Battletech Introductory Box Set Preview & Review

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:

Comments

  1. I started playing Battletech when I was in middle school back in 1994, but stopped for a long time. I just recently started playing in a Battletech… I guess you’d call it a mercenary campaign and it’s been great. Not just unconnected one-off battles, but really feels like we’re each a pilot in an ongoing story. The continuity is great and has rekindled my interest in picking up things like that box set.

  2. Thanks for the review. Very pleased with the look of the minis and the maps.

    Are the pre-generated mechs balanced? Are rules included for generating your own mechs?

  3. Asmor: The pre-gen mechs seem pretty well in line with what I’ve come to expect from Battletech, can’t say whether or not they’re balanced yet as I haven’t played with these versions but I’m not seeing anything surprising or that stands out yet.

    There are 8 pages in the back of the Introductory Rulebook with rules for creating your own mechs. It really wouldn’t be Battletech without those rules, would it? 😀

  4. Thanks. I thought I remembered thumbing through one of their introductory books at some point and getting the impression that you needed to buy a separate book for rules to actually create your own mechs.

    I’ll definitely be picking this up with my next paycheck…

  5. NCKestrel says:

    The rules for buildings aren’t in the introductory rules (too complicated I believe?), but there’s a hexpack: cities and road expansion upcoming that has those rules and urban maps with hextiles for adding buildlings.

  6. StCptMara says:

    Asmor, the ‘mechs in the Boxed Set are classic era designs. Some are darned good(AWS-8Q awesome: 3 PPCs, 28 heat sinks, renowned for the 3-2-3-2-3 fire pattern of PPCs that
    can lay low even much heavier mechs), the Atlas with its AC/20, SRM 6, 2 Mediums that
    is the original “9 hex bubble of ***** no!”, as well as the classic AC 20 medium, the Hunchback.
    The ‘mechs, individually, are not what you would call “balanced”..But BattleTech is never much
    of a individually balanced game. There are some ‘mech designs that are just plain better then
    everything else. Fortunately, since the Intro Boxed set is using the introductory tech level, the
    ‘mechs in it all have some sort of fatal flaw. The Atlas and Hunchback, for instance, despite
    being terrors inside 9 hexes, are going to run into problems, even with the Atlas’ token LRM 20,
    outside of that. An Awesome, despite being a long range support ‘mech, is going to run into
    trouble against the designs in the boxed set that have longer then 18 hex ranges, or against
    anything that can get into its blind spots, like the fragile light ‘mechs like the Spider and Jenner.

    As I say all the time to new players: There is no such thing as a Bad ‘Mech. Every ‘Mech excels in
    its field. You just have to figure out what that is.

    And, good news! There is a tactical book to explain the basic considerations, like blind spots on
    ‘mech fire arcs, using terrain, etc. Balance is achieved not by the ‘mechs, but by how you use them.

  7. Atlas3060 says:

    Asmor, yes there are some rules for constructing ‘Introductory’ Mechs in the boxed set. However you were correct about purchasing another book for more construction rules; its called Tech Manual and its really worth the money.

    With Tech Manual not only do you get rules for constructing Mechs but also Vehicles, infantry, and Dropships. That book also provides rules for giving each unit a Battle Value and determine the cost in C-Bills. You could balance your forces better with either way and if you make your own units or even want to improve upon existing ones you can with that book!

    Battletech does provide a booklet within this boxed set that shows how the core rulebooks work. With that booklet you’ll see what Total Warfare, Tech Manual, Tactical Operations, Strategic Operations, Interstellar Operations (whenever that comes out), and A Time of War (the RPG) does within the scale of the Battletech Universe.

  8. Well… if anyone is interested in an opposing viewpoint on this box set, check out my review by following my link. I found this to be one of the worst products Catalyst (a company I really, usually like) has produced. The quality is far below the last set and the recycled components are out of date and far less useful.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Battletech Introductory Box Set Preview & Review : Critical Hits With that booklet you'll see what Total Warfare, Tech Manual, Tactical Operations, Strategic Operations, Interstellar Operations (whenever that comes out), and A Time of War (the RPG) does within the scale of the Battletech Universe. […]

  2. […] I haven't got a lot of photos of my set but Bartoneus has a review on critical-hits.com that includes some good photos at Critical-Hits. […]