EU4 - Development Diary - 26th of March 2019

EU4 - Development Diary - 26th of March 2019

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Good day and welcome to this week's Dev Diary for EUIV. I'm sure it comes at an unforgivable late hour for many, but I have not long returned from a short trip to Lithuania. The country is a bit smaller than I remember, but Vilnius was a delightful place to spend the long weekend.

I'm returning as forewarned by last week's Dev Diary to talk about ambitions for game mechanics in the upcoming European Expansion, slated for Q4 this year. As neondt has been discussing with maps and missions, I too will be sharing thoughts and ideas that we have regarding certain game mechanics. What is mentioned here are not changes that are currently in the game, nor are they promises of things to come, but more to share our thought process and ideas we have for the upcoming expansion and update.

During the large end of year Dev Diary I mentioned various wishlist items that we would like to tackle in EUIV and on the list, right at the top, which with a degree of imagination is in bold, flashing colours and on fire, is that the current state of mercenaries in the game is long overdue for a shakeup. That's what we're here to talk about today.

Firstly, why are we even talking about Mercenaries at all? Well Europa Universalis is a game about building Empires, and the business end of your stick are your armies. While regular armies are cost-effective for ducats, they can and likely will run dry of manpower in prolonged wars. Mercenaries exist for you to supplement your fighting force at an inflated ducat cost, allowing you to extend your own fighting capacity so long as your coffers can handle it. In the past, there was a limit to how many mercenaries were available to hire due to a 1% daily chance of mercs becoming available. This was removed in the interest of expunging the random element to available armies, and now your number of available mercs are tied to your forcelimit. Mechanically it's all very functional, but not without its issues

40-0-40 mercs.jpg


Look familiar? Once one's economy is in good shape, the go-to for a nation is to flesh out their army mercenary infantry and, should they feel decadent, mercenary artillery and keep that as a permanent solution for all aspects of warfare. They are the ultimate siege weapon due to reinforcing without need for manpower, so attrition is seldom a concern, while also being an entirely effective battle force as they take your nation's bonuses to battle, and any losses are very quickly recovered in exchange for money.

Even in the event of your mercenary armies being wiped out, so long as you have the money, you are able to swiftly recruit as far as your force limit allows courtesy of their quick recruitment time, and within a few months, your armies march once more with renewed vigour and no impact on your manpower pool.

Now to its credit, the way mercenaries work currently allows for a nation to always keep their momentum going. It can be no fun to simply sit on your thumb for manpower to recover for a war you want to fight if you find no other options available to you, and I'm sure most of us have found ourselves in a war which would have been all but lost if a few loans and an eager band of mercenaries had not been available to save the day.

So what are our thoughts from here? Well, there is certainly no end to the balance tweaking that could be done here, as the variables involved are plenty and could be adjusted: rising cost of mercs, restricting their availability, perhaps reigning in how easily they adapt to all of your country's military traditions, fostered for centuries, within a few days. This could be done, and indeed it wasn't too long ago that we did increase mercenary costs across the board, but I believe the solution should be grander in ambition, to be fitting for the gravity of the Expansion we're planning for this year.

@Groogy and I have hashed out thoughts on mercs with very much a "back to the drawing board" approach on the system. What has become more and more apparent is that the system as it exists is ripe for a full makeover.

The European Expansion and its update will, in all likelihood, feature a completely different mercenary mechanic from what we know today. We have established several key aspects of how we want to handle mercenaries:

  • We still want them to exist as a way to supplement one's army strength for ducats.
  • Province-level recruitment will probably have to go. Reducing click-fatigue while we're at it should be a priority.
  • The system should respect geopolitics: Mercs in India should be functionally different from Germanic ones.
  • Mercs must be finite to some degree. As an example, a prolonged 30 years war should drain Central Europe of available mercenaries, and said merc units should find themselves no longer able to reinforce.
  • Player involvement in the system must be greater than it is today
  • Late game multiplayer must be diversified from all out merc-on-merc warfare.
  • The system should be robust, feel alive, and enjoyable

In addition to this, we want to make the fundamental changes to the merc system part of the update. All players who get the planned Q4 update should enjoy a new merc system to explore.

The Dev Diary may end up raising more questions than it answers regarding mercs, but this is not the last we'll be talking on the matter. This and various other DDs to follow are to shed light on our internal thoughts regarding development, rather than showing off what we have added to the game. I'm sure you're growing tired of hearing it by now, but we continue to iron out tech-debt issues (which really deserve a dev diary of their own) and gearing ourselves up for developing this large European Expansion.

What are your thoughts on the existing mercenary system and what would you like to see in a new update? Let us know in this thread, and we'll be back next week to talk more on our plans for the upcoming Q4 Expansion and Update
 

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Will regiment sizes be changed? 1,000 man artillery unit is a bit unrealistic and having a regiment of 1,000 fit in a boat is even less. Company size of 250 might be more appropriate.

Most mercenaries were veterans from previously fought wars.

What if dissolving experienced regiments makes those regiments go into the mercenary pool instead of going back to the "farmer life"?
 

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I would personally really like a mercenary manpower pool per region (France, Iberia etc).

Some battlefield losses from regular manpower could also contribute to the mercenary manpower pool, what with desertions and such.

Maybe with something similar to Ck2 where there are different mercenary companies, but they draw from this regional pool of mercenaries instead. Allows for different bonuses to different regional companies.

This would also allow for interesting decisions and trade companies/colonies to be used to invest into overseas mercenary companies.
 

RMS Oceanic

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On the main topic of mercenaries, perhaps some system that for every 1000 manpower in mercs you lose, your pool of available mercs decreases by 1 for, say, ten years, as the reputation of your kingdom is that if you fight there you'll get killed and the number of willing soldiers decreases. You'll last longer than if you are a manpower-only player, but you'll still eventually run out of soldiers to fight for you.

On a non-specific suggestion for game balance, I think it would be prudent to spend time training the AI how to handle all the existing mechanics that DLCs and balance patches have added. Between the Mesoamericans having a hard time even passing a single reform, vassals' inability to handle the new religious conversion costs, Russia's Paper Tiger mono-Streltsy armies, and the never-ending flood of docks and shipyards and suboptimal marketplacement over buildings that actually make money, making the AI smarter about existing mechanics should make the game more enjoyable for the player.

Oh, also, perhaps split the building construction queue of a province from the envoy queue of a province so colonists stop hogging the province I want to build that basilica in.
 
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This sounds great, but for me, the thing that needs to be introduced into EUIV warfare mechanisms is some sort of notion of supply train, to stop the ludicrous game of "chase the fuck-off stack" around the map. An example of how it could be implemented would be if your army is in a province that is not connected to your capital, through your own provinces, occupations, or transport ships nearby, that army should be taking massive attrition and have a massive speed penalty!
 

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This sounds great, but for me, the thing that needs to be introduced into EUIV warfare mechanisms is some sort of notion of supply train, to stop the ludicrous game of "chase the fuck-off stack" around the map. An example of how it could be implemented would be if an army is in a province that is not connected to your capital, through your own provinces, occupations, or transport ships nearby, that army should be taking massive attrition!
I would very much like for roads to play a part in the supply game.
 

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If merc manpower per region is introduced: please make it so that there is no possibility to drain the mercs from one region in wars, peace out, move capital to another region and enjoy the merc manpower of that region. In short: please don't use hard borders to define that.

I'm greatly looking forward to more of these DD's! :)
 

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If merc manpower per region is introduced: please make it so that there is no possibility to drain the mercs from one region in wars, peace out, move capital to another region and enjoy the merc manpower of that region. In short: please don't use hard borders to define that.

I'm greatly looking forward to more of these DD's! :)
They could also have a system that rewards you for sticking with certain companies, and maybe mercenaries close to eachother have rivalries to discourage using both English and French mercenaries.
 

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That would be a good idea; maybe link infrastructure to province development. I guess I'd like to see a much more dynamic implementation of army speed as well. Your own armies should move significantly faster in your own territory, and speed of armies should increase as time goes by (maybe linked to mil tech), to represent improved supply logistics. It could link to other things, such as province devastation ect.

I would very much like for roads to play a part in the supply game.
 

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Does this mean no more endless AI mercspam? (Looking at you, Ottomans and Ming!!) Please say this means no more endless mercspam! (Maybe go so far as that any nation can not go over its force limit in any given war, as in, "once you are at war, your merc pool is finite equal to your force limit. You reach that number, no more mercs for you till you are at peace and the available merc number slowly (but rapodly faster then manpower!) recovers."
Would limit mercspam, would cap the total number of mercs that can be used while at war, and would be even more punishing for nations who insist to have large standing merc armies. Sounds like a multiple-win to me!
 

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Make mercenaries always stay at 100% maintenance, or perhaps give them a chance to defect to the enemy war leader scaled by the amount you're not paying them (or rebel if at peace). That could help a bit. You might have to make them free the first month after defection, though, so that Ulm doesn't suddenly recieve a 80k stack on the 31st of the month and instantly goes bankrupt. Perhaps it should rather be part of the monthly pulse, after the economy calculations. That way, you'd have time to delete them if they are overly expensive.
Give mercs permanent 105-110 % discipline (+5/10%, not +105/110%)that doesn't stack with national modifiers. Maybe even something with the morale. That would make countries with highly advanced military ideas more inclined to use their own space marines instead of mercs.
 

Barón Rojo

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I want to see private armies represented. More like Imperator. And not only for mercenaries, but for Cossacks, conquistadors, noble levies, tetc.
 

Ariphaos

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I always assumed regiments were abstractions. That we have them at all is somewhat annoying.

1) Unit drill decays way too fast, and having it set morale to 0 renders them vulnerable to stack wipe, and makes it trivially easy to take a OPM out of the fight right away. Drill decay should be halved, and drilling units should have full morale when attacked.

2) Manpower is underutilized as a resource in general. Sailors ought to go away - just use manpower. Colonization should drain manpower. Maintaining an army should cost manpower upkeep.

3) Mercenaries ought to come from somewhere. You hire mercenaries, you should be paying other countries for the right to drain their manpower. This could be opinion based, say, and empires generating a lot of AE may find themselves without a mercenary supply, while taller, rich nations might be able to rely on them almost exclusively.

4) As compensation, the manpower lost to mercenaries should be a slow, predictable amount, and not based on battle losses.

5) Battle losses instead raise the cost of mercenaries in an AE-like fashion. If you lose lots of mercenaries, you end up paying that much more for them.

6) Manpower should have a multiplicative economic impact. Say, -50% to tax, production, and trade income at 0, no modifiers at 50% manpower, and +10% at full manpower.

7) Home supply limits should be increased, especially for states, especially for your primary culture, and attrition damage should be more limited near to your country's borders, especially for states, especially for your primary culture.

8) Consider giving combat bonuses in provinces of a nation's primary culture.

9) Provinces with non-primary cultures, non-accepted cultures, those that aren't states should provide more mercenaries to neighboring countries.

10) I like @jrgen3 's comment about mercenaries always being at 100% maintenance. To balance this for smaller nations, it should scale based on the mercenary supply available to you - so a nation facing down a titanic empire with mercs may not be paying more from them than normal soldiers.

The overall goal, should be for larger empires to be less and less capable of relying on mercenaries. On the converse, larger empires should be a source of cheap mercenaries for their neighbors, especially from unrest, overextension, AE, etc. The larger you blob, the more displaced people in your empire will be willing to fight for the causes of those who would bring you down.
 

Jarvin

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As a pure "late game multiplayer" focused player. I'd like to say that I do not like meddling with the mercenaries(at least not like this).
Even though, if put in vacuum, they are a clearly broken mechanics in their current state, they need to be here to complement for some of the other issues that the game has(forts, terrain penalties, economy buildup and so on)
I wrote a post about this a few months ago: https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/foru...g-and-their-influence-on-multiplayer.1139722/

I encourage anybody interested in the subject to read it through(and give your opinion)

Also to make it clear. I do understand that the issue of mercenaries in SP and MP differ.
I am speaking just purely from my own perspective, that you are free to disagree with.
 

Grand_Strategy_Gamer

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How about adapting Imperator’s mercenary system to EU4? It appears to work well in the dev clash so far and it should be possible to vary the mercenary armies you recruit by region. I also enjoyed DNote’s rather entertaining too-soon use of mercenaries to put down a slave revolt.
 

cristofolmc

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Finally! You just have to go for the I:R system. Problem solve. No more magic endless mercspam wars, manpower becomes relevant again and you have to take it into consideration again before going to war!

Can't wait to hear your thoughts on the estates. I hope you make them fun and relevant finally.
 

darth254

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This sounds great, but for me, the thing that needs to be introduced into EUIV warfare mechanisms is some sort of notion of supply train, to stop the ludicrous game of "chase the fuck-off stack" around the map. An example of how it could be implemented would be if your army is in a province that is not connected to your capital, through your own provinces, occupations, or transport ships nearby, that army should be taking massive attrition and have a massive speed penalty!
that and maybe no reinforcement at all when cut off. I would love supply lines/trains in this game.

and yessss on hearing about merc changes again : O
 

Spaninq

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  • Mercs must be finite to some degree. As an example, a prolonged 30 years war should drain Central Europe of available mercenaries, and said merc units should find themselves no longer able to reinforce.
This is by far the most important point, and one I agree with wholeheartedly.
HOWEVER, there should be caution in addressing this issue. If we use a system in which there are a finite amount of mercs to purchase within a given region/area/term for land that doesn't have an in-game context, we must be cautious of supremely wealthy nations that purchase all of the mercs from the pool before backstabbing their unwitting neighbor and depriving them of any possible means of merc-ing up themselves. I don't have an answer to how this could be accomplished, but I trust that within the next few months the team might have come up with a few ideas.