Battletech 25th Anniversary Boxed Set… Kinda Fail.

I. Love. Battletech. And for the most part, I really appreciate the work that Catalyst has done with the line since they took over. The TROs are very good, the Jihad sourcebooks are wonderful, the new rulebooks — while a little clunky to use — are still great once you get used to them. I’m especially fond of the new Era Book concept they started with Era Report 3052.

I introduce everything this way to simply establish — I’m a fan.

The new 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set, is — well — pretty poor.

First off — it took opening two boxed sets to make a complete one for me at the LGS.

The first box I opened was missing one of the ‘Mechs (the Assassin… but still). The second one had all the Battlemechs, but one of them was broken in a not-easy-to-fix way. Also, having purchased two of the last Battletech Introductory Boxed Set and having two sets of these base twenty-four ‘Mechs already, I can say that the quality of these ready-to-play plastics has dropped in the new set. That said, the two new “premium” plastic miniatures (Thor and Loki) were great additions to the set and look wonderful.

The Quick Start rulebook really isn’t all that important to me, but it seems like a handy enough document for a beginner set. The same for the little white book of ‘Mech Record sheets. It was nice to get the printed sheets for two versions of the Loki and the Thor each. Oddly, the book also has two blank leafs just kinda hanging out at the end of it too…

The 80 page rulebook appears to be the same on from the last boxed set, except, the last version was perfect bound — this one is saddle stapled. I’m not fond of saddle staple and I think the perfect bound book was higher quality, but I’m calling this one a wash, because the saddle-staple version may actually stay open on the table better, which may have been the intent with the new binding. The same goes for the Inner Sphere at a Glance book. It’s nice, but I’ll get to my main complaint about that later. Again, same for the Painting and Tactics Guide.

Every, single, one of the boxed sets opened at our store — currently six and counting — only had one of the compiled table cards instead of two. Also, again in comparison to the last release, the quality of these has dropped as well. The last set were very heavy cardboard with clear printing. The ones in the new box set are flimsier and the printing on all of those I’ve seen is slightly fuzzy. Not a huge problem, but again, a definite drop in quality.

I want to talk about the map-boards before I address the Inner Sphere Map and my problems with all that… I bought a Rivers and Lakes Terrain Pack a while back — and I was disappointed when I opened the map-board. First of all, the board was printed on one side. The other side was an old-style mapsheet glued down to the board. This wouldn’t have been so bad I suppose, but the mapsheet was slightly too small, so the hexes don’t actually match up. Both of the boards that come in the new boxed set… same problem. That’s… inexplicable.

On top of the glued-down mapsheet, I’ve also disliked the switch to the boards from the mapsheets because they’re difficult to get to lay flat. With the old mapsheets I used to just lay a sheet of clear plastic across them (from a cheap poster frame) and it not only kept them flat and together, but allowed me to draw on it, as needed. This will not work with the new boards as well, and I still am not sure how to best get them to lay flat…

Finally, the Map of the Inner Sphere. Of all the components that have just been recycled for this new set, this is the one I most disappointed in. The timeline has currently advanced to (at least) 3085. And the events of the Jihad and the Republic’s founding have changed the shape of the Inner Sphere in significant ways. Would it have been so difficult to produce a new map for a new generation Introductory Set? Heck, a map set to the IS circa 3050 would have been more useful to a new player than one set in 3067. But I suppose cheap recycled bits are better than a new, exciting map of the the Inner Sphere that fits the current timeline…

Overall, I’m a huge fan of Catalyst — and I’ve been a Battletech fan since before the Clans even entered into the story… but this Introductory Set… well, it’s kinda the fail.


11 responses

  1. That is really disappointing to hear. We seem to be very much on the same page in regard to Battletech. I have been very impressed with Catalyst’s efforts.

    Due to my return to the game recently, I have been really considering getting this set and as I live in Korea, the hassle and cost of returning items that are defective is not something in which I will engage willingly. I’ll have to nose around on their forum to see how extensive the packing errors are, and how the company is responding.

    Thanks for the update~

  2. It’s very interesting to see an opposing take on the box set from my own. I think a large part of my positive reaction to it is that I missed out on the first Classic Battletech box set from Catalyst so all of the comparison you’ve done were new to me and so I didn’t notice the discrepancies. So, as I said, it’s interesting to hear how it stacks up (or doesn’t) to the product from 3 years ago.

  3. I’ll chime in again when I get my copy tomorrow, but this is a $50 dollar box set. $50 for 26 minis, (close to?) full rules for the game, two maps, a setting and some dice. If the box contained only 26 minis, I would still have bought it. Catalyst is far from my favorite game company right now, what with their problems with freelancers and the terrible editing and layout of the Battletech core rulebooks but to me the box set seems like a good deal. I’ll leave another comment tomorrow when I actually get the box, but I’m certainly looking forward to it.

  4. So I got my copy today and I totally think that the box is worth $50. Are the mechs great quality? No, but they’re decent and certainly better than playing with random Ork models, columns and tables. The maps seem sturdy and I don’t think I’ll worry about ripping them like I do with the paper ones. I wouldn’t recommend it for people who have bought the previous box sets but since I haven’t I am more than happy with my set.

  5. @Callyn
    As I mentioned, the new premium ‘Mechs really are very nice, but the problem with the set is that three years ago (ish) they released basically this same kit and now, years later, the kit is not even nearly as high quality as the release. That’s the upsetting part. Add in packing errors and broken minis and the whole thing is not a good showing on their part.

    Looking back, I feel bad referring to it as “opposing.” I guess I should have said “differing” or something. That said, a lot of my complaint does stem from the lesser quality from the previous set, the packing errors, and the recycled content — despite how the universe has moved on.

    At that, I suppose for me the biggest disappointment is actually the Map-Boards that they are so proud of. First, they aren’t really well made, not laying flat easily and with the glued-on paper maps on one side of each. Second, if you want to use them, they aren’t really very compatible with the large library of previous (paper) maps made for Battletech, without some finagling at the table. Just didn’t seem well thought out.

    Overall, the set is a lot of content for $50. The problem is, quality control is moving in the wrong direction — and as a celebration piece (25th Ann.) and as their attempt to draw in new players, it leaves a lot to be said.

  6. […] Battletech 25th Anniversary Boxed Set… Kinda Fail. from The Rhetorical Gamer ( […]

  7. […] Battletech 25th Anniversary Boxed Set… Kinda Fail. from The Rhetorical Gamer ( […]

  8. I eventually decided to order the set. It arrived yesterday and I posted some video clips of the unboxing. Many of the things you cite here can be seen in the clips, although I had a different reaction to them. I imagine this differing opinion is based more on my not needing to make this set compatible with any of my older material (which lies in a bunker on the other side of the planet), and not having seen any other plastic mechs since the first attempt a million years ago.

    Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to detail the contents of the box. It was nice to have some idea of what to inspect as ordering internationally the closest I could get to the box was a picture.

  9. Glad I read this. I was on my way towards buying one of these someday when the price dropped.

  10. To be fair, it is a decent set — my comments were mostly aimed at the fact that, compared to the previous Introductory Boxed set they simply recycled components, lowered the quantity and quality of some components, and had packaging errors that were surprising. It’s still the best intro to Battletech out there, just surprisingly underwhelming considering its status as a 25th anniversary celebration set and the on-ramp to the game for new players.

  11. […] Here's a totally different opinion on this product. Share […]

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