As Commanders, Warlords also control their stacks in combat, allowing for directed attacks (or preventing combat, as opposed to an unled stack, which must auto-attack when in contact with non-allied units.Erf-b1-p040a
However, Warlord is a specific term for leaders with the Leadership ability. Commander is a more general term, and also encompasses Casters, who do not have Leadership.Erf-b1-p084a Both CastersErf-b1-p017 and WarlordsErf-b1-p007 can be and have been called "Commander," even insisting on it,Erf-b1-p083 while both have also been referred to with their more specific terms. (Incidentally, Wanda Firebaugh was once referred to as "officer,"Erf-b1-p005, which we can only assume is a rarely-used synonym.)
Usage as Leaders
Warlords are almost universally chosen over Casters to lead stacks; there are several reasons for this.
- Warlords are more common than Casters and therefore more expendable
- Casters are hard to replace
- Warlords may be, in general, more competent fighters
- Casters may have more tactical value elsewhere
- Warlords offer Leadership bonus to their troops, making them more effective
- Casters don't have leadership and generally offer no bonus to troops
An exception to this commonly accepted usage of Warlords to lead stacks comes when a caster leads a particular kind of unit, such as ones that have been created using their discipline of magic, such as when a Dirtamancer leads a stack of golems, or uncroaked are led by a Croakamancer.Erf-b1-p084a These special bonuses make these particular units (and those units only) far more effective when led by the right kind of Caster. This makes a serious case for having those Casters leading those stacks rather than a Warlord. Another good reason is if Warlords are in short supply and you need to do more than auto-attack the enemy.
Warlords can be Infantry units promoted to warlord in the capital (although at a high cost)Erf-b1-p043a, or popped, either by a side in one of its cities, or, rarely, as a barbarian in the wild. WoT-6051503
Ruler seems to be a separate class of Unit. (Stanley, a Ruler, commanded a stack of dwagons and when he left that stack, they lost his Leadership.Erf-b1-p115 It is unclear whether that referred to the Leadership bonus, or the ability to make targeted attacks when led by a Commander. In this case, likely both. It is also not clear whether all Rulers have a Leadership bonus, or if Stanley retained his from his time as a Warlord and Chief Warlord.