Star Wars: Legion review

Theme and What is it?

Star Wars Legion is a table top miniatures game set in the Star Wars Universe. Players take the role of heroic rebel fighters or villainous Imperial scum. (Try and guess which side I prefer.) During the course of a game players attempt to complete objectives, defeat enemy models, and win the day with the forces they control. This is a look at the core or starter set and all that it entails and includes. 

Gameplay Mechanics

If you’re familiar with miniatures games at all you’ll be familiar most of the ideas found in Legion. However, there are a couple of things I’d never seen before. I’m going to give a brief overview of some of the mechanics found in miniatures games then cover the things I found to be new experiences.

The basics of a tabletop miniatures game revolves around a force of figures used to represent anything from troops and heroes to vehicles and monsters. They’re typically played on an open tabletop filled with terrain similar to what you might find on a model train set. Every model in a force will have a stat card and that details their abilities, statistics, and attacks.

On a players turn they will tend to move their figures around the table using some form of measuring device depending on the game. They’ll make attacks against their opponent’s models typically using dice to determine success, though I have seen other methods, my personal favorite miniatures game uses a deck of cards. Over the course of the game players will try and complete objectives, which can include defeating the other player’s models, taking and holding various points on the board, or infiltrating their opponent’s deployment zone.

While that’s a very basic overview of miniature games and in a lot of ways Star Wars Legion has a lot of those same concepts they do utilize a few of them in ways that were new to me. One of the first was initiative or priority. Each player begins with a hand of command cards they use to help set up the start of their turn. Every command card has a number of pips in the upper left hand corner. Players secretly choose one and play it face down. In addition to the pips, the cards have other information on them; some of the cards give bonus actions for players to take, include special abilities, or create unique bonuses. The other thing they do is give a player a number of their units they can issue orders to. Each unit a play controls has a rank token associated with it. If a player’s card says they can choose three token, they choose any three they want and set those on the board next to the units in question. Once the round begins, on a player’s turn they can either choose one of the units they nominated or randomly draw one of the tokens they didn’t. This gives a feeling of the fog of war to the game. While in the heat of battle a player can give some orders out quickly, other units are going to be on their own. Additionally, the cards with higher pip counts may cause a player to go second in the round, it typically allows them to give orders to more units. If you throw out the one pip command card you only get to ping one unit, which means you know when you’re troopers are going, but Luke could be the first or last chit out of the bag. This becomes a very strategic point of when you activate certain units and how quickly you want to go in the turn. When the decision comes down to playing the one pip card to go first so you can get your speeder bikes into cover and protect them from enemy fire, you may be giving up the ability to activate your Stormtroopers so you can grab an objective before the rebellion does.

The second new thing was how movement is handled and range is measured. In most miniatures games movement is measured for each figure. This is done so you have an accurate representation of how far each model moved, what those troops are capable of, and what weapons can and cannot draw a line of sight on a target. I have played a number of these games and find nothing wrong with this method, it’s a wonderful method, very thematic and extremely tactical. For Star Wars legion, all of a player’s measurement goes off of their unit commander. When moving, players measure the commander’s movement then move the rest of the unit up to fill in around them. While this may not be as precise as Warhammer or Dark Age it’s faster and still feels significant. The same goes with ranged combat. Instead of measuring to see if every individual model has range to hit the enemy unit, a player measure from the commander. All ranges and measurements are based off the commander.

 

Initial Impressions

I was really excited about this game ever since I first heard about it. I’m a big Star Wars fan and was interested in what they would do with this property. Fantasy Flight Games have done a good job with Star Wars in the past and I was anxious to see what they could do here. After having read the rules and judging them against my past miniatures gaming experience I was very interested in the movement and measuring rules, which are unique to this game. That said, it’s still easy to miss the point of a licensed property, so I was optimistic but still cautious. 

Game Build Quality

Fantasy Flight does a really good job with components. The cards have a nice finish, the cardboard tokens are solid and durable. The rules are clear and come with a nice tutorial.

The miniatures, which is why we all looked at this game the way we did, are lovely. Most of them go together pretty easily, I had a little bit of a problem with the foot pedals on the speeder bikes and had to go find an online tutorial for exactly how they went on. I would have preferred foot pins and matching holes on the bases but that’s more of a personal preference. Everything went together well. I haven’t had time to get paint on mine but the detail is lovely and I’m looking forward to doing that.


Artistic Direction

Card art is fine. I had no complaints with the images they used to represent things. The graphic design is decent. We had a little trouble with the icons for the different special symbols on the dice. They put both offence and defense symbols in the same place and they’re similar enough that we had to stop and look a couple of times. I’m certain with experience this will be less of a factor. Still, I wish they had a better way to separate them.

Fun Factor

This game is a two player, strategic, table top experience with a bit of luck baked in. How much fun you have with this is going to come down to how much you enjoy out thinking someone else and seeing how well you can out maneuver them. That said your entire plan can blow up in your face with a couple of bad dice rolls. You can mitigate it by planning ahead and focusing on one portion of the battlefield over another. 

Age Range & Weight

The Box says 14+ and that sounds pretty dead on to me. You will have some Star Wars fun but it might not go the way you want. Additionally, it’s a bit thinkier than the cinematic gameplay most folks are used to. With some patience and a bit of thoughtfulness this can be a very good time with some pretty straight forward rules. That said, if you’re unfamiliar with miniatures games, I recommend getting someone to demo the game for you or watch one of the multitude of tutorials on lines from folks like Beasts of War or Watch it Played.

Conclusions

I like this game. It’s a solid miniatures game with some real depth, but it feels streamlined enough to be a good game to bring beginners into the world of tabletop miniatures. If you like Star Wars and have wanted to get into Miniatures games this is a nice place to start. Much like movement and range it simplifies a lot of things down to the easiest way to do them. When determining whether you hit or not most games have a complex system of pluses and minuses to the target number you need requiring a few moments of math before rolling the dice. Legion asks you to roll dice and count the number of hits; cover and armor remove hits and some skills allow you to reroll misses or ignore armor. The game works to not bog itself down in meticulously simulating the “real” application of these weapons. While there’s nothing wrong with the former this simply narrows the barrier of entry and I appreciate that.

In addition to these things the rule book also includes some nice painting tips for making your models look their best as well as a couple of inexpensive ways to make your own terrain. While most of the information found in these sections is old hat for those of us who have been doing this for a while it’s nice basic information for newcomers.

The starter set is a nice taste of the full game. You don’t have enough miniatures and upgrade cards to build a full force to play with. However, you do have the core for two solid armies, one Imperial and one rebellion. It could be easily done where you and a friend go in and buy a core set and split the minis. Unfortunately, that means there won’t be enough cardboard tokens to go around and there are only enough range rulers and movement tools for one player in the base game. I would also like to say that means one of you won’t have enough dice, unfortunately, there aren’t enough dice in the game for one person. You will have to buy at least one more set of dice and another set of range and movement tools.

 

There are other things coming out at launch, additional commanders for each side, Leia Organa and General Veers, as well as some vehicles and troops. With one or two more purchases you’ll end up with a pretty decent force and as Fantasy Flight has shown us in the past, they will support the heck out of this. Which probably means a bunch of new models around Gencon.

One last note, the game comes with several upgrade cards that can be attached to your various units when you get to the point of creating your own force. One of the things Fantasy Flight has said about these is that in the future they will release new cards in the various troop boxes. All of the neutral cards will appear in multiple boxes so that players should never need to buy a unit they don’t want to get a card they want for their forces. Every card should appear in at least one unit you want. If this is true, then it is one more thing I appreciate about the new player friendly nature of this game.

Final thoughts time. I like this game. I think it flows well, and welcomes new players. It’s quick moving and dynamic with a simplicity that makes it easy to play but with a solid amount of depth to really let you get your teeth dug in. If you get a chance demo it at a local store or con. I think you’ll have a good time.

May the force be with you.

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