Battletech, Continuity, &…

…why we can’t have nice things.

That last part isn’t entirely true. Battletech has enjoyed a solid run from roughly 1984 to present. It’s still going. Fiction is still being published, video games are coming out, there are two distinct product lines that tabletop players can choose from, and the game is still fairly close to its roots in terms of the core rules of Classic Battletech.

Sure, there have been some rough patches. Yes, BT has never achieved the acclaim or dollars of Warhammer… But Battletech has been going strong for a long time and continues to show signs that they are trying to put out the best product they can. So, what inspired this?

So, I don’t get to play BT nearly as much these days. At two different times in my life, I’ve had regular groups where we played weekly but that number has dwindled down to playing maybe twice a year at conventions. I’ve been a fan from the beginning (well, not quite… I was introduced to the game about the time the 20 Year Update book came out… right before the Clans showed up and changed everything. But my first two ‘mechs were a Locust and a Trebuchet and I loved every minute of time I got to play the game. I still think Battletech is a gold-standard for what a miniatures skirmish game should play like and I wish more game designers learned the lessons it has to teach. But I digress…

As I don’t get to play as often, I tend to lurk on Battletech communities online. I tune in to the community conversation to keep up with the fanbase and to stay on top of new product releases/fiction updates. And those communities – like most other gaming communities – drive me crazy.

It is mind-boggling how often I see a variation on one of the following conversations:

  • “Alpha Strike is a lame, dumbed-down version of the game and I’d never play it. Ever.”
  • “Alpha Strike should be the main product line and CBT should go away or be on the back-burner because grognards can’t let go of the past and ruin our game.”
  • “The Clans ruined everything.”
  • “The Word of Blake ruined everything.” *
  • “3025 or GTFO.”
  • “LAMs are Lame.”

There are others but that’s a depressing enough list for all of us today.

Here’s the thing. It’s just my opinion but it’s stated with a love for the game and a desire for the fans to all get what they want… Battletech is big enough for all of us.

Personally, I hated the “Dark Age” era and the -clix game that came along with it. But that was fine. I could still play Battletech. I love the Wobbie Jihad and the direction it propelled the universe. I’m a loyal Inner Sphere player but the Clans are still fun. For me, the late-Clan era was the golden age for BT fiction. Again, just an opinion.

But again, Battletech is amazing in terms of game lines because it has this amazing continuity. If I want to play CBT today with someone who has only ever played, like, the 3rd edition boxed set, the rules would feel extremely similar – having undergone relatively minor revisions since then. When I was at GenCon, I got to see CBT, Alpha Strike, the VR Pods, and the HBS Battletech video game all in the gaming hall and felt this wonderful sense of completeness knowing that my favorite game was still thriving after all these years. Compare that to how D&D has changed… and you’ll get a sense of perspective.

Please stop having these silly fan arguments. Battletech is big enough for all of us.

You wanna have a Battletech argument? Well, I’m a staunch loyalist of the Capellan Confederation and the Jinggau is objectively the best ‘mech ever. Fight me.


* so that asterisk up there… To be fair, the Word of Blake did friggin’ ruin everything. They wrecked the whole f’in’ universe. They just made a mess and didn’t even have the decency to clean up after themselves. But, you know, that’s in the fiction… totally different thing.

One thought on “Battletech, Continuity, &…

  1. Paul

    Yeah, I agree. I don’t really have anything to add, except to point out I’ve never interacted with a “community” for any game that I didn’t hate. Nerds suck.


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