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Classic tabletop game BattleTech is back with two excellent new starter sets

Newly sculpted, dynamic miniatures come bundled with a brilliant quick-start ruleset

BattleTech miniatures, dice, and cards on a game board Charlie Hall/Polygon
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

After a slight production delay, tabletop developer and publisher Catalyst Game Labs is finally ready to ship its brand new BattleTech starter sets. Both go on sale tomorrow and include an excellent tutorial for the original game of big, stompy robots. They also benefit from a brand-new set of fantastic miniatures.

Previously we wrote that 2018 would be “the year of BattleTech,” with three new games all expected to debut last year. Sadly, only Harebrained Schemes was able to make the deadline. Its turn-based strategy game, titled BattleTech, also happened to be one of the best games of the year. Meanwhile, Piranha’s MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries was delayed into September 2019.

Catalyst Game Labs, which publishes BattleTech tabletop games and fiction under license from the Topps trading card company, also met with delays. The team tells us that was mostly due to misprinted items. Now that things have been sorted there are two new starter sets going up for sale on Catalyst’s website. BattleTech: Beginner Box is a steal at just $19.99, while BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat is a more full-fledged starter set at $59.99. Both go on sale Jan. 23.

If you’re interested in getting back into the hobby, or just want to indoctrinate some young MechWarriors in your household, now is a great time to get back into the cockpit.

BattleTech miniatures from Alpha Strike Assault Lance (left) and A Game of Armored Combat
Legacy miniatures from the BattleTech: Alpha Strike Assault Lance on the left, brand-new miniatures from BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat on the right.
Charlie Hall/Polygon

I’ve had preview copies of both new sets for a few weeks now. While the Beginner Box is certainly the more affordable of the two, I recommend picking up A Game of Armored Combat instead. Not only does it include eight of the new plastic miniatures versus just two in the Beginner Box, it also includes a complete, 56-page rulebook. You even get a set of black-and-white technical readouts suitable for photocopying. No messing around with dry-erase markers or grease pencils here.

The real gems here, however, are the miniatures themselves. For years it seems like the sculpts for the BattleTech tabletop games have lagged behind the rest of the hobby games industry. While products like Kingdom Death: Monster and even Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 have opted for larger, more dynamic figures, BattleTech minis always seemed a bit skinny and wooden. All of that changes with the two new starter sets, which include energetic poses that will stand out on your table.

If there’s anything lacking with A Game of Armored Combat it’s the number of scenarios available out of the box. The manual only includes three, albeit with recommendations on how to create multiple variations of each. Catalyst assures us that a revised version of its free campaign module is on the way, along with a new campaign book.

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