Mercenaries Faction overview
Soldiers for hire!
Mercenaries for Beginners
Mercenaries are not a faction in the strictest sense of the word. A faction represents a group owing allegiance to a particular land or ruler, and often of a particular race. Mercenaries represent individuals loyal to no land in particular, often in pursuit of their own agendas which vary widely. Broadly speaking, Mercenaries fall into five categories. These are Cephalyx, Rhul, Privateers, Llaelese Resistance and regular sellswords.
Cephalyx, for all intents and purposes, are their own separate faction that can make use of some Mercenary units with their armies, but are otherwise unique unto themselves. They still fall under the Mercenary umbrella for the purposes of tournament pairings, but from a fluff perspective, they have no interest in coin or the wars of the world above beyond replenishing their supply of drudges to further their own inscrutable ends. Cephalyx may only be taken in the severely restrictive Operating Theater theme force and are composed of expendable infantry and monstrosities backed by powerful psychic overlords.
Rhul is a nation of Dwarves and Ogrun that sits in an impregnable mountainous region between Khador and Ios and only involves itself in the conflicts of the Iron Kingdoms to keep the trade lanes open and provide training and combat experience to its troops. Rhul can be played as though it were a faction using the Hammer Strike theme force, though it is somewhat limited. Rhulic warjacks can only be taken by Rhulic warcasters and Rhulic jack marshals, but mercenary armies led by the Dwarves can include any non-Cephalyx mercenary units. Rhulic models are generally slow and sturdy with a combined arms approach to combat.
Privateers are a mix of nautical warjacks and sea dogs led by characterful warcasters and solos who augment their fairly limited abilities. They tend to be flimsy, fast and have trouble with high ARM.
The Llaelese Resistance is a collection of freedom fighters fighting against the occupation of their homeland. At one point, they sold their services to Cygnar and the Protectorate to fund their war against Khador, but have since morphed into more of a cloak and dagger organization engaged in a guerilla war. The Resistance consists of models tagged "Llaelese" though many of these characters have no particular loyalty or fondness for their homeland or its struggle.
Finally, there are those mercenaries who are none of the above and are mostly in it for the money, like the Steelhead companies or Drake Macbain; or to pursue their own ends as with Magnus or the Nyss Hunters.
Naturally given the sprawl, there is quite a bloat of models to collect in the Mercenary "faction", and with the exception of Cephalyx, Morrowan and Thamarite animosities, and the inability to mix Rhulic and non-Rhulic warjacks and casters, it is perfectly fine to field an army with Humans, Trollbloods, Dwarves, Undead, Gatormen, Ogrun, Farrow, Iosans and Nyss. However, theme forces within the faction provide incentive to play groupings of models that make more sense. Mercenaries are also the only faction that can run Warjacks and Warbeasts as faction models.
If there is one overarching "feel" to Mercenaries, it is that most of it is second-rate and cobbled together. The warjacks are mostly decommissioned military warjacks or repurposed laborjacks. Mercenaries boast no warjacks that shoot like Cygnaran Defenders or hit like Khadoran Juggernauts. Instead, they rely on cheap mainstays like the Mariner and the Nomad to get the job done on a budget. The best mercenary units are the ones that are cheap and numerous and the warcasters tend to have low average focus scores and strange feats. It is not a faction for those who prefer quality.
That said, well-constructed Mercenary armies are easily able to go toe-to-toe with the best the other factions can muster provided the player takes advantage of the faction's strengths - especially so with The Irregulars becoming more or less the default mercenary army.
New Mercenary players will want to pick one or two of the five subsets and build from there. In general, cheaper is better. 3 Nomads is better than 2 Manglers for only 3 more points. 2 units of Steelhead Halberdiers is better than a unit of Precursors with a Command Attachment. Grundback Gunners are the pinnacle of focus-efficiency. Mariners are a poor man's Defender. Buccaneers are a 17" knockdown on a stick. Talons are 7 point nuisances with good staying power. You can't compete with Cygnar by spending tons of points on expensive stuff like Nyss Hunters or Rocinante. Their stuff is better for the points, but your cheap stuff costs less, so take advantage of the strength of the faction.
More is more, as they say.
Mercenaries Models and Units
Mercenaries Theme Forces
Mercenaries Deep Lore