ALTHOUGH THE BATTLETECH INTRODUCTORY BOX SET WON the 2007 Origins Award for Miniatures Rules of the Year, I did not formally get my first BattleTech set until the Third Edition Introductory Box Set published by Catalyst Games in 2011. As I wrote before, I was VERY disappointed. However, very recently RockyMountainNavy Junior purchased with his own money the “new” Fifth Edition Beginner Box (Catalyst Game Labs, 2018). So rather than just revisit the rules, I decided to compare the two sets and see what, if any, improvements occurred between the 2011 Introductory Box Set and the 2018 Beginner Box. I am happy to say the new 2018 Beginner Box has much improved sculpts and rules but is in some ways more limiting than the 2011 Introductory Box Set.
Both the Battletech 2018 Beginner Box and 2011 Introductory Box Set contain Quick-Start Rules. I fully realize that the Quick-Start Rules are NOT what won the 2007 Origins Award but it’s what I can directly compare between these two sets. The 2011 and 2018 Quick-Start Rules are near-identical with the exception of Combat. Specifically, the new 2018 Quick-Start Rules use an attack process named G.A.T.O.R. This simple pneumonic makes combat fast and easy. Everything in G.A.T.O.R. was in the 2011 version but it was not called out as such. The new version is much simpler to teach and learn.
Another major improvement in the 2018 BattleTech Beginner Box is the ‘Mech sculpts. The 2011 ‘Mech sculpts were, to put it kindly, crap.
The 2018 Beginner Box has only two BattleTech ‘Mech sculpts but they are of much higher quality. RockyMountainNavy Junior wasted no time in painting them up.
The Fifth Edition Beginner Box is really bare-bones. Two miniatures, a paper double-sided map, and Quick-Start Rules. Background material is a 24-page fiction booklet and a short source booklet. The BattleTech 2011 Introductory Box Set included the full 80-page Introductory Rulebook and mounted maps as well as 24 miniatures. Actually 26 the Introductory Box Set has 26 minis as it included two “premium” miniatures that had to be assembled. Sadly, the “premium” should of been the standard!
As much as I am tempted to give RMN Jr. the older complete rule book, if he wants to pursue the BattleTech Universe a better option is to purchase the pdf of BattleTech: Total Warfare which touts itself as the complete up-to-date rules. It’s only $14.99 on WargameVault.com.
The Battles Ahead
RockyMountainNavy Jr. seems to be happy with the BattleTech Universe. I think we will be playing more (and he will be investing more) in this game universe. After my disastrous experience with the 2011 Introductory Box Set I was hesitant to support him but now I see the BattleTech Beginner Box as a good investment and starting point. So BattleTech is welcomed back into the RockyMountainNavy household…as long as they avoid the pitfalls of the past.