A commander is the leader of an army flank. Characters are eligible to lead flanks if they are the ruler, their liege's Marshal , have the minor title also called "Commander", or a commander of a hired mercenary company/holy order.
Commander minor title
Barons can grant the "Commander" title to 1 character; counts to 2; dukes to 4; kings to 6 and emperors to 8. Nomads have a -4 penalty to their commander limit; khans can have 2 commanders while Khagans can have 4. Nomads have to upgrade the Baghatur Council building at their nomadic capital in order to increase their commander limit; a fully upgraded Baghatur Council will grant +4 to the commander limit and thus completely offset the initial -4 penalty, allowing nomads to hold the same number of commanders as their non-nomadic equivalents.
Hindu characters must be of the Kshatriya caste before they can become commanders. Women can be commanders if full status of women law passed or if the woman is a Shieldmaiden. Cathar, Messalian, Bogomilist, Mazdaki women, as well as Warrior lodge women, can also be commanders if they share their liege's religion.
Appointing commanders to lead armies
When you raise levies, flank leaders are chosen randomly from among your commanders, marshal, and self (if not a child or busy). Flank leaders can be reassigned manually as long as the army is not busy in combat.
Commanders may also be assigned to battalions within the army (in the Reorganise Army view). While their effects will be limited to their battalion, they will be ready to replace Flank commanders if they die, and pose an additional threat to enemy commanders in duels. This option is limited to demesne levies, and retinues.
Courtiers of Holy Orders and Mercenaries may also be assigned as flank leaders if part of their liege's troops are in the army, even if they do not have the commander title. They can also be randomly attached to battalions when you hire their liege. However, they can neither be attached to nor removed from battalions inside a flank manually.
Out of battle:
- The leader of the center's skill is used to determine the entire army's attrition(?)
- The leader of the center gets siege events(?)
- The leader with the best siege modifier determines siege speed
- The leader with the best movement modifier determines movement speed
- The flank leaders each affect their own flank in battle
- Secondary leaders within the same flank have effects on their own sub units
- A high martial skill makes good tactics more likely and bad tactics less likely. The important thresholds here are 8, 12, and 16:
- martial skill of less than 8 makes a terrible commander; some very harmful "bad" tactics become more likely - you are better off with no commander at all.
- martial of 8-11 makes a decent commander
- martial of 12-15 makes a good commander
- martial of 16 or above makes a great commander
- Culture enables some exclusive tactics:
- Arabic culture group enables Desert Ambush
- Altaic culture group enables Retreat and Ambush Tactic
- Tibetan culture group enables Mountain Ambush Tactic
- North Germanic culture group enables Berserker Charge
- Byzantine culture group enables Embolon Charge Formation
- Scottish culture enables Schiltron Formation
- Italian culture enables Pike Column Advance
- English or Welsh culture enables Massive Longbow Volley Tactic
- French, Occitan, Norman, German, or Breton culture enables Couched Lance Charge
See Combat and the 3 Culture Bonuses for an explanation of how cultural building bonuses can stack with retinue's unique effects, also known as the cultural retinue bonus.
- Good/bad Traits allow some good/bad tactics.
- Traits enabling good tactics are:
- Inspiring leader or Defensive leader enables Inspired Defense
- Brave , Cavalry leader , or Aggressive leader enables Heroic Counter-Charge
- Shrewd , Quick , Genius , or Trickster enables Clever Ambush
- Possessed , or Inspiring leader AND Zealous enables Gripped by Religious Fervour
- Traits enabling bad tactics are:
- Wroth or Aggressive leader enables Reckless Charge
- Craven or Organizer enables Timid Advance
- Lisp or Stutter enables Confused Orders
- Slothful or Shy enables Hesitant Commander
- Cruel enables Charging Through Own Skirmishers
- Notice that Aggressive leader uniquely enables both a good AND a bad tactic.
- Traits enabling good tactics are:
Commander modifiers are based on character traits and scaled by the commander's Martial skill:
- A beneficial impact is multiplied by (1 + 0.05*commander's martial); this can go arbitrarily high. For instance: x1.5 at 10 martial and x2 at 20 martial.
- A negative impact is multiplied by (1 - 0.05*commander martial), and is completely negated when leader martial is 20 or greater.
Characters with the most successful martial education (Brilliant strategist ) start with a free one leadership trait. Leadership traits can be gained after battles, through the War focus, via a favor event, or from a Chinese strategist. Characters usually do not get events to acquire new leadership traits while they have 2 (or more) of them already.
|Name||Command||ID||Units||Casualty and morale||Terrain||Other modifiers||Combat Tactics|
|Aggressive Leader||aggressive_leader||111||+10% Damage
|+25% Pursue||Heroic Countercharge|
|Battlefield Terrain Master||narrow_flank_leader||158||+50% Narrow Flank|
|Direct Leader||experimenter||109||+20% Leading the Center|
|Holy Warrior||holy_warrior||130||+30% Damage Against Religious Enemies|
|Inspiring Leader||inspiring_leader||105||+15% Morale Damage
+15% Morale Defense
|Organizer||organizer||107||+20% Movement Speed
|Siege Leader||siege_leader||112||+40% Siege|
|Trickster||trickster||106||+30% Experimentality||Clever Ambush|
+20% Morale Defense
|Winter Soldier||winter_soldier||177||+50% Winter Combat||+4 Winter Supply|
|Unit leadership traits|
|Cavalry Leader||cavalry_leader||104||+20% Mounted Troops||Heroic Countercharge|
|Heavy Infantry Leader||heavy_infantry_leader||103||+20% Heavy Foot Troops|
|Light Foot Leader||light_foot_leader||102||+20% Light Foot Troops|
|War Elephant Leader||war_elephant_leader||174||+20% War Elephants||+20% Morale Damage|
|Terrain expertise traits|
|Desert Expert||desert_terrain_leader||129||+20% Desert|
|Flat Terrain Expert||flat_terrain_leader||126||+20% Plains
|Jungle Expert||jungle_terrain_leader||175||+20% Jungle|
|Mountain Expert||mountain_terrain_leader||128||+20% Mountains|
|Rough Terrain Expert||rough_terrain_leader||127||+20% Forest
|Chinese leadership traits|
|Way of the Dog||logistics_expert||318||+20% Leading the Center||-50% Attrition
+30 Days of Supply
|Way of the Dragon||master_of_flame||317||+20% Damage
+20% Morale Damage
|Way of the Leopard||sapper||320||+20% Hills
|Way of the Tiger||levy_coordinator||319||+20% Flanker||+30% Movement Speed
|Warrior Lodge traits|
|Fearsome||norse_leader||346||+25% Heavy Foot Troops||+50% Imprison Enemy Commander|
|Marauder||tengri_leader||347||+20% Light Cavalry
+10% Heavy Cavalry
|Forest Ambusher||baltic_leader||348||+15% Defense
|Shield of the Tundra||finnish_leader||349||+10% Defense||+25% Winter Combat||+20% Arctic||+3 Winter Supply|
|Pillar of the Plains||slavic_leader||350||+20% Morale Damage
+20% Morale Defense
|+20% Plains (only)|
|Spirit Warrior||west_african_leader||351||+20% Light Foot Troops
+20% Light Cavalry
+10% Movement Speed
|Mountain Guardian||bon_leader||353||+20% Light Foot Troops||+20% Hills
|+10% Movement Speed|
|Aeneator||hellenic_leader||354||+30% Morale Damage
+20% Morale Defense
|+10% Movement Speed|
|Brave||+10% Morale Defence|
|Cruel||+10% Morale Damage|
|Craven||- 20% Morale Defense|
The following lifestyle traits have commander modifiers:
|Game Master||+30% Narrow Flank|
|Administrator||+10% Movement Speed|
|Impaler||+10% Morale Damage|
Commanders may be wounded , maimed , made incapable , or killed during battle.
Commanders may be captured when a battle is lost.
Invite skillful commanders from other courts.
Take advantage of conditional traits. Traits such as Holy warrior , Winter soldier , and terrain expertise are very powerful when triggered.
Improve your kill advantage:
- Offense is increased by Direct leader (center flank only) and Aggressive leader
- Defense is increased by Patient , Defensive leader , and Unyielding leader
Improve your morale advantage by combining a kill advantage with morale multipliers:
- Morale offense is increased by Inspiring leader , Cruel , and War elephant leader .
- Morale defense is increased by Inspiring leader , Brave and Holy warrior .
- Morale defense is decreased by Craven .
Save morale-specific advantage for close battles. When you're clearly losing, you should order your army to retreat immediately (by right-clicking a destination). When you're clearly winning, you might prefer to deal less morale damage per kill, so the battle is more decisive and you spend less time chasing the enemy.
Match culture and traits with flank composition: For example, a flank of heavy infantry retinues will benefit from a Heavy infantry leader who can use the North Germanic culture-specific tactic. You may wish to put all your retinues on a single flank (with levies at least defending the other flanks) to maximize the effect.
Let new commanders practice. Let them lead flanks in less important battles while your best commanders are safely at home, or let them lead sub-units. Your fresh commanders can gain brave/craven or patient/wroth, which are each useful in some situations. More importantly, they can gain leadership traits, including:
- Terrain specialization appropriate for the location
- Winter soldier if the location is experiencing winter
- Holy warrior if Zealous .
Maximize commander training. A vassal with 12+ martial and a leadership trait may offer to train your commanders (see favors for details). This event chain starts with the vassal, so having more skilled vassals makes it more likely.
Employ a Chinese strategist. A Chinese strategist who is your courtier or vassal will randomly teach Chinese leadership traits to your commanders. A strategist can be requested for 750 grace, or an existing strategist can be poached by granting a title. This event chain starts with the liege, and can only be made more likely by having a golden-age strategist (identifiable by having two Chinese leadership traits rather than just one).
Exclusive to Byzantine/Roman Empire
With imperial elective succession, commanders are both potential successors to the empire and electors choosing the successor. Also, only characters with a title higher than a baron may become commanders (unless there's not enough counts/dukes/kings in the empire to fill all commander slots). Appointing commanders with skill below 10 (12 for the Marshal) or dismissing commanders with skill at least 12 may reduce the emperor's voting power. It is possible to dismiss a commander if:
- he becomes a councilor (except Advisor)
- Incapable (includes becoming bedridden from illness)
- inaccessible (includes seclusion, pilgrimage, kow-tow and other traveling which need a regent for the character).
Note that distinguished and excellent commanders are both influential electors and popular candidates for the throne, a problem if they are not of your dynasty.
Mutilation: Since mutilation is permanent (barring supernatural interference), the commander will be permanently disqualified for succession, although he can still remain a commander. However, consider only mutilating non-dynasts (e.g. if the emperor decides to employ dynasts as commanders).
Exclusive to Holy Fury DLC
- If pagan, or tribal/nomadic, characters can join Warrior Lodges, which can earn them unique Commander traits.
- More importantly, rulers who are members of a warrior lodge can appoint their sisters and daughters as a Shieldmaiden , which allows them to become commanders.