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Ok, here’s my current “ironman” game (version .40). I consider this my 2nd long-term game (first was in version .38), and I min-maxed/save-scummed the crap out of the first one to learn the mechanics of the game. This one, I’ve been playing under certain house rules:
1) No save reload, except “to interview a new BB” (my RP justification) — as in, to peek at his traits, and then reload/dismiss if I don’t like him
– no re-roll of level up stats
– no reload from battles
– reload allowed for crashes/bugs; only had this happen a couple times when the AI turn froze and I couldn’t finish the battle
2) the theme I was going for is an “elitist” merc group that only admits the most combat effective/experienced members, except for the starting founders
3) I “play” as “Guidon The First” — but when he dies, he will be succeeded by Volkar The Slayer who will be “by tradition” renamed “Guidon The Second” and so on; fortunately I still have The First, and one Founding Brother left; only a Guidon is permitted to wear the best helm to signify his rank; only my favorite core mercs (founding brother, and Guidon’s potential replacement) allowed to wear the best body armor; I titled the mercs according to their rank/role
Otherwise, no other restrictions on battle tactics, skills, loot, quests, and gear.
This is also the first game where I started to try a battle strategy based around Rally the Troops and Perfect Focus, an idea I borrowed from the forums here; I have four experimental mercs for that (one archer, one pikeman, two captains); also started experimenting with Orc weapons. I play similarly as you do at the start, keep a low profile and do GOTO and PROTECT quests, stay out of trouble, retreat most of the time unless I have confidence in the battle, etc. I save up several thousands, then go on a hiring spree, then start combat-training my company. There is a point when all of a sudden, my company can hold a fight, usually when I have around 6 members, but before that point, everything is a deadly encounter, and I lost so many mercs on the way (I look forward to the Annals/History feature to commemorate my fallen…)
Needless to say, I had many “ironman” games preceding this one that ended in ignoble wipes, and out of those games I developed these “company traditions” that I enjoy. I should probably come up with a better company name than the default “Battle Brothers”, but I actually did not expect this company to survive…I ventured with this company after one of my favorite starting companies named “Dire Wolves” got wiped (by werewolves, of course) in a previous game, so I was in very low morale and just “getting by” until all of a sudden, I got past the early game harsh curve, and the rest is history.
You will notice that I have tons of money and supplies, more than I know what to do with. This is why I was wondering about the whole “economic efficiency” approach, considering in the late game, a combat-effective company would be flush with money, and money becomes no object to the point that I started to hire/dismiss mercs just to clear the rosters of cities to make it easier to tell newly arrived recruits from old ones, but it is also at this point that the game starts to get boring due to lack of end-game content.
But I heard there are secrets in the nether regions… that I have never explored… so I am off to do that tonight :)