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Twilight Imperium (Third Edition): Shards of the Throne» Forums » Rules

Subject: Mercenaries and Planets rss

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Scott Lewis
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I can't find the thread that this was being discussed, but awhile ago I emailed Corey about some questions, and got a response (and then got busy and forgot to post them). So here is what I got. Sounds like there may be a potential FAQ entry to errata stuff. This may make Mercenaries at least a little less convoluted.

MY QUESTION wrote:

There was a ruling posted recently from you that seems contradictory to the rules, and I just wanted to verify that the ruling was intended to change the rules/FAQ as written, or if it may have been an accidental oversight?

The ruling was regarding Mercenaries on planets, asking whether a Mercenary left alone on a planet would cause it to become neutral, or would the player retain control. You were quoted as saying:

"If you voluntarily lift ground forces off a planet, you can always establish control on it with a control marker. You may do this even if there is a mercenary remaining on the planet."


This seems to contradict the rulebook and the FAQ.

The rulebook on page 12 says:
"Mercenaries may not claim planets nor are they considered Ground Forces. If a Mercenary is the only unit on a planet, that planet reverts to neutral."

The second sentence seems to say that if a Mercenary is left alone on a planet, that it would no longer be controlled by the player, as it would "revert" to neutral.


The FAQ on page 13 has this question:
"Q: If a Mercenary is part of a defending force on a planet and the Ground Forces belonging to units on both sides are destroyed, leaving only the Mercenary, does that playerâ?Ts planet now revert to neutral?
A: Yes. Anytime a mercenary is alone on a planet without another unit, that planet reverts to neutral."

While the question is referring to the defending GFs being destroyed, the answer seems to be a more general confirmation of the rulebook, that anytime a Mercenary is alone, the planet reverts to neutral. IE, between the FAQ and the rulebook, it seems that the intent (as I read it anyway) is that Mercenaries cannot control planets alone, and would in fact revert the planet to neutral if left alone.


It's possible the FAQ ruling was indeed only meant to apply to the exact situation described, but if so, I admit I'm not sure I think it's consistent - why would the planet revert to neutral if the defending GFs are destroyed, but not if the defending GFs left on their own volition?

Also, lets say the GFs leave the planet, leaving the Mercenary alone, and the planet stays under control. If an enemy invades the planet, but all the enemy invaders survive, the FAQ ruling would indicate that NOW the planet would revert to neutral.


Again, I apologize for seemingly bringing these things up a lot, I'm sure you're tired of hearing it Maybe it's just my left-brained thinking in terms of rules, I just want to make sure the contradictions are addressed.


Corey K wrote:

Scott,

I honestly think that the Rulebook/FAQ is incorrect. The whole idea of a planet reverting to neutral if you have only a mercenary there is odd, especially if you can voluntarily retreat all ground forces from a planet and still retain control of it. I really think that players should be able to establish control of the planet instead of it reverting to neutral.

Now I have not had time to update the FAQ yet, and this may have unseen ramifications, but this is a new ruling that I intending to make.


I got this back in December, and it hasn't made the FAQ yet, but I do think it would clean up a lot of the weirdness that Mercenary invasions could bring.
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Scott Randolph
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sigmazero13 wrote:
I can't find the thread that this was being discussed, but awhile ago I emailed Corey about some questions, and got a response (and then got busy and forgot to post them). So here is what I got. Sounds like there may be a potential FAQ entry to errata stuff. This may make Mercenaries at least a little less convoluted.

MY QUESTION wrote:

There was a ruling posted recently from you that seems contradictory to the rules, and I just wanted to verify that the ruling was intended to change the rules/FAQ as written, or if it may have been an accidental oversight?

The ruling was regarding Mercenaries on planets, asking whether a Mercenary left alone on a planet would cause it to become neutral, or would the player retain control. You were quoted as saying:

"If you voluntarily lift ground forces off a planet, you can always establish control on it with a control marker. You may do this even if there is a mercenary remaining on the planet."


This seems to contradict the rulebook and the FAQ.

The rulebook on page 12 says:
"Mercenaries may not claim planets nor are they considered Ground Forces. If a Mercenary is the only unit on a planet, that planet reverts to neutral."

The second sentence seems to say that if a Mercenary is left alone on a planet, that it would no longer be controlled by the player, as it would "revert" to neutral.


The FAQ on page 13 has this question:
"Q: If a Mercenary is part of a defending force on a planet and the Ground Forces belonging to units on both sides are destroyed, leaving only the Mercenary, does that playerâ?Ts planet now revert to neutral?
A: Yes. Anytime a mercenary is alone on a planet without another unit, that planet reverts to neutral."

While the question is referring to the defending GFs being destroyed, the answer seems to be a more general confirmation of the rulebook, that anytime a Mercenary is alone, the planet reverts to neutral. IE, between the FAQ and the rulebook, it seems that the intent (as I read it anyway) is that Mercenaries cannot control planets alone, and would in fact revert the planet to neutral if left alone.


It's possible the FAQ ruling was indeed only meant to apply to the exact situation described, but if so, I admit I'm not sure I think it's consistent - why would the planet revert to neutral if the defending GFs are destroyed, but not if the defending GFs left on their own volition?

Also, lets say the GFs leave the planet, leaving the Mercenary alone, and the planet stays under control. If an enemy invades the planet, but all the enemy invaders survive, the FAQ ruling would indicate that NOW the planet would revert to neutral.


Again, I apologize for seemingly bringing these things up a lot, I'm sure you're tired of hearing it Maybe it's just my left-brained thinking in terms of rules, I just want to make sure the contradictions are addressed.


Corey K wrote:

Scott,

I honestly think that the Rulebook/FAQ is incorrect. The whole idea of a planet reverting to neutral if you have only a mercenary there is odd, especially if you can voluntarily retreat all ground forces from a planet and still retain control of it. I really think that players should be able to establish control of the planet instead of it reverting to neutral.

Now I have not had time to update the FAQ yet, and this may have unseen ramifications, but this is a new ruling that I intending to make.


I got this back in December, and it hasn't made the FAQ yet, but I do think it would clean up a lot of the weirdness that Mercenary invasions could bring.

As always, thanks Sigma, you do a great service to the TI3 community, now stop being cranky and come play at my house, you are always welcome.
(SFRR) aka Siferr-Stark
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Roberto Armentia
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Thread here: http://boardgamegeek.com/article/14099914#14099914

An unseen ramification may spring from the fact that the mercenary does not get paid when controlling a planet and flies away...
 
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robertcop2 wrote:
Thread here: http://boardgamegeek.com/article/14099914#14099914

An unseen ramification may spring from the fact that the mercenary does not get paid when controlling a planet and flies away...
I don't see the problem; that wouldn't be any different than if you take all your GFs off the planet, you just mark it with a control marker and the planet is still yours.
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Ian Madsen
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This would be more along the lines of errata than FAQ, but it is errata that I would completely agree with.
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Christopher Halbower
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This ruling makes way more sense than the original rules.
 
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Starkiller
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halbower wrote:
This ruling makes way more sense than the original rules.
My thoughts exactly! It never did make sense to me. It never bothered me much, though, because I have not used them yet.
(Playgroup limitations.)
 
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Roberto Armentia
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sigmazero13 wrote:
robertcop2 wrote:
Thread here: http://boardgamegeek.com/article/14099914#14099914

An unseen ramification may spring from the fact that the mercenary does not get paid when controlling a planet and flies away...
I don't see the problem; that wouldn't be any different than if you take all your GFs off the planet, you just mark it with a control marker and the planet is still yours.

Well it's not the same situation. You set the marker because your forces are voluntarily leaving your planet, whilst the mercenary is going because is no longer yours. Of course this can be ruled as well in order to set the marker whatsoever.

In any case I don't think the current rule has no sense. If a mercenary will be able to claim planets by himself, you just hire a couple to conquer the roundabouts with no risk for your troops, disregarding domain counters and so on.

The rules must seek a balance for mercenaries. As a general condition, I think they should not be able to claim an enemy or neutral planet by themselves; in any other instances, once the planet is claimed by other means, i.e. the control marker has been set, the mercenary should be able to land, stay or keep it against opponents.
 
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robertcop2 wrote:
sigmazero13 wrote:
robertcop2 wrote:
Thread here: http://boardgamegeek.com/article/14099914#14099914

An unseen ramification may spring from the fact that the mercenary does not get paid when controlling a planet and flies away...
I don't see the problem; that wouldn't be any different than if you take all your GFs off the planet, you just mark it with a control marker and the planet is still yours.

Well it's not the same situation. You set the marker because your forces are voluntarily leaving your planet, whilst the mercenary is going because is no longer yours. Of course this can be ruled as well in order to set the marker whatsoever.
It doesn't matter if the GFs leave voluntarily. Anything that would cause your GFs to leave the planet empty would still retain control (unless specifically stated otherwise, like Local Unrest).

For example, if your opponent has a War Sun in the system, and chooses to bombard (but not invade), you would retain control of the planet even if the bombardment wipes out all your GFs.

Or, another example, if your opponent invades the planet, and you end up killing each other, you retain control of the planet, even though it has no GFs.

The only cases where leaving a planet empty of GFs causes it to go neutral are if the effect causing that specifically says so, like Local Unrest does.

Not paying for a mercenary is not much different mechanically than if the mercenary is destroyed in combat. I don't think they should be treated any differently.

Quote:
In any case I don't think the current rule has no sense. If a mercenary will be able to claim planets by himself, you just hire a couple to conquer the roundabouts with no risk for your troops, disregarding domain counters and so on.
They don't ignore all domain counters. The FAQ only says they are immune to Biohazard and Radiation. If they encounter Hostile Locals, they would still have to fight. They would still trigger Fighter Swarms and Automated Defense Systems.

Either way, just hiring a couple isn't always very straightforward - it means you have to take Trade III twice, and if you just wanted them for expansion, there are other ways that can do the same thing, such as Diplomacy II.
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Roberto Armentia
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sigmazero13 wrote:
robertcop2 wrote:

In any case I don't think the current rule has no sense. If a mercenary will be able to claim planets by himself, you just hire a couple to conquer the roundabouts with no risk for your troops, disregarding domain counters and so on.
They don't ignore all domain counters. The FAQ only says they are immune to Biohazard and Radiation. If they encounter Hostile Locals, they would still have to fight. They would still trigger Fighter Swarms and Automated Defense Systems.

Yes, and a mercenary has a big chance to overtake all those counters. If he is also allowed to claim the planet, you would have a really powerful unit for free (or almost for free).

sigmazero13 wrote:
Either way, just hiring a couple isn't always very straightforward - it means you have to take Trade III twice, and if you just wanted them for expansion, there are other ways that can do the same thing, such as Diplomacy II.

This is true... if you are playing with Diplomacy II. When I said a couple, I could have said hire one to have a big chance to conquer a lot of planets by himself.

Too powerful... A mercenary must be a help to your forces, not a cheap independent force able to do everything. This is why I think the current rule is ok for neutral and enemy planets, just must be clarified in case of friendly planets: either he can land/stay/battle alone there without changing the planet status or he can't. And I don't see any reason why he can't.

 
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robertcop2 wrote:
sigmazero13 wrote:
robertcop2 wrote:

In any case I don't think the current rule has no sense. If a mercenary will be able to claim planets by himself, you just hire a couple to conquer the roundabouts with no risk for your troops, disregarding domain counters and so on.
They don't ignore all domain counters. The FAQ only says they are immune to Biohazard and Radiation. If they encounter Hostile Locals, they would still have to fight. They would still trigger Fighter Swarms and Automated Defense Systems.

Yes, and a mercenary has a big chance to overtake all those counters. If he is also allowed to claim the planet, you would have a really powerful unit for free (or almost for free).
An MU can do the same, and I think the overall cost is somewhat comparable in the end, as you'll most likely be spending at least 2 TGs on the Mercenary when all is said and done.

Quote:
This is true... if you are playing with Diplomacy II. When I said a couple, I could have said hire one to have a big chance to conquer a lot of planets by himself.
I think most people who use Trade III (as in the vast majority) are probably using Diplomacy II.


Anyway, it looks like the change is coming, and I think it's for the better. No more inconsistent rules of a planet suddenly turning neutral for no reason - Mercenaries are treated exactly like any other unit you have in that respect. Of course, you are free to house rule it if you like.

I strongly disagree that it's too powerful - I think their power level is just fine with the new rule. I have no problem with them acting as an independent force, and I think the Radiation/Biohazard immunity is not as huge a benefit as you make it out to be. (And a 3-unit Hostile Locals has a VERY good shot at destroying a lone Mercenary).
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Roberto Armentia
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sigmazero13 wrote:
robertcop2 wrote:
sigmazero13 wrote:
robertcop2 wrote:

In any case I don't think the current rule has no sense. If a mercenary will be able to claim planets by himself, you just hire a couple to conquer the roundabouts with no risk for your troops, disregarding domain counters and so on.
They don't ignore all domain counters. The FAQ only says they are immune to Biohazard and Radiation. If they encounter Hostile Locals, they would still have to fight. They would still trigger Fighter Swarms and Automated Defense Systems.

Yes, and a mercenary has a big chance to overtake all those counters. If he is also allowed to claim the planet, you would have a really powerful unit for free (or almost for free).
An MU can do the same, and I think the overall cost is somewhat comparable in the end, as you'll most likely be spending at least 2 TGs on the Mercenary when all is said and done.

A mercenary could conquer a planet for free, or 2 planets if you also have Warfare, battling in space if necessary against fighter ambush and invading in 1 activation. Next game round you can use him to conquer another planet (or 2) before Trade III is executed. Then you can get rid of him if you don't need it longer or just pay 1tg. Not bad: at least 2 planets for free or just paying 1tg (not 2 tgs as you said) which you will have for sure as you used the Trade III card.

In the other hand, using a mechanized unit costs you 2 resources from the very beginning, it must be carried by another ship and can't battle against fighter ambush. The carrier must battle instead with a very odd chance to win alone and thus the MU would be destroyed as well, or you move along with other ships.

A mercenary could do everything alone while you use your other forces in other missions. Too powerful...

sigmazero13 wrote:
robertcop2 wrote:
This is true... if you are playing with Diplomacy II. When I said a couple, I could have said hire one to have a big chance to conquer a lot of planets by himself.
I think most people who use Trade III (as in the vast majority) are probably using Diplomacy II.

Why? Trade III is not part of the variant strategy cards. You can use it along with the base set or with the optional card replacements with no problem.


sigmazero13 wrote:
Anyway, it looks like the change is coming, and I think it's for the better. No more inconsistent rules of a planet suddenly turning neutral for no reason - Mercenaries are treated exactly like any other unit you have in that respect. Of course, you are free to house rule it if you like.

Except that no other unit is able to battle both in space and on planets at once, this really makes a difference.

We never house rule unless there is a rule gap or contradiction. We follow all the rules and FAQs and we will follow the new ones as well if any. And today the rule is: a planet with a lone mercenary becomes neutral after an invasion battle (official FAQ) and a friendly planet with a control marker keeps being friendly even if a mercenary is alone there (forum FAQ from Corey).

sigmazero13 wrote:
I strongly disagree that it's too powerful - I think their power level is just fine with the new rule. I have no problem with them acting as an independent force, and I think the Radiation/Biohazard immunity is not as huge a benefit as you make it out to be. (And a 3-unit Hostile Locals has a VERY good shot at destroying a lone Mercenary).

Even if you are so unlucky to face a 3-unit hostile locals counter with just one unit, the mercenary, what are the chances?:

- hostile locals: 3 dices rolling 8 or higher.
- mercenary: 3 dices rolling an average evasion of 6 or higher, plus his ability plus his attack roll.

Same for fighter ambush. Any other domain counter does not affect him in a negative way. Too powerful...
 
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Shaun Murphy
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Thanks for posting Corey's thoughts on this, sigma.
 
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I would add that it feels weird to me that a unit can fight both in space and on land.

Personally, I would have two basic types of mercenaries-land OR space based. That would solve the 'fight in space & then invade' problem some people have.

That being said, I don't have a problem with dual-purpose mercs. (Not the way I would do it, but I don't mind.)

And this official rule change makes WAYYYY more sense to me.
 
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akinfantryman wrote:
I would add that it feels weird to me that a unit can fight both in space and on land.

Personally, I would have two basic types of mercenaries-land OR space based. That would solve the 'fight in space & then invade' problem some people have.

That being said, I don't have a problem with dual-purpose mercs. (Not the way I would do it, but I don't mind.)

And this official rule change makes WAYYYY more sense to me.

There has been no rule change yet. There was a rule clarification by Corey back in November in response to my question (can a mercenary stay alone on a previously claimed planet?) here: http://boardgamegeek.com/article/14078396#14078396

Whether it was then disqualified by others or ignored till this moment, it's not of my business. We apply the whole bunch of rules/FAQs/Corey's clarifications to our games from the first moment we are aware of. I thought everyone here did the same, but as I said it's not of my business.

Corey's answer above just confirms the rule clarification: "The whole idea of a planet reverting to neutral if you have only a mercenary there is odd, especially if you can voluntarily retreat all ground forces from a planet and still retain control of it." But he did not change the rule yet as "this may have unseen ramifications".

Well, I see now a ramification: If a mercenary can claim a planet from now on, he will be too powerful due to the fact that he can battle both in space and on land in just one activation. I don't have any problem with this ability, in fact I like it a lot as it makes the mercenary a very unique unit, but if this ability is combined with the ability to claim planets (totally opposite to the current rule) then he will be cheap and powerful, and the game more boring (every race picking Trade III each turn and having their mercenaries claiming planets nearby and sending the forces behind with no risk at all).
 
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robertcop2 wrote:
akinfantryman wrote:
I would add that it feels weird to me that a unit can fight both in space and on land.

Personally, I would have two basic types of mercenaries-land OR space based. That would solve the 'fight in space & then invade' problem some people have.

That being said, I don't have a problem with dual-purpose mercs. (Not the way I would do it, but I don't mind.)

And this official rule change makes WAYYYY more sense to me.

There has been no rule change yet. There was a rule clarification by Corey back in November in response to my question (can a mercenary stay alone on a previously claimed planet?) here: http://boardgamegeek.com/article/14078396#14078396

Whether it was then disqualified by others or ignored till this moment, it's not of my business. We apply the whole bunch of rules/FAQs/Corey's clarifications to our games from the first moment we are aware of. I thought everyone here did the same, but as I said it's not of my business.

Corey's answer above just confirms the rule clarification: "The whole idea of a planet reverting to neutral if you have only a mercenary there is odd, especially if you can voluntarily retreat all ground forces from a planet and still retain control of it." But he did not change the rule yet as "this may have unseen ramifications".

Well, I see now a ramification: If a mercenary can claim a planet from now on, he will be too powerful due to the fact that he can battle both in space and on land in just one activation. I don't have any problem with this ability, in fact I like it a lot as it makes the mercenary a very unique unit, but if this ability is combined with the ability to claim planets (totally opposite to the current rule) then he will be cheap and powerful, and the game more boring (every race picking Trade III each turn and having their mercenaries claiming planets nearby and sending the forces behind with no risk at all).
Interesting point....I would say it would be better served / less convoluted to simply say mercs cannot take control of an invaded planet on their own, requiring them to be accompanied by friendly forces. This keeps the rules on keeping control of planets consistent between all ground force types.

All that being said, you've used a Strategy option to get that Merc-if you were using either of the other two Trade Cards you would have gotten 3 TGs. That makes them pretty darn expensive, even if you avoid paying the 1 TG fee next time the Trade SC is played.

It makes sense to me that they would be rather powerful.sauron
 
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sigmazero13 wrote:

I think most people who use Trade III (as in the vast majority) are probably using Diplomacy II.

We 95% use Trade III and Diplomacy II. The remaining 5% could be any of the other options, but mostly likely Trade I and Diplomacy I.
 
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