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 and slow, but, 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.
Their slow movement and their stopping power considered, 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, Byzantines or Burgundy which are heavily dependent on mercenaries to bolster their armies in the Imperial Era.
- 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.
- In War, Discipline Is Everything — Unlike other unique units, the Doppelsöldnern and their Landsknecht brothers all require Centralisation to be researched before they can be accessed.
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.