Saturday, 7 April 2018

Wargame review - Star Wars: Legion

Released by Fantasy Flight Games

Fantasy Flight Games has already wowed us with their Star Wars product line; roleplaying games, card games and other miniatures games with starships and heroes battling the Empire. After a long list of successes, can Star Wars: Legion live up to the expectation of another hit?

‘Warfare is an inescapable part of the Star Wars universe, from the blow dealt to the Rebel Alliance in the Battle of Hoth to a few Rebel strike teams taking on a legion of stormtroopers stationed on Endor. 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 join the unsung battles of the Galactic Civil War as the commander of a unique army filled with troopers, powerful ground or repulsor vehicles, and iconic characters like Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker. While innovative mechanics simulate the fog of war and the chaos of battle, the unpainted, easily assembled miniatures 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.’

So, what do you get? The starter set comes with 33 plastic models (unassembled) of Rebels and Imperials. The Rebels get eight troopers, two leaders, two pairs of heavy weapons, an AT-RT walker and Luke Skywalker. The Imperials get eight stormtroopers, two leaders, two pairs of heavy weapons, two speeder bikes and Darth Vader. Along with counters, markers, some plastic barriers you can use as cover and obstacles, and special game-specific dice (a staple of FFG games), there’s a lot to fill the sturdy box.

Image from Fantasy Flight Games
The miniatures will need assembling and painting and are of excellent quality, so modelers will have a great time with these. I’m not a modeler myself, but I can appreciate a decent miniature and these are really good. I’ve seen them painted up and a cracking paint job can result in some amazing detail, and the option for modifications are always available; I’ve already seen a sandtrooper mod and the dirty armour, heavy backpack and damaged shoulder pad had all been lovingly crafted. It adds nothing to the game, but it’s visually pleasing and adds a lot of atmosphere.

The game system is broken down into cards and dice, the cards used for unit details and commands and the dice used for resolution. Each unit has its own descriptive card and those cards can be given upgrades. Each unit has its own skills and abilities to use which means that tactical thinking is required, making you think twice before unleashing soldiers on Vader, or sending a speeder bike after a small group of rebels. When you attack you create a dice pool based on the weapon type used with different types of die used for different types of weapon.

Of course, the game is much more complicated than the brief explanation I’ve given it and I’ll be doing it a disservice if I try to explain the rules in just a few paragraphs, but being the helpful people they are FFG have saved me that chore; you can view the rules yourself by downloading the ‘Learn to Play’ document for free here.

Image from Fantasy Flight Games
The game itself plays really well and there’s a sense of tension during the combats; you find yourself trying to second guess your opponent as you issue your commands, and this can create a somewhat chaotic battlefield. However, such is the nature of war and there were plenty of fist pumps as battle plans succeeded and lots of headshaking when they didn’t. If I had to compare it to a Star Wars movie I’d compare it to the battle on Scarif at the end of ‘Rogue One’; there was a plan, but you had to make a lot of it up on the fly. The uniform high adventure battles of the original trilogy and the prequels were evenly paced and quite focused, a bit like the combats in FFG’s other miniatures game ‘Imperial Assault’, but this is more in line with the confusion of the mass fight.

There is a learning curve to be had, as with all FFG games. This one, we found, was a little steeper than we anticipated. You have the basic rules and there are expanded rules for further play, and I suggest you play a few games with just the normal rules before delving into anything more complicated. The first two games we played resulted in some confusion as the rules weren’t straightforward, and with some re-reading and clarification we finally got our heads around it. However, once you get a few games under your belt the battles flow quite nicely.

Another downside was the dice – there simply wasn’t enough in the box. Another packet of dice would have been beneficial, and as they’re specially designed for this game you can’t just swipe them from another game or your own dice collection.

Apart from this, Star Wars: Legion is a solid, well-made game that got us quite excited at the gaming table. The contents of the box are enough to give you what you need to create many battles for quite a long time (although I would suggest more dice!) and with the expansions that are out, and the many others on their way, this single box is a game that’ll keep us occupied for a while. Tactical wargamers will enjoy the system, modelers will enjoy the miniatures and Star Wars fans will enjoy the chance to fight battles in a galaxy far, far away.


Image from Fantasy Flight Games

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