Merc Net Launched on the 21st of November and in two weeks we have gained more than two hundred members. For those who are unfamiliar, Merc Net is an Eve based community focused on the mercenary profession in Eve Online. The server is for both mercenary groups looking to advertise their services as well as clients who need such services. Aside from networking opportunities I hope to fill Merc Net with many other resources to make the profession more prevalent. One of these resources will be a variety of guides. This article will be a guide looking at how to acquire and make a proper merc contract. The first part will be for the mercenaries themselves and the second part will approach the same issue from the perspective of the client. I put them together so hopefully both parties can better understand the concerns of the other side when negotiating.
One of the hardest parts of doing contract work as a merc is actually finding the clients. Contrary to what some people might think, joining Merc Net and getting vetted does not mean people will automatically fall over themselves to throw money at you. Expect to put the work in to find clients. And in order to find the client, you need to find the conflict. Tension points exist wherever the borders of entities meet. A couple of examples would be between Volta and WinterCo or Initiative and Triumvirate. The former has had a low boil conflict for some time now where as the latter has become a full flown hot war. Tensions like this also exist between much smaller entities sometimes two corps occupying the same lowsec pocket. The principle is the same generally. Once you recognize where the conflict is and who the sides are, you work on your approach.
Assess what your client needs and what you can provide. Needs depend on each individual case and what you can provide depends on you. If your client constantly has to deal with agile nano gangs hitting their space, they’re likely not going to need 50 dreads to drop on their enemy. Likewise if your client wants an enemy fortizar taken down, your <10 team will not be of much use. Services provided can go beyond just shooting enemies and protecting your clients from being shot. You can provide intelligence, an extra fleet commander to take people out on fleets, or strategic advice. The extent by which you develop these contracts is based entirely on your reputation and your ability to negotiate. Building trust and communication is paramount.
Once you figure out who your client is, what they need, and what you can provide, you need to establish the contract parameters. Things need to be written down in specific terms and understood by both sides before signing off in order to avoid frustration, misunderstandings and ruining the experience for both sides. “Uh yeah just give us 5 bil a week to shoot the enemy” isn’t really going to cut it. You’re either going to underperform and have your client pay more in than they would have lost, or you’ll over perform and feel entitled to more. “We want to be paid 90% of the market value of every hull we destroy. Payment is due at the end of each week.” Terms like that are very specific and hard to misunderstand. Payment terms can vary from having part of the ISK being paid up front, to all of it being paid after objectives are completed to not even using ISK at all. Entities can also pay in assets from capital ships to moons. You need to consider what is most advantageous for your situation. As always Merc Net will work to ensure vetted mercs and clients both keep their word.
It can all be condensed down into a few short steps but each step involves varying degree of complexity. Lastly if all else fails I advise space violence until one of the sides appreciates it enough that they’d be willing to hire you. Be a factor in the conflict, document it, and then present it.
There are a lot of myths that should be dispelled on the client’s side regarding mercenaries. One is that hiring mercenaries invites more trouble because it somehow suggests you are too weak or incapable to do things yourself. This kind of thinking is simplistic and if anything having such a concern shows an insecurity in one’s image which in turn could invite trouble for you. Mercenaries have been a staple of pretty much every competent military power throughout history. Greek city states and even Alexander the Great used Celtic and Thracian mercenaries. The Chinese would employ northern tribes for their cavalry capabilities. Rome likewise made use of Germanic mercenaries and although this has mistakenly been used as one of the reasons for the “Fall of the Roman Empire” a better look at history would show us the Roman Empire would continue on for over another thousand years in the east employing even more mercenaries in their ranks. D-tier armchair historians who have only ever read The Prince are quick to cite Machiavelli disapproving of mercenaries simply because he had a terrible experience. The quality of mercenaries varies just like the quality of anything else. Sometimes they are undyingly loyal and professional like the Varangian Guard and other times they can be self-interested and opportunistic like the ones Machiavelli warns about. Merc Net will work to keep the good ones in and the bad ones out. In short the profession would not continue to exist for most of human history if it was not effective.
How does that translate to you as a client in Eve? Your focus may be mercantile and industrial pursuits puffing your cigar and sipping whisky as you look out the window into the endless darkness of space. Your emphasis on business has made you wealthy. Properly used that wealth can translate into power. Money in itself is not power but wielding it properly can translate into power. Even if you already have military power say as a leader in a large alliance or bloc, mercenaries can be used with high precision for specific goals. You have to figure out what you want. Often would-be-clients don’t really know what they want from their mercenaries. They think that if they pay them 10 billion to kill 11 billion that’s good enough because it’s “ISK positive.” You have to ask yourself what the “therefore” aspect of the contract would be. For example, you pay someone to attack your rival’s ice mining capabilities therefore you have a larger share of the fuel market. You hire someone to reinforce the jump bridge route of your enemy therefore they are less able to come harass you therefore you can make more money from mining. Always consider what the result of the contract will be and how you can capitalize on it. While “ISK efficiency” can be a factor, it’s a poor way to model a contract. Always aim for a “therefore” which is beneficial to you.
Hopefully this guide is helpful to both mercenaries and clients. Although the possibilities are almost endless, this guide should help one focus on certain key aspects of the process from both perspectives. As always Merc Net will work to help facilitate by advising and upholding standards in order to build trusting relationships that are mutually beneficial to all parties involved. If you are interested in mercenary work or to hire, or just to spend time with the community join us on Merc Net.