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In Strategy Games — whether turn-based, real-time, or 4X — or tabletop wargames, 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 number of factions grows, the differences subside, until eventually the sides are not polar opposites as much as points on a gradient line between two extremes.

Compare Player Character Calculus and A Commander Is You.


  • Powerhouse - Power and Efficiency. Powerhouse armies typically consist of powerful units with great durability and attack power. Pound for pound, Dollar for Dollar, their forces are flat out stronger than their opponents and in a head-on meatgrinder, they'll come out on top. What abilities they do tend to be things like Herd Hitting Attacks, temporary power-ups, healing, economic advantages, and other things that make them even harder to beat head-on or a few tools oriented towards forcing their opponents to fight them head-on. However, since their units and upgrades cost a lot, it takes them a lot of time to build a proper army, making them more vulnerable to strategies involving early-game rushes, or constant harassment, since it prevents them from developing properly.
  • Subversive - Speed and Number. Subversive armies consist of a large number of weaker units. While they are weaker with equal numbers, they compensate for this with bigger numbers, lower costs, and fast production. They can thus quickly create a massive army to overwhelm their opponents. When their units have abilities, it's generally some kind of summoning ability or taking control of enemy units, so that they can further enhance their number advantage. Their fast production and low costs also allow them to quickly adapt in case things aren't going in their favor. A Subversive faction is usually the other faction, along with the Powerhouse, to be present in a two-factions scenario.
  • Balanced - The Balanced, as suggested by its name, is a balanced middle ground between the Subversive and Powerhouse, and probably the immediate third faction to be added in a three-factions scenario. The Jack of All Stats, Master of None faction, typically relies on their versatility to match and counter other factions as needed. In games with more factions, they're liable to lean towards the Magic Knight side, relying on their special abilities to get an edge up on enemies. A Balanced faction tends to be good at every part of the game.
  • Cannons - The offensive extreme of the Powerhouse. They rely on high offensive abilities, at the expense of limiting their defensive abilities. As a result, they generally can't handle other forces head-on, and they instead use a combination of burst damage hit-and-run tactics, striking at their opponent's vulnerable supply lines, harassing, support units and artillery, leaving traps, or otherwise "cheating" to get the upper hand. They are not particularly strong or weak at any part of the game; it's all about the technique and producing the right units. Cannons will typically be the fourth faction in a four-factions scenario.
  • The Horde - An extreme version of the Subversive. Relying on large numbers of weak, easily massed units to overwhelm enemies through sheer numbers. Unlikely to have any strategy beyond changing the types of units they mass to best swarm over the enemy. Their main weakness is splash damage and optimized swarm tactics, but with sufficient numbers and mass upgrades, they can easily charge in and interrupt the enemy... forever. They typically have few special powers, but what they do have consists of abilities that can buff oceans of armies at once, or sacrifice a few pawns out of a warehouse for tactical benefit. The Horde is generally the fifth faction in a five-factions scenario.

At six or more factions, there are no established rules. At least one of the five archetypes will present two variations.

The contrast between the different playstyles allows for a more varied game than strictly Cosmetically Different Sides and mirror matches. However, simply making one faction slightly stronger but slower than the next rarely adds enough asymmetry once enough factions are involved, so developers often turn to giving each faction a gimmick of some sort, such as a long range or large numbers as is shown in A Commander Is You.

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     Four X 
  • Civilization: Beyond Earth has the three Affinities: Purity (Powerhouse), Supremacy (Balanced), Harmony (Subversive). Purity is stronger when immobile and on the defensive, as well as in general slugging matches, Supremacy is highly mobile, works best when all their units are in groups with each other and more offensively oriented, while Harmony favours using the terrain, and natural fauna to their advantage, but lose strength when in clustered battles.
  • 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.
  • The four military doctrines in Hearts of Iron IV represent these, and (barring glitches), each nation can choose only one doctrine, and each offers two branching paths for further specialization.
    • The "Mobile Warfare" doctrine is a Cannons, focusing on super powering armored and mechanized units, while giving infantry units more organization and breakthrough so they can attack for longer. You can choose whether you want to spec for tanks or motorized/mechanized infantry. The second branch allows the you either to continue developing blitzkrieg doctrine, or increase your manpower pool in case you're losing a late-game war like the real-life Volkssturm militia. Germany always starts with this doctrine.
    • The "Superior Firepower" doctrine is a combination of Powerhouse and Balanced: it gives attack and defense bonuses to basically all units, and its split allows you to either focus on further improving your ground units, or giving more synergy with Close Air Support. The United States starts with this doctrine.
    • The "Grand Battleplan" doctrine is Balanced and Subversive, giving units better defense while entrenched and better attack while executing a battle plan. While units have better defense and attack stats when they have these bonuses than with any other doctrine, they require time to prepare, and is dangerous if the enemy manages to mess up your entrenchments or foils your plans. The first branch is maximizing Powerhouse by providing by providing further breakthrough, planning and organization while second branch switches to Subversive by improving night attack, infantry stats and reducing supply consumption. The United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Japan all start with this doctrine.
    • The "Mass Assault" doctrine sides with either Subversive or the Horde, with the first branch decreasing the combat width of your infantry (allowing more men to participate in a single battle) and giving auxiliary bonuses to your mechanized troops like real-life deep battle doctrine and end-of-war Red Army, while the second branch increases your recruitable population, allowing you to field many more divisions like the initial desperate attacks against the Nazis until the front stabilized or Chinese fighting against the Japanese invasion with inferior equipment but greater manpower. The Soviet Union, Communist and Nationalist China, and all the Chinese warlords start with this doctrine.
    • Naval Doctrine has Fleet in Being (Powerhouse focused on buffing Battleships and Heavy Cruisers), Trade Interdiction (Subversive focused on buffing submarines and sinking enemy convoys) and Base Strike (technically supposed to be Cannons focused on buffing Carriers but really ends up as Balanced if the nation has sufficient industrial weight to put on both ships and aircraft, sinking enemy warships and convoys left and right).
    • Air Doctrine has Strategic Destruction (Powerhouse focused on winning air dominance by shooting down enemies and bombing enemy factories and air bases), Battlefield Support (Subversive focused on maximizing air support benefit to help ground forces overrun enemy air bases rather than contest enemy industrial weight) and Operational Integrity (Balanced focusing on Tactical Bombers who can do both air support and strategic bombing).

     Trading Card Game 
  • Magic: The Gathering has this in the form of its Color Wheel, with Green being the Powerhouse, White, then Red, then Black, and finally Blue as the most Subversive color. Almost all successful decks combine different colors, sometimes using one color to cover another's weakness or synergizing between two different colors' interaction with a single mechanic.

     Turn Based Strategy 
  • Battle Brothers:
    • Northern Houses: Balanced. Whether you face brigands or professional noble troops, the army arrayed against you operates much the same way as you - rows of men with hand weapons and shields, pikemen behind the shieldwall to reach out and touch you, and archers and crossbowmen to soften up before the clash.
    • Southern Cities: Subversive. Most of the Southerners equipment is on-par with the Northerners, but heavy armour is less prevalent among their troops. Instead you may face some exotic units like men with primitive gunpowder weapons, Indebted (naked slave soldiers with minimal weaponry, rely on sheer numbers to win) and Assassins (nimble troops with high attack and low armour).
    • Orcs: Powerhouse. With their massive weapons and thick plate armour, Orcs can be tricky to bring down. Armour-piercing weapons and missiles will quickly bring them low, however. They often fight as berserkers, in a linear fashion with little regard for advanced tactics.
    • Goblins: Subversive. Goblins are weak fighters individually; they employ poison, netting, ambush tactics and the like to bring stronger enemies down to their level. In melee, they can be surprisingly crafty and hard to hit.
    • Undead: Horde. The undead aren't especially dangerous alone, the problem is they seldom are. They keep getting back up after you cut them down, and any slain brothers have a good chance of joining their ranks. The key is to attack the necrosavant keeping them walking; once they are down, the magics sustaining the undead wither and the corpses return to their rest.
    • Ancient Dead: Powerhouse. You have a row of armoured undead spearmen standing together with undead pikemen, impervious to pain and unbreakable while their tight formation holds.
    • Barbarians: Cannons. Barbarians rarely use shields and armour (although their elite warriors may bear some), but this lack of protection gives them a high initiative and a lot of mobility as well. They favour hefty weapons wielded in both hands, capable of cleaving shields and armour with ease. If you can weather the first assault, they can be defeated through attrition.
  • Mighty Party subverts this trope in a similar was as Trading Card Games. Although there are three clearly defines factions of units: Order (Powerhouse), Nature (Subversive), and Chaos (Balanced), majority of player prefer to use in PvP a unit pack that combines units from two or three factions. Although a Warband army consisting of units from a sole faction can be easily buffed, it has almost always a specific vulnerabilities that can be exploited by the opponent.

     Real Time Strategy 
  • Achron Vecgir (Powerhouse), CESO (Balanced), Grekim(Subversive).
  • Act of War: Direct Action: United States Army (Powerhouse), Consortium (Balanced), Task Force Talon(Subversive).
    • 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).
  • 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 ratcheted up).
      • If there is a triangle for the European civs in the base game, it goes like this: Spain and Britain are the Balanced - Spain has a large and diverse unit roster and a card deck that can let them play rushdown, boom, or turtle strategies equally well, while Britain is primarily an economic and naval faction with the potential for a competent land force as well (though it's not a true powerhouse). Holland, Portugal, and Russia are the Subversives - Holland is an economic machine with a card deck suited for fielding lots of mercenaries, Portugal is a kind of fiddly faction with a focus on light and highly specialised units, and Russia's whole playstyle, from their card deck to their ability to raise troops in batches, is geared towards Zerg Rush. The French, Ottomans, and Germans are the Powerhouses - France is dominant in nearly all areas militarily and they have the best heavy cavalry in the game, the Ottomans are the game's artillery and siege specialists, and the Germans can field massive armies of cavalry festooned with upgrades from the card deck plus mercenary backup.
      • 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 Mythology has five with the Tale of the Dragon expansion: Greeks (Balanced), Egyptians (Subversive), Norse (Powerhouse), Atlanteans (Cannon), and Chinese (Horde).
  • Brütal Legend: Tainted Coil (Powerhouse), Ironheade (Balanced), Drowning Doom (Subversive). There is a fourth faction, Lionwhyte's Hair Metal Militia, but they're just a Palette Swap of Ironheade for the early campaign before the other factions are introduced.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert Series:
    • Throughout the series, the general rule is that the Soviet Union is a Powerhouse while the Allied Nations are Subversive, although this dynamic is reversed in the seas, where the Allied surface fleet is more powerful than the Soviets and their reliance on submarines. The disparity is far more glaring in the first game to the point it's almost game-breaking in multiplayer, while the second game makes it far more even while maintaining what makes each faction distinct.
    • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge adds Yuri, whose forces are typically weaker than either, but have a variety of incredibly cheap tricks such as mind control. Meanwhile, the Allies gain two powerful new brute force units in the Battle Fortress and Guardian GI that allow them to function as a more balanced faction in the middle of Yuri's treachery and the Soviet's brutality. So it is Soviets (Powerhouse), Allies (Balanced), Yuri (Subversive).
    • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, it's somewhat complicated here. The Empire Of The Rising Sun has the weakest units, making them the Subversive faction. The Allies are Balanced, with a strong, straightforward army and powerful force multipliers. Soviets are Powerhouse, as usual. However, this is only for ground-based combat. 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, the Soviets are Balanced, and the Empire is Powerhouse.
  • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series: Generally, the Global Defence Initiative is rare example of the good guys being the Powerhouse, with the villainous Brotherhood of Nod being Subversive. Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars adds the Scrin, who are comparatively Balanced next to GDI and Nod.
  • Command & Conquer: Generals: China (Powerhouse), the US (Balanced), GLA (Subversive).
  • Company of Heroes: Wehrmacht (Powerhouse) and United States Of America (Subversive).
    • 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 a 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.
  • In Company of Heroes II, it's the Red Army (Subversive/Horde), the US Army (Balanced) and the British Army (Powerhouse with a focus on defence) vs. the Wehrmacht Ostheer (Powerhouse) and the Oberkommando West (Cannons).
  • Conquest: Frontier Wars:Celareons (Powerhouse), Terran Empire (Balanced), Mantis(Subversive).
  • Dark Reign: JDA/Imperium (Powerhouse) and Sprawlers/Freedom Guard (Subversive).
  • Dune II, Dune 2000 and Emperor: Battle for Dune: Harkonnen (Powerhouse), Atreides (Balanced), Ordos (Subversive).
  • Somtaaw vs Beast in Homeworld: Cataclysm; Hiigarans vs Vaygr in Homeworld 2. Two more examples of Powerhouse good guys.
  • Earth2150: Eurasian Dynasty (Powerhouse), United Civilised States (Balanced), Lunar Corporation (Subversive).
  • End of Nations: Liberation Front (Powerhouse) and Shadow Revolution (Subversive).
    • Or alternatively, if commander classes are counted as as separate factions: Spartan (Powerhouse), Patriot (Cannon), Wraith (Balanced), Phantom(Subversive).
  • EndWar: Spetsnaz Guard Brigades (Powerhouse), Joint Strike Force (Balanced), European Federation Enforcer Corps (Subversive). SGB are the plodding, heavily-armoured Mighty Glacier to the EFEC's rapid, lightly-armoured Fragile Speedster, and the JSF are middle of the road with a focus on precision.
    • There are also Batallion types enforced by the Arbitrary Headcount Limit. Armoured (Powerhouse) specialise in Tank Goodness and More Dakka, capable of fielding lots of tanks and artillery perfect for meatgrinder battles and cracking open fortified positions, but they are vulnerable to gunships and their own lack of gunships means they have few options for dealing with enemy artillery short of shooting back with their own; Armoured excels at open field battles but struggles in built-up areas. Airborne (Subversive) uses large numbers of gunships and riflemen to swarm an enemy with Death from Above while cloaked riflemen run around the enemy backlines harassing the uplinks. This gives them a lot of momentum but the lack of artillery and tanks means they lack the firepower to fight head-on or crack a fortified area, thus they tend to crack quickly outside of urban or wooded areas. Tactical (Cannons) are the artillery specialists, but they also have a lot of riflemen for spotting duties; this gives them incredible power at longer ranges but they also have just enough tanks and gunships to defend their precious field gun park: where they lack is mobility, as they have only a single transport unit, so when they need to reach out and go on the offensive, that artillery park becomes vulnerable without entrenched infantry around them. Assault (Balanced) is the Jack of All Trades Batallion choice with no clear weakness, while Mechanised (Balanced) offers many transport and engineer units that are highly mobile, difficult to dislodge once entrenched and quite impervious to enemy air attack - however their lack of gunships and artillery make them a Close-Range Combatant who have little option against enemy artillery besides running away.
  • Ground Control: Crayven Corporation (Powerhouse) and Order Of The New Dawn (Subversive).
  • The Battle for Middle-earth:
    • Dwarves and Isengard fit Powerhouse, with mighty shock troops and hefty upgrades that take time. Goblins fit Subversive, focusing on fast-moving cheap infantry and enhanced maneuverability. Elves fit Cannon, due to their archery focus and powerful ranged upgrades. Men of the West and Angmar both generally end up as Balanced, with versatile troop layouts (though they go about it in very different ways; Men are very tactically basic and easy to learn while Angmar is all about wacky specialized units to deal with anything). Finally, Mordor's cheap orc armies, needless to say, fit them into the Horde.
    • The Edain mod breaks up a few factions and retools others, resulting in some shifts. While Gondor and Angmar remain Balanced, Mordor remains Horde, and Isengard remains Powerhouse, Rohan is a mix of Horde (its infantry) and Powerhouse (its cavalry). The Iron Hills Dwarves remain Powerhouse with a focus on defense, while Erebor takes on aspects of Cannon and Ered Luin takes on bits of Subversive. Lastly, Lothlorien is a mix of Cannon and Subversive, while Imladris is a pure Powerhouse.
  • Iron Harvest: Polania (Subversive), Saxony (Balanced), Rusviet (Powerhouse).
  • Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds: Powerhouse Martians coming in heavily armed tripods Vs Subversive Humans using weaker tanks and armed cars cranked out in greater numbers.
  • Metal Fatigue: Mil-Agro (Powerhouse), Rimtech (Balanced), Neuropa(Subversive).
  • 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.
  • Original War significantly downplays this trope. Nominally, the Americans are Balanced, the Russians are the Powerhouse, and the Arabs are Subversive. That said, number of human troops in each scenarios is limited and once they die, they are lost for the rest of the campaign. In the end, all three factions tend toward a subversive playstyle.
  • Rise of Legends: Cuotl (Powerhouse), Vinci (Balanced), 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.
  • S.W.I.N.E.: Pigs (Powerhouse) and Rabbits (Subversive).
  • Sins of a Solar Empire has the Trader Emergency Coalition (Powerhouse), Vasari Empire (Balanced) and Advent (Subversive).
  • StarCraft: 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/Horde) rely upon a properly balanced mix of great numbers, with one main spellcaster later in the game; the Zerg overlords are both a troop transport and supply cap increase, allowing very liberal use of sneak attacks. Terrans (Balanced) stand in the middle, with 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, along with imposing Siege Tank lines that can eradicate entire armies in a few salvos, as well as swarms of Marines that rip enemies apart in a stim- and bullet-filled frenzy
  • StarCraft II: In the campaigns:
    • A number of mutually exclusive Terran research upgrades have elements of this, with upgrade choices being split between the Science Vessel which can passively repair vehicles for free or the Raven which can deploy seeker missiles and turrets, Tech Reactors which can mass-produce higher-tier units or the Orbital Strike upgrade which allows the Barracks to deploy units anywhere on the map, and allowing vehicles to passively repair or increase the energy reserves of caster units.
    • Zerg evolutions tend to split between straightforward combat upgrades or new abilities that emphasize micromanagement. These tend to be colored green and purple, respectively.
    • The Protoss can choose between four factions to represent each of their army's units: the Khalai, the usual powerhouses, the Daelaam, the subversive Jedi-Ninjas with quicker-but-weaker attacks, the Purifiers, who have a balance of firepower and unique abilities and the Tal'darim, who personify Glass Cannon with their self-destructive philosophy of 'jailbreak it for DPS until it hurts'.
  • Star Trek: Armada: United Federation Of Planets (Balanced), Klingon Empire (Cannons), Romulan Star Empire (Subversive), Borg (Powerhouse). 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.
  • Star Wars: Empire at War:
    • Galactic Empire (Powerhouse) and Rebel Alliance (Subversive).
    • The later expansion pack, Force of Corruption adds the Zann Consortium as a third faction, which nominally fills the role of a more subversive faction, but has the issue of simply being better at everything than the other factions, making them a flat Game-Breaker in reality.
  • Stronghold: series of games provides a number of examples of playing with this trope:
    • Invoked in Stronghold (2001), where all the factions were using the same types of building and units. However, AI enemies in the mainline campaign were coded different playing strategies. Although they had theoretically the same selection of building and troops available, they focused on producing only units that would suit their strategy.
    • Subverted in Stronghold Crusader (2002), where the Crusader faction (the player faction from the first installment) acts as Powerhouse and the Saracene faction act as Subversive. However, later stages of the game usually allow the player to recruit the troops from the other faction as mercenaries.
  • Supreme Commander has the United Earth Federation (Powerhouse), Aeon Illuminate (Balanced), and Cybran Nation (Subversive), though all sides tactics boil down to Zerg Rush eventually.
    • The Forged Alliance expansion adds the Seraphim as Cannons.
  • Total Annihilation: CORE (Powerhouse) and ARM (Subversive), although the differences are fairly small.
  • Ultimate General: Civil War Union (Subversive/Horde to Balanced) and Confederates (Powerhouse). The Union initially relies on large numbers and a large treasury, but initially has less well-trained troops and not as good weapons. They thus rely initially on numbers to hold and attack objectives. As time goes on, they become Balanced due to gaining better weaponry and acquiring more experience. The Confederate forces are better trained and have access to better weaponry and higher-level officers, and as a result, are more powerful than the Union. However, they cannot afford to lose men as they have limited manpower. Oddly enough, this requires them to use tactics more common to Subversive factions (hitting weak points, outflanking, dividing and conquering).
  • Universe at War: Hierarchy(Powerhouse), Masari (Balanced), and Novus (Subversive).
  • Warcraft II: While Humans (Subversive) and Orcs (Powerhouse) 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.
  • Warcraft III:
    • Human Alliance, Orcish Horde, Undead Scourge, Night Elf Sentinels are Balanced, Powerhouse, Subversive, and Cannon respectively for the most part. Human infantry units are decently strong and decently cheap. Their spellcasters have versatile skillsets, with Sorceresses debuffing enemies and Priests to heal and buff allies. Orc units are powerful but more expensive. What support abilities they have is mainly focused on buffing their already great damage output. Undead relies on sheer numbers, primarily through their Necromancer's ability to create skeletal minions from corpses. Night Elves lack the brute strength of other factions, but they excel in ranged combat and their units can become invisible at night.
    • However, things are a bit different when air units are involved, Orcs and Undeads being basically swapped: Undeads are air Powerhouse with frost wyrms being a huge, costly, and powerful late-game unit, Orcs are air Subversive with wyverns being a cheaper middle game unit that you want to mass and use for hit-and-run tactics, and bat riders being a subversive unit. Humans are still Balanced (Griffins are a powerhouse-like unit, flying machines and Dragonhawk riders are subversive-like units), Night Elves are still the Cannons (chimeras are very powerful and destructive, but can't attack air units and are easy to kill relative to their cost, and hippogryphs are extremely powerful air superiority units, but cannot attack ground units unless you mount an archer on them, leaving them helpless against ground units who can attack air units).

  • Warrior Kings: Pagan(Subversive), Imperial (Powerhouse) and Renissance (Cannons).
  • World in Conflict: United States Of America (Powerhouse), Union Of Soviet Socialist Republics (Subversive), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Balanced). 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).

  • In Mass Effect 2, the three major enemy mercenary groups are set up like this, with the Blood Pack as Powerhouses, the Blue Suns as Balanced, and the Eclipse as Subversive.
  • PlanetSide: New Conglomerate(Powerhouse), Terran Republic (Balanced), and Vanu Sovereignty (Subversive) although this only matters for vehicles and a few unique weapons. The NC have the toughest, heaviest hitting vehicles, the TR's are faster, weaker, but make up for it with volume of fire, and the Vanu tend towards using their hover technology and the manoeuvrability granted by it, along with cheap, gimmicky weapons.
  • Running with Rifles: Pacific (though not a strategy game) exemplifies this trope, featuring America (Powerhouse) vs. Imperial Japan (Subversive). America favors technology, firepower, and direct mass engagements, and has unique access to a default semi-automatic rifle, a 100-round machine gun, and an amphibious warfare vehicle. Imperial Japan mixes "banzai" Zerg Rush tactics with stealth and disabling technology, possessing unique access to a stealth suit and a semi-automatic anti-tank rifle.
  • Tomorrow's War: In "asymmetric warfare" scenarios the professional army is the powerhouse while the insurgents have to be subversive.
  • In the rebooted Wolfenstein games, the differing Fergus and Wyatt timelines results in something like this. Picking Fergus tends to lead to more confrontational paths and more direct upgrades and weapons. Picking Wyatt tends to lead to more subversive and stealthy approaches, indirect upgrades, and tactical weapons.
  • Real Life: there are plenty of examples of the concept of Asymmetric Warfare, usually in the form of conflict between the standing professional army (Powerhouse) and the resistance movement militia with a better knowledge of local terrain (Subversive). Furthermore, it usually occurred in wars between two empires originating in different geographical conditions. Firstly, the empire that was sending troops further away was often in number of troops they can send, leading to preference of quality over quantity. Secondly, different climates and different social structures favoured different composition of armies and their equipment. For example:
    • Principality of Hungary: When the tribal alliance of Hungarian tribes arrived to the Panonian plane, they could not match existing empires in the number of combatants nor the technological level, but they excelled at the use of horsemen in mobile warfare. The following decades of conflict were dominated by three main players: Byzantine Empire (Powerhouse), Principality of Hungary (Subversive), and East Frankish Kingdom (Balanced).
  • 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 gene-stealer hybrids, are the Subversives; and the Imperium, who are the Balanced.
  • 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)* 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 neighbours 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.
    • The standalone, free-to-play Gwent: The Witcher Card Game changes its opposing factions, including the Northern Kingdoms as the Powerhouse faction due to units increasing their point values based on how many of each are played; Nilfgaard as the Subversive faction due to its emphasis on spies and diplomats; the Scoia'tael as the Balanced faction due to its units freely switching between melee, ranged, and/or siege; Monsters being the Horde faction due to its emphasis on spawning mass numbers and consuming other monsters to increase point values; and Skellige as the Cannon faction due to units getting killed only to be resurrected by their priests.
  • 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 is a shoo-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 a 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 maneuvers 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): The Allied Nations are Cannons (formerly Balanced before the introduction of Foehn), with fast units, advanced weaponry, and air and naval superiority. The Soviet Union is the Powerhouse, being the most straightforward and direct faction with a preference towards heavy armour, weapons and assault tactics. The Epsilon Army is Subversive, with cheap but statistically weak units and preferring to spam infantry and rely on unconventional weapons. The Foehn Revolt is Balanced, with strong units that also come with many special abilities but pay for it in very high individual cost. Furthermore, each faction is divided into three sub-factions that also play this trope straight:
    • Allies: The USA is Subversive, with fast but frail units and preference towards rapid deployment and surgical strikes with a strong air force. The Euro Alliance, emphasising heavy firepower and defence, is the Powerhouse. The Pacific Front is Balanced, with versatile, multifunctional units and a focus on long-range bombardment.
    • Soviets: Russia is Balanced, with its versatile Tesla technology, mobile and moderately powerful units. The Latin Confederation is Subversive, with a preference for guerrilla warfare, urban combat and sabotage, being slightly weaker in direct fights. China is the Powerhouse to the max, whose signature tactic is steamrolling the enemy with a wall of slow-moving but strong war machines.
    • Epsilon: PsiCorps is Balanced, whose main strength lies in mind control technology and amphibious assaults. HQ is slightly more of a Powerhouse, focusing on territorial control, defence, and strong infantry. Scorpion Cell is the most Subversive, favouring cheap, spammable and Weak, but Skilled units, and trolling the enemy with its arsenal of chemical weapons and ambush capability.
    • Foehn: Haihead is Balanced, relying on getting close and personal to swiftly destroy enemy installations. The Wings of Coronia is Subversive, preferring mobility over raw strength, with various flying and hovering units. And with their focus on durable and powerful units, amazing defence and turtling, the Last Bastion is the Powerhouse.
  • Dawn of the Tiberium Age (crossover mod between Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn and Command & Conquer: Red Alert for Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun): GDI (Balanced)note , Nod (Subversive), Allies (Cannons) and Soviets (Powerhouse).
  • 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.
  • 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 in-between.
  • Total Annihilation: Kingdoms starts with four Aramon(Balanced), Veruna(Balanced naval), Taros(Cannon) and Zhon(Horde). The expansion pack adds Creon(Powerhouse).
  • 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.
  • The real World War II actually did play out a lot like this when it comes to the six most significant participant countries, the United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union, Republic of China, Nazi Germany, and Empire of Japan. The United States was Balanced, the United Kingdom was Cannon, the Soviet Union was Horde, Nazi Germany was Powerhouse. The Empire of Japan was Subversive when facing the Western Allies, but was Powerhouse when fighting China, who was Subversive.
  • 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.
  • 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). The balance of powers oscillates with the day cycle. But in general Knalgan Alliance acts mostly as a powerhouse, Rebels as subversive, Undead and Drakes as cannons, Northerners as horde, and Loyalists as balanced.
  • Master of Orion has ten races that 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 are 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.
  • 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 subgroups 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • BattleTech has aspects of this. There are about two dozen factions in total, but they're readily broken down by preferred tactics and the relative strengths/weaknesses of their preferences.
    • Clan units are traditional Powerhouses. Their units are tough, fast, and well-armed, but absurdly expensive. If you field just a single Clan Timber Wolf, be prepared to have an Inner Sphere opponent field two Awesomes in response if you play using Point Buy, or as many as four Awesomes if you use a C-Bill based purchase system. The Clan player invests heavily in overwhelming power but at the price of fielding few units and often being locked into Honor Before Reason tactical decisions, such as mandatory single combat rather than focused fire. Even within the Clans, there are breakdowns based on preferred tactics.
      • Clans such as Smoke Jaguar are Powerhouses. They field many heavy and assault units such as the Warhawk or Dire Wolf, making them aggressive and lethal, but also slow and hard to resupply. Smoke Jaguar units are devastating early on but exhaust themselves quickly, making them easy to outmaneuver.
      • Clans with a more moderate view of tactics include Clan Wolf and Nova Cat as Balanced Clan forces. These Clans are more careful, and less likely to run themselves ragged. They will field a mix of units, including the forementioned Timber Wolf, but also feature well-rounded flexible units such as the Shadow Cat. Their endurance makes them last longer than their peers, but they are also somewhat predictable.
      • Clan Jade Falcon is a textbook Cannon-type faction. Favoring fast, weapon-laden units, they buy this speed and firepower at the cost of armor, and as a result, the Jade Falcon unit tends to favor designs such as the Hellbringer or Summoner. Jade Falcons hit hard and fast, but are unable to absorb much in the way of counter-fire and often lose more units in battle as a result.
      • Subversive Clan factions are fewer, due to the focus on honorable single combat, but Clan Ice Hellion is certainly this. Favoring small, fast units such as the Viper and Fire Moth, they move quickly and are more numerous for the same price than their other Clan peers. Unfortunately for them, while they can field the units, they usually fail to field a necessary amount of power and must rely on achieving a win condition that isn't a straight duel to the death.
    • Inner Sphere factions are also quite diverse, and on a grand scale are more Subversive than the Clans.
      • The Inner Sphere's main Powerhouse faction is House Steiner. Their focus on economy and very, very large 'Mechs, such as the Zeus and Atlas, means that they tend to be able to amass a relatively huge army if allowed to build up. However, this makes their units some of the slowest and most expensive to field (and to lose). Their tactics are usually very basic, and not for nothing are Lyran assaults often compared to sledgehammers, making them easy to outflank or outwit.
      • House Liao is the textbook Subversive Inner Sphere faction. Favoring lighter, faster units as well as the use of sneaky stealth armor and electronic warfare equipment, House Liao will often lose a straight-up fight against most foes but can sneak objectives or critical kills out from under the noses of their enemies. House Liao has managed to streamline the production of iconic flexible lightweight designs such as the Raven and Vindicator to the point that they can afford to lose a few if victory can be achieved.
      • Houses Marik and Kurita are Balanced, in slightly different ways. House Marik is notably a case of 'a little bit of everything' in their faction pool, with units of all weight classes and categories available. They are fast but not as fast as House Liao, tough without being as tough as House Steiner, best demonstrated by their use of the Hermes II and the Orion. House Kurita is somewhat similar, in that they are peculiarly focused on light units and heavy units almost exclusively. By largely omitting the middleweight category, they can field both extremely fast but fragile and relatively slow but powerful units, such as the Jenner and the Dragon respectively, averaging out to a tenuous Balance.
      • House Davion is the Cannon faction for the Inner Sphere, in an unusually literal sense. Davion units favor ballistic weapons such as autocannons, and tend to be faster but fragile due to either a relatively low armor profile or using more vulnerable components. In exchange, Davion units often hit like trucks and can be a nightmare for foes who get outmaneuvered by them. The Enforcer and the Victor demonstrate this well, lacking armor in some areas but being powerful infighters.
      • Comstar is a strange faction in that it is technically Balanced: somehow, it is both a Powerhouse (thanks to its use of powerful but rare and incredibly expensive Star League era units, which are almost on par with the Clans) while also being a Subversive faction (thanks to a focus on speed, adaptability, and numbers to win most of their battles). The end result is that Comstar units are very pricey to field in any system, but they can still field more units than their Clan counterparts. Their ability to call on pre-existing caches of materiel upsets the setting's balance somewhat.