Edit: To your actual question :How to recover from crushing losses
This is a management question, and all I an do is tell you what my experience of the game is. This is not the only way to recover, and I’m sure there are other methods that other players can share. Here is what I suggest.
Do your best in the beginning to create an insurance pool of cash. Save money from contracts up to a cap that you decide upon in the event of a long gap in pay or the loss of many units. Early game, run fairly easy missions that will allow you to save up money with relatively little risk. When you reach your target amount of cash, do not under any circumstance, allow your gold to go below that number. As your mercenary band becomes more developed and more expensive to maintain, raise the cap. Always keep an insurance pool of cash on hand based off of the current performance and equipment of the mercenaries you’ve got hired. The cap also allows you long periods of time to take on longer quests that have a more nebulous payday. Only treat the money that you have in excess of that number as disposable income. In this way, the hardest part of the game becomes reaching and maintaining that cap. Hope this helps.
I’ve lost up to four out of seven mercenaries and kept playing. Anything more and I would have reloaded. It is possible to be successful after heavy losses with the proper amount of cash on hand. Money fixes everything in Battle Brothers. The best cure to an empty roster is a full wallet.
Bottom of the barrel missions are delivery ones. You have to be VERY careful on the overhead map for these though, as I’m pretty sure the missions trigger ambush spawns on the route to destination. I encourage finding an off road delivery route to avoid the worst of potential ambushes.
++Info posted BEFORE question clarification++
Don’t feel bad about save-scumming. I know this isn’t a popular opinion, but I’ll stick to it, and here’s why.
1. Firstly and MOST importantly, this is a game and only serves its purpose as one if the player is enjoying him/herself. I understand that there is an elitist current in gaming culture that wants you to play a certain way because “I can do it, why can’t you”, but the people that support this view didn’t buy your copy for you. You bought the game. As long as you aren’t doing something illegal, enjoy your copy of it. If that means avoiding high blood pressure by reloading the game after a bad shake, then reload away.
2. The game is in alpha. Some things are very rough around the edges, like the rating system for enemies on the map. It is very difficult to judge good fights for new players, as an “even” band of bandits is nowhere nearly as dangerous as an “even” band of orcs. There is no official user manual or guide, so unless you’ve spent considerable time on the forums or watching the dev lets plays (which all new players are not going to do) you have no idea why fighting that “even” group of goblin ambushers is a death sentence for your fresh faced band of mercenaries. There are also a few bugs and inconsistencies that put the player at a disadvantage, and It’s doubtful that these things will make it into the new build, but they affect current user experience. If you want to feel terrible for save-scumming, feel terrible on full version release when all pieces are in their proper place. During alpha, have fun, poke at things, experiment, try and break systems to report bugs to the devs, but again for the love of God ENJOY YOURSELF.
On the matter of this game being about random and suffering, i’ve got to respectfully disagree. Battle Brothers will not (and should not) unduly punish you for doing everything correctly. If you’re starting a campaign and you see a caravan quest paying 1415 gold, chances are it will get your company killed with the number of ambushes, don’t take it. If night time is on its way and you’ve got to travel through a thick patch of forest, bunker down at a nearby tower and wait for day because any group of werewolves get a movement buff during night time, and early game that means death for your squad. In my experience failure in this game comes from gaps in knowledge or carelessness. I’ve died most when taking my eyes off of the overhead map and walking into an ambush, or failing to prioritize crossbows, axe units, and other dangerous targets. Sure, there is an element of randomness in the hit chances and game design. Events can affect the trajectory of your play, and a bad roll can crit and kill your best unit, but the player is rewarded for careful game play that stacks all odds in his/her favor. The game is at most about risk management, but it is not a gambling simulator the way some games are, and it is not all random.