A Few Maneuvers: Anakin Skywalker

A Few Maneuvers: Anakin Skywalker 1

This article will cover Anakin Skywalker for Star Wars: Legion.

How the hell did I end up here?

No, I don’t mean writing for this website. The answer to that question is irrefragably my ability to properly weigh Legion units against the canon (Empire next month! I’m hoping that by the time I get to GAR they’ll have fixed full ARC’s so I can stay below the character limit for WordPress). No, I want to know how I ended up in a place where I found myself writing a strategy article for a unit I used to think was a a total joke. Exhibits A and B (one year apart):

Turns out, it did! Over the past few months Anakin has been the center point of most lists I’ve put on real life and virtual tables and I haven’t regretted my decision to stick with him at all. What changed? Well, this:

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It’s honestly sort of incredible how much Anakin improved from adding two things to a single command card. Before this change, there are some who would go whole games without playing this command, others didn’t even include it in their hands! For starters, adding an additional face-up was huge when you wanted to act first with someone else who wasn’t a clone corps (which is often) but that wasn’t the BIG change. A Jedi with Defend 1 on its own is incredibly powerful, let alone one who has an objectively better version of deflect, has natural surges for backup, and who can share the dodges if necessary. Anakin still suffers somewhat from the fact that his command cards don’t affect game-state other than his keywords, but a permanent Defend 1 is what finally allowed this unit to achieve the concept FFG had for him from inception: a character who went from zero to hero over the course of the game.

This article is meant for players who already know the basics of Anakin. For a general overview of Anakin, Dashz’s original article is still mostly relevant after the Fall 2021 RRG. Obviously the two pip discussion is way different…plus his lists would be a lot worse now since ARC strikes and Rex – [gonna need you to tone this one down, I’m not even sure that I want to have to explain why, deleted most of it for now please come up with something else – Kyle] ABOUT AS USEFUL AS SHOWING A PICTURE OF A TURKEY LEG TO A STARVING MAN!

Maneuver #1: Learn how to work together with the wife

The less said about this relationship in the films the better. My own wife, a doctor whose training made my (relatively normal) 80 hour work-weeks look like a jaunt to the flower shop by comparison, is a difficult person to faze. When she heard that I’d been hired as a war-gaming blogger re-watched Episode 2 with me (for the first time since release) I’ll never forget the look of horror on her face when she caught me watching the “Holiday Special” for research saw Anakin’s face in his first scene. You know the one.

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This one

THAT ONE! Your goal in Legion is to surpass the canon and actually make these two work as a “couple.”

I am not going to sit here and say that Anakin lists without Padme are no good, what I will say is that you need to have a good reason not to take her, and certainly a better one than “well she could be a Z6 Phase 2 that can take more hits and has more dice.” My colleague Mr. Timbo DID find a good reason, which was to prioritize melee offense with a Wookiee pickup truck (see his list below). Anyway, when it comes to Padme one could write an entire article on this so let’s try to hit these 4-hit combo style:

  • Pick Padme’s spot before you deploy: By the time you’re done setting out conditions and objectives you should generally be able to predict where the action is going to happen. If the game is recover for example, it will be close to the middle. If it’s hostage and you’re blue player, she will often be just fine in the safest spot next to your deployment zone because you’ll barely have to move that game at all. Remember, the goal here is to be visible to YOUR unit as close to the edge of range 2 as possible but behind LOS for most of your opponent’s shots.
  • Anakin should get the order every time, but she should probably get next dibs: Timing the standby action is crucial, just know that there will be some occasions you defer to Wooks or other good units if they’re in danger.
  • Use her fire support against Low Profile and Immune: Pierce: Despite the fact that you’ll usually only have one fire support opportunity per turn with these lists (from the Clone Commander Direct) don’t forget that there are some statistical situations (such as the aforementioned enemy keywords) where you’re better off having her start that fun rather than Anakin, who is much better at attacking on his own than Padme.
  • You probably shouldn’t divulge her 3 Pip very often, and should actually dive for Secret Mission even less often: This may come as a surprise but none of us in the Fifth Trooper wing of the Anakin fan club (which has included myself, Timbo, and Orkimedes, all of whom have taken Anakin into the first cut at a big con this year) go for secret mission very often at all. First, you almost always want to start a game with Anakin’s 3 to protect himself and your army from potshots. Second, these lists don’t ACTUALLY want to move much unless it’s TOWARDS the enemy (which is usually not the greatest way to score the mission) so the synergy doesn’t really work out. The shooty variations of this list are better at it, but Padme’s main role is token sharing and if she’s spending her actions moving and hiding the combat part of your engine can start to stutter. There are naturally times when divulging makes sense for secret mission (such as certain situations on “Breakthrough,” or you’ll have extra time to play Anakin 3 before you engage) or just for infiltrate (if you’re worried about getting to your ideal spot intact) so don’t take it as gospel, just use your head!
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The ideal Padme spot, she can see your friendlies but those battle droids can’t see her. They will be dead soon.

Maneuver #2: Plan your suppression, and make attacking Anakin a losing-bet

I don’t have a good mnemonic for remembering the suppression triggers given by each of Anakin’s command cards, but with practice I guarantee they’ll become second nature. In any case, you absolutely need to incorporate their effect on the game state when it comes to planning your turn. Assuming Anakin has Endurance (and he should, my goodness) you are safe from the flaw as long as you end the turn with two suppression or less. In most situations you’re going to take maximum 1 suppression from his cards (from not attacking on turn 2 for instance, or waiting for last act on turn 5) which means you’d have to get shot by a suppressive weapon or twice from regular guns to trigger a flaw the follow turn. What’s the big deal you might ask? Hasn’t this always been the case for Anakin?

Yes, but here’s another area where Defend 1 changed everything. Since Anakin will basically always have a face-up while not-flawed your opponent has a lovely Catch-22 every turn. They will almost certainly need more than one shot on him to do significant damage, but the dodge guarantees that the shooter will get punished for it while there’s no guarantee at all the shot will even damage him. Further, if Anakin takes the opportunity from being shot and moves out of LOS or into a safe melee then your opponent will often have wasted that shot entirely. This often creates situations where your opponent feels forced to make the choice to go after other targets instead, which Anakin is just fine with of course.

Maneuver #3: Master the “fundamentals” of range and cohesion

Given that I have pretty much exclusively played GAR since I began the game shortly after Clone Wars released, I thought I was good enough at positioning my own models in an optimal way when I picked up Anakin in earnest. I was wrong.

I’m going to start by shamelessly suggesting that you read Kyle “Orkimedes” Dornbos’ cohesion article that he wrote last year, then ask that you consider on TOP of all this the importance of maintaining range 2 to Padme or other allies, AND that you’ll want to be sure you have a clone heavy in FS range of a worthy target. THEN, we can add the cherry on top and the most difficult cohesion-related skill to learn of all: optimal cohesion of enemy units after a force push. This could honestly be it’s own article as well but a short list of items to consider before declaring your push done is:

  • Whose standby are you trying to trigger if any, and are there Padme tokens you want to give them access to? What cover will they have if they’re getting shot?
  • Where do you want your own mini(s) to be, exactly, once they’re engaged? Can they interact with an objective after the kill? If they do kill, what kind of cover will your own minis have?
  • Does it make sense to move their unit leader an extra inch or so by engaging a model after forward cohesion?

As you can tell, there are a ton of variables to consider each round when it comes to positioning. All the items mentioned here are fundamentals for most lists (especially Jedi lists) but Anakin particularly rewards players for a deep understanding of these fundamentals…and punishes them severely for their mistakes. Remember, aside from Padme’s 2-pip an Anakin list doesn’t get to “break the rules” with command cards the way others do. In other words, the “potential” of your list is basically always laid bare to your opponent: you will live and die by your execution of these bread-and-butter principles.

Maneuver #4: Use our unit choices as food for thought to make your own list

Ok this isn’t so much a game tactic but since so much changed about GAR after the RRG I felt it prudent to get into this topic. Below, I’m going to break down what went into the shared (and not-so-shared) elements of the lists we have taken to LVO (Timbo) and Adepticon (Ork and myself) this season. Focusing on our own lists is not only grandiloquence: I’m doing so because “perfecting” Anakin somehow became a shared mission for us early in the year and I think it could interest you. Let’s break down what units we used:

  • Anakin: All of us. Uh…yeah.
  • Clone Commander: Ork and I. Cheap, gives us fire support options every turn, bolsters Padme to make surges go farther
  • Chieftain: Timbo only. He’s basically a lite Grievous who isn’t likely to get suppressed. Seize for a lovely Wookiee 1-Pip
  • Padme: Ork and I. See Maneuver #1
  • R2D2: Timbo only. A cheap activation to get to 9, a 4th clone would likely add very little and the threat of Secret is probably more useful than a single BARC that won’t have order control
  • Naked Clones: 1 for Ork. 2 for me: activation, objectives, and share for clone heavies. 3 for Timbo: “Cassian said I had to”
  • RPS clone: 1 each for Ork and I. Saber throw and RPS (4R5B1W, impact 5, pierce 3, surge crit) will make spider droids disappear like Keyser Soze’s limp.
  • Overwatch clone heavies: 2 for Ork only. One a P2 Z6 other a captain DC15, both are self sufficient at being able to make two shots count in one round.
  • Phase 1 Z6: 1 for Ork only to round out his line, the ideal fire support helper against anything without armor
  • Melee wooks: Timbo (2 Bowcaster 1 naked) and myself (2 Bowcaster). Rebel saves thanks to Anakin’s surge tokens, dodges to help live, and an incredible target to squeeze two attacks out of with standby sharing
  • Echo: Ork and I. Still the best move shoot sniper in the game, provides an extra surge for clone defense/offense. We both wish this could have been a regular arc strike but they’re not worth the price at the moment.

When I asked them about potential changes to their lists, Timbo wants to consider switching Chief to Chewie to offer up points. Orkimedes would like to change DC15 to Z6 to open up points for a bid. I’m fairly happy with my list, I might add a recon intel to ONE wook to have a center-box dive play…but that’s about it.

Final Thoughts

Although I feel like the Yoda Wook lists are stronger in general, I’ve found the various Anakin lists to make up for that with their excellent matchup flexibility. It’s true that running him can feel like you’re constantly one mistake away from disaster, but IF this interests you I’d venture to say that mastering this list will help improve most of your core skills at the game.

Just remember two things: First, when you play the two pip it’s obligatory to repeat the line in the same dumb way Hayden does it…second…listen, I’m a fraud all out of smart things to say so here’s my favorite prequel meme of all time to play us out.

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