First Campaign Completion and Lessons Learned

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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

MarkDey

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I've finally completed my first campaign! crosses off more achievements

Many thanks to @mjbroekman for the Career Scoring Guide, to @ninte000 for the map analysis, and others who answered my questions along the way. I was glad to be able to get a Legendary ranking the first time through (even though Steam didn't register that achievement - I've logged a bug report there, and am watching a similar bug report on this forum.) I don't have any of the DLCs, so no Flashpoint missions for me. The only gameplay restriction I set for myself was to not use any jump jets. It took some getting used to, but I don't feel like every mech needs to have them anymore.

I saw that C-Bills was going to be the score limiting factor for achieving a Kerensky rank, so I set Contract Payment to Generous, and I think that helped the most in the beginning of the game. During the middle of the game, I was able to guess the value of the 'mech pieces I'd be able to salvage, and sometimes it was an easy choice to go all salvage or all C-Bills, but most of the time it was about even. The +10% / +25% bonus to contract payout from optional mission objectives gave a nice boost. The rest of the difficulty settings are below. I liked the No Rare Salvage option, which gave the AI a bit better of a chance. I only bought a few lostech pieces of gear, and it made finding them in the stores much more of a big deal.

Difficulty.jpg


Navigating the stars to max out the systems visited is way easier with the new systems in 1.6. Below is how the map looked by the time I was done. Using the maps I generated (posted here) made it easier to determine if a system was worth visiting, or if it should just be skipped. One thing the map below doesn't cover is the time I spent in Davion space retracing my route multiple times because of how my relations with Kurita didn't work out the way I had hoped.

Final Map.jpg

I started my game planning to become honored with the Pirates, Liao, Steiner, and Kurita. I went "northwest" through Marik space first, over into Liao a bit, then down through the unaligned / Canopus space, east through the map edge until Taurian space, up through there with a long detour to mark off most of the Arano systems, and then into Davion space, finishing back in Liao space.

By the time I got to Davion space, I had to make a choice about Kurita. Should I visit the two 1 skull systems to try and slowly improve my reputation, or should I visit the new systems where Kurita appears as possible enemy forces, and try to get five contracts against them to quickly send my reputation negative? Well, I tried it, and it didn't work out. I suppose that being honored by Davion would have helped with that, but it was worth a shot. By the time I gave up and started increasing Kurita reputation, I was running out of time to bring the Pirates from +100 to -100. As you can see, I didn't get there before time ran out.

Reputation.jpg

Full score details are below. I did add a note on what my C-Bills score was before I sold off everything I could. I almost sold too much and wasn't able to make payroll for the last month, but I double-checked before clicking and managed not to shoot myself in the foot.

One other area where I didn't max out points was Mechwarrior Experience. About 200 days before the clock ran out, an enemy Victor fired a Breaching Shot and killed a 10/10/10/10 mechwarrior with about 65,000 extra experience. If 50 XP is 1 score point, then that cost me about 3,500 score points. That still would not have been enough to make up the difference, so next campaign I think that my experience gain needs to be Normal and not Slow. I did initially like how my recruits didn't get better after almost every mission, but it looks like for the best score, that needs to change.

Score.jpg

Lessons Learned:

1) If you get lucky with your random lance of mechs and have an Urbanmech, keep it. It might not be a great mech, but it does its job okay, and you also avoid having to hunt for it to complete your 'mech chassis score.

2) It is way easier to be Honored by Steiner and Kurita than it is to be Loathed by them. Planning to include them in your group of four factions that you're going to bring to 100 reputation is a good plan.

3) The Capellan Confederation has the best series of systems (maybe 12) to cycle through at the end game when you're looking for contracts, followed by Davion (maybe 7), and then Marik (maybe 7.)

4) Set your Mechwarrior Experience difficulty to Normal if you want to max out the score. Slow probably won't be quick enough.

5) Recent experimentation shows that contracts refresh on every visit to a system, which makes a big difference when looking for those 3 skull missions when you're trying to move a reputation off of Indifferent. I wish I had known that earlier, since it would have made improving Kurita reputation way easier as there are two systems right next to each other in Davion space that could have those sort of missions.

6) Day Zero 'mech builds are good to think about. Here, I'm talking about modifications you can make to your mechs without any time in the mechbay that will improve their performance before you start your first contract. I don't have any builds that I can recommend, but I'm sure that someone has done their research on this. The general concept would probably be to remove CT ammo and sub-optimal weapon systems, and add armor instead to improve durability.


Closing Thought

How will anyone get the Kerensky achievement? I don't have any DLCs, but do Flashpoints add that many more C-Bills to make up the difference? With a target score of 760,000, you'd need 700 million C-Bills in addition to every other category.

Thinking optimistically, say you can get 100 million C-Bills at the very end by selling everything possible. That's 600 million C-Bills left to earn. Say you get an average of 1 million C-Bills per contract during the entire career, and that you can complete 6 contracts per planet that you visit. You'd need to visit 100 planets, which seems possible since you need to visit 170 jump points to complete the Star Systems Visited scoring category. Say the average jump distance for the 100 best planets to visit is 6 days. That would be 3 days coming in (using the Visit System bug where it only takes 3 days, regardless of the system) and 4 days going back out to the jump point (assuming a fully improved Argo drive) and then 3 more days to jump to the next system. That's 10 days per system, at 100 planets, which is 1000 days. That leaves 200 days left to visit the other 70 systems required, which would take 210 days.

I suppose it's technically possible to get the Kerensky achievement, but it seems to be far more luck-based (mostly on what contracts appear) than it is skill-based, which is a bit disappointing.
 

jj284b

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yeah, must say "No rare Salvage" option should be default setting, because its practically a cheat if its not enabled.. as you get special weapons AI doesn't even gets to use against you... I see no big deal in having to procure special weapons and upgrades if I want to use them...
 

koz-ivan

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How will anyone get the Kerensky achievement? I don't have any DLCs, but do Flashpoints add that many more C-Bills to make up the difference? With a target score of 760,000, you'd need 700 million C-Bills in addition to every other category.

I wonder how much impact the "Unequipped Mechs" setting has on final score, you could just punt on contract payment (stingy), and instead go with normal salvage / 3 parts / fully equipped mechs and still hit the 1x multiplier.

Further that does give you a touch of flexibility in that you can reinforce through salvage much faster than repairs.
 

MarkDey

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I wonder how much impact the "Unequipped Mechs" setting has on final score, you could just punt on contract payment (stingy), and instead go with normal salvage / 3 parts / fully equipped mechs and still hit the 1x multiplier.

Further that does give you a touch of flexibility in that you can reinforce through salvage much faster than repairs.

That's interesting! I might try that during my next campaign once 1.8 comes out. I don't think it would make a huge difference in the early game, but at the end when you're fighting between four and twelve heavy/assault 'mechs, that might add up.
 

Icewraith

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May 24, 2018
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I've finally completed my first campaign! crosses off more achievements

Many thanks to @mjbroekman for the Career Scoring Guide, to @ninte000 for the map analysis, and others who answered my questions along the way. I was glad to be able to get a Legendary ranking the first time through (even though Steam didn't register that achievement - I've logged a bug report there, and am watching a similar bug report on this forum.) I don't have any of the DLCs, so no Flashpoint missions for me. The only gameplay restriction I set for myself was to not use any jump jets. It took some getting used to, but I don't feel like every mech needs to have them anymore.

I saw that C-Bills was going to be the score limiting factor for achieving a Kerensky rank, so I set Contract Payment to Generous, and I think that helped the most in the beginning of the game. During the middle of the game, I was able to guess the value of the 'mech pieces I'd be able to salvage, and sometimes it was an easy choice to go all salvage or all C-Bills, but most of the time it was about even. The +10% / +25% bonus to contract payout from optional mission objectives gave a nice boost. The rest of the difficulty settings are below. I liked the No Rare Salvage option, which gave the AI a bit better of a chance. I only bought a few lostech pieces of gear, and it made finding them in the stores much more of a big deal.

View attachment 525116

Navigating the stars to max out the systems visited is way easier with the new systems in 1.6. Below is how the map looked by the time I was done. Using the maps I generated (posted here) made it easier to determine if a system was worth visiting, or if it should just be skipped. One thing the map below doesn't cover is the time I spent in Davion space retracing my route multiple times because of how my relations with Kurita didn't work out the way I had hoped.

View attachment 525117
I started my game planning to become honored with the Pirates, Liao, Steiner, and Kurita. I went "northwest" through Marik space first, over into Liao a bit, then down through the unaligned / Canopus space, east through the map edge until Taurian space, up through there with a long detour to mark off most of the Arano systems, and then into Davion space, finishing back in Liao space.

By the time I got to Davion space, I had to make a choice about Kurita. Should I visit the two 1 skull systems to try and slowly improve my reputation, or should I visit the new systems where Kurita appears as possible enemy forces, and try to get five contracts against them to quickly send my reputation negative? Well, I tried it, and it didn't work out. I suppose that being honored by Davion would have helped with that, but it was worth a shot. By the time I gave up and started increasing Kurita reputation, I was running out of time to bring the Pirates from +100 to -100. As you can see, I didn't get there before time ran out.

View attachment 525118
Full score details are below. I did add a note on what my C-Bills score was before I sold off everything I could. I almost sold too much and wasn't able to make payroll for the last month, but I double-checked before clicking and managed not to shoot myself in the foot.

One other area where I didn't max out points was Mechwarrior Experience. About 200 days before the clock ran out, an enemy Victor fired a Breaching Shot and killed a 10/10/10/10 mechwarrior with about 65,000 extra experience. If 50 XP is 1 score point, then that cost me about 3,500 score points. That still would not have been enough to make up the difference, so next campaign I think that my experience gain needs to be Normal and not Slow. I did initially like how my recruits didn't get better after almost every mission, but it looks like for the best score, that needs to change.

View attachment 525119
Lessons Learned:

1) If you get lucky with your random lance of mechs and have an Urbanmech, keep it. It might not be a great mech, but it does its job okay, and you also avoid having to hunt for it to complete your 'mech chassis score.

2) It is way easier to be Honored by Steiner and Kurita than it is to be Loathed by them. Planning to include them in your group of four factions that you're going to bring to 100 reputation is a good plan.

3) The Capellan Confederation has the best series of systems (maybe 12) to cycle through at the end game when you're looking for contracts, followed by Davion (maybe 7), and then Marik (maybe 7.)

4) Set your Mechwarrior Experience difficulty to Normal if you want to max out the score. Slow probably won't be quick enough.

5) Recent experimentation shows that contracts refresh on every visit to a system, which makes a big difference when looking for those 3 skull missions when you're trying to move a reputation off of Indifferent. I wish I had known that earlier, since it would have made improving Kurita reputation way easier as there are two systems right next to each other in Davion space that could have those sort of missions.

6) Day Zero 'mech builds are good to think about. Here, I'm talking about modifications you can make to your mechs without any time in the mechbay that will improve their performance before you start your first contract. I don't have any builds that I can recommend, but I'm sure that someone has done their research on this. The general concept would probably be to remove CT ammo and sub-optimal weapon systems, and add armor instead to improve durability.


Closing Thought

How will anyone get the Kerensky achievement? I don't have any DLCs, but do Flashpoints add that many more C-Bills to make up the difference? With a target score of 760,000, you'd need 700 million C-Bills in addition to every other category.

Thinking optimistically, say you can get 100 million C-Bills at the very end by selling everything possible. That's 600 million C-Bills left to earn. Say you get an average of 1 million C-Bills per contract during the entire career, and that you can complete 6 contracts per planet that you visit. You'd need to visit 100 planets, which seems possible since you need to visit 170 jump points to complete the Star Systems Visited scoring category. Say the average jump distance for the 100 best planets to visit is 6 days. That would be 3 days coming in (using the Visit System bug where it only takes 3 days, regardless of the system) and 4 days going back out to the jump point (assuming a fully improved Argo drive) and then 3 more days to jump to the next system. That's 10 days per system, at 100 planets, which is 1000 days. That leaves 200 days left to visit the other 70 systems required, which would take 210 days.

I suppose it's technically possible to get the Kerensky achievement, but it seems to be far more luck-based (mostly on what contracts appear) than it is skill-based, which is a bit disappointing.

On three and four skull missions I can get upwards of 30 million c-bills going heavy salvage, if I do things right. That works out to about 3 million if I sell everything, plus whatever I get from the contract payout.

The trick is, I have to basically disassemble as much of every mech I come across as I can, then score the headshot kill or kill the pilot.

If you completely disassemble a mech, the only equipment left to salvage is in the head, ct, and one leg. If I shoot off the side torso with more of the weaponry and then headshot the mech before I can kill the other side torso, I’ve removed more than half the mech’s loot from the salvage table.

The fewer non-mech parts, especially jump jets, ammo, and heat sinks, in the salvage table, the more mech parts I will be assigned by random salvage after my priority picks.

The problem I’m having now is that my mechs and pilots are getting TOO good at headshots. I take less damage, which is great for preventing repairs, but it clutters up the salvage table!

Every extra mech part I get instead of a heat sink is a huge deal.

Edit: I think maybe “no rare salvage” and “equipped mechs” might be the way to go with this strategy. It makes the early game way easier, and when I think about all the chassis I’ve salvaged, getting all that equipment to sell with each new chassis...
 
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Icewraith

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The main Day Zero mech modification I can think of is for the Jenner. Drop the SRM and add armor. Take no time, minimal c-bills, and adds significant survivability.

You can also toss the SRM2 on the 1B Commando. The 2D Commando doesn’t really need 2 tons of SRM ammo. The Centurion doesn’t need 2 tons of LRM-10 ammo, especially at the start. There aren’t a ton of mechs the Firestarter’s flamers will be useful against as well, you might drop a couple. The Spider can stand to drop three-ish jump jets.
 

MarkDey

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The trick is, I have to basically disassemble as much of every mech I come across as I can, then score the headshot kill or kill the pilot.

If you completely disassemble a mech, the only equipment left to salvage is in the head, ct, and one leg. If I shoot off the side torso with more of the weaponry and then headshot the mech before I can kill the other side torso, I’ve removed more than half the mech’s loot from the salvage table.
...
Edit: I think maybe “no rare salvage” and “equipped mechs” might be the way to go with this strategy. It makes the early game way easier, and when I think about all the chassis I’ve salvaged, getting all that equipment to sell with each new chassis...

Yup, I tried to start doing that around the time my pilots could get Precise Shot mastery at Tactics 9. It doesn't always work out though, and I don't have patience to replay a mission to improve the salvage from it. I do think that “no rare salvage” and “equipped mechs” is a decent combo for that strategy. There will be those missions where you end up fighting mostly vehicles though, and then your salvage picks are sub-optimal.
 

commuterzombie

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Yeah, I feel that I shot myself in the foot with the career score in going with slow pilot progression and not choosing generous contracts. Everything else score-wise is pretty achievable (reputation management may prove too much for me as well) but you just can't earn enough experience or C-Bills to get close to maxing out the gauges.
 

MarkDey

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Just for my future reference, with a max of 24 pilots, if I train 20 pilots only with the simulators and have them max out at 30k XP (which will take no more than 600 days) then that will provide 20 pilots * 600 points = 12,000 score points for MechWarrior Experience.

That still leaves 43,000 score points to earn from missions, or 2,150,000 XP. Assuming it's split between four MechWarriors, that's 537,500 XP.

If it takes 114,000 XP to become a 10/10/10/10 MechWarrior, then their profiles need to show 423,500 XP available after maxing their skills.

If a mission gives 800 XP per skull, then that's 672 skulls worth of missions with those pilots. About 134 5-skull contracts, which is about 23 full systems. ... That seems possible.
 

gh0s7

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Yeah, the best way to get a good score on Experience is doing 5-star contracts, which also help with the Contracts score. :)
 

Icewraith

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Just for my future reference, with a max of 24 pilots, if I train 20 pilots only with the simulators and have them max out at 30k XP (which will take no more than 600 days) then that will provide 20 pilots * 600 points = 12,000 score points for MechWarrior Experience.

That still leaves 43,000 score points to earn from missions, or 2,150,000 XP. Assuming it's split between four MechWarriors, that's 537,500 XP.

If it takes 114,000 XP to become a 10/10/10/10 MechWarrior, then their profiles need to show 423,500 XP available after maxing their skills.

If a mission gives 800 XP per skull, then that's 672 skulls worth of missions with those pilots. About 134 5-skull contracts, which is about 23 full systems. ... That seems possible.

You need a larger roster to deal with injuries, otherwise you’ll end up dropping fewer than 4 pilots per mission and lose XP! Unless you plan to restart a mission every time you take a head hit?

Remember that to max out score from contracts you need 700 skulls worth of contracts. You’ll get 44800 points as long as you don’t let your pilots die and don’t use your commander.

10200 points X 50 xp/point X 1 simulator pilot/30000 xp = 17 simulator pilots. But with only 7 combat pilots, on average each pilot will be 206000 XP past straight 10s.

Cost savings on pilots: Every month you keep a pilot that started at 2/2/2/3 that could be 6/6/6/7 (fully trained on simulators) you generate .16 score in differential revenue. (Money you an use to buy unlimited items in store and re-sell them to increase your c-bills earned, at a 10-1 ratio)

If, somehow, you managed 17 30k xp simulator pilots before the 600 day mark, not using them for the remaining 600 days would generate about 54.4 score of differential revenue.

A scenario where you pay for 24 pilots at 64k/mo for the entire career vs 7 pilots at 56k/mo for an entire career and 17 simulator jockeys for 800 days at 18000k/mo generates 376 score points of differential revenue.

That is a ridiculous worst-case scenario (starting with all 10s pilots), with a maximum potential upside of 376 score.
Actually generating differential score requires rebuying and reselling stuff until you’re sick of it or have just enough money to make the last paycheck.

Of course, what we’re actually talking about here is getting 7 pilots that do not benefit from simulators at all, and not dropping other pilots unless you have to or until they’ve hit the 30k xp simulator cap. Also you get credit for xp pilots have already spent when you hire them.

You’re probably better off hiring more advanced pilots with tags you like/backer pilots/unique pilots. Those will level faster via simulator (4/4/5/5 will cap in about 400 days instead of 600), and will trigger beneficial events more often (theoretically).

Because of the differential cost effect, maximizing c-bills gained is way, way more important than minimizing c-bills lost from a score perspective. Any money you save by spending less earns you 10% (really, 12% if you’re honored with the store) of the score that earning the same amount of additional money would.
 

Icewraith

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Yup, agreed @Icewraith . I wanted to just have some benchmark numbers to work with.

Me too! I mainly needed an excuse to work out the scoring/xp implications of hiring cheap vs expensive pilots.

Edit: also, since you can’t hire a pilot below 2/2/2/3, you get 38400 xp (768 score) minimum just from hiring a full barracks of pilots.
 
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