Mercenary Companies

Current Issues of Mercenaries

Completely random mercenaries is not a proper way to allocate them, especially with the ever expanding number of units that occupy very similar roles. Right now you could end up with a unit set of all musketeers (Highlander, Irish Brigadier, and Fusilier) or all lancers (Jat Lancer, Elmetto, Bosniak), and in that situation, you just pick the best and ignore the rest. There’s only so much that can be done to differentiate units that occupy the same role, so a system like this really limits what mercenaries can be added to the game.

Mercenary Companies

Organizing mercenaries into companies would solve the issue of getting redundant units while also providing unique historical and geographical themes. Each company should consist of 3 similarly themed mercenaries that also have distinct roles. Players could have the option to select one of 2-3 randomly available companies available at the Tavern. Once a company is chosen, only the units from that company would be locked in. A technology could be available to reset the choices of companies (could be themed on gambling).

Below is a list of potential ways to organize mercenaries into companies with primarily geographical groupings. Some of these are based on groupings already in the game such as the Hire Holy Roman Mercenary Army and Hire Highland Mercenary Army cards. I’ve also suggested many new units to round out the companies. This does increase the number of potentially redundant units, but since they’re separated into different companies this is less of an issue. Names are just a suggestion, but I’ve tried to go with names for different sub-regions rather than larger countries where possible. For the suggested new mercenaries I’ve focused on units with a historic role as mercenaries, particularly ones from regions that are unlikely to see their region covered by a major or minor civilization.

Holy Roman Company

Consists of Jaegers, Landsknechts, and Black Riders. Themed around the German states of the HRE.

Highland Company

Consists of Highlanders, Swiss Pikemen, and Harquebusiers. Themed around the units from the rugged highlands who also all hold to the Calvinist faith.

Ryukyu Company

Consists of Ninjas, Ronin, and Yojimbos. Themed around units from Japan. Both Ninjas and Ronin are melee heavy infantry, but their roles are unique enough that they wouldn’t be redundant.

Barbary Company

Consists of Barbary Corsairs, Zenata Riders, and Xebecs. Themed around the Berber pirates from the Barbary coast.

Nile Company

Consists of Mamelukes, Sennar Horsemen, and Gatling Camels.Themed around Egyptian and Sudanese units from around the course of the Nile. It contains two heavy cavalry units, however, Sennar Horsemen are available earlier and have a more specialized role than Mamelukes so there is a function for both.

Condottieri Company

Consists of Armoued Pistoleers, Elmetti, and Li’l Bombards. Themed around units from Italy.

Prussian Company

Consists of Giant Grenadiers and Bosniaks, and Teutonic Knights. The current prospects for a Prussian civilization are slim, but they could get a little recognition with a mercenary company.

Despite their Balkan origins, the Bosniak Corps actually served Prussia.

Teutonic Knights would be a new mercenary to complete the company. As a nod to their AoE2 counterpart, they should be a swordsman with ridiculously high melee armour. They could also possess some of the same abilities as Hospitallers.

Wallonian Company

Consists of Fusiliers, Chasseurs, and Napoleon Guns. Themed around French and Belgian units.

Chasseur is what the Mounted Rifleman is trying and failing to represent. It could be renamed and reworked into a dismounting unit to fix the many flaws with the unit.

Oriental Company

Consists of Iron Troops, Manchus, and Tiger Warriors. Themed around units from China.

The Rattan Shields of the Shaolin Temple would be reworked into Tiger Warrior mercenaries and could be replaced with an actual Shaolin monk armed with a monk’s spade. Their depiction could be like this reskin.


Company of the Isles

Consists of Irish Brigadiers, Privateers, and Gallowglasses. Themed around the descendants of the Norse–Gaels and the Kingdom of the Isles.

Privateers would represent local boats such as Birlinn and the many pirates from the region.

Gallowglasses were Norse–Gael mercenaries from the region that could act as powerful heavy infantry armed with a Claymore or Dane Axe.

Raj Company

Consists of Mysorean Rocketeers, Jat Lancers, and Purbiyas. Themed around units from India. Realistically, units like Ghurkas and Sepoys were more like mercenaries for the European powers instead of standard units in the armies of local powers. However, changes like that would require a significant rework of the Indian civilization.

Mysorean Rocketeers already exist as an upgraded form of Arsonists but they lack a proper skin to distinguish them. Rocketeers should entirely replace Arsonists as mercenaries since Arsonists only really make sense as an outlaw.

Purbiyas would be a completely new mercenary based on camel cavalry. A common complaint with India is that Sowars overwhelmingly rode horses and the depiction of that unit riding a camel is inaccurate. This could be fixed by giving Indian Sowars a proper horse mount, and using the old skin for a Purbiya.

Balkan Company

Consists of Pandurs, Stradiots, and Crabats. Themed around units from the Balkan frontier between the Austrian and Ottoman lands.

Crabats fit the model of mercenary far better than outlaw. Outlaws are bandits operating in their local area, but Crabats were hired into armies and gained great prestige fighting in far away places like Scandinavia and France. On top of that, the promotion mechanic is not something that works well with outlaws. Outlaws are powerful, cheap, and available early, so giving them a mechanic that lets them snowball from small early fights is a bad idea that just leads to cheese gameplay.
One good option to replace the outlaw role left vacant by Crabats could be Uskoks. These were Slavic pirates from the Dalmatian coast that raided Ottoman territories. A lot of their depictions show them with a mace or pick, so they could be either a heavy infantry, or a shock infantry like the other pirates.

West African Company

Consists of Dahomey Amazons, Zappo Zaps, and Kanuri Guards. Themed around units from native Western African kingdoms and colonial allies.

Zappo Zaps were feared mercenaries in the Congo that allied themselves with foreign powers such as Belgium. They fought with hatchets that could be thrown or used in close quarters combat. They should be heavy infantry with a ranged attack that inflicts melee damage. Dahomey Amazons could be toned down to avoid a conflicting role with another hatchet throwing unit.


East African Company

Consists of Boer Commandos, Ruga Rugas, and Askari. Themed around colonial units from Eastern and Southern Africa.

Boer Commandos (or Kommandos) were the militias of the Boer colonists. During their conflicts with the British, they were mobile and well armed with long ranged rifles. Therefore, they could function somewhat like a mobile Jaeger.

Ruga Rugas were local troops first raised by the chieftain Mirambo to guard caravans, but later used by colonial powers. They were often recruited to supplement more professionally trained and equipped Askari forces. To differentiate them from Askaris and represent their inadequate equipment, they could feature as a pikeman unit with an additional charged musket attack (just like the Oromo charged attack).

Mediterranean Company

Consists of Zouaves, Miquelets, and Ribauldequins. Themed around units that operated in and around the shores of the western Mediterranean such as Catalonia, North Africa, Italy, and France.

Miquelets were Catalan irregular and mercenary light troops. This role would lend them to being light infantry, however, the most common depiction of Miquelets shows them in uniforms that strongly resemble various musket infantry in the game. For this reason, they could be a type of musket infantry that either counters other heavy infantry or has various multipliers in different stances.

A common complaint about the Portuguese civ is that they never actually used Organ Guns. This could be remedied by giving Portugal a Berço (swivel gun) unit, and making Ribauldequins (Organ Guns) a mercenary unit. These weapons saw extensive use in Italy and France.) so they would fit in with a Mediterranean army.

Malaccan Company

Consists of Cannoneers, Luzones, and White Elephants.Themed around units that operated in Southeast Asia.

White Elephants (or alternatively Royal Elephants) would be powerful mercenary war elephants based on the prized white elephants of Southeast Asian monarchs. White/Royal Elephants (and all other elephant units) should have a stamped attack like the current Royal Horseman mercenary to offset the pathing difficulties of such bulky units. This ability is so much more suited to elephants, that White Elephants should fully replace the Royal Horseman mercenary.

Luzones were mercenaries and sailors from the island of Luzon who served in the armies of Burma, Siam, and Malaysia. They could function as a spearman equipped with a kalasag shield like the ones used by the Igorot warriors from the mountains of Luzon.

Oceanic Company

Consists of I-Kiribati Warriors, Headhunters, and Kotta Maras. Themed around Austronesian peoples from across the Pacific. None of these units currently exist, but they could be a great way to represent peoples that don’t necessarily fit well as natives or part of a potential civilization.

I-Kiribati Warriors fought in formidable spine covered armour made from coconut fibers and pufferfish spikes. They were armed with shark tooth swords. Due to their unique spikey armour, they could reflect some melee damage dealt back at their attacker.

Headhunting is a practice carried out by many disparate cultures. However, the Headhunters of Papua and nearby Southeast Asian islands are some of the most famous. Headhunters could be based on Papuan warriors with their ornate daggers and shields. A promotion mechanic for gaining strength with each kill would be very fitting for this unit.


Kotta Mara were essentially floating castles made by the natives of Borneo. These ships were strong enough to shrug off cannon fire from European steamships. They could function as a mercenary equivalent of an Ironclad.

Tatar Company

Consists of Bashkirs, Murtazeki, and Dzungars. Themed around peoples of central Asia who bitterly resisted genocidal campaigns of conquest against them.

Bashkirs are a Turkic minority in Russia. During the Napoleonic wars, they fought as mercenaries on the Russian side, participating in the battle of Paris. They currently are depicted as a shipment of Hussars granted from the Russian church card. Therefore, the mercenary version could also be a heavy cavalry unit to replace the Hussars from this shipment.

Murtazeki were Circassian mercenaries that fought against Russian expansion into the Caucasus. The peoples of the Caucasus have such an engrained warrior culture that they have ammunition pockets as part of their traditional dress. Their role could be that of a skirmisher or dismounting counter-skirmisher.

The Dzungars were a Mongol people that carved out a powerful expansionist Khanate that was eventually annihilated by the Qing in a series of brutal wars. They had strong cavalry and utilized a variety of weapons ranging from bows and spears to zamburaks. To fit with the rest of this mercenary company, they could be depicted as a dragoon unit.

Missing Mercenaries

I haven’t included every single mercenary warship as part of these companies. Ones like Battleships and War Dhows can be reliably recruited by some/all civilizations so they don’t necessarily need to be linked to the Tavern

Other Changes to Mercenaries

Mercenary Contractor & Mercenary Camps

The Mercenary Contractor politician should enable your Explorer to build Mercenary Camps and to choose a second mercenary company (could be predetermined by civ). The current way that Mercenary Camps replace the Tavern of the most beer loving civ in the game doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. These buildings also shouldn’t be generating coin and could lose the table with a bone saw that’s a holdover from the Hospital reskin.

Reworking Taverns

Covered in a previous post:

Points 2 and 4 mentioned in that post are further clarified in this one.


Not that I don’t like all of these ideas but why bother investing in all of these when the base issue is still not solved? :thinking: Europeans, Americas and Africans are the only civs in equal footing for mercenaries but for Asians the current state is:

  • Cards are super specialized and don’t include mercenary or outlaws (such are having fundamental things like counter-infantry riffling) and 2/3 don’t have Arsenal (and by extension no Advanced Arsenal card of course) to further upgrade them.
  • No access to infinite mercenary shipments in Age IV.
  • No access to imperial mercenaries.

I believe these are basics and we can build over them with some other propositions.
Right now there is not incentive for long-term play with mercenaries, you’d be shooting yourself in the foot by investing in them if the game extends, specially in team games.

Sometimes I can hire african mercenaries in texas. Completely out of place.

Also sometimes it is usually a waste, because the mercenaries that you unlock in principle, sometimes they are already unlocked by default. For example: “unlock” Mamelukes with the politician, but it turns out that they are already available in the tavern.

My suggestions:

In case they are already available, grant a tavern with the advance of age.

Or it could grant another type of additional mercenary that makes historical sense.

Maybe they should make the mercenaries slightly cheaper to compensate? 1% for each camp? Also grant 5 population each.

Mercenaries and Outlaws should be assigned to the maps accordingly. On the other hand, civilizations that specialize in mercenaries should have a permanent selection of Mercenaries.

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There are a lot of cool units presented here. I think some of them could be Unique Units for brand new civs.

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These are separate issues from what I’m talking about here. I’m trying to solve the issue with the baseline European mercenaries. Fixing the Asians would be trivial once that’s done.

Nor should there be. Mercenaries should generally see their usefulness peak around age 3 and taper off from there. If you want to use them beyond then you should have to commit to a deck and age ups centered around mercs.

But as it currently stands, you can’t commit to a mercenary strategy when most of the time you get a random hodgepodge of units with no synergy. That’s what I’m trying to fix with this suggestion. If you have a reasonable certainty of getting mercenaries that synergize together and with your units then you can more easily commit to a mercenary strategy.


Yes to all (I skimmed the last ones) except teutonic knights (a little bit out of frame?)

Teutonic knights were on Naploenic ERa, while Miquelets were to be included on the next unreleased patch.

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This is probably the least mercenary of the bunch, but they do fit the timeframe. I was struggling to come up with another potential mercenary to round out the Prussian company and couldn’t really think of anything else. Maybe instead of a 3rd mercenary it could enable your Explorer to build Mercenary Camps.

I was specifically trying to avoid this :sweat_smile:

Teutonic Knights are really the only one I’d give to a new civ. But since there’s so much hate for a Prussian civ if figured this might be the only way to represent them.

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How about Kerns as well?

Kerns either operated as for their clan or, handily for this case, mercenaries. As a nod to the AoEII humble Skirmisher, the Kern is a light infantry soldier who uses darts/javelins in almost the same manner.

(Also features the Redshanks merc there as well!)

They were using darts and round shields in the 16th century up until the 17th century, however the ‘quirk’ of the Irish Kern, other than being fast on his feet and throwing darts as an early skirmisher type, is that after a certain amount of kills, he gains a promotion of sorts - he gains a Caliver (a more modernised arquebus that was quicker to fire), upgrading from dart throwing (with its bow-drawing’esque wind-up animation) to a faster gunpowder attack.

Again this gameplay and aesthetic change echos the reality - Kerns would either pick up and use the guns from fallen soldiers, steal them from a smith or import them - they generally wanted the most modern weaponary at the time so would happily change should they have an option. These guys often accompanied Gallowglasses and would act as a skirmishing screen and vanguard for them.


The random vs assigned is kinda the feature that differentiates them. And the Spy bonus, but that could also be reasonably applied to outlaws.

In a battle between Ethiopia and Japan in Texas I don’t think foreign mercenaries are what requires the most suspension of disbelief. Mercenaries regularly fought far from home. For example, there were African gunners fighting across southeast Asia, Bashkirs in Paris, Mamelukes in Europe, or Jaegers and Miquelets in the new world.

This would ideally be fixed by what I’m proposing here. If you could choose between a couple different companies off the start, then you could avoid the civ specific unit/company that you could unlock with the contractor.

They allow you to build Mercenaries at scale instead of just out of one building. If it doesn’t trickle coin then the building can be made cheaper to compensate.

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I once thought of something similar.

Randomness can still exist, but you have to make sure the draw is robust and stable, especially as we have a lot more overlapping mercenaries now.
Most of the time you check the tavern description and choose not to build it.

Also there are some weird allocation of mercenaries that may need to be fixed. Now they overlap too much with the image of other unit types:
Pandour is an irregular, but other irregular units are outlaws (hajduk and crabat).
Royal horseman and royal rifleman look and sound like they should be another personal royal unit from the royal houses.
Sennar horseman feels like yet another native unit…I wonder what distinguishes it from the Sudanese dervish. It’s not a elite unit nor a historical mercenary.
Askeri is the African version of sepoy but a mercenary.
Harquebusier just sounds too generic (and confuses with arquebusier) and they were indeed the most standard units of their time. Does not fit with its super unit status. Maybe it should be given a more special name like ironside.


I agree, they’re pretty inconsistent with these. I think what should categorize irregulars as mercenary or outlaw is where they are operating. Hajduks fought close to home so should be outlaws. Crabats fought on the other side of the continent so mercenary makes most sense. Ideally, Pandours should be a standard unit for an Austrian (German) civ if a split ever happens, but until then a mercenary is better than nothing.

Everything about the Royal Horseman is a confusing mess. They’re easily confused with natives because they have such a lame name. Their historical function was to protect but their in game function is to trample everything nearby. That’s why I think a Royal/White Elephant would cover the role much better. By “royal rifleman” I assume you mean Mounted Riflemen. That one’s even worse with it functioning in the exact opposite role of what a ranged cavalry should (hard countering skirms). And it baffles me why they didn’t call it Chasseur.

The only thing I can think of is that the Sahelian kingdoms had to import horses at great expense so it could represent that. Normally they pick some “mercenaries” from historical regions that aren’t going to be represented by a major or minor civ, but Sudan has strong potential for a civ so maybe one day it could be moved there. They did recruit mercenaries from local tribes so some of those could be a replacement for Sennars.

Sepoys are the issue here. They’d be a mercenary too if India wasn’t depicted as the British Raj.

“Ironside” does sound pretty cool and it’s essentially what the unit is.

Let’s not get started on British Raj ahem India…

(I’ll add Gurkas, or rather Gorkhas as they were originally known as, as a mercenary as well)


I did briefly mention that in the post.

One can always hope.


Why no native american mercenaries or post colonial american mercenaries? This is more of a question for the devs: All the other nations are open to mercs why not the new world?

The TLDR on that is “We don’t want to invest the time necessary to research this.”

And what is the research on this?

Well at the beginning of time, mercenaries were actual mercenaries used by Europeans, and native American “mercenaries” were local native allies that the Europeans hired.
Then both concepts were completely gone in TAD. But TAD did not enrich mercenaries globally,
Then TAR and KoTM added mercenaries fitting their themes.

So now we end up in this awkward situation: mercenaries are mostly European, with some Africans and some Asians (which somewhat confuses with their natives).

On the other hand because American natives were the only ones that still follow the “native ally” theme, I would find it pretty odd if some of them were transferred to mercenaries…For example if Apaches become a mercenary while all others are still natives. I found Sudanese dervish as a native while Sennar horseman being mercenary vonfusing enough already.


I also feel the same way about the kotm mercenaries and the royal houses units.

I don’t think established minor civs would be turned into mercenaries. New ones that aren’t in the game should be added.

I’m just making an example.
When they make African natives they already have the idea of adding some African mercenaries, so they left out some to function as mercenaries, like Dahomey and Kanuri.
However American natives were designed when “mercenary” was still a mostly European concept, so they very much covered most of the well-known peoples that fought as allies or auxiliaries. From my understanding now mercenaries mainly cover (1) actual mercenaries (2) elite units (3) local auxiliary units that are not added to the game as natives. I don’t know if there are still good candidates of Native American units to add to the mercenary type. Maybe some experts could help me out.