Underwhelming Mercenaries and How to Buff Them

Mercenary is a big, if optional, feature of AOE3. They change up the gameplay significantly, and can be incorporated into some out-of-the-box strategies. However, currently, it feels that certain mercenaries are not really useful, or just underwhelming. The following are just my opinion, but I am wondering if anyone else feel the same about certain mercs as well? Additionally, any recommendation on how to buff these units (within reason) are welcome.

Note: The fact that European mercs are better than Asia/African mercs and that Natives don’t get mercs are a separate topic.

Why does this unit cost 3 pops? The unit has barely better survivability than Veteran Grenadiers (which is already rarely used), and gets one-shotted by artillery regardless. Its burning effect does not really impact any engagement based on my experience. Its very high siege is nice, but I can get 3 Pikemen to deal similar damage and ward-off cavalry. Even with the Rocketeer card (which has the side affect of decreasing the firing rate and increasing the malus vs cavs), it doesn’t really make the pop count feel justified.
Since the Arsonist’s only job is to siege down buildings, they should be very good at their job (per pop) for me to pay for the merc.

  1. Give them some siege resistance. For a 3-pop infantry that does not have +16 range, they need to survive at least one enemy falconet shot.
  2. Their attack and siege rate needs to be faster, maybe down to 1.5 (3.0 for rocketeer). If necessary, their attack damage can be reduced to 20 (ranged) and 105 (siege). This is inspired by the Barbary warrior from the Barbary States Revolution. In any case, they have two torches…

Counter-skirms sounds nice on paper, but in practice, Pandours will just shoot at some HI fighting in front of the light infantry, which is a mediocre use of their ranged attack. In any case, if you really have troubles with enemy skirms, the 2 Falconet shipment is almost always a better choice. While they can stealth and can melee down villagers, if they move too far from your main army, they are vulnerable to enemy cavalry and dragoons. (Trading mercs for enemy villagers is a questionable choice.)
Make them a very long-ranged infantry unit. Effectively, you are paying these mercs to have the option to force engagements.

  1. Give them 24 range (instead of 20), remove their ranged bonus against HI, and remove their melee bonus vs villagers. This would make them better at their counter-skirm role. Additionally, this makes them one of the longest-ranged infantry in the game (ignoring arrow-knight), allowing you to force the enemy to engage.
  2. (Only if they are still underwhelming) Pandours gain slight bonus against artillery. An opportune ambush would allow them to catch enemy artillery while they are still packed. Trading Pandours for artillery can be justified if it turns the tide of battle.

Barbary Corsair:
Theoretically, a merc rodelero should be great. It can hunt down cavalry, and run away from anything that counter it. Realistically, the unit just feels very fragile. and not decisive enough when fighting cavalry (compared to Swiss Pikeman, which murders cavalry and does pretty good siege).
Make them a HI raider unit to mess with how the enemy react to raids.

  1. Give them bonus multiplier vs villagers. Having HI hunting down enemy villagers should should mess with the enemy significantly. They cannot use cavalry to chase after your Corsairs, dragoons are also not as effective, and infantry are generally too slow. This forces the enemy to play more defensively, or at least change up how they defend.
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These guys have no business being mercenaries, they are an outlaw through and through. They should be replaced by their Rocketeer variant by default.


Counter-skirms in general are a complete failure. They are way too niche and left on their own waste most of their potential fighting units that aren’t light infantry. They also have no historical or practical basis to give any intuition to their use. On top of that, they look visually identical to other skirmishers so it’s very difficult to spot them. So overall they just add complexity to the game with no benefit.

The most sensible way to rework Pandours would be to make them more of a generalist like Hajduks. They’d start out slightly better against light infantry, but become better against heavy infantry after CIR is researched.

Barbary Corsair

I’d like to see, Rodeleros, Barbary Corsairs, and swordsmen in general get a slight bonus against heavy infantry like they were temporarily planning in the last patch. It would be very fitting for Rodeleros, and Barbary Corsairs are just the mercenary version, so they could get the ability by extension. A distinct swordsman line was actually considered in the original development but ultimately scrapped. Perhaps they could revert Pirates and Wokou Pirates back to heavy infantry if they had a more distinct role like this.


make a fast unit that already beats small groups of infantry, its only counter since it shreds light and heavy goon, also beat musks and it already can beat skirms due to high armor and base attack
what could possibly go wrong? :worried:

in reality, rods require alot of apm. they are one of the best units in the game. speedy units shouldnt smash slow heavy infantry. its like why insurgentes are so good, fast anti cav that can already choose to run or fight favorable places is pretty good as is
Its why they backed the rod bonus back a good deal is because, put simply, its op in the hands of a player who knows how to manage these glass cannons. and its why when they teched into imp with old corsair revolt they killed everything in the game. lets not buff an already solid but niche unit

I am also tired of some matchups just being merc spam because it prompts even more boring monocomps which i get some people like, but god is in boring to face. "oooh the guy can make highlanders or pandours (which btw are some of the best mercs in game for most civs, anti skirm with long range and CIR still beat most units sans cannons and heavy cav so paired with WW are op.)

my suggestion would be instead of just power creeping mercs, making them a bit more specialist. maybe corsairs should get a bonus vs other outlaws (they did historically wreck any other wanna be pirates) or give arsonist prehaps a some more burning damage, there is waysa to make flavor without making more concerncase op mercs that have often ruined team and 1v1 metas.

Pandours are fine they do their job well and destroy skirms. Agree 100% about arsonists they’re currently total trash. Giving the corsair a multi vs vills would at least make it a bit more interesting, I wouldn’t buff it vs heavy inf though.


I think merc is too strong. Some civs have multiple merc shipments which only cost coin. And they cover heavy infantry light infantry heavy and light cavalry, even artillery. They even have 1k coin shipments…some civs can train merc regularly. This makes their macro super easy, or no need to macro at all because all of their army cost 100% coin. Just send all vills to coin, which happens to be very safe and plenty in base. No need to gain map control or push hunt. A civ should only get some types of merc in an age. Not having all types of mercs like Germans, there is no need to macro for other units at all.

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It’s OP just as a blanket buff like they were going to do, but could be fairly reasonable in conjunction with some nerfs to other stats.

I think something like this could work:
Hand Attack ‎ 11 → 10
Hvy inf multi ‎ x1 → x1.25
Cav multi ‎ ‎ x3.5 → x3

Barbary Corsair:
Hand Attack ‎ 28 → 25
Hvy inf multi ‎ x1 → x1.25
Cav multi ‎ ‎‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ x3 → x2.5

That would make them weaker versus skirms and cavalry but also closer to their historical role of countering pikes.


thats probably a good start and more reasonable
those are a bit more reasonable
prehaps give them malus to light infantry a la many goons


From my experience, I feel that 90% of the time, they are just lesser Jaegers (if they are available). Sure they kill skirms, but you have to constantly micro to make sure that they are aiming for Skirms, instead of HI or Cavs (they don’t do remarkably against LC). While micro is important for making the game interesting, Skirms are 1-pop each, and usually come in groups. This makes Pandours usage a case of babysitting the battle. Comparatively, Jaegers kills HI and LC fairly fast. Since both HI and LC tend to have shorter range and fight in front of the battle, Jaegers need considerably less micro to work.

I don’t think Pandours actually benefits in having HI bonus from CIR. However, they should beat HI by stats alone. Regardless, I still have a gripe against the CIR tech. (I view CIR and Caracole as two techs that significantly disrupts the game balance, as they make most musketeers useless.)

Agreed. Under current implementation, Counter-skirms are neither historically supported, nor particularly useful in the game. This is why I suggested that Pandour should just lose most of its bonuses and be a very long-range infantry. It should not do a lot of damage, but it should force the enemy to either withdraw or engage.

As an aside, skirmishers are occasionally recorded in picking-off artillery crews (as they were high-value targets). Thus, while counter-skirms are historically unfounded, counter-artillery can actually be a thing!

For counter-skirms, CIR gives an extra +1 multiplier vs light infantry instead of +1 vs heavy infantry.

Despite having a multiplier vs skirms, Hajduks aren’t counter-skirms so they get +1 vs heavy infantry from CIR. I think a design like that would work much better for Pandours.

Why not this:


Hand Attack ‎ 11
Light inf multi x1→x0.9 = 10 dmg
Hvy inf multi ‎ x1 → x1.1 = 12 dmg
Cav multi ‎ ‎ x3.5 → x3

Barbary Corsair:
Hand Attack ‎ 28
Light inf multi x1 → x0.9 = 25
Hvy inf multi ‎ x1 → x1.1 = 27
Cav multi ‎ ‎‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ x3 → x2.5

You forgot

Jat lancer THE only Indian Horse UNIT in the game :slight_smile:

And no one ever in right mind , made a Jat Lancer ever.

Menawhile Pandour is sometimes used by people.


I find the pandours very powerful in their function, but it is true that they need an excessive micro to be fully profitable.

I have not used them again with Germany after they added the correct cost of 1k, when they cost 500c they were absurdly broken and I used it practically as the first or second shipment in age III.

Jaegers are the favorite option, bosniaks are really strong, and black riders with the next update are going to be the star shipping merc of germany for their versatility (with the cac increase to 18 they .will beat (melee) small groups of skirms easily)

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Meanwhile it costs 4 pop and everything, Elementi also 4 pop but with 1100 hp, while jat lancer is 600hp only.

The barbery corsair is fine. Buffing them would make the barbery revolution completely over the top.

This is absolutely correct. They are not equivalent to other 400 coin mercenaries or 4 pop units. They need to reduce both of them, for them to be in line with their role as a worse Elmetti. 300c 3pop seems fair.

both the Indian mercs got very poor stats for their cost and population. Arsonists were a bit niche but useable on TAD if you were russian (ransack buffed and fast training) or Chinese (most of their infantry had low siege and they were easy to hide in the infantry deathball).

Jat lancers were never available in the saloon/tavern/etc. until DE. I used the age 4 card a couple times on tad only to realize my entire military population was now sitting in a handful of mediocre, expensive cavalry. They definitely should be 3 pop at most and cheaper too… or just better stats. A card to ship them age 3 would be cool too.


I think the arsonist suffers from the grenadier syndrome, and unlike grenadiers, they didn’t get any love.

Jat lancers simply need to be given a new identity, maybe bonus vs artillery or something.

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that tiny bonus is no where near to make it :confused: compare with just any merc with 4pop/400g Elmenti, Royal Horsemen, or just any merc, they are pretty much trash. Even the card fills the heavily contented age2 slot and enables it in age3 :face_exhaling:

ALL Asian Merc except Manchu and Ronins are very unusable.

  • Indian ones being super ultra useless.

The scenario where I thought Jat Lancer gonna be useful is when a very late game where wood has runs out, and the gold only cost should make it a replacement to Mahout, but then since it can only be trained from temple it just not easily replaceable.

Japan Yojimbo got melee area damage and making them a bit like Age3 Cuirassier for #### that weak against Skirmisher, but the 4pop cost limit this merc utility too

Actually, Barbary Revolution gives you access to Corsair Marksman and Barbary Warrior, not Barbary Corsair Mercs (the naming is sort of confusing here). So buffing Barbary Corsair Mercs wouldn’t make the Revolution overpowered.

Funny that they don’t have a card for the Barbary Corsair mercs though…

I knew I forgot something.
Compared to Elmetto, Jat Lancers are quite underwhelming. I think the original designer of the Jat Lancer probably took a look at Stradiot and thought “let’s make it a lancer”. The issue is that Jat Lancers falls in an unhappy middle spot between Elmetto (4pop, slow, but tough and murders infantry) and Stradiot (3pop, weaker, but faster and has good melee damage).
Make them the fastest horseman in the game. The idea is to make them a tougher Indian Sowar, which is one of the fastest cavalry in the game. Effectively, you are paying for a somewhat resilient unit that can outrun everything (including dragoons) in the game.

  1. Increase their base speed to 7.75.
  2. Decrease their pop count to 3 (and their cost accordingly).
  3. Reduce their infantry bonus to x1.5.

Agreed. Grenadier units in general needs to be reviewed. I have previously posted the idea that having Grenadier not being one-shotted by Falconets and being able to threaten badly placed artillery goes a long way to making them viable. While the Humbraci is a bit overdone in the context of the Ottoman roster (anything that buffs Abus Gun also buffs Humbraci, and Janissary are very good meatshield), I feel the devs are on the right track here.

Iron troops are also fine, albeit redundant in the context of the Chinese roster. (CKN and Arqs are both good at their jobs. Anti-cav is where the Chinese falls flat.)

I think Yojimbo is sort-of overpriced and over-popped. The unit is sort of a ranged-melee cav hybrid, but at 4-pop, it just feels inefficient for some reason. The fact that they look more like outlaws than mercenaries does not help either. I am not sure what to do for these units. (Actually, does Japan really have any famous cavalry mercenaries?)