Stellaris mercenaries are a very powerful new type of Enclave introduced alongside the Overlord expansion. Enclaves, if you don’t know, are useful NPC factions that don’t directly compete for your territory. They instead focus on special services — providing buffs, unique structures, and more in exchange for the right cost. Though mercenaries work a bit differently. You can actually create them yourself! This makes you into the mercenaries’ patron, which provides even more discounts and “Dividends” when the mercs get hired. Let’s take a look at how to make mercenaries, become their patron, and earn their Dividends now in our Stellaris mercenaries guide!
How to Make Mercenaries in Stellaris
Finding Stellaris mercenaries is surprisingly easy (if initially expensive). It doesn’t work like other Enclaves. Enclaves like the Shroud-Touched Coven or the Salvagers — which require you to discover them naturally, or start with a specific Origin. Instead you make Mercenary Enclaves yourself!
First you need a fleet of 50 fleet power together in a system you control. This means 50 Corvettes, for instance, since those count as one power each. Yet Destroyers count as two fleet power — meaning you would only need 25 of those ships in a given location to meet the requirement. The system must also have a moon or asteroid for the mercenary company to anchor itself around. Lastly, you need an Admiral in command of that fleet. Pretty much anyone will do! Then you can spend a moderate amount of Influence, Energy, and Alloys by selecting the fleet and clicking the “Convert into Mercenary Enclave” action. This will, uh, convert the fleet into a Mercenary Enclave wherever you ordered it.
Here’s an easy breakdown of the aforementioned requirements:
- 1 Admiral
- 1 Mercenary Enclave Capacity
- 1 system you control with an asteroid or moon
- 50 fleet power in that system
- 100 Influence
- 1500 Energy
- 2000 Alloys
You might notice that we didn’t talk about Mercenary Enclave Capacity. Let’s address that by itself, since it’s a unique element of this system. Mercenary Enclave Capacity isn’t complicated; it’s just another type of capacity similar to your maximum Envoys or Starbases. The rub is that every empire starts with zero capacity by default! You need to increase this number with Civics, Ascension Perks, or Resolutions. The simplest option among these is just the Warrior Culture Civic (which any Militarist or Fanatic Militarist government can select by default). If you don’t want to adjust your Civics, the next easiest method is the Ascension Perk “Lord of War.”
Here’s a simple breakdown of ways to increase Mercenary Enclave Capacity:
- Warrior Culture Civic
- Barbaric Despoilers Civic
- Private Military Companies Corporate Civic
- Naval Contractors Corporate Civic
- Lord of War Ascension Perk
- Any Defense Privatization Resolution
The last issue is raising your Command Limit. By default, Stellaris fleets can only include 20 ships at a time. You need to raise this with research and other bonuses to hit 50. Luckily, we’ve got a guide specifically to increase your fleets’ Command Limit in Stellaris! And while it’s not technically required, you may also want to raise your maximum Naval Capacity, too. This will save you from the extra penalties of an oversized military.
How to Become a Mercenary Patron in Stellaris
This one is exceptionally easy. You start off as the patron of any Mercenary Enclave that you create. Mercenaries are, well, mercenaries. They care about whoever pays the bills — swearing a loose sort of loyalty to whichever empire controls their home system. So, while you start out as the patron of any mercenaries you create, you can also sway them to your side by conquering or claiming the system out of which they operate. For example, if another empire creates a Mercenary Enclave, just conquer the system where they were created. You will become that Enclave’s patron.
Becoming a patron gives you a discount on the mercenaries’ services: typically in the form of Energy Credits. Patrons can also order mercs to recall their fleets, if those fleets were hired by a different empire. Say, for example, that a government you’re about to war with hired “your” mercenaries. You can deprive them of that military power by paying a cancellation fee. Though you need a whopping 80 opinion with the Mercenary Enclave to unlock this option.
How to Use Mercenaries in Stellaris
This one should be pretty obvious from the name. They’re mercenaries. You and other empires can hire them to do your dirty work. One obvious benefit to this is that you free yourself from the construction and ongoing upkeep costs of fielding a large navy or ground army. You can instead simply pay mercenaries to fight for you when and if you need it. The downside is that mercenaries aren’t necessarily 100 percent loyal to you. Beyond that, they function more-or-less like any other Enclave. You select dialogue choices from the Contact screen and they provide you with services.
There’s actually more at work than just hiring high-powered fleets and armies, too. You can pay the mercenaries to upgrade their gear and even give them access to your own military technology. They will use this to autonomously build and upgrade their own fleets that you can rent for Energy Credits. That means you can use 50 relatively weak Corvettes to found a Mercenary Enclave, let them manage their military, and eventually hire a much stronger fleet down the line. This causes their opinion of you to grow, as well.
You can also pay the company to expand your own Naval Capacity by 15% for 10 years. Lastly, mercenaries can sell you the plans to build Mercenary Garrison buildings on Starbases. These increase the Allied Fire Rate of ships in that system by 15%. Though they’re quite costly to upkeep.
What are Mercenary Dividends in Stellaris?
This might be the real reason a lot of players decide to make a Mercenary Enclave. Besides all the benefits listed above, the NPC factions pay their patrons Dividends. These are essentially tithes paid by the Mercenary Enclave to their patron based on how business is going. The mercs will automatically notify you when they have Dividends to pay — which can include thousands of resources like Food and Minerals or even Research.
The more Mercenary Enclaves under the influence, the more Dividends you receive, which quickly leads to the Enclaves paying for themselves. The Lord of War Ascension Perk even increases the rate at which you receive Dividends (alongside a 25% boost to your “Diplomatic Weight From Fleet Power,” which can help offset the Influence cost). Using the right Defense Privatization Resolution at the Galactic Senate can even ban having a navy without mercenaries — significantly increasing the demand for their services.
And that’s that for mercenaries in Stellaris! We hope this helped you get an early handle on what the new feature does in the Overlord expansion and its accompanying Patch 3.4 update. Best of a luck making war your (and everyone else’s) business!