How do I get into BattleTech?

One of the most common questions asked by people interested in BattleTech is “Where do I start?”. With over 35 years of boxes, rules, supplements and novels it can be hard to know where to begin!

In this blog post we’ll look at the best ways to get into playing BattleTech, including a short review of all of the key products you will need to play. These items roughly fall into the order in which it is best to buy them (although there are various different routes you can choose to take).

BattleTech Beginners Box

The Beginners Box is designed as a very simple introduction to the game of BattleTech for all levels of experience from younger gamers to players new to gaming. It includes a special Beginners version of the BattleTech rules which make the game very easy to learn and play but leave out several key and more complicated mechanics (Heat, Internal Structure, Critical Hits).

Including 2 high quality hard plastic miniatures, which require no assembly, record sheets for 8 BattleMechs, a full colour map and dice, it includes everything you need to play. It also includes cardboard cutouts of the other 6 BattleMechs.

Those players who have played BattleTech before or are experienced gamers may decide to skip this product – but for its price it is worth buying just for the Map and the two miniatures. It’s also worth noting that the GRF-1N Griffin is only available in this box.

What’s in the Box?

  • Beginners Rules booklet
  • 2 Plastic Miniatures – No Assembly Required. GRF-1N Griffin and the WVR-6R Wolverine
  • Fiction – Golden Rule (Part 1 Colby’s Commandos Missions)
  • 8 Full colour Beginners Record Sheets
  • 2 Dice
  • 1 2 Double Sided paper Beginners Map – Open Terrain 1 (which includes only open terrain and a few forrest hexes)
  • Cardboard tokens
Griffin and Wolverine (painted as Draconis Combine 6th Arkhab Legion)

BattleTech a Game of Armored Combat (Box)

The flagship product of the BattleTech line – this is an ideal place to start your career as a MechWarrior!

The BattleTech A game of Armored Combat (BTAGOAC) box includes 8 highly detailed hard plastic miniatures, with no assembly required. In this box you get:

  • LCT-1V Locust
  • CMD-2D Commando
  • SHD-2H Shadow Hawk
  • WVR-6R Wolverine (this is identical to the miniature in the Beginners Box)
  • CPT-C1 Catapult
  • TDR-5S Thunderbolt
  • AWS-8Q Awesome
  • BLM-1G BattleMaster
Wolverine, Thunderbolt, Commando, Awesome, BattleMaster, Locust, Catapult, Shadow Hawk (painted as Draconis Combine 6th Arkhab Legion)

The BTAGOAC box includes a rule book with a full set of rules to play BattleTech with BattleMechs in the Late Succession Wars era, approximately in the year 3025. This is also referred to as the Introductory Rules set as it does not include more complicated equipment and rules found in later products.

You are provided with a full booklet of black and white Record Sheets for all the BattleMechs listed above as well as extra record sheets for different variants of each. There is also a thick card quick rules table reference sheet, which includes all of the common tables you need for game play.

The two maps provided have more complex terrain than in the Beginners Box, and additional card tokens allow you to alter the terrain further.

Using the materials in this box you can start with simple 1 ‘Mech vs 1 ‘Mech games right the way unto a full Lance of 4 BattleMechs on each side.

For your first game it’s a great idea to play the Shadow Hawk vs the Wolverine using 1 map sheet. Both of these are Medium BattleMechs with similar weapons and Jump Jets and will make this a well balanced and highly mobile game which takes about 30-45 minutes.

Eventually you and an opponent will get to play a full Lance for 4 BattleMechs on each side and it’s recommended you use both map sheets. This game takes from 2-3 hours A good way to split the BattleMechs is:

Force A (Tons)Force B (Tons)
Commando (25)Locust (20)
Shadow Hawk (55)Wolverine (55)
Thunderbolt (65)Catapult (65)
Awesome (80)BattleMaster (85)

While this product is a great way to get into playing BattleTech, it is not the only way. Due to very high demand there have been stock shortages and you may find this difficult to find, although several restocks have occurred already.

This box also includes a series of MechWarrior data cards, listing a variety of MechWarriors with different special skills. These aren’t necessary for basic game play, but can add some fun to the game. There are also another set of cards which along side the minatures are for use with the AlphaStrike game (a separate miniatures game).

What’s in the Box?

  • Introductory Rules booklet
  • BattleTech Primer
  • 8 Unpainted Plastic Miniatures – No Assembly Required.
  • Fiction – Eyestorm (Part 2 Colby’s Commandos Missions)
  • Record Sheets Booklet
  • 2 Dice
  • 2 Double Sided paper Maps
  • Cardboard tokens
  • Set of MechWarrior Cards
  • Set of cards for use with AlphaStrike

BattleTech CLan Invasion (Box)

In 3050, a mysterious force known only as The Clans invaded the InnerSphere. With superior Omni-Mechs and terrify Elemental Battle Armor, these Clans cut a path through the InnerSphere. Their origin was surrounded in mystery, some even believed they might be alien, but the truth was even more incredible. These were the Children of Kerensky, the dependents of the last forces of General Alexander Kerensky’s StarLeague which left the InnerSphere 300 years earlier, and now have returned…

This box set is not a stand alone product. It includes a rulebook which includes rules for advanced equipment such as Streak SRM’s, Ultra AutoCannons, Pulse Lasers and ER PPC’s. The rule book also includes:

  • Elemental Battle Armor rules
  • BattleMech Construction (Simplified from the Tech Manual)
  • Formations (First seen in Campaign Operations)

It includes 5 unpainted and highly detailed Clan Omni-Mechs in their Prime configuration, and two “Points” of Elemental Battle Armor. [InnerSphere Name (Clan Name)]

  • Gargoyle (Executioner)
  • Mad Cat (Timber Wolf)
  • Black Hawk (Nova)
  • Grendel (Mongrel)
  • Puma (Adder)
  • 2 x Elemental Battle Armor (with Small Lasers)
Timber Wolf, Mongrel, Executioner, Adder, Nova, 2 x Elemental Battle Armor (Painted as Clan Jade Falcon Delta Galaxy)

Each of these Omni-Mechs has a full Record Sheet as well as extra record Sheets for the new variants fitted with differing Omni-Pods.

This product is a great introduction to the Clans and includes a Clan Invasion Primer to update the lore and well as an amazing short story; The Bonds of Battle, by legendary BattleTech author Blaine Lee Pardoe, which introduced the fearsome Elemental BattleArmor.

This book also includes the rules which alongside the BTAGOAC rulebook allow you to play in what is know as a Standard Technology Game.

If you are unable to find a copy of BattleTech A Game of Armored Combat, then buying either the BattleMech Manual, or Total Warfare will enable you to play as the Clans and retake the InnerSphere!

(Note the picture shown above is the Special Edition KickStarer Executioner Art version. The regular retail version has the awesome Timber Wolf on the front, but there is no difference in the content).

What’s in the Box?

  • Clan Rules booklet
  • BattleTech Clan invasion Primer
  • 5 Unpainted Plastic OmniMech Miniatures – No Assembly Required, and two stand of Elemental Battle Armor.
  • Fiction – The Bonds of Battle
  • Record Sheets Booklet
  • 2 Dice
  • 2 Double Sided paper Maps
  • Cardboard tokens
  • MechWarrior Cards
  • AlphaStrike Cards

BattleTech Force Packs

These are packs containing either InnerSphere Lances (4 ‘Mechs) or Clan Stars (5 ‘Mechs). Also available is the Clan Elemental Battle Armor pack (with 5 stands, each with 5 Elementals). Each force pack also comes with a set of MechWarrior cards and cards for the AlphaStrike game.

InnerSphere Command Lance

Valkyrie, Archer, Marauder, Stinger (Painted as Capellan Confederation Warrior House Ijoir)

InnerSphere Battle Lance

Phoenix Hawk, Warhammer, Rifleman, Wasp (Painted as Capellan Confederation Warrior House Ijoir)

Clan Command Star

Mist Lynx, Summoner, Dire Wolf, Storm Crow, Shadow Cat (Painted as Clan Jade Falcon Delta Galaxy)

Clan Heavy Striker Star

Ice Ferret, Hellbringer, Gargoyle, Mad Dog, Viper (Painted as Clan Jade Falcon Delta Galaxy)

Clan Elemental Battle Armor Star

5 Points of Elemental Battle Armor with Small Lasers (Painted as Clan Jade Falcon Delta Galaxy)

The Core Rule Books

BattleTech includes a series of Core Rule Books most of which have a current reprint. These are not all required for play but each adds extra rules.

BattleMech Manual

This is the ideal first Core rulebook to buy. It includes all the rules required to play BattleMechs with a “Standard” technology (that found in the Clan Invasion). It is important to note this book only includes BattleMechs and does not cover Vehicles, Infantry or AeroSpace. Some of the rules it includes are:

  • Standard Rules and Equipment
  • Urban Combat
  • BattleMech Quirks
  • Battlefield Support Points
  • Extended Optional Rules

The BattleMech Manual includes all of the rules you need to play the game. If you pick up this book, 2 dice, some miniatures (or even just tokens), record sheets (available online) and a map you can play a BattleMech only BattleTech Standard Game!

Total Warfare

This is the ideal core rule book to purchase for the experience player returning to the game. Much of what is printed in this book is exactly the same as the BattleMech Manual. It includes:

  • Standard Rules and Equipment
  • Infantry
  • Combat Vehicles
  • Urban Combat
  • AeroSpace
  • Running Campaigns
  • Miniatures rules (as opposed to map based)
  • Painting guide

It’s worth noting that Total Warfare does not contain: BattleMech Quirks or Battlefield Support Points.

Total Warfare contains all the rules you need to play a Standard BattleTech game.

Tech Manual

Contains all the rules required to construct units as well as some more Advanced Equipment.

Tactical Operations

Split into two books:

Advanced Equipment – Includes rules for Advanced Equipment including artillery and many new weapon systems from after the Clan Invasion. It also includes advanced rules for buildings.

Advanced Rules – Included a huge amount of optional rules to enhance gameplay!

Campaign Operations

A very detailed book describing how to run full Campaigns as well as then more abstract Chaos Campaign rules (which are also in print as a separate free booklet). This also covers: Formations (more detailed than the Clan Invasion Box), Special Pilot Abilities (As seen in the MechWarrior Cards) and Special Force Abilities.

Strategic Operations – Advanced AeroSpace

This includes only Advanced AeroSpace rules, but does include more complete rules for DropShips and BattleMech Combat drops and well as a very useful simplified abstract aerospace system to make integrating AeroSpace into battles easier.

Interstellar Operations

A huge tomb of work including the most advanced equipment as well as full details on BattleTech eras and includes game year all equipment became available

More Maps!

A present there are several ways to get more map sheets!

Catalyst have on current release an official Grass Lands map pack which includes 6 double sided full colour maps all with the same Grasslands colour theme.

You can also buy BattleMats. These are Neoprene backed mats much like mouse mat material. Each BattleMat includes 2 maps (32 hexes x 17 hexes) from the Grasslands map pack. They are also double sided and each different map has a different reverse: Desert, Savannah, Luna and Tundra.

If you want more maps, there are several places to buy packs of older maps including Real Partha Europe. http://www.ralparthaeurope.co.uk/shop/battletech-c-1/rules-sourcebooks-scenarios-c-1_2/classic-battletech-paper-maps-c-1_2_15/

Battle Mats 2-5 (5 was only available through the Kick Starter)

Technical Readouts (TRO’s)

These excellent supplements are half fluff/lore and half game stats. Each one includes a full set of stats for BattleMechs. Most do not include the Record Sheets though, and you can either make your own using the blank sheets provided or buy the Record Sheet PDF document from Catalyst Games Labs or DrivethruRPG.com.

At the moment of writing all of the above are in print but there are many other older TRO’s that contain BattleMechs, Vehicles and Aerospace.

There are also many other ways to obtain BattleTech Record Sheets such as:

TRO Succession Wars

This TRO includes only BattleMechs using the Introductory Technology Rules Set (From BTAGOAC), this also includes some older StarLeague BattleMechs using the Standard Technology BattleMechs requiring the Standard Rule Set. This is an ideal companion to the BattleTech A Game of Armored Combat – but is not necessary for game play.

TRO Clan Invasion

This BattleMech only TRO includes Clan OmniMechs as well as Clan Invasion (3050-52) era InnerSphere upgrades. This is an ideal companion to the BattleTech Clan Invasion Box – but is not necessary for game play.

TRO Jihad

This BattleMech only TRO includes many BattleMechs with Advanced Technology from 3052 right through to 3085.

You can find many more TRO’s a the Catalyst Games Lab Website as PDFs and some as Print on Demand (PoD) including the new IlClan Recognition Guides which are designed to provide the older 3025 BattleMechs with stats for the Republic/Dark Age and IlClan eras (3151+).

Diving into the Lore

BattleTech includes a wealth of source books which are mostly lore/fluff but do contain some rules for new equipment and BattleMechs.

Metal Minatures

Fire Falcon, Night Gyr, Black Lanner and Turkina (Ral Rartha Europe Metals). Elementals and Mad Dog (Catalyst Plastics)

You can expand your collection of miniatures with a vaste range of metal BattleMechs, Vehicles Infantry and Vehicles.

Iron Wind Metal currently holds the licence to produce metal miniatures. The sell direct of from a variety of stores, such cases Aries Games. Export from the US is expensive, but there are some European carriers such as FantasyWelt in Germany.

https://www.ironwindmetals.com

Ral Rartha Europe is a UK based company which has a limited range of miniatures as well as older out of print sourcebooks.

http://www.ralparthaeurope.co.uk/shop/battletech-c-1/

Range of Metal miniatures.

Beyond Table Top

You can explore playing BattleTech in other wars including the fast larger scale miniatures game Alpha Strike and the narrative style RPG MechWarrior Destiny.

5 thoughts on “How do I get into BattleTech?

  1. As a beginner in 2021 most of the products shown here are “out of print” and very hard (it seems) to acquire. Sure there’s eBay, but the prices make Games Workshop look cheap. At the time of typing, “everyone” seems to be suggesting that Battletech is the way to go if you’re fed up with GW. However, I’m beginning to feel like this is some coordinated “recruitment drive” aimed to pump new life into a very dead system based on renewed demand from disenfranchised GW customers……great ploy, except nothing from Battletech is currently available. So, I’ll go play Adeptus Titanicus – not because it’s better (I doubt it is), and not because it’s set in the Grim Dark…..but just because it’s available, and (at the time of writing) supported.

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      1. Perhaps I should have mentioned, I’m based in Germany. Buying from CGL direct is impossible, the shipping costs for that box set are higher than the cost of the box set itself. I’m sure Battletech is a rich and exciting game, but its a game that presents too many immediate obstacles to access.

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