I have been a die hard fan of Battletech since I first picked up a Technical Readout book and wondered what all of the information about awesome looking giant mechs was really used for. Three years ago when Catalyst Game Labs acquired the Battletech license and put out the Classic Battletech boxed set, I was excited but didn’t get a chance to pick one up before the print run completely sold out. That’s why I flipped out when I saw the new Battletech Introductory Boxed Set in a vendor’s stand at PAX East and quickly picked up a copy.
This new boxed set is being released on March 30th, 2011 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Battletech, and it retails for $49.95. The box includes:
- 24 unpainted, ready-to-play plastic BattleMech minis
- 2 unpainted, premium-quality plastic BattleMech minis
- One 12-page full-color quick-start rulebook will have players into the action in minutes
- 36-page book of pre-generated BattleMech Record Sheets
- One 80-page full-color rulebook
- Inner Sphere at a Glance, a 56-page full-color book of universe
- One 16-page full-color Painting and Tactics Guide
- One two-sided heavy-duty card of compiled tables
- Two 18? x 24? game-board quality maps
- An 8-page color guide to the Battletech Core Rulebooks
- One huge full-color poster of the Battletech Galaxy/Universe
- Two 6-sided dice
Let me tell you right from the start that this is a high quality boxed set. All of the books and printed material are extremely well produced and the two premium quality plastic Battlemech miniatures are the best plastic Battletech minis I’ve ever seen. The 24 regular plastic Battlemech minis are of a much lower quality but they are pretty much equivalent to what came with any of the previous Battletech boxed sets I’ve purchased. All of the rulebooks are full-color and on good quality paper, but more importantly they offer a wide variety of information for beginning players with the quick start rules all the way through experienced veterans with the Inner Sphere At a Glance book and the guide to the core rulebooks. Perhaps the biggest thing to point out is that this time they’ve provided thick card stock quality maps instead of the standard paper maps we’re used to with Battletech products, and though they are a bit fussy with laying flat when they’re brand new the sturdiness and durability are a very welcome change.
I have not yet had a chance to play the game with the rules included in this boxed set, but a quick read through of the quick start and then the introductory rulebook tells me that this set is very much in line with what we know and love as Battletech with only a few modifications here and there. As I looked through the material I found many rules and mechanics that I remember and love from playing Battletech as long as 15 years ago, but more importantly all of the same battlemechs that have been in the universe for so long are not only present but positively abundant. The folks at Catalyst Game Labs have crammed nearly every square inch of this product with illustrations and pictures of all of our favorite mechs in a variety of colors and scenarios.
Some of the maps are actually reproductions of the maps that came with the old boxed sets, and present a nice variety of natural terrain. I still feel that a quality city or urban scene map has been missing from the game since the beginning, and the one side of the poster map that comes with this boxed set that presents a crisscrossing network of small roads might be an attempt at that, but it doesn’t present any kind of realistic urban terrain that I can think of.
The miniatures that come with the game cover a wide variety of mechs, including an Atlas which I was ecstatic to see. The two premium plastic mechs are a Thor and a Loki, both similar in design but as I said earlier the minis for these are extremely high quality and I would love to see every type of battlemech available at this level of quality and in plastic.
This new introductory boxed set is literally everything that I have come to love about Battletech presented in a bright and shiny new package. It contains everything that you need to learn and play the game presented in extremely high quality, so it is a perfect purchase for new and old Battletech players alike. If you’re currently an active player of the game then it may not present you with anything new (aside from more minis and maps), but if you’re like me and haven’t played in the last few years then this is the perfect way to get back into the game!
For me this boxed set is the culmination of many hopes and dreams that started back at GenCon 2008 when I sat down to interview Randall Bills from Catalyst Game Labs (you can read the interview here) but I was unable to pick up the Classic Battletech boxed set back then.
Here are some pictures of the contents of the box: