Mercenaries are special units that can range from simple spear fodder units to highly sophisticated machines of war. While they may play diverse roles and vary in allegiance to the many factions of both Chronicles and Warbirth, two things stand out:
- They are trained quickly, and
- They cost immense amounts of Wealth.
So why mercenaries? Mercenaries are fairly quick to build, and do not require the same variegated set of resources required to recruit them, so they are thus an ideal military asset for those who have improved their economies to the max so as to be able to support multiple Tradesmen plying caravan routes between friendly cities, and/or an economy that produces enough resources to sell for cash. The downside of recruiting them however is that they sometimes have rather poor stats and/or do not upgrade unlike other units, so in the late game, they may sometimes be at a disadvantage.
Rise of Kings: Chronicles
Most mercenary units are units that were available in previous ages, such as the Flemings who are in effect Spear Sergeants who can be purchased on the fly with cash, or the Balt Spearmen who share similar traits with the Serbian Ratnici spearmen. The difference however is that many of these units cannot be upgraded and may be at a disadvantage if attacked by more powerful units. A few mercenaries however have unique capabilities that allow them to be viable prospects for military recruitment in the late game, or are fairly powerful units such as Almogavers and Battle Wagons.
Mercenaries can be raised from the Outpost, which also serves as an early warning system to detect enemy invisible units at far range, but a few mercenary-type units can be raised from other buildings as well.
Bronze Dawn carries on the same tradition of "weak but fast-training spear fodder" with the exception that they can be raised en masse. Unhlike those of Chronicles, these mercenary units are historical carbon copies of mercenaries of their period, and some of them being barbarians, often become assimilated into stronger units, while others are available only if certain political stances were chosen.