In Strategy Games, whether turn-based
, or 4X
, when there are different factions, these will (usually
) have different advantages, disadvantages, and play styles to entertain the player. With a low amount of factions, there are clear, fundamental differences, but as the factions grow, the differences subside, until eventually
the sides are not polar opposites as much as points on a gradient or two.
Compare Player Character Calculus
With two factions, it will be the USSR
, Allies vs. Nazis
, Humans vs. Orcs
, Elves vs. Dwarves
, or the USA
vs. an unspecified terrorist organization
(who are most definitely not Middle-Eastern
). One faction — "Powerhouse" for convenience — will employ the Elite Army
trope, relying on a small number of powerful units
; the other faction — "Subversive" — will use faster, weaker, and somewhat cheaper units (depending on gameplay mechanics), but will usually not have to resort to the Zerg Rush
any more than the Powerhouse will have to resort to the Tank Rush. Historically, the Evil Empire
is typically the Powerhouse faction, but in keeping with current real-world trends, it's becoming more common for the "Good Guys" (including the US or NATO in real-world settings) to be the Powerhouse while weaker, decentralized non-state bad guys play as the Subversives.
- Examples: Allies (Subversive) vs. Soviets (Powerhouse) in Command & Conquer: Red Alert. In the Tiberium games of the Command & Conquer series, the factions are GDI (Powerhouse) vs. Brotherhood of Nod (Subversive).
With three factions, the previous Subversive faction becomes "The Balanced" by moving up the power scale, while a new Subversive faction emerges. The new Subversives rely on weak, swift, massed
units and special powers
such as stealth, deception, or Mind Control
. The Balanced, as suggested by its name, has become a balance between the new Subversive and the Powerhouse, not quite as powerful but not quite as weak either. Typical Subversives include The Undead
, terrorist organizations, WWII Russians, and the morally ambiguous.
- Examples: Atreides (Balanced), Harkonnen (Powerhouse), and Ordos (Subversives) from Westwood's Dune games. Starcraft's Zerg (Subversive), Terrans (Balanced), and Protoss (Powerhouse) are another Trope Codifier.
When a fourth faction is introduced, the Balanced splits in two; The new Balanced and the Cannons. The Balanced moves towards the Powerhouse in a Magic Knight
fashion, while the Cannons specialize with more Squishy Wizard
and Glass Cannon
units. With this split, the power field has become close, and factions grow alike.
- Examples: Warcraft III's Human Alliance (Balance), Orcish Horde (Powerhouse), Undead Scourge (Subversive), and Night Elf Sentinels (Cannons). Battle Realms Dragon Clan (Balance), Wolf Clan (Powerhouse), Lotus Clan (Subversive), and Serpent Clan (Cannons).
The fifth faction, The Horde, completes the circle by being a mix of the Powerhouse's power and the Subversive's numbers. The Horde doesn't have very powerful units. They're probably better than the Subversives' and worse than the Cannons', and it's only through sheer numbers that the Horde will win. The Horde takes the Zerg Rush
aspect of the Subversive as its only tactic, but they won't need any other tactics. Numbers will suffice. The Subversive, having lost their numerical superiority, will compensate with further special powers, making basic Subversive units weaker than basic Horde units, but no longer used as much for Zerg Rushing
- Example: The Rise of the Reds mod for Command & Conquer: Generals: Zero Hour has the USA (Balanced), the Russian Federation (Powerhouse), the European Continental Army (Cannons), the Global Liberation Army (Subversive), and China (Horde).
Six or More Factions:
At this point, there are no established conventions. See A Commander Is You
for the many variations that occur at this point.
- Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn: Global Defence Initiative vs. Brotherhood oof Nod - A rare example of the good guys being the Powerhouse.
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert: Allies (Subversive) and Soviets (Powerhouse).
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: Allies (Subversive) and Soviets (Powerhouse) like its predecessor. However, the gap between quality and quantity has narrowed greatly.
- Company of Heroes: United States Of America (Subversive) vs. Wehrmacht (Powerhouse)
- Star Wars Empire At War: Rebel Alliance (Subversive) vs. Galactic Empire (Powerhouse)
- Total Annihilation: ARM (Subversive) vs CORE (Powerhouse), although the differences are fairly small.
- Somtaaw vs Beast in Homeworld: Cataclysm; Hiigarans vs Vaygr in Homeworld 2. Two more examples of Powerhouse good guys.
- S.W.I.N.E.: Subversive Rabbits, powerhouse Pigs.
- Dark Reign: JDA/Imperium (Powerhouse) vs Sprawlers/Freedom Guard (Subversive)
- Warcraft II: While Humans and Orcs at the lower end of the Tech Tree are Cosmetically Different Sides, advanced units differ enough to require different strategies. Orcs are more of a powerhouse, relying on Bloodlusted Ogre Magi, while Humans rely on subversive but powerful spells such as Invisibility, Blizzard and Exorcism.
- Tomorrow's War: In "asymetric warfare" scenarios the professional army is the powerhouse while the insurgents have to be subversive.
- Most Magic: The Gathering Duel Decks series take this tack, usually with the "Bad Guy" deck being the Powerhouse (though unusually the very first, Elves vs. Goblins, pitted two Subversive strategies against each other, though the Elves are better able to transition to Powerhouse late game).
- In Norse Mythology, Odin's army consists of the gods, and the souls of only the greatest human warriors (Powerhouse). On the other side are the jotuns and all of the dishonorable dead (Subversive). They seem to be pretty evenly matched...
- The late game of Colonization pits your colony against the mother country's Royal Expeditionary Force after you declare independence. The REF has stronger units overall, making it the Powerhouse, but your colonial troops are better able to take advantage of terrain bonuses in the open field, allowing you to use Subversive tactics like luring the enemy into ambushes to defeat the Royalists.
- Dune II, Dune 2000 and Emperor: Battle for Dune: Harkonnen (Powerhouse), Atreides (Balanced) and Ordos (Subversive).
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge: Allies (Balanced), Soviets (Powerhouse), and Yuri (Subversive).
- Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars: GDI (Powerhouse), Nod (Subversive) & Scrin (Balanced)
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3: It's somewhat complicated here. While the Empire Of The Rising Sun has the weakest units, their units are more versatile so they technically count as the Balanced faction. The Allies are Subversive, having many fragile units with good special abilities, requiring good micromanagement skills to use them effectively. Soviets are Powerhouse, as usual. In the air, the Allies are Powerhouse, the Soviets are Balanced, and the Empire is Subversive, while on the water the Allies are the Subversive (even more so than on the ground), the Soviets are Balanced, and the Empire is Powerhouse.
- Command & Conquer: Generals: United States of America (Balanced), China (Powerhouse), and Global Liberation Army (Subversive).
- Act of War: Direct Action: United States Army (Powerhouse), Task Force Talon (Subversive), Consortium (Balanced)
- In the Spiritual Successor Act of Aggression this is largely unchanged - we have the United States Army (who are still Powerhouse) though Chimera swaps roles with the Cartel (i.e: Chimera's versatility and upgrades make it the Balanced, while the Cartel's emphasis on Speed, Mobility and cutting edge technology make it Subversive).
- Star Wars Empire At War Forces of Corruption: Rebel Alliance (Balanced), the Empire (Powerhouse), and the Zann Consortium (Subversive)
- Starcraft: Terrans (balanced) specialize in Glass Cannon units who all use ranged attacks, and perform sneak attacks with Vulture bikes who can set up minefields and kill worker units very quickly, Protoss (powerhouse) focus upon durable units with fewer numbers, combined with spell caster assistance, but also have a stealth attack with Dark Templar assassins, and Zerg (subversive) rely upon a properly balanced mix of great numbers, with one main spell caster later in the game; the Zerg overlords are both a troop transport and supply cap increaser, allowing very liberal use of sneak attacks.
- World in Conflict: United States Of America, Union Of Soviet Socialist Republics, North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Here, though, the differences are much smaller then in other games - most units and supports are exactly the same on either side, and many more only have subtle differences. What little differences there are makes Soviets the Subversive, US Powerhouse, and NATO Balanced (NATO uses a mix of units and supports from the other two factions).
- Paraworld: Tries to break this by having two "typical" factions, the Norsemen (powerhouse) and Dustriders (subversive), but then try to alter the mix by having a "stealthy" team, the Dragon Clan. However, stealth doesn't work too well when you're leading a big honking army.
- Supreme Commander has the United Earth Federation (Balanced), the Cybran Nation (Subversive) and the Aeon Illuminate (Powerhouse), though all sides tactics boil down to Zerg Rush eventually.
- Sins of a Solar Empire starts out this way, with Trader Emergency Coalition (Balanced), Advent (Subversive) and Vasari Empire (Powerhouse), but due to research topics all the factions start sliding subtly in other directions: TEC goes Powerhouse, Vasari go Subversive and the Advent go Balanced.
- Conquest Frontier Wars: Terran Empire (Balanced), Mantis (Subversive), Celareons (Powerhouse).
- Ground Control: Crayven Corporation vs Order Of The New Dawn. Phoenix Mercenaries were added in Dark Conspiracy. The sequel featured the Northern Star Alliance and the Virons. The Terran Empire was unplayable.
- Earth2150: United Civilised Sates (Powerhouse), Eurasian Dynasty (Subversive), Lunar Corporation (Balanced).
- Metal Fatigue: Rimtech (Balanced), Mil-Agro (Powerhouse) and Neuropa (Subversive)
- Brütal Legend: Tainted Coil (Powerhouse), Ironheade (Balanced), and Drowning Doom (Subversive). There is a fourth faction, Lionwhyte, but Lionwhyte's forces are just a Palette Swap of Ironheade's.
- A non-video game example in Babylon 5: The Vorlons are the Powerhouse, the Shadows are Balanced, and the Sherridan-led Army of Light is Subversive.
- Rise of Legends: Vinci (Balanced), Cuotl (Powerhouse), and Alin (Subversive). Each faction features units and buildings with the same basic uses and functions which are appropriated to the art style of their civilisation, but they each have unique abilities not specific to any one unit and Hero Units have their sets of abilities, which are not mirrored by their counterparts in the other factions.
- End War: United States Of America (Balanced), European Federation (Subversive), and Russia (Powerhouse)
- Achron's 3 factions are difficult to place since they don't follow any one category. For example, the Grekim rely the most on trickery and special abilities, but unlike Subversive, it focuses on few high powered units. The Collective Earth Security Organization is most like The Horde, while the Vecgir are somewhere in between.
- End Of Nations: Order Of Nations (Balanced), Liberation Front (Powerhouse), Shadow Revolution (Subversive).
- Or alternatively, if commander classes are counted as as separate factions: Order of Nations (Balanced), Spartan (Powerhouse), Patriot (Cannons), Phantom (Subversive) and Wraith (The Horde).
- Warhammer 40,000: Rites of War has three factions: the Eldar, who, with a small number of elite units, are the Powerhouse; the Tyranids, who, with a large number of units, including many that are human genestealer hybrids, are the Subversives; and the Imperium, who are the Balanced. Interestingly, you play as the Eldar in campaign mode.
- In Mass Effect 2, the three major enemy mercenary groups are set up like this, with the Eclipse as Subversive, the Blue Suns as Balanced, and the Blood Pack as Powerhouses
- Civilization: Beyond Earth has the three Affinities: Harmony (Subversive) with weaker but more mobile and numerous units, Purity (Powerhouse) with stronger attacks and heavier armour, and Supremacy (Balanced) with average units that fight well side-by-side.
- PlanetSide: Terran Republic (Subversive), New Conglomerate (Powerhouse), Vanu Sovereignty (Balanced). Each side's units are worth the same amount of resources, though how they function varies; NC gear is slow and powerful, TR gear is fast and spammy, and VS gear is balanced between the two with some gimmick added.
- EVE Online: The four dominant human races of the EVE Cluster: The Amarr Empire (Powerhouse), The Gallente Federation (Balanced), The Caldari State (Subversive), and The Minmatar Republic (Cannon)
- Warcraft III: Human Alliance, Orcish Horde, Undead Scourge, Night Elf Sentinels are Balanced, Powerhouse, Subversive, and Cannon respectively.
- (Original) Dawn of War: Space Marines (Balanced), Orks (The Horde), Eldar (Subversive) and Chaos (Powerhouse).
- Supreme Commander's Forged Alliance expansion adds the Seraphim as Cannon.
- Star Trek: Armada: United Federation Of Planets, Klingon Empire, Romulan Star Empire, Borg. The Romulans do not appear in the sequel.
- The Romulans just don't get a campaign in Armada 2. They're still there as enemies/multiplayer factions, along with the Cardassian Union and Species 8472.
- Battle Realms: The 4 Clans; Dragon (Balanced), Serpent (Subversive), Wolf (Powerhouse), Lotus (Cannon).
- Company of Heroes' expansion, Opposing Fronts, adds in two more factions - the Panzer Elite and British. By comparison, the Panzer Elite are Cannons, the British are Balanced (but in a very defensive sense), the Americans are Subversive, and the Wehrmacht are the Powerhouse.
- Sword of the Stars base game: Humans (Balanced), Liir (Subversive), Hivers (Powerhouse), and Tarka (Cannon).
- The first expansion added the Zuul (Horde). The second one added the Morrigi (Arguably took over Subversive from the Liir).
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features a card game called Gwent, which divides its decks into four separate factions, including the Northern Realms (Balanced), the Nilfgaardian Empire (Powerhouse), the Scoia'tael (Cannon), and Monsters (Subversive).
- This is true considering that these four decks are all based after the actual factions themselves in both the video games as well as the books. The Nilfgaardian Empire (Powerhouse) consumed its southern neighbors and is threatening to consume the Northern Kingdoms. Meanwhile, the Northern Kingdoms (Balanced) spend most of their time waging war with each other than uniting against the larger Nilfgaardian Empire. The Scoia'tael (Cannons) are elven and dwarven guerrillas who wage war with the Northern Kingdoms and Nilfgaardian Empire's respective human populations. And, the Wild Hunt (Subversive, and what the Monster deck is based after) threatens to spread the white frost across both the Northern Kingdoms and Nilfgaardian Empire, while chasing down Ciri for her powerful magic.
- Though not a strategy game, the four major players in Fallout 4 fit this dynamic. The Commonwealth Minutemen would be Balanced: Minutemen fighters usually feature a mishmash of different weapons and armour and are moderately powerful. The Brotherhood of Steel are definitely Powerhouse, as their heavily-armoured Knights are few in number but also some of the strongest enemies you'll encounter, even being able to consistently beat Deathclaws one-on-one, and they're the only faction to have air power. The Institute are a shoe-in for Subversive, as while they don't produce Power Armour or other advanced weapons of war, they do produce large quantities of expendable Synths to do their fighting for them, and they also send the Synths to infiltrate the Commonwealth, working covertly to maintain their grip on the people. Finally, the Railroad would be the Cannons; Railroad Heavies are often equipped with Gauss Rifles and Railway Rifles which can punch through a Brotherhood Knight's armour with ease, but aren't very well-armoured themselves, and they're few in number and don't really have the staying power to openly contend with the other factions.
- Battlefleet Gothic: Armada: Imperial Navy (Balanced) vs. Fleets of Chaos (Subversive) vs. Ork Freebooterz (Powerhouse) vs. Eldar Corsairs (Cannons).
- The Imperial Navy fields ships with impressive macro-cannon batteries and considerable durability due to good armour and shielding. They're also equipped with heavy prows for ramming and prow-facing torpedo launchers. The Imperial's secret weapon, the Nova cannon, is a heavy long-range cannon which fires a massive shell which explodes destroying any ship for kilometres around the blast. While good at close to mid-range engagements, the Imperial Navy struggle at longer ranges due to heavy reliance on macro weapons, a lack of carrier vessels until the late-game (and even then carriers are expensive) and moderate to mediocre speed. Generally, the Imperials succeed when they do whatever the faction they're facing is bad at.
- The Fleets of Chaos field a number of older ships which the Imperial Navy have long since decommissioned. They tend to prefer mid to long range engagements with large numbers of lance weapons and plenty of carrier ships - every class has a carrier ship and outfitting them is very cheap too. On the other hand, their macro batteries are nothing to write home about, their ramming potential is limited, their torpedoes are nonexistent, and high speed is what protects them instead of thick armour.
- The Ork Freebooterz field a number of ships with extremely heavy frontal prows, giving them excellent protection from frontal attack and letting them bull apart enemy ships with ease, and they are the best at boarding actions too. Ork ships are also rather versatile as instead of choosing from specific ships with a class, each class provides a basic "krooza" which comes with a number of options which the player can freely choose. However, this raw power comes at significant cost: their accuracy at any range other than "very close" is abysmal, their ships are highly vulnerable in the rear due to loads of engines and thin armour, and due to their anarchic natures the Ork "kaptins" are more likely to disobey the admiral and abandon battle than those of other races.
- The Eldar Corsairs specialise in lightning fast hit-n-run tactics with the most manoeuvrable ships of any faction, but this comes at considerable cost to their durability: Eldar ships have very thin armour, and their holofields (shields) only work when the ship is moving at speed. While even Chaos can perform somewhat decent ramming manoeuvres in a pinch, ramming with Eldar ships is simple suicide. Eldar ships have solar sails and hence need to "tack", and most of their weapons are front-facing meaning that an Eldar admiral has to pay close attention to positioning and micromanagement. However, Eldar ships have a lot of lance-based firepower and their captains have better morale, making them less like to flee battles.
- Mental Omega (mod for Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge) has the Allied Nations (Balanced), the Soviet Union (Powerhouse), the Epsilon Army (Subversive) and the Foehn Revolt (Cannons). Furthermore, each faction is divided into three sub-factions that also play this trope straight:
- Allies: USA (Subversive), Euro Alliance (Powerhouse) and Pacific Front (Balanced)
- Soviets: Russia (Balanced), Latin Confederation (Subversive) and China (Powerhouse)
- Epsilon: PsiCorps (Balanced), Scorpion Cell (Subversive) and Headquarters (Powerhouse)
- Foehn: Wings of Coronia (Subversive), The Last Bastion (Powerhouse) and Haihead (Balanced)
- Dawn of the Tiberium Age (crossover mod between Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn and Command & Conquer: Red Alert for Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun): GDI (Balanced), Nod (Subversive), Allies (Cannons) and Soviets (Powerhouse).
Six or more
- Magic: The Gathering's five colors are divided like this. White is the Horde, as it likes to summon lots of small creatures and use effects like Honor of the Pure to power them all up. A mix of protection, flying, and trying to have the moral high ground keep it from being little more than the Zerg. Blue is Subversive; it uses counterspells, boomerang effects, and other disruptive tactics to shut down its opponent's strategy while it whittles away at them with small evasive creatures. Black is Balanced with elements of Cannon; it can do almost anything the other colors can do, but black cards often have restrictive costs, the most common of which are paying life or sacrificing creatures to quickly gain power. Red is the Cannon: it's all about doing as much damage as possible as fast as you can. There are numerous red creatures such as Ball Lightning that have a lot of attack power, but only 1 point of toughness. Like Black, it has a theme of sacrificing permanents for an advantage. Green is the Powerhouse; it features large, expensive and powerful units, and it's the best at destroying artifacts and enchantments, letting it fight back against subversive tactics.
- It is common - if not outright expected - for each block to all but redefine various colours' roles, especially with regards to the above roles. Even within the same block, there is usually enough variety for a skilled player to build a suitable deck for most if not all of these roles. Throughout blocks, Black, Blue, and White tend to be the most uniform. Green and Red often switch between each other, and borrow from other colours.
- White's most identifiable forte is healing. Nearly every block, white has some respectable capacity to restore life points. Teamwork is another common theme - white decks tend to have cards that, while not particularly spectacular in and of themselves, synergize well. Exalted is, perhaps, the most notable example.
- Blue's typical strategy is mostly just to screw with its opponent's by making them discard cards, frequently countering spells, and being fairly morphic and difficult to pin down.
- Black's usual technique is damaging life points directly (often at the cost of its own), and keeping its creatures from dying (usually via regeneration).
- Red shifts between between large giants, dragons, and other beasts, and swarms of goblins. As mentioned above, Red tends to pull from Black's book in biting its own hand in order to gain an advantage.
- Green tends to be the best colour for getting mana. There are a lot of green cards that will either pull lands out of your deck or directly tap for mana, letting you get the big guns out faster. It frequently shifts from being focused on large beasts to swarms of small creatures (a role that it performs well at when mixed with White).
- And then there's the other "colour": artifacts. Usually just meant to enhance and add variety to other decks, it is quite possible and a fairly common strategy to build artifact decks. Because they can be so variable, they can be quite difficult to counter for the unprepared.
- Duel Masters, itself based on Magic: The Gathering, has 5 Civilizations, although not balanced identically due to its significantly different mechanics: Fire Civilization is the Offensive Powerhouse, with Power Attackers and Speed Attackers; Light Civilization is the Defensive Powerhouse, with a huge number of Blockers and defensive spells which, for instance, add Shields or tap enemy creatures; Nature Civilization being the cross between the Powerhouse and the Horde, using Mana-buffing to bring out Power Attackers, or just Zerg their way to victory; Water Civilization, the closest to being Balanced, focuses on Hand-buffing similar to Nature's Mana-buffing, and replaces Powerhouse creatures with powerful Blockers and enemy creature control; Darkness Civilization has Powerhouses in the form of Slayers (which can kill any enemy they battle with, making them the best suicide units), Glass Cannons which die after battle, Blockers (to a lesser extent than Light and Water), discarding enemy Hand cards, revival of dead creatures, and making sacrifices for certain abilities.
- Because it is hard to counter every situation with a single Civilization, most decks includes 2 to 3 civilizations, either to cover for each other's weaknesses, or to increase the potency of a strategy:
- Nature's Mana-buffing is very helpful for bringing out powerful units of other races, making it a compatible with all Civilizations, whether playing stamina with Water or Light, or aiming for a beatdown with Fire or Darkness.
- Light and Water can be combined to form a formidable defense, using a large amount of powerful Blockers and defensive abilities.
- Fire and Water/Light make an excellent combination of offense and defense.
- Dawn of War: Winter Assault: Space Marines (Balanced), Orks (The Horde), Eldar (Subversive), Chaos (Powerhouse) and Imperial Guard (Cannons).
- Theoretically, there are five armies in the original Advance Wars storyline: Orange Star (USA), Blue Moon (Russia/Canada), Yellow Comet (Asia), Green Earth (Western Europe), and Black Hole (Big Bad). In practice, it tends more towards "Allied Nations vs. Black Hole".
- And there are no differences between any of the armies, which CO you use makes all the difference
- Also theoretically, Sacrifice has five factions if one plays with one god straight - Persephone (Balanced), James (Powerhouse), Stratos (Subversive), Pyro (Cannon) and Charnel (Horde). Technically speaking, a player can mix and match with the various powers, meaning his unit combinations can come anywhere inbetween.
- Total Annihilation: Kingdoms starts with four Aramon(Balanced), Veruna(Balanced naval), Taros(Cannon) and Zhon(Horde). The expansion pack adds Creon(Powerhouse).
- Age of Mythology has five with the Tale of the Dragon expansion: Greeks (Balanced), Egyptians (Subversive), Norse (Powerhouse), Atlanteans (Cannon), and Chinese (Horde).
- Rise of the Reds (a mod for Command & Conquer: Generals: Zero Hour): USA (Balanced), Russia (Powerhouse), ECA (Cannons), GLA (Subversive), and China (Horde).
- Made more complex in 2.0, as each faction has 3 Generals that further diversify the game by either being Powerhouse, Subversive or exaggerating their faction's strengths ("Exaggerator"), respectively. This results in combinations such as Balanced-Powerhouse (USA General Bradley), Powerhouse-Powerhouse (Russian General Zhukov), similar but different Powerhouse-Exaggerator (Russian General Aleksandr), Subversive-Powerhouse (GLA General Sulaymaan), Horde-Subversive (Chinese General Jin) and so on for a total of 15 combinations.
- Lords Of Magic has EIGHT races. Fire (Cannon-subversive-ish), Chaos (Cannon-horde-ish), Air (Subversive-horde-ish), Life (Subversive-Balanced), Water (Balanced), Order (Powerhouse-Cannon), Earth (Powerhouse-Horde-VERY SLOW-ish), and Death (Balanced, in the way that having a Horde of Nukes is balanced).
- Dawn of War: In the second and third expansion packs Dark Crusade (Space Marines (Balanced), Orks (The Horde), Eldar (Subversive), Chaos (Powerhouse), Imperial Guard (Cannons), Tau Empire (Cannons) and Necrons (Powerhouse)) and Soulstorm (Space Marines (Balanced), Orks (The Horde), Eldar (Subversive), Chaos (Powerhouse), Imperial Guard (Cannons), Tau Empire (Cannons), Necrons (Powerhouse), Sisters of Battle (Cannons) and Dark Eldar (super-Subversive)).
- Warhammer 40,000: Sixteen factions (Space Marines, including five variant groups, Eldar, Dark Eldar, Tau, Chaos Space Marines, Chaos Daemons, Ordo Malleus, Ordo Hereticus, Orks, Necrons, Imperial Guard, and Tyranids). They're generally organized in terms of how focused they are on shooting versus close combat and by whether they tend to field hordes versus elite units. Any Space Marine faction in general is a combination of Balanced and another type (Space Wolves are Balanced/Powerhouse, while Grey Knights are Balanced/Cannons) while each of the other factions take on a more traditional role blended with their preferred method of combat (Imperial Guard are The Horde à la ranged, while Tyranids are The Horde à la close combat, for example). The sole exception to this are the Dark Eldar, who are basically more subversive version of the vanilla Eldar.
- Rise of Nations has over 20 different nations to choose from, but most of the differences are small.
- Age of Empires series have large numbers of playable factions, with more added in each expansion pack. Since the tech trees are shared, most variation comes in the form of each civilisation having exclusive bonuses or missing out on a few research items or unit upgrades. The second game adds one (in some cases two) unique technology and unit for each civilisation. Additionally, both games feature set statistical bonuses (military and economic) and minor gimmicks for each civ.
- The third game in the series takes earlier concepts further, increasing complexity by giving all European civilisations two or more (up to five) unique units, removing or replacing basic units for specific civs, providing each civ with a more powerful mainline upgrade for some basic units, and adding a variety of bonuses, gimmicks, etc. to each civ. Further, the game introduces the Home City feature, allowing for even more unique bonuses and technologies to be applied on the fly. The two expansions add three civilisations each, and all of these are entirely unique, sharing no units with any other civ (although there are some similarities). There are also variety of gameplay gimmicks implemented according to civ-grouping (for instance, the Fire Pit for all Native Americans, Wonders and Rice Paddies for all Asians) and individual civilisation (as the system in the base game Turned Up to Eleven).
- In a way, with the third expansion, the game plays into the three-way version of this trope, with the Europeans being Balanced, the Natives being Subversive, and Asians being Powerhouses. Also, in same expansion, the Asian factions form the same triangle: Japan (Balanced), India (Powerhouse), and China (Subversive).
- Age of Wonders 2 has twelve races, alphabetically: Archons, Dark Elves, Draconians, Dwarves, Elves, Frostlings, Goblins, Halflings, Humans, Orcs, Tigran, and Undead. Additionally, there are two Elvish wizard factions, two Human wizard factions (one is you), and two Undead wizard factions. Humans are the most balanced straightforward units by race, but everyone else is a bit mixed.
- The sequel/expansion "Age of Wonder: Shadow Magic" brought that number up to fifteen.
- Battle for Wesnoth has six factions in the Default era: Rebels (elves), Knalgan Alliance (dwarves and outlaws), Loyalists (humans), Northerners (orcs), Undead, and Drakes (dragonmen and lizardmen).
- Master of Orion has ten races who actually play fairly differently. Each has a special racial bonus (and a few have handicaps to go along with that if their bonus is too powerful - most races can only colonize half the planets in the galaxy until they've researched the proper tech, but Silicoids can colonize them all right away. But their population grows HALF as fast as everyone else's!). They also have certain tech fields that they are better or worse at, and tendencies toward good or bad relations with certain other races. This results in quite a bit of difference in how each race plays, plus a rather extreme case of unbalance. The Psilons are excellent at all research AND are liked by most other races, making them one of the clearly best races, while the Klackons have an equally overpowered ability (bonuses to industrial production) but are widely disliked (they're still one of the top races though). Mrrshans and Alkaris have awful abilities (small combat bonuses) and are generally disliked, making them the hardest to play, while the Darloks (bonuses to all spying activities) are hated by all, but can often become the leaders in technology by stealing everyone else's tech, and can keep themselves alive by inciting wars between other empires.
- Warlords Battlecry 2 has 12 races that play differently, and Warlord's Battlecry 3 has SIXTEEN! Though for the most part it is a sliding gradient scale, there are several races that have unique combat gimmicks which make them difficult to categorize - the undead, for example, can upgrade their units on the field, simultaneously fully healing them. The Swarm in WBC 3 can resource starve their opponents while hammering them with weak - but very cheap - troops. Daemons can use their units to summon whole new units onto the field for free, effectively replacing lost troops mid-battle or freely building up the ranks beforehand, but the base units are hideously expensive. And then there's the Plaguelords in WBC 3, who are just totally overpowered; with access to cheap hordes of units with powerful upgrades "and" powerful area of effect monsters, their only real weakness is a lack of effective ranged units.
- Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri has seven factions: Gaia's Stepdaughters, Human Hive, University Of Planet, Morgan Industries, Spartan Federation, The Lord's Believers, and Peacekeeping Forces. The expansion, Alien Crossfire, adds seven more: Cybernetic Consciousness, Nautilus Pirates, Free Drones, Data Angels, Cult Of Planet, Manifold Caretakers, and Manifold Usurpers. There may still only be seven factions in the game. Also, if one alien faction (i.e. Caretakers/Usurpers) is in the game, the other must be as well. The printed manual for Alien Crossfire went into detail describing the process of autoplaying games with all 1,584 combinations of factions just to make sure everything is balanced juuuuust right.
- And then there's the unlockable faction in Alien Crossfire - the Firaxians (named after Firaxis Games, the developer). They're intentionally a Lethal Joke Character, for people who just want to kick inordinate amounts of butt inordinately early, so they don't factor into the balancing.
- Warmachine and Hordes are two halves of a game: Warmachine has six factions while Hordes has four (with another planned in 2017). Has even more if you count the sub groups in the mercenaries (5) and Minions (2) factions.
- If you look only at the original four Warmachine factions, they mostly follow the standard for 4 Factions: Cygnar (Cannons), Khador (Powerhouse), Cryx (Subversive), Protectorate (Balanced). Specific models and units within each faction will break the standard, but overall they fit fairly well. With the addition of Retribution of Scyrah in Mk. II, the faction calculus changed a bit to follow the 5 Faction standard, with Cryx becoming The Horde and Retribution becoming the new Subversive.
- The faction calculus on the Hordes side also follows the 4 Faction standard to some degree: Legion (Cannons), Skorne (Powerhouse), Circle (Subversive), Trollbloods (Balanced).
- It's interesting to note that both Powerhouse factions (Khador and Skorne) have a red color scheme and both Subversive factions (Cryx and Circle) have a green color scheme, both of which are common to other games.
- The Convergence of Cyriss, Warmachine faction #6, is definitely the Gimmick Faction, with hints of Technical and Pariah, using Vectors (more technologically advanced warjack equivalents without an ai) that rely on their Warcasters' accuracy stat instead of their own, are unusually focus-efficient, and cannot use Mercenaries under any circumstances.
- Wizard101 has seven schools of magic. Storm is a Glass Cannon, Fire is a Gradual Grinder mixed with some Glass Cannon, Ice is the Stone Wall and later on learns Gradual Grinder spells, Life is Combat Medic, Myth is The Beast Master, Death is based off Life Drain based spells, and balance is a mix of Jack-of-All-Stats and status buffing. All of them are actually very well balanced.
- Monsterpocalypse has six factions each are one of six agendas, G.U.A.R.D. (Protectors), Terrasaurs (Radicals), Planet Eaters (Destroyers), Lords Of Cthul (Fiends), Martian Menace (Invaders), and Shadowsun Syndicate (Collaborators). The later sets add six more factions to each agenda, Elemental Champions (Protectors), Empire of the Apes (Radicals), Savage Swarm (Destroyers), Subterran Uprising (Fiends), Tritons (Invaders), Ubercorp International (Collaborators).
- Game Mod Red Alert 3: Paradox has 8 factions which are fairly deverse. Out of those, 4 play in typical Command & Conquer fashion while the other 4 do NOT (they play like an RPG, SimCity and both sides of a Tower Defense game, respectively). The orientations are equally deverse, the Allies posses air power and "working together", the Soviets have tanks ad absurdum, bringing raw unmatched firepower in, the Empire are versatile and very fast in addition to a powerful navy, the Confederates have great infantry and all sorts of stealthy mean tricks, the Talons are even more about working together, creating impenetrable shields with their strong defense values, the Chinese are the towers of a Tower Defense game, short-ranged but powerful, the Electrical Protectorate are the creeps of tower defense games with Zerg Rush tactics that would make the actual Zerg proud and the Syndicate are all about range and speed while bringing entire cities on the battlefield.
- The 4X space simulation X-Universe series has twelve different starship-manufacturing factions, each of which uses a different design philosophy best described in terms of the armor triangle (speed-defense-offense). The core factions are as follows: the Argon Federation and Paranid Empire (variations on Balanced), the Terrans, Teladi Company, AGI Task Force, and OTAS Corporation (variations on Powerhouse), the Split Dynasty (Cannons), and the Kingdom Of Boron (poor Balanced, being a pacifist race forced into warfare). The Kha'ak Hive and Xenon Fleet are The Horde, while the Yaki are somewhere between Powerhouse and Cannons, and the Pirates are Subversives.
- Dark Souls has a total of nine factions the player can join, each of them offering different, spells, weapons, armor, and how you interact with other players in Pv P.
- The Company of Heroes Game Mod Eastern Front adds the Soviet Union and German Ostheer to the mix; the Soviets are clearly Horde in the early to mid-game, using upgrades to transition into powerhouse by the finale. The Ostheer are primarily technical with specialized units perfect for their roles, but also trapped when put against enemies outside their specialty.
- BattleTech has thousands of units among numerous factions, but some general tendencies stand out. The Capellan Confederation are probably the most clear cut Subversives, particularly in later eras, with their reliance on Stealth technologies, minefields and terrorist actions, while the Clans and to a lesser degree, the Lyran Commonwealth/Alliance are fairly heavily into Powerhouse territory. Most other factions are somewhere in the Balanced spectrum between those two.