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Top of the Food Chain

Become the first Mercenary.

Top of the Food Chain+0.3
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20 Oct 2018 15 Oct 2018 14 May 2019
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You get this achievement by killing Mercenaries. There are nine tiers in the Mercenaries tab, and the object is to get to the first tier any means necessary. You only move up one rank no matter what. Even if you defeat a mercenary two or more ranks above you, you still only move up one rank. You could kill the first ranked merc if you wanted but you would still move up one rank within your own tier. If you're at the highest tier in your current rank, you would move to the that tier to the lowest rank in the next tier. You do NOT move up if you kill a lower ranked merc.

Each tier has a bonus, such as discounts with the blacksmith, and tier 4 has 20 percent off for ship upgrades.

If you need to move up but can't seem to find a merc above you, the arena usually has a merc for you to fight. To get there, fight a couple mercs, and you will get a quest. Then sail to Pephka on the bottom right corner of the map. Tell Skoura you want to fight the merc (bottom option). If you win, you unlock:

Assassin's Creed OdysseyBlood SportThe Blood Sport achievement in Assassin's Creed Odyssey worth 30 pointsDefeat a Mercenary in the Arena.

The bounty system can also help you move up throughout the Mercenary system since it provides a constant stream of mercenaries coming at you instead of needing to search for them. However, if you're level 5 on the bounty scale, you may end up fighting two or three mercs, so if may be too difficult to win.

You can also recruit them as crew members. You can use your eagle to hover over them and scan them. If the mercenaries has a gold background on his or her thumbnail, go ahead and Sparta Kick them (wait until their health is low and there are no cliffs). Kick to end the fight. Then, press cn_RS while standing over the body.

If you recruit four legendary lieutenants, you'll unlock:

Assassin's Creed OdysseyThe ArgonautsThe The Argonauts achievement in Assassin's Creed Odyssey worth 44 pointsFully crew the Adrestia with Legendary Lieutenants.

Anyway, the mercenaries seem fairly impossible at first, but as you build your character, they get easier.

First, make sure you're upgrading your spear. Check out TheDude722's Legacy Restored guide on how to do that. You want your spear to be level 5 by the time you're in tier 3.

Next, here's the build I used:

Stealth Master: 3/3
Critical Assassination: 3/3
Second Wind: 3/3
Flaming Attacks: 3/3
Weapons Master 3/3
Gear Master: 3/3
Overpower Attacks: 3/3
Shadow Assassin: 3/3
Fire Mastery: 3/3
Battlecry of Aries: 3/3
Sparta Kick: 3/3

I didn't mention abilities I didn't use for the fights.

You also want good weapons that can produce high DPS.

Another thing is overpower attacks use up three adrenaline points. So, with your spear at level 4, you can perform two overpower attacks if your adrenaline is maxed out. However, if you defeat the Minotaur, you will get Minotaur's Labrys, which gives you the "-1 Adrenaline Cost for Overpower abilities" engraving. Go to any blacksmith and have him engrave any weapon you want. You can also do this for as many weapons as you want, though only one engraving can be used on any weapon. Now you can perform three overpower attacks in quick succession with a full adrenaline meter. You should also add assassin damage to your gear.

I typically only fought them if they were one or two levels above me. Oftentimes, killing a merc that's a higher rank would reveal another merc, so you don't really need to keep your wanted level up.

Anyway, here's how a typical mercenary fight went for me:

First, make sure you're out of combat and you don't have a bounty on your head (if you have one, go you your map and hold cn_Y). Now, hold cn_Y (Critical Assassination) to get his/her health low, then Flaming Attacks (with Fire Mastery), followed by overpower until you're out of adrenaline. Finally, finish of any remaining health the merc has and any animal companion.

Also, if you're using the Bounty System, you can kill them easily with the Adrestia (Check out PsYcHoZeRoSk8eR's Lord of the Seas guide for tips on upgrading it). Ramming at full charge (hold cn_A from a couple hundred meters away) can do the most damage if done properly.

The top tiered mercenary (level 50) is a cultist so if you're going for the cultist achievement, you will want to go for this one as well. I killed him at level 47, and I wouldn't recommend fighting him until you're at least level 46. Anything below that is a one-hit kill for him.

However, according to comments, you can kill the cultist merc without getting the achievement. People have found and killed him while they were on tier 6. You do not move all the way top the top by killing him.

*** Spoiler - click to reveal ***

Finally, if you give me a negative vote, let me know why in the comments section so I can improve my solution.

(Special thanks to PBreezy for helping me with the organization of this guide.)
TheDude722 Thanks for the mention. I'm only level 31 currently, but I'll be using this when I finally decide it's clobbering time.

Not sure why people enjoy throwing negatives around. TA needs to abolish the negative vote altogether.
Posted by TheDude722 on 21 Oct 18 at 09:37
panda jerk You can move up with a merc at same level too. I was worried when I read your last paragraph and I was already 50, with no mercs above me and thought I might be stuck. No the achievement today. Thanks.
Posted by panda jerk on 27 Oct 18 at 20:36
Apostle92627 Yeah, what I meant is in order to get the kill all cultist achievement you need to be the top merc, since the highest one is a cultest.
Posted by Apostle92627 on 27 Oct 18 at 22:36
BadgaRok725 You definitely do not need to be top merc to kill all the cultists, I finished that quest line and barely killed any mercs. I finished in tier 6
Posted by BadgaRok725 on 01 Nov 18 at 01:32
Apostle92627 Really? According to a guide I read before getting this achievement, the top merc was a cultist, and that was how it worked out for me.
Posted by Apostle92627 on 01 Nov 18 at 16:07
vincentw56 I just killed the cultist mercy as he was the on the top tier and I was tier 6. I'm still at tier 6. I thought I would jump to the top. But that does confirm that you don't need to be top merc to finish off the cultist.
Posted by vincentw56 on 02 Nov 18 at 03:51
tazy1956 Here is how i got to be the first Mercenarie. I got up to level 6 trough the game then i decided to try something different. I got onto my ship and attackted spartan and commercial ships that soon got my wanted level up to full and got attacked by mercenaries on a regular basis. Just sink the ship and you will work you way up the ladder. When your wanted level drops just sink a few more spartan ships to bring it up to full again
Posted by tazy1956 on 19 Nov 18 at 09:40
Apostle92627 Meh... the way I did it was easier for me because they would fall after a few attacks.
Posted by Apostle92627 on 19 Nov 18 at 17:17
XxTheOneAndyxX I am currently level 51 and just found a way to one shot one kill any bounty hunter. When I enter Athens I instantly get a 2 star bounty, to try to get some breathing space I ported to the southern most point in Athens (Tower of Sounion) stay on the viewpoint, don't leap of faith. The bounty hunters eventually get there but they can't see you and can't get to you. They pace up and down waiting for you to show yourself. Wait until they are at the top of the slope walking away from you, use a charged bow head shot with either poison or fire, it sends them flying but they keep sliding down the slope which takes all their health off. I have a pile of 6 bounty hunters there including Exekias the Legend. Obviously requires level 3 charged bow shot ability
Posted by XxTheOneAndyxX on 26 Dec 18 at 20:31
VidGamiac Tip for those who killed the Cultist early, don't have the Tier 1 as an Arena opponent and have them as undiscovered for last: Wander around Viewpoint in Megaris.
Posted by VidGamiac on 14 Jan 19 at 00:40
Darr112 I have been searching for ages for the tier 1 mercenary and found them through a quest on the bounty board.
Posted by Darr112 on 28 Jan 19 at 18:00
dodgerofjam One thing I would mention early on is that 'tiers' and 'levels' are vaguely linked but totally separate concepts.
And you can track which mercenary you're pursuing by pausing the game, going to the relevant tab and clicking A.

You can encounter mercenaries from any tier on your travels (higher and/or lower depending on your level and your bounty) but you yourself will always remain in the same tier until you progress upwards - you cannot drop a tier!

I reached the end of the storyline without fully understanding how it all worked... I was Level 53 but still encountering mercs who were tier 8 (much lower tier but still higher levels). It all seemed a bit random until I came here and read your solution, which definitely helped.
Positive vote from me!
Posted by dodgerofjam on 29 Jan 19 at 21:46
LitterlyObserd Just to add for anyone who's confused about mercenaries. You do not have to "clear" a tier in order to move up to the next tier. You move up by killing higher ranked mercenaries; you'll move up 1 spot for every higher-ranked mercenary you kill. New mercenaries will be generated to fill in the ones you killed that are below your rank.
Posted by LitterlyObserd on 17 Mar 19 at 17:03
Apostle92627 Yeah, I mentioned that you only move up 1 spot no matter how many ranks higher the merc you kill is.
Posted by Apostle92627 on 18 Mar 19 at 03:45
PBreezey I voted negative - I think your solution is just a little jumbled and difficult to follow. While I appreciate your tips for fighting and what abilities to use, they're not really needed here. The "solution" for this achievement is:
- Kill Mercenaries
- For each Merc you kill, you will move up one position in your current tier
-- You do not move up for killing Mercs that are a lower rank than you
-- You cannot jump to the top of the ranking by defeating the #1 Merc, it will still only advance you one spot
- You start at the bottom of Tier 9. I am trying to do this from memory, but I believe Tiers 9-3 all have 5 Mercs, Tier 2 has 3 Mercs, and Tier 1 has just the #1 Merc. This means you will need to kill... 39 Mercenaries to reach #1 status? Again, doing this from memory but should be easy to confirm the correct number.
- A high level Merc is frequently available to fight in the Arena in Pephka, which also has an Achievement (you linked to this one).
- Notes on the Bounty system. The Bounty system is great in that you will constantly have Mercs trying to find you and kill you instead of you fast traveling all over the map to kill them one at a time. The negative part of the Bounty system is that (a) the Mercs tracking you may be lower rank and therefore not help you move up and (b) if your Bounty is too high you may have 2 or 3 of them attacking you at once which is extremely difficult to win.
- Mercs are also a great way to earn the Legendary Lieutenant Achievement if you have them join your crew instead of killing them:
Assassin's Creed OdysseyThe ArgonautsThe The Argonauts achievement in Assassin's Creed Odyssey worth 44 pointsFully crew the Adrestia with Legendary Lieutenants.

I think your solution, in its current format, makes it difficult for me to figure out how to actually earn this achievement. I needed to read your entire solution and most of the comments to make sure I fully understood how to earn this. I think you could organize your solution better - start with how to actually earn the achievement and then provide your tips for the fights down below - and I think there are some other pieces your Solution could benefit from including, such as the actual number of higher level Mercs one needs to defeat to earn this Achievement.
Posted by PBreezey on 24 Apr 19 at 17:35
Apostle92627 Thanks for the suggestions. I hope I've improved the guide to your liking. The mercenaries system changed after I posted the guide. Tiers were added and other went away, so I'm not sure if that needs to be addressed. Also, I'm not home at the moment so I don't have the game in front of me.
Posted by Apostle92627 on 25 Apr 19 at 17:18
Frankie DrumsNY I don't remember specifically why I downvoted this months ago, but I remember the Mercenary system was confusing and none of the solutions helped me. This guide now seems good and, if you care enough about a solution to continue updating it months later, then you're an example of what all solution-makers on this site should strive to be. For that alone I'll reverse my vote.
Posted by Frankie DrumsNY on 25 Apr 19 at 19:20
PBreezey Thanks for the update - think the new format looks great! Upvote from me!
Posted by PBreezey on 29 Apr 19 at 17:11
WeisGuy9 Really great, detailed solution. Thanks!
Posted by WeisGuy9 on 03 May 19 at 14:48
SkullsKaiser 92 I can't seem to get this on my game. I'm in the number two spot. Number 1 spot is Undiscovered. I've tried killing other mercenaries the same level as me, but I don't advance. I've tried the arena, killed all the cultist, gotten my bounty to maximum, but nothing. I've killed the number 1 spot a few times before, but I was in earlier tiers.

Update: After around 30 more hours of gameplay, the game eventually changed the number one spot to a different mercenary who was also undiscovered but had the arena logo on top. Traveled to the arena, killed him and achievement popped.
Posted by SkullsKaiser 92 on 23 May 19 at 12:18
Ryn0 L A tip that hasn’t failed me so far:

Start a fight with a bounty hunter (or two) and head for high ground like a building. As soon as the hunter climbs up to fight you, knock him off with a heavy attack or spartan kick. Fall damage (if you’re high enough) takes a lot of health off their meter and it’s relatively risk-free for you! You don’t even really need to fight. Let gravity do its thing.
Posted by Ryn0 L on 26 May 19 at 17:56
SwordofWhedon I’ve been number two for twenty hours. Killed mercs of all levels by the score, sometimes 4 or more at once. Game finished, cultists finished. Still no sign of number one.
Posted by SwordofWhedon on 14 Jul 19 at 04:16
TheDude722 Just for shits & giggles, did you check the Arena?
Posted by TheDude722 on 14 Jul 19 at 11:31
Captain Chao5 Just killed #1 merc. My initial meeting with him was by accident and he killed me with one blow! ( I am lvl 46). I reloaded and stood on a building whilst lobbing flaming arrows at him (Hades Bow is great!) until he died. I've found many of the mercs can be taken down this way, even if they are several levels above you. They don't seem to understand how to climb...which was good for me! haha
Posted by Captain Chao5 on 13 Aug 19 at 14:26