Gladiatorial Combat In 80-Ton BattlemechsAs pilot Boris Vassilev directs his heavy-class 'Mech into the five-acre arena, the thundering footfalls are nearly drowned out by the crowd's roars of delight. Viewers in five systems are watching this live, as Boris prepares for a one-on-one battle against top-ranked pilot Inese Lassonde and her heavily modified Nova Cat. There's cash on the line, of course, but for both pilots, this battle means much more. Reputations are made and destroyed in these arenas. Welcome to Solaris VII.Veteran gamers have fond memories of the original Solaris VII boxed set for classic Battletech, and now Wizkids is revisiting the homeworld of battlemech arena combat with new rules and cards. In the last two years, the company abandoned the collectible aspect of Mechwarrior (their click-based version of tabletop mech warfare), releasing non-random "action packs" with preset units instead of randomized booster packs. 2007's Solaris VII action packs allowed players to fight it out on arena hex maps, but a few weeks ago, Wizkids released a free rules update that could make Solaris VII so much more. First up: the Solaris VII Campaign Rules. In addition to being an overall update to the Mechwarrior rules system, adjusted for hex maps instead of open terrain, it also allows your arena pilots to have ongoing careers. Create a stable of mechs, track your winnings and build your reputation with the rabid fans of giant robot combat. Since damaged mechs will need expensive repairs, and destroyed mechs will need to be replaced, battles will involve much more strategy than the old "last one standing" matches. Better still, the rules have been streamlined, so a mech vs. mech battle can be played in 20 minutes. To facilitate Solaris VII campaigns, Wizkids also designed a spreadsheet that will make it easy to track your stable's progress. As if that weren't enough cool free stuff, they're also offering a full set of Rally Cards in pdf format, with an open license to print them for use in the arenas. The Rally Cards represent unexpected events or maneuvers that help keep arena combat fresh and unpredictable. If giant robot arena combat were real, I'd be a season ticket holder. Image by: Wizkids. The MechWarrior Solaris VII Campaign pack materials are now available! [Wizkids]