BattleTech boxed set
1984: Battledroids (FASA 1604)Edit
BattleTech Line Developer Herbert A. Beas II would later describe Battledroids as "BattleTech's predecessor", and its contents and scenarios were ruled to be not necessarily canonical for the BattleTech universe.
The game had different rules from the later 2nd Edition BattleTech. Most importantly, the firing and damage rules were a simplified system that combined all weapons into a single attack roll against the equally single armor rating of the target, forgoing hit locations in a fashion similar to the simplified combat in the later Alpha Strike ruleset. It was only the optional "Advanced Battledroids Rules" that resembled what would become the classic BattleTech boardgame rules. There were also rules for tanks and armed jeeps in Battledroids.
The Battledroids included with this first set as cutout paper playing pieces were the Stinger, Shadow Hawk, Archer, Griffin, Warhammer, Marauder, Crusader, Wasp, and Rifleman. All of these would later become Unseen. In addition, the Merlin featured in the rulebook as a practical example for the construction rules, but it had no associated picture. Rubber stands were included for the cutouts.
The rulebook was just a 26-page booklet without cover, and its last six pages were flip-sided and contained information about the universe. Like all subsequent boxed sets, the Battledroids box contained a pair of dice, and two (identical) fold-out paper mapsheets with a hex grid. It also contained two small model kits that were identified as Shadow Hawk and Griffin Battledroids; the models were in fact the "Dougram Combat Armor" and "Soltic H8 Roundfacer" models from Fang of the Sun Dougram. These models were out of scale and too large to fit on the gameboard's hex fields, and were not included with later editions of the boxed sets.
1985: BattleTech, 2nd Edition (FASA 1604)Edit
BattleTech came with a rulebook (with a proper cover) with gaming and 'Mech construction rules. These were based off the "Advanced" Battledroids rules, and form the core of the BattleTech boardgame to this day with minimal changes. The vehicle rules from Battledroids were not included.
Background information for the setting, namely the Inner Sphere during the Succession Wars era around the year 3025, was expanded in the rulebook, including the first mentioning of ComStar. Crests for the five Great Houses (plus three Bandit Kingdoms and five mercenary units) made their first appearance as colored faction counters to go with the 'Mech cutout playing pieces.
The game stats for all but two Battledroids–now called BattleMechs–were changed to some degree to account for errors or changes in the construction rules, and four new designs were introduced: Locust, Wolverine, Thunderbolt, and BattleMaster. All of these, too, would later become Unseen. A fifth new addition was the Chameleon TrainingMech.
The layout of the mapsheets remained the same as in BattleDroids, and would remain the same until the 2011 Anniversary Edition.
1986: CityTech (FASA 1608)Edit
Stats were provided for six 'Mechs previously featured in BattleTech (Archer, Rifleman, Shadow Hawk, Crusader, Marauder, Warhammer), six new 'Mechs (Stalker, Ostsol, Hunchback, Ostroc, Spider, Ostscout) and six combat vehicles (Condor, J. Edgar, Hunter, Vedette, Demolisher, Wheeled Scout). Unlike the BattleTech 2nd Edition rulebook, no universe background information was provided beyond a short story, Life in the Big City.
The CityTech box contained a slew of cutout counters for various tanks, infantry units and buildings, and two (identical) mapsheets that were different from the previous BattleTech mapsheets.
1992: BattleTech, 3rd Edition (FASA 1604)Edit
Although the rules as such remained unchanged, the rulebook was reorganized and partiallly rewritten (though not expanded like the CityTech rules). The rulebook notes that sourcebooks, scenarios and novels have brought the "present" year to 3055, but the technological advancements are "beyond the scope of basic BattleTech" and the rules remain at the 3025-era technology level. Four training scenarios were included.
1994: CityTech, 2nd Edition (FASA 1608)Edit
FASA went a bit further here, calling the game "The Advanced BattleTech Game of 3050 Combat" in the tagline and explicitly expanding the rules to "Level 2" (Clan Invasion era) technology. The set came with a record sheets booklet, altogether sixteen plastic miniatures on two identical sprues of eight units each (Javelin, Centurion, Orion, Victor, Uller, Black Hawk, Mad Cat, Daishi), and two double-sided sheets of color counters with black-and-white backside for buildings, vehicles, infantry, and effects. The mapsheets remained the same as in the first edition of CityTech.
1996: BattleTech, 4th Edition (FASA 1604)Edit
It was also the first box set to separate the background fluff from the rules, by including a separate booklet titled "Introduction to BattleTech".
The rulebook states that the "current" year of the BattleTech universe is 3058, while BT4 is set in 3049. It also makes reference to the Rules Levels previously seen CityTech, 2nd Ed., and states that the technology described in the BT4 game is Level 1 whereas Level 2 includes the technology available in 3058. Because of the new 'Mechs featured, the scenarios from the previous edition were replaced by three new scenarios.
BattleTech, 4th Ed. Introduction to BattleTech book cover
2003: Classic BattleTech (FanPro 10980)Edit
FanPro created a new CBT boxed set, but aside from the rebranding as "Classic BattleTech" (subtitle: "A Game of Armored Combat") the changes from the 4th edition were minor. The featured 'Mechs remained the same, though the altogether 48 cutouts (two for each of the 24 designs) had new artwork for them. The arguably biggest change was that, besides the rulebook, universe background book and record sheets, another booklet containing Quick Start Rules and a poster map of the Inner Sphere were added to the box.
CBT Quick Start Rules cover
2007: Classic BattleTech Introductory Box Set (CGL 35000)Edit
The rulebook was expanded to 80 pages, and abandoned the Rules Levels approach of previous rulebooks; instead, it referred to introductory, standard (tournament), and advanced (non-tournament) rulesets. Brief rules for vehicles and infantry were added back in, with additional training scenarios for these unit types. The rules by and large remain at the technology level of the year 3049, with some individual advanced rules provided, while the "current" year of the BattleTech universe was now 3085.
The universe book was retitled to "Inner Sphere at a Glance", and covers the universe through the year 3067. A "Painting and Tactics Guide" booklet was added that taught miniatures painting and some boardgame tactics.
CBT Introductory Box Set contents
CBT Introductory Box Set miniatures
2011: 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set (CGL 3500A)Edit
2013: BattleTech Introductory Box Set (CGL 3500B)Edit
2019: BattleTech Beginner Box (CGL 35020)Edit
2019: A Game of Armored Combat (CGL 3500D)Edit