BattleTech boxed set

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The BattleTech boxed set is the core product of the BattleTech board game that spawned the BattleTech universe.

1984: Battledroids (FASA 1604)

Main article: Battledroids
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There is no proper "First Edition" of BattleTech. The inaugural game was instead called Battledroids, and was released by FASA in 1984.

Battledroids was described as "BattleTech's predecessor" by then-Line Developer Herbert A. Beas, and its contents and scenarios were ruled to be not necessarily canonical for the BattleTech universe.

The game had different rules from the later 2nd Edition. Most importantly, the firing and damage rules were a simplified system that combined all weapons into a single attack roll against the equally single armor rating of the target, forgoing hit locations similar to the simplified combat in the Alpha Strike ruleset. It was only the optional "Advanced Battledroids Rules" that resembled the later classic BattleTech combat rules. There were also rules for tanks and armed jeeps.

The Battledroids included with this set as cutout paper playing pieces were the Stinger, Shadow Hawk, Archer, Griffin, Warhammer, Marauder, Crusader, Wasp, and Rifleman. All of these would later become Unseen. In addition, the Merlin was featured in the rulebook, but not depicted. Rubber stands were included for the cutouts.

The rulebook was just a 26-page booklet without cover, and its last six pages were flip-sided and contained information about the universe. Like all subsequent boxed sets, the Battledroids box contained a pair of dice, and two (identical) fold-out paper mapsheets with a hex grid. It also contained two small model kits that were identified as Shadow Hawk and Griffin Battledroids; the models were in fact the "Dougram Combat Armor" and "Soltic H8 Roundfacer" models from Fang of the Sun Dougram. 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)

BattleTechCover.jpg
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 (1604) as Battledroids.

BattleTech 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 to this day with minimal changes. The vehicle rules from Battledroids were not included.

Background information for the setting, namely the Inner Sphere during the Succession Wars era around the year 3025, was expanded in the rulebook, including the first mentioning of ComStar. Crests for the five Great Houses (plus three Bandit Kingdoms and five mercenary units) made their first appearance as colored faction counters to go with the 'Mech cutout playing pieces.

The game stats for all but two Battledroids–now called BattleMechs–were changed to some degree to account for errors or changes in the construction rules, and four new designs were introduced: Locust, Wolverine, Thunderbolt, and BattleMaster. All of these, too, would later become Unseen. A fifth new addition was the Chameleon TrainingMech.

The layout of the mapsheets remained the same as in BattleDroids, and would remain the same until the 2011 Anniversary Edition.

1986: CityTech (FASA 1608)

Main article: CityTech
CityTechCover.jpg
Although often mistaken for a mere BattleTech supplement or expansion, the CityTech boxed set was in fact a complete standalone 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 Battledroids vehicle rules), as well as infantry, buildings, and paved ground as a new terrain feature.

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). Unlike the BattleTech 2nd Edition rulebook, no universe background information was provided beyond a short story, Life in the Big City.

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)

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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 pre-made record sheets for these 'Mechs, excluding the Merlin and Chameleon for which neither miniatures nor record sheets were provided.

Although the rules as such remained unchanged, the rulebook was reorganized and partiallly rewritten (though not expanded like the CityTech rules). The rulebook notes that sourcebooks, scenarios and novels have brought the "present" year to 3055, but the technological advancements are "beyond the scope of basic BattleTech" and the rules remain at the 3025-era technology level. Four training scenarios were included.

1994: CityTech, 2nd Edition (FASA 1608)

CityTech, 2nd Edition.jpg
In the same fashion as the new (third) edition of the BattleTech boxed set, CityTech received a makeover for its second edition while retaining the product number.

FASA went a bit further here, calling the game "The Advanced BattleTech Game of 3050 Combat" in the tagline and explicitly expanding the rules to "Level 2" (Clan Invasion era) technology. The set came with a record sheets booklet, altogether sixteen plastic miniatures on two identical sprues of eight units each (Javelin, Centurion, Orion, Victor, Uller, Black Hawk, Mad Cat, Daishi), and two double-sided sheets of color counters with black-and-white backside for buildings, vehicles, infantry, and effects. The mapsheets remained the same as in the first edition of CityTech.

1996: BattleTech, 4th Edition (FASA 1604)

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In the wake of the Unseen lawsuits FASA redesigned the basic BattleTech boxed set with a new lineup of 'Mechs that were not affected by the Unseen situation. These were the Commando, Spider, Jenner, Panther, Assassin, Cicada, Clint, Hermes II, Whitworth, Vindicator, Enforcer, Hunchback, Trebuchet, Dervish, Dragon, Quickdraw, Catapult, JagerMech, Grasshopper, Awesome, Zeus, Cyclops, Banshee, and Atlas. Because no plastic miniatures were readily available, FASA reverted to cardboard cutouts. The fourth edition (calling itself BT4 in the rulebook) came with a redesigned rulebook and quick start rules.

It was also the first box set to separate the background fluff from the rules, by including a separate booklet titled "Introduction to BattleTech".

The rulebook 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 CityTech, 2nd Ed., and states that the technology described in the BT4 game is Level 1 whereas Level 2 includes the technology available in 3058. Because of the new 'Mechs featured, the scenarios from the previous edition were replaced by three new scenarios.

2003: Classic BattleTech (FanPro 10980)

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In 2001, BattleTech creator FASA withdrew from the market. What had been BattleTech was rebranded as "Classic BattleTech", CBT for short, and the license was given to Fantasy Productions (FanPro), who had previously been the licensee for the German edition of BattleTech since 1988.

FanPro created a new CBT boxed set, but aside from the rebranding as "Classic BattleTech" (subtitle: "A Game of Armored Combat") the changes from the 4th edition were minor. A poster map of the Inner Sphere was added to the box.

2007: Classic BattleTech Introductory Box Set (CGL 35000)

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After FanPro's license expired in 2007, the Classic BattleTech license went to Catalyst Game Labs who created yet another new edition of the boxed set. Most importantly, the cardboard counters were once again replaced by twenty-four plastic miniatures. The 'Mechs featured were the same as in the 4th Edition.

The rulebook was expanded to 80 pages, and abandoned the previous Rules Levels; instead, it referred to introductory, standard (tournament), and advanced (non-tournament) rulesets. Again, 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 3085. Also, brief rules for vehicles and infantry were added back in, with additional training scenarios for these unit types.

The universe book was retitled "Inner Sphere at a Glance", and covers the universe until 3067. A "Painting and Tactics Guide" bookled was added that taught miniatures painting and some boardgame tactics.

2011: 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set (CGL 3500A)

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Delayed in production so that it actually came out 26 years after the BattleTech, 2nd Edition boxed set, this anniversary edition was redesigned from the ground up. The lineup of plastic 'Mech miniatures remained the same as in the fourt edition, with two high-quality extra miniatures of a Hellbringer (Loki) and a Summoner (Thor).

2013: BattleTech Introductory Box Set (CGL 3500B)

BattleTech Introductory Box Set cover.jpg
Essentially a re-release of the Anniversary Edition boxed set, the most important changes in this box were the new cover and better quality plastic miniatures, albeit the 'Mechs as such remained the same. Only the two high-quality extra miniatures were changed to a BattleMaster and a Timber Wolf (Mad Cat).

2019: BattleTech Beginner Box (CGL 35020)

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In 2019 CGL released two new box sets in tandem. For all its production value, the basic box set ("A Game of Armored Combat") was deemed to expensive as an entry product and a downsized "Beginner Box" was created to be sold more or less at cost, to lower the price barrier for new players to enter the BattleTech hobby.

2019: A Game of Armored Combat (CGL 3500D)

BTAGoAC-Box-Front.jpgReleased in 2019 together with the Beginner Box, this revised basic boxed was redesigned from the ground up.