Each faction has a special ability indicated at the upper right of the Faction Mat.
You may choose the same section on your Player Mat as the previous turn(s).
The Rusviets push their people hard, day after day, to achieve their ultimate goal. While other factions let their infrastructure take a break from turn to turn, the Rusviet faction may choose the same section of their Player Mat as the previous turn(s). This ability also applies to a Factory card if you have one (see Factory section).
Once per turn, you may spend 1 combat card as if it were any 1 resource token.
The Crimean faction has a longstanding tradition of selling information to the highest bidder. They may spend 1 combat card per turn as if it were a resource to pay for something (1 combat card = any 1 resource token, regardless of the number on the combat card). Combat cards are still worth nothing at the end of the game.
Your workers may move across rivers.
Nordic workers are accomplished swimmers who refuse to complain even when wading through the coldest of waters. They may move across rivers onto any type of terrain (except lakes). This ability applies only to workers, not the character and mechs.
Pick up to 2 options per encounter card.
Thanks to Anna's charismatic bear companion, Wojtek, the pair tend to stretch short encounters into longer adventures. Instead of picking just 1 option per encounter card, the Polanian faction may choose up to 2 different options per encounter card in any order. The benefit from the first selected option may be used to pay the cost for the second selected option. Only one encounter card is drawn.
There is no limit to the number of stars you can place from completing objectives or winning combat.
Saxony's methodical approach to conquering the eastern lands surrounding the Factory is all about asserting force and completing specific missions. The Saxon faction may complete both of their objective cards (they don't discard the second card after achieving the first), and they are not limited to 2 combat victory stars. If Saxony has available stars, after winning combat, they must place the star.
One of the subtle benefits of some of these faction abilities is that they help to teach and remind players of the global rules of Scythe... by breaking those rules.
For example, when you read that the Rusviet faction can choose the same section of their Player Mat on subsequent turns, you also learn that under normal circumstances, you can't choose the same section twice in a row. In a game with lots of rules to remember, I found that these subtle reminders really help.