply adding in more damage while taking advantage of then-new double heatsinks.
But still, the Thunder Hawk took this philosophy to its logical extreme and made something truly terrifying. Lights and mediums are often crippled or destroyed in a single salvo at ranges they can’t respond, while heavies and assaults have to get lucky on rolls to win the damage race.
Don’t get me wrong--there are a lot of 3058-era ‘Mechs that I like. The Dragon Fire, Cestus, Merlin, and Spartan are all great. But going for maximum tabletop efficiency in a ‘Mech just sort of takes the soul out of it. Let me know if you share that opinion in the comments below.
MWO Rebrands Itself As MechWarrior Online: Legends
With Solaris having been removed as an available game mode for MechWarrior Online for some time, it makes sense that MWO would rebrand itself, and that’s exactly what’s happened in the latest patch. MechWarrior Online: Legends introduces the new Legendary type of ‘Mech to go along with Champions and Heroes. What makes these Legendary ‘Mechs special are exclusive weapons layouts, “outlier” quirks, and a miniature battle pass system that allows you to earn GSP, C-bills, MC, premium time, and various cosmetic items for earning ‘Mech XP on your Legendary ‘Mech.
So far, there are two Legendary ‘Mechs. The first is a new Fafnir called The Juggernaut. Its shtick is that it’s got maximum armor, a 400-series standard engine, MASC, and a bunch of Heavy Machine guns and the quirks to make them dangerous. It looks pretty goofy, but not as goofy as the new Legendary Mad Cat MK II: Moonwalker. This thing has a unique quirk that gives it an additional 30 percent to its reverse speed, making it almost as fast going backward as it is going forward. Combined with a bunch of UAC/2s and an ER PPC, and the Moonwalker can ensure it’s always got its best foot forward while it’s blasting away.
This month’s patch also brings us the first new map from PGI’s newly hired level designer, Krazzdaxx. The map is a purple coliseum with low rolling hills and rocky outcroppings that look like bismuth crystals. There’ve also been a few tweaks to Terra Therma so the middle of the map isn’t quite so one-sided in terms of cover.
And as is tradition, we’ve got a few ‘Mechs that have a few new quirks. The Kintaro is the big winner in this month’s patch, with revamped quirks across every variant and additional armor quirks for the ape-like ‘Mechs arms. The Champion line also received some adjustments, and the Dire Wolf has seen its armor quirks improved as well. Finally, all variants of the Fafnir now have much much smaller center torso hitboxes, so hopefully they won’t be quick as squishy.
No Guts No Galaxy Talks To PGI About MWO’s Matchmaker, Maps, and Rebrand
For a bit of a deeper dive into the recent MechWarrior Online rebrand, we turn to No Guts No Galaxy‘s most recent podcast featuring Matt and Dearon from PGI. A lot of what was discusses has to do with what we’ve already covered in the recent update, but there are a few things worth pointing out.
First is that discussion still centers around MechWarrior Online‘s matchamaker. While the Cauldron has been instrumental in breathing new life into MWO with massive balance changes to ‘Mechs and suggestions for map tweaks to create better matches, the Cauldron has not yet been able to tackle MWO‘s matchmaking system. There’ve been some suggestions that the Cauldron could help out with making matches fairer and faster, but there seems to be some hesitancy from Matt and Daeron to give Cauldron all the keys to the kingdom despite all the good the Cauldron has done so far.
Another thing that would help MechWarrior Online immensely is the possibility for multiple spawns in Quickplay matches. One of the biggest problems I have with MWO is that I spend way more time waiting for matches to begin than actually playing them, something that multiple respawns would solve. Respawns already exist in certain event queue game modes, so changing up Quickplay to have longer matches via respawns would help bring the play-to-waiting ratio back to a healthier level. Daeron said that he’d look into it with PGI’s engineers.
And of course, there’s talk of the Stone Rhino. A classic Clan beast that has yet to appear in MechWarrior Online, fans have been calling for this iconic ‘Mech for years. Matt’s response was “no comment,” but the hints are there. It seems like a matter of “when” now rather than “if.”
Ever Wonder How Iron Wind Metals Makes ‘Mechs?
Well, thanks to Iron Wind themselves, you can now see how those metal ‘Mechs are made. It looks like the rubber molds are placed on a centrifuge and then spun around as hot pewter gets poured into the center. The centrifugal force then pushes the metal into the molds which then cool after just a few seconds. Just clean up a few of those metal tags and you’ve got yourself a Steiner Scout Squad.
How About Some What-If ‘Mechs?
Mech Redesigns-banshee-awesome-stalker-daishi (my art)
by u/geergutz in mechwarrior
We’ve featured geergutz before, and that’s because they do good work. Here we have several redesigned ‘Mechs that seem to break out of BattleTech‘s traditional style for something just a little different. I like it, and geergutz has a bunch of them posted over on Reddit that I think are definitely worth a look.
MechWarrior Living Legends Releases April Schedule Of Events
We can’t have a news blast without an update from everyone’s favorite free multiplayer MechWarrior game. MechWarrior Living Legends will host a number of games throughout April, including control matches on April 2nd and 29th, single-life matches on the 16th, and a Chaos March tournament on Saturday, March 22. Most games start at 7 PM UTC (that’s 3 PM ET), but the Chaos March matches will start at 6:30 PM UTC (2:30 PM ET). Teamspeak info is in the Reddit link above.
All Systems Radical
There aren’t too many Thunderbolts with jump jets out there. There are even fewer Thunderbolts with massive ‘Mech-sized skateboards. I think that makes this Thunderbolt pretty special. Thanks for sharing, AGBell64.
Whew, another long one for March. I don’t expect April to slow the BattleTech roll, so expect Sarna to return next month with everything you need to know.
And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.
think that should be poured, not porn…
Whoops, Freudian, or maybe I was thinking “tech porn” but it didn’t come out right :P Thanks!
Josh Derksen of Lynnvander Studios is the A.I. designer for Aces who also made Heroes of the Arturi Cluster for X-Wing and Star Trek Alliance. (You spelled his name as “Joss”.)
Sorry, heard Joss on the video. Fixed it!
The Battletech Aces playtest rules are in the same google doc link that the wallpapers and short stories are located. You and other backers already have access to them. They are not in a separate email.
Where can one gain access to this google doc link?
The link is in update #2 and #7 on the Kickstarter page.
Thanks! Updated the post.
I am incredibly happy to see a CGL Spartan coming out. Been my favourite ‘Mech for ages, ahead of even things like the Rifleman and Crusader. I will definitely be snapping up that Snord’s Irregulars pack ASAP!
I think it’s OK that some mechs are ‘boring’ and just too good, as long as that’s reflected in the lore and table in how rarely you get to see them.
Given Battletech… well, that’s the factories that went away in atomic ash first, and now what few run are ancient relics too great and prestigus to actually use.
So~ kinda like the IS version of a Stone Rhino, that was ripped into a few months ago.
Great news post as always.
I tried getting back into MWO, but between the long range meta, the new Moonwalker being able to (apparently illegally?) mount 5 AC10s, the purple map being seemingly purpose built for the meta, and the game just not being fun… I just can’t even play it anymore. Finished the MW5 DLC and now MW5 feels like MWO with just bad enemies. MW6 better be something special.
The issue with most technical readouts at that time was that FASA and friends needed to drop them to keep a revenue stream going, so many of those new ‘mechs were just designed to “fill pages”. Some of them are great, sure, but they generally don’t reflect what would happen in normal “military design” point of view. On the other hand, “gauss rifles, lasers, optimized speed vs armor” is basically what would happen in that period of time, where everyone is ramping up production to smack the Clans around while also getting ready to beat the living hell out of each other.
I actually enjoy the “bad” ‘mechs much more than optimized stackblocks with gauss and lasers. If you think about it all the ‘mechs and vehicles would tend to be near the same if they were optimized. The BV system lets you field bad mechs and vehicles to *your* advantage, since they cost less to your lance.
Also, the imperfections tell us that there is more in-universe than spreadsheets. Weapon availability, design issues, etc. are one of the most prominent parts of the lore: You can’t cobble a bunch of weapons and expect them to work just as advertised. If you push ‘mechs to the breaking point something is bound to, well, break.
One of the few issues I still have with MWO is the rescale. When Russ waved his hand and made all of the mechs bigger, it introduced several problems. Mainly mech like the Flea and Locust can “leg hump” assault mechs. Even in a Hatamoto Chi or Zeus, you simply can not hit a mech that small. Also there is the issue when one of these small mechs is moving in excess of 130kph, the hitboxes and damage registry change and its much more difficult to inflict damage, good luck with hitting the legs. Hopefully with hiring more people at PGI some of those issues will be addresses.