FM: Mercs is far too granular to manage a unit of any size, especially using Strat Ops repair rules. For example: who really gives a crap about remuneration in a contract? If the employer is paying for X, Y or Z in a contract, why not just front-load the whole contract payout with that value and move on.
....without being crushed under the weight of AccountantTech. One of the major and back breaking sources of book keeping is unit maintenance and repair...One of the problems that I am grappling with is unit maintenance, be it salaries, the day-to-day upkeep of warfighting equipment or the recovery of a unit after a battle.
I'd suggest not dealing with it at all. Your maintenance and payroll issues should be a known quantity. I don't know why they wouldn't be included in your unit's contract and happen "off screen." I can only think of two reasons you might want to include something like that:
1) You want the resource drain of idling between missions to have weight. You might want to explore roleplaying by having everyone tighten their belts, test your players' ability to juggle finances, or motivate them to take subpar jobs to further a larger story.
2) Tracking monthly expenses is part of the granularity you want in a campaign.
Which system was it that had damage classified as Light / Moderate / Heavy / Destroyed and offered costs for repairing? What source book should I be looking in?
I know Sword and Dragon
had something like that, though it uses Warchest Points, which I recommend using.
Battle Value was never meant as a a cost system (in fact I'm not sure how you pay costs for actuators or engines with it). I'm sure enough elbow grease would let you use it for that system, but it wouldn't be my first choice.
C-Bills are fine, but you hit a lot of their problems head-on. However, if you're going to be buying and tracking individual components, lots of ammo, tons of armor on hand, etc. I think it's a way to go. There are cost imbalances, and they will create new paradigms of design for your players, but I suggest one of two answers for that:
1) Create a market for it. If multiple players are buying competitively-priced gear, then you can raise the price to reflect that. If individual, cost-effective units are in demand, raise the price on them. It is another level of complexity, but it affords you the simplicity of working on a pre-existing cost system. If you want to take it far, mark the production rates of introductory (level 1) tech and raise prices or lower availability. I have suggestions for advanced tech below.
2) Make customizations difficult. It sounds like you already want to do this, but by making customizations hard, more cost-effective components would only be available on a particular chassis because the costs associated with customization would balance out retrofitting them. It might raise an issue when it comes to buying units, but you could always defer back to market forces and availability to handle that.
I admit that Warchest Points are abstract, but you'll have to have scaling whether it's C-Bills or Warchest points. What the Warchest system does
give you is a flexible system that describes materiel, intelligence assets, tactical advantages, and a host of other elements with one easy score. If it suits your need for detail, you could even break it down into subcategories of Support, Tactical, and Intelligence points. Essentially, it seems that the only thing that units are using their profits for are repairs and maintenance, so it's difficult to see what additional points of granularity C-Bills offer that WP don't.
One of the goals that I've in mind is to make custom or high-technology units (C3, ECM, Clan-tech, lots of Level II+ technology) more difficult / costly to maintain than lower cost, simpler gear. In effect, players would be motivated to NOT customize every single mech in their unit, to NOT simply toss PPCs on everything... Or, they could do so, but the maintenance and upkeep of the unit would skyrocket.
The scenario books I've read have advanced technologies listed with their own WP, forcing you to pay the cost of a 'mech to repair/replace them. For simplicity's sake, I'd offer rare opportunities to gain advanced equipment and have repair multipliers associated with them as well. (Paying X points/C-Bills to get the equipment and an additional 20-50% to repair it)
I'd also have the cost to customize a unit close to the cost to repair the new/upgraded piece of equipment were it destroyed (repairing from Crippled for an engine upgrade or Damaged for most weapons). A "customization multiplier" for normal repairs would also be a way to curb customization as well, though I'd recommend only applying the multiplier for the first half-dozen repairs or so.
I do like your idea of handling support and maintenance as a point pool related to the complexity of the units involved versus the number and proficiency of your tech. It gives your players a pool of points affected by their customization and lets them prioritize repairs when faced with limited repair times.
Of course, I do all this assuming you're managing a game played by other players who are managing mercenary units, but for all I know you're running a mega mek campaign against the bot. What sort of use did you have in mind for this campaign?