Short piece here, since I’m in Aruba and have some time to kill….and of course miss Legion and the community because I’m just an obsessed adult child. I figured a good quick topic would be about activation counts and why they matter. Even in a casual game it’s going to matter, so this fits in the casual and the competitive aspect of the game. I think as you start to dive into the game more and more you notice something about every list you build: Corps units and Strike Teams. There’s reasons for that: cheap activations and effectiveness. Sure there are cheap units like the FD Laser Canon and E-Web, as an example, but they’re useless in some of the game modes when it comes to objectives. So is it more useful to bring more Stormtrooper units or three E-Webs? Stormtroopers, all the way, because they can interact with all objectives as opposed to the E-Web. In a standard 800 point game of Legion, I want to say right now the activation count is anywhere from 9 to 11, I know some 12 activation lists are out there but they’re not common. I know Jay over at the Fifth Trooper has quite the interesting 12 activation Imperial list, if I’m not mistaken. When the Clone Era stuff drops, the droids are going to be quite the interesting list build. They’re going to come at you in hoards, and man is that going to look so cool on the table! Here are some faction specific things in terms of where you want to be with an activation count and list building.
Competitively speaking, again all from an 800 point game perspective, Rebels want to be at least 10 activations from my experience. Any time I have gone below 10 activations, it doesn’t feel right. Especially if your opponent has 10 activations and you have 9, you’re starting the game in an uphill battle if you ask me. Especially with them dang white saves. Let’s say your opponent Maximum Firepowers a Sniper Strike Team, as an example, you’re now down two activations in the very start of the game. Here’s why that matters: your opponent is always going to have control versus you when it comes to the numbers game. Let’s say you don’t kill any of his units before round 1 ends and you enter round 2 at 10 activations/8 activations, do you feel comfortable with your opponent having two full activations more than you? Let’s say you activate all 8 of your activations, and your opponent still sits at 10….they will have 2 full activations with a total of 4 more actions to do while you just sit at the table twiddling your thumbs. It’s just the way it is with wargaming, from what I understand because this is my first ever wargame. Activation counts will always have some sort of play in the game. As much as you want to beef out units, and bring all sorts of upgrades, unless something drastic changes (like some sort of activation count cap, which would never occur) this is what you’re looking at. Unfortunately, for the Rebels, the most efficient list right now is just your typical Luke/Leia/five z6/triple snipers….which is very vanilla/boring, but it does what it needs to do. Hopefully with the Rebel Veterans, Taun Tauns and Sabine Wren coming the Rebels can kind of have some variety, competitively speaking. The Death Troopers and Bossk, coming soon, really put a damper on Rebel list building if you ask me. You need pierce and ways to deal with suppression. What’s the best/easiest way to do both of those? The twins.
The Empire has a little more wiggle room than the Rebels do, and a lot of that has to do with activation count, and what I mean by that is that they can be at 9 activations and still feel comfortable as opposed to the Rebels. A lot of that has to do with the red saves. The scary part of this, though, is that it’s still not hard for the Empire to get to 10 activations. Especially with some new, cheaper commanders in the Imperial Officer and Krennic. Sure the DeathTroopers are expensive and all, but I’m sure you can find a way to get to 10 acts with them in there. And man, are those DeathTroopers good. Again, you’re going to see a lot of list building change in the upcoming months with the new Shoretroopers, Dewbacks, and Bossk. Not to mention, it’s already having some shift right now with the tank, which seems to be the best vehicle in the game at the moment. Even with the tank being somewhat pricey, I’m still seeing the Imperials find a way to that crucial 10 activation count. Unless you want to run double tanks….then I’m not too sure what kind of activation number you’re realistically looking at. In the Invader League I have seen some double bounty lists, which is Boba/Bossk, and it’s either with Veers or the generic Imperial officer…and you say all of this to yourself and think: no way that’s going to be a ten activation list, but jokes on you because it is. As a Rebel player, it’s pretty scary to look at! It’s going to be pretty interesting to see where the competitive Imperial meta is going to go in the upcoming months. I’m not saying that the recent units for the Rebels aren’t good (Jyn, Pathfinders, Landspeeder) but I think the Imperials have better units in Krennic, Deathtroopers and the tank. Especially with the fact that they still find their way to the 10 activation count. And let’s say a Palpatine list hovers at 8 or 9 activations (most likely 9), you need to factor in Pull the Strings. That alone can make up for a smaller activation list, because your going to give some unit an extra action each round. Hint: It’s going to work really well with some range 4 lizard with a suppressive weapon.
There’s so many factors when building a list and the variety is truly there. I’m not saying you need to run Wonder Twins every single game to be competitive, because you don’t. I’m also not saying you NEED 10 activations to win or be competitive, because you don’t. However, it is something that definitely can define a game especially early on. Remember, this game is objectives based. You want to be able to get those objectives done and how do you do that? Have units on the board.
Another factor in building a list is to have a good token mix. That’s a bit of a tricky one for me to explain but here’s an example: Luke/Leia/5 Corps/3 snipers has a pretty good token core. More often than not you’re giving Luke and Leia their tokens in the command phase. Now your bag/stack has 5 corps and 3 special forces in there and that’s typically great variety, because you kind of have an idea of what you’re going to pull and most of the time it won’t matter which of the two you pull. Not to mention, you have full activation control over Luke and Leia. The inverse of that would be like…Luke/Leia/4 Corps/2 Snipers/FD Cannon/Landspeeder…this would mean you have 4 corps, 2 special forces, 1 heavy and 1 support token in your bag or stack. (barring any kind of comms upgrade) If this is the case, you might start pulling tokens you don’t want early or late in a round. It can really throw a wrench into your plans. Activation count matters, of course, but so does the variety in what you bring with those activations.
At the end of the day, all my rambling on really means one thing: Don’t bring a low activation list (right now) and expect it to thrive. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but if your opponent severely out activates you: it’s going to be a long, long game and a lot of idle sitting for you. Remember, you only have 12 actions per game with units. Even less when you factor in suppression. Is a list with 84 actions going to be as efficient as a list with 120 actions? My educated guess and gut are telling me no and yours should, too. In a few months, we could see the game shift to a 8 to 9 activation game with more expensive but really efficient units, but for now it seems like anywhere in 9 to 11 range is where you want to be on either side. When the Clones and Droids show up on the scene, then we could see a drastic change overall! I said this was going to be a short piece, but I guess sitting in the hotel room with a sleeping son and fiance opened up the floodgates!
May the Force be with You!