Now, about those contracts....
Generating contracts is annoying, time-intensive, and incredibly tedious. That said, I'm not going to go through every step right here. All I'm going to put here is what you need to figure out to generate a contract. Each contract has certain fields, modified by a whole lot of stuff, that determine what you're going to get and when. These fields are: Contract type, employer, enemy, duration in months, command type, salvage rights, support, and transport.
Contract type tells you what kind of mission you're on, for example planetary invasion, riot duty, garrison, extraction raid, or something like that. It determines what missions you're going to encounter, and the aggressiveness of the enemy you're likely to encounter out of the gate. Contract type also influences the difficulty of repairs or resupply mid-contract, but I'll get to that a bit later.
Your employer and enemy are who you're working for and who you're shooting. There's not really a penalty for picking contracts against the same state every time, but there is sometimes a bonus to working with the same one multiple times. That bonus doesn't happen for like ten full contracts, though, and I doubt it's ever going to come up, but it exists.
Duration is how long the contract lasts. High intensity contracts like invasions and raids last between two and five months, if you're unlucky, while garrison and cadre contracts can last a year and a half by themselves. Duration strongly influences how much you get paid, since everything is calculated based on your starting force and the duration, instead of anything like your performance or anything.
Command type I went over a bit previously in the thread, but it determines what kind and how many allies you get per mission. It's essentially what determines how easy it is to get ****ed over by the bot. This is why my admin is a command admin.
Salvage rights determines how much of your salvage is actually yours, and how much belongs to your employer. A "good" salvage amount is 50 or 60% - more typically with a D rating, I'll be getting between 20 and 30%. 100% is a pipe dream right now.
Support deals with things like overhead (how much your employer covers your monthly operating expenses) and BLC, battlefield loss compensation. BLC is probably the second most important thing to have a high number for (right after salvage), since it basically pays you back if you lose anything in the line of duty. Wasp
get blown out from under you? Have a pile of money. I've never actually seen that get up to 100%, but 30 or 40% isn't too shabby.
Transport is the most straightforward. It's how much of your transport costs the employer is going to pay when you leave for the contract destination. Transport costs tend to hang out in the mid-hundred thousands range, so this can be the difference between a third Hetzer or hoofing it back to Outreach.
That's a contract in a nutshell. I'll skip the tedious part, and leave you with the finalized options. At the beginning, every starting company gets two contract offers. And here's option one:
Employer: St. Ives Compact
Contract type: Pirate Hunting
Contract length: 6 months
Enemy Skill/Tech: Green/F
Allied Skill/Tech: Green/F
Command type: Liaison
Transport: 20%, 14 jumps.
A couple of surprises on this one. First, getting a Green/F Pirate Hunting contract is like striking gold for an early company. Pirates are poorly equipped (relatively), and Green means that they're easy
, too. If I wanted an easy blooding, this would be it. The next biggest surprise was St. Ives. I honestly don't know all that much about the dinky little state. In a nutshell, it's a splinter faction from the Capellan Confederation in the immediate aftermath of the Fourth Succession War, when the CapCon just couldn't maintain control of its various commonalities. It's fiercely independent, and just as fiercely coveted by House Liao. I wouldn't be surprised if these "pirates" were Liao irregulars. The last surprise was 20% transport and 14 jumps. Ouch. That's gonna end up being expensive. Still, let's look at the other contract to see if there's anything good. Straight/Full support isn't exactly a surprise, but it's also unpleasant. No BLC for me.
Employer: Federated Commonwealth
Contract type: Recon Raid
Enemy: Taurian Concordat
Contract length: 3 months
Enemy Skill/Tech: Veteran/F
Allied Skill/Tech: Regular/F
Command type: House
Transport: 45%, 9 jumps.
I might as well have stopped once I rolled Veteran enemy, honestly. Fighting Veterans at this point, who typically fall between 4/4 and 3/3, is pretty much tantamount to committing suicide. House command and 20% salvage doesn't exactly bring me running either. But that 80% BLC..... no, gotta pass it up. That's honestly the highest BLC I've ever seen, but it's still not worth it considering I'd need every c-bill to replace my suddenly destroyed equipment going up against vets, periphery or no.
With that particular no brainer, I've got a contract! The AtB rules don't support randomly figuring out what planet I'm going to, so I'll be doing that myself. A little bit of half-random browsing later, and I find out I'm headed to sunny (I think it's sunny) Milos, the system most directly adjacent to the nearest CapCon world. What's on Milos? I haven't got the faintest idea.
It'll take seven weeks to get there, and I'm going to have to rent a dropship and jumpship headed that way. A Mule costs 30,000 a week to rent, and will comfortably transport everything the company has with room to spare. A Scout jumpship is 70,000 a week to transport the Mule. Total cost is 100,000 per week, and it'll take seven weeks. 700,000, and only 20% of that covered by the employer. See? Expensive.
Here's a good look at the briefing room right before we start rolling out the weeks. Seven weeks in transit will take us clear to most of the way through February before the contract gets started, and that contract will last us through August.
Speaking of rolling weeks, here we go. Every week has a series of rolls and events to see what happens. When in transit, just about the only thing that happens is recruitment, and sometimes markets offer their wares. There won't be any battles or special events while we're hanging out at the jump point waiting for our jumpship to recharge.
Not having a Human Resources admin means I get -2 to all rolls when determining skill and equipment for new recruits. Oof. What it doesn't affect is what kinds of recruits walk through the door. The rolls for recruits for the first week of January ends up spitting out a flamer foot infantry platoon seeking employment. Infantry are a *lot* of mouths to feed (and more importantly, keep track of), even if infantry are generally pretty good under these rules. I'll pass on them for now, simply because I don't feel like dealing with retraining them to something less useless than flamers.
One week down, another six to go. The next week brings something more interesting: a vehicle crew with a light vehicle! Even with the -2 to every roll, my non-existent admin apparently found something! Let's see what -
6/7 J-27 Ordnance Truck
So much for that. Next week! An MG foot infantry platoon seeks employment. Again, no. Not doing well on the recruitment so far. MG foot infantry is almost as bad as flamer infantry.
The week of Jan 22 to Jan 28 gets me another Flamer foot infantry platoon. Jesus, how many infantry platoons can there be
waiting to jump to the next system? I mean, damn.
January 29 dawns, and we're four weeks into the journey already. Nothing of note has happened whatsoever. Maybe something interesting will -
Sigh. Oh well, next week!
February 5 brings with it a useful recruit. A tech seeks employment. He's a Green Mechanic. Not exactly stellar, but any tech is a good tech. Adding him to the roster. Jeez, it only took 35 days for anything interesting at all to happen to the company. At this rate, the contract is making me really nervous.
February 12. One week from landfall on Milos. More infantry apply for a position and are rejected, surprise surprise.
February 19. Landfall. One a pirate hunt contract, the odds are around 2:1 for a battle any given week. Time to see what happens. A quick check turns up no recruits (surprise). Pirate hunting contracts roll 1d6 and subtract 4 to see how many battles there are in a given week during the contract. As luck would have it, the very first week sees the company engaging in one battle.
There are a whole bunch of different battle types. Stand-up fights, hold the line, break contact, hide and seek, extraction, and base attacks, just to name a few. Base attacks in particular are significant events, since a Base Attack (Atk) can end the contract with an early victory, while a Base Attack (Def) can do the same in defeat, depending on the outcome.
The first thing to do when determining a battle is to find the type. It's a simple roll of 1d100, compared to what contract you're on to find what battle you're fighting. And the first battle the Hard Light Brigade engages in is:
Base Attack (Atk)
You're joking, right? Unreal. Gotta remember there's still a chance that I'll lose and the contract won't end immediately, however slim.
A base attack features a whole bunch of units. I bring a combat lance to the fight. My allies bring two smaller lances to the fight. The defenders bring 10 "base" units that are civilian 'Mechs/vehicles, as well as double my weight in combat units, which really means two mixed heavy lances. In order to win, I have to kill all ten base defenders, as well as half of the combat units. One helpful bit is that my allies lances aren't counted against me if they get creamed.
This'll be fun.
I'm going to figure out the nitty gritty of the base attack tomorrow, like what exact units are involved and what map it's on. Base attacks are always done on urban terrain of some kind, though, so this battle is going to be kind of awesome. The command lance is the obvious choice for such a mission, with two assault 'Mechs, a main battle tank, and the urban renewal box (Hetzer). A quick roll determines that the assault is going to happen on... Monday. Wow, same day.
That basically means that, at the same time the company is making landfall, they practically land on top of the enemy base.