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Author Topic: Force Creation/Operation Income - too high?  (Read 1620 times)

cray

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Force Creation/Operation Income - too high?
« on: 04 August 2020, 19:16:20 »
Campaign Operations sized payments to military forces as a fraction of the construction cost of units within it. This would allow for a reasonable chance to rebuild a force after bad battles, but also allowed a force to rapidly grow or retire rich in just a few years.

If you've built and run a force with Campaign Operations, would you want to cut monthly income? If so, how much - 25%, 50%, 75%, or something else?

PS: thread closes in 10 days.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

**"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything." --Wash, Firefly.
**"Well, the first class name [for pocket WarShips]: 'Ship with delusions of grandeur that is going to evaporate 3.1 seconds after coming into NPPC range' tended to cause morale problems...." --Korzon77
**"Describe the Clans." "Imagine an entire civilization built out of 80’s Ric Flairs, Hulk Hogans, & Macho Man Randy Savages ruling over an entire labor force with Einstein Level Intelligence." --Jake Mikolaitis


Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.

monbvol

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Re: Force Creation/Operation Income - too high?
« Reply #1 on: 04 August 2020, 19:29:53 »
I run at -50% myself and typically have little trouble making a profit if I actually behave like a proper mercenary.

But to be honest I think it would be best to go for a sliding scale so that people can use what they want more readily since I doubt we'll ever get consensus.

Xotl

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Re: Force Creation/Operation Income - too high?
« Reply #2 on: 06 August 2020, 12:30:24 »
I like the idea of a sliding scale.  Make a default at, say, 75% of the current costs that all the examples are built around (since people do seem to feel it's a bit high), and then have a 50% hardscrabble option and a 100% (i.e. current) generous option.  The options won't change anything in the text other than that mention that you can do that, but lets readers know that messing with the costs is something they should consider depending on the play style they're going for.
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Daryk

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Re: Force Creation/Operation Income - too high?
« Reply #3 on: 10 August 2020, 17:50:13 »
Something else?  Government accountants can do math just as well as mercenary ones.  Why would a government use the unit's construction cost instead of its operating cost as the basis for payment?  Units should be paid a reasonable profit above their operating costs.  Reasonable ranges from 3-10% in my mind, depending on realm.  Risk is accounted for by bonus payments.

cray

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Re: Force Creation/Operation Income - too high?
« Reply #4 on: 10 August 2020, 18:34:52 »
Quote
Risk is accounted for by bonus payments.

How would you size the bonus payments?

Addressing your other points...

Use of construction costs aren't realistic or how sensible employers would approach merc contracts, but BattleTech battles tend to see fairly BV-balanced forces on each sides. Players don't like it when the folks across the table do something realistic and sensible like bringing a 3-to-1 force advantage to offenses.

The outcome of balanced battles is bloody mayhem with high amounts of unit destruction (as in, beyond salvage). That's fun, but it is costly when your 'Mechs get cored out or 3025-era units have an ammo explosion.

Operating costs, though, are far below unit replacement cost. Spare parts, ammunition, even hydrogen fuel for thirsty JumpShips are only a small percentage of a BattleTech force's construction/purchase cost.

Consider the CO p. 27 example, the lance o' Warlords. That's about 30 million CB of 'Mechs, a 238 million CB DropShip, and about 10 million CB in aerospace fighters, but a monthly operating cost of ~1.2 million CB. The proposed 10% operating profit of 120,000CB means the force is about 200 years away from replacing the Union if it's destroyed, and about 6 years away from replacing one assault 'Mech with a cored center torso. Even 100% profits on operating costs means the loss of one 'Mech wipes out most of a year's profits.

Had the lance been free of hydrogen-burning fighters and DropShips (also the only ammo users in the force), operating costs would be about 13,000 CB (salaries and spare parts) and a 10% profit would be 1,300CB. Replacing one 'Mech is a long time away on 1,300CB profit.

On the other hand, basing reimbursement on construction costs supports game play that sees a high frequency of unit losses in each battle. It definitely isn't realistic, but it helps turn a profit with players who lose 'Mechs frequently.

« Last Edit: 10 August 2020, 18:36:27 by cray »
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

**"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything." --Wash, Firefly.
**"Well, the first class name [for pocket WarShips]: 'Ship with delusions of grandeur that is going to evaporate 3.1 seconds after coming into NPPC range' tended to cause morale problems...." --Korzon77
**"Describe the Clans." "Imagine an entire civilization built out of 80’s Ric Flairs, Hulk Hogans, & Macho Man Randy Savages ruling over an entire labor force with Einstein Level Intelligence." --Jake Mikolaitis


Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.

Mohammed As`Zaman Bey

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Re: Force Creation/Operation Income - too high?
« Reply #5 on: 10 August 2020, 20:04:59 »
Players don't like it when the folks across the table do something realistic and sensible like bringing a 3-to-1 force advantage to offenses.
  I disagree. If the fight is fair, somebody screwed up. I find being outnumbered and outgunned a challenge. It is even more of a challenge to use my skill to set up an ambush on the ground I've chosen, with the force I've managed to assemble without the enemy's  knowledge.
  Recon assets serve a double purpose: Locate the enemy and prevent the enemy from locating your main body. Using them in a battle as cannon fodder is common...but my lights have far more value than my heavies and assaults.

idea weenie

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Re: Force Creation/Operation Income - too high?
« Reply #6 on: 11 August 2020, 00:20:40 »
How about if the funds to take on a mission are based on the expected opposition, rather than what the player has?  So there might be several contracts available, but the PC force might have to pass on most of them because their force isn't physically set up for that mission.

Total up the cost (in C-Bills or BV) of the opposition, multiply that by a percentage, and that is the contract fee.

I.e. a player force might have 4 Mechs, 1 light, 2 medium, and 1 heavy.
They have to pass up the city patrol contract because it needs 300 infantry
They may have to pass up the base assault because intel says there are four Heavy or Assault Mechs guarding it
They have to pass up the 'rapid escort' mission because they have to be capable of speed 8+ to keep up with the package and avoid being caught by the previous owners

If the player has good Tactics, Strategy, and Leadership skills, they can roll for advantages to let them take on the more profitable missions.  I.e. tactics can govern which side of the map the players come in on or even which map is used, Strategy means one or more of the enemy Mechs are placed where the player wants instead of where the enemy wants, Leadership might cause a local force to join them to provide spotting in case of double-blind rules, etc.

So the PC Mech force might not be initially accepted for the base assault mission, but their skills could allow them to pull off the mission successfully.


To set this up properly, the players offer a contract amount they would like to go for, and that is the base for the GM's budget.  Dice rolls choose what missions are available, PC dice rolls adjust those options, player preference and dice rolls choose the skill level of their opposition, enemy force composition, etc.  The more that remains unknown, the more the PC force will get paid, but a note is added that the unknown part should be designed to deal with weaknesses in the PC force.

Once the players have the selected mission and the options, the GM is able to select the force that they will face.  The base amount of funds the players will go for is multiplied by a constant, and the GM uses that as the shopping list.  Mechs, vehicles, ambushes, infantry, off-board artillery, air strikes, pilot P/G skills, pilot quirks, Unit Quirks, existing damage, all are purchased by the GM. The smaller categories can be within 10% of the expected budget amount, while the overall is to be within 5% of the original budgeted amount.

(The problem is determining that constant, similar to the existing issue for how much compensation for a contract and units utilized)

So you could have a much larger Pirate force raiding than expected, but several of them are suffering from damage and can be popped easily.  A Clan force is smaller, but the Clan pilots are elite and have all sorts of nasty quirks (i.e. the pilot gets +3 damage to autocannon fire).

(The nice part about using the contract amount instead of compensating for the costs of the player unit, is that if the players want to bring along 'profitable' units, they still have to pay maintenance on them, while the money needed for maintenance is directly used to purchase units to attack them with.  By using a cost-plus method, a playermight find that a certain unit pays a lot of money just for existing, allowing the merc company to make a lot of money on the contracts with little risk.)
« Last Edit: 11 August 2020, 10:07:43 by idea weenie »

cray

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Re: Force Creation/Operation Income - too high?
« Reply #7 on: 12 August 2020, 17:00:55 »
I really like the idea of basing it on the opposition (at least for pirates and mercs), but I have to deliver the result by this Friday with no significant change in word count or page layout.

I'll see if I can turn it into a Shrapnel article.

Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

**"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything." --Wash, Firefly.
**"Well, the first class name [for pocket WarShips]: 'Ship with delusions of grandeur that is going to evaporate 3.1 seconds after coming into NPPC range' tended to cause morale problems...." --Korzon77
**"Describe the Clans." "Imagine an entire civilization built out of 80’s Ric Flairs, Hulk Hogans, & Macho Man Randy Savages ruling over an entire labor force with Einstein Level Intelligence." --Jake Mikolaitis


Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.

idea weenie

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Re: Force Creation/Operation Income - too high?
« Reply #8 on: 13 August 2020, 09:09:51 »
Here are some basics I thought of:
  • Players should keep track of their monthly costs (both paychecks and maintenance costs)
  • Players can select the Base payment they want for their next contract.  Normal Base Payment is lready described in Campaign Operations, but the players can choose a higher (or lower) value if they want
  • This Base payment is used to calculate the size of the enemy force, multiplying it by the Operations Tempo value and a constant (20?)
  • Instead of calculating multiple contracts via the "Contract Offers Table", just go with a target number.  As long as the player roll meets or exceeds the target number, there is work available.  For every 2 full points by which their roll exceeded the target number they receive a level of Generous Employer.  (Assume a TN of '4', and the players roll a '7'.  There is work available, and they have one "Generous Employer" level available.  If they had rolled an '8', they would have 2 levels of Generous Employer)
  • GM rolls on the "Contracts Employers Table", and players can request re-rolls.  Each re-roll removes one level of Generous Employer
  • GM rolls on the Missions table, and players can request re-rolls.  Each re-roll removes one level of Generous Employer
  • GM rolls on the Supplemental Contract Terms table, and players can request re-rolls.  Each re-roll removes one level of Generous Employer
  • Debatable - if the players run out of "Generous Employer" levels, they get "Stingy Employer" levels
  • At any time, the players can choose to drop the contract process and try again the next month (and maybe go to a better location with more contract possibilities)
This way instead of the GM having to create multiple contracts, the players create the contract.  But the more customization the players want, the less the contract will pay.  (This reflects sorting through multiple contracts, going down the pay for each until they find something that they want, or have to tolerate)

Base Payment is multiplied by the Operations Tempo and by 20(?) to purchase the enemy force similar to the existing mercenary force creation rules listed in the Campaign Operations Book.  Figure 3 months of expenses is used for paychecks.  The players are told this value so they have an idea of what to expect:
"This is a great paycheck, we can buy a bunch of stuff with it."  "Yeah, including our graves.  Do you know how big the force waiting for us will be?"
vs
"The margin on this contract is almost as thin as the center torso armor on my Mech."

(This multiplier is the key.  I have likely priced it badly, and should be adjusted so the enemy force for a straight fight is equal to the player force.)


Above all else, the Base payment should be flexible by the players so they can decide (before accepting the contract) that the force they are engaging is simply too powerful.
« Last Edit: 14 August 2020, 05:04:36 by idea weenie »

 

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