I said I’d post it when we have it…and we have it and here is the pre-final cover!
By randall on June 19, 2013
I said I’d post it when we have it…and we have it and here is the pre-final cover!
By randall on June 6, 2013
Herb and his great crew continue to pound on Alpha Strike to get it ready for heading to the printer in the near future. In the meantime, thought I’d share the current Table of Contents (subject to change, of course).
Alpha Strike Basics
Alpha Strike at a Glance
Playing the Game
Playing the Game
Abstract Aerospace Gameplay
Abstract Aerospace Combat
Aerospace End Phase
Advanced Movement Modes
Aerospace Units on the Ground Map
Concealing Unit Composition
Fire and Smoke
Large Support Vehicles, Mobile Structures, and DropShips
Targeting and Tracking Systems
Converting Alpha Strike to Hex Maps
Setting Up the Campaign
Key Conflicts and Campaigns
Factional Overview: Clan Invasion Era
A History of War
Choose Your Rules
There ya go! Very deep look into this coming book…hopefully next time we’ll have a final cover to show off!
Till next time…
By randall on May 20, 2013
Many of you have noticed that the Introductory Box Set is hard to find and that’s because it’s currently out of stock.
While the previous printing of the box set was almost univerally lauded as one of the best introductions yet to BattleTech, it did have its issues. The main one, of course, was the quality of the 24 miniatures.
Even though we knew it would be several months without the game on store shelves again, we felt we simply couldn’t release a reprint using the same miniatures. As such, we’ve moved the entire reprint to a completely new company and we’ve generated all new sculpts based on the great, original Iron Wind Metals’ metal miniatures.
Attached are two of the first photos of pre-final miniatures. There will be some shrinkage (simply the case of working with plastics) from this look, but for those that own the current miniatures, you should notice a drastic increase in quality. As more photos become available down the line, I’ll provide some updates…specifically of comparison shots between the previous printings’ miniatures and these new ones.
While we were at it, we decided to trade out the Thor and the Loki for a little more iconic ‘Mechs. Again, these are photos direct from the factory of pre-final miniatures; once we’ve more photos, happy to pass them along.
Finally, since it’s not really the “25th anniversary” any more (can you believe we’re almost at 30?!), not to mention we feel the increase in the quality of the miniaturs is significant enough to warrant a differentiation from the previous printing, we felt it appropriate to throw on a cover and stock number…couldn’t resist getting another cover from the fantastic Alex Iglesias.
Price isn’t changing, we’re just tweaking up the quality…it’ll be available in the fall.
By randall on May 2, 2013
[Cover "in progress" by the brilliant Alex Iglesias.]
When we published Strategic Operations several years ago, a lot of people instantly fell in love with what is really a pretty small part of the book…the Quick-Strike Rules. And we immediately began getting questions of “when will you release a stand-alone rulebook of that?”
For those wondering what Quick-Strike is, the easiest answer is that it is the truest form yet published for being able to play BattleTech in a true “tabletop miniatures” style and speed, while still feeling like your playing BattleTech.
At the start of the year I had been thinking heavily about this, especially after years, at this point, of seeing plenty of people playing BattleTech in this manner at conventions. I then pitched the concept to Herb of a complete, stand-alone rulebook that would be the “table-top miniatures game” play of BattleTech. As it happened, great minds think alike and Herb had already been working an an epub release. I felt we shouldn’t only go half way on that and instead should embrace a full print book, full-color, hardback…the works (I know…shocking I wanted the kitchen sink in there…).
With that we got to work. The original outline, unfortunately, even for us, was way, way too much data as we wanted to cover every Era and even provide samples armies for all such Eras…the book might have been one of the biggest we’ve ever published…not to mention being crazy intimidating for other tabletop miniatures players that might want to give this a try.
So we immediately started trimming back, while still ensuring the book will provide a complete, full BattleTech experience that would have players coming back for more. This also allows for the creation of a series of great epubs to build upon the solid framework of Alpha Strike.
But wait…if they were called Quick-Srike why are we calling this Alpha Strike?! Well, to be honest, in hindsight the former is just too close to “Quick-Start” and we’ve gotten a fair bit of confusion along the way…hence a more unique name this time around.
We’re currently on track to have this at Gen Con with the book available to the public in September…or at least that’s the current plans…will see if it survives drop insertion….
In the meantime, this is the first of several blogs where I’ll discuss this great project…the drive flare of an incoming DropShip, announcing its coming…we’ll start getting into the bowels of what the ship carries in the coming weeks and months.
See ya there…
By randall on April 6, 2013
It’s been too long since I was able to get IO work done, unfortunately. As I’ve mentioned, just a case of too many duties and projects and not enough time in a day. However, despite the years of delays, I remain committed both to getting IO out, but getting it out in a way that does the entire line justice.
After all, how could I publish a line of rulebooks with “everything and the kitchen sink” and then drop the ball on the capstone to the entire series and short shift that depth of coverage? But that very desire to go to the extreme and cover everything, combined with all my responsibilities, directly leads to these types of delays.
The latest big project on my plate, designing Shadowrun: Sprawl Gangers with Ross Watson, has reached an equilibrium that will allow me to get back to several hours a day working on IO…but at the end of this month. I’m about to leave for a 10 day almost 5,000 mile driving trip to visit family.
In the meantime, you guys have been waiting exceedingly patiently, and so I thought…what the heck…I’m asking you guys to participate in playtesting a BT rulebook like never before…why not show off a document “in progress”. One of my favorite portions of the whole book, actually.
Feels weird, though…almost like I’m showing off my underwear. As you can see, there’s large swaths of question marks, yellow areas of cut and pasted in text from old rulebooks that need to be completely overhauled, as well as a lot of internal commentary/playtesting I’ve not yet folded in. I’ve got at least 5 full days of work on this Word doc before it’ll be ready to turn over to layout and get it out to you guys for Beta Testing.
But, with the “beware the scaffolding and dirt”, dive in: Interstellar Operations Pre-Beta File: Alternate Eras.
Note that there’s no corresponding threads to ask for input…the document simply isn’t ready for that. So if you do have questions, feel free to jot them down and when the real Beta Test PDF is released, you can see if perhaps we already answered them, or if not, then you can ask.
As I mentioned, ultimately, I feel you guys have simply earned the right through that very patience to see how awesome this book is going to be…and hopefully you’ll agree.
By randall on January 3, 2013
With the holidays over and kids back into school, much less a huge weight of marketing off my shoulders with the announcements of all we’re doing with Shadowrun this year, I can get back to IO work.
As before, fore those that might have missed it , the Open Beta Test for Interstellar Operations is underway! (Check out the first blog post surrounding this long-awaited rulebook.)
As with Creating a Force, the Force Operations may be the most anticipated part of this rulebook. And as with that other rules set, these are designed to be more open and free-form, allowing players to build any type of force they like.
Also, the two associated threads are live: Interstellar Operations Open Beta Test: Force Operations: Discussion AND Interstellar Operations Open Beta Test: Force Operations: Errata.
Enjoy…and I’m hard at work polish up the utterly massive Alternate Eras section…hope to have that one to you next…
By randall on November 26, 2012
For those that might have missed it the first time, the Open Beta Test for Interstellar Operations is underway! (Check out the first blog post surrounding this long-awaited rulebook.)
Now comes what might be one of the most anticipated aspects of this rulebook: Creating A Force (and the companion section, which will be out in the near future, Force Operations). Unlike the previous iteration of this style of rules, found in Field Manual: Mercenaries, we wanted a more open and free-form structure that would allow players to build any type of force to their liking.
Obviously players can build on this framework with their own rules for enhancing the flavor of a given faction. However, by going this much more free-form route, not only will it allow players a level of freedom we hope they’ve never experienced before…but it’ll allow us to tackle creating those exact “flavor” rules for each faction, that will easily plug into these.
Additionally, the two associated threads are live: Interstellar Operations Open Beta Test: Creating A Force: Discussion AND Interstellar Operations Open Beta Test: Creating A Force: Errata.
Dive in and enjoy…and we hope to have the Force Operations rules coming your way soon.
By randall on November 8, 2012
There’s been a lot of different discussions over the tidbits of released information concerning the possibility of a streamlined Quick-Strike Box Set, a time jump to 3250, and more. I felt it appropriate to weigh in on this subject and try and provide some much needed context.
The first question everyone is asking: “Are there actual plans to jump to 3250 and have the Quick-Strike rules be the new ‘Introductory Box Set?’” Yes, there are. Rather detailed plans that have been worked up across a good period of time.
Then again, we have a very serious proposal I put together for what a 3500 time jump might look like. We’ve also had numerous discussions over what a full reboot might entail if we went back to 3025 and started all over again. And of course we’ve taken a good long look at simply proceeding straight out of 3145 with no time jump.
Not to mention I still have on my hard drive, 12 years later, the fully playtested and developed “BattleTech Omega” rules set that utterly reshaped BattleTech into a pure tabletop miniatures game, tossing the entire current game system out the door. A rules set a year in the making and at the end I spent almost a month of 12+ hour days finalizing…all that work and effort and it never saw the light of day.
Why bring all of this up? Because it is a company’s job, when dealing with a large game line, to always be looking at multiple options for the future. One of the easiest traps for any creative person or team to fall into is to accept the first idea and run with it. Instead, a creative team should always take any “first” idea and twist it around and around and spin up several different new ideas based around the original concept. This is where the truly awesome storylines and rules concepts are developed. And that often means walking well down various paths to get a full understanding of what a given path might entail.
Additionally, there are a lot of production/timing issues that exist as well that can factor into what direction a creative team ultimately will take. For example, in the 3500 document that was generated, there’s a lot of cool, unusual items that make the new Era unique…if we were on the path heading in that direction and suddenly another game/universe is published that uses many of the same tropes/concepts, then we’d likely take a very long and hard look at whether we needed to significantly change things up, or perhaps move into a completely new path entirely. Not to mention if a movie deal suddenly surged forward, all bets would be off on what might happen in an effort to capitalize on such a situation.
Now I’m pretty sure I know you’re next question? “Then why release this info if we’re not guaranteed to be heading in that direction?” After all, we’ve developed and released a slew of wonderfully surprising storylines and additions to the BattleTech universe done in a fait accompli manner, such as Project Phoenix or the Blake Documents. The simple reason revolves around a desire to assure the community that with the Jihad Era over, we are committed to BattleTech and the storylines that will move us forward. Then again, after all of these years and all the ups and downs, that I and the entire Catalyst team still have an unwavering passion for BattleTech is, I hope, crystal clear; we are still as honored and devoted as ever to ensuring BattleTech lives and thrives through its next 30 years.
What does all of this ultimately mean for the future? It means the future isn’t written in stone until you’re reading it in a published PDF or are holding it in your hands. It means that there’s a good long time between now and then and for a host of reasons there’s a variety of different directions we may choose to run down like a Lyran Lance of 100 tonners.
Obviously we don’t expect you to stop speculating…after all, that’s half the fun of any universe we love to toss dice in or read about. In the mean time, we’ve got a slew of awesome products coming next year, from Historical: Liberation of Terra, Volume 2 to Era Report: 3145 and Field Manual: 3145 that answer some of the longest standing questions of the Dark Age Era…as well as a pile of supporting PDF-only epubs…just updated the Coming Soon page with a large number of new additions. Not to mention your chance to help shape a BattleTech rulebook as never before in the Interstellar Operations Open Beta Test!
Regardless of which path we ultimately travel down…I sure hope to see all of you firing PPCs and tossing Gauss slugs and having fun alongside us.
By randall on November 2, 2012
It’s been a long, long haul to get here…and there’s still a ton of work to do on this project…however, we’ve hit a new, huge milestone today…the Open Beta Test for Interstellar Operations begins today!
I’ve added an “Interstellar Operations Open Beta Test” section to the downloads page. Copying and pasting that text here to clarify what this is all about and what it means.
Interstellar Operations is currently under development, with no release date set yet. However, part of that development is to release every section in an Open Beta Playtest that will allow players to use the rules and provide feedback. The first PDF is found below…more PDFs will be adding in the coming weeks and months.
Note that these PDFs are NOT final; they have no art, “p. XX”s exist, and so on. They are provided in a clear, pre-final form for use, but the final layout with art and additional corrections (as determined by the playtest) will be different.
Once you’ve had a chance to fully digest the rules and put them to use, feel free to visit the forums at bg.battletech.com, specifically, the “Catalyst Asks You!” section. For each PDF there will be two threads. The first will be the “errata” thread; a “no discussion” thread where all you’re doing is providing specific feedback on the document as is; i.e. “This rule doesn’t work and here’s why” thread. The second will be the “discussion” thread, where players can discuss the rules, request insight into why rules were done a certain way, provide a wish list of additional content, and so on. More rules covering each thread can be found in those threads.
The online names of all players that participate in these threads will be collated and included in the final book (no other recompense will be involved).
So there you go. The first PDF is currently live: Interstellar Operations Open Beta Test: Solar System Generation. Additionally, the two associated threads are live: Interstellar Operations Open Beta Test: Solar System Generation: Discussion AND Interstellar Operations Open Beta Test: Solar System Generation: Errata.
As I said, we’ve still got months of hard work to finally wrap this book up and do it in a way that makes it the coolest rulebook of its type ever done for BattleTech…look forward to working with the community at a level we’ve never before tried…and a huge thanks in advanced for your enthusiasm and expertise!
By randall on August 24, 2012
Last year for Origins and Gen Con Catalyst experimented with some BattleTech dice. Just basic colors for the five Houses and ComStar, with the BattleMaster bust as the “6″ face.
They did well enough that we wanted to up the ante and try for the first unique faction dice in ages and ages. So we produced 10 different factions, in a variety of high quality colors. Based upon the sales we had last year we doubled the number of dice we produced this year and thought we’d be just fine.
At Origins we sold more than we had at both conventions last year. At that point we knew the dice would never last through Gen Con. While we tried to get more dice out of our manufacturer, they were simply maxed already; i.e. we started the batch we had for this season in February to get the size and batch quality we did.
That meant going into Gen Con we were going to sell out. There was a discussion before hand whether we should limit dice purchasing. I’d seen discussions on twitter and forums of people pooling resources to be able to buy a dozen sets or more to ensure a gaming group could all get their dice. I had absolutely no problems with that and hence said we shouldn’t limit sales.
I admit my naivete got the better of me and many of you paid with that by not being able to get your dice. It never occurred to me we might run into scalpers that’d purchase 50 or 100 dice and then try and sell them online for ludicrously over-inflated prices. For that mis-step I sincerely apologize.
Let me lay out the issues of why, to date, they’ve only been convention dice and so limited in numbers.
1. We don’t have or own the molds for these type of dice. As such, to produce these dice we go to a manufacturer that purchases “blanks” (i.e. the “6″ face doesn’t have anything on it), and they engrave what ever we give them.
This is an expensive and time consuming process. Hence why we started in February, doubled our order from laster year and we still ran out on day one of Gen Con, while the dice can cost Catalyst anywhere from $0.30 to $0.50 to purchase, depending upon quantities ordered, the type of dice, and so on. So let’s average that to $0.40
2. Talking in VERY general terms, a game company will generally only receive 35% of the MSRP. And again, talking in general terms, most game companies will try and create a 6 times mark-up of the cost to the MSRP to create enough of a margin of profit to cover all costs of production, overhead and a slim profit on the back side.
So, normally you’d take that $0.40 cost, bump it to say $0.50 to cover all non printing costs (i.e. generation of the art, layout time and so on; we had to spend time taking the logos and creating versions the dice manufacturer could use), and then multiply by 6 which creates a $3 MSRP. That would create a payment back to us of $1.05
3. Now I know you’re asking…wait, that’s a 100% profit! That’s insane! Yes, yes it is…except the $0.50 cost of the dice doesn’t take into account the cost of the packaging material it would need to have to go in a store, shipping from the manufacturer and so on…that $0.55 ‘profit’ shrinks down to the $0.10 or less range very, very quickly.
4. The vast majority of retailers would never buy into a set of dice selling for $3 a die, hence why it’s been impossible, to date, to put these through retailers.
Even selling them directly at conventions we’re taking less of a mark-up than we’d normally like, but because it’s sans packaging and selling direct, we can get away with a slim profit margin that leaves the fans walking away with crazy cool dice.
5. Why don’t we sell these online when we’re selling direct and no package? Pick fees. Our warehouse fullfillment service charges us for every order we fulfill. With the margins so slim, those extra pick fees simply make it untenable.
6. Why don’t we just create our own molds? Because molds are expensive…any where from 6k up to 10k. That’s effectively two or even three full print runs of B&W books. So not only is it a cash flow issue, but it’s also about proving that there’s a market for these in the stores so we can sell enough that the mold cost is ameliorated across enough dice to ensure the whole line is ultimately profitable.
Coming out of this year’s convention we have done exactly that…proven with out a doubt there is a strong enough desire for such dice that we can now start going down the road of creating our own molds…which while a heavy up front cost will drop the individual dice cost down to pennies, meaning all the packaging, mark-ups, shipping and so on can still be covered more in a $1 to $1.5 range, not the $3 that’d been killing the project.
What does all of this mean to the community that didn’t get any dice? It means that the demand is proven and that Catalyst is committed to getting faction dice into stores. However, we still need to work on getting the mold costs down into the lower range; working with multiple companies to see who we’ll ultimately use. And since it’s all overseas, it’s simply a matter of months.
So there won’t be a quick and easy answer. But next year we should finally see faction dice actually appearing on retail store shelves…and of course the flood in that market will hopefully kill off those scalper prices.
Hope that answers all of your questions surrounding this topic.