Faction Identity: Rebels and Imperials

General

Image result for Rogue One scarif

Mike and I decided now would be a good time to try and tackle all four factions and how they function. With the Clone Wars looming around the corner, what faction works for you? This is going to be more geared towards beginners and newcomers to the game but, hopefully, everyone finds this useful!

Rather than breaking down unit by unit, which we have done in the past in simplistic ways, we want to just go over the basics for each faction. How do they function? How easy are they to play? What should I expect if I run this faction and why? The game of Star Wars Legion as we know it evolves each and every week, or so it seems, and this is the biggest change. Let’s start with the two old factions first and then step into new pastures. (Naboo perhaps?)

The Rebel Alliance

For some strange reason there seems to be this general view that Rebels are not good or competitive versus the Empire. Well, as an avid Rebels player, I can assure something: Rebels are very good. Here’s the thing about Rebels: they’re very difficult to play. I’m fairly new to war-gaming, like as in this is my first ever game and I just started playing Legion this past January, but I decided to go for the Rebels. I’m a big Luke Skywalker fan, have been my entire life, and that was the draw for me, but it certainly was a learning curve. Lets dive into some pros and cons to playing Rebels and why they might be for you!

Pros

  • Great characters that, ultimately, can change the game
  • Appeal of the classic characters and units with a mix of new 
  • Strong offensively (The Z-6 may be finicky but it’s good)
  • Gimmicks that help win games 

Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Han Solo and Chewbacca are the face of the Rebel Alliance, both on screen and off screen. If the Rebels were your thing growing up, it’s hard to not want to go and play with these classic characters. Not to mention, Luke is arguably the best unit in the entire game and has a new version coming soon! Toss in the newer characters such as Jyn, Sabine and Pathfinders, the Rebels have a bunch of tools they can utilize. 

As you enter the game you’ll start referring things off hand and one of those things happens to be what is called a “Z6”. Basically, this is referring to the miniature with the big ol’ gatlin gun. You’ll have folks who live by the Z6, myself included, you’ll have people who hate the Z6 (hey, Codec!) and both have very fine reasons to love or hate it. The Z6 is a heavy weapon upgrade that costs 22 points for your Rebel Trooper units and rolls six white attack dice. White attack dice are quite finicky, so these rolls have what is called high variance. Some rolls you can roll straight fire, other rolls you can roll straight duds. If anything, it kind of feels thematic. As you will note, the Z6 and variation are listed in both the Pros and the Cons. You need to take the good with the bad!

The next thing I mentioned are gimmicks. What are the gimmicks and why are these a Pro versus a Con? Well let’s dive in on some very specific things. One of the best things the Rebels have to offer are Han’s Command Cards. Change of Plans is the one I want to talk about the most here. Basically, Change of Plans allows you to force your opponent to pick up their Command Card and play a different card in its stead. That is so, so strong; especially when you start learning the game and reading what your opponent might play next. It’s a complete game changer! Another gimmick is the keyword Infiltrate. This came out with Jyn and the Pathfinders quite some time ago now, and what it does is allows you to deploy on the battlefield anywhere as long as you are outside of range 3 of your opponent. It’s a very strong keyword and I think it’s still something that needs more exploring as to how to use it best. 

At the end of this piece on the Rebels, we’ll go over some tactics and how to attack certain factions and objectives. For now, let’s talk about the Cons. There may be quite a bit of them, but I promise you: Don’t let it scare you away from this awesome faction!

Cons

  • Dice variation, both offensive and defensive
  • Restricted archetypes, competitively speaking
  • Lack of Entourage
  • Lack of Suppressive and/or Range 4 weapons (right now)
  • Lack of inherent Impact weapons

Dice variation and dice in general will be the downfall of all your endeavors as a Rebel player. White defense dice, in short terms, are not that good. It’s something you learn to live with as a Rebel. Just like when you throw your four black, six white dice pools from Rebel Troopers with a Z6 and they roll like one hit into heavy cover for no damage. These are shortcomings you just need to realize can and will happen! It’s not the end of Alderaan, it’s just stuff you need to practice with and learn how to better maintain your army. Positioning, something we’ll get into below, is vital to everything.

Restricted archetypes in the competitive setting is a thing. What I mean by this is that Rebels tend to rely on certain lists at a high level. This may not pique your interest, however, in the event that it does here are some things to look for in regards to this. The most common build you will find is what’s called Wonder Twins. If you guessed Leia and Luke, you guessed correctly. Toss in a bunch of trooper spam (mostly all Z6 Rebel Trooper squads) and two to three sniper strike teams and that’s your go to Wonder Twins list. Yes, if you’re new to the game and reading this: three sniper strike teams is a pretty big deal in the competitive scene. Right now, as units release, there is a feeling this may change but we shall see. Another type of list you’ll see is Luke and Sabine together with troopers and snipers. A crowd favorite, albeit a super hard list to run in my opinion, is the Falcon Crew which consists of Han, Leia and Chewie. I’ve tried it casually a few times and it is super fun, but it is definitely a high skill cap list. Speaking of a high skill cap list: Fly Boys. While it’s not as popular as it used to be, thanks Sabine Wren, Fly Boys is a variation of Luke and Han. The reason it’s somewhat difficult to run is that both Luke and Han need to be in your opponents face and due to range limitations this causes control problems. You never want to find yourself in a situation where both pieces need to activate first in a round but that can be hard to distinguish. It’s a list that takes a lot of practice.

Two keywords the Rebels are missing from their repertoire are Entourage and Suppressive. Both are starting to be prominent in the Empire side of things but lacking on the Rebel side. This is not a complaint, whatsoever, but more of a PSA for new Rebel players as both keywords are extremely strong. If you don’t know what they do: Entourage allows you to ignore the rank of unit X when list building and when issuing orders you may issue that unit an order token if they are within range 1 to 2 of said commander. It’s a super strong keyword for a few reasons. Ignoring the rank, especially a special forces, allows you to build a list with extra items you aren’t normally allowed to and getting a free order token is extremely strong as it gives you more control over your army. Currently Emperor Palpatine has this keyword with the Imperial Royal Guard and Director Krennic has it with the Imperial Death Troopers. Next on the list is Suppressive which basically guarantees a suppression goes onto a unit you shot and if a hit or crit on your dice appears you apply two suppression to the unit that you shot. This is a really basic way of putting this, as we do not want to go into great detail of suppression, however if you would like a deeper read on the topic David Zelenka, of the Fifth Trooper Network, put out a great article a few days ago on Suppression and how it works in Star Wars Legion.

A main issue for the Rebel faction is lack of long range shooting, such as range 4 weapons. They are extremely scarce in the Rebel faction as opposed to the Imperial faction. In Legion the range bands are all in increments of six inches. So range 1 is six inches, range 2 is twelve, range 3 is eighteen and range 4 is twenty four inches. (There are exceptions, of course, with snipers, the ATST mortart and “Bombardments” that allow infinite range) Most Rebel units have a maximum range of 3 and the most utilized is the Z6 trooper, as mentioned before, which falls into that category. While the Imperials have a commonly used gun called a DLT which throws two red dice at range 4. While it’s not an overly strong gun, the DLT, it serves a purpose. First, it mostly provides suppression from range 4 and the Rebels have no answer for it, really. Second, it has Impact 1 which is important when attacking things with armor. These are two tools the Rebels don’t have as readily available as the Imperials do. That said, FFG just announced some upcoming unit upgrades that will really help take this Con away! The D20 (short term for the new, upcoming range 4 Rebel weapon) Season is almost upon us! Let’s shoot things from afar, ladies, gents, Ithorians and Duros!

Strategy

Rebel defense dice, outside of Luke and Sabine who throw red dice, are not good. I’m telling you right now, there are going to be games where you think these dice are completely blank. It’s part of being a Rebel and it’s part of the learning curve you’ll need to take when learning this faction. The most important thing for a Rebel player is position. You’re going to want to make sure that you find line of sight blocking terrain or at least heavy cover terrain whenever you can get it. Always remember, white defense dice are just as good as red when you don’t have to roll them. The last thing you ever want to find yourself doing is leaving a unit in the open, they will die. I think you need to go in a mindset that you’re going to lose a lot of games early on in your Rebel “career” and you should not let it frustrate you. There are so many nuances that go into playing this faction and the best way to learn them is practice.

Something that I find best as a Rebel player is making your opponent come to you. The more you help out your own action economy is better. The quicker your opponent gets into your range 3 band, the quicker you can aim and shoot or “shoot and scoot” (self explanatory but you shoot and move behind cover, if possible) versus moving up and shooting into something that can return fire at you. I hate saying this, but getting into a gunline battle with the Empire is never going to work in your favor. Well, maybe it will 10% of the time. You’re going to want to play hide and seek as much as you can, which is so thematic. At the end of the day, the Rebels are the guerrilla warfare faction as they should be.

One of the most important pieces of advice I can give you is to learn how to counter suppression as fast as you can with the Rebel faction. Star Wars Legion is a six round game, so when you break it down you have twelve actions with each unit you put on the board and you need to make them count. Suppression is what takes these actions away. You need to learn ways to make sure you get as many actions as you can with your army. There’s keywords like Inspire and training upgrades like Endurance that can go a LONG way in optimizing your army and their actions. I am a big advocate of running multiple sources of Inspire in my Rebel armies, but this is the beauty of the game: certain things that I do won’t really work for you. You need to make sure you build your army the way you want to and learn it the way that suits your play style best. Sure, we here at the Jedha Journal can give you advice but ultimately it’s up to you, the player, on how effective you can be at this game with the army you decide on.

We hope this little guide on the Rebel faction can help clarify some things for you when trying to pick a faction. Considering Mike and I are both primarily Rebel players, I think we may have a bias in regards to beginning with the Rebels, even if they are somewhat difficult to learn. Remember, there’s always something awesome about putting Luke Skywalker on the table! Are we biased about that opinion? Of course we are. That’s because we’re out there winning games with him rather than getting his right hand cut off on Bespin by his father. A classic Skywalker move, might we add. At the end of the day, though, make sure whatever decision you make is what you’re happy with. It’s going to be an expensive hobby for collecting one faction in a competitive setting, let alone if you decide Rebels aren’t for you and you want an identity swap. Which I think we are going to call “Red Fever.” Once you start throwing those red defense dice, you’ll never want to put them down. Speaking of red dice, the next faction we’re going to touch upon is the Imperials. (Boo! Boo this faction!)

The Galactic Empire 

Despite what Zach may have you believe, the Galactic Empire isn’t all bad. Sure, they really only have two downsides, their Villains are badass, and their units look super cool, but they are by no means the end-all-be-all of Legion. Even though I currently run Rebels in a competitive setting, I began my Legion journey with the Galactic Empire, and ended up swapping to Rebels full-time after Invader League Season 3. The Empire is a great entryway to the game, as it’s arguably the easier, more forgiving, faction to play. (Here comes the hate) Lets start with the cons. 

Cons

  • Corp power dwindles easier
  • Expensive
  • Uhhhhh…I don’t have any more

First off, the Empire’s heavy hitters are quite expensive. With well equipped Deathtroopers, Imperial Royal Guard, and the Tank all clocking in north of 100 points per unit, and Darth Vader, the Emperor, and the ATST all finishing well over 200 points, the Empire can struggle to flush out activation counts if you are not careful. Additionally, the standard DLT Stormtrooper squads comes in at 68 points, so there is not much room for luxury upgrades on either the corp squads or the main units. Taking the full six corp units and a 200 point commander severely limits your options when it comes to list building, almost forcing competitive Empire lists to include three sniper strike teams or (eventually) mortar troopers to achieve a double digit activation count. Expensive units in and of themselves are not an inherent downside, but Legion involves a considerable amount of dice luck, and when you roll cold for a turn or two, losing expensive units every time hurts the morale much more than cheap ones.

Speaking of the corp units of the Empire, specifically the backbone DLT Stormtrooper, they can lag slightly behind their rebel counterparts. As Zach described earlier, the rebel trooper unit is effective down to its last two men, because its Z6 allows it to continue to throw seven dice with only two squad members. The DLT, while much more consistent because of its red dice base, only throws two dice, meaning that the final two Stormtroopers only contribute three dice to an attack. Unfortunately, this means anything in heavy or even light cover remains relatively safe. This becomes even more of a problem when Rebel Troopers and Stormtroopers go head to head, as a single Rebel unit leader with their nimble defensive keyword and heavy cover can easily survice a number of two, or even three, man Stormtrooper unit shots.  This logic doesn’t apply to Snowtroopers, as their flamethrower upgrade is as effective as the size of the enemy target, but does come with a range 1 caveat, meaning your squad is most likely not in a safe location. 

Pros

  • Forgiving defense dice
  • Point and shoot
  • Killer operatives
  • Palpatine
  • More viable tournament options

The range 1 Snowtrooper shot also leads into the first, and most obvious, advantage of playing the Empire: red dice saves. Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’d really like to step into the open for this killer shot, but I don’t want to lose my squad.”? If so, the Empire is for you. With nearly every trooper unit, with the exception of Scout Troopers and Krennic, possessing at least a 50/50 save or better, Empire players have the opportunity to be more aggressive than their Rebel counterparts, which can lead to some advantageous situations. These situations also arrive more frequently because of the Empire’s gluttonous access to range 4 shooting. It is incredibly easy to create an 11-activation Empire list that contains ten range four weapons, leading to some easy point and shoot tactics that work at both a beginner and advanced level. In fact, both Worlds 2018 and Invader Season 3 were won by two phenomenal players maximizing this range game to its fullest extent.

One of the pros shared by both Rebels and Empire players is the access to some killer characters, especially in the Operative slot. Both Boba Fett and Bossk are extremely viable options that bring very different skills to the table, and can adapt to a number of situations they may encounter. In fact, they even function well together in the same list! Even though it may seem strange that the Emperor himself has joined the battlefields in Legion, he is definitely an attraction for playing as the Empire. Palpatine offers arguably the strongest command hand in the game, and is a monster in his own right on the table itself. In terms of one single model, he has the largest impact across the board of anything currently available; possessing the abilities to control activations and timings of both his own and his opponents units. 

The final major advantage to playing Empire is the greater number of competitive tournament options. Whereas the Rebels are chained to Luke (at the time this article was written), the Empire can roll out a number of effective lists, including Veers/Krennic with either bounty hunter, double bounty hunters, Palpatine, or even Vader and Bossk together. The most prominent example of this can be seen at Worlds 2018. Whereas the Rebels all played a version of Wonder Twins (Luke and Leia together), the Imperials showed up with Veers/Boba, Palpatine, Krennic/Boba, and Palpatine/Deathtroopers. If you’re looking to jump into the competitive seen, the Empire provides a larger roadmap to follow. 

Strategy

Seeing as I am presently short on fulltime Empire experience, the Empire has two major tactics I’d like to briefly discuss: Range 4 and Suppression. And spoiler alert, they mix like Anakin and younglings. In the game’s current state, the Empire contains a huge amount of range advantage over the Rebels, and being able to shoot the enemy before they can shoot you is a crucial advantage. When you couple this with Suppressive weapons that can stack on two suppression tokens per shot, this range advantage is amplified. By staying out of range of the enemy and stacking suppression on them to ensure they cannot move and shoot, you can effectively eliminate enemy units without suffering return fire. Ironically, the best counter to the Empire’s suppressive strategy can be Krennic, an Imperial commander. Using his compel ability, you are able to keep your ability to move and shoot in order to maintain range to the opponent. 

Final Thoughts

While our Empire experience is not as fleshed out as our Rebel portion, we hope you were able to take some points from this intro guide. If you’re looking for some more in-depth Empire knowledge, both TheFifthTrooper.com and EmpireLegion.com (the home of Team Relentless) have some deep dives on Empire units and strategies. Additionally, if you’re looking to test your newfound skills, the Canada Fan Expo and the London Grand Championship are still taking signups, so get in and get that Worlds Invite….so that you can join Zach in the tournament, and continue to watch me struggle to find my way to Chicago.

Starting next week, the CIS and GAR portions of these guides will release, with the caveat that things may change as the units start hitting everyone’s tables. Speaking of hitting “Tables”, if you’re interested to get an early look at the CIS and how they operate, LJ Pena had a Yavin Base Team League game last night streamed by Davis Kingsley. It’s…..a droid nightmare. They came in swarms, they Roger Rogered, they conquered. Here’s the link to the Twitch Vod here: TalkPolite vs DrRizzle YBTL2. Hope you enjoy the article and remember: when choosing a faction, choose what appeals to you most! At the end of the day, you’re choosing plastic toys, so make sure you enjoy your decision.

-Zach and Mike

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