Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Most ____ Mech Ever!

So I was playing around when I should have been coding, and came up with some interesting designs.

First, the most complicated mech you can ever see within Alpha Strike, the AS-01 Alpha Strike!  It isn't a good design, but it essentially tries to get the most capabilities in Alpha Strike as it can.  Here is the lowdown:
100 Ton Clan (Mixed) OmniMech
Endo-Steel Chassis
200 Compact Fusion Engine
1 Jump Jet
Compact Gyro
Small Cockpit
17 Tons Standard Armor
26 Compact Heat Sinks (16 internal to engine, other 10 use 5 slots)
Laser Anti-Missile System (Armored)
BattleMech HarJel (1 slot)
Small Shield
Triple-Strength Myomers
Retractable Blade
Remote Sensor Dispenser
CASE (since its an Omni)
HAG20 w/12 Shots
Twin LAC5 w/20 Shots total
Twin SRM4 w/25 Shots total
Twin LRT10 w/24 Shots total, mounted in a turret in the right shoulder
Carries a 10 ton hand-held weapon (LRM20 w/12 shots, Narc with 6 shots)
I don't know the BV/Cost, it wasn't very pertinent to what I was attempting.  I am *pretty* sure its a legal design, but may have screwed something up.  Its darned close surely.

And now its insane Alpha Strike card, check out that ability count!:

And the next mech, a whopping 200 tonner, with 75 tons of hardened armor.  I created this one to test just how durable a design could be.  I envision it very slowly heading towards a very heavily defended position.  It has a turret in each torso that hold twin ERPPCs, and 3 micro-pulse lasers scattered about for anti-infantry work.  Its also got Angel ECM, AEP, and TAG, plus a whopping 40 double heat sinks.  Here is its card:

This next one is stupid and munchy, but I wanted to see just how hard a unit would be to hit.  This 15 ton mech has a speed of 18/27 with 1 jump.  It has ZERO points of armor, an XXL engine, Endo-Steel Structure, and an XL Gyro.  It also has Null-Signature System and Chameleon Light Polarization shield.  Its weaponry consists of a single gun... you know it, the Clan ER Large Laser!  In BattleTech this would be +2 to hit at medium range, and +4 at long, as the NSS/LPS are cumulative.  However that doesn't appear to be the case in Alpha Strike, so it kinda gets screwed.  But anyway, based on the movement it is +5 to hit, another +1 for being jump capable, so for SR/MR/LR to hit it is a +5/+6/+7.  Its one structure means if it gets hit it does, but it can harass a slower force from a distance with near impunity.

And lastly for tonight, a uber-munchy Manei-Domini Platoon.  This sucker eats mechs for breakfast.  The platoon of 30 soldiers has a whopping 1563 BV, speed of 3, range 2 AEP, acts as a C3I node, takes -1d6 burst fire damage, doesn't take double damage in the open, and half damage from flame based attacks.  It also has FIVE field guns (AC/2).  In a point blank attack it could do up to 66 damage, or 7 in Alpha Strike.  Unfortunately Alpha Strike doesn't support that, so its damage is only 5, but I gave it MEL to compensate. Actually Strategic Operations and Alpha Strike showed some questions with this unit.  For example what do you do with enhanced point blank attacks?  What about all the special abilities various prosthetics can give, and how do you deal with field guns and can they use special ammo? However you look at it though, it is simply a brutal platoon, see for yourself (notice its skill is 2, not 4)!  Disclaimer:  This design doesn't include any errata from anywhere.

I'll tinker with more later, but I really need to get coding to finish up the automated way of doing it.  Nobody has complained about the BTE site being down yet, but hopefully lots of people miss it.

I've been dragging ass lately for a couple reasons.  Thoughts of my dad and cat keep me from being as productive as usual.  I'm going to see some folks play BattleTech tomorrow, hopefully I end up joining in and like them and it can break me out of my rut.  If not I may try somewhere else.

Not many posts on my forum, well, 1 in fact.  A dozen registered users.  Kinda was hoping for more activity.  I'll start doing releases there to make people get involved and hope for the best :)

Plus, soon, I'll give away *companies* of miniatures to folks that post the most *good* messages ;)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Forum Up!

Ok, I think its ready enough.  Probably be a few learning curves, mostly in regards to security and organization, but the forum is up and running (well, it seems to be, let me know if you can't get it working).

I'm thinking of giving away miniatures to help get people to start posting there.  Not sure how I'll do it yet, maybe each post (or thread popularity) is basically a lottery ticket, and each week I'll randomly determine a winner who receives a miniature, or a lance.  At least until I either get some steady activity, or, well, don't have enough posts to justify the work :)

At 100 posts, I'll start the miniature and book giveaway.

Feedback is appreciated!

I'd like to thank my buddy (who's name will stay anonymous) for hooking me up with the server and hosting on his network.

I look forward to seeing you there.  Once it starts getting used more, activity on the blog will die off.  The forum will be where I launch my new utilities (including the 4X type Succession Wars game!) and products for BattleTech, as well as my own similar game system, and maybe some other games.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Alpha Strike Card Maker Update!

Version 1.2, download here.
Changes, that I can remember:

  • Completely rewrote all card drawing code
  • Added embedded fonts, so there is just 1 EXE to deal with now
  • Updated the cards to provide a bit more room for the move attribute, there simply wasn't enough room for something like 16"/12"j/4"u in the space provided
  • Redid the code that draws the outlined text, its much sharper now
  • Changed sizes of various strings.  Some, like the TP/SZ/MV/Skill are no longer bold and may be too hard to read.  Let me know if that is the case.  It just gave more room when not using bold.
  • Added support for a color card with a white box area, so you can use TRO graphics without having to edit them in paint first (it has no effect with B&W cards)
  • Embedded the default test file, and added the 9 additional cards from the ad-hoc card pack.  However some stats may be off, please let me know if they are as I don't have it :(
  • I added a listbox on the right, this listbox uses cached data I got from the canon on 07 AUG.  I'll update it periodically.  Clicking on units in this list immediately creates the card for them.  They are alphabetical.  *ALL* of the data in this list is 100% canon as of 7 AUG, I made zero changes to any of the data itself, so it is *QUICK STRIKE* data, as the site has not yet been updated with the Alpha Strike data.
  • There is now support for some larger craft, that have Front/Side/Rear attacks.  Basically you can have a "10/10/10" for each SR/MR/LR and it'll fit.  I had data for a few dropships and LAMs in there when tinkering with a Wolf's Dragoons quick strike card pack.  I'll attach some images at the end.
  • I made the circles for armor/structure fit better.  As wacky as it sounds, some units get *REALLY* small circles, but keeping the circles the same height and making them ovals makes them far more usable.  See for yourself with 30 armor or so.
  • Still a few minor things that need fixing, keep an eye out and let me know what you find
  • All sorts of other things
Some pics of Wolf's Dragoons 3025 units.  I made all 1216 of them, but wasn't sure people really wanted them.  If folks do, comment enough and I'll throw a PDF (200 pages, with 6 cards per page) together with all of them in it.  Unindexed because, well, its time consuming

And lastly on this topic.  Though I love the cards, they are beautiful and whoever designed them should get a cookie, I don't think they are so easy to use in game.  Maybe, but they seem a bit hard to read.  I may try to go game tomorrow somewhere, dunno if I can find anything in the area, but if I do I'll take my cards along and see how they do.  If anybody think they can do better, shoot me a template and I'll implement it if I like it too.  It'd be cool to have faction specific ones as well.

Off to update my forum with new links, hopefully another update tonight!

EDIT:  There is an updated version on my forums.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Good News, and Not So Good News

First, the not-so good news.  My cat, Atom, had to be put down today.  He was 16, got cancer we think about 6 months ago, and this last weekend had to have 1.5 cups of fluid pumped out from around his lungs.  Difficult to deal with, and combined with my father's death 2 months ago its been a rough few months, and a horrible day.  Atom will be missed, he was a good cat who survived 11 moves across 3 states in his lifetime.

So I haven't been real productive the last week, most of my free time with hobbies was spent helping out The Machine Shop, a new online construction system with a lot of promise.  We are basically using his engine, going through my 6161 units in my database, and finding errors, fixing his system, and so forth.  When complete he should have a heck of a site out there!

I read online that the Ad Hoc Alpha Strike cards, which hopefully we can all have soon, were just on regular playing cards.  I was under the impression they would be a much higher quality (thicker/laminated).  So basically the 80+ that I printed myself as just about as good, though I'm missing the 9 or so unique character units and whatever else was in there that wasn't in the Alpha Strike book.  I'd be interested in seeing that stuff if anybody wants to shoot me a copy.  I can create/print these all day long.  Send me 1000 mechs, 1000 pics you want on it (if not from TROs), and if you want color/B&W, and I can help you get them printed.  $10-$20, plus $5-$10 for shipping, per 80 or so cards, depending on quality (yes, full plastic is an option).

Also, appears that Field Manual 3145 may not be in PDF form for a while.  Either this is a change in direction for CGL, or perhaps there were so many errors in it they don't want to have any more printed until it is complete.  Or perhaps people are a little upset since most of the mechs in it were already out in the other 3145 books.  All just conjecture, and like usual, CGL isn't saying shit to its adoring fans on the forums :(

I've updated the Alpha Strike Card Maker a few times now, but still haven't embedded the fonts.  I keep thinking I should extract the card template, fonts, and locations into a simple to edit text file.  This way you can do your own custom cards and data.  I think I'll wait for more requests for something like that.  Eventually I may update it to pull the units from my database instead of you inputting them, but I'm not done with my database yet :)  

My buddy (also a BT fan, on the forums but isn't banned yet!) hooked me up with a server that has more bandwidth than I could ever use.  Its all configured, domain setup, and ready to go.  HOWEVER, the down side.. I need to update a few threads with new links to files.  I'll have it done this weekend if all hell doesn't break loose, maybe even tonight.

I'm not 100% sure the forum will stay up forever, kinda depends on how it is used.  There are lots of places in the world BattleTech is discussed, and unless people flock to my site by, well, dozens, and stay there, I won't keep it going long term if nobody is using it.  I'm pretty darned sure all the official CGL folk are not allowed to be nice to me anyway, nor visit it.  Most of the activity on the official site seems to be those folk anyway.  Maybe I'm onto something by being "separate", maybe I'm just wasting time, we'll see.

I'm ok if they all post with a new username though and won't prevent them from doing so.  I'm going to take the high ground there ;)

The engineer site is still down, still got a major code update.  May not be done anyway until after they post some more errata.  Its in the works though, and it'll be better and more accurate next release.

So, next post, FORUM LAUNCH!  Woot!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Alpha Strike Card Review

Well, even though I *hate* the sound of my own voice (don't most folk?) I made a youtube video reviewing the *custom* Alpha Strike cards I just had printed.  I'll be surprised if it gets many views, but the cards look pretty damned good and was a great proof of concept.  If anybody is in the Dallas area I'll give them to you (or if you want to send me a box that is already addressed to you, that'll hold 2 decks of cards), as they aren't "perfect" enough for me.  They are completely playable though. 

Anyway, my first youtube video, probably my last unless I get a lot more views than I am expecting.  I am quite impressed with the cards though, they look better than they do on my 26" monitor, they look damned sharp up close.  If any Dallas area folk want to do a game with them that'd be nifty.

Oh, want a link?  Here ya go, have fun.

FIXED Alpha Strike Card Generator

There were at least 50 downloads of the Alpha Strike Card Generator, and not a single person said "hey, this doesn't appear to work".  Really folks?

I had a debug setting still enabled, so it crashed on startup looking for something that only existed on my computer.

So I fixed it, and updated the link.  Download it here (3mb, not very fast).  If something doesn't work as you'd expect, LET ME KNOW, and I'll fix it.  Don't let me know and, well, it won't get fixed :(  I don't have a bunch of beta-testers for my stuff.

My Alpha Strike cards should be here tomorrow (USPS is so slow!), a little sneak preview:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Woot, I got it up!

Just a bit of an update, since I've been stalled lately.  I apologize for not being done with everything.

New Server/Forum News:
  • The new server is up and running.  I have a few more tweaks I want to make, as well as moving it to my buddies data center for temperature control, but I've gotten phpBB setup and a domain purchased.
  • I have a 1gbps connection on the new server, but only a 100mbps network card, oh well:
  • I could really use a phpBB experienced moderator (even if only a little), mostly for maintenance sorta stuff, not monitoring users so much.  Shoot me an email if your interested, I'll let you use my server for your own site.
  • It should be up within a few days, though I'm kinda busy this week at work (15% raise tho, woot!) so it could get delayed again.  Stay tuned!
  • I curious if I'll get many users, as there are other BT forums without much activity, and to setup something unused is kind of pointless.
Battletech Engineer News:
  • I broke it.  Yeah, completely, 100% broke.  I rewrote over 7000 lines of code this last week to better enable support for all the unit types.  I'm not done yet, still have the time consuming but easy part left (logging) and then onto debugging, but the hard part is done.
  • I rewrote the Alpha Strike conversion stuff too.  Based on some testing I'll be sticking with the "best damage per range band based on heat efficiency" method
  • I'll try to get many of the features I initially planned implemented.  One of the biggest would be a way to track your units online (with the ability to share it with your opponents).
  • Site should be back up in a few days, to a few weeks.
  • Thank MechAdmin over at for me getting back into Battletech.  
I had some comments in here about some Alpha Strike conversions being incorrect on the forums.  But it turns out most of them were just me "missing" things and they weren't incorrect.  So the designs over there are valid, though a couple do need some errata in their appropriate TRO/RS files.

And my silly soapbox bellowing:
But you know what, that makes me really wonder why the hell I support a company, that essentially said "fuck you" to somebody who spends on average, $80 a month at battlecorps (and yes, I can back that number with documentation).

So, a question or two.  Can anybody give me a reason why I continue to support Catalyst Game Labs, when they obvious couldn't care less about me, a paying customer?  Can anybody give me a reason I don't return the "get lost" attitude they gave me, and zip my 411 book/11GB battletech book folder and throw up a constantly updated torrent?

I've done everything I can do to help the product.  I couldn't tell you the amount of times I've volunteered time, QA ability, and my programming skills, (which go for well over $100/hr in "the market"), not to mention thousands of dollars in products, and tens of thousands in miniatures (granted, they don't get any of that), and nobody seems to care.  I've essentially even groveled back and apologized, and nothing.  I stepped forward 2 feet, and didn't get 2" in return.

So why do I care, and should I continue to?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Do they even care about accuracy anymore?

Not to dog Alexander Knight, as I'm sure he is trying hard using the tools he has available, but in this thread (p22) on the forums he lists the Nephilim (Capture Team) [HMG] with the following stats:
Type:  BA
Size:  1
MV:  4"f
Armor:  3
Structure:  2
Damage:  2/1/1
PV:  6
Specials:  BTAS6, CAR6, LMAS

So granted, CGL hasn't released errata for SO to do conversions, but even then, this seems nuts.

First, the move.  4", or 2 battletech MP.  However, DWP's are mounted with the tasers.  So this unit should only really be moving 2" until the tasers are used.  Perhaps BTAS6(-1 MP) would work for that.  Essentially, this battle armor is twice as fast as it would be in a BT game.

Second, "CAR6".  Nephilim's are 2 tons each, with 6 per squad, so really that should be "CAR12" as something with only 6 tons of cargo couldn't carry a squad.

Third, damage.  Ugh, one-shot sorta weapons simply should not count the way they are treating them.  The entire squad of 6 can fire 12 LRMs, *once*, yet in the conversion, as well as Battleforce, this unit suddenly becomes able to fire those 12 LRMs forever.  So this unit now has a long range attack, with twice the MP, yet the PV stays as it would be in Battletech, where a 1 shot weapon doesn't count for very much.

And finally, "LMAS" is for a CAMO system, "MAS" is for Mimetic armor, at least according to the latest Strategic Operations stuff I can find, and it appears the values are reversed.

He also keeps mentioning things like "2,703 out of 4,513" completed.  Here are the current counts of items officially released in the BattleTech Universe (minus TRO 3145, which isn't out yet, but Alexander includes):

3162 BattleMechs and IndustrialMechs
81 ProtoMechs
1180 Combat Vehicles
173 Conventional Infantry Platoons
525 Aerospace Fighters
296 BA
5,417 supported by Alpha Strike

252 Support Vehicles
48 Buildings
153 Dropships
23 Handheld Weapons
24 Jumpships
4 Mobile Structures
38 Small Craft
20 Space Stations
98 Warships
660 not supported, or partially supported, by Alpha Strike

Even without the Aerospace Fighters and Conventional Infantry, both of which are supported by Alpha Strike, there are still *hundreds* of units that aren't being counted.

I am starting to think they are doing these conversions by hand, and oh my god, what a stupid thing to do.  The amount of errors and inconsistencies, tagged on with vanishing support for released products, will make any such list impossible to be used for any form of balance, and honestly, you may as well just pull numbers out of your ass in some of these cases, as the results could be more accurate.  Sheesh, hate me or not, give me an hour of time and I can have all 5417 (plus many of the other units) knocked out by the end of the week.  I just can't fathom how a company would voluntarily waste so much time when they have people like me, whom they could never afford, are so eager to volunteer to help.  Heck, if they'd have been more receptive they probably wouldn't hate me, but love me instead, as I could save everybody over there massive amounts of time.  Oh well, I digress.

So, bitching over, onto good stuff!

I sent the 80 cards that are in my color file to a playing card printer.  The backs will have the alpha strike cover, the fronts will have all the cards.  I should get them in a week and may post my first youtube video showing all about it.  Since they were double sided, and I only ordered 1 batch, and a few other unnecessary price hikes, with shipping I paid $17 for the 81 cards (1 is blank).  I can even get them printed on *plastic*!  Though double the price (so more like $28, since $6 was shipping)

I am thinking of taking the BV calculator for weapons and using it, as well as other BV calculating things, to *recalculate* BV for Alpha Strike units.  Thing is, BV/100 simply does not produce an accurate representation of a units value (assuming BV is, haha).  You can look around and see obvious issues with this quite easy.  I'm sure smarter people than myself could come up with better algorithms, but I'll give it a try.

I think CGL regrets posting that pretty card image that Herb posted on facebook.  It seems to have gone away on the forums.  While perhaps they are like "hey, that bad-syntax asshole is copying our shit!", it isn't like people being able to print these on paper is any substitute for the good cards they could sell individually.  Heck, I'll be buying 4 or 5 boxes of them (so I can have a full lance/star of everything) and I can print these things all day long.

I came across a forum here about the health of BattleTech.  It was kind of enlightening on all the reasons people just avoid the official forums.  That place is a politically drama filled playground, and a horrible place to visit for many folks apparently.

Ok, enough bitching for real this time.  I setup phpBB and have been configuring it.  I think its mostly done, not exactly a whole lot to do.  Got it running with my battletechengineer gmail account, created a battletech forum with a couple subforums for projects of mine.  I want to register a new DNS name for it but just not sure what to go with, or if I should just use  I was thinking something like (my favorite mech),,,, and so forth.  Any good ideas that aren't registered feel free to shoot my way.  I will make it available before the end of the week, promise.

However there *are* a few other Battletech forums out there.  The only thing I'm offering they aren't is pretty much no restrictions/rules (just don't be an ass to others) and more tie-ins with the products I've made, or could make if the support was there (like a replacement for all the probably-never-to-be-released heavymetal stuff).  

Though I am trying to support canon Alpha Strike, I find it difficult as it is so broken in many ways.  I'll will have alternate data, and cards, for my own system which mirrors BattleTech better, supports campaigns better, support all the optional rules better, and speed up quick strike by getting rid of some things that simply don't make the game more fun, and bog it down.  I may try to make this work with the $3300 in Robotech Miniatures I have coming soon too.  However, Robotech Tactics I think will be far more fun than Alpha Strike, with far better looking miniatures, though the universe is extremely small and shallow in comparison.

Oh, and what the heck, I posted stuff about doing Alpha Strike cards and had like 30 comments, then I actually post an Alpha Strike Card Maker and get 1.  That leads me to think that my app sucks ass (complain and I'll fix it) or that I haven't created enough controversy lately :)

Final thing.  All my current projects and downloads will soon be removed from online.  They will have new links up, and a forum account required to download them.  I might even make the forum hidden unless you have an account, as I get a *huge* number of hits from a hidden forum (well, hidden to most folks anyway, muhaha) over at

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Battletech Alpha Strike Card Generator, With Alpha Strike Cards!

Well sorry, I meant to release my EXE to make cards last night, but with the beautiful new color image 'ph423r' made I added support for gorgeous color cards!  So, if you want to make a card, or a thousand of them, quick and easily, just download this EXE and run it.  When you create a card it copies it to the clipboard automatically.  When you batch create it just saves them the same place the EXE is located.  PV/Skill *must* be integers or things will break, that is because you put in the actual PV, and based on the skill is what gets rendered as the points in the top right.

Here is a screenshot of the EXE, it comes with a text file you can copy/paste into it, or excel, to create thousands of cards all at once!  

And since I had a complaint of somebody not being able to download, plus what I'm throwing out there today is 180mb, I figured I'd use instead of my horrible time warner internet connection at home.

What is 180mb you ask?

Well, there is a 170mb file, containing 10 pages of color Alpha Strike cards from the Alpha Strike book. There are 8 per page, and look like this:

And there is a 10mb file, which is the exact same units, but these are in black and white and much more similar to the templates in the back of the Alpha Strike book:

While doing this, I discovered these cards simply won't work, as there isn't enough space for movement (try to fit 16"/12" in that area), not enough armor slot (only 18 circles?  not enough for a 200 ton superheavy with modular armor), no support for the "extreme range band" optional rule, no place for the ID without having to flip the card, not enough room for the various types of critical hits (counters for this could be acceptable I think, but I haven't seen any... if anybody says they'd like I'll whip some up), and I don't think enough space in the special area but I'm not 100% sure on that, just my gut.

Now, the bad news.  The beautiful new cards are pretty sure, but 99% of my artwork doesn't have a great transparent background, and if you just add the standard white TRO imagery, it'll be a big square on the card, and kill the beauty ph423r came to the rescue about this as I was updating the blog, and we may have a fix.  Though I made these cards, I think these are better for CGL to produce since they have the great little miniatures to drop in there, and I don't (and it does look like they'll be making them, HOPEFULLY not just PDF but hard laminated cards).  I think most of you would prefer black and white anyway, to save toner and stuff.  I made all these, but if you have *any* thoughts about them, positive or negative, or suggestions, let me know, I can update them quite easily.

So, the download links:, both files, EXPIRES August 7th Color Black and White
My Server, (windows/.net 2.0 required) - 3mb
My Server, Color File
My Server, B&W file

Let me know whatcha think, and if you use them!

EDIT:  Sure enough, they are going to have an "Ad Hoc" boxed card set, with 90 cards (80 regular mechs, 10 character mechs) at GenCon.  Laminated and full cards, even though I can make Alpha Strike cards all day long, I'll still purchase at least 1, if not 4-5 (so I can have a full lance of everything, as I always try to deploy identical units) of the boxed sets.  Anyway, you can see more here.

I hope they sell well enough to someday see a "Wolf's Dragoons, Alpha Regiment Boxed Set" and so forth, with 130 or so cards each.  It'd be cool, VERY unlikely, but uber cool to have something like that.  Each mech could have names, all be very unique.... good stuff.  I can easily print out a PDF with all of the Wolf's Dragoons stuff actually, I have all the data.... hmmmm.... anybody else wanna see that?  (and Eridani Light Horse, and Clan Jade Falcon/Wolf in 3052 or so)