Hacking the Cortex: Paging Dr. Avian

This week, it’s something completely different VagrantPoet will be stepping into my office to talk about his Faction ADD. What does it look like, and are there any techniques we can use to reduce it?

I_A:  What symptoms led you to believe you might be suffering from faction ADD?

V_P: I start playing a Faction, and enjoy it, start getting really into eking out the best lists. And then I play. When I began I used to hit a wall, and get jealous of the strengths of other factions, or things I felt I couldn’t do.

My first swap to Circle was because Haley2s stormclad would die after being launched and I read Kaya2s feat. Most of my jumps have been motivated by looking jealously at my bad matchups. Other times, it’s the pull of a new challenge.

I_A: How many faction jumps have you had in total? Not just total number of factions, but actual jumps- including backwards ones?

V_P: Trolls to Cryx, Cryx to Cygnar, Cygnar to Circle, Circle to Menoth to Cygnar, Cygnar to Circle, Circle to Legion, Legion to Cygnar, to Skorne, to Circle, and now to Khador.

I_A: How long, on average, did you stick with a faction before leaping?

V_P: About 2-3 months.

I_A: Why do you feel that faction ADD is a problem behaviour for you?

V_P:  All of the best players play lists into the ground. I want to master a faction, not hop around

I_A: I’m assuming money is a factor as well?

V_P: It was. Though honestly, I usually start a new faction by winning it. I’ve mostly won my skorne/khador models. Legion was detrimental though.I bought in very very fast, while between college and masters and very broke I ate less to buy in.

I_A: Before get started on curing your faction ADD, there’s one vital question – What is your goal  behaviour? Clearly state, quantifiable goals are the most important thing for changing a behaviour.

V_P: Stick to one Faction. When I encounter problems try to find answers in my faction of choice. Master that faction and its various styles. Get my level up at playing the faction. My goal would be to stick for 1-2 years.

I_A: Alright. Well, the first thing you need to do when you want to change a behaviour is to identify the reinforcers and punishers that are maintaining the undesirable pattern of behaviour. That way, you can pick a faction that meets those needs, that gets you the reinforcers you need to stick with them.

V_P: I’m currently drawn towards Khador, and I’m thinking about making them The Faction that I stick with for the next year (at least). One of the things that draws me is that I feel like they have a deep bench, but I don’t have many people to netdeck.

All Khador really need are a few ways to play with armor, and I think there are interesting ways to use MoW. So jacks are a thing and I think pVlad has that. Also, I like lots of dudes, as losing important pieces tilts me a lot.

However, I HATE being shot. And Khador aren’t great against that. I also have a problem with faction envy in general – other factions always have an easier solution to the thing that’s bothering me.

So how do I stop faction envy? Is it about picking a faction that doesn’t need to list build as hard but risk the more stagnant builds?

I_A: I think the key to stopping your faction envy is look for ways to achieve it the thing you desire from within your chosen faction. You’re clearly reinforced by new challenges, so reframing your chosen faction’s problems as a chance to explore new ground turns a potentially punishing consequence into a new opportunity for reinforcement. 

V_P: So do you think it could work this way with any faction, or that all factions are equally easy to keep an even keel with?Are some factions very easy, some very difficult, and is the right balance somewhere in the middle? Which factions would be which?

I_A: Not all factions are created equal in this way. Some factions are more one dimensional than others. I think narrow factions like Minions and Convergence, who only have a handful of options, would be terrible choices for you. While CoC have a great deal of play complexity, the listbuilding (which is a huge thing for you) is going to be fairly one dimensional after a short period of experimentation. Minions… they’re right out, and probably Mercs too. I think Cryx are going to have some interesting places to go thanks to Aiakos, but overall, not enough to keep you on the hook, because we all know what their good stuff is. 

You need one with a deep bench, one with a lot of unexplored territory, and one that has room for development with future releases. Khador do seem like a good choice for you, given your history. Circle and Cygnar were so often the factions you switched back to, because they have those traits. Also, Morv2 made it possible to play a whole bunch of models that you wouldn’t have before – something I think is happening with Khador with the new Kovnik, and with Andrei. Suddenly, there’s a lot of new ground to play around in with casters and styles that you haven’t seen before. 


V_P: A challenging faction I want to save does appeal to my ego, and often makes me change. But I can build up frustrations. And that’s usually what makes me change again… Is focusing on that game side the wrong approach.

Should I instead be focusing on my attitude?

I_A: Little from column A, little from column B. The attitude shift that’s needed is the one I described earlier – reframing frustrations as opportunities for creativity. But you also need a faction that has space for that creativity. Eventually, the bump in your playskill from focusing on one faction will become intrinsically reinforcing – competence is the only thing that rivals novelty when it comes to intellectual reinforcement. 

V_P:  I do sometimes fall into ruts where I couldn’t see the point of playing anything except my comfortable well rounded caster pairs. That often caused boredom and the desire to jump.

I_A: The key there is to not let yourself get stuck on the idea of finding “The List Pairing To End All List Pairings” for your faction. There are always other casters out there in a given faction, and often, placing one new caster in your tournament lineup necessitates changing the other as well – BAM, two new casters to play with! 

Of course, if none of the above advice actually works out, I could just resort to shocking you every time you send me a list for a new faction. Can’t argue with the classics. 


Te Nosce,



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Author: I_Avian

Anthony began his Warmachine journey on the raggedy edge between Mark 1 and Mark 2, playing just enough Mk1 to be certain that Mk2 was a good thing, and just enough field test models to lament what might have been if Mulg had remained at 11pts and Stalkers could still Leap. Some of his early trials and tribulations were documented on Lost Hemisphere, which was also home to a short “Storytime with I_Avian” series which now continues on Overload Online. Anthony channels his constant urge to talk about Psychology into a series of articles about “the mind game” aspect of Warmachine and Hordes. For a brief moment in time, he was a Hunters Grim player, but WTC duties have brought him back into the cold, cold, embrace of Cryx.

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