Gninja Talks New and Old Mercenaries, Mechanics

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, Grouping

In a stream of responses to two threads discussing Mercenaries, Gninja answered several questions and provided useful information about the current and next waves of mercenaries. With a recent update, the number of mercenaries has increased to twenty (20) and mercenaries are now avilable in all 6 cities. Although they lack some of the innovative features and options of EverQuest Mercenaries, they are still one of the more popular features of the recently released Age of Discovery features expansion.

Mercenaries New & Old

Let’s take a look at the list of Mercenaries by class. This was posted by Slayacissa of Permafrost:

  • Qeynos Harbor – wizard, paladin, troubador, swashbuckler, templar, monk
  • Freeport – warlock, assassin, brigand, dirge, inquisitor, guardian
  • Neriak (near DLW) – shadowknight, necromancer
  • Gorowyn (near crafting) – Berserker, Defiler
  • Kelethin (Jysolin Pub) – ranger, warden
  • Halas (Coldwind Hall) – conjuror, mystic

That leaves just Beastlord, Bruiser, Fury, Coercer, and Illusionist with no mercenary.

After the jump, we talk about Mercenary Confidence, the “In Over Their Head” debuff, mercenary types, and where you can post your feedback on getting different types of mercenaries added.

Merc Confidence: “In Over Their Head”

One of the most talked about limits placed on non-fighter Mercenaries in EQ2 is the “In Over Their Head” mechanic.  Mercenaries will fight for you, but the pay isn’t necessarily worth dying for! If too many (or too powerful) enemies are wailing on your hired merc, they will cower in the corner and lose much effectiveness until the situation changes.

According to Gninja:

[Confidence] is a threshold value they have. Tank mercs can take on close to epic encounters(x4) but not quite so if the total number of creatures being fought equals up to that number with higher tier creatures costing more points then they will cower.

Tank mercs have much higher threshold than other mercs, and the [Shadowknight] merc has the same confidence as the other tank mercs.

[Mercs] should only get in over their head when creatures are targetting them. If they are getting in over their head with nothing targetting them it is a bug but I have yet to see that happen when I use them.

This came up in the context of the Forgotten Pools where Stamper, the inquisitor mercenary, stopped helping on the first named that drops noxious “goo” which players must avoid.

Ah that makes sense actually… The piles of goo that named summons are creatures casting spells so they were likely targetting him and there was nothing you could do about it. I will take a look at that situation and see if I can fix that.

Players have noted that mercenaries under this effect seem to stop all other actions and just stand there cowering. According to Gninja, they don’t stop fighting, healing, or curing, but instead their effectiveness is reduced:

Just because they cower does not mean they stop doing everything it just lowers their effectiveness.

The largest thing [In Over Their Head] affects is potency. Cures would not be affected by the “In over their head” debuff they gain when they hit their confidence threshold.

Gninja opened up the idea of adding other types of mercs that focus on certain tasks or roles in a group:

If there are certain roles you want a merc to fill and that doesn’t mean “Can do everything better than all other mercs” then I can take a look at adding new mercs in the future.

Player Response

Not everyone is impressed with the Mercenary AI. kahonen had this comment:

If mercs are meant to be like players (hence taking a split of the plat from mobs + chests) then why on earth are they cowering in the first place? When a pull goes bad our real tank players dont sit at home cowering in front of their keyboards do they? No, they knuckle down and try to make the best of it and end up with those “omg how did we survive that?” or “Wow that was rough but we got a couple of them at least!” moments. It seems its a “feature” for the sake of a feature that serves no real purpose.

LuckyPSD had a similar response:

Mercs are a waste of time and money as they are currently implemented.  Clearly, someone, somewhere has forgotten that the “I” in “AI” stands for INTELLIGENCE.  Think about it for a second:  if a healer merc realised we had a problem would he simply stand and watch me die while he did nothing?  Of course not!  If there are only 2 of us there, I’d suggest the fact that if I die, he’s gonna be next would play a large part in his reasoning

A few Frequently Asked Questions

When asked about Mercenaries using Area of Effect (AoE) attacks which tend to attract the attention of nearby enemies, Gninja had this response:

None of the mercs should have blue AEs at all. They were all changed into encounter AEs.

Even though mercenaries are now spread out to all 6 cities (excluding Maj’dul), remember you only have to track them down in their home city once. Thereafter, they will make an appearance in your home city when needed. From Gninja:

If you hire them from say Kelethin the next time you need to hire them you can go to Qeynos and they will be there. You only have to hire them the first time from their original city. I know its not quite as convenient as in a house or guildhall but at least they end up being centrally located.

Some players had drawn rather conspiratorial conclusions about how EQ2′s developers view wardens from the fact that the Warden mercenary heals from range and does not use any melee attacks. Gninja sought to debunk that:

In regards to the Warden merc being ranged vs. up close and personal: It is emulating a warden with no AAs and is meant to be a pure healer that doesn’t intentionally put itself in harms way and take ripostes etc. It is strictly a survivability mercenary. It has nothing to do with how players can play that class if they so choose.

Further:

The warden merc can cure but it has full priority given to healing over curing so they will likely only cure if your health is at a reasonable level or their heal spells are in refresh.

The warden mercenary is a ranged healer. She will not try to stand toe to toe and do any sort of damage. I have heard rumblings about her not healing if told to attack things but I havent been able to reproduce it thus far. But you can try to set her to assist none and that might help for the time being.

On the subject of mercs pulling agro or attacking too soon, Gninja had advice for fighters who have summoned mercenaries:

Using the assist drop down means he will attack what you attack so if you throw an arrow at something to pull it they will engage as well. I would suggest if you are the tank using a merc you should set them to follow another group member and assist someone else in group that way they dont engage till that person does and you are free to pull at will.

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Comments (14)

  • Green Armadillo

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    Out of curiosity, are mercenaries faction-locked? I.e. can you sneak into enemy cities to hire them? Will mercenaries you hire remain available if you betray?

    Reply

  • Karofin

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    I see a mention of a lack of “innovative features and options of EverQuest Mercenaries” and since I didn’t play EQ2, wonder if someone can enlighten me. Peaked my interest that comment :)

    Reply

  • Kwill

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    You can sneak in and hire them, as I understand it. I haven’t tried it. I did get the warlock merc from Neriak — he makes a commnent half the time, “fighting is useless” which is annoying. If I am paying you and giving you half the cash loot, you can shut up as far as I am concerned. Don’t need your opinion.

    Reply

  • Maryna

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    As a solo player of late, I like having access to a merc. Mine has helped me power from the high 70′s to 90 in mere weeks – seriously, my main hasn’t even had to lift a finger; I simply point the merc and engage. Boom – they all die. There have been a couple times where I misjudged and he either died or almost died, but 95% of the time whatever I set him loose on will die. Sometimes I wonder if he’s overpowered?

    Anyway, total bargain for 1p an hour, my merc is a cash machine that just keeps spitting out money. I hope SOE hires a RL economist to start managing the EQ2 economy like CCP does with EVE Online, because it’s just so easy to make money now…

    Reply

  • XK

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    @Green Armadillo: If you can reach the merc, you can hire it, whatever your faction. Once you’ve hired it once, you don’t even have to go back into the hostile city, as it will then show up for hire in your faction’s Merc HQ (in Qeynos/Freeport).

    Incidentally, @Kwill, the caster from Neriak is a necro, not a warlock. The warlock is a female erudite available in FP, who has been available since AoD.

    Reply

  • Kwill

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    You are right, he is a necro, but he doesn’t have a pet, which made me write warlock on the post. He has a great deal of DPS, though.

    Reply

  • Lejoni

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    How can people possibly think mercs are bad, or to weak?
    Why do they have cowering debuff?
    Simple, they would be to powerfull other wise.

    As it is now heal mercs are better healers then 50%+ of the priest player population.
    and DPS mercs are sertanly not the lowest DPS you can end up with in a PUG.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do not think mercs need to be nerfed.
    I think they are good as they are.

    Reply

  • Anaogi

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    As it is now heal mercs are better healers then 50%+ of the priest player population.

    To be honest, that’s an indictment of the priest players, not the mercs.

    Reply

  • Dyadem/Gaftep

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    I liked mercs in EQ1 quite a bit, and I was thrilled when they were added here..even with some small issues that I do have with them. The main thing is in EQ1 by the time they added them I had quit prior, so when I went back most(?) of the bugs were probably ironed out so they were a huge asset.

    In EQ2 they do serve me well, the buffs are nice, the extra heals are nice..but there are obvious drawbacks, that I did feedback and post in other threads on the forums.

    1- They take no notice of pets for pet classes. Granted some ‘real’ healers don’t do this either, but in EQ1 the mercs were actually mindful of pets. I miss that.

    2- Payment I’m fine with…but it is NOT (at 90) just 24G every 30 minutes…its 24G Every time you summon them. This is a big one that needs to be changed. I would much rather they have a timer on them that counts down…if you have the merc out for 14 minutes…suspend it..and the 2 minutes pass by, when you resume the merc it should STILL be at 14 minutes. Not start all over again. Death I could see because maybe it needs that extra 24G for repairs or something (though that is some costly repairs).

    Reply

  • Luckypsd

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    As pleased as I am to have my comment on the forum mentioned here the wrong comment has been attributed to me. Mine was the other comment about why are they cowering in the first place not the one about their ai. I want to like mercs I really do but they need some bigger tweaks to make then worthwhile.

    Reply

  • Kwill

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    Just wanted to comment that my illusionist is using the SK merc from Neriak (I died getting her, once you univis the guards come and kill you if you are good aligned).

    She is actually pretty good. She did well in Erudin Research Halls with two other players, only cowered once, and for solo content has never cowered at all. It really is like playing with a PUG group, though — I jumped down in the Hole, merc and my illy pet followed the more conventional way, and showed up five minutes later with a train of mobs. It was actually fairly hilarious seeing them run into my area through a door followed by a lot of mad ratongas. Too bad they couldn’t emote “oh I am sorry! We got lost!” Since this has happened to me with real people, it didn’t seem all that unusual, just stupid.

    The mercs do need some watching. They get aggro very easily and will get you in trouble. It’s better to suspend them if you are running through a lot of mobs, and pull them out when you are ready to fight.

    Reply

  • Striinger

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    For those who think mercs are good enough to use and worth the plat…is this truly anything a decent solo player can’t do? Can you really kill 2x faster with the merc?

    The healers don’t cure and I haven’t seen a dps merc top 10k yet @90. So I just wonder if they are only decent on pre 90 & pre DoV content.

    If these guys are comparable to PUG players then no wonder dungeon finder fails. Can someone share real current DoV runs where you NEEDED the merc to run the zone? I just don’t see much real value being added to the game beyond fluff. Maybe it’s time to turn off my brain, eat some paste, and buy some paste”flying wings”.

    Reply

  • Kwill

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    Strinnger, you may not like the mercs, but they are a fixture in the game now. They really do work, up to a point, and other than the harder level 90 zones, do provide needed utility. They also add another dimension to play, since choosing the right merc class to complement the player’s class has become an art onto itself.

    Reply

  • randy parsons

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    For aggro problems turn everything optional on the merc to off. so it just follows you around and doesn’t do anything. Make a macro called /merc attack. After you have gained aggro, hit the button. Easy. You can make a backoff one too similar to pets.
    Getting into Neriak is a much bigger challenge then Freeport. The sewers and a bit of watching out for guards is easy in freeport to get the mercs. Neriak i had a level 92 monk with merc kill the guards around them and wandering guards, which wasn’t too hard. then logged in my very low level character, who was parked nearby and walked in and got the shadownight merc.

    Reply

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