You may have noticed a lack of posts in this space recently and I apologize for that. Recent events have kept me from writing longer and succinct blog entries, as they do tend to take up more time and thought and sometimes editing.
However, I have recently taken to posting smaller tidbits and “sound bites” of things I am doing on Instagram and Twitter–mostly about BattleTech miniatures painting of late.
If you would like to continuing seeing updates, please follow me there!
When I first started looking into BattleTech art commissions, I dug around for information about the “official” artists–people who did covers or interior art for Catalyst books or novels. One of the people I have had my eye on was Eldon Cowgur (go buy his stuff), his art shows up everywhere (especially if you read Sarna.net like other people read Wikipedia). Eldon was very accommodating and quick to respond and I cannot deny this loveable quality to his art–even when dealing with destruction and stompy robots. I just realize about 10 minutes ago that he also does work on Heavy Gear! Eldon will have the following image available for prints on his website in the future, so you can order and support him if you like what you see.
While I would like to think I am getting my Wolf’s Dragoons knowledge up to par, I have to admit I had not read much about Natasha Kerensky except on the previously touted Sarna.net. At the time of this article, I am only about halfway through Wolves on the Border (which probably means I will be done by the time this article goes up), but even there I am not getting the full Black Widow experience? Regardless, Kerensky is an iconic character and I felt that Eldon’s previous illustration needed a counterpoint to the later half of her life where she was Khan of Clan Wolf.
I have made comments in previous articles about both the Warhammer and the Dire Wolf, so I am just going to leave a picture of both miniatures (painted by Les Mandeville) here instead.
Continuing with Wolf’s Dragoons are the leaders of the famed mercenary group all the way up to 3073 during the Jihad.
Jaime Wolf is the enigmatic leader of the Dragoons. He is depicted in several novels and game supplements–looking a lot like Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October in some of them. He was an easy–if somewhat predictable–choice for Wolf’s Dragoons imagery. His Archer is one of the more recognizable in the lore and I have made comments about it in a previous post.
The more important thing I wanted in this piece was to depict Maeve Wolf, Jaime’s clone. She has no illustrations I can find and the only real description is that she bears a strong resemblance to Jaime. So what does that actually look like…?
I have worked with Alexandra Coggon before on a couple of projects and she is always accommodating and great to work with. My main question to her was whether she had experience with ‘Mechs. As you can see, she knocked those out of the park. The preview sketches Alex provided were simply amazing. You will see more of her work in future KB Presents projects.
The Thunderbolt is just an awesome–oops, wording–Heavy ‘Mech. The 5S model of 3025 has 13 tons of armor, a decent LRM, Large Laser, triple Medium Lasers, and a few other small fry weapons. The problem, as usual, is the heat sinks. I prefer the 5SE version associated with the Eridani Light Horse, removes the small weapons, adds jumpers and heat sinks. It looks great as well: big, blocky, and mean. My only concern is the cockpit placement. Neurohelmets are supposed to take the MechWarrior’s sense of balance to help the ‘Mech, but how would your sense of balance be if your head was not centered on your body and neck?
On Saturday, September 17th we are holding a game day to raise money for SickKids and Extra Life. You can get more information from the site. What I wanted to talk about was why this charity and cause.
In the early days of webcomics, well before I had children, Penny Arcade had a cause they created called Child’s Play. It was a way for gamers to give back and help children and it really touched me how a little bit of publicity and good will in the gaming community could be a force of good. Fast forward a decade or more and I heard about Extra Life. I have always believed that early exposure to games (in my case D&D and other RPGs) is extremely beneficial for children–I have no proof, just a gut feeling. Extra Life allowed people to raise money for local children’s hospitals, money going right back into the community where they live. My mother worked at SickKids for over 10 years and I remember being very young and showing up at a telethon with my sister to try and help out however we could. I did not understand it then, but I do now.
As I got to speaking to the people around me and hearing their stories about Extra Life and SickKids–like Mike Street’s story about his daughter–I knew that I had an opportunity to help. Maybe some of it is selfish, I have two children that would benefit should anything happen to them and they need the hospital’s help, but also to give a chance for other children to attend a game day instead of only seeing things remotely.
Actually, I did not go anywhere, but Focht’s News Channel ran two events in two weekends–one store event and one demo event at the CNE Gaming Garage–so things were a bit hectic on the BattleTech side. Also, I am on vacation this week, so I needed to get ahead–who am I kidding, just catching up on paperwork–before taking off and leaving my team on their own.
I do notice that if a skip a few days (or a weeks) of updates, my gaming comments and activities to report on sort of stack up. Since I want to keep this space relatively succinct, I will make up multiple posts to summarize.
So starting with art commissions: There are several more illustrations on the way from different artists fleshing out Wolf’s Dragoons art, but I am also looking for someone to redesign an old ‘Mech to a fresh look–for a future Dragoons commission. Yep, leaning into my units and fandom. So without further ado…
Vincentius has done work for me previously on Exploring Eberron and I knew his ability with tech renderings and painting. He did draw her a bit younger than she is portrayed during Coventry, but I did not specify a time–just the MechWarrior and ‘Mech.
Which brings us to the Nightstar. Anyone who knows a bit about my ‘Mech selection knows my preference for chicken walkers and Marauders. So it is probably no surprise my favorite ‘Mech is the sniper juggernaut Nightstar with Gauss Rifles and ER PPC for backup. It is only short half a ton of armor coverage compared to the Marauder II or Atlas and it can damage project to pretty annoying ranges. The “Brubaker” variant has Clan Large Pulse Lasers, so it is deadly a long range and annoyingly accurate when you try to close. My only regret… I have not been able to play it during the Introductory games. But Standard soon…
For two days at the CNE Gaming Garage, we ran demos and talked to hundreds of people as they came by to look at (and sometimes quick pic) the booth:
It has been several years (COVID) since I was running events at the CNE. Last time it was multiple tables of Dungeons & Dragons and we had some Demo Agents setup a great BattleTech spread. In those days the Gaming Garage was hidden in the back hall, under gloomy lights and dark ceilings. This year, it was in the middle of the Enercare Centre, taking up the majority of Hall B.
The thing I have always said about the CNE experience, as opposed to a traditional gaming convention, is that people have come to explore. They do not expect to sit down and actually play for more than a few minutes before seeing something else. It is under that expectation that had to drive the way we spoke to people. The single most important thing–other than the eye-catching setup and terrain (by Thunderhead Studio and Steel Warrior Studios)–was a box of Armored Combat that we opened to show people what they were getting with their $60 purchase. (It definitely confused a bunch of people when we said we were not selling them, just showcasing.)
During the first day, a young child (7 years-old) came by the booth to learn the game. He proceeded to decimate one of the team’s Marauder, knocking it over and detonating the side torso in an ammo explosion. The glee and sheer excitement in the child’s eyes as I told him he won was hilarious. He proceeded to trounce his sister in a second game. While the days were tiring and there is still risk of con-crud (or something more serious), I definitely miss seeing people’s faces as they play and enjoy what we spent time and effort setting up.
Wow, I was not expecting such an outstanding response to the image of Wilhelmina. I know that the community can be pretty split on opinion about the Wolf’s Dragoons–love, hate, or dismissive–but I like their place in the lore, and obviously their camo scheme, to have my ‘Mechs painted in (some of) their colors. Several people in the community reached out and said the image prompted them to have their own illustrations done.
I feel like BattleTech has so much room for fan-based creations. A lot of people create and paint their own mercenary units, and the game history is specifically built to accept those creations as part of the overall story. Peoplelike seeing things added to canon. The game of BattleTech could easily be played without this additive element, but I feel it is a more immersive environment to call these units your own.
That long-winded paragraph done, what is next? The positive comments have prompted me add a few more illustrations to my list of ideas. No peeking yet, but I promise to share the results with the community as appropriate.
I have never found the Archer to be a compelling ‘Mech, Robotech nostalgia aside. In 3025 terms, it has too much firepower for too few heat sinks. You cannot even fire both LRMs without pushing the heat scale! However, it is very well armored at 13 tons and can defend it self close range with multiple Medium Lasers (again too much heat). The Dragoons have the 2W version which replaces armor and lasers with SRMs. The lostech version has pulse lasers to really dissuade someone trying to close underneath LRM range. I will probably need to play the Standard version a few more times before making a judgment call, but if was good enough for Morgan Kell and Jaime Wolf… then you need to be the best MechWarrior in the galaxy to use it!
BattleTech being a game of stompy robots means ‘Mechs are well represented and drawn (the ones that do not look like a rubber ducky), but maybe the pilots do not get their full due. Of course, MechWarriors in their cooling vests look ridiculous, but hundreds of years of history leaves many un-depicted. Wolf’s Dragoons being my faction, my forces might as well have a face for the commander.
This was actually a difficult composition at first, if you consider how large a BattleMech actually is. I wanted the pilot to be the focus of the image, but you really cannot do that without the person being away from the ‘Mech–it is just too damned big–and you lose detail on the person. Originally I wanted her sitting on the ‘Mech’s shoulder… you can see how that would not work. Tan came up with several alternative compositions and was incredibly easy to work with. In my other, other, (other?) life, I have the mantle of Art Director so I appreciate solution-oriented artists.
The Marauder II (not to be confused with the Marauder, Nightstar, Marauder IIC, or any other various Marauder-style ‘Mechs) is an incredibly powerful Introductory ‘Mech. Twin PPCs and a Large Laser are backed up by a couple Medium Lasers, which means this 100 ton monster hits at all ranges. 19 tons of armor and it has no ammunition stores to worry about, it still has 3 jump jets and enough heat sinks to piss off opponents. This is also a Wolf’s Dragoons exclusive ‘Mech historically, a nice little upgrade of Marauder. It definitely gets better in the Clan Invasion era with lostech applied. A few of my friends have experienced the stompy nature of this machine, so I will have more to say about it in the future as well!
One of the most prolific and sought out ‘Mech painter in my local area is Les Mandeville. So when I finally got my Clan Invasion boxes sorted and figured out, I sought out Les to throw some paint on Wolf’s DragoonsGamma Regiment.
When I asked Les to paint these, I basically selected them because I knew enough about the Dragoons to be dangerous, but also I like the color scheme–though it does not clearly state what “midnight blue” actually looks like. There are some differing examples on Unit Color Compendium and Camo Specs, but I eventually settled on a color. The color looks very different under different light sources.
I have over half a Battalion worth of Gamma Regiment ‘Mechs at this point, but I may have planted my flag on color schemes too soon. I have no complaints about the quality, but I am having some second thoughts about the color when plastic hits the table…
Robotech comments aside, I chose the Wasp as part of my initial Wolf’s Dragoons paints because of its low BV point cost–I could fit it in as a scout ‘Mech when penny pinching points to build Lances. A single Medium Laser and an SRM 2 are not impressive or dangerous, nor is 3 tons of armor. The usefulness for this ‘Mech comes in with its 6/9/6 movement, which is not all that great compared to a Spider or even the Medium Phoenix Hawk. After a few runs in 3025, I stopped using it altogether. If you can get it to transform into a Veritech Fighter however…
Last time it was the Dire Wolf Prime, this time it is the Dire Wolf C against a swarm of Light 3025 Inner Sphere ‘Mechs in a showdown to the pain.
A lucky critical roll blew off the Dire Wolf‘s leg, but I still feel the C variant was a better choice for this match-up. The Dire Wolf had less luck intercepting the Light ‘Mechs on the way in, so it was up against a heavier swarm at close range.
What was remarkable about the game however was using Flechs to run all the calculation and rolls. This made running 7 ‘Mechs so much easier. And since I could ignore making my own dice rolls and just pass the information inside the app, I sped up this game significantly. I mean, with some proficiency and practice, you can probably run a 4 vs. 4 game in less than infinity time! Just imagine!
Coming up in the next few posts are a couple commissioned illustrations, a lot of painted ‘Mechs, and a few local game announcements. Until next time MechWarriors!