A stack being led by a Commander can fight in a directed manner, and can also abstain from fighting. An unled stack in contact with non-allied forces will auto-attack.Erf-b1-p040a
Commanders can see the Move, Hits, Attack and Defense stats for a unit,Erf-b1-p040a but not their Name (Stanley can't remember Jack's name while Parson can see itErf-b1-p108). It is likely that Commanders can also see a unit's Specials, but not details about them (Wanda admits she can't see Delphie's discipline inner-peace-through-superior-firepower-–-episode-011/ ).
Commanders are popped via a single mechanism: the Ruler chooses to pop a commander expecting a warlord (as this is nearly always the result) but may rarely receive a caster instead. A side generally receives one caster in its first few warlords, but after that casters become quite rare.
The term Commander is used in two separate ways. The actual rank of Commander indicates that a unit has the ability to lead a stack in combat. All such units, including Casters, Warlords, and Chief Warlords, are periodically called Commander by their associates and superiors as a title. The exception would be Rulers, who can lead troops and are therefore Commanders, but whose higher rank and title would prevent anyone ever calling them "Commander."
In Klog #4Erf-b1-p040a, Parson states, 'any unit with leadership ability is called a "Commander" or "Warlord".' In Klog #10Erf-b1-p084a, Parson states that 'Only Warlords have leadership.' This presents two conflicting statements about the same subject. This is mainly a mistake on Parson's part, and has confused some readers. At that point in time, Parson was an unreliable narrator due to his lack of knowledge. Now, we have a enough knowledge to clarify this situation. Commander means both warlords and casters, and both warlords and casters have similar powers. However, casters have no leadership, and although can lead a stack, they will not grant a bonus to the units they lead. Warlords have leadership, and will grant a bonus. One exception exists. If a type of caster leads a certain troop type, then they will grant a bonus to those troops. Dirtamancers grant a bonus to dirtamantic golems, Croakamancers grant a bonus to uncroaked, Dollamancers grant a bonus to dollamantic golems, etc. Simply put, Parson's first statement was partly incorrect, and was later refined.
Duty is one of the three effects of Natural Thinkamancy (besides Obedience and Loyalty) that a Ruler exerts on all his subjects. Duty affects Commanders only. Has greater effect on Warlords, and greatest on Chief Warlords. (And therefore the least effect on Casters.) Duty requires Commanders to use their own initiative in the service of the Ruler. Another effect of Duty is that Commanders cannot withhold information and cannot conspire against the Ruler.Erf-b1-p084a
Commander as Position
When Parson is summoned, Wanda refers to him, seemingly from habit, as "Commander." However, Stanley then corrects her, saying, "I haven't made him a Commander yet."Erf-b1-p019 (Then, after renaming himself Tool, Stanley officially names Parson Chief Warlord).
This leads to the inference, you are popped (or summoned, or promoted) as a Warlord or Caster. That's what you are. Commander is a position that you may fill at the behest of your Ruler. So, theoretically, when a Warlord pops, the Ruler can decline to make him a Commander. This might make it impossible for him to lead Stacks of that Side's troops, in essence making that Warlord a solo act.
The only possible motivation I can see is fear of treason or incompetence from a Warlord with low Duty, Loyalty, or Obedience. It also brings into question the regular references of Barbarian Warlord Jillian Zamussels as "Commander," but that's explainable by a)her commanding the Gwiffons in her stack, and b) being her own Ruler, and therefore able to "name" herself Commander.
Use as a Title
The word "Commander" is often used as a title to address Warlords and, less frequently, Casters. In this sense, the words "Warlord" and "Commander" seem to be used almost interchangeably, although Commander seems to express more respect, and is perhaps more formal.
Incidents of Use of Titles
Commander as title:
- Stanley addresses Wanda as CommanderErf-b1-p017
- Wanda addresses Parson as Commander Erf-b1-p019
- Jillian addresses Webinar as CommanderErf-b1-p050
- Ansom addresses Jillian as CommanderErf-b1-p056Erf-b1-p056Erf-b1-p073Erf-b1-p080
- Jaclyn addresses Jillian as Commander Erf-b1-p066
Warlord as title: