Faction-specific Invasion-era forces

Cool cover mockup taken from Rick Knox

I’ve returned to one of my earlier (much earlier!) gaming loves, getting back into Battletech. There’s a ton of new content from Catalyst Game Labs, including their fantastic new miniatures kickstarters (if you’re into that kind of thing – the minis are spectacular).

I am not into that kind of thing anymore, but I love access to all the rules and technical readouts in PDF form, and the modern BT community it’s introduced me to.

I also like thinking about parts of the setting and how you’d make them more distinct. Like, it makes sense in terms of letting gamers have access to whatever units that there’s always a justification for every force having every ‘mech – but I think it’s more fun if they don’t. Back when I played a lot of Mechwarrior in grad school, we ran faction-pure forces even though the rules didn’t require it. It was fun!

So I’ve been thinking that it would make a lot more sense if Invasion-era Clan forces (so 3050-era) were more focused, with each Clan deploying units it was actively building or had a lot of in reserve. I based the actual choices on what’s discussed in the fluff and notes in the TROs, and I like how it gives each faction more flavor (and, most fun to me, each faction ends up having an entirely distinct Heavy ‘mech component, which I tend to think of as the MBTs of the BT universe).

Here are the four early Invasion-era Clans and the units they start with in this model. Units marked with an asterisk are not actively produced by the Clan, but are present in large reserves (e.g. the Nova, which everyone has but no one makes anymore).

Ghost Bear

  • Fire Moth (20)
  • *Mist Lynx (25)
  • Adder (35)
  • Viper (40)
  • *Nova (50)
  • Stormcrow (55)
  • Mad Dog (60)
  • *Hellbringer (65)
  • *Kingfisher (90)
  • Executioner (95)

Jade Falcon

  • *Mist Lynx (25)
  • Kit Fox (30)
  • Adder (35)
  • *Nova (50)
  • Stormcrow (55)
  • Hellbringer (65)
  • Summoner (70)

Smoke Jaguar

  • Mist Lynx (25)
  • Arctic Cheetah (30)
  • Adder (35)
  • Shadow Cat (45)
  • *Nova (50)
  • Stormcrow (55)
  • Ebon Jaguar (65)
  • *Hellbringer (65)
  • Warhawk (85)
  • *Kingfisher (90)
  • Dire Wolf (100)

Wolf

  • *Mist Lynx (25)
  • Adder (35)
  • Ice Ferret (45)
  • *Nova (50)
  • Stormcrow (55)
  • *Hellbringer (65)
  • Timber Wolf (75)
  • Gargoyle (80)
  • Dire Wolf (100)

Some observations from this setup:

Everyone has leftover Novas and Mist Lynxes, and most Clans have leftover Hellbringers.

Everyone is actively producing Adders (the Clan Cloud Cobra opfor ‘mech) and Stormcrows.

The Ghost Bears favor the lighter, faster units, suggesting they’re fans of a more maneuver-warfare oriented style of fighting. They are also the only Clan with a dedicated battle armor APC ‘mech (the Fire Moth).

I was a little mystified by the Falcon’s heavy choices until Darthhorse on Riley’s BT Discord pointed out that they’re great Zellbrigen ‘mechs, and the traditionalist Falcons are the biggest Zell proponents. Otherwise, why would you still be producing the “all guns, no armor” Hellbringer as one of your key heavies?

The Smoke Jaguars make some of the objectively toughest, fightiest units. Their forces clearly lean heavier and slower.

The Wolves bring the heaviest MBT to the table in the Timber Wolf, and also lean heavier generally with the Ice Ferret as their main scout and the Dire Wolf in their ranks as well.

One edit – I pulled the Fire Falcon from the JF list. It wasn’t present for the initial invasion wave.

Quick little killers

I’ve been on a bit of a Battletech kick lately, enjoying some of the older Technical Readouts and checking out the new ones as well. After reading this neat little nostalgia piece by Abe Sargent about your five favorite ‘mechs from the 3025 guide, I realized that I’m a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to my affection to the Battletech universe.

I was introduced to the game by the 3025 era and have a lot of nostalgia for it. TR 3025 is definitely the most read of the TRs for me – not surprising, given how chock-a-block it is with stories about the units.

However, the bulk of my play came a little later in the early Clan era – think TR 3050 and the Kerensky books. I’ll write more about my affection for the look and feel of those early Clan units in another post.

But…my strongest period of Battletech-related play is really those years in grad school when I played Mechwarrior: Dark Age. I’m confident I played more Mechwarrior than I’ve ever played Classic Battletech. So I have huge affection for many of the units in Mechwarrior, as well as the look and feel of the game.

All of that brings me to this guy:

Gyrfalcon2

The Gyrfalcon, a “totem ‘mech” for Clan Jade Falcon.

This is where I find the compare/contrast between Classic Battletech and Mechwarrior kind of fun. Pretty much everything that appeared in Mechwarrior has been statted out for Battletech as well. The Gyrfalcon’s stats appear in Battletech: Technical Readout: 3145 The Clans (that is an unwieldy title).

In Mechwarrior, Gyrfalcons were amazing packets of long-range, high-endurance death. They were highly mobile, outranged most other ‘mechs, and like all the Jade Falcon “winged” totem ‘mechs, could cool like nothing else. The upshot was that while every other ‘mech had to really give it a rest every few turns, you could race a Gyrfalcon around with minimal downtime.

In short, they were brutal.

In Battletech, the Gyrfalcon is fast enough and cools better than average, but it just doesn’t feel like it would be as mobile (or as brutal) as the Mechwarrior Gyrfalcons were. Are LB-2Xs and ER Large Lasers going to rack up as much harm in Battletech as the Gyrfalcon’s guns did in Mechwarrior?

…and, of course, this is the point. They’re just very different games. The games model key factors (like heat and maneuverability) differently, so at the end of the day some units just won’t translate over well. That said, I haven’t actually played Battletech with these guys yet, so who knows?

Just some musings as I look through Technical Readouts published over the past three decades or so.