We're going to start with Mercenaries. Not too long ago, I penned a dev diary outlining our ambitions with mercenaries
I'll take this moment to draw attention to the fact that the UI and numbers are far from final
In the upcoming Euro update, the old method of recruiting mercenary units one by one in individual provinces is replaced by the action of hiring Mercenary Companies. Mercenary Companies are complete armies of pure mercenaries, as such will not consume from your manpower pool. They can be recruited in any of your core provinces, where they spawn at full strength, but with low morale.
Mercenary Companies come in two flavours: Local Mercenaries and Foreign Mercenaries.
All nations have three bands of local mercenaries available for recruitment, ranging in size from small to large, capped at a minimum of 2 units and a maximum of 40, depending on the development of your nation. Other than the fact that all nations will have local mercenaries available for hire, there is nothing special about them.
Things get a little more interesting with foreign mercenaries. Across the world, there will be foreign mercenary companies, tied to a province of origin; the Free Swiss Guard from Bern, the Flemish Company from Vlaanderen, the Raiders from Navajo etc. These companies come with their own General who is loyal to that unit and that unit only. They also can have different costs and modifiers on the unit, depending on which company you hire from. These companies can spawn and despawn over the course of the grand campaign, but no matter how much you want any particular mercenary company, you can only recruit Mercenary Companies within your trade range. So while you may feel confident invading a colonial Portugal, know that they may well have a far larger pool of Mercenary Companies to draw upon.
So let's take a closer look at the mercenary units themselves. They are typically more expensive than your standard nation's armies, although those costs compared to the current 1.28 mercenaries are likely to be reduced. This is largely due to how Mercenaries will no longer have unlimited manpower, able to feed themselves with coins and bandage wounds with solid gold. No, from the upcoming European update and going forward, Mercenaries will have their own local manpower, unique for their army
Not to belabour the point, but UI and numbers shown and discussed here are far from final
Once you hire, for example, this Cossack Host, they will replenish any lost souls from their own unique manpower pool until, eventually, they will be completely exhausted and no longer able fight at full strength, leaving them liable to be wiped out in battle. Our intention here is for mercenary companies to be the muscle you flex in times of war and conflict, rather than the go-to permanent standing army for all nations. To this effect:
Make mercenaries always stay at 100% maintenance
We added this and are quite happy with the results. If a nation chooses to rely heavily or exclusively on mercenaries at all times, they will certainly be footing the bill for them.
As for when you terminate your deal with any Mercenary Company, they will leave your nation and your command like all other units, but will not be available to hire by your nation for 10 years. If, in time of great war, you may find yourself at a disadvantage if you have exhausted your access of mercenaries against a foe who has many other companies at their disposal.
You may notice that the Local Manpower for a mercenary army replaces certain actions in the UI. While mercenary regiments can still be consolidated, they fight as a single unit under their leader. They will not accept being lead by another leader or army and cannot be split, nor merged with another. In the event that their leader dies, they shall elect a new leader from within.
In playtesting, this has lead to it feeling rather chunky, when manoeuvring multiple stacks which cannot be merged together, as they can have different arrival times and movement paths. We are looking into a better way to manage such stacks of armies, and as inconsistent arrival times has been a bugbear for some time, it seems a fitting moment to address it.
Some other points about Mercenaries which warrant bringing up here:
- Hiring a Mercenary Company won't prevent another nation from hiring from that company too. We didn't want to create a situation where the player who clicks fastest gets those juicy Swiss mercs.
- Mercenaries will use your nation's military stats, then apply any of their own modifiers on top of that. We did not want to echo the situation in EU3, where mercenaries would end up clearly spending all your money on booze because they were too drunk to fight well.
- Mercenaries will be hired through the macro builder rather than through the provinces. This should help reduce click fatigue, but also necessitates some work on the Macro Builder, which we'll address in a future DD.
- With Mercenaries no longer being a bottomless source of manpower, base manpower is likely to increase for all nations, likely by increasing the base amount development gives and/or boosting the value of manpower buildings.
- Mercenaries are to use unit models fitting for their origin.
- All changes above are going to be part of the free update.
This is a major change to system that has been largely untouched since EU3, and it won't be until 2020 that this update hits the shelves. The system is likely to get some refinement based on playtesting and feedback. Early results show a lot more involvement with Mercenary Companies, especially in multiplayer. Hearing "Oh bollocks he hired the Swiss" down the microphone certainly evokes much glee, but we shall continue refining the system. We shall be back with more about Mercenaries, as well as the content that goes hand in hand with the system, as development continues.
As ever, comments and feedback are welcome in the thread. Next week we'll be tackling another large change coming in the European Update.