Sensors Online: A Quick Peek at the Battletech Beginner Game, and Inner Sphere Battle Lance!

For the price, it’s hard to complain!

Yeah, I’m covering it after A Game of Armored Combat…it’s a bit backwards but that is what shipping does sometimes!

The journey to have all the released Inner Sphere mechs is almost complete! While I missed the limited release Black Knight ‘Clanbuster’ they did recently (and with it selling out in 62 minutes, I imagine I’m not alone!) I now have all the newer plastic lance packs and boxed set mechs, for the time being.

I’ll admit, I’m not the target audience here. I’ve played a decent amount of Battletech by this point. But it is currently the only way to obtain a Griffin mech, so c’est la vie. I will be passing off the rest of the contents of the box to a friend, for him to teach other people the basics of Battletech!

That being said, lets have a look at what comes in the box!

I did remove the dice already, but this is what awaits you when you open the lid!

It’s a good first impression. With a short-story about Colby’s Commandos as well, which rather nicely is part one of the story included in the bigger A Game of Armored Combat box. It does help to fill in some details, and is a bit of a good tease to buy the next box. Front and center are the two included mechs, a Griffin as previously mentioned, and a Wolverine, identical to the one included in the larger box.

It’s a decent enough story, nothing too crazy.

Once you remove the plastic tray, you next see the included, high quality(if truncated…) record sheets for the two plastic mechs, and some other mechs.

These are really nice, and I would love to see these done as full record sheets, something that the Kickstarter apparently has, or had, but couldn’t do in the end.

Really nice! But I wish they were the full thing. Still, to teach beginners, I like what they have done.

Next up are some Pilot cards, to add some spice to your games. These are well done, and have some really interesting characters on them! While I can’t see myself using them, I’m really happy they are included.

These are really cool, and add a lot of flavour to the universe just briefly glimpsed thus far in the box.

After that is the Quick Start Rules, that will get you and a friend going pretty quickly. As a teaching tool to help new players, it tells you just enough to get a feel for the game, but lacks Heat Management, Internal Damage, and Critical Slots. I feel that while it is a good tool to teach beginners, including the rest would have been a good idea. That being said, the bigger A Game of Armored Combat box does include such aspects, and is marketed here as the next logical buy…which would be great if one could ever find it on shelves!

A bit basic, and teaching a much simplified version of the game, but serviceable.

Another good addition is the brief primer on the universe. I love additions like this, that add context to your games, and help newbies learn the lore quickly.

Welcome to the universe, new guys! Where pilots are cheap, mechs are expensive, and government is feudal.

You also get a fold-out paper mat to play on, and some punch out terrain and mechs. This is nice, to be able to play with mechs not in the box and get a feel for them before moving to the next box to get them in plastic.

The punch-out terrain is nice to add some variety, but I would have liked to see some buildings and bunkers included as well.

These are pretty high quality, but paper is paper so be careful. I had my sheets from the bigger box laminated, which is an option should you know someone with a bigger laminator.
Some punch-out mechs and terrain! An interesting inclusion.

Finally, and this dates my box a little, is an advertisement for Iron Wind Metals, and some nice coupon deals that would have been great had they still been valid. That being said, the doofy looking older sculpts will turn off new players, so I’m glad this is no longer included. Anyone not new to my blog knows I love me some metal miniatures….but these ones are very dated looking, and while the newer Iron Wind Metals releases use the new plastics as a base, too many are stuck in the 80’s and 90’s and are expected to be used. I cannot wait for the plastic lance packs to become more common, as they are much more beginner friendly, and won’t turn off newer players by there sheer ugliness.

Not even the ‘good deals’ are enough to get me past those ugly Inner Sphere sculpts. The Clan stuff doesn’t look bad here, but with the Clan Invasion box I’d skip these entirely.

Notable by there absence is the lack of any Alpha Strike cards, which is curious as that seems like a much more beginner friendly alternative game. These cards are included in the A Game of Armored Combat box, but sadly are left out here.

Now, for the main show, the plastic mechs! The Wolverine is the same as the A Game of Armored Combat’s version, but the Griffin is all new. Both are great sculpts with lots of detail.

The Wolverine! A nice brawling mech, that can take some serious punishment. While I really like the Unseen art of this mech, this plastic redesign is pretty good too.
The Wolverine has an ugly attachment on its foot to attach more securely to the base, something I find wholly unneeded given the durability of the mechs.
However, it is easily removed with clippers and file.
The Griffin! Again, I prefer the Unseen art (if not the model…) of this mech, but this redesign is a lot more faithful to that original then the Wolverine is. The bubble canopy for the cockpit remains, which is nice.
The rear detail is nice and well-defined as well!

Now onto the other purchase that I got in today, the Inner Sphere Battle Lance. A companion to both the beginner boxes and the Command Lance, the Battle Lance features some great looking plastic mechs.

Some more plastic mechs for my ‘Official’ Company. These are a really nice addition to my forces, adding some options for force construction!
Out of the plastic!
My Phoenix Hawk was ‘broken’ in the packaging, but it seemed to be just a case of not enough glue.
And is easily fixed! This is a great model, and I look forward to trying it out!
The Wasp is a mech I don’t actually know too much about. But its fast looking, something I could use in my Lances.
The Warhammer is an imposing Heavy mech, with dual PPCs for some long range hurt, and a host of other, smaller weapons for everything else.
And the Rifleman makes four! A great mech, originally designed for Anti-Aircraft. But as a long range support tool it is a must have. Another nice addition to my lance.

A great set, which has some real all-rounders. The only thing it lacks is an Assault Mech, with there being two Heavies, and a Light and a Medium. This will fill in the gaps in my ‘Official’ Lances.

Also included are some Pilot cards, which again add some great options for force building, and are full of flavour.

Some really interesting folks on these cards.

And also some Alpha Strike cards! While I don’t play Alpha Strike, I’m glad they are included here. I made the mistake of comparing Alpha Strike to Warhammer 40k last time. While they are both 3D games not played on a hex-map, Alpha Strike otherwise is an entirely different beast. My group doesn’t play Alpha Strike at all, as the complexity of the board game in all its hilarious ways is what drew us to play, so I doubt I’ll get a game of Alpha Strike in anytime soon, so I can’t tell you what it’s like.

Really neat, if a bit unneeded in my specific case. But it is nice that you get cards for two games in this box.

A final note, and probably the best part, is just how cheap both of these sets are. I paid $21 Canadian for the Beginner Box, and $25.99 Canadian for the Battle Lance. The Beginner Box comes with a lot of good content for that price, and is great for impulse buys. Any game that can give you a lot of fun for little over 20 bucks is a great buy. And the Battle Lance is ready to go; since most games are Lance on Lance fights, one could grab a Lance pack and play almost right away after getting the Record Sheets from somewhere.

All the Inner Sphere goodness hasn’t cost me too dear, and compared to 40k is incredibly cheap(although that isn’t saying much). I have a Company’s worth and more of official mechs for my ‘Official Company’, and I doubt I’m going to use all of them at once. And it sets me up really well to teach the game to some new players, of which both Ty of Hussars & Handgrenades and my friend Chris have recently shown a great deal of interest.

Battletech can be an intimidating game to get into, but the Beginner Box and A Game of Armored Combat both show that it doesn’t have to be. Catalyst have done a good job here of making the game accessible to newcomers, and I’m keen to get more people playing! Once Catalyst can sort out their stock issues, I’ll be really happy.

But, that is all I have for you today. I hope you enjoyed this look at the Beginner Box and Battle Lance, and I’ll have some more Battletech for you in the near future. For now, Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and keep your heat low and your damage high!

All Systems Nominal: Battletech Tabletop!

Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the Mech Record Sheet!

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!