Thursday, March 28, 2024

Battletech: The Technical Readouts


The TRO's are the "fun" books of the line. They give you game stats for a bunch of mechs for a given time period but they also give you a big illustration and then they also give the history of that design, where it was produced, how it was used, variants, and some sample mechwarriors who use it. The original 3025 TRO up there was where the BT universe really started to take off as a "real" place. It set a certain tone and a certain look that has never been exceeded in my opinion. Part of this was having a single artist do all of the work for this book - that consistency really welded the whole thing together. 

Time marches on though and later there was a 3026 TRO covering more vehicles and personal gear, 2750 stepping back to Star League mechs, then 3050 bringing in the clans and updating the Inner Sphere mechs to higher tech, and 3055 adding even more and then on and on for a few of decades. There were tweaks to the content as the whole "Unseen" kerfluffle erupted resulting in the need to remove the images of some of those classic anime-sourced designs. Then there was their eventual replacement using new looks for the same stats - a mixed bag there. Then the eventual reinstatement of the originals after some legal victories.  The basic mix of TRO's was the same though - new ones tended to add-on rather than replace old books.

Recently though Catalyst has revamped the whole thing and tied them in to their more formal "Era" approach. Now instead of "3025" and "3050" TRO's we have  "Succession Wars" and a "Clan Invasion" TRO. 

I will say they do look good and the design and branding and all that ties them in to the rest of the line nicely so you can easily tell these are the current thing and not an older edition. With as much Battletech stuff as is floating around out there I think it does matter.

There are others besides these two - one for Jihad and Dark Age and probably ilClan too but I haven't delved too far into those eras yet as my existing familiarity peters out around the Jihad timeframe. These do use a lot of the old artwork which is nice but there are some quirks. Despite the legal issues being resolved some of the iconic unseen mechs do not appear in these which is disappointing. You have to go to the "Recognition Guide Vol. 1" to get those. 

This one covers all of the old IS mechs plus all of those clan second-line mechs that were based on them - the "IIC" versions some of you may recall. 

Like this one ...

Also a lot of the old Star League mechs have been retconned into having a 3025-era declining tech version, presumably to fill in the gaps left by the missing classic mechs. It's weird to see a Black Knight and a Flashman mixed in with 3025 staples like an Archer or an Orion. But it does make them useable with an official version in that time period so it's not really a problem - just a wrinkle in time for some of us old-timers that skipped out for a bit.

So where do these books fall? Well, once you've played the base game you could pick up the Succession Wars TRO and use most of the mechs in it in your games.  The Battlemech Manual discussed in the prior post will give you all of the rules you might need for the rest of them, plus it would cover the mechs in the other volumes like the Clan Invasion book. 

On another level these effectively serve as a catalog for picking up mech miniatures - here's what it does in-game and here's how it looks ... see anything you like?  I know that just showing people that original 3025 TRO pulled in a lot of new players back when so they are powerful tools when done right. 

Today there are effectively four elements to the Battletech tabletop game: The Boxed Sets, the Rulebooks, the TRO's, and the miniatures. You can certainly start with just one of the boxes but if you enjoy the game you will likely be picking up some of the other pieces as well. 

Let's talk about the miniatures next.


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