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Mercenary Units

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In the majority of Real-Time Strategy or Turn-Based Strategy games, units are bought with a quantity of resources and spend some time training before they become usable. Some games have the option of hiring special "mercenary" units that are paid for with a large quantity of resources and become available almost immediately.

They're often more powerful than ordinary units but will have some disadvantages, such as high cost, often paying just the currency resource, or they may only be available for a limited time, or in limited units at the same time. If there's a Morale Mechanic, they'll probably have rather low morale, perhaps to represent the fact that they're Only in It for the Money.

Similar to Guest-Star Party Member.

This page is for the mercenaries as a game unit. For mercenaries in general, see Private Military Contractors.



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     Real Time Strategy  

  • Warcraft III:
    • In some maps there are mercenary camps where "creeps" can be hired for gold and lumber. Some have useful spells or abilities, but for the most part they tend to be underpowered. Except, of course, for the Dragon Roosts...
    • The expansion pack The Frozen Throne introduced the tavern, which is similar to the mercenary camp but you can hire Hero Units from it (though no more than three of the standard or mercenary heroes). It also allows you to revive a dead hero instantly, but at a much higher cost, at half HP, and no mana.
  • StarCraft II
    • In Starcraft II Wings Of Liberty Raynor can hire merc companies with credits between missions. Allowing access to merc units that are more powerful versions of regular units, but still have to be bought with minerals and vespene during missions, though they show up immediately in a Drop Pod.
    • On the multiplayer side of things Terrans gain access to the MULE, a call-in support unit that only costs a quarter of the Orbital Command's energy and lasts 64 seconds before expiring. It can be used for emergency repairs, but their primary purpose is to speed up resource gathering; they are four times more effective than a single SCV at doing so.
  • Sins of a Solar Empire has a variant. Players can post anonymous bounties on rival empires and the pirates will focus their raids on the one with the highest price on their heads. Though the AI has a habit of bid sniping. In the Rebellion Expansion Pack, TEC-Rebels can hire a small fleet of those selfsame pirates through the broadcast station.
  • Egyptians in Age of Mythology can hire mercenary infantry and cavalry that vanish once their timer expires.
  • Age of Empires III has this as a game mechanic. Every time players level up in a match, they can play a card, half of which send small armies to the Town Centernote . Some of these armies are composed of mercenary units which cannot be created in any other building in the civilization's tech tree.
    • The Expansion Pack The Warchiefs introduced the Saloon building for the European civilizations, which allow them to hire mercenaries in exchange for gold.
    • The Expansion Pack The Asian Dynasties introduced the Consulate for the Asian civilizations, which allow them to get buildings and units from another country in exchange for a civilization-specific resource called "Export", gathered automatically as the civilization gather the other types of resources.
  • The Empire faction in Warlords Battle Cry III has mercenary cavalry, which has the advantage of being recruited instantly. It can also hire random units from other factions as mercenaries for Confusion Fu.
  • In Lords of Magic, you can either recruit units or hire mercenaries. Hired units are more expensive up front but cost less to maintain. Mercenaries are cheap upfront but are expensive to maintain. Their combat stats are the same either way.
  • Knights and Merchants features the Town Hall, where units can be hired for multiple chests of gold (the regular warriors require a single chest, but you also need to produce weapons and armor for them).
  • In Crusader Kings rulers can hire mercenary companies who will abandon you as soon as you run out of gold. And there's also holy orders such as the Knights Templar whom you can hire by spending piety but will only fight infidels.
  • In Europa Universalis there are mercenary units that act just like regular units except they cost considerably more to hire and maintain, but with the benefit that they don't draw from your manpower pool and are much faster to recruit. This makes them a good choice for nations with lots of spare cash but low manpower, or as a last resort when you desperately need more troops quickly.
  • Stellaris:
    • The Apocalypse DLC adds Marauders, a cross between Space Pirates and The Horde in space. Normally, they send raiding fleets out to demand tribute from/pillage regular empires at random intervals, but any empire can also pay them to raid one of their rivals or hire an admiral or general to lead their military. After the first century of the game, they'll even start hiring out entire fleets as mercenaries, though said fleets will leave their clients and join up with the Great Khan if one arises.
    • Overlord enables regular empires to convert fleets into mercenary enclaves that can hire out fleets and armies to other empires, they can also provide logistical support for a client (raising naval capacity) or provide trainers that increase fire rates. The empire that established the enclave can spend resources to upgrade them and in return is paid periodic dividends, and can persuade them to recall fleets hired out to their rivals.
  • Black Command has mercenaries that you need to recruit in order to head out on missions. The mercenaries you can recruit consist of ranks Rookie - Pro - Specialist - Veteran - Expert - Master - Legend in this order. Sometimes in collaboration events or special promos, you'll be able to recruit mercenaries based on actual or historical figures or from other tie-in events.note 
  • Company of Heroes allows factions to choose between one of three specialisms that confer a mix of passive bonuses, off-map support, and the ability to call-in exclusive mercenary units. Their applications can differ greatly. For example, the USA's Infantry Company offers Rangers, which essentially function like elite Riflemen. Other options are more specialist, such as the Armor Company's Sherman Calliope, which gives the USA rocket artillery.
  • Act of War:High Treason. Factions can recruit mercenaries by building a Mercenary Outpost. Mercenaries require an insurance fee and a small rolling fee after that. Also you can only recruit one team of mercs at a time.


  • One of the gods in Dungeon Crawl is Gozag Ym Sagoz, the god of money and greed; it can grant particularly wealthy followers the ability to bribe branches of the dungeon. While expensive, this results in various monsters in that area either becoming peaceful (and thereby ignoring you) or even choosing to fight for you for a time (which gradually costs more money). There also used to be a Mercenary card among the game's magical decks of cards; it would summon a single powerful monster to either permanently fight alongside you if you paid them or try to murder you if you didn't.

     Tactical RPG  

  • In the tactical-RPG Mount & Blade, there is a whole "Mercenary" troop tree, each type of unit from this tree has a chance of being hireable in a tavern already trained. Which unit, is determined randomly: you can come across barely-skilled Watchmen, elite Hired Blades or everything in between. Mercenaries demand larger salaries than national units, but they are of neutral nationality and have no morale penalties regardless of which kingdom you fight (normally, units lose morale if you force them to fight agaist their own nation).

     Turn Based Strategy  

  • In Master of Magic you occasionally get offers from mercs and heroes to join you for the price. How often it happens depends on your fame and how rich you are.
  • Endless Legend has a Mercenary Market technology that allows you to hire units from minor factions, including from those that you haven't assimilated into your empire. Mercenaries hired by the Roving Clans are stronger than average, which is good for them since their regular military units are a little on the weak side. A later technology lets you use bands of mercenaries to pull off False Flag Operations.
  • Dukedom, a Hamurabi spin-off in The Middle Ages, allows the player to hire up to 75 mercenaries who, if not paid, will kill, plunder and rape peasants.
  • World in Conflict had a variant where normal units would be summoned at the team base after a set period of time using a limited pool of reinforcement points. However, you could also summon units (including unique units like the paratroopers) via Tactical Aid points, which is usually much faster and allows you to have more units at one time than your reinforcement points normally would allow.
  • Shadowrun Returns has a variety of 'Runners you can hire when you go on missions. In the first game, this is your only option for reinforcements except in specific missions where they're provided, but in Dragonfall and Hong Kong they're done as extras.
  • In Symphony Of War, mercenary units can be recruited through markets and bazaars. They are far better than the default recruits, but also far more expensive and they start out with the lowest possible loyalty rating, giving them a +2 capacity penalty unless they are used as squad leaders.

     Other Video Games 

  • Cultist Simulator allows you to hire on temporary followers to aid you in the business of your cult. They require an up-front payment and will leave after a short time if not re-hired. Hirelings are principally useful in the early game, when you don't have many permanent followers and lack the resources to promote the ones you do have. While it's possible to run out permanent followers, hirelings can respawn without limit and make a good choice for rites that requires a sacrifice.

     Tabletop Games  

  • In Blood Bowl you can hire cheap mercenaries and/or expensive Star Players who will play for your team for one match.
  • Dungeons & Dragons. The Forgotten Realms setting has a large number of mercenary groups, many of which are listed and detailed in the original grey 1st Edition boxed set and the 2nd Edition supplement Gold and Glory. Most of them have fees so low that moderately well-off PCs could hire them.