Fixing Factions: Mercenaries

This topic contains 13 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Ben 4 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #4041

    Mechavelli
    Participant

    I’m going to start a few posts here regarding some of the weaker factions so we can figure out house rules to make them better. Our topic for this thread is Mercs: how do we make them playable?

    Right now they not only lack anything really impressive beyond some lukewarm 10-masters and subs, but their own keyword is a massive handicap that gives them no advantages whatsoever.

    I have one solution to ameliorate the negative aspects of this keyword. Instead of flatout preventing the player from docking, the keyword could be changed so that instead, the player can only dock if they’ve unloaded gold at their HI on that turn. That way, players are incentivized to go after gold to “pay their docking fare”, and it makes sense in the fluff- expatriots and mercenaries wouldn’t normally be welcome in any port unless they’re generating wealth, right?

    Some nuances here would be that if you already have something legally docked, it can remain docked without having to pay subsequent gold as long as it doesn’t undock. That way, ships can repair without the player having to set up a per-turn gold delivery system that would be pretty hard to do in the first place, since one of their ships is out of commission. Another would be that this gold only has to be paid by one ship. Did your gold runner pay gold this turn? Well, now you can dock all your warships and subs in your HI and heal them all. This way, the mercs are incentivized to stick together, get gold, and transport it home without taking any chances. Just like a real professional!

    However, all this doesn’t change the fact that the Mercenary keyword doesn’t give any positives to the Mercs. It’s just a flatout nerf to a faction that doesn’t even seem that powerful in the first place. I’m not sure what kind of bonus or benefit the Merc keyword should give, but I’m open to any suggestions!

    #4043

    Ben
    Keymaster

    I’m going to start a few posts here regarding some of the weaker factions so we can figure out house rules to make them better.

    But do they need to be better?  I like how all the factions are unique to some extent.  Boosting them can sometimes make them less interesting in my opinion.

    Our topic for this thread is Mercs: how do we make them playable?

    I don’t think they need to be more playable, especially not as a standalone faction.  Lowering point costs on their somewhat average/mediocre ships is one way to do it, but that makes less sense when you consider that the mercenaries would want to get paid well for their services.  They’re least playable in competitive games, but still do pretty well (especially the subs and 10 masters) in huge games.

    Instead of flatout preventing the player from docking, the keyword could be changed so that instead, the player can only dock if they’ve unloaded gold at their HI on that turn.

    That does sound interesting and fun to try out!  I like how it makes sense and seems fair.

    However, all this doesn’t change the fact that the Mercenary keyword doesn’t give any positives to the Mercs.

    Starting the game S away from the home island is a nice little bonus.  It doesn’t do much to outweigh the massive negative, but it can be beneficial in terms of getting the first shot or establishing some control over the islands before your opponent does.  It also doesn’t specify that the bow has to be S away, so theoretically you can put the tip of the stern flag S away with the Merc ship facing straight at an island or your opponent, effectively doubling the bonus in some cases as a 4 master hull length is similar to S.  On a 10 master it gives a big first-turn boost.

    Funny enough, you could argue that the Mercenary keyword could have more negatives.  XD  If an opponent gives a certain amount of gold to the Mercs, they should switch allegiances to the highest bidder.

    #4047

    Jack
    Participant

    What I want to try for a tweak is this:

    If there are Mysterious Islands in play, Mercenary ships can start S-away from one. However, you can not do this if there are any ships in your fleet which do not belong to the Mercenary faction. (Ex-pats on a ship that originally belonged to another nation are fine.)

    (Alternatively: If Mercenary ships have their linked crew aboard, they can begin the game S-away from a Mysterious Island)

    Mercenaries are entirely battle focused, and thematically they are defending their little utopia from invaders, so this would help with both of those things while tying into their stateless rebels lore. I really like the Mercenaries and just bought a bunch of them so I’ve been thinking about house rules for them a lot lately.

    #4048

    Jack
    Participant

    I also think that Ex-patriot should be worth 0 points, not 1. Their named crew have very powerful effects, and the ability to use them on any ship ties into the whole idea of Ex-pats and mercenaries, but paying one extra point for a small head start and inability to dock at your HI for repairs is not a good trade off. And I think that if every crew had had a unique ability, like Nemo’s and Greek Guy’s, they would make more sense thematically. At the end of the day there’s no reason for a pirate fleet to spend 7 points on Osvaldos when Geoffrey Flores does the trick for 6, but if Osvaldos did something extra (spitballing: maybe he allows broadsides attacks to be rerolled) then there’s an incentive to shell out the extra point to hire him.

    #4063

    Ben
    Keymaster

    Mercenaries are entirely battle focused, and thematically they are defending their little utopia from invaders, so this would help with both of those things while tying into their stateless rebels lore.

    That’s one thing that I’ve wondered about with the Mercs.  It seems like they’d go to the highest bidder and not really care about their territory or existing utopia/etc.  It’s interesting to think about what they could have been thematically closer to.  I’ve played around with their ideals and alliances a LOT in my custom fantasy set, with various “types” of mercenaries.

    I also think that Ex-patriot should be worth 0 points, not 1.

    Combine that with better-costed abilities and they’d be considered much more often.  However, I see the premium as two important things – they need payment for their services, and they can serve on ships of any nationality.  That second part is a much bigger deal than the positive of the Mercenary keyword.  SS Tsai essentially gave all the factions a sac captain, which automatically makes the minor factions more competitive.

    That’s one of the things to consider with the Ex-Patriot crew that have existing ability combos – Celemente may not be worthy of Pirate employ, but a ship like the JR Sea Phoenix could make reasonable use out of him.

    #4065

    Jack
    Participant

    In that vein, I bought Ibrahan Ozat in part to use in Corsair fleets. He’s a former Corsair in lore, so it kind of makes sense, but I haven’t really found a spot for him. Only the Janissaries Blood can hold him+Hawkins+DJC Skyme, and it would only have one cargo spot left so Skyme would be useless. I’m thinking of trying out a game with Ozat + The Inquisitor working together in a Spanish fleet, which would be make sense with Ozat being like a Corsair who defected to the Inquisition and taught them their secrets.

    #4091

    Jack
    Participant

    So I’ve been reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and it gave me another idea to help buff Mercenaries, or at least submarines. In the book, the Nautilus is capable of moving at least twice as fast as the Abraham Lincoln. That begs the question why make submarines so slow in the game? I suppose for balance reasons, and that would hold true for USS Lamon and the non-mercenary subs, but Nemo’s a genius afterall. It would make sense if his subs were ultra fast. Alternatively, maybe the Mercenary helmsman adds L instead of S. (This would also entice people to use Ex-Pats more often on other nations’ ships.)

    #4092

    Mechavelli
    Participant

    That’s a cool idea, tbh. Making expat crew better than the other crew might be a good idea since you have to sacrifice something to get that advantage.

    #4093

    Jack
    Participant

    Yeah, there’s no point in hiring out mercenaries if they’re not better than what you already have available!

    #4101

    Ben
    Keymaster

    I’ve thought subs and sea creatures could both be faster on average.  Though I’d much rather increase a few base moves than have Mercenary helmsmen give +L.  I think that would open a can of worms with power gaming – San Cristobal with SS Tsai could go S+S+L+L, as fast as the Hai Peng.  Not to mention 10 masters flying all over the board at comical rates of speed.

    I think some of the Ex-Patriot crew just didn’t have great abilities/costs to begin with.  Between being “clones” of previous crew and the cost of Ex-Patriot, they really need something special to be worth using often. (Nemo, SS Tsai, etc)

    I think they messed up relative speeds with the reverse power creep.  A lot of the 1 masted ships post-DJC could have their base moves doubled without a change in point cost.  Having the San Cristobal one of the fastest ships in the game while the Stingray and other RotF/F&S sloops move S or L is laughable.

    #4103

    Jack
    Participant

    Are you telling me Seven Brothers isn’t the most broken ship in the game?

    I think that if the game ever had an official competitive scene again that San Cristobal should just be banned. Just patently unfair and if they were still making packs it would restrict creativity because every new ability they could think of would have to be made very carefully incase San Cristobal could make it broken.

    #4104

    Mechavelli
    Participant

    There are plenty of ships that are overpowered. I’d like to bring the crappy ones up to speed rather than nerfing the good ones though. It’ll certainly be a feat to balance the weaker ships, though. The OE Acorazado is so pathetic that I can’t imagine what the developers were thinking.

    #4105

    Jack
    Participant

    I think OE Acorazado makes sense with its flavor text. It’s a centuries old warship that was found rotting away in drydock and they just slapped some harpoons on it and sent it away. It’s supposed to be underpowered.

    I want to know what the hell they were thinking with ships like Hannah, Majestic, and La Colibri. (The “ships within S get +1 to their cannon rolls” ships that are all 15+ points)

    #4106

    Ben
    Keymaster

     I’d like to bring the crappy ones up to speed rather than nerfing the good ones though.

    I can agree on that.  OE Acorazado is a bad 5 master and terrible compared to the original, but there are far worse ships.

    I want to know what the hell they were thinking with ships like Hannah, Majestic, and La Colibri. (The “ships within S get +1 to their cannon rolls” ships that are all 15+ points)

    The Solitaire is probably the worst ship in the game, although the Colibri (different ship than what you’re thinking) is quite terrible as well.

    I’m fine that they made those ships extremely expensive, since they’re actually worth using in huge games with crowded battlefields.  For “regular” games I’d want the build total to be at least 100  to even consider one though.

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