Tuesday, 13 August 2019

BattleTech: Beginner Box

Hi folks,

I'm sorry I haven't been blogging much the past couple of months. I always knew that the first three Terms of teaching this year were going to be hard-going, and the reality has strongly reflected those expectations. I have had to put my hobby shenanigans on significant hold, while I guided my Year 12's through their last year at school. Still, all work no play makes Marc go something something...

So, in August last year I pre-ordered the new BattleTech sets from Alpha Strike games, a Perth based company in Australia that sells a lot of BattleTech stuff. I had a hunch that it would take a long while for the products to actually reach Australian shores and I wasn't disappointed in that regard. Close to 12 months later, having saved one of the box sets to open on my Birthday (a month ago...), I finally have something to show for my patience. As a long time fan of the BattleTech universe, all I can say is WOW.

Let's start with the Beginner Box.

BattleTech Beginner Box

Beginner boxes usually contain only enough to get you hooked into the game and wanting more. For this reason, I wasn't expecting all that much. To be honest, I only really purchased it for the Griffin miniature, which you can't get any other way (well... there are ways, but I can't be bothered doing them). The Beginners set that I grew up with ~ 25 years ago had a couple of maps, some quick rules, a book of record sheets and a bunch of cardboard 'Mechs on stands, sporting "unseen"* artworks. Damned if I don't still love the heck out of that set, my whole fandom is based on it, really. So, knowing that you can get a hell of a lot out of a little bit of BattleTech, let me say that the new box is a treasure trove.

To start with, it provides some abbreviated record sheets, which omit the Heat rules. These are perfect for starter games, particularly with younger kids. I'll be photocopying these, because I'm too precious to draw all over them! The new art for the 'Mechs is sweet as.

The box comes with two miniatures, which were never a real focus of our games growing up; we used to use d8's most of the time, or those cardboard standees. For $35ish AUD, to pick up two models is not too shabby. The new sculpts are fantastic and the chassis are classic: a Griffin and a Wolverine. A Griffin (left) is a medium/long range sniper and one of my all-time favourites. Armed with a PPC and LRM 10, and jump jets to spare, it is a great 'Mech for strategic maneuvering and effective sniping. The Wolverine (right) is more of a close/medium range brawler, armed with an AC 5, medium laser and SRM 6. Neither 'Mechs are all that powerful, but in terms of the de-powered, narrative driven, BattleTech gaming I have always played, they are excellent choices for this set.

The set also comes with some special character cards that would allow you to use MechWarrriors with special abilities in your games.

Some punch-out standees of 'Mechs are provided, which really set the fires of nostalgia raging in my heart. There isn't much variety on offer, but it is a Beginner Box, after all. I am particularly impressed by the punch-out terrain hexes, which allow you to modify the layout of the map sheets provided. This is something that the earlier sets lacked, but now provides players with a degree of customisation. You could place the terrain randomly every game and never play the exact same setup twice (please don't do the math on this). 

The two mapsheets provided are much better quality than what the last Beginner offered. It is still just heavy paper but the print is detailed and beautifully coloured, with neat fold lines. The terrain setup of the basic beginner maps is pretty sparse, which can be great for learners, quick rumbles, or for narrative driven games that require some open space. There is also plenty of room on both maps to place additional terrain hexes.

The quickstart rules leave out heat management, which I think is OK for a Beginner box, though no son of mine is going to ever play BattleTech without heat, dammit. There was also a short novella in there, which had a real old school "Price of Glory" feel to it. 

Overall, for the low entry price, this set is great value. There is definitely enough here to get you going in BattleTech. Next post we'll take a look at the "A Game of Armored Combat" box that I also got, before I start waxing lyrical about the Clan Invasion Kickstarter.

See you across the table,



  1. Looking forward to seeing you get those Mechs painted up.

  2. Me too, I'm going to experiment with all different types of camo.