January 2, 2017

Is Mercenary Coalition Becoming Too Big? Are We Losing Our Focus?

Black Omega Security joined Mercenary Coalition yesterday, becoming the largest corporation in the alliance and pushing MC over 1,500 characters. Their addition was a surprise to most of the alliance, a well kept secret during its initial stages, and a bit of a surprise to High Command. OMEGA wasn't on our radar of corporations to recruit and we didn't even know they were looking until they approached us.

I'm happy to have them, knowing a few of their members for the last couple of years, but I do wish they had a stronger US time zone.

With their addition, a common theme has begun resurfacing in Noir.: the feeling of drifting further away from being a mercenary.

Before addressing these points I want to again establish my personal definition of a mercenary.

A mercenary corporation is a group of players whose main game-play is provided through contracts given by other players for a fee.

To give examples, I don't consider most high-sec "mercenaries" to truly be mercenaries because, while it is true they take wardec contracts from time to time, their main form of gameplay comes from wardecing corps and alliances of their own initiative rather than by paying customers. Likewise, I don't consider many of the alliances that had a major part in World War Bee to be mercenaries because, while -- again -- they were paid, their day-to-day gaming doesn't revolve around contracts.

So how does this definition stack up against current-day Mercenary Coalition? I can only talk about my experiences since Noir. joined Mercenary Coalition in August of 2015, but since then we've had an active contract every single month with the exception of (I believe) three times. Two of those times Noir. went and did a mock contract, splitting the loot for our members. The other time MC had a break, the entire alliance assisted in setting up our new home.

Based on my very simple definition, we're absolutely, 100% mercenaries. So why do some people feel like we're not?

If you ask 10 people you'd get 10 different answers, but some of the more common reasons I've heard include:

  • We're too large, so they don't know people in fleets
  • We have too many blues
  • We don't get paid as individual pilots
  • We only had one employer for almost a year
Some of these complaints are frustrations against change, like growing too large. It's understandable, especially for people who were in Noir. before we joined Mercenary Coalition or right as we joined. In those days, you knew every single pilot and understood their individual capabilities. There are a lot of positives in that environment but I can attest to the fact that contracts are limited by your size. Doors were simply closed to us when we didn't have the raw manpower. Like all things in EVE, there are trade offs to purposefully limiting your size. Years ago, in Noir., we used to dream about the types of contracts we're receiving now. We always wanted to help shape the political map of EVE but we didn't have the capabilities due to our size. Mercenary Coalition has grown to a point where we're major parts of historical wars and, yes, that does come at the cost of not knowing everyone, but that doesn't mean we're not mercenaries.

I also understand the frustration of having blues. We're discounting temp blues for contract purposes here. Some people think that, as mercenaries, we shouldn't have *any* permanent blue forces. This is a frustrating opinion for me because the people I've heard say this have never been on the other side and don't seem to have a firm understanding of the politics of EVE. The fact is, to survive in EVE you need friends. That's true from the macro (which we're analyzing here) to the micro (such as joining a corporation). It *is* true that, as mercenaries, we can't have *too many* blues or we arbitrarily reduce potential employers to a point of staleness. By the way, as of this post, Mercenary Coalition has two permanent +10 alliances that aren't alt corps or training corps.

Like most of these points, I also understand the frustration from not being paid. In Noir., the top 40 pilots were paid a percentage of the contract pay out based on efficiency and activity. The pay out wouldn't change your life, but it was a nice perk. The highest single pay out in Noir.'s history was 2B ISK. Average pay outs were in the 60M to 200M range. In Mercenary Coalition, despite being paid hundreds of billions of ISK, pilots don't see any of that directly. Instead, we get SRP. We did not receive SRP in Noir.

To put this in perspective, in October, November, and December, Mercenary Coalition paid out 39,970,787,023.34, 73,425,202,782.66, and 13,100,368,867.68 ISK in respective SRP. 

It's true that pilots who don't lose ships don't benefit from this set up, but as you can see, even when we were paid it was never very much. To create a fair pay out system in MC, the payments would have to be split over a much, much larger number of pilots and the pay outs probably would be somewhat similar to old numbers. You're not going to be buying AT ships from pay outs. The alliance is far, far better off using this money to replace ships and fund programs versus paying pilots out directly. I admit that, at some point, I hold out hope that we're making enough profit to pay out pilots, but to say we're not being paid is a misconception.

This last argument is the most strange to me. For those of you who aren't aware, Mercenary Coalition was hired by Lenny for almost a year. One of the breaks I mentioned earlier in between contracts was because we were waiting for another contract from Lenny. We even turned down contracts during this time because the amount of ISK Lenny was offering was too high not to wait. I don't understand being upset about having one employer. What's the difference between one and many? The ISK still comes, the fights are still present, we still have our objectives. I can tell you, from the top-level, it's much easier to deal with the same person multiple times than multiple people one time. A relationship forms, trust is gained, and the process is streamlined when you work with the same people over and over. It's less of a headache for the contract negotiators, High Command, and the line members. With untested, unproven employers, things often fall through, contracts don't pan out, employers don't show up to the event they hired you for. When you work with the same person, you know what you're getting into.

It's been a while since I've heard the age-old EVE adage: adapt or die, but it still rings true. As mercenaries, we've adapted. Let's not forget that Mercenary Coalition, as an entity, did die once. For a long time, there were less than 10 true mercenaries, and sometimes Noir. was the only one. Mercenary Coalition has come back, and in a big way. This time we're evolving with the political landscape, we're staying ahead of the game. I can't stress how much being a tiny mercenary organization sucks when you see the potential that's there but can't reach it. When employers are confident you have the capability, they will pay. And by being paid over and over and over again, we're mercenaries in spirit and reality.