The Supreme Guide To BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat

Welcome, MechWarrior! Are you a fan of giant robots? Tactical wargaming? Just love cool miniatures? Then you are in the right place!

BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat is the world’s greatest tabletop miniatures wargame of armored combat. You will take command of a squad of giant robots in a challenging game of tactical warfare. Whether you are looking to play a board game, tabletop wargame, or role-playing game, BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat has something for you!

What is the BattleTech Universe?

Mechwarrior: Origins - An introduction to the Battletech Universe

BattleTech is a science-fiction tabletop miniatures wargame set in the 31st Century. You play as a MechWarrior, the master of a multi-ton, towering avatar of destruction called a BattleMech. These war machines are the culmination of more than 3,000 years of battlefield technology development.

It could be a precious heirloom passed from parent to child across centuries, or one trusted to you by your world’s government. Whether a soldier-of-fortune or a true-blue patriot, you drop into hot zones across a thousand planets to expand the star-spanning empire of one of the noble Great Houses.

Or are you an elite, genetically engineered Clan MechWarrior from beyond known space, invading the Inner Sphere to bring order to the barbarians of the old world? The choice is up to you!

Era’s of the BattleTech Universe

The history of the BattleTech Universe spans millennia of warfare, with each era divided between brief periods of peace. From the rise of the ancient Star League to the fall of the Republic of the Inner Sphere, let’s take a brief look at the era of the BattleTech Universe.

The Terran Hegemony

With the creation of the Kearny-Fuchida Jump Drive, humanity began to spread out amongst the stars at a rapid pace. The Terran Hegemony is formed to manage the worlds immediately around Terra, and the feudal Great Houses begin to expand further into the unknown. The strain of this expansion led to many conflicts between Terra and its new colonies. 

The Star League

Ian Cameron, the ruler of the Terran Hegemony, concludes decades of tireless effort with the creation of the Star League, a political and military alliance between all Great Houses and the Hegemony. Star League armed forces immediately launch the Reunification War, forcing the Periphery realms to join. 

For the next two centuries, humanity experiences a golden age across the thousand light-years of human-occupied space known as the Inner Sphere. It also sees the creation of the most powerful military in human history.

The Succession Wars

Every last member of First Lord Richard Cameron’s family is killed during a coup launched by Stefan Amaris. Following the thirteen-year war to unseat him, the rulers of each of the five Great Houses disband the Star League. 

General Aleksandr Kerensky, along with 80% of the Star League Defense Force, departs beyond known space, and the Inner Sphere collapses into centuries of warfare known as the Succession Wars that will eventually result in a massive loss of technology across most worlds.

The Clan Invasion

A mysterious invading force from beyond known space begins conquering the worlds of the Inner Sphere. The invaders, called the Clans, are descendants of Kerensky’s Star League Defense Force troops, forged into a society dedicated to becoming the most skilled fighting force in history. 

With vastly superior technology and warriors, the Clans conquer world after world. Eventually, this outside threat will force the Great Houses of the Inner Sphere to forge a new Star League, something hundreds of years of warfare failed to accomplish. Also, the Clans will act as a catalyst for a technological renaissance.

The Civil War

The Clan threat is eventually lessened with the complete destruction of a Clan. With that massive external threat apparently neutralized, internal conflicts explode around the Inner Sphere. 

House Liao conquers the St. Ives Compact; a rebellion of military units belonging to House Kurita sparks a war with Clan Ghost Bear; the fabulously powerful Federated Commonwealth of House Steiner and House Davion collapses into five long years of bitter civil war.

The Jihad

Following the Federated Commonwealth Civil War, the leaders of the Great Houses meet and disband the new Star League, declaring it a sham. In this power vacuum, one of the most significant threats to humanity was born.

The pseudo-religious Word of Blake launches the Jihad: an interstellar war that will ultimately pit every faction against each other and even against themselves, as weapons of mass destruction and frightening technologies are unleashed for the first time in centuries.

The Dark Ages

Following the Jihad, the Republic of the Sphere is born at the heart of the Inner Sphere. One of the more extensive periods of peace begins to break out as the 32nd-century dawns. The factions, to one degree or another, embrace disarmament, and the massive armies of the Succession Wars start to fade. 

However, in 3132, eighty percent of interstellar communications collapsed, throwing the universe into chaos. Wars almost immediately erupt, and the factions begin rebuilding their armies.

Factions of the BattleTech Universe

© Catalyst Game Lab

Great Houses of the Inner Sphere

The feudal Great Houses have controlled the Inner Sphere’s two thousand star systems for centuries. Shaping the futures of trillions, each House is ruled by a single family that wields immense power. 

These dictatorships, benign or otherwise, began to rise to prominence following the creation of the Terran Hegemony, binding nearby planets together for mutual protection.

The nobility of the Great Houses is mostly hereditary, and noble titles are standard, from planetary governors to MechWarriors, the modern equivalent of knights.

House Davion – Federated Suns

House Davion’s Federated Suns is seen by many as a nation that glorifies war. With one of the Inner Spheres’ most capable military forces and a nobility system based on feudal England and France, the Federated Suns profess the ideals of personal freedom and the rule of law above all else.

During the Fourth Succession War, the Federated Suns and the Lyran Commonwealth united to create the Federated Commonwealth. Under this union, Houses Davion and Steiner went on to challenge the might of House Kurita in the War of 3039. But this alliance eventually collapsed during the FedCom Civil War. 

The Federated Suns have a free market economy, and militarily, they prefer combined-arms warfare and strategic initiative, valuing the virtues of logistics and maneuvering over brute force and savagery.

House Kurita – Draconis Combine

The Draconis Combine is based on the culture of feudal Japan and ruled by House Kurita; it is a realm whose warriors and citizenry embrace the tenets of bushido—the ancient Japanese Way of the Warrior. Honor and duty are the cornerstones of Combine society. These ideals make the Combine’s military one of the most fearsome and passionate on the battlefield.

The “Dragon” became one of the first victims of the Clan invasion, which almost reached their capital of Luthien. They later repaid its would-be conquerors by leading the charge to Annihilate Clan Smoke Jaguar.

The Draconis Combine has a particularly harsh and xenophobic society that maintains a socialist market economy and a rigid leadership divided into social castes. 

The Draconis Combine military struggles with the need to function as a unit and its ideals of personal honor and glory. It’s not uncommon to see a lone Combine warrior challenge a superior force as it is to see entire formations combine their might to bring down an enemy.

House Liao – Capellan Confederation

The Capellan Confederation was initially settled by people from Terra’s Asian nations, with the roots of Chinese and Russian culture showing throughout their society. House Liao has come to embrace the harsh reality of police state politics and ruthless control to ensure their nation’s survival against its enemies after centuries of unrelenting warfare. 

Nearly shattered by House Davion in the Fourth Succession War, the Confederation allied with the Magistracy of Canopus and the Taurian Concordat and reclaimed much of what was lost. 

For the people of the Confederation, the needs of the state will always take precedence over those of the individual. This fact is evident in the radical nature of the Capellan soldiery as well as the open market communism that dominates the nation’s economy.

House Marik – Free Worlds League

The Free Worlds League is the oldest of the Successor States, and unlike the other feudal realms, it is a democracy, at least on paper. Although primarily run by House Marik, the League is a conglomerate of many smaller states and planets that allied long ago.

Though internally divisive by nature and riddled with bureaucracy, the League has existed in relative peace for many years and even escaped the worst of the Fourth Succession War. The Free Worlds’ industry and the economy boomed after the Clan invasion started, allowing them to become the arms dealer for the Inner Sphere.

Defining itself as a nation of tolerance and open-mindedness, the Free Worlds League is an open market capitalist economy and socially progressive realm with a military made up of regional forces.

House Steiner – Lyran Commonwealth

The Lyran Commonwealth is widely recognized as a nation of merchants, industrialists, and warriors. Founded by Germanic and Scottish settlers, the Lyran state is united in the pursuit of status and wealth. House Steiner rules through a combination of political intrigue and brute economic force.

Often on the defensive in the Succession Wars, House Steiner’s calls for peace eventually lead to the creation of the Federated Commonwealth. Still, the Lyran half of that alliance suffered greatly during the Clan invasion. This event, among others, led to the eruption of the FedCom Civil War and eventual birth of the Lyran Alliance.

Like the Federated Suns, the Lyran state enjoys an open market economy along with some of the Inner Sphere’s most industrialized worlds, leading to centuries of stability and success. Lyran martial prowess improved from reforms during the Federated Commonwealth era but is now widely seen as militarily inept due to so-called “social generals” and the widespread confidence in “bigger equals better” strategy. 

The typically Lyran solution to most problems is negotiation, barter, or covert action—and because of their resources and wealth, often field more substantial and more numerous forces producing a virtual wall of steel against an enemy advance.

ComStar

ComStar is an organization that sprang up after the collapse of the Star League, charged with maintaining the backbone of interstellar communication in the BattleTech universe. Minister of Communications Jerome Blake feared that the wars caused by the Star Leagues collapse would destroy the Hyperpulse Generator network, as well as the accumulated wealth of human knowledge and technology. 

ComStar, with the support of the House Lords, was given monopolistic control of the HPG network, and Terra declared a neutral world and headquarters for the organization. They also created the ComStar News Bureau, a Letter of Credit called the C-Bill, which soon became the standard in interstellar commerce, and the Mercenary Review Board was formed as an ‘honest broker’ for the booming mercenary industry.

Although presented as a neutral party, ComStar would secretly manipulate the Great Houses, pitting them against each other for its purposes. This shroud of secrecy eventually developed into a mystical religion, based around a holy duty to save humanity from itself by controlling all knowledge. 

Tensions between a secular faction aimed at helping humanity and the fanatically religious Word of Blake came to a head with the ComStar Schism. The conflict between the two sides would lead to the Jihad, with the Word of Blake effectively destroyed and ComStar much reduced in power. Ultimately, ComStar ceased to exist after being forcibly integrated with the Republic of the Sphere in the 32nd century.

Republic of the Sphere

The Republic of the Sphere consists of 250 worlds spread throughout an area around the planet Terra. Founded by Devlin Stone in 3081 and consisting of 10 Prefectures, the Republic was formed of worlds ceded to it by treaty with the Great Houses and Clans following the final defeat of the Word of Blake forces.

The Republic‟s motto is “Ad Securitas per Unitas,” meaning Liberty through Unity; the Latin word “securitas” means not only “freedom” but “security,” in acknowledgment of the violent past for which this region of space is famously known.

When interstellar communications collapse in 3132, the Republic was plunged into a massive civil war. Factions within the Republic began to support neighboring Great Houses, and those neighbors started to fight over what they saw as a failed experiment.

Due to this turmoil, many of the Knights and much of the Armed Forces of The Republic retreated to Prefecture X under the plan code-named “Fortress Republic.” The Republic dissolved as a significant political body after the Fortress declaration and renamed the Republic Remnant or “Republic Territories.”

Descendants of the Exodus – The Clans

The Clans came into being following the collapse of the Star League when the remnants of the Star League Defense Force, under the command of General Aleksandr Kerensky, fled the Inner sphere almost 300 years ago.

After traveling one thousand light-years, Kerensky’s forces settled the Clan homeworlds and forged a new, unique culture. Clan society resembles ancient Sparta, focusing on the warrior ethic and dedicated to advancing the technology of war.

The Clans are divided into two general camps about their ultimate mission. The Crusaders believe it’s their destiny to conquer the Inner Sphere and Terra. The Wardens believe their role is to protect the Inner Sphere against an as yet unrealized threat. There have been fierce debates between both factions since the creation of Clan society.

The Crusaders eventually launched a massive invasion of the Inner Sphere in the year 3050. Through a unified effort, the Great Houses were able to halt the attack. The Clans have since gradually become permanent inhabitants of many Inner Sphere worlds. 

Continued contact with the Inner Sphere has begun to erode various elements of Clan life, despite efforts to maintain their unique culture.

Clan Blood Spirit

One of the smallest and most traditional of the Clans, they were isolationist and the only one to be named after an ideal rather than a totem animal. Clan Blood Spirit produced excellent warriors, but was weak militarily and only survived due in part by having nothing worth fighting over. They believed the other Clans abandoned Kerensky’s vision, developing a bitterness that ensured they had few friends.

Clan Burrock

Named for an invertebrate endemic to the planet Dagda that could burrow through solid rock, Clan Burrock was one of the original twenty Clans. They are known for their consistently shifting style of combat that focuses on a combination of electronic warfare and mobile firepower.

Clan Burrock was most noted for its secret affiliation with the Dark Caste, a relationship that led directly to that Clan’s Absorption by Clan Star Adder. 

Clan Cloud Cobra

Clan Cloud Cobra is a smaller Clan and the only one to incorporate organized religion into its governing structure. Dedicated to an overarching concept known as “The Way,” their warrior-priests were among the most cunning and placed a heavy emphasis on their aerospace forces.

Clan Coyote

Clan Coyote is one of the strongest of the Clans and was responsible for the invention of the OmniMech. The Coyotes warriors were bound together in a brotherhood based on native American religious practices. As one of the Clans that opposed the invasion of the Inner Sphere, the Coyotes became the target of the Crusader Clans, and their strength and influence diminished. 

Clan Diamond Shark

Often referred to as the “Merchant Clan,” the Diamond Sharks was among the most powerful and progressive of the Clans. Known initially as Clan Sea Fox, they are the only Clan where the merchant caste’s influence exceeds that of the warriors. 

They were also the only Clan to allow warriors to join another caste, with many becoming Warrior-Traders voluntarily. After the Jihad, Clan Diamond Shark changed their name back to Clan Sea Fox.

Clan Fire Mandrill

Clan Fire Mandrill is unified in name only.  The Fire Mandrills never become a dominant force in Clan society due to its fractious nature. 

Their Clan is divided into groupings known as Kindraa and fought with anyone, even each other, to resolve issues. This fractious nature eventually led to the Mandrills’ downfall.

Clan Ghost Bear

One of the most powerful Clans, the Ghost Bears are known for its conservative nature and deep familial relationships. While slower to accept new concepts or new technologies, their approach to life also ensured the Clans’ survival and growth over the years. 

The Ghost Bears were one of the four Crusader Clans, invading both the Free Rasalhague Republic and the Draconis Combine. The Wars of Reaving forced the Ghost Bears to flee the Clan Homeworlds and to resettle in the Inner Sphere. 

Ultimately, they would merge with the remnant of the Free Rasalhague Republic to form a powerful Clan/Inner Sphere hybrid state known as the Rasalhague Dominion.

Clan Goliath

Clan Goliath Scorpion valued strength, speed, and precision in every action. Obsessed with recovering lost artifacts of the fallen Star League, knights-errant known as Seekers would roam far and wide to recover them. 

Many Seekers were often inspired by “visions” from the use of Necrosia, a dangerous toxin produced by the Goliath Scorpion of the Clans namesake. The Goliath Scorpions eventually fled to the Inner Sphere, conquering Nueva Castile and renaming it Escorpion Imperio.

Clan Hell’s Horses

Known prominently for their use of combat vehicles in front-line forces, the Hell’s Horses valued all members of Clan society as being part of a greater whole, including freeborn. The Hell’s Horses were among the most stable Clans and held their own against others. During the Wars of Reaving, Clan Hell’s Horses gradually moved their holdings into their Inner Sphere.

Clan Ice Hellion

Clan Ice Hellion is a fierce, quick-handed Clan bordering on reckless. Ice Hellion warriors themselves on the ability to strike first, while members of the civilian caste were more even-paced in their dealings. The clan was nearly destroyed during the Jihad Era, some being absorbed into Clan Goliath Scorpion in 3073 while other fragments became pirates.

Clan Jade Falcon

Clan Jade Falcon warriors are aggressive fighters and staunch traditionalists. They were central in the creation of the Crusader philosophy and one of the four original participants in the Inner Sphere invasion. 

Sworn enemies of Clan Wolf, their martial “might makes right” mindset made them one of the most powerful. Jade Falcon treated their civilian castes well, and their merchant caste was second only to the Diamond Sharks, leading to an above-average standard of living.

Clan Mongoose

One of the original Clans, the Mongoose were known for their aggression and used politics to side-step various rules of Clan society. They would eventually incur the wrath of Clan Smoke Jaguar and be absorbed by them after a dispute.

Clan Nova Cat

Visions guided Clan Nova Cat through a unique brand of mysticism, based on the use of pyromancy. Following these visions tended to cause conflict with the other Clans. Only the strength of their warriors kept Clan Nova Cat safe over the years. 

In the year 3060, following a vision, Clan Nova Cat sided with the Second Star League against the other Clans. They were later forced out of Clan society and eventually resettled in the Draconis Combine. The Nova Cats then backed the wrong side of a rebellion within the Combine and were subsequently destroyed.

Clan Smoke Jaguar

One of the most infamous Clans, the Smoke Jaguars, were among the most aggressive and warlike of the Clans and early supporters of the Crusader philosophy. Though all Clans prioritized the warrior caste about all others, Clan Smoke Jaguar was severely repressive of their civilian caste.

One of the four original invading Clans, the Smoke Jaguar Khan Leo Showers, became the new ilKhan and was given the honor of leading the Clan invasion. Following the creation of the Second Star League, Clan Smoke Jaguar was targeted for a Trial of Annihilation and destroyed as a show of force.

Clan Snow Raven

Masters of manipulation and opportunists of the highest order, Clan Snow Raven possesses an almost un-Clanlike sense of self-preservation. The Snow Ravens placed a heavy emphasis on aerospace and naval forces and a willingness to sell their services to the highest bidder. 

They have the largest WarShip fleet in known space, though this came at a cost to their ground forces. Forced from the Clan Homeworlds during the Wars of Reaving, they moved to the Inner Sphere’s periphery border and merged with the Outworlds Alliance.

Clan Star Adder

Known for their pragmatism and their strategic view towards battles, as well as treating freeborn that proved themselves as equals, Clan Star Adder was one of the few conservative Clans. Though they did not participate in the invasion of the Inner Sphere, they made significant gains in the homeworlds and would go on to absorb Clan Burrock.

Clan Steel Viper

Clan Steel Viper‘s early history was marred by the acts of the Not-Named Khan, causing the Steel Vipers to enact a form of isolationism. Having one of the harshest training regimes of any Clan, the Steel Vipers produced fewer but more elite warriors. 

Straddling the fence between Warden and Crusader, they participated in the Inner Sphere invasion as a reserve force as well as assisting the Jade Falcons. After attempting to dominate the Home Clans, the Steel Vipers instigated the Wars of Reaving and were destroyed in 3075.

Clan Widowmaker

The second Clan to fall, Clan Widowmaker gained a reputation for undue aggression. During Operation Klondike, the operation to retake the Pentagon Worlds after the creation of Clan society, their saKhan Mariel Sanders was assassinated. 

The rage caused by this event caused them to be removed from the battle by ilKhan Nicholas Kerensky and replaced by Clans Wolf and Jade Falcon. This dishonor caused an intense hatred between Clan Widowmaker and Clan Wolf. 

In the summer of 2834, the Widowmakers massacred their merchants during a caste dispute. Though the Widowmakers blamed the Wolves for causing the conflict, the Grand Council questioned their right to rule and gave the Wolves the freedom to absorb them. 

During the Trial of Absorption, Widowmaker Khan Cal Jorgensson accidentally killed ilKhan Nicholas Kerensky. The ilKhan’s death caused such furry in Clan Wolf that the Trial of Absorption turned into a de-facto Trial of Annihilation, leaving few Widowmaker warriors alive.

Clan Wolf

The chosen Clan of Nicholas Kerensky, the Wolves dominated Clan society until their destruction in the Refusal War. Less formal and more flexible than others, Clan Wolf blended caution with decisiveness in their tactics. 

Their Warden mindset led them to oppose the invasion of the Inner Sphere, but the Wolves were forced to participate as one of the four original invaders. Clan Wolf was eventually reborn with a decisive Crusader mindset and later fled to the Inner Sphere during the Wars of Reaving, taking the only copies of the Founders’ genetic legacies with them.

Clan Wolverine (The Not-Named Clan)

One of the original 20 Clans, the Wolverines were noted for their unwillingness to back down from any challenge. This tenacity plus their progressive nature allowed the Wolverines to become very successful.

Clan Wolverine was officially destroyed in 2823 during the first-ever Trial of Annihilation. Their destruction was called for due to heinous crimes against the Clan way, including using a nuclear device to destroy a Clan Snow Raven city and genetic repository.

In the aftermath, all references to Clan Wolverine were purged, and they are now only known as the Not-named Clan.

The actual truth, which has been covered up with falsified records and fabricated history, was that the Clan Wolverine began questioning ilKhan Nicholas Kerensky. Fearing the schism this may cause in the fledgling Clans, Kerensky allowed a coalition of envious Clans led by Clan Widowmaker to plot the downfall of Clan Wolverine. 

Their destruction would unite the Clans through a common enemy while making the Wolverines an example for everyone who thought to cross Kerensky. During the trial, Clan Wolverine was hunted down to the last man, woman, and child.

Even though “officially” destroyed, scattered evidence suggested that some members of Clan Wolverine survived and fled to the Inner Sphere. Check out this article at Sarna.net for more details on the mystery of Wolverines.

Minor Powers

Periphery States

The Periphery lies beyond the boundaries of the Inner Sphere, home to independent-minded souls looking to escape the repressive regimes of the Great Houses. It is a boundless frontier, where the spirit of exploration and discovery is alive and well. 

The less savory elements of independence are equally present, with numerous pirate bands and bandit kingdoms thriving in these almost lawless regions of space. While mostly unexplored and sparsely populated, the Periphery has played a pivotal role in several major interstellar events, including the fall of the Star League.

The Periphery has a reputation as backward and technologically inferior, which is only partly true. Though many areas are underdeveloped, it includes scattered regions where culture and technology have advanced significantly. 

The Taurian Concordat is well known for its excellent educational system and high literacy rate. At the same time, the Magistracy of Canopus exemplifies some of the most progressive views on human rights in known space.

Mercenaries

In a universe at war, there will always be someone willing to sell their services to the highest bidder. From legendary units like Wolf’s Dragoons and the Kell Hounds to the greenest company, mercenaries are a staple of the Inner Sphere. Though not technically a power unto themselves, they—perhaps more than any private army—have raised and toppled empires.

Pirates

Throughout humankind’s history, rogue elements have always lived outside the confines of civilization, willing to do whatever it takes to survive. In practice, that usually means taking what they need from someone else.

Though pirates are generally associated with the Periphery, some pirates have become legends, feared and reviled across known space. Lady Death, the Band of the Damned, and the New Belt Pirates, just to name a few.

What you need to play BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat

Is BattleTech's Beginner Box worth it? | Unboxing & Review

So, you want to play some BattleTech? I knew you would get hooked! Also, don’t forget to pick up your Supreme BattleTech Beginner Pack at the end of this article.

BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat was first released in 1984 (Damn, I feel old!), and has gone through many revisions. I have included a handy table that will help you decide which is the best option for you to get started. 

Whether you are a total noob or a seasoned wargamer, take a look at this handy table to see which option would be best for you to get into the world of ‘Mech combat!

Which is best for me?

  • Total Noob (never played a wargame): BattleTech: Beginner Box
  • Rookie (some wargaming experience): BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat Box and BattleTech: Clan Invasion Box
  • MechWarrior (experienced player): Rookie Level + BattleTech: BattleMech Manual, BattleTech: TechManual, BattleTech: Tactical Operations and BattleTech: Total Warfare
  • House Lord (advanced wargamer): MechWarrior Level + BattleTech: Strategic Operations, BattleTech: Interstellar Operations, and BattleTech: Campaign Operations

Boxed Sets

If you are new to BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat and are looking for everything you need to play the game, then the boxed sets are for you. These sets contain everything from rules, maps, and miniatures so you can jump right into playing the game.

BattleTech Beginner Box Set

Have you seen a game of BattleTech on YouTube, your local game store, or at a friend’s house? Thought it looked awesome and wanted to get in on the action? Then this boxed set is for you!

This introductory box set is designed as the entry point into the game for new BattleTech players. The quick-start rules, which can be learned in under an hour, will have you quickly slugging it out in your thirty-foot-tall BattleMechs. 

The BattleMechs included in this set 2 unpainted plastic ‘Mechs, the venerable Griffin and the versatile Wolverine. These war machines are 55 tons and fall within the medium ‘Mech category, providing you both speed and firepower.

This ready-to-play starter set also includes a double-sided map, cardboard terrain tokens for your battlefield, a painting and tactics guide, pilot cards with special abilities that let you spice up your gameplay, and two six-sided dice.

As a bonus, it also comes with a map of the Inner Sphere, a brief synopsis of the BattleTech Universe, and the short story “Golden Rule” by William H. Keith, Jr that gives you a glimpse into the lives of a MechWarrior.

Breakdown:

  • 2 high-quality, fully assembled (unpainted) miniatures:
  • Griffin (medium-class)
  • Wolverine (medium-class)
  • 18″ x 22″ full-color paper map (hexed, double-sided)
  • A sheet of die-cut cardboard ‘Mechs & terrain tokens
  • Quick Start Rulebook
  • Universe booklet
  • 24-page fiction novella “Golden Rule”
  • Record sheets
  • MechWarrior cards
  • Six-sided dice

BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat Box Set

BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat

Are you a wargamer looking to jump into some savage ‘Mech on ‘Mech combat? Then take a look at BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat, the classic BattleTech boxed set, reimagined from the ground up and full of exciting new material and miniatures!

BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat Box is designed for intermediate players, someone who has either played the BattleTech: Beginner Box or another wargame and isn’t afraid to get down and dirty with rules and is willing to learn.

Accompanying the full ruleset are eight high-quality unpainted plastic miniatures, representing some of the most common ’Mechs found in the Inner Sphere. These include the Awesome, BattleMaster, Catapult, Commando, Locust, Shadow Hawk, Thunderbolt, and Wolverine.

Along with the plastic ones you get nine cardboard ‘Mechs, an Awesome, a BattleMaster, a Thunderbolt, a Catapult, a Wolverine, a Shadow Hawk, a Commando, a Locust and a Griffin. All the ‘Mechs, plastic and cardboard, include reference sheets that show the weapons, stats, and other characteristics of the ‘Mechs.

While this box does include the punchboard Griffin and reference sheet, you can only get the high-quality plastic miniature in the BattleTech: Beginner Box.

This ready-to-play set also includes two double-sided maps, cardboard terrain tokens for your battlefield, pilot cards with special abilities that let you spice up your gameplay, and two six-sided dice.

To supplement your gameplay, you also get a record sheet booklet with pre-filled ‘Mech sheets and a blank to copy, two cards that combine all the needed tables into one easy-to-use place for both players, as well as Alpha Strike cards for all the included ‘Mechs!

Alpha Strike is an alternate, fast-playing form of BattleTech. The rules are not in this box set, but you can get the Alpha Strike Quick-Start Rules in the Supreme BattleTech Beginner Pack at the end of this article.

As a bonus, it also comes with a BattleTech Universe Primer providing an overview of the game world, its history, and its factions, and the short story “Eyestorm” by William H. Keith, Jr that gives you a glimpse into the lives of a MechWarrior.

Breakdown:

  • 8 high-quality, fully assembled (unpainted) miniatures:
  • Awesome (assault-class)
  • BattleMaster (assault-class)
  • Catapult (heavy-class)
  • Commando (light-class)
  • Locust (light-class)
  • Shadow Hawk (medium-class)
  • Thunderbolt(heavy-class)
  • Wolverine (medium-class)
  • 56-page Rulebook
  • 16-page Record Sheet Booklet
  • 16-page Universe Primer
  • 24-page fiction novella “Eyestorm”
  • 8 Pilot Cards
  • 2 heavy-stock reference sheets
  • 2 18″ x 22″ full-color paper maps (hexed, double-sided)
  • A sheet of die-cut cardboard ‘Mechs & terrain tokens
  • 2 six-sided dice

BattleTech: Clan Invasion Box Set

The Clan Invasion box set is designed for intermediate-level play, building off Battletech: A Game of Armored Combat. With this box, you`ll unlock powerful new factions and ‘Mechs to expand your BattleTech experience and take part in the cataclysmic invasion of the Inner Sphere. 

The BattleTech: Clan Invasion box set includes five iconic OmniMechs – the Timber Wolf, Executioner, Nova, Adder, and Mongrel, as well as two maps, the intermediate-level Clan rulebook, and a brief guide to the Clans to set the stage.

At the time of publishing this article, the BattleTech: Clan Invasion box is pre-order only the box contents are subject to change. Hopefully, they will start shipping soon, and I will keep you updated when they do.

Breakdown:

  • 5 high-quality, fully assembled (unpainted) miniatures:
  • Executioner (assault-class)
  • Timber-Wolf (heavy-class)
  • Nova (medium-class)
  • Grendel (medium-class)
  • Adder (light-class)
  • Elemental Point (base) x2
  • Clan Rulebook
  • Clan Primer Booklet
  • Novella
  • Record Sheets Booklet
  • 10 Pilot Cards
  • Alpha Strike Cards
  • reference cards
  • Game Maps
  • A sheet of additional cardboard ‘Mechs and terrain tokens
  • 2 six-sided dice

Rulebooks

If you have one of the box sets and are looking for more variety with your gameplay, then these rulebooks are for you! They provide a vast smorgasbord of rules and options from which you can use each time you play to spice things up.

BattleMech Manual

The BattleMech Manual has been designed from the ground up to cater to the player wanting to engage in all-out ‘Mech combat. Includes a variety of optional rules, terrain, and more, making it the most table-usage-friendly BattleTech rulebook ever published!

The BattleMech Manual is an alternate presentation of the BattleTech rules, as seen in the Total Warfare rulebook. Most of the rules are the same in both books, but the BattleMech Manual re-words many of them for clarity and ease of use.

It also adds rules and items from sources other than Total Warfare, as well as incorporates all the most up-to-date errata. The simplified or stripped-down rules provide a one-stop source for new players looking to expand your BattleTech games without overwhelming you with complexity.

BattleTech: TechManual

Have you ever wondered how a MechWarrior interfaces with a BattleMech? What is a Gauss rifle or the Particle Projector Cannon, and how do they work? 

Or maybe you want to make your own fresh and unique BattleMech design? Then get on your coveralls and make sure you’ve got your astech certification because you’re about to dive into BattleTech construction!

The TechManual has been streamlined and updated to combine all the construction rules for the various units presented in that core rules set. It contains all the core weaponry and equipment from previous rulebooks, as well as some of the newest, bleeding edge technologies. 

The TechManual is more than just a rulebook, presenting numerous sourcebook-style treatises, providing the in-universe context for these units, and the technologies of their development. A must-have resource for any BattleTech aficionado!

Tactical Operations: Advanced Rules

Tactical Operations: Advanced Rules is the one-source reference for use with the main rules of BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat. This rulebook takes your battles to a whole new level of excitement! 

It includes advanced rules that apply to on-world operations, allowing you to deploy your lance in exotic weather and severe planetary conditions. 

Surprise your enemy with new battlefield tactics—artillery, command-level comms, minefields, as well as additional combat and new movement options!

Tactical Operations: Advanced Units & Equipment

Tactical Operations: Advanced Units & Equipment is the one-source reference for advanced units types and advanced technologies for use with the main rules of BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat. 

It includes an extensive Advanced Weapons and Equipment section with cutting-edge, prototype technologies, and the rules for playing and constructing advanced Support Vehicles and Mobile Structures.

BattleTech: Total Warfare

Total Warfare is the product of more than twenty years of gaming experience and presents the rules of the BattleTech game system as never before.

Total Warfare expands on the rules presented in the BattleTech: BattleMech Manual, with all the rules for various units that have a direct impact on the deadly battlefields of the thirty-first century, appearing in one unified rulebook: from BattleMechs to ProtoMechs, Combat Vehicles to Support Vehicles, infantry to aerospace fighters and DropShips.

Interwoven and meticulously updated, Total Warfare provides the most detailed and comprehensive rules set published to date for BattleTech.

BattleTech: Strategic Operations

Plasma blasts into space from the kilometer-long WarShips fusion engines as it escorts DropShips deploying from your JumpShips at the edge of the solar system. Prepare yourself for engaging space combat as you conquer an entire solar system!

Strategic Operations is the one-source rulebook for aerospace tactics that will allow you to gain air supremacy to match your grasp of ground tactics. It includes new aerospace movement, combat, and advanced aerospace unit construction rules, as well as comprehensive maintenance, salvage, repair, and customization rules.

Finally, it includes rules for a complete game system called BattleForce, allowing players to use their existing miniatures and map sheets to play quick, fast-paced BattleTech games, from companies to battalions and even regiments.

BattleTech: Interstellar Operations

Marshal your forces and prepare to conquer the Inner Sphere. Building upon the aerospace rules presented in Strategic Operations, assume the role of a House Lord and dominate the galaxy!

Interstellar Operations contains rules for running an entire faction’s military as a player tries to conquer numerous solar systems, including provisions for how to conduct warfare through scales larger than previously represented within the core line of rulebooks.

Finally, the Alternate Eras section introduces a vast swath of rules for playing across the thousand years of BattleTech history, including building and playing with Land Air ‘Mechs.

BattleTech: Campaign Operations

Forge your forces and prepare to fight any battle across the Inner Sphere! Campaign Operations completes the core rulebook series begun in BattleTech: Total Warfare. 

While previous rulebooks detailed gameplay at various levels--from a single MechWarrior to entire armies--this final volume focuses on the forces a player will build and run through any level of play.

Campaign Operations contains rules for creating and running any military unit, whether a down-on-their-luck mercenary company or a well-stocked House regiment, as well as complete rules for devising solar systems.

Best of all, this book brings several options to the table for campaign play. Building off of previous sections in Total Warfare and Strategic Operations, the Narrative Campaign, Map-Based Campaign, and Chaos Campaign rules allow you to create exciting, fun campaigns for your newly-minted forces!

Alpha Strike

BattleTech: Alpha Strike is a fast-playing game of armored combat. With simplified rules and designed for large unit engagements, Alpha Strike lets you become the commander of a whole army and experience the BattleTech universe like never before.

Alpha Strike: Commanders Edition

There remains one constant in the BattleTech universe: the drums of war. 

And where there is war, hulking BattleMechs, brave infantry, and daring aerofighters lead the charge to certain victory or crushing defeat on the sprawling battlefields of distant worlds. As a fearless military commander, rally your troops onward into the fray and surge forth to triumph over the enemy.

Alpha Strike: Commander’s Edition collects into one handy volume the revised fast-play rules from the original Alpha Strike and the expanded rules from Alpha Strike Companion. 

Take command of large-scale engagements with tabletop-miniatures gameplay designed for the modern wargamer. Use the force-creation rules to marshal your armies, charge them into battle, and either reap the rewards of conquest or taste the bitter pill of defeat. 

The future of the Inner Sphere is in your hands!

Alpha Strike Game Aids – Succession Wars Cards

Alpha Strike: Succession Wars contains the ‘Mech Units that survived centuries of warfare across the Inner Sphere. Full-color, poker-sized, and laminated for dry-erase use, you need miniatures and dice, and you’ll be battling for control of humanity’s tenuous future.

Alpha Strike Game Aids – Clan Invasion Cards

Alpha Strike: Clan Invasion contains the Mech Units that sprung from the distant Periphery to terrorize the Inner Sphere and Mechs designed to repel them. Full-color, poker-sized, and laminated for dry-erase use, you need miniatures and dice, and you’ll be battling for control of humanity’s tenuous future.

Sourcebooks

The BattleTech Sourcebooks give you a more in-depth look into the history of the significant events that have shaped the universe, allowing you to either recreate the battles within the books or create your own!

First Succession War

In 2784, General Alexsandr Kerensky and the remnants of the SLDF departed from known space, leaving a power vacuum in their wake. With no Star League to keep the Great Houses in check, greed, ambition, and old grudges propel the Inner Sphere into a war that threatens human civilization itself.

The First Succession War provides a detailed look at the significant actions of the war, the motivations of its participants, and the deadly consequences as the five Great Houses battle for supremacy in the ruins of the Star League. It covers everything from the collapse of the Star League, the militarization of the Inner Sphere, and the horrors that ensued.

Second Succession War

By 2821, the “Great Succession War” had ground to a halt. Some of the Successor States were desperate for a respite from the fighting and to forge a new peace. 

Yet not everyone shares these ideals, and secret machinations soon undermine the peace efforts and propel the Inner Sphere into a new round of violence. Brother will once more fight against brother, and madness will reign.

The Second Succession War covers the aftermath of the titanic First Succession War and the Great Houses’ efforts to survive before the machinations of Conrad Toyama propel them into a new round of blood-letting. 

This sourcebook details the efforts to build peace while preparing for a new war. It showcases the causes and consequences of the Second Succession War, from the politics to stresses between and within the Great Houses.

Combat Manual: Kurita

Some soldiers fight for money, some for liberty, others for a sense of adventure. For the men and women of the Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery, there is only one reason: the honor of the Dragon.

From the moment Shiro Kurita raised the Dragon’s banner, the soldiers of House Kurita have remained dedicated to the warrior’s path above all others. Tempered by the ancient code of bushido and forged in battles on a hundred worlds, the DCMS has spread fear and respect through the Inner Sphere while expanding and protecting the Dragon with loyalty and honor.

BattleTech Combat Manual: Kurita examines the combat commands of the Draconis Combine, detailing their histories, tactics, unit crests, paint schemes, and notable personnel.

This Alpha Strike expansion includes special rules for unique character abilities, faction-specific rules, force-building, and a mini-Technical Readout--everything you need to field your favorite Draconis Combine unit on the tabletop or create your own.

Combat Manual: Mercenaries

Some soldiers fight for king and country, some for honor and glory, others for liberty or loved ones. Some will fight, whatever your cause, as long as the check clears.

Mercenaries have plied their trade and been instrumental in toppling empires or holding the tides of war at bay for over forty centuries. And business is booming!

It’s a dangerous life, but as long as you keep your ‘Mech intact and your bottom line balanced, riches await, and the universe is yours!

The BattleTech Combat Manual: Mercenaries contains everything you need to know about the soldier-for-hire trade and its place in the Inner Sphere. This manual takes a look at some of the most renowned mercenaries units, detailing their histories, tactics, unit crests, paint schemes, and notable personnel. 

This Alpha Strike expansion includes special rules for unique character abilities, faction-specific rules, force-building, and a mini Technical Readout--everything you need to field your favorite mercenary command on the tabletop or create your own.

Shattered Fortress

The Republic of the Sphere hangs by a tenuous thread, and the last fragments of Devlin Stone’s forces hide behind the impenetrable defenses of Fortress Republic. 

The interstellar communications blackout rages, the Great Houses vie for military dominance, and the bloodthirsty Clans strive to bring down the Wall of Fortress Republic on their path to conquering Terra and claiming the coveted title of ilClan. 

Shattered Fortress chronicles the twilight of the Dark Age, as nations are thrown into turmoil and predators circle the broken remnants of the Republic of the Sphere. 

This sourcebook provides a year-by-year look at pivotal turning points in the Inner Sphere, offers a peek behind the curtain of Fortress Republic, and reveals the fateful decisions that will ultimately decide the future of the Inner Sphere.

Technical Readouts

The BattleTech Technical Readouts provide you with both a more in-depth look into the BattleTech universe as well as more ‘Mechs you can use in your tabletop games.

Technical Readout: Succession Wars

After the fall of the Star League, the Inner Sphere erupted in war as the Great Houses fought to expand their control of known space. These wars raged for centuries and took their toll on humanity. 

By the Fourth Succession War, the technology employed by the Successor States was a mere shadow of what it once was. With the discovery of the Helm Memory Core, the potential to develop new BattleMechs and experimental technologies was unlocked for the first time in centuries.

Technical Readout: Succession Wars is the perfect companion to the BattleMech Manual, featuring some of the most common ‘Mechs from the Age of War through the Succession Wars. Each machine is illustrated in detail, and accompanied by a description of its history, capabilities, game stats, along with their most famous pilots.

This book is a compilation volume, and the entries in this book are reprinted from Technical Readout: 3039, Technical Readout: 3050 Upgrade, Technical Readout: 3058 Upgrade, and Technical Readout: 3075.

Technical Readout: Clan Invasion

In 3050, the Crusader Clans launched a massive invasion of the Inner Sphere. Sweeping all before them with their advanced technologies, the Clans were eventually defeated at the Battle of Tukayyid and forced into a 15-year truce. 

Knowing this truce wouldn’t last, the Inner Sphere’s elite took the battle directly to the Clan Homeworlds. There, the destruction of Clan Smoke Jaguar and the defeat of the Clans in the Great Refusal ended the invasion.

But the political machinations, typical in the Inner Sphere, continued in their absence. As the victorious forces of the Second Star League returned home, the mighty Federated Commonwealth tore itself apart as Houses Davion and Steiner pitted brother against sister. 

As large-scale conflicts accelerated technical advancements, Technical Readout: Clan Invasion introduces you to a new generation of BattleMechs and weapons. Each war machine has a detailed illustration, a description of its history, capabilities, and game stats.

Technical Readout: Clan Invasion is a compilation of ‘Mechs previously found in Technical Readout: 3050 Upgrade, Technical Readout: 3055 Upgrade, Technical Readout: 3058 Upgrade, Technical Readout: 3060, and Technical Readout: 3067.

Technical Readout: Jihad

Following the collapse of the Second Star League in November 3067, the fanatic group within Comstar, known as the Word of Blake, launched a horrific war that pitted every nation against each other.

Denied their dream of a unified humanity, the Blakists flooded the HPG network used to bind humanity together with white noise and began assaulting the Great Houses. 

This era, known as the Word of Blake Jihad, saw bleeding-edge machines march off to war, while venerable ‘Mechs continued to receive upgrades and facelifts. Even primitive ‘Mechs not seen in over half a millennia once again appear on the battlefield.

Technical Readout: Jihad expands on both the Technical Readout: Succession Wars and Technical Readout: Clan Invasion and features some of the most common ‘Mechs from the Jihad. Each war machine has a detailed illustration, a description of its history, capabilities, and game stats.

This book is a compendium of ‘Mechs previously found in Technical Readout: 3050 Upgrade, Technical Readout: 3055 Upgrade, Technical Readout: 3058 Upgrade, Technical Readout: 3060, Technical Readout: 3067, Technical Readout: 3075, Technical Readout: 3085, and Technical Readout: Project Phoenix. 

BattleTech Miniatures

While the BattleTech Beginner and BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat boxed sets contain miniatures for you to use in your battles, you will probably want to expand your army some time to get more variety in your games.

The Force Packs contain additional BattleTech miniatures that you use for either BattleTech or Alpha Strike tabletop games

Miniature Force Pack – Inner Sphere Command Lance

Containing some of the most iconic Inner Sphere ‘Mechs, this battle back would be a great addition to any army.

The Inner Sphere Command Lance includes the Marauder, Archer, Valkyrie, and Stinger, along with four MechWarrior pilot cards and four Alpha Strike cards.

Miniature Force Pack – Inner Sphere Battle Lance

With some of the most popular ‘Mechs available in the Inner Sphere, this battle lance pack will provide you with a much-needed boost to your army.

The Inner Sphere Battle Lance includes the much-loved Warhammer, Rifeman, Phoenix Hawk, and Wasp, along with four MechWarrior pilot cards and four Alpha Strike cards.

Miniature Force Pack – Clan Command Star

The Command Star contains the most skilled warriors of any Clan unit. Raising through the ranks based on their combat prowess, this ‘Mech pack will give you a distinct edge in your battles.

The Clan Command Star includes the Dire Wolf, Summoner, Stormcrow, Mist Lynx, and Shadow Cat, along with five MechWarrior pilot cards and five Alpha Strike cards.

Miniature Force Pack – Clan Heavy Striker Star

Are you looking to add more firepower to your BattleTech matches? Then this Miniature Force Pack is for you! Containing some of the most powerful Clan ‘Mechs, with no assembly required, you can instantly increase your team’s combat effectiveness.

The Clan Heavy Striker Star includes the Gargoyle, Hellbringer, Mad Dog, Ice Ferret, and Viper, along with five MechWarrior pilot cards and five Alpha Strike cards.

Miniature Force Pack – Elemental Star

Using technology from the Star League and genetically engineered warriors, the Clans Elemental power armor shocked the Inner Sphere during the Invasion.

The Clan Elemental Star includes five hex-based miniatures, fully assembled, ready-to-play out of the box. Each miniature represents a distinct unit, allowing endless variations to gameplay for BattleTech and Alpha Strike action!

Map Packs and Battlemats

While you can play Battletech: A Game of Armored Combat on just a tabletop or the floor, whats the fun in that? These map packs and battlemats provide you with all ready created terrains for your battlefields.

Map Pack: Grasslands

This Map Pack expands on the all-new maps found in the BattleTech: Beginner Box and BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat box.

Created using the same brilliant aesthetics as the new box sets, these maps include six double-sided sheets providing twelve brand-new battlefields and a variety of terrain elements for players of every skill level. 

Each paper map is 17″ x 22″, and can be placed side-on or edge-on with other maps for expanded battlefields. Among the twelve map designs will be recreations of two of the most popular BattleTech maps.

Map Pack: Battle of Tukayyid

Another pack of maps that expand on the ones found in the boxed sets, these allow you to recreate one of the most pivotal battles in BattleTech history.

Created using the same brilliant aesthetics as the new box sets, these eight paired maps detail the seven battlefields of the Battle of Tukayyid, where Comstar brought the entire Clan Invasion to a halt. 

Each double-sided map is printed on 17” x 22” paper, including the Deployment Zone bonus map.

BattleMats

These high-quality 34” x 22″ neoprene maps are the perfect size for most games on your BattleTech gaming table!

Each map is high-resolution with excellent color quality, making them some of the most beautiful and durable BattleTech maps ever produced. Made of thin neoprene, these BattleMats are easy to store and double-sided for versatility.

Each of the four BattleMats displays a unique Grasslands map on one side, and the second side includes 1 of 4 brand-new maps—desert, lunar, alpine, and savanna—designed to be used together.

MechWarrior Destiny

Are you looking to add more flavor to your BattleTech games or want to try something different than Dungeons & Dragons?

MechWarrior Destiny is a new way to role-play in the BattleTech universe, using streamlined rules based on the easy-to-learn Cue System. It puts the focus on action and story, and an all-new system for ‘Mech combat lets you wade into battle without requiring miniatures or maps.

Set in the year 3025, MechWarrior: Destiny is a narrative-focused role-playing experience that provides you a new way to dive into the action-packed BattleTech universe. As war rages across the vast interstellar empires of the Inner Sphere, the armies of the Successor States vie for dominance across more than a thousand light-years of inhabited worlds.

And where there is war, there will be people seeking fortune and fame. MechWarrior: Destiny has all you need to grab some equipment, load your sidearm, and strap into a ‘Mech, aerospace fighter or tank to fight for honor, glory, or even the almighty C-Bill.

Do you see yourself as an honor-bound samurai of House Kurita? Or a crusader for freedom in the service of House Davion? Maybe you would like to test your mettle as a champion in the arenas of Solaris VII for House Steiner. 

Perhaps you will rain down fire from the skies in a House Marik aerospace fighter, or operate in the shadows as a House Liao intelligence agent. Will you pursue a life of service behind the veil of the secretive ComStar, join an elite mercenary outfit like Wolf’s Dragoons, or even choose to lead a lawless band of pirates? 

The path you lead through the 31st century, and the legacy you leave behind, is all up to you!

MechWarrior: Destiny is loaded with characters, ‘Mechs and other military hardware make it easy to start trading fire on 31st-century battlefields in no time. It also includes rules for incorporating play in BattleTech’s Total Warfare and Alpha Strike games.

How to play Battletech: A Game of Armored Combat

So you got yourself a box set and are ready to get playing, eh? Awesome! Let’s take a look at how to set up and play BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat.

BattleTech: How to Play Series - Setup & Initiative

Part A: Setup

Because BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat is a game all about tactics, the game setup can be one of the most critical phases of any match.

The first thing you will need to do is determine what kind of game you are looking to play: a scenario or a custom game. Some scenarios are included in the boxed sets for new players.

If you are looking to play a custom game, then you and your opponent need to decide on the BattleValue (BV) for your match. Each unit in BattleTech, from the giant BattleMechs to lowly infantry, have a BattleValue assigned to them. 

You and your opponent are allowed to have any combination of units you want as long as they don’t exceed the agreed-upon BattleValue (BV). Say you agreed on a 2000 BV match, you both can choose whatever units you want for your team as long as the BV of those units add up to 2000 points.

Next, you will layout your maps. Whether that is just some map sheets you and your opponent agree upon, or you are playing a specific battle scenario, how many maps you use are up to you!

Finally, you will deploy your units to the battlefield! If you are playing a scenario, then it will have deployment rules included telling you how to implement each of your units.

If the scenario does not have deployment details or you are playing a custom game, use the following rules:

  • Both players roll two six-sided dice (2D6) to determine the Initiative.
  • The player with the highest roll wins and chooses a side of the map area they will enter; the losing player will enter the opposite side.
  • When it is your turn to move, one of your ‘Mechs can enter from your side, either walking, running, or jumping from the first full hex along the edge.
  • Each player alternates, bringing in one ‘Mech at a time until all units are deployed.
Into the water once more! (Image courtesy of http://www.dakkadakka.com)

Part B: Gameplay

So, you have your match set up, and you’re ready for your ‘Mechs to start blasting. Fantastic! Let’s take a look at how the gameplay works with BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat.

Because this is a wargame, everything takes place in turns. Each turn consists of several different phases, where the players can perform specific actions. These phases are done in the following order: 

  1. Initiative Phase 
  2. Movement Phase
  3. Weapon Attack Phase
  4. Physical Attack Phase
  5. Heat Phase
  6. End Phase

Keep in mind that this isn’t a complete guide to every rule, there are huge books like BattleTech: Total Warfare for that! This is a basic breakdown of the phases of gameplay to help you understand how the game works as a whole.

Also, depending on which boxed set you to choose, some of these rules may not apply. For example, the BattleTech Beginner Box is a more simplified version, so it does not use the heat or end phases like the BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat box does.

Initiative Phase

Just like when you set up your battlefield, the first step of every turn is to determine the initiative. You and your opponent each roll two six-sided dice (2D6) and add them together. The player with the highest total wins! (Psss! If you get a tie, then re-roll, k?)

Unlike most games, the player who loses the initiative roll goes first. Wait. What? The reason for this is because BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat is about combat tactics, and the player who moves last knows what his opponent has already done!

That’s right! Since your opponent has already moved, you know how to maneuver your ‘Mechs to give yourself the best advantage possible. And the beautiful thing is that you re-roll initiative every turn, so each player has an equal chance to get that advantage!

Movement Phase

BattleTech: How to Play Series - Movement

Now it’s time to get your ‘Mechs moving! Whoever lost the initiative roll now has to move one of their units. You can move one of your ‘Mechs however you choose, such as walking, running, jumping, turning your ‘Mech to face a different direction, or even just standing still!

Then it is the player who won the initiative to move their ‘Mech. Movement alternates between sides until all ‘Mechs have been moved.

Remember that each ‘Mech has a specific number of movement points it can use during this phase, and terrain you are moving through could have increased movement costs for your ‘Mech. For your turn, you decide to make your Griffin GRF-1N run towards your opponent, which gives you eight movement points. This would allow you to move your Griffin up to 8 hexes on the map.

But while you are moving your Griffin, you decide that you move it into some light woods to give it some cover. Because your ‘Mech would need to slow down and maneuver around the trees, this makes the cost of moving into that hex two. Instead of being able to run eight hexes, you move it seven hexes, and now the Griffin is harder to hit, giving you a slight advantage.

Skill Checks

Because moving into some types of terrain or damage to your unit can change how your ‘Mech moves, you may have to do skill checks for your pilots. These Piloting Skill Rolls are done by rolling 2D6 (seeing a pattern here?) and seeing if the total meets or succeeds your ‘Mech pilots skill rating plus any modifiers.

Using the previous example with your Griffin, say its leg actuator was destroyed from an attack even with the cover bonus. Because its knee has been knocked out, it will be harder for the ‘Mech to move. You decide to move it deeper into the woods!

You move your Griffin into the dense woods hex; then, your pilot needs to make a Piloting Skill Check to see if they can keep the ‘Mech on its feet or it comes tumbling down. Because your experienced MechWarrior has a Piloting Skill of 3, this means you would need to roll at least a five on his check (Pilot Skill Rating 3 + 2 for the dense woods modifier).

Unequal Number of Units

Lastly, there could be situations where one player has more units on the battlefield than the other. Usually, you both would take turns moving your ‘Mechs around the map. But because of the different number of units, there is a unique way you would do this.

Every time a player declares their movement, you would need to figure out how many units on each side are left to move. If one team has at least twice (2x) the units as the other player to move, then they move two units. If one side has at least three times (3x) the units to move, then they move 3. I know that sounds kind of confusing, so let’s look at an example.

For this example, say you have two units on the battlefield while your opponent has four units. You have won the initiative for this round, so your opponent goes first. Because they have twice as many units as you, then they would need to move two ‘Mechs. Now it switches to you, and one of your ‘Mechs moves, they move their last two, then you move your last unit.

Say in the next turn, your opponent wins the initiative, and you move one of your ‘Mechs first. They would calculate how many units they have left to move compared to you. They have at least three times as many ‘Mechs left to move (their four units to your 1 unit), so they get to move 3 of their units this turn. That gives your opponent a HUGE advantage!

Weapon Attack Phase

BattleTech: How to Play Series - Shooting

Now that your ‘Mechs are done moving, it’s time to start blasting!

Just like the Movement Phase, the side that lost the initiative must act first. Before your unit can fire its weapons, there are a few things you have to do.

Line of Sight

It may sound pretty obvious, but before your ‘Mech can fire at another unit, it must be able to see them. This is what is called line of sight.

Line of sight is essential for two reasons. First, any terrain along your line of sight can block your ability to attack your opponent. Second is it determines which firing arc your enemy falls within. I’ll break both of these down in more detail for you below.

To figure out line of sight, you would draw an imaginary line from the center of your ‘Mech to the center of the one you are targeting. You want to use this imaginary line to see what terrain is between you and your enemy.

As an example, say your Griffin has line of sight on your opponent’s Wolverine, but there are some light woods (Woods 1) on the map between them. Your ‘Mech can see the enemy, but the trees would make it harder to hit when you start firing at it.

Effects of Intervening Terrain

Intervening terrain has the following effects on line of sight:

  • Hills: Intervening hills block line of sight.
  • Partial Cover: Partial cover conceals part of a ‘Mech, but it does not block line of sight to that ‘Mech. 
  • Water: A standing ‘Mech in Depth 2 or deeper water (or a prone ‘Mech in Depth 1 or deeper water) is submerged. This blocks line of sight to and from the ‘Mech in that hex, except for physical attacks.
  • Woods: Three or more points of intervening woods block line of sight. Light woods is worth 1 point, and heavy woods is worth 2 points.

Firing Arcs

Now that you have determined you have line of sight to your enemy, the next step is to check your firing arcs. All of your ‘Mechs weapons have a specific firing arc, depending on where they are located.

  • Forward Arc: All weapons may fire into the forward arc unless they are rear-mounted. 
  • Left Side Arc: Weapons in a ‘Mech’s left arm may fire at targets in the left side arc and forward arc.
  • Right Side Arc: Weapons in a ‘Mech’s right arm may fire at targets in the right side arc and forward arc.
  • Rear Arc: Only rear-mounted weapons may fire into the rear arc. Rear-mounted weapons will have an (R) beside their name on the record sheet’s Critical Hit Table.
  • Leg-Mounted Weapons: Leg-mounted weapons can be either forward or rear-mounted and may not fire through a hex that provides the firing ‘Mech with partial cover, and are not affected by torso twisting.

Attach Declaration

Now that you can see your enemy and think you can hit it let’s start raining some death! The first thing you have to do is declare your attacks.

For each attack, you must declare which weapons are being fired and at what target. Each weapon can make one attack a turn, and specialized attacks with it (such as an aimed shot or indirect fire) must be announced at the same time as the attack.

Attack declarations work just like the movement phase, with the loser of initiative declaring their first attack and then alternating until all declarations have been made. 

There are also a few special moves you can do during the declaration phase. You can decide to either flip your ‘Mechs arms or twist your torso.

Reversing (Flipping) Arms

Some ‘Mechs have weapons pods where their arms typically are. To determine this, the ‘Mechs record sheet must not have hand and lower arm actuators in both arms, as well as weapons, can not be split between the torso and arm locations.

After flipping its arms, a ‘Mech uses the rear-firing arc for arm-mounted weapons instead of the usual firing arcs. If a ‘Mech that can reverse its arms loses one during a game, it can still reverse the remaining arm.

Torso Twisting

As part of each ‘Mech’s weapon attack declaration, a ‘Mech can rotate its torso one hexside to the left or right while keeping its feet pointed straight ahead. This twist lasts for the remainder of the turn, affecting firing arcs for the Weapon Attack and Physical Attack Phases, but isn’t considered when determining hit locations.

Important Note: Prone ‘Mechs can not flip their arms or twist their torsos! Also, the arms and torso automatically return to its forward position in the End Phase.

Finding The Target Number (G.A.T.O.R)

Now it’s time to see if your attacks actually hit your target!

Just like in the movement phase, the player that lost initiative will start first. Which ‘Mech shoots first, and the order the weapons are fired is entirely up to the player.

Unlike the movement phase, though, all weapon attacks happen simultaneously. What does that mean?

This means that “in-game” all ‘Mechs, from both sides, fire their weapons at the same time. Even though each player resolves one weapon attack at a time in reality, in the match, every weapon that was declared to fire gets to fire regardless of any damage it, or the ‘Mech, may have received.

For example, say my Griffin and your Wolverine are slugging it out. We have both declared our attacks and my lucky PPC shot takes off your right arm, taking the Autocannon 5 (AC/5) with it. Since damage doesn’t “take effect” until the end of a round, you still get to fire the AC/5 at me and see what damage it does.

Finding out if your weapon hits is easily done by finding your target number using a simple formula called GATOR. This formula takes into account everything from how skilled your MechWarrior is at shooting, the terrain, to how evasive your target is. Let’s break it down below.

  • G – Gunnery Skill Rating of the attackers pilot (Base Target Number)
  • A – Attackers movement modifier (based on how you moved during the movement phase)
  • T – Target movement modifier (based on how your target moved during the movement phase)
  • O – Other modifiers (potentially a big category, can include terrain, cover, heat and more) 
  • R – Range modifiers (how far the target is away and if your weapon has a minimum effective range)

Pretty simple, uh? You take your pilots GSR as a base, add the modifiers to it, then roll to see if you meet or exceed that number. But there are a couple of things to keep in mind when rolling for your attack.

First, a target number greater than 12 is an automatic miss. It makes sense due to the highest amount you can get on 2D6 is 12. The beautiful thing is if you find out that your attack would automatically miss, then you can choose not to make that attack. You can’t decide to attack a different target, but at least you don’t need to waste the ammo or heat for that shot.

Second, if you get a two on your attack roll, then it is an automatic hit! Your MechWarrior was able to zone in on their target and get that bullseye.

If you need some help with calculating the GATOR for your attacks, you can use either the BattleTech Buddy app (great for anyone with the boxed sets) and the Battletech Shot Solving Computer.

Resolving Damage

BattleTech: How to Play Series - Taking Damage

The order in which a ‘Mech’s weapons are rolled and resolved is up to you. The damage inflicted by each weapon hit is fully resolved, from start to finish, before moving on to the next hit.

If you fire a weapon that inflicts multiple hits (like missiles), then each cluster hit from that attack must be fully resolved before moving on to its next hit. All weapon attacks by a ‘Mech should be resolved before moving to the next ‘Mech.

All damage should first be applied to the armor of the hit location, and the appropriate facing if one of the three torso locations is damaged. When the armor of a location is gone, any further damage there is dealt to the internal structure of that location.

If the internal structure of a location reaches zero, that location is destroyed, along with everything inside it! After a location is destroyed, any damage that would have been applied to that location transfers inwards to its neighboring location.

Every time your internal structure is damaged, a critical hit in that location is possible.

Hit Location

When an attack hits its target, you must determine precisely where the attack struck. Hit location is determined by the attack direction and the target’s facing.

Attack Direction

When an attack hits a ‘Mech, it hits from the target’s front, rear, left, or right side. Use the direction of a standing ‘Mech’s feet to determine its facing, disregarding any torso twists it has made that turn.

Lay a straightedge from the center of the attacker’s hex to the center of the target’s hex and compare it to the Attack Direction Diagram found in the rule book to see the side of the ‘Mech hit by the attack. If the straightedge crosses at the intersection of two hexsides, the target chooses which side is hit by the attack before the attacking player makes the hit location roll.

Determining Hit Locations

To determine the location of a hit, you need to roll 2D6 and consult the appropriate column of the Hit Location Table of the rulebook.

As with resolving attack rolls, the attacker chooses the order in which they determine hit locations (and resolve damage to the target) for all of their ‘Mech’s declared attacks. From turn to turn, the attacker can change this order.

Every hit location roll must be made one at a time. If a ‘Mech hits with multiple weapons in a single attack, it is tempting to roll a bunch of dice and try to resolve all hit locations at once. Don’t do this, the order in which attacks hit is significant, even if a ‘Mech hits with multiple of the same weapon!

Critical Hits

If a location takes one or more points of internal structure damage but is not outright destroyed, the ‘Mech could suffer critical damage. The attacker checks for significant damage by rolling 2D6 then consults the Determining Critical Hits Table in the rulebook.

On an eight or higher, the target ‘Mech takes critical damage. The higher the roll, the greater the damage! Once rolled, check the ‘Mech’s Critical Hit Table to determine the effects.

If a location is destroyed, rather than just damaged, no check for critical hits in that location is made unless it contains one or more explosive slots. Critical hits that strike explosive slots in that location are resolved as usual.

The effects of critical hits, such as Piloting Skill Roll modifiers, are cumulative and last for the remainder of the game. Particular critical hits may force you to make an immediate PSR, and if that critical hit also applies a modifier, it is in addition to any other modifiers.

Multiple Locations: If a single hit damages the internal structure of multiple locations, critical damage is resolved for each of those locations.

Through-Armor Critical Hit

A roll of a two on the Hit Location Table provides a chance for a critical hit, even if the attack did not damage internal structure. This is known as a through-armor critical (TAC) hit. 

The chance for a TAC hit is in addition to the regular check for critical hits resulting from damage to the internal structure and applies even if a ‘Mech has no armor left in that location. 

For example, a hit location roll of 2 against the left side of a ‘Mech would strike the Left Torso. If the Left Torso has no armor left, you would need two rolls on the Determining Critical Hits Table, one for the TAC hit and one for damaging the internal structure.

If a Through-Armor Critical is scored on a location that still has internal structure left, but all the components have been destroyed, the chance for a TAC transfers to the next location per the Damage Transfer Diagram.

MechWarrior Injuries


Several situations can also wound the MechWarrior inside your ‘Mech. A MechWarrior can withstand up to 5 points of damage. The sixth point of damage kills the pilot! 

  • Ammunition Explosions: An ammunition explosion causes 2 points of damage to the MechWarrior.
  • Falling: If a ‘Mech falls, you must immediately make a Piloting Skill Roll for the MechWarrior (the seat belt check) before applying any falling damage to the ‘Mech. All modifiers apply, with an additional +1 modifier applied for every level above one the ‘Mech falls. If the roll fails, the warrior takes 1 point of damage (wound). If the ‘Mech is immobile or if the modified Target Number is greater than 12, the fall automatically damages (wounds) the warrior.
  • Head Hits: The MechWarrior takes 1 point of damage (wound) whenever the ‘Mech’s head takes a hit, even if the hit did not penetrate the ‘Mech’s armor.
  • Heat: When a ‘Mech’s life support system takes a critical hit, the MechWarrior takes 1 point of damage (wound) at the end of every Heat Phase that the ‘Mech’s Heat Scale is between 15 and 25; if the Heat Scale is 26 or higher, the MechWarrior takes 2 points of damage (wounds) instead.

Consciousness Roll

MechWarriors can survive up to 5 points of damage (wounds), but they may be knocked unconscious long before taking that much. Every time a warrior is wounded, its player must immediately make a Consciousness Roll. 

To make this check, you would roll 2D6 and consult the Consciousness Table on your ‘Mech sheet. If the roll result is equal to or greater than the MechWarrior’s consciousness number, the warrior remains conscious. If the result is less than the consciousness number, the warrior is immediately knocked unconscious.

The player makes this roll for every point of damage taken. For example, since an ammunition explosion causes two wounds, your MechWarrior will need to make two consecutive Consciousness Rolls. However, if a MechWarrior is knocked unconscious, no further Consciousness Rolls are required, and their ‘Mech becomes immobile.

Piloting Checks

MechWarriors must make Piloting Skill Rolls (PSRs) under a variety of circumstances, from losing limbs to taking too much damage. A PSR is usually made to avoid falling and, unless stated otherwise, failing one means the ‘Mech falls. 

If a ‘Mech is required to make multiple checks, then each is rolled one at a time, but all modifiers are cumulative and apply to all rolls. Just like Consciousness Rolls, if one of these PSRs fails, the rest are ignored.

Immobile ‘Mechs and Unconscious Warriors: If your ‘Mech is standing but immobile or has an unconscious warrior,  any required PSRs automatically fail.

‘Mech Damage: After all attacks have been resolved, if any of your ‘Mechs have taken more than 20 points of damage, then you must make a Piloting Skill Roll to see if your Mechwarrior can keep their ‘Mech on its feet!

Prone ‘Mechs: A prone ‘Mech makes a check when attempting to stand, but ignores all checks required to avoid falls (because they are already down).

Physical Attack Phase

BattleTech: How to Play Series - Physical Attacks

Physical attacks occur after the Weapon Attack Phase is complete. This means that all weapon fire, including damage and effects from that fire, is resolved before any physical attacks are made.

‘Mechs can make many different types of physical attacks, such as punching, kicking, to even jumping on top of an enemy ‘Mech, and much more. To make a physical attack, you must be adjacent to your target and be in a valid arc.

Players repeat the steps given for the Weapon Attack Phase, except for torso twisting and arm flipping. Finding your target number is similar, as well.

The base Target Number for a physical attack is your Piloting Skill Rating instead of your Gunnery Skill Rating. The modified Target Number equals the base Target Number plus the modifier for the specific physical attack. All standard modifiers for weapon attacks apply except heat and sensor modifiers, which never apply.

As with weapon attacks, if your modified Target Number is two or less, then your attack automatically hits. If the modified Target Number is greater than 12, the physical attack automatically misses, and you can choose not to make the attack.

Multiple Physical Attacks: A ‘Mech may only make a single type of physical attack in a single turn. Even if your ‘Mech mounts two physical weapons, it can only make a single attack. However, when making a single punch attack, you can punch with one or two arms.

Heat Phase

BattleTech: How to Play Series - Heat & End (Revised)

BattleMechs and heat do not mix! ‘Mechs build up heat whenever it moves or fires its weapons. Even though it dissipates heat through its heat sinks, a high rate of activity can produce more heat than a ‘Mech can handle.

You track your ‘Mech’s heat points using the column of boxes on the ‘Mech Record Sheet labeled “Heat Scale.” The Heat Scale records heat levels from 0 to 30 heat points. The “Overflow” box is used to track heat levels above 30.

The Heat Point Table shows the number of heat points a ‘Mech can dissipate through its heat sinks, as well as some of the adverse effects suffered at different heat levels.

Building Up Heat

Various activities build up heat at different rates and can be broken down into three categories: Movement, Weapons and Equipment, and Other.

Movement Heat

  • Walking: Walking generates one heat point, no matter how many MP used or how many hexes moved.
  • Running: Running generates two heat points, no matter how many MP used or how many hexes moved.
  • Jumping: Jump jets generate one heat point per Jumping MP expended, with a minimum of 3 heat points.
  • Standing Up: Each attempt to stand creates one heat point, in addition to the heat generated by the movement mode the ‘Mech uses that turn.

Weapons and Equipment Heat

Most weapons and some specialized equipment generate heat points when used. You can find these on your ‘Mechs record sheet. 

Other Heat

  • Engine Critical Hits: The first engine hit to a ‘Mech generates 5 points of heat per turn. The second hit raises this to 10 (total) points of heat per turn. This is not applied if the ‘Mech is shut down.

Dissipating Heat

Heat sinks are the primary way in which a ‘Mech rids itself of heat. Each heat sink dissipates one heat point per turn and two heat points per turn when submerged in water.

Recording Heat

During each turn’s Heat Phase, you add together the heat points built up by your ‘Mech then subtract the heat dissipated by its heat sinks. Depending on how efficient your ‘Mech is with heat, this result may be positive or negative. 

Once you have the heat points for this turn, you need to add them to any heat currently shown on the Heat Scale. Either add points to the Heat Scale if it’s a positive number or subtract them if you got a negative number. The Heat Scale cannot drop below 0.

Overflow Heat: Mark any heat generated beyond 30 in the “Overflow” box on the record sheet, which must be dissipated in future turns.

Effects of Heat

Excessive heat buildup is the bane of any ‘Mech on the battlefield! This heat can cause many different effects, from merely slowing the ‘Mech down to injuring the MechWarrior inside!

Some of these effects are permanent; others disappear as the ‘Mech cools. Your ‘Mech only suffers these effects after you have adjusted the heat level for the turn as described above in Recording Heat Build-up.

  • Movement: As your ‘Mech heats up, it becomes harder for it to move. The more heat it gets, the slower it gets. The exception is jumping.
  • Weapon Attacks: Too much heat can affect your targeting systems or the MechWarrior pilot, making hitting with your ranged weapons harder.
  • Shutdown: Your ‘Mech has built-in safety systems that will shut them down when the heat gets too high. Your pilot may be able to override the shutdown with a PSR, but past a certain point, your war machine will turn off no matter what.
  • Ammunition: Your ‘Mech can have explosive ammunition inside it, and when the heat gets high enough, there is a chance it could “cook-off.” This can cause an ammo explosion that can damage or even destroy your ‘Mech!

End Phase

A variety of different actions can occur during this phase, some optional and some mandatory. An action’s description will state whether it occurs during the End Phase, but the following summarizes all such activities:

  • Any MechWarrior unconscious during the Initiative Phase of this turn rolls 2D6 to see if they regain consciousness.
  • Torsos that were twisted return to a forward-facing position.
  • Reversed arms return to a forward-facing position.
  • A pilot of a submerged ‘Mech with critical damage to its life support system takes 1 damage.
  • ‘Mechs can be voluntarily shut down or restarted if voluntarily shut down in a previous End Phase. 

Victory Conditions

Which side wins the game depends on what type of match you are playing. If you remember from earlier in this guide, you can either have a standard game or play using scenarios.

If you played a standard game, this is usually a total deathmatch. Whichever player is the last one standing, or has forced their opponent to retreat from the map, wins.

If the last ‘Mechs from each side are destroyed simultaneously in the same turn, or if the previous ‘Mechs from each side cannot damage one another, the game is a draw.

If you are playing a scenario, it may have unique victory conditions of their own. These conditions can be anything from capturing or destroying a strategically valuable target, to gaining points by completing specific tasks during the match.

The variations are endless and entirely up to you! Jump into your ‘Mech and dominate the battlefield, my friend!

Is BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat Worth the Investment?

I’ve been a massive fan of BattleTech for years, and I think it is one of the best wargames for players of any level. Whether you are a complete beginner to wargaming or a grizzled veteran, BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat has something for everyone.

  • Easy of Play: From the simplified rules of the BattleTech Beginner Box, the in-depth rules of BattleTech Total Warfare, to the streamlined, fast play rules of BattleTech Alpha Strike, the games you play with this system are up to you!
  • Rich Lore: The history of the BattleTech Universe is long and filled with drama. If you want to take your games to the next level and start creating more narrative gameplay for your matches, BattleTech has so much for you to draw from!
  • Less Expensive: BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat cost less to get into than a wargame like Warhammer 40k. And who wants to spend a lot of money to start playing a game they don’t even know they will like playing? 

To sum it all up, BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat is worth the investment to me. If you are even a little bit interested in miniature tabletop gaming, I think you’ll like it too. Download your Supreme BattleTech Beginner Pack below to try it out; you’ll get the free starter rules, free map pack, custom game scenarios, and much more!

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