Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Ages ago, I got the plastic citytech Catapult. It was big, and round, and bulky, and didn't look quite like the catapult did in the computer games. More recently, I got the Introductory Box Set plastic Catapult. It was small. Very small. And thin, and didn't even have missile holes of anything on its launchers. It looked nothing like a computer game Catapult.

Both disappointed me, because though I found the board game before the computer games, it was Mechwarrior 2 Mercenaries, and MechCommander Gold, that gave me a love for the Battletech universe. And in later years, the rest of the Mechwarrior series.

And which mech did I love to pilot in these games? The Catapult. I'd hand off Atlases and Mad Cats and so forth to my lance mates, but the Catapult was mine! And neither plastic mini matched it in size and shape very well.

Finally, recently, I've started being able to collect metal Battletech miniatures, instead of relying on the cheap plastic box sets, and I realized I hadn't even looked up the Catapult on the IronWind Metals site. So, I did a browse, and boy was I surprised. They had a couple Catapult variations in metals, and they were great! I grabbed one that is closest in appearance to my preferred loadout - big missile launchers and lasers under the cockpit, and with a shape that looks just how I picture a Catapult to be :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

heavy metal map: custom printing map sheets

I'd forgotten all about this program, but I found the install files for Heavy Metal Map and put it back on my computer after ages. I used to play around with making my own maps with it, but it occurred to me, I could print out all of the official battletech map sheets, but making it so the textures of each hex type match, so they all fit together seamlessly.

I love the official painted map sheets, but each map sheet is in different colours and different styles. In this photo are four of the map sheets I printed out with heavy metal map, after changing the textures to all match, and making hills go from dark (low) to bright (high) like a heightmap. Anyway, I love how all the map sheets now blend together perfectly, even though they don't have the artistic quality of the official painted maps.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Jötnar / Scavenger, my mech design

Had some spare bits and pieces, and decided to glue some together to make my own mech :)

In the mid 3050's, Victor Davion wanted the AFFC to develop their own omnimech, in response to the superiority of Clan omnimech designs. He dubbed the project Jötnar (sort of pronounced 'jert-nar') - the mythological enemy of the Norse Gods, due to some of the common Inner Sphere designations of Clan designs being names such as Uller, Thor and Loki. 

The idea was to take construction concepts of Clan omnimechs - in this case, being inspired by the Uller, and to build an Inner Sphere technology design from those concepts. The result was 20 tons heavier - a 50 ton mech of IS tech.

By 3057, with a desire to take the fight to the Clans, and no successful design, Victor approved the engineers a change in design tactics. Instead of a mech which could exchange its weapons for completely different weapon loadouts - they designed a mech that had dual connectors and power manifolds built into each weapon system housing - so that each IS weapon built into the mech could simply be unplugged and swapped for its Clan equivalent. The idea being that in a prolonged campaign against the Clans, Jötnar mechwarriors and techs would not need to rely on a steady supply of IS supplies, but could simply strip weapons from defeated Clan chassis. During the fighting in 3058 / 3059, the Clans gave the design their own derogatory designation, the 'scavenger'. The design even had numerous internal components and structure parts based upon those found inside common Clan omnimechs, so that things such as Actuators or reactor plates could be swapped for salvaged Clan ones.

The mech comes out of the factory with a cylindrical LRM 10 on one arm, on the other is an ER Medium Laser and SRM 4. Above the torso are two more ER Medium Lasers. Below the cockpit is a small pulse laser. During the fighting against the Clans in the late 3050's, each weapon could be easily exchanged for Clan tech: Clan LRM 10, Clan ER Medium Lasers, Clan SRM 4, Clan ER Small Pulse Laser.
In addition, the mech comes equipped with a Beagle Active Probe for armoured recon duties, and matches the Uller in movement and jump jets.

Raw Parts:

Monday, April 9, 2012

BATTLE REPORT: MechCommander Op 1 Mission 1

Okay, so my first test of the map. This mission has an 85 ton drop weight. I selected a Firestarter, a Commando and a Hornet.

There are a number of turrets on the map, they all count as 'laser turrets'.
Laser Turrets: Armour / Structure: 1 / 2, Damage: 1 / 1 / -

Sensor Blips: Blips are placed everywhere an enemy may spawn. The moment I am four hexes from a blip, it is revealed. For every 2 levels higher than a blip, it can be 1 hex further away when identified.

Qty of Mission 1 enemies:
5 x armoured cars
2 x J Edgar Hover Tanks
1 x 5 point Battlemech (randomly selected from enemy QuickStrike cards)
1 x 10 point Battlemech (randomly selected from enemy QuickStrike cards)

Encounter Table:
When a blip is identified, roll 1d6:
1 - Armoured Car
2 - Armoured Car
3 - Armoured Car
4 - J Edgar
5 - 5 pt Mech
6 - 10 pt Mech

Once the qty of units listed above is used up, rolling it again means you must just roll again for something else.

Turn One
Enemy wins initiative.
My Firestarter (Lynx), Hornet (Beast) and Commando (Hunter) are set down on a hill in the north west of the mission zone. The objectives are to take out a natural gas tower and camp HQ in the middle, another camp HQ in the east, and a Garrison Building in the south. Two enemy mechs have been reported in this area, so I've got to be careful.

Upon landing, I am within 4 hexes of the blip north of the hill.
"This is the Beast - new contact. It's just an armoured car."
"Take care of it," I order.
They stomp down the hill and surround it, blasting it to scrap.
"Lynx here. Enemy vehicle destroyed."

Turn Two
"Okay guys, looks like there's a resource cache just north east of you - other side of those trees. Approach through the light woods and it should give you some cover against any defenses," I order.
"Roger," Lynx says, and they head east toward the light wooded area.

Turn Three
"This is Lynx. Moving into cover, sir. Looks like some turrets up ahead."
Hmm. I don't want them too close to those lasers. "Engage from range."

Turn Four
Lynx's Firestarter and Hunter's Commando move to medium range, sticking in the trees for defense, and the turret explodes in a hail of laser fire.

Turn Five
"Beast, I think they can take care of that remaining turret. I want you to scout ahead, check out that camp south and east from you." I mark a waypoint on my touch screen, and Beast heads his Hornet forward while the others take out the other turret.
"Just a scratch," Hunter says, as the turret blasts some of his armour off.
"This is Lynx. Turret destroyed."

Turn Six
"Hunter, secure that Cache," I order, and Hunter parks his Commando next to the cache so he can tag it with his wireless transmitter.
Lynx follows after Beast's Hornet.
Hornet moves into range of the sensor blips, near the east camp.
"This is the Beeast - two enemy contacts.. I got me a J Edgar and a... damn! A mech's powering up! Enemy Hunchback! Enemy Hunchback!"
Uh oh. I rolled up a HBK-4SP with that J Edgar Light Tank.
"Sir! My Hornet's no match for that Hunchback!" Beast shouts over the comm.
"Stay calm Beast. I know what I'm doing," I tell him. That is, I think I know what I'm doing.
"Uh, yes... sir," he replies.
The Hornet is the only unit with long range attack on the map, so he gets a pot shot.
"Beast, hit him with your LRM's. Get his attention," I order.
Beast opens fire, but his shot goes way wide.
The General peers over my shoulder at my tactical display. "I trust you have things under control, Commander?"
"Come on guys," I tell my team. "I know we can do this."

Turn Seven
I win initiative this turn!
The Hunchback stomps toward Beast's Hornet. Can't let it get too close, it's a big hitter up close. The J Edgar hover tank moves off to the Hunchback's left and turns to cover the Hunchback's rear in case the Hornet jumps behind him.
"Okay Beast, you got jump jets. Use 'em," I order.
Beast jumps up over the Hunchback, but off to the right, coming down behind a small hill for cover. Meanwhile, Lynx moves his Firestarter in front of the Hunchback - but not too close - to attract its attention.
Again, Beast is the only one in weapon range with his long range attacks.
"This is the Beast - missiles away!"
Missiles stream past the Hunchback and explode harmlessly into a cliff face.

Turn Eight
Enemy wins initiative!
"Sir, we have to risk moving in," Lynx tells me. "We're getting nowhere with Beast pot shotting from afar."
I hesitate. Getting in close to a Hunchback is sure to be a disaster, but Lynx and Hunter don't have long range attacks. There's nothing else to do.
"See if you can surround him," I say. I can feel the General standing behind me.
The Hunchback opens up with everything on Lynx, and his Firestarter shakes as armour blasts away under the assault. Somehow, Lynx is still standing, but with engine damage. However, he is able to return fire, and with the combined attacks of Hunter and Beast, and bonus for rear attack, they deal a tremendous blow to the Hunchback, destroying some of its weaponry - but it's still standing.

At this point, I realise that with the QuickStrike rules, a mech that hits will deal all of its damage. Unlike Battletech Rules, there is no range of damage between 1 and max damage. This means, toe to toe with a heavier mech, a lighter mech stands no chance. I decided that I would introduce a more Battletech style of damage, and for every additional point (above 1) of damage, a die is rolled. On an even number, a point of damage is dealt. On an odd number, no damage. This means if you hit, you deal between 1 and your max damage, and are not assured of always dealing max damage.

The J Edgar fires into Lynx's side. It's too much for the heavily damaged Firestarter.
"Ejecting! Ejecting! Ejecting!"
I slam my fist against my console, then turn to Tactical Support, "Track that pod!"

Turn Nine
Luckily, I won initiative this turn.
The Hunchback and J Edgar move into the gap between the cliffs, where Lynx was before. Beast jumps his hornet up onto the hills, among the trees, for another rear attack on the Hunchback, while Hunter moves his Commando to put the J Edgar between him and the Hunchback.
The Hunchback fires over the J Edgar. I was hoping he would miss Hunter and hit the J Edgar, but he manages to hit Hunter's Commando. With my 'damage range' rules though, he only manages 1 point of damage.
With the damage range rules, luck is on my side when I roll, however. Beast and Hunter deal 6 points of damage against the Hunchback, and blast it apart!
"Spare parts for everyone!" Beast shouts with laughter.
"That was for Lynx!" Hunter says.
"Good work, but don't get cocky. There's still that J Edgar," I remind them.

Turn Ten
Enemy wins Initiative.
Hunter and Beast try to surround the J Edgar, but it moves up over the hill, following the cliff line, to come back down behind Hunter, though off to his side and not his rear. However - drawing LOS, it places the J Edgar's rear face in Beast's line of fire!
The J Edgar misses Hunter's Commander, but the return fire from Hunter and Beast stuns the vehicle crew.

Turn Eleven
They finish off the J Edgar with no problems.
"This is the Beast - vehicle destroyed."
"Good work, Commander," The General says from behind me, then he moves on to look at the other Commanders' displays.

Turn Twelve
They take out the Camp HQ building that the Hunchback was defending.

Turn Thirteen
"Sir, this is the Beast. I think I can take out that Natural Gas Tower from up on the hill. No point going round the other side - and engaging those enemy blips, if we don't have to."
"Do it." I agree with him. "But don't get too close when that thing blows!"
Beast detonates the gas tower, and the explosion takes out the other Camp HQ and the laser turret as well.
"Good work, team," I say. "Now we just need to take out that Garrison Building in the south to complete our mission objectives. There's another cache off to the west too, if we can manage it."

Turn Fourteen
They head south.
"This is Hunter - new target!"
"Just an Armoured Car, sir," Beast chimes in.
Beast and Hunter exchange blasts with the car and the turret.
"Agh! Fire Control hit," Hunter says, as his Commando shakes under enemy fire.
"Come on, Hunter. Hang in there!" I tell him. His Commando is flashing red on my display.

Turn Fifteen
Enemy has initiative!
"Beast, get up on those cliffs," I order, and he jets his Hornet behind the car and the turret, up onto a hill.
Hunter can barely move.
"Don't let that car get in your rear, Hunter," I tell him. He backs away, to the side, keeping the car and turret in his firing arc.
Hunter opens fire on the car, but misses!
It blasts away at him with the turret.
"Ejecting! Ejecting!" Hunter screams.
The Commando blows apart!
"Track that pod!" I shout to Tactical Support. "Beast, get out of there!"
Beast fires a parting shot at the turret - and takes it out!

Turn Sixteen
"This mission is over," the General says grimly.
"Sir," Beast says over the comm, "Don't let this all be for nothing. If I can take out that Garrison Building to the south, we'll have achieved all objectives, even if I get toasted in the process."
"That's quite a risk, Commander," the General says to me, but he does sound impressed by Beast's willingness to hang in there.
I'm not so confident after losing my Firestarter and Commando. "Beast, are you sure about this? There's two enemy contacts right next to the building, and there's another mech still in this area."
"Sir, all it takes is one good hit," Beast says. "With my jets, I can rocket in and out of there and strike before they know what's going on."
"But will you make it back to the Drop Zone afterwards..."
"Just one hit, sir, and all objectives completed. Let me do it. For Lynx and Hunter, sir."
The General is watching me.
"Do it," I order.
Beast jets away from the armoured car, and heads south, revealing one of the blips next to the Garrison Building.
"Just another armoured car, sir!"
One blip is still unrevealed...

Turn Seventeen
"I'm going to set down right next to the building, and open fire!" Beast shouts, and jets into the air.
The other blip is revealed...
"Just another armoured car, sir!" he laughs.
"Don't get cocky. Concentrate on the building!" The whole command center falls quiet as people watch to see what happens next.
Beast opens fire... and obliterates the building!
The armoured cars open fire... and they all miss!
"Objective down! I'm getting the hell out'a here!" Beast shouts.
Cheers go up all around.

Beast spends the rest of his time jumping about the map, staying out of weapon range of enemy units, and avoiding revealing any more blips incase he stumbles upon the unrevealed mech.

Mission Complete!

(Though it would have been nice to capture the other Cache)
Also, because there were still enemies in the area, I was unable to salvage the Firestarter, Commando or the Hunchback chassis.

MechCommander Gold QuickStrike Op 1 Mission 1

Testing out an idea :) Converting MechCommander Gold level maps into QuickStrike missions on a hex grid! The ultimate goal would be to construct individual 3D hexes, flocked for different height levels and terrain types, and to 3D print out scenery objects like houses and bases at 3mm scale to go with it.

Anyway, for now, printed out and laminated A4 sheets laid out to make the first level of the game. Only a couple miniatures scenery objects on the map at the moment. I'm going to try and get some 3mm scale buildings for the garrisons, camps, houses, shops, apartments and stuff, that are on the level.

Anyway, look familiar ?

All the features of the first mission are on their, with terrain simplified a bit to work with a hex grid.

The drop zone - with a commando, a firestarter, and a hornet (because I only had 1 commando). Neat thing about a board game - can use any mechs that exist, if they fit with the point costs of the mission, so aren't limited to just the couple of mechs that were in the computer game!

The first cache, up the top of the map

The 're-education camp' guarded by a Clan Uller and an armoured car with a laser.

The 're-education camp' defended by a bondsman in a Commando, and a turret, and an armoured car

The natural gas tower and the suicidal explosive fuel truck, and more armoured cars

And the cache down on the left, defender by two small hover tanks