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"FASATech: Battletech Reborn?" Topic

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Achtung Minen01 Sep 2022 9:53 a.m. PST

With the recent scandal involving CGL and Blaine Pardoe, I have been looking at Battletech again.

For context: A few weeks ago, the company that has held the Battletech license for the last 15 years fired one of the the most prolific Battletech authors (who has written for the game since its beginning four decades ago) ostensibly because he was a conservative.

This led to a raft of Youtube videos with incensed fans saying they would be enjoying Battletech without giving any further money to CGL in the future. Now, I don't really care about all this… I mean, it is sad to see this culture creeping into any new hobby or community, but if I am being honest then I have to admit: I haven't really supported CGL since it took over the license 15 years ago.

This was not because I thought the company was full of woke warriors or something. Rather, I just didn't like how they (CGL) handled the license… All of the art was computer generated or Photoshop augmented, the rulebooks read like VCR manuals, there was an endless march of new ‘Mechs and new ‘Tech that you constantly needed to absorb and it was all incredibly boring and tedious. I bought the Total War rulebook when it first came out from Fanpro (just prior to CGL entering the picture, as I recall) and it left me utterly cold. I picked up maybe a couple CGL-era manuals (and pirated many others), and just felt completely uninspired by any of it. I sold all of that stuff off later on when I was thinning my library.

The 21st century stuff, the erstwhile "Classic" Battletech, now the new-logo Battletech, was just not for me.

But when I look back at my 90's FASA Battletech, I have exactly the opposite reaction.

I am instantly plunged into nostalgia and feel a real excitement reading the rulebooks and manuals and admiring the hand-painted and hand-penned artwork. I've really come to hate modern gaming art in particular, but this is also about the timeline… the Jihad-era and everything that followed it just didn't feel like Battletech to me, like a sudden shift in the logic and aesthetic of the universe. It was poorly conceived, the Dark Ages made even less sense and now the IlClan era is just dumping on everything that made Battletech what it was for me, namely the factions. It was particularly depressing to see what the writers did with the Clans (not least of which was my favorite, the Jade Falcons, who went from staunch traditionalists in 3050 to madcaps to completely annihilated in the Dark Age and IlClan eras).

The counter argument is that it wouldn't make sense that a faction would necessarily stay the same over the century that spans the Clan Invasion period (3050) to the "current" (3150) period. I don't buy that argument exactly (most countries on Earth do not disappear over the course of 100 years, why would a massive interstellar polity?), but there is a more important point to be made: Maybe the game just should not have extended its timeline so far into the future in the first place? Although it is often appended these days, the FULL motto of Battletech is given on the back of my beloved 3rd Edition box set:

In the 31st Century, life is cheap, but Battlemechs aren't.

Which is to say, Battlemech is the game of armoured combat in the 31st Century. The year 3150 isn't the 31st Century in the same way that the Mechwarrior Clix game that propelled the timeline a hundred years forward wasn't really Battletech. What I mean is, the entire reason for pushing the timeline forward (and completely destroying the setting with a Dark Age) was to allow the designers of the Mechwarrior Clix game the narrative and creative room to make up whatever story they wanted without feeling married to decades of previous lore and fiction. Now, CGL has embraced the Dark Ages by building from it, and in so doing they have accepted changes to the setting that were premised in being an intentional break with what came before.

FASATech effectively ended in 3063 or so, in the early days of the FedCom Civil War. This was an iconic and "on message" moment for Battletech, as the Inner Sphere had just recently reunited to stop the Clans but was about to make the fatal mistake of breaking into civil war over petty grievances yet again (the timeless story of the Succession Wars replayed in the current moment), leaving it vulnerable to the predation of outside enemies as it had been in 3025. As we know, the FedCom Civil War was neatly wrapped up after FASA closed its doors in early 2001 with a segue into the reviled Word of Blake storyline.

I have always loosely advocated a return to FASATech (i.e. Battletech products that have the FASA logo on them), but recent events have given me a chance to think about it more clearly. Leave the story in the hands of the original team and then let the fanbase build their games from that exciting basis. We can decide, individually and for ourselves, what happens next at our very gaming tables.

CGL caving to cancel culture is not that important to me… all companies do and will. It doesn't surprise me or really offend me. But that inevitability has remarkably little to do with why I enjoy or don't enjoy games (and why should it?). Rather, I enjoy FASATech because it is the Battletech I know and love, complete with the original aesthetic and themes that inspired me decades ago. Everything that came after was premised on the setting-wipe strategies that were the Blake and Dark Age storylines, strategies that were specifically intended to allow creative space for new authors and artists to create new visions for the game (and thus sell new products, making the I.P. financially viable).

I can't blame the new companies for doing that, but it has also meant that the new stuff is not for me. And that's fine! CGL has its own customer base: I don't wish them either luck or misfortune for the same reason I don't wish any random company such—I am just not invested in their success or failure. But there is no reason not to keep playing the old FASA versions that still inspire me and just ignore the modern stuff that doesn't. Which is to say, if you feel the same, have you considered dusting off your FASA collection and enjoying the game of armoured combat in the 31st Century?

Valderian01 Sep 2022 12:45 p.m. PST

Interesting points made, Achtung Minen, let me tell you mine.

I have bought & read almost all rulebooks coming from CGL and read some of those coming from FanPro & FASA.

The BattleTech universe is gigantic to say the least. It is not easy to understand it, not the story, not the game rules (it doesn't feel at all as boardgame, as it claims to be, but as wargame, because of the quantity and complexity of the rules, not to name the myriads optional rules). There are many holes in the story and each company tried to fill it, build on it and expand on it (at the same time). There is enough room for everybody, companies and players alike. Who has read all printed or digitally produced to say what is canon? The books from CGL are quite technical (those from the other companies did not strike me as poetry either), but I think they are doing a great job on collecting and updating all information from similar previous books. I think with CGL, BattleTech is more accesible than before – plastic miniatures assembled (as in boardgames), maps, fiction (never read any), rules updated and overall a good quality was invested in all the products that I bought (I don't think I will ever be able to squeeze 60% of all that is in these books alone).

The nostalgia factor is very important, I know this. I don't know if it is a good thing or not that BattleTech moved to 32nd century, but I get all the points that you are making.
I will keep on discovering BattleTech universe in the future, no matter if with CGL, FASA or FanPro products, and I think that BattleTech is in good hands with CGL, even though some of their decision may turn to be bad, they really improved BattleTech and updated to the "standards" of 21st century.

The most important thing is to play and enjoy it and I'm happy that BattleTech (rules and technobabble) is not like Latin (dead).

emckinney01 Sep 2022 3:00 p.m. PST

Ummm, if you launch a product that competes with your employer's product, you really think that they'll be cool with it? link

All of the following is a quote:

I better do this before someone else does and spreads a bunch of misinfo. CGL is parting ways with long time BT novel writer, Blaine Pardoe.

r/OutreachHPG – I better do this before someone else does and spreads a bunch of misinfo. CGL is parting ways with long time BT novel writer, Blaine Pardoe.

(all links here are archive links to make sure Blaine doesn't attempt to pull a "i'm gonna hope the internet forgot")

Alright so today CGL had annouced that them and long time BT novel and short story writer, Blaine Pardoe, will be parting ways. However things are not how they seem, and I have done some digging into this to prevent the spread of misinfermation on this subject and to paint as clear a picture as possible.

So it's time to go back to the 21st of this month. Blaine Pardoe, on his publicly accessible blog, annouces that he's going to "Start a Kickstarter this fall" for a universe that'll start with some novels and "then be moving on to the tabletop and roleplaying games." (his words not mine) Which is fine in of itself, except for the description of the universe that he's kickstarting is suspiciously similar to Battletech. It also has the incredibly generic name of Land & Sea.

The image is the cover of Splashdown. What you see is an ASHUR rig – named for the Assyrian god of war. Twenty-five years from now, ASHUR's dominate the battlefield. The battlespace of combat is mix of armor, GRD's (Ground Robotic Drones), infantry, and ASHUR's. It is warfare evolved, and Land & Sea is a military sci-fi series that will grab your attention and hold it tight.

It sounds a lot like a very generic description of battletech with the names changed to make it "legally distinct".

So now we move to the 29th of this month or yesterday if you prefer, when he posts the most 'temper tantrum bridge burning blog post' (and i'm calling it that because holy hell it reads like it) saying that he got fired because of his politics. Where he makes a lot of claims including that he has a stalker that he had taken to court and "had a protective order put in place" (his words, not mine).

I have a couple problems with this, starting with that if his politics was the reason why CGL parted ways with him, the time to do so would've been at least in 2020 because of (for the sake of not making this a political post I won't say) a lot of his hot takes. So I really don't think CGL really gave a damn about his political takes either way. And that if it even is true that Blaine did take his stalker to court like he claimed, it should've been incredibly easy for CGL to verify it and this whole post and his "meltdown" likely wouldn't have happened, he'd still be writing for BT, though this is assuming that he also didn't make plans to make his own totally unique mech IP.

I also did find a couple posts claiming that he did or attempted to steal from CGL, but I can't verify that on either direction so i'm going to treat it as an unknown until I see evidence going either way.

So with all the dots i'm trying to connect together to why this happened, and the only concrete thing here is his not yet up KS for a new totally unique mech IP. So knowing that most companies do not like the idea of someone working on their thing while said person is also working on a potential competitor to said company's thing, I personally think he got shown the door because CGL thinks this would be a clear conflict of interest and made the decision to part ways with him now (though his takes were certainly not helping him). And to be very cynical, I think his 'temper tantrum blog post' is all a deliberate lie to make it highly likely he makes bank on his not yet up KS.

Thresher0101 Sep 2022 3:37 p.m. PST

Woke vs. conservative Battletech forces?

Who wins?

Mr Elmo01 Sep 2022 3:53 p.m. PST

I like how people in this hobby go online and have a hissy fit about some business practice or another.

They lied, stole my IP, didn't pay me. It's quite entertaining.

Achtung Minen01 Sep 2022 3:59 p.m. PST

Everyone but Valderian: Better go back and give my original post a reread fellas, because the point sailed well above your noggins!

Lawn Dart01 Sep 2022 4:14 p.m. PST


My group has been playing Battletech for a while – but lately we've enjoyed Alpha Strike much more than the classic rules as it allows us to get larger games in quicker.

And the new 3150 timeline is great.

Mr Elmo01 Sep 2022 6:52 p.m. PST

Better go back and give my original post a reread

Too long so I didn't bother but I'm pretty sure it's a he said they said hissy fit.

There's a soft spot in my heart for 3025 but the game takes too long. I like Alpha Strike but want the hexes.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP01 Sep 2022 6:56 p.m. PST

I am certainly hip deep in what I call OldTech — primarily Ral Partha and FASA, some early generation IWM and Catalyst models that match the size of the old and haven't succumbed to the tremendous scale creep of the Kickstarter generation sculpts. Got an order coming in from Ral Partha Europe now, their prices, even with shipping, are better than IWM, and they tend to have the older-compatible sculpts.

I've got a big project back on the workbench that I had started before the pandemic — filling out a battalion for each of the 5 Inner Sphere houses for the 4th Succession War. Alpha Strike finally gives a very good system for playing out the larger scale battles that always inspired me from Stackpole's books.

As for Pardoe, I'm fine with CGL dropping him from future projscts. He's not being 'cancelled', they are still offering the full back catalogue of stuff that he wrote.

But he has established a separate brand identity for his own writing that is at odds with the BattleTech brand, and CGL was perfectly in their rights to sever ties with that. I have writer friends who use a different pseudonym when they write in different genres, and that would have been a good course for him as well.

And while the BattleTech novels have a long history of not the best writers, Pardoe was really not very good and there was a lot of disappointment in his last novel tying up the last series.

Lawn Dart01 Sep 2022 7:11 p.m. PST

There are discount places in the US to get IWM minis: Aries Games and Miniatures and Fortress Miniatures and Games both stock a huge amount of Battletech minis.

John Leahy Supporting Member of TMP01 Sep 2022 7:20 p.m. PST

Or you can print them up. I am also a fan of Alpha Strike. I really started with 3025. Been printing up buildings to add to my games.



Achtung Minen02 Sep 2022 5:15 a.m. PST

Too long so I didn't bother but I'm pretty sure it's a he said they said hissy fit.

Forums are literally there for long format discussions, the things you cannot do on social media because of character limits. You need a substantive post to even get at the issues we raise on this forum. I'm genuinely curious why one would even visit TMP if they weren't up for long form discussions. Flying one's disinterest up the flagpole so that everyone can see is even stranger behaviour. Are you just dead set on mischaracterizing my post? Or did I offend you in some past thread (or lifetime)?

Since you (and a few other "real gems" on this thread) have made it clear several times that you are not going to read my post, I'll just give you a short quote from it. (Hopefully it is not too long to read!)

CGL caving to cancel culture is not that important to me… all companies do and will. It doesn't surprise me or really offend me. But that inevitability has remarkably little to do with why I enjoy or don't enjoy games (and why should it?).

Lawn Dart02 Sep 2022 7:08 a.m. PST

Honestly, once you freely admitted to

pirated many others
of the post-FASA books, I lost any interest in reading anything else you wrote.

Achtung Minen02 Sep 2022 7:22 a.m. PST

What is the difference between:

1) Going to a store, flipping through a book for 15 minutes, deciding it is not for you and putting it back on the shelf.


2) Downloading a book, flipping through it for 15 minutes, deciding it is not for you and deleting it.

If I like a book, I buy it. I prefer physical copies for long reading.

Mr Elmo02 Sep 2022 7:49 p.m. PST

Hopefully it is not too long to read!

So some guy worked for a company and started making a very similar competing product and was fired.

I don't care, publish it maybe it's good and I'll buy it.

Achtung Minen03 Sep 2022 6:08 a.m. PST

Elmo, why did you come into this thread? Just to antagonize a complete random stranger? My post has nothing to do with the things you have implied… I'm just not "that guy" that you have in your head. I just used the Pardoe news to jump into a thread about the story changes that were made two decades ago, many of them by Pardoe himself. I do not care about the Pardoe issue, I say that clearly in my post. I am talking about the story decisions made when FASA closed its doors. Why continue to harass my topic with misconstrued characterizations and willful ignorance? Are you just cruel and bored? Who hurt you?

The fact that the Editor allows this kind of repeat threadcrapping is a remarkable indictment of TMP's current state of affairs.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2022 7:40 a.m. PST

There are discount places in the US to get IWM minis: Aries Games and Miniatures and Fortress Miniatures and Games both stock a huge amount of Battletech minis.

Yes, but on the point of finding old-school compatible mechs, I highly recommend RPE for more of the earlier generation Iron Wind minis that they still have in in production and match well with the original RP and FASA sculpts. IWM later replaced some of these with somewhat larger and highly animated poses (some which in large units can look more like a chorus line than a military formation). RPEs prices are low enough that even with shipping costs, they are still a good deal.

Black Bull03 Sep 2022 2:48 p.m. PST

Achtung, you brought up the Pardoe story when it had nothing to do with your augment (old BTech good new version bad) and now your complaining that people are commenting about the Pardoe story.
Why bring Pardoe into it in the first place ?

Achtung Minen04 Sep 2022 5:32 a.m. PST

I literally explain that in the first part of my post. I give up, I'm done with this thread and this silly, obtuse community.

Logain04 Sep 2022 11:35 p.m. PST

Politics aside…I agree 100% on the story line side. I've only been interested in playing before the fed-com civil war. From that perspective. I think catalyst has done some great things – they've kept many of these old resources available to new audiences, developed Alpha Strike which I like, developed a line of mechs with similar sculpting styles and that scale to each other consistently, supported 3025 and 3050 with all of their new releases. Really no reason in my mind to dislike them if you are into Fasatech. They are even continuing to publish new stories in the pre-clan era. As someone who started with the original game box long ago, this really seems like the golden age for BT.
Most people seem to like the original setting anyways, and after a twenty year hiatus I found the game basically unchanged when I started playing again.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP05 Sep 2022 9:57 a.m. PST

Really no reason in my mind to dislike them if you are into Fasatech. They are even continuing to publish new stories in the pre-clan era. As someone who started with the original game box long ago, this really seems like the golden age for BT.
Most people seem to like the original setting anyways, and after a twenty year hiatus I found the game basically unchanged when I started playing again.

Yuppers! I'm thrilled that they did Alpha Strike, for my tastes in big battles this was the fast-play upgrade the game needed some 30 years ago. The new releases have created a big surge in interest in BT around here, so gaming opportunities are only increasing.

My personal grognard grumble is just that the beautiful new sculpts on the old unseen mechs have scale-creeped beyond compatibility with the older ones, so I'm not adding them to my collection — but yay for the folks who don't have such a hardware legacy issue. BT is alas not alone in getting hit with the curse of the scale creepers, but drat.

Right now, I'm in the middle of re-reading the Gray Death Legion trilogy before cracking open the new 4th book that was printed last year: Between a Rock and a Hard Place. My copy just recently arrived from Book Depository.

Now, if they could only persuade Charrette to write some new old era stuff…

Lawn Dart06 Sep 2022 5:48 p.m. PST

The great thing about the "scale creep" of the new plastics is that all models are now scaled correctly with each other by volume. No longer will you need to see medium mechs that are bulkier than assaults! A constant scale is much more important to me than an increase in scale.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP06 Sep 2022 6:14 p.m. PST

Well, I do use the FASA "Fatapult" for my Stalkers, and the RP Stalker for my Catapults.

I do appreciate the sculpting and balance that went into the new ones, I just have too large a legacy collection to change horses now.

The only old model I might replace some day for a better sized one would be the Goliaths. But only with a larger one that still looks like the Crab Gunner from Fang of the Sun Dougram. That was my favourite plastic model from Battledroids.

zircher09 Sep 2022 9:03 p.m. PST

Just to throw out some info, the kickstarter is for a book trilogy with a game to follow. So literally nothing have been created/released yet. It might be a tad hasty to sever ties with one of your money makers for a thing that won't exit for a couple years (at best.) But then, I don't run CGL and they might have thin skin or there was past friction or both…

For those that are curious:

Sargonarhes13 Sep 2022 6:00 p.m. PST

Sorry, I will not be buying from Catalyst any more. I'll say it, yes any mechs and vehicles I buy will be 3D printed.

If not Battletech I'll play Horizon Wars.

Battletech is currently enjoying a resurgence because of new players coming from 40K, and now the woke crowd wants Battletech. I've said it before on others social media, once you get the rules home it's your game and you play it how you want. And there isn't a damn thing the woke crowd can do about it.

zircher14 Sep 2022 7:18 p.m. PST

Heh, too true. What happens at New Vega, stays at New Vega. :-)

If I were to chose an alternate to BTech, it would probably Mekton Zeta.

Akalabeth18 Oct 2022 10:50 p.m. PST

Don't people do their research?

The same person who is in charge of Catalyst today, was also a heavy contributor to FASA in the late 90s and was later in charge of Battletech development. He was in charge specifically during the Fed Com Civil War era which the OP is apparently pining for. And if people don't know the name of this person, it's Randall Bills.

Meanwhile Mechwarrior Dark Age is based on Heroclix, which was co-designed by Jordan Weisman- who if people are also not aware, is one of the primary guys behind the inception of of both FASA and Battletech. He is also the man behind Harebrained Schemes which a few years ago created the Battletech PC videogame and a trio of Shadowrun RPGs before that.

So if original authorship matters, Mechwarrior Dark Age is in fact more authentic than anything to come out from either Fanpro or Catalyst. And if you're pining for the good old days of FASA, then its later years ain't it. It's later years is just the precursor to what we have now.

Also is Battletech really being accused of too progressive when its core rules haven't changed since 1985? It's a glossed-up fossil at this point. Yes, I know, separate issue- but plenty of people have left Battletech before Pardoe and plenty will leave after. And compared to all that, doesn't really seem worth it get worked up about a guy switching jobs. I'd be more mad about Stackpole not getting paid or getting paid very late, even though I dislike the guy's books.

Sargonarhes10 Nov 2022 5:19 p.m. PST

They're now removing the Rommel tank from the game and making all variants of the that tank the Patton.

Next will likely be changing the names of the aerospace fighter the Stuka, or the tank Hetzer or Von Luckner.

Now tell me Battletech players are getting worked up over nothing.

Covert Walrus11 Nov 2022 8:10 p.m. PST

Sarganhes- Hey, as long as they don't touch the Orca Cavalry with the missile launchers, I am only mildly concerned.

I'm still concerned about the rewriting of history and unpersoning, just not as much.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2022 5:12 p.m. PST

A not-worked up BattleTech player here. Those have always just been variants of the same basic tank chassis. Frankly, I've always found both names rather cheesy for 31st century use.

For pure cheez-whiz, couldn't they please ditch the stupid J. Edgar Hover name that never should have gone to print after they spun that one and had a good snicker in the old FASA office!

Sargonarhes16 Nov 2022 8:35 p.m. PST

Give them time miniMo, give them time. Once they thing about who J Edgar Hover is and see that name as problematic it will go.

I have no admiration for the guy and his history, but a lot of Battletech and it's fluff should stay as is. Every House is a basic stereotype of some ancient society, Kurita being samurai with giant robots, Steiner being a mix of Norse and some Scottish stuff.

I'm sure more changes will be coming, and I don't like it.

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