As always, mercenaries are still quite situational due to the randomness. Every time you spend 200w on the tavern/monastery, it’s like a gamble. Imagine seeing ninja & arsonist & zouave (not useful), or gatling camel & mameluke & lil’s bombard (all age 4).
Another problem that comes specifically with DE is that many new mercenaries are added, and some have overlapping roles (fusilier and askari, mameluke and sennar horseman, black rider and zenata and kanuri, etc.) and there are now enough age 4 mercs to make your all three slots age 4 (which essentially eliminates the strategy).
The resource trickle is probably one good change that encourages people to at least build this building, but mercs themselves are still not used if the ideal ones do not pop up. And randomness is rarely viable in any serious gameplay.
1. Know the mercs beforehand
Available mercs can appear on the loading screen when every game starts, or appear in the tooltip of the tavern/monastery in the construction panel, so that building the merc building is not a gamble.
2. More accessible upgrades Asian mercs still lack upgrades. That’s more of an oversight than a balancing concern because nobody would use them.
European mercs need one specific age 5 politician to upgrade (while African ones get shadowtechs all along the age-up). This makes mercs quickly fell out of favor around age 4 (unless for Swedes). So maybe taverns/monasteries could have merc upgrade techs (like in the Napoleonic Era mod) in age 4 and 5, and the age 5 mercenary contractor grants the upgrades for free. Shadow-tech can be kept a trait for Africans.
The age 3 mercenary contractor (which is also rarely used because exiled prince and having no immediate payoffs) can also give a buff to mercs or even give a tavern or a few merc units.
3. Better drawing techniques than full randomness
Randomness can still be there, but more robust so that a bad random draw would eliminate the entire merc gameplay.
The simpler improvement: First draw 3 unit roles (skirm, heavy inf, hand cav, ranged cav, artillery), then draw 1 unit from each of the roles.
The crazier improvement: Somewhat similar to a “random consulate”, first draw 3 pre-defined merc groups/regiments, each containing 3 merc types that already have balanced functions like the merc cards, then let the player choose from one of the groups/regiments.
A little off-topic: I think spy-like units including ninjas should have/be able to get some sort of siege ability (sabotage). Countering mercs is not a very useful trait if mercs are not massed.
The assassin/agent card gives spies a siege ability (can either be a higher regular siege attack, or a “throw explosive” ability like the Mexican outlaw).
The ninja is a stronger spy that automatically gains this ability.
Similar to the napoleon gun as a better leather gun already with the case shot ability.
I like some of your ideas, I’m just worried about some details on the less random randomness regarding HI specially. To Asian mercs I’d also mention that they didn’t make their Age IV merc shipments infinite.
I would add that monasteries should not produce 0.7 xp as church does, but the equivalent to its wood cost (church costs 150w and monasteries 225w). Keep in mind also that unlike Euro civs, you are missing out on the extra 0.6 coin from tavern since both buildings melt into 1.
The problem with this is that unlike outlaws, they are not map dependent, and I’m okay with that because is one of the elements that makes outlaws and mercenaries distinct. I do support tho the idea to make it less random.
I’d suggest the following changes to the merc gameplay:
Each civ gets a specific merc unit that they normally lack (i.e. Dutch always get Fusiliers, British always get Jaggers etc). Additionally, grant each map a random set of mercs,but from different unit classes.
The mercenary contractor in age 3 will allow training that civ specific mercenary from non-tavern buildings.
For Asian civs, adjust one of the lesser used wonders to grant mercenary contractor stuff ( like grand Buddha for Japan)
Allow native american civs to hire the same type of mercs others can.
I’ll be honest, I don’t want Europeans to have more unique buildings with more benefits, I just don’t see it well. I think that if the room has the drip of gold and the monastery the drip of experience and they fulfill their basic functions, that is enough.
Otherwise they are not happy, well … give the trickle of passive experience to the community plaza, the trickle of gold to the native embassy and enable European mercenaries for the 4 natives.
I think we want to becareful with buffing mercs for asian civs, like actually careful.
japan has already consulate mercs (which are already boosted by like 60%) + boost from the Golden pavillion ( i forget if that thing still boost base on total stats or not) + daimyo and Shogun boosts.
japan can also send shipments twice and has 2 ronin shipements. Just imagine a shogun sudddenly ■■■■■■■■ 15 merc contractor ronin right into your base.
China has guaranteed access to iron troops, arguably one of the best mercs in the game and if im not wrong, with a merc contractor boost, would actually make them about the same or evem more pop and cost efficient then even fully boosted chinese infantry like CKN and skirms and you only need like 2 cards to do it. Sure you can only train them from the monastery but that is a deathball that is hard to kill
I dont play much India so I can’t comment.
edit : correction the japan consulate merc boost is more like 110%
While the formula for random mercs could be improved, it would be better if mercenary shipments enabled training of that mercenary type at the tavern. Meanwhile the age 3 mercenary contractor can also give a discount of 20 to 25%.
Training the mercenaries and outlaws at religious place is improper.
Inn should be introduced into the game for Asians.
For the mechanic of mercenaries training, perhaps the initially trainable 3 types of the mercenaries at Tavern, Inn and Saloon should depend on the map. This can at least grasp the information in advance like outlaws and native warriors.
The effect of the card Theaters from Europeans and Atonement from Asians may be changed into reducing mercenary training time by 20% and randomly providing 5 types of mercenaries at Tavern and Inn.
Besides, some types of mercenaries should able to be trained regularly by the civ they related to, like Black Rider for Germans, Swiss Pikeman for French, etc.
Anyway, let the basic train time of mercenaries, outlaws and native warriors -40% first.
They are immediate combat power who are hired and recruited, and do not need to receive military training from scratch, as long as they negotiate a contract to fight.
The new koxinga card looks very interesting. Of course balance-wise the actual stats can be discussed and adjusted, but I do think most civs should get greater access to an improved version of their own mercs.