A:2089 Mercenary Contracts


Having just got hold of the main rulebook, I have to admit that I really like the game. It's had mixed reviews, and not a few openly critical ones, which had made me a little wary of it. But on the whole, it's a solid game that just needs a little common sense and rules-tweaking to make it work.

Which brings me to one of the areas which I think is in the most dire need of tweaking- the contract system. I think that the whole negotiation system is rather ingenious, but the numbers in question don't quite add up for me.

The system does a good job of simulating a newly-formed company in cheap WarMeks struggling to stay ahead of its debts. Since this is how campaigns will start out, there is no immediate problem. But what about successful companies? As it stands, there is no difference in the cost to hire a company based on it's quality. A single WarMek costs the same to hire, regardless of whether it is a standard Volksmecha "Wener" with a level 1 pilot, or a Royal Ordanance "Monarch" with a 12th level pilot. Any difference in pay would be based purely on the negotiating skills of their agent.

Is anyone even going to attampt to claim that this is realistic? If you could get both for the same price, I know which one I'd want. And if everyone wants the Monarch with the elite pilot, someone will offer slightly more to get it- and then someone else will up the bid even further...

I therefore offer the following system to remedy this. Basically, there are two new multipliers for determining the base offer, based on the WarMek total cost and the skill of the pilot respectively.

The multiplier for the pilot is x(0.9+(pilot level/10)).

The multiplier for the WarMek is based on the cost of the WarMek after all modifications are taken into account:-

Up to $2,500,000 x0.75

Up to $10,000,000 x1.0

Up to $40,000,000 x1.25

Up to $150,000,000 x1.5

This means that a level 1 pilot in a $5,000,000 WarMek will receive the base amount listed in the rulebook. The previously-mentioned Elite Monarch Pilot will receive 3.15 times this amount. Given how pay scales work in real life, to expect someone at the top of a profession to get just over three times what someone at the bottom gets is actually rather conservative, but I've erred on the side of caution to avoid unbalancing the game too much.

The other problem I have with the contract system is the tiimescale. As it stands, Garrison Duty is the only way that a company can make a serious profit. Since while in garrison, the company is making $10,000 a day, every day, it will make $300,000 per WarMek for a month of garrison duty. I envisage a unit could take two contracts in a month if it pushed itself- one per month would be more realistic, to give adequate time for transport, repair and R&R. This means that two assault missions, assuming four days duration each, would give $400,000 per WarMek in the same time period. 33% more pay for considerably more risk and the near-ceratinty of combat fatigue if the two-per-month rate is kept up. Which contract would you choose?

Cetainly there is the potential for fighting in garrison duty, but it's by no means guaranteed. And if a unit is garrisonned in an area where it faces combat on a weekly- or daily- basis, then it should have the "Killzone" clause in the contract for an extra $20,000 base rate, bringing the total to $900,000 per WarMek for a month of garrison duty in a hostile area with near-constant attacks by enemy forces.

And then, there's the other side of the coin- the employer's point of view. If they suddenly need a WarMek company to carry out a time-critical mission, then they have to select an appropriate company, negotiate the terms, and get it into position in a very short timeframe. The Mercenaries are unlikely to be conveniently placed right where you need them, and any agent worth his ten per cent will pick up on how short of time you are and stall for more money than you'd like to pay.

I see the following as a more realistic method of employment:-

Garrison duty is the default method of employment. Units are stationed in a hostile area on a garrison contract, which is negotiated as per the standard rules. A "Special Duty" rate is then negotiated separately, at the price of a Reconnaisance mission.

The garrison contract, as well as the standard duties involved in such and assignment, effectively places the unit "On Call". Every time the employer needs them to do soemthing above and beyond guarding their assigned area, they pay the Special Duty bonus on top of the garrison pay for the duration of the mission. Note that, being "On Call", the company is contractually bound to accept such missions- they don't get to pick and choose special assignments. If the team wants an excuse to not accept them, they had better negotiate for such before accepting the contract, otherwise they're breaking said contract. No pay, for garrison OR special duty, and big penalties on all future contract negotiation.

Example: A WarMek company is stationed on the border of Nigeria. It has a garrison contract which requires it to deal with any rebel activity within 300km of their base, and have been doing so for several months. Nigerian intelligence manages to locate the rebel base, hidden on the other side of the border. Since this puts it outside the scope of the company's garrison contract, they will recieve the special duty bonus for the duration of the mission.

The other alteration to this system is for individual missions. If a company is hired for a single mission, less than a week in duration, it will be seriously out of pocket. Consider that, if the mission takes four days and is the only one that month, the company is only working one day out of each week. I would therefore say that the pay for one-off missions should be multiplied by FIVE.

Taken together, these modifications to the contract system produce a situation where most units are on standing contracts throughout the world, being placed where they are needed. However, the most renowned units, with the best pilots and WarMeks, are too expensive to place in garrison duty. These get hired on a mission-by-mission basis.

Example 1 :- A newly-formed WarMek Company has four pilots, each at level 1 with a WarMek in the x1 price range. They earn the base rate of $40,000 per day in garrison, for a 1,200,000 per month rate, and get a $100,000 base rate bonus for each day of special duty. Hiring them for a one-off assault mission of two days duration would cost $2,000,000.

Example 2: The oft-quoted Elite Monarch Pilot and his three identical friends would have a cost in garrison of $126,000 per day. Every month, they would cost $3,780,000 with a special duty bonus of 315,000 per day. A two-day assault contract would cost $6,300,000.

Using the figures above for a one year period, the rookie company will make $18,000,000 in a year- gross earnings, not counting repair and replacements. After costs for the year, this should put their net earnings in the same range as the $10,000,000 that the "Bedlam Boys" from the example in the rulebook were supposed to have made in the same time period.

I feel that the above system is basically sound. The numbers might need tweaking- I've only read the rulebook, and have yet to run a game- but otherwise, I think that it covers to holes in the existing rules. What do people think? I'd especially appreciate comments from people who've actually run a game and seen how the system as given in the rulebook works (or doesn't) in practice.
Welcome to the A:2089 game, have you downloaded the FAQ from here?


That has some clarifications on contract prices.

Also, you mention that an elite pilot should get more for the same job as a newbie pilot, but in reality would a newbie pilot and an elite pilot be going for the same jobs? Think about it, easy jobs the noobs take up unless the employer wants vets, otherwise the vets take the harder better paid jobs that the noobs aren't capable of.

Just thinkin out loud.

Yes, I've read the FAQ. The only thing they clarify is that the base rate of pay should be multiplied by the number of WarMeks involved, which was never stated in the rules.

And yes, the hard jobs would go to the elite pilots. This is why they charge more than three times as much as the newbie in my system- all jobs are not equal, and there is a difference betweeen an assault mission to attack the defences of a rebel base in the third world and an assault mission to attack the factories in a superpower's industrial heartland. Yet, in the very sketchy descriptions given in the rulebook, both would qualify as the same mission and have the same rate of pay. And to assume that an elite unit takes on a difficult assignment and accepts the same rate of pay as a rookie unit which is taking an easy one is just absurd. Missions difficulty is varied according to the abilities of the unit- this just alters the pay to reflect that.