Tuesday, December 12, 2017

More on the Harmony Gold fracas..or "The Perils of IP trolling".

As Sarna.net has already reported, it seems an earlier arbitration has come back to bite Harmony Gold. It seems that Piranha Games, who own the IP to MechWarrior Online, have moved to dismiss the case.

To quote the article from Sarna.net, Piranha Games is going for dismissal on three separate grounds:
  1. Harmony Gold does not own the copyrights for the Unseen ‘Mechs. Those copyrights are actually   owned by a Japanese company called Big West Co. Ltd., a company I have literally never heard of.
  2. The Unseen copyrights were never licensed to Harmony Gold, and the licensing agreement actually excludes the copyrights they’re suing over. Which, by the way, they never owned in the first place since Harmony Gold licensed from Tatsunoko, not Big West.
  3. And here’s the big deal, and should be the nail in Harmony Gold’s coffin. That arbitration that took place between Harmony Gold and Tatsunoko in US District Court found a judgment that shows Harmony Gold officially does not have the license to the copyrights they’re trying to sue over. 
Let's look at each of these in turn: First, while Sarna might not know who Big West is, anyone who's followed the Unseen has. It's a minor point really, but the fact remains, Big West has had rights to the images since 1985 when Robotech and Battletech first came into being. That is a big development, and makes a lot of us who have been following this mess go "hmm"...to say the least.

Point two, It seems Harmony Gold got taken for a ride back in 1985 when Tatsunoko misrepresented the fact that they owned the copyrights to said images, hence them suing Tatsunoko, but in a case of "winning the battle, but losing the war," it seems while that was a somewhat favorable arbitration, they a) exposed the fact they never had title to the images in the first place, and b) undermined their entire case against Piranha et al.

Which leads us into Point 3. The arbitration basically left Harmony Gold with ashes in their mouths. They have no standing, no title to the disputed images and at this rate, are wasting the court's time. What might be a fun nail in the coffin if I were IMR's attorneys? Compel Harmony Gold to produce a copy of the original 1995 FASA vs. Harmony Gold Settlement, then sue on the basis Harmony Gold misrepresented their standing, and then petition the judge to hand down a summary decision hanging Harmony Gold for the court costs of ALL the defendants involved in the case. That would fix Harmony Gold's wagon, but good.

So, how does this end? Hard to say, court cases are unpredictable. But that said, it's a pretty good chance that as I reported earlier, that arbitration was pretty fatal to Harmony Gold's suit and has done little but put their own survival as a company in jeopardy. Furthermore, this, like a stone in a pond, is going to have far reaching effects, like the Robotech Tactics Kickstarter mess going on right now, if Harmony Gold doesn't have rights to the images, and the Japanese license holders don't like what's going on with said Kickstarter? Yeah you can do the math.

So, things look good for Battletech and it's champions overall, but till the gavel is swung, do not count on anything!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

More designs for Alpha Strike, this time from MFUK, also, some designs from Battletechnology!

A lot of us remember a little organization known as MechForce UK (MFUK), and the nifty record sheets and miniatures they put out. I remember getting my hands on their Crusader variant (the Templar, which had multiple medium lasers), and then letting it sit in my "to-do" box until I sold the entire thing as I needed to make room as I was moving, that's ok, it went to a good home.

Recently, they have established a Facebook page and have posted all of their published works for free download if you are a member of the page. I naturally decided, why not convert some of the designs to Alpha Strike?

I also made to convert some designs from an oldie but goodie, Battletechnology, which I used to pick up with gust from my FLGS every time I saw a new issue.

So, I did. Note, this list is not exhaustive...but I picked some designs we could all have some fun with and can get some miniatures easily for, or just happened to catch my fancy...

So, without further ado, let's get started, shall we?

Clan-Model Battlemaster

Both models of the Clan-model Battlemaster are absolute beasts at Medium and Short range, at Long range, the Wolf Clan model has a slight advantage, but the Nova Cat model is a bit more heat efficient, and a bit faster, due to the fact the 'Cats took an 85 ton Battlemech, and made it 75 tons, which can be an unpleasant surprise for a lot of folks expecting a 8" move out of a bog standard Battlemech. The Wolf Clan mech is tougher though, and can take a real pounding, whereas the Nova Cat model, once the armor is gone, you're best served to make for home, as you're not going to be around very long. Point values are similar, due to the fact both 'Mechs are obscenely over-gunned. Both of these models would go very well in a solahma or other 2nd Line Trinary, and would be a fun opponent for anybody raiding either Clan's holdings.

The "Wolfman"

When the "Wolfman" appeared in the pages of Battletechnology, I was, unlike most readers, intrigued. It was the heyday of "Mad Max Battletech" and I think everyone designed at least one "FrankenMech", but this one had some real promise. Somehow, even with FASA Physics, they got a 60 ton Rifleman and a 55 ton Wolverine to somehow meet in the middle and make a decent, if not great Medium design that would be...respectable if you're playing 3025. It's got promise as a Sniper, but it's not the fastest thing on the table. It can at least hit out to Long range, but the damage numbers are a bit anemic, and when you have more structure than armor? It's best not to go picking a close range fight. But, it's got a decent TMM and I do wonder if a SL-tech refit of this thing might be fun to try, of course, Ultras are just right out, the weight is kinda tight on this design.

FOX-1X Fox Fire

The Fox Fire comes from the MFUK book "The Further Adventures of the Fox's Teeth" by David L. McCulloch, who also wrote Starterbook: Sword and Dragon. Both books had a lot of similarities in the way they treated the Fox's Teeth, but "Further Adventures..." went more into detail into the unit's activities raiding the 'Clans. Moreover, they had some 'Mech designs in the back of the book, including this one; the FOX-1X Fox Fire. So, there's a lot to like here. It's probably one of the nastiest 40 tonners I have ever seen. It's fast, even faster when the TSM activates, which with no overheat, it won't in Alpha Strike. It's an all energy loadout, and has ECM, so it's really going to dash in, wreak havoc, and then run like hell before the heat comes down. which I can appreciate in a design. In short, this is a 'Mech with few bad habits and a lot of good ones. Just don't get into any long range fights with this thing..it's not meant for it.

PLG-1N Pillager

We know, this is a 'Mech from Stardate Magazine, but I decided I wanted to have an original Pillager with the original artwork. And yes, it does look pretty good, no? The Pillager dates back to when 'Mechs had two pages of lovingly crafted and written TRO entries (and the Pillager's original entries were at times, a bit unsettling...especially under the notable pilots section). But as a 'Mech, who wouldn't want something in the 3025 era that packed two AC/20s? Heck, this thing could compete in the later eras as well. It's not fast, nor is it blessed with long range fire, but it's Short and Medium range numbers are scary, not to mention if you throw in the overheat. My best advice for fighting a 'Mech like this? Don't close, ever. Shower this thing in LRM fire and call it a day, but it's going to take a lot of LRMs to do it, as the armor and structure numbers are gigundus. 

So, that's it for today. I will post more as I can make them, but hey, this ought to keep you guys happy for a while.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Post #20, and what a post it is!

It seems that I have managed to prove I am a decent painter after all (and yes, I wasn't sure I didn't paint by braille before this).

I entered some of my painted 'Mechs into competition in the  General Wargamer division of the National Capitol Model Soldier Society Show in Springfield yesterday. And, after a bit of confusion on both mine and the organizer's parts about whether or not there was a wargaming division, I wound up winning the gold medal for the category. To be fair, I was the only competitor, but like the late Hugos...they could have no awarded, so I suppose it does mean something, right?

But, the competition photos do have some of my stuff looking downright spiffy if you ask me, and it's nice to have the gold medal, right? So, yeah, I guess I am a real miniature painter now? Or maybe it's best to stick to my dayjob?

Probably the latter. But it's nice to be recognized, even if I know if Fanjoy or B1BFlyer had been there, I would have rightfully gotten my arse kicked.

It pays to be a winner, I suppose?

And here's some shots of the winning 'Mechs in question?

Not bad, eh? All photos are courtesy of the National Capitol Model Soldier Society, and are strictly of my entries only. I do encourage everyone to pay a visit to the site and see some of the other entries, some of them, like this Vietnam doorgunner, were just amazing.

All in all, this experience has me wanting to get back to painting, perhaps this is also something to take up once the wedding is over, and I have some time again. I would like that as man, I do some great work. Sometimes, it just takes someone else showing you that fact. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

More News on the Harmony Gold Lawsuit

"Only an idiot fights a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the kingdom of idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts."

Londo Mollari, "Ceremonies of Light and Dark" Babylon 5

Yep, it seems as if Harmony Gold (hereafter referred to as HG) must have a ton of money for copyright attorneys, as they are suing someone else in a copyright infringement lawsuit. This time, they're suing Tatsunoko Productions, the guys that sold Harmony Gold the rights to the images for Macross that made Robotech possible. 

According the to the referenced article, it seems the rights to those images were not Tastunoko's to sell in the first place, but instead with another outfit, Studio Nue, and that HG's rights were distribution of the Robotech/Macross cartoons in North America. 

Court documents have been filed as of last week, and according to Sarna.net, it seems that this is more of an arbitration case, but there are no details as of yet. How this turns out, noone knows. Anything could happen at this point.

But, if I may give my three cents? It's pretty clear HG has gotten quite lawsuit happy, and is clearing the legal decks for something, the live action Robotech movie we hear so much about seems to be the leading possibility in my opinion, but it could be other projects? Whatever happens, the fact that the are willing to arbitrate rather than go before a jury suggests even HG knows that their case might be weaker, or that they are looking towards a long fight with the Piranha Games/IMR/HBS suit.

Either way, it does seem like it's pretty silly to pick two or three lawsuits at the same time. I suspect this may not play overly well with a jury, assuming the judge allows this into evidence.

So, to be continued folks.  

Friday, August 18, 2017

More news from GENCON!!!

Well, it seems that there is more news from CGL about the box sets, and what's in em. I will let the official Battletech FB group speak for itself:

You've seen the sneak peek photos from Gen Con below, now here are the details we can share so far about the two new box sets for BattleTech that are on their way in 2018.
The Beginner Box Set will include two miniatures, the Griffin and the Wolverine. The Game of Armored Combat box set will include eight miniatures: a Locust, Commando, Wolverine, Shadow Hawk, Catapult, Thunderbolt, Awesome, and BattleMaster. All minis will have entirely new sculpts!
(We're aware the Wolverine was misprinted. These are prototypes, and this is why--it will be fixed for full release. Those responsible have been invited to enjoy a stay at their local Word of Blake facility.)
The boxes are mock-ups only, and the details shown on them are *not* final. The contents list on the back of the box remains in development; as a result, the price point of each box has not been finalized.
The maps shown in the photos are likewise not final, and will receive further development. The rules presented are based on those in the recently-released BattleMech Manual in both form and function.
At the moment, the best release date we can offer is 2018--that's broad, but there's a lot of work going into these products, and we hope to share more of it soon!

Ok, so at least my wallet can take a breather for the rest of 2017!

The components at this stage look great, especially the 'Mechs. I so want to see these for sale in separate box sets like the current box sets. I think they would sell very well, perhaps with some Alpha Strike Cards???

Wide angle shot of Battletech Box Set, taken from Battletech Facebook site.

Thunderbolt and Batltemaster, taken from Battletech Facebook site

Locust, taken from Battletech Facebook site

Shadow Hawk and Griffin, taken from Battletech Facebook site

I like the looks of all the Newseen as they are being called. They are beefier than the Reseen, they have some "heft" to them, and they look like they move like the walking tanks they are. The Reseen looked a lot like scarecrows to me, and honestly, lost something in the translation (now the Clan IICs had that heft I was talking about, to be fair). But these models? Oh yeah, Papa likee.

While we are only getting 8 in a box, they are going to be a nice addition to anyone's collection of minis. Like I said, I really hope we get some lance sets for the miniatures as well as the box set. It's also nice to see the beginner set as well, we have needed an "intro" set for Battletech for some time, and the responses to my commentaries have often borne that out.

All in all, 2018 looks like it will be a good year for Battletech, now if we can just get the PTB to give us something more for Alpha Strike? I would be a happy, happy man. 

UPDATE: We have some news on the Combat Manuals among other things from the "What's Up With CGL" panel at GenCon, we also have a Youtube video!

Watch and enjoy folks!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

GENCON, What's coming down the pipe!

 There is a lot of releases coming to the fore for Classic Battletech coming as a part of Gen Con, and we are going to take a look at all of them.

  First, there's the release of the books mentioned in a previous blog post, the books are out in hardcopy, at least on a limited basis.

  Here are some images of the actual books:

Taken from bg.battletech.com

Taken from bg.battletech.com

Taken from bg.battletech.com

 The Legacy anthology looks interesting, and the description sounds quite compelling, to say the least. I am a bit excited by the idea, and I will probably pick it up as a PDF or a Kindle book when I get the chance.

  As for miniatures, there is quite a bit being released by Iron Wind Metals. Here are some pictures for everyone to have a look at:

New Anubis Sculpt, taken from IWM website

Avalanche Sculpt, taken from IWM website

New Cuirass sculpt, taken from IWM website.

New Uziel sculpt, taken from IWM website.
I am pleased to see the new sculpt quality, and the Uziel looks particularly good, but a lot of the sculpts, naturally, are more for 3250 era games, which I must confess, isn't much for me. But hey, different strokes for different folks.

But the big news is this:

Taken from bg.battletech.com
I am pretty excited about this news most of all, as there is not going to just be a new box set, but a new introductory box set. Both will come with miniatures, but word is that both will have less than previous box sets. One can hope this will lead to more plastic box sets as well, as these have been a boon to miniature players.

There hasn't been much in the way of news for anything specific to Alpha Strike, but one hopes CGL has some surprises for us.

Anyhow, that's it for now, but we'll stay tuned as the trickle of news comes from Gen Con.

Monday, July 24, 2017

News and Commentary

There has been a lot, and I mean a lot of news for Classic Battletech in the last 72 hours, I was waiting for all of it to shake out a little before I posted this, but then Sunday's bombshell required I get to a computer and write.

So, first the good news. 2nd Succession War is out in PDF! The word is that limited copies will hit the street for Gencon, but hey, I can wait...that is assuming the other news I will talk about in a bit doesn't screw everything up.

I have been waiting for this for a while. I like fluff, fluff gives me ideas to write about, to write scenarios for, and to inspire painted units. I can take a throw away sentence or two in a given sourcebook and turn it into a 12 turn scenario, and I have done it many, many times.

Naturally, I already have a copy, (author's credits for Red Star, White Lights have been doing well of late) and on first blush, I liked what I saw. I cannot wait for the dead tree version, but it looks as if we are going to have another quality product on our hands to reenact some great CBT history.

The *meh* is the PDF releases of the Battletech Manual and the Technical Readout: Succession Wars. This is not to knock the effort that went into the former product, which was a lot, but honestly? This was a product that should have been released a long, long time ago in my opinion. The fact that it was not, seems a bit of a silly decision. Battletech, for all of the talk about combined arms (and such an idea is important, make no mistake) is primarily about the 'Mechs. It's why people play. It's what attracted me to the game in the 1980s. So, yeah, a 'Mech oriented rule book should have been one of the first projects to hit the street in the 2000s back when they were doing the Total Warfare series.

As for the latter product. It's the TRO version of a clip show. I hate clip shows. Yes, I know, it's got the reseen artwork. Cool. But I am not going to plunk down money for a product that I already have most, if not all the information for. If this is different, please let me know, as I am a person who is not above eating humble pie when required.

Now, the ugly. As we all know, Harmony Gold, the creators of Robotech (which is partly responsible for me *being* a Battletech player) alleges that the images created for the upcoming computer game by Harebrained Schemes and the images being used by Piranha Games for Mechwarrior Online are a threats to the Robotech copyright as those images resemble images in Robotech, or at least that's what their recently filed legal action says. They also named In Media Res Productions, the parent company of Catalyst Games Labs in the suit.

Now, I am not a legal scholar. but, my understanding is that if an image differs more than 15% from the original, than it is not an infringement on said copyright. Now, Harmony Gold has been kind enough to show their images, versus the images of the reseen and how they allege the similarities are actionable. Personally, I do not see it, but, hey, I will let you the reader decide. And if there are any IP experts or legal scholars out there, I welcome their comments on the case, and would love for them to set us straight.

Ok, let's take a look at the video tape, so to speak:

Found here is the comparison taken from the legal filings of the Warhammer and Archer (left) and the Destroid Spartan and Destroid Tomahawk (right). Image taken from Case 2:17-cv-00327

Found here is the comparison taken from the legal filings of the Atlas and Shadow Hawk (left) and the Armored Valkyrie and Destroid Spartan (right), note lack of captioning on the left. Image taken from Case 2:17-cv-00327

Found here is the comparison taken from the legal filings of the Marauder (left) and the Officer's Pod Glaug (right), again, note lack of captioning on the left. Image taken from  Case 2:17-cv-00327

Found here is the comparison taken from the legal filings of the Marauder/Marauder IIC and Phoenix Hawk (left) and the Officer's Pod Glaug and Super Valkyrie on the right. Image taken from  Case 2:17-cv-00327

Found here is the comparison taken from the legal filings of the Rifleman (left) and the Destroid Defender (right). Image taken from  Case 2:17-cv-00327

I am not at all convinced that Harmony Gold has much of a leg to stand on. The Atlas has similarities to the Armored Valkyrie? You have got to be kidding. I'd get it if they were up in arms if the Crusader was being reissued, which I have not seen a reseen for it yet. Could be wrong, and the Shadow Hawk? Who in their right mind says it looks like a Spartan? Sorry, but this smells to high heaven to me. And I might have good reason to think so, as Sony Pictures has announced they are going forward with a Robotech movie.

Now, that said, the suit was filed in March of this year, and the directorial announcement was made last week..but one might think all sorts of uncharitable things about Harmony Gold and seeking to destroy any potential competitors to any marketing of oh, say, toys and games ahead of a movie release? No, we wouldn't think that, would we?

Lets ignore the fact that Harmony Gold has done little with the IP in the last ten years. Yes, they released Shadow Chronicles (poorly received), and Love, Live, Alive (which was little more than a clip show!). Not to mention the remasters of the original episodes which while the sound and picture clarity was good, some of the questionable fan service was not (endless scenes of Dana showering in the Robotech Masters series, for example).

I won't even bring up the fiasco of the Robotech Miniatures Game and how kickstarter participants STILL have not gotten all they paid for. In fact, things got so bad there, one of the designers was almost driven to suicide. Where was Harmony Gold there? Filing dubious lawsuits it seems.

In short, this smacks of what is called "IP trolling" and while legally. Harmony Gold might be in the right, they are alienating a lot of fans...and those fans aren't probably going to take this lying down. I have already heard rumors of letter writing campaigns and defense funds. I would not be surprised if both go forward.

I will let you, dear reader, decide what you think of it all, but I am pretty convinced this is little more than "lawfare" and I hope it doesn't bleed dry some really good attempts to bring the game back from the brink. But, considering the nature of what the players are, I will quote Han Solo, "I have a bad feeling about this."