No Contract - Hard Mode. Stock + KER and Alarm Clock.
I just stumbled onto this post. I didn't even know the challenge was going on. I always liked playing low tech/restricted games and while waiting for Making History I decided to see how far I could get with no contracts in hard mode, or to see if it was even possible. It turns out it is. And once you can unlock Science Labs you can generate basically infinite amounts of money (all be it very slowly) so at that point the game is 'won'.
The game went something like:
LT series: Launch tests for science and the early distance and altitude records.
Long Jump series: First suborbital launches, enough science for Science Jr.
Phaeton series: First orbiter, first rendezvous, first Munar flyby.
Phaeton II series: First Munar orbit, first Minmus flyby. Enough science for OCTO probe.
Sunstrider probe: First solar orbit, communication lost no science.
Mjolnir probe series: Soft crasher Mun and (later) Minmus probes. Mun probe damaged, no science. Minmus probe successful.
UPGRADED TRACKING STATION
Wanderer series: 'Dead stick' planetary flybys (no comms). Moho flyby (failed, total loss of mission), Eve flyby, Duna+Ike flybys (luck!), Jool flyby.
Phaeton/KerLab: Phaeton II with docking port docks with KerLab module (modified Phaeton with probe core). First dock, first transfer, first station. Sent to Mun for firsts. Finally sent to Minmus for firsts.
UPGRADED ASTRONAUT COMPLEX
Phaeton/KerLab cont: EVAs in low Minmus orbit, returned to Kerbin. SCIENCE!
UPGRADE LAUNCH PAD
Monitor: Kerbin EVAs, Mun EVAs, Mun landing, walk, flag, and return. More SCIENCE!
Phaeton III: Duna orbit, EVAs, return. Screwed up, should have added a 'lab' capsule for docking, transfer, station rewards.
BEGAN LEADERSHIP INITIATIVE at 25%
Discover: Jeb's one way trip to the Jool system in an uprated Phaeton plus docked 'KerLab' capsule. Orbit, dock, station, EVA + flybys of all the moons. I left him in low Jool orbit and was planning on mounting a rescue mission later.
UPGRADE MISSION CONTROL (part way through the Discover mission making moon flyby planning possible).
Phaeton III/EveLab: Eve orbit and return, EVA, docking/station/transfer, Gilly flyby. EveLab capsule configured as a probe dead stick lander with landing successful.
UPGRADE R&D! (this is the game winner)
MinStation/MEM: Science lab with Minmus excursion module plus extra fuel. Landing, walk, flags. Enough fuel for all biomes. Bob does science!
That's basically where I stopped. I've cleared the Level 2 tech tree and am banking science for sale. I thought Jeb was in a safe orbit but he got kicked out of the Jool system during the other missions. Fortunately it was into a basically circular solar orbit so rescue actually got easier. I'm still limited to 30 part rockets and have only 200,000 left for future missions so it will need to wait. I would probably mount a cheap Duna landing and return and send some probes to the unvisited planets to get enough cash to upgrade the VAB. Torn about upgrading the Admin building. I want to start selling science but Leadership is a great bonus and very costly to enact. I don't want to give it up. I still have Jool moon orbits and landing, plus the other planets. Still lots of firsts to gather up. It may be cheaper to upgrade in order to sell the science.
Lessons I learned: The docking/space station rewards are easily the best in terms of cost/benefit. Never unlock parts you absolutely don't need. I lost a bunch due to unlocking things I didn't REALLY need. The 30 part limit is a lot less limiting than I thought it would be. Lack of mission planning probably cost me around +20% delta-v for planetary missions. Don't do 'iffy' missions. I nearly went broke when my Moho mission failed. If the followup Eve mission failed, I would have been done (No Sell-Out was my only rule). If you are willing to leave your poor Kerbal in orbit, Jool is hugely valuable. Thuds suddenly became useful. I've literally never used them before but I found them very handy for adding a little oomph without too many parts.