Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Well its been a while, and I haven't done crap for Battletech.  Maybe I got played out at Gencon, maybe its because I stopped playing with my local group (hard to justify playing a game when over 90% of a turn is spent with other people doing stuff without being affected), or maybe all my other hobbies, but for whatever reason my progress on everything has been minimal.

But first, I did get the 2 new products, the The Operation Revival, and the Record Sheets Industrialmechs.

For the first time in a really long time, out of all the Battletech products I've purchased, I can honestly say these two were 'meh', and cannot recommend anyone purchasing them unless they just want to throw money at the Catalyst folks.  

The Revival PDF, well, *I* never cared about the trials of the clans in 3048 in determining who invaded, but maybe somebody did.  The only thing in this book even closely useful in my opinion were random tables for mechs/fighters/tanks for the clans in 3048.  Aside from that.... well, 'meh'.

Then we have industrial mechs and exoskeletons.  I think this is the way many may have felt about the TRO Vehicle Annex a while back.  Its a bunch of units, mostly without any combat capability, that I have a hard time thinking anybody gives a crap about.  I'll eventually enter them into my site, and will undoubtly find tons of issues like I always do, but it'll be reluctant as they are almost without a doubt stupid.  I'm sure somebody may want to plop one on a tabletop, and use a MWDA figure, but 'meh'.

I still have not heard back from Randall about my forum access.  At first I'm like "wtf, do these people not read email??!?", and then I found an email I sent a year or more before I got banned that I sent him and never saw a reply to either.  Then I did a bit of research and found some dubious character flaws on the CGL side, and just said "fuck it, their loss".

So here is what all I've done in the last month or so since gencon:
- Assembled my RRT miniatures from the free core box I got.  I'm happy with them, so some are a serious pain to assemble.  I'll get them painted up soon and post some pics.
- Got my Battle Systems Sci-Fi kickstarter stuff.  Squares a bit smaller than I would have liked (why the hell don't we have HEXES for this stuff???  squares are stupid and inaccurate) but its decent quality.... for a paper product (and thus not real durable).  I paid about $400 for 140 card sheets of terrain... ouch.
- Got my Wasteland Game Studio kickstarter stuff in.  I got 6 VTOL platforms and 20 bunkers (which fit perfectly in a heroscape hex).   Good quality stuff.
- Got all of my Heroes of Normandie stuff in, well, the stuff that wasn't moved to another KS as a crappy "wave 2" move.  It was quality stuff though, and looks like a pretty cool game.  I was looking forward to the Sliterine PC version, but now it looks like that may be just for iPad, so oh well.
- Bought another 32 little $0.37 clamps at home depot.  These things ROCKED for putting miniatures together.  Also got a few plastic things to make into 6mm buildings.  And I got a "cracked ice" cover for lights that I'll paint sea blue and hope that it looks like good water.
- I went through all my books and inserted the posted errata out there.  28 pages for the Alpha Strike Companion, sheesh!

Ok, back to Battletech!

I do update my data when I see errata so things stay *mostly* updated.  However, until CGL learns about data consistency there will never be a good, accurate, designer for all units.  I tried to help with this a few years back when Peter Smith sent me an email about it (Herb went ballistic internally about the errors in the record sheets).  It seemed to go somewhere, then I presented the amount of data that was currently missing or inaccurate and never heard from them again.  I think they have implemented some method internally though, as record sheets over the past couple years have gotten better.  However, we still don't have things like building construction, warship construction, protomech construction, RPG "construction", support vehicle construction, mobile structure construction, etc, etc, utilities.  I am closer to most on this, but it requires me do up a pretty web interface and my motivation is pretty small :(

My real time battletech game, dead.  Why?  Well, I got bored I think.  I wanted the world to move and rotate around the mech, instead of the mech moving in the world, so it was a major change I just wasn't ready to bite off.  I still think folks would like it, especially if I can make it run on a phone.  Dead though, but I may play with it at some point later.

Alpha Strike Card Utility.  I wanted to do this, then the Alpha Strike Companion came out.  It implemented a few more things which I fixed in the code.  The part that killed progress was, well, the interface.  I had it very close to workable, and may still finish it, but I need to basically mentally start over from scratch.  Too long of a break and I forgot my thought process at the time.  Not dead yet, but not being worked currently either.

Battletech Engineer Encyclopedia site.  This still works, and I make occasional changes to it.  Every time somebody posts a bug I go try to fix it.  Well, almost every time.  Somebody submits a bug with just a mech name that doesn't match the one on the screen.  They've done this like 20 times, and I don't know what the actual error is.  My best guess is they are using some old index or something.  If you are that person, please add more information to the little blank, or throw in your email in there (that email is NOT saved anywhere, I'll have to manually reply back) so I can actually resolve any issue.

Ok, what am I doing?

Well, played some Deadpool the last few days, as well as quite a few hours in FireFall.  Watched Person of Interest the other night, even with all the new shows out this is the BEST SHOW ON TV (yes, better than game of thrones, but granted not any boobies).

Ok, what are my plans?

Well I still love Battletech, and if a new *good* product comes out I may jump right back into it.  In my head right now I'm thinking we *REALLY* need a strategic game, but with Interstellar Operations due out sometime in the near future any work I do may become invalidated.  So the Alpha Strike Card Maker, or minor updates to the BTE site, are probably all I may do.


I am thinking maybe I should just write my own Mecha based game, with my own universe (which I wrote up a long time ago), that would be much like battletech in some ways, and fulfill that desire for big robots, but make more sense and have better written rules.  I'd do up the rules, playtest the crap out of them, make a mini-tro with great art (and associated 3D models) and a miniature line (with those 3D models 3D printed).  I don't have a lot of desire to do this, but it has been in my mind and may see some fruition.

As it stands now though, my interjection of Battletech desire has been pretty darned low.  If I got an email saying I could get back on the forums, or a huge number of people show support for me doing BT stuff, I would start doing Battletech stuff again, but without that interjection my motivation is just really low.

My forum is pretty dead too.  I blame myself for not posting to it constantly and keeping people engaged, but that all falls back to my declining motivation for Battletech :(

Feel free to offer up any ideas to motivate me again, I feel like I'm in hobby limbo until my 16 boxes of Robotech RPG Tactics show up.


  1. Hey, I got into Magic (EDH) with my son and Bill Burt. I plan to build a crystal radio in a cigar box (it has a germanium transistor amplifier, crystal headphones and is solar-powered). I am gearing up to build at least five boardwings for control line flying, and finishing two projects (the Double Bean and my son's final plane from way back in 2003). One of the planes at least will be suitable for a Gilbert .11 engine, of which I have many. I also am re-capping NES and SNES systems for the local.

    BattleTech comes and goes. I am replete with miniatures and could paint them if I liked, I know games that happen at least once a month. I am still waiting for the rules modifications on infantry to die down before getting back to the Infantry Primer. And there are the holidays coming up! I planted flowers on Wednesday, for the spring.

    Plenty to do, and you can post it here if you want. I never considered my blog to be strictly BT and the only reason I have not continued to post is because I wanted the links to be up front and available.

    1. Yeah. I *have* to have a hobby though. No kids, I refuse to work more than 40 hours a week, my wife is low maintenance, and I have a hard time finding people I want to be around enough to call them friends. So, in short, I have a LOT of free time. I must fill that free time or its a really bad thing for me. Historically that time has always been spent going over military stuff, reading, and often crunching numbers to make better sense out of them.

      However, real world military data leaves something to be desired. Even well known WW2 statistics are often different in different locations. I have long wanted to do a "military encyclopedia" sorta thing. Basically get every single piece of data on every single piece of military equipment (including soldiers) and use a computer to track everything. Having this would make creating a new WW2 strategic game, or scenarios, really easy. I think it'd always be a work in progress though, and I can't justify $50K/year on keeping up with things like "Janes all the worlds Aircraft" and such. Plus, again, too many "classified" values.

      So I dove into sci-fi, and battletech has always taken the forefront there. I have almost all the data possible on over 6000 units, within a consistent universe. I've been able to enter in hundreds of values for those 6000 units (and have done so more than once, before my final and COMPLETE endeavor!) I have a universe with parameters I can deal with. So, battletech has become my "time sink" in life (instead of you know, doing something good with my time!).

      So I can and probably will stay in battletech, but without my lifeline to the community it is all at my own pace, which is far slower. If I had 50 people every day asking "hey, are you done yet with project X?" I would have been done with it. If its only me, I'll jump around constantly.

      Ok, I'm not sure where I was going with this after being interrupted, so I'll just assume I made some point :)

  2. "It's a bunch of units [...] that I have a hard time thinking anybody gives a crap about" - well, that kind of sums up the game at the moment, doesn't it? They can't change the core rules without destroying unit designs (and they've still got hardbacks to shift), they don't seem to be willing to advance the timeline, so they're mining out the historical eras to keep things going.

    I think the situation bears comparison with Car Wars. In the 1980s it was just the sort of game people wanted to play. Now the market's changed and it isn't, and whatever the new Car Wars looks like it's not just going to be a light updating of the old rules. Alpha Strike is an attempt to make a new game to remedy that (and I think it will become the "standard" game at some point, with Battletech as we know it relegated to being the high-complexity game for small encounters), but even back when it was Battleforce it didn't grab me because it was so flavourless. Maybe it's better now. But I do think a designed-from-scratch game could be a whole lot better.

    1. Well I think CGL has some people that work on some projects as like "pet projects". Whoever did the industrial mechs RS thing maybe really wanted it, took it on, and made it. It doesn't mean its the direction the game is going, nor the "main focus" of CGL in regards to battletech. I will say it wasn't a positive direction though, when some other things really are (I LOVE age of war and SLDF era stuff, and it has NOTHING to do with current timelines).

      I think Alpha Strike was purely done to help get people into, or back into, battletech that saw the thousand pages of core rules too daunting. It is a way to grab 40K, FoW, or any number of other 40K clone markets that may want something a bit different. Right now I think is the PERFECT time for Alpha Strike, as GW (the lead in all these super simple games like 40K) are alienating their customers and those customers may want something else to strive out into. Alpha Strike is pretty close to what I believe they would want (though I am still unhappy with the way damage works, thinking a missile hit table dynamic is best). Now, the main thing holding back Alpha Strike is the really poor quality of most battletech miniatures. The boxed set is a great value though, but its still "battletech". I think they really need a new Alpha Strike boxed set, with consolidated AS/ASC rules, 10 clan mechs, 5 clan battle armor, 8 inner sphere mechs, 4 inner sphere tanks, and 4 inner sphere infantry platoon miniatures all set in 3050, all with the same quality (but new moldings) as the stuff in the BT boxed set. These need to be HIGH QUALITY miniatures, not IWM stuff. Releasing a product like, perhaps even through a Kickstarter, would be a HUGE benefit for the Battletech IP.

      I loved battleforce, and think Alpha Strike is an intermediate game between BT and BF. If you want to play battleforce (or 4-5 elements per maneuver element) you would just drop many of the new AS rules (like special ammo, pilot abilities, many special abilities with ranges <3 hexes, etc). You then have a good core for games where each "miniature" (or counter, which I would prefer at that scale) is a squad/star. This same core set could then just be extrapolated to any size, so go up a scale and instead of a squad/star, its a company/platoon, where each sub element within it is a squad/star. You could go up to, well, any size, where you have a division maneuver element, with 4 brigade sub elements within it. This allows a game that is what I hope Interstellar Operations introduces us to. Fully scalable from the individual RPG, up to controlling the entire inner sphere. Any more strategic game though, does become less "flavorful". Take WW2 games, many strategic levels just have values for attack/defense/move and use a CRT for combat. They are flavorless, but somehow still relatively popular. Not everybody cares about the strategic aspects of games. In fact, most do not at all. I like all of it ;)

      I am 95% sure I won't like the new Car Wars as much as I did the old one, but I was never *that* big of a fan. I bought onto all the new Ogre stuff and its all just sitting in the closet.

      I think these last 2 products were just paths off the core BT path, and though IMO dead ends, they won't affect and have no impact on the core path I'm sure CGL setup years ago on where to go with Battletech.

  3. I wish I could pay you a visit, help you kill some of that time. Bill and I plan to do some control line flying in the spring, so we are building planes this winter. I have several Gilbert .11s (see for my own modest addition to the videos for this antique) and plan to build a plane that will use that engine. I always build in threes so it should be interesting.

    I would love it if you had any suggestions on what sort of plane design you would like to see. With your leanings towards WWII designs, there has to be something available as a boardwing that we can build. I was thinking of scaling up a boardwing plan, but replacing the flat wing with a built-up wing (more lift); combined with the kit's profile fuselage, it would probably work a lot better. Wing area should be around 125+ square inches. Take your pick!

    I don't know what the appeal of Alpha Strike is right now - all the games I see are traditional BT and even the larger games flow pretty smoothly due to (a) all the players being familiar with rules and basic tactics and (b) the backchat being kept to a minimum with a time clock. Perhaps it will be picked up, perhaps not. The current generation of gamers seem to want more flash with their game. Imagine that.

    It's not that the new generation can't pry themselves away from the video games and the telephone-cum-computers. It's that they have been conditioned by the culture for a shorter attention span and a vast impatience. They want their gaming pleasure *now*.

  4. Come on down to the ScrapYardArmory's Succession Wars (circa 1987) online tracker! Email the devs and let us know what username you use. We still have a few bugs to kill, but we have filled most all of the holes in the original rulebook. Custom scenarios and maps are already being developed by players!

    1. I was already registered (bad_syntax) and looked at it a while back. Wasn't much different and it seemed not quite ready for use. I couldn't find a way to view current game maps, or even see if any current games were in session.

      A few years back I thought about doing a PC port of SW. It was an interesting game, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. The #1 reason is computers are just so damned much more powerful. In the time it takes you to roll a single 1d10, I can have 2 regiments of mechs, with all their stats, slug it out and get to a resolution.

      So I'm stuck in the perpetual project creep state. Just doing the core game, I could do that, probably in a few weeks if I dedicated my time to it. But I just can't see the fun compared to stuff like Civilization, Solar Empires, or even Master of Orion.

      I have designed out a game engine that could do massive games across the whole inner sphere, down to individual company level (with an option to scale down to each grunt). I can write this, and honestly I'm not very sure why I haven't. I mean, I know I wanted planets mapped, but I can stick with just some terrain data for them (vacuum world = no ICE vehicles, hot world = mechs only, mountain world = mechs/infantry rule, etc). I don't need much for graphics, as I can create a few simple icons for things like factory planets and such. I don't need a hex map as I've already inputted all the planet coordinates and computers don't need hexes. Hmmm.... i guess there are a few minor things that have prevented me from taking it on. Things like unknown production, how many JS/DS to use (I'd go with the DS&JS book stats of 2500/25000 I think), unknown unit complement, unknown unit quality, unknown star types, etc, etc.

      Actually, looking back I think I just had project creep on parts. I have done quite a few BT unit creators, but I get bogged down with the RAT's (not that they are necessary in any way at all). I have done multiple star system generators but get bogged down with stellar details (how many moons, what kind of terrain is on that moon, what is the population, is it a food or oil world, etc, etc).

      Just a few months ago I was writing code to generate star league brigades from their divisions, and somewhere on my hard drive I have a few thousand small PNG files, for each SLDF unit and each house unit at the time, with various numbers for stuff like attack/defense/aerospace/cost/tech/quality/morale/leadership/size/type.

      And then there are the 3 THOUSAND plus worlds in the BTU, which make any game damned huge. Sure, I can just create regions, but that screws up things like fighting over a particular planet, jump delays, transit times, and so forth that I think would be critical to a game being good (though perhaps not a knee-slapping fun time).

      I guess if I just buckled down I could knock it out. If I'm smart, I won't hard-code anything actual battletech so I could actually release it without fear of IP infringement. I think it'd just be another 4X sorta game, except technology has very little impact and it is more military detailed and focused than any other games of the genre out there.

      Oh, I strayed... I do that. My initial purpose of the reply was to tell you a while back I wrote a little EXE that shows a SW style map. Its defined through a text file, where you put in X/Y coordinates for various points to create a region of space. Nothing to it, but its pretty easy to work with (open the file in excel, change some owners, generate map and prt-screen). If anybody wants the EXE/Text file email me. The maps on scrapyard armory look like they were done in excel, and aren't very impressive :(

  5. I think this is why I tend to stick with the 3025 tech in the Battletech universe
    and do table top games with my minis....those little plastech mechs are still
    fun the push around... I will always love this game and come back to it
    from other hobbies myself.