37 years ago, before consoles, PC’s and the Gameboy…there were board games. Not just any board games though. These were the days of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), WarHammer, and others like them. Worlds built on the extent of human imagination and fantasy. You could be anyone or anything. Most of these games were focused on previous wars, like Axis and Allies, or fantasy worlds, such as D&D. However, one game stood apart from the rest…BattleTech, the year was 1984.
What is BattleTech?
Set from the late 21st to the 32nd century, BattleTech follows a dark age futuristic universe where humans have colonized the stars. The game play itself takes place around year 3025 after the downfall of the once mighty Start League, resulting in the succession wars. This results in many branched off nations all fighting for supplies, planets, personal gain and freedom. Old technology of the Star League has been lost and advanced tech is difficult to find and understand. The story content and size of this games universe is impressive and insanely huge. The fiction works on the premise that man is his own worst enemy, destroying themselves over and over again, constantly at war. BattleMechs are the main machines of war along with tanks, aircraft and mobile infantry. Later versions of the game introduced War Ships. BattleTech is a turn based style multiplayer role-playing game (RPG) with multiple maps divided into grids. Using dice and paper, you detail your damage, armor, equipment ammunition and many other pieces of data. Figurines are used to depict your Mechs and military units. A complex system, but easy to follow, of design rules allows players to create their own custom units and build off their own imagination within this vast universe. Outside the board game, there are a multitude of BattleTech novels written since the 80’s
Factions and War
Destruction of the Star League, followed by centuries of Succession Wars brought about several large nations and factions. Collectively, these make up what is known as the Inner Sphere. Some mean well, others are religious fanatics, and many are based off how the modern world of the 1980’s was depicted. For instance Draconis Combine-House Kurita with their dragon crest resembles a culture of Asian decent and are known for their Honor in battle. The Capellon Confederation-House Liao is known for their Communist like world views and ruthlessness. ComStar regard themselves as the saviors of humanity and keepers of lost technology. Later revealed as devious schemers who ruthlessly misused their trusted position to manipulate others. There are Mercenaries, which play an import role, some achieving considerable wealth and fame for their work. They act alone, taking contracts with whoever they want and can be a deciding factor between winning and losing a battle. Later on in 3049, Successors of the self exiled Star League, invade the Inner Sphere. These were known as the Clan Wars and they brought with them powerful lost technology to take back what they believed is theirs.
From Board Game to Video Game!
In 1989, Activision published the first PC game based off the BattleTech universe…MechWarrior! Playing as a man named Gideon Braver, you take command of a mercenary unit to uncover plots, retrieve artifacts and get revenge for the death of your family. you manage the units finances, negotiation contracts and buy and sell pilots and BattleMechs. Since then, MechWarrior has had 23 BattleTech and MechWarrior games out across PC and Console. The latest, MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is the first MechWarrior since 2002’s MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries. The game came out in 2019 and is a gorgeous semi-open world combat experience. The game give the nostalgia of the older ones with modern graphics and the typical RPG style game play. Although the music isn’t near as good as it’s predecessors, I still highly recommend it for the in depth history, gameplay and universe’s knowledge if you are a fan of this game and it’s history!