Play Legion you must, have fun you will.
Coming out at the end of March Star Wars: Legion is a new tabletop wargame from Fantasy Flight Games. Unlike previous offerings from FFG, LEGION is a full company-level ground combat game in the vein of Warhammer 40,000 and Warmachine. Like those other games it also has hobby elements, and both building and painting of miniatures will be required. I’ve been lucky enough to get to play with advanced copies of the game and am here to tell you it is a ton of fun. Here are some of my impressions.
Caveat : While the Starter Set comes with the main rules the full rules reference PDF which clarifies some things and has rules for terrain is not out yet. Due to this there may be some inaccuracies in how we currently understand rules.
One of the most important, if not the most important, things about a miniatures game are the miniatures. In the run up to this release there have been a lot of questions about the minis for Legion. How do they look, are they good quality, etc.. Well, I’ve gotten the chance to mess with, both painted and out of the box, all the initial release sets and can firmly say that these models are great. These are high quality sculpts with a lot of detail that simply look wonderful. The plastic is harder than FFG has used in the past for infantry and is overall a better quality. The units are easy to put together and paint and look great on a tabletop. In particular the vehicles have a lot of very crisp details and just look amazing.
Compared to other miniatures games Star Wars units tend to be far less elaborate. Next to the massively busy and ornate 40K models like Mortarion it’s natural to think that a Stromtrooper or Vader looks a little plain. Of course thats not FFG’s fault, nor is it a comment on the quality of the sculpts. Star Wars is a gritty place, not often given to the baroque and gothic themes of some other games. That’s simply how the Galaxy Far Far Away is, and FFG has done a tremendous job capturing those worlds and looks.
So simple even a Trekkie can learn
Legion is an easy game to pick up and play. It’s rules are tightly written (like all FFG games) but not overly complicated. Most of the rules are very intuitive and easy to figure out. With only a small initial test game we were able to pick up Legion and play a full sized 800 point game on our Twitch channel. Over three hours we got though three turns of the game, while still learning and talking to a live audience with a lot of questions. Thats about as far as most 40K games go, and we have a lot of experiences with 40K. This will be a game that both newbies and tabletop wargames veterans can pick up and run with.
The rulebook is also well laid out, making it easy to find rules and answers. FFG is known for writing tight systems that lend themselves to competitive play and this game is no exception. The rule are detailed without being cluttered and provide a lot of structure.
One of the things I really like about Legion is how it deals with vehicles. Vehicles are one of the hardest things for wargame rules to get right but Legion nails it. For the most part they function the same as anything else in the game. However when it comes to movement they are much more restricted than infantry. Mostly they have to move in a forward direction with a turn or two. This manages to make they both feel like they have some mass, without being too restrictive. They also have facings, meaning that some weapons can only fire in certain directions and some vehicles are weaker in places, like the rear. Lastly most of them have armor, a special ability that makes them very hard for small arms to hurt.
All together these rules make vehicles feel special while not bogging them down with a host of special rules. Vehicles still feel like they are part of the game, but act in a unique way. They also feel like they have some weight and power behind them, which I really like.
Legion is a game that brings a lot of tactical deep to the table top. As I mentioned above, vehicles have to deal with facings and turns, something which some people complain other games are currently lacking. The system of alternating activations adds a whole layer for strategy to the game, making players decide if they want to get the jump on the enemy or react to what they’ve done. It’s deep and rewarding.
The system of using a command pool to randomly determine what units get to active is also really cool. While your Command Cards let you modify what units go when by a bit, you do have a big random element there. This is a great way of represented the fog of war and making things a bit uncertain. It also puts a lot of strategy into what command cards to bring and when to use them. If you are looking for a game that has depth this is the game for you.
This game does bear the hallmarks of a classic FFG game. From movement tools to custom dice, it just feels different from your standard wargames coming out of the other major manufacturers. Overall however I feel these elements combine to good effect in the game. The custom dice allow for more granularity of results than basic d6s do. The movement tool really shines in making vehicles feel special. Overall this game has a lot of unique mechanics that really make it stand out as it’s own thing.
One of the complaints you heave about some FFG games is how you have to buy everything to stay competitive. Because they often package generically useful, or must have, upgrade cards in single expansions you often have to buy a new release to get the needed card, regardless of if you want the model. They seem to have made a real effort to avoid that with Legion. So far most of the upgrade boxes come with 4-5 upgrade cards. The majority of those cards are only usable by the unit they come with. While there are a few generic upgrade cards, these cards come in all the sets of the same type (i.e. infantry or vehicle). So while you may want to buy some extra infantry to bulk out your force, Rebels players are not going to be forced to buy Imperial units (or metric units) just to get cards.
Just make sure YOU shoot first.
Here is the bottom line. If you like Star Wars, tactically complex games or both this game is going to be for you. It’s simple, yet deep. It’s got beautiful models and an expanding range. It’s also simply a ton of fun. AT-STs, Airspeeders, Darth Vader Force Choking, Imperial Stormtropers with precision aim (and armor that actually counts), this game has it all. If you are a wargamer, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.
What the worst that could happen?
Are you looking forward to Legion? Let us know down in the comments!
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