The game considers the Micropurifier as a floatable object and as such, if a merc drown with it, the Micropurifier, along with any other floatable objects carried by the merc, will float to the nearest shore.
Water in the first Jagged Alliance game comes with three depth level: Knee deep, torso deep and above head deep.
Your mercs can cross water that is knee deep without any problems, they cannot shoot while they are in the water but they won't get attacked by eels and snakes, they won't drown, and their equipment will not get damaged by water. Things get tricky when you order your mercs to cross bodies of water that are torso or above head deep.
First of all, not all mercenaries know how to swim, there's a handful of mercenaries that just cannot swim, whenever they are ordered to enter water that is above head deep, they will quickly lose all their stamina and immediately drown and die. Which mercenaries cannot swim are hinted in the mercenaries biographies when you hire them.
Even when a mercenary can swim, their ability to swim is heavily dictated by their current stats. Mercenaries that are unathletic, or wounded (even when their wounds have been patched) will lose stamina faster than a healthy one when they are swimming. When a mercenary runs out of stamina while they're swimming, they will drown and die.
Then, there are snakes, all over Metavira, in the lakes, rivers, and sea shores, there are snakes everywhere. It doesn't matter whether you see the snakes on the surface of the water or not. Whenever a mercenary is in water that is torso or above head deep, there is a random chance they will get attacked by snakes.
When an unarmed mercenary is attacked by a snake two things can happen:
The merc can waste the entire turn wrestling with the snake, losing a lot of health and stamina in the process.
The merc can escape from the snake, lose some health and resume swimming.
Again, whether a mercenary can escape a snake is heavily dictated by his or her stats. Healthy, rested and athletic mercenaries have better chances of escaping than wounded, fatigued or unathletic mercenaries.
You can increase your mercenaries chances of survival by having them carry* a knife when they go in the water. When a merc carrying a knife is attacked by a snake, he or she will attempt to kill the snake with the knife, before escaping. Sometimes they may even escape without suffering any health loss. That being said, once again, the chances that your mercenary will ready the knife depend heavily on your mercenary's health, fatigue or their physical fitness. Even when they carry a knife, any mercenary that aren't in top shape may spend several turns before they actually kill the snake, may suffer health loss from the fight, or may still be unable to draw the knife and drown.
* The official strategy guide seems to indicate that it is not necessary to put the knife in the mercenary's hand, that the mercenary will attempt to draw the knife whether the knife is in his pocket or whether the knife is already in his hand but personally I try to put the knife in the mercenary's hand before I order them to cross water. Better safe than sorry.
Save scumming is a good way to avoid snakes altogether, whenever you are about to enter water, save just in case. That being said, you cannot always rely on that. Whether you're in combat and cannot quick-save, whether you're doing an ironman run, whether you think it's just plain cheap to abuse saving, and sometimes the game also seems to be determined to throw a fistful of snakes at your mercs' faces, even when you save scum. So, before you cross water:
Make sure that your mercs are not fatigued, either spend a couple turns doing nothing or drink water to replenish their stamina. To drink water, go in the inventory screen, select a canteen and click on the mercenary silhouette's head (not the merc's portrait). Empty canteens get replenished every morning so don't discard them once they're empty.
If you need to send a mercenary across a body of water, make sure the mercenary you send is healthy, physically fit, and equipped with a knife. If you need to cross a body of water with your entire squad, make sure they all fit the requirements, those that do not should either find an alternate route around the body of water, and if they cannot, they should have stayed at the base that day.
Two last things:
Every other morning, Jack may randomly offer you one of his four native assistants to guide you on the island if you have an empty slot in your squad that day. The official strategy guide seems to indicate that these native assistants are excellent at killing snakes when they are equipped with knives and have less chances of getting attacked by snakes when they are in water. I have not verified this however.
And last but not least, whenever a mercenary cross water that is torso or above head deep, there is a random chance that their equipment will suffer from water damage. Guns, explosives, electronic equipments, gas masks and kits get damaged when you swim or waddle in water. Armors, goggles, ammos, knives, silencers, scopes and canteens do not get damaged. If you need to swim somewhere, pack the strict minimum to cut your home mechanic some slack.
Post edited September 16, 2014 by blueskirt42