BATTLETECH Review: Starterbook Sword and Dragon

Hey, folks, Voices here again with another review for the BattleTech game. This time, instead of looking at record sheets or unit stat books, we’ve got a campaign book for you: Starterbook Sword and Dragon.

This book isn’t new, but its designed for use with the BattleTech Introductory boxed set (and, by extension, the 25th-Anniversary Intro boxed set).
The book is presented as a campaign between two rival ‘Mech raider companies from two different rival factions, the Japanese-flavored Draconis Combine and the European-feudal-styled Federated Suns/Commonwealth. Set strictly in the few years before the Clan Invasion of 3049, the book follows a series of engagements between these two forces across the border between the DC’s Galedon Military District and the FS/C’s Draconis March.

It also includes necessary information to play both forces at any time period from the Fourth Succession War (3029-3031) through the Word of Blake Jihad (starting in 3067) and complete unit profiles for McKinnon’s Raiders (affiliated with the Federated Suns/Commonwealth) and Sorenson’s Sabres (Draconis Combine). Since each force is a company strong, the book gives pilot profiles for each pilot in both forces, including a blurb on their personal ‘Mech in the campaign-as-presented; the record sheets for these ‘Mechs and several variants of each appear in the second half of the book. Sandwiched between the pilot profiles and the campaign rules section is a brief technical readout giving all the experimental equipment appearing in the book, from prototype Medium Pulse Lasers to Double Strength Heat Sinks; this is equipment fitted to the ‘Mechs of each command in the mid-3040s, when they were still in development and not ready for widespread (ie, mass-produced and relatively bug-free) deployment. As such, you have a variable listing for certain values, like the MPL-P’s 4+1D6 heat point rating.

Like most BT products these days, much of the “artwork” are posed pictures of actual, painted-and-based models. The pilot profiles have portraits of each pilot, and these are rendered beautifully in full color. The volume of material for the fluff-monkey out there is pretty outstanding; by way of example, each company has the portrait of pilots in one of three uniforms: the in-cockpit MechWarrior’s cooling vest, the appropriate faction field uniform, and the faction dress uniform. It’s consistent and attractively presented.

It’s also a bit personal for me; as when I started playing BT again at the start of this year after a nine-year absence, the friends in my old BT group were actually playing this campaign. The continuity of that was one of the things that kept me longer than a couple of sessions; and, arguably, sparked what has now become my championing of this game here on BoLS.
Well, that’s pretty much it for Sword and Dragon. I really do like this book; it’s a good piece to pick up at your FLGS, especially if you’re beginning to tire of weekly pick-up games. As for me, I’m off now to prove that the Clan Ghost Bear way is the only way at MillenniumCon’s Bloodname and BT Open tournaments.
5/5: this book does everything right for what it is, and then some.

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