COs in the Advance Wars series often give their forces advantages and disadvantages. For example, Eagle, who specializes in aerial warfare, has stronger aircraft but weaker naval vessels. In addition, COs have a CO Power Meter that fills when their units deal or receive damage. When this meter is full, COs can use their "CO Powers", which give a temporary positive effect to friendly units and/or a negative effect to enemy units. Advance Wars 2 introduced "Super CO Powers," which are more powerful CO Powers that take longer to charge. In Advance Wars: Dual Strike, a "Tag CO Power" was added, allowing two COs to trigger their Super CO Powers in succession.
Any references to stronger or weaker units or classes of units are in comparison to the baseline set by troops under Andy's command.
Andy (Ryo in the Japanese release) is a new arrival among the Orange Star COs in the first game, and is the protagonist of both Advance Wars and Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising. He is not playable in the normal campaign mode for Advance Wars: Dual Strike, but is playable in the hard campaign mode and in other modes. He is a mechanical genius, but an inexperienced commander. On the battlefield, his units have no strengths or weaknesses. His CO and Super CO Powers, Hyper Repair and Hyper Upgrade, restore health to his units, while Hyper Upgrade also increases the firepower and movement abilities of his units.
Andy is cloned twice by Black Hole. In Advance Wars, Sturm uses a clone of Andy, at the head of a Black Hole army disguised as Orange Star troops, to trick the other nations into attacking Orange Star. The clone makes a return in Dual Strike under Von Bolt's command.
Jake (John in the Japanese release), along with Rachel, is the protagonist of Advance Wars: Dual Strike, his first appearance. He is young and hot-headed, and has a tendency to use hip-hop and internet slang. Jake's specialty is combat on open plains. His CO and Super CO Powers, Beat Down and Block Rock, give movement bonuses to his vehicular units, range bonuses to his indirect-combat units, and even greater attack power on open plains.
Rachel, along with Jake, is the protagonist of Advance Wars: Dual Strike, her first game appearance. The younger sister of Commander Nell, Rachel is a cheery and hardworking officer in command of the Allied Nations. Rachel has a knack for getting the most out of her allies; her troops recover more quickly when resting on an allied property. Her CO power, Lucky Lass, borrows her sister's good luck in battle, while her Super CO Power, Covering Fire, calls in a strike of three ballistic missiles.
Sami (Domino in the Japanese release, Tami in some languages in the European release) is Orange Star's special forces commander. Sami developed a rivalry with Sonja when they were in the Military Academy and became furious when she faced her during the Cosmo Land War, but has since gotten over it. She specializes in infantry units; as such, they have higher attack power, and can capture properties more quickly. Her transport units also have increased movement. However, her non-infantry direct combat units are slightly weaker. Her CO and Super CO Powers, Double Time and Victory March, give her soldiers extra movement and strength. Victory March also gives soldiers the ability to capture a building in one turn regardless of health.
Max serves as a mentor for Andy in Advance Wars. He went to military school with Grit and Nell. In Advance Wars: Dual Strike, he is the first reinforcement CO to arrive from Macro Land. He favors vehicular direct combat, so these units have an attack bonus, while his indirect combat units have a shorter range and less power. His CO and Super CO Powers, Max Force and Max Blast, strengthen his vehicular direct combat units' firepower and increases their movement.
Nell (Catherine in the Japanese release) is the de facto leader of the Orange Star COs, and is responsible for training new COs and making high-level strategic and diplomatic decisions. She is the older sister of Rachel. She normally holds a supervisory position, but can be unlocked as a secret CO outside of the normal campaign modes. On the battlefield, she benefits from unusually good luck, and her units often make unexpectedly powerful strikes. She is also the player's tutor in Advance Wars and Advance Wars 2. Her CO and Super CO Powers, Lucky Star and Lady Luck, enhance her luck.
Hachi (Bee in the Japanese version) is the curmudgeonly mentor to the Orange Star COs and former head of Orange Star's army. He has since retired from field duty to operate the in-game store. While he is not normally one of the COs the player can use, in Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising and Advance Wars: Dual Strike he can be unlocked as a secret CO. His units are less expensive, and his CO and Super CO Powers, Barter and Merchant Union, further reduce prices. Merchant Union also allows him to deploy units from his properties and cities, instead of just from bases.
Olaf (Whip in the Japanese release) is the leader of the Blue Moon COs, and a specialist in winter combat. Before the events of Advance Wars, he left his position as head of Orange Star's armed forces for Blue Moon. During the Cosmo Land war, he was secretly in league with Sturm, but was abandoned after being defeated by Orange Star. After learning his error, Olaf and Blue Moon joined the alliance against Sturm headed by Orange Star in the Macro Land conflict (Advance Wars 2). He does not appear in the main story of Advance Wars: Dual Strike, having stayed back in Macro Land to defend the Blue Moon territory there and rebuild his hometown, which was destroyed in Advance Wars 2. However, he is one of four COs cloned by Black Hole.
Olaf's appearance is slightly different between the North American and Japanese releases; while in the North American versions of the Advance Wars games he has a brown beard, his beard is white in Japanese versions. In Advance Wars: Dual Strike's North American release, Olaf's Japanese appearance is available as a separate color scheme.
In combat, Olaf thrives in winter conditions. His CO Power Blizzard creates snowy weather for a turn, and his Super CO Power Winter Fury damages all enemy units in addition to causing snow. Olaf does not suffer the usual ill effects from a blizzard: in Advance Wars 1 and 2, his units are not impeded by the movement penalty of snow. In Advance Wars: Dual Strike, Olaf does not receive the fuel penalty, and his units' firepower is increased when fighting in snow.
Grit (Billy in the Japanese release, Kid in some languages in the European release) is an excellent marksman, which is reflected upon in his indirect combat units, which have both increased strength and range, at the cost of his direct combat units being weaker. Before the war in Cosmo Land, Grit defected from Orange Star to Blue Moon for unspecified personal reasons. He also has a history with Max and Nell. He is a very laid-back person, much to the chagrin of the pompous and very serious Olaf. His CO and Super CO Powers, Snipe Attack and Super Snipe, further increase the firepower and range of his indirect combat units.
In the Japanese version of the first Advance Wars game, Grit was featured wearing a cowboy hat and smoking a cigarette. Unlike Olaf, his Japanese appearance is not available in the Design Room, but he is shown wearing a cowboy hat in art for the game.
Colin (Ewan in the Japanese release) is a new arrival among the Blue Moon COs when he is first introduced in Advance Wars 2. He is Sasha's younger brother. He is very fond of his superiors, Grit and Olaf, but is unsure of his abilities and often stutters. Colin, in Advance Wars: Dual Strike often uses talk of his military position to mask his bashful nature. As the heir of a large family fortune, Colin purchases units at a discount, but troops under his command are weaker due to his lack of experience. Colin's CO Power, Gold Rush, increases his funds, while his Super CO Power, Power of Money, increases the attack power of his units relative to the amount of money he has.
Sasha, who first appears in Advance Wars: Dual Strike, is the older sister of Colin, and heiress to her family's fortune. In battle, she draws on her inheritance to receive extra funds per property each turn, and her CO powers have money-related effects: her CO Power, Market Crash, reduces the CO Power meters of enemies based on her money reserves, and her Super CO Power, War Bonds, lets her gain funds when she deals damage to enemies.
Kanbei (Kikuchiyo in the Japanese release) is emperor and commander-in-chief of Yellow Comet, and a former student of Sensei. While he is protective of his daughter, Sonja, more often she ends up saving him from rushing into dangerous situations or making rash mistakes. In battle, his units are very powerful, but are more expensive to deploy. In Advance Wars: Dual Strike, he played no part in the fighting in Omega Land. However, he was one of four COs cloned by Black Hole. His CO and Super CO Powers, Morale Boost and Samurai Spirit, further enhance the firepower and defense of his units.
Sonja (Asuka in the Japanese release) is the chief intelligence officer for Yellow Comet and the daughter of Kanbei. She specializes in intel rather than combat, and likes to plan before she acts. She is a secret character in Advance Wars, where she can only be unlocked by finishing an optional set of missions in the campaign mode, but becomes a regular CO in Advance Wars 2.
Like Olaf, Sonja's appearance is slightly different between the North American and Japanese releases; she only wears glasses in the Japanese versions of the Advance Wars games.
Her effects in combat vary between games: in all games, her units have increased vision range in Fog of War, and the HP of her units is hidden to human opponents. However, she is chronically unlucky, which might lead to unexpectedly weak attacks on enemies. In Advance Wars: Dual Strike, she also causes enemy units to receive reduced terrain defense effects. Sonja's CO Power, Enhanced Vision, increases her units' sight range in Fog of War. Her Super CO Power, Counter Break, increases vision further and gives her soldiers the ability to strike first when counterattacking. In Advance Wars: Dual Strike, her Powers further reduce terrain defense effects received by enemy units.
Sensei (Yamamoto in the Japanese release) is a retired paratrooper and mentor to Kanbei. In Advance Wars 2, he comes back from retirement to help drive Black Hole forces from Yellow Comet. Upon his victory over Adder in Advance Wars 2, it is revealed that he was once an "unbeatable" CO (a reference to his Japanese name. In Super Famicom Wars for the SNES, General Yamamoto was shown as a CO with no defeats), and develops a rivalry with Adder. It is also hinted in Advance Wars: Dual Strike that he and Hachi fought together. Sensei is almost always extremely calm and relaxed, even in the middle of a battle. In Advance Wars: Dual Strike, he appears to be slightly senile, and forgets who Grimm is at one point.
In battle, he specializes in battle copters and soldiers, and his transport units have increased movement range. However, in Advance Wars 2, the firepower of his vehicular and naval units suffer. Sensei's CO Powers Copter Command and Airborne Assault further increase his copters' firepower, and instantly deploy infantries or mechs on cities he owns.
Grimm (Kouzou in the Japanese release), introduced in Advance Wars: Dual Strike, is one of Sensei's newest students. Nicknamed "Lightning Grimm," he specializes in overwhelming offensive rushes. Grimm is overweight and loves to eat. Under his direction, troops have significantly more powerful attacks, but weaker defense. His CO Powers, Knuckleduster and Haymaker greatly boost his attack power.
Eagle is the commander-in-chief of the Green Earth Air Force. He is slightly arrogant, and often clashes with Jess over the best way to conduct a battle. In battle, Eagle's air units have superior firepower and consume less fuel per day, but his naval units have weaker firepower.
Eagle's CO Power has changed with each game. In Advance Wars, his CO Power, Lightning Strike, allows him to give each of his vehicular units two orders in a single turn, but with offensive and defensive penalties. In Advance Wars 2, Eagle's CO Power is Lightning Drive, which gives an offensive bonus to air units, and his Super CO Power, Lightning Strike, still allows Eagle to move his vehicular units twice, but instead of weakening his units, it rather improves his air units' firepower, at the cost of having one of the longest CO power meters in the game. In Advance Wars: Dual Strike, both powers allow him to move vehicular units twice: unit power is halved when activating his CO Power, while units are strengthened with his Super CO Power.
Drake (Mop in the Japanese release) is the commander of Green Earth's naval forces and a master of the seas. He often mediates Eagle's and Jess's arguments. His naval units are stronger than normal, but as a result his air units have weaker firepower. Drake does not appear in the Advance Wars: Dual Strike storyline, but a Black Hole-controlled clone of him battles the Allied Nations. In Advance Wars, his CO Power, Tsunami, damages all enemy units and causes rainfall. In other games, Tsunami damages all enemy units and halves their fuel supply; his Super CO Power, Typhoon, is similar but deals more damage and also causes rainfall (as well as Fog of War in Advance Wars: Dual Strike).
Jess (Hannah in the Japanese release) is Green Earth's tank commander. Her first appearance is in Advance Wars 2. She does not get along very well with her superior, Eagle, and the two often argue with each other. Jess returns to help the allies in Advance Wars: Dual Strike. In battle, vehicular units under her control have increased firepower, but at the expense of a weaker navy and air force (and infantry in Advance Wars 2). Her CO and Super CO Powers, Turbo Charge and Overdrive, replenish all of her units' supplies and gives her vehicles extra movement and firepower.
Javier (Bittmann in the Japanese release) is an addition to the Green Earth forces in Advance Wars: Dual Strike. He styles himself a knight, down to wearing old-fashioned plate armor into battle, and affects knightly mannerisms, including defending "Dame Jess" (who is alternately amused and annoyed by this) and speaking in an archaic manner.
In battle, he specializes in defense, particularly against indirect attacks. Units under his command are more resistant to attacks from indirect fire, and his units get higher than normal defensive boosts when he captures communication tower properties. His CO and Super CO Powers, Tower Shield and Tower of Power, increase his defense against indirect attacks and the bonuses he receives from communication towers.
Other than Sturm, who is revealed to be the secret mastermind behind the war in Cosmo Land in Advance Wars, all of these COs first appeared in Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising.
Sturm (Herr Böse, German for "Mr. Evil," in the Japanese release) is the founder and initial leader of Black Hole. While he holds a prominent position, Sturm is very secretive; his motives and methods are never obvious, and his face, concealed by a mask, is never seen. He is a heartless leader bent on victory at any cost, and employs both trickery and brute force to advance his inscrutable agenda.
In Advance Wars, Sturm uses troops and weapons stolen from Orange Star in an attempt to stir up animosity among the nations of Cosmo Land against Orange Star. This is in hopes of seizing control when all of the nations are weakened by war. Sonja is the first to see through this deception; she notices that Sturm's "Orange Star" army attacked Green Earth on the same day that Andy was fighting Blue Moon forces. When this deception is revealed, the warring Cosmo Land nations form an alliance and hunt down Sturm's headquarters and defeat the Black Hole forces. In the campaign, he has increased attack power but reduced defense, while in versus mode (after being unlocked) he's the opposite, having increased defense and reduced attack. In both modes, his units suffer no movement penalties on any terrain.
In Advance Wars 2, Sturm attempts a more straightforward, all-out invasion of all four nations, with a full army of his own, including his own COs. This invasion is supported by one of Lash's new inventions, a massive factory which can turn raw resources (drained from each of the nations) directly into military units. Each of the nations has one of these massive factories. This invasion was very effective during its early phases, until it is turned back by an alliance of all four nations, who then track down the Black Hole headquarters and defeat Sturm there. Cornered, Sturm announces his plan: to blow up his headquarters and kill both his underlings and foes. His lieutenant, Hawke, betrays Sturm and kills him before he can carry out his plan.
He is an unlockable character in both Advance Wars and Advance Wars 2. He is not present in Advance Wars: Dual Strike, and is only occasionally mentioned in the game. This is in contrast with the other COs — even Adder and Flak, who are not even mentioned in the campaign mode, are unlockable.
Sturm has superior firepower and defense, and the movement of his units is not affected by terrain. He has no normal CO Power, but instead, has a Super CO Power with the longest CO Power Meter in the game. The power, Meteor Strike, does incredible damage to every unit hit by the meteor.
Hawke (Maverik in some languages in the European release) is commander-in-chief of the Black Hole Army and right-hand man to Sturm before his death. All units under Hawke gain a firepower bonus. However, his CO power meter is longer than most of the other CO's. His CO and Super CO Powers, Black Wave and Black Storm, damage all enemy units while healing all of his own units.
In Advance Wars 2, Hawke is in charge of conquering Green Earth. He nearly succeeds, seizing half of the nation, throwing the failure of his underlings Flak, Adder, and Lash into sharp relief. However, the return of Jess and the will of the Green Earth COs (with some help from the Allied Nations) ultimately proves too much for Hawke. At first, he appears to be very loyal to Sturm, but at the end of Advance Wars 2, Hawke kills Sturm, saving both himself and the COs of the Allied Nations in the process. Now the leader of Black Hole, he departs with the remaining Black Hole forces.
In Advance Wars: Dual Strike, Hawke fights under the command of Von Bolt, but questions the use of draining Omega Land of its energy and also seems reluctant to fight. He slowly uncovers his superior's plot, which almost costs him his life. After escaping with Lash, they defect to the Allied Nations, leaving Black Hole under the control of Von Bolt and his Bolt Guard. At the end of the game, he and Von Bolt are allegedly killed. However, Kindle later suspects that Hawke has survived and is using Von Bolt's chair to restore Omega Land to its former state.
Lash (Cat in the Japanese release, Kat in some languages in the European release) is a mechanical genius and the head weapons designer for Black Hole. She takes a child-like, sadistic glee in making devastating weapons and using them. She is responsible for the invention of the indestructible pipelines and the massive factories they feed. She was charged with conquering Blue Moon, but was defeated. In Advance Wars: Dual Strike, she is responsible for the development of the Black Bomb, Black Boat, and the Piperunner. However, after Von Bolt attempts to kill both Hawke and Lash, she defects to the side of the Allied Nations.
On the battlefield, troops under her command take greater advantage of defensive terrain, gaining an attack bonus equal to the terrain's defense bonus (in Advance Wars: Dual Strike, this attack bonus is halved). Her CO Power Terrain Tactics eliminates movement penalties for her units, and her Super CO Power, Prime Tactics, removes movement penalties and doubles the number of defensive stars her units receive from terrain, and hence, her attack bonus.
Adder (Snake in the Japanese release) is a sly, narcissistic CO, with a snake-like nature. In Advance Wars 2, he is charged with conquering Yellow Comet, but is defeated by Sonja, Kanbei, and Sensei. Adder is a high ranking Black Hole officer, Flak and Lash being his underlings. He has a tendency to lord his authority over his underlings, but quails before Hawke and Sturm. Adder does not appear in Advance Wars: Dual Strike's story mode, but is an unlockable character.
On the battlefield, Adder's units have no strengths or weaknesses. His CO power meter, on the other hand, is shorter than most other COs, allowing for a faster charge. His CO and Super CO Powers, Sideslip and Sidewinder, increase the movement range of his units.
Flak (Kong in the Japanese release, Helmut in some languages in the European release) is an oafish, unintelligent brute. In Advance Wars 2, he is apparently the lowest-ranking CO in the Black Hole forces. Hawke promoted him up from the rank of private to his position as CO. Flak develops a rivalry with Max, since both have the same physique and prefer direct combat. He does not appear in the Advance Wars: Dual Strike storyline, though he is unlockable. Although Flak seems really strong, his troops randomly do more or less damage. His CO and Super CO Powers, Brute Force and Barbaric Blow, increase the chance to deal higher damage, but also increase the potency of unlucky strikes.
Von Bolt and his Bolt Guard are a group of Black Hole COs who first appear in Advance Wars: Dual Strike. The Bolt Guard are Von Bolt's favored officers, who are the only ones privy to his secret plans and his identity, and they are charged with carrying out his orders and protecting him.
Von Bolt (Herr Volt in the Japanese release) is the commander of the Black Hole army, having taken over after the death of Sturm, and the mastermind of the war in Omega Land. He is an extremely old man, and is sustained only by his life support chair.
In Advance Wars: Dual Strike, he forms an army led by his "Bolt Guard" (Jugger, Kindle, and Koal), and supplements it by recruiting Hawke and Lash from the Black Hole forces remaining after the war in Macro Land. He sets about building Black Crystals and Black Obelisks to drain Omega Land, turning it to wastelands and desert, to power his life-support chair and give him eternal life.
While Kindle knows of the full extent of his plans, Hawke remains outside his circle of confidence. Indeed, when Hawke discovers Von Bolt's plan, Von Bolt betrays him, attempting to overwhelm him with a swarm of Oozium. After Hawke escapes this trap and defects to the side of the Allied Nations, the Allied Nations go on to destroy the remaining Black Crystals and Black Obelisks, eventually defeating the remaining Black Hole forces under Von Bolt's command.
On the battlefield, Von Bolt's units have high attack and defense. Like Sturm before him, Von Bolt has no CO Power. His Super CO Power is Ex Machina, or Demolition Bolt on the character artwork in the gallery. It resembles Sturm's Meteor Strike, but deals less damage and prevents any units it hits from moving or attacking the next turn.
Kindle (Candle in the Japanese release, Candy in the European release) is Von Bolt's chief lieutenant and the superior to Jugger and Koal. She has a vain, self-aggrandizing nature, and is willing to do anything to maintain her appearance. After the capture of Von Bolt, she rallies the routed Bolt Guard COs and escapes. When Koal asks if they should launch a counterattack against the Allied Nations, Kindle declines, preferring to retire with him and Jugger to a city where the shopping is good. She even toasts the Allied Nations on their victory.
In battle, Kindle specializes in urban warfare. Her units receive an attack bonus on properties. Her CO Powers increase her firepower on urban terrain. Her CO Power, Urban Blight, also damages enemy units on cities, while her Super CO Power, High Society, gives all her units damage bonuses for each property she controls.
Koal (Chakka in the Japanese release, Zak in the European release, although also referred to as Koal when purchased from the Battle Maps store in the EU version, due to an oversight in localization) is another member of Von Bolt's Bolt Guard. He is one of Kindle's vassals, and is quite outspoken and bombastic when it comes to his enemies. Koal often spouts proverbs, and refers to himself as "a warrior and a scholar". In battle, Koal specializes in mobility and has CO powers that recharge quickly. His units gain firepower bonuses when attacking from roads. His CO and Super CO Powers, Forced March and Trail of Woe, increase his units' movement range and attack bonus when attacking from roads.
Jugger (Zippo in the Japanese release) is a spherical, possibly robotic or cybernetic, brute who has a tendency to use computer terms and act as if he were a robot. He uses very technical diction, often for the purpose of stating rather plain things, and is constantly calculating failure for the player. Much like Flak, troops under his direction are in theory more powerful, but often make unexpectedly weak attacks. His possible damage range is broader than Flak's. His CO and Super CO Powers, Overclock and System Crash, increase his units' range of unexpectedly strong or weak attacks.