Well during my week of commuting back and forth to work, I've managed to churn my way through another classic Battletech guide, this time to the Draconis Combine and House Kurita!
Published in 1987, the book went out of print for quite a while before being re-released through Drivethru RPG which is where I picked up my digital copy from! Sadly it seems to have been on the receiving end of some fairly serious editing to remove some of the illustrations which feature the Robotech and Dougram mechs which are ironically now some of the most iconic mechs associated with Battletech!
Saying that theres still a good mix of fantastic and poor illustration work in it so I cant complain too much!
Stompy Robots and Alien Worlds!
The book itself is another really interesting read and quite different from the Davion one I have already reviewed. While the Kurita book covers the rise of the house and eventual empire, it also covers a considerable amount of detail on the day to day from religion to ritual and even information on the society as a whole, which for anyone interested in Battletech is a real boon!
Again, the fantastic felt pen illustrations feature heavily and give a bit of an 80s vibe but the tone as a whole is more akin to some sort of futuristic feudal Japan with Samurai, great lords, ninja secret societies and geishas!
What a great villain!
While the military stuff is really interesting in itself, the attempt to portray Kurita and the Combine as something other than a parody of a bunch of Japanese baddies is what really grabs me. The Draconis Combine is militaristic and has done terrible things (up to and including wiping out entire planetary populations for the death of their ruling Coordinator!) but what they do is in a genuine belief that they are working towards something bigger and better and even with famine, crushing laws and sinister secret police, the people are genuinely proud to be doing their part.
This makes for a more complete group of protagonists, rather than the cut out villains one sees so often in wargames and indeed movies. The Draconis Combine is powerful but also remarkably human and even honourable.
The rise of the Kuritas to rule such an empire is covered with a biography of their Coordinators too, accompanied by the slightly shifty portraits I've become accustomed to with the old Battletech:
Bubba Toothed Shiro Kurita
Interestingly the 80s vibe for this volume is rather less than the Davion one, possibly because it deals with a more ancient culture. This is a little bit of a shame but at the same time is rather fitting for the Kurita book.
Is it just me or is this chap a bit similar in looks to the Space Marine from Space Crusade?
The military background and uniform guides also provide some really useful stuff, such as the Draconians relying on more light and medium mechs than heavy and the lower class that their armour and infantry are seen as when compared to the mechwarriors which could lead to some interesting scenarios. These lower classes are still utterly devoted, often brainwashed and always indoctrinated into the Combines beliefs making stuff like human wave attacks against mechs and uprisings on captured worlds a real possibility.
In Space its always the 1980s!
I will be adding all the bits and bobs together to form a bit of a campaign set somewhere in the Draconis March which will be featuring an ongoing series of skirmishes and raids between the Federated Suns and Draconis Combine and whatever Periphery and Mercenary units I can think of and reading this book has also got me thinking about playing out some RPG lite games in 15mm featuring the Kurita ISF or secret police engaged in a shadow war with Comstar ROM agents and Davion spies!
Kurita Special Forces Ninja!
As with the Davion book, I would highly recommend that folks interested in Battletech or just a really interesting setting to game in should have a peek at the Kurita book as even if the giant stompy robots are removed, its still got absolutely tons of useful stuff for any gamer to peruse!
My next target will be the Periphery book which I also have and after a quick leaf through, its looking like its going to be a veritable cornucopia of 80s greatness!
In other news, I have almost finished a rather beaten up Wilsons Hussars, or Wilsons Wimps as they are more commonly known, mech and will post a pic or two in the next few days as it is rumoured that the Hussars have become so desperate for work they have hired themselves out to the Dracs and are taking part in raids on the Federated Suns world of Farpoint!
All the best!