MechWarrior: Dark Age (MWDA; later as Age of Destruction or AOD) was a tabletop wargame by WizKids set in the BattleTech universe that uses the Clix system. The game's miniatures are pre-painted models of infantry squads, vehicles, and giant walking war machines known as BattleMechs or more simply "'mechs".
Mechwarrior: Dark Age is played on a 36" x 36" game surface with each player taking turns giving his units 'orders' that involve moving and/or attacking opposing units. A measuring tape and three-six sided dice are used while executing these orders. Frequently miniaturized 'terrain', such as buildings (blocking terrain), forests (hindering terrain) or lakes (shallow water), is placed on the game board. The victor is determined after one or more 'victory conditions' have been achieved by a player or when the predetermined time limit for the game has been reached, depending on the game scenario that is being played.
The game may be purchased in booster packs (similar to Magic: The Gathering), but there are ways of acquiring particular pieces without spending large quantities of money on packs. Trade is the most common option, followed by purchases on eBay. There are units that players can only acquire through trade or send-aways, such as the Battleforces and the Designer Series Mechs and pilots. From August 2002 to August 2003, WizKids organized story-based campaigns wherein it was possible for players to win units based on the factions named in the story. Such items - the Champion, Fellowship, and two Participation units (one for each faction) - are unique versions of certain game pieces with higher stats and a special lapel pin.
There are several factions to collect, and many are interconnected by alliances and other relations. Many of the factions from Classic Battletech were introduced into the game and the game has several original factions as well. In keeping with the spirit of the Battletech universe, there are also many mercenary units referred to as Gunslingers.
In 2003, MechWarrior: Dark Age won the Origins Awards for Best Illustration 2002, Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures Series 2002 and Game of the Year 2002. In 2005, WizKids updated MechWarrior: Dark Age. In conjunction with a rules overhaul, the game was renamed MechWarrior: Age of Destruction. In early 2008, WizKids announced that MechWarrior franchise will be put on hiatus until further notice. No new announcements about the franchise future were made other than a new novel based on franchise was due to released on November 19, 2008. On November 10, 2008, Topps announced the closure of Wizkids.
Over time, these factions have acquired their own particular style of play. For example, the repairability of the Bannson's Raiders units allows the player to conduct quick strikes followed by a retreat. Three factions (House Liao, Clan Jade Falcon, and Clan Sea Fox) have inherent abilities not stated on their figures to compensate for higher point costs. Examples of these abilities include improved damage to elite or novice-ranked units, better targeting through forests, improved jumping attacks, or gaining the ability to deprive an enemy player of an order. This concept has been extended in later expansions by the addition of faction pride cards and special pilot abilities. Starting with the release of the Domination expansion set in January 2006, the faction abilities for House Liao, Clan Jade Falcon, and Clan Sea Fox were replaced with faction pride cards. However, the three factions' figures released before that set can still use the team abilities without having to require a faction pride card.
MechWarrior: Age of Destruction introduced new rules and new mechanics to the game, most notably the pilots and gear. These cards are included with the booster packs, and improve any 'Mech they are attached to, depending on the weight class. This has also introduced Gunslingers, mercenary pilots with preferred 'mechs that can be "recruited" to all, or most, factions. They have become common prizes at sanctioned tournaments.
Many of the older factions have been absorbed into their larger Houses or Clans, starting with the Firepower expansion in May 2005. For example, the Swordsworn were absorbed by House Davion, and the Stormhammers were absorbed by House Steiner. The Steel Wolves faction "evolved" into their own mercenary group known as Wolf Hunters with the introduction of Clan Wolf into the game.
In early 2006, WizKids released the Battleforce series, which consists of pre-packaged sets of 'Mechs painted to represent normal service units from each major faction. They come with pilot cards that depict ranked pilots from the faction.
In late 2006, WizKids announced that the blind booster pack format was over for MechWarrior: Age of Destruction and that they would switch to non-blind faction-specific "Action Packs" for all 2007 releases. The first Action Pack releases are:
Both the Wolf Spiders and Gamma Regiment sets have pilots with combat abilities that can be used in other mechs. Previous pilot abilities were only activated in the pilot's preferred Mech, due to the familiarity with the machine. In GenCon 2007 WizKids announced the production of a Solaris VII champions set, coinciding with the six Players who had won the Solaris VII Open Worlds Event hosted that year. However, due to issues in production, the Mechwarrior line was put on permanent hold status, and the Solaris VII Champion set was never produced. WizKids did however, create a set of custom mechs based on existing sculpts for the six Champions, they are the only known Solaris VII Champion mechs produced, but did not come with pilot cards.
In 2003, WizKids produced a special DropShip playset. Sold only at conventions and through special promotions, the Aurora DropShip is a massive unit that has five cannon turrets and four bays for repairing units. The playset also has special rules.
The MechWarrior: Dark Age game also shares its name with its companion series of novels. As of July 2008 there are 30 novels in the MechWarrior: Dark Age series.