No money, no Swiss.
— French saying
Highly versatile medium infantry unit, capable of dealing heavy splash damage and taking apart anything, except heavy cavalry or missile cavalry on flanking manoeuvres.
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North across the Alps in the Helvetic communes, the harsh winters and poor land have breathed life into a formidable class of mercenaries: the Swiss. Swiss infantry, known as Reisläufer (in German, "those who travel on campaign"), are medium polearms infantry which tie with the Italian Magistral Guard as the best infantry unit in the game, being fairly powerful and ready at a moment's notice, but costly in Wealth.
Only the richest of factions can afford to recruit these warriors whenever the fancy suits them. But even so, your money should be worth it if you spend it on a picked body of 3-4 Reisläufer to protect and advance your interests. These mercenary units are armed with polearms and are capable of charging enemies, dealing damage on the first strike (just walk them into the foe en masse). This, and the speed of their recruitment means that as a general rule, Reisläufer can be used en masse with great effect against enemy spearmen and pikemen wherever they are found, but are still somewhat vulnerable if caught out in the open by heavy cavalry or guns. Just remember to use these units aggressively, pushing them into the foe to take advantage of their "first strike" ability, as well as the awesome stopping power of their Halberds. The reach of their arms also grants the Reisläufer a limited ability to engage cavalry, while retaining some semblance of mobility, and for that reason can be recruited by five European factions: Venice; France; Hungary; the Papal States; and the Norse. These units are especially useful, given the rather weak melee infantry units these factions obtain during the Imperial Era.
- On the March — The sheer stopping power and the "charge" ability of Reisläufer make them ideal for use as offensive melee units, especially against infantry.
- Sitting Ducks — Although the Reisläufer have a ferocious attack that makes them dangerous infantry counters, their weak armour and slower walking speed make them fair game for better-equipped cavalry archers and Knights.
In Northern Asia and Northern Europe, polearms were often the favourite weapons of various mediaeval armies, because of their availability and were even used from horseback in China and Japan. It was an unnamed Lorrainian peasant soldier who killed Charles the Bold with a halberd at Nancy in 1477, ending the Burgundian Wars in one stroke.
Modern Switzerland can trace its roots back to 1291 when, following the extinction of the Zähnringer and Kyburg families which ruled various cities in the Alps, the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden found themselves independent. When the Habsburg family attempted to assert control, they were defeated at Morgarten (1315) and Sempach (1386), securing a de facto independence for the new confederation which was soon joined by several other cantons, soon founding the "Old Federation". Peace and unity however remained elusive until the Swiss-Burgundian War, when they declared war on Burgundy, fearing the expansionist ambitions of Duke Charles the Bold. The war, while giving the Swiss no real territorial benefits, had created a solid reputation for their pikemen and halberdiers, and before long all the great states of Europe were employing Swiss troops, or drilling their own armies in similar style, such as the Imperial Landsknecht mercenary corps raised throughout Northern Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.