I’ve seen the original late-80s FASA Battletech Scenario Packs repeatedly over the years passing through the shop. They are long out of print. I’ve got a stack of these sourcebooks hitting the shelves. Their cover art has always fascinated me. Time to snap some pics.

Recently, I began playing Battletech for the first time. Our group’s ref is a lifelong BT gamer, so I asked him what is going on in the covert art.

Here are his written responses, accompanied by my photography, and misc notes.

Tales of the Black Widow Company 

Artist: Jim Holloway (misspelled in the credits as “Jim Halloway”)

Era: Succession Wars, 3020s

“Very first scenario book published for BattleTech, this details the Succession Wars era of Natasha Kerensky’s exploits while under their parent unit, the Wolf’s Dragoons. Details the 12 mechs and pilots in the elite Black Widow Company. Several ‘historical’ scenarios presented. Cover features the Black Widow herself with a  very stylized Mech illustration and dead soldiers behind her. The Mech doesn’t seem to resemble any actual unit.”

Shannon Appelcline [Designers n Dragons] commented on FB: “Also note that the cover of Tales from the Black Widow’s Company was famously redone because the original was too titillating. A bare chest got replaced with a bare midriff. You’ve got the original art in a poster that you posted about last year.”

1985 … 48 pages … FASA 1605 … ISBN 0931787653

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Fox’s Teeth

Artist: Jim Holloway (again, misspelled in the credits as “Jim Halloway”)

Era: Succession Wars, 3020’s.

“Featured Mech on Cover: Shadowhawk (? probably? It’s pretty trashed!!). This one’s probably pretty rare, even I don’t have it ha! It’s one of the first BattleTech supplements published, and deals with “McKinnon’s Raiders, aka the Fox’s Teeth“, one of Hanse “The Fox” Davion‘s most elite units. Has scenarios against Kurita including a Wolf’s Dragoons confrontation.”

1986 … 48 pages … FASA 1606 … ISBN 0931787661

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Cranston Snord’s Irregulars

Artist: Jim Holloway (Spelled correctly!)

Era: Succession Wars, 3020’s

“This is a fun one. Goes into the history of this colorful unit. Cranston Snord was a washout/exile (?) from the Wolf’s Dragoons who managed to gamble his way into getting a BattleMech again. Now, together with his daughter Rhonda, they lead one of the most motley, rough-and-tumble bands of mercs out there. These aren’t your glorious or famous Kell Hounds, these guys are as rag-tag as they get. Includes various scenarios, personnel files of the Irregulars and even some bizarre “FrankenMechs” that they field (combined different Mech parts to make a new-ish Mech). I can’t even tell what the Mech is on the cover!”

EDIT: Commenter Brennan below suggests the Mech is a Vulcan.

1986 … 48 pages … FASA 1614 … ISBN 1555600204

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The earliest scenario packs had a quick reference of each organization’s Mechs on the back cover, along with the names of the assigned MechWarriors (pilots) from each Lance.

Sorenson’s Sabres

Artist: Steve Venters

Era: Succession War: 3020’s

“I didn’t know about this book until I looked it up. Apparently it’s a scenario pack about a company (Sorenson’s Sabres, naturally) serving under House Kurita’s elite 5th Sword of Light. Also provides info about the 5th Sword of Light regiment. As House Kurita was kind of the default ‘bad guy’ in a lot of 3020-era publications, this book looks like a chance to turn that around.  Cover: Don’t know the people; the Mechs are BattleMasters. Apparently they had to go back and add some paint to the girl, because she was topless in the first printing!”

See the German edition at Sarna.net for the original Sorenson’s Sabres bikini version.

1987 … 64 pages … FASA 1627 … ISBN 1555600522

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Wolf’s Dragoons

Artist: David R. Deitrick

Era: Succession Wars, 3020’s

“One of the most (in)Famous units in BattleTech lore. Goes into the history of the Dragoons during its heyday of the 4th Succession War and lots of rosters of their units. Cover seems to have a young Jaime Wolf and Natasha Kerensky but they’re both kind of generic looking here. The Mech being blown up is a Locust. Notably this introduces a bunch of new mysterious Mechs that were largely unique to the Wolf’s Dragoons roster: Annihilator (yes! That one!), Falcon, Firefly, Flea, Hoplite, Hornet, Imp, Marauder 2, and Shogun, along with the Badger and Bandit tanks (and more!).”

1989 … 128 pages … FASA 1631 … ISBN 155560751(?)

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The Kell Hounds 

Artist: Les Dorscheid

Era: Succession Wars, 3020’s

Featured Mech on the cover: Wolverine. Another early book. This one is about the formative years of the Kell Hounds, goes into their history and has scenarios for some of their famous battles. Features the founding brothers Morgan and Patrick Kell, along with other founding members: Salome Ward and Dan Allard.

1988 … 64 pages … FASA 1652 … ISBN 1555600697  

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More Tales of the Black Widow

Artist: Jim Holloway

Era: 3039 to Clan Invasion

“The sequel to Tales from The Black Widow. This follows Natasha “Black Widow” Kerensky and her elite Black Widow Company as they begin to separate themselves from the remaining Wolf Dragoons. By the time they roll into the Clan Invasion, Natasha has rejoined Clan Wolf, so this scenario pack shows some of the battles from the Clans’ perspective. Here is the big reveal that Nat Kerensky and crew were all Clanners by birth, and unlike Jaime Wolf, she decides to remain loyal to them.  Cover: Aside from now-granny Natasha (spry for a 70s+ old), I can’t quite tell what the destroyed Mech is.”

Commenter Brennan below suggests the Mech is a BattleMaster with part of the cockpit shot off.

1990 … 64 pages … FASA 1657 … ISBN 1555601073

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The Battle for Twycross

Artist: Steve Venters

Era: Clan Invasion, 3050

“This is one of the first source books to come out after BattleTech introduced The Clans. The cover prominently features Clan Jade Falcon units: Uller/Kit Fox (Inner Sphere Name/Clan Name), and the first sighting of Elemental battle armor. The events of this scenario pack are based on the Michael Stackpole Novel “Lethal Heritage”. Twycross represents the first counter-attack by the Inner Sphere after fighting a constantly losing war.. Features the likes of Kai Allard-Liao, one of the most famous heroes of the era, as well as Victor Steiner-Davion, the son of the infamous Hanse Davion. Also showcases a few Clan personalities and features some of the earliest battles featuring Clan mechs.”

1990 … 56 pages … FASA 1653 … ISBN 1555600743

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Rhonda’s Irregulars

Artist: Jim Holloway

Era: Clan Invasion, 3050

“After Cranston Snord retires, his daughter Rhonda takes over and expands the unit. Here it’s revealed that the “Snords” are actually descended from the Clans, but Cranston (being the rebel he is) decided to go AWOL from the Wolf’s Dragoons scouting mission. Now that the Clans have returned, Rhonda decides to use her knowledge about them to beat them at their own game. She declares herself Clan Snord and mocks their traditions as they wage fierce hit-and-run attacks behind enemy lines, while also capturing a secret Star-League era starbase to use as their command post. If you want Invasion-Era scenarios where you fight the Clans on (more-or-less) equal footing, this is one of the few books to do it!”

1991 … Blaine Pardoe … 72 pages … FASA 1643 … ISBN 1555601626

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See Also:

PARANOIA (1984): Jim Holloway’s brilliant cover art encapsulates the game

BATTLETECH Poster (1986): Black Widow & Fox’s Teeth

Battletech Poster… by Boris Vallejo? Oh Yes.