This unit guide will cover Imperial Dark Troopers in the game Star Wars Legion.
The Imperial Dark Troopers are unlike any other unit in the game of Legion. They are the first unit in the game with the keyword Unstoppable, the first trooper with full armor, the first heavy that is a trooper, and the first non-unique unit with infinite courage. All this together makes them function quite different than any previous unit. In this guide I will give an overview of the Imperial Dark Troopers, discuss the different upgrades they can take, describe how best to play them, and end with some list ideas.
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- Extremely hard to kill (6-12 wounds, red saves, full Armor)
- Two activations (Unstoppable)
- Large damage output
- Undefeatable if your opponent does not have enough Impact
- Deceptively Fast (two speed 1 moves per turn, ~ 8 inches or one speed 3 move)
- Can be countered with impact stacking
- Cannot be repaired or benefit from cover (Unconcerned)
The Imperial Dark Troopers (IDT) cost 95 points base with three models in the unit. When fully upgraded the IDT can cost up to 220 points for one unit. While this is an expensive cost, the IDT bring tons of value to the table. To put it into perspective, the AT-ST upgraded with the Elite Armor Pilot, Mortar Launcher, Twin Light Blaster Cannon, and Linked Targeting Array costs 185 points. So, for 35 more points you have more health, red saves, more damage per attack, the ability to interact with trooper objectives, and two activations per turn. The IDT are extremely cost effective for what they bring to the table. The IDT are harder to kill than any other unit in the game and they do more damage than any other unit in the game making them earn their high price tag.
Below is a table of the average results for each weapon in the Imperial Dark Troopers’ arsenal. I will go into more details on the heavy weapon upgrades in the upgrades section, but I want to touch on the average results of the two most popular weapon profiles. An IDT with the XS-Assault Cannon and the SM-9 Frag Launcher at range 3 averages ~4.7 hits unaimed (~5.7 with one aim, ~6.5 with two aims) and at range 2 averages ~6.2 hits unaimed (~7.4 with one aim, ~8.2 with two aims). These attacks are massive especially considering you get two activations per turn. The IDT can reliably kill full units between its two attacks per turn shredding anything in its path. The IDT average more raw hits per turn than any other unit in the game due to their large dice pools and two activations per turn.
|E-11D Blaster||1-3||0.5 hits per model|
|XS-IV Assault Cannon||1-3||~2.5||Critical 1|
|SM-9 Frag Launcher||1-2||2||Exhaust, Blast, Impact 2, Cycle|
|Crushing Punch||Melee||1 hit per model|
The Imperial Dark Troopers have two health per model, red saves, and full armor. This results in 12-24 effective wounds depending on how many models there are in the unit. When upgraded with two heavy weapons the IDT have more effective wounds than any other armored unit in the game. The only other unit in the game that comes close to the effective wounds of the IDT is commander Vader with 16-24 effective wounds. The IDT do have one drawback, the keyword Unconcerned. The IDT are unable to benefit from cover and you cannot repair or restore models in the unit. This drawback however is negligible considering their defensive profile.
The Imperial Dark Troopers do not have any utility abilities. Their main form of utility is the fact they are Droid Troopers allowing them to play trooper objectives unlike other heavy units.
While this would make them appear slow, they are able to activate twice per turn, meaning they can move twice. Two speed one movements are roughly equal to a speed 3 unit. So, they have roughly the same speed as a speed 3 unit that moves once per turn.
The Imperial Dark Troopers can only use upgrades specific to Imperial Dark Troopers, so they are limited to the heavy weapons, personnel, and programming they come with.
The Imperial Dark Troopers come with three different heavy weapon upgrade options and the unit has two heavy weapon upgrade slots allowing you to mix and match the weapons. The most popular and well-balanced combination is the XS-IV Assault Cannon combined with the SM-9 Frag Launcher.
XS-IV Assault Cannon
The XS-IV Assault Cannon is range 1-3 with four black dice and Critical 1. While this is the most expensive heavy weapon at 48 points, it is also the most valuable and an auto-include in my opinion. The large dice pool backloads damage for the Imperial Dark Troopers and massively increases the damage potential of the unit. The gun on its own averages ~2-2.5 hits and Critical 1 adds nearly an extra hit to each attack because IDT do not surge natively.
SM-9 Frag Launcher
The SM-9 Frag Launcher is range 1-2 with two red dice and one black dice, Blast, Impact 2, and Cycle. The SM-9 must be exhausted when used. When combined with Cycle it can be used for free every other attack. This is the second most expensive upgrade option at 40 points. While this is expensive when combined with the Assault Cannon it creates devastating range 2 attacks. Adding Blast to the already massive dice pool of the Imperial Dark Troopers obliterates most units. While it is an exhaustible weapon, Cycle pairs nicely with Unstoppable. Since you activate twice per turn you can fire the Frag Launcher and Cycle it in the same turn, but unless you recover you can only attack with the Frag Launcher once per turn. You can also sometimes use standbys to bypass the cycle timing; move and standby when your Frag Launcher is down, cycle will refresh the weapon, and then you can use it on the attack where you spend your standby.
The Mertalizer is melee only has two red dice and one black dice, and Suppressive. This weapon is the least expensive out of the three but also brings the least utility. Suppressive is really only useful in melee when attacking units with a standby. The Imperial Dark Troopers also already have a strong base melee profile of one red and one white dice. While you are only paying 4 more points for the Mertalizer than the personnel upgrade, you are taking up a slot that can be better filled by one of the other two heavy weapons. The only real place I see the Mertalizer being worth it is in an LAAT IDT army, but even in this army you could make an argument for either of the other heavy weapons.
Imperial Dark Trooper
Though adding the extra Dark Trooper model onto your two heavy build makes an expensive 220 point unit, having that extra body in front of your heavies really makes a big difference. Your opponent needs to do 8(!) wounds to your Dark Trooper unit just to remove one of the heavy weapon minis when you have the extra personnel.
The Imperial Dark Troopers also only have one programming upgrade option: Programmed Loyalty. This upgrade costs 5 points and gives the unit Retinue: Commander and also makes it so they can only receive orders from Commander units. This upgrade is essentially a free dodge or aim every turn for only 5 points! The low cost of this upgrade makes it an amazing choice and basically an auto-include for IDT.
How to Play
The Imperial Dark Troopers have a very straightforward playstyle outlined below. The IDT are a hammer and have one real mode of play, which is kill everything. If you are playing an objective that is not good for IDT, smash a hole in the opposing army and make it an objective good for IDT. It doesn’t matter what objective you are playing if your opponent has no models left on the table. Because IDT do not benefit from cover and now you can climb at speed 1, you essentially just move in a straight line toward your opponent and start killing things. While this simple two step flow chart will work for a majority of your activations, I will cover some of the edge cases and tricks you can do with IDT.
Because Imperial Dark Troopers have infinite courage, they cannot receive suppression and thus cannot have Standby tokens stripped by enemy ranged attacks. If you are playing against an army with aggressive close ranged units, you can take standbys when outside of normal attack range and wait for them to push into your attack range. This is especially useful for stopping enemy force users from engaging. Unstoppable also has some unusual objective play. For example, an IDT can repair/break a Moisture Vaporator twice in a single turn. Likewise, they can engage a unit on a Key Position that has already activated to pull them off the point, then withdrawal and touch the Key Position during their following activation. IDT can also use line of sight blocking (LOS) terrain and their two activations to do peekaboo attacks. To do this you issue the IDT an order during the command phase when they are safely hidden behind a LOS blocker, then when you draw their second token from the bag, you activate them move and shoot. Then the next activation you use the faceup order token to immediately activate the same unit and shoot then move back behind the LOS blocking terrain.
While expensive the Imperial Dark Troopers, can be played in a variety of armies. Most armies include two IDT because it is difficult to deal with 20-24 health behind red saves and full armor.
Currently Boba Fett is also quite overturned similarly to the Imperial Dark Troopers. So, why not combine the two? Boba is an amazing play maker and a third threat for the army. Your opponent must focus on the IDT, leaving Boba free to flank and play objectives. Rule With Respect also adds an additional black dice to each of the Imperial Dark Trooper attacks, gaining twice the value. Overall, a solid army that can deal with most different objectives and opposing armies.
Krennic pairs quite nicely with Imperial Dark Troopers because of the synergies between his command cards and the IDT. Deploy the Garrison gives out two Standby tokens, and Standby tokens, as previously mentioned, cannot be stripped from IDT. Annihilation Looms also gives out suppression to every unit on the battlefield, but IDT are infinite courage, so they are unaffected by this card. Imperial Royal Guards are also a great choice when paired with IDT. The new rules changes make it so Guardian can now block crits from Impact. So, Protector combined with Guardian 2 on the Imperial Royal Guards makes the IDT even harder to kill. This army combines the extra attacks from Deploy the Garrison with the extra defense of Guardian to make your Imperial Dark Troopers even more deadly and difficult to kill.
Andrew Terrell from the Fifth Trooper Blog and That’s No Moon Podcast placed in the top 4 at the Legion World Championship playing Imperial Remnant with Imperial Dark Troopers. I was able to watch some of his games and see the army in action. The army takes advantage of the Independent: aim or dodge provided by the Battle Force to increase the efficiency of the army. You can find the rules for the Imperial Remnant Battle Force here. The army has great objective play with the Speeder Bikes who support the two IDT. Death Troopers with the HH-12 are also surprisingly strong for only 88 points. The army also has 11 activations (with 9 scoring units) which can be used to help delay activating the fragile bikes. Playing Remnant gives up some of the other strong units in the Imperial faction but gains great efficiency from the flexible heavy weapons and Independent.
Imperial Dark Troopers are currently extremely strong and warped the 2023 Legion World Championship meta to include massive amounts of Impact. The IDT are the most brute force unit in the game currently in my opinion. If going for kills and brutalizing your opponent sounds fun to you, then IDT are the unit for you! I hope this guide gave you some new ideas on how to play IDT and build armies around them!