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."

Monday, July 17, 2017

Part 3 of My Awesome Historicon Adventure

As mentioned in Part 2, there was a lot to see and do at Historicon. Of interest to Classic Battletech heads, there was the usual Grinder and Grand Melee events, as well as some other games in the program I didn't see and there was quite a few items for sale in the Iron Winds booth (Now run by the guys from B&V Traders!) I spoke to the guys at some length and picked up some things from them namely a nicely painted Huron Warrior and an unpainted Pheonix Hawk LAM....and some decals. Now if I could just get a 2nd Sword of Light Sheet, as I now have the Kentares flags...

I did see a lot of painted CBT for sale also at the Stan Johansen booth, and in the flea market, but I didn't think their prices were as competitive as B & V Traders, and of interest, and I almost forgot, I picked up a pair of laser levels from Army Painter, and Dwin Craig thoughtfully got me a ziploc bag FILLED with D12s. No more worrying about enough D12s for Alpha Strike!

This blog always seems to have the short end of the convention reports, and that is a shame, I will endeavor to have more to report here.

But, I want to take the time to give a shout out to a lot of folks. First, Mike Byrne. Thank you for the ride, the company, and a little insight into life in the artillery. Very insightful stuff indeed, and when you're stuck in traffic for two hours...

I want to thank Mike Pierce, Mike Demana, Miles (I wish I remembered your last name), Dennis Wang, Pete Panzeri, and anyone else I have not mentioned for running games at Historicon 2017. Without you, there is no con, and thanks for giving me and my fiancé a weekend of fun!

I want to thank my fiance, Anne. She puts up with me, my hobby, and more importantly, my eccentric friends. We're getting married in October, and again, she makes me proud she chose me. I just hope she feels the same way.

Some parting comments about the con, I again found the venue to be well lit, clean, and easy to get around. There were plenty of games, and most of them were well-attended, as this photo attests from Friday:

I am of two minds on the move to the Host next year, on the one hand, perhaps it's what we need to do to deal with the falling numbers, on the other hand? This venue, except for the noise issues, a darn sight better than the Host. I have my opinions...I am sure you have yours.

So, that's it for Historicon for this year...on to FALL IN!!!

Monday, July 10, 2017

My Birthday Game - Or, Alpha Strike, To the Bitter End!

Well, my birthday game has come and gone, and it was quite the game. I ran a small event for four people and had a blast doing it...literally. There was carnage to be had, and a friend got to run some 'Mechs for the first time ever (he'd bought them on eBay years ago, and they just hadn't had a chance to come out and play).

Not to mention, the Geo-Hex came out to play too! It was nine kinds of gaming awesome last Saturday! And Dwin brought his base...which has figured in more than a few of our games...and it's always seemed to become a focal point of any fighting.

So, with myself, Dwin, Glen, and Dave (Glen and Dave both being beginners) we set out to run Alpha Strike

So, the scenario was simple, capture the base by Turn 12 (Yeah, we lost track of what turn it was rather quickly), didn't matter, neither the Lyrans, painted by yours truly, backed up by some of my Robinson Rangers, nor Dwin's Kuritans were backing off.

A few notes, we do some house rules for our games:

  • We use D12, we find it's a flatter probability curve, and it makes for a faster game, and we have one die per each point of damage dealt out by the unit. In other words, if your unit does 2 points of damage at medium range, then you roll 2 D12 to hit.
  • We also have morale rolls for a unit having suffered internal damage. If a unit manages to survive to the end of the turn, then said unit rolls a D6 against it's skill, if it rolls higher than it's skill rating, the unit sticks around, if not, it must withdraw off of it's home board edge.

All pretty simple enough, and thus, on to the game!

The faster Combine units got into the base first, and I had decided on a three pronged advance...poor Dave marched his first set of units right into the guns of Glen's assault lance...this did not end well for Dave's Axeman, who promptly died under the Kuritan guns right away. After that, his Warhammer got chewed up and he made for cover as fast as he could.

My Assault lance was next, losing a Banshee within two turns, and a Battlemaster not long after that, but the Hauptmann hung in there for long enough to reach the base. I then had my scout lance try to distract the balance of the Combine lights..which did we killed a Black Hawk-KU and shot the hell out of a Pheonix Hawk (who would later die under the guns of an Atlas). 

The fighting soon devolved around the base, and soon 'Mechs on both sides began to fall left and right, but the last Robinson Rangers Zeus failed it's morale roll, and withdrew, leaving the two surviving 'Mechs of the Combine force (out of 12) to "celebrate" their victory..not that it was probably much to celebrate.

I want to thank everyone for coming, and for my fiance Anne, who put out quite the spread for us, it was amazing and yes, Dwin, more cover for everyone next time!

As for the Geo-Hex, which is back and in it's first game? I think it did well, it's a bit fragile at times, but most of the damage incurred is nothing a little white glue, flock, and paint won't fix. I did see a lot of loose flock in the box, and I suspect I will have to send away to the manufacturer for more rescue flock at some biggie.

The last of the Lyrans and the Combine duke it out for the base, by the end, only the Highlander and the Black Hawk-KU, along with the Zeus will survive.

A closeup of the fighting around the base.

The Warhammer, who probably had no business surviving as long as it did.

Another shot of the fighting around the base, with the remains of the Banshee and the Battlemaster burning in the background.

The Black Hawk-KU meets its end at the hands of the Wasp, who proved to be quite the survivor, until it died taking on the Highlander
Death of the Phoenix Hawk, as the Atlas pours fire into it

First blood for the Lyrans, as the Lynx from their Assault Lance dies under the guns of two FedCom lances. The Hatamoto-Suna is playing a light 'Mech, the Kubo or something like that..memory does not serve to remember the exact name,

The remains of the Lyran Assault lance breach the base.

KABOOM! There goes the Banshee!

Elements of the Lyran Scout Lance advance into the woods on the FedCom right

The rogue's gallery of Kuritan light 'Mechs, Only one, the red Black Hawk-KU, would survive to the game's end

Two of the Lyran lances (The Assault and Scout Lances) advance on Turn 1