Star Wars: Legion – Combat Preview

Combat in tabletop wargames can make or break the entire system – take a look at how it works in Legion!

When we went to GenCon 50 last year we got a demo of Star Wars: Legion. Needless to say, it was a pretty big draw at the show:

Today, we’re going to cover the combat of Legion in a bit more detail thanks to Fantasy Flight Games.

via Fantasy Flight Games

“Attacking your enemies is one of the most fundamental actions in Star Wars: Legion. Destroying all of your opponent’s miniatures is rarely your true objective in the game—but you can be sure that you won’t make much progress without attacking your opponent’s units and inflicting casualties. Like movement, the combat system in Star Wars: Legion keeps the action flowing quickly with the tempo of the battle, while still providing room for you to make clever tactical choices. To initiate an attack, you’ll simply use one of your unit’s two actions during its activation to attack—though it’s important to note that only one action per activation can be used to attack.”

The basics of combat are pretty simple:

  • Activate a unit
  • Use one of it’s two actions to attack a target
  • Select the weapon profile
  • Attacker rolls Attack Dice
  • Defender rolls Defense Dice
  • Check damage and remove casualties

There is a bit more to each step – but that’s the general overview of how combat works. For Melee, it’s very similar – only both players will roll attack dice and defense dice. Obviously, those units are limited to Melee Weapons only. They also can’t target or be targeted by ranged attacks from outside the melee combat.

In this example, the Stormtroopers are shooting at a unit of Rebels. They are using the E-11 Blaster Rifles which have a range of 1-3. Each model that is attacking get to contribute to the attack so the Stormtroopers get to roll 5 attack dice. The results of the attack are 1 hit, 1 surge and 3 blanks.

Each unit in the game has a unit card. On the right side of the card, it shows how they can spend surges (circled in red above). As you can see the Stormtroopers can spend surges to generate a single hit. So, the surge converts over to a hit and we end up with 2 hits and 3 blanks – not bad for Stormtrooper shooting!

At this point, we would like to point out that this game does use custom dice from FFG – White, Black and Red Attack Dice. White dice have the fewest hits. Black dice have more hits, and Red dice have the most damage of all three. It also has custom dice for defense as well – White, Black, and Red Defense Dice. Let’s take a look at the Rebels Card:

The Rebel Unit has a White Defense dice. For every successful hit generated by the attack, the defender rolls the corresponding Defense die. So the Rebels would roll 2 dice:

In this example, the defending Rebels rolled a blank and a surge. Luckily for them, their surge allows them to convert it over to a successful block. They still take a hit and lose a model based on their wound threshold from the card above.

“Some units—especially vehicles—have higher wound thresholds. This means they won’t be destroyed in a single hit, but they’re still far from impervious. Vehicles have a resilience value printed below the wound threshold on their card, and when they’ve taken wounds equal to their resilience, they suffer some form of severe damage. A vehicle may become damaged and sacrifice actions, it may be disabled and suffer movement restrictions, or one of its weapons may be destroyed, preventing you from using that weapon for the rest of the game!”

Suppression Fire – AKA DUCK!

In Star Wars: Legion, every time a unit suffers a ranged attack that generates at least one hit or critical, they also receive a Suppression Token. These tokens aren’t entirely bad as they represent the unit scrambling to find cover. But they also generate some negative effects as well. Looking back at the Rebel card above, you can see they have a Courage Value of 1. If a unit has a number of Suppression Tokens that meet or beat it’s Courage Value, the unit loses an action! And it gets worse…

If a unit has a number of Suppression Tokens that is equal to double or more of it’s courage value, then it becomes panicked and cannot perform any other actions besides a single move action towards the closest edge of the battlefield. If it moves beyond that edge, well, it’s gone as it has retreated from battle!

That sounds pretty harsh, right? Well the good news is that at the end of every round, units remove a single Suppression Token. Also, at the beginning of each activation they can attempt to Rally to and remove Suppression Tokens, too. Leader units also have a “stabilizing” effect on units which makes those Commanders even more important on the tabletop!

If you’re curious about movement, or how the command system works check out those links for more info from FFG. You can also check out even more info on how combat works by reading FFG’s full article HERE. Star Wars: Legion is up for Pre-Order right now from FFG as well!

Star Wars: Legion $89.95

Warfare is an inescapable part of the Star Wars universe, from the Rebel Alliance’s defeat in the Battle of Hoth to a few elite Rebel strike teams taking on a legion of stormtroopers on the Forest Moon of Endor. You can seize your chance to get your boots on the ground and lead your troops to victory with Star Wars™: Legion, a miniatures game of thrilling infantry battles in the Star Wars universe!

Star Wars: Legion invites you to enter the ground battles of the Galactic Civil War as the commander of a unique army of miniatures filled with troopers, powerful ground or repulsor vehicles, and iconic characters like Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker. While innovative mechanics for command and control simulate the fog of war and the chaos of battle, the game’s unpainted, easily assembled minis give you a canvas to create the Star Wars army you’ve always wanted to lead into battle—whether you fight for the monolithic, oppressive Galactic Empire or the ragtag Rebel Alliance.


“Concentrate all fire on that Super Star Destroyer.”

~Admiral Ackbar

  • meh.

    • ZeeLobby

      Not trolling. But I’d like to actually hear your thoughts :D.

      • I’m over the FFG systems of special dice and icons and the cards etc.

        • ZeeLobby

          Totally get that. It’s not for everyone. Personally I prefer it for the state transparency over mental notes and book flipping.

  • Drpx

    I give them props for having something besides “make you opponent pick all his stuff up in one turn” design 40k is going through.

    • ZeeLobby

      But think about how “streamlined” that system must be!

  • SpaceDwarf

    I’ve started to cringe when I see “weapon destroyed”-type results in anything that offers battles bigger than squad-level.
    I get that realistically, incoming fire can destroy weapons systems which has a measurable effect, but for goodness’ sake, unless the game is about me commanding my one vehicle with maybe some backup infantry, abstract that crap out, please. I have enough to keep track of.

    • Kabal1te

      It’s going to provably come with cards like x- wing has to track such things. Fantasy Flight loves their markers and tokens after all.

      • SpaceDwarf

        Yeah, the article mentions unit cards which I assume would be tactile, but still, unless the gameplay’s focus is on a single or small team of vehicles, it’s just too much cruft, like tracking ammo consumption or whether the tanks have their winter treads on.

        • ZeeLobby

          Now now, there’s no way weapon destroyed is nearly on the same level as tracking ammo consumption or winter treads. Please. We’ve done weapon destroyed in 40K for the majority of it’s lifetime with no major headache. It adds more variation to damage and vehicle performance, and adds a factor of luck I sorely miss in 8th edition.

          • SpaceDwarf

            My play group had the exact opposite take on weapon destroyed / immobilized / etc getting dropped. I feel like the current system where the overall fighting efficacy of the vehicle degrades with damage strikes a nice balance between damage accumulating and actually caring what damage occurred where. I realize that it’s possible to blow a cannon right off of a tank, but that’s a pretty long-tail occurrence that seemed much more like a vestigial storytelling holdover from 2nd. You can’t take out a Guard lascannon team by managing to destroy only the gun, why should vehicles work differently?

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah, this is just something where groups differ. Personally I feel like all 8th has done has removed vehicles feeling like actual vehicles. No facings, no mechanical failure, etc. These are aspects of futuristic warfare which I enjoyed, while they’re now handled more like fantasy beasts on the table (360 vision, weaker when wounded, etc.). I mean why a tank would slow down or shoot its gun with less power when wounded makes no sense to me. If it’s tracks were blown off, it wouldn’t move. If it’s gun was damaged, it wouldn’t fire. If the entire crew but driver died (assuming it’s not coal driven), it would still move at full speed. It was what made the system unique. Glad Legion is bringing that back.

          • Dan

            damage to stabilization or targeting systems is a pretty real thing and would massively effect aiming. Likewise tanks can suffer various forms of damage that might slow but not stop them. That’s all pretty plausible.

            I do think facings for armour and weapons in some capacity should return. It’s hardly a worthwhile abstraction to get rid of them wholesale. There’s plenty of very elegant ways to keep those systems in place to add enough “design spice” to keep things interesting.

            I’m still a fan of vehicles rolling 2d6 for armour, upgrading AP on anti tank weapons, then having some facings give a flat -1 or even -2 to armour or something. The bell curve of the math governing those rolls would feel a LOT better and we could have slightly more differentiation between hard and soft target weapons.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah, I mean I’m not saying that it’s a total garbage system, but it definitely needs improvement. Currently they just don’t feel like vehicles anymore. I get that they wanted to streamline everything, but it lost a lot of flavor imo. Much of the heartburn that came from the old vehicle rules were because they were poorly written, not because the concepts were actually bad. Would love to see some more differentiating complexity return.

          • A lot of people hated the complex rules because complex = bad to them.

            I hate that they got rid of most of the crunch but from what I read on forums and hear in person, GW is making money hand over fist by removing the complexities out, and that complex systems are now dinosaurs that don’t make money.

          • ZeeLobby

            Which is sad. Because they weren’t that complex. They were just poorly written. The reason why the “simple” systems are making more money is because it’s simply less words that GW is required to write. Lol.

          • Maybe. Whenever I get into a discussion on twitter or facebook or other forums about adding in little things like terrain rules and blocking line of sight or having facings on vehicles, I get shouted down pretty hardcore by a lot of people though who say that we don’t need all of that complexity lol.

          • ZeeLobby

            Right, but are these the same people who if GW decided to add these things back in would claim that they’re the greatest additions since Apocalypse? I mean lets be honest here, GW has way more fanbois than other systems. Most will defend any GW choice because being a fan of GW there’s always something to defend.

            I look at other systems, many of them much more complex than 7th edition 40K, and their popularity locally, and I can’t help but think that it’s really poorly written complexity which gamers hate.

          • That could also be very true. The echo chamber irritates me.

          • Dan

            its pretty dumb alright. complexity isn’t necessary. Complexity can be avoided with elegant game design.

            It’s easily possible to get vehicle facings and a much more comfortable level of granularity to a bunch of stuff in 40K without making it burdensome. hell I gave a few easy examples up above.

            Turns out people are the worst.

          • af

            For tanks/armor, a good level of abstraction with a bit more detail beyond working vs destroyed is probably “fully working” / “immobilized” / “knocked out”. Armor facing is important — I’m surprised 40K got rid of it, since it’s really easy to measure and it’s what makes a tank a tank! — which is why most wargames with tanks simulate it to some degree. I favor simplistic simulations; no ballistic penetration tables, please!

            Beyond this, I agree more detail is pointless. Tracking the health of weapon subsystems is definitely going too far.

          • euansmith

            Firepower and Mobility kills on vehicles are more likely the effect of damage to actuators and other subsystems or crew members rather than actually blowing off a weapon or slagging the engine.

            Certainly, in Star Wars, there should be the opportunity for a plucky little Astrodroid to bring a weapon system back on line.

            I can see you point; however, I would actually like vehicles and infantry to act even more differently in company level games. In “real life” vehicles are at a disadvantage in a short range encounter in cluttered terrain.


            I would rather treat them as mission objectives, mobile cover, morale buffs/de-buffs, and that sort of thing; rather than have them actually engaging targets directly very much.

          • SpaceDwarf

            Regarding your last point: That’s a really neat take on the issue! Makes me think of “War Pig” from Call of Duty 4.

          • euansmith

            Based on the article above, maybe vehicles could generate a bubble of Suppression, so that any enemy troops too close to it would suffer -1 Courage and friendly troops would gain +1 Courage. It won’t be like that, of course; but it is an idea worth bearing in mind for when I write my next set of unpublished rules 😀

    • af

      Do we know it’s going to actually be larger battles? Maybe it’s squad/platoon based; at least it gives me that vibe. Yes, the box says “epic battles”, but they have to write that because marketing.

      • SpaceDwarf

        Yeah, I have my concerns. Either it’s going to be a system of larger battles, say, larger than Warmahordes, which makes me concerned that vehicles (which I’m guessing will include thinks like speeder bikes) are going to potentially clunk, or it’s going to be a game of Darth Vader and fistful of Stormtroopers versus two Wookies, a Sullustan and a Porg, which smacks of WHFB 5th-level imba

        • ZeeLobby

          That’s some pretty broad strokes with what little we know so far. There’s also been leaked force orgs and the like (requiring troop units for every specialized unit etc), and limitations on characters/vehicles.

          • SpaceDwarf

            Here’s the history of my interest in this game:
            1) I became aware it was a thing
            2) After a while I saw the snowtroopers and got interested in buying the snowtroopers because snowtroopers
            3) This post happened and I have a problem with “weapon destroyed” results
            Happy to discuss actual promo material like force org when it’s released, but the increasing reliance of the hobby on leaked material is getting pretty old. It just leads to arguments over interpretations of what are, essentially, speculations and I have plastic dudes I’d rather be pushing around.

          • ZeeLobby

            I mean you make assumptions about two possible outcomes of the game admittedly knowing almost nothing. That’s all I was trying to point out, haha. There is a third option that it’s not like the other two.

            And I frequent FFG’s legion forum pretty often. And there’s plenty of people disseminating concrete information from actual demos, material and interviews. It’s not just “leaked” material imo. But if you need it in hand before discussing then we’ll just have to wait a bit. Hehe.

      • ZeeLobby

        It’s not going to be all that large. It might have the footprint of WMH, but it’s going to be much lighter to play (unit activations instead of individual).

        • af

          I think so, too. But I’m speculating 🙂

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah. I mean until we have it in hand that’s the best we can do. Still there’ve been leaks, interviews, demos, etc. So it sounds about right. I’m sure you can scale it up to massive battles though. I doubt there will be much scaling down and bloat, as IA covers that pretty well.

      • euansmith

        Darth Vader and Luke had an “epic battle” and there was only two of them 😀

        • af

          And one of them epically lost a hand!

          SPOILER: it was Luke.

          • euansmith

            And one of them epically failed to keep up with his paternity payments.

            SPOILER: it was Vader.

  • marxlives

    I like the treatment of vehicles as vehicles in this ruleset. I am already used to that with Warmachine where systems can be damaged and effect the models performance. Don’t mind the custom dice as long as it streamlines play and is not merely a gimmick. I find the custom dice far less gimmicky than the exploding dice mechanic of other games. And this goes for most FFG games. The use of custom dice for attack and dice rolls opens the game up to non-tabletop gamers.
    You get the granularity that you don’t get when the system is everything is a X+, at the same time you don’t have to do WMH arthmetic.
    The range of 3 tells me right off the bat the game will use custom rulers too. Don’t know about that when a tape measure exists. Is that going to stop me from buying the starter and giving it a go? I don’t think so. It looks like FFG is taking their lessons learned from Runewars (in that flight path does not work for land models) and running with it.

  • frankelee

    Is it too much Star Wars, or just this isn’t what makes Star Wars cool?

    • barry sadler

      I see what you mean, everyone was in awe at the opening battle of fellowship of the ring but they gave us the little narrative skirmishes first. This reminds me of that “re-enact your favourite scenes”

      • ZeeLobby

        Most people planning to play are already building Hoth and Endor tables. I think a lot of it will be re-enacting movie scenes. With the tight ruleset I imagine it’ll also have a fairly large competitive foothold as well.

        • Matthew Pomeroy

          already built said tables for WOTC old version, now just getting rid of the grids 😀

  • Nosebleed

    Interesting ruleset! Not really a fan of star wars in general though.

    • ZeeLobby

      Yeah, interestingly I love star wars actually, but I still don’t know how excited I’d be to play it on the table. Guess we’ll have to see.

  • Agent OfBolas

    Too much happening. And I don’t like the cards – it stinks like “buy all models even those that you don’t need just to make sure you will get all cards as they are making units stronger”.

    Miniatures are OK, nothing special but OK, and cards are meh for me.


  • markdawg

    I can’t wait for this game!