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Status commanding.png 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[edit]

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 DLC icon Conclave.pngfull 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[edit]

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 Dlc icon legacy of rome.pngretinues.

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

In battle:

  • The flank leaders each affect their own flank in battle
  • Secondary leaders within the same flank have effects on their own sub units


Main article: Tactics

The commander can influence tactics selection via martial skill, culture, and traits.

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.

Combat modifiers[edit]

Combat modifier.png 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.

Leadership traits[edit]

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 DLC icon Way of Life.pngWar focus, via a DLC icon Conclave.pngfavor 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 aggressive_leader 111 +10% Damage
-10% Defense
+25% Pursue Heroic Countercharge
Reckless Charge
Battlefield Terrain Master Battlefield Terrain Master narrow_flank_leader 158 +50% Narrow Flank
Defender Defender defensive_leader 108 -10% Damage
+25% Defense
Inspired Defense
Direct Leader Direct Leader experimenter 109 +20% Leading the Center
Flanker Flanker flanker 110 +20% Flanker
Holy Warrior Holy Warrior holy_warrior 130 +30% Damage Against Religious Enemies
Inspiring Leader Inspiring Leader inspiring_leader 105 +15% Morale Damage
+15% Morale Defense
Inspired Defense
Religious Fervor
Organizer Organizer organizer 107 +20% Movement Speed
+10% Retreat
Timid Advance
Siege Leader Siege Leader siege_leader 112 +40% Siege
Trickster Trickster trickster 106 +30% Experimentality Clever Ambush
Unyielding Unyielding unyielding_leader 131 +10% Defense
+20% Morale Defense
Winter Soldier Winter Soldier winter_soldier 177 +50% Winter Combat +4 Winter Supply
Unit leadership traits
Cavalry Leader Cavalry Leader cavalry_leader 104 +20% Mounted Troops Heroic Countercharge
Heavy Infantry Leader Heavy Infantry Leader heavy_infantry_leader 103 +20% Heavy Foot Troops
Light Foot Leader Light Foot Leader light_foot_leader 102 +20% Light Foot Troops
War Elephant Leader War Elephant Leader war_elephant_leader 174 +20% War Elephants +20% Morale Damage
Terrain expertise traits
Desert Expert Desert Expert desert_terrain_leader 129 +20% Desert
Flat Terrain Expert Flat Terrain Expert flat_terrain_leader 126 +20% Plains
+20% Farmlands
+20% Steppe
Jungle Expert Jungle Expert jungle_terrain_leader 175 +20% Jungle
Mountain Expert Mountain Expert mountain_terrain_leader 128 +20% Mountains
Rough Terrain Expert Rough Terrain Expert rough_terrain_leader 127 +20% Forest
+20% Hills
Chinese leadership traits
Way of the Dog Way of the Dog logistics_expert 318 +20% Leading the Center -50% Attrition
+30 Days of Supply
Way of the Dragon Way of the Dragon master_of_flame 317 +20% Damage
+20% Morale Damage
Way of the Leopard Way of the Leopard sapper 320 +20% Hills
+20% Forest
+50% Siege
Way of the Tiger Way of the Tiger levy_coordinator 319 +20% Flanker +30% Movement Speed
+20% Retreat
Warrior Lodge traits
Fearsome Fearsome Norse.png norse_leader 346 +25% Heavy Foot Troops +50% Imprison Enemy Commander
Marauder Marauder Tengri.png tengri_leader 347 +20% Light Cavalry
+10% Heavy Cavalry
+20% Plains
+20% Farmlands
+20% Steppe
Forest Ambusher Forest Ambusher Romuva.png baltic_leader 348 +15% Defense
+30% Flanker
+20% Forest
Shield of the Tundra Shield of the Tundra Pagans#Suomenusko finnish_leader 349 +10% Defense +25% Winter Combat +20% Arctic +3 Winter Supply
Pillar of the Plains Pillar of the Plains Pagans#Slavic slavic_leader 350 +20% Morale Damage
+20% Morale Defense
+20% Plains (only)
Spirit Warrior Spirit Warrior Pagans#West_African west_african_leader 351 +20% Light Foot Troops
+20% Light Cavalry
+20% Desert
Scorcher Scorcher Pagans#Zunist zun_leader 352 +20% Desert
+20% Mountain
+20% Siege
+10% Movement Speed
Mountain Guardian Mountain Guardian Pagans#Bön bon_leader 353 +20% Light Foot Troops +20% Hills
+20% Mountains
+10% Movement Speed
Aeneator Aeneator Pagans#Hellenic hellenic_leader 354 +30% Morale Damage
+20% Morale Defense
+10% Movement Speed

Personality traits[edit]

Name Combat modifiers
Patient.png Patient +20% Defense
Brave.png Brave +10% Morale Defence
Cruel.png Cruel +10% Morale Damage
Craven.png Craven - 20% Morale Defense

Lifestyle traits[edit]

The following lifestyle traits have commander modifiers:

Name Combat modifiers
Game master.png Game Master +30% Narrow Flank
Strategist.png Strategist +20% Defence
Hunter.png Hunter +20% Pursuit
Administrator.png Administrator +10% Movement Speed
Architect.png Architect +20% Siege
Impaler.png 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 .

Give your armies exercise. Contribute to allies' wars, help neighbors fight off heretic uprisings, raid, or fight raiders. Force realms to become your tributaries, then offer to join their wars.

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[edit]

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.pngHoly Fury DLC[edit]

  • 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.