Do Spies make sense?

The purpose of this post is to open discussion about spies, and whether or not their design benefits the game, and if not, how they could be re-purposed.

Spies have a stealth mode, a high multiplier against Heroes, and an extremely high multiplier against mercenaries.

The purpose for a unit designed like this could only be to reign in strategies that are otherwise overpowered. However, mercenaries are actually not overpowered per their cost. We even have sweden now, who relies on mercenaries to access skirmisher and dragoon type units. Clearly, this is a design conflict.

I also can’t think of a reason why an explorer multiplier would ever be necessary. If somehow the aztec FI strat that continually resurrects the warchief were too oppressive, and the devs simply didn’t want it to be in the game, then this unit would make sense, but otherwise, spies are just another reason that players should never ship bad hero cards.

It seems to me that spies don’t actually belong in the game, and perhaps they were only included as an excuse to give european civs access to a stealth unit. I don’t have any ideas for a rework though.

Does anybody strongly disagree with me? What kind of ideas can we come up with for a rework?


Their existence is very ambiguous. Few people use only mercenaries in the first place, and spies are of no use at all.

Personally, I think it’s better to use it like a really cheap scout. They consume 100 coins, but change this to about 50 food and almost eliminate their combat power against mercenaries and heroes.

Like an advanced scout, I think it is good to change it to give additional combat power through new upgrades of cards or churches.

They are far more viable now than on legacy I think.
Only cost 1 pop, 100c, huge line of sight and you can pretty much place a couple of these guys on the map and have a lot of vision.
Also some ppl like using them vs japan


Spies are an utility unit

They do not only cost 100 coins, but you have to invest 150 wood for a church.
Their usability is limited in longer games like treaty or 3v3/4v4, but they have a place in 1v1. There they can be used to punish militarily-greedy opponent who spams mercenaries. Its a risk though, as 150 wood in 1v1 is qute needed for other things.

The hero bonus is kind of a gimmick i guess. Probably the idea is to make sure a scout you actually bought can beat a free scout (explorer). Just a guess though.

Also they are 100% NOT an excuse for europenas to have invis units. Spies have been in the game before all the DLCs. That said, why should only natives/asians have invis units. Except they have actual invis units. Spies cannot be used in normal combat, as they are too cost-ineffective for that purpose.

It’s just when you need to punch through a group of enemy mercenary and you have no other options. So you train a batch of 5 spies and pray. Keep in mind it’s 100 coins for unit that can only fight mercs and be invisible.

I think spies do have a place in game, although very specific one, which i agree is not really common one.

The last time I saw spies ingame they were running at my Jaegers and got blasted away before doing anything :stuck_out_tongue:
Guess they shouldve hit that stealth button lol.

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Churches provide an xp trickle now, so the 150 wood is not a harsh price to pay, and if spies were just a utility unit, they wouldn’t be able to kill entire armies. They could become a nice utility unit though, if reworked in a smart way, I’m sure.

I’m 99% sure they were introduced in TWC. There was no stealth in vanilla IIRC.

If there are no other options, your opponent has out-played you and they should win. The spy option should not be available for certain civs to bail themselves out. Keep in mind that mercenaries are very expensive.


Spies make no sense outside a hard counter to merc strats.

Maybe add abilities to affect some other strats. For example: building sabotage, building dont produce resources or train units (like pestilence in AoM). They could also bomb buildings, maybe like a petard, but with a coin cost everytime you use it.

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I use them for map control. Very useful buggers. Although their reaction to attack the closest enemy when revealed is a bit annoying…

Yes, they are supposed to counter large mercenary armies, and Mercs are already usually stronger than normal units (until Imperial upgrade) as well as having the advantage of single resource cost.

but are mercs actually stronger at their cost? so much so that it necessitates a unit that only exists to destroy them? also a single resource cost is not necessarily advantageous. coin collects more slowly than food, and coin mines are a limited resource.

They are, and usually wipe the floor with the comparative base units, in performance, which is why they have such exhorbitant population costs.

You have Factories, Whales and Plantations. Coin is not limited in AoE3, like it is in AoE1 and 2.

It is actually easier to get Coin fast, than Wood.

Assassinate the opposing explorer in Age 2 to gain experience and speed up the next shipment
Reduce treasure competitors. Then deal with the opponent’s mercenaries.
I think in era 4 or era 5, release skills to destroy economic buildings or defensive buildings

20 jaegers much weaker than 40 vet skirms (same price in vil/sec, same pop). I tried it and 14 skirms survived, I know the editor isn’t a real game, but such a big advantage shows that mercs are not even a good option, and the only “good” mercs you can use are mercs from the shipments because they are twice cheaper.

Most mercs are already balanced by their high price and required pop, and having a unit that just counters them is unnecessary.

A lot of Age 4 mercs like Elmeti and Mamelukes are super hard to counter with normal units, and they eat up both the normal variants and their counters, like it is nothing.
At that point, you will want some Spies in your army, or else you will take a beating, specially if they are carded-up appropiately for the Merc strategies, and specially if it a Germans or Swedes civ you are facing.

Even Black Riders and Swiss PIkemen can be tricky to counter, and it is good to have a proper counter unit for them.

That is kind of the point of them having so much population cost.

A jagger is however more resource effective than 2 skirmishers, costing 200G as opppsed to 100F and 130G.

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200g = 200 / 0.6 = 333 vil/sec
100f 130g = 100 / 0.84 + 130 / 0.6 = 335 vil/sec

As you can see their price is almost the same, jaegers are not “resource effective”

All mercs have the same unit-type tags as regular units and the default counter system still works vs them. No one even uses spies to counter mercs in most cases, and when a player uses spies (or other merc-killers) vs mercs from the saloon is just an easy win for him… too easy.

Age IV mercs are strong but don’t forget they cost 400 coins, and you should compare them with guard units. Elmeties have stats of 2 lancers so they are pretty normal mercs. Mamelukes are tanks, and their damage is not that impressive, the only thing why they look a bit broken is because they don’t have a direct counterpart in regular army.

Spies is just an easy solution that blocks players from using mercenaries from saloon, they are too effective for the counter unit. I’m not vs the idea of a unit that counters mercs, but having 100/250 attack vs them for only 125 gold looks ridiculous.

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I used the spies only once, against a German who clearly wanted to do full merces, and it occurred to me to build a church and train them, the truth is that they disappointed me, although they managed to make contact with the Jaegers and they did not last almost nothing, I was thinking of suggesting a buff for spies, such as giving them a ranged attack, I mean, in the image of its icon it has a revolver and I understand that in RE there is even an amination for the spy shooting.
I think that with a distance attack, it would be more viable to train them and use them as a complement in the army.


That how to use spies, as you can see (at 14:36) even with a huge disadvantage 10 spies can easily kill 10 jaegers. Don’t use them like regular military units in direct battle. Stealth is OP because in most cases only explorer can reveal it.

And you probably should have the assassins card (literally x2.5 damage vs mercs) if you suspect that the enemy can go full mercs (and always vs swedes).

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I agree spy is an unnecessary unit in this game now, because it is a very old design in this game, that make it useless. I have come up with several buff for it, hope it can be a support unit just like spy in game 《Civilization VI》. But i need time to translate my thought into english.

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If you are going to use Spies, you should always use the Age 2 card that upgrades them, otherwise they are not really good.