All Systems Nominal: Battletech Tabletop!

I got a nice treat on my Birthday today when this stuff arrived early!

Battletech. It’s a 37 year old game of incredible depth, great backstory, and a great way to waste an evening in mindless(or calculated…) Mech warfare in the 31st Century.

I didn’t expect to like this game. I’m usually a fan of simpler rulesets, and the Mech record sheets look very, very imposing. But, around late summer of last year, I was coaxed into a game.

I had an immense amount of fun, but I didn’t pull the trigger fully. I got a few mechs here and there, but only got to play a few times. I enjoyed every game, but the sheer depth of the background lore was imposing…yet very appealing. I got distracted by other games.

It was during the third lockdown that I finally got bit by the Battletech bug, and it bit hard. Helped by the Youtube channel, BlackPantsLegion, and their Tex Talks Battletech series(which I cannot recommend enough, they are better then most documentaries, at least their later videos!), I dove deep into the lore. And there I drowned in it.

A fancy screenshot I edited with Prisma from MechWarrior 5. A Marauder from a friendly Lance is viewed through the fog from the cockpit of a Catapult.

It is a truly deep universe, and with 37 years of worldbuilding and few if any retcons have made for excellent study material. Every mech, and there are hundreds of them, have a lot of backstory, production history, variants etc. And that is before getting into the history of Mankind prior to the 31st Century, with warfare on a scale never seen before rendering a lot of technology from Man’s golden age lost. Warfare has taken on a sporadic, feudal appearance, with smaller armies fighting since they simply don’t have the resources for the big wars anymore. The Great Houses, the Successor States to Star League, fighting over its corpse like vultures. It makes for fascinating reading….

Another Prisma Screenshot! The Videogames are truly a great gateway drug into the Universe.

And an excellent backdrop for a really, really fun game. While very complex, the core gameplay itself isn’t all that difficult to master. It’s all the bananas situations you get yourself into, like what happens if my Mech falls off a cliff into another Mech, which happened because a Mech pushed you off in the first place! Or jumping onto another Mech, called a Death from Above attack. Melee is not only possible, but some Mechs are designed for it from the outset! Long range missiles can be directed by spotter mechs. And that is before you add infantry, tanks, aircraft, and a myriad of other combined arms forces into the mix!

May be an image of 1 person and map
My friend K.R Smith and I play some Battletech!

Now I had jumped in originally with Battletech: Total Warfare, and learned how to play from that massive and unwieldy tome of a rulebook. So it is not like I’m entirely new on how to play. But a couple things to note here. While Catalyst Game Labs has said they don’t care what happens in peoples homes regarding 3D printed mechs, and that is what I cut my teeth playing the game with, I decided to support the company beyond just buying the books, and grabbed the starter box, A Game of Armored Combat. This was a difficult box to get, as they are out of stock almost everywhere. I eventually found a copy at a French-Only online store out of Quebec, and using the power of Google Translate, it was soon on its way, along with one of the new Lance Packs, the Inner Sphere Command Lance.

This gives me 12 of the new, redesigned plastic sculpts to play with. And while the detail is a little soft in places for my liking, and some components are warped(this is easily fixed with hot water, to my knowledge.) I am very happy with them! Lets have a look!

Oh, you tricky little bastard, I finally found ya! Lets take a peek inside!
Open the box, and we see 6 Mechs, and a short story about Colby’s Commandos. No idea who those guys are, but I’ll read it later.
Hmmm, I do love me Military Sci-Fi…
A Primer, which is good to get to know the Universe. Nice addition! Not everything needs to be rules, after-all?
The rulebook. While not the comprehensive rules for the full game of Battletech, it is enough to play most of the experience, at least that part that is Mech focused.
The booklet of Mech record sheets! These are meant to be photocopied, and not written on directly! These are also the full sheets; the separate Beginner box has nicer, but less useful quick sheets.
More mechs! They look imposing. They really aren’t…and you don’t want to be doing this record keeping the hard way!
A very handy reference card. This is in fairly thick gauge cardboard, which is good, since for a while outdoor games are all I’m getting!
This is a cardboard punch-out sheet that includes 8 standee copys of the included mechs, if one wants to play a game with a friend with no mechs. The terrain here allows you to modify the included paper mats with new terrain features.
The double-sided paper hex-mats. These allow you to play on either Grasslands or Desert terrain. My friends have very nice neoprene maps, but these will offer a different experience. I might get them laminated.
A neat addition to this box-set and the Lance Packs, these unique pilot cards allow for some interesting MechWarriors with special abilities to mix-up play a bit.
Now for something I don’t see myself using. These are cards for the Alpha Strike game, which is basically 40k but Battletech. Not that its bad, but it’s not what I’m interested in.

The other set I got, the Inner Sphere Command Lance, is a newer product. The detail is a bit sharper, and in fact it was that Marauder redesign that got me to reconsider the official models. It is just that good! Lets have a look at those as well!

Fairly uninspiring packaging. Included are some Alpha Strike cards and Unique Pilot Cards.
While the AC/5 Barrel needs some help from Pfizer, the detail on the Mech as a whole is sharp. I’ll clean up the mold lines and straighten the barrel, then paint it…which I am excited to do.

Now, I have a copy of the Beginner Box on the way, mainly just to grab the Griffin Mech only included in that box. I also have an Inner Sphere Battle Lance on the way, but that order was delayed, and is apparently getting shipped later since it wasn’t in stock. I’m not sure if I’ll actually get it, since the Lance Packs are very difficult to find in Canada, at least in terms of ‘In Stock’.

I’m going to think about how to paint these Mechs. There is a lot of Mercenary Companies, House Regiments, and various other ways to paint them up, so I have some decisions to do. The Northwind Highlanders and Davion Brigade of Guards are both very interesting…

But that is all I have for today. I have a birthday to celebrate, after all! Happy War-gaming where-ever you are, and I hope you have a great day!

7 thoughts on “All Systems Nominal: Battletech Tabletop!

  1. Great post- I’ve played a few games of Battletech over the years but have never owned a copy myself. Always good fun, our games always seemed to degenerate into melees as it seemed the best way to inflict damage.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s honestly so much fun. I’m doing a campaign right now, so watching out for persistent damage is definitely a thing. Doesn’t add much complexity…compared to the base game anyway! Using Chaos Campaign rules by Catalyst Game Labs.

      Like

  2. Looks great and happy birthday! I’m excited to see where you go with this. I actually just got the Battletech itch myself, though I’ve never played, it looks really good, and the unit sheets look daunting, but it’s my understanding that it really isn’t that complicated. I’ve got a beginner box and the alpha strike commander edition in the way.

    Happy gaming!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m excited!

        Another good YouTube channel that I’ve been watching is Death From Above. They also have a blog with a lot of really good resources.

        Liked by 1 person

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