What follows is a long overdue breakdown of each unit from Shadow Collective and how they interact. I’ve been playing this army since the week after release (a girl needs time to paint) and try to get a game or two in each week. The last few weeks have been an exception, due to the author being old and finding getting around sometimes difficult. But I digress. Let’s take a look at what we’ve been playing with.
Shadow Collective’s “Easy Mode” and winners of the popularity contest.
“Pykes” as they’re commonly referred to are very popular because despite their white saves, they are incredibly durable. With Danger Sense and a free dodge due to Independent, it’s hard to get wounds to stick to them. Add in the Range 4 from the Disruptor Rifle and they become a pretty easy, super cheap threat. The whip heavy upgrade is nothing to laugh at, but it’s very outshined by those disruptors. It also performs better with a transport to get it closer. The personnel upgrade has both an extra soldier (for a cached aim token) or an embedded Capo who gives them Independent: Surge and bumps them to courage 2, which I really like. The fact that they are universally accepted in all four of the factions (as well as Shadow Collective), means that they will go anywhere and fight for whomever is willing to pay them.
The other corps in Shadow Collective.
“BSE” are a short range, dice toting hit squad. Outside of Range 2 they’re just targets, so getting them into killing range is difficult. They’re very dependent on catching a ride on an A-A5 or staying out of Line of Sight until someone breaks into your personal space. You are also paying for those red defense and red close combat dice, so they’re a little pricier than the scrawny Pykes. And they’re chonks! Want to scam the targeting template, these are your guys! They’re big guys (where are my Falleen ladies, AMG??) in the lore/animated shows, so it’s nice to see that on the table. The Scatter Gun is a nice heavy upgrade, the Mag-Det Enforcer is as well, especially if your opponent has vehicles. Like their counterpykes, they have personnel upgrades for both an extra soldier (this one with cached dodge token) and an embedded Vigo who gets the same Independent: Surge and the courage bump. BSE are willing to go places and fight for pay outside of the Shadow Collective, but only for the Empire and CIS.
So you want special forces in your army? Here you go. They’re the only special forces option for Shadow Collective (and ONLY Shadow Collective). But they’re a solid pick for that rank. Like several other elite forces among the four factions, they’re deceptive in their usefulness. With surging red saves, they appear to be excellent frontline troops, but like those other elite units, losing just one model proves a very expensive loss. These units are best used in a harassment role.
Moving fast, with weapon threat ranges all over the map, the Super Commandos can handle almost anything you can throw them towards. They also work best with upgrades. Their shields are great and work very well with their Defend 1 and (maybe) Maul or Saxon supporting. Jump allows them to get into cover quickly and without penalty. Combine all these elements for maximum survivability. Did I mention shields? Add a Heavy upgrade for maximum firepower. There’s no wrong choice with the Heavy upgrade – they’re all valid, depending on your playstyle. Rook Kast is a little bit of an exception. She still works really well as a Heavy on her own, but she’s really expensive for it. Use her when you are running Maul. She will appreciate that. She deserves that.
Seriously, take those shields.
The fast and the furious (and flawed). The most recent addition to Shadow Collective, the “Swoop Bikes” or “Swoops” have suffered a lot of disdain. Between the card misprint (surge to crit on defense), the “swoopises” incident with the bases, a total lack of upgrade cards and the seemingly lackluster statlines, people have panned the unit. Manufacturing issues aside, the unit performs on the table a lot better than the printed stats suggest. I proxied these early on and found that they were fabulous! They are part of my currently most used list.
With only one Comms upgrade slot, there are a few good selections for this unit if you choose to include one. I really enjoy Comms Jammers on them, in order to frustrate and confuse my opponent. Throw in a Raiding Party Leader (in an A-A5), and these guys and girls become an ability hurricane. Independent: Dodge (or Aim, but why?) makes them more survivable than one would think, while slinging suppression, jamming comms and Overrunning your opponent AND still shooting make them a very hard working unit. Run three of them for maximum effect! Unless you are putting them in a Republic or Rebel army, then run two.
Not just for Rebels any more. “The Bus” as it is commonly known, is a very welcome addition to the Shadow Collective, especially by the Black Sun Enforcers. Obviously, it works really well as a transport for your trooper units, but it’s such a multifunctional platform! With an Unorthodox Tactician it can hand out FREE aim tokens. I like running one with Backworld Medic when I use Maul, so that it can provide him with a ride, or cover AND heal him up every round. Quad Lasers and “Gonk” Droids make the A-A5 a credible threat that can’t be ignored. The Retrofit Laser isn’t a bad choice, as those previous choices are a bit pricey. Any of the three available pilots can put in the work if you choose to include one, each depending on what role you are looking to have the bus occupy.
Bounty Hunter Operative rank for Shadow Collective has two really great choices in Bossk and Cad Bane, both of which were pretty well covered here. Either one is a fantastic addition to the Shadow Collective (or the faction of your choice, since they’re willing to slay for pay), depending on how you are designing your list. In the above list, I went with Cad Bane in order to stay mobile and mix it up with my opponent. Boosk would work as well, since he can deal suppressive damage and add to the chaos. I may swap him out at some point, but for now we’re sticking with someone who can grab an objective a little easier. Just in case.
The hardest working force user in Legion is included here, but only as a formality since I always equip him with the Darksaber. Your results will vary of course, since Saber Throw works cheatingly well with his double bladed saber. Unless you like critical results on surges. And Cunning.
Ok, so Cunning (the ‘go first’ skill) is one of my favorite keywords in the game. I regularly play Maul and Kallus, and one day I’ll get around to finishing my Separatists, and Dooku is waiting over there, and all of them have this keyword. There can be a bit of a mind game with the command phase, should you put the thought into what your opponent might be playing, especially if you have them choosing reactively. Cunning works right along with that. In fact, if you play your cards right, you can put Maul in the middle of your opponent’s deployment zone while never breaking eye contact and almost be guaranteed to go first on turn 1. Your opponent will almost certainly have to deploy reactively in response. Make them sweat! Only one of the previous mentioned Commanders, Director Krennic or Han could stop him at that point. Is it the wisest move? No way. Will it earn you glory and recognition? Hell yes it might.
I personally like Maul with Force Choke and Force Push (so hard to decide!!) and Infiltrate him only when really needed, and usually into cover. A good tactic when infiltrating him is to double run up on a unit, unless they already got really bold and deployed nearby, Force Push them (or a second unit if possible) into being Engaged, Force Choke a key unit (like a heavy weapon or repair droid) and then Standby for the final action. That way, if they choose to Withdraw the unit Maul is engaged with, then he can simply follow back into the fight and start turn two slicing and dicing. This gives the rest of your forces time to catch up and join in the party!
Rook Kast Memorial Space. I was really, really hoping that she would be an operative in Shadow Collective and have to say this is probably my only real disappointment with the battle force.
If you are trying to pad out activations (which arguably Shadow Collective doesn’t have to rely upon) or are running more than two of a corps unit, then the Pyke Syndicate Capo and Black Sun Vigo are good, cheap commander options. As I never run more than two of either of the corps, I include these as my personnel upgrade as it’s a more cost effective option, and you still have the same courage value. However, there are benefits to running them as Commanders on their own. Both have a command upgrade slot, and for Pykes this means their free dodge can hang around (because why wouldn’t you take Vigilance). They also each have the Independent keyword that their corps counterpart has, PLUS they each have the Aid keyword, allowing them to hand that free token over to their corps unit. Admittedly this makes the Pykes incredibly survivable, but with Maul, A-A5s and Super Commandos, points get eaten up very quickly in my own lists.
Proof that a unit can have too many upgrade slots
and not all the cards. I love Gar Saxon. I loved his story arc and I was excited when the unit was previewed. He looks fairly cheap, but all those upgrade slots are tempting, and before you know it, he’s sinking all your points. Immediately after I painted him, I set about running him as an in-your-face commander. I wanted to let that Flame Projector live its best life and torch as many models as possible. But as any other unit with deceptively fickle red saves and with him only having 5 wounds, Saxon tends to draw a crowd. Of lasers. The man really never learned not to poke the (mama) bear, did he?
I now run him with the Galar-90 rifle, and the shield, always the shield. This allows me to sit back and support my Super Commandos while still being alive enough to use command cards. Since two of those command cards give the Super Commandos Outmaneuver, you really want him to be able to use them. When you do play those command cards, you can issue the orders to units other than the Super Commandos thanks to Allies of Convenience, thereby allowing them to Independent their way into dodge tokens.
Every unit in Shadow Collective is extremely viable as a component of the Shadow Collective battle force. They may be a little situational or dependent on support, but that’s how it works sometimes. Since several of those units are point heavy, you can’t always count on high activation counts, and I feel like the army is ready for that, even if you aren’t. Having solid units also helps a lot since we’re not likely to get many (if any at all) more units added to the army.
I’m having a lot of fun with this army and with a slight dip back into Empire (though with BSE in LAAT/le) a little while back have pretty much been running them exclusively. They (with the exception of the Pyke ‘gunlines’) seem to really favor the up close and personal, hit fast, hit first kind of playstyle that I like. I’m not great at it, and it’s dice dependent, but it’s fun for me and in the end, that’s why we’re playing games.