Galactic Empire Retrospective

Galactic Empire Retrospective 1

This article is a Galactic Empire Retrospective, a look back at the faction as it has developed over the life of Star Wars: Legion.

Last time I talked about the ups and downs the Rebel Alliance has gone through since Legion’s inception. Due to positive reception we’ll take a look at that faction’s mirror and greatest foe, the Galactic Empire.

As before, dates are using the American release schedule, so the order and exact month might be different than you remember.

March 2018 – Core Set & AT-ST

Galactic Empire Retrospective 2

The core set launched with the Rebels opposite of them and at launch, Imperials had a slight edge. Not unexpected of course, when you only have 2 factions with a handful of units to play around with, somebody has to come out on top. In the starter set, Empire got Commander Vader, 2 units of Stormtroopers and a unit of bikes.

Grading on a curve, Commander Vader debuted as a slow but formidable unit. He was absolutely far too expensive, and far too slow. It would be a long time before he really got ways to circumvent those, this is far before the buff to the unit card (Which wouldn’t come until three years later) which granted him a command slot and Compel. Before Force Speed let him dart across the field. Before even Dewbacks could shield him from enemy fire. Launch day Vader was almost impossible to kill in combat, Commander Luke fittingly was not really equipped to take him on directly (even with Son of Skywalker it could be dicey) but the problem was getting him there. Vader had to plod up the field which, while thematic, meant that a solid quarter of your army (before buffs) would not be doing a whole lot for the first turn or two. The enemy player could often just shoot him to death, or close to, before he even made it.

Once some of the aforementioned buffs arrived in 2021 where he would see a renaissance. His cost went down, he could Compel troopers forward and even got access to the valuable Command slot that he really should have had from the start. He hasn’t quite matched Operative Vader, but he’s come real close.

The workhorse Stormtroopers have had their ups and downs. They generally had an edge on the Rebel troopers that came in the box, with their tougher armor. The jist was that Stormtroopers had better armor but couldn’t shoot straight, while Rebels were better shots but were probably going down instantly if caught in the open. The math on this generally didn’t work out too well as Stormtroopers had access to a range 4 gun out of the gate. Even at range 3, the volume of Dice, Stormtroopers had Precise (with Targeting Scopes if you felt spicy) while Rebels didn’t have as many ways to augment the Dodge tokens they so badly needed. The gap wasn’t that wide but it did generally favor the Stormtroopers, especially on the early tables which lacked enough terrain.

Finally we had the Speeder Bikes. They were ok. Not much to say at first, because with the initial launch Speeders needed to make a mandatory move at the beginning of their activation, which could make them kind of unwieldy (Especially if an opponent was smart and got close enough for you to have to soar past them). Time would be kind to them, as eventually the Speeder rule would change it’s mandatory move to the beginning or end of activation. Blizzard Force would also contribute to their recent rise in popularity, but we’ll discuss that when we get there. For now they were perfectly functional as their role, which was outriders to snag objectives and maybe plink at a few exposed trooper units.

The AT-ST also debuted alongside the Core set and it was…lackluster to start. Don’t get me wrong, the Imps definitely got off better that the Rebel’s stinker Airspeeder, but at launch when your only Commander was 200 points before upgrades, the AT-ST was another 195 points plus upgrades on top of that. It was just too much, as it left too little in the form of troopers to do the actual job of holding objectives. Over time they would bring the cost down, and General Weiss would get the Field Commander keyword which made AT-ST lists viable, even running 2.

May 2018 – General Veers and Snowtroopers

General Veers was a game changer. Like a mirror version of Leia, he was a buff hero who wasn’t great at fighting but made the overall force better. Imperials celebrated his arrival probably more than Rebels celebrated Leia. While Leia would lead to “Wonder Twin” lists on the Rebel side, as both heroes and their troops were cheap enough to float both, many Imperial Players were craving a way to dumpster Vader as quickly as possible. Veers debuted at 80 points, handed out badly needed Aim Tokens like candy and could pull Suppression tokens with Inspire, rather than just block Panic like Vader. Unlike Leia he would still continue to see some use even after the generic officer debuted, because the Imperial Discipline card was actually very useful offering the game’s first use of a free Recover.

Snowtroopers have never really found their footing. They are good in the right situation, their Flamethrowers are good if they can get close to their target, but they are slow and plodding and unless they have a delivery mechanism or are ok sitting in the back on standby you won’t have a ton of use for them. There are some niche situations for them, like when Hostage Situation debuted (and the -1 to movement didn’t affect them) or in a pre-Shoretrooper Palpatine list, and you will periodically see people take a single unit of them to fulfill what their role does. Overall however, Stormtroopers were much more flexible and just did their job better.

July 2018 – E-Web Heavy Blaster

Like it’s rebel counterpart the 1.4 FD laser cannon I just don’t have much to say about the E-Web Heavy Blaster. It was quite bad, it could move (albeit slowly), had Surge to Crit and was a bit tougher with Red defense dice but had a rainbow dice pool and so damage was less consistent. A fun toy perhaps but even with the slim pickings of the early game it just didn’t have ground to stand on. The E-Web did eventually lose Plodding (which disappeared from the game until the arrival of Dark Troopers) which helped it’s mobility a bit.

September 2018 – Boba Fett and Scout Troopers

A big month for the Empire. The first Operative to the game was the infamous Boba Fett. His debut went over reasonably well, he definitely suffered some awkward growing pains from some of the early design decisions. They wanted to make Operatives meaningfully different from Commanders and got a little experimental with Boba Fett. For one, his command cards being weapons is an idea that would be sort of shelved for a while and come back with Din in 2022 as it made his usefulness tend to spike and be less than stellar on other turns. The new Bounty keyword was a real game changer, allowing a tie breaker that could be hard to make up for if the opposing player got sloppy, given the generally low scoring nature of Legion. However, to get the most out of him he had to get fairly close, around range 2 or so, and that could be a dangerous proposition. Becoming a Mercenary raised him in some esteem later with the Independent keyword. That said even from launch he was far from bad, he was a solid choice if played around and certainly made far better waves than Chewie did on the other side of the fence. He was an excellent companion for Veers, as he could use his whipcord as a counter to the (wildly popular) Luke Skywalker. Boba Fett’s arrival allowed Empire players to run something like the Rebels “Wonder Twins” list with a support commander (Veers) and a playmaker unit (Boba) with enough points left for some beef.

The other unit is the Imperial Scout Troopers and literally everything that applied to the Rebel Commandos also applies to these guys, so I’ll give the short version. While the 5 man unit and the explosives expert were basically unused, the 2 man sniper squad was game changing. It was a cheap activation (in a game that heavily weighs toward the one with more activations), easy suppression and possibly some plink damage. Like the Rebel version they started with infinite range and had to be brought down a peg, with the new Range 5 being created exclusively for these units. They had a slightly better gun with 2 black instead of one black and one white, but only Scout 1 (which would bizzarely be changed to Scout 3 later, while the rebels remain untouched). The meta would be to include three Strike teams and that would not be supplanted for a very, very long time.

November 2018 – Emperor Palpatine and Royal Guards

The Emperor himself, Palpatine has always existed in a weird space. He debuted expensive, and has remained such, but that’s sort of the point. Palpatine himself isn’t much until he goes Jazz Hands on you but its his unparalleled control over the rest of the army that really brings it together. He’ll likely be your only Hero in such a list, but he makes all his troops fight better. Pulling the Strings allows the player to have his best units mess with their action economy and fight again, which allow for the ability to take out some of even the toughest units at range. If they get close, Palpatine has excellent crowd control with his Force lighting granting Suppression and some killer Command Cards. And Now…You Will Die allowing him to insta gib any heroes who try and get too close or nuke the opposing army (at some risk to himself), Give in To Your Anger forcing them to to activate a unit they probably didn’t want to and An Entire Legion allowing the player to play a prototype CIS army and assign orders to everyone. Just an excellent niche character and a well designed example of leaning on an idea that might not be for everyone, but is effective for those who want to embrace a certain playstyle. He was not commonly used, but when he was, he was very effective.

Pairing with him was the appropriate Imperial Royal Guard. They actually debuted fairly warmly, they got Entourage with Palpatine, which meant they could be added with him without sacrificing a precious Imperial Scout Trooper unit, and their Guardian ability could protect him from enemy fire. It was useful even for Veers, whose one weakness was being far too delicate, though this was met with some hesitation as it would mean giving up a sniper team. They actually gained more popularity later on as Dodge spam became more of a thing, and the necessity of sniper teams declined. IRG had a much better debut than Wookiees on release.

January 2019 – Imperial Specialist Pack

This didn’t quite make the same splash on the Empire side as the Rebel version did. The Imperial officer is nice, but where as the Officer was a straight upgrade over Leia for his cost, for Veers it was a bit dicey. Veers was cheaper than Leia, and often it depended on how badly you needed Imperial Discipline or a few more upgrades in your list. She wasn’t bad, and still and saw some use. You could take either and be happy.

The medical droid was pretty solid if you could afford the points, and the R4 Astromech could repair your AT-ST, should you have one, though it was generally wasted to have a full team of Stormtroopers sit back and babysit the AT-ST. Overall, the problem is Imperial stuff is just more expensive than Rebels and upgrades need to be taken carefully. The set did come with Comms Relay which while not a big deal yet, put a pin in that, we’ll come back to it.

March 2019 – Orson Krennic and Death Troopers

Starting off the “Rogue One Block” Krennic was a Big Deal. A bit of a side grade to Veers, he cost more but had a lot of decent tricks up his sleeve. He could Compel a suppressed unit, which really helped fix the easy to spook basic Stormtroopers with a “free” move to replace an action lost to suppression. Cunning also came through in a pinch, giving players the edge on a tie. His command cards were also really solid, just a great package overall.

Alongside him came the Imperial Death Troopers which were very solid on release. They were not often run in multiples due to taking up a vital Special Forces slot taken up by Triple snipers, but they offered firepower at Range 4 that was previously unseen on a trooper unit. They had Entourage with Krennic, so they became a bit more appetizing as a one-of in Krennic lists. They were difficult to kill and could fire back ten fold, but again the cost was high. Their cost would later decrease as they got power crept a bit, their extra gun being made free and general cuts to the heavy weapons and the unit itself. A fine unit for what it does.

April 2019 – TX-225 GAVw Occupier Combat Assault Tank

Not much to say here, it was the first attempt at a transport and it didn’t really work out. Opposite the Rebel Landspeeder, it just didn’t really compare, and the landspeeder wasn’t doing so hot to start out with. The Landspeeder at least had a niche (and would grow into it over time) of transporting a single hero who wanted to get closer to the enemy. The GAV really suffered from just being extremely short and very large, and it easily got stuck on small pieces of terrain it seemed like it should have been able to drive over. This moved an entire unit but really not that fast, and it was open top so it didn’t even really shield them that much better than moving up normally. This thing needed to go back to the drawing board and Imps wouldn’t see another transport for a while.

June 2019 – Bossk

Bossk is great, we love Bossk. He’s had relatively few ups and downs compared to many of the units in this write up, he just debuted in a very solid position, as the long range attrition focused counterpart to the short ranged playmaker that was Boba Fett. If you wanted a Bounty Hunter list, he was probably your first choice and some people even ran both for double the bounty. He’s great up close, solid at range and can be a pain to kill with Regenerate. Like Boba Fett, becoming an independent Bounty Hunter made him better. Just an example of a unit hitting it out of the park from the start.

August 2019 – Imperial Shoretroopers

Shoretroopers debuted opposite of Rebel Veterans and the mirrors are obvious, more elite Corps that got a supplemental Emplacement unit that could also be a corps unit. Unlike Veterans, these guys were good. They had solid damage output on their own, but their Mortar had range 3-4 Fire support (remember, the Stormtrooper upgrade pack didn’t exist yet, so Range 4 on corps was a notably big deal) and suppression. Nasty stuff.

Yet, they have more in common with Tauns that released in the same month than Rebel Veterans. Remember when I told you to put a pin in Comms Relay a while back? Time to take that pin out. You’ll notice the errata says “Must be issued to non-Emplacement Troopers” but it doesn’t say that on the original card. This unit is the sole reason why. See, when Shoretroopers are issued an order, they get a free aim token and can also an issue an order to an Emplacement trooper. So you would issue an order to a Shoretrooper, issue a free order to the Mortar who would relay to another Shoretrooper, and repeat this process down the line. Those extra aim tokens made it virtually impossible to cross the field when Mortars and Shoretroopers were firing before you could even get close enough to shoot. It would be fixed in short order, rewording the entire Comms Relay card just to disrupt this combo.

It is rather interesting that arguably the two of the biggest gameplay “cracks” in legion happened in units released in the same month. Luckily they were quickly fixed.

November 2019 – Dewback Riders

The Clone Wars core set would debut in October, in tandem with Covid it would slow down releases for the Galactic Civil War for a bit, but we get one last release for the year.

Dewbacks would need a bit of time to find their footing, at first they were honestly pretty OK. They were deceptively fast, and tough and if they got into combat. They were just a tad bit expensive and had trouble getting cover. They, possibly unintentionally, ended up later becoming a great boon for Vader as their mini could give him cover and Spur allowed them to keep pace. The problem was that at this point Vader still hadn’t really come into his own.

January 2020 – Imperial Stormtrooper Upgrade & Operative Vader

This was a big one, in a meta that had almost completely switched over to Shoretroopers, this upgrade pack was the kick in the pants Stormtroopers needed. While Rebels were quickly buying up as many as they could for the DLTs, both guns were useful here for the Stormtroopers.

The RT-97C gave them another Range 4 gun. Unlike Rebels they weren’t starving for one, as they did have one, it only had Impact 1, and heavy Vehicles were not seeing a ton of play. While the RT-97C lacks the Critical of the the Rebel’s DLT, it got to throw more dice at the problem. The T-21 was like the Rebel Z-6, a better gun for engaging in close range battles with Critical 2. It debuted far too expensive, but became a lot more appealing once it came down in points, making it an excellent replacement in your heavy weapon slot if points started getting too tight.

Operative Vader may be the biggest redemption story in the game. His debut was met with a shrug, he was cheaper than Commander Vader sure, but you weren’t really saving a lot because you still needed a commander (Field Commander would not be a thing for a few more months). He got a few more ways to move, between his Darkness Descends command card and the Spur ability, but still was locked into speed 1 for “normal” movement. At only 6 wounds he was more vulnerable than Commander Vader and while in general it was agreed there was an improvement, he still didn’t quite feel like Vader.

His glow up would come later when the card was updated with a flat speed 2, a second training Slot and an extra wound, alongside buffs to two of his command cards (Darkness Descends and Implacable). He went from an absolutely maligned Hero to a total powerhouse. Even today he stands as one of the best heroes in the game, maybe not an auto include but about as close as you can get to that.

June 2020 – Iden Versio

The hits keep coming for the Imperials. Iden debuted strongly and has remained one of the top Imperial heroes. It’s hard to sum up exactly why she’s so good but in short she is a jack of all trades character that pulls off the concept correctly. She can be a long range sniper, or a close range blaster. She can buff her own units and suppress the enemy. She does basically everything and does it all reasonably competently. She slots well into most lists, making up for the shortcomings of your army or augmenting them, allowing them to double down on it. Even today she still sees fairly regular play, just a really excellent example of a well designed character.

September 2020 – Imperial Special Forces & Inferno Squad

Another hit for the Imps, but maybe not in the most expected way. Imperial Special Forces were ok, not great but sort of a middle ground between the meager Stormtrooper and the costly Death Trooper. Inferno Squad, especially, played well with Iden where they gained Retinue.

What really made this set stand out was that the 2 named characters inside: Del Meeko and Gideon Hask. In addition to Inferno Squad, they could be attached to any Corps unit, which was far more appealing. On release, they were extremely expensive, but Inferno got massive cost decreases in the 2021 balance updated. Del Meeko was an incredible addition, and useful in almost any Imperial list. For a reasonable cost it was another Range 5 sniper, and he also had Repair, allowing you to fix up an AT-ST or bike while still being able to lay down fire on the enemy should you take that route. Gideon was more niche, but absolutely solid, throwing down 2 red dice at range 3, boosting Courage by 1 and able to issue an additional order.

April 2021 – Agent Kallus

After a series of hits, Kallus kind of debuted with a whimper. Like Lando, whom he debuted opposite of, the Contingency keyword seemed a lot more exciting than it actually was. In reality it was a bit clunky to use which caused the excitement to diminish rather quickly after launch. His command card ISB Investigation is powerful, but requires a lot of guess work and planning on the player using it. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. The downside is he just isn’t great at anything, he’s set up to be a flexible character but in melee he doesn’t do nearly as well as Jedi, and is beaten on the shooting game by Iden, and he’s not as great of a support hero as Krennic and Veers. He was just sort of average at everything without a single clear reason to bring him.

May 2021 – LAAT/le Patrol Transport Unit Expansion

The LAAT does better than the first shot at a transport. Not excellent mind you, but a lot better. It transports a whole unit, is closed, and moved at speed 2 and can hover. Imperials don’t have a ton of stuff you want getting that close, but it saw some niche play with Operative Vader. Like many “fine, but” units it mostly comes down to cost and the cost of the unit was simply too high for many.

August 2022 – Blizzard Force

Like Rebels, it’d be over a year until the next release for Empire (Although Shadow Collective was quite kind to them and gave them some cheap troops in the form of Pykes and yet another Bounty Hunter for Double Bounty lists in the form of Cade Bane). Blizzard Force was easily the most radical of the 4 Battleforces that debuted. The unit selection largely consisted of the good stuff, both versions of Vader, Veers (or Imperial Officer if you preferred). Where it really went off the rails was bumping the Support cap to four, allowing you to run four bikes (which was an absurd power curve in the right hands) and a sort of brand new unit the Stormtrooper Heavy Response Team. For a discounted price you got two regular stormtroopers but two heavy weapon slots. AMG seemed to find this a fair trade but the heavy weapons were what you were there for! There’s not a lot of debate about which two weapons to take either, the best combo being the DLT-19 and the RT-97C for maximum Range 4 firepower. You always take the maximum two of these guys. The Blizzard command cards were also exceptional without having any real drawbacks or even pesky things like rank restrictions.

October 2022 – IG Assassin Droids and Din Djarin

Empire got access to not one, not two, but three more bounty hunters with this release, bringing their roster to a staggering seven (!) operatives, six of which were bounty hunters. IG-88 quickly proved to be a very solid addition and fit very easily into many existing Imperial archetypes (especially Iden lists) due to the pip distribution of his cards and his generally murderous nature. Din’s usage was far more mixed; he is an solid unit for tying up and killing random schlubs, but that’s not really a skillset Empire was lacking. IG-11 so far has proven to be rather an awkward fit for Empire with his AI and swingy command card abilities.

Looking Ahead

At this point Imperials are awash in bounty hunters. They also have Moff Gideon and Dark Troopers to look forward to. It’s a new, bold era for the Empire.

4 thoughts on “Galactic Empire Retrospective

  1. Skull Kid says:

    Skull Kid here finally. Sent from facebook to check rumour SWL is def. This Kyle love is too much. These change rules then change back and then say kiss my a-s we fixed is making my head explode. That goes for ocake and Pena also. I am closing to become Oz_Choppa and on my Steam.
    Fifth trooper editor kyle get it right ffs.
    IT imperial trooper
    DT Death trooper
    IDT imperial dark trooper
    I am so screwed reading the same perpetual confusion in the discord and am prolly going to quit soon. I am growing up.
    Skull Kid out and out of his skull too💀

    • mortichro says:

      hold on SK. I know what you are goin thru. I went that way with armada and sold ally my stuff and now regret and want back in. Inside chat is SWL devs are making issues to move saps to shatter point then after initial rush sales will fix rules back to 2.03. Keep your army and sure but sure buy shatterpoint to help keep AMG going so we all benefit from the stuff. I will be investing in the shatterpoint as I love to paint and will be happy. Get woke go broke🐸🙊🙉🙈⛑

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