This article will be a guide to getting started with the Galactic Empire in Star Wars: Legion.
This Article was written in August of 2022, if you read it significantly after that date the information may be out of date.
We’ll be continuing our coverage of how to get started with each faction by looking at the other half of the Galactic Civil War: the Empire. We’ll look at what units are worth looking into, what mechanics you should be aware of and some strategies to remember.
Learning Difficulty: Easy
In my opinion, probably the easiest faction to learn due to its more forgiving nature. Unlike Rebels, you have the superior red die saves on almost all of your trooper units, which means they’re much more durable if you get caught out of cover. Damage is on average lower than equivalent Rebels, but hardly bad. They also have the advantage of being the other launch faction which means they have units to fill just about every role you might need to play around with. In general they can win with overwhelming power.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Much like rebels, Empire has been around long enough that they have enough unit variety to overcome any weaknesses they might have. So these strengths and weaknesses are only generalized and individual lists may be able to downplay or eliminate these problems entirely, these are just common issues across many Empire lists.
- Tanky – Almost everything in the army has a red save, and while you might not have as many surge tokens to get surge to save as Republic, they can still take a beating before going down, especially if they find a solid source of cover.
- Strong Suppression – Fitting for the Empire to rule the galaxy through fear, you have access to several units that can use extra suppression on the enemy. In a game where action economy is king, being able to shut down your opponent’s activations wins games. You also have access to Compel to manage your own suppression.
- Range diversity – Like rebels you can basically run almost any list you want. Want a stormtrooper heavy list? Can do. Want to run plodding but powerful Dewbacks? Go for it. Want to even rock the terrifying AT-ST while Vader chops dudes up at ground level? It’s here.
- Poor Morale – at a baseline – Ironically, while you may be able to dish out a lot of suppression your corps units are very average, 1s across the board. The good news is panicking is less of an issue; some of your best commanders have excellent morale scores, including Vader, the only one with an “infinite” morale score.
- Slow – Many of your key units are damned slow: Palpatine, Commander Vader, Dewbacks and Snowtroopers all move speed-1. You do have powers to speed them up, but that comes at the cost of suppression management. Empire does not have any “fast” (Speed 2 with Jump) force users like the other factions.
- Subtle Synergies – Empire does have units that support each other… but it’s a lot less obvious than the other factions. The other factions all have some in your face “combo this unit with this one!” interactions. Empire does have some really nice combos but it takes a bit of practice to tease out how they work.
Like the Rebels you don’t have unique “high level” mechanics to examine like you do with the Clone Wars factions. Instead, we’ll look at some keywords you’ll see pop up in several lists.
First, lets look at two sources of Aim token manipulation. While your special forces are perfectly fine shots, your corps units are about as accurate as depicted in the films. Stormtroopers and Snowtroopers shoot with white dice; while Shoretroopers do get a black die, there is no surge to hit (and they pay for that improved offense with their premium points cost). Since you need at least three corps, you can’t just sit on your hands and let them fire away, unable to hit the broad side of a barn. Like Rebels and their ability to hand out dodge tokens all willy-nilly, you can hand out aim tokens similarly. Veers and the Imperial Officer have Spotter to hand out Aims, while basic Stormtroopers have Precise to make those aim tokens go further by letting them reroll 3 dice instead of 2 for each aim token. You can improve this further with some Targeting Scopes, which are a very cheap upgrade.
Fittingly, the Empire has numerous attacks to rule the board through fear. Many attacks, such as from the Shoretrooper Mortar, Palpatine, Deathtroopers, AT-ST and Dewbacks all have access to attacks and abilities with the Suppressive keyword which grant you 1 extra suppression when attacking. This generally means 1 on melee attacks and 2 on ranged attacks. Empire also has numerous command card effects that issue suppression (Master of Evil, Annihilation Looms, the Blizzard Force cards). With diminished action economy your opponent will have to think hard about how to maximize their units.
Where Should I Start?
Like the Rebel Alliance, the Galactic Civil War starter set is still the place to go in order to get the best bang for your buck. Empire wins out a bit more here, as the hero inside, Commander Vader, actually sees a lot of play. While previously considered terrible, he got a serious upgrade a few months ago that makes him viable in competitive play. Just make sure to get the Errata off AMG’s website.
The Stormtroopers are solid workhorse troops who can become much better when improved with heavy weapons; and the bikes, while not great in small numbers, are excellent in certain builds (and especially in Blizzard Force). Certainly moreso than the junker AT-RT that Rebels get in the set. Plus you get all the generic command cards and plastic pieces you need to play. Buy one box if you want both Rebels and Empire or grab two and split with a friend.
What Should I Grab Next?
Must-haves are the units that are immediately practical to almost anyone. They’re easy to learn or fundamental to many different lists within the faction. In short, they’re just plain good to have. Secondary takes are still solid, some are even really good, but might require more experience with the game or niche plays.
As before, these are merely recommendations based on which units will be most practical to most players. If there are units you like that aren’t on this list, feel free to grab them anyway! Almost anything can be playable if you commit to it, but these are what can be immediately useful to people.
Shoretroopers – You sort of have a choice here. You can either continue to use your Stormtroopers you got in the Starter Set (but you’re going to want to supplement them with the Stormtrooper upgrade kit to give them some better guns, both are good!) or replace them with these guys. Neither are a bad choice, but I think Shoretroopers muscle them out a bit more. Their shooting is baseline superior to Stormtroopers, and come with a Mortar, so you effectively get two corps units in one box. The Mortar is excellent and you can make a solid starting list with 2-3 Shoretroopers + Mortars and build from there. Of course this is also a bit of a “why not both?” situation. Builds that include both Shores and Storms in some combination are successful and common.
Operative Vader – Ever since the buff to both Vaders, Operative Vader is in high demand. Commander Vader is good, but Operative Vader is terrifying on the field. He moves faster, does almost as much damage as Commander Vader and you can use his command cards interchangeably with Commander Vader. Just like Commander Vader make sure to get an updated version of his stat card so you’re not running him incorrectly.
Iden Versio – Probably your best “hybrid support/combat hero,” Iden is one of the most flexible Heroes in the game. She can be equipped for long range or short range shooting and excels at both. She plays well with the Imperial Special Forces, but does not require them to excel. Her command cards are incredibly disruptive to the opponent and can leave them caught out in a bad situation. Her droid companion also helps her by soaking up a hit with a shield, allowing her to survive fights she otherwise might not be able to.
Imperial Specialist Personnel Expansion – The value of this is variable, but I would still place it as a “must have” for the Imperial Officer. Some of the best units in the Empire are very expensive. If you want to run an AT-ST or Operative Vader you’re going to need a cheap Commander to pick up the slack. General Weiss can do with an AT-ST but if you don’t have a vehicle, Imperial Officer is your go to. General Veers can also be an acceptable alternative if you have the points to spend.
AT-ST – You may be tempted to grab this one early and that’s ok, because it’s actually quite good! Although expensive in dollars, it’s probably one of the better values in terms of dollars per point, and if your opponent doesn’t have a plan for it it’ll be able to walk all over them. The reason I put it as second priority is it requires a lot of list planning around it. As stated earlier it’s a good 20% of your points when all is said and done which means making up for it elsewhere.
Orson Krennic – Krennic is good, especially with Death Troopers (though he does not require them). He’s economically priced now, with the powerful Compel and Cunning abilities. A solid “Support” hero who doesn’t do much damage himself but makes your army fight better.
Imperial Special Forces (ISF) – While you get a unit out of this (2 if you count Inferno Squad) at the very least its worth it for the Del Meeko and Gideon Hask upgrades who can be attached to Imperial Special Forces or Corps squad. You’ll frequently want to throw them into some Stormtroopers or Shoretroopers if you have the space. They are great value adds to your dice pool of weapon attacks. ISF and Inferno are of course excellent with Iden and her command card Tactical Strike, which entire list concepts are built around.
Dewbacks – Dewbacks are far more intimidating than their appearance may imply. With Spur they generally get to move at Speed-2. Even if it does cause them to receive Suppression, Commander Vader or Krennic can Compel them to keep moving. This makes them great bodyguards with Commander Vader to get him up the field. They are also deceptively fast due to their large base size.
Scout Troopers – Like the Rebels before them, it’s good to have 2-3 of these guys on hand for activation padding. I stated this before in the Rebels article, but Scout Strike Teams are a cheap and useful unit, and for several reasons, you need activations in Legion. This means if you take something expensive you need some cheap filler to throw in. Access to High Velocity, Pierce and Sharpshooter from Range 5 means you can easily pick a wound or two off a unit and throw some suppression down. I’d say it’s less necessary than in Rebels but you’ll be glad to have them on hand when your list needs just a few more bonus activations on the cheap.
LAAT-le – The LAAT is a weird one, with its new price it’s not actually too bad, but its very niche. Probably the best way to use it is if you bring Vader and would rather not deal with Burst of Speed only once a game. Drop him in the backline and go ham, other than that it has limited use in grabbing unattended objectives and the like.
Bounty Hunters – I’m lumping them together because they occupy a similar role, but go about it differently. This includes (for now) Boba Fett, Bossk, and the new to the Empire Cad Bane. All 3 add powerful operatives with flexible abilities to your list, and the Bounty rule to give you a free victory point for taking out a specific target. Given the low scoring nature of Legion games, these can sometimes win you the match. Which one you pick is largely up to personal preference, as all three excel in the current game state in different ways. Just make sure you get the new cards for them.
The empire is one of the better factions to get started with. It’s generally simple and straightforward, with its “might makes right” playstyle that can frequently take a hit in retribution and keep on marching. If you wish to rule the galaxy with fear, grab your AT-ST, there are rebellions to crush.