OK, so I missed the box entitled "Threat Challenge Ratings" on p. 244 of the Classic Spycraft Espionage Handbook, in particular the 2nd paragraph:
"Under nearly all circumstances, masterminds, henchmen, and foils have a challenge rating equal to their agent level (i.e. the sum of their class levels). Minions, on the other hand, have a challenge rating equal to their agent level, minus 1 (minimum 1)."
On the same page, but further up under the sub header "Minion Level (1-18; 1 MP per Level):", there is the following statement:
"Minions must be at least two levels lower than the mastermind or henchman they serve. Minions should generally be of the same level as the agents they encounter. One or two challenges with minions of a higher level is acceptable; more than that will overwhelm the team. Minions should never be more than two levels higher than the agent team, as they would devastate the team."
So my question is now whether the last sentence in the first paragraph that I quoted above implies that minions (plural) when encountered in the recommended squad size equal a CR of Agent Level - 1. So that would mean a squad
of 5th level minions has a CR of 4. That would seem to be how CRs for minions squads in the examples are calculated. I just want to confirm that I am reading this correctly.
Also, if a 6th level henchman is encountered with a squad of 5th level minions (CR 4), the effective EL is 7 per Table 9.12 on p. 265, right? But that mix seems to break the rule stated in the 2nd quote above that minions must be at least two levels lower than the henchman they serve. Which means the henchman should be 7th level or the minions should be 4th level (effective CR 3), which requires some interpolation on table 9.12, yes?