- For naval command groups, see fleets.
The game uses a limited number of colors for command groups. To change the colors, select the command group and click on the colored bar to the right of the command group's name above the list of divisions, or the icon of the command group.
- Main article: Battle plan
Battle plans are a mechanic to give orders to command groups as a whole or may include different specific orders for different parts of the command group.
An army group can be commanded like any other group of units and simply given a right-click move order to a destination. However, they fight better if they are given "plans" – a general order that is coordinated along a front, either to advance, defend or make an orderly withdrawal. Once the player hits the execute button, the AI will direct forces through the plan, although the player can still micromanage to correct the AI and for complex maneuvers such as encircling. The player may also decide whether the AI should act carefully, balanced or rushed.
When selecting a command group, the player will see a row of general orders appear at the bottom of the screen. Each of these has rollover text that explains in detail how to use this instruction.
Command groups may be assigned a commander, increasing their effectiveness in combat.
Additional commanders can be recruited at a cost of 5 Political Power for each existing commander of the same type (admirals do not count when recruiting generals, or vice versa). Commanders cannot normally die or be dismissed, though some country-specific events will remove particular historical commanders.
For a list of commanders by country, see List of commanders.
There are two ranks of commander: General and Field Marshal.
Generals can command up to 24 divisions effectively unless they are in "Garrison Area" mode, during which the limit is tripled to 72 divisions. Above this limit, their bonuses and XP gain are reduced proportionally. The traits of generals are oriented towards specialization in different units (e.g., tanks, foot infantry), adverse terrain/climates and tactical situations (e.g., attacking forts). Generals may be promoted to Field Marshals at the cost of Command power and the temporary loss of one skill level.
A Field Marshal commands Army Groups, large formations comprised of several armies. A Field Marshal initially may command up to five armies; with the Expert Delegator trait, this limit can be increased to seven. Their traits give general bonuses, helping any kind of unit, such as, for example, +10% recovery rate, or increasing maximum army sizes. All armies assigned to the Field Marshal's Army Group receive these bonuses.
They can still be used as generals, but their Field Marshal traits will be disabled when they aren't commanding an Army Group.
Commanders have a level but it doesn't directly influence their skills. Their effective skill is split in four categories:
- Attack, buffing division attack
- Defense, buffing division defense
- Planning, buffing planning bonus and speed
- Logistics, lowering supply use
Whenever a general levels up, three skill points get randomly added to the above categories. Normally every skill type has an equal probability, but many traits skew this distribution. For example Politically Connected makes it slightly more likely that planning or logistics get increased.
Commanders gain experience when the units under their command engage in combat. With enough experience, they will advance a skill level. The rate of XP gain is proportional to the total number of divisions engaged (including the reserve) times the number of combats. Experience is shared between all commanders participating in the fight. For example, if commander A commands armor units on the frontline, and commander B commands infantry units in the reserve, commander B will gain armor experience.
|XP type||Division-combat-hours per XP|
|Field Marshal trait||200|
|Field Marshal level||400|
- Main article: Commander trait
Each commander may have a number of traits, represented by medal icons. Traits are acquired when units do a certain action in combat; for instance, if an army under a general manages to encircle and destroy an amount of enemy divisions, the general may acquire the 'trickster' trait which boosts reconnaissance.
Military exercises including drill, weapons practice, and field maneuvers are a less deadly way to gain experience than combat, although at some level there is no substitute for experiencing combat conditions. Any command group may exercise, which can provide two separate benefits. While exercising, the divisions gain experience until they reach regular status, after which they need combat experience to improve further. The country, however, gains land combat experience whenever troops that are trained or better are conducting an exercise. Such experience is needed to edit or create new divisions. Training is one way to provide needed land experience while at peace. Commanders do not gain experience from exercising, only combat time.
While in an exercise, divisions have a 6% increase in attrition of their equipment. Their organization is set to 20% and may take about a week after they stop to fully recover. Note that arming fresh troops with older weapons from inventory (by setting their division template equipment button setting to use the older equipment) conserves more expensive current weapons for combat units. To help with this, it is sound practice to attach all divisions that need exercising to a training Army during the training period by using the Army View (hotkey "o") to click or shift-click to select all those needing training and then right clicking on the training army icon to assign them there before giving the exercise order at the army command level. By checking periodically, the same process can be used to re-assign back the divisions that have completed their intended training.