1200 Days - Gramps' run at a Kerensky rated career

1200 Days - Gramps' run at a Kerensky rated career

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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

MarkDey

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Mission 380: 1.5 Skull Ambush Convoy ____ Employer: Locals ____ Target: Marik ____ Biome: Highlands
Lance: Toothy (Diva), Cluster Shark (Celt), Ultra Shark (Bear), Death Map (Fizz)

Report: Straightforward elimination of a convoy. Rotunda Recon Vehicle, 4x Striker, Scorpion Mk II, LCT-1S, PNT-9R, LCT-1E, JVN-10F.
 
Back to New Abilene

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Mission 381: 1.5 Skull Assassinate ____ Employer: Free Worlds League ____ Target: Locals ____ Biome: Tundra
Lance: Toothy (Diva), Cluster Shark (Celt), Ultra Shark (Bear), Death Map (Fizz)

Report: Straightforward elimination of a diplomat and their multi-lance escort. FS0-H, LCT-1V, LCT-1M, COM-1B, SDR-5K, 2x PNT-9R, SDR-5V, VND-1AA.
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Dissatisfied with the remaining contracts, I decide to leave, heading back through Canopian space and into the Free Worlds League. Seems like all of the powers that would fight the Magistracy are already our enemies and unwilling to give us contracts against them. New Abilene has some opportunities though, so we stop there.
 

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Mission 382: 1 Skull Battle ____ Employer: Magistracy ____ Target: Pirates ____ Biome: Badlands
Lance: Toothy (Diva), Locust (Burger Time), Locust (Pontoon), Locust (Guano)

Report: Immediate Bad Faith Withdrawal; I sort of feel bad for the rookies. -10 reputation with the Magistracy of Canopus, bringing us to Loathed. -1 Morale
 

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Mission 383: 0.5 Skull Battle ____ Employer: Magistracy ____ Target: Capellans ____ Biome: Desert
Lance: Toothy (Diva), Cluster Shark (Celt), Ultra Shark (Bear), Death Map (Fizz)

Report: Immediate Bad Faith Withdrawal. -6 reputation with the Magistracy of Canopus. -1 Morale
 

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Mission 383: 0.5 Skull Battle ____ Employer: Pirates ____ Target: Canopians ____ Biome: Badlands
Lance: Toothy (Diva), Cluster Shark (Celt), Ultra Shark (Bear), Death Map (Fizz)

Report: Standard combat engagement to destroy all hostile units. JVN-10A, LCT-1S.
 
Brixtana

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We depart, continuing our search for jobs against the Magistracy. Morale has taken a noticable dip, but I should be able to help it recover before our time runs out by awarding bonus pay. Brixtana has a job for the Magistracy, but it turns out to be a travel contract back in New Abilene. We take the House Marik job against pirates before departing.
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Mission 384: 2 Skull Capture Base ____ Employer: Free Worlds League ____ Target: Pirates ____ Biome: Tundra
Lance: Toothy (Diva), Cluster Shark (Celt), Ultra Shark (Bear), Death Map (Fizz)

Report: A small manufacturing facility has been re-activated, and we've been sent to reclaim it. 3x LCT-1M, JVN-10A (pilot kill), JVN-10N (pilot kill), PXH-1 (pilot kill), CPLT-C4.
 

MarkDey

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On our way back to New Abilene, I authorize extravagant bonuses during the monthly financial report, which helps recover morale.
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Mission 385: 0.5 Skull Defend Base ____ Employer: Magistracy ____ Target: Capellans ____ Biome: Badlands
Lance: Toothy (Diva), Cluster Shark (Celt), Ultra Shark (Bear), Death Map (Fizz)

Report: Immediate Bad Faith Withdrawal. -6 reputation with the Magistracy of Canopus. -1 Morale
 

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A scan of the available jobs shows a minor criminal organization willing to work with us. Since they will put us just at the worst reputation possible with the Canopians, we take their job.
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Mission 384: 0.5 Skull Battle ____ Employer: Pirates ____ Target: Canopians ____ Biome: Polar
Lance: Toothy (Diva), Cluster Shark (Celt), Ultra Shark (Bear), Death Map (Fizz)

Report: We've been contracted to do something loud and fatal to a Canopian combat unit. COM-2D, LCT-1M.

Salvage: COM-2D assembled and moved into storage.
 
Thurrock shopping and the next Career Score check

MarkDey

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Having finally brought our reputation with the Canopians to the worst possible rating, we head back to the Free Worlds League for some profitable contracts before our time is up. A day into our trip, Farah comes to me with Youngblood Mercier, and I have a strong sense of deja vu.

Event - Power Interlock: Youngblood Mercier believes that there is a noticeable drop in efficiency because of a power interlock that she can fix. Dr. Murad sighs. I trust Farah's insight and tell her to leave the power system alone.
Result: No lasting consequences

Thurrock proves to be an excellent place to shop, and the black market yields a good amount of advanced equipment: Gauss++, another Star League Griffin, lostech Gyros. Surprisingly, there are no contracts available for us to take. Yang gets started on refits, putting the SHD-15 into storage, and we leave orbit for a better work environment. The new Star League Griffin is outfitted with a Snub PPC++ and 4x SRM6s, making it less armored than Toothy but more damaging.

Jumping into Alamagordo, the monthly financial report has another set of extravagant bonuses. There is only one contract we can take, but the store has a large amount of mech salvage that would let us build many more mechs, so I decide to stop. Quickly checking our MRB score, I notice the red highlights that indicate the time for our scoring period is almost up.

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Days Remaining: 57 ____ Career Points: 767,915 ____ Career Rating: Kerensky
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MarkDey

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Mission 385: 4.5 Skull Recovery ____ Employer: Lyran Commonwealth ____ Target: Free Worlds League ____ Biome: Badlands
Lance: Toothy (Celt), ANH-4G (Goth), Ultra Shark (President), Death Map (Fizz)

Report: This job is to recover some sensitive scientific equipment, and as our targets are expected to be heavyweights, we switch back to full salvage contract terms. Also, I mix up the pilots and mechs for our drop, reinforcing the idea that exceptional pilots should be able to work well with different people and equipment. The terrain is poor for a direct approach, so we maneuver to the left. Celt jumps into the middle of the base with Toothy, and the rest of the lance opens fire. 2x Demolisher LBX, BNC-3S (headshot), Demolisher, QKD-4G, CPLT-C4 (pilot kill), RFL-4D (pilot kill), ARC-2R (pilot kill).

Salvage: ARC-2R, BNC-3S, CPLT-C4 assembled and moved into storage.
 
Leyda

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Our next stop is Leyda, a pleasant world that used to be a SLDF base, and is currently a vacation spot for the wealthy. There are a few interesting contracts, and it also looks like the sort of place where I might just let the next two months tick by while the crew enjoys themselves. On the way into orbit, I find that Youngblood Mercier is exercising her technical aptitude again.

Event - Moonlighting with an LRM: Youngblood Mercier is discovered trying to improve an LRM15. Since she has developed a good technical background, I have her spend a week in the mech bay under Yang's supervision.
Result: She has good success, improving the performance to cause additional stability damage. One LRM15 becomes an LRM15++. Youngblood Mercier is unavailable for 7 days.

After selling our excess mechs and reviewing our reputation, I determine that we only need one last contract to maximize our MRB score. Darius finds the best arrangement and I get the pilots ready for the drop.
 
Last mission

MarkDey

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Mission 386: 4.5 Skull Battle ____ Employer: Free Worlds League ____ Target: Pirates ____ Biome: Urban
Lance: Toothy (Celt), ANH-4G (Goth), Ultra Shark (President), Death Map (Fizz)

Report: Multiple pirate lances are moving in this area, and we will be deploying alongside a heavy House Marik patrol lance. Hopefully we can keep the collateral damage to the city to a minimum. The Marik lance consists of a Cyclops, Marauder, Catapult, and Grasshopper, so they should be able to take care of themselves. Celt sprints ahead looking for enemies and quickly finds them. 2x GHR-5H (one headshot), ON1-V, 2x BLR-1G (one headshot, one legs kill), ARC-2R (pilot kill), RFL-4D, TDR-5SE. During the fight, about a dozen buildings are destroyed from missed shots - so much for minimizing the impact.

Salvage: BLR-1G, TDR-5SE assembled and moved into storage.
 
The End

MarkDey

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With 47 days remaining and our MRB career assessment having maximum points in all categories except for morale, I decide to spend those remaining days allowing the crew to enjoy shore leave at Leyda. It'll give them a way to spend the extravagant bonuses that I've approved for the coming monthly financial report. Not all of our trips to the surface are relaxing though.

Event - Criminal Ties: Hangover and I are returning from a tour when we realize that we're being followed. Turns out that the dangerous looking man has some friends, and is an associate of Hangover's from before she joined Gramps' Giants. My command reflex takes over before I have a chance to consider, and I find myself intimidating the guy.
Result: "Whatever your connection was, it's dead - now get out of my way. We're busy." Hangover's old friends don't resist our departure, and that's good enough for me. On the shuttle ride back, Hangover opens up a bit about her past. Hangover gains High Spirits for 30 days.

Weeks pass and as the clock ticks to zero, Darius arrives with the last monthly financial report. "Looks like this vacation time agrees with you, Gramps." I smile as I reply, "It's a nice change of pace. Seems like a great location for the MRB to come give us their official career assessment." He nods in agreement.

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Days Remaining: 0 ____ Career Points: 770,015 ____ Career Rating: Kerensky
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We are given about a twelve hour warning that the MRB will be sending a shuttle to give an in-person review of our company. After a quick meeting to go over what we should show them, and what we should definitely keep private, I encourage everyone to get some rest before they arrive. The MRB representative seems extremely impressed, and everyone on the command staff gives her a tour of their areas of expertise. I decide to stay with the representative for the whole time they are aboard the Argo, just to see her reactions. Darius displays our official plaque in the lounge, and Yang searches through the several crates of rewards, finding some salvage for a Star League Griffin and a Star League Black Knight, a Rangefinder+++, two ER PPCs, two PPC++s, and a dozen other assorted high-end items. Shortly after the MRB departs the Argo, Sumire and Farah take the Leopard down to the surface for a tour of some unique nature preserve. As I watch their path curving around the bright blue of the planet below, I take a long deep breath.

Life is good.

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Attached is my save game file, along with some screenshots of how the scores looked at the end, and my flight path to get to 170 systems. I didn't keep track of the last few months - the back and forth in the Magistracy of Canopus in particular would have been too tedious to follow.

I wasn't really sure if I would make it to a Kerensky rating until after the two year mark where I entered the Federated Suns at Lochmantle and sold 85 million C-Bills worth of mechs. After that point, I knew it was just a matter of grinding out the missions. Fortunately, Steam recognized the achievement - I'm glad that's working properly now.

One thing that I could have done better is making my reputation with the Canopians go negative earlier. For a long time, I was looking for missions against them in the Free Worlds League. Only recently did I realize that House Marik is not an enemy of the Magistracy, so I was looking for missions that don't exist! Purposely taking missions just to withdraw from them felt gamey, but it did lower my Morale score each time, which was a big problem. I was at the point where I could not take any more Morale hits and still max that score by the end of the game, so for the last six weeks I was just hoping that I wouldn't get a random event that would lower Morale. (Actually, with the way the end of the career worked, I had one last monthly financial decision to make, which would have let me boost my morale - I didn't know that when I was planning things out though.)

The biggest change I had to make to my gameplay was to focus on dismantling the enemy mechs. Attacking from the side and minimizing the damage to the CT as much as possible, trying to kill the pilot but strip off all of the other equipment. It worked... I'm just not sure if that's how I want to play my next game. In the end, having a TAG was useful to try to kill the pilot of a heavily damaged mech by hitting the head with a low damage shot that wouldn't destroy the CT. I usually didn't have the patience for such surgery, but it could be a helpful tactic in the early career when you have that random heavy or assault mech that unexpectedly appears, and you would really benefit from that upgrade.

It turns out that I could probably have maxxed out the score with Slow XP progression in the difficulty settings. I'm glad that I was able to develop some rookies and move them through Youngblood training into a combat ready lance, and then have them all survive to be Elite Max pilots. The key choices for difficulty settings to max out the career score seem to be 3 part mech salvage, unequipped mechs (especially when upgrading in the early game), and hard enemy strength. Everything else seems like you could set it to whatever combination gets you a 1.0 difficulty score and you'd be fine (although a Very Slow XP progression might be too tough - for those who are interested in the details, feel free to sum up the XP in my save file and report back on whether or not I would have made it.)

One thing that surprised me was how the contracts didn't regenerate in systems that I had already visited. Even if in-game years had passed, there were no new jobs. I read about this once before, but it was still surprising to see. Made me glad that I didn't have any loops that repeated through high-value systems as part of my plan.

Even without having Rare Salvage enabled, and even without a good reputation with the Pirates, I still ended up with a good amount of lostech from Flashpoint rewards and stuff that I found in the shops. I wasn't sure if the "take every contract that's offered" plan would work out, but it looks like it did, and always being able to attack the pirates was a nice change.

All in all, this was a good run and I'm glad that I decided to make it public. Comments and questions are welcome!

EndSummary.jpg
EndDetailsBoth.jpg
EndReputationCrop.jpg
EndTravel.jpg
 

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Aotrs Commander

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Just excuse me while I go cry in the corner - my run was embarrasingly poor by comparison. And I think you're right - it all comes down to 3-part salvage. (Turns out, the scoring system is pretty much balanced around playing the game the way initially intended, who'd have thunk?)

(I pointed my mate towards the game when it was in the recent sale (I often do with stuff, but this time hit it at a time when he was looking for one and had some pennies) and I advised him to definitely learn from that! (He's playing the campaign at the moment, after a restart in which he did story missions a bit too fast and ended up completely out-matched by the increased skull difficulty).)

I'd have done worse, myself, actually, except for catching the point you did a bad-faith withdrawl for morale and went "crap, you can DO that?!" (But then my efforts doing that got completely tanked that by doing the flashpoint campaign final mission last and getting the +15 morale bonus to everyone on, like, the last day for no cash and no worthwhile salvage. That still hurts.)

Impressive achievement.

Aside everything else, I have absolutely learned from you where to look to better tune my difficulty settings when I play again (probably in a few months, because that'll keep it fresh - and pertinently, something to have on the horizon at the time where there is otherwise nothing at all).

*tips helmet*
 
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Loved all this thread, super interesting and got me wanting to get started on my own career! If you don't mind, I have a few questions?

1. I'd quite like to get to Ally with the pirates for the cheaper BM access and costs associated with it. As per your suggestions, Kurita and Steiner are another 2 for ally. What would make the most logical sense for the 4th group to ally with? I was gonna keep the Rare Salvage option off for extra bits and bobs, but I need to make XP progress slow to keep difficulty at 1. Maybe Normal XP, Ally With Pirates, No Rare Salvage is a better combo?

2. How do you manage to do so many back to back contracts with zero repair time, especially in the early game? Presumably you still drop in damaged mechs to missions (as long as they're not too damaged)?

3. Is it worth working on rep early? Or just do every mission you can early on and focus on rep later?

The main issues I have problems with are keeping mechs undamaged enough to complete all the contracts in the first few systems, and managing heat early (as often the starter system is full of lunar missions (hello Joppa!)

My Centurions were overheating like mad, as I had 2 from random mech assignments to start. Also had 2 Commando B's and a Trashcan. The Urbie is useful from a collections point of view, but I'm not mad on Commando's, bit fragile for my liking, especially with no JJ's
 
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I would note that maxing rep and allying are not the same thing. You can have max rep with factions even if they hate each other! Main thing is to ensure you have missions in all parts of space. Kurita, Steiner, Davion and Magistry worked well for me. I was also maxed out with the pirates until late in the game, going to Arano space to trash that reputation towards the end, so I ended up with 4 positive (Kurita, Steiner, Davion and Magistry) and 4 negative (Taurian, Pirates, Marik, Liao).

No rare salvage is an interesting one: It means that you'll be using basic guns until the mid-late game unless you get lucky with the market. If you go with that setting, then Ally with Magistry of Canopus early, so you can buy ++ lasers (+3 accuracy and +10 dmg) lasers in bulk. Like 40 each. Plus accuracy until your pilots reach 8-9 in Gunnery, then switch over to plus damage. Once you have enough surplus, break the alliance so you can work on getting rep up with pirates again.

Rep comes quickly once you start doing 2.0 and 2.5 skull missions. I'd just focus on doing as many as you can early on.

I'd avoid lunar biomes early on, until your pilots get the +15 / + 30 heat overload skill in the Guts skill tree. Put a pilot with sensor lock in your most over heating mech, so you can move and sensor lock when it gets too hot. If your mechs get injured in a crappy biome (Lunar, Martian), then use the repair time to relocate to a nice arctic world in the repair time alloted.
 
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MarkDey

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Loved all this thread, super interesting and got me wanting to get started on my own career! If you don't mind, I have a few questions?
Thank you! I don't mind questions at all!

1. I'd quite like to get to Ally with the pirates for the cheaper BM access and costs associated with it. As per your suggestions, Kurita and Steiner are another 2 for ally. What would make the most logical sense for the 4th group to ally with?
To be clear, I do not recommend actually forming an Alliance with any faction during a career. I'm going to assume that you mean that you'd want to have the best reputation with those factions, which would be Honored.

To complement those three factions, I'd suggest the Capellan Confederation as your fourth. They have a presence in a great many systems, as do the Pirates, so that would make it likely for you to find at least one contract wherever you go. This means that the Free Worlds League, Federated Suns, Taurian Concordat, and Magistracy of Canopus would be the factions you'd be sending to Loathed reputation. Not a bad plan to start with, although once your reputation is where you want it to be, there will be only maybe a third of the map where you'll be able to buy mech salvage and sell items. On the plus side, access to the Black Market will give you safe ports of call in otherwise hostile space.

I was gonna keep the Rare Salvage option off for extra bits and bobs, but I need to make XP progress slow to keep difficulty at 1. Maybe Normal XP, Ally With Pirates, No Rare Salvage is a better combo?
I would recommend Normal XP and No Rare Salvage. Cool toys do help (especially cockpit bracing!) but you'll get some cool toys from flashpoints, and many more items from the black market since you'll eventually be Honored by the Pirates.

2. How do you manage to do so many back to back contracts with zero repair time, especially in the early game? Presumably you still drop in damaged mechs to missions (as long as they're not too damaged)?
Correct. The first planet is always the most difficult for me because I'm using mostly stock mechs, although I do perform some zero-day modifications like dropping weapons to add armor on some mechs. Technically, I do have 1 day to work with, which would let me move ammo out of a CT, because a full day needs to pass before the Heavy Metal crate appears.

Since armor is always repaired after each contract, I'm able to send mechs back into battle as long as they aren't missing any limbs. Then, while I'm traveling, I can use those days to repair or refit the mechs for the next drop. What I found most problematic was pilot injuries. On the first (or maybe second) planet I think that I hired every available pilot I could to finish out the contracts since there was always somebody that got injured on each drop.

If a mech is too damaged to repair quickly, or if it's missing a limb but you've salvaged an equal or better mech, then I can see a case to just scrap it. The equipment is removed from the mech and put into storage before it's torn down into scrap, and you don't get as many C-Bills as you would if you sold it, but it saves time. Time is the most critical resource during a career run.

3. Is it worth working on rep early? Or just do every mission you can early on and focus on rep later?
I just did every contract that I could take. However, if you are planning to finish the career while being Honored by Pirates, then yes, I'd recommend focusing on that reputation early. By which, I mean not taking contracts if they target the Pirates, and focusing on reputation during your negotiations for any Pirate contracts you do take.

In my career, I very rarely focused on reputation gain. Most of the time, I focused on salvage, but there are some important contracts where improving your reputation makes sense. In my mind, those are the ones where you have hard to find employers like Kurita, Steiner, and Pirates in some cases. In a Career, if you fall to Disliked with a faction, it's much more difficult to recover. If you improve to Liked with a faction, then that opens up 4 skull contracts (I think - Indifferent maxxes out at 3 skulls, I believe) which will let you progress very quickly if you have a strong enough force to complete them.

The main issues I have problems with are keeping mechs undamaged enough to complete all the contracts in the first few systems, and managing heat early (as often the starter system is full of lunar missions (hello Joppa!)

My Centurions were overheating like mad, as I had 2 from random mech assignments to start. Also had 2 Commando B's and a Trashcan. The Urbie is useful from a collections point of view, but I'm not mad on Commando's, bit fragile for my liking, especially with no JJ's
If you have three contracts left in a system, but not enough forces ready to fight and win within a day or two, then I'd suggest moving on to some other place. There are a lot of jump points to visit in order to max out that travel score.

For keeping mechs undamaged, aside from improving armor at the cost of weapons, I'd also recommend jump jets, and using them as much as possible to improve your Evasion. They give a double benefit of being able to leap onto tall terrain, which gives you an accuracy bonus to hit. That said, in this career I don't think that I used jump jets very much at all outside of my recon mech, using that space and weight for armor and weapons instead.

As for overheating, I avoid that whenever I can. It's usually not worth the repair time and cost. Sometimes, I've just not repaired that structure damage between systems if there was an important refit going on.

I like using a Centurion as an LRM platform during the early part of the game. 1x LRM20, 2x LRM15 (both of which can be hard to come by in the early game), with only a half ton of armor to protect the weapons and ammo and head. If you put it behind a hill, it can provide enough LRM support as if it was its own lance! Just don't get into sensor range of anything, or else you risk being sensor locked and then destroyed by enemy LRM fire.
 
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