Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Getting Started with the Fictional World of Battletech

Morning Game Fans, Today we’re going to take a slightly different look at the Battletech Universe.  We’re going to put together a beginner’s guide to the fictional universe of Battletech.  If you’re looking to start with novels, We recommend the following novels to give you an idea of the universe from a couple of different viewpoints.  We make no claims about the quality of the writing, but if you're looking to get started with the Battletech Universe's fiction, here's our suggestions

The Grey Death Legion Trilogy by William H. Keith Jr.
Comprised of Decision at Thunder Rift, Mercenary Star, and The Price of Glory, these three books will give a new reader a wonderful look into the 3020s era of Battletech, which should give them a good headstart for the new computer game coming out next year.  From a story stand point, this series has a lot of high points.  Ragtag resistance fighters making good, an almost cartoonish villain, some interestng scenery, a cast of characters that could secretly replace the G.I. Joes if someone weren’t looking too closely...We are fans of this book series.

Heir to the Dragon by Robert N. Charrette
Nominally during this era, The Draconis Combine (House Kurita) are the antagonist faction for the setting.  This is one of the first books that takes a closer look at them as protagonists.  It also introduces an important character to the setting who will shape the future of the Combine for years to come (Theodore, F’ing Kurita).  Watching Theodore navigate the battlefields of the Inner Sphere and the court of his homeworld Luthien is an interesting read, and you should probably check it out.

Wolves on the Border by Robert N. Charette
Featuring the Wolf’s Dragoons mercenary command and setting up their feud with House Kurita, Wolves on the Border features the dichotomy between Mercenary and House units.  While the typical backdrop of those evil Kuritans vs. the good guy mercenaries has started to get stale, this does set-up part of the fourth succession war and lays the groundwork for event moving forward.  

There aren’t a lot of novels written, but there are a ton of sourcebooks.  We think you might like…
The House Sourcebooks (there are five of these, and each one gives you an idea of the origins of the Great Houses and their military philosophies).  These are eventually updated to cover the entire history of the House in the Handbooks series published much later.
There are a lot of mercenary units that don’t get novels of their own, but FASA did a great job of building sourcebook and scenario packs for them

The Fox’s Teeth
Sorenson’s Sabres
McCaron’s Armored Cavalry
Snord’s Irregulars
Kell Hounds

The upside of most of these sourcebooks is that they’re not as long as a novel, but still give you a treatment of what’s going on and who the major players are.  The downside is that most of them are out of print and have been for a while, so unless you know where to find Jordan Weisman’s secret stash, you may be looking for a while.  

If you’re going to take the long walk into the plot of battletech during this era, you have four novels and some sourcebooks to read.  

The Sword and the Dagger by Ardath Mayhar sets the story of the conflict between the Capellan Confederation and the Federated Suns.  The Capellan Confederation has seized an opportunity to destroy the Federated Suns through sneakery and spies, and it has a very real chance of succeeding.  Will the timely intervention of a Davion loyalist save the Federated Suns?  

The Warrior trilogy by Michael Stackpole

The Warrior Trilogy comprises Warrior: En Garde, Warrior: Riposte, and Warrior: Coup tells the story of an elaborate spy game between the Capellan Confederation and the Federated Suns.  This is a lead up to the Fourth Succession War, which is really the seminal conflict of the Succession Wars era.  It redraws the maps of the Inner Sphere and sets the political and military conflicts that drive the next twenty years of in universe developments.  

We suggest you also grab the NAIS 4th Succession War Military Atlas Vol. 1 and 2 for an overall strategic look at how that war plays out.  

FASA did a very good job of filling in missing sections of the map with sourcebooks, but we wish that Catalyst Game Labs would finish out their Succession Wars series of historicals by redoing the 3rd and 4th Succession Wars so that the new player had an in universe look at the history behind the mega plot.  

So we’ve given you some ideas for getting started with the 3025 era of Battletech’s fictional universe.  If you think we missed anything, let us know


  1. I like what you are doing here. Good times. My own introduction to Battletech fiction was Rhonda's Irregulars, the follow up to Snord's Irregulars that advanced the story into the Clan Invasion era. I still enjoy looking at that sourcebook.

    Any of the Stackpole novels are good reads IMHO. Malicious Intent was a personal favorite, set during the later Clan Invasion era.

    1. Oh, we'll do another feature in a week or two about the Clan Invasion era to get people acquainted with the lore that goes with the game. There are some very solidly good reads in that era as well