A steady and faithful Turb is a great comfort, but it seems like the greatest Magic users don't rely on such Mundane underlings. Maleficent has her Goons, the Wicked Witch of the West has her Winkies and Flying Monkeys. Both of them have four things in common: They are female, green, evil and they save a bundle on Wages. You don't have to pay a Flying Monkey. Odds are that they don't have a concept of money and no innkeeper is going to open the door to them, no matter how much they're willing to pay for that ale. Besides, they can't exactly desert you- they have nowhere to go- and I'd like to see an infiltrator pretend to be part of the guard.
Do we have many examples of these non-human covenfolk in 5th edition canon? I've only been able to find a few:
The Hrools, of course
Hermanus' Wooden Soldier from LoH
The Living Corpses from HP
The Guard Automatons at Magvillus, which get almost no description at all.
The wooden soldiers from Coeris (from legends) aren't autonomous they're remote controlled. They're a way for the covenant to attack something with grogs without exposing their grogs or enchanted devices to any risk.
Tireless Servant is fine for grunt work, but I'd want something with an Int score acting as a sentry. And yeah, Automata by the rules are hideously expensive and unreliable toys, so I'd love to know how they are "the most impressive Hermetic enchantments" at Magvillus. Especially considering you can make a ring that can hold concentration, but an automata can't.
Yeah, but the ones in Hermanus' laboratory are remote controlled by spirits. You don't have to pay spirits, or even be particularly nice to them, if they're bound to their task. Admittedly, you'd need to enchant a lot of Staves of the Wooden Soldiers and then find spirits to control them before you had any sort of decent Turb, but that's what I'm talking about here.
You use Heremetic Metamorphosis from MoH to add Raven's wings to a Barbary Ape (the only monkey in Mythic Europe), then awaken the creature using the ritual from Calebais. Boom, intelligent flying monkeys!
Actually, that sounds like grounds for Marching, but still.....
Changes in AM rules have deprecated the value of minions.
Once upon a time, spellcasting was slow. A round consisted of missiles, melee, more missiles and finally spells. A "fast cast defense" was not a spell, but a surge of magic to counter other magic. A magus could take on an army.... if he had a few rounds of prep. Otherwise, he was vulnerable to a housewife with a rolling pin. Shield grogs were an important defense against outraged housewives! And, um, other threats.
Similarly, iirc, it seemed that avoiding the yearly story had more value; the game was more set up to encourage a play style in which one magus dealt with a story, backed by grogs and companions. In that scenario, minions are very important. Of course, minor issues could be dealt with just by minions, though that play style was not really standard, especially since players find it fun to unleash ultimate wizard power.
Want more minions?
Any interruption ruins a season of magical study. This does not include Sabbath, festivals, meals, sleep, etc, or mysteries that allow 2 magical activities per season (ie, Philosophical Alchemy still works), but does include any story, and any event in which a magus makes a stress roll involving Hermetic Magic.
No fast casting. A fast-cast defense is always spontaneous, and is a counterspell, not a spell.
Spellcasting has an initiative penalty equal to the spell's level. (Ken's very speculative rules for less subtraction: Effective Penetration = Penetration Ability * 5 + bonuses for AC, tbd. Spellcasting initiative, as above. Note that a high casting score does not affect Penetration; use a lesser spell if you want to go sooner. Life Boost adds 5/fatigue to Effective Penetration. Now magi can still do cool things.... but casting is a bit slow, a level 20 faerie is a real threat for most new magi, and a magus who wants to affect an Archangel will suffer deeply elsewhere. Oh, and Diedne Magic suddenly becomes a reasonable virtue, though still not awesome.)