Well, we have the finished Crinos ready to go. I shot an email off to Lee Madison about the remaining vehicles he has to do, but have not heard from him yet. Also finished is the new Cobra BattleMech, something I think you will all like. It puts a very nice look to this oft-overlooked Medium. Payments for this, the Crinos and the completed Fox will go out next Friday.
There have been a few proofs turned in and it looks like we are nearly through with them. I have been at a loss for things to do in the writing department, so it’s off to the images. I took a look at what we had and began comparing it to the writeups. Immediately it became apparent that we did not have all of Vlad’s images in hi-rez format, so I went back to the family computer to download what I could from saved emails. I got two pieces which had somehow been overlooked, but as for the Sabra III and the Bu-20a, all I have are the original low-rez images he put together. These came from late 2007, before it was apparent from the printed looks of TRO:3062 that we would need better quality scans to get clean prints.
Oh well. Vlad probably does not even have the originals on hand anymore, but I will email him and ask for them anyway.
While looking at the Bu-20a (an ammunition carrier for the Sabra III), I did some trimming of the writeup and realized that the Sabra III could shoot through an entire nine tons of ammunition in about ten minutes! Even taking battlefield tactics and movement into account, I realized it would take require far more time to load and unload the ammo than to actually shoot it off. So I bumped the Bu-20a from 20 tons to 30 tons and added more cargo space. It now carries fourteen tons of ammo. Changing a design this late in the project is almost unheard of, but required very little in the way of writeup alteration. Furthermore, the carrier moves a bit faster now. Gotta keep those twin Long Toms fed!
Turning from that task, I looked into the art again and immediately spotted something which had nagged at me even back in the summer of 2007 – the hi-rez scans that Vlad sent me were often accompanied by enormous quantities of what I call ‘screen artifacts’. These are randomly distributed blue to grayish pixels which might be left over from the inking process, or even a result of the scan itself. They muddy the look of the art and totally defeat the whole purpose of hi-rez scans.
Doubleclick on the picture at the top of this column and you will see the difference. I cleaned this one up a lot, then placed half of it side-by-side with the original art. It is very time-consuming to clean these images – my laptop only has so much memory, and I can clean about eight areas before I have to save and reboot the software. The result is quite good; unfortunately, I will have to go through all of Vlad’s scans to remove at least the worst of the artifacts around the outside of the image.
On another note, I have been noodling around the Internet, taking a look at BattleTech in general. It seems to pop up a lot, and yes, folks are understandably enthusiastic about it. But one comment, coming from Catalyst Games, made me smile. I believe they were talking about the ‘resurgence of interest and popularity of the BattleTech game and associated products’. I thought about it for a minute, and realized that naturally they would say that!
The reality, of course, is quite different.
I don’t know what circles you readers move in, but I have been a roleplayer and gamer since 1979 and to this very day, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people I work alongside who have even heard of the game. Suffice to say, while there are occasional discussions in my office about Star Wars and the various versions of video, movie, toy and gaming products, there are NO conversations about BattleTech. And you get a lot of strange looks if you mention it. ‘Giant stompy robots’ is where you begin with most of these folks, and they usually don’t want to hear any more. I have never been able to talk about this TRO to anyone I have worked with, because there is simply too much background to update before I can even begin talking about my own writing.
Hell, I can't even talk to my own wife about it!
Maybe my experiences are unique. Maybe not. I get the feeling that if BattleTech is experiencing a resurgence of any sort, it’s only impressive compared to its performance in the past – in the gaming community. Perhaps that is what Catalyst Games is talking about. However… I think it is telling that my son never talks about BattleTech with his friends – they know nothing about it, only the Mechwarrior games, and damned little about those. Make no mistake, folks. If we attracted ten percent in a year of the money and attention that is given daily to collecting and speculating on sports cards, BattleTech could be considered to be ‘resurging’. Right now you will not find it mentioned anywhere but on gaming sites and blogs; it is most definitely not in the public eye.
Finally, we had a game yesterday. Over in Redmond at the Games and Gizmos store. It was split into two separate encounters – I played in one, my son in the other. My game went well for us – we were up against a lot of hidden battle armor, LRM carriers and big tanks, supplemented with artillery. Damned Wobbies. My fellow players and I held our BattleMechs back and sent our hovercraft and VTOLs into the fray. We lost a lot of our vehicles but suffered only a freak gyro hit to our Warhammer (who disobeyed orders and deserved what he got). Our worthy opponent was nearly wiped out by the massed rush and was forced from the field.
I love tandem charges. I hate the Tactical Operations vehicle field of fire.
My son, on the other hand, got by with very little damage, but the Wolves-in-Exile force which accompanied him and his fellow players was wiped out to a man. Four light Clan ‘Mechs should have been useful, even against an opponent whose cybernetic pilots enjoyed huge targeting advantages. The Manei Domini are nothing to screw with, it’s true, but letting them send in a single ‘Mech with C3i and then taking a pounding from their already-ridiculously accurate gunners? It was suicide. We did not lose any other ‘Mechs, to my knowledge, but if ever a game was handled badly, that was it.
I heard the player running the Clanners clung to zellbrigen all the way through, despite the WOB opponents breaking it time and again. That's just silly - and it cost us. The Clanners should have been a screening advance to a two-pronged attack. Yes, they would have gone down. But the only way to offset C3i and freakishly low Gunnery skills is to get in the other guy’s grill as soon as you can. And that means ‘charge’.
Or you can stay back where it’s ‘safe’, like our guys did, and let them pick you to pieces. I know where my money would go.
We’re going to continue this battle in about a month and a half. That sort of misjudgment won’t happen again if I have anything to say about it.