Scenario Packs and their ilk have been with us for almost as long as we’ve had the game. From the first campaigns to the latest Turning Point, we have seen a ton of scenario packs released down through the ages.
Sure, a handful of scenarios like Unbound, Living Legends and Necromo Nightmare might strike some fans as problematic from a variety of angles. Sales of modules, adventures, and scenarios are almost always going to be among your worst sellers. And it’s no surprise that we’ve seen a variety of different takes of the Scenario pack, whether it’s replaying a major battle or campaign (Luthien, Tukkayid, Twycross) or whether it’s running the battles of a famous unit (Northwind Highlanders, Tales of the Black Widow Company), many scenario packs are repeats of famous aspects of the universe. But when they don’t sell well, you get different flavors, such as generic ones like Operation: Flashpoint, Operation: Stiletto or those that push the limits of the universe (of which Living Legends is clearly the blatant example).
With that stated, what are my three favorite scenarios?
3. The Galtor Campaign – When the Fox lays a fun trap for the Dragon, only to have it turn on him, everything becomes really problematic for both sides. The fights over the area, the Star League compound and more are quite detailed, and the Galtor Campaign is an old-school wargame module. It doesn’t have a lot of glitz and glimmer, and it doesn’t spend half of its pages talking about the history of Galtor III and its local environs as well as pages and pages on unit commanders and such. Nope! We just get some great maps, great scenarios, and then we just bash face. At the end, we don’t even get a list of what Star League tech was salvaged in the newly discovered second base. We just get a campaign that is fun and sexy in a way that only a 3025-era product can be.
2. Unbound – Sigh. I know. I get it. A lot of fans rightfully point to Unbound as the beginning of this proliferation of crazy new technology that would continue in a lot of books to come, and really pushed the game past where it started. Where its heart was. And I get that. But taken as a module with a strong role-playing element to it, Unbound has always worked really well for me. I love the fun aspects of trying to figure out what has been going on on Solaris VII, and you know that every group invariably winds up at Solaris VII at some point in time in their gaming career, so it’s nice to have this fun adventure to grab and use, sometimes with modifications (you can exchange the to-be-tested NAIS stuff for Lost Star League tech if you set it earlier, or for clan tech, or for trying our stuff like SRM6 streaks, MRM launchers, and MMLs that will definitively come later). Unbound just hits my sweet spot.
1. The Fall of Terra – There’s just something sad about this campaign. To be fair, Terra has been massively fleshed out since this printed, and if they were to do it again today, it’d probably look differently. But it still resonates with me, even when I reread it. It’s the beginning of the end. The major event that sows the seeds of the Jihad, before anyone realizes it’s happening. The Fall of the Cradle of Humanity, the Birthplace of Us All. The campaign is fun to play, and you have a lot of fronts to deal with, so you get to play a lot of different scenarios in the war. But Terra will fall. And thus the wheel turneth.
So these are my three favorite scenario packs.
What are your favorites? What has created those awesome memories for you? Do you prefer some of the newer Chaos Campaign stuff, or are you more of an old school person?
My three favorite scenario packs:
3. The German-only Ronin! scenario pack. Not only does it offer very good, playable scenarios; it also ties them together into what just begs to be played as a RPG/boardgame crossover campaign with tons of background info, additional adventure/scenario seeds, and an (albeit loose) storyline.
2. First Strike, though I never actually played it, struck me as an excellent expansion to teach players both campaign play and advanced rules, with a good story to boot.
1. Brush Wars: This book is chock-full of win; of sweet, true, BattleTech-y 3025 era win. Despite minor issues it really ties the room, err, the universe together and goes to show that BattleTech was already good and complete before the Clans came. It showcased the “minor” conflicts that were so much more common (yet equally brutal and epic) as the Stackpole-driven Universe-shaking superwars. This book made BattleTech come alive like no other for me.
– The Galtor campaign is also rock-solid, but it’s just a bit more… dated, for lack of a better word.
– The free German-only intro scenario pack “Bruderkampf”, featuring a very good mini-campaign to teach new players with nothing but the contents of the current introbox. I’m amazed that Catalyst didn’t immediately copy this free product, or at least the concept.
– The Starterbooks, especially Sword and Dragon, would be on my Top 3 list if it weren’t for technical/errata issues with their campaign rules.
It’s true that the Galtor Campaign can feel a little dated when you read it through, but that makes it so much fun, in a totally different way, to me.
Anyway, thanks for sharing your own thoughts! I’m not sure First Strike makes my Top X scenarios, but I get it, you know?
Interesting choices from both of you. After returning to the game after a near 20 year hiatus, I found the most joy reading and collecting the original “unit based” scenario packs. Why? Inspiration for a unit, and campaign on a grand scale.
As a teenager (in the late 80’s to early 90’s), legends like the Dragoons and GDL, and their exploits were what got he hooked on the Battletech universe. This was fueled by the novels. I wanted to have my own unit, but teenagers aren’t that forward thinking, or big on planning. The following scenarios were what I drew my inspiration from for our current campaign:
3). Cranston Snords Irregulars – A brilliant resources about a not so typical unit. Really, it’s about a bunch of kids on a treasure hunt, like the Goonies. It shows us more is possible in the game than side A blowing up side B.
2). Rhonda’s Irregulars – Return of the Goonies, but now they have grown up and become a formidable group of treasure hunting bad-asses. The first appearance of new mechs in the back is a huge draw for me.
1). More Tales of the Black Widow – The Innersphere’s ultimate unit, in detail. Widowmaker stats to boot.
I hear ya, the fun of the campaign that follows a unit, such as the Northwind Highlanders, can be really interesting to use, especially since you can run a few scenarios in various campaigns set in different timelines.
If i have a truly a favorite four, it would be.
1) Rolling Thunder
2) Tales of the Black Widow Company
3) Sorensan’s Sabres
4 ) McKinnon’s Raiders / Fox’s Teeth
1) Because I just love how these characters are written and situations they get into. They in your face and slam into you and their nearly equally all crazy / wild personona in other wise boring faction’s stable. Biggest crime is the Jihad revival of the Rolling Thunder never got much press time other than their destruction.
2) Who heck doesn’t like the early books? Here you get a graphic novel / scenario book that draws you more into the universe (for me) than just scenarios. Pilot dying in his machine in opening act, ComStar plotting, young Natasha Kerensky as her wild self before the Clan background was really put into place. Tragic but brilliant commander leading misfits into battle against their own employer. Who doesn’t like that?
3 and 4 are equal in my eyes, both about House units, their both great in their own right, both are the good guys of their faction trying deal with missions they’ve been handed to them. Popular enough both be given Starterbooks (sequels) together. Great units, great scenarios in both old and new.
So what about the adventure “Bloodright”?
As a “Clanner”, I adore the possibility to found my own Bloodhouse, for just having terminated some of “the Not-Named”. You become one of the “Clanfounders”! Your Giftake will be put right aside to the 40 out of the 800 from your Clan. If your offspring will prove their value, the Bloodcount will be propagated and with this, the number of voices in your Clans Council. For a FireMandrill the possibility for an own Kindraa!
For my money, my favourite three would be:
1. Grey Death Legion
2. Sorenson’s Sabres
3. Cranston Snord’s Irregulars
Honourable mention must go the ‘Tales of the Black Widow’ both the scenario pack and the graphic novel, and the ‘Kell Hounds’. Love the old FASA unit books which really gave a degree of character to these units, and showed just how much one could use and reuse those original map sheets.
Call it silly, but I like the book detailing Season One of the Battletech Cartoon. When that book came out, the show was a success with fans AND tv critics. Especially poignant to me is that few little ‘hints’ of what was being planned for Season Two.
As a book, it details a fun little unit is such a way as to get a newbie absorbed into the game, or remind someone whose been on hiatus just how much fun the ‘verse is. What with all these superheroes flying about, it is nice to have these more human experiences to play through. So The First Somerset Strikers Sourcebook makes my list.
Gray Death Legion makes the list as well. Great book, shorter in length. Less fluff – but enough was there to cause the curious to go book-hunting. Laying out the battles from the novels on the Table Top field brought the universe together in such a unique way.
Lastly, The Galtor Campaign. For all the reason mentioned above. The book was like a shot of adrenaline to the the ‘verse. While we had the setting painted in the broad strokes, Galtor helped detail the dynamics in a way that brought it home with us folks that enjoy playing in this vast universe.
I believe all three of these could warrant an update. Of course, I feel an anniversary boxed Blu-Ray set of the Cartoon would be the best thing whoever’s got the rights could do for Battletech this year. My goodness, has it really been 20 years?