In a galaxy far, far away… so says the opening crawl of every numbered STAR WARS movie. How many of us haven’t dreamed of visiting that galaxy, so far away? With FANTASY FLIGHT GAMES’ newest product STAR WARS: LEGION, we all now get to relive some of our favorite battles.

Everyone has their favorite: The Battle of Endor, The Battle of Hoth, The Battle of Crait and even the OG Death Star Battle.  This isn’t the first STAR WARS miniature game they’ve released and not even the second.

Planning Ahead

With plenty of card games under their belt, FFG released STAR WARS X-WING in 2012 to much acclaim. X-WING let players make lists of their favorite starfighters and outfit them to take part in fun table-top dogfights. Over the years, many expansions were released and it’s settled into comfortable niche — with tournaments and constant updates.

STAR WARS: LEGION
Darth Vader promotional artwork

Afterward, STAR WARS ARMADA was released which pitted the Rebellion and Empire’s capital ships against one another. While not as successful as X-WING, ARMADA gained a sizable following. Now, with STAR WARS LEGION we can finally bring our favorite ground battles to the table-top. After playtesting the first wave of expansions and two core sets, let’s talk about how it stacks up.

Battle Lines Are Drawn

GAMES WORKSHOP’s WARHAMMER ip has dominated the wargaming scene for years. Whether it was the grim, dark future of WARHAMMER 40K or the pitched fantasy battles of plain old WARHAMMER. There have always been other miniatures games as well, between DUST:TACTICS and WARMACHINE, but GAMES WORKSHOP has held the crown.

STAR WARS: LEGION
A rebel AT-RT maneuvering.

Lately, due to many poor business decisions on their part, including completely revamping their fantasy line, players have become disillusioned with their business practices and began to look for the next big thing. STAR WARS: LEGION was announced back in August 2017, with FANTASY FLIGHT giving a basic summary of the gameplay.

Many STAR WARS fans and tabletop fans were excited, as we’ve never before had a chance to play-ground battles before. As more information was teased, the release date drew closer and a bevy of expansions was announced, including the AT-ST for the Imperials and Snowspeeder for the Rebels.

You’re On STAR WARS: LEGION’S Time Now

One of the immediate differences between STAR WARS: LEGION and STAR WARS: X-WING is that while the X-WING miniatures come pre-assembled and painted, STAR WARS: LEGION’s do not. You’re going to be doing a lot of gluing and painting. Anyone who’s played miniature gaming before is familiar with this, but as a total new blood to any of this, I was not ready.

While painting can be fun, it’s incredibly (I mean it) time-consuming. Each of the starter, or Core Set, comes with 1 leader, 2 squads of troopers (7 miniatures in each squad) and a squad of mechanized units for each faction. The box also comes with movement rulers, a measuring ruler, the necessary cards to play the figures on the tabletop, multiple cardboard tokens and the instructions. I always have fun unboxing so your mileage may vary, but case in point: there’s a lot of stuff.

STAR WARS: LEGION
A close-up battle

After sorting everything, much of the fun lies in painting the miniatures to your liking, do you want your Rebel troops in desert camo? Forest camo? Maybe a special operations squad in all black? The choice is all yours. I’m an Imperial player, so I decided my troops will just be matte white and black. If I’m conquering the galaxy, uniformity is a must.

Originally I was just going to do the core boxes, but my inner STAR WARS geek had me grab the first wave of expansions as well. The AT-ST and rebel snow-speeder are absolutely gorgeous. The AT-ST Is huge and looks great on the table next to your smaller minis.

Your First Game With STAR WARS: LEGION

Once you’re all done painting and gluing and construction — its time to play. Each core set comes with a full “Learn to play” guide which allows for a basic skirmish. This way the game doesn’t overwhelm you with minutia.

Your first game is going to be a lot of learning. As someone relatively unfamiliar with wargaming until this point there was quite a bit of rewinding. The guide does a decent job in setting up your basic knowledge of the game, but doesn’t include many clarifications and can be a bit confusing. Eventually, you’ll want to head over to FFG’s website and download the “RULES REFERENCE” for free.

While it’s nice to have a resource like this, I feel like they should have included a full rule-set in the box. A small nitpick, but a nitpick nonetheless. Game setup is easy and approachable. For your first game, it’s a simple matter of placing down your forces and all of the requisite tokens and dials. Once you get past that, the rules become slightly more complicated, allowing for different scenarios.

One game might have you fighting over locations in need of capturing with limited visibility. Another session might see you fighting over supply drops in clear weather. The endless amount of scenarios and conditions straight out of the box allows for a lot of replay value.

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Crack is Cheaper

Now, after your first battle, you’ll be familiar with the basic rules of combat to move on to bigger and better. Since the skirmish you just played involved a smaller army, according to the manual, a full-size battle involves upwards of 800 points of units. But wait! Doesn’t the core set only come with (about) 500 points worth of miniatures for each side? Therein lies the rub of wargaming.

STAR WARS: LEGION
A homemade building, with troops and mech for scale

Each squad and upgrade has a point cost, which you add up to make your army. For that, the core set, unfortunately, isn’t enough. For games like these, it’s almost always necessary to buy 2 core sets to have a full-scale army. That way, not only do you have all of the mini’s needed, you get extra supplies (ie. Dice, tokens, movement tools, and dials.) Buying expansions is also an option. That’s the only way to get some of the more specialized squads.

After that, the game opens up and begins to shine. One of the most fun aspects of tabletop gaming is customizing your battlegrounds. For STAR WARS: LEGION — you have a 4′ x 6′ board to fight on. This means it can be whatever planet you want. If you’re a creative soul you’re going to have a blast. Since this is a war, after all, your troops will need cover.

This can come in the form of buildings, walls, trenches sandbags and so much more. The game comes with rules for all of them, and you’re only limit is your own creativity. Heck, I built a turret out of some old cups, spray-painted it white and it blends right in.

Full-Scale War

With the battle pitched, terrain down and forces ready it’s time for a war. If you’re feeling particularly nerdy put on a STAR WARS mix. There are six total rounds in each battle. Each round you dictate orders to your units and move them around the field. Dice rolls are the major deciding factor in combat. If you’re skilled at rolling dice, which I am not, you’ll be mowing through your enemies in no time. However, don’t forget total destruction isn’t the only way to win.

Objectives dot the battlefield and how you split your forces is incredibly important. Each round you start by having your leader give orders to up to 3 other squadrons. During the next phase, these units are able to be activated at any time. The rest of your unit’s order token’s are shuffled in a bag, and taken at random, showcasing the chaos of the battlefield. When a unit is too far from their commander, they cannot receive orders. This can hurt especially if they’re in an not advantageous position.

STAR WARS: LEGION
Some Imperial Speeder’s, ready to fire

One of my favorite features is the Suppression/Panic system. This comes in the form of taking too many ranged attacks, or even triggered abilities. Once a unit has suffered — a certain quantity of suppression — it may panic. If a unit panics, on its next turn it’s only action is to run to the nearest edge as quickly as possible.

Your unit is defeated when it reaches the edge of the battle. You can counter this with your Commander. Commander units have a higher suppression threshold. In the case of Darth Vader, there is no panic. When any trooper unit is nearby, Darth Vader is far more terrifying than suppression and no one runs.

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The Fog of War Clears

For anyone with an active imagination, board and miniature gaming can be a ton of fun. Seeing dozens of units surrounded by buildings and going toe-to-toe in epic battles is an instant sell. However, one thing that holds really any of this hobby back is its ridiculous money investment. The time and patience needed can also be incredibly intimidating.

If you’re looking for an instant, easy gratification wargaming can look very unattractive. Like most things, if you’re willing to invest the time, money and patience it’s a brilliant payoff. FANTASY FLIGHT has created a very fun, if slightly flawed experience in STAR WARS: LEGION. I can see the community only grow from here, as they’ve already announced plan’s for tournaments and future expansions, with the first three years already planned.

While only in Wave 1 of who knows how many the game shows a lot of promise. I’m hopeful FFG continues to support the game, even past that three-year window. While army building at the moment can suffer from a lack of variety, the STAR WARS universe is vast and filled with character. I’m sure in a few years time we’ll see vastly customized and different armies hitting the table.

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