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Enhancements to Mercenary Units Gameplay

William Blake

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Original game had a well known Mercenary units mechanics which I would like to expand and enhance in the new game. Main issues of original design were:


  • Mercenary camps are few and at a random times, making this mechanics unreliable
  • To balance out advantages of ready to go high level units, mercenary units were priced very high, making them too expensive at a start of a game when a player has little to no free money and pointless at the end of a game when a player has extensive military infrastructure to build better units for cheaper.
  • Mercenary unit had no real difference from normal units such that once acquired they become just a plain regular unit in usage and function.


I think there is a lot of opportunity to make mercenary gameplay deeper and more comprehensive.


Design Goals:


Mercenaries should be more integral to gameplay process at all stages from early to mid to end game

Mercenary units should be somewhat different in usage from normal player units and create different dynamic and usage patterns

Make sure that mercenaries do not replace regular player built units and do not negate a need for proper military infrastructure to be built. While still being relevant even if player has a developed economy and military power.


Proposed changes:


I’ll describe the list of changes all at once followed by explanation on how they all should work together:


Increase amount of mercenary camps on a map making them common and mostly available at any time.


Decrease initial price per unit greatly making mercenary units cheaper at start with more expensive upkeep over time compared to regular units.


Fix veterancy level on mercenary unit such that they don’t improve over time, but initial veterancy should be higher than regularly built player units. Making them stronger than player built units at the start but weaker compared to max out common units.


Add a spy action to bribe mercenaries in an army: limited success - all mercenary units get moral penalty, full success – mercenaries leaving the army. This should affect both player and npc armies.


For all units add following properties: Unit.IsMercenary, Unit.NationalityID, Unit.ReligionID. Use these properties to implement following logic



At a battle start, for each unit in a player’s army:

IF Unit.IsMercenary && PlayerArmy.Units.Count < EnemyArmy.Units.Count {

      add penalty to unit morale



IF Unit. IsMercenary && Unit.NationalityID == EnemyArmy. NationalityID {

      add penalty to unit morale



IF Unit.IsMercenary && Unit.ReligionID == EnemyArmy. ReligionID {

      add penalty to unit morale



IF Unit.IsMercenary && Unit.ReligionID != EnemyArmy. ReligionID {

      add bonus to unit morale



IF Unit.IsMercenary && EnemyArmy.IsLocalRebels{

      add bonus to unit morale



At the end of a battle, for each unit in player army:

IF Unit.IsMercenary && Battle.IsPlayerDefeat {

      roll high chance of unit disappearing




Explanation of new mechanics:


Mercenary units become common, cheap to acquire, but limited in many ways.


Mercenary penalty facing bigger armies will make them into support units rather than main force, it would be more effective to have to add few mercenaries to a big army than to expect mercenary only smaller army to fight effectively.


Morale penalty on nationality and religion will limit potential opponents (you cannot effectively go to war against Switzerland with swiss mercenaries, you can’t get arab mercenary to go on crusade and so on). Mixing a lot of different mercenaries in a single army will be very limiting in terms of effective targets you can choose.


Morale bonus against local rebels will make Mercenary ideal for local policing and not good for a nation to nation conflict and easy target to spy actions.


Chance of mercenary deflecting and leaving your army on any defeat will make an interesting mechanic which can dramatically backfire if you miscalculated. And make regular units much more reliable, cheaper over long period of time and more powerful if maxed out on experience. Mercenary should become auxiliary and situational force, which you’d better to hire as a boost and dispose of once you have build a replacement. This will make them ideal to deal with rebellions if you hire and disband them on demand.


These mechanics can be easily explained to a player from a common sense as mercenaries do not want to fight hard battles, are expected to leave your army once you are losing, don’t want to fight against their own nation and religion, but ready to oppress local rebels.


Making Mercenaries into separate use case from regular military should add depth and more choices to the game. Hope you can expand on that.







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