Here are the differences between Strike Teams, Criminals and Ruffians. Keep in mind that the Size Matters notes here on all three of these categories, regarding where they generally start off in relation to the core mod strength, is a guideline only. Where a specific unit is a combination of TWO of these categories, it could follow the general rules on either class, or a blend of the two depending on the situation. Additionally, ALL units begin at core mod strength if Size Matters Uncut is in use with Size Matters, making these footnotes completely moot on such an option arrangement. A Strike Team is a military force comprised of specialized elite warriors who strike with stealth, speed and lethal precision. They start off being extremely anonymous as to what world leader is behind their actions, but lose that anonymity as the world becomes more affixed in its civil structure. Until that point, they are incredibly strong tools to use against foes when not officially at war. They never stop being useful, however, in taking out high-value, slightly vulnerable targets. Generally speaking, they are NOT intended for city infiltration unless they are ALSO criminals. The key differentiation here is that they ARE official members of the nation's military force. They do not spread crime to plots or to the city unless they are also criminals or ruffians. Under Hide and Seek, they are, with the exception of the Feline line, the strongest at camouflage invisibility. Generally, only canines and other strike teams can match their camo invisibility levels with camo VISIBILITY skills enough to see them at any distance. Since they are also very good at seeing those using camouflage, they make an excellent counter to enemy strike teams. In Size Matters, Strike Teams may not merge nor split because the effectiveness of the unit is primarily in each member of the group playing their role to support the other in a very specific manner. With Special Forces, for example, there is a defined amount of personnel, each with its own specialty, in a 'pod'. One may be a demolitions expert while another a sniper, another a gunner, and so on. Thus the term 'Strike TEAM'. Even for units as early as Ambushers, if the unit size was larger they would be less effective at stealth and if they were any smaller, they would lose combat effectiveness at a faster rate per man out than splitting would normally indicate. On Size Matters, strike teams usually start off at their normal core mod unit strength. For a unit with this many 'powers', this makes them rather terrifying. Units with greater merged volumes may find them little more than a nuisance, however, as they cannot merge to match them. But if a strike team can successfully develop itself with lots of promotions from XP gain, it can help them compensate for group size, so until they become lethal by being sharpened in the field, they tend to pick off less protected targets. A Criminal is NOT a member of the military force but an under the table 'associate' of the state carrying out state interests in the act of upholding their own personal natures. They are NOT terribly strong fighters but CAN develop lethal combat skills if that is their focus with promotions. Primarily, they are best at infiltrating cities and causing trouble wherever they are. They spread crime to the cities they are in and, to a lesser degree, the plots they are on. Promotions can help them to enhance the crime they spread, just as Law Enforcement units can be trained to combat crime further. Criminals can perform a wide variety of missions, perhaps one of the most impressive ones being to generate significant amounts of espionage on opponents when in their cities. They can often steal plans and sabotage the latest construction project or training course for a new unit taking place. Criminals are sources of rot to send to infect your opponents, whether at war or not. They can enter and remain in neutral or hostile cities, even when at war, and unlike any other unit type, if inside a city, they stay put when a declaration of war is made! However, this all means they can never be used to capture, nor attack cities. There is a point in their upgrade chain when the criminal line blends with the strike team line. This unit is the Assassin. From this point forward, criminals become capable of Assassination actions, which allow them to take out some limited high-value targets on the same plot, even inside cities. Under the Hide and Seek option, early criminals are nearly as good as strike teams with camouflage invisibility, BUT this is not their specialty. They start off strong with a unique form of invisibility, disguise, which is not just an ability to make themselves look like someone else but is also their ability to act the roles they need to play to blend into society as a trusted citizen. While both disguise and camouflage waxes, improving for many unit upgrades, they gradually abandon camouflage completely and eventually disguise wanes in favor of political 'invisibility'. Political invisibility represents the advanced capacity to openly perform criminal acts while avoiding any repercussions due to strings pulled and bribes made on both local and national governmental levels. In the latest stages of the game, they become hackers and cybernetic rebels. Criminals also represent state-undermining political activists that can help to de-stabilize city loyalties to the crown, and this is most acute during the Renaissance with the Scoundrel unit. You can use criminals to assist in capturing a city with cultural influence. In Size Matters, criminals may not merge nor split because they are primarily a crime property spreading unit and properties cannot be scaled. They also have numerous missions where the results of the mission cannot scale either. Criminals tend to start off at one total size category shift lower than what you'd see in the core game so are, under full combat mod rule balance, given to be strong at escape but display combat weakness in comparison to other concurrent units. This helps to promote their role as less that of combat, and more that of social and economic warfare. Ruffians are little more than mercenary barbarians working for the state. Unlike criminals, they do not attempt to blend with society and infect it from within. Instead, they stand apart, united against all sources of authority. Ruffians tend to be large groups of 'seemingly' independent militarized forces... 'freedom fighters' if you will. They 'claim' no allegiance to any government, though world leaders know they are likely on the payroll for someone. They specialize in being a major thorn in the countryside of any foe. Ruffians spread far more crime to plots than to cities and cannot even ENTER cities without capturing them and throwing them into anarchy, capturing cities for the barbarian player rather than for their technical owning player. Therefore, as it is for Strike Teams, cities cannot be safe harbors for them unless they are ALSO criminals (a crossover which most notably takes place at the Cutthroat unit.) Ruffians aren't as 'elite' as Strike Teams are but make up for it usually with large group sizes. However, like Strike Teams, they are very good at setting ambushes for the unwary. They do not have nearly the invisibility capacity as Strike Teams do, to the point that without Hide and Seek in play, they don't have any invisibility at all. And ON Hide and Seek, they have a minimal amount of camouflage, which they can enhance by hiding in forests. They can still catch the unwary off guard. Due to their barbaric ferocity in a fight, ruffians are usually quite powerful and possess a touch more base strength than you'd find on other similar units. They also require more upkeep than most. But it can be a costly affair to attempt to uproot them from your lands when they rumble across the border without respect for any nation. Ruffians can share space with barbarian units peacefully. They are therefore useless at combatting barbarian incursions, unable to attack or defend against barbarian units. I'd like to also add for them the ability to have them potentially 'purchase' barbarian units to swell their military power. When they do, said barbarians would join the nation but would immediately gain a promo that makes those barbarians a Ruffian unit and add commensurate gold cost for doing so... just as hiring a mercenary force would. But this is not in play for v37. In Size Matters, due to the fact that they spread crime, they cannot merge nor split. However, they do start off a size category shift stronger than their core game strength and are the only units which do. However, they can still be outmatched against heavily merged armies, so they challenge the foe they invade to commit to a truly intensive effort to build up a counteractive force.