Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Battletech Renaissance Introduction

Amazingly I still frequently come across table top gamers who are completely convinced that "They don't make Battletech anymore".  Even on the interwebs.  Well I don't know who "They" are but in fact the opposite is true.  Not only are "they" still making Battletech but so are those guys over there and that other group of guys are making Battletech too.  There has never ever been so much Battletech being made by "them" and there has never been so many ways to play games in the Battletech universe.  It's true FASA died a long time ago but their banner games like Battletech and Shadowrun are still very much alive an better than ever.  There are both currently being produced by Catalyst Game Labs who are owned by Topps you know the Baseball trading card company.  Remember the awful gum that came with those cards. If you're a classic Battletech fan you probably do...  But I digress.  Battletech is most certainly still being produced.  

I really like the Battletech universe.  It is one of the most well conceived and well documented Science Fiction settings that has ever existed.  Don't believe me?  Check out sarna.net .  The Battletech Universe is insanely detailed.  No I'm not joking.  It rivals the Star Wars, Star Trek, and Warhammer 40k settings if it doesn't in fact surpass all of them.  It's hard to say.  However unlike those settings the Battletech Universe has no real heroes or at least not setting wide heroes.  Other than perhaps General Aleksander Kerensy.  The Universe is filled with stories of regular people.  Small time mercenaries, pirates, and state units.  In fact that seems to be the point of the setting.  You get to tell your own stories and not just languish in the shadow of greater heroes.

So just a quick synopsis of "those guys" still making Battletech.

Classic Battletech by Catalyst Games.

Alpha Strike by Catalyst Games

A Time of War by Catalyst Games which is basically the newest version of the Mechwarrior RPG.

Iron Wind Metals Battletech  Oh look Ral Partha isn't dead either.

Mechwarrior Online by Piranha Games

And two video games in development

Battletech by Harebrained Scemes

Mech Warrior 5 Mercenaries also by Piranha Games

So yeah.  "They" are still making Battletech.  I'll be doing a blog post on each of these products as time goes on.  Certainly not back to back because I'm not as familiar with all of them as I would like to be but they will each get some time on this blog.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Draconis Combine: The Legion of Vega (Battletech Factions Project)

We've started a project of building faction specific units for Battletech.  We want to start with three companies (12 mechs) for each of the major factions of the Inner Sphere.  Our plan is to make one elite company, one regular company, and one generic camouflage company.  We've started with the Draconis Combine (House Kurita) and so far we have finished a company of "The Legion of Vega".  My wife chose that company because of it's interesting background.  We are currently playing a campaign based in Port Krin on Antallos.  My wife painted this company using mechs from the Battletech Introductory boxed set.  The new version of the boxed set came with nicer figures than the first printing.  They are very clean and sharp in their detail.

I've nearly finished painting a Sword of Light company and I also have about half a company of Draconis mechs painted in an Urban camo.  I'm also hoping to have an armored company for each faction making a reinforced Battalion for each faction.

After we finish the Draconis units we are moving along to the Federated Suns (House Davion).  I already have a company of mechs started for that faction and another company on the paint table.

Eventually I would like to do major Periphery states, invasion era Clans, Mercenaries and Pirates.  In fact I have several small generic Pirate bands in the works.        

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Alpha Strike "The Battle of the Fruit Cake Factory"

 The Year is 3038.  Rumors of war have led the DCMS leadership to conduct several intelligence raids along the Federated Suns border.  Following up on intelligence about a secret weapons development lab on Bastrop a small DCMS Sword of Light unit has launched a raid.
 Draconis forces move across the rolling hills as they approach the Fed Suns base.  Two Rommel heavy tanks lead the charge followed by a Cyclopes, Cataphract, Raven, and Catapult.

 Federated Suns forces scramble to intercept the DCMS units.  A Dervish takes up position behind a warehouse looking for targets for it's long range missiles.  A Jagermech and two Partisan tanks move to protect the Davion left flank.  

 One of the DCMS tanks learns first hand the dangers of engaging a Davion firing line at long range.  The Jager, Partisans, and Rotunda Scout Car all score hits doing heavy damage to the Draconis tank's armor.

 The Draconis forces take up a position behind a low hill.  The damaged Rommel takes up a position providing full cover behind the rest of the forces.  The Federated Suns Dervish is caught in a hail of fire and brought down when the DCMS Catapult scores an ammo hit.  The Cyclopse takes several hits from the Fed Suns forces doing significant damage to it's armor.  The relatively short range Whitworth and Enforcer try not to get caught out in the open until the enemy closes.    

 The Sword of Light forces advance boldly across the open field.  A Partisan is destroyed by the Dracs and the Cataphract casually destroys the Fed Suns scout car attempting a flanking maneuver.

 The Draconis forces press their advantage having taken out three enemy units while suffering no losses.  The Fed Suns Enforcer finally decides to join the fray doing some damage to the fresh Kurita tank but it immediately regrets it loosing all of it's armor and a weapon in the process.

 The Davion Enforcer and Whitworth attack the DCMS Cyclops with support fire from the Jagermech.  The assault mech suffer major damage loosing it's armor and crippling it's movement.  The Enforcer is however easily destroyed by the return fire.  

 The Drac Cyclops retreates to a safer location.  The Whitworth destroys the damaged Kurita tank but takes a nasty hit from it's companion.  The Raven and Catapult finish off the Fed Suns Jagermech.  The battle is looking grim for the 1st Crucis Lancers of the Federated Suns.

 The DCMS Cyclops continues to retreat but the Whitworth jumps over a hanger to finish it off.  However the Draconis Raven and Rommel take the Whitworth down in retaliation for the loss of the Draconis assault mech.
The last Partisan is destroyed by the Kruita Cataphract leaving the outpost in the hands of the Draconis forces.  Unfortunately after an exhaustive search of the factory the Draconis forces find the the facility was in fact only producing "Bastrop Fruitcakes" and the 1st Crucis Lancer garrison units were stationed here to protect this important agricultural region from raiders.

Notes:  This was an Alpha Strike game played between myself as the Davion Forces and my Son and Wife as the Kurita forces.  This is the first time we used tanks and other non mech units.  We hope to work up to full combined arms battles in the future.  The Alpha Strike rules seem quite suited to this.  We've even been talking about doing a full campaign some time in the future.  I'm looking at the War of 3039 as a template.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Ziggurat of Happiness!

 Just got in a Ziggurat of Battlemechs in the form of the new Alpha Strike Lance packs.  I purchased all 8 lance packs and got an extra Striker lance to bring the total to 36 mechs or 3 companies.

I also picked up two of the new Shadowhawk 2H models based on the new artwork.  They look beautiful!

Here is the Command Lance painted up.  I picked up one of these and a Pursuit lance a few weeks ago.  These have really great detail.  In some ways better than the metal minis.  I would have to say that these mechs are some of the best plastic minis I have ever purchased.  They also had very little in the way of mold lines or flaws.  For table top purposes you can paint them straight out of the box.  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Battletech City

We've made quite a bit of progress on our Battletech City in the last few days.  The buildings in the middle of the picture here are the ones we have built recently.  The more basic skyscrapers are made from Dollar Tree gift boxes while the others are scratch built from various objects.

We've got a lot more buildings in progress but I think things are looking good so far.  My goal is to have enough to make three 4x4 foot tables which I will need when our Port Krin campaign kicks off.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Battletech Alpha Strike test game!

 I've been intending to look at Battletech Alpha Strike rules for a while now.  The quick start rules are free to download from the Battletech site.  Alpha Strike is intended to be a faster and simpler version of Battletech and it is also a terrain and not hexed based rule set.  I found that it played very quickly and easily.  My 7 year old son participated in this game and did pretty well with it.

 Also I'm playing with our new city terrain we've been working on.  It's still a work in progress but I think it's coming together nicely.  We chose to have pirates raid  a city defended by two Draconis (Kurita) Legion of Vega mechs and a mercenary.  I played the pirates and the rest of my family played the Draconis forces.  My Blackjack died in the 2nd turn and did no damage.  My Warhammer hit the Catapult hard.  

 I sent my Commando in to try and finish off the Catapult but the Centurion ran up and took the Commando down.  Light mechs are extremely fragile in Classic Battletech but they seem even more so in Alpha strike.

 My Warhammer started chewing up the Trebuchet but it took some nasty hits from the combined Draconis force.

 Eventually I lost a weapon which took my damage down by 1 point.  In Alpha Strike mechs do damage based on their total fire power and range to the target.  This greatly speeds thing up over Battletech because only one attack roll is needed per mech.

By the end of the match I had killed the Trebuchet but I had taken a lot of damage in the process and was forced to retreat.  I thought the game played out really well.  We played at least 6 turns in less than two hours being unfamiliar with the rules.  I think this would be a really exciting way to get mech combat done in a Battletech RPG especially with a practiced group.  It still felt enough like Battletech and it would be much easier also to play really large scale engagements this way.  The only thing it lacked was some of the thrill of Classic Battletech.  Damage is handled in a very basic fashion and it didn't quite have the cinematic feel of having parts of your mech get blown off during battle.  I'm definitely sold on this system as a quick alternative to the core game.    

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Star Wars "Shards of the Empire" Setting Overview.

Star Wars “Shards of the Empire” is set just a little over a year after the destruction of the 2nd Death Star and it follows the new post Endor storyline set up by Episode VII.  There isn’t a lot of information about the new timeline between the battle of Endor and the new movie.  Basically the Empire seems to have crumbled during the first year after the death of the Emperor due to internal fighting and pressure from the New Republic. 

What is left of the Empire either disarms or flees to the unknown regions to later become the First Order.  The New Republic decides they don’t want to be like the old Empire so they sign the Galactic Concordance reducing their military down to a laughable level and moving the government around from system to system so as not to show favoritism.  Planets and systems are allowed to have defense forces of their own but they are restricted from creating Stormtrooper forces and having large numbers of armed capital ships.  Eventually the First Order is discovered and while the New Republic mostly hides their heads in the sand a few powerful individuals start the Resistance.  Within this framework I’m trying to create a more realistic explanation for what happened after Endor.  

Nothing as big as the Galactic Empire just goes away in such a short time frame.  In my “Shards of the Empire” setting most of the more powerful Imperial forces either fled to the Unknown regions to form the First Order or re-aligned themselves to the New Republic.  The rest of the forces followed roughly three paths.  

Some Imperial forces have basically become Pirates.  With the means to take what they want, especially, in the Outer Rim several smaller groups of Imperials have turned to banditry.  None of these forces are large enough to threaten the New Republic in any way but they can certainly threaten individual and remote worlds in the galaxy.  Some planetary governments have taken to hiring former Rebel Alliance personnel as Privateers to combat this threat.  

Other Imperial forces have taken up an insurgency against the New Republic using basically Rebel style tactics to conduct hit and run raids against New Republic targets.  These cells are typically led by former Imperial Officials who were fanatically loyal to the Empire.  They are not all aligned with each other though they share the same cause.  The New Republic has responded to these threats by downplaying them and encouraging local systems to be vigilant against Imperial Loyalist.  

There are other Imperial forces who have either tried to carve out small kingdoms for themselves in remote areas or they have decided to embrace the New Republic while secretly working to undermine it.  Some systems still have a very Imperial culture run by former Imperial officials who find clever ways around the restrictions put in place by the New Republic.  A number of these systems are also secretly aligned with the First Order and are supplying the movement with arms and information.  

For the most part the New Republic is aware of these former Imperial factions but their response has been to either downplay the threats they represent or to ignore them completely.  Most system regard the New Republic as the legitimate government but the systems of the Outer Rim and other remote areas of the galaxy have become far more dangerous and lawless since the fall of the Empire.  The Hutt Cartels have been very aggressive against their neighbors and several other criminal organizations have increased their activities in the last year.  Other systems have decided to rule themselves rather than join the New Republic and these systems have rejected the restrictions places on the Galaxy by the Galactic Concordance.  

In my campaign former Rebel Alliance personnel have joined a private security company called “Sand Panther Squadron” and they are currently employed by Queen Sosha Soruna of Naboo who had assigned them to aid the pirate king Nym of Lok in his struggle against the Imperial pirate force called “The Storm Lords” who have also threatened her own system.  

Eventually they will face other former Imperial threats and be a part of uncovering the threat of the First Order and the formation of the Resistance but those events are many chapters away.  

At this time I am currently behind posting game reports.  We are six episodes into the campaign and the players have just fought a major battle against the Storm Lords in the Naboo system.  I will probably post most of the the last few game reports as short synopsis with a gallery of images.