My online stalker, J**** now admits that the persona that he used to wage his campaign against me, Faith McClosky, was a complete fake. I was on vacation when this went down, I was inundated with emails and messages of support. Thank you to all of you that reached out to me about this. I’m not going to provide a link his blog post because I refuse to validate this individual’s mental problems further.  I was going to say nothing, but why let this person have any sway over the narrative? 

It is tempting to say, “I told you so,” but I already did. For me, this “confession” was old news. Law enforcement long ago revealed that what he claimed to be online was a fabrication.  I exposed it back in July of 2021, The Truth about Faith McClosky.  Moreover, I informed Catalyst of the details of this at the time, even providing documentation.

I doubt seriously anything that J**** writes regarding turning another leaf.  Bear in mind, he admitted that he created a fake ID and persona; while using a new fake name (Ace Kaller), and is using it to continue to spread lies and misinformation. Fake accounts, lies, and a smear campaign – it’s the same old story we have all seen before from this person. At least this time he’s not practicing identity theft by posting photos of someone he is pretending to be…but we are still early in this game.   

Why anyone believes anything this person posts, on any subject, is a mystery worthy of PhD research and study.  Amazingly, a handful of vocal BattleTech fans opted to support this utter fraud and perpetuate his lies. They embraced censorship as a justifiable solution. Mao would be proud of them. Now they simply look foolish, led by a confessed liar. A few have stood up and apologized for their roles in this – but most opt to remain cowardly silent.

To clarify a few points…prior to this, J****, under the guise of “Faith,” submitted a short story that CGL published because they believed the individual to be a female.  John Helfers told me that was one of his primary reasons for publishing the story. “BattleTech is a sausagefest.  It will be great to have a female voice.” I warned CGL that this was not a wise move but they believed that this would “appease her.”  Bottom line, J**** used his false identity to gain an advantage over other would be authors.

J**** claims he had nothing to do with my release by Catalyst.  I was shown, and possess, from Loren Coleman and other sources, the messages that J**** (and his known sock accounts,) used to engage Fanatics and Topps in this campaign. Furthermore, CGL admitted my release was because of his campaign in my conversation with their President.  I refer you to the transcripts of my call with Loren Coleman on this matter – Moving Forward.  J**** can claim whatever he desires about his involvement in this matter, but I think most people now fully understand his role. 

Consider this:  If “Faith” had never posted about me, would I still be writing BattleTech? Absolutely! The blame for my removal lies with J**** as the chief instigator of this debacle.  All he succeeded in doing is denying long-time fans the stories I had completed and in-process. 

Every time I posted about this incident, J**** under the fake persona of “Faith” claimed I was waging “transphobic attacks” as a means of deflecting his own guilt and culpability in these matters.  Those of course now are proven as lies by his own admission.  He dragged the LGBTQ community into his personal little fight with his lies, and now has smeared them in the process. I can only hope that this will not deter real members of the LGBTQ community from enjoying the universe that I contributed to for decades. 

He makes ridiculous claims that I hired a PI to harass his friends. I don’t know if he even has friends. The owner of a personal protective service who is a friend, did reach out to his probation officer at my behest to tell him that a protective order had been put in place.  That was it, period. Of course in J****’s strange world, he saw people hiding in his shrubbery spying on him at my bidding.

Keep in mind, this is a person that fantasizes about me dying. I have a thick folder of these kinds of posts.

I know a lot of you are hoping that Catalyst sees the errors of their ways and apologizes. For now, this changes nothing. This is just J**** doing what he always does, using a fake identity to continue his attacks on me. Yawn…  

I have moved on past BattleTech, both out of necessity and out of a desire to do what I love doing – writing. What was almost lost in this twisted nightmare is that I’m just a guy that wants to tell great stories. I’m pleased to say on the writing front, things are booming. The Blue Dawn series is doing great – with book three, Confederacy of Fear, releasing on January 24.  The book has been on two Amazon Hot New Releases bestseller lists. Book four, No Greater Tyranny, is at the publisher as well and I am almost done with book five, Patrons of Terror

The second American civil war continues…
Less pew pew and more boom!

For my Mecha fix, the new universe I have worked on with my company, Creative Juggernaut, Land&Sea, launches in a big way on January 12 with the release of book one – Splashdown. This near-future military sci fi novel series (and eventually a game) has already hit three Amazon bestseller lists. I just finished the fifth book in the Land&Sea series and will be starting book six this month. WarGate Publishing is great to work with, they give me a wide latitude to practice my craft, and has introduced me to a broad universe of IP’s and authors. My editor there is someone I respect, something I haven’t been able to say often in my career. I’ve also made a lot of new friends as a result of the cancel culture crowd. I get my big stompy war-robot fix every day with this new series, and staring this month, you can too.  

I don’t need BattleMechs in my life – I have ASHURs

I have a project with Baen coming out soon as well as a big surprise in the works in another awesome universe involving Mecha combat. My daughter and I are working on a true crime project. Every day BattleTech becomes something further in my past.  I miss interacting with the fans, but not as much as you might think. The fan base has a cancer in it; one introduced by J**** and allowed to spread by CGL. That’s his only lasting legacy to BattleTech.  

I have greater reach as a result to being targeted by the cancel culture mob. I have a weekly show where I interview interesting authors each week on  and I get to appear as a floating member of the Council of Future Conflicts weekly, which is awesome.

My weeks are filled with doing what I love.  I am writing more than ever and having a great time doing it. I’m working with good people who are worthy of my trust, especially the folks at Defiance Press, WarGate Publishing, and Baen Books.  The audience I am writing for is larger and his little tolerance for woke behavior. My publishers want me to write great books and I am happy to do so. I am crafting some wonderful characters and putting out stories that tens of thousands are going to read and enjoy.   

The attempts by the online woke mob to drive me into submission have failed. Their attempts to delist my books and prevent me from being published have hilariously backfired. I refuse to be censored by the cancel culture crowd. I won’t be silenced, especially by a criminal on probation who hides behind fake ID’s. I have support from many publishers and even more fans. I was never a victim, only a target – a target of misdirected hate that still festers in the dark corners of the BattleTech community.  I am comforted to know that these social justice warriors will be looked back at by future historians for what they are; little more than digital terrorists and butthurt harassers. 

The best thing I can do to heal the personal damage caused by this person, is to be stunningly successful. That’s what I am all about now…success.  If you want to support me, buy my books and enjoy them. Thank you for doing so.  If you want to hate me, go ahead. That’s your problem to deal with. Me…I’ll just keep on writing.



Life in Cancelled-Land

A fan cooked this up and I love it! Pay your phone bills you commie bastard!

To start off; I’m doing just fine. Just saying that will drive my detractors into a tizzy-fit. 

I have no idea what they are complaining about. They won this battle. Apparently it wasn’t enough for the little huddle of loud leftists to simply celebrate. They continue to craft little narratives filled with lies and massive distortions of the truth to try and paint me as everything from a Nazi to an insurgent.  When that didn’t play well, they went after fans, friends, and supporters. Winning wasn’t good enough for this cancel mob, everyone had to agree with what they did and lavish praise upon them. They clearly want participation ribbons and a pizza party in their honor. Now that they had a victory, everyone had to agree that it was the right thing to do. Anyone that didn’t agree with them was an enemy and subject to their twisted online ire. These people always need a target or they have no meaning in life. They are ruining gaming as a hobby, forcing their outside politics on others. Stalin would be proud of them.

The lies they create are plentiful.  Some of the alleged posts I made, some I did not. I saw at least two that were complete piece of fiction.  Most of the others were ripped out of context and labelled with something offensive.  Example:  I wrote two pieces, a blog post and an article, on how corporate diversity and inclusiveness programs were ineffective and were corporate pandering. I stated, accurately, that they didn’t achieve proven goals of better quality.  Worse yet, they use training, one of the least effective means of change management, to try and drive change that was ill-defined at best. These posts were labeled as proof that I was “Transphobic.”  I never said anything bad at all about the LGBTQ+ community in the articles – but these online hacks labeled them as such. This is how far they will stretch reality to fit their little hate-filled story.

One person, in a brand-spanking new Facebook account, claimed that when I was on MWO I was uttering racial rants and slurs at him.  This was a lie of course.  One I don’t utter that kind of filth.  Second, I never play with a mike on.  Frankly, I’m not coordinated enough to fire a PPC, run, watch my tactical display, and turn on my mic and rant. Third, how would I know what his alleged race was on MWO to begin with?  Additionally I uninstalled MWO from my PC in March. This ‘fan’ friended me the day before he made the allegation, then claimed it was only because he didn’t recognize me as the racist he claims to have heard online. If someone threw out racial slurs at you, you’d think you’d remember their name. This was a troll, either spun up by the woke mob to contemptibly push a new line of hate, or this was some individual seeking his moment of fame. You could smell their desperation with these stunts.  

One cadre of hate claimed I had stolen from Catalyst. Of course this is a lie. I assume they don’t mean I took money, since I had no opportunity to do that. Perhaps they were referring to the fact we have power armored suits, ASHUR’s, in our upcoming game, Land & Sea?  Catalyst has long been aware of what Brent Evans and I have been working on. Hell, Randall Bills asked to be a playtester!  It was absurd to the point of being humorous, mostly at the stupidity of the accusation. 

One troll tried to get me fired from Creative Juggernaut. It was cute and pathetic both at the same time. To clarify I am one of the owners of Creative Juggernaut. I made the decision to not fire myself. Case closed.

A few erroneously claimed, “He’s doing this to promote his latest novel.” First off, I always have a book that just dropped or about to. I have 2-3 more books coming this year.  At any point in time I have a book out or about to come out.  Second, that book dropped in June.  If I was timing it to promote that book the story would have come out two weeks before to drive up presales. No one would ever subject themselves to the ridicule, lies, and venom I have experienced in the last few days, just to sell a handful of books. I appreciate the fact you think I’m a villain on par with Lex Luthor, but (sadly) I’m not.  For the record, Luthor never would have tolerated this kind of BS.

A few said I deliberately timed this to all come out just before Gen Con. It wasn’t deliberate, but merely a coincidence. I actually wanted the story to come out sooner. Several people claimed I didn’t go to Gen Con specifically because of my pre-planned revelations. I posted in my blog in January that I wouldn’t be going to Gen Con – months before things exploded. Apparently these people can’t use a calendar – or they don’t care. 

Then came the overt censorship on Facebook and other forums. I stayed off of the forums from the start, but the fans did not. On some of them, when someone posted support for me, those posts were quickly taken down. Negative posts about me were kept up. Why? Who was calling the shots? To be clear, I feel that censorship is never the solution to a problem. What has been done to me is a form of censorship and I’m against it in every form. I do want to thank the moderators for making my point for me though. Your hammer and sickle pins are in the mail, comrades!    

Some people tried to rewrite my Wikipedia page – numerous times, removing references to BattleTech and attempting to smear me there. Not satisfied with that, they began to put in reviews of my books on Amazon and other sites with nasty comments in them about me, calling me names. These were not verified purchases, so it is easy to see that these are just another form of harassment and attempts at intimidation.  It wasn’t enough to have me fired, they have decided to harass me further. Bear in mind, I have done nothing to these individuals other than react to them…yet.

Renegade HPG put up a poll on this topic. I take no stock in polls. I shook my head and laughed when someone purchased fake bot votes and dumped 3000 of them in, within a matter of a few minutes, to sway the poll in favor of CGL cutting ties with me. They did it twice in fact, when the original poll was taken down and a new one put up.  It makes you wonder, who would spend money to try and make that decision look like the right one?  Who benefits from twisting a poll to a certain result? Certainly not me, I’m cancelled. Who was willing to spend cash to alter the outcome?  I have theories, as I am sure you do a well. In the end, it doesn’t matter other than it is rightfully perceived as another insult to the fan community. 

I did laugh out loud when Catalyst announced, two days after the article ran in American Greatness, that they were re-releasing my novel, Fire at Will.  That came out of the blue.  I’m not sure of the message they were attempting to send to the fan community. If my work is offensive enough to end our relationship going forward, why put more of it out there?  Wouldn’t that simply provoke the cancel crowd?  If that book is somehow deemed acceptable, why not my Snord’s stories, or my Honor and Glory piece that was done and edited with artwork and ready to roll?  Why not publish my Leviathans novella you had me write? If you were confused by this release, you were not alone. The minefield of contradictions is deep and thick. To me, it seemed as if this was some sort of attempt to try and save face with the fans. I, as the author, had not been told it was coming out in advance. It made me and others wonder what the real driving factor was.

The latest humorous narrative the whiners are spreading is that my contributions to BattleTech are of little or no merit. My cancellation (their words by the way) is of no real loss. I have never claimed that my works are major or instrumental to the universe. I have never said I was the best or most popular BattleTech author. Frankly I’m a fan of Robert Charrette’s early work in the universe. I was told a year ago that Hour of the Wolf was the biggest selling book for Catalyst, ever. I would only say that Hour of the Wolf ended one era and kicked off another and leave it at that. My importance or level of contribution is a determination that only the real fans can make—not those that are attempting to downplay the damage they have wracked. 

This demonstrates the level and depth of their misdirection and despondency.

While much of this sounds negative, the reality is I have heard from many people who have enjoyed my work over the years. The outpouring of support from fans was fantastic. I have gotten 69 emails, one snail mail letter, and dozens of direct messages of support from the fans.  Many told stories of when they joined the BattleTech and how they loved the stories I had written.  They spoke of characters that they loved, or quoted one-liners that I had almost forgotten. There was a love of the universe there that was hard to deny. It is one I share. It was clear that people are fed up with these digital terrorists who have infiltrated their hobby and sought to twist it to fit their own desires. The people that wrote me want their hobby back…they want big stompy robot-PPC-infused fun without the drama. Many expressed frustration at what was done, how it wasn’t communicated to the fans, and why CGL was evening listening to the haters in the first place. Even people who dislike my politics were stunned at the heavy-handed approach from my former publisher. I have struggled to keep up with the messages and respond to them. If I didn’t respond to you, it wasn’t on purpose.

One bit of news; John Helfers did send me an email apology for his earlier email. That is all I’m going to say at this time on that subject.

Book publishers, major ones, have been reaching out to me as have a few Kickstarters to explore my interest. I’m open to these kind of dialogues and discussions. I look forward to writing more military sci-fi and alternate history. I have been reached out to by a number of people in gaming that have experienced the wrath of the cancel culture crowd as well. It is always good to know you are not alone. This issue is one that goes beyond BattleTech. This woke-culture/mob mentality is a problem in the gaming industry as a whole. These social justice warriors are a cancer in the hobby, one I fear will consume it from within.  

For anyone to say that this isn’t political isn’t looking at the reality of the situation. If I had been posting left-wing comments supporting extreme progressive views, I would still be writing BattleTech. I know that.  Who else was cut loose by Catalyst?  No one. This was a targeted action. I can prove it if I am forced. I have a collection of dozens of screenshots of social media posts by CGL authors and artists that demonstrate leftist views that many people might find offensive. I try not to throw other creative people under the bus, at least not the way some have already done with me.  If their behavior continues however, I will not be so charitable.

A few of CGL’s contractors have contacted me with support and with fear for their jobs because of their political leanings. That’s what these kinds of decisions do…they have a ripple effect on innocent people. Working on BattleTech is an honor, or at least it was. I gave them what encouragement I could to stick it out and savor your work being in print.  

I have long understood the risks and headaches of being public about this. I am doing well now, finally on top of email and messages. I’m ignoring the cancel crowd and recommend you do the same. For the time being, I will focus on the positives and snicker at my detractors acting like petulant children. Those that hate me have won a battle – but I have no intention of losing the war. It is one of the best lessons that gaming has taught me. If you are going to play, you need to know the victory conditions.

Moving Forward…

By now many of you know the story, or parts of it. Going forward, I will no longer being writing BattleTech for Catalyst Game Labs (CGL). This was not a mutual decision. A handful of people, led by Faith McCloskey, protested when my latest novel, No Substitute for Victory, was published. That backlash led to Fanatics (owner of the IP) telling Catalyst to ‘make this go away.’ 

I should have seen the handwriting on the wall. Throughout my ordeal with the person using this fake identity, Loren Coleman, the President of Catalyst, never called to ask how I was doing.  All he was focused on was where the investigation into Faith/J was at and what actions I was taking and when. In contrast, Defiance Press, one of my other publishers, called to make sure my wife and I were okay, seeing if there was anything they could do to help. Catalyst never once, after I made matters public, said that they were against people threatening their contract employees. They never gave me a single public word of support. 

My discussion regarding my termination with Catalyst’s President centered on him highlighting an ongoing ‘feud’ with the person claiming to be Faith. Catalyst’s rebuttal to my initial article in American Greatness on this matter said that this had nothing to do with my Faith. My response to this is to relay to you part of the transcript of my discussion with Catalyst’s President on this matter (yes, I transcribed my notes from the call) – and you can form your own opinion:

  • CGL  “The problem is really this feud you have with J**** (Faith).”
  • “I’m not feuding.”
  • CGL  “Well you are.  Every time you post something about him, it causes him to react.” 
  • “I have written two things in three months about what he did. I made it clear to you when we started this that I had been forced to be quiet [under advice of legal counsel] for months. I have every right to speak out about what he tried to do to me. Need I remind you that this person threatened the life of one of your contract employees?  I told you then that I would be fully leveraging this and you said you would do the same thing if you were in my shoes. He hasn’t stopped trying to smear me, and you expect me to do nothing?”
  • CGL  “I’m not saying that.  But it’s causing a problem.” 
  • “This isn’t about my articles [about him] at all or referencing him.  He reacted the moment that my last novel came out and I hadn’t even talked about him. You can’t expect me to be quiet.” 
  • CGL  “Well, it’s a problem.” 
  • “So you’re willing to throw a 36 year relationship with BattleTech out window?  One of your bestselling authors?”
  • CGL  “I knew this would be a difficult call.”  

With the release of Blue Dawn, I wrote articles for conservative websites such as American Thinker, PJ Media, and, American Greatness, and others. I made it clear to Catalyst that I would reference my online stalker in some of these articles as an example of woke extremism.  Catalyst’s President said, “I would do the same thing if I were you.” On my call with Catalyst over my release, this was being positioned as me being in some sort of ‘feud.’ At the risk of being blunt, everything I have done in regards to this person has been in reaction to their online attacks or threats. Faith and his minions have harassed reporters, bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, and others in a campaign to smear me and intimidate them. Even when I posted nothing online, they spewed their venom and lies about me. This had nothing to do with BattleTech, it was an orchestrated effort by a handful of individuals with a radical leftist agenda to cancel me. 

Publishers can hire whomever they desire. I am more appalled that Catalyst has opted to side with a person who had threatened my life. Imagine how you would feel in the same circumstance. Picture someone harassing you online to the point where they contact your friends and make threats against your life – and your employer releasing you as a result of this. 

Catalyst employs a number of progressive/liberal writers and artists who post things on the internet that are far more offending than anything I ever did – but they are being retained. To me, this creates the appearance that it is my conservative views that are what Catalyst has issue with. I will let you form your own opinion. I notice that only one person’s name, mine, was mentioned in their rebuttal.    

Why speak up at all?  The President of Catalyst told me that he would inform the fans of this decision but never did that. Weekly, if not daily, I receive messages asking me what is coming out next; or when will the Snord’s story be released; or when will there be another Clan Wolverine story? What are you working on?  Where’s the stuff you said you’ve written?  I was forced to make this public to clear the air and put an end to those questions.

Catalyst reached out to me weeks after this decision and askdc me to write a blurb for an upcoming coffee table book about what BattleTech meant to me – after telling me I was being banned from writing future fiction. Why would I help them sell product after the treatment they were giving me?  Their response to my anguish over the request was that it was okay, they weren’t going to pay me for it! Money has never been the motivator for writing BattleTech. I love the universe and the game.   

Then a few weeks ago, I received this nasty note from my editor, a man who I had bailed out countless times before: 

Drivel? Shouldn’t you read it first?

Talk about judging a book by its cover! A Most Uncivil War had not been published at this point, yet Catalyst’s editor, John Helfers, chose to be insulting to me. Loren was copied on the email but did not offer any rebuke of John’s nastiness. His inaction made it clear that he supported this attempt to infuriate and insult me and my writing.

For years I answered fans questions about BattleTech lore, characters, battles, etc.  I posted material about the history of the franchise. I actively and openly engaged with the fan community.  I had gamers in my house to play BattleTech. Catalyst benefited from these actions. I gave free consulting on WWI aviation and naval action for their Leviathan’s game. From my perspective that loyalty was one-sided and misplaced.    

To be clear, I am not a victim. I refuse to use that title. I am a conservative that has had one publisher not publish my work because my views do not align with theirs. I chose to exercise my First Amendment rights. To me, this is censorship at the source. Their actions have had me join the ranks of others like Gina Carano, Tim Allen, and others, so I feel like I’m in good company.  They have a business to run and made a decision. What I, and the fans, think of that decision is irrelevant. The loss is to the many fans I have earned over the decades. I will walk away proud of my contributions to BattleTech.  

I have been overwhelmed with dozens of emails, posts, and DM’s of support. Thank you. This has been an emotional burden that I’ve been carrying for months and this weekend was cathartic and emotionally therapeutic. I ignored the nasty comments and outright lies by a handful of people, they didn’t merit giving the posters credibility by responding.  Haters are going to hate. I don’t have time in my life for such negative people.

I get it – we kind of grew up together. A lot of fans have written about how they were teenagers and loved reading my books. My books were a guilty and safe pleasure for many of you in your youth. I’m glad my efforts got you to enjoy the game and the universe. Others loved my contribution to sourcebooks – ComStar and Clan Wolf. One compared my current situation to that of Khan Sarah McEvedy of Clan Wolverine…which made me grin. One asked if I would be selling my BattleTech collection – which I now must consider. Most simply were upset and wanted to know they had my back. Everyone expressed appreciation for my work and I am deeply thankful for your kind words.

I will continue to write novels about great characters, telling fun and creative stories – just not BattleTech stories. This will not slow me down one bit as a writer.  I prefer creating in my own universe of Blue Dawn or writing true crime books, or my novels for Creative Juggernaut. I have three novels coming out of Kickstarters for them starting this fall. Two publishers reached out to me yesterday to write for their series – so you never know where I might show up. These publishers are able to separate where I stand on issues versus the stories I write. I have contracts in place right now for books with publishers who don’t care what politics I have. Their focus is the product I create. As long as I write good stories, they and their readers are happy.

This will likely be my last blog post on BattleTech. It would take a lot for me to come back to the franchise – so please don’t ask me. I’m 59 years old, so I want to spend my time working on projects where I don’t have to look over my shoulder or cringe at how a handful of internet trolls might react. I don’t believe in boycotts or online petitions. If you want to speak with your pocketbook, that is your decision. Direct your questions to @Topps or @Fanatics.  If you want to support me, do it in the time-tested way, buy my books from other publishers such as Defiance Press, Lyons Press, Skyhorse Publishing, Wild Blue Publishing, or Arcadia.   

Review of Death Ray Designs Solar Shift Miniatures

A random sampling of Death Ray’s 6mm line. Note: I did mount the ‘Mech on a Creative Juggernaut terrain base – they come with a flat hex base however.

I had an opportunity to grab a few of these models a while back and was sincerely pleased with what I received.  They are on the same scale as BattleTech miniatures, which is helpful for the games I tend to play.  While not ‘official’ BattleTech minis, they are compatible.  Given how many people design their own ‘Mechs, they can be easily integrated into your campaign. 

For me, the vehicles are my favorites. As you can see with the image provided, they have big artillery pieces, hovercraft, tanks – a lot of variety.  I am one of those people that prefer plastics/resin over metal – and in this space Death Ray Designs has a lot to offer that are close enough to be used for BattleTech counterparts.   

Let’s talk quality.  The larger models have incredibly minor mold markings.  I cannot tell if these have been 3D printed with resin, or cast.  Either way, the larger minis are quite clean and come out of the package ready to prime and paint. They hold the paint fairly well, though I knocked one over and had some chipping – but by the same token if it had been a metal mini, I would have had that and some bending to do…so I wouldn’t count this as a real issue.

I did pick up some infantry – they have a broad line of generic infantry that are in 6mm scale which fit a lot of sci fi games.  These clearly had been 3D printed because they still had the supports. I broke two infantry trying to cut them out – acceptable losses which were easily repaired.  I can see these are useful for Alpha Strike, but be prepared for a lot of tedious work with tiny parts.

Jump infantry (unpainted)

Are these worth the investment? That depends on your needs.  The big Kogasu ‘Mech I painted in the picture runs $18.00 US.  That is pretty much what you would pay for any metal assault mini.  Overall, I’m pleased with the artillery pieces and am using them in lieu of Long Tom artillery and I’m using their hovercraft in my games. It really comes down to a matter of taste and preference.  I encourage you to go to their website Death Ray Designs Solar Shift and browse their offerings. 

My recommendation…if you are looking for alternate sources for minis, some of which are close mirrors of BattleTech minis, you need to spend some time checking out Death Ray Designs. 

Update as of 31 January 2022 – Fans in My BattleTech Fiction

The Battle of the Fargo Washes I love the pew-pew from the Enfield.

With the release of No Substitute for Victory over the weekend, I have added to the BattleTech pantheon a list of names used for places and people in the universe. 

No Substitute for Victory is a story of great characters testing their wills, both on and off of the battlefield. Both sides are right, yet both are wrong. They push each other to the brink of endurance and beyond. There are plenty of twists and turns to the story. Wills are tested throughout. Hopefully even the most vocal Jade Falcon hater will likely find themselves rooting for Hasara and Guice.   

This list demonstrates exactly how much I openly embrace the fantastic fan community that drives BattleTech. I’m a fan myself.  Even before we had paid-canon characters, I was including fans in my fiction, letting them slug it out on distant planets.  

I want to do a special callout in this list to Paul “Cono” Galatis.  I was reached out to by a member of his family who told me that he was a BattleTech fan who had passed away and they wondered if I could somehow commemorate him.  A special ‘Seyla!’ to him and his loved ones as he plays a pretty neat role in this book.   

So here are the fans I had the honor to include in this latest saga.  Heroes all! 

No Substitute for Victory

(KS)  Thomas Lee Anderson – Fuguzawaz

(KS)  Michael Cohen – Vandervecken

(KS)  Jones Devlin

(KS)  Ashley D. Nichols – Jarrad Hill

Patrick Hendrix Arellano

James Coil

Andrew Firebaugh

Paul “Cono” Galatis

Wolf Gerhäusser

Greg Hartford

Andrew Hasara

Michael Holland

Mike Lombardi

Andrew Marlow

Marco Mollison

Tristan “Scott” Montieth

Kevin Navia

J.Paul Okerlund

George Precious

Chris Richardson

Samantha Rife

James Rucker

Nolan Tomlinson

Karen Winstanley

Robb Wyer


(KS) Dennis Busse for Kerek Helmer

(KS) Chris Fernandez for Slynkers Mercer

(KS) Jason Gollogly for Tyrilla Heller

(KS) Matt Kudrick for Matthew Nash

(KS) Leif Lann for Anjij Nuyriev

Christopher Barghausen

Daniel Corrigan

Ian Morgan Coutt

Mario Garzolini

Brent Kynell

Jeff Rietman

Stanislav Shimuk

Hour of the Wolf

(KS) Robin Apel

(KS) William (Will) Arnold

(KS) Ian Butler—Brigadier Graham Badinov

(KS) Andreas Büttner—Druss Ward

(KS) Colby Cram

(KS) Dr. Randolph P. Checkers, Esq.

(KS) Craig Evans—Pharaoh

(KS) Kevin Markley

(KS) Eris Griffon

(KS) Raymond Guethler

(KS) Justin Hall

(KS) John Healy—Physician Hobgood

(KS) Spencer Huff—Khalus Pryde

(KS) Aleksey Kopysov—Kaor

(KS) Chris Kornfeld

(KS) Aaron Krull

(KS) Andrew Krull

(KS) Jason Mayberry – Kai Nihari

(KS) Brendan (Bren) Mayhugh

(KS) Jason Mischke—Stroud

(KS) Daniel Nichols—Janus

(KS) Matthias Pfaff—Amanda McKenna

(KS) Shawn Rains—Colton Mcleod

(KS) Marvin Sims—Marv Roshak

(KS) Aaron Tarr—Star Colonel Kalidessa Kerensky

(KS) Jakapan Thunpithayakul

(KS) Christopher Toh—Merlin Buhallin

(KS) John Traver—Jack Traver

(KS) Jathniel Velazquez—Jathniel Kerensky

(KS) John Watson

(KS) Michael Mahoney—Sorsha

(KS) Lyle Wojciechowski—Star Colonel Havi Bekker

David Abzug

David Baker

Agustin Sierio Barj

Matthew Behrens

Ted Burger

Billy J. Caldwell

Kim Chapman

John “Fratricide” Craig

Paco Cubillo

Amy Delaney

Benno deJong

Stephen Dukes

David DuJordan

Adolfo Fernandez

William Fife

Noran Ghall

Oliver Haake

Thomas Heath

James “Tanker” Herring

Dirk “Derek” Kobler

Jean-Jacques Labbé

Jeff Lamm

Chew Hwee Leong

Joshua Adam Lonbom

Brianne Elizabeth Lyons

Dean Manning

John McNary

Jared Micks

Ed Miller

Joe Mooney

Rolf Peter

Max Prohaska

Andrew Quay

Krzysztof Strato Raczyński

Keith Richmond

Jamie Rife

Andrew Roy

Sebastian Schröder

Rowland Seckinger III

Volkmar Seifert

David Skinner

Jeremy Spurlock

Travis Sumpter

Lonnie Tapscott

Paul Tomaszewski

Cory Vigdal

Josh Waltz

Powers Wartman

Ben Weingart

Shawn “Gorilla” Willett

Ludvig Yabar

Sharizal Zarie

The Burdens of Honor

Cymril Tseng, Star Commander of Clan Ghost Bear

Tai-i Adam Cunningham (Kaningamu) of the Draconis Combine

Tai-sa David Vivas of the Draconis Combine.

Tabor Heine, contributing for his daughter Charlotte, Warrior of Clan Ghost Bear

Jason Cabral, Cabral, Ghost Bear Warrior

Mason Kortz, Roman Tseng, Ghost Bear Warrior

Eric Stockard, Christine Rosenfeld, ComStar ROM

Seth James, Malik Feff, ISF Agent

Lawrence Greenwood

Children of Kerensky

David Abzug

Agustin Sierio Barj

Elmer Lee Bechdoldt

Dennis Busse, for Kerek

Dr. Randolph P. Checkers, Esq. (Yo Tex!)

Michael “Brent-Killer” Ciaravella

Xander Cosgrave

Olaf Dittmar

David “Dunny” Dunlap

James Doughty, for TacShadow

Adolfo Fernandez

Jason Gambrel

Adam Grimm

Oliver Haake

Claire Harpham

Hannes Hinterberger

Michael Hofacker

Jerry Hornick

Spencer Huff, for Khalus Pryde

Rylan Thane Ingram

Franz Jelinek

Ka’u Johnston-Kitazawa

Artem Kostyukov

Josh Koziura

Jean-Jacques Labbé

James Lee, for Jamie Hazen

Larry Leslie II

Kevin Markley

Marco Mazzoni

Tackett McClenny

Thomas “Dreacon” Miller

Todd More, for (Mike) Wallace

Shane Overstreet

Stephen Parac

Stephan “Warbear” Peter

Juergen Schneidemesser

Rowland Seckinger III

Jeremy Spurlock

Rob Watkins

Sharizal Zarie

The Bonds of Battle

Star Commander Cymril Tseng, Clan Ghost Bear

Adam Bear, (Kaningamu), contributed by Gregory Adam Cunningham, formerly of the Draconis Combine, now bondsman to Clan Ghost Bear

Tai-sa David Vivas, of the Draconis Combine

Tabor Heine, contributing for his daughter Charlotte Warrior of Clan Ghost Bear

William James Hamblin, Chu-i Biru Hamblin of the Draconis Combine

Chu-i Ayden Ryken, of the Draconis Combine

Chu-i Carrie Shumar, of the Draconis Combine

Sho-ko Mateo Vaux, of the Draconis Combine

Jason Cabral, Cabral, Ghost Bear Warrior

Kashira Jack ‘Reverend’ Benner, Sonkei-suru Benner of the Draconis Combine

Rock of the Republic

Eric Kraaier

Jean-Jacques Labbé

Ed Miller

Stanislav Shimuk

Travis Sumpter

Jakapan Thunpithayakul

Jonathan Warrington

The Flames of Idlewind (Shrapnel #1)

Marc de Villasante Lahoz

Euan James

Ronald Ledwon

Daniel Leskov

Matthias Pfaff

Benjamin Tang

Divided We Fall

Michael Barber

Timothy Byrne

Felipe Cintron

John “Doc” Crouch

Tony Deegan

Jared Donner

Wes Frenz

Jürgen Frey

John Gaisano III

Ed Hatchel

Matthew Hinks

Hannes Hinterberger

Robert BJ Horncastle

Cal Hornstien

Garry Jackson

Alex Kaempen

Kristopher Tyson Koniczek

Andrew Krull

Wayne Ledbetter

Brianne Elizabeth Lyons

Joseph McEachern

Joshua McHugh

Roderick van Noorloos

William C. Pelcham

Lon Porter

Corey Riordan

Nicholas Roche

Andrew Roy

Patrick J. Saul

Sebastian Schröder

Kevin Seibert

Richard Skelton

Andrew Sternglass

Jason Tuttle

Matt Valgardson

Derek Weese

Jason Weiser

Scott Whyte

The Anvil

Moses Obadiah

Nicholas Tockert

David DiFranco

Eric Belcher

Clifford McKinney

Jeff Sockwell

Daryl Noonan

Jonathon Scott Schofield

Cord Awtry

Ryan James Broadhead

Ben Myers

Troy Lee Cowell

Krzysztof Krecislaw

Chad Parish

Jack Lafreniere

Joshua Bressel

Marcus Odekirk

Robert Ostrowski

Mark Havener

George Tholburn

Erik Helgeson

Winter Guite

Jukka-Emil Vanaja

Christopher Turco

Juan Ochoa Jr.

Steven Molen

Broccán Mac Rónáin

Kenyon Burguess

Dave Alsager

Forever Faithful

Benjamin Starkey

Av Paredes

Adam Mckern

Brian Blaney

Trixter Phillips

Alexander JW De Santis

Jamie Rife

Brandon Fisher

Andrew Gardenhire

Todd Farnholtz

Clint Woodall

Clifford McKinney

Adam Thompson

Ray Arrista

James McHenry

Patrick Finnegan

Oliver Kraft

Camille Klein

Shane Jaskowiak

Shawn Bruno

Colin Duffy

James Eyers Mclean Miller

Nathan Pelchat

Josh Ellis

Craig Gulledge

Peter Farland

Eric Eny

James Bixby

Thomas Lagemann

Craig Reed

Mike Lubowitzki

Devin Ramsey

Dustin Ballard

‎Jose Alvarez‎

Aaron Gregory

Bradley Proffitt

Dean Manning

Brian Chiasson

David Shell

Keegan Reid

Sam Snell

Alex Clarke

Redemption and Malice

Derek King

Gerry S. Xydis

Jack Halloran

Rules of Engagement – Released for the Kickstarter

Cymril Tseng, Star Commander of Clan Ghost Bear

Tai-i Adam Cunningham (Kaningamu) of the Draconis Combine

Tai-sa David Vivas, of the Draconis Combine

Tabor Heine, contributing for his daughter Charlotte Warrior of Clan Ghost Bear

No Substitute for Victory Releases

Yes, that is a Jade Falcon JagerMech on the cover. It will be explained in the book.    

I understand that the novel is out in Kindle format, as such, this is intended as a non-spoiler post. Link to Amazon. Onto the usual questions:  No, I don’t know when the audio book will be coming out.  Yes, a print copy will be available. Frankly, I found out Thursday evening that the book was about to pop.  Remember, I’m just a writer. 

The first draft of the book was done in June of 2021 which seems like a lifetime ago. A lot things happened from the time I asked to write the book until it was on the slate to come out.  Originally the novel was set on Alkaid but a decision was made to move it to the A Place system. I knew instantly that I had to come up with a better name for A Place because it sounded like an Abbot and Costello joke. “You fought on a battle, where was it?”  “A Place” “I know it was fought in a place, but where was it fought?” “I told you, A Place.”  You get it. So I settled on Jangso, Korean for a place as a name for the planet in the A Place system. Side note:  Now you can see why no one ever covered this planet in fiction before.

Changing the location sounds easy, but it introduced a number of significant character impacts not to mention geography challenges and some twists to the story. I would complain, but this is pretty common for the BattleTech universe, so you learn to adapt. It allowed Ray to tie it in with Tamar Rising, which I wanted to make sure I fully supported. So the book got rewritten.     

No Substitute for Victory is not a universe altering novel. It is a story about interesting characters and the challenging times and circumstances that shape them. We have, for the last three years, lived in challenging times that have transformed a lot of us – so I think people will be able to relate with the characters in this story.   

The idea for this novel began around the time of the first draft of Hour of the Wolf.  It grew more after the writer’s summit in Seattle.  It evolved out of the thought that both Clans, Jade Falcon and Wolf, were fighting all-in on Terra to determine which would be the ilClan. That stripped their Empire and occupation zone, leaving much of it wide open. In a universe of war, conflict is inevitable.  It forced a single question… 

“What happens to those left behind…the ones that didn’t go to Terra?” 

At the writer’s summit we bounced around a lot of thoughts, but there was no one-solution-fits-all. John, my editor, suggested I tackle this in a story format. In the case, I focused on the Jade Falcons.  Who might be left behind in the occupation zone? Solahma—old warriors, and sibko fledglings that were not ready for battle…and an array of the lower castes. From a military perspective; old and young warriors. That alone provides a lot of fertile ground for a writer to work with in terms of character development.   

To me, the characters were all-important. I wanted characters that were going to pop with the readers. The best BattleTech stories are about great characters.  Otherwise they are simply tales of “Mechs slugging it out in battle. Hasara is such a character. He goes on a journey that is remarkable, and it is one that changes him.  Tough times make for strong leaders, and that is something you will see evolve, I hope, with his character. Freebie Easter Egg – you can check out the new Tamar Rising sourcebook and see Hasara’s bio and image.

Guice is another wonderful Jade Falcon character whose allegiance shifts during her arc in the book. As many of you know, I have long supported strong female characters in the BattleTech universe. Guice suffers a disability and how she deals with that is an interesting aspect as to who she is.  As someone who is ‘more seasoned’ i.e. older, I bonded with her and with Hasara fairly fast. I understood what it meant to be in your later years and seeking a refined purpose in life.   

This story covers a lot of ground time-wise.  I wanted the characters to not traditional fight a fast and furious Clan trial, but rather a prolonged campaign.  We rarely see that with Clan warriors and how they react to that I think does a lot to their characters. 

I have always believed that people see what they want to see in the factions of BattleTech. A lot of fans have formed opinions of the Jade Falcons (thanks to Malvina and the Mongol Doctrine) and I wanted to challenge some of those. This book is more a tribute to what the Jade Falcons can be rather than how many perceive them. NSfV (because we always use acronyms for novels) is set in the ilClan era, so we are treading on new ground for the all of the Clans, especially the Falcons. Those who didn’t go are operating in the dark as to what happened on Terra. They are alone, isolated, with enemies everywhere.  It makes them interesting and the challenges they face daunting. It makes for good stories.

I also like telling a story where the lines between the good and bad guys are blurred. The Lyrans in this novel help with that blurring. There are times you, as the reader, will hopefully challenge who you are rooting for.

This is not a novel about a battle for a planet. It is a test of wills of the main characters. Resolve and determination set the tone for these characters and the story.  

I also wanted something that would make a fun campaign for players too. As such, Catalyst agreed to include a map of Jangso’s Gren Continent where the action takes place. Those inclined to slug it out, there is everything you need in this novel to set up minis and begin the fighting.  

There are some juicy Easter Eggs in here as well, including one I would classify as, “a whopper.”  I promise you that some readers are going to flip back to the early chapters and reread some of them when they hit it.  For longtime fans of BattleTech lore, they likely will catch it quickly. More on this after fans have read it and realize the implications. Events on Jangso will set other events in motion…which is all I’m going to say about that.

In some future blog posts, I’ll fill in the details of some of the changes that were made along the way and address some of the surprises you’ll find buried in the pages.

Introduction to Creative Juggernaut’s Terrain Hexes

An Urbie on a moon

I have to admit, this one is on me.  Here’s the background. We were considering doing a new mini for CGL and were struggling with the poses.  I had been watching the fan forums on Facebook and someone had been commenting about how he just never could get the hang of the bases and was complimenting others on their base creations. I threw out the idea of having one or two custom terrain bases that fans could attach the mini to rather than the dull flat base in lieu of extra arms or legs.  It seemed like something that would be kind of cool.

That got me wondering – how many fans had similar frustrations?  So I asked around and found that for many folks, the issue was time. They wanted good bases, but they took a lot of time.  They had to buy bases, then some green stuff, do the molding…wait for it to set. Paint, flock, detail…it was taking some fans almost as much time as they spent getting their mini’s ready for battle.    

The short version – we didn’t end up doing the ‘Mech in question, but didn’t let the terrain base idea slip by.  Our goal was simple – make some cool looking terrain bases that required very little effort for the casual gamer to prep and use.  Brent, Kevin, Eric and I started batting around the idea of a line of hex bases, compatible with BattleTech, that would take little time to prepare and looked good.  Brent and his son took on the job of the initial batch, based loosely on the map sets for BattleTech, Badlands and Lunar.  I think one of mine actually made it to production – I’m not sure.  We wanted a good random mix of these bases in each bag. 

A random sample of painted Lunar bases
A random set of Badlands bases

For me, this was all about how much time it took to prepare the hexes.  So in these examples, what I am going to show you is a bare minimum effort and provide you with rough timing. 

Prep for the bases is pretty simple. There is a spur and some very minor flash.  I was able to use trimmers to cut the spur and a simple file to prepare the base.  Total time, assuming you are careful when you trim the mold spur, less than a minute per hex.  Now, if your mini needs a flat spot for a footpad, you will need to take a file and make one, but in my examples – I didn’t.

This spur was the biggest and it was easy to clip through. Brent has informed me that the new process means even less spurs to none!

I spray painted them flat black – just a few seconds per base.  I like black borders on the hexagonal sides and this fit well into my evil plan.  

Next up, dry-brushing. I was tempted to fire up the air brush, but with the black as a base, I thought that dry-brushing would give me the desired contrast.  Also, my goal was to do this in the fastest way possible, rather than the most detailed.  I spent about 45 seconds, on average, per hex.  I went with a dull light brown for the Badlands and an off-white for the Lunar bases.  I honestly felt that I was spending more time cleaning my brush than I was painting. 

For these images I grabbed my trusty crimson UrbanMech and just set him on some bases so you can see how it looks.  The result…I spent, at tops, two and a half minutes per base to prep and paint them.  Yes, I could have glued down some scrub brush on the Badlands hexes – but I felt it wasn’t necessary for this demonstration. This was intended to show even the most unskilled painter how easy and fast these can be deployed to your gaming battlefield.

“Look at me mom, I’m in the Badlands!”

I personally love the Lunar bases because I can see these being changed with little effort into battlefield craters rather than meteor strikes. 

We sell these exclusively through Aries Games & Miniatures.

Review of BattleTech Tamar Rising

Elementals are so crunchy

I’m just now getting through my pile of goodies from Gen Con.  One of the gems I got a copy of was the new BattleTech sourcebook, Tamar Rising.  I will try and keep the spoilers to a minimum, but a few are bound to sneak through. 

First off, let’s talk the physical quality of the book.  It is a hard cover – which is the new trend for Catalyst with their sourcebooks and one I hope they continue.  The cover art is great, but I was really pleased with the interior artwork.  Glossy pages are a plus but the big standout was the inclusion of a map with transit times included.

This is the story of what happens when 95% of a faction, in this case, the Jade Falcons, pack up and take off on a sightseeing tour of Terra.  It leaves a huge political and military gap, with many worlds either lightly defended, or left abandoned.  Given that this is the BattleTech universe, I think we all know where this is going…war! 

Having been part of the writer’s summit where we talked about this, I was sincerely pleased with how the writer’s took a few kernels of ideas and ran with them.  The stories here are fantastic.  By and large my favorite parts was the development of Duke Vedet Brewer.  I got to write about this character in Fire at Will, and after that, for a short time, he became Archon of the Lyran Commonwealth. He is one of the few people to rise to power, lose it, and live, in the BattleTech universe.  What I love is that his character has gone from obscurity to a character you really start to respect.

The reason I jumped down this particular rabbit hole is that it is indicative of the high quality of writing in this sourcebook.  Sometimes sourcebooks seem forced, as if the authors are trying to cram in a lot of little details that mean very little to players.  Tamar Rising doesn’t do that.  It gives a great foundation for this region of space in the ilClan era. More importantly, the juicy details the authors have squeezed into the book that are playable…which is what is important. Some of the things, such as the Personalities Section, are important because they will show up in future BattleTech fiction.  I really enjoyed this book.  I hope that the Federated Suns and Draconis Combine front gets a similar treatment.

The Tukayyid Salvage Bits Bags at Gen Con and Beyond

Our company, Creative Juggernaut, has been busy leading up to Gen Con. First, we produced hundreds of Stormcrow Tukayyid variants and shipped those to Catalyst for them to sell on their site.  Second, we produced a batch of Black Knight Tukayyid variants and got those off as well. For Gen Con itself, we assembled Tukayyid Salvage Bit Bags, (around 700) as a convention release. 

We jokingly called these “dime bags” in-house.  They are parts and pieces of ‘Mechs that were unfit for release to the public.  Some parts are partial casts, some are deformed in some manner, others have air bubbles (which look like damage).  Our company believes in being green and rather than send these off to the landfill, we packaged them for resale. Each bag is the same size as the Black Knight and Stormcrow, but are crammed with random parts.  The parts are from these two ‘Mechs, as well as some prototypes we did for a Marauder IIC, an UrbanMech, and a Crusader…but mostly Black Knight and Stormcrow parts and pieces. 

So what good are they?  These bits can be used on bases as battlefield debris for your ‘Mechs to be standing on or next to.  The bits can be used to make fallen ‘Mech objective markers for Alpha Strike games.  My personal use of these is for when a BattleMech is destroyed in a game.  Rather than tip over a model I have worked hard to assemble and paint (risking damage), you can use these parts to mark dead enemies and comrades on the field/map. 

I met one person that bought a few bags in hopes of getting enough to assemble a battle damaged Black Knight. No guarantees on such efforts, since the parts are randomly stuffed in the bags.  I appreciated his ingenuity and creativity. 

We didn’t announce these would be available at Gen Con because you never know until the last minute if they are going to be suitable for sale, etc.  As it was, Brent loaded up a piece of luggage with Tukayyid Salvage Bits and lugged them personally to Gen Con.  Things were so last minute, I don’t even have a photo of the bags right now. 

Eventually, once the dust settles from convention season, these will go up for sale on the Catalyst Game Labs website – along with the Stormcrows and Black Knights.  And yes, we are going to produce more ‘Mechs.  No, we cannot solve international shipping prices nor are we selling these directly – you have to order them from Catalyst.  Catalyst sets the sales price on these.  There is no way to preview them online, so there’s no picking and choosing – you get a random bag stuffed with random parts. 

We will do some social media posts when we know when they are for sale; but that is handled by Catalyst and there is no guarantee that we will gets a heads up.  I would recommend watching their web site since you now know that they have stock of our products. 

So what it next?  I’m sworn to secrecy, but there are some big things coming from Creative Juggernaut…BIG things. 

Summary of Gen Con 2021 – Thursday and Friday

The ‘crowd’ to get in to the main floor on Thursday. This is five minutes before the door opening. Way smaller than in previous years.

It was my intent to do my usual three-day Gen Con experience, but with a paired down convention, we decided to bail after two days. We simply had done all of the things we had planned. The following is a mix of personal experience vs. overall impression. 

So how was it?

It was okay. COVID definitely knocked down the convention’s hit points badly.  Everyone wore masks and socially distanced where practical.  Let me say this, you can’t have a convention and social distancing. Gaming, by its very nature, is a social experience.  People spread out fairly well on Thursday to get into the main hall, less so on Friday.  Aisles were congested at times but for the most part, people didn’t deliberately bunch up – but it does happen.  Some booths had lines.  Anyone thinking there was going to be strict social distancing at Gen Con was delusional.  The people whining online about it being a ‘super-spreader’ event were likely jealous they weren’t there and wanted to try and shame people that did go. This year’s ‘con-crud’ will likely be labeled as COVID this year, so prepare for that. 

I was hoping the experience would be like rolling the clock back 10 years to when Gen Con was 35k people or so.  It wasn’t.  There were far too few events for the number of attendees and the infrastructure (food-wise) was strained. 

Key things I noticed:

The crowds were smaller, as was the number of vendors in the main hall.  Gone were the big bags filled with games.  People were buying stuff, but with some of the big vendors not there (Fantasy Flight, Paizo, etc.) you didn’t see massive promotional bags that much.  Having said that, people were plopping down cash, which is good for the industry.  Some booths had decent lines to get in, at least on Thursday.  By Friday, more people were in the gaming area rather than the main hall.  Thursdays folks try to get in and purchase the new products first and foremost. 

The number of events was dramatically cut.  They were cleaning the few mini events down between rounds, to the point where I saw clear plastic sheets covering some of the maps.  Sanitary?  Maybe.  The events that were there, sold out fast.  I got into a game at Ares (Sails of Glory) because a guy bailed, but there were not a lot of events to get into in the first place.  No Masters and Minions tournament this year, not a lot for kids (we took my grandson with us).

The food situation was sad. Thank God for the food trucks.  They came through.  Restaurant-wise, downtown Indy has been devastated by COVID.  It was carry-out only at Steak and Shake.  I’m not a huge fan of their food, but for a lot of folks, going there is a tradition.  We were in two restaurants that were out of some food due to supply chain issues.  PF Chang’s was out of white rice – for example, Thursday night.  Many restaurants were simply closed, permanently.  Others only stayed open until 6pm due to staffing challenges.  You have to have places to eat for a big convention.  Again, the food trucks saved this aspect of Gen Con but if the weather had been bad or the crowd larger, it could have been a big issue.  

This was not the Steak and Shake experience many were looking for.

Some vendors bailed at the last minute – so there were weird gaps on the show floor.  It actually was a blessing so you could step out of the aisle to make calls or adjust your purchases.  It wasn’t helped that Gen Con kicked out one vendor, slapping up “No Harassment” signs on all of the doors.  I won’t go into the controversy, but it was ridiculous to have a convention exclude a vendor while preaching inclusiveness. This was a year that they should have embraced all vendors that wanted to come.

The booth demos were down dramatically.  I live for these because it’s a chance to test play games.  Steve Jackson was doing them but most places scaled them back dramatically or did away with them entirely.  That was disappointing and I think it may hurt their sales.  It was understandable given the restrictions.  My grandson loves wrestling and was looking for a game.  SRG games did do demos and they were fantastic; lots of crowd engagement, characters dressing the parts, etc.  They invited us to their tournament too, threw in some freebies for my grandson, etc.  The guys running the Supershow game demos deserve an award for making the con for my family. Result – we plunked down a good chunk of money with them and my grandson is running around wearing one of their hats.   

There were some convention exclusives, but they were limited.  Catalyst had a ‘megamap’ (rename suggestion was Jumbo-Honking Map) and they had Creative Juggernaut Bit Bags (our salvage parts) which were selling strong. The maps were incredible, large, and quite heavy.  Other companies like SRG had convention exclusive cards, which were great too. 

The art area was much thinner.  I spoke with a few vendors there and they were selling well, so the cash was flowing. 

Costumes were few and far between this year. 

Miniature games were dramatically cut.  One thing I look forward to is walking through the game hall and marveling at the mini game terrains and set up.  This year it was almost non-existent.  Even the big Camospecs diorama was not present – there weren’t enough staff to cover it.  This visual experience at Gen Con was sadly missing. 

Friday – the main gaming area

It was hard to find people when you can’t see their faces because of masks and their badges were flipped backwards half of the time.  I did get to meet a lot of fans, sign stuff, have some fun conversations. Likewise there were some fans I simply couldn’t find in the crowd because, well, we all were dressed the same and wearing masks. 

Thursday afternoon, the open gaming area is quite open.

One benefit to the reduced crowds was that you could get into Paint and Take with no line.  It was repositioned in the gaming area and we got in mid-day on Thursday.  That’s a little disturbing too.  Usually you have to wait for a while to get in.  Games Workshop donated paints and minis this year, limiting you to choose between one of two minis.  Still, they were pretty awesome and actually did some coaching/selling of the contrast paints for newbies, which was brilliant on their part.   

Paint and Take – Friday at 10am. Lots of empty seats

I checked out the indy press scene and saw a lot of new products. None really captured my attention other than having some intriguing or bizarre premises.

Some vendors simply were representing companies. I wanted to pick up one game that I can get for $135 online.  In my FLGS, it is $145.  At Gen Con, where I thought I would pick it up, it was $178.  Sorry, the business is going to go to my friendly local game store guys. 

This was my first time getting a hotel downtown, which was fantastic.  I did have a creepy encounter with a guy following me back to my hotel after drinking with some of the Catalyst guys. I could tell this guy was not a convention goer.  It took me back to the Gen Con Milwaukee years in that respect.  Overall, I can’t complain.  I honestly didn’t expect much this year.  I did manage to squeeze into a few games (thank you generic tickets and no-shows) and came home with a backpack of reading and gaming material for months.  I can’t help but wonder if vendors that didn’t come this year will bother next year.  I also wonder if downtown Indy will recover enough to support a convention as big as a normal Gen Con.