The Other Front: Riding the Line of Bankruptcy in BATTLETECH18 May 2018 0
In BATTLETECH, there are two battles going on. The most obvious is taking your Mechs planet side and beating the opposition into scrap. The secondary front is the main economics of the game: keeping your mercenary lance solvent, while optimizing yourself for increasingly difficult scenarios. Managing your budget each month while staying ahead of the difficulty curve is just as important as managing your Action Economy in battle. Below are some strategies we’ve found helpful to getting yourself well equipped and ready for potential disaster scenarios.
Manage Your Growth Responsibly
I cannot stress how important it is to consider the ramifications of small expenses in BATTLETECH. While each of the following ideas may sound small, together they add up to large amounts of C-Bills that you can shave off your monthly expenses.
Pilots get expensive quickly. Initially, you will be given a reminder that a normal Mercenary Lance consists of 8 MechWarriors. The idea being if four of your pilots are injured in combat, that you’ll have another four prepared at a moment’s notice. I can say with confidence that hiring that many pilots at the start of your career is a terrible idea. Given your initial MechBay can only consist of 6 Mechs, you will often need to wait for repairs before beginning a new contract anyways. I found keeping a crew of 6 MechWarriors was enough that I didn’t end up wasting precious time waiting for healthy crewman, but I also wasn’t paying 8 people each month to sit around.
Don’t promote until it’s useful. Alongside their salaries, it’s also important to not promote the skills of your pilots until you are orbiting a planet, ready to begin a Contract. Promoting someone, and thus increasing their salary, while you are flying around the galaxy is a waste. Wait until you know who you are going to bring in your Lance, and then promote them before heading into battle.
Mech maintenance adds up. Likewise, to personnel, it’s also important to keep your Mechs in check. If you find yourself with a Mech in your bay that you absolutely will not use, put it in storage. There is no point in paying a maintenance fee on an asset that isn’t making you money. It is quite literally dead weight. Better yet, if you find yourself short of funds, just sell them off. Selling old frames that you don’t need is a great way to get a quick cash influx. It is important to note that only stored Mechs can be sold, and a Mech that is too damaged cannot be put into storage until it is repaired. Depending on how much scrap you need to replace, repairing a Mech right after a battle may not be a smart idea. Evaluate the total cost of a repair and the status of your hangar before you initiate it. There will be scenarios where it makes sense to just pay the maintenance payment for the month and repair it at a later time.
Always Be Doing Something, Time Is Money Friend
Make every day count. Given your expenses are paid monthly, it’s important to optimize your schedule to the fullest extent possible. For example, rarely is it worth travelling to another system if you aren’t being paid by a Contract to do so. While travelling, you should be constantly having an Argo upgrade under construction. While the upfront costs of increasing the efficiency of your Mechtech and Medical Bays may seem daunting, you will thank yourself later for already having strong industry in place for when you really need it. If you can afford an upgrade without going under for the month, it’s probably worth doing. You may run into a situation where an upgrade doesn’t seem immediately useful, but it is vital to consider the time requirements of building each upgrade. Time is just as important of a resource as cash, so make sure to utilize it.
Don’t skimp on monthly payments. While this may sound counterintuitive, it is absolutely worth paying your MechWarriors a generous salary to increase morale early. If you start doing this while you have a small Lance, your overall cost to benefit ratio will be better than doing so when you are running a larger crew. Keeping Morale high has exponential benefits. Being able to perform multiple Called Shots early during an Operation often leads to faster kills. Faster kills mean your Mechs are taking less damage from opposition fire, and less damage means less C-Bills spent on repairs or refits. Given you can only do this once a month, it’s worth the initial price of admission to get your crew rolling early.
Reputations Affect Your Bottom Line
Don’t worry about reputation with random factions. When you’re first starting out, you will most likely have operations for Planetary Governments, which are considered Independent factions, and a few neighboring faction governments. Unless you’re really hellbent on working for one of these factions in particular, it’s not worth lowering your initial payday and salvage rights to increase your reputation with them. However, with that said…
Find an Arano Restoration operation with low threat and pay, then do it strictly for reputation. The Arano Restoration is the primary faction you will be working with over the course of the campaign, and campaign operations have huge payouts. Once you’ve unlocked side contracts with them, giving up a small payday on an escort or VIP retrieval operation for a flat 15% bonus payment on all future operations, and a 10% store discount, is well worth the initial offset. Some main campaign planets will offer you Mech salvage in their store after you’ve completed their operation, so 10% can quickly add up. If you manage to find a operation with low threat level the salvage is most likely not going to be worth reserving anyways. Think of it as a short-term investment for substantial long-term benefit.
Don’t Hoard Money
Better equipment means smoother operations. While the victory condition of BATTLETECH is to stay afloat each month, rare and powerful equipment is worth purchasing if you’ve got spare cash. An AC/20++ that does an additional 10 damage and stability damage each round often pounds light Mechs into scrap in a single shot. Couple that with a SRM2++, SRM6+++ and LRM15++ that each do additional stability damage and you’ve got a deadly Lance capable of bringing most Mechs to the ground quickly. A Medium Laser that goes from doing 25 damage to 35 damage is a significant percentile increase for the same action and heat cost.
What you consider useful is likely going to be subjective, but always give the shop a quick look when you’re flying around. You may find a very rare version of a weapon variant that you find useful for the entire campaign. Especially if it’s a planet owned by the Arano Restoration and you took my earlier advice to get a quick discount. Just make sure to cover your newfound assets with sturdy armor.
Be comfortable taking risks, tread the bankruptcy line. You can take this with a grain of salt, but you are actively hurting your chances of success if you hoard a nest egg. Yes, Darius will hound you each month about potential lack of funding, but there’s a strategic advantage to being ahead of the difficulty curve in equipment and industry. If you can field a lance of multiple heavy Mechs against opposition forces that have none of their side, you will start raking in c-bills with minimal damage and repair fees. Inversely, should an operation go sideways, you will be able to recover at a faster rate if you’ve heavily invested in infrastructure early, versus having a pile of liquid capital sitting around while you’re waiting for Mechs to repair and Mechwarriors to heal. The faster your recovery period, the faster you can take another job and get paid.
Taking some calculated risks early with generous salaries and rapid engineering upgrades pays dividends later when opposition ramps up in size. At absolute worst, you can always fall back on selling Mechs you don’t need and utilizing the large main campaign operation payouts to keep yourself solvent. If you think of your budget and time like the Action Economy in battle, it makes perfect sense to spend early to reap the rewards down the road.
What are your top tricks and tips to keeping your lance solvent? Let us know in the comments!