Mercenary Units

Western / Barbarian Mercenaries


Barbarian Mercenaries are the standard mercenary unit of the game. They are armed with spears, making them useful against cavalry, but since they lack the phalanx, they are not all that useful. The warcry helps to give them a decent punch, as does their ability to hide and fight in woods and snow. In all, a basic, standard infantry unit.

They are quite handy in the early game for battles and quickly boosting an army's punch, but the higher-tier units available later in the game make the use of these as battle troops obsolete.

They are also useful in boosting populations, especially on Huge Scale. Not exactly cost-efficient, but when needs decide values, they can be worth it.

They can be found in every province from Spain to Britannia, across central and western Europe, and all the way out to the Pripet Marshes of Domus Dulcis Domus. They can also be found in the northern Italian provinces, and in Galatia.





Barbarian Cavalry Mercenaries are the mounted version of the barbarian infantry. As with their foot-borne counterpart, they provide good value for their coin in the early game, but later units totally out-class them. They are useful for scouting and for running down fleeing cowards, or turning a flank in the early game, but not much else.

Historically, these are accurate portrayals of the sword-bearing savages on horseback hired by the likes of Caesar and others to beef up their cavalry forces. While not as common as the foederati-like infantry, they did exist and thus in the game exist as well. The usual ratio is four units of infantry to one of cavalry in any given area they inhabit.

They can be found from Gaul to the Pripet Marshes, northern Italy, and Galatia, but not in Spain or Britannia.





Balearic slingers are a prize unit when used correctly. Their bullets are armor-piercing, which make them deadlier against armored foes than archers. They also have a good range. Balearic slingers had an awesome reputation back in the day as prime missile troops, and groups of them were often found in classical armies during their hey-day.

One word of warning though- Balearic slingers, like all slingers, launch their missiles in a flat trajectory. This means they do not arc their missiles over the heads of a phalanx before them. They punch right through it, killing your men as easily as the enemy. Always, always, always, place slingers before your other troops, or off to one side. This manner avoids casualties from friendly fire, though there are many who claim that there is no such thing as friendly fire- all incoming missiles are hostile. They would be right too. Avoid the debate entirely by deploying your slingers properly beforehand.

Balearic slingers can be found in Spain and the Balearic Islands. Note that those hired in the Balearic Islands themselves will come with two chevrons. There is a small chance to find these guys in western North Africa and parts of Sicilia, but that is seldom.





There are mixed reviews on the Spanish Mercenary. Some claim he is a piss-poor line-holder, others a light version of the famed Roman hastatus. Like the hastatus, he throws a pilum or two before closing for battle. Personally I fell him a good soldier for what he is intended to do. He is not meant to hold a line, or to confront in straight battle the upper-tier units of enemy infantry. He is an excellent guerilla warrior, and superb when used to harry flanks. When falling upon the flank of an engaged enemy, he can cause the enemy much heartache. Thrown onto the pointy end of a phalanx, he will die like a fly upon poisoned feces.

These particular troops seem to be modeled on the Spanish Legion of Sertorius, who led a rebellion against Sulla and Pompey. While he lived, he drove off much larger armies of Romans time and again, mostly using troops he himself trained in the Roman manner, with a good mix of local warriors.

Spanish Mercenaries can only be hired in Spain.




Balkan Mercs


Another standard unit, readily available. They add some missile power to an army, and are effective in open order against elephants, but their uses pretty much peter out there.

Mercenary peltasts can be found throughout the Balkans and Greece, to include the island of Crete.











The Illyrian is an upgraded peltast, with a heavier spear and an improved melee attack. He suffers in defense, but then again, he is not supposed to engage in melee, but support it by pitching long, sharp objects into the enemy hide. In this role, they are superb. They are also quick on their feet- turn them loose on a routing enemy and watch the trail of enemy bodies point to your mercs.

Illyrians were renowned throughout the classical world as excellent guerilla warriors.

Illyrians can only be hired in Northern Greece and the Balkans.





Thracians are another standard infantry band of sell-swords. They have a better attack, but worse armor, than the Barbarian mercenaries, but are used in a similar manner. Their weapon is the short Thracian sica, a wicked curved sword with the edge on the inside where it can slice and dice an enemy soldier rather cruelly.

Thracians can be hired throughout the eastern Balkans and northern Greece.

Historically they were tough warriors who often drank large quantities of wine before going into battle. They were also known to be quite promiscuous- the stereotypical barbarian who lives for wine, women, and warfare. They were a pain in the butt of many kings before their petty kingdoms finally found peace under Roman caligae.





The best of the Balkan warriors. Bastarnae in our virtual world use the sica, though in history they were also falxmen using the rhomphaia as well. Notice the double hit points- these are hardy warriors! Used properly with war cry, they can ruin the opposition's entire day.

The Bastarnae were the most feared of the Balkan tribes, and their migrations were a plague feared by most of their neighbors. They were considered a Germanic tribe, though they had migrated from modern Poland to the Carpathian Basin and Middle Danube region. They fought often, and were a plague to the Romans for most of their existence. They were allies with Philip V of Macedon, and his son Perseus as well. In fact, a scheme by Philip of using the Bastarnae to rid him of the Dardani- another Balkan tribe- indirectly brought Rome into conflict with Macedon and ended that kingdom at Pydna in 168 BCE. They fought with the Dacians, causing many Roman headaches, until finally half of the tribe was brought into the Empire to help re-populate those areas lying fallow due to udnerpopualtion. They provided first-class troops when asked. The other half was absorbed into the invading Sarmatian tribes in the Third Century.

Bastarnae are only available in Thrace and the Carpathian provinces of Dacia and the Iazyges.




Mediteranean Mercs


Excellent archers! Cretans are well-worth their pay and upkeep in every way. They can use flaming arrows as can any foot-archer unit, but shoot further and more accurately than most- which more than makes up for the silly hat they wear. They wear no armor, which makes them extremely vulnerable to attack. They are also well-disciplined and have a good morale. These two attributes mean you must keep an eye on them- they could get into a fist-fight without you noticing and be decimated before they break, which would rob you of your primary 'light artillery.'

Cretans can be found in Greece, Crete, and the south western provinces of the Greek Cities. It is highly recommended to hire these units when they get on the market- if for no other reason than to prevent someone else from hiring them for use against you.








Another great unit in the early game that turns to mediocrity in the middle to late game. They are useful when playing as the Romans, however, as they present the Roman player with the only phalanx-capable troops who can easily break chariots. Very useful against Britons, Pontics, Seleucids, and Egyptians. Xenophon and his ten thousand were mercenary hoplites.

They are also well-armored for mercenaries.








The Eastern Mediterranean version of the Balearic slingers. Used in the same way. Rhodian slingers were renowned for their range and power, though they were never as famous as the Balearic slingers.

Rhodians became famous by marching with Xenophon of the Anabasis, where their leaden bullets outranged the stone pebbles of the Persian slingers by a large margin and help shield the Greeks during their long march.

Rhodian slingers may be hired throughout Rhodos, Ionia, Lycia, and Phrygia.





This is the mercenary unit most likely encountered first by the Roman player. He is a light spearman who cannot form the phalanx, but gains a bonus versus cavalry anyway due to his spear. He has a good defense- almost as good as the mercenary hoplite- but with a slightly weaker attack. A good flanker and horse-killer, but not much more than that.

The Samnites were some of the hardiest and toughest Italian warriors. It has been discovered that they developed the scutum and pilum combination, which the Romans later copied. They also handed the Romans many of their earliest defeats, and humiliated the Roman army by forcing it to pass under the yoke on at least two occasions. Always bitter enemies of Rome, they finally succumb and become integrated into the Roman Republic after the Social War, where Sulla won his Grass Crown.

Samnite mercenaries may be found throughout Middle and Southern Italia.




Steppe Mercs


The Scythians were an association of various tribes. As such, they often fought among themselves. The losers were often absorbed, but there were always some hold-outs. Those, and others seeking adventure or simply gold, would often hire themselves to armies of other nations for pay.

Thus we have the Scythian Mercenary- a standard steppe horse-archer. He cannot fight for shit, but he can shoot a bull in the balls at a hundred paces. Hordes of these fellows may engage an army for years on end and lose every battle by retreating once they run out of arrows, but at the end of the line, they are still at full strength while the enemy has been bled whiter than mountain snow. They are best at providing mobile missile support to your forces.

Scythian mercenaries can be found in every region east of the Vistula- from Vicus Marcomanni all the way to the eastern edge of the map, and south to the Caucasus.





Sarmatians, like the Scythians, were a group of tribes. They were also quite mercenary for their time- hiring out or outright selling warbands to other peoples. The Romans, for example, hired Sarmatians for their cavalry alae. There is even some evidence that King Arthur of the legends may be a descendant of Sarmatian mercenaries left behind in Britannia when the legions were recalled back to the continent- there was recently a movie about this.

Sarmatians are the only heavy horse cavalry mercenaries in the game. As such, they are quite standard for heavy cavalry, with the exception of their ten point charge bonus.

They are quite expensive to acquire, but maintenance is actually on the cheap side.



Oriental/Middle Eastern Mercenaries


The people of Cilicia were known as pirates for a long time. They lived in secreted coves along the coast, and often bribed local authorities to leave them in peace and even give warning of a coming naval sweep. They infested the coastline of Ciicia and were a plague to all. They even captured a young Gaius Julius Caesar on one of their raids, though he found their cove when he returned and crucified them all. But other bands lived on, until Pompeius came with an almost universal imperium upon the sea and swept the Mediterranean Sea of Pirates once and for all.

Cilician pirates are found in the pass northwest of Tarsus, and sometimes on Cyprus. They are classic shock troops. Relatively fast, they chuck a spear or two before closing, and do so violently. They do not form lines like standard troops, but more a mob like the peasants. They wear no armor, but are vicious in a fight- partly due to the javelin they throw, and partly due to the high melee attack.

A unit or two of these hitting an engaged enemy on the flank can quite quickly hand you the victory.







Bedouins are camel-riding, desert-dwelling people most-likely to be found throughout Syria through the Levant and into Egypt. Their camels are well-suited to the arid climate where the Bedouin exist, much better than horses which require much more precious, scarce water. The camels also give off an odor which affects horses in a bad way- horses do not like being near camels!

Bedouins come in two varieties- the sword-wielding warrior, and the archer.






Arab Cavalry is horse cavalry, and is only found in Syria and Arabia. Their horses were prized for their clean lines and speed.

Pretty standard mercenary cavalry, on par with the Barbarian Cavalry of western Europe. They have a slightly weaker attack and half the charge bonus, but a slightly better defense. They are, however, much more expensive to hire and maintain.





The pride of the East has always been its horsemen, but armies need more than just swift, long-ranging cavalry. It needs footmen, ignoble and low as they may be. Eastern Mercenaries are spearmen, but their native culture looks down upon them and they know it- giving them a very poor morale. Do not look to these blokes to hold a line- they will surely disappoint you. Their best use is as garrison for newly captured cities, allowing your conquering forces to move on, or as ram-pushers for otherwise all-cavalry armies.

These poor souls can be hired in Syria, Persia, Pontus and Armenia.




North African Mercenaries


The Numidians were superb light horsemen from northern Africa, where they once had a sprawling kingdom. Unlike other horsemen who used lances or swords to strike their foes, the Numidians excelled at throwing javelins. Employed as mobile missileers, they excelled. Employed as melee cavalry, they were trash. This was due to their weaponry and the light, quick horses upon which they rode.

The Numidians were a single people, a single kingdom, but one which was rife with civil strife and often shifting loyalties. Massinissa, the greatest of the Numidian kings, helped win the Battle of Cannae for Hannibal, then fought at Scipio's side at Zama. His descendant Getae was appointed King of Numidia, but his throne was usurped by his brother Jugurtha, causing another war with Rome. Such events were conducive to large quantities of men using their lessons of war to enrich themselves by hiring out as mercenaries.

Numidian mercenaries can be found all across northern Africa.





Javelins seem to be the weapon of choice in the sands of Northern Africa. Whereas the Numidians threw them from horseback, Libyan Mercenaries throw them from the ground. They do not have the punch of the Numidians, but they are much cheaper and easily found. They do, however, have poor morale- do not build an army around these fellows!

Libyan mercenaries can be found all across Northern Africa east of Carthage to include Egypt and the Nile regions.








Few things are as close to pure fantasy than groups of mahouts deserting their armies to become mercenaries, or simply banding together to sell the services of their beasts as sell-swords. Elephants need a tremendous amount of food and water to simply survive- the costs of which often prohibit their remaining in private service.

Yet this unit may not be totally fictitious. Elephants were used in several ancient armies. It is not a far stretch to imagine that remnants of defeated and broken armies sought to join the victorious forces- especially if one was as specialized and powerful as an elephant unit.

Elephants are prized mercenaries within our virtual world. They are most seldom, most elusive, and easily the most expensive unit in the field. Their upkeep as well is huge. Yet elephants can do what other mercenaries cannot- they can pound down wooden walls and gates, allowing instant assault. They can also be used as missile troops, and their trample upon non-phalanx troops is a beautiful sight to behold. Their size and smell frighten enemy units as well as giving them a bonus when fighting cavalry. They cannot hide, but enjoy good morale and can trample enemies underfoot as a special attack.

Elephants have a very important downside. They can go amok. You really do not want a bunch of twelve-hitpoint beasts going amok amid your own lines, trampling your men. Fire and onagers stones can drive them nuts and ruin your entire battle plan. Luckily you have the Spike- a button which orders the mahouts to drive a giant nail through the brains of their beasts. This will eliminate the elephant unit from your ranks, but possibly save the lives of your army.

Elephants, when available, can be hired in the North African provinces of Mauretania, Numidia, Gaetulia, Sahara, and Africa Byzacium (Thapsus).




Mod Mercs


A final word about mercenaries. In addition to those within the game itself, there are several mercenaries available as downloads. The above is one such.

Norse Viking Mercenaries are the precursors of the Vikings that ravaged northern and western Europe in the times of Charlemagne. They are hardy troops, giants on the battlefield due to their protein-rich fish diets, and wear thick double-mail armor. They represent the bands of Norsemen who were even then wandering the continent looking for gold, adventure, and Valhalla.

Norse Viking Mercenaries, when installed, can be found throughout northern Europe and Britannia.

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