BATTLETECH: The Board Game of Armored Combat
What is BattleTech?
(because the MWO thread probably isn't the place for this)
BattleTech is a tabletop wargame that involves giant robots shooting, lasering, missile-ing, MAN-MADE LIGHTNING-ing, punching, kicking, hatcheting, clubbing and otherwise beating the crap out of their opponents. Most battles involve two players commanding their choice of four BattleMechs piloted by unique MechWarriors on a hex-grid battlefield doing their best to wreck the other player's Mechs. From there players can expand their games with BattleMech construction rules (Tech Manual), tactical battle assets (TacOps) and strategic conquest mechanics (StratOps)... or just scale their battles up and play twelve-on-twelve battles in two hours with truncated rules and stats (Alpha Strike).
Mech models can look like -these-
when painted and can be bought primarily from -here-
(amongst other websites and even local game stores). Mech stat sheets look like -this-
and there are books full of 'em.
Gameplay consists of players rolling for initiative, the loser forced to go first, before moving their units (usually Mechs but there's also vehicles, infantry platoons, AeroTech and more) about the field in order to find good firing positions (or good face-beating positions). Speed is life and you must balance your Mechs' movement each turn with their MechWarriors' need for a stable firing platform. You will also need to reconcile your many weapons with the heat they generate - nobody wants to be caught out in the open with an overheating Mech.
That's right, the MechWarrior series is the most prominent of the BattleTech franchise's many video game spin-offs - MechWarrior Online even derives Mechs' stats from their BattleTech equivalents whenever practical. There's also the MechCommander RTS games for PC and MechAssault titles for the original XBox.
Hmm, some of these Mechs look a bit familiar...
In the earliest editions of BattleTech (the first was actually called BattleDroids before a trademark suit from LucasFilm) the game's developers, FASA, licensed the mecha designs from a number of anime (Macross, Dougram and Crusher Joe) and commissioned Japanese studio Victor Music Industries to create similar-but-not-too
-similar Mech designs. After a lawsuit by Harmony Gold (who had themselves licensed Macross for the Robotech franchise), FASA vowed to use only their own assets. These Mechs are referred to as "Unseen" and the original, licensed designs are being phased out in favor of "Reseen", in-house versions found in newer books such as TRO Project Phoenix, TRO Primitives and the upcoming Succession Wars sourcebooks.
The best place for a new player or two to get their feelies is the Introductory Box Set. This Amazon link
leads to the very recent third "edition" of the set and includes 26 plastic models (including two of the series' poster 'Mechs, the Battlemaster and the Mad Cat) along with two variants of introductory rules, record sheets (which you should probably photocopy) and more.
From there, the primary rulebooks are:
Eras: When and Where
- Total Warfare - The complete "main" rulebook and a step up from the Introductory Rules. This introduces rules for advanced technologies and non-Battlemech units (such as vehicles, aerospace, infantry and battle armor).
- Tech Manual - Ever wanted to make your own BattleMech? This book contains all the details for building your own tournament-legal record sheets.
- Tactical Operations - Planetary conquest! Artillery, command levels, minefields and more for all your world-conquering needs.
- Strategic Operations - Rules and equipment for the whole solar system! WarShips, JumpShips, expanded Aerotech and extensive salvage and maintenance.
- Interstellar Operations - Take on the role of a House Lord and run an entire faction's military! Massive-scale warfare, alternate eras and the return of the Land-Air Mech.
- Campaign Operations - Split off from Interstellar Ops, C-Ops lets you run and maintain forces of any size, craft new battlefields to liberate (or conquer) and construct campaigns at all levels of play with this final rulebook.
Looking for new ways to play?
- A Time of War - The RPG component of Battletech. Become a MechWarrior and make your place in the universe. Are you a member of a noble Great House? A vat-bred Clan warrior? Or a mercenary who lives only for their next paycheck?
- Alpha Strike - A simplified variant of the classic Battletech system which delivers more units in faster games. Turn your record sheets from -this- to -this-. Grab some Lance Packs and go to town!
The story of BattleTech is divided into "eras" which determine the present factions and relevant technologies. The overarching eras go thusly:
Age of War
: 1988-2570. Humanity's expansion into the stars, the formation of the Terran Alliance, Great Houses and Periphery, the conflicts that resulted and the invention of a weapon to rule the battlefield: the BattleMech.
The Star League
: 2571-2780. The Star League, an overarching government, has been ruled for centuries by House Cameron. When its leadership is destabilized, the Great Houses are split between following a new leader or fighting back against the usurper. Aleksander Kerensky, leader of the Star League Defense Force, launched a fourteen-year war to reclaim the throne. The damage was done, however, and the Houses' old rivalries would ignite once again. Kerensky and half of his SLDF would depart the Inner Sphere, refusing to swear in a new First House.
The Succession Wars
: 2781-2900 (Early), 2901-3049 (Late). Over the next three hundred years the five remaining Great Houses were constantly at war with each other over who would lead a reestablished Star League. A great deal of technological progress disappeared in the First and Second Succession Wars with the abundant use of atomic, biological and chemical weapons; the saying goes that the Houses "blasted the Inner Sphere back to the Stone Age". The Third and Fourth Succession Wars were fought under more old-fashioned rules of engagement. ComStar, a neutral faction with sole proprietorship over the galaxy's only method of faster-than-light communication, finds itself religiously hoarding Star League-era "Lostech" and stifling the technological regrowth of the galaxy. Only when a memory cache is rediscovered, its contents freely shared and traded to the Great Houses, does this growth resume. And not a year too soon...
The Clan Invasion
: 3050-3061. Remember Kerensky and the SLDF who ragequit after the Star League broke apart? Yeah, their genetically-engineered warrior descendants have returned as the Clans. The Inner Sphere has been judged and the Five Great Houses have been found wanting, resulting in a near-total curbstomp of the depleted IS forces by the technologically superior Clans. Naturally, the offensive is blunted by inter-Clan rivalries and their disagreements on how to save the Inner Sphere from itself. The Sphere, in turn, mostly gets its act together and pushes back at the Clan forces, ending in ComStar proposing a final proxy war to decide the victor. The Clans lose and, bound by honor, dissolve their invasion and melt into modern politics.
The Steiner-Davion Civil War
: 3062-3067. The heirs to a Steiner-Davion union, siblings Victor and Katherine, wind up in full-blown conflict as Katherine schemes to vault House Steiner to glory atop the dead bodies of their former Davion rivals. Several of the Clans make their mark in the war. Victor's half takes victory but not without cost: the largest faction in the Sphere is split apart once again while Katherine is spirited away by Clan Wolf.
: 3068-3080. With the religious reverence of technology losing its relevance, a radical splinter of ComStar known as the "Word of Blake" plots to recover the ways of old, feeling they are destined to come to power as heads of the new Star League. The Houses are suspicious and the League is dissolved. Understandably upset at the rejection of their prophecy, the Blakists attempt to reunite the Star League by lethal force in an all-fronts assault known as the Jihad. They're descended upon like a pack of hungry wolves and erased from the public eye, ComStar's Hyper-Pulse Generator network absorbed into common government.
: 3081-3150+ (ongoing). From the ashes of the Jihad, another
new Star League is formed, now maintained by the central Republic of the Sphere. With technology recovered from Blakist facilities and utilized by ultra-loyal Knights and Paladins, the Republic manages to stamp out most major conflict for a few decades. A sudden blackout of the HPG network spurs the many factions, Houses and Clans alike, to once again lunge at each other's throats and ignite the flames of war as if it's the only thing they know how to do. The central government sequesters itself as the Fortress Republic, building up its military forces as those citizens outside the "walls" must fend for themselves until the veil is lifted once more.
Links: Read Up
The Official Battletech Website
: The definitive portal to getting into the BattleTech board game.
SARNA: The BattleTech Wiki
you ever wanted to know about everything BattleTech.
Master Unit List
: An online tool to help you sift through the thousands
of combat units in the BattleTech universe. Includes Alpha Strike stat cards!
Iron Wind Metals
: The official producer of BattleTech miniatures in the US. If it's not plastic or 3D printed, it's a metal mini made by these guys.
: This website showcases the various color schemes in the BattleTech universe as demonstrated on actual minis.
: An unofficial online version of the BattleTech board game. Some of us forumers are participating - ask in the thread!
Solaris Skunk Werks
: This Java app will let you build Mech stats according to Tech Manual rules and print them out as official-looking sheets.
Don't be afraid to suggest any additions or fixes for this OP. I'll probably need to get different image links sooner or later.
ALL SECTIONS NOMINAL.