List building for cognitive load in Mark IV

So there’s this idea I’ve heard of called “cognitive load.” To be overly simplistic, it’s how much information, details, planning, etc., your brain can handle at a given point. Maybe you want to think of it as your brain’s muscles (“Do you even lift?”) or the CPU and computer memory (“The ol’ x386 only has 1meg of RAM!”)*.

I’ve noticed that I’m happiest playing when I make lists that reduce that load. For instance, I could take a unit of Skyhammer Deliverers in Mark 3 or simply take a Redeemer. I’ve often stared at Cleansers in my shopping cart but a Repenter is mentally so much easier. Similarly, smaller games suit me on top of that. I play other games too, some with as few as four minis, but these are like intense sprints than the more marathon-type mental demand I associate with Warmachine.

But does anyone else build like that? How are you liking Mark IV in that case? Cutting unit sizes in half seems like it would do really well for me in that regard. Then the new movement rules for units seems like it makes life easier too? Do you find you’ve got more brain power for bigger games, longer games, more games (be it a tournament or just a really good gaming weekend), or more involved lists as a result?

  • I should point out that I’m like in my late 40’s plus got diagnosed ADHD. So I’m tired with no attention span. Just like a x386 in this day and age :slight_smile:

I have experienced little to no cognitive load in 75pt games or less points when playing both Legacy and new models so far, and I have played 2 to 3 games a week pretty solidly since the App released in October. The tweaks to movement and terrain, while not all that realistic, help greatly with reducing cognitive load.

100pts on the other hand overwhelmed me considerably and I felt both confused and flustered during the game and mentally exhausted after it. That could be because I was playing Winter Korps, the new Khador army and not all of it’s models have been released yet and I was using a sub-optimally organized list using the models I owned instead of proxying models that would reduce my cognitive load like I normally do when playing friendly games. Things could get better once more models have been released for the army, but for now I am avoiding 100pt games.

And I am in the same age bracket and have the same diagnosed ADHD complications you mentioned above.


That’s huge for me. Good to know!

If you have played WM regularly in previous editions up to mk4, from my experience, the biggest cognitive load in mk4 is unit movement. Not so much of how it requires some imagining to correlate it’s rules with how battles take place narratively, but more so on threat ranges (which wouldn’t bother you as much if you are a new player).

The good news though, the cognitive load around it significantly reduces after a couple of games especially once muscle memory sets in.

The best way to handle this cognitive load is to start gaming small imo. 30 pts or 50 pts games at most. Once you are used to it, then advancing to 75 pts would be a breeze. :upside_down_face:

On the contrary, if this is your first edition of Warmachine, you will find unit movement really fast and easy. :sweat_smile:


I like to think of the ADD brain as a perfectly modern CPU… with 1 MB of RAM, i.e. with chronic memory thrashing. I also prefer small games and straightforward casters for similar reasons. I hear Mk5 will have Neuralink integration though.

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Do you ever “practice” things before a game to make it easier to handle? I mean, writing it sounds weird but fighting games have a practice mode, you know?

An underrated piece of tech for stuff like this is to just double up on things… If you have 4 jacks that are all different, its much harder then if you have 2 of A and 2 of B… 2 guys to go shoot at fools and 2 guys to go hit fools with sticks…

Much less involved in terms of having to remember stuff… And then once you have played it a few times maybe you realize it should be A, 2 B and a C but thats only one new model…

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