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Pricing Mercenaries?

Posted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:14 am
by XSiberia
What is the right EP:CF:Risk ratio for hiring mercenaries?

If fluff allows for mercenaries, then players can use mercenaries on one of two ways (that I see):

(1) An instant force boost without the delays of construction (short-term).

(2) Long-term contracts for garrison duties, etc.

In other words, contracts would be specific because the mercenary force has to calculate risk versus reward. Mercenaries don't simply become an extension of the military--that's the way to end up as fodder and you can't spend your fee if your dead. But they do take on contracts for specific operations (to assist in taking that planet) or long-term garrison duties (to defend that system). That gives the business side of the merc outfit the ability to scope the work, measure risk and estimate a fair price.

I'm wondering what more experienced CMs have found the right cost ratios to be? I would like to have mercs, but I fear that if I attach to low a cost that mercs will replace domestic military programs and that if I attach to high a cost they won't ever be used.

Has anyone else found a sweet spot?


Posted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:42 pm
by Emiricol
Mercs are always more expensive to keep than regulars, but you don't have to pay the (large) costs of training and equipping.

As for uses, historically mercenaries are used as supplemental line troops, garrisoning imperiled areas to free up regulars for attacking elsewhere, or to bring in specific skills that aren't readily available in a nation's regular troop forces.

I think one could make a case for Intel missions to be mercs (for the fluff) if it involves killing someone or destroying something. That would be the specific skills part.

Garrisoning areas would usually be pretty short term, as mercs aren't trustworthy enough to hand over rich rear area planets to them where there's limited regulars military strength. Perhaps by paying double maintenance you could have a % of some empire stat be the limit of troops hire-able, but with no build costs.

Supplemental line troops would be pretty simple as normal ground troops or ships, possibly at a slightly lower tech base. You could even give them NPE stats and a list of contracts complete with "treaty modifiers". Since the troops would pay for their own gear you could have them cost the employer twice maint, but only cost the unit half maint to upkeep. I would probably limit the total just as for garrisons above.

Now these are just ideas,not mechanics really, but is this along the lines of what you had in mind?

Posted: Fri Jul 23, 2010 8:52 am
by XSiberia
Thanks, but what I really am looking for is input on correctly pricing to keep game balance. The fluff side comes easily to me, but I hesitate to implement unplaytested rules for fear of giving my hesitant players a bad first experience.

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:21 pm
by Tyrel Lohr
I think if you had the construction costs for mercenary units be half of normal but maintenance costs be about 50-100% more expensive, it would make the mercenaries worthwhile to have (quick to rally, expensive to maintain), but not something that is going to use to replace all of your armies.

For example, if you have a 3 EP ground unit that costs 1/2 to maintain, you could have the mercenary version cost 1 EP to build and 2/3 or 3/4 to maintain. Using the 1E maintenance brackets, 2/3 is probably better; it means that it can get very expensive very fast to keep those mercenaries around. You just have to keep a limit on how many ground units can be built at a colony each turn (equal to Census works good).


Re: Pricing Mercenaries?

Posted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 11:12 am
by XSiberia

Thanks again for this. I am putting the finishing touches on a Star Wars campaign setting that will use a version of Tyrel's rule for the Lugubraa NPC faction, a mercenary faction widely available in the Unknown Regions where the campaign is set.



Re: Pricing Mercenaries?

Posted: Tue Aug 02, 2011 5:47 am
by Tyrel Lohr
As the rules have matured, I am thinking that Mercenaries in 2E will probably end up being a social trait that makes your own empire's units available to your opponents but diverts the economic points paid to maintain those units back to the Mercenary empire.

Here is a rough write up for comment:

This power's warriors are renowned for the strong mercenary spirit that leads them to seek fame, glory, and wealth serving as soldiers of fortune in the employ of foreign powers.
Opponents can purchase any of the unit classes off of a Mercenary power's force list, but they must pay a +50% construction cost premium for on any units they purchase. These conscripted units are not drawn from the Mercenary powers own forces but instead consist of professional mercenaries and surplus military hardware.

Empires can only purchase Mercenary unit classes that they have actually encountered in the past or otherwise know exist based on intelligence data gathered by their own spies or supplied to them by other powers. Players that are running a Mercenary empire can choose to reveal as much or as little information about their unit classes to other powers. They can either choose to guard this information to prevent opponents from gaining access to their best units or else freely reveal the contents of their force lists to other powers and treat it like an open catalog for ease of ordering.

In many situations the unit that an opponent is conscripting is probably really comprised of one or more other units that collectively have the same stats. This is the case when another power purchases one of the Mercenary empire's newest dreadnought classes, or an advanced new hover tank that is only available in limited quantities. While certain unscrupulous organizations within the Mercenary empire's military-industrial complex might agree to supply such complex machinery to another power, it is more likely that the mercenaries are scraping together a number of smaller units using older hardware to approximate the newer unit's effects and (more importantly) statistics.

Mercenary empires can't discriminate when it comes to who can or can't purchase their units. Mercenaries don't care who they are fighting for or what cause so long as the pay is good and they are fairly compensated for putting their lives on the line.

The benefit that Mercenary powers gain from allowing other units to purchase units from their force lists is that they receive a commerce income bonus equal to 10% times the total maintenance cost of their mercenaries that are currently being operated by foreign powers (round fractions up). In other words, all of the economic points that an empire spends to maintain another power's mercenaries goes right back into that Mercenary power's coffers as income! This makes it a bad idea to rely on an enemy's Mercenary units when attempting to subdue them. The irony of using their own unit classes to break their empire is dulled by the fact that every single one of their mercenaries you are fielding is giving them extra income they can use to repair or reinforce their own military forces.