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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.


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.


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.

Posted under Review

Operational Turning Point Widowmaker Absorption Review

We are back with another addition to the expanded Operational Turning Points series.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Operational Turning Points PDFs are bigger and larger cousins of the normal Turning Points series and features a larger campaign centered around a group of planets.280px-Operational_Turning_Points_Widowmaker_Absorption

We are treated to a Succession Wars era Clan Homeworlds campaign.  If that combination does not get you excited I don’t know what else will.  The familiar Philip A. Lee is at the helm for this Widowmaker Absorption adventure.  Lets see how he does.

The Day that Greatness and Vision Died…

A great piece of fiction opens up the PDF in the hours following the death of the ilKhan.  We follow Khan Jerome Winson as he runs his ‘Mech hard to kill as many Widowmaker warriors as he can before good judgement can finally turn him away for repairs.

I found this bit of fiction very entertaining and among the most engaging I’ve read in the OTP or TP series.  Very well put together and a worthy introduction to the chaos that hopefully awaits in later pages.


The atlas section covers three worlds, each with their own set of map tables, as well as common terrain features and optional weather conditions.  Each planet has a brief description covering basic system stats and history.

Very nice section with the added bits of information connecting each planet with the Trial of Absorption.


RAT tables are provided for three Clans, Wolf, Widowmaker, and Other.  ‘Mechs and Aerospace fighters are provided for each as well as a common Vehicle table.

I am very glad to see combined arms as an option.  Always makes things better.

The BattleMech list is a very interesting one.  It can seem a bit unorthodox at first to see so much old technology in a Clan RAT table (Marauders, Catapults, Locusts, etc).  Don’t fear because mixed in are a few Star League designs (Hussar, Wyvern, Lancelot, etc.).  Further examination will reveal a few scary options like the Thunder Hawk, Pillager, and Wakazashi.

Untangling the Web

This two page section details the nitty gritty of the events leading up to the Trial of Absorption and subsequent near annihilation of the Widowmaker Clan.  Treachery and sacrifice permeate the story which ultimately leads to the rise of Clan Wolf as the strongest of the Clans.

A very good write up with a lot of action across relatively few worlds.  I am excited to see how these events are translated into the campaign missions later on in the book.  There appears to be ample stock for conflict.


The personality section gives a brief overview of the major players within Clan Wolf, Widowmaker, and Goliath Scorpion.  Each leader is also given a set of A Time of War attributes and skills for use in an RPG campaign for those wishing to tread that particular path.

Tragedy seems to follow most leaders in the Clans.  If you are not killed horribly on the battlefield then you live to be a disfigured and mentally damaged warrior until you are shot out of your cockpit while stuck in a swamp.  What a way to go.  The BattleTech universe can be a cruel place to live.


The combatants section features the notable combat units involved in the Widowmaker Absorption which includes those from Clan Wolf, Clan Widowmaker, Clan Jade Falcon, Clan Burrock, and Clan Goliath Scorpion.  Obviously Wolf and Widowmaker are the main contenders but the other three Clans are presented for their bit roles in the conflict.

Each unit is described with a Commanding Officer, experience level, unit abilities, and notes.  The notes section gives additional fluff about the unit and tidbits of information on the conflict with the Widowmakers.  The Widowmaker unit insignia are very cool… first time I think I’ve ever come across them before.

Unit abilities were varied and provided a good mix.  While the usual suspects form Tactical Operations and Initiative bonuses were present, some new pilot abilities were thrown in in interesting combinations to mix things up.  Certain forces abhor ammunition based weapons.  Others are (gasp) geared for physical combat.  There are some very interesting forces in this campaign.

Most Interesting Force has to go to the elite 1st Spinners.  They suffer Communication Disruption but take advantage of the Brawler special ability as well as a sprinkling of Melee Specialist and Demoralizer.  Quite the combination. I would hate to see them across the battle field.

The Campaign

A quick campaign primer is provided to outline how the campaign is supposed to work and also give some guidelines for creating a force.

I may have missed it, but I did not see where it states how many Warchest Points to start with.  I assume it is the standard 1,000, but it is curious that such a note is absent.


Three generic missions are provided for the campaign.  They include Trial of Possession, Trial of Grievance, and Pursuit.  All of them follow a basic formula and provide the bare minimum of variety while staying open enough for interpretation.

For generic missions they do the job.


Seven Touchpoint tracks provide the main course of OTP: Widowmaker Absorption.  Only seven Touchpoints is in line with previous offerings while falling short of the immense and well received OTP: Falcon Incursion.

I found the bulk of the Touchpoint missions to be very good.  Individually I think I may have fallen back on my familiar criticism of being too predictable and formulaic variations on the theme of “Go Kill the Other Team”.  However, taken as a whole, there is a lot to like.  From dense urban landscapes to magma field laden cliff faces there is a good variety of locations.  Objectives will most always have you shooting up the other ‘Mechs as best you can, but sprinkled in are alternative motivations like supply depots, HPG stations, and massive wall fortifications.

A little more thought could have been put into the choice of Optional Bonuses, which tend to always be weather related.  It is a common pet peeve of mine.

The Touchpoints really shined in the highly thematic and almost scripted elements found in Ironhold (Trial of Refusal) and Roche (Spiderholm).  The circle of equals in Ironhold followed by the inevitable chaos resulting from the end of zellbrigen is something I am really dying to try out.  It sounds like a great scenario to play out even outside the confines of the greater campaign.

Roche (Spiderholm) showcases the last defense of the Widowmaker homeworld.  A triple layer of hardened walls topped with defensive turrets greet the attackers who must find a way to assault the last vestige of Widowmaker power on the planet.

Great stuff.  The more I go over the missions I see a lot to look forward to.

Record Sheets

Only two record sheets are provided but they are good ones!

The first is none other than Kerensky’s Atlas II.  This behemoth assault ‘Mech is modest at first glance.  Dual ERLLs, an LB10-X, and an LRM20 make up the long range threat.  Once closer in, a pair of Medium Pulse Lasers and SRM6s add additional firepower.  Curiously, we see an ECM and Active Probe.  This Altas seems a bit more geared for a leadership or defensive position than a close in Brawler type of ‘Mech.

The second ‘Mech is the Highlander used by Khan Jorgensson.  This ‘Mech does all of its damage at distance with 2 ERLL, Gauss Rifle, and LRM20.  Once again, a bit under armed at first glance compared to more modern units.  Still with standard engines, both these ‘Mechs could stick around for a while on the battlefield.  Better be ready for a long slog to beat these ‘Mechs into submission.

Final Thoughts

OTP:WA is a very good read and provides an excellent campaign suitable for an epic string of gaming sessions or a simpler one-off event.  While some tracks play it safe with regards to objective and bonus selections, players should find enough variety to keep them interested, especially the centerpiece missions on Ironhold and Roche.

This PDF is well worth the price of admission.  Fans of the Clans should be doubly delighted.  Even if you are not a fan of the Wolves or Widowmakers in the current timeline, seeing them in this earlier time, prior to the Clan Invasion, is worth a second look.

Posted under Review

Turning Points Irian Review

Irian brings us into the Dark Ages of Battletechs many eras.  Patrick Wynne is at the helm for this adventure which, from the look of the cover, promises to field a diverse collection of interested parties.  I’m excited to dive in and see what the Dark Ages has in store for the Turning Points series!

Words But a Whisper280px-Dark_Age_Turning_Points_Irian

The opening fiction opens Turning Points: Irian with a battered Capellan loyal infantry squad desperately trying to fulfill their mission in the face of their inevitable death. The secret they carry is hopefully worth their lives.  For the Chancellor.

A well written piece of fiction with a smooth flow to it.  It leaves me wanting more.  Perhaps such a story, or at least the prologue could be expanded into a BattleCorps story.  I think it would be well worth the read.


The next section covers a brief history of the planet.  While mostly unscathed from the Succession Wars, Irian was swept up in the Blakist Jihad and was held under their control almost to the end.  The Blakists, true to their nature, left some nuclear parting gifts that would thrust the planet into rebuilding for the bulk of the Dark Ages.

Of course there is a secret on Irian that only comes to light after covert operations on the planet discovers something so valuable it would attract quite the cast of characters to usher in a new wave of violence and the subsequent plot of this edition of the Turning Points PDF series.

Terrain tables cover the generic world conditions and the heavy industrial regions that are sure to be hotspots of conflict.  Optional rules are also given for terrain and weather features that are common on the planet.  Par for the course so far.


Do you like Random Assignment Tables?  Well if you do you are going to love Irian.  We have a unique twist on the regular 2D6 RAT chart we all know and love.  Mech tables go from 2 to 16 with rolls modified by a forces Equipment Level.  The highest quality rating receiving a +4 to all rolls.  To add to the fun we have sub-tables for industrial Mechs.  Vehicle and Infantry tables are here too.  As well as a special table just to cover Irtech Security forces.

There are a lot of entries from 3085 (naturally) so be prepared to find a lot of ‘Mechs you may not be used to playing with.  More fun to add to the mix in my opinion.


Irian takes a full two and a half pages to describes the buffet of attempted invaders that took a crack at securing the now not so secret prize on Irian.  The forces taking part in the many invasions and counterattacks are splinter factions of the popular houses and clans and those who spent any time playing the MechWarrior ClickTech games will recognize them instantly.

What a cluster…  Just about everybody invited themselves to this party.  Certainly that will lead to some discontinuity in the tracks later.  What I mean is, it will probably be hard to take a single player force through all of the tracks and stay within the lines of the plot.  In that sense this makes Irian more of a replacement of the scenario books of old than a set of contiguous tracks meant for a single force.  This has been done before with the Turning Points books and is not a bad thing at all.  It scratches a particular type of itch.


The combatants section features short bios of the major players on Irian.  Along with the usual Commanding Officer, experience level, RAT, and unit abilities we have an added equipment level which will impact RAT table results when rolling random forces.

Irian features a wide and varied mix of forces on planet.  It was quite the cluster over control of the Irian prizes.  I found the mix of unit abilities to be excellent.  There is an assortment of the standard A Time of War and Tactical Operations abilities but it does not rely on them exclusively.

Some standard abilities have slight modifications to add to the units flavor.  The original force abilities are unique and inspired.  My personnel favorite has to be the Spirit Cats who, once per track, may enter a “collective mystic experience” for a chance at a to-hit bonus for the turn.  The downside is they automatically lose initiative and the combat bonus is not guaranteed.  In fact it can even make things worse if you are not lucky.  Drugs, not even once kids…

An excellent section and well above grade so far.


We are treated to a selection of 11 tracks to cover the battle over Irian.  This is well more than than average and continues a steady increase in the number of tracks in Turning Point PDFs.

The first thing that I noticed is that the tracks are all over the place.  With so many different forces on planet making a mess it is hard for Irian to have a focal point.  If anything, it would have to be the Irian Defense Forces and the associated defenders who are taken to task and beaten up by every faction you can imagine.

This is not a bad thing.  In fact, as I’ve mentioned before, I feel that these PDF exclusives are filling the void of the old scenario packs.  The is a collection of missions you can pick and choose from.  Using the guidelines you can make these battles as big or small as your time allows.

The tracks feature a healthy mix of stand up fights, breakthrough, and some more interesting set pieces.  Objectives tend to favor the predictable old standbys (go kill the other guys).  However the combination of special rules do a good job to mix things up.

Along your trip through Irian you may encounter ‘Mech pit traps, Automated Drone Mechs, and Methane Mud Pits.

The Elastic Retreat features an interesting back and forth slug fest designed to use rolling maps in both directions as reinforcements inevitably turn the tide of the battle.

My favorite though has to be Fit to Fight which is a moon fight with programmable Industrial ‘Mechs!  Lots of fun just thinking about that one!  Pray for ECM!

There is plenty of bread and butter battles too which is fine in moderation.  Moral Melee makes use of standard objectives along with Clan Honor in this curious battle between opposing Clan Invaders.

A few Dropships and even the Bounty Hunter are sprinkled through the other tracks.  I enjoyed the track selections and while many seemed to favor predictable objectives, the numerous Special Rules more than did their job shaking up the experience.

Record Sheets

We are provided five record sheets where each fills a unique role in one or more scenarios.

First up is a militarized RV.  A sporty little wheeled ICE vehicle featuring two King David Gauss rifles to pepper and harass your enemies.

An industrial Mech, Inquisitor II, and a badass Marauder II are the only ‘Mechs.  The Inquisitor looks benign at first.  It is a rather sub-par medium ‘Mech until you notice the TSEMP Cannon.  This changes the algebra and will force your opponent to consider the damage potential.  The Marauder II is a pound for pound slugger.  A primarily long range load-out and armor to last will make this a beast to contend with.  Its only weakness is perhaps the lack of crit seeking and the chance for some heat spikes once you close range.

The last two record sheets feature a scenario required land train.  It’s a train!  Nuff said.


Of course no Turning Points PDF would be complete without the gorgeous planetary assault map.  Interstellar Operations cannot come soon enough!

Final Thoughts

Irian is a mashup at heart.  There are so many contenders it can be hard to keep track.  Speaking of Tracks, Irian makes good use of unique and interesting Special Rules to spice up the game.  Combined with an above average Combatants section and all the other value you expect from the Turning Point series and you have a great product and a worthy addition to the Turning Points line.

The Dark Age era may be a non-starter depending on your mood.  After all there is plenty of material covering earlier and more familiar conflicts.  Those interested and willing to try a taste of the newest and most recent story arc are sure to find great things on Irian.

Posted under Review

Historical Turning Point Tortuga Review

Pride and PPCsTortuga-Cover

An action packed piece of fiction opens up our adventure on Tortuga.  After more than a few slower and more subdued opening fiction entries for recent Turning Points (but not in a bad way) it is refreshing to get back behind the cockpit glass and read about some action!  Very good opening fiction.  It would appear that Pirates and heavy vehicle combat are in our future.

The familiar Geoff Swift is at the helm of this PDF.  Lets see if Mr. Swift can impress with Pirates on his palette.

Tortuga Prime

First off is a one page section giving a rough history of the planet and its surrounding region.  It’s a brief history lesson of Tortuga’s slow but steady rise in prominence, including being noticed by the Word of Blake.  This PDF is dedicated to the Jihad era from here on out.

Tortuga seems to be a barren landscape with only two mapsheet tables to pick from.  You are either in an urban area or are stuck in desert flatland.

Optional terrain and weather rules come from Tactical Operations and include much of what you would expect after reading; sand, heavy industrial, low gravity, and more.

The accompanying full color map is a gorgeous view of the world and great for picking out key battles and providing ideas for battles off the radar.

Random Assignment Tables

Two factions are in the mix on Tortuga; The pirates and the Filtvelt Coalition.  ‘Mech tables are combined for them and provided for each weight class.

Vehicles however are broken up by faction with some crossover.  The Filtvelt Coalition seems to have a wider variety of vehicles to choose from.

It is always welcome to see vehicles in the mix and this Turning Point is chock full.  It will be interesting to see how the tracks make use of the vehicle heavy mix of forces.


An abbreviated one page summary of the battle of Tortuga Prime gives us the best look so far at what happened and why.  The story is quite interesting and details the Pirate defense of their capital planet from the invading mercenaries from the Filtvelt Coalition.

It is a good one filled with carnage, traps, and pitched battles.  I am looking forward to seeing how the tracks section tells the rest of the tale.


This section gives a brief historical background on the two commanders in the battle.  Buck Tripp leads the mercenary force while William Derer defends Tortuga as a representative from the Word of Blake.

A small list of special abilities are given which is a short collection of A Time of War stats.  Only some of the abilities can be translated to tabletop battle conditions.  Die hard role players are left to fill in the blanks if they ever wanted to include them in a campaign.

Not much to write home about here.  We are given mostly story and a small collection of skill levels (Strategy + 3, Tactics +4, etc) to work with.


A special note starts us off in the combatants section indicating that if players do not choose to use the included RAT tables then care should be taken to select units that have been produced for some time.  Pirates and Mercs don’t get shiny new toys apparently.  Not on Tortuga that is.  An excellent addition to the flavor of the game for those players willing to go the extra mile to make it happen.

There are only a few commands in play on Tortuga.  Much less than some other engagements we have seen in the past.  Each force is fleshed out including the commanding officers name, unit experience, recommended RAT tables, unit abilities and notes.

The unit abilities mostly have something to do with initiative.  A few Tac Ops special abilities are thrown in for good measure like Banking Initiative.  A few restrictions on unit composition round out this unit abilities.  Not a lot of interesting material with one exception.  The Tortugan Phalanx are a force of light to medium ‘Mechs loaded with as much TSM as possible.  They can carry loot in their hands above the normal limit and can do so without the normal movement modifier.  I can just imagine a rag tag bunch of pirate ‘Mechs hard marching to their dropships carrying cargo nets full of looted ‘Mech parts, supplies, and whatever.  As the only really unique force in the bunch I am hoping that their special ability comes into play during the tracks!

Something new I picked up on was the inclusion of paint scheme details for some of the forces mentioned.  An interesting touchfor these lesser known forces who may not have an entry in (yet…).

TracksTrack: Pursuit of Vengeance

Right off the bat we are greeted with a smash and grab pirate raid in Breaking the Wheel.  Earlier I was hoping the Tortugan Phalanx would find a use for their pirate looting ability and here it is.  We see lots more of this theme later on.  As a prelude of sorts, this track comes before the main series of connected tracks.

One interesting nuance is the use of fixed unit counts.  Normally Turning Points PDFs shy away from dictating actual force size but rather rely on ratios (defender is twice the size of the attacker sort of stuff…).  I get a feel that these tracks are designed closer to the original Scenario books of old.  We have a series of set pieces rather than the more open ended framework of the Chaos Campaign while avoiding being so restrictive as to giving a set ToE.

The second and third tracks are our first linked up tracks.  In fact, these two tracks are designed to be fought at the same time.  Each force gets a fixed number of units to divide among the two battles.  Both tracks involve the raid mechanics introduced in the first track and look to be fast and brutal affairs.  Players are left with some interesting choices.  Do you split evenly and hope for the best?  Or do you sand bag one battle with the hopes of holding on with whats left on the second?  Decisions decisions…

Moving on we are treated to a nice variety of tracks.  Breakthroughs, kill em all battles, objective raids, and ambush are all there!  There are technician hostages, chemical weapon suicide vehicles, factories, ammo dumps, and jammers (oh my!).  For most tracks I thought that the selection of optional bonuses were weak, but I just didn’t care.  The character and story crammed into these tracks through the primary objectives are fantastic and will offer more than enough strategy than you can deal with.  Tortuga brings a great story and a great series of connected battles that will keep you on your feet and begging for more.

Combined arms including infantry are everywhere.  Several tracks have one force fielding vehicles only.  Infantry is used in conjunction with either defense setups or specific special rules and objectives that make their inclusion anything but token.

Throughout the series of battles you will be reusing surviving and damaged units from previous tracks over and over.  Each scenario links with previous battles in some way culminating in a final battle for the fate of the planet with anything and everything left standing.

The last battle I have some qualms over balance.  After 8 other tracks of beating each other up I am not convinced that it is obvious which survivors are able to be used and the resulting balance of the fight, but given the robust content up until this point I don’t think I am bothered too much with it.  At the end of the day BattleTech is one giant pick your own adventure book anyways so adding a few forces to one side to even things out and make it interesting would not be the worst thing in the world so long as all players are game.

These are some of the best tracks I’ve had the privilege to read in some time!

Technical Readout

I hope you like Brigands.  We are treated to a full TRO entry for the ‘Mech including record sheets for six different variants.  Lots of medium lasers in almost all configurations.  For a 25 ton ‘Mech some players may find the speed profile limiting at 6/9/6 and even 5/8 in one variant.  A bit light on the armor makes me think that this ‘Mech would like to avoid a pitched battle, especially against  PPCs and AC10s.

Rounding out this section is the custom Awesome piloted by the attacking commander Buck Tripp.  It is a scary looking fast variant moving at an impressive 5/8.  A perfect amount of heatsinks will keep this Mech running cool even when alpha striking every turn.  It includes the latest internal technology to make weight, including XL engine, XL gyro, and Ferro Fibrous armor.

This section provides more than usual.  Very nice to see the additional TRO material to make the campaign feel right!


Of course no Turning Points PDF is complete without the multi-page planetary assault map.  I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of Interstellar Operations to put these to good use.

Final Thoughts

Tortuga pulls out the stops with a wild ride on this pirate heavy campaign.  From the combined arms to the linked tracks there is a lot going on to keep you interested.  Any time I was able to find a potential fault with one section or another I found more than enough to make up for it in the tracks.

Tortuga joins the ranks of the best in the Turning points series.  My mind is already racing thinking of how I can run this campaign for myself.  I may be hitting up Iron Wind Metals for some Brigands soon!

Posted under Review

Jihad Turning Points: Hesperus II Review

Last Patrol

Hesperus opens up with a slow bit of fiction that introduces us to the hot and tropical climate of Hesperus II.  This is one of the least action packed opening fictions in any Turning Point pdf I’ve yet reviewed.  But what it lacks in action it makes up for with a slow build up of tension before the final reveal.

Joshua Perian makes a repeat appearance in the writers seat for this adventure deep within the Word of Blake Jihad.  Will experience prove effective in this next installment in the series?

Hesperus II

jtph2This section describes the planet of Hesperus II in short detail that is half history and half geographical.  Mapsheet lists are provided that represent the varied terrain on the planets several land masses and covers the gamut from harsh jungles to barren mountains and hills. Special rules and terrain modifications come exclusively from Tactical Operations.

So far par for the course when compared to other Turning Point pdfs.

The Battle for Hesperus II

This section gives a play by play account of the Blakists assault, sabotage, and capture of Hesperus in a bid to cripple the Lyran military machine.

After four years of occupation a combined force of Comstar, Wolf, and Delvin Stone came to the rescue and over months of heavy losses the last of the Blakist forces were eliminated.

I’m impressed with the scale of this battle.  Sure we have seen this before in earlier Turning Points but it is still nice to see such a robust battle covering multiple years, multiple factions, and dripping with enough personality to excite the fan boy in all of us.


RAT tables cover only ‘Mechs for the four factions involved.  Those wanting to spice up their battles should consult vehicle and infantry RATs found elsewhere online and in other Turning Point offerings.

I liked the fact that they specifically mentioned generating pilot abilities using the Total Warfare tables.  I fully endorse such a recommendation.

Lots of usual suspects on the list.  I find it interesting that the Word of Blake Celestials are not as common in the Shadow Division than I would have expected.  Also there are a few Clan Omni Mechs available to the Word of Blake in the 12 slot.  I wonder how they managed to score those Prime Omnis?


This section opens up with some excellent detail on advanced RAT options, using Total War and other resources to their greatest effect.  Each covered unit includes information on their commanding officer, experience level, appropriate RAT tables, unit abilities, and notes.  The notes section is often my favorite due to the extra nuggets of storyline that helps tie the battle together.  Three pages are needed to cover the major players in this battle.

The Lyrans special abilities section may as well been called their inabilities.  They have mostly negative impacts to deal with.  Luckily (unluckily?) they are wiped out rather early in the campaign.

There seems to be an over reliance on initiative linked abilities for all combatants.  Not much imagination in play here.  Other abilities are related to impacting the RAT table or apply stock Tactical Operations bonuses like Overrun and Bank the Initiative.

The BattleCorps Legion unit makes an appearance in this battle. Always interesting to see this force in play.


The tracks section is by far my most favorite section in any Turning Points PDF.  Hesperus II delivers a nine tracks spread between three distinct periods of the assault and eventual liberation of the planet.

Overall I felt underwhelmed by the selection of optional bonuses and objectives.  There was not a lot there beyond the standard “Go kill the other guy” objectives, paired with “Oh by the Way its Dark Out”environmental based optional bonuses.  The tracks keep the story line going and allow the battles to be retold but there is not a lot of unique concepts or synergies at work.

If anything the sheer quantity of tracks helps out.  You may not be getting a lot of quality scenarios out of the deal but at least you can take solace in the quantity.

Don’t get me wrong, this PDF and those like it in the series are always an amazing deal.  At only $5 you really can’t go wrong.

Unique Units

Two custom record sheets are included in this section.  The first is actually a generic conventional vehicle that was in production at Defiance Industries.  This is possibly used in one of the later tracks which allows reinforcements that roll off the assembly line while the battle progresses.

The second is the custom ride of Demi-Precentor Delta Laodices, a Galahad loaded with PPCs of various sizes, backed up with a Light Gauss Rifle.  The armor load out seems a bit light considering the heavy frame but there is an excellent complement of electronic warfare equipment to play a role in certain scenarios.


Last but not least there are four pages of planetary assault maps with hex delineation.  With the upcoming printing of Interstellar Operations these maps along with all those in the rest of the Turning Points series is likely to see new avenues for use.

The map looks gorgeous and begs to be played on.

Final Thoughts

Hesperus II provides a full nine tracks and all the assorted accompaniment seen in other entries in the series.  It fails to break any new ground or provide compelling force abilities, objectives, or optional bonuses to set it apart from the crowd.  Instead it relies on tried and true formulas that set the scene and then let the players blast each other to bits.

While not the best in the series it is well worth the price of entry.  For the low cost of entry you are sure to get a lot of play time out of it.  Collectors should not hesitate to pick up Hesperus.  For those new to the series, I would recommend other PDFs to be your first purchase.

Posted under Review

Historical Turning Point New Dallas Review

Historical Turning Point New Dallas takes us into not one but three historical eras.  This Turning Point PDF spans three different eras, the Star League, the Succession Wars and the Jihad.  If memory serves me right this is indeed a first for a Turning Point product.

Joshua Perian is at the helm for this adventure.  Let’s see if he can work some magic in this multi-era addition to the Turning Points series.HTP-New-Dallas

Parting Shots

The opening fiction is a bitter heart wrenching affair seen all too often in BattleTech fiction.  The hopeless odds.  The grim reality of war.  There is no Hollywood ending here.  The damned are indeed damned and no last minute rescue is coming.  No hero to save the day.  In the end, there is only war.

I enjoyed the opening salvo from New Dallas.  In a way it reminded me of the Last Day of Zeta, another bit of fiction that exemplifies the harsh realities of war in the 31st century.

New Dallas and the Hegemony Memory Core

The overview section paints a picture of a scarred and battle weary landscape.  New Dallas has seen the worst side of the Succession Wars over the years including nuclear and orbital bombardment.  Despite these calamities there seems to be a lot of potential in the planet given it’s natural and artificial resources.

Terrain tables are provided as well as Tactical Operations special terrain and weather rules as is expected from all Turning Point PDFs.

The next section covers the planet history from a slightly different spin covering the fabled Hegemony Memory Core and the conflicts revolving around it.


The RAT tables are fairly standard fare including only ‘Mech selections for four different factions involved in fighting over the years.  There are some very interesting selections included including many Star League era ‘Mechs and even some primitives.


Four commanders covering the swath of involved forces are presented with a quick back story followed by A Time of War sample bio.  While not a complete character sheet, the most important details are given for an game master to flesh out for an encounter using either A Time of War or the basic tabletop BattleTech rules.

The commander special abilities are standard fare and don’t trend far from expected A Time of War abilities.


In this section the dreaded reference to page XX rears its ugly head.  These are an unfortunate annoyance which occurs far too often in BattleTech books dating back even to the FanPro era.  A distraction at worst.

Moving on, the combatants section is a brief one page entry covering the range of Outworlds and Marik forces involved in conflict on New Dallas.

The selection of special force abilities was the predictable assortment of RAT modifications, initiative bonuses, and stock Tactical Operations abilities.  Nothing special to write home about here.  Perhaps the most notable item I saw was the commander of the New Dallas Militia.  Would you be able to keep a straight face when being commanded by General Dinwoodie?  I can already imagine several comical battle field radio exchanges…


New Dallas features nine tracks in three different eras making this installment in the Turning Points series much more of a scenario pack than a contiguous campaign.  Each sequence of three tracks is billed as a mini-campaign but I see these being picked out for single battles.

On the whole the tracks in New Dallas follow a predictable formula with a few notable exceptions.

There is a space battle track for aerospace enthusiasts.  For those looking for a reason to break out strategic operations, this battle will make the PDF a must buy.  My one complaint is the apparent requirement to use units only featured in Jihad Hot Spots Terra (Defender is composed on ONLY Mk. 39 Voidseeker drones).  I think it would have been good form to include a record sheet for this particular unit when the track makes a specific request.

There is ample cross-promotion in the early tracks with Liberation of Terra and in the later tracks with Tactical Operations and Strategic Operations.  Fatigue rules pop up in a few tracks.

After a few interesting game setups the track objectives turn to safe predictable stand-bys most will be familiar with.  Kill the other guy.  Breakthrough.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Optional bonuses tend to be environmental related (rain, wind, moonless night).  Using the commander ‘Mechs is even an optional bonus in one track and not made part of the track special rules.

Record Sheets

Only two record sheets are provided in the last section of the PDF.  The first is a New Dallas SLDF commanders Rifleman II sporting paired large pulse lasers in one arm and a single gauss rifle in the other making for an interesting asymmetric  load out for a member of the Rifleman family.

The second is a Amaris Dragoon commanders Rampage.  This 4/6 assault ‘Mech is bristling with weapons covering all ranges and combat situations.  I like the Swiss army knife design which could lead to it being outclassed by heavier specialists.  A very interesting design to throw into your battles.  It almost reminds me of the Marik Albatross.

The Final Word

New Dallas treads on familiar ground and while it has it’s gems, fails to innovate or take significant risks with regard to abilities, objectives, and bonuses.  Considering the big picture, I feel that New Dallas fits squarely in the middle of the road when compared to other entries in the series.  That isn’t bad considering the vast collection of Turning Points PDFs so far released.

New Dallas is still worth the $5 price of entry but not one I’d recommend to someone discovering the Turning Points PDFs for the first time.  For completionists and aerospace buffs I don’t need to provide any other motivation to buy this installment.

Posted under Review

Historical Turning Point: Antallos – Review

The latest installment of the Historical Turning Points, Antallos, has arrived and it promises to break new ground by bringing in aerospace to the mix of combined arms action.  The well known Geoff Swift is at the helm for this installment.  I am very anxious to dive into this PDF to see how aerospace is folded into the Chaos Campaign mix.

Best Laid PlansHistorical Turning Points: Antallos

In the Civil War era the opportunistic Snow Ravens are not your stereotypical honor driven fundamentalists of the original invasion.  For an interesting change, it is not as clear who is the bad guy in this short fiction.  The action is fast paced and provides an excellent introduction to the tone of the PDF.  Pirate or Clan?  Who will you be rooting for?


Antallos is a water poor planet plagued by a persistent pirate influence.  Scarred and forgotten by the Succession Wars it seemed only natural that pirates would be quick to fill the power vacuum.

This section gives a quick overview of the history of the planet while providing background information on the current state of the densely populated but sparely located cities.  A selection of recommended mapsheets and optional rules plucked from Tactical Operations rounds out the section.

All of this is standard fare for the Turning Points series.  However, I would like to mention that I find the background of Antallos to be especially inviting for campaigns and adventures.  While never a front line planet in the succession wars, there has been no end to conflict which can be used as a backdrop for further adventures on or around the planet.

The Cleansing of Antallos

The Cleansing of Antallos picks up the history of the planet beginning in 3067 with the Snow Ravens looking to solidify their alliance with the Outworlds.

Soon after the Ravens land forces on planet a small but technologically advanced Word of Blake force joins the fray.  Throughout the battle, Aerospace forces remained a significant participant (or target) of attacks.

Whether you are a fan of the Clans, the pirates, or the Word of Blake there is a little something for everyone in this battle.

Random Assignment Tables

RAT tables are provided for Periphery, Snow Ravens and Word of Blake.  The very notable new item is Aerospace fighters for each faction.  These will come into play in the tracks section and is very exciting to see.

A short vehicle RAT is provided for the periphery and Word of Blake to account for conventional forces used in specific battles.


The commander of the Snow Ravens and the Pirate force are each given a brief bio and relevant RPG stats.  However, there was no Word of Blake commander; potentially because there was no significant leader to speak of.  Or perhaps they were running long on the page count.

Both commanders have a short yet detailed bio with added A Time of War stats.  Not a complete record sheet but rather a quick set of basic skills/traits to be used as a baseline to create a full character if needed by an ambitious game master.


Each combatant is provided a short set of notes, unit logo, and the usual stats we have come to expect from a Turning Points PDF.  The unit abilities were well on the safe side of things and rarely strayed from situational initiative/piloting/gunnery bonuses or penalties.

The notable exceptions come from the Word of Blake.  There is a word of blake special ability involving suicide fusion engine explosions.  Whats not to like about that?

There is also a surprise entry by the Clan Dark Caste but it still feels like the section as a whole is somewhat disappointing.


Eight warchest tracks are presented in Antallos, on par with earlier Turning Points releases.

Welcome to the first Quick Strike / BattleForce centric Turning Point PDF.  Seriously, the force sizes recommended in the tracks are enormous.  The force descriptions regularly reference cluster or regiment size forces.  Turn Out the Dark recommends players use the Dark Caste’s entire force of 48 OmniMechs.  These are potentially huge battles.

Throughout the tracks there is also a strong campaign theme.  Tracks frequently make use of “surviving” units from prior tracks.  While playable as individual scenarios it seems the authors intended a much larger connected campaign.  Imagine you are stating with the entire TO&E of the combatants involved and slowly commit them to action, rolling in survivors into new battles as the campaign wears on.

Aerospace forces make frequent appearances in ground support operations while taking center stage in two space battles.

The available objectives are on a whole kept rather ordinary (kill the other guy).  What keeps the tracks from seeming stale are the interesting use of terrain features (ammo dumps, crowded urban) and special rules (pirates trying to make off with loot while fighting, dropship capture).  I regularly harp on uninspired objectives and optional bonuses but Antallos manages to get away with it by adding something special to each track.

There are some very interesting tracks to be played.  Turn Out the Dark, one of the two space tracks, has multiple competing pirate slots that would allow for a lot of different people to play in the game.  Maybe a great convention track?  While you are not directly competing with the other pirate players, only a handful of you are destined to make it away from the pursuing Ravens.  I’m sure that will result in some interesting decisions and either some noble sacrifices or nefarious backstabbing.

Record Sheets

Only a single record sheet is provided and it is of a dropship used in one of the space missions.  This is an uncharacteristically low number of record sheets for the Turning Points series.  Being an aerospace centric release I would have liked to see at least one custom aerospace fighter.  Certainly the pirate force would have had customized ‘Mechs within their ranks.  This section ends up being a letdown.


Antallos is full of hits and misses.  The product as a whole fits between the best and the worst of the Turning Points series.  If you are a fan of BattleForce or Quickstrike, you will find a lot of great scenarios to play.  The tracks are a good mix of interesting situations that make up for otherwise lackluster objectives.  The huge recommended force sizes and campaign undertones will be a boon to some and a turn-off for others.

Antallos is very much worth the $5 entry fee.  There is a great story inside but it may not fit into your must have list right this instant.  Your mileage may vary.

Posted under Review

The Bounty Hunter Dossier Review

The Dossier line of PDF only products continues with the Bounty Hunter.  The enigma of the Bounty Hunter and his involvement (or non-involvement) in the Jihad era is a great storyline in the BattleTech universe.  I’ve been very interested in this product and like other Dossiers it is well supported by Iron Wind Metals with companion miniatures to bring the story to your tabletop.

The notable Paul Sjardijn and Mike Miller are at the helm for this title and I’m anxious to to see how they bring the Bounty Hunter to life.

Indirect Acquisition

The opening short fiction is one I would have liked to see finished in BattleCorps or another source.  I really enjoyed the slow build up of suspense before the abrupt end right before the real action was about to commence.  I’ve asked on the forums if there is more to the story and will update this post if I get a definitive reply.  A very good start to the PDF none the less.

Unit History / Profile

A two page introduction to the Bounty Hunter touches upon his history, companions, major feuds  but never fully fleshes out any.  It is times like these that the necessarily brief synopsis provided by these PDF only releases feels inadequate.  It feels like the Bounty Hunter is a topic worth much higher billing.  Regardless it was enjoyable and awe inspiring to discover a sub-company level unit with such a rich history.

Each member of the team gets at least one page to describe their background and how they came to be one of the select few in the Bounty Hunter retinue.  Interestingly enough each member BUT the Bounty Hunter has a profile picture.  Probably on purpose…

Also detailed is the personal ‘Mech used by each MechWarrior complete with quirks from Strat Ops.


The mission section features three WarChest tracks and one RPG mission.  This is actually one more than previous Dossier products.

I enjoyed the first two tracks.  I found the setups to be unique and well complimented by the special rules.  Both of these early tracks feature a way for the Bounty Hunter to win through a die roll that goes from very rare to good odds the more opposing units are killed.  It represents a kind of momentum system that makes up for the lack of balance inherent in the mission setups.  Let’s face it, even the baddest heaviest most advanced ‘Mechs in BattleTech are going to have a bad day when surrounded and outnumbered.  This gives the Bounty Hunter a way out by using his notoriety and fear so long as he can generate a few early kills to get the ball rolling.

The RPG mission involves a set of objectives and a general description of the mission such that a GM can build up the story and the elements required for players to game in.  A one page GM section includes further details that can be used to feed players information as discovered through role play.  I’m not the biggest fan of role playing games but I feel like there is still an awful lot of detail to be made up on the part of the GM.  I’m not expecting street maps of Tian-tan but maybe a floor plan of the safe house would have been nice.  These details will have to be made by the GM ahead of time for the game to go smoothly.

The last WarChest track is more of a single scenario than a part of a larger campaign.  The mission is a simple one-on-one battle between the Bounty Hunter and Kai Allard Liao.  It follows the storyline but is a understandably simple in construction.  I appreciate the additional track added earlier to compensate for the scenario-ish mission this track is.  Still a great mission to run.  I may try my luck as the Bounty Hunter to see if he really is the greatest MechWarrior in the Inner Sphere.

For the purposes of the last mission a short RPG profile of Kai Allard-Liao is provided for players to generate Piloting and Gunnery values as well as combat related traits and abilities.

Character Sheets

RPG sheets are provided for each member of the Bounty Hunter squad.  Not much to say here.  Very similar to other Dossier books.

Record Sheets

Ten ‘Mech record sheets are provided in the back of the PDF.  Some of the bulk here is due to the fact that the Bounty Hunter uses so many different machines.  Also included is a stock ‘Mech design, the Ryoken B used by Kai Allard-Liao.  While not a custom design, I appreciate the inclusion as it means that players have instant access to everything they need to play the last mission.  No need to buy another product to get the record sheet to play the last mission.  Good thinking.

The Final Word

Even with the extra track I feel like the tale of the Bounty Hunter was a bit too long a story to properly cover in this PDF release.  It is more of an appetizer for a main course that I hope can be found in other sourcebooks and BattleCorps offerings.

As far as the still young Dossier series is concerned this is by far the best so far.  With an added track, instantly notable subject, and a plethora of record sheets there is a good amount of content here.  I still prefer the Turning Points series as far as bang for your buck but something about the Bounty Hunter tips this offering over the threshold for me.

Posted under Review

Total Chaos Review

Total Chaos is the latest addition to the Chaos Campaign family.  It takes the form of a compilation of sorts.  It is a comprehensive tome collecting the entire Chaos Campaign from Dawn of the Jihad to the last of the Jihad sourcebooks including several plucked from the Jihad Turning Points PDF series.

The Only One that Matters

No ‘Mechs.  No explosions. No battlefield.  Just business.  The opening fiction is a short piece typical of any sourcebook sized offering from Catalyst.  Every battle has a beginning, some more deeply rooted than others.

The short fiction is only part of the story which is available in full via BattleCorps.

Rules of Engagement

Retooled and ready for action, the Rules of Engagement section reprints and updates the Chaos Campaign rules with major additions and modifications based on play testing, player feedback and the author’s prerogative.  I concur with all of the modifications I could spot.  Here are some of the major changes from the original:

  • New Terrain Tables expand the available battlefields
  • More detailed and expensive repair rules
  • Ability to hire advanced experience personnel
  • Drastically increased support point cost for skill improvement

Not a lot to complain about.  All of the changes appear reasonable if not downright needed.  The expanded Support Point Activity Cost Table have filled in all the gaps of the old rules.  Well done.  For new players and old alike there will be fewer questions during the campaign especially for those commands who take an unorthodox force composition.

Even with the increased skill improvement costs I still prefer the Total War style experience system.  Why mess with a good thing?

Enter Stage Right

Enter stage right details three mercenary commands that were typical targets for IE contracts.  The commands range from well meaning to downright shady.  In the end I felt like this section was a template of sorts that showed how players could form their own mercenary forces to fit almost any background or alignment.

Each command provides details on overall composition, paint scheme, and origin.  The leader and XO for each force has their own portrait and individual special abilities that integrate with A Time of War.  Overall force special abilities add to the flavor.

The origins of each command is where this section really shines.  Each force has a cleverly constructed background and is wildly different from each other while sharing the common bond of being mercenaries.  It shows how versatile the Jihad Chaos Campaign can be.

I was impressed to see a healthy mix of combined arms forces.  Also, each force was under a company strength which meshes well with the suggested force size in the campaign rules.

It is through the eyes of these mercenary forces that the aftermath and situations for the Jihad tracks are built off of.  They are irreversibly intertwined through the Jihad story arc while  providing ample room for players to blaze their own trail.  In an interesting twist the opening fiction is connected to one of the unit’s bios.

For players intimidated by the prospect of creating their own force from scratch (and also the lazy), these three force bios are nearly ready to go blue prints that get you into the cockpit sooner.  They are exemplary examples of how you can build a story around your unit and hopefully continue that story through the campaign.

The Missions

Missions are small, less detailed boiler plate combat scenarios the likes of which were originally seen in the Starter Book series and later used in the Operational Turning Points PDFs.  There are 13 total to choose from and cover a wide array of standard missions from assault to recon to retreat.

They all follow a similar format and provide the bread and butter to the Chaos Campaign main course to follow.  The objectives and optional bonuses are predictable which can’t be helped given the generic nature of the missions.

In a very interesting and applause worthy modification to previous publications, missions have completely variable opposing forces.  Previous iterations of these missions listed a stock experience level and a variable force composition.  The Total Chaos campaign missions include 5 variables that determine Op For;  tech level, force size, force composition, RAT, and experience.

Will you be fighting an up armored but inexperienced militia force?  How about a veteran house unit packing a mix of low tech heavy and medium units?  Maybe you’ll be head to head with advanced technology elite mercenary command wielding lots of fast light units.  The random nature of the Op For is a bright spot in the missions section and are sure to enhance re-playability.

Missions can also act as respites from the at times harsh main campaign.  To be honest, some of the tracks in the Jihad are just brutal.  Having the opportunity to duck out and fight a few Supply and Recon missions after taking a beating can allow battered forces time to rebuild and not be forced so early into Warchest Debt.

The Campaign

Covering 14 years the Total Chaos Campaign includes a massive 142 tracks.  Most of these have been published before in earlier volumes but 49 (by my count) are brand new.  In essence Total Chaos is an anthology for the Jihad era Chaos Campaign.  However, that is not the full story.  There is a lot of new material to be had within these pages.

The layout and formatting of all of the tracks have been updated to the most recent standard.  Since Jihad Hot Spots 3076 Chaos Campaign tracks have taken on a unified look and feel and have been ‘Mech force centric.  The old tracks prior to this change have had a significant amount of work put into them to bring them up to par with the series.

While the meat of each track has been relatively unchanged, the Situation and Aftermath have been rewritten to incorporate the stories of the three mercenary commands detailed in the Enter Stage Right section.  I did notice that some options and objectives were tweaked.  Some point values were adjusted and some got removed or split into multiple objectives.  Most likely these changes were the result of play testing.

Additional information on the progress of the Jihad and it’s most pivotal battle fields is included in side bars containing information on specific worlds like Terra, Dieron, Tharkad and the like.  Each of these also includes a mini-campaign for players to complete.  Mini campaigns are a collection of tracks and missions that together make up a small segment of the Jihad centered around the subject world.  Additional information is provided on forces involved and a detailed account of the importance of the world in the Jihad.  There is a lot of fiction and fluff material crammed into this book.

New to this book are 49 never before seen tracks spread more of less evenly between the reprinted tracks.

On average Jihad Turning Points PDFs cover 8-9 tracks.  This means that Total Chaos is the equivalent of around 10 Jihad Turning Points PDFs when looking at new tracks alone.

The new tracks bring a lot of variety including space missions, solaris maps, and other pleasant combinations of objectives and options all in keeping with the standard set in the original campaign.  The Jihad Chaos Campaign is a hell of a story and the best way to experience it is to play it.

All the Rest

A campaign tracking sheet is included, unchanged from it’s original poorly organized predecessor.  You can find an upgraded campaign tracking sheet in the Downloads section.  My original thoughts on the matter are still relevant.

Random assignment tables are provided for mercenaries, Word of Blake, and WoB Shadow Divisions.  These RATs are better than your usual fare.  They are quite extensive even going so far as accounting for technology ratings.  Aerospace, vehicles, and battle armor join the ‘Mechs for combined arms variety.

The final tables are huge, and include up to 19 choices per wight class for ‘Mechs, Vehicles, Battle Armor, and Aerospace.  Technology ratings will affect the final result of a 2D6 roll.  The higher up the chart you are the better the technology level allowing for increased variety.

Finishing up the PDF are two very interesting custom units.  An Awesome piloted by a Mr. Cameron and an Atlas II piloted by Delvin Stone.  Icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned and a fine end to an epic sourcebook.

The Final Word

I’ve heard the criticism.

Isn’t this all reprinted stuff from old books?  Why should I buy it twice?

That’s true except for the 49 new tracks, new and updated missions, the updated track fiction, the new mercenary bios, the new terrain tables, the new (and huge) RATs, and the extra planet and battle specific Jihad details.  You get the idea.  There is a lot to like in this book and most of it is going to be as fresh as any new sourcebook you planned to buy.

For Chaos Campaign enthusiasts, this is a cap stone must have product.  For those who may have been hesitant to join in the fun, Total Chaos provides a one stop product to get started in the Jihad.  Instead of purchasing the huge volume of products associated with the original campaign, all of it (and much more) is included here in one place.

Some players may scoff at the prospect of purchasing a compilation but there is plenty within these pages that make up for any sense of repetition.

Posted under Review

Historical Turning Points: Luzerne – Review

Deep within the Smoke Jaguar occupation zone Luzerne stood out as a pivotal conflict as Operation BullDog began to build momentum.  The Jaguars were cornered and fought against their attackers with animal ferocity.

Nicholas  Marsala is a familiar writer back at the helm for this adventure within the Clan Invasion Era.  With more than a few Turning Points PDFs under his belt will Nicholas be able to keep up his own momentum?


The opening fiction is a wild introduction with familiar themes of self sacrifice as a Jaguar Attack force attempts to break the Davion lines.  The short story is fast paced and enjoyable.  A fine introduction to begin this Clan Invasion story.


The picture of Luzerne is that of a sleepy world with a potentially uninteresting history save for a multi-year mining strike.  This section provides a quick synopsis of these events and the relatively peaceful history of the planet as well as a glimpse at the major population centers.

Optional rules along with terrain and weather features are provided for the adventurous among us to spice up battle conditions.  Clan Honor is mentioned here as well.  I am excited to find out what other wrinkles Clan Honor will provide in the tracks.

The Battle of Luzerne

This section gives a birds eye view play-by-play of the battle from start to grisly finish.  The Star League had their work cut out for them to say the least.  The Jaguars fought tooth and nail to keep this planet and their air superiority almost made it possible.  Still, it seems unlikely that the Star League would allow the planet to NOT be taken even if the first invasion failed.

The plot synopsis seems a bit short compared to earlier HTP products.  The lower third of the document is dominated by a Star League logo which fills the page but leaves me wondering if there was more information they could have provided to flesh out the story.  Or simply, there was not much else to say to describe the cutthroat but straightforward battle that defined Luzerne.

Random Assignment Tables

A one page RAT table gives ‘Mech options for the Com Guards, Smoke Jaguar, Federated Suns, and the Draconis Combine.  The addition of OmniMechs provides even more variety.  I’m slightly disappointed in the lack of combat vehicles though.  The opening fiction alluded to armor platoons supporting the Star League mission.  Sad to see that combined arms did not make the cut to get into the book.


Four commanders are briefed in this section, two from the Jaguars and two from the Star League coalition force.  The special abilities section provide some A Time of War abilities except for the ComGuard commander.  Nothing special to write home about as the special abilities are safe selections.


The combatants section contains a scant 7 unit profiles.  This battle was a focused fight that hopefully trades quantity for quality.  Each force lists the commanding officer, experience, RAT table, an optional unit ability, and some fluff notes.

The game abilities are a pleasant mix of one-off custom designed abilities and stock abilities from Tac Ops.  Best ability goes to the Third Davion Guards who get a gunnery bonus when everyone in their command is making top speed.

The combatants section is very good though short (not the fault of writing, just a fact of the campaign) and throws together some good unique abilities which I prefer over reuse of existing Tac Ops rules.  Not that Tac Ops rules are bad.  There are a few in Luzerne.  Moderation is key which Luzerne does well.


Ah my favorite part of the Turning Points series!  Luzerne presents 8 tracks, on par with previous releases if a little low.  Perhaps Mallory’s World has spoiled me.  We can’t expect double digit track totals in every Turning Point PDF.

Luzerne starts off slow with a few tracks that are variations on the standard stand-up fight and breakthrough.  The first track contains no special rules, the second has opposed objectives resulting in an all or nothing proposition for both players.  The third is a stock stand-up fight with combat drops and uninteresting “kill the other guy” objectives.

Luckily things pick up steam with Cat and Mouse, a supply raid with a very well done Honor mechanic that keeps things interesting.  Other tracks contain some notable special rules including command centers.  Not all is well as the optional rules for Hammer and Anvil are very poor and provide little to the track.

In the end Luzerne is a mixed bag.  There are some really great tracks in Luzerne but also some head scratchers.

Perhaps I’m being too hard.  Even the best laid out campaigns are sure to have a few historical moments that can only be captured by a formulaic modification of a stand up fight.  Still I felt Luzerne could have done more and missed opportunities to shake things up.

Record Sheets

Only two record sheets are provided for players to spice up their tracks.  The Jaguars get a Cauldron-Born with a clever combination of hole punchers and crit seekers.  The spheroid force gets a Grasshopper loaded with Clan lasers.  Both creations are skimpy on the heat sinks making them non-optimal but scary none the less.

The Final Word

Despite it’s short comings the Historical Turning Point series is well served by the Luzerne addition.  For the low price of admission you are sure to find several hours of enjoyment.  While not a barn burner of a PDF, Luzerne is a great PDF for a collector especially if you have a soft spot for the Clans.  Luzerne adds to the ever growing range of back drops the Turning Points series has visited so be sure to take a look.

Posted under Review