In this article I will not only spark controversy within the CIS player base, but the Legion community as a whole. Mama always said better to be controversial than irrelevant! Before you get your torches and pitchforks ready to storm my Burg Frankenstein, allow me the length of this article to explain my placements and rationale.
The recent points and errata has certainly shaken things up, however CIS received very little to no help. For some of the units in the lower tiers, points decreases just won’t cut it. They need reworks or keywords added to help them function. Example, if I’m a villager in 1818 Muhltal, Germany and I’m seeking to enter into the local horse race and I have to choose between a German Holsteiner that costs $1000 or a Thuringian Forest Donkey that costs $10 I’m paying the $1000. The donkey just cannot perform the basic functions that I need it to nearly as well as the Holsteiner. Now, if Dr. Frankenstein wants to experiment on the $10 donkey and says “It’ll cost $990 but you’ll have a super, undead abomination donkey capable of running down the Holseiner 9/10 times” well then I actually have a decision to make. Sure, maybe this is a bit of a stretch even for a controversial article, but the point is sometimes points changes just aren’t enough. I do want to thank AMG for working so diligently on this game, and I hope they continue to do so for a long time to come. They’ve certainly made some very good changes/updates/erratas, but why stop there? We’re so close to having Legion in the most balanced state its ever been in.
Let’s get to it!
These are the best units the CIS has to offer, and if you’re not playing them you had better have a good reason. They synergize with the faction, they are reliable, and offer something that no other unit in the faction offers for their cost.
Make no mistake, and I will stand by this until I’m as dead as Frankenstein…’s monster himself (not this time, internet!): Cad is the best unit CIS has to offer right now. Sure, dice can do dice things, but with enough support and played properly Cad can carry games on his back almost in a way that force users can (keep in mind he’s 131 points in his most expensive form), except he’s arguably more durable if he has the right upgrades equipped. I personally find that the best way to play Cad is loaded up, and if you don’t have Force Push in your list then you need his gauntlets. Cad’s objective play is excellent, and sure his damage output is lacking when compared to most other bounty hunters, but at the end of the day this game is about objectives, not doing damage. My main reason for putting Cad in S tier is because for CIS ONLY, he will almost always have his Independent:Dodge 2 with no worries of having to fish for his token due to the way the faction functions. Outside CIS, Cad is not nearly as good, but hey this is a CIS tier list. For anyone seeking tips on how to play him, this is a great example of what to do. Make sure you do exactly as the Cad Bane in this video does and you won’t go wrong.
At least one squad of Magnas should be an auto-include in almost every CIS army, especially if you have a non-Field Commander commander unit. They have great dice, especially in melee, access to free tokens, great training upgrade choices, and a very mild AI trigger that usually doesn’t matter. The RPS was definitely under costed upon release, but I think it’s perfectly costed now. Sure, one squad loaded up is pushing the 120 pt territory, but they’re worth it. Their biggest weakness is High Velocity ranged Pierce, followed by units wit Sharpshooter + Pierce, and then all in its own special category Anakin Saber Throw Fire Support shots, but with a PK droid or two to support them and good positioning, you’re going to be fine. Not to mention, they’re some of the coolest minis to see on the table. Their overall synergy within the faction is phenomenal.
These units are still excellent choices, just maybe not an auto-include or quite as good as the units above due to some facet of their functionality preventing them from excelling beyond the A-tier. It would still be a crime to leave these units home, but more like a misdemeanor.
STAPs were previously S-Tier before the cover change in the CRB and Blizzard Force drove them underground, however I feel as if they are still very powerful objective pieces that have amazing synergy within the faction. In a world where armor units are very popular, they will certainly struggle to dish out damage, but at the end of the day they are still high mobility units with perfect order control and they give you excellent play on Breakthrough and Bombing Run. Their silhouette is also the tallest of all the speeders, so that may help to see over the top of some pesky LOS blockers.
Bossk has always been A-Tier in my mind. He doesn’t completely dominate because while he has an incredible long range firepower and zone control, he lacks in the raw objective manipulation department. Make no mistake, Bossk can just roll blanks all game, but he can also roll 4-5 crits every time he shoots (yes I’m having flashbacks to my LSO game 3). He takes a little more support than most bounty hunters, but in the end he’s usually worth it.
These units are not quite as good as A-Tier, however they still have the potential to carry a game for you, outperform an A or S tier unit, and even put your opponent in a state of unrest when they see them across the table. The reason some of the units are in this category however, is they are not nearly as consistent as the ones above.
What can we say about Asajj that hasn’t been said about a Tomahawk missile? She’s going to wreak some havoc, and then will very likely cease to exist. Sure she has Force Push, but she is by no means the type of control piece some other force users were/are. Her main goal in life is to find the most expensive unit your opponent has, and deleted it over the course of 1-2 activations. She’s incredibly cheap for what she does, but you do have to be careful where you send her. With only 5 health she can just die to a single AT-ST shot at R2 with the Grenade Launcher. Her faction synergy is awesome, but with only 2 force slots and the Choke nerf, you’re very limited with what she can do. She’s a one trick pony, but that pony can dance like she’s from Bomont.
Darth Maul (and Probe Droids)
CIS Maul started life as the deadliest peekaboo unit in the game (with Saber Throw of course) and then pivoted to Push + Choke. SC Maul was born (again) and sort of replaced this Maul. With the Choke nerf hitting all dark side force users heavily, he now has to pivot back to throw. It’s less effective with the new cover rules, but it’s still got game if you ask me. He’s still an amazing objective unit, relatively cheap, and has excellent command cards in addition to getting his Probe Droids (which shoot very good dice and are capable of lots of sneaky tricks) for only 35 points. I think Maul Impatient Apprentice is heavily underrated, and had he not also gotten hit with the Deflect nerf on top of everything else, I would place him in S Tier.
Even with the Ion Spiders getting a massive points increase, Kalani still has some play. He’s a solid support commander with 3 great keywords, and one (Reinforcements) that’s irrelevant 90% of the time. Since the command cards are accessible to all 3 versions of the Super Tactical Droid, he doesn’t really gain anything over his competition there, but what he does have is Strategize 2 and Sharpshooter 2. Kalani just basically sits back and hands out tokens with the occasional no cover Orbital Strike thanks to the aforementioned Sharp 2. Solid unit, but not an auto-include in most armies.
Generic Super Tactical Droid
The generic Super Tac Droid brings all the same flavorful keywords that Kalani brings, except you also get Override 1, which is leagues better than Reinforcements. He doesn’t synergize quite as well with Spiders because of the Strategize 1, and his Orbital Strike damage output is lower due to only being Sharpshooter 1, but other than that he’s definitely worth consideration since he’s 10 points cheaper.
B1 Battle Droids
The core (corps) of the faction. Yes, I get that this is technically as close to an auto-include as you get in this game, but this is my article and I get to make the exceptions capiche? B1s are by no means going to carry a game for you. They die fast and have almost no offensive capabilities. What they do have however, is bodies. Nothing is worse than leaving a B1 squad on 1 health and then it runs away forever, never to be seen again while it preserves act count and points. What B1s are vastly superior at is swarming an objective and boosting activation count while also ensuring total order control.
T-Series Tactical Droid
The T-Series is a vastly cheaper option to the Super Tac and all its variants, but it doesn’t really give you a whole lot to work with. Bolster 2 is nice for Magnas, and Direct: Corps Droid Trooper Unit helps ensure perfect order control, but that’s all it does. Very rarely will you ever see this flimsy unit anywhere near the enemy army, and if he is it’s not going well for one of the players.
These units are situational, and don’t mind being splashed one or two here and there, but they don’t have the greatest synergy within the faction and will rarely be able to carry a game for you even in the most ideal of circumstances.
Black Sun Enforcers
Black Sun are excellent in Empire and Shadow Collective, however they just don’t seem to have the greatest place in CIS. I’ve found they can be quite useful with a Snail Tank, but other than that you just elect to go with more B1s to keep your orders clean.
B2 Super Battle Droids
These guys are basically slightly worse BSE, but with access to Blast. They’re more expensive (because the only way you should be playing them is with T Series personnel and B2-HA heavy) than BSE with a slight range advantage, but they absolutely melt when hit with larger dice pools. It is worth pointing out they are almost sniper immune with Armor 1 and 2 health per mini, so they’re gonna need double crits to take a mini off the board before it shoots.
AAT Trade Federation Battle Tank
I absolutely love this tank, and it saddens me to put it so low. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely has game and can punch a hole in anything with armor (AP Shells + Main Cannon =6/7 crits vs armor) but the new cover rules severely limit the amount of firepower it has. I’ve played about 20 games with the AAT since cover change and never gotten an out of cover shot. Matter of fact, it’s always been heavy because of how big the base is. If they adjust the cover rules for vehicles, then I think this will shoot back up to A, maybe even S tier.
NR-N99 Persuader-Class Tank Droid (Snail Tank)
This unit serves a completely different function than that of the AAT, and its transport function is actually quite cool. It doesn’t really scare your opponent if it just sits back and shoots at range, but when it’s delivering a unit of BSE or B2 HAs and giving them heavy cover while it does so, they might think twice about ignoring it. You absolutely, 100%, without a doubt need to make sure it has a face-up order every turn otherwise you will incur the penalties of Defensive Protocols (this is really the one you want to play because Outmaneuver on a tank is just absurdly good).
DSD1 Dwarf Spider Droid
How the mighty have fallen. There are three different configs for these guys, and the most useful is still probably the 25pt. Ion Gun. The Laser Cannon is very blah, but the Flamers have possibly the most room for experimentation. They were certainly S Tier when they costed less, but now they’re just kind of meh. You can still get some value out of them with Kalani, but then your options for additional units runs thin. Adding 30 points for just two of them was enough to make any Spider list to feel the pain.
Pyke Syndicate Foot Soldiers
Obviously these guys are great units in every other faction, and perhaps C is a little too low for them in CIS, but with other things that rely on not having orders being so far above them it kind of makes no sense to take Pykes in place of B1s. Your order pool can get real dirty real quick, and that’s the biggest strength for CIS.
Pyke Syndicate Capo
Let’s face it, you’re not taking this unit without the Pyke Corps, and you’re probably not playing Pykes in CIS.
These units are hardly the first choice for their roles. They may have viability in one or two scenarios, but outside of that very narrow band of usefulness, they just fall short of everything you’d want from them. Most of them also have little to no synergy within the faction, and are honestly due for some buffs that come in the form of keywords, not just points.
This one hurts my heart the most, more than a Texas BBQ joint with bacon-wrapped tables and Coca-Cola filled water fountains. From the very beginning of my Legion adventure I’ve loved Count Dooku as a unit. I’ve played probably 50+ games with him and have absolutely no idea what to do with him now to make him viable. I’ve tried Barrier in place of Choke, and he just doesn’t quite cut it anymore. His objective play has been cut significantly with the different rulings on Force Push and objective token placement, and then the Choke nerf but he only dropped 10 points. He is the Force user that was affected most negatively by the Deflect change because his only access to surges (no I’m not using Force Guidance on him because his Force slots are too valuable) comes from Aggressive Tactics, and he gets 1. Not to say that Dooku still can’t succeed, but he has to have above average dice rolls, a perfect table, and the perfect objective with the perfect condition and deployment to be even remotely successful now. He is among the slowest of force users, with very poor action economy on every turn except his 1-Pip. My recommendation to help boost his play and maybe get him back into B Tier, or even A Tier would be nice, would be to add Steady and Block to his unit card, or give him a Permanent Command Card that adds those keywords to his profile.
I have seen some Kraken lists do well, but all in all, there are just better options. He is a support commander, that wants to be in melee with things that are usually much better at melee than him. Can we maybe take away a red melee die and give him another black die on his gun? Then remove Charge for Direct:AI Unit? To me, that would make him much more considerable.
Black Sun Vigo
Great option in other factions, but here in CIS he just doesn’t really have a role to thrive in. Unlike the Pyke Capo, Vigo units don’t even always show up in Black Sun-focused lists anyway, and Black Sun doesn’t show up much in CIS sooooooo…
BX-Commando Droids (Strike Team)
I can’t preach this enough in person so I’ll shout it to the heavens here: GIVE. CLONE. WARS. SNIPERS. HIGH. VELOCITY. Increase the sniper rifle by 10 points, and give High Velocity. The Dioxis Sabs could also use a points reduction, but my qualms are with the sniper. Lethal 1 is great, no need for outright Pierce because the dice profile is too good, but for goodness sake being able to spend Dodges on these shots is just demoralizing. I have tried time and time again to make these guys work, but their only benefit is they’re 50 points and thus you can push some lists to 11-12, even 13 acts with them.
Not inherently bad, but these guys literally do the same job as Magnas, only worse. Sure, they have Scout 3 to get objectives early or get to ideal pieces of terrain, but they have half the health of MagnaGuard and are more than half the cost.
These units are “play at your own risk.” All is fun and games, but I cannot emphasize this enough: If you play these units in their current state, you are handicapping yourself. Sure, an excellent player can have success with any of these, however when they face another excellent player with units that aren’t in F Tier they will likely lose off this basis alone. The point is, these units need total re-works to become viable, and it saddens me as they are among some of my favorites in all of Star Wars.
I remember the first time I put “Greg” on the table and thought he looked so cool and is so fun. That was a long, long time ago. For about 10 games straight Grievous got bullied by other melee units, gunlines, and AT-ST’s alike. The one thing he had going for him was that Scale actually made him slightly faster than most units with Jump…but that got nerfed and left Grievous with a keyword that is almost useless. His crowning achievement, his shining moment post CRB, is that he has Block and can actually defend against melee somewhat reliably, except he’s only Impervious so enemy force users still just beat him down. I want so badly for Grievous to be good, but his command cards are just meh, sure his 1 pip has potential to be a flashy play, but if your opponent doesn’t see that coming then you’ve probably got the game in the bag. His 2-pip is situational, not bad, but not the greatest. His 3 pip is quite literally Assault. You want to play high pips earlier in the game, and his requires you to have killed things, so yeah…
We haven’t even talked about the 2 courage, which will make you curse the fact that that you have to choose between several options (including endurance) for his single training slot. My recommendations for Grievous would be to make him a Droid Trooper, give him Jump 1, and give him a configuration upgrade where he can be 3 speed and crawl on all fours (er, all sixes I guess) as he skitters away with an objective token. If I can have Asajj for 165/170, Grievous could be 50 pts cheaper and I’d still take Asajj.
Last but certainly not least (in my heart anyway). Droidekas are unique, and in the right hands can actually have some play, however they are virtually useless vs Armor, and will almost never get out of cover shots. I think by simply adding Critical 1 to their weapon and allowing them to regenerate 2 shields instead of 1 would propel them to A Tier.