BattleMech Manual

BattleMech Manual 4th Print front cover.png
BattleMech Manual
(4th printing)
Product information
Type Rulebook
Development Keith Hann;
Ray Arrastia,
Randall N. Bills,
Mary Kaempen (Assistant Development)
Primary writing Randall N. Bills,
Keith Hann,
Chris Hart (Additional Writing)
Pages 150
Cover Artwork Alex Iglesias (4th printing)
Illustrations Ray Arrastia,
Doug Chaffee,
Matthew Cross,
Ken Fairclough,
Mark Hayden,
Alex Iglesias,
Alex Immerzeel,
Michael Kormarck,
Marco Mazzoni,
Florian Mellies,
Neil Roberts,
Anthony Scroggins,
Florian Stitz,
Franz Vohwinkel
Publication information
Publisher Catalyst Game Labs
Product code E-CAT35010
First published 2017
MSRP $39.99
Content Game Rules
Series Core Rulebooks
Preceded by Campaign Operations

The BattleMech Manual is a hardcover BattleTech rulebook that covers game rules for BattleMechs (only) in a concise and clarified fashion.

This book is not to be confused with the 1987 BattleTech Manual rulebook.


The Manual is intended as a self-contained rulebook for players who wish to focus on BattleMech combat, with an emphasis on tabletop gameplay (as opposed to being a reference manual like previous core rulebooks). While it thus leaves out all other unit types, and was deliberately written to be as concise as possible and to eliminate rules vagaries, it is not intended to be a purely introductory product. It contains a few pieces of equipment from Interstellar Operations, many pieces of equipment taken from Tactical Operations, and a few of the optional rules found in that book and Strategic Operations. No construction rules are included. In terms of product progression, it is meant to slot in between A Game of Armored Combat) and the full tournament ruleset of Total Warfare. Its general layout matches that of the rulebook in A Game of Armored Combat.

New rules appearing in the book are limited to simplified rulesets for fire and smoke; artillery, mines, and airstrikes; and a few terrain or weather conditions. Additionally, the BattleMech Manual features a Design Quirks section that brings together all 'Mech-based quirks published to date, updates them, adds nine new ones, and then applies the result to an included list of all 'Mech units in the game released prior to Technical Readout: Prototypes (when quirks first began being added to each Technical Readout unit entry). As such, the BattleMech Manual provides an official quirk listing for all 'Mechs published prior to TRO: Prototypes (though it only lists quirks present on every example of a machine; quirks applicable only to individual variants were left out).

While the rules were reworded and their layout changed, the base ruleset included in the BattleMech Manual matches that of the fifth printing and later of Total Warfare, with later changes introduced in one being mirrored in the other as new printings of each are released.

From the Back Cover[edit]

  • Standing from seven to sixteen meters tall, and weighing from twenty to one hundred tons
  • Powered by an armored and shielded fusion reactor
  • Skeleton of honeycombed, foamed aluminum core wrapped with stressed silicon carbide monofilament and sheathed by a rigid, titanium-steel shell
  • Locomotion generated via bundles of polyacetylene-fiber myomer muscles
  • Protected by aligned-crystal steel over a layer of boron nitride impregnated with diamond monofilaments
  • Mounting a swath of powerful weapons from charged particle beams to lasers, missiles to rapid-fire autocannons
  • All at the command of the noble elite, the MechWarriors

The modern BattleMech is the end result of more than three thousand years of battlefield technology development. Combining awesome destructive power and unparalleled maneuverability, the BattleMech is perhaps the most complex machine ever produced. The undisputed master of thirty-first century warfare, the BattleMech seems destined to reign supreme for centuries to come.

—Excerpts from a promotional pamphlet originally distributed by Defiance Industries of Hesperus, Lyran Commonwealth, 3007

Using the most up-to-date rules text, the BattleMech Manual has been designed from the ground up to cater to the BattleTech player wanting to engage in an all-'Mech battle. Includes a variety of optional rules, terrain and more.

Welcome to the most table-usage-friendly BattleTech rulebook ever published!


      • Vs. Total Warfare
      • Optional Rules
    • Game Terms
      • 'Mech
      • Four-Legged 'Mech
      • Movement Points
      • Target
      • Target Number
      • Modified Target Number
      • Attacker Movement Modifier
      • Target Movement Modifier
      • Margin of Success/Failure (MoS/MoF)
      • Armor Value
      • Damage Value
      • Location
      • Slot
      • Level
      • Mapsheet
      • Playing Area
      • Scenario
    • Components
      • Counters
      • Dice
      • Mapsheets
      • 'Mech Record Sheet
    • Scale
      • A Note on Realism and Scale
      • Level
    • The MechWarrior
      • Skills
      • Damaging A Warrior
    • Deploying 'Mechs
    • Sequence Of Play
      • Initiative Phase
      • Movement Phase
      • Weapon Attack Phase
      • Alternate Initiative
      • Moving Multiple 'Mechs
      • Segmented Fire
      • Physical Attack Phase
      • Heat Phase
      • End Phase
    • Victory Conditions
    • Unequal Numbers Of 'Mechs
    • Movement Modes
      • Standing Still
      • Walking
      • Running
      • Piloting Skill Rolls
      • Movement Dice
      • Jumping
      • Sprinting (Optional)
    • Movement Basics
      • Facing
      • Ground Movement
      • Terrain
      • Minimum Movement
      • Immobile
      • Stacking
    • Jumping Movement
    • Prone BattleMechs
      • Dropping to the Ground
      • Moving While Prone
      • Standing Up
    • Movement In Water
    • Movement On Pavement
      • Road Movement
      • Bridge Movement
      • Skidding
    • Reckless Movement
    • Other Actions
      • Hidden 'Mechs
      • Lifting Items (Simplified)
      • TAG Designation
    • Line Of Sight
      • Levels and Height
      • Intervening Terrain
      • Other 'Mechs and LOS
      • Water Hexes
    • Firing Arcs
      • Forward Arcs
      • Left Side Arc
      • Right Side Arc
      • Rear Arc
      • Arcs and Torso Twists
      • Arcs and Reversing (Flipping) Arms
    • Attack Declaration
      • Reversing (Flipping) Arms
      • Expanded Arm Flipping (Optional)
      • Torso Twists
    • Firing Weapons
      • Making the Attack
      • G.A.T.O.R.
      • Base Target Number
      • Target Number Modifiers
      • Combat in Water
      • Prone 'Mechs
      • Specialized Attacks
      • Rolling to Hit
      • Ammunition Expenditure
    • Hit Location
      • Attack Direction
      • Determining Hit Location
      • Damage Resolution
    • Physical Attacks
      • Making A Physical Attack
      • Different Levels
      • Physical Attacks And Prone 'Mechs
      • Physical Attacks And Water
      • Charge Attacks
      • Club Attacks
      • Death From Above Attacks
      • Kick Attacks
      • Physical Weapon Attacks
      • Punch Attacks
      • Push Attacks
      • Damage Resolution
    • Damage Resolution
      • Step-By-Step Damage
    • Damage Timing
    • Hull Integrity And Breaches
    • Location Destruction
      • Transferring Damage
      • Head Destruction
      • Leg Destruction
      • Torso Destruction
    • Critical Hits
      • Floating Criticals (Optional)
      • Applying Critical Hits
    • Critical Hit Effects
      • Ammunition
      • Arm Blown Off (Arm)
      • Cockpit (Head)
      • Engine (Torso)
      • Foot Actuator (Leg)
      • Gyro (Torso)
      • Hand Actuator (Arm)
      • Head Blown Off (Head)
      • Heat Sinks
      • Hip (Leg)
      • Jump Jet/UMU (Leg/Torso)
      • Leg Blown Off (Leg)
      • Life Support (Head)
      • Lower Arm Actuator (Arm)
      • Lower Leg Actuator (Leg)
      • Sensors (Head)
      • Shoulder (Arm)
      • Upper Arm Actuator (Arm)
      • Lower Leg Actuator (Leg)
      • Weapons And Equipment
    • Destroying A 'Mech
  • HEAT
    • Heat Points
      • Building Up Heat
      • Dissipating Heat
      • Recording Heat Build-Up
    • Effects Of Heat
      • Movement
      • Weapon Attacks
      • Shutdown
      • Ammunition
      • Damage To MechWarriors
    • Piloting Skill Rolls (PSR)
      • Making Piloting Skill Rolls
      • Piloting Skill Roll Timing
    • Displacement
      • Domino Effect
    • Falling
      • Location After a Fall
      • Facing After a Fall
      • Falling Damage to a 'Mech
      • Falling Damage to a MechWarrior
      • Accidental Falls From Above
    • Damaging a MechWarrior
    • Dumping Ammunition
    • TAG Designation
    • Planetary Conditions
    • Terrain Types
      • Clear
      • Jungle, Light
      • Jungle, Heavy
      • Pavement
      • Rough
      • Rubble
      • Sand
      • Water (Depth 0)
      • Water (Depth 1)
      • Water (Depth 2)
      • Water (Depth 3+)
      • Woods, Light
      • Woods, Heavy
    • Terrain Modifications
      • Ice (Simplified)
      • Mud (Simplified)
      • Smoke, Light
      • Smoke, Heavy
      • Snow, Deep
      • Swamp (Simplified)
    • Weather Conditions
      • Extreme Temperatures
      • Fog
      • Light
      • Rain
      • Snow
      • Wind
    • Fire And Smoke (Simplified)
      • Wind Direction
      • Starting a Fire
      • Effects of Fire
      • Spreading Fire
      • Extinguishing Fire
    • Underwater Combat
      • Attacking Underwater
      • Hull Integrity And Breaches
    • Building Types
      • Construction Factors
      • Building Levels
      • Basements
      • Simplified Buildings
    • Movement Effects
      • Moving Into Buildings
      • Skidding
    • Combat Effects
      • Attacking Buildings
      • Attacking 'Mechs Inside Buildings
      • Combat Within Buildings
      • Collapse
    • Battlefield Support
      • Before Play Begins
      • During Game Play
    • Dropping 'Mechs (Simplified)
      • Drop Times
      • Arrival
    • Ejection (Simplified)
    • Forced Withdrawal
      • Crippling Damage
      • Broken Morale (Simplified—Optional)
    • Hidden 'Mechs
      • Point-Blank Shots
    • Design Quirks
      • Positive Design Quirks
      • Negative Design Quirks
      • BattleMech Quirk Listing
      • Master Unit List
    • Weapon Types
    • Playing The Game
    • Movement
    • Combat
    • Damage
    • Heat
    • Other Actions
    • Special-Case Rules
    • Weapons and Equipment


Development Notes[edit]

  • The Catalyst Game Labs Tumblr featured a series of posts explaining the concept and some of the design steps behind the BattleMech Manual: 1 2 3 4 5
  • An article explaining what the Manual does and why was posted to the official BattleTech website in January 2017.
  • The Manual was prereleased as a Beta PDF version in January 2017. This 'Open Beta' version cost $10, but for the first month of its release was coupled with an electronic survey that gave a $5 coupon for use at the Catalyst Game Labs webstore. Purchasing the beta did not provide an automatic free upgrade to the final PDF release, unlike previous Catalyst beta offerings. The beta closed in July 2017.
  • A follow-up article detailing some of the results of feedback collected in the Beta to date was posted to the CGL official Tumblr in March 2017. As a result of user feedback, additional advanced equipment from Tactical Operations and Interstellar Operations was added to the final release.
  • A further follow-up article published immediately following the book's final release detailed more of the specific changes made between the Beta and the final.

Printing Notes[edit]

A second printing was announced on the official BT forums in December 2018, and was released in PDF on 22 January 2019. The reprint features errata corrections and further rewordings and clarifications, as well as new cover art.[1] A third printing was released on 17 March 2020: in addition to the usual errata corrections, this printing added an index. A fourth printing was released on 23 April 2021, featuring errata corrections as well as another change of cover art. An errata-corrected fifth printing was released on 7 February 2022, and an errata-corrected 6th printing on 6 October 2022.


  • CGL maintains an errata forum thread for this book as well as an errata document for download from their website's Errata section.
  • When the first printing had sold out and a second, updated printing was prepared, Keith "Xotl" Hann offered an FDF document to go with the PDF release of the first printing that would include most of the changes included in the second printing. (Download link)