Following on from the initial series review for the Jihad Field Reports, the current review will focus on the companion products for that line: the Objectives series. Although this series is not yet complete, this review will still be undertaken and then updated once the release in this series is available.
In 1992, FASA Corporation released one of the more notable products of their publishing history with BattleTech (BT): Objective Raids. The new book was a revelation to many fans of the game, as it provided detail on the universe that had previously been scattered across many works or never before provided.
Objective Raids provided a focused examination of the military and industrial state of the Inner Sphere and Invading Clans, little more than a year after the close of the Clan Invasion. Objective Raids provided a summary of the post-invasion Inner Sphere and then proceeded to provide a detailed set of deployment tables for each state/Clan along with maps showing the territorial holdings of each power.
The last section of the book provided details on the major worlds of the Inner Sphere, including all major weapons manufacturers, listing all products constructed at each site and providing background on many world and corporations. Objective Raids handily summarized not only the Clan Invasion, but also Technical Readouts 3025, 3026 and 3050.
Objective Raids, despite it omissions and flaws, remained a valued reference work for many players, with a follow up fan project known as Objectives 3067, produced by William “MadCapellan” Gauthier. Though Objectives 3067 was not a canon release, it did endeavor to reproduce canon-only material and was notable as one of the most thoroughly detailed and well researched fan projects ever undertaken. Nevertheless, despite its unofficial status, Objectives 3067 updated Objective Raids to a point just prior to the Jihad.
However, as with many areas of the BT Universe, the Word of Blake Jihad broke and scattered the Inner Sphere’s industry. Many facilities had fallen and been lost, whilst others had been raised to replace them. Due to the lack of hard data, it was difficult to compile a clear picture of what industry remained.
This lack of clarity provided the scope for an official update of Objective Raids, as the changes wrought upon the Inner Sphere’s industrial might were as vast as those that had affected the militaries of the various realms. The result was the Objectives series, which would come to be the companion work to the Jihad Field Reports series (reviewed here: http://www.ourbattletech.com/2012/product-review-field-reports/) .
The two series together provide a detailed look at the military-industrial strength and potential of the major powers of the Inner Sphere and Periphery just after the fall of Terra, in a way not done in the BT Universe for twenty years.
The Field Reports are written from the perspective of the Republic of the Sphere, presented by David Lear to Devlin Stone in late 3079 to early 3080, much like the Field Reports, though a little later chronologically. Each Objectives opens with a short letter from Dr. Lear, outlining potential of each realms industries as well as the opportunities each presents to the Republic of the Sphere. This letter is followed by a small How To Use This Book section, which contains all the usual editorial information. This introduction is a very good insight into how the Republic views not only itself, but its allies and enemies.
All of the authors below were also involved in the Jihad Field Reports series. The current Objectives series is not yet complete, with the following titles released or pending:
Objectives: Capellan Confederation by Nicholas Marsala
Objectives: Clans Not yet released
Objectives: Draconis Combine by Geoff Swift
Objectives: Federated Suns by Joel Bancroft-Connors
Objectives: Free Worlds League by Nicholas Marsala
Objectives: Lyran Alliance by Ken’ Horner
Objectives: Periphery by Geoff Swift
The Objectives are small compared to typical full-print BattleTech Sourcebooks, but are approximately twice the size of the Jihad Field Reports. Despite this larger size, there is less text, due to the layout style used in these works.
The Objectives currently range is size from thirty-nine to forty-eight pages in length, with the current six of the series averaging roughly forty-three pages overall. If combined into a single Objectives report, they would equal about 300 pages, a much larger offering than the Field Reports were. With only the original Objective Raids and the non-canon Objectives 3067 to compare to, there is little real comparison that can be made regarding the size of these works.
The entire series has a cost per publication of only $4.95 USD. However, the series total equals $34.65 USD – which is high if the series was a black and white print production, which it is not being, despite some black and white line art, full color. This is something no print release could ever hope to match, unless it is a rare production like the core rule books or anniversary products.
The art for the Objectives is simple, much like the art used in the Field Reports, with each limited to a faction specific cover, the faction’s corporate logos, and a few recycled line drawings scattered throughout the text. These are coupled with recycled color plates that help break up text sections as required. This effort, focused on limited new art, allows for the lower price tag the series carries.
The mapping in the Objectives series is a new take on an old way of doing things. Where the Field Reports show the locations of all a faction’s military commands, the Objective series maps the location of each type of facility within any given faction.
Another real benefit of having these PDF-only products, in addition to their full color layout, is the corporate logo artwork. The logos of many of the military corporations were colorized in the Handbook series, but are reused or updated in the Objectives series, providing a full color version for all manufactures and academies still in operation.
The art credits for the Field Report series goes to:
Cover Design and Layout: Ray Arrastia
Evolved Faction Logos Design: Jason Vargas
Maps: Øystein Tvedten
Layout and Editing
The layout for the Field Reports is simple and straightforward, with each following the same format for conformity. Different color schemes are used to differentiate each Field Report faction, allowing for a faction flavor that is often lost in the artwork of black and white print products.
Each Objectives is broken into three major sections: the introduction/background, the world/industries listings and the rules sections. The rules section is a departure from the Field Reports, but is a necessary addition for gaming the information provided.
The introduction/background begins with an overview of the current state of the faction in questions industrial capacity, including data on what facilities are still active and what their overall production capabilities are, all summed up in a single table. Additional information is provided on the RetroTech facilities that operated during the Jihad and were then shut down, once main line facilities came back on line. The academies of the realm are dealt with is a similar way, without the table, which would have been useful, but is a minor omission.
The next section details the actual industry and command/training facilities of the major worlds of the particular realm in question. Each major province is looked at individually and each world is provided with the standard statistics that are common for world descriptions in the BT Universe, such as stellar type, transit times, moons, population and USIIR vales amongst others. Not all worlds are given additional descriptions, however, all are provided with terrain and climate types for major facilities for gaming purposes. Each province breaks worlds into those with industry and then those strategic systems without industry, arranged alphabetically in both cases.
A section is then provided speculating on various planned industrial projects within the nation in question, with some manufacturers looked at and an overall picture of the faction’s industrial plans included.
The rules annex provides players with the tools to utilize the wealth of information provided within the Objectives, with the section on Using Planetary Data the first and most critical. The Using Target Site Data section also assists in creating weather and appropriate terrain for any BT game that is focused on that particular facility. Other Defenses investigates what additional forces may be protecting a system or facility, with corporate forces, militia, academy forces and state specific units explained for use on the table top. The final section, Spoils of War, shows players how to smash and grab refit kits and the like, when the have neither the time nor the assets to make off with the heavy equipment a site may produce.
The map of the realm at end the report neatly provides a spatial picture of the realm’s industrial facilities, allowing for accurate planning of raids and assaults, though it does not show how much any particular site produces, a factor which has always been part of BT.
Below is brief review of the six Field Reports currently in-print:
Objectives: Capellan Confederation
Although hit hard by both the Federated Suns and the Word of Blake, the Confederation has recovered well, making Capellan Industry one element of the Xin Sheng movement that will likely continue to improve. However, the problem that has long dogged the Confederation: that of overall limited industry, concentrated on just a few key worlds is still an issue that must be constantly dealt with. Despite these setbacks, the attempts at diversification and work with the Magistracy of Canopus looks to herald a strong future for the Capellan state.
Objectives: Draconis Combine
Like the DCMS, the industry of the Draconis Combine was savaged in the Jihad and this was just part of a series of heavy industrial losses that started with the Clan invasion. With such devastation, the Combine has been forced to look to manufacturers other than Luthien Armour Works and to use mobile factories, converted from unfinished Battleship hulls. The only weakness of this work is the un-detailed nature of the two mobile factories.
Objectives: Federated Suns
Though the Federated Suns may appear to be functioning well, the fact that many of its largest manufacturing centers were completely wiped out, speaks volumes as to the real state of the Federated Suns. With so much lost, it is the future plans that are outlined which may yet save the Federation. The Federation’s plans for diversification will no doubt ensure the combined armed philosophies of the AFFS remain strongly entrenched.
Objectives: Free Worlds League
The Free worlds, despite the ravages of the Jihad, has many functioning industrial facilities, making the overall League output a match for that of the Lyran Commonwealth. However, the fractured nature of the post-League provinces means that this industrial might is watered down across numerous bickering small states. With a reformation of the League, this will be a powerful asset, however, in the meantime, the League looks like an excellent target for raiding.
Objectives: Lyran Alliance
Although the Lyran Alliance saw many of its most critically important industrial worlds overrun during the Jihad, the only total loss was Alarion. Though a heavy blow, the fact that Tharkad, Coventry and Hesperus II remained salvageable was critical to Lyran recovery. With so much latent industrial strength, the Lyrans look to be the ones who will recover fastest and begin new industrial projects before the other states can even contemplate such ventures.
Parts of the Periphery were blessed by the Jihad, whilst others were blasted from the face of the universe. This dichotomy of results from that great conflict have left some interesting legacies for future BT Universe generations to explore. This volume focuses not only upon the major states (less the Outworlds, which will be dealt with in Objectives: Clans), but also upon the minor powers and the Coreward Deep Periphery states, a nice addition, which fills out the background for these smaller powers.
Objectives: Clans remains to be released and will be reviewed and added once it is available.
For less than $5.00 USD, a player can read about what each state is doing to try to recover from the blows of the Jihad and see what remains in production across the Inner Sphere. For those fans who just like the fluff, the Objective Series are a good source of data, but not so much on the written detail of each world or military producer. Pure tabletop gamers will get much more from the Objectives Series than from the Field Reports, as they provide excellent scope for play and rules for making campaigns both detailed and rewarding. Role Players will also gain a fair amount of information, as the Objectives provide good background on some worlds, allowing for many possible adventures revolving around the industry and infrastructure of the Inner Sphere.
Overall, you can’t go wrong with an Objectives, unless you are not one for lots of data and limited fluff, as in that case you would be better suited by other products. Like the Field Reports, the Objectives Series is missing a dossier detailing the Republic of the Sphere, which although intentional by the BT Line Developers, is a bit of a let down and hole in the data. I would recommend these PDF-only supplements individually – or the whole set – as they present an excellent game aid and source of data for players and those who wish to see the effects of the Jihad on the Inner Sphere’s industrial infrastructure.