Literally nobody has asked me, “Sean, how have you avoided COVID for so long?” And if someone were to actually ask I’d reply that I’ve cloistered myself in my basement apartment where I only go out for food and hiss at everyone who knocks on my door, thus also providing me with a steady stream of “free” takeout food from restaurants that don’t ask me to pay in advance. However, today my streak might have been broken by a wave of malaise and mild congestion that appears to have come from nowhere. We’ll see what the swab says by the time I’m done writing this article.
Anyway, there’s a surprising amount of BattleTech news leading into the holiday season, so let’s not mince too many words getting to all these big surprises. It’s time for all the best BattleTech the world has to offer, courtesy of Sarna.
More Deets On Mercenaries Kickstarter Announced For March 2023
Catalyst has gotten some specifics with the coming Mercenaries Kickstarter. The new crowdfunding campaign, which brings over 50 new miniature designs, arrives on March 23, 2023 at 11 AM ET--the first day of AdeptiCon, where Catalyst will also be present.
“I’m an equal-opportunity gamer and enjoy playing nearly any type of game,” said managing developer Randall N. Bills in a statement. “But walking past endless tables of amazing terrain and fantastically painted miniatures is an incredible experience unto itself. If you love miniatures games, AdeptiCon is the place to be. And we couldn’t imagine a more perfect venue for launching our Mercenaries Kickstarter.”
Although primarily focused on Warhammer, BattleTech has been around for almost as long, and in recent times has even snagged a few former Warhammer players fed up with Games Workshop’s policies. Announcing what will surely become a multi-million dollar campaign at AdeptiCon is probably a big get for the convention.
In other Catalyst news, a brand new anthology just got released on Amazon and your favorite e-publications. Fox Tales collects all five Fox Patrol short stories into a single book and includes an entirely new Fox Patrol story that’s never been published. Set at the tale-end of the Dark Age era, Fox Patrol was an independent mercenary unit that had basically three members for the bulk of its history: Captain Katie Ferraro in her restored Kit Fox, Evan Huxlet in his Locust, and Arkee Colorado in his Quickdraw.
I gotta say, I’m intrigued by Fox Tales. Not because Evan and Arkee are boyfriends, which is still a nice bit of inclusion for the 32nd century, but because the gal in charge drives a ‘Mech I’ve always loved. The Kit Fox isn’t quite bad enough to truly be a Bad ‘Mech, at least in my eyes, but it’s close. All firepower and barely enough armor and mobility, the Kit Fox defines what I like to call the “spunky” light ‘Mech. You can never write off a Kit Fox, and making the Kit Fox the star of its own novel series alongside another favorite of mine, the Quickdraw, just demands that I dust off that Kindle app and type in my new credit card info.
There’s also a new digital box version of the Jade Phoenix Trilogy, a series of novels I’ve read three times already so I don’t really need ‘em again, but you can never go wrong with the classics. And finally, the Alpha Strike Box Set is now available for purchase on Catalyst’s website. Ever wish BattleTech tabletop didn’t take multiple days to complete a game? Alpha Strike might be for you.
No New Rommel Models As Tank Gets Axed From Future Development
Even before the official announcement of the Mercenaries Kickstarter campaign, Catalyst teased out a bunch of new model designs for tanks and VTOLs that had BattleTech miniature painters all aflutter on the BattleTech forums. Somebody asked if we’ll see the Patton and the Rommel redesigned, to which BattleTech line developer Ray Arrastia responded, “no Rommel. You won’t be seeing that again.” The scuttlebutt about town is that the Rommel is unofficially dead, potentially due to someone at Fanatics having a problem with one of their IPs being associated with a Nazi general.
And fair enough. Rommel has often been too hyped for being the Desert Fox that folks often overlook the fact he was a card-carrying Nazi. Historians are divided on whether Rommel was merely complicit or an enthusiastic supporter of the holocaust, but the bottom line is he wasn’t a nice dude, and I’m not upset that his name won’t be used to represent a fictional tank in the future.
Plus, the Patton is basically the same damn tank anyway, so there’s no need for the Rommel to exist. The Patton/Rommel thing was a joke on the M3 Grant/Lee tanks of World War 2, and while that’s probably funny to a significant portion of BattleTech’s players, I don’t think that humor outweighs the cost of honoring a general best left forgotten.
Anyway, the Rommel will still be listed on Sarna and you can still get older models from places like Iron Wind Metals if you desperately need one for your collection.
Crusader Callback To Comachos Caballeros
I kinda wish there were more BattleTech comic strips. I know comics are way more difficult to produce than novels, but if BattleTech comics were more of a thing, we could have something like this piece from Reddit user meltdonw14.
I’m pretty sure this scene was taken from the novel Close Quarters, where Father Roberto “Call me Bob” Garcia takes a swing at an Atlas in his Crusader. But it’s been years on this one for me, so maybe it was Hearts of Chaos? Definitely one of the Comacho’s Caballeros novels, that’s for sure.
Art of BattleTech Brings The Summoner To MechWarrior 5 (With A Little Help)
After bringing us the Timber Wolf and Vulture Classic mods, The Art Of BattleTech (aka SankaraSamsara on Nexus Mods) has returned with yet another Clan ‘Mech. The Summoner is at least as famous as the Timber Wolf and Vulture, having been the personal ride of Aiden and Marthe Pryde for most of their respective careers. Ugly and imposing thanks to its asymmetrical layout, the Summoner is a feared design, and now you can pilot one in MechWarrior 5.
Like the previous mods, the Summoner is based on the original Clan design from Steve Venters. The model was done by Alan Yeoh, and Art of BattleTech has a laundry list of folks to thank for helping him figure out the animations, which you can read over on Nexus Mods. You can also download the mod there too, or just search for the mod on MechWarrior 5‘s Steam Workshop. That’s what I usually do for my mods.
And if the Summoner is here, then you just know it wouldn’t be too long before the Hellbringer showed up. Following Steve Venters’s design meant that half the work on the Hellbringer was already done, with the legs, lower torso, and right arms shared between the two designs. Same deal with the Summoner, find the Hellbringer on Nexus Mods and Steam Workshop.
MechWarrior Online Offers Free Shadow Cat For November
MechWarrior Online is giving away a couple of ‘Mechs. First, for the month of November, players can take part in the ongoing freebie event which can net them a Shadow Cat SHC-D. That’s the one with the ER large laser, twin medium pulse lasers, a Streak SRM-6, and some machine guns. And an ER small sort of as an afterthought. Honestly, you’re going to want to double up on those ER larges or lean into a medium pulse laser strategy. But first you’ll need to accumulate 9,000 total match score throughout the event. You got a few weeks left as the event goes until early December.
Next is the MechWarrior Online Annual Reward, which actually already arrived on November 22. Those that were active players during the year received 6.5 million C-bills, a free ‘Mech bay, 100 general skill points, and a year 9 cupcake cockpit item. Those that bought MC at any point throughout the year got their choice of any previous year’s light or medium Loyalty ‘Mech and 100 GSP, while anyone who purchases one of this year’s ‘Mech packs (excluding the Platinum or Booster Packs) get their choice of any light or medium Hero ‘Mech and 100 GSP. Those that purchased any of the Booster or Platinum packs will generally get a Hero ‘Mech of their choice, although the rules get evermore specific depending on the precise nature of the purchase. For more details, head on over to the annual rewards page. Note that selections must be made before January 31, 2023, so don’t expect those free ‘Mechs to arrive before then.
And finally, we got a patch with some big changes for MechWarrior Online‘s maps. Terra Therma Classic is now Terra Therma Crucible, with the second floor of the map eliminated in favor of a first floor covered in lava with much more open lines of sight. The capture point on Domination will be right in the center of that lava pool, which sounds pretty dangerous. Emerald Vale and Grim Plexus have had their terrain cleaned up, Hibernal Rift will now prevent people from sniping atop the glacier, and HPG and Polar Highlands should now have fewer stuck ‘Mechs, and Vitric Station has received a number of smaller adjustments. There’s a few more, but you’ll need to experience those changes for yourself in-game.
Not too many ‘Mech quirks to talk about so I’m going to skip ’em. As always, the full patch notes are available on the MechWarrior Online site.
A Lego Catapult Is Here To Offer Long-Range Fire Support, One Brick At A Time
You might remember Kevin Hansen of HansenBricks.com as the talented modeler who created this Uziel or the even more impressive King Crab. After more than two years, he’s back with a new Lego build: the Catapult.
Hansen based his design on the MechWarrior Online/MechWarrior 5 version “as it was personally my favorite.” The final model is about a foot tall and uses 2,200 pieces, which you can view along with the model’s instructions over on the HansenBricks site. It’s big enough to fit a minifigure in case you wanted something that’s to scale with Lego’s itty-bitty plastic people.
Catalyst Partners With Humble Bundle To Offer The Perfect Introduction To BattleTech
Humble Bundle is usually where I turn to if I want lots of games on the cheap--usually from specific publishers, but sometimes it’s whatever Humble gets its hands on. This time, Humble has gotten its hands on a bunch of BattleTech stuff to offer an “Introduction To BattleTech Book Bundle” just in time for the holidays.
From now until December 16, you can get up to $350ish value in BattleTech books for the low price of $30.00. This being Humble, the idea is to encourage people to pay more for the proceeds to go to charity--in this case, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, which offers financial and other assistance to US Naval and Marine Service members and their families.
The 28 items offered are all digital except for the BattleTech Beginner Box Set, which won’t be shipped until January. And if you can’t afford the full $30, you can still pay to receive a smaller number of digital items, which Reddit user honicthesedgehog has kindly broken down for me. All items are listed cumulatively, so paying for a higher bundle gives you everything in the cheaper bundles too.
$1+ gives you:
- Alpha Strike Commanders Edition
- BattleMech Manual
- BattleTech Primer V2
- Recognition Guide ilClan v1
$10+ gives you:
- Chaos Campaign: Succession Wars
- Combat Manual: Mercenaries
- House Arano: The Aurigan Coalition
- Technical Readout: Clan Invasion
- Technical Readout: Succession Wars
- Total Warfare
- Touring the Stars: Tyrfing
$18+ gives you:
- Battle of Tukayyid
- Battle of Tukayyid Supplemental
- Combat Manual: Kurita
- Empire Alone
- Era Report 3145
- Field Manual: 3145
- Pesudotech: Arcade Operations
- Shattered Fortress
- Spotlight On: Crescent Hawks
- Tamar Rising
- Total Chaos
- Turning Points: Irian
- Turning Points: Misery
- Turning Points: Tyrfing
$30+ gives you:
- BattleTech: Beginner Box (promo code for the Catalyst store, doesn’t include shipping)
“There are MechWarriors like you in every generation. And I have felled every last one of them.”
I see a lot of great minis being painted online, so I can’t really give them all a shoutout otherwise I’d just be gushing over minis every month. But ValkyrieRaptor made this Ace Combat 7 crossover and I simply have to gush over it because Ace Combat 7 is perhaps one of my favoritist games, ever.
Ace Combat has been around for a while, and it’s always generally the same sort of game: a flight-combat action game with an anime-inspired plot that’s about as ludicrous as you can imagine. Ace Combat 7‘s plot involved the silent protagonist being accused of murdering a former president that was inspecting a space elevator, being relegated to a penal colony of fighter pilots, and then saving the world from an army of AI-controlled drones.
It is all bonkers nonsense, but it’s so off the wall that it’s wildly entertaining. Plus, the game really makes you feel like a fighter pilot, adding just enough real-world fighter concepts to trick you into thinking you’re the greatest ace pilot in the world without needing to have the actual knowledge necessary for a real flight simulator like DCS.
Anyway, one of the characters in Ace Combat 7 is an older gentleman named Mihaly Dumitru Margareta Corneliu Leopold Blanca Karol Aeon Ignatius Raphael Maria Niketas A. Shilage, or just Milhaly for short. He’s sort of the game’s recurring antagonist and an absolute maniac at the controls of his Sukhoi SU-30, which can perform maneuvers that even the cocaine-fueled and G force-immune protagonist can’t. His line is that he’s seen “pilots like you in every generation,” and he’s “felled every last one of them.” It’s the sort of writing that I wish we could see more of in a MechWarrior game, but I think BattleTech fans have historically been a little too grounded for that sort of thing.
Mihaly’s SU-30 is a thing of beauty, and when applied to a new-sculpt Nightstar, it’s sublime. According to ValkyrieRaptor in his Clan Invasion campaign, this MechWarrior plays the antagonist in his experimental Nightstar. Let’s just hope he’s not also programming a drone army, or whoever’s playing that campaign is in for a rough time.
How Would A Goliath Wear Pants?
We’ve all wondered how a centaur would wear pants (or if it would wear pants at all), so it only seems natural to ask the same question of the Goliath. CorneliusBreadington also provides us with several additional options for the Goliath, including short short shorts. They’re like short shorts, only they somehow hide less of that booty than if you wore nothing at all.
I am very much hoping this goes on sale somewhere before Christmas.
Stand And Deliver
I’m pretty sure this is a Warhammer IIC, one of the greatest ‘Mechs ever made and one of the deadliest combatants anyone can ever hope to face on the battlefield of the 31st century. French artist Guilhem Bedos kindly shared their work on Reddit, which is where it caught my eye. Note the almost dazzling urban camo paint scheme that really lights up with those twin PPCs. Just the thing to warm the heart with old man winter bearing down on us.
MechWarrior Online Announces Hatchetman ‘Mech That Can’t Use Iconic Hatchet
I’m about as surprised as anyone on this one. After years of denying us any melee-wielding ‘Mechs, PGI just announced the Hatchetman will be coming to MechWarrior Online. However, melee weapons still won’t be usable in MechWarrior Online. They are in MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, but melee weapons are just cosmetic in the online PvP of MechWarrior Online.
This obviously begs the question of just what the heck that Hatchetman will do with what amounts to a four-ton paperweight in its right arm. Judging by the pre-release specs, the weight of the hatchet is being replaced by some extra heat sinks and armor on the standard 3F-model, with similar swaps being done on the other five variants to be introduced. Early adopters can pre-order the Hatchatman Package for $40, with deliveries expected in-game on January 3.
In game terms, that hatchet will likely just extend the hit-box of the right arm to make it more like a shield rather than a weapon, thus making it advantageous for MechWarriors to place everything on the left side of the ‘Mech. That might prove effective, but there are plenty of ‘Mechs that can dead-side effectively. The real draw of the Hatchetman has and should be the hatchet, and being unable to use it makes me question why the Hatchetman is being brought to MechWarrior Online at all.
MechWarrior 5 To Receive Rise Of Rasalhague DLC In January
Piranha Games is pleased to announce a new expansion
MECHWARRIOR 5: MERCENARIES – RISE OF RASALHAGUE! For more information visit the #MW5Mercs DLC page https://t.co/hLNM2oQ4F6 pic.twitter.com/abSheTO0Qp
— MechWarrior5Mercs (@MW5Mercs) November 29, 2022
As hinted at last week, PGI has surprised us with more MechWarrior 5 DLC. Rumors were that PGI was done with MechWarrior 5 after Call to Arms and that it was now working on MechWarrior 6, but apparently, those rumors were false because MechWarrior 5 is heading to Rasalhague in January.
Rise of Rasalhague will bring an all-new 12-mission quest line for mercenaries to follow in their campaigns. It will also add the Crusader ‘Mech that was recently added to MechWarrior Online and a whopping 11 variants for it. It’ll also bring a new Rival Mercenaries feature, “allowing you to interact with numerous other mercenary companies and the infamous Bounty Hunter.” Working in areas garrisoned by other mercenary groups can result in hostile invasions or friendly assistance, depending on your relationship with that merc group. And doing bounties for the Bounty Hunter can result in some sweet loot.
One of the images on the Rise of Rasalhague page is for a new mission type called “Infiltration,” and I want to point out that the screen capture shows an Atlas sneaking into an enemy base to destroy several ‘Mechs before the general alarm sounds. I’m guessing the Steiner Scout Squad was called in for that particular contract.
In addition to the new expansion, a free game update will be sent to everyone who owns MechWarrior 5 with an improved AI, QOL enhancements, and an expanded ‘Mech hanger. Thank the ‘Mech gods for that last one because I was simply exhausted with swapping out ‘Mechs when I suddenly found myself on a mission with a vastly different weight limit to the one I’d just completed.
Rise of Rasalhague and the free update both arrive on January 26. And, according to PGI president Russ Bullock, there’s “more stuff in development.”
And that’s it for November! Join us next month as we celebrate the holiday season with whatever stuff you got for Christmas.
And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.
Update: The test was negative, so I suspect the true culprit was those tacos I had last night.