How Battletech Got Me Painting Minis Again
I have a long history with painting miniatures. I got started painting miniatures way back in the late 1990's with Warhammer 40K. My first army, just like almost everyone else, was Space Marines. After plenty of time using my marines and painting tons of units and vehicles, I was looking to start a new force right around the time that Games Workshop was about to introduce the Tau. I loved the look of this mysterious new faction and was immediately sold on them.
Later, I was convinced by some gamer friends that I would like Warhammer Fantasy better because of its heavier strategic elements. They were definitely right, I fell in complete love with Warhammer Fantasy and over the years painted two complete armies for the game (Beasts of Chaos and Goblins) as well as numerous units for other armies that I was toying with the idea of trying.
This time period turned in to a roller coaster ride for me and my feelings about GW as well as the hobby as a whole. Warhammer Fantasy was in its 6th edition when I came on board. Some minor issues with the rules notwithstanding, I loved 6th edition. When 7th edition rolled around, I had immediate problems with the changes. My main unit in my Beasts of Chaos army was given a ridiculously exploitable Achilles' heel that could have been fixed with a simple errata, but GW refused to fix the problem.
As time went on, 7th edition became more and more unplayable as GW seemed to throw balance out the window with their army book releases. Power creep had long been a common complaint amongst Warhammer players, but the situation in 7th edition was no longer a creep but rather giant leaps with each new book. The problem came to a head with the release of the Demons of Chaos army book release. The new book was so powerful that the army was unbeatable by most armies other than the two that had their books release immediately before the demons'.
The tournament winners started to be filled with nothing but Demon armies and those designed specifically to combat the demons. The game just wasn't fun anymore. Around this time, I stopped playing Warhammer and consequently, I stopped painting miniatures. I tried to get into some other miniature games but I always had one of 2 problems, either there weren't enough players playing the game or the game had lots of the same issues that I had already become familiar with.
For a time, I just got more into general board games and card games, a trend that has definitely continued to this day. However, GW pulled me back in when they announced 8th edition of Warhammer Fantasy. They claimed that they had learned their lessons, the new edition was going to be all about fun. They weren't kidding, 8th edition quickly became my absolute favorite edition of all time. This is when I made my goblin army and I absolutely loved playing them. I made numerous miniature dioramas to use as unit fillers for my hordes of goblins, each diorama the size of four goblin infantry. I painted and converted to my heart's content, fueled again by my love for the game.
This was not to last, as there was no 9th edition. GW decided to scrap Warhammer Fantasy completely and replace it with the highly inferior and dumbed down Age of Sigmar. I boycott all Games Workshop products these days for a combination of reasons ranging from my dislike of their anti-gamer practices with their attacks on content creators who cover their games to their price gouging, but their decision to end Warhammer Fantasy was the event that started my boycott.
Over the years since, I would paint the occasional mini because I liked the look of it, but I couldn't get motivated to paint more than one here or there without a great game to play with them.
I was first introduced to the universe of Battletech way back in the 1980's and first played the original board game in the early 1990's. The game and universe have always captivated me, however I never got into painting the minis for it in any serious manner because I always treated the game more like a board game than a mini game. After all, its main rules set is written for the use of a hex based board with the tabletop rules done as a conversion in the back of the rulebook.
I've played Battletech on and off over the decades that have followed, whenever I can get someone else to check it out. It had been becoming increasingly hard to do so as time has gone on because the rules set was really starting to show its age as it hadn't been seriously overhauled since the 1980's. The miniatures for my favorite time period, the clan invasion, were also seriously showing their age as many of them were the same sculpts from when I was a kid.
All of that changed recently. Catalyst Games lab, the company that currently produces Battletech, came out with a ton of new sculpts that came with some amazing new content as well. It began with some new starter sets and has continued with some lance and star packs containing not just great new mech sculpts but also some truly amazing new rules to revitalize the game while not invalidating any of the old rules.
The new starter sets as well as the lance and star packs come with mechwarrior cards for use in the game. As an optional rule, you and your opponent can agree to use one mechwarrior card each of an agreed upon value. The value represents the special ability or abilities of the mechwarrior, the mechwarrior also has improved gunnery and piloting skills which then your opponent can match with one of their other mechwarriors. In addition, the clan invasion starter set introduced lance/star abilities which as long as you build your lance or star according to certain templates, you gain an extra ability for your entire lance or star.
These new optional additions to the game have totally refreshed my excitement for Battletech, they speed up the game by increasing the lethality of your best pilots and add amazing amounts of tactical variability. This combined with the amazingly beautiful new sculpts that come in all the new sets has got me painting minis again.
I've already painted an entire company (three lances) of mechs for my First Kestrel Grenadiers of The Federated Suns force and I'm planning to paint a Clan Diamond Shark Rho Spina Galaxy force as well. I feel the same joy and motivation with painting my new mechs that I did when I was brand new to the hobby. I don't know if this will last, or if it does, how long it will last, but I'm loving it at the moment.
Thanks very much for reading this blog post. If you'd like to check out more pics of my mechs you can scroll through my Instagram feed at the bottom of the web site main page and click on the picks of painted mechs to see more pics.