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!



Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Been away a bit, but more news, of a sort, on the HG front.

 
Taken from the Robetech Tactics Kickstarter
 
As many are aware, Robotech Tactics, the miniature game based on Robotech produced by Palladium and Ninja Games, has died a fairly ugly death by the looks of it. Worse, Palladium LOST it's Robotech license as a whole. It can't even produce the RPG anymore. Going by the reading of the post linked above by Kevin Simbeada himself, it seems the game didn't find a market.

Now I know the mix of angry posts by Robotech fans aside and some (undeserved) gloating by Battletech fans along with thoughts of "Cool, cheap unseen in the bargain bin for a while!" I wanted to take some time to give my own potential analysis of where this might go from here.

1. The Lawsuit: Harmony Gold already has a bunch of trouble in that they're fighting for a license they won't own in three years. They already don't own a number of the iconic likenesses already and the arbitration they won is, as I said before, probably going to bite them in the ass. The fact that they pulled Palladium's license, is to me a) telling that they do not want to be anywhere near exposed to the crapstorm that is about to come Palladium's way when enraged fans come after them for the Kickstarter awards they didn't get, and b) Harmony Gold realizes they can't subcontract out something they don't own, and are probably going to soon settle out of court. I would. You don't need to be a lawyer to know at this point that HG is going to be throwing good money after bad if they continue to fight this.

2. Palladium: Palladium Books is probably in deep trouble here. Even if they are financially solvent, I can see enraged fans entering a class-action suit over this. The fans were already pretty hot under the collar about this, but this may be the last straw, especially with the terms Palladium is setting to exchange Wave 2 funding for Wave 1 items.Yes, Kickstarter is always a speculative enterprise, and people know that going in, but this thing raised 1.4 Million without result. Yeah, someone's going to want to see someone in court over this. And nothing kills a game company faster than legal bills.

It's also not the first time Palladium's been in this kind of trouble due to some seeming mismanagement or malfeasance. First, there was the "Crisis of Treachery" as Mr. Siembada put it:

(Quoted here from Wikipedia)

Embezzlement case and financial difficulties[edit]

On April 19, 2006, Kevin Siembieda issued a statement that revealed Palladium Books' critical financial difficulties due to alleged embezzlement and theft resulting in losses from $850,000 to $1.3 million, coupled with a series of delays in negotiating license deals for their properties in other media (the Nokia N-Gage game, the Jerry Bruckheimer movie, a massively multiplayer online game license, and other potential deals).[2] They raised money to continue operations by selling a signed and numbered – but not, strictly speaking, "limited edition" – art print by Kevin Siembieda, as well as by urging fans to buy directly from their online store if their financial situations would allow for it.

An April 26, 2006 article in the Kingsport Times-News revealed that Steve Sheiring, Palladium's former sales manager, had been sentenced in a plea bargain to a misdemeanor conviction, one year of probation, and ordered to pay $47,080 in restitution to Palladium Books in connection with these thefts. It also provided more information about the thefts, which took place from 2002 to 2004 and were only discovered when Palladium took inventory.[4]

Responding to the controversy engendered by such a low settlement amount in relation to the large loss figure claimed in his earlier press release, Kevin Siembieda posted an open letter to the Palladium forum explaining the matter. Siembieda stated that he had not wanted to make public Sheiring's identity out of the fear that overzealous fans might get into trouble by committing acts of reprisal. He explained that the heaviest punishment Sheiring had been likely to receive even without the plea bargain was probation. Siembieda had a choice between getting any amount of settlement money at all to pay critical bills, or spending more time and money to attempt to get his "pound of flesh" from a man who was reportedly broke anyway. Given the urgency of Palladium's situation, Siembieda did not feel he had any real choice but to take what little he could get.[5]

During the week of May 7, 2007, Palladium announced that revenue from increased sales of books, admissions to its first annual Open House, and purchases of the special art print had covered most of the short-term damages it had incurred. This period of financial instability became referred to by Siembieda as the "Crisis of Treachery" in keeping with his stance that the root cause of the difficulties was the embezzlement perpetrated by Sheiring.

Add this in to multiple complaints to the Better Business Bureau over Robotech Tactics and one can see how truly ugly this is about to get. Mr. Siembada is going to have to work very hard to get a lot of goodwill back, My thoughts to all the RRT backers is simple but stark. Weigh your options carefully. I would advise you to get legal advice personally, as well as carefully read over the Kickstarter terms. I would also advise you to not get too heated on the internet, these days that can bite you very easily.

3. Battletech/Alpha Strike: Battletech’s future, ironically, seems quite bright going forward. With the new box sets on the horizon and the HBS PC Game dropping in April, which was announced yesterday, I think Battletech is finding it’s way back. Now, that said, the paper and pencil game has some growth to do and some recovery to make of its own. I have some small suggestions along those lines:

·         Push the box sets hard, and do some more gaming in the older periods, perhaps linked to the computer game coming out. Methinks that would get some real buzz for the old girl!

·         Consider a time jump. A lot of things post-Jihad have not sat well with the diehard fans, and it’s time to throw them a bone. Put the last bits of the Jihad to bed, start over and have some fun with it. A very smart game writer once said to me, “When gaming out a cataclysm, better to have the cataclysm and then game out the aftermath, then to do the during, sacred cow may make great burgers, but nobody wants to watch it made.”

·         Alpha Strike, bring it back. It was the best idea that’s come out for Battletech in a very, very long time. People like it. It may not be granular, but it wasn’t meant to be. It’s meant to be operational level Battletech. You can put a battalion plus on either side of the field, and game it out to conclusion in 4 hours (Yes, I have done it). I get the Combat Manuals were a bit expensive. Ok, ask the fans for help. We’d do it for free. Yes, free. You see the amount of fan-based material out there? It’s gigundus. And while it’s been a lot of hit or miss, a lot of it is becoming hits lately, such as TRO 3028, and Kiro No Torii.

If Alpha Strike isn’t the direction Battletech is going, then let the fans take over. We’ll keep the flame.

Well, that’s enough from me. Love to hear your ideas as usual, and please, no gloating as to Robotech right now. I can imagine what those guys are going through, but we can be better than that. Who knows? Perhaps we can turn them into Battletech fans?




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.