Sunday, February 1, 2015

Last Ditch Effort

Hey all, I know it’s been quite some time since the last post, and I apologize. I’ve been hard at work with a great many things- not the least of which has been attempting to get Battletech: Combined Arms up and running....and failing miserably.

I first attempted to contact Topps, the current owners of the Battletech license, and was immediately shot down. Next, I reached out to Catalyst, who currently license Battletech from Topps and manage all of the publication for Battletech sourcebooks and game materiel. While I got further with them, their Game and Managing Developer Randall Bills was quick to shut down my pitch, and instead was quite insistent that we should all just pick up the latest copy of Alpha Strike and play that instead.

So needless to say, I’m at a loss. I don’t know enough about licensing or IP law to get hold of the IP myself or license it from Topps, nor is my reputation great enough to warrant working out a deal, apparently. So....yeah. That’s it for Battletech: Combined Arms, I guess. Unless any one of my followers can provide any info, then the game won’t be moving forward at all.

In that light, I’m posting up my written rules for the game in their current state, available for free as PDFs from this site.

In other news, I’ve finally built Tim’s amazing Dervish kit. This little 55-ton fire support ‘mech is an Inner Sphere icon, and Tim has captured it perfectly, creating a very modern rendition of the design with the most pose-ability i’ve ever seen on one of his kits!

I’ve posed mine in a very defensive, yet active posture, bringing its medium lasers and SRMs to bear against an enemy. The kit is surprisingly stable, allowing a pose like this while standing upright. I’m very impressed!

Alas, all good things must come to an end, I’m afraid. I love this hobby, and wanted to take it to the next step with the publication of Battletech: Combined Arms. I am going to try ONE last tactic for the new year, which I’m hoping will come through. If it fails though, I think I’ll be signing off on Battletech forever. I’ve put years worth of effort into developing this game concept and working on the models, and while it’s been fun...I really, truly thought I would be able to make it into something greater. But the lack of similar passion shown to me by Catalyst Game Labs has proven pretty heartbreaking, and I don’t think I have it in me to stay the course if I know there’s no way to make my dream game a reality.

Time will tell, I suppose.

Battletech: Combined Arms

Battletech: Combined Arms rules
Battletech: Combined Arms unit profiles

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Progress Progresses Progressively

I know the title is a blatant ripoff of Scott’s....but it seems everybody in the community is kind of worn out at the moment.

Dervish by Tim Fusco
Anyways, lots to talk about! So, I’ve completed my move up to Portland, Oregon, and gotten a new job. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean I won’t be working on Battletech: Combined Arms. Quite the opposite, in fact. With a regular income, I have the stability I need to begin funding the business and taking care of the legal aspect of it.

Here’s a breakdown: 

  • The rules are 100% written and complete for Battletech: Combined Arms. 
  • Tim Fusco is my head sculptor, and will be building the master models from which the resin casts will be made. 
  • Tim’s new Dervish sculpt will be my pitch prototype to accompany my business proposal. 
  • I still need to source a sculptor for 28mm infantry and vehicles, if anybody knows a good sculptor for these, please hit me up. 
  • Graphic design on the actual, printed rulebook is in progress, nearing completion. 

So that’s a brief rundown of what’s been going on. I’ve got a local artist who’s working with me on illustrations for the rulebook as well, so we’ll see how that works out. I’m excited about the progress being made here, and if all goes according to plan, we’ll be up and running in full by 2nd Quarter of next year. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Still Alive

Hey All,

I’m still alive, don’t worry. After a grueling couple of months hunting for new work and arranging a move (which I will begin packing for shortly), I’m back at work and dead-set on making things happen.

Battletech: Combined Arms is still very much alive and in progress. With Tim Fusco’s help, I believe we’ll be able to get production up and running by the end of 2014, with a Kickstarter campaign to drum up some funding and an official release by this time 2015.

My initial trepidation with the project has subsided, by and large, and I’m now 100% convinced that Battletech in 1/60 scale WILL work. I’m a seasoned miniature wargamer, having played Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000 since 1998, and I’ve seen the wide range of models, paint and hobby materials, and transportation options for them, and I think Battletech can reach a similar audience.

So with a new resolution to have this game up and running, we will see you on the battlefield soon!

Remember these good ole’ days? We’re bringing them back! 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Work Continues...

…Okay, so I haven’t had a lot of time to put work in on any recent builds, the demands of my paying job and negotiating a return to college (long story) have been taking up my attention as of late.

Also, in light of some recent developments in the Miniature Wargaming community, I’m considering some major revisions to Battletech: Combined Arms. With the advent of miniatures games such as X-Wing, Star Trek: Attack Wing, and the popularity of competitive, streamlined game systems….I’m considering altering my approach.

You see, I’ve been a miniature wargamer since 1998, where I started with Warhammer 40,000. I grew up playing that game through ever edition but the first, and I’ve steadily grown more and more frustrated with how complex the game has gotten. It’s not that I avoid complexity- hell, I grew up with a bit of D&D too. It’s just that complexity (especially the unnecessary kind) bogs down gameplay, clutters the table with unnecessary extras such as cards and dice and counters and templates (all of which Warhammer 40k now uses), and dissuades competitive play.

While I want Battletech: Combined Arms to be a competitive game that competes with the best in the business….it has become clear that that is no longer Games Workshop and Warhammer 40,000. As it stands now I want to work towards adapting a smaller scale (along the line of N-Scale), pre painted miniatures using a simpler game format for smoother, easy-to-learn yet difficult-to-master gameplay.

It’s also becoming clear that larger model kits like the 1/60 scale that i was initially planning don’t sell so well, the price point of competing, smaller scales necessitates a shift in sales tactics. I urge my readers to provide some feedback on this issue, as I’d love to hear what the community thinks.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

28mm Battletech: Mad Cat MK II

Oh the joys of a new battlemech! Mechwarrior 4 and TRO 3067 brought us the Mad Cat MK II, an assault-class upgrade to Battletech’s most famous ‘mech. Tim Fusco, owner of Battlemech Club has sculpted an impressive resin kit of this auspicious Clan Diamond Shark design, bringing the 90 ton design to life in 1/60 scale.

Designed from the ground up to be sold as a kit, the Mad Cat MK II is truly a sight to behold once fully built. This kit proves to be on par with Scott’s Catapult and Tim’s past kit the Flea (still working on that one, need to get a pin-vice), though there are two gripes. One is that the arm assemblies are in three pieces, and the rectangular second piece does not slot in anywhere specific, it’s easy enough to discern where it goes, but the housing around it doesn’t conform to the same footprint. The other issue is the missile launchers.  The classic battletech design and the MW4 design have very different assemblies for the LRMs, and this one conforms to the MW4 design closely. However, there’s no clear location on either side of the fuselage where the LRM racks are supposed to sit. A small raised section where they sit, or a peg-and-hole section for them to slot into would’ve been nice.

Other than that, this kit was amazingly fun to build, though the pose I went with makes it very unbalanced and I will need to base it and support it with a clear rod (you can see the half-tube rod of plasticard I’ve got holding it up right now).

I of course had to add a couple of my trademark modifications to this robust machine. I decided it would be a pirate ‘mech, salvaged from the battlefield and patched up. I used Games Workshop brass etch pieces from a basing kit to provide two beat up panels riddled with bullets, and two skull symbols to denote its pirate affiliation.
This is by far the heaviest ‘mech model I’ve ever worked on. The thing weighs easily 5 lbs in resin (and I’m bad at estimating, it could easily be ten!) It will take some very sturdy support and a display base for this baby to stand upright on its own. I realize how often I say I prefer non-based models…and yet constantly use bases. I prefer active poses for my models, and often I can only do that with a base. I just like my ‘mechs to look exciting, and especially with the Mad Cat MK II, I love the way the machine walks in MW4, that rolling motion makes it look so predatory and powerful that I had to replicate it.

Lastly, compared to my existing Mad Cat model and Stalker, this thing is the PERFECT size. It stands at 10” on the dot at the missile launchers (at least, n the pose I put it), and is easily 50% larger overall than the 75 ton Mad Cat. All in all this is one of my favorite kits to date, and I can’t wait for Tim’s summer program to get more fantastic ‘mechs from him.

Monday, May 12, 2014

28mm Battletech Stalker- Factory Fresh

While I was out of the state on a mini-vacation with my family this weekend, I was unable to paint the Stalker. I did, however, think I should post one last time to give a few shots of the finished product.

I made a number of minor alterations to the ‘mech in the final stages. I wanted to add a bit of extra detail to this beast, since with such a large ‘mech, the details are everything. You will notice I have a 60mm base under each foot.  I did this because, unfortunately the model’s feet aren’t perfectly flat, and I couldn’t sand them any flatter, so I settled on a base under each foot to give it a solid stance that won’t tip over easily.

I’ve also added some rounded half-round plasticard to the sides of the fuselage and the rear section,
giving a bit of interesting surface that I can paint maybe with hazard stripes or rank markings.

Lastly, there was a vacant, recessed spot opposite the AMS system, which I filled with a beaten and bent piece of copper grating, making it look like a vent or heat sink that’s been torn open in battle.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Get Outta Here Stalker D: - 28mm Battletech Stalker

So…the Stalker. An 85 ton assault ‘mech built for breaching fortifications and taking the enemy head-on, weapons blazing as it slowly closes range. This ‘mech is a beast, for a long, long time I’ve loved the description of the design, but hated its art in the Battletech Technical Readouts- those weird, double-hinged legs swiveled so that it was either backward-canted like a Mad Cat or Catapult, or normal-kneed like any humanoid design.

With Mechwarrior 4’s MekTek packs came a much beefier, permanently bird-legged Stalker, which was clearly what the new Mechwarrior Online takes its design cues from, and I LOVE it! The MWO STK-3F Stalker captures the essence of its Classic Battletech Roots and translates them to a much more likable aesthetic. Thor’s Mechworks, as advertised on the blog Wingnuts Cockpit, produced a 3D-printed “Creeper” (so as to avoid copyright BS….though to be honest, I don’t think Catalyst enforces it, and Topps doesn’t care). This is a dead-on accurate depiction of the MWO Stalker, so let’s take a look at what we get in the kit:

The kit comes in about 15 (ish) main pieces, with a good dozen extra little giblets for detail work, some of which I STILL don’t know where they go, even after having built the thing.

The model is 3D-printed ABS plastic, entirely hollow and extra light, making it feel almost more like a toy than the resin kits produced by some other regular manufacturers. This is not necessarily a bad thing, the lighter construction means it won’t break as easily if it falls, and it’s generally easier to stand and display or pose in a more active….well pose. However, there is one major drawback: the ABS plastic results in a layered effect, almost like wood grain, which needs to be filed, sanded, or rubbed with acetone to make smooth. This layered texture is almost insubstantial on the bigger pieces, but there are some fiddly, recessed areas where it gets very bad, and I found even with sanding and acetone that it doesn’t wash away smoothly.

The finished kit, however, looks beautiful. Most of the unsightly layered areas end up being either in the rear of the ‘mech, or hidden pressed against the fuselage or joints.

Speaking of joints, the design is VERY posable. Thor has done an amazing job making the Stalker as detailed and flexible as possible. I discovered while building it that not only are there flexible joints at the ankle and knee, but the ball-and-socket hip joint moves as well, and can be reposed very easily while also maintaining a tight seal, so the joint doesn’t loosen. I tend to glue my models in a single pose, it’s just the way I prefer them. I did that with this kit as well, with the joints at the missile launcher “arms,” the knee, and ankle all fixed, but kept the ball-and-socket hip free so I can reposition the legs somewhat.

The one recognizable extra bit was the AMS system, which I applied to my Stalker. I replaced (what I presume was) the barrel with a gatling gun style assembly from a Warhammer 40,000 assault cannon, but kept the ammo hopper, so it now heavily resembles a real-world CIWS (Close-In Weapon System).

Other than that, I made no real modifications, and am extremely happy with the final build. However, if anyone can tell me what the extra bits that come with the thing are, I would greatly appreciate the info.

So how does the “Creeper” stack up compared to other 28mm Battletech models? Glad you asked! As an 85 ton assault ‘mech, the STK-3F Stalker is much bulkier and taller than either my Timber Wolf or CPLT-C1 Catapult. It stands (in the pose I gave it) at just a smidge under 10” tall compared to the Mad Cat/Timber Wolf’s 8” exactly and the Catapult’s 8.25”

This seems the perfect size to me, and after building this kit, I must say Thor’s Mechworks does, indeed, do great work. I will be ordering more kits from him in the future for certain.

I’ll have this bad boy painted up very soon here, though I’ve got some brainstorming to do for a color scheme. Keep your eyes peeled and stay tuned to Myomer Dreams for more updates!