After four long years, Legion finally has a new World Champion…or does it?. Let’s check out the list and the rest of the Top 8!
They did it, it happened, and it’s incredible, we had a true “Worlds” again. Of course, I say “we” in a communal sense because I wasn’t even playing the last time this happened, as is the case for thousands of other players…a lot can change in nearly half a decade after all. The vibes were very high at Adepticon last year, but this year felt like a true completion of the circle. Everything from the attendance of dozens of players from across the globe to the high-quality streams to the inclusion of prize support that was truly made for this event (rather than being passed down from FFG) combined to suggest to me that Legion has met the goal mark of a “return to normalcy” and proceeded well beyond it. We’ll get to that a bit more at the end of the article, along with a few more personal thoughts on the experience, but we know why many of you are here so let’s get to it.
The format of Worlds was as follows:
- 128 players competed using invites earned from various tournaments conducted over the past few years
- Cut 1: Three games Swiss, 2-1’s advance to Day 2
- Cut 2: Three games Swiss, un-defeated players advance
- Cut 3: Single elimination Top 8 (which started at the end of Day 2 and finished on Day 3)
Now, let’s dig in to the Top 8 first, they deserve to be celebrated and that’s how we baited you for this article after all. If you’re interested in a brief overview of faction performance and first impressions of what all this means for game balance then you can read to the end.
One thing I want everyone to take note of: On the left side of the player we have their country of origin, then state/province/county because it was fun to dig up those flags. On the right side is the logo of their team or local group. You’ll notice off the bat that this was a very international Top 8, which added to the veracity of this little tournament we call “Worlds”
Here we go!
World Championships Top 8
Oliver “CBT3” “Olly” Dier
If you understand the title of this list then you’re likely a regular listener of the That’s No Moon podcast. You see, a couple weeks ago I was invited on by Olly to discuss Blizzard Force and I’m extremely glad I agreed. We had a raucous time and even had a bit of a debate that was mediated by the other hosts, Cockles Faulkner and the very same Andrew Terrell that you’ll see in the Top 4 section. The debate was “which Blizzard is better,” comparing a list very similar to the one above and what I would hope could be called “The TFT Special” which is the Op Vader list that Kyle made (and I ripped off from, along with many others over the last couple months) that made up half of the Top 4 of LVO (including Kyle as the winner). Olly suggested that his combination of Commander Vader and HH-12 armed HRU’s would be more likely to win the day than the TFT Special because it had a better game against Dark Troopers while not sacrificing strength against other lists. I suggested that Op Vader’s constant speed 2 and the more reliable long range attacks of the “standard” RT/DLT HRU (there’s an acronym!) was still the right call going forward for the sake of consistency.
Before the podcast I told Olly that I thought Commander Vader was “training with weights on” (I was suggesting he was giving himself a bigger challenge than he needed to) which somehow got lost in the translation of English to #English as “playing with training wheels on” and thus a new international crisis was borne. Olly had the last word on this one though, In his third game, he was able to win specifically because Vader’s status as a Commander prevented his order from being shuffled into his pile by the Echo Base 1 pip. Olly also scored a nail biter win against Cherokee Open winner Austin Miller in a match where multiple units (Olly’s snows and Austin’s LAAT) refused to die due to their “obnoxious” saves.
Well Olly, you certainly proved to me that you were onto something! If I were to be a pest I would point out that an Op Vader list did make it one step farther but I wouldn’t stoop to such a low level.
Although his podcasting partner lost to their fellow compatriot Lyla, Olly’s list met its conclusion against Luke Cook’s winning list, which as we’ll see carries a utility belt full of tools against Blizzard force run by one of the best the States can offer. Be proud Olly, you finished Top 8 in the World! I’ll buy you a beer when I hopefully travel to a tournament in the UK some day, luckily I know where to find you.
A picture of Olly’s house, slightly zoomed out for his safety. If you’d like to know exactly where he lives, be sure to check out the “That’s No Moon” podcast which is very lovely and actually features two of the top 8 entrants as regular hosts! They focus on UK as well as European Legion, have a listen!
Steven hails from Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia and ran one of the four Blizzard Force lists that made the top 8. Interestingly, however, three of the four Blizzard lists were very different varieties. Steven’s was clearly of the “AT-ST” bent compared to the other two which are centered around Vader, a choice that is likely viable regardless of the meta but which is especially enticing in the world where Dark Troopers are everywhere. And yet? He didn’t run into them once. Instead, he faced four Blizzard Force lists over the six games he played in the swiss rounds. Of these, he only lost to Finn of Germany but luckily for Steven this was in the final round of Day 1 so it did not prevent him from moving on. Of his three other wins against “the mirror” one was a double AT-ST and the other two had Vader instead, suggesting that perhaps Steven was on to something with his approach. After all, the true engine of Blizzard Force is the speeder bikes, and since Steven’s list didn’t shortchange either them or the extraordinarily efficient Heavy Response unit he was able to maintain enough dice to give himself a great chance even despite being unsupported by a force user.
Like so many in this tournament, Steven’s list met a grisly end in the Top 8 when it ran into the pink-toned menace that is Lyla Claire’s list. This game was played on Key Positions/Major Offensive, and Steven smartly deployed back as far as he could to lay down suppressing and attrition fire, which was not enough to prevent massive casualties (including his AT-ST) by the end of turn 3. Here begins a theme that you should pay mind to: most people would say that an AT-ST Blizzard list should have a significant advantage against a range 2 list of any kind with those battle cards…and you know what? It usually does! But Steven conceded before turn 4 was even complete. Lyla’s Pink Suns were a laser guided missile barrage against expectations; we’ll get to a bit more on that later.
From Toronto, Ontario, Canada Dien Tran was the second of four Blizzard Force entrants in the Top 8. Dien’s list was at least somewhat based on the “TFT Special” (though he notably changed Key Positions to Payload, which I personally see the merit of) and beat a nice variety of lists in the swiss rounds, concluding with a victory over Wes Wagner’s (who impressively nearly made it in to the Top 8 after rising up from the “Last Place Qualifier”) Dark Troopers. Dien is quite new to Legion, having learned the game less than a year ago. To go from zero to Top 8 at Worlds in Legion is an extraordinary feat, and while he took up Blizzard as his friend’s suggestion to “not be a hipster for once,” piloting Blizzard Force is actually quite challenging compared to other meta lists and thus I feel he is owed a bit of extra “dap.”
Dien’s fortunes finally ran out against TFT’s own Andrew Terrell with his Remnant/Dark Troopers army, but he wanted to devote some space to a bit of a shout out (and it was too sweet to say no to really):
I would love to give a shout out to Julian Hunt, Jonathan Yeo, and my wife, Shirley Tao. Julian and Jon were cornerstones for getting me learning, excited and practiced for this game and I couldn’t be here without them. My wife has been supporting me across two games now of nearly a decade of competitive gaming and I wouldn’t have the strength if it wasn’t for her love. Thank you Legion community for all your kindness.Dien Tran
Timothy “Timbo” Veldhuis
From the municipality (at 300 people it’s way too small to be a city) of Starbuck, Manitoba, Canada, Tim has been on quite a run lately. He finished in the Top 4 at LVO with a similar list, and he had his sights on at least equaling this achievement (and I think it’s fair to say he exceeded it on this even-larger stage). Several of us in the Republic world swapped ideas and banded together in an effort to push past the oppressive Empire meta (including myself, finishing Day 1 and 1-2 which is about the last I’ll bother taking up your time talking about it for this article anyway) but this website’s own “Timbo” was the only one to successfully push it to the next level. In fact, Tim’s list was one of only two (including the winner though) lists in the Top 8 that was not a Battle Force.
Padme may have lost standby sharing but she still contributes quite a bit in the form of tokens and a great set of command cards that help’s buoy Anakin’s efficient but relatively static (game-state wise) commands to inject some versatility into the army. The Phase 1 with a captain, a DC-15, and situational awareness is an extremely versatile Corps unit on its own, but the surge sharing from Anakin and Padme really helps complete the circle for it. The RPS has been a reliable member of Republic squads ever since its points drop a couple years ago, and it has never shined brighter than now when it comes to its ability to combined with Anakin to yield an impressive 10 dice Impact 5, Pierce 3 saber throw + fire support shot which Dark Troopers of course will never receive cover from. Many of us considered Anakin lists to be the best non-Empire list in the meta right now, and while it seems we may not have been quite right about that one (see below) Anakin definitely showed us what he can do through Tim’s machinations.
Impressively, Tim defeated two dark trooper lists and one Blizzard force on Day 2, essentially running the table on the Evil Empire meta in swiss before unfortunately falling to Dustin’s Blizzard Force in the Top 8. This game was played on Hostage Exchange, an objective that used to favor Anakin + Padme when standbys could be shared with exemplar but unfortunately Vader (who only got better with the recent rules update as opposed to this list) is now the king of that objective and Tim was unable to overcome that hill.
Tim’s list is named after the excellent romance theme from the prequels, but I have to say that it mainly reminded me of the excellence of a different song with the word “stars” in it that stars our favorite dark boi.
World Championships Top 4
Though a South Dakota man by birth, Dustin is a part of the Denver, Colorado, United States of America Legion conglomerate known as “5280,” named for the elevation (in feet) of the city itself and known for collecting more players than you can shake a saber at into their community. And it is an impressive community, their local tournaments run in the 20’s at minimum and many of their players can be seen in the top ranks of tournaments around the country. In fact, of the top 100 players in our ELO system in North America, 5280 can lay claim to 11 of them. Pretty good for one group!
You’ll notice that this is yet another “TFT Special” Blizzard list, he actually changed fewer upgrades than Kyle did in the end (opting for impact grenades on the snows instead of dropping the bikes’ transponders for ion guns). If you’re scratching your head at the team name you need only know about a bit of a tongue-in-cheek mantra Kyle used on Discord after his LVO win, to poke fun at himself for continuing to run the silliness that is Blizzard Force.
True to form, Dustin did just that! Yet, he almost didn’t make it into the Top 8 at all. In the third round of Day 2 of Swiss he played against Paul Paella of Buffalo, NY (who actually beat me earlier with a nearly-invincible double IRG double dark trooper list) and improbably survived a range 3 Dark Trooper shot on Vader, who not only full-blocked but rolled 3 surges with deflect, instantly shifting the momentum of the game. Dustin told me it felt like some sweet revenge as Paul was fresh off knocking out one of his 5280 teammates the previous round. Revenge is served cold, but Buffalo is sometimes even colder than a Blizzard: Luke Cook (who plays with Paul) delivered a flurry of piercing blows and even scored a bounty on Vader to take the semi-finals match on Key Positions.
In so-doing, Luke defeated the last of the mighty Blizzards. Luke’s list wasn’t exactly meta-typical but Double Bounty is a well-known quantity. On the other side of the hall, two Brits dueled for survival…one of them was the “other” meta monster (Dark Troopers), but other list was much more…shocking.
Andrew “AJST” Terrell
Hailing from Milton-Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England, Olly’s co-host and more importantly (sorry Cockles) The Fifth Trooper’s own Andrew “AJST” Terrell got a lot of practice in with this list. When I was on the above-mentioned episode which recorded 2.5 weeks before Worlds, he confirmed to us that he’d gotten around 30 practice games in. And you know what? It paid off. Of all the 22 Dark Trooper lists that entered the fray on Day 1, Andy was the only one to make it to the big dance. Practice pays people.
Andy went with an approach that some would call unconventional. The scuttlebutt leading up to Worlds was that the most efficient way to run double Dark Troopers was with 1-2 IRG and Palp or Double Bounty. If anything, the Remnant lists that were passed around on Discord were usually ones that featured Gideon, after all he was the only one who would bring command cards with him that did much of anything to change the game state when played.
Andy instead opted to go with raw efficiency. Remnant allows all units outside of range 2 from the commander to get Independent Aim 1 or Dodge 1 which includes units that care little/nothing about the fact this puts them outside of the command or courage range of their commander (such as speeders or dark troopers). Consider that this is a 9 act list that acts like 11 acts and features the following attack pools every round at range 3 alone:
- RRBBWW Impact 2
- RRBBWW Impact 2
- BBBBBBB Impact 3
- BBBBBBB Impact 3 Surge Hit
- BBBBBBBB Crit 1
- BBBBBBBB Crit 1
- BBBBBBBB Crit 1
- BBBBBBBB Crit 1
Of the above only the shores are courage 1, making them a bigger risk to get that free token. For everyone else? They’re getting an emergency transponder every turn. That’s pretty good.
Pictured above, however, is Andy meeting his match. He has played many a match against Lyla with these exact lists…and he’d won every time. Worlds, however, cares nothing for history. In a Top 4 where the semi-finalists for both the US and the UK were forced to face each other, Andy pretty much demolished nearly all of Lyla’s army. The objective, however, was Recover the Supplies, and Lyla managed to make a mad dash for the middle box to get away behind some blocking terrain, including timely plays of His Eminence to give Maul a dodge and At Last to use cunning to her advantage to secure his safety. Andy was hot on her heels, however, leading to a turn 6 where he was able to take multiple shots on her huddled, box clutching Black Suns and Maul. The game ended with 3 shots on one squad, from a full bike, a half bike, and a range 3 shot from a Dark Trooper. Incredibly, this little squad that could survived it all, ending Andy’s incredible run. We’re proud of you man!
By the way, check out that county flag for Buckinghamshire. It’s literally an angry swan that’s chained by a crown. Also, Lyla of London’s local flag (below) has a freakin dagger in it! English local government flags are officially much more metal than those we have in North America, we need to do better than this.
World Championships Runner-Up
Lyla “The People’s Champion” Claire
Much like Dave Grant’s now famous 6 act list at LVO, Lyla Claire’s “Pink Suns” (hailing from Merry Ol’ London, England) became viral within a single day. Consider first, the archetypes that Lyla obliterated during the first day of Swiss
Well, that’s impressive enough. But then, pile in the relative surprise factor of what’s in the list compared to the meta in general. Massed Black Suns had been kicked around (mostly theoretically) quite a bit when they were first revealed but lists like this mostly remained in the realm of theory-crafting. Even so, most of these lists including Nathan Nicholson’s Top 8 list at Gen Con 2022 utilized at least two Vigo’s as individual units and left the actual Corps lighter, counting on their shared courage and Aid to keep them out of trouble while maintaining a higher activation count. No one in their right min would run such a short range list at a lower activation count, right?
Further building on the swiftly rising Legend of Lyla was the fact that the pilot was a Brit whose “Black Suns” were actually, as the name suggests, quite pink! Well, they were pink except for the squad without a Vigo, so named (by her) as the “suicide squad” because that’s the one she’d load in that medic bus, which would usually rush in to drop them off so they could die together, but not before exacting massive wounds on her opponent.
Pictured: A pair of Tauns that are about to be gifted to Maul as sleeping bags
By the time Day 2 began, Legion fans were already in an uproar about #PinkSuns, setting high expectations. Well, I have to say that Lyla did not just deliver on those expectations. It’s more like she delivered a bunker buster on expectations. Here’s a list of the opponents she downed on Day 2, where one loss means “you’re out.”
- Echo Base (and thus StabCast’s entire contingent at the whole event, yes I know Tim Hannon played there as well)
- Blizzard…piloted by Kyle Dornbos, as Red Player on Breakthrough/Hemmed In while out-activated by 2
Yep, you read that right. It was a barn-burner. Those who are curious can still see the video on Yavin Base’s twitch channel here at the 8 hour mark. By the way, I want to take a second to say that David “Endless” Zelenka and his crew did a fantastic job at the streaming table. Side-by-side with Dion Morales’ X-Wing stream, and pulling in thousands of viewers over the course of the tournament, Yavin Base defined professionalism and engagement…and I’m not just saying that because most of the color commentators he used over the four days of events (including myself, Lucas Ustick, and Jon Bushman) were from this site.
In any case, I was watching this game very closely, curious to see how the somewhat objective-focused Blizzard Force piloted by the #1 ranked player in the country (by ELO) would fare against Lyla’s meat grinder which seemed to be powered by the hopes and dreams of most of the Legion community (especially the British contingent). When the battle cards were revealed, I will freely admit that I thought Kyle was a very likely winner. Hemmed In/Breakthrough against Blizzard is nearly as tough to beat as Bombing Run, sometimes more so, precisely because the nature of the deployment means the Blizzard player can typically “toilet bowl” around their opponent to score without ever really needing to engage. I’ve played these Battle Cards as Blizzard myself, and it had gone very well for me.
Some others in chat, however, were so sure Kyle had it “in the bag” that they declared victory for him on Turn 1. When things began to turn against him, they began to say that Lyla was merely getting “lucky” with her dice as she rolled 8 and 9 hits over and over and over again. Well, as the streamers eloquently pointed out at the time, check out the probability curve for a range 1 attack with a single aim from one of her full squads on non-surging red saves.
In other words…that snow? A full bike? They’re pretty much expected to either die or be left with one wound. Kyle made a valiant effort to engage in just the right way to slow down and kill Black Suns before they got into kill range, but Lyla was able to swing a four activation disadvantage into a nail-biter of a win, and the nay-sayers in chat were suddenly silenced.
As we’ve covered above, Lyla went on to deliver the penultimate killing blow to Blizzard in Worlds as well as the final blow to Andy (holding 3 boxes with 4 models!), overcoming the losing streak and delivering just rewards to her for all the practice time she put into it (she has been playing this list for half a year per my sources). While she fell short of the “ultimate” victory (it’s not coming home yet boys and girls) I think it’s very safe to say that the “Pink Suns” will be remembered for as long as this game is remembered at all.
I was able to get a bit of history from Lyla about her choice. She has only been playing a bit over a year (!) and came to Shadow Collective from the CIS side. Tiring of losing corps to low-effort shots and fond of an aggressive playstyle, she went with this list to suit her rather than making a call based on the meta. If that ain’t impressive I’m not sure what is. I’ll end this segment with one of many memes, naturally crafted with the precision and poise we expect from PCGamerPirate…stick around until the end the wait is worth it!
World Championships Winner
Luke “The Forever Champion” Cook
Remember when I said we had a new world champion?
Back in the summer of 2019, a little game known as Star Wars Legion had its first (and until now, only) World Championships and it was won by a Buffalonian (I was not aware of this term until I read the article FFG wrote about him) Luke Cook, who piloted an 11 act Veers list that would now be 745 points. Then, he like many others were primed and ready to do the dance all over again at Adepticon in 2020, However, fate had something else in mind…
Here in Seattle, we already saw decreased attendance at events since we were close to the origin point of America’s pandemic, but it’s likely true that the cancelling of Adepticon was the sign that things were going to be different for a while. Well, before long it was looking like quite a while, and eventually The Legion Discord jokingly (though, likely with a nervous tug of the collar) labelled Luke as the “Forever Champion” since there were no opportunities to de-throne him on the horizon. Time passed, the game changed hands to another company, and eventually things began to crawl back toward normalcy. Luke attended Adepticon 2022 and lost a nail-biter in the Final, but since this was not yet labeled as “Worlds” he held on to his title for an entire year as Legion Organized Play continued to return to normalcy.
Well…he’s gonna get another year now!
I overheard a few folks openly scratching their head about Luke’s list this year. A non-Blizzard Empire list without Darks or Bikes? Double Bounty, sure, but…without Iden? Without Inferno? As you can see, this list is all about efficiency while maintaining a high act count. Boba and IG are plenty good enough on their own without the need for fancy upgrades, and their commands combined to yield a fearsome set that (thanks to Rebel Boba’s commands) are more team oriented than Bounty Hunter commands tend to be. This list has a little bit of everything in its toolkit, and almost everything has redundancy.
I could immediately see why this list could smack down Blizzard, it has a lot of pierce and sharpshooter…snipers are a known predator of bikes, and appropriate Boba play can make any Jedi shiver in their boots at diving in. I was wondering, however…what about the Darks? Critical alone is not enough to handle them after all, but my eyes began to open a bit as my local player Izzy Gambliel (Gen Con Champion 2022) noted to me that Boba was the key: with his new 1-pip he can choose to get Marksman and pile on multiple crits, and the rocket can soften them up as well, each combined with pierce to make sure it counts. I do still think it seems like they could be tough to deal with, but as luck would have it? Luke never had to deal with Dark Troopers for this tournament. Instead, he defeated a string of very talented players (including Germany’s Markus Wacker, who knocked me out, by taking out a clone trooper with a sniper shot in the very last round) who were running a variety of lists from Blizzard to Pyke spam to Anakin BARCs.
By the time he reached the finals (with three Blizzards painted on Boba’s helmet) the Legion community appropriately had it’s hair on fire anticipating this storybook finish: The People’s Champion versus The Forever Champion.
As you can see, there was plenty of blocking terrain on this map but that is a bit deceptive. I played on this myself and while the buildings form a nice perimeter the center is fairly open, meaning that on an objective like Intercept the Transmissions (which is what they played) the units going for the score are gonna get shot. Lyla opened to a 2-0 advantage early by making an aggressive push with the Pink Suns and her bus. The bus quickly died, though this was par for many other games she’s played and won, so it assuredly was not over. Unfortunately for Lyla, her reliable dice became a bit less so in this match, particularly because Luke’s list packs an impressive amount of pierce (specifically, half his units have it…out of 12!). Furthermore, Luke took excellent advantage of the new climbing rules, which allowed him to scooch a few shooters to the high ground like so:
Though Lyla had that promising early lead, attrition and pierce eventually got the better of her, and when Maul flubbed a key defense roll that allowed him to be finished off by a strike team, the game was effectively over. It was an excellent finish to an excellent year of Legion, all involved should be proud…the streamers, the organizers, and especially our Top 8 players!
A Short Preview of Conversations to Come…
I mentioned a bit more before we end this already very long article…
Here’s a breakdown of how the factions looked Day 1:
A fairly nice even mix, except for that one faction. Much blood was spilt on the first day, including from the player who ended up winning the whole thing in Round 1, but the allowable loss served as a welcome breather for many to get the jitters out. Now, let’s see how things looked at the start of Day 2:
Again, for Day 2 any loss meant you were out, which de facto made this a Top 64 elimination even though everyone was paired up for the first 3 games regardless to allow folks to get their moneys worth for the trip and tickets to play some dang Legion. When the dust settled, we were left with our elite eight:
When you consider that Luke won it all, one can imagine the Empire in the charts above as an aggressive amoeba or perhaps a deranged Pac-Man, slowly transforming from a “mere” majority (in a five faction game) to a significant majority to a vast majority. Half of the Top 8 to boot were of the same Battle Force. Tim’s list was the only one that didn’t heavily feature unit cards (Boba, IG-88) or Battle Force rules from the last year of releases. The talk of the town going into the tournament itself was how depressed many were about the need to heavily tech against Blizzard, Dark Troopers, and yes Double Bounty (which made all generic commanders somewhat risky) in order to give themselves a fighting chance. By the time we entered the final round of swiss, CIS had already been completely eliminated from contention.
None of this is to rain on the parade of the triumph of what this tournament represented, but I feel that it’s important to point out that this game has some work to do from a balance perspective. Most players, after all, want to have a variety of choices when it comes to what they can compete with, all players want to have fun. And I can tell you personally, pouring turn after turn of impact into a single unit of Dark Troopers with zero effect because two protector IRG’s with surges are tanking nearly every hit that doesn’t have pierce? That was not fun. We’ve come a long way, but we can do better.
Back to happy stuff!
Despite the above disparities, I can’t stress enough how much of a success this event was. The drama, the international flavor, the high level of play, it’s everything a competitive game should be. I’d like to thank John Griffin and LJ Pena for putting on an extraordinarily smooth event, and I should note that Game Uplink basically went off without a hitch! What’s more, AMG kindly put on a bit of a show to preview what’s next for Legion, and there were some real barn burners! We’ll be covering those later this week, and I’m pretty sure my keyboard is about to melt. By the way, the art at the top is credited to Pablo Olivera, taken from Google image search.
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