Mechwarrior Online is a free-to-play game. As always with such games, one can spend real cash to gain an increased rate of progress, and in some cases, power. So far, PGI (the Developers of Mechwarrior Online) have managed to refrain from selling power.
While the Cadet Bonus has been live for some time, no one has really talked about it, what it means for new player, or how to game it for maximum profit!
You might be unsure whether MWO is worth your investment. In this case, I recommend just making a free account and giving it a go. You don’t have to try to get the most out of your Cadet Bonus. But if you want to get a huge bonus and reduce the grind to get more cool stompy robots, read on.
In December 2012 PGI added a new mechanic to ease the transition from Trial Mechs into your first owned Mech. This was the time the Cadet Bonus was added. During the first 25 matches a significant bonus will be added to the match earnings. This bonus starts at 424,492 C-Bills and decreases over time. Within its duration of 25 matches, an additional 7,981,686 C-Bills will be earned. In case you’re wondering about the weird numbers, the bonus is calculated with a logarithmic function.
One should note that Premium Time (adds a 50% bonus to C-Bill and XP earnings) and the Bonus provided by a Hero Mech (+30% to C-Bills) will also affect the Cadet Bonus. This sum does not contain the regular C-Bill payout, which can be anything between 25,000 for a loss or over 120,000 for a good win. An average of about 80,000 per match would be quite decent income for a new player. In 25 matches this amounts to the following figures. Depending on your luck with team composition and your own performance you might gain more or less C-Bills.
On average rounds take about 5 and a half minute to finish. I added a bit of time for pre-match countdown, loading the map, fiddling around in the Mechlab and will assume about 8 matches played per hour. Thus, using Premium Time for your Cadet Bonus matches is worth about 8.5 hours of your time or 63 matches played. With the added bonus from piloting a Hero Mech, it makes your first 25 matches worth 100 matches. That’s a damn sweet bonus, but is it worth the money to you? That’s a question I can’t answer. But I’ll tell you what it would cost you.
Premium time can be had for a few bucks. If you’re willing to go through the 25 matches in one single day, you can opt for the cheapest MC package (1,250 MC at $6.95). One day of premium time will cost you 250 MC. The remaining 1,000 MC can be spend on some Mechbays (maximum 3), colors (2 at most), 1 permanent camo pattern unlock or several one-time patterns (75 MC each). As MC packages go, the cheapest one has a really bad MC to dollar ratio, as each dollar is worth only 179 MC.
As you can see, it’s a lot more cost effective to buy the bigger packages. How much you want to spend is your choice. To buy a sensible Hero Mech I recommend buying either the 6,500 or 12,000 MC packages. It’s also sensible to buy the 3,000 MC package for premium time, since 30 days of premium cost 2,500 MC. Purchasing smaller time periods is usually not worth it. A single week of premium time is only half as expensive as the 30 days deal.
Wanna be ... erm, buy a Hero?
The Ilya Muromets (Cataphract, 5,250 MC) or the Heavy Metal (Highlander, 6,750 MC) are the best choices. Both are based on a good chassis - there are no bad variants you have to play in order to skill them. The variety of available chassis is broad enough to be open to different playstyles. The Muromets offers a bit more flexibility and can be upgraded to a higher top speed. On the other hand, the Highlander can bring more firepower and is significantly tougher. Not all other Hero Mechs are bad, in fact I own several suboptimal Hero Mechs. But most have serious disadvantages which make them less suitable to a new player.
Just be warned, a Hero Mech will make more money over time. But first you need to invest some C-Bills to upgrade them into mean and efficient killing machines.
About 3.6 million C-Bills are required to upgrade the Muromets and enjoy the brutal firepower of two Gauss Rifles. One should be able to run this build after 4-5 matches. Building a brutal Heavy Metal is either cheaper at less than 700,000 C-Bills (ready to rock after one match) or more expensive with slightly over 6.8 million C-Bills (about 8 matches).
Using a Hero Mech during the Cadet Bonus time will provide an additional 3 million C-Bills. Even the cheapest Hero Mech costs several dollars, so it’s not worth it for the Cadet Bonus, though it certainly helps in the long term. But you could use the same MC needed for a Hero Mech to spend on more Premium Time. A Ilya Muromets costs more than 60 Days of Premium time.
Owning a Hero Mech and using Premium time will allow you to easily buy and fully upgrade one Mech during your Cadet matches. If you do well, you might even have enough to buy a second Mech, allowing you to master one chassis (Cataphracts or Highlanders) or enjoying different roles within Mechwarrior Online.
If you opt to not buy a Hero Mech you’ll want to buy a regular one. This means investing about 13 to 19 million C-Bills into a Heavy or Assault Mech, which will nearly use up your Cadet Bonus if you actually bought Premium time. Without it you’ll need at least 30 additional matches to fully upgrade your first Mech, unless you bought a really cheap Mech and spend nothing on upgrades.
How to get more match income
There are some easy ways to increase your match income. A Kill Assist (7,000 C-Bills) is worth as much as an actual Kill (5,000 + 2,500 component destruction). If the opportunity presents itself you should shoot at everyone on the opposing team. Just don’t go out of your way to do it. Actually winning a match is worth more C-Bills than tagging enemy Mechs which end up not getting destroyed. To support your team you should always target the enemy Mech you’re shooting at (default “R”). This gives you valuable intel on the state of your target and allows others to get the position of your enemy (unless you’re within an enemy ECM field). If anyone on your team uses LRMs they can also fire indirectly at your target. This will net you spotting assists, adding more money to your pool.
Follow these guidelines and your balance might someday look like this: