The leaders of the mercenaries received a donation in gold; an argument the most persuasive to their minds, and without which all others would have proved in vain.
— Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe
The Doppelsöldner, or "double-pay" troops are German auxiliary troops serving in the ranks of Imperial armies. These units are armed with a two-handed sword, and as such are often meant for use against archers and flanking heavy infantry. As hired swords, Doppelsöldner are costly, but also train faster than normal sword infantry of the Imperial Era. Despite being armed with a heavy and cumbersome weapon, it can be said that Doppelsöldnern are highly skilled mercenaries and (ironically) as such, especially against all enemy mercenaries, although this may not save them if faced with a full complement of pikes or lances — or Swiss Reisläufer! additionally, Doppelsöldnern are not only costly but also require some teching up to obtain — they are among some of the few unique units which require Centralisation to be created.
With sufficient resources a player can easily create many of these units to overwhelm an enemy faster than it normally would have taken for, say, espadachines to be created by a Burgundian player. Doppelsöldner are thus the ultimate medium infantry unit which can be used in a variety of roles — either as support units if your lines of pikemen falter, or as an assault unit. Ideally, their strong anti-mercenary attack means that they can be used to crush mercenary spam by factions such as the Moors, Scotland or Burgundy which are heavily dependent on mercenaries to bolster their armies in the Imperial Era.
It was the duke of Austria, Maximilian I, who first introduced the Landsknechte regiments, of which the Doppelsöldnern were a component, to fight on the side of the Empire. Initially consisting mostly of men hailing from southern Germany, the ethos of the Landsknechte — characterised by garishly coloured and excessively elaborate "uniforms" — nevertheless spread far and wide to the extent that not all Landsknechte were truly German. Being mercenaries, Landsknechte naturally did not stay on as the main preserve of the Empire, and some even fought on the side of other powers, most notably France, Spain, and the Dutch for the next 200 years or so.
- Semi-mercenary medium infantry, stronger and trains faster than Espadachines.
- Business is Business — Doppelsöldnern are the best unit you can use against mercenaries, and deal damage against all mercenary infantry save for one unit: their hated rivals, the Swiss Reisläufer.
- Unlike other unique units, the Doppelsöldnern and their Landsknecht brothers all require Centralisation to be researched before they can be accessed.