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I’ve been playing the new turn-based Battletech–the one I trash talked earlier this year–because it’s actually pretty good. It has all of the things I wanted out of a Battletech game. I do not say that lightly. It has the financial mechanics, pilot management, ‘mech repair and customization, and meat ‘n unseasoned potatoes story I want.

Mission: The Hunchback and a Clown Car Full of Panthers

This mission wasn’t boring. I was supposed to sweep through a Capellan base and bust up their noses a little bit. I don’t hate Capellans, but I try to stay on the Magistracy’s good side and the Capellans weren’t hiring, so I tend to take a slightly higher-than-random number of missions against the Capellans.

Now the Taurians, I love fighting Taurians. Fuck those guys. I think those two Commandos were Taurians.

But this one is about Capellans. Base. Bloody nose. Lance-on-Lance. I deployed on a southern road with the base just north of me. The defenders were on patrol, as they often are in this game. There was a rocky peak just west of me and I parked my Shadow Hawk and Vindicator on that while my Blackjack and Centurion pushed forward.

If you’ve noticed the pattern, then we’ll just call those specific ‘mech pairs Shadycator and Centurjack.

Centurjack started getting sensor contacts and pulled back toward the forest on the west of the peak. Two Spiders and a Panther sprinted in, followed quickly by a Hunchback. The Hunchback’s AC/20 is a huge motherfucking weapon that, while short-ranged would fuck up any of my ‘mechs if it hit them. Even my (relatively) beefy Centurion.

I pulled back harder.

My Vindicator was at the front of the peak, which was really peak-y. That meant I had to move Behemoth down and closer to the front for her to get a shot in. I finished off the Panther and began pouring everything onto that Hunchback, taking every precision shot I could at its right torso to take out that gun. In return, the Spiders swarmed my Shadow Hawk and Centurion.

The Hunchback was disarmed, but at the cost of my Centurion’s main gun (its much smaller AC/10) and almost all of my Shadow Hawk’s armor. I pulled Behemoth back so she could continue providing fire support while staying safe.

Then the two other Panthers swept in. Panthers are light and based around a PPC. The PPC is a relatively big gun and I’d focused on the first Panther until a larger gun trundled into the picture. I’d finished it off quickly because it wasn’t heavily armored.

But now I was pushing the heat curve on my Blackjack, my Shadow Hawk was being harried by a pair of Spiders, my Centurion was minus its boom stick, and my Vindicator…well, my Vindicator was untouched but the situation was still tenuous.

My Centurion traded physical blows with the Hunchback until the Hunchback fell. It spent the rest of the combat chasing down smaller ‘mechs and taking wild, drunken swings at them. It occasionally offered up LRM shots when they were too far away to punch.

My precision shots recharged enough to eviscerate another Panther’s PPC, but I had to leave the back armor of my Blackjack open to a beating while it maneuvered to the other Panther’s right side (to increase the odds of a hit on its PPC-carrying right arm).

The Centurion eventually caught a Spider and took it down. The Vindicator took down the unarmed Panther. The Blackjack took down the armed Panther with a withering laser light show. The Blackjack then took down the last Spider, which had finally left the Shadow Hawk alone while it backshot everything in range.

The repairs costs were moderate. I had to replace my Shadow Hawk’s left side, the Centurion’s right arm, and patch up a lot of torso structure on my Blackjack. I don’t think I earned anything after repair costs. Worse, I had one of those upgraded AC/10’s on my Centurion. One with a “+” or two on it. That was lost with the left arm and I had to buy a new, regular, AC/10. I resolved to only buy special equipment that went on torsos and the head from that point forward.

It was the first of some slightly tougher missions that were coming up.

I tend to take notes while I watch movies. Then, I transcribe those notes here when I’m done. I recently watched Deadpool 2, so here it is. Text is what what written, information in [[double brackets]] are after-the-fact notes.

[[Like Keanu, I realized my notes on this are really short. It says something about me that “short notes” is some of the highest praise I can give a movie.]]

Previews

I’m sorry, the cast of Bridesmaids is WHAT? [[I watched at the Alamo Drafthouse, which plays old movies as part of events and just because, really, so they routinely show old trailers before the new trailers. It’s pretty cool I live near a theater that’s playing the original True Grit just whenever. Also, that Bridesmaids cast is bonkers-good.]]

Hey, actual previews already.

More Jurrasic Park. We’ve done this already. [[I’ll do this in my Avengers: Infinity War transcript, which I haven’t transcribed yet.]]

Johnny Knocksville movie again. Action Point. This is a good fit for Johnny Knoxville. It’s comfortable.

Please subvert this Spider-Man Movie under the…? Trippy. India. Has potential.

Upgrade-I like the high concept action movie. I am opposed to revenge movies, but, like, that’s the point of this one; revenge is a bad idea but this is the idea.

Deadpool 2

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I’ve been playing the new turn-based Battletech–the one I trash talked earlier this year–because it’s actually pretty good. It has all of the things I wanted out of a Battletech game. I do not say that lightly. It has the financial mechanics, pilot management, ‘mech repair and customization, and meat ‘n unseasoned potatoes story I want. All the depth is available, but optional. Also, points for this being posted on the sixth of June.

Mission: The Impossible Base Defense

So apparently, some pirates were going to destroy a friendly base. Sounded alright. I landed on the base with my back to the southern map border. We were on a mountaintop and the east and west approaches seemed clear. The north had a road coming up it, so I deployed around that, reasonably assuming that’s where most enemies would come up.

The Vindicator and Shadow Hawk held back. The Shadow Hawk had long since been configured to carry twin LRM 5’s, so it was a fire support ‘mech and rarely ever called up to bring its medium lasers and SRM to bear. By keeping those two back, they could respond quickly to threats that somehow got past my front line. Glitch in her Centurion and VanVelding in their Blackjack held the top of the road, ready to mix it up with anyone who came up and spot for friendly LRM fire.

I had expected some friendly military support from the mission description and I was irked that the buildings seemed to be at half-health. I conceded to myself that it did take me forever to tear down buildings on my base destruction missions so maybe the mission was just trying to make things fair on the AI.

That wasn’t true at all. One of my, admittedly optional, mission objectives was “lose no buildings to the enemy,” and on the first turn, a pirate Jenner blasted in from–fucking hell, I guess–bypassed my two forward guys and unleashed a volley of SRMs at a base building, instantly destroying it.

It died the next turn. In subsequent turns, LRM fire rained down to destroy more buildings, the Southern border of the map opened up to allow an enemy lance of Locusts and vehicles to land, and I learned I had missed an eastern road up the ramp (mea culpa).

My ‘mechs scrambled to play whack a mole and I wasted at least one turn shooting at Locusts instead of the similarly-armed, but more fragile vehicles they’d landed with. My Vindicator took the eastern ramp and my Centurion provided fire support everywhere with multi-targeting while my Blackjack charged down the northern ramp to clear out seemingly radar-invisible LRM carriers.

In the last round before the base was destroyed, I took down the last vehicle of the vanguard (by accident; I sure as hell can’t tell ‘vanguard’ from ‘reinforcements’ in this game) and that gave me a “good faith failure” after I was done embarrassing myself.

The team did well and we destroyed a lot of pirate vehicle crews who were fanatically, suicidally devoted to destroying a random periphery government base. I wasn’t sharp-eyed enough to see an eastern approach, but I think that pushing back the map and cutting the buildings to half-health were bullshit pulls on a mission that was challenging enough.

I’d be hard-pressed to think of a better lance composition to have dealt with three directions of multiple vehicles striking at soft targets, but I’m taking it on faith and mulling over a better way to approach those missions. I’ll also keep my ear to the ground on signs that a given mission might have vehicles instead of ‘mechs because that makes a huge difference.

Mission: The Artist and The Mountain

This mission required that I save an artist who’d pissed off some local religious idiots who wanted to kill them for the 31st Century equivalent of Piss Christ.

It was the inversion of the Quick Extraction from last week. A wedge of a mountain tapering towards the center of the map and ending in a confluence in three roads. Across those roads was the base holding the artist. My DZ was on the west side of the mountain. An optional objective base was on the east side of the mountain.

Vehicles were immediately visible on my radar. In the Battletech board game, vehicles don’t cover terrain well. Three of my ‘mechs carried jump jets so I opted to pull the vehicles in, pound them with LRMs a bit, then shift my ‘mechs over the mountain to the east. The vees would be abandoned on the west side, I’d have high ground against whatever was on the east and I’d mop up the first set of vees when they came around the mountain’s taper.

That’s what happened.

Sorry to cheat you out of a story. There was a Spider defending the optional objective, but I murdered it. Then the vehicles. But really, things are boring when they go according to the plan. The excellent, excellent plan.

The new Battletech video game is actually really good and scratches a lot of my old Battletech itches. I’ve had a number of memorable encounters with Velding’s Marauders and I’m sharing them here.

Mission: Capellan Death Amphitheater, Take II

I reloaded from save, which was well before the mission start. I reordered my repair orders and that simple change let me replace the Commando with a fully-functional Centurion.

This time I immediately moved to the left ridgeline. The plan now was to look for a break in the line that would allow me to walk the Centurion through. Once I found it, I’d jump the Spider, Blackjack, and Shadow Hawk onto the ridgeline and seize the high ground on the left side of the battlefield.

I found that gap and marked my first enemy kill when their Commando ran through it and was annihilated. I ran my Centurion up the gap, and then jumped my Spider, Shadow Hawk, and Blackjack onto the ridge in order. An enemy Shadow Hawk was shredded as I focused fire and counted my Spider as a fair trade.

When the last two enemies, a Griffin and a Quickdraw, squared off, I focused on the Quickdraw’s side torso, destroying its missiles. Under pressure from the Griffin, I sent the Shadow Hawk its way, but kept focus on the Quickdraw. It eventually succumbed and I turned on the Griffin, who went down in a flurry of vicious kicks.

Except for the Spider, my losses were minimal. Not because of good luck, but because of good tactics and a commitment to them. It was also the result of repairing my mechs in a sensible manner to ensure I didn’t just have four ‘mechs ready at a time, but four good ones. It was the result of only repairing some ‘mechs somewhat instead of all of them at once. That let me coast through payday and have that lance of good ‘mechs ready when I took the mission. I learned the importance of discriminating between what should be repaired and when.

This started a run of good, one-and-a-half- to two-skull missions which were more perfunctory–and profitable–than I’d come to expect.

Mission: Quick Extraction

I started at the top of a wedge of land. At the bottom was a confluence of three rivers and a base that I had to extract some stuff from. I was told after I landed that the resistance would be heavier than I expected. After the last mission, I was braced and twice as wary because I had to leave one of my ‘mechs in an enemy base.

I moved my Centurion, Vindicator (recently repaired), and Blackjack across the western river. My Vindicator was piloted by Shaft, a new mechwarrior I’d hired to replace my previous Spider pilot. Those three would draw in any enemy forces.

Behemoth hung back in her Shadow Hawk. She’d sensor lock enemies, but lay low. Once they were sufficiently distracted/dead, she’d swing in, occupy the base, and hit the landing zone as quickly as possible.

In the end, I only encountered two vehicles. Both Manticores, I think. They landed some hard hits, but I made relatively quick work of them. Behemoth ran into the base, got our objective, and wrapped up the mission easy-peasy.

Mission: Two Commandos

That was all. Just two Commandos. There were some woods. One Commando had SRMs and the other had the large laser. Indirect fire and sensor locks from my Shadow Hawk pilot, Behemoth, make quick work of them.

This was my first mission with Shaft, a new recruit I’d hired to replace the scout ‘mech pilot I’d lost to Grim Sybil. I hdd kept the Spider too close to the fight after it took a ton of damage in the first story mission. Well, maybe it had taken 29 tons of damage when it finally took that last ton. I was hoping to train Shaft up as the missions allowed.

I also bought a cockpit module which would help my morale a bit. I’m curious about the morale system and want to see how trying to leverage it works. I’ve been satisfied so far.

Want to say that you guys are lucky we didn’t record this episode with the same commentary repeated three times, but with different attitudes.

The flaw with Star Trek (and maybe television of its era) is that it can’t give its protagonists real, intentional flaws. What happens is that we search for humanizing flaws from less-than-perfect writing and sorta crack open this implicit pretense of characters. Modern demands for high-resolution characters take the old 4:3 characters and stretch them into 16:9 frames. That’s part of why we’re so hard on Commander Riker, I think.

Also, these four episodes–“A Matter of Perspective,” “The Offspring,” “Sins of the Father,” and–not so much but it’s in the sequence–“Yesterday’s Enterprise” seem to mark a turning point where the staff of The Next Generation gave up on Riker as a protagonist and started focusing on Picard.

Riker’s flaws had always been easily redeemable with a bit of maturity and seasoning. All they would have had to have done was to execute the most basic–and I can’t emphasize that enough *BASIC*–character arc to make Riker likable. Instead, he gets thrown on the pile with Geordi and Troi where he’s occasionally trotted out for episodes where we’re reminded of exactly which wheelhouse he’s confined to.

Also Kurosawa was the director of “Roshamon,” but that wasn’t even a lucky guess the dude is the only non-anime Japanese director I’d heard of.

The Beige and The Bold is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and other podcasting platforms. It updates Sunday nights at 12:00 PM ET / 11:00 PM CT.

I’ve been playing the new turn-based Battletech–the one I trash talked earlier this year–because it’s actually pretty good. It has all of the things I wanted out of a Battletech game. I do not say that lightly. It has the financial mechanics, pilot management, ‘mech repair and customization, and meat ‘n unseasoned potatoes story I want. All the depth is available, but optional.

I’ve been playing through with the default company name, [MY NAME] + Marauders. “Marauder” seems like a bad name for a professional military unit, but whatever. That’s because I didn’t want to get too attached on my first runthrough. Because of a game crash (it started using tons of memory for no reason), I had to play the tutorial mission twice and lemme express my strong disinclination to ever, ever start a new playthrough.

Regardless, I played through the first story mission, when I was hired on by an old friend who was working with the Magistracy of Canopus to recover some ancient dropship. It was after that point that the game came into its own and I started having fond memories of my battles with a set crew and a steady stable of ‘mechs.

TL;DR – The new Battletech game is actually really good and scratches a lot of my old Battletech itches. I’ve had a number of memorable encounters with Velding’s Marauders and I’m sharing them here.

Mission: Capellan Death Amphitheater

I’m trying to get in close with the Magistracy of Canopus, so I took a mission where Capellans had been sniffing around Magistracy bases. I tend to fight hard, so of my six ‘mechs, two were still in the shop when I had to take this mission and I had to take this mission because the end of the month was coming up and I wouldn’t make it if I didn’t take it.

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In “Best of Both Worlds,” Picard is assimilated by the Borg and his knowledge is used to destroy many Starfleet vessels. Riker gets a field-commission to Captain and stops the Borg. Then, Picard is reinstated and everything continues status quo ante bellum.

What if, instead, Riker finally completes his arc and becomes captain of the Enterprise? What if Picard becomes an ambassador at large, assigned to the Federation flagship and using his diplomatic knowledge to represent The Federation?

Without that, Riker enters a holding pattern. He was known as an ambitious officer, but gets fixated on being the captain of a single ship. Meanwhile, he’s constantly unprepared to be captain. An ambitious, competent officer like Will should be doing more than cooling his heels doing Picard’s admin. Making Riker the captain will let his character develop and give him new challenges. Also Data or LaForge would make a fine first officer.

Meanwhile, Picard slowly, nobly sucks up the limelight as a moral paragon. Those speeches literally become Picard Speeches, when there are seven other characters who could deliver them. A lot of that is because Patrick Stewart is such a fine actor, but no one else on the cast is a slouch. If he’s an ambassador, he can focus solely on diplomatic functions and share time with the new Captain.

Would season four be that different? Not really. Mostly the effect is sharing the attention given to Picard between Riker and Picard. List of Season 4 episodes with notes on how they might change is below the cut.

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Morning Perfect Base is coming back next week (this week was a bit crazy).

It will replace Minecraft News for Adults. Monday through Thursday will be news. Generally, four positive, neutrally-toned science-y, law-ey, current events news articles in ten-minute videos (I’ll probably have to shift back to fifteen). There will be occasional, more downbeat, social/political content (still working through ratios).

Fridays will be the Disco Comics and personal stuff I usually reserve for the end of MCNFA. Weekly playlists will go up Saturday mornings.

A shift from the scripted (overscripted?) MCNFA to the more improvised MPB means I’m gonna shift more to proper writing. It also means I’ll be covering things in a bit less depth. Always interested to hear requests to delve more deeply into something or to cover a popular news article.

I’m still working on it. It’s taking a while to really quantify what went wrong with the Combat of the playtest. Mostly because that rolls into the larger problems and that naturally leads me into pitching solutions.

My deal is that even if solutions make more complexity, I’ll walk down that garden path a bit and pare it back a bit later. I mean, “wherefore equipment?” “seven stages of combat and only one card type affects each one” “dice for village actions” “theytriarch cards and you” “monsters should kill everyone because A) Monsters & B) It’s Written On The Box” “were coins that bad?” “If that’s a whole village, shouldn’t it have at least one consequential gameplay mechanic?”

It’s a process and I haven’t sat down and dedicated time to typing it all out.