The year is In the wake of the Jihad, a new realm— the Republic of the Sphere —has been born. Drawing war-weary masses from all over the Inner Sphere, the Republic stands for unity and security, in the hopes that never again will its worlds suffer from centuries of relentless war. But even though the common threat has finally passed, few believe they have seen the last of war. As the combined realms and Clans of the Inner Sphere struggle to rebuild, a new balance of power has begun to emerge. Field Manual: updates the military and political state of the Inner Sphere in the years following the end of the Jihad and the formation of the Republic of the Sphere.
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Field Manual: , following the highly anticipated release of The Wars of Reaving , seemed to have come upon us quietly, with little of the hype accorded to the Wars of Reaving. Additionally, Field Manual: is not a pure story line book, as it has a dual role within the cannon of BattleTech: firstly, to update players and fans as to the state of the various realms in ; and to provide the first detailed look at the Republic of the Sphere outside of former Wizkids releases.
One of the strengths of Field Manual: is that it is a sourcebook for nearly everyone, with just the deep Periphery fans and Clan Homeworld fans left with no glory or real mention in this tome. However, Clan fans have little to complain about at the moment, unless their faction was recently Annihilated and the three deep periphery fans have not been heard from for some time now.
I am not going to try and list former works by this group, as it is easier for you to just go and read the current in-print BattleTech products list. As such, Field Manual: was going to have to provide more than just a listing of units. As with the last product reviewed, there was no index, but as always, that is just my own problem and not something that seems to upset much of the BT community.
Field Manual: comes in at just over pages, eclipsing The Wars of Reaving , but due to requiring more role-playing, game aid material and being a true multi-faction book, it never felt like Field Manual: was nearly as big as The Wars of Reaving.
One of the advantages of these multi-faction sourcebooks is the ability of a faction fan to ignore all but those sections that make him croon, or cry, depending on how much hurt his favourite faction has dealt or received. The cover art for Field Manual: , by Eugene Negri, is a little more touchy-feely than most BattleTech products, as the sight of wild London crowds cheering members of the Republic Armed Forces RAF , was a little less destructive than the usual fare.
However, this is not all that surprising as the whole point of the next fifty years of the BattleTech timeline is an attempt to create one giant interstellar group hug or pan-Human Sphere peace. Field Manual: did not attempt new means of depicting the BattleTech Universe, sticking to the tried and true methods of previous sourcebooks. Black and white line art, courtesy of Mr. Lewis and Mr. Plog, provides a solid background to the factions and story, without doing anything that appeared to my untrained eye as a radical departure from past works.
One of the better additions to the old Field Manual series was the inclusion of full colour uniform, unit paint schemes, rank and medals. Unfortunately, these pieces were not included in and the RAF came off rather visually bland as a result. It is unknown at this time whether or not the Republic of the Sphere will be given its own Handbook like the other Great Houses. If one is not forthcoming or planned, then CGL missed a golden opportunity to really flesh out their newest BattleTech faction.
Another aspect of the art I would like to comments on, though not the first time it has been used in a BattleTech work, is the colour Star Maps. However, as someone who has to make complicated archaeological and survey maps for a living, the use of fit inducing primary colours is a bit much for my cartographic sensibilities, for with mapping, less is always better at conveying more and pastels truly are a map makers best friend.
Tvedten, through his attention to detail and obvious drive to improve from book to book, has provided the community with tools that are a wealth of detail. Still this boils down more to my personal taste more than anything. The detail of the maps, now with unit locations displayed, are a resource older school BattleTech-types have always wanted, and now have. As with most BattleTech sourcebooks, sidebars are presented for additional detail, out of the way of the main body of text, with some larger actions or elements provided with larger blocks of independent text.
The rules and role playing section at the end again follow standard format, with one notable omission being any new units, but considering that it has rained Technical Readouts for a year or two now, the omission is not a noticeable loss.
One small point were the more noticeable series of typos than were present in the Wars of Reaving , however, the number present was not on the scale of Historical: Reunification War. When talking about the story for a book like Field Manual: , it is not so much a plot book, as it is an encyclopaedia of military units and their support.
However, parts of Field Manual: do flesh out events and provide details on how the universe has progressed since the death of The Master. After the pre-requisite opening fiction and introductory letter from the both the in-universe and real world authors, Field Manual: gets down to business with a review of the Jihad for those who either are new to BattleTech, been asleep for five years or a BattleTech fan absolutely at odds with the Jihad story-line. Part of this chapter also looks at the chase of Blakeist war criminals.
There are a few mentions of old favourites within the text, as well as some interesting questions raised about the final disposition of the Manei Domini.
The first of the state chapters focuses on the Capellan Confederation, which has been on the rebound ever since Sun-Tzu returned the crocks in May of However, it would seem that the powers that be are finished with hearing the gloating of the Capellan Mafia on the forums.
Although many of the CCAF commands of the Era are still around, it would appear as if the age of the successful Capellan hissy fit might be coming to a close. Following the Capellan chapter, we tour the shattered remnants of House Kurita, the once proud bastion of old school BattleTech bad guys, now reduced to shell of its former glory. In my own personal opinion, Kurita got it in the teeth as badly as did the former Free Worlds, but that is understandable from a game designer point of view when striving to bring balance back to the BattleTech Universe.
An un-humbled Draconis Combine would have been the player in the universe had CGL not brought the heavy hand of the Jihad down upon it. Still, when looking at the encroaching wave of blue, many Free Worlds League fans are likely looking forward to the s already.
Despite the death of central authority, all the old friends are still here, playing with the other children in the sandbox…in a manner akin to a cockfight. As a Lyran fan of epic proportions, I was happy to see the Lyran Commonwealth yes, note the name change probably in the best shape of all five Successor States the Free Worlds League no longer being counted. Whoever wrote this section is getting a beer from me next time I see him for his efforts at regimental necromancy, and likely a few more beers from other LCAF fans as well.
With Skye now part of the Republic, the Free Worlds a memory, and a gutted Combine and Clans not a real threat, the Lyrans are looking very strong at the moment. The Clans present an interesting mix, with the effects of the Jihad and Wars of Reaving leaving many short on troops and infrastructure.
The Ghost Bears are still a formidable power and a true threat to all their neighbours, overshadowing all other Inner Sphere Clans. Although not as comfortable as the Bears, Clan Snow Raven fans will likely be happy, if not smug about their own position. For the former leaders of the Clans, Clans Jade Falcon and Wolf, both are in less than ideal circumstances, with many Wolf fans likely praying for someone to get the band back together.
The Nova Cats are the most surprising of the Clans, with their mystical hubris coming home to roost in a significant way. The Periphery is a picture of contrasts, with some states celebrating, whilst others drown in a dark sea of their own making. The Magistracy of Canopus, always the poster child for getting things by using methods other than war, is as ever, doing better than the last time we visited.
The only dark spot for the Magistracy appears to be the promotion of one Kit deSummerville to high rank, something not to be taken lightly. Taurian fans will either be pleased that the Calderon Protectorate still exists, or see it as an insult, seeing that the Protectorate is what the Concordat should be. The Marians are still being Marians, but with the vaporisation of Circinus, they have one less enemy to worry about.
The other Periphery powers are all much the same as before, but then, they usually are. If anyone is making the Free Worlds League look wholesome and strong, it is the god-awful state of the mercenary market in A quick look at the numbers of Mercenary Battalions in , show that the market has fallen by just under two thirds from over to little over This grim reading is one of the more effective yardsticks of the past 35 years of BattleTech history.
However, not all is doom and gloom, as some old mercenary favourites have survived. There also appears to be some new units added to the roster that will hopefully be fleshed out down the track. The next section of Field Manual: , is the part that many players have been waiting for, a detailed look at the working of the Republic of the Sphere. This section outlines the role of the citizen, the effects of the Relocation Directives, and the Military Material Redemption Program.
The section continues with a discussion regarding the function of the Republic government and the positions within it. The information on the Republic Armed Forces RAF in this chapter details the ranks, uniforms, decorations, formations and the associated Knights of the Republic.
Additional information is supplied on the economy, industry and trade of the Republic of the Sphere, rounding out the chapter.
Lastly, the Rules Annex provides additional information on the time period, followed by details on unit special abilities provided, and the ever-present random assignment tables RATs for game-masters and scenario builders.
A table of major events is also provided, outlining key points in the BattleTech Universe from The final part of the chapter and book, details the effect the Jihad has had on the currencies of the Inner Sphere and provides information on these currencies up to Overall Field Manual: provides the first major step away from the Jihad since , for some, it is something that could not come fast enough, yet for others, like Knightmare here at OurBattleTech.
Nevertheless, Field Manual: accomplishes its goal in providing an update to the realms of the Inner Sphere and Periphery, driving the story line forward, whilst also giving players a solid understanding of the workings of the Republic of the Sphere and the RAF. Field Manual: will likely result in one of the two following reactions from fans: One, my faction suffered less than your faction see Lyran section above , so CGL must love me, or two, why was CGL so mean to my faction?
However, once the fans get over whatever misgivings they might have they should begin to see that Field Manual: is not an end, but rather the first foundation of a new era. A new era that will surely have BattleTech back in uncharted waters where every sourcebook is a new revelation. For those interested in only their faction or in the BattleTech Universe of in general, Field Manual: is a solid addition not only to the Field Manual series, but also to the progressing BattleTech story line as well.
Edited and added my bits to the review. Thanks Blacknova for taking the review lead. Glad you added the part about the uniforms, something I missed. Why would I want that?
That was meant to be bandmaster, not badmaster, but as a member of the Capellan Mafia, it seems somehow appropriate. Your email address will not be published.
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Contact OurBattleTech and get writing! Remember Me. Introduction Field Manual: , following the highly anticipated release of The Wars of Reaving , seemed to have come upon us quietly, with little of the hype accorded to the Wars of Reaving. The new RAF marches through London. Leave Comment Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Your BattleTech. Aspiring Writers. BattleTech Links. Username Password Remember Me.
Field Manual: 3085
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