Throughout the Ages various countries have found use for Mercenaries - those soldiers of fortune who are ready to give their lives for the highest bidder. But an empire which chooses to really invest in Mercenaries gains access to their finest warriors. And, interestingly enough, all commerce-oriented empires find Mercenaries to be extremely useful.
- Allows the purchasing of Landsknechts.
The Landsknecht is a very interesting unit, if you're in the Medieval or Renaissance Era. It provides a cheaper alternative to the Pikeman, who also has some interesting harassing abilities. From a strategic point of view, though, you don't really need this Policy, but for the fact that it allows access to higher-level ones.
So, always choose the other starting Policy, Wagon Trains, unless you're at war and intend to make use of the new unit right away.
Mercenaries - those who take part in a conflict for personal gain or compensation rather than duty or belief - have been a fact of war since ancient times; but the practice reached its height during the Renaissance, when the so-called "Free Companies" were formed to fight for hire. Often composed of veterans from national armies and led by a charismatic commander such as the Englishman Sir John Hawkwood, who formed the infamous White Company, these were usually hired during times of war by city-states or small kingdoms that lacked the funds or manpower to maintain standing armies. While some of the early mercenary forces specialized in specific forms of combat - for instance, cavalry or artillery companies - most were formed of German or Swiss landsknecht and saw extensive use during the religious wars of the Reformation. Coincidentally, to the south the condottieri served in the internecine wars between the Italian city-states, including the Papacy. As late as the 1700s Scots-Gaelic Gallowglass companies were available for hire to continental nobles. In modern times, mercenaries tend to be hired in small, elite teams for specific missions, or be part of private security companies.