This unit guide will cover Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith in the game, Star Wars Legion.

Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith comes in the original core set for Legion and was one of two commanders available at the release of Star Wars Legion. Since then, he has undergone many changes, gaining new command cards and a rework to his unit card. Commander Vader is the tankiest force user in the game and can single handedly destroy an opposing army. In this article I will give a brief overview of Vader followed by a discussion of potential upgrades, his play style, and list ideas.

Cover artwork by: Dominik Mayer


  • Hard to kill (8 health with red saves)
  • Infinite courage
  • Compel: Corps Trooper
  • Six Command Cards
  • Playable in Blizzard Force


  • Speed 1
  • Expensive


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Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith and Emperor Palpatine are tied for the most expensive unit in the Empire at 190 points. While this is a high cost, he justifies it by being difficult to kill, deadly in combat, and great at leading troopers. Because of his high price, Vader is often the focus piece when placed in an army. He cannot just be slotted into any army but with proper list building and technique he can hit far above his cost.


Darth Vader has one melee weapon profile: Vader’s Lightsaber. This weapon is usable only in melee and has 6 red dice, Impact 3, and Pierce 3. An attack with this lightsaber averages 4.5 hits without surges and averages 5.25 hits with surges. Vader’s Lightsaber can cut through just about any unit type because of its high average hits and Pierce 3. An unaimed attack with two surges from Darkness Descends averages 5 wounds into a unit with red saves. This means he can consistently one shot many trooper units regardless of the type of defense dice they have. He can also use force abilities like Force Choke and Saber Throw to increase his damage.

NameRangeAvg HitsKeywords
Vader’s LightsaberMelee4.5-5.25Impact 3, and Pierce 3
Vader’s Lightsaber (Saber Throw)1-22.25-2.63Impact 3, and Pierce 3


Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith has 8 health with red saves and Immune: Pierce. This already formidable health pool is further augmented by Deflect and surges from Darkness Descends. All this together gives him the highest effective wound count out of all non-heavy units in the game with 16-24 effective wounds. Vader is also a great target for medics. Each wound healed gives him another 2-3 effective wounds. It is worth mentioning playing Implacable reduces his effective wounds by 2-3 due to the wound he takes for a second activation.


Vader has built in support abilities like Compel: Corps Trooper and infinite courage. On top of this he has command card specific abilities like New Ways to Motivate Them. Compel and his infinite courage combine quite nicely. Compel gives suppressed units a move action at the cost of an additional suppression, which is essentially ignored since Vader prevents units from ever panicking with his infinite courage. I love the flavor of Vader’s infinite courage; the Imperial Troopers are more scared of his wrath than the enemy forces making it so they will never panic in combat. New Ways to Motivate Them gives units with face up orders the option to suffer one wound and gain a free action. This card is amazing when combined with multi-wound units like Dewbacks and Imperial Royal Guard. It activates Tenacity and gives them a free move to charge the enemy army.


The main drawback to Commander Vader is his slow speed 1. He does have Relentless which gives him a free attack at the end of a movement, making it so he can double move most turns. The force upgrade Burst of Speed can help overcome this issue by giving him speed 3 for one turn. He also has two command cards which can help Vader with his mobility issues. Darkness Descends gives Vader Infiltrate which makes it so he can deploy closer to the enemy army. Implacable also gives Vader the ability to move 3 times in one turn. Implacable combines nicely with Burst of Speed letting him move ~24 inches (range 4) in a single turn.

Battle Forces

One major advantage Commander Vader has over his Operative counterpart is his inclusion in Blizzard Force. Blizzard Force is an excellent battle force competitively and provides powerful command cards like Overwhelming Barrage.


Vader is one of the few characters I always fully equip with upgrade cards. I have yet to find a situation where I do not fill every slot during list building.


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Aggressive Tactics

Commander Vader has no training upgrade slot so Aggressive Tactics is the only upgrade which can passively get him surge tokens. Aggressive Tactics is expensive at 15 points but is worth it if you plan on playing aggressively with Darkness Descends to Infiltrate.

Esteemed Leader

Esteemed Leader is a cheap way to get Guardian 1 on all your corps units. The main drawback to this card is it only is usable when Vader is getting shot which should be avoided in general. I tend to hide him until I am trying to engage. When engaging you rarely have corps troopers in close range unless you are playing snow troopers alongside Vader.

Improvised Orders

Improvised Orders gives you extra order control which is useful considering four of Vader’s command cards only give an order to himself. Improvised Orders is a way to get some more order control without having to issue orders with command cards.

Inspiring Presence

Infinite courage at range 1-3 is good, so infinite courage at range 1-4 is better!


Vader loves dodges and Vigilance is a way to hold onto dodges at the end of the turn. This card pairs especially well with Force Reflexes since it fixes the timing issue of the card. The only drawback to the upgrade is its expensive price at 12 points.


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Vader has 3 force upgrade slots. I always start with Burst of Speed and Force Push on Commander Vader, but the 3rd force upgrade is more variable post Force Choke nerf. I think there are a few options you can consider for the 3rd force upgrade.

Burst of Speed

Burst of Speed is essentially a must take on Commander Darth Vader. It helps overcome one of his biggest issues: his speed. Gaining an immobilize token at the end of the round is also not as bad as it seems. For example, if you can engage a unit with Burst of Speed that has already activated you are set up to stay protected the following turn. If the unit withdraws the following turn just force push it back and/or use Vader’s Might to grab a unit and place it in base contact with you. Taking a standby can also help you deal with the immobilize from Burst of Speed since the token is removed at the end of the activation. This makes it so Vader can move with his standby. Note that under the new CRB, a unit that is speed 0 cannot be force pushed, so taking the immobilized token from Burst of Speed functionally makes Vader immune to Force Push for a turn.

Force Barrier

Force Barrier is an excellent upgrade for protecting your units against ranged attacks. It is a potential option for the third force upgrade slot but has one short coming: Force Barrier must be used at range 1 of your own troops but Vader is most effective when he is buried deep in enemy lines. Despite this you can still use the card on early turns as Vader is approaching to help reduce the incoming firepower from your opponent.

Force Choke

Force Choke recently suffered both a points nerf and an erratum which nerfed its effectiveness. It is still a viable option for Vader since he can get extra value with double activations from Implacable. The card is not as good for objective play as it once was but still increases his overall damage output. You can choose not to use Pierce when attacking to leave a single living model behind and keep Vader safe in melee. In this situation Force Choke is still a great way to apply the final wound on that unit the following turn so you can move freely.

Force Push

Force Push is an auto-include on every melee force user in the game and Vader is no different. Moving an enemy unit is one of the most powerful effects in the game and gives force users much of their utility.

Force Reflexes

Force Reflexes gives you a free dodge token during your activation. The main issue with Force Reflexes is the timing. You almost always want to go last with force users which does not work with the timing of this card. Vigilance fixes this timing problem letting you hold onto any dodges generated at the end of the turn.

Saber Throw

Saber Throw is a possible option for Vader since he has Relentless. The attack averages 2.25-2.63 hits which means you have ~60% chance to put one hit over heavy cover when you have surges. For only 5 points it can also be justified as a hedge for Dark Troopers.

How to Play

General Strategy

Vader is a death ball, meaning he is most effective inside the enemy arming causing havoc. Many of his command cards further augment this effect. Despite being extremely hard to kill you still need to be careful on the approach. I tend to keep him behind line of sight blocking terrain until I have an opportunity to engage. Timing your engagement is important with all force users. The two main ways to engage with Vader are Burst of Speed or being transported in the TX-225 GAVw Occupier Combat Assault Tank. Burst of Speed gives him ~16 inches of movement which is range ~2.67. You can force push a unit after the movement extending the engagement range to ~20 inches which is roughly range 3.33. Burst of Speed can also be combined with Implacable to triple move in a single turn then Force Push giving him the potential to engage at roughly range 4.67. I will go into more detail on how this is possible in the Implacable section. The GAVw Occupier can also be used as a transport. The tank has an oblong base making its movements faster than a speed 3 trooper unit. This can also be combined with Palpatine to avoid the penalty for double moving with the tank. If Palpatine uses pull the strings to disembark Vader after the tank double moves, there is no activation penalty for the transport double move. This mean he can use burst of speed and double move after being transported when run alongside Palpatine. This is a huge alpha strike that can shoot Vader across the entire table and have him engage turn 1.


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Implacable is one of the best command cards in the game. The card gives Vader a free dodge token upon activation and gives him the option to take a wound and shuffle his token back into the stack, providing him with a second activation that turn. During the second activation you are limited to one action. This card is amazing for both engagement and dealing massive damage once engaged. For engagement you can triple move and when combined with Burst of Speed gives you ~24 inches of movement which is roughly a charge attack from range 4. You can combine Burst, Implacable, and Force Push which makes it possible to engage from roughly range ~4.67. Engaging at these ranges does sacrifice one or both attacks from Implacable. Alternatively, you can use Implacable once engaged to attack twice and use force powers twice in one turn. This is especially good on objective scoring turns since you can manipulate two different enemy units with Force Push and attack twice potently killing two more units. The main drawback to Implacable is the fact you must take a wound for the second activation, and you shuffle the token back into the stack. Vader has 8 wounds making a single wound sacrifice not the biggest deal, and the dodge tokens help make up for the lost health. You can also activate back-to-back if you activate him last since he will be the only token in your token stack.

Vader’s Might

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Vader’s Might lets you pick up a friendly or enemy unit at range 1 and move it range 1 from its current position. If the unit is an enemy, you roll a white dice for each model and it suffers a wound for any non-blank results. This ability, like Force Push, is amazing for objective play. You can Vader’s Might a hostage carrier unit, then Force Push it (forward cohere) and engage the forward cohered models to move the unit ~14 inches in one turn. It can also be used to strand Creature Troopers and Vehicles on top of buildings since they can not climb back down. This card can help overcome Immobilize tokens from Burst of Speed by letting you grab an enemy unit at range 1 and place it in base contact with Vader. There are also some tricks you can pull by grabbing one of your own units. You can pick up a friendly unit on Bombing Run or Breakthrough making it so they can score. In the worst-case scenario, the card is still a way to do unblockable wounds to enemy units. The ability averages 1/3 of a wound per model in the targeted unit.

New Ways to Motivate Them

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New Ways to Motivate Them is more situational than the previous two command cards but can be powerful when paired with specific units. This card is a two pip which issues orders to two troopers and gives units with a face up order token the ability to suffer a wound for a free action. This card is best paired with multi wound units like Dewbacks who are also melee focused. New Ways to Motivate Them lets Dewbacks move three times in a turn and turns on Tenacity to make them hit harder once engaged. I rarely use New Ways to Motivate Them outside of armies with Dewback Riders.

Fear and Dead Men

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Fear and Dead Men is a two pip which gives Vader a dodge every time an enemy unit at range 1-2 activates. The card also makes it so enemy units suffer wounds from blanks instead of surges when using deflect. This card is best used when you are already buried in the enemy army and makes Vader extremely difficult to kill. If I am engaged with multiple units but want to delay Vader’s activation, I will often play this card to soak up damage and deter units from focusing on him. You effectively shave one hit off every enemy attack. Generating multiple free dodges is excellent.

Master of Evil

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Master of Evil is a three pip which gives an order to Darth Vader and two other units. The card gives Vader a free dodge, and when he activates all enemy trooper units at range 1-2 gain 3 suppression tokens. This card has a high floor and an even higher ceiling. At a minimum you get a free dodge and good order control. If Vader is deep inside enemy lines Master of Evil can become a game winning command card. You can panic and suppress multiple units with ease. Even if you cannot panic enemy units on the turn this is played it is almost guaranteed to suppress core troopers which removes actions. I will typically use this card on the approach for the extra order control and dodge or will play the card later in the game to suppress enemy units on pivotal turns.

Darkness Descends

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Darkness Descends has two different modes; it either gives Vader Permanent: Reliable 2 or Infiltrate and Scout 1 when divulged. While it is less flashy, I almost always select the Reliable 2 mode of this card. Darth Vader does not surge on defense or offense so the two surge tokens every turn significantly increase both his defense and offense. I play Darkness Descends on the first turn 99% of the time. Having Reliable 2 is especially important since Deflect cannot be used in melee. Having surge to block makes him much harder to kill once engaged in melee.

List Building

Blizzard Force

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Blizzard Force is an excellent highly competitive Battle Force when paired with Vader. This army takes advantage of the power of Stormtrooper Heavy Response Units (HRU) and backs it up with a deep bid and 4 speeder bikes. The army poses your opponent with a difficult choice on whether to focus on the bikes or Sith Lord closing in on their lines. While these units advance you can support them with Overwhelming Barrage and the long range of HRUs. I think this is the most competitively viable army for Darth Vader in the current meta.

Vader Palp Bomb

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This army was popularized by Dave Grant who has been playing a version of this list competitively. The army has a very specific combo that it pulls off. In this army you can engage with Commander Vader on turn 1 which is often enough to outright win many games. The army deploys Vader in the Occupier Tank which double moves towards the enemy army on turn 1. Then Palpatine uses Pull the Strings on Vader making him disembark. After this Vader has his full activation to move as he pleases and Burst of Speed into enemy lines. The army fully relies on the power of these two Sith Lords and brings 3 Medical Droids to make them even harder to kill. This army highlights just how good Vader is once he engages!

Vader Melee Spam

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Vader melee spam is not as popular as it used to be but is still a really fun army to play. The army simply overwhelms your opponent with melee units. The Royal Guards can be used to protect Darth Vader on the approach. This army makes great use of New Ways to Motivate Them giving two of your melee units an extra move to fly across the table into melee.

Vader Gunline

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This army backs up Darth Vader with a more classic gunline. You can use Force Barrier on the first few turns to keep your gunline safe from enemy long-range firepower. Once the objectives force both players to approach one another you can Burst of Speed into the enemy army with Vader. This army has a great amount of ranged firepower then seals the deal with a Sith Lord. Compel also helps overcome some of the issues with courage 1 core troopers making them more viable in this army.


Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith is truly a menace once engaged. If you are wanting to recreate the Rogue One hallway scene, he is the commander for you. It is great to have such an iconic character be so fun and flavorful to play. I hope this article introduced you to some new strategies and I hope it helps motivate you to put Darth Vader on the table!

3 thoughts on “Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith – Unit Guide

  1. Devden007 says:

    This is a great article but I do have one question isn’t yoda currently the most expensive unit.

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