By: George Argyropoulos
(The art is by DNA-1 a/k/a David Nakayama)
You always wanted to know what happened to Vassago, right? Well....
Sadly, this is a seemingly touchy subject. Let me address why most Mercs merc, rather, I should explain why I , and the guys I know and recommend merc.
Part of the title 'Caveat Emptor' is because there are many Mercs out there that do it to actually make coin. In some instances of exceptionally long targets, I might be ok-ish with this, but for the most part, I dislike this type of Merc-ing. This is why I do it the way I do.
I don't do it for the coins. In all honesty, I look at it as free points for my time while I help those who otherwise would never achieve the same heights for the same amount of coin. When I set my pricing, I try to gauge my average damage scenario with regard to damage and time so that the coin cost generally covers close to my actual repair costs for the points for which I am prepping for someone. In some raids, the use of crews are a necessity and players must also remember that to get those crews is a heavy time investment by the Merc (more on that later).
To expound a bit on my underlying aspect - I think if you are going to merc, it should not be an action for yourself, but rather, the person for which you are merc-ing. If a player can not gain the points needed with their fleets, for whatever reason - or - If I can gain them multiples of their point ability (ie- without a merc they spend 100 coin for 5 million, with a merc 40 million for 100 coin), I think it does nothing but help the game in the long run. The higher the tech-depth of the average player, the better a gaming community this becomes so there are several avenues of engagement for more players.
One of the best places to find a Merc is the Mercenary Contract Killers page. Here you can find players in various worlds that are willing to Merc for you. If it is your first time, wait a day into the raid so prices firm up and you can see who has free time. Once you have an idea of who you want to use, you can search the page for that player and see if there are any positive (or negative) reviews for that player.
If you have used them before, or have come by a recommendation to use a specific player, the page is a great way to find what worlds many of the Mercs will be in. For example, Some Mercs always go to the same world for raids while others, like myself, tend to float around.
As I mentioned previously, wait until the pricing is set. You should be able to also shop around sometimes to find better pricing as some players have more capable fleets than others. A good example is this last raid. Those players with Hcan/Can set-ups hitting the S targets were much more time- and cost-effective to use than those using a less efficient fleet hitting A-sets.
DO make sure you are at the target being prepped with a fleet and DO make sure you engage immediately as a target sniped is not the fault of the Merc (although many, like me, will cover it because we then have someone we can hit during raid). You do NOT want to waste a Merc's time unless they are charging you for that time as well. Many do NOT and making them wait and possibly waste precious crew time is exceptionally rude and can likely have the merc walking away. When aligning schedules, make sure you are available. Do not go for a beer run, lunch, etc. without discussing it with the Merc. Don't leave 15 min. after a merc-run starts. They are trying to help you AND not really charge you- don't be a douchepickle - particularly if they are running a crew.
Do not rely on mercs for more than a raid or two. The use of them should be to help get you into the next level of play so that you can do it for yourself. Most of the Mercs will help you with builds and advice while you are chatting during the preps. You should know how to prioritize your game play (you can read about that here) or you can search through the various pages like the TFC page, the BV page or the BP Crib Forum and ask the community questions there as well as find a wealth of knowledge on the TFC website, including builds and raid advice as it comes to light.
Try to time the use of Mercs to coincide with Store Raids. This will enable you to have a larger selection of prizes to help you bring your game to a higher level with less time spent trying to achieve the same goals. If you are looking for a large number of points, please be up front with the Merc ahead of time as that requires you to align schedules. It may be easier to go to two or more depending on how much you need and the time involved in achieving that goal.
If you have a good experience (or bad) please take the time to leave a note about your Merc.
Time constrained? Blitz v. Merc
Given the introduction of the blitz target, it may be more cost effective to take this option rather than hiring a Merc, particularly when you are time constrained as you can just coin through to the points you want. Do not overlook this option, particularly if you are on a very tight schedule for a raid.
I try and recommend players get a Merc from the same country as they reside. The reason for this is that while you can send coin in-game to cover their damage for running you points, if you have too many friends in the game you may not have them show up on your friends list so you can take advantage of this option. Many times you have to use a f/b card and the exchange rate may not cover what was agreed upon. Personally I like Facebook cards. Much easier for many and less hassle with the friend thing.
Don't tip. Don't beg. Try and follow directions. Spend wisely. And above all : Caveat Emptor