Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Editing Path Clears... and new Art!

Word of Blake Aurora Mobile Flak Battery
Art by Stephen Huda


We did it again.

We added another vehicle.

But this one was worth it. I am putting the finishing touches on the rough draft for the writeup.

Imagine if you will, an anti-aircraft battery in BattleTech that can actually shoot down VTOLs and even aerospace fighters. I mean, actually do it in the game, with no special rules, for real. There are many such designs in the BT universe, but none of them are really all that effective.

Oh, sure. The writeup says they are effective, the design is such that you might think they could do the job, but when it comes to putting metal on the table and rolling the dice, most of them come up short.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not talking about missile launchers. They do a good job – that is, unless the target has an AMS (or in the case of our Outworlds Alliance Sounder, several). Then you’re sort of screwed unless you spam the hell out of them with a bunch of little stuff.

This new machine is called the Aurora, and it started out as a joke. Click on the image for a closer look.

As you can see, pretty cool. I thought ‘what if I send this to our new proofreader and pretended to panic, telling him this was the next project?’ So I sent the pic and some stats I threw together. Instead of a flustered proofreader, I got a comment from John Baker telling me he’d tested it on Mega Mek and thought the new machine was pretty effective. When I told him it was meant as a joke, he shrugged and said words to the effect that it was ‘still damn good, even for a joke’.

I ran it by Bill and he liked it. So much for the joke! I commissioned Stephen Huda to illustrate the machine, using the Claymore’s chassis (they are the same tonnage).

This is a 100-ton machine. It moves 2/3 with nearly ten tons of armor (1/2 for the militia variant and that one carries more armor than an Atlas). There are six LB-5X autocannons supplied with four tons of cluster ammunition. It has a range of 630 meters and a backup battery of five ER small lasers. Oh, and did I mention? It comes equipped with C3i.

With a potential of up to thirty rolls on the motive hits table, this baby will force most other vehicles to grind to a halt if they don’t wind up destroyed completely. Against aerospace fighters, the Aurora has a fair chance of forcing a crash, even on a strafing run.

Recommended for good gunners, and please, don’t do like the boys in the UK did, and try to move it around. The base model moves 2/3 and all they did was drive their targeting modifier up, making it harder to lock on a target. Stick it and its lancemates in a Level One revetment and leave them there.

Word of Blake Claymore (color)

As you can see, the color plates for the Vehicle sections are done. Jim Lafferty did excellent work.

Mercenary Hessian Hovercraft (color)

Good News on the Editing Front

We have a new editor, John Baker. As you can see from the list of errata on the previous blog post’s comment page, there is still a lot of stuff that needs fixing. John is a volunteer with very good writing skills and he has already sent me six pages of corrections. Normally, I would despair because it means I have to make multiple trips to Bill’s house to get these punched in.

However! I now have a copy of InDesign and will install it on my computer tomorrow. Bill will drop by with the files from his computer, and we will get it up and running on my powerful new laptop. That way, I can do the corrections every night instead of once or twice a month!

[We installed it and the fonts it required. Bill brought the TRO files over and installed them. It is up and running for editing, folks! Bill is sick now (imagine that) but will be around in a week to drop the new art in place. By then the remaining introductions should be back.]

- Geoffrey has agreed to look over the new Introductions for the Vehicle sections, as well as the writeup for the Aurora. I will send it to John after that.

- Prototype v6 is still up and ready for download. There are about three days left before I get down to business and start working my way through a fourteen-page Errata list. If you see anything, let me know.

Again, if you want to chip in, please hit the PayPal button if you have five or ten dollars to spare…. I want to get these debts cleared before the end of November and need all the help I can get. I have had several people donate what they can and I have sent it on to my artists.

Also! A new banner for my forum posts!

Thanks for stopping by.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Entering the Final Stretch.... Prototype v6 is Ready!

Mercenary - Harbinger Gunship
Art by Stephen Huda

Hello. Welcome back!

This is a milestone for me. After four years of on again-off again announcements of ‘the last art is in!’, we really do have all the art on hand. It’s not all paid for – Karl Olson and Stephen Huda need their moolah before we can print these. But I should have that part finished by mid-November. There is also the matter of paying Paul Skowronek his bucks for the four additional edits as well as others (about $40) and getting the final payment to David Dryburgh for work he did a long time ago.

Please hit the PayPal button if you have five or ten dollars to spare…. I want to get these debts cleared before the end of November and need all the help I can get. I have nearly run out of stuff to sell on Ebay (well, not if you count the unpainted Warhammer:40K Leman Russ with all the electronic special effects, but who knows what that would sell for?)

- The Draconis Combine’s BARS (Bulldog Automatic Reloading System) is done. Stephen Huda did an outstanding job, as usual. I owe him nearly a hundred bucks, but should have it paid off by mid-November.

Draconis Combine - BARS
Art by Stephen Huda

- Karl Olson has finished the Mercenary Hessian hovercraft. At a weapons expo, you never know what you will find!

Mercenary - Hessian Hovercraft
Art by Karl Olson

- Bill and I tried to get together one last time for the final push. Sunday the 23rd should have see the remaining art and text entered, along with the special art section and the Master Unit List. As it stands, we did not get together, but I uploaded all the remaining data to Bill via OpenDrive and he put it in. There are some glitches – words misspelled, etc. But Prototype v6 is up and ready for download.

- All writeups are done. Everything we need for the current layout is complete. All the art is on hand and inserted (although we are looking at replacing current art with bolder versions for a better look and I forgot the color plates – two more have been commissioned). Please go over it with the proverbial fine tooth comb.

- Also, we will try to post the current Errata List for you to download. If you find an issue, please look over the list of things we’ve already found and see if your ‘find’ is there. If it is NOT, then please post it in the comments section on this blog along with any suggestions you have for correcting it. We will add it on this end to the Errata List

- The official window for finding errors in the final Prototype is one week. That’s seven days after the Prototype and Errata List go live. After that window closes, I will begin fixing the errors. It will take about another week, during which time I will be open to stuff you spot at the last minute. Please, please, look hard and do it as soon as you can.

- Upon correcting the errors, I will begin the laborious task of going through the entire TRO, adding boldface and italics in appropriate places. This should take at least a couple of sessions over at Bill’s house – I don’t want to tie up his main computer and don’t think I can do all of them in one sitting (I would probably go blind and crazy at the same time!)

- Still selling stuff on Ebay. I just listed two very rare Revised Dual Land artist's proof Magic cards signed by the artist.

Thanks for stopping by.


Errata List

The names are not always coherent depending if you look on the left or the right page, they can be in capital letters or not, be the full name or a part of it, have a - or not.

More annoying is the Capellan Griffin.
The weapons are listed as being on the left side but the picture shows them on the right one.

The drawing of the Vagabond is captioned 'isomerus'. As an aside, will the handwritten captions on Eric Ou's illustrations be removed?
On the Ural page there's a missing word or phrase :-
'While most drivers shouted at each other to turn back.
Groves quickly[missing word or phrase] his Ural and left his bickering comrades behind.'
And again on the Grffin GRF-3L page, the title reads 'Grifn'

[ Bill, the Griffin header needs to be corrected – it says ‘Grifn’. We already addressed the conflict between data and image with the last error report.]

[At the top of the Vehicle text, we have several pieces that do not follow the standard format. That is my fault – I should have gone through and fixed them all to say ‘Type/Model: Name’ rather than leaving them all caps with no lead-in. This is probably the case for the entire TRO, so let’s get in there and fix that when we get together next.]

[On the Vagabond art, we have Eric’s signature and the original name of the ‘Mech – the Isometrus. I want to get rid of that but leave Eric’s signature. Furthermore, I want to go through all the art done by Eric and get rid of ALL the names, as well as reduce his big signature to something quite small but legible over to one side. It is currently too big and distracting; it detracts from the overall feel of the work to have the name of the piece listed along with the TRO number. Takes you ‘out’ of the TRO and back into the real world, if you know what I mean. The thickened art gets rid of the name]

[On another note, I think the header text listing ‘Heavy Mech’ or ‘Light Mech’ should include the apostrophe. Make them all ‘Mechs, not Mechs.]

[On the Panzer IX, get rid of the hyphen on the page header name. Comb through and find any others that have this issue. None of them should be hyphenated except for some BattleMechs and the Capellan machines, and that exception applies mostly to the vehicles with Chinese names.]

[Montgomery II Heavy should be just Montgomery II]

[Panther Battle Tank should be just Panther]

[The Panzerfaust text begins with ‘Assualt Gun’. We can correct that when we get in there to add ‘Type/Model:’. As a rule, unless the machine is a significant departure from a standard tank, leave off any descriptor but the name. If it is enough of a different beast, we should keep the name as descriptive as possible with as few words as possible. Panzer X Cruiser Tank is good. The Panzerfaust should be Panzerfaust Assault Gun, not Panzerfaust Mobile Gun (all tanks are mobile guns). Kangaroo Support should be simply Kangaroo. If they want to know what it is for, they can read the writeup.]

[Ural Transport Truck – in the Notables section, it reads “…Groves quickly his Ural…”. This is my goof, it should read “…Groves quickly accelerated his Ural…”]

[Cobra CBR-03 should read CBR-3S, in keeping with the current usage. My goof. I will go in and correct that when we get together next. It needs to be cleaned up in the text and probably in the HMP and record sheets as well.]

[BARS Fast Strike Tank - Power Plant is listed as Nissan 245 Fusion, should read Nissan 225 fusion]

[The text for the FWL Black Knight reads wrong for the placement of the MLs – does not match the art. Drop the new text in when we get a chance or repair it in place.]

[Need to replace ‘enmity’ with something else on page 7]

[Need to install new stats for the FC Roland – the armor has been modified on all variants to match the Prime model and the C version has another ton of LRM ammo and a corrected C3 link.]

[Need to install the art for the missing pics in earlier House entries.] [DONE]

[Remove the Shielding and Transmission portion of the stats section on the DC Tomahawk]

[Change the CM-33’s cargo bay to 9 tons and the loading equipment to 1 ton in the stats section, and correct in the writeup if needed.]

[add ‘and a new look’ to the ferro armor description of the DC Sentinel]


[Aerospace headers are misspelled ‘Areospace’]

[Assault ‘Mechs headers are misspelled ‘Assualt’]

[Forge heading is misspelled ‘Forgr’]

[House order has been Vehicles, then Mechs. Comstar follows this but WoB reverses it. Why?]

[Harbinger is misspelled ‘Harbringer’]

[Hessian text page is missing the smaller art]

[Master Unit List looks good but should come after the Index. I will gen a new index up using the page count you established by putting all of this together]

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Another Monthly Update... and more Art!

Word of Blake - Claymore
Art by Stephen Huda

Howdy. Thanks for being patient while I update.

- Lee Madison’s BARS is cancelled. He dropped out of sight too long, too often. I am scrapping the work he sent and am sending the commission on to Stephen Huda, who will also be working the Harbinger.

- Karl Olson is working on the Hessian hovercraft.

Mercenary - Hessian Hovertank (rough)
Art by Karl Olson

- We still owe Paul $40, Stephen $30 and Dave Dryburgh $70. I am nearly done paying for Momma’s dental work, so they will see some money soon. I also have some other bills related to the TRO – mostly a debt for $100 for 3D CAD work done on miniatures that, unfortunately, we cannot use at the current time.

- Bill and I have not been able to get together for the layout this month. Bill has a ton of yardwork he is trying to get done before the weather turns to absolute crap. I have been doing little things around the house – new doorbell, leak in the roof, cracked door frame – that take up time and money. We are going to try to get together for that last push with the data entry this weekend.

- The writeups for the Hessian, Harbinger, Heirax and Claymore are done, and Paul is working his editing magic on them as I write this. The Claymore art is complete, the Hessian nearly so, the Heirax is already in the bag and I sent the Harbinger stats on to Stephen this evening.

- We have a list of Errata that will address the issues you readers found in the Prototypes. I may relent and release the ‘final’ Prototype to everyone, as I have had very few people volunteer for the job of proofreading.

- Stephen Huda took over and competed the FWL Jaguar commission for Mike Sullivan, who was too busy to finish his version.

FWL Jaguar
Art by Stephen Huda

Doing My Part... Part IV

Sold some more stuff on Ebay:

- A pair of special lands for Magic: the Gathering.

- A foil Dark Depths.

- A Mana Crypt.

- Had some trouble getting those two playsets of Natural Order to Italy. Never again!

Sad Demise

Some of you know I smoke cigars and drink strong coffee while working on the TRO. This has been an institution for the past four years. Unfortunately, the last tobacconist’s shop in the area closed on last Friday night forever. I will have to find another source, probably online, for good smokes.

[Please click on the image for a full-size reading]

Don’t hesitate to hit my PayPal button for whatever you can afford. The art is nearly done.

Thanks for stopping by.


Monday, September 05, 2011

Some Good News... and Some Bad News...

Sounder Aerospace Fighter
Art by A. Agussoekarno, color by A. Scroggins

Welcome back. Got some mixed TRO news here.

The Good News…

- Lee Madison’s Jaguar is nearly finished. We had to resize the soldiers and round off the nose a bit.

- Karl Olson is paid up to date. So is Stephen Huda. So is Anthony Scroggins.

- We got a big donation last night but are hanging on to it for reasons which will soon be clear.

- Stephen Huda finished the Blackjack quick, fast and in a hurry. And it looks really good!

Blackjack BJ2-OG
Art by Stephen Huda

- Mike Sullivan’s commission is still under construction.

- We still owe Paul $40 and Dave Dryburgh $70. I will pay them off by mid-September.

Working the Layout

- Bill and I worked on the layout yesterday. As was mentioned before, we are concentrating on data entry. The corrections to errors spotted by our BattleTech Readers are on a document and we will implement these after the book is filled in. We have completed the Federated Commonwealth and the back cover.

- The issue of some of the art being too ‘light’ will, like other errors, remain until later. I have the thickened versions on hand, but there are some problems with the white backgrounds turning a shade of bluish grey (take a look at the comparison of the Privateer in the last blog post). Bill assures me he can deal with this – he has access to more powerful art tools than I do. The important thing is that he agrees the art on at least some entries needs correcting.

- You folks have been donating via the PayPal button and I thank you. I was pushing to get this out in September and it will not make that deadline mostly for one very simple reason: the TRO is not finished.

Doing My Part... Part III

- A pair of sealed old-school WH:40K Space Marine Rhinos went for $60.

- The pair of sealed WH:40K Imperial Guard Mordian Iron Guard squads went for $70

- An old-school WH:40K Space Marines Predator got $65.

- The WH:40K Imperial Guard Catachan Sentinel Squadron got $60.

- A playset of Natural Order MtG cards got $145.

Wait…What Did You Say?!

And now the bad news. Yes, I did say the TRO is not finished.

Bill and I were looking at the tail end of the TRO and realized that after the Periphery States, we were left with a hodge-podge of singletons – four Merc units and one unit each for the WoB and Comstar. Now, the Jihad has left everyone with more WoB machines than you can shake a dead cat at, but the fact remains this is a very awkward way to close out a TRO of any sort.

We hemmed and hawed, spent an hour discussing various fixes, but finally came down to a decision: we are going to add four more units to these sections of the TRO.

Before you get that sinking feeling, consider the following:

- We have already notified the writers, artists, editors and proofers and they are on board for a solid push.

- We are nearly paid off on previous work.

- We are using the art from an Outworlds Alliance piece, so it’s three bits of new art, not four.

- We have already got the new designs in place and mostly tweaked.

- I am currently working on the writeups and they are very well fleshed out as far as concepts. The actual roughs, writing and editing should be done in two weeks. These are not filler. They follow the guidelines for the rest of the TRO: they are playable, the faction needs them, they do not duplicate earlier designs, and they have a solid mission profile that is not too narrow. They make sense in-universe as well as on the tabletop.

The New Faces

Here they are:

- A VTOL (the Heirax) for Comstar (we are repurposing the Leopard from the OA, they have plenty) for inserting a six-man battle armor squad at high speed.

- A 100-ton tank (Claymore X3) for the WoB sporting four Light Gauss, experimental C3i and three medium lasers - 2/3, I think.

- A VTOL (Harbinger) for Mercenaries, purpose-built by the FedCom in a program similar to the one that spawned the Kuritan and Capellan Privateers. It moves 8/12 with an ICE, mast-mounted BAP, three MGs and three SRM-6s. This is the FedCom's attempt to supply mercs working the Outback and Periphery border with an inexpensive workaday machine.

- Mercs win again! They get a new hovercraft (the Hessian) purpose-built for them by the Lyran Alliance. It was originally intended to work alongside the Harbinger but is now separated by political issues - but both can still be had on the marketplace. It comes with five SRM-2s and two MLs on a 25 ton chassis moving at 10/15. Fair armor, should prove useful (and it is cheap). Furthermore, it has several factory options you can choose (variants) and like the Harbinger, is accompanied by a goodly stock of replacement parts included in the purchase price.

Yes, I said 'four units' and that comes to four - but we are pulling the OA Leopard. The art is good and the OA already has six entries. So we are reducing that to five.

Unfortunately, I cannot promise this all before mid-October: as this delay is due to our own decision rather than a lack of funds, I am reluctant to take any more donations. It’s not your fault and those of you who have donated already are probably disappointed. Before you grind your teeth at the delay, consider also the following:

- This will push the total entries to 112. Again, no filler, the TRO will balance and the art will be spot-on.

- The publishing date is being pushed back, true, but it is not entirely due to the additional work.
You know that Bill and I are working on our own personal time – we, like you, have day jobs – and I think it unlikely we will get another Slogging Sunday in before the end of the month. Bill has to attend school, take care of his kids (all four) and like that. Getting a day off to do nothing but work on the TRO is not easy for either of us. And the weather is going to turn on us very soon. No more coffee/soda and tobacco sessions in the warm outdoors.

I will keep you posted as to the progress, of course. Thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

One Last Prototype - and Progress on the TRO

FWL Zukhov II
Art by JP Sphagnum, color by Jim Lafferty

Hi! Good to see you again.

Here is the latest with the TRO:

- Lee Madison has finally responded to my email. He had a broken computer. We have some additional tweaking to do with the BARS, but it is shaping up nicely.

Draconis Combine BARS second draft

- I owe Karl Olsen $100 and should have that cleared up soon. Below is the work he did on the FedCom Roland:

Finished Roland background

- Jim Lafferty has been paid up to date.

- Anthony Scroggins has taken the last coloring commission – for the Periphery Vehicles entry – and should have it ready in a few days.

- Stephen Huda has taken the last commission, a re-do of the Blackjack OmniMech.

- Mike Sullivan’s commission on the FWL Jaguar is in progress. It is taking a backseat to his day job, but in this economy that is a good thing – it means he knows his priorities.

- We still owe Paul $40 and Dave Dryburgh $70. Income has increased at least temporarily due to our Ebay sales.

Working the Layout

- Bill and I are scheduled to work on the layout tomorrow. Some corrections and issues have come up, of course. We have the corrections listed and will fix them one by one.

- One of the issues is that a good portion of the art is too ‘light’, the lines too thin for the purpose of illustration. At least it can be said that the line thickness varies wildly from entry to entry, and so I have done some extra work and ‘thickened’ the lines in most of the offending pieces.

As you can see, there is a noticeable difference without losing the details:

Bill is still unconvinced that this issue is worth the time and effort we’ll make doing the replacements, but it is a problem that has been pointed out by at least three of our Readers. Thus I consider it up for consideration to the point where I have prepped all the pieces and am ready to punch in the ‘thicker’ art as needed. Better now when we have only 2/3rds of the Houses done than later.

New Prototype Available Soon!

The latest version, Prototype #5, will be available for your inspection next week. Bill was not able to make it here this Sunday, but we are going to meet again next week. Or try.

This will probably be the last public offering for the Prototype – after this, we will send it to a select group of reviewers to save time and keep some secrets! So don’t hesitate to check our work and send in anything you think we missed or should correct.

Lending a Hand…

- Several people have donated mightily via the PayPal button, one reason we are catching up on the art payments so quickly. I want to thank you donors, one and all. Keep sending if you can – we are nearly done.

Doing My Part... Part II

- The original FASA version of Battlestar Galactica sold for about half of what I expected – we got $40 from a fellow in New Zealand.

- I put up an extremely rare Pokemon collectible, a sealed Trainer Deck B. It went for $142, a huge boost to our Artist Fund.

John is keeping the proceeds to his Tarmogoyf – seems he is getting back into the game! However, I have put up more stuff on Ebay:

- A pair of old-school WH:40K Space Marine Rhinos, still sealed in their boxes.

- A pair of WH:40K Imperial Guard Mordian Iron Guard squads, still sealed in their boxes.

- An old-school WH:40K Space Marines Predator (the one with the rounded sponsons and turret). No box, unfortunately, but it is still on the sprues and comes with the instructions.

- A WH:40K Imperial Guard Catachan Sentinel Squadron. This was the initial issue – the box is not sealed, but it comes with 3 of the Sentinels, all still on their sprues and with instructions.

Thanks for stopping by.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Hard At Work - Another Prototype Ready for Review

Glad to have you back!

Here are the updates:

- Lee has still not responded to my email. I sent another one yesterday. Not sure what is going on but it has been nearly two months since his last email and we are at the point where I may have to extend the commission to someone else.

- Karl Olsen has finished the Diomedes, the Hammerhead II, the Roland and the Machete. It’s just a matter of paying him for his work now – about $153 left to go.

- Jim Lafferty has done nearly all the color work. I owe him $75 and should have that paid off by Friday the 19th.

- There is one color piece left to do (for the Periphery). I will ask Jim to do that when I have paid him up to date for pieces already received.

- We owe Paul $40 and Dave Dryburgh $70. With school coming, it’s going to be touch and go whether I can pay all this off before the end of September. But we’re trying.

- Mike Sullivan has submitted a rough of the FWL Jaguar and I returned my suggestions. The commission is in progress.

Layout Business

- Work continues on the layout. We slammed away on it all Sunday (the weather was nice) and have added another thirty or so machines – the Free Worlds League ‘Mechs and the Capellan Vehicles and ‘Mechs. We also worked in the corrections to the previous prototype. The Web version now stands at about 26 Mb, the high rez version at 65 Mb.

- We were having the devil of a time getting InDesign to create a PDF, until we realized that the image on page 138 was something like eight feet wide! InDesign just choked on it. Apparently, it is possible to have an image file that is TOO large! We shrank it down and things work okay. That is, until we tried to spell the name for the FC Dragonfly. It would not let us put an ‘L’ after an ‘F’ for some reason. We cleared that up eventually, but it was weird to say the least.

The boldface and italics will be added in later. Bill and I am considering setting a day aside so that I can go through and work on it. I will have to use his computer, so Bill plans to drop his machine off and set it up on Sunday morning. I will spend the day going through and making the changes; Bill will stop by later in the day to correct any goofs I have made to the layout (I know nothing about working in InDesign).

It may take more than a day – I might have to keep the machine for a couple of days. Of course, all this will happen after we get the whole thing put together.

New Prototype Available!

I trust you all will be willing to go through and find any goofs we’ve made – there are sure to be several, and we need to get them fixed. Bill was trying to get the Federated Commonwealth Vehicles in last night, but his eyes began to cross and he was making silly mistakes, so we left it at 151 pages. I believe that is out of a total of 232.

There is one more House to enter, then the Periphery, Mercenaries and Comstar/WoB. Bill would like to do the Federated Commonwealth and post that as the final Prototype available to you all. The rest he wants to do without review, but I am undecided. You readers have been very helpful in picking out errors in layout, writing and art. It seems to me that we could use that kind of help on ALL the sections. Please submit your name if you are interested in proofing the TRO when we have finished all the machine entries.

Help If You Can...

- We are at the point where every donation via the PayPal button is crucial to getting the TRO out in September– even ten bucks will help enormously. I send the money directly from that account to the artists and others, so if you have been watching and waiting, now is the time to send a sawbuck my way. Unlike the company, I cannot publish without completing my payments to the professionals who have done work for us.

Doing My Part...

To show you how much I want to get this out on schedule, I have put up a very old game on Ebay. It is the original FASA version of Battlestar Galactica. The counters are unpunched, sitting in their cardboard sheet, and everything else is pristine. I saw a similar game with the counters in a ziplock going for $85, so I thought $80 would be a good start for this. The money will go directly to PayPal, and then from there off to artists.

Next up will be a copy of the original Albedo RPG. It is in excellent condition, but has been played with a bit.

I have also put up an extremely rare Pokemon collectible, a sealed Trainer Deck B, one of a set issued to the original Gym Leaders for WOTC's initial release of the game in 1999. Most were opened and played back in the early days, but I got lucky and had a batch come my way. I sold most of them for about $10 each back in 2002 to players and collectors rather than cash in on Ebay. But I kept a couple for myself and ten years later, am releasing one to Ebay to raise money for the TRO art.

Heck, even my son is getting in on the action , putting his only Tarmogoyf up for sale (it is a Magic:the Gathering card worth quite a bit right now).

The Legal Stuff... still waiting

Finally, I contacted the Catalyst Game Labs Battletech Line Developer back at the beginning of July to see what we would have to do to permit publishing this fan work. Disclaimers, copyright notices and and things like that. I also asked Mike Miller for advice. He sent a note to the folks in charge about this, and they responded with a statement that suggested they were going to kick it upstairs.

So far, no response.

Bill thinks we may not get any reply at all. It would set some sort of precedent. But there are any number of fan TROs and other BT-related books already out there, not to mention fan forums and websites. I find it a bit hard to believe CGL does not have some sort of process in place to handle this kind of thing. But maybe they don’t. I guess we’ll see.

Enjoy the prototype and thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The TRO Marches on....

Feng-niao (Hummingbird) Final
By Stephen Huda

Hello there!

We’ve got some stuff to report:

- Stephen Huda has completed the Feng-niao. It’s a beauty, isn’t it? He really does fine work.

- Dorian Sherratt and Helen Troy playtested the Feng-niao, fielding a lance of them alongside some Savannah Masters (for protection - !). I was going to post the entire battle report, but it’s seven pages and I think you’d run out of patience even though the reading is quite good.

So here is the Feng-niao’s battle report from a Comstar attack on a Word of Blake prison camp:

  • The Feng-niao lance went in and painted three generators that were powering the WoB laser battery base defenses. Demolisher Arrow IV comes in, BOOM! No more laser batteries.
  • The Feng-niao then lit up a pristine Thug and Celestial. Arrow IV comes in, BOOM! No more 'Mechs.
  • Two Fengs go down under a hail of missiles and fire from at least six 'Mechs. Two Fengs depart.
  • At the front of the base, a Celestial jumps over the wall to intercept hovercraft leaving with Important Rescued Prisoners aboard. The remaining Fengs race up, paint the back of the Celestial. Arrow IV comes in. BOOM! The WoB player tips the miniature over, not wanting to waste time counting infinite damage to his rear arc. The rescue hovers slide by.
  • Those same Feng-niao paint the base perimeter wall – it’s just getting in the way, right? Arrow IV comes in... well, you get the picture. There is a brand-new doorway in the wall…
  • …which is key because later on, rather than run a gauntlet of firepower trying for the official exit, the remaining rescue hovers with the VERY Important Rescued Prisoner use that new door to get away safely.
The play test went very well, I think. For a combined BV of about 500, those little Hummingbirds did their part and then some.

- The BARS (Bulldog Autocannon Remote System) is still in progress. I hope. Lee has not responded to my email and his computer may be on the fritz due to the heat.

- Karl Olsen is making progress on the Diomedes and the Hammerhead II. We’ve had to pause on these due to some issues with the Sabra XIII and the Uraltruck.

Uraltruck Debate...

Sabra Debate...


You can weigh in on these if you like, but the upshot is that we will keep the Sabra as is (with some barrel tweaks) due to its being based on a prototype and the Uraltruck gets a bit of a makeover on the front end. However, the Diomedes and the Hammerhead HAVE been getting some love.

Hammerhead II Rough Draft

Diomedes Rough Draft

- Bill and I are waiting on art. We have some more very good color pieces from Jim Lafferty.

Federated Commonwealth Praetorian
Art by Eric Ou, colorized by Jim Lafferty

Meanwhile we are working on another Union Class DropShip. It will look a lot like our other one (the one you see on the back cover of Strategic Ops) but is meant for actual play, so we are concentrating on battery power and a ‘Mech bay. Don’t worry that this will distract us from the TRO – we have five months to get it done, instead of four weeks!

- I am concentrating on paying off artists for their work – there is only one more piece undone and that will be picked up shortly by none other than our very own Mike Sullivan, now in a more secure place and ready to do a tank! Yay!

- If you are in the mood to move things along, donate via the PayPal button – even five bucks will get things going in the right direction. I send the money directly from there to the artists and editor (who is nearly paid off).

As always, comments and suggestions are encouraged. Go to:


and download the TRO Prototype 3 if you have not done so already. We should have another ready in about a week. Meanwhile, Bill and I are saving up the suggestions you sharp-eyed readers have made and will incorporate them this weekend.

- A late-breaking addition to the blog: Dorian has finished the Stingray and it is up on Shapeways for purchase.


There are 2 in the pack and each is 28mm long. Due to the size of those bars on the front and back we're limited to FD and FUD material, but given the new pricing structure it's not too bad.

Price point on them is US$14 in FD and US$17.08 in FUD not including VAT (where applicable).

There is no need for instructions as these are one-piece models. Naturally, if you want to play them you will need the stats; email me for the writeup, stats and record sheet.

Link for them is:

Hit the music bar below - I have some new tunes up. Enjoy the prototype and thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Prototype v1.3... ready for your review!

'Running the Blockade'
by Chris 'Colourbrand' Sumner


We’ve made some progress – as you might have guessed.

- Stephen Huda is currently working on a new Capellan vehicle, the Feng-niao (Hummingbird). This is a hovercraft which carries a TAG on a turret and moves at extremely high speeds. The second draft is below:

Capellan Combat Spotter 'Feng-niao' (Hummingbird)
Second Draft
by Stephen Huda

Unfortunately, the advent of this little beauty means curtains for another design – in this case, I pulled the completed Halberd out of the Federated Commonwealth. It is a redundant design, given the AA capability of the Werefox line.

- The BARS (Bulldog Autocannon Remote System) is still in progress. It is hotter than hell in Texas right now, but Lee is still working on it.

- Chris Sumner (‘Colourbrand’ over at DeviantArt) has completed work on the piece entitled ‘Running the Blockade’. You can see it at the top of this post – click on it for a better look!

- Karl Olsen is still pounding away at the Diomedes and the Hammerhead II. There were some issues with email bouncing repeatedly off his account for nearly ten days, but I finally got the suggestions I made through to him. Meanwhile, he has done a very good job on the background work for the Sabra XIII artillery vehicle.

Sabra XIII background (rough)
by Karl Olson

Bill and I were scheduled to get to work on the layout again today, but early this morning he called in sick. Nevertheless, he has been working on the beast at home.

- Bill found that the Lyran section did not have the symbol in the background. Corrected.

- He also went through and got rid of that annoying screen artifact at the bottom of every page (the thin line).

- He has corrected the goofs we made with factual stuff, as well as the misspelled ‘Vehicles’ and ‘Assault’. Or at least I hope so :)

- He added the ‘Mech section to the Lyran Alliance.

Now, keep in mind that we have not gone through and installed bold, italics or anything else of that nature. Nor have we changed fonts (though I have been giving it some thought). But the Third Prototype should be ready for your viewing pleasure as of this posting.

Note please, it is at the same address as the previous version: we left it that way for convenience.

- I have been spending more money (!) provided in part by our generous donors (via the PayPal button). Several of our color pieces are lacking in sharpness and professional look. I commissioned ten new ones – colorized versions of work done by David White, Matthew Plog, Alex Iglesias and Eric Ou, among others. Jim Lafferty and Anthony Scroggins have been working on making them come to life!

Capellan Culverin OmniMech
Art by Eric Ou, color by Jim Lafferty

If you want to chip in via the PayPal button, even $5 would be to the good. The delay on this project is not the actual work – we are on schedule – but paying the artists before using their art. We have about $350 to go.

We even have a special section planned! A bonus that will be at the end of the TRO... er, never mind. You didn't read that. Nope. Bill would kill me if you did.

As always, comments and suggestions are encouraged. For those of you who contributed, the Credits section has not been updated on the prototype, but I have updated it here on my computer. We will drop the finished Credits in when everything settles in for the final draft.

Enjoy the prototype and thanks for stopping by.


[Bonus section: Playtest of the Feng-niao by Dorian Sherrat and Helen Troy]
[Coming SOON!]

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Another TRO Prototype...

DCMS Tomahawk Battle Tank
Art by Eric Ou - Colors by Anthony Scroggins

Hi there!

Hard at work, that’s us!

- Stephen Huda has put the finishing touches on the Leopard helicopter gunship. Bill was transported when he saw it – no, he wasn’t shipped to Australia in chains; I mean he really liked it. I think that means the Leopard is a wrap.

Leopard Helicopter Gunship
Art by Stephen Huda

- The BARS (Bulldog Autocannon Remote System) is going through a revision. I have not heard from Lee when he will have it ready – he said he wasn’t happy with the first take, so he’s having another go-around. I hope he doesn’t disappear again. He really does good work.

- (Chris) is still working on an interior plate featuring the Sounder and Machete aerospace fighters. Here is the third draft, all that we have so far. He is currently about 50% complete.

- Karl Olson has been busy with the Diomedes and the Hammerhead II. They are in a rough stage, rougher than is practical to show you, but they are under construction. In addition I saddled him today with background work for the Sabra XIII artillery vehicle.

That wonderful gift my brother Jay gave me – a dual core laptop – will, sadly, NOT run CS3. So Bill paid me a visit, carrying his home computer with him – monitor and all. We got down to work on building the TRO in PDF format. It is not easy work – took us a while to get the Draconis Combine together. But the installations are coming faster and faster.

Here we are at work, two overweight white guys with tobacco and caffeine as our only allies.

Here is what we have come up with. Click on the image for a bigger version! Type the address into your browser and download it.

As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.

One More Time - if your name is misspelled in the Credits, don't worry. We put it in this time because we needed to check font sizes and so forth. There is a lot more coming and we are going to make sure everyone's name is spelled correctly.

No, we did not finish the Credits section, but if you are not listed there as either a playtester or fact checker and you think you should be, mention it. I will get you in.

Happy reading and thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Taking the TRO a bit further...

Federated Commonwealth Machete MCT-3

Welcome to another blog update.

We’ve been making progress on the art front with several different pieces in the works.

- Jeffrey Aggusoekarno has finished the Federated Commonwealth’s Machete. There’s going to be some background added, but you can see from the image at the top of this blog post that it’s a very good piece. Dorian and Helen “BattleQueen” Sherratt have thoroughly playtested this machine and are quite pleased with it. Several lances of the Machete formed the ‘escort’ for the Sounders that wreaked such havoc on a pair of Blakist Vincent Mk42 corvettes. I don’t believe I have posted the post-game report for that, and with good reason – the game ran some twenty turns and the report is very long!

- The Draconis Combine has a tank, the BARS (Bulldog Autocannon Remote System), that has been sitting idle art-wise for a long time. Lee Madison finally came up for air and agreed to take another commission – as you can see, his rough sketch is quite promising, especially when you compare it to the original art.

Old BARS art....

Lee Madison's preliminary sketch

- We have a new artist (Chris) working on an interior plate featuring the Sounder aerospace fighter. It will be a snapshot of the encounter with the WoB WarShips. This is a piece to replace ‘The Game’, as that art is more suited for the Infantry Primer (our next project). As you can see from the sample below, Chris knows his stuff:

- Karl Olsen is currently plugging away on backgrounds. I think he may be tinkering with a redesign for the Diomedes as well. He wanted to redo the Hammerhead, but I think that one, while it probably could use a re-draw, is fine as a visual design. I want a tank that looks like a locomotive!

- Stephen Huda has begun the commission on the Leopard VTOL for the Outworlds Alliance. The rough draft is below:

Stephen Huda's Draft of the Leopard VTOL

- I received a wonderful gift from my brother Jay last week – a new laptop computer, a very powerful Toshiba with a dual-core processor and lots of memory. After loading all the software and updating my essential BT data, I am now using it to produce and modify the TRO work. My son thinks I am crazy, though. I purchased a used Dell keyboard and a new mouse to plug into the fancy computer!

There is a method to my madness – you probably know by now that I smoke a cigar and drink coffee while working out in the garage. The old laptop was equipped with a floppy drive (yes, that old) and after four years, shows dirt and wear from the exposure to my twin habits.

However, the Dell keyboard, in addition to having the tactile feedback I depend on, is separate from the computer itself and thus gets all the ashes and accidental spills which would spell disaster were they to fall on the computer itself. The mouse is there for much the same reason – I am accustomed to it and it keeps my activity away from the like-new surface of the laptop.

Thanks, Jay!

- Dorian has completed work on the Werefox line of miniatures. As you can see from the recognition chart, the Charlemagne has the most imposing Small Laser of Doom you’ll ever see:

(Click on image to enlarge)

Just kidding. It is an ER Large Laser of Doom. Still honking big, but hey, maybe it will make a good club for some desperate MechWarrior!

Here are the price quotes for the Werefox line. Don’t be put off by the initial cost – it’s actually a deal because you are getting two tankies!

AAV-I - $15.50
AAV-II - $14.50
Charlemagne - $17.00
D'Artagnan - $16.50
Martel - $16.00
Petain - $15.50

Here is the cover for the instruction PDF, which you can download as needed when making a Werefox purchase:

- I am currently working on the writeups – no, nothing has been changed, but I am cutting out the stats on the second page of each and putting it on its own page. The reason behind this is so that, after I have finished editing the stats for TRO format, we can just cut and drop them into the PDF. A bit of work with that (bold face and italics, mostly) in CS3 and we’re set to drop in the art. I have finished all the BattleMechs and am into the second House on the vehicles.

The really cool thing about this new computer? I can now run CS3 on it! Instead of saddling Bill with all the drudge work of formatting, I can just gather up the files with the text dropped in and transfer them to my computer, where I can make the changes as needed. Then I gather them up again and give them back to Bill for art and layout tweaks. The text portion has been the time-consuming part, and as stated earlier, I am front-loading as much of it as possible so Bill won’t have to hunt and peck to get it to look right. Bonus! I get to make last-second changes directly to the CS3 master files, rather then bugging Bill over changing a single word here or there.

- Bill has now got all the Draconis Combine writeups, ready to drop in. A piece of art here and there is still ‘under construction’, but we have placeholders. Bill will be down at Silverdale’s Avalon Games to conduct gaming sessions on Friday, the 24th of June. I will not be able to make it at 6pm due to work commitments, but will probably drop in at 9pm after I get off. Sorry, Bill.


Dorian and Helen, in addition to making up all these wonderful miniatures, have been steadily playtesting some of the designs. One tank they used was the Stingray.

(Yes, this is the miniature for the Stingray)

The game went as follows:

The Stingray Playtest

Okay. The game. Helen controlled the Stingrays for the majority of the game so the way they were used was a little different from my style of playing, but they did, as I said before, perform well. I can't give you a blow by blow with them as we didn't really take notes today.

For the sake of comparison I'll make my remarks based on the 3058 upgrade version of the LRM carrier.

Our deployment for the Stingrays was determined to allow strategic movement to an area behind a Level 3 hill where they remained without moving after turn 2. Their ERMLs were never fired through the course of the game, though that is no reason to sacrifice them as it is a vital short range defense measure should they become engaged by any form of stealth or flanking unit. However, a possible option would be to replace them with SPLs (Helen's opinion). Tactically speaking, there is no reason to replace them with MLs as they don't require additional heatsinks to be installed.

Our designated spotters consisted of a pair of OW-3X and a pair of VRB-38-O (see attached) both fast flankers with good mid to short range punch. While we had a couple of TAG equipped vehicles, these four 'Mechs were the heavy lifters for spotting. These guys have a proven track record as spotters for Arrow IV units so they're a natural choice for us to use. (if this bit goes on the blog, please let folks know they can buy the OW-3X in the store and the VRB-38-O is going to be available soon)

Our main tactic in using them was to let my RAC equipped units breach armour then have the Stingrays use their critical seeking LRMs inflict the knockout blow on assault class 'Mechs such as the Archangel (there's a trend here - can you see it? We don't like Archangels) or the Seraph and take Battle Armour down before they could swarm attack our Assault 'Mechs. The tactic worked well, eliminating most of the Djinn Pete and Neil deployed before they could close in on our Assaults. By concentrating our fire on them as we closed on the complex we managed to eliminate 4 squads by turn 5 leaving just 1 squad left but at half strength. They proved no threat and were easily dispatched in a barrage of ERML fire from our three Precentors.

Raining on the WoB Parade

With the immediate Battle Armour threat eliminated Helen turned her attention towards dealing with those bloody Celestials. My uncanny luck with RACs from our Typhoons, Mastodons and Precentors, which were working together, shredded the armour on a Seraph and an Archangel. This left gaping holes in various locations, most notably the centre torso of the Archangel. The Archangel decided it wanted to blow up after the Stingrays hammered it with 8 flights of LRMs on turn 6 causing no less than 4 critical engine hits - which would have breached the reactor had it not passed the emergency shut down roll! (Do you use that rule? It's a lesson on not keeping your XL engine units grouped tight, let me tell you!)

With a Archangel down on turn 6 the Seraph followed suit on turn 7 along with a Preta that had taken heavy damage from the pair of VRB-38-Os that same turn.

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Turn 8 saw us complete our objective and uncover the location where the WoB were holding Devlin Stone. This turned the game from an attack to a rapid retreat so Neil and Pete started to throw everything at us (including the kitchen sink). Our OW-3Xs bravely held back to give the Stingrays targeting data to cover our retreat and both fell by the end of the game. Turn 8 had the two Stingrays cripple a second Archangel by blowing its left leg clear away at the hip, leaving it easy pickings and a swift foot to the face from Helen's Highlander II-C.

With our retreat underway the Stingrays unleashed fire on the pursuing units marked out by our OW-3Xs while our forces took opportunity fire where permitted. Our pair of Mastodons proved how dangerous a pair of RAC-5s and SRM4s in the turret can be. A Malak suffered a missile death thanks to the Stingrays on turn 9.

While the Stingrays proved effective on turn 10 they didn't kill any units. But it's worth noting as Helen rolled a wonderful series of 6s against a practically undamaged Gregori and executed a perfect Highlander Burial taking it out and leaving a pair of stunned WoB players :D

Turn 11 saw our units reach our table edge and end the game. The firing phase saw our last OW-3X fall under the weapons of the toaster huggers - but not before allowing the Stingrays to finish off a Legacy and a Lightray, thanks once again in part to the Mastodons and Typhoons.

The Aftermath

Okay, there's a rundown and the kill tally is as follows-

4 squads of Djinn BattleArmour
1 Archangel
1 Legacy
1 Lightray
1 Malak
1 Preta
1 Seraph

Judgment Rendered

A pretty good showing all told, they're good for taking units out but lack the punch for destroying units on their own like the Sounder and Machete. Are they better than a LRM carrier? Honestly, we think ‘yes’. Sure, they cost a tad more, (118 BV I think) but statistically, four LRM 10s will hit more often than 3 LRM 20s and the lasers give you more peace of mind than an iC3 will when you're facing fast flankers.

Of course the downside to Artemis is the fact it can't be used with special munitions such as swarm and incendiary, so it'd be considered wasted tonnage if a player used those options, but that's for the individual player to choose based upon scenario and mission objectives. There are a couple of scenarios I can envision where that trade-off could be worth the wasted tonnage. It's no real issue to deploy a Stingray with 36 rounds of standard LRM ammo and 1 ton of Swarm or Incendiary if a player feels it would be of benefit.

Over all I think about 60-70 percent of the missile flights hit their mark with roughly 7 missiles per launcher hitting, So on average you're looking at about 50-70% effective firing. The Artemis IV really helps with its +2 to the cluster hits table. Had we used more Stingrays the tactics we used would have been different - we'd have had the punch to tackle undamaged units and take them out and would have used them as such. Think a medieval rain of arrows, only with LRMs.

Is it better than a Quiang Ton? Honestly no idea, as we've never used that machine, but running the numbers I'd say yes for the same reason I listed as it being better than a LRM carrier, simple law of averages. You've more chance of hitting with 4 launchers than 3 launchers regardless of the number of missiles they fire. Of course it becomes a different game if they do hit, a 15 flight will hit with more missiles than a 10 flight most of the time. But regardless, you've got to actually make the hit roll first and more launchers give a player the edge.

The Quiang Ton’s AMS is a nice touch. Its secondary Streaks are a tricky one, though - you know my thoughts on them already. Frankly, I'd rather take lasers for defense weapons, as they won't blow up in your face.

Dorian (with input from Helen)

Thanks for stopping by.


Monday, June 06, 2011

An Early Post: MUL is Now Complete!



Our last update was a few weeks ago. Normally I would wait another two weeks, as the art gets paid off and there’s some actual progress to report. Things have been moving along, however.

- Jeffrey Agussoekarno has been assigned the new aerospace fighter for the Federated Commonwealth. He is back to work on it – below is the third draft of the new design:


- The ‘Mechs are all finally finished. Whew!

- We are currently down to about $66 owed to Paul Skowronek for his editing duties. He is working on the Sounder and will be digging into that new aerospace fighter as soon as I get the second draft back from Geoffrey.

- Karl Olson has finished the Stingray support tank and it is at the top of this blog post. He has reworked the Bengal and here is the inked version:


- I am also going to ask Karl to work on the background for the following: Diomedes, Roland and Hammerhead II. His work on the Bu-20a Ammunition Carrier speaks for itself:

Bu-20a Ammunition Carrier

- Eric Ou has finished modifying his pro bono work. I don’t think he has the time to accept any further commissions, but he has earned the rest! I modified the writeup for the Sher Khan to better reflect the image’s apparent warload. I think it actually makes more sense now – especially as I have taken an interest in using infantry in the game.

- I am asking Stephen Huda to take another commission – the Leopard VTOL for the Outworlds Alliance. I need to pay him that final $35, though.

- Pursuant to the new organization of the material in the TRO, I have gone through and redone the Page Count, which specifies what goes where and on which page. The final page count is 254. There is a good reason for this sudden inflation of the TRO….

- … we have added an eight-page Master Unit List for the TRO itself! This consumed several evenings of work and covers every machine featured in the TRO, as well as any variants mentioned in the writeups (‘fluff’). The format is similar to the company works as regards the abbreviations for political factions and vehicle types. We also note where other factions have access to the machine in question.

Master Unit List Introduction

Sample Master Unit List (click to enlarge)

- Bill is looking at the images for the Werefox miniatures as of today. He can find no issues with them, so I will pass on them and Dorian can get to work.

- Dorian is about to resume work on the Sound miniature – can’t wait to see what he comes up with!

Local Game Group Begins....

Bill is working on the TRO layout – no, really! He is also starting another gaming group in the Bremerton/Silverdale area, to be held at local shops like Discordia and Avalon Comics and Games. If you are in the area and are interested in playing BattleTech, Axis and Allies, Risk and any other ‘wargame’, please get in touch with me. We would like to pull eight steady players together to have a good time in a structured environment (hey, mission tracks… who knew?).

One of the interesting features of the BattleTech game is that while everyone will start with 10,000 BV of units, what you will play depends on who shows up. For example, if five players show up, four will take their mercenary forces into battle while the fifth plays OpFor with the GameMaster (Bill). In a 15,000 BV scenario, each merc player would contribute 3500 BV of his forces, while the GM and his OpFor will field 15,000 points of whatever is called for by the track.

If only three players show up in this example, each would contribute 5000 points of merc forces against Bill’s troops. You would earn points for your performance as OpFor the same as if you were performing as a member of the mercs. No one loses opportunities for advancement, and everyone gets to play in a balanced game progressing along a story arc.

It’s an interesting proposition and I am eager to give it a try.

Thanks for stopping by.