Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Minnesota Project Part 3 - The Mechs are prepared and primed for painting!!!

The painting has begun in earnest, and I have made some decisions regarding paint schemes and units. So far, things went pretty smooth, and my substitutions at times worked out better than I had thought they would.

Let's discuss each unit in detail, shall we?

Rasalhague Regulars: As I said in previous posts, the 20th was an odd unit, and was even odder due to the effects of the 1st Succession War. Casualties had been heavy and the unit itself was never probably high on the list of the Bureau of Substitution's list of priorities so there was probably a lot of "mend and make do" but probably not as bad as, oh, say, the Legion of Vega would be in later years, as the ISF kept a pretty close eye on the Regulars as a whole all during their existence. 

As for their baseworld, Trondheim, the terrain in my mind resembles something like Iceland, volcanic, lots of rocks, crags, mountains, and scrub grass where there is grass. I don't know what the weather is like, but I expect it's probably a lot like Iceland's as well. 

It probably looks a lot like this:

Note the red and green moss, as well as the geothermal venting...nice bit of natural palette for someone to choose their camouflage against!

So, I decided to go with one of the MERDC patterns, specifically the Snow with Trees Pattern as exhibited by this M548 here, as shown on Cybermodler:

Taken from Cybermodler

The scheme looks to me as if it is about 50% White, 50% Green-Grey, and about 10% Tan and Black respectively. I am going to therefore, use the following colors and see how they work out?

  • For the White, any old White will work, and I have a few craft paint bottles that will fill the need nicely.
  • As for the Green/Grey, this was the hardest, but I think I am going to go with Battlefront's Team Yankee Warthog Green. I think it works the best, and I will lighten it by about 20% with some white to do the highlights.
  • As for the Tan, Vallejo Model Color German Camo Beige seems to be the order of the day, with again, 20% White added for highlights.
  • As for the Black, again, pretty simple, I'll use Vallejo Model Color's Black Grey to do some highlights, probably very lightly drybrush those.
As for the primer color, I went with some plain old Rustolium Light Grey, using some Vallejo Grey Primer to touch up what needed it. So far, I rather like the results of the Primer and I think this will work out to gradually build up the white. I also plan to try some hairspray method with the white, as well as some chipping and other weathering. These machines should have been used hard and put up wet, IMHO.

The Rasalhague Light/Medium Lance before being primed, three of the 'Mechs are from the Alpha Strike box sets and the Panther is a IWM miniature, based on a hex base.

The Dragon and a Warhammer which wound up with the Minnesota Tribe, the Dragon is from the Alpha Strike box sets and the Warhammer is a Tomahawk from a Robotech Tactics expansion box. (incidentally, I did not find it that hard to put together). 

The Combine Heavy/Assault Lance, this consists of a Banshee and Orion from the Alpha Strike Box Sets, a Stalker from Warhansa, and a IK Marauder (That 'Mech wound up in the Minnesota Tribe force and was replaced by a repro Marauder).
The Rasalhague Mechs are primed and ready for the next step! You can see a unseen Thunderbolt, and a Warhammer in the mix, as well as an Archer, most are Alpha Strike box sets, as well as a repro Marauder (I didn't know what I was buying) and a WarHansa Stalker.

Here is another view from the front
Minnesota Tribe: The Minnesota Tribe has a bit of a easy paint job in comparison. Good old Star League standard issue Olive Drab. I decided I'd go with MiG -0081, the Vietnam Era US Olive Drab color that MiG puts out as the base coat, then use MiG-0929, their Olive Drab Shine to do highlights, and generally prime them all Black. To me, dirt simple and easy to do. I don't expect much trouble and I think I am going to make these 'mechs look as crisp and clean as I can.

In short, probably a simpler task than the Rasalhague 'Mechs, but I am sure I can find ways to make this fun!

The Minnesota Tribe Strike Lance, I have a Unseen Phoenix Hawk and Stinger, an IWM Sentinel (Which I have been dying to use somewhere) and a Alpha Strike box set Firestarter.

The Skirmish Lance, it's made up of a IWM Exterminator, a IWM Kintaro, a IWM Wolverine II, and a Alpha Strike Box Set Dervish.

And here are the 'Mechs, all primed with Black Gesso. I find this stuff works when you cannot prime outside (We had a bit of rain on Sunday, and it made priming difficult). 

And here is another shot, you can see the Intro Box Set Grasshopper in the back, it wasn't too bad a sculpt, all things considered.

So, that said, I think I will be painting the Rasalhague 'Mechs first, they'll be just a lot more fun, IMHO, but we shall see. I do hope I can measure up with all the quality painting I see on FB, as I tend to be more of a speed painter of armies (The historicals guy in me), but I think this ought to be a ton of fun all around.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Part 2 of the Minnesota Project

Well, let's get to the stars of the show. The Minnesota Tribe. We don't know a ton about them, the best resources being Operation Klondike, Betrayal of Ideals, and the 1st and 2nd Succession War Books, as well as Sarna.net. But, as they are a raiding force, they gotta move fast and hit hard, relatively, as they are up against a pretty heavy Kurita force. I also didn't want to bring any of the Slings/Pulverizers/Stags to the party as well, it would be all too obvious to ANYONE that they were "definitely not from around here."

So, what did I come up with? Let's start with the Recon Lance, I decided on a 2 Light and 2 Medium mix, and weighted the tech heavily towards Royal tech, as I wanted to get that Star League flavor, but not totally outmatch the Kuritan defenders (aka, this isn't the Clan invasion a few centuries early). 
So, I ended up choosing a Stinger-3Gb, a Firestarter-9H, a Sentinel-3Lb and a Phoenix Hawk-1b "Special", all of them are reasonably fast, the Stinger exceptionally so, and three of them are jumpers. This is a lance that is going to give the Kuritan player fits, and it should, if played right.

The Skirmish Lance is also a reasonably mobile force, mostly jumpers, and has a good base of fire. I chose a Dervish-6M, a Kintaro-19b, a Wolverine II (Like any Clan Wolverine force would be without one?), and an Exterminator 4Db. I do like this force, as I said, good base of fire, good mobility, and a solid punch.

The Brawler Lance has got some depth to it, and while it is a bit slower than the other two lances, it again, has a good base of fire, and some jumping mobility. Three of the 'Mechs have respectable long range fire capability, and while there aren't any assaults, they should have enough firepower to put the hurt on one at range. I chose a Thunderbolt-5Sb, a Warhammer-7A, a Grasshopper-5H, and a Marauder-2R (who has a nasty ability to really reach out at touch people at long range along with the Thunderbolt). 

Skills in this Company are pretty nasty, with nothing higher than a 3, and with the level of firepower present, it's going to be a case of firepower and mobility, versus Combine staying power in this scenario. We also might see the tanks of the militia get into the act, and at 533 points, it's a nasty brew for the Combine to face off against. Here's the AS Cards for the whole shebang.

Now to figure out victory conditions, and a map for this puppy. But that is next time. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

It's Over...

The mess with Harmony Gold is over...thank heavens. We do not know what the terms of any settlement are, and we may never know, as these things are not often revealed to the public, but in any event, it appears that both sides fought each other to a bloody draw, which as far as I am concerned, is a win for Battletech.

Why is this?

1. The matter has been dismissed "with prejudice" which basically means in legalese that Harmony Gold cannot bring it up again, this alone is a victory, and with HG losing the rights to Robotech in 2021, it seems that this will probably be the last of this we will ever hear.

2. Again, while I do not know what the terms of the settlement were, I suspect HG was mollified with a set amount of money, and both sides paid their own lawyers. If HG and their partisans are calling this a win, I suspect it was a phyrric one, I don't think that if it went to trial, they would have gotten what they did from a settlement, and I suspect PGI didn't want to spend the money quashing this legal challenge. I suspect both sides found the settlement cheaper overall.

3. So what does this mean for the Unseen? I really don't know. The terms of the settlement, as I said, will probably never see the light of day, but I suspect we will know soon if the Unseen/Reseen will be back or dead as a doornail. Like many Battletech fans, I do want them back, but it's really up to the parties involved to negotiate what they did, we just have to live with the results.

4. The good news overall? A legal bugbear that has dogged the franchise since the 1990s is now well and truly put to bed. That alone is cause for celebration.

For all those interested in reading the decision for themselves, you can find the decision in it's entirety here.


More information on the fate of the Unseens/Reseens has come out. This from Russ Bullock of PGI:

If this is correct, this is guardedly good news. I say guardedly because well, this applies to PGI, I don't know what the stipulations for IMR/CGL might be?


This story is moving fast, it appears that the settlement also applies to IMR/CGL as well. So yes, the Unseen/Reseen are safe to come out and play again.

Welcome home to the 'Mechs we all knew and loved!  I hereby declare this :VU (Victory for the Unseen) Day!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Part 1 of the Minnesota Project

Research, the basis of any good scenario in my mind is research. Now while you think this may not apply to Classic BattleTech, you would be wrong. With a game like BattleTech, the lore is to put it mildly, extensive, and here, the fluff is your friend, and things like Sarna.net do a good job of putting all the fluff into one place for you to access.

So, let's begin our deep dive into the Kurita defenders, namely, the 20th Rasalhague Regulars. According to Sarna.net's article on the 20th Rasalhague Regulars:

At the outbreak of the First Succession War, the Twentieth remained stationed on Nykvarn. By the time the "Great Succession War" had ended in 2821 the unit had suffered losses of over sixty percent. [2]

By the start of the Second Succession War the Twentieth had almost returned to full strength and was redeployed the prefecture capital of Trondheim. [3]

As for the fateful engagement with the Minnesota Tribe? Sarna.net has this to say:

On 17 December 2825 the Twentieth Rasalhague Regulars were attacked by an unknown unit on Trondheim; this unknown enemy would later be labeled the "Minnesota Tribe". The second Combine world attacked by these mysterious troops, the focus of the Tribe's interest on Trondheim appeared to be for information rather than capturing supplies as with the first strike against Svelvik, beating back the Twentieth to raid the town of Misby Flats, leveling the town's mayoral complex before withdrawing. While the Twentieth Rasalhague Regulars succeeded in defeating some Tribesmen, they were not able to conclusively prove they were returning elements of the Star League Defense Force as the Tribe destroyed their crippled 'Mechs and stranded Tribe member committed suicide rather than be captured.[4] [5] 

Furthermore, by 2830, when the Second Succession War kicks off, the 20th is listed as a Veteran regiment trending towards a heavy weight class. So, the answer to all of this is that the unit is 2825 is probably midway through rebuilding. It probably rebuilt to 90-95% strength when the 2nd War kicked off, and I suspect, pilot experience was something of a mixed bag, and considering that the old Combine House Book stated that the ISF kept a close leash on the Rasalhague Regulars as a whole, even if the 20th was considered reliable, I may treat the 20th as a Regular regiment at this time, and weight the 'Mech selection towards older models...with maybe a couple of newer designs to give the Combine some unexpected punch.

I am also weighting things, at least on the Combine side, towards models I already have. It makes things easier, and to be honest, a bit more challenging.

As for paint schemes, Trondheim, according to Sarna's description, was settled by the usual collection of Scandinavian transplants that makes up Rasalhague, and that Misby Flats is the capital (and Trondheim was the prefecture capital), in short, this is the beating heart of a lot of political power. So, why the raid? Remember, the raid appeared to be for "information". What information is unclear, but what remains clear is that it was the defenders were probably a mix of 20th RR and local militia.

So, what scheme to use for the 20th? I am thinking something of a mix of whites and greys. The terrain resembles Iceland, to be honest, volcanic and probably cold overall. Methinks they'd look pretty fetching on a 'Mech, and I have an idea for a scheme that could be used.

So, let's build a company for Alpha Strike?

First things first, let's open the MUL website, and search the Draconis Combine and Early Succession War period?

The Search Results for the aforementioned criteria in the Master Unit List (photo taken from Master Unit List)

So, we are going to begin to select 'Mechs. I think I am going to go with 1 Light/Medium Lance, a Heavy Lance, and a Heavy/Assault Lance. So, a grand total of 2 Light Mechs, 2 Medium Mechs, 6 Heavies, and 2 Assault Mechs. To me, it's a viable force for the Combine, and if we throw in a platoon of vehicles from the Militia, then we have enough points via the AS Builder to give the Minnesota Tribe a decent fight.

So, let's start picking, eh?

So, for the Light/Medium Lance, I chose the Panther and the Jenner, both pretty bog standard Combine light designs, and probably prevalent in every Combine 'Mech unit there is. The Mediums I chose are the Clint (Hard to fix castoff, perfect for a unit like the Regulars) and a HBK-4G Hunchback, she may be slow, but she hits hard and can be the anvil for the rest of the lance.

Now, the all heavy lance?

I lead off with a Warhammer-6R and a Thunderbolt-5S, both probably captured from the Lyrans. I added in a Dragon-1N (It's a Combine unit, you gotta have at least one!), and a and an Archer-2R. All of them are a solid Fire Lance that can be the bedrock of the Company.

Now, the final lance?

I added a Orion-K and a Marauder-3R, not a bad pair. As for the Assaults? A Stalker and a Banshee (Both probably again, captured from the Lyrans). Not a bad lance here, and yet, it isn't the best available.

So, now, let's find a lance of vehicles for the militia.

I ended up choosing a pair of Von Luckners, and a pair of Demolishers. Something tells me these guys would do well to stick close to Misby Flats.

So, I now have a force, which according to the MUL, translates out to 554 PV, so we need to keep this in mind for the Minnesota Tribe when we work on them in the next post. They're going to be a lighter force, but with a much higher Skill rating, to put it mildly.

So, here is the roster for the Dracs. Next time, the Minnesota Tribe!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Been a while. But I have a new project in the offing....

Hi all...

 I know it's been a while, but I wanted to announce the launching of a new idea I am having for Alpha Strike. You see, I've always been interested in one of the legends of Classic BattleTech, the Minnesota Tribe.

One of the great mysteries of Classic BattleTech, were the Uncle Chandy Documents right or wrong?
I don't want to weigh in on who they were, or where they wound up...what I do want to do is use them as an excuse to paint figures! So, yes, I intend to paint up a company of both the Minnesota Tribe and the 20th Rasalhague Regulars in their fight on Trondheim in 2825. It will give me an excuse to break out the 2nd Succession War book, and some other sources to research this fight, as yes, there isn't much out there about it.

So, what do we know? We know the Tribe raided Trondheim, we know they hit the town of Misby Flats after batting around the 20th, who was understrength in the wake of the 2nd War. We know the 20th was a good unit, but hurting, as they were down to between a 1/3rd and 1/5th of their strength, but I may say they put together a scratch company to face these unknown invaders, and throw in some elements of the militia, and then have the 331st be a lighter weight company with very good pilots, and painted the usual Star League Olive. The 20th's units should be in the German WWII scheme that one sees in the original Camo Specs book. I am going to say the 331st have readopted the old Star League Lance/Company model (Yes, I think they are the Wolverines).

Balance will be an issue for this game, as both sides are very good, skill wise, but the 331st should be lighter elements, as it makes sense for a raiding force, whereas the 20th should be almost an assault regiment, as it's had the crud shot out of it.

So, keep watching this space...we'll be posting updates as we put together both sides. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

***UPDATE*** The Beginning of the End

As I stated before, the beginning of the end in the Harmony Gold case is in sight. And today, it was proven right. This recent court filing with the Eastern District of Washington has put an end to the case against Harebrained Schemes with prejudice. The case against Piranha Games still ongoing, but with this dismissal, any reasonable supposition is that the case Harmony Gold has brought does probably not have a lot of time left.

The good news is this, it seems that Harmony Gold has finally run into a proverbial brick wall and the ignominious end of Robotech Tactics, as well as this current court case, has covered that franchise in mud. It’s a sad end for such a franchise, which got many of us into Battletech in the first place. The only good news in this is that perhaps the legal legacy of the “unseen” can be mercifully put to bed at last.

I can’t by any means predict how long this will go, or what path it will take, but make no mistake, I cannot see the Piranha Games case going the distance. While I am no legal scholar, all law is based on precedent, and Harmony Gold has already had two strikes against it because of the arbitration “victory” and now this dismissal. While the law is supposed to make all decisions independent of such considerations, judges are human, and as such, will make human decisions, and logic suggests, that there will more than likely be a dismissal in the remaining case.

But, let’s remain vigilant and hopeful until it does.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Battletech, it keeps rolling on doesn't it? And, some new 'Mechs for Alpha Strike (A request from a reader)

  Hello everyone, so sorry I have been absent of late. Frankly, its because I have been busy with my "500 Miles.." blog. Admittedly, this has hurt my other two blogs, so I do apologize sincerely to my readers.

But there is a lot to report out there, no?

So, let's get started:

Harmony Gold versus the World

Certainly seems that way, doesn't it? Harmony Gold (HG) has been floundering a bit since everyone found out that they don't in fact, hold the copyright to a good chunk of things Robotech, and in fact, aren't even going to hold that once 2021 rolls around. It seems Piranha Games, owner of MechWarrior Online, has gotten tired of the silly, and is making legal motions of their own. After they filed their summary judgment going for outright dismissal..HG decided to amend their complaint to stave off the inevitable. But, as far as I can read, and I maintain I am no attorney, the court isn't going to entertain this for too long.

1. HG's case is shaky at best, and the fact that they yanked Palladium's Robotech license, says to me "circling the wagons". To me, it's the last act before you see the legal version of unconditional surrender. It has got to be humiliating all around to see the number of Battletech players rejoicing at getting "cheap unseen". 

2. I still maintain that HG will TRY to settle out of court, but the mood I have seen in this case from both sides, I would not count on Piranha, HBS, or IMR showing much in the way of mercy. I don't see the judge being real amused either.

3. How does it end? Badly if you're HG, I see summary judgements, court costs, and all sorts of punitive stuff being leveled at HG, and probably enough to crush them as a company. I feel badly for the folks who work there, as well as for Robotech as a whole, as it got me INTO Battletech, but at this point, HG did this to themselves.

It's going to take a while, probably the rest of the year in my estimation, as courts do not move quickly when making decisions on civil cases, but barring any more surprises in a case that has seen quite a few? This is going into the home stretch.

Box Sets, We Got Your Box Sets!!!

We have confirmed MSRPs on both the Beginner Set and the main set. Both are looking great at first blush, or at least as well as one can tell from photos.

The MSRPs according to the bg.battletech site are

Looks great, No? (Taken from the CBT site)

  • $19.99 for the Beginner Set, which is due to release sometime this summer (Q3 they're saying).  You only get two 'Mech miniatures as well as the bare bone basics you need to play, but this is perfect for introducing someone new to Battletech!
Hanse Davion's idea of "Anger Management" (Taken from the CBT Site)

  • $59.99 for the full-on box set. This thing comes with it all. 8 plastic 'Mechs, pilot cards, double sided mapsheets, the works. And brace yourselves Alpha Strike fans! WE GET ALPHA STRIKE CARDS!!! Yes indeed. More new cards. I mean, we have the card maker on the MUL, but this is so much better. I know the 'Mech types included were affected by certain litigation, but I suspect once things are resolved, there's gonna be some new plastic 'Mech packs hitting the market.
Am I excited? Yes. This is a chance to bring back CBT and Alpha Strike in one fell swoop. I am also encouraged by the quality of the miniatures. Plastic miniatures in general have really taken a step forward lately, and I credit CAD technology advances for much of the improvements we have seen.

Tell me that doesn't look badarse? Right? (Taken from the CBT site)

New Mechs for Alpha Strike (some old Mechforce UK 'Mechs got statted)

Yes, I got a request from a reader for the old Tree Frog of Mechforce UK fame. Hey, can Panzerfaust 150 say no to a kind request? No, no he can't. So, I stated all the variants up of the Mayfly version. (No idea as to what the Ground Hawk is). 

So, without further ado, let's talk about this 'Mech and her place in Alpha Strike:

The base design is fast with a 14" jump and a TMM of 3 in the 30-ton weight class, she will dodge a respectable amount of fire coming her way. She had better, frankly, because if she eats more than 5 points of damage, she is toast. Clan XLs do horrible things to structure points, kids. But it was designed in the 90s, when XL and mirrorshades were cool. Now we know better.

The armament fits of the variants tend to run the usual range, autocannon centered, PPC centered, laser boat, LRM boat, and finally a mixed weapon Prime design. Nothing too bad, but the laser boat might have taken it too far. This thing is light on heat sinks and it shows.

Tree Frog Prime: 

The Prime has a typical clan weapons fit for the Invasion era, a LPL coupled with some ER Mediums and a Streak-2. Frankly, the Streak-2 is a waste, but c'est'la'vie. She is a decent PV for a clan light, and she can put the hurt on quite a few Inner Sphere mediums and lights of the period. God help this 'Mech if she runs into a Scarabus or a Battle Hawk, they'd kill her outright, hence why I call her a skirmisher.

Tree Frog A:

The A isn't much different from the Prime really, with an ER PPC, 2 ER Smalls, and a SRM 4. Frankly, I'd never get close enough with this 'Mech to use the ER Smalls and the SRM, with a Clan ER PPC, why in the world would you want to? Again, the name of this design is to hit, and run. Stress on the run. Screw Zell in this design, that's a good way to die. 

Tree Frog B:

The B is a bit of an oddball, with an Ultra AC/5 and 2 ER Mediums in a design that frankly, shouldn't carry a lot of ammo. It tends to underperform a bit at long range, which makes me REALLY question the Ultra, but, at least with CASE, you aren't quite piloting a bomb. 

Tree Frog C:

The Tree Frog C is a good idea, (best of the bunch if you ask me) if you gotta carry ammo in this design, make sure it lets you fight at a distance. I know the role of Skirmisher is still a bit of a stretch, but think on it. This thing is the fire support for the rest of it's Light Star, and if it has to get into a close range fracas, Clan LRMs have no minimums, and the damage numbers show it. But frankly, with this thing, use your mobility to get into a good firing position, fire a few volleys, and then run..run fast. 

Tree Frog D:

As much as the C is a good idea, the D isn't. A pair of Medium Pulse Lasers, and three ER Mediums make this 'Mech entirely too hot for it to really use it's firepower. It also has NO long range capability, which yes, it's speed can help it define the range of the engagement, but I've said it before, if you are choosing to close with this design, you have done something very, very wrong. And the PV of this variant agrees with me. At least the ENE special keeps you from blowing up. 

That's it for now, enjoy everyone!