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Jan-22-2017

Turning Points: Epsilon Eridani Review

Citadel of Devotion

The opening short fiction of Turning Points: Epsilon Eridani takes place over two time periods.  We are first presented with an enthusiastic vision of promise and new beginnings as Comstar unearths the location of a sought after cache.  Euphoria fades away to despair within a few short years.  As the Republic closes the noose on the Comstar’s position, fighting becomes man to man in cluttered hallways filled with the battered and broken remnants of those loyal to Jerome Blake’s misguided visions.

A bit more macabre than usual (and Battletech is full of macabre scenes) the opening fiction thrusts us into the world of Epsilon Eridani and is a well written introduction to the birth and destruction we are soon to learn about in the pages to come.

Epsilon Eridani

The opening section of the PDF covers a brief overview of the planet, its major geological features as well as a bit of history.  Epsilon Eridani seems to have a gifted life.  A majority water world, it “suffers” from frequent rain storms and is replete with numerous stockpiles of natural resources as well as a few Star League caches.

Quite the bounty if you ask me.  I don’t think I’ve seen a BattleTech world featured in a Turning Points PDF with this much going for it outside of a major capital.

Map tables are provided for those wanting representative battlefields.  An interesting note is the presence of two tables for other planets mentioned in the tracks.  Not all of the action takes place on the battlefields of Eridani.

Random Assignment Tables

Tables are provided for four distinct forces that will make up the conflict on this world.  Only ‘Mechs are represented, which is a shame.  I always look forward to combined arms games when encouraged.

The Republic Militia/Spirit Cats table has some odd balls thrown into the mix with some Industrial ‘Mechs making the list.  Other than that, considering the year (3141) we are greeted with an assortment of “newer” designs that are prevalent in the Dark Age era.

Avenging Angels

The battle depicted in this PDF primarily focuses on the Republic and the waning military elements of Comstar.  Conflict, originating on other planets, spills onto Epsilon Eridani and turns into a back and forth melee.  I was a bit surprised to see the use of orbital bombardments near the end of the battle.  I would think such operations would be relegated to the past but it appears no objective is sacred enough to be excluded from the brutal machinations of war.

The battle for Epsilon Eridani is more focused than some other Turning Points I’ve read before.  The list of competing interests is shorter than a lot of others.

A fine introduction to the conflict, however brief, and a good intro for what is to come.

Combatants

Indeed the combatants section is only a single page.  Comstar, led by their First Division, goes up against a trio of forces from the Republic of the Sphere.  Each combatant is provided with a Commanding Officer, experience level, unit ability, and some historical notes.

Unit abilities are rather mundane and revolve around standard Tactical Operations abilities, RAT manipulations, and otherwise lack the spice I would expect from truly original abilities.

The Comstar force also features some AToW stat modifiers.  I am not sure if that would play a role in this PDF other than as source material for an enterprising AToW GM.

Tracks

Finally, on to the best part of the document;  The tracks.  Epsilon Eridani features 11 tracks, which puts it at an above average count for the series.

Overall the tracks leaned heavily on uninspired objectives and optional bonuses.  Motivation through objectives never strayed far from the expected Kill the Other Guy type.  Optional bonuses consisted of a mix of terrain and weather effects with a sprinkling of added pre-battle damage and others.

There are some bright spots though with the inclusion of the occasional dropship, artillery, and combat drops.

Pursuit of Glory features a full aerospace battle with jumpship capture objectives.  A refreshing addition to the book for sure.  There are not enough space battles to be had in the Turning Points series.

The most interesting track of the PDF is Active Probes which features a smash and grab supply stealing objective.  The Attacker is tasked with using a swarm of hover trucks to pilfer as much cargo as they can before the battle ends.

I saw many references to Era Report 3145, an obvious product tie in.  Perhaps this is where additional RAT tables for infantry and conventional vehicles were to be found?  Many tracks called for a mix of infantry, battle armor, and conventional combat vehicles while the PDF only provided BattleMech RATs.

Alpha and Omega

This section catches the reader up on the happenings of Comstar in the fading light of the Dark Age.  This short section provided the most concrete historical information on what led up to the events in this PDF.  Some of it was very surprising.  I’ve not tread very far into Dark Age era lore, so some of the events that the tracks were leading to were quite shocking to say the least.

Obviously I found many gaps in the lore.  There is only so much that can be crammed into a PDF only product.  Era Report 3145 promises to further enlighten readers on the full story behind that battle.

Record Sheets

We get three record sheets to complement our battles.  The first is a Pollux II ADA Tank featuring an Arrow IV system with some impressively high tech secondary weapons systems.  The only sour point I can see is that the tank is a bit under armored considering it’s 75 ton frame.

Up next is a mixed tech Lament.  A 65 ton monster with duel ER PPCs and heavy medium lasers.  A radical heat sink system attempts to cool this laser heavy monster.  Quite the ‘Mech for anyone wanting a hard hitting heavy ‘Mech with staying power.

Finally we have a 70 ton Dragoon.  At first blush the ‘Mech seems a bit under-armed with a Plasma Rifle taking top billing as its main offensive weapon.  It is however, decked out in some of the latest electronics including a C3 system as well as Guardian ECM.  Ferro-Lammellor armor provides protection to complete this tech heavy brawler.

And All the Rest

Blasting into the Dark Age era, Epsilon Eridani is a stark and foreboding tale of the twilight of Comstar.  While all the usual Turning Point PDF goodies are included, overall I found the tracks to be a bit too mundane and comfortable to rank this highly among its peers.

The inclusion of an aerospace battle and the few other gems in the rough do their best, but fail to elevate Eridani above par for the series.

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