Classic Battletech: Pirates!


calico jackPirates!

Pirates can usually be divided between those who took up their outlaw lifestyle out of strict necessity and those who simply enjoy to live without any rules. Pirates tend to thrive on power vacuums, when there is only weak (or non-existent) central authority to impose the rule of law, this is why many of these bandits can be found prowling the border regions of the Periphery and the Chaos March.


Pirate raiders search the derelict hull of a ship long since left dry.

In the CBT world, there are many, many factions competing for reasons to give you an excuse to battle robots. The Great Houses represent the majority of “civilized” space in the Inner Sphere, while smaller breakaway states struggle for autonomy. Mercenary companies fight for hard credits, making the most of a galaxy at war, and the Clans are just better off ignored (keep it 3049!). On the edges of known space lie the bandit kingdoms: small clusters of worlds held together by warlords or deep frontier settlers too far out for the Houses to care about. These lawless sectors spawn pirates and raiders looking to make a quick profit by ruining someone else’s day. Their technology isn’t sophisticated, but they nonetheless represent a threat to the order of life on the edges of the Inner Sphere.

The pirates, in their ‘barren moon’ mech camo scheme. Most pirate mechs are adorned with large skulls painted in white across their cockpits as warning to would-be defenders.

I chose to make a small pirate warband for something completely different. I play circa 3050 with my usual opponent, limiting some of the wilder tech of later supplements, but this also limits the mechs we use. Pirates are interesting one-off mechs added to later tech readouts mostly for flavor, however many of them are solid enough to be competitive. When building the warband, I chose only mechs that had confirmed production by a pirate band, bandit kingdom, or outworld alliance like the Tauran Concordant, assuming there would be enough trade among all these sources to support my force composition.

The pirate raiding force consists of two THE-N Thorns, two PX-R Phoenix, lead by the pirate captain in a MLN-1A Merlin, and supported by the heavy RMP-5G Rampage. I have a thing about fielding mechs in pairs, and it’s worked quite well for this bunch. The pirates do fairly well in most of our games, despite being at a slight technology disadvantage.


Pirate Mechs:

THE-N Thorn: Filling out the recon role, this light mech come in at 20 tons. Originally debuted in 2490 for the Terran Hegemony military, the mech proved too slow for scouting, and too light for staying power. Eventually the Thorn found its niche hunting light mechs and supporting infantry battalions, much like it’s cousin the Locust. The mech’s advanced structure proved difficult to repair during the Succession Wars, and most Houses scrapped any of the remaining SLDF Thorns in their inventories. The few remaining examples (circa 3050) come from Periphery territories where lostech caches occasionally turn up the mothballed mech.

For offensive weaponry the Thorn THE-N carries one LRM-5 and two medium lasers. The long range of the missile rack allows pilots to support advancing mechs from a safe distance, moving to pick off damaged enemies with the dual lasers. In practice the Thorn makes a decent hit-and-run flanker.

Each pirate mech is adorned with a skull and black flag. The Phoenix is blocky and unsophisticated: a simple machine easy to maintain by pirates and bandits. To represent both age and excessive wear, some of the panels show light orange rust.

PX-3R Phoenix: Ugly, ungainly, the Phoenix looks like it was slapped together in a garage. In 2520 the Rim Worlds Republic began production of the Phoenix as a simple medium-weight mech that could be easily maintained. The mech represented the first jump-capable design from the Periphery kingdom, and a major upgrade from the aging Wasp light mechs in use with most Periphery militaries. Although the Rim Worlds Republic was destroyed by Alexander Kerensky during the Amaris Civil War, many Phoenix units were thought to have been sold to neighboring collectives. Reports of sightings of Phoenix in use by the Hanseatic League indicate that the mech did not die with the Republic.

The Phoenix mounts a single particle projection cannon in the right arm, and two SRM-2 racks on the left shoulder. The dual racks allow for mixed ammunition; many Phoenix pilots load one rack with Inferno rounds when possible. Capable of running speeds nearing 86 kph and jump capability of 150 meters, the Phoenix is suited for long range sniping before rapidly moving to cut off enemy advances. In play, the Phoenix pair are some of my best pirate mechs. Their simple loadout allows easy heat management, and they sport decent armor for their weight class, as well as excellent movement. I often work them into cover on hilltops where they can put the PPC to good use covering the advance of heavier mechs.

This Merling sports oxidation patches on its armor. The pilot has painted a grinning white skull over the cockpit.

MLN-1A Merlin: The Merlin was produced by Mountain Wolf Industries, a corporation with factories in Lyran space and the Outworlds Alliance Periphery kingdom. This heavy mech debuted in 3010, the first completely new mech design in a century. By the early 3000’s the Amaris Civil War and First Succession War took their toll on the Inner Sphere. Most of the mech and advanced technology factories were destroyed by scorched-earth denial tactics. The remaining industry concentrated on keeping the current warmachine running. The Merlin was a product of this era, built from reliable, older technology and outfitted to address growing ammunition shortages. The Merlin was dependable, if not revolutionary, and many found their way into the arsenals of Periphery kingdoms.

The Merlin weighs in at 60 tons, cooled by 18 heatsinks, and sports a standard PPC, two medium lasers, LRM-5, and a machinegun and flamer for anti-personnel roles. The loadout is similar to the 50 ton Chameleon training mech. Like the Chameleon, pilots must be wary of their weapon cycles or risk pushing rising heat. Fun fact: the Merlin originated as the example mech used to describe the process of creating custom mechs in the 3rd edition rulebook, although an official tech readout wouldn’t be published for nearly 6 years.

The Rampage forms the core of my pirate raiders. It moves fast and gets stuck in the middle of the fighting, or outflanks heavier and slower targets.

RMP-5G: The Rampage heavy mech is another Rim Worlds Republic production. The 85 ton assault mech served as a frontline mech in the Rim Worlds’ military until Stefan Amaris’ coup placed him at the head of the Star League. In 2767 SLDF research allowed the Rim Worlds Alliance to refit the Rampage as a fast assault mech by using Myomer Accelerated Signal Circuitry (MASC) to reach bursts of 86 kph. Speed, along with 16 tons of armor, protects the mech.

The Rampage 5G represents the best of SLDF secrets incorporated into a Periphery mech. The mech sports an LB-10X shotgun autocannon, large pulse laser, LRM-10 rack with upgraded firecontrols, three Streak SRMs, two medium lasers, and a flamer for anti-personnel purposes. I usually run a modified version: the 4G model drops the missiles for a Gauss rifle. The Rampage is suited to being the center of my pirate raiders, and MASC can lead to nasty surprises if used at the right time. Of course, MASC can also lock up and immobilize your mech (I think the rules now just impart auto leg critical hits).

My Ostmann Industries Walker-pods. These are all “reseen” models. Outside: Ostsols. Inner: Ostscouts. Middle: Ostroc.

Ostmann Industries: I lump this batch of mechs in with my pirates, but there’s no particular reason for that other than they’re a fun side-project that won’t see a lot of table time. I’m building a few lances of only Ostmann Industries mechs. These mechs follow a similar physical style due to originally being corruptions of Macross/Robotech Zentradi pods. Affectionately known as the “walker-pods”, the Ost-xx lineup fall slightly left of the Unseen mechs. While they draw inspiration from copyrighted cartoons, the end results were different enough to bear only the most superficial similarities. FASA dropped them along with the rest of the Unseen, however, as a better safe than sorry policy following the Harmony Gold settlement in 1997. I feel lucky to own an original Ostsol and Ostscout.

Digging into source material I’ve found four Ostmann Industries mechs.

OTT-7J: Ostscout. This light 35 ton mech is considered one of the premier recon mechs in existence due to it’s great speed (129.5 kph), jump capacity of 240 meters, and excellent communications and sensor suite. The 7J carries only a single medium laser, sacrificing offensive capability for speed. Still, the later 7K model takes this a step further, replacing the laser with target acquisition gear instead.

OWR-2M: Ostwar. Something of a forgotten mech, this 60 ton mech was the first of the Ost chassis lineage. The distinctive paddle-shaped SRM launcher arms were later used in the Ostroc design, leading many Ostwars to be gutted for parts to keep the newer models in service. The Ostwar represented a missile-based support mech sporting an LRM-20 rack, two SRM-4 pods, and two medium lasers.

OSR-2C: Ostroc. A heavy 60 ton mech capable of 86.4 kph running speed. Based on the Ostwar’s proven design, this mech swapped the LRM rack for energy weapon, making it more suited for guerrilla operations. The Ostroc mounted an SRM-4 rack, two large lasers, and two medium lasers. Fun fact: the original tech readout (TR3025) for the Ostroc featured two SRM-4 pods instead of hands, much like the Ostwar. The editing error was later written into game lore as being a non-standard variant of the Ostroc that made use of salvaged missile pods from the Ostwar. Because the Ostroc was an upgrade based on the Ostwar’s chassis, many parts were interchangeable.

OTL-4D: Ostsol. This 60 ton heavy mech represented the final iteration of the Ost chassis. The mech is fitted with all energy weapons, severely diminishing its need for extended resupply in the field. This feature became very popular during the devastation of the Succession Wars. The mech sports two large lasers, and four medium lasers.







2 thoughts on “Classic Battletech: Pirates!

  1. I love this, you are a man after my own heart. Love your paint schemes and really good setup for the lance composition. Do you have a tutorial on how you did your paint schemes? I would like to duplicate some of this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t do anything special, just layered dryburshing of greys getting lighter with each layer. I then highlighted in offwhite, and probably should have given them a light black wash. I like the blue-grey (Citadel’s Shadow Grey) and deeper reds and greens for details with a mostly grey colorscheme.


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