Two days ago I finished the last of the classic BattleTech novels. The series ends with volume 61, Endgame, or Finale, in its german translation.
Finishing a good read is sometimes like waving goodbye to a good friend. This series had its ups and downs but in general I enjoyed reading it. The FedCom civil war was not a highlight to end the series but Operation Snake and Bulldog, fighting the Clans in their own territory, was pure suspense.
The first twelve novels were a re-read for me from around 30 years ago and I stopped with the Blood of Kerensky triology then. Some of the best! I always thought Classic BatteTech died with Hanse Davion but that was not true. It just became different. I grew older with the other characters, Ardan Sortek, Andrew Redburn, Morgan Kell and my somehow favourite Theodore Kurita. Heir to the Dragon is, for me, still one of the best novels in the series. And why did the Gray Death Legion have to perish in such a way?
I was pleasantly suprised by the MechWarrior books. I really liked the stories that show a more backside way of life of the BT universe. These books put me in the mood to play a Mechwarior RPG… maybe one day when there is time.
Now the last twenty books or so will be packed in a box with some other goodies for a very good friend who lent all the books to me.
One of the goodies, 3D printed:
Old adventures end but new adventures await. For the time coming in form of The best gamer ever… as some call it.
While the world keeps debating about sustainable living, recycling and reusing, we are bringing this concept to the gaming world. Nothing we played with last weekend was younger than 20 years… and it still works! 😉
Amazingly this was the first time we met face-to-face for gaming this year. First our timetables were against us and later lockdown struck – though we played several scenarios of Descent via Skype during this time.
We started this gaming weekend with some 1989 SpaceHulk. I had never played this classic before and I felt there was a gap to be filled. However, my mate had lost the rules but now he brought them from his parents‘ place… along with some other stuff and we played an introductory mission twice.
First time I ended up with the choice between blowing my flamethrower Termi myself or going into close combat. I opted for close combat and lost it… expectingly! Second time, the same mission, I had learned my lesson and managed to fulfill the objective in short time.
Still a nice game but before going into SpaceHulk any deeper I’d rather go for KillTeam. However, I like the idea of moving blips which turn into groups of ‚Nids and I was surprised how much the whole concept reminded me of Descent which came some 15 years later.
Next morning we started out with BattleTech which we hadn’t played for over a year. Shameful! However, to keep it short(er), we decided for one Recon-Lance each. An encounter I lost bitterly! I hate a crazy Spider in my back!
Along with the SpaceHulk rules my mate brought some other gaming stuff from his parents‘ attic and one of his old gaming friends who wanted to clear his cellar. First thing was a group of old FASA tanks for BattleTech. I purchased these for a fair price for my growing BattleTech army.
Something else that was on offer was an old 2nd edition SpaceMarine-box, today better known as Epic.
Epic is on my list for building an army since a long time but I did not have much hope it would ever come true. At least as long as GW does not release a new edition. Now, this offer came quite as a surprise and could be the first step of a long gaming dream come true. Though there will be a lot of work ahead and as the minis are all oop, this could become expensive when finding additional troops on ebay.
However, a great bonus: While my mate rummaged through his left-overs in his parents‘ attic, he found an old box of BattleTitans with five Warlord Titans still on sprue which he gave me for free! A bottle of gin was the least I could give him for this. Cheers! 🙂
The Jenner always reminded me of a turtle on legs. That’s probably why it was always somehow „green“ to me. The colour scheme is similar to the one I already used on dozens of Dark AngelsSpaceMarines. So painting went fairly easy.
It’s my plan for the next few days to finish this somehow weird mix of minis:
A Vindicator and a very old Jenner. Zombivor and Survivor Doug.
All painting patterns are going to be fairly simple so I hope this project will not need much time. The Mechs‘ bases are already prepared with white pumice and some stones. The bases were 3D-printed with grey PLA filament. The Jenner is a 30 year old model which comes from a sealed box. Despite of this, the model looks fairly oxidized and I wonder how the colour will look like.
So, this was a try to 3D-print a Leopard dropship for BattleTech. It was printed in one session and to save time I changed the settings to a lower resolution than recommended. Still, printing took more than twelve hours but it turned out resolution was much too low.
The Leopard can carry up to four Mechs into Battle.
Additionally, the bright blue colour of the filament does not really fit the topic and gives it a rather cheap toyish look. However, I still think, with some paint on it, it will still do the job as a scenic craft that came down just too hard in the midst of battle and lost a fin in the process.
The Leopard dropship as shown in Technical Readout 3025.
Again,thingiverse was the treasure chest where I found this 3D-model. Models for Orion and Overlord can also be found there but I’m not so sure if I will give it a try.
The Panther is one of my favourite Mechs. Not only because it is essentially a fast moving PPC which can even jump but because the design looks great. My first idea for a color scheme was a blueish grey. A lot of inspiration for painting BattleMechs can be found on www.camospecs.com and indeed I found a great scheme there which worked as my guideline.
Step 1 – Basing and Priming
The model was already partly primed in black when I got it. For decoration I filled the base with White Pumice (Vallejo), put in some small stones and left it to dry for overnight.
Next day I primed the base and the rest of the model with a brush in Chaos Black (GW).
Step 2 – Basecoating
The armor plates were painted with Sombre Grey (Vallejo GC48) while leaving out the inner parts of the joints (knees, arms, neck), the PPC and the panel lines of the armor as good as possible. I did not mind to achieve an even coloured surface on the armor plates. A tall construct like a BattleMech will never look brand anyway new in times of fighting and an uneven color adds to the effect.
The inner parts of the joints, SRM frontplate, the „balls“ on the backside (Whatever their purpose might be!) and the PPC were painted in Boltgun Metal (GW). The base got a layer of Graveyard Earth (GW).
Step 3 – Shading
The model was given a generous coat of Army Painter Quickshade „Dark Tone“. These washes are great to achieve a quick good looking effect of depth.
From this point on you already have a nice looking miniature. Give it a coat of varnish, glue some green on the base and it would be ok for any gaming table.
Step 4 – Basecolours
To break up the monotony of the basic grey, I painted certain armor plates with Enchanted Blue (GW). The eyes were painted Mechrite Red as a base colour, covered by Blood Red and with a tiny spot of White in the corner of each eye. The PPC got some Sunburst Yellow (all colors GW) in its muzzle.
Step 5 – Highlights
In order to save time I usually do only one layer of highlights. To my mind this is enough for gaming purposes. In this case, highlighting was a mixture of painting the edges and drybrushing. Armor was highlighted/ drybrushed with Space Wolves Grey (GW). For the metal highlights I used Chain Mail (GW).
Step 6 – Final Steps
The base was drybrushed mit Dheneb Stone (GW). I didn’t mind when the Mech’s feet „got dirty“ with the colour. This adds to the realness because Mechs in combat should have a dirty look about them, anyway. After that the margin of the base got a second layer of Graveyard Earth to achieve an even surface and mask some excess of Dheneb Stone. Finally, as a test, I put on Army Painter Quickshade „Soft Tone“ on the „sand“ to give the base some more depth.
Finally, to give it some more life, I added two decals from my bits box, a unit symbol and a number. Before adding decals, I put on some gloss varnish on the spots where I will put them. This way they will stick better. After putting the decal on, I use some decal softener for better adhesion.
After drying I painted the Panther with Matt Varnish (Vallejo GC 70). In this case I put on a second layer, as matt varnish has a reputation of being less protective than gloss varnish. I can’t explain if this is true but I read it somewhere and better safe than sorry. I think this Kitty will be touched quiet a lot.
Some static grass glued on the base – done!
A rather basic style of painting but done in a reasonable amount of time. Generally I am satisfied with the result although some more highlights would probably have been nicer. After all, it’s done for playing and not displaying.
Frankly, I didn’t like playing BattleTech that much when I first did so in the early 90s. However, I deeply enjoyed the fluff around it. Pictures of Mechs and background stories in Technical Readout 3025 and 3026 interested me much more than game values. I devoured the classic novels, like the Saga of the Gray Death Legion and Warrior triology. And still I think that Heir to the Dragon is one of the most enjoyable novels I ever read. In regard to gaming, BattleTech computer adaptions were a different story and Mechwarrior 2 is probably one of the computer games I played the most, up into the new millenia. But playing the boardgame never really got me hooked.
That changed until recently when I played BattleTech again after a long pause, more because a friend wanted to than expecting a good gaming session. But this is probably the story: Expect the least and you get the most. My mate owns a lot of the old metal Mechs, in contrast to the paper counters we played with in the early 90s. We had quiet some fun playing several games and so the feeling grew in me to get my own BattleMech army.
BattleTech – For me that is the first edition published in 1986, what is now called Classic BattleTech. Unfortunately, the old miniatures are not so easy to get. They are either used and can look worn or they can be very expensive. Modern sculpts are available from Iron Wind Metals for a reasonable price but sometimes it’s only the old RalPartha models which seem to be… well… right. And so the shopping tour started.
On Ebay we found several old blisters and boxes for a reasonable price. There were also some boxes for unreasonable prices, especially if you go for iconic „unseen“ Mechs, like Warhammer or Marauder. My mate and I we purchased the „Regimental Command Lance“ (Zeus, Oscout(!), Cyclops, Atlas) and „Pursuit Lance“ (2x Commando, Jenner, Vulcan).
Front cover of the boxed sets from 1987.
Back of the boxed sets.
It’s a strange feeling to open boxes which were packed and sealed about 30 years ago. One might call them antiques. What makes them antique is that they still contain lead and the metal looks highly unhomogeneous. Even for 80s standard, the material was not of a high quality, I think. However, we shared the content and this is what I chose:
From left: Zeus, Cyclops, Jenner, Commando
The second batch I ordered from a friend’s shop, where I once worked. The shop is closed since some years but online-business goes on and he still has a lot Mechs on his list. Suitable for Classic BattleTech I found an Enforcer, Vindicator and a Stalker. All of them new in blister then.
From left: Stalker, Enforcer, Vindicator.
All models are resculpts from Iron Wind Metals. The Enforcer and especially the Vindicator have a nice dynamic pose, something that I miss in the old models very often. This creates a rather static und undramatic atmosphere in games. Mechs seem to be mere weapon platforms which can hardly move while, „in fact“, a 30 tonne Spider has a maximum speed of 130 km/h. Even an Atlas moves its 100 tonnes with up to 54 km/h. The metal here looks „fresher“ than the material from the boxed sets (Which were also sealed the last 30 years!!!) and has a lower density. A nice side effect if you carry your army around.
Back on Ebay I found a guy who sold his collection of Mechs after 15 years in basement. Prices were reasonable and some very useful Mechs were on offer which are all still in good shape.
Rifleman, Centurion and Dervish are even nicely painted though they would need some repair here and there. I really have to think it over if I will repaint them. The Awesome was still in blister. Several others are primed, what means that the ravages of time couldn’t damage the old metal a lot. Strange thing: The Griffin’s base is so big that it doesn’t fit into the hexbase and I had to cut away some of the base’s edge.
As some of the models from all batches came without hexbase, I printed them with a 3D-printer. Again I found everything I needed on thingiverse.
Not bad for the beginning. However, some of the classic Mechs are still missing. 🙂
The printing files for this outstanding piece of wargaming terrain are available on thingiverse.com along with several other very nice models for small-scale wargames like BattleTech or Epic. FOR FREE!!! So a big thank-you to all the designers who share their models with people who are not so gifted in computer-aided design (CAD).
The Nuclear Power Plant consists of three different buildings: an office building, a reactor facility and a cooling tower. 3D-printing can sometimes be tricky. The reactor facility took me three attempts unless I had a finished model, however, the office building and the tower caused no problems at all. The cooling tower alone is a massive thing, more than twice as tall as a BattleMech on the field.
While the cooling tower has the definite eye-catching ability, smaller and simpler designs help to make the terrain much more diverse and to bring more tactial options to the game. The Expendable Office Building is only one example of many simpler designs which can be found on thingiverse.
One building takes one to two hours to print and can be expanded with additional printouts. In the picture you see one main building and one expansion attached to it. I can already see complete city blocks made of these. Printed in grey filament it is not really necessary to paint them, I think, but glueing them on some hex bases might be a good idea. But for now they are awaiting their first battle…