BattleTech color guide and unit list for the Long Nights mercenary company

I started playing BattleTech in the late 1980s, and played it steadily throughout high school, college, and the early 2000s. It was my go-to wargame for years, but I drifted away after ~2007 or thereabouts (largely because I didn’t know anyone else who played, and life got busy). I came roaring back to it in 2022, delighted to find a well-funded, heartfelt full-court press by Catalyst Game Labs to reinvigorate the brand well underway. I started painting my first ‘Mechs in 15 years at the very tail end of 2022.

My first lance of Long Nights ‘Mechs: Valkyrie, Archer, Marauder, Wasp (January 11, 2023)

Deciding to paint a mercenary company grew out of a practical need: My kiddo, Lark, and I will be choosing ‘Mechs from the same pool, and having them all painted in the same scheme will get confusing.

At the same time, painting mercs sounds like fun, especially getting to experiment with lots of paint schemes, and having an identity for my ‘Mechs will be nice if I ever wind up playing folks other than Lark down the road. So I’m keeping things subtle with a small logo, and painting whatever the hell I feel like.

The Long Nights mercenary company

I don’t have any lore for my mercs yet, just the name. Like a lot of BattleTech mercenary companies, there’s a surname worked into this one: the company is led by MechWarrior Sigourney “Lucky” Long, hence the Long Nights. She pilots a MAD-3R Marauder (my all-time favorite ‘Mech) emblazoned with the number 13.

I like that it has a bit of an iconic feel, that it suggests something that’s pretty common in the mercenary life (long nights, be it fighting, traveling to the next job, or waiting for shit to go down), and that it’s a play on words: ‘Mechs can be thought of as “long” knights.

In play, what unifies the Long Nights is their logo: a simple black spade icon on an orange field (spades as in the suit of cards). Orange is one of my favorite colors, and I like the simplicity and flexibility of this approach.

(My original idea was an orange stripe with no decal, so when Lark and I use ‘Mechs from the same pool on opposites sides of a battle it doesn’t look weird, but I found it impossible to create a crisp stripe on every ‘Mech and gave up. We’ll live.)

The first ‘Mech I painted for the Long Nights, Ragnar Thorpe’s Valkyrie, seen here nearly completed (awaiting decals, maybe weathering, grass flocking, and a painted base rim; January 5, 2023)

BattleTech color guide

These are all the recipes I use for painting the ‘Mechs of my Long Nights mercenary company. They’re all Citadel paints because my paint library comes from painting 40k minis.

Unless otherwise noted, layers are edge highlights. The top layer is applied much more sparingly, only to the high points and edges.

Note that especially at 6mm scale, highlighting every edge may not be desirable, and highlighting things like mid-panel breaks — where the wash is already providing depth and definition — will overwhelm the miniature. I find this random tank photo to be tremendously useful as a guide.

My second lance of Long Nights ‘Mechs (January 24, 2023)


  • Terrain: Stirland Mud > Seraphim Sepia all-over wash > Gorthor Brown drybrush > light Baneblade Brown drybrush
  • Boulders: Mix small and large rocks to emphasize the ‘Mech’s scale. Mechanicus Standard Grey > Agrax Earthshade all-over wash > Celestra Grey drybrush
  • Grass: This step happens after the model is finished and varnished; here’s a great video guide. I keep my Citadel texture paint-spreader handy to help press, scoop, and remove flocking.
    • White PVA glue over as much of the ground as desired, being extra careful around the feet
    • Dunk the base into Woodland Scenics Green Grass Fine Turf, or pour the flocking onto it
    • Gently press the flocking down into the glue with a fingertip
    • Let the glue dry for a few minutes
    • Shake and tap until excess falls off
    • With a small brush, delicately and sparingly apply an ink wash to the flocking to break things up a bit, either Agrax Earthshade (dark grass) or Seraphim Sepia (brownish grass), or both.
      • Remember that 1mm = ~1 foot, so big blobby areas aren’t the goal here.
  • Tufts: None, they look weird in 6mm scale
  • Base rims (edges): Steel Legion Drab


No two Long Nights ‘Mechs should be identical, and because of the logo they can never be fully orange. Camo Specs is full of awesome painted ‘Mechs to use as examples.

  • Black: Abaddon Black > Eshin Grey > Dawnstone
  • Black-grey: Corvus Black > Nuln Oil pin wash > Eshin Grey > Dawnstone
  • Blue: Macragge Blue > Nuln Oil pin wash > Calgar Blue > Fenrisian Grey
  • Blue-grey: Thunderhawk Blue (note that this is a layer paint) > Nuln Oil pin wash > Russ Grey > Fenrisian Grey
  • Bone: Wraithbone > Seraphim Sepia pin wash > Ushabti Bone > Screaming Skull
  • Brown: Mournfang Brown > Agrax Earthshade pin wash > Skrag Brown > Deathclaw Brown
  • Dark blue: Kantor Blue > Nuln Oil pin wash > Caledor Sky (note this is a base paint) > Teclis Blue
  • Dark green: Caliban Green > Nuln Oil pin wash > Warpstone Glow > Moot Green
  • Dark red: Khorne Red > Carroburg Crimson > Wazdakka Red > Wild Rider Red
  • Green: Castellan Green > Athonian Camoshade pin wash > Loren Forest > Straken Green
    • Variation: For a slightly darker look, pin wash with Nuln Oil
  • Light blue: Thousand Sons Blue > Nuln Oil pin wash > Ahriman Blue > Fenrisian Grey
  • Medium green: Waaagh! Flesh > Nuln Oil pin wash > Warpstone Glow > Moot Green
  • Olive drab: Deathworld Forest > Athonian Camoshade pin wash > Elysian Green > Ogryn Camo
  • Red: Mephiston Red > Agrax Earthshade pin wash> Evil Sunz Scarlet > Wild Rider Red
  • Tan: Zandri Dust > Seraphim Sepia pin wash > Ushabti Bone > Screaming Skull
  • White: Ulthuan Grey (note this is a layer paint) > Soulblight Grey pin wash > White Scar
  • Yellow: Averland Sunset > Nuln Oil pin wash> Yriel Yellow > Flash Gitz Yellow


Here’s a god-tier example from Reddit that shows this technique in action (although note the painter uses multiple edge highlight colors, just not on the camo areas). Look at the edges on the Bolter — they’re all tan, and it’s amazing. Ditto this Warhammer TV video, where Duncan uses a single tan to drybrush the entire tank, including the camo sections that aren’t brown.

  1. Pick two appropriate colors, like green and brown. It helps to make sure the secondary color is a base paint, so it won’t go on thin/streaky and require a second coat.
  2. Make one the base coat; use the other for stripes or blobs of camo on top of the base coat.
  3. Clean up the edges of the secondary color if needed (streaks an imperfections will look off at this scale).
  4. Pin wash as normal with a tone that works for both main colors, like Agrax Earthshade or Nuln Oil.
  5. Edge highlight all camo surfaces with the main base coat color’s appropriate highlight. Basically, treat the highlights as if the secondary color didn’t exist.
    • From what I’ve read and seen, this works best if the top-level highlight is something like tan or off-white, so generally I’m going to pick a color that lands in that space for my main color.

Here’s the camo I’ve done:

  • Desert: Base coat is Wraithbone, camo elements are XV-88 > Seraphim Sepia > Ushabti Bone > Screaming Skull
  • Jungle: Base coat is Deathworld Forest, camo elements are Caliban Green > Athonian Camoshade pin wash > Elysian Green > Ogryn Camo
  • Mountains: Base coat is Celestra Grey, camo elements are Mechanicus Standard Grey > Nuln Oil pin wash > Ulthuan Grey > White Scar
  • Scrubland: Base coat is Zandri Dust, camo elements are Deathworld Forest > Seraphim Sepia pin wash > Ushabti Bone > Wraithbone (note this is a base paint)
  • Woodland: Base coat is Steel Legion Drab, camo elements are Castellan Green > Agrax Earthshade pin wash > Karak Stone > Ushabti Bone

Other elements

  • Logo field: In at least one place on the ‘Mech, wherever it feels right (and fits), paint that area Jokaero Orange. Add a decal before varnishing the finished ‘Mech. (I use the single spade symbol from Steel Rift’s “Kill Marks and Honors 1 Black” decal sheet.)
    • If the ‘Mech has a camo scheme, lay this orange field atop it.
  • Cockpit glass: Caledor Sky > Drakenhof Nightshade wash along the edges/frame elements > Teclis Blue in the lower right corner, mirroring the shape of the panel (round, square, etc.), covering 30-40% of the glass > Lothern Blue in a smaller version of the previous shape > White Scar “gleam” in the upper left corner, just a dot
    • I wear magnifying lenses for this bit. Some of these cockpits are really tiny!
  • Bare metal: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil all-over wash > then it depends:
    • For cylindrical elements or where it makes sense, Ironbreaker drybrush to give it some volume
    • For small details, edge highlight with Ironbreaker
  • PPC barrel glow: Caledor Sky > Nuln Oil pin wash around it > Big dot of Temple Guard Blue > Little dot of Baharroth Blue
  • Laser barrel glow: Moot Green > Nuln Oil pin wash around it > Moot Green again if needed
  • Mud: Lightly apply Typhus Corrosion to the lower portions of the feet. Remember that 6mm = 6′, and these ‘Mechs haven’t been wading through swamps; keep it low and err on the side of too little. This Thug on Camo Specs is a good bellwether.

Hidden elements

  • Primer: Vallejo White, brushed-on
  • Decals: Steel Rift, applied with Micro Set and Micro Sol as needed
  • Sealant: Vallejo Matt White, brushed-on, one coat
  • Painting order: On the underside of the base, I write the ‘Mech’s position in my painting order, counting up from the first one I painted after getting back into BattleTech in 2022.

Long Nights unit list

The lance I painted for my first game with my kiddo kicked off the Long Nights: a MAD-3R Marauder, VLK-QA Valkyrie, ARC-2R Archer, and STG-5M Stinger. (I accidentally ruined the Stinger, so its first-game replacement was a WSP-1S Wasp.)

I don’t worry about eras or how improbable it is that one mercenary company would have the mix of Inner Sphere and Clan ‘Mechs the Long Nights possess; I just paint what I want to paint.

I list variants because it’s fun and makes the Long Nights feel more real. Obviously in play those specifics may fall by the wayside, and that’s A-OK.

Commander Sigourney “Lucky” Long’s MAD-3R Marauder (January 11, 2023)

Links lead to photos of my painted ‘Mechs.

Light (20-35 tons)

  • Fire Moth (tan with red accents), piloted by Frederikke “Blip” Thomsen
  • Locust (desert camo), piloted by Sirikit “Afterburner” Keolatsami
  • Stinger (STG-5M, #3, scrubland camo), piloted by Ozan “Gatling” Almaz
  • Valkyrie (VLK-QA, blue-grey with black-grey accents), piloted by Ragnar “Night Sweats” Thorpe
    • Ragnar’s Valkyrie is painted for night ops. He routinely naps in the cockpit during long missions. He also sweats profusely, earning him the callsign “Night Sweats.”
  • Wasp (WSP-1S, #4 jungle camo), piloted by Gabrielle “Dozer” Baudin

Medium (40-55 tons)

  • Blackjack (BJ-5, #2, light blue and green), piloted by Liu “Needles” Mei
  • Phoenix Hawk (PHX-3K, #10, white with grey and yellow accents), piloted by Franklin “Furter” Stonewall
  • Pouncer
  • Shadow Hawk

Heavy (60-75 tons)

  • Archer (ARC-2R, woodland camo), piloted by Ishida “Beef” Toyokazu
    • Toyokazu’s Archer is nicknamed “Boxer,” and Toyozaku insists its hands be painted black-grey no matter what the color scheme for the rest of the ‘Mech.
  • Marauder (MAD-3R, #13, green with grey accents), piloted by Long Nights commander Sigourney “Lucky” Long
    • The MAD-3R Marauder is my all-time favorite ‘Mech, and I painted it green as an homage to the cover of my all-time favorite Technical Manual, 3025.
  • Rifleman (RFL-5D, #7, red with black-grey accents), piloted by Akeyo “Wrench” Otieno
  • Warhammer (WHM-7M, #12, brown with black-grey accents), piloted by Natalie “King Cole” Ortega
    • I got my start in BT with second edition, so I painted this Warhammer brown in homage to the one on the cover of that glorious box set.

Assault (80-100 tons)

  • Behemoth (mountain camo), piloted by Sonja “Deacon” Augustin
  • Kodiak (black-grey / dark red split scheme), piloted by Lim “Fizzy” Hyun-ki
  • Zeus
My first four Long Nights ‘Mechs: commander Sigourney Long’s #13 MAD-3R Marauder, a Valkyrie, an Archer, and a Stinger (December 13, 2022)
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