As part of my alternative Battletech project, I've spent a bit of time perusing the old Davion House Handbook!
Originally produced in 1988, the book covers all aspects of the house of Davion and the Federated Suns and is a really useful resource for anyone interested in Battletech. Interestingly it covers all sorts of elements not usually seen in a wargame, including economics, politics as well as the more usual military stuff.
Theres a good potted history of the rise of the Federated Suns from a single world to a interplanetary empire and even includes a good biography of the Davion line itself, including a good few lunatics as well as heroic types and I must admit it makes a nice change from the GW setting that I'm more used to reading.
What comes through is not just the Military type of setting one expects from a wargame but a very political one too, much like Frank Herberts Dune where each faction has its own motives and backstabbing and political manoeuvring is just as valid a way of achieving victory as is military might.
Its also worth note that some of the artwork in the book is rather reminiscent of some of the Rogue Trader stuff and is pleasingly retro and gives a feel of a setting far in the future but firmly rooted in the 80s which is really great! Theres also some rather nice 80s references dropped in, including Dr B Banzai of Buckeroo Banzai fame who develops cutting edge (in the case of the Axeman mech, quite literally!) Mechs.
Davion Trooper (he wouldn't look out of place as an Imperial Guardsman!)
Theres also some terrifyingly bad illustration in it, mostly portraiture, such as this truly creepy one of Katrina Steiner!
That aside I've really enjoyed reading the book as it gives a real insight into the Battletech setting and as already mentioned has lots of scope to provide the basis for a campaign or two!
The uniform guides from the book are especially good as they are just so late 70s and early 80s in style that you can't help but find a nostalgic bit of love for them, especially as they appear to have been produced with the mighty Pantone Pen!
Setting wise, the book takes the reader up to 3025 and the initial hinting that the houses of Steiner and Davion are planning some sort of political union and also covers the military campaigns of the third succession war adding extra possibilites for game ideas!
While lots of folks have been giving Oldhammer lots of love, I have found that this early era of Battletech is just as interesting but with one major let down. That is the rules themselves. I have never enjoyed playing the game itself as its just so slow and requires lots of book keeping and peering at charts while FASA and later Fanpro seem content with churning out book after book of charts and tables that cover every minutiae of the game, ranging from the cost of paying ones pilots to transport and ammo.
While some love this sort of in depth sort of thing, it just leaves me cold so I will be using a different ruleset for the time being, or until the new miniatures rules they are supposedly developing are released! Its interesting that such a fantastic setting is let down a bit by the ruleset. Maybe its the super involved background that results in a super involved set of rules but who knows!
I am hoping to set the scene in the early 3020s and featuring the action kicking off with a series of skirmishes featuring whatever forces I have and going from there! It will also allow me to finally do something with my Wilsons Hussar mini project thats been rattling around for a while!
Down at Heel! Wilsons Hussars
Anyhoo! Enough of my ramblings! Hopefully I will have some more Mechs, vehicles and infantry and some sort of rough campaign hammered out in the next few weeks and will post some bits and bobs as I get chance!
All the best!