Mercenaries are constructed via the Mercenary Space Dock. Mercenary ships are the equivalent of a Mark IV ship, they have a significantly larger ship Cap and can be made from the start of the game. However mercenary ships cost ten times the Metal cost for a standard Mark IV ship.
Thematically, mercenaries are supposed to be powerful Human units fighting only if the players can pay them with metal (and not build them).
| Mercenary Fighter|
Inexpensive fighter with a small attack range.
| Mercenary Bomber|
Inflicts high damage on certain heavy enemy defenses. Very effective against shields and enemy command stations.
| Mercenary Missile Frigate|
Fires powerful, long range, missiles. Slow rate of fire.
| Mercenary Etherjet|
Very fast cloaked fighter that can use a tractor beam to grapple enemy ships. Specialized as a anti-fighter/bomber unit with a wide range of tactical uses.
| Mercenary Parasite|
Fires attacks that deal reclamation damage, any unit destroyed by a parasite is reclaimed and comes under the players control.
| Mercenary Zenith Beam Frigate|
Fires a high power beam that can strike up to nine enemy targets at once.
| Mercenary Neinzul Enclave Starship|
While enemies are present in the same system as this ship, it will produce groups of short lived drones to attack enemy targets.
This ship has a cap of 1, instead of an increased cap like other mercenary units.
Mercenaries are excellent at soaking excess of metal. As metal harvested when at full capacity is wasted, redirecting overflowing metal to mercenary hiring is advised. This can be made automatically by putting a mercenary space dock on loop build and assigning it to a control group; in the CTRLS menu, in the Control-Group-Specific tab, for the chosen group, "Suspend Spending If Resources Less Than" can then be given a value slightly inferior to the current Total Metal Storage. Mercenaries will be automatically hired while metal is near-overflowing, and as soon as another construction drag the total below the defined threshold, the hiring will suspend.
As they are very expensive, they are better not used into risky assaults or mundane wave defense. They are better used as a last defensive resort, in a similar way to the AI's Strategic Reserve.
Mercenaries are never randomly selected, and players always have them available. Thus, players can always access their special abilities, like the tractor of the EtherJets and the reclamation of the Parasites.
When the Reprisal mechanism was first introduced, the mercenary contributed to AI salvage with their full metal cost, inducing overwhelming reprisal waves. They now have a special rule: they only count as if their metal cost was 1/10th. The mercenary units are supposed to be hired with metal as money; their ships are supposed to be made of as much metal as a MkIV unit.