BattleTech Boxed Set
The BattleTech boxed set is the core product of the BattleTech board game that spawned the BattleTech universe. It has gone through numerous editions and revisions, and remains the entry product to guide new players into the boardgaming aspect of BattleTech.
- 1 1984: Battledroids (FASA 1604)
- 2 1985: BattleTech, 2nd Edition (FASA 1604)
- 3 1986: CityTech (FASA 1608)
- 4 1992: BattleTech, 3rd Edition (FASA 1604)
- 5 1994: CityTech, 2nd Edition (FASA 1608)
- 6 1996: BattleTech, 4th Edition (FASA 1604)
- 7 2003: Classic BattleTech (FanPro 10980)
- 8 2007: Classic BattleTech Introductory Box Set (CGL 35000)
- 9 2011: 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set (CGL 3500A)
- 10 2014: BattleTech Introductory Box Set (CGL 3500B)
- 11 2017: BattleTech Starterbox (Ulisses Spiele GmbH US40012)
- 12 2019: BattleTech Beginner Box (CGL 35020)
- 13 2019: BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat (CGL 3500D)
- 14 2020: BattleTech: Clan Invasion (CGL 35030, CGL 35030K)
- 15 2022: BattleTech Beginner Box, Second Edition (CGL 35020M)
1984: Battledroids (FASA 1604)
There is no proper "First Edition" of BattleTech. Instead, the inaugural game was called Battledroids, released by FASA in 1984. BattleTech Line Developer Herbert A. Beas II would later describe Battledroids as "BattleTech's predecessor", and its contents and scenarios were ruled to be not necessarily canonical for the BattleTech universe.
The Battledroids game rules were different from the later (second edition) BattleTech rules. Weapon firing and damage were a simplified system that combined all weapons into a single attack roll against the equally singular armor rating of the target, forgoing hit locations in a fashion similar to the simplified combat in the later Alpha Strike ruleset. It was only the optional Advanced Battledroids Rules that resembled what would become the classic BattleTech boardgame rules. Battledroids also featured rules for tanks and armed jeeps that differed significantly from all later iterations of the BattleTech rules regarding their movement, firing, and damage rules. Finally, it offered rules for Battledroid construction (but not for vehicles) that were similar, but not quite identical, to the later BattleMech construction rules which would remain an integral part of all BattleTech boxed set rulebooks.
The Battledroids included with this first set as cutout playing pieces were the Stinger, Shadow Hawk, Archer, Griffin, Warhammer, Marauder, Crusader, Wasp, and Rifleman. All of these would later become Unseen. Rubber stands were included for the cutouts. In addition, the Merlin featured in the rulebook as a practical example for the construction rules, but it had no associated picture or cutout.
The rulebook was just a stapled 26-page booklet without cover; its last six pages were reversible and contained information about the universe. Like all subsequent boxed sets, the Battledroids box contained a pair of dice and two folding paper mapsheets with a hex grid. The map layout of this basic playing map would remain unchanged until the 2011 Anniversary Edition.
The box also contained two small model kits that were identified as Shadow Hawk and Griffin Battledroids; the models were in fact imported "Dougram Combat Armor" and "Soltic H8 Roundfacer" models from Fang of the Sun Dougram (see also: TCI Model Kits). These models were out of scale and too large to fit on the gameboard's hex fields, and were not included with later editions of the boxed sets.
1985: BattleTech, 2nd Edition (FASA 1604)
The first product to be named "BattleTech", the BattleTech, Second Edition boxed set is generally regarded as the quintessential BattleTech product. It kept the same FASA product number as Battledroids (1604).
BattleTech, 2nd Edition, came with a rulebook (with a proper cover) with gaming and 'Mech construction rules. These were based off the Advanced Battledroids Rules, and form the core of the BattleTech boardgame rules to this day with minimal changes. The vehicle and infantry rules from Battledroids were dropped, but the construction rules were kept with some adjustments.
Expanded background information for the setting, namely the Inner Sphere during the Succession Wars era around the year 3025, was found throughout the rulebook, mostly through sidebars, including the first mention of ComStar. Crests for the five Great Houses plus three Bandit Kingdoms and five mercenary units made their first appearance, including colored faction counters to go with the 'Mech cutout playing pieces. Notably, there were no scenarios included in the rulebook.
The game stats for all but three Battledroids–now called BattleMechs–were changed to some degree to account for errors or changes in the construction rules (and one had its alphanumerical code altered), and four additional designs were introduced: Locust, Wolverine, Thunderbolt, and BattleMaster. All of these, too, would later become Unseen. A fifth new addition was the Chameleon TrainingMech. (In addition, the blank record sheet in the rulebook featured the outline of a BattleMech that did not match any of the other 'Mechs and was retroactively identified as a 'Mech called the Viper 38 years later in 2023.)
1986: CityTech (FASA 1608)
Although often mistaken for a mere BattleTech supplement or expansion, the CityTech boxed set was in fact a complete stand-alone game unto itself. Its rulebook reiterated the BattleTech rules and expanded them by adding playing and construction rules for different kinds of vehicles (substantially different from the earlier Battledroids vehicle rules), as well as infantry, buildings, and paved ground. It did not contain the 'Mech construction rules, nor did it provide universe background beyond two connected short fiction pieces, A Tale of Two Cities and Life in the Big City.
Stats were provided for six 'Mechs previously featured in BattleTech (Archer, Rifleman, Shadow Hawk, Crusader, Marauder, Warhammer), six new 'Mechs (Stalker, Ostsol, Hunchback, Ostroc, Spider, Ostscout) and six combat vehicles (Condor, J. Edgar, Hunter, Vedette, Demolisher, Wheeled Scout).
The CityTech box contained a slew of cutout counters for various tanks, infantry units and buildings, and two (identical) mapsheets that were different from the previous BattleTech mapsheets.
1992: BattleTech, 3rd Edition (FASA 1604)
The third edition of the boxed set, released by FASA in 1992, replaced the paper cutout playing pieces with plastic miniatures. One was provided for each of the fourteen standard 'Mechs from the second edition. The new edition also contained a booklet with prefilled record sheets for these fourteen 'Mechs. The Merlin and Chameleon made no appearance.
Although the rules as such remained largely unchanged (notably only reiterating the construction rule previously introduced in the BattleTech Manual that a number of heat sinks were integral to the engine and didn't have to be allocated critical hit slots), the rulebook was reorganized and partiallly rewritten. It notes that BattleTech sourcebooks, scenarios and novels have brought the "present" year to 3055, but the associated technological advancements are "beyond the scope of basic BattleTech" and the rules remain at the 3025-era technology level. Four generic training scenarios were included (named "First Run", "Final Exam", "Trial by Fire", and "Divide and Conquer"). The description of the BattleTech universe was moved to its own eight-page section at the end of the book.
In 1994 a revised version of this edition was released, in a thicker box that could better fit the miniatures. The outer appearance of the box cover (and back cover) underwent minor changes while the box content apparently remained unchanged.
1994: CityTech, 2nd Edition (FASA 1608)
1996: BattleTech, 4th Edition (FASA 1604)
The fourth edition redesigned the rulebook again. Calling itself 'BT4', it states that the "current" year of the BattleTech universe is 3058, while BT4 is set in 3049. It also makes reference to the Rules Levels previously seen in CityTech, Second Edition, and states that the technology described in the BT4 game is Level 1, whereas Level 2 includes the technology available in 3058. Three of the previous edition's four scenarios ("Final Exam", "Trial by Fire", and "Divide and Conquer") were included in the rulebook, with small changes; most importantly, the original (now Unseen) 'Mechs in these scenarios were exchanged for different 'Mechs from BT4's new lineup.
The box included a separate second booklet, Introduction to BattleTech, which contained simplified Quick Start Rules and a dedicated sourcebook-style description of the BattleTech universe background and its history up until 3049, including the role of BattleMechs therein and a Technical Readout-style section briefly covering the 'Mechs contained in the boxed set. The fourth scenario from the previous edition ("First Run") was used to showcase the quick start rules, and was moved to the second booklet accordingly.
BattleTech, 4th Ed. Introduction to BattleTech book cover
2003: Classic BattleTech (FanPro 10980)
The arguably biggest change was splitting the previous set's Introduction to BattleTech universe background booklet into two, a dedicated Quick Start Rules booklet and one titled Classic BattleTech Universe, and adding a poster map of the Inner Sphere. A Record Sheets booklet was also included, for a total of four booklets in the box.
CBT Quick Start Rules cover
CBT Universe book cover
2007: Classic BattleTech Introductory Box Set (CGL 35000)
The rulebook was expanded to 80 pages, and abandoned the Rules Levels approach of previous rulebooks; instead, it now referred to Introductory, Standard (Tournament), and Advanced (Non-Tournament) rulesets. The rules by and large remain at the technology level of the year 3049, with some individual advanced rules provided, while the "current" year of the BattleTech universe was now given as 3085. Basic rules for vehicles and infantry were added back in, with additional training scenarios for these unit types, titled "Veteran Training Scenario" and "Elite Training Scenario", respectively.
The universe book was retitled to Inner Sphere at a Glance, but its content remained largely unchanged and it notably still only covers the universe through the year 3067. The Record Sheets and Quick Start Rules booklets remained, and a "Painting and Tactics Guide" booklet was added that taught miniatures painting and some boardgame tactics.
Inner Sphere at a Glance book cover
2011: 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set (CGL 3500A)
In addition to the usual 24 playing piece miniatures there were two high-quality extra miniatures of a Hellbringer (Loki) and a Summoner (Thor), though unlike the other miniatures these two had to be assembled from parts that came on sprues.
2014: BattleTech Introductory Box Set (CGL 3500B)
2017: BattleTech Starterbox (Ulisses Spiele GmbH US40012)
The resulting German-only boxed set, named the BattleTech Starterbox and released in 2017, contained one CityTech 2nd Ed. miniatures sprue with 8 'Mechs on it, 58 paper standees, record sheets, two all-new exclusive mapsheets ("Countryside" and "Mine") and an 80-page rulebook including rules for Clan technology and a mini-campaign of five scenarios about the Clan Jade Falcon invasion of Barcelona.
As an original German publication that was never translated into English, the BattleTech Starterset as such does not meet the criteria for canon. Its content, namely the Barcelona campaign, must therefore be considered apocryphal.
2019: BattleTech Beginner Box (CGL 35020)
The Beginner Box includes two fully assembled unpainted miniatures (a Griffin and a Wolverine), nine cardboard standees to act as additional BattleMechs, one double-sided mapsheet, cardboard hex terrain meant to be used with the maps, the "Quick-Start Rules" for the game, color record sheets for several variants of the included BattleMechs, a set of MechWarrior cards, a short novella titled Golden Rule, a foldout map with bullet points explaining the BattleTech universe during the Succession Wars era, and two six-sided dice. The included Quick-Start Rules describe the fundamentals of standard BattleTech gameplay including turn structure, simplified movement and attack rules for BattleMechs and tables for movement and attacks on the back cover for easy reference by players.
2019: BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat (CGL 3500D)
2020: BattleTech: Clan Invasion (CGL 35030, CGL 35030K)
The set includes unpainted plastic miniatures of the Adder, Executioner, Mongrel, Nova, Timber Wolf, plastic miniatures for two points of Elemental battle armor, a 32-page rulebook, a 24-page booklet containing record sheets, a 24-page Clan Invasion primer describing the universe and factions in the early years of the Clan Invasion, a 20-page novella titled The Bonds of Battle, 10 MechWarrior cards, a heavy-stock reference sheet, two full-color double-sided mapsheets for a total of four maps, a punchboard containing additional BattleMechs and terrain, one Alpha Strike card for each 'Mech miniature, and two six-sided dice.
There was an exclusive version of the boxed set for campaign backers, CGL 35030K. It came with a different front cover than the standard retail version CGL 35030. However, due to an error during shipping, some backers received the standard retail box instead of this exclusive version.
2022: BattleTech Beginner Box, Second Edition (CGL 35020M)
Like the first edition of the Beginner Box, this includes two fully assembled unpainted miniatures, cardboard standees to act as additional BattleMechs, one double-sided mapsheet, cardboard hex terrain meant to be used with the maps, the Quick-Start Rules for the game, color record sheets for several variants of the included BattleMechs, a set of MechWarrior cards, a short novella titled Golden Rule written by William H. Keith, a foldout map with bullet points explaining the BattleTech universe during the Succession Wars era, and two six-sided dice. The included Quick-Start Rules describe the fundamentals of standard BattleTech gameplay including turn structure, simplified movement and attack rules for BattleMechs and tables for movement and attacks on the back cover for easy reference by players.