Saturday, December 11, 2021

Game Review - Battletech Compendium (1990)

Title: The Battletech Compendium
Rule Set: Battletech
Year: 1990
Editor: Donna Ippolito
Publisher: FASA
Pages: 144 pages
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars 

Battletech started in 1984 as a boardgame called Battledroids. Over the years, Battletech expanded the universe with a series of boxed sets like Aerotech and Citytech. Each one came with a set of rules, folding Mechs, bases, and two large maps. By 1990, Battletech was ready for a revamp, with all the rules in one place and streamlined. This took the form of The Battletech Compenium. 

And boy is this book concise and detailed. Within these 144 pages, you get Mechs, Aerotech fighters, infantry, dropship, tanks, heliocopters, and even subs all with integrated rules and easy to understand construction and pricing methods. 

The game is a great "I go, you go" game. Pick you mech or mechs, set the map, roll initiative and go crazy! 

One of the great things about Battletech is the heat system. Heat is the limiting factor on what you can do in a give round or game. Sure, getting a limb blown off slows you down, but if your reactor overheats, you're done. Like "went nuclear and got a fork stuck in you" done. You can actually explode from your own actions. 

Oddly, unlike other games where bad rolls can turn deadly, you have control over what harm you could inflict on yourself with heat. Every data sheet has a schedule of what occurs at each heat level. If you find the risk too high, slow down and cool it down. With great management, heat is never an issue. It's really a great game which lends itself to either one-on-one matches or full scale battles. 

For small scale fights, the rules are quick. Larger battles can bog down, but with some familiarity of the rules, they are still manageable. Even better, large battles work best off the hex map, so this set includes full color rules for tabletop battles with terrian. There is a massive selection of 1/287 scale figures for use with this set and to be honest, having the mechs is more fun than playing. 

Models for black and white pictures don't need to be painted.

This particular book requires more information than what is included. You will need Mech Data Sheets, a map or table, ruler, dice, and figures or tokens. There are plenty of resources online or use can use the ruleset to make up your own vehicles and mechs. The creation rules are extensive but intuitive. 

I got my copy on Abebooks. You can try this link for the The Battletech Compendium to search by ISBN on their site.  

You can also check out Classic Battletech on DriverthuRPG? While they don't have this exact title, they have tons and tons to choose from in the Battletech Universe. 


  1. You may be interested in this current WIR thread of the 3025 technical readout:

    1. Thank you! That page is a great resource.

    2. I never played that much Battletech, but damned if I didn't spend hours and hours pouring over the Technical Readouts . . .

  2. Few games are still essentially playable with thirty years of changes; BattleTech is amazingly backwards compatable, where the rule book changes have mostly been errata and better explanation.

    1. Very true, Michael. I know there have been many changes, but they don't feel that significant due to the way they were presented.