This unit guide will cover the Imperial Royal Guard special forces unit in the game Star Wars Legion.
The Imperial Royal Guard (IRG) is a unique unit in Star Wars Legion. While the unit is an effective close-range fighter with 8 health behind red saves, it is one of the only units in the game with Guardian 2. This combination of abilities makes the IRG a compelling unit to include in Imperial armies.
- 8 health with red saves
- Guardian 2 (can Guardian any unit)
- Emperor Palpatine synergy (Entourage: IRG)
- Courage 2 and Disciplined 2
- Needs heavy weapon for Immune Pierce in melee
- No mobility keywords
- Only one heavy weapon option
The IRG costs 69 points base and 90 points when upgraded with the Electrostaff Guard. The base unit is fairly expensive for what it does, but the unit becomes much more points efficient when equipped with the Electrostaff Guard. That being said 90 points for an elite special forces unit isn’t very expensive.
The IRG has two weapon profiles: a range 1-2 attack and a melee attack. The range 1-2 weapon is the EC-17 Hold-out Blaster, providing two non surging black dice. In a 3-model unit, the Hold-out Blaster averages 3 hits unaimed, and averages 4 hits in a 4-model unit. The IRG have the keyword: Charge giving them a free melee attack after a move. This makes it so they can double move into a melee engagement. The Force Pike can be used in melee and has one red and one black dice. In a 3-model unit the Force Pike averages 3.75 hits. In a 4-model unit the Heavy Weapon model must use the Electrostaff which has two black dice. This gives a 4-model unit an average of 4.75 hits in melee unaimed. The IRG does not surge on offense meaning surges will increase the offensive capabilities of the unit.
The IRG has a formidable 2 health per model behind red saves. This means IRG have 12 effective wounds base, and 16 effective wounds with the Heavy Weapon upgrade. The IRG does not surge on defense, so surges increase the effective wounds to 16-24 in 4-model unit. This is a large health pool considering the cost of the unit.
One of the most important abilities on the IRG unit is Guardian 2. IRG are one of two units that can Guardian any unit. This ability is extremely powerful for protecting more vulnerable units or keeping your important focus pieces at full health. It is also worth noting the large health pool of the unit combines great with Guardian giving you 12-24 effective wounds to Guardian with.
The IRG are only speed 2 like most trooper units and do not have any innate mobility keywords.
The IRG only have one option for heavy weapon upgrades which is the Electrostaff Guard. The upgrade costs 21 points and comes with a Sidearm: Melee weapon with two black dice that also gives the unit Immune: Pierce from melee attacks. If you plan to use the IRG as a linebacker unit to help deal with force users, this upgrade is a must. The only time I leave this upgrade behind is in an army where the IRG’s only function is to be an inexpensive Guardian battery. The IRG only cost 90 points total when upgraded with the Electrostaff Guard making them an inexpensive unit for what they provide.
You have flexibility when choosing training upgrades since the IRG have two training upgrade slots. The IRG can make great use of the different training options augmenting offensive ability, defensive ability, or utility (Guardian).
Into the Fray
The IRG does not surge on defense or offense and is also an aggressive unit. This makes it a great candidate to benefit from Into the Fray. This upgrade is a good option if you want to play the IRG more aggressively rushing into the enemy lines.
Protector gives IRG the ability to Guardian critical results once per turn (or more if you recover). This upgrade is a must have if you plan on using the IRG as a Guardian meat shield for your important units. Blocking an attack with a few crits can prevent your opponent from landing long range attacks on valuable units like force users or strike teams. This is the most common upgrade I bring on IRG.
Tenacity is an alternate way to increase the IRG’s offensive ability. While Into the Fray adds more damage to a full squad Tenacity is more effective offensively once two models have died. Tenacity combined with Into the Fray can turn IRG into a deadly unit in melee.
Environmental gear is a solid choice since the IRG are most effective in melee and have no mobility keywords. Unhindered can give you the extra movement you need to close the gap into melee.
Recon Intel is also an inexpensive upgrade option and helps your IRG start just a little bit closer to important objectives. It is a decent choice for only 2 points.
Sadly, grenades are still not great, and I don’t think they are worth their cost. Especially since IRG are a low model count unit grenades are not very effective.
How to Play
The IRG can fill two main roles when played. They are a strong close-range unit with a formidable health pool. Outside of combat they bring Guardian 2 allowing them to protect any unit in the Imperial roster. I am going to focus on how they play in each of these roles separately.
In the current Legion meta dodge spam is rampant. Pykes, Rebel Troopers, and Independent: Dodge bounty hunters are all over the place. This has increased the value of High Velocity units as an option to bypass this popular defensive strategy. Guardian is one of the few ways you can stop High Velocity attacks from landing on dodging units. Force users in particular rely on dodges for Deflect to increase their survivability. Guardian is an excellent way to redirect damage off your force user and into your inexpensive IRG. Palpatine for example relies on his one pip: And Now… You Will Die to attack as many times as possible in a single turn. Each health is extremely important for Palpatine, and each wound the IRG prevents with guardian results in an additional free attack for Palpatine. Another great target for guardian is Strike Team snipers. While strike teams only cost 48 points they have only two wounds making each model cost 24 points. When fighting at long range, guardian can block attacks into your valuable Strike Teams. IRG cost 90 points for a 4 man unit and have 8 health making it cost only 11.25 points per health which is much lower than the cost in a Strike Team. The IRG also have red saves as opposed to the white saves of a strike team which means a hit is less likely to wound. Overall, when using Guardian with IRG you want to block wounds on your valuable offensive units which have weaker defense.
Aggressive Melee Unit
IRG are not only excellent defensive units protecting your army, they are also formidable in combat. IRG can attack from range 1-2 and melee. If you plan on using the IRG as a fighting unit, they are safest when engaged in melee. One of the best methods to cover ground and engage is to last-first with the IRG. You activate the IRG last one turn moving twice to get closer to the enemy army, then the following turn you activate them first moving twice again and engage the enemy. If you do this you can get four moves in a row to quickly engage the enemy. One thing you should note is this strategy does leave the IRG vulnerable to Withdraw. The enemy could immediately Withdraw the unit you engaged and leave the IRG in the open. Because of this I recommend a last-first when you either can engage a unit without an order or you have other threats to follow up the IRG with. Withdrawing takes up a unit’s entire activation which means it won’t be attacking that turn. If you have other melee units you can follow up with a Withdraw is not always a big issue.
Alternatively, you can have a more slow approach in an army with multiple threats. In a melee threat saturation army you can start at range 3 one turn move into range 2 and shoot. Then the following turn double move into melee. If the IRG is supported by other aggressive units or your gunline is also trading shots it is less important to slingshot the IRG into melee. IRG can also function as a “linebacker” unit. If you are facing an enemy force user or aggressive melee unit like Wookiees you can counter charge them after they engage your army. Since the IRG have immune pierce in melee with the Electrostaff Guard they trade extremely well against white save units like Wookiees and can survive multiple attacks from a lightsaber. Because of this, I typically play IRG as a Guardian shield for your units, then counter charge enemy melee units if they try to rush your army.
As you may have guessed the IRG pair extremely well with Emperor Palpatine. The most obvious synergy is Entourage: IRG providing perfect order control. The second synergy is the effectiveness of Guardian for protecting Palpatine. This helps keep him at full health for And Now… You Will Die. The rest of the army is built to provide firepower at long range and take advantage of Pull The Strings. Pull the Strings not only increases your damage output by allowing units like Iden two attacks per turn, but also gives you a massive advantage on certain objectives. For example, on Hostage Exchange your core unit can move 3 times in one turn or double move and shoot an enemy unit. The blue player is already advantaged on Hostage Exchange and Pull the Strings sets this over the top. Iden and Palpatine also combo well on Recover the Supplies. Iden can Infiltrate onto the center box, then on turn 1, grab the box and move back to your army. Pulls the Strings gives Iden an additional move making it so you have the center box safe inside your entire army. In this army the IRG combined with Force Barrier makes the army really potent at long range. Iden + Inferno + 2 Snipers + T21B and the Mortar are all deadly at range 4+. Often long-range units rely on critical hits and chip damage which both the IRG and Palpatine can help mitigate. So, you will have the advantage at this range band, and if the enemy decides to try and get aggressive Palpatine can stop them in their tracks. I think this kind of army is flexible and you could potentially include other deadly long-range units like Bossk in an army like this.
Empire Melee Spam
This army has a very different strategy than the previous one. You simply rush in and overwhelm your opponent with 6 deadly melee threats. In particular the IRG are effective since they both contribute to threat saturation but also protect Vader on his way into the fight. Vader can single handedly destroy an entire enemy army. New Ways to Motivate Them is great for speeding up your IRG or Dewbacks and providing a triple move in one turn to engage. Your main goal with this army is to protect your aggressive units on the approach by utilizing line of sight blocking terrain then crashing all at once into the enemy army. The IRG keep Vader healthy and contribute to the overall threat saturation.
IRG are a great option for Imperial armies filling a variety of roles in the faction. While IRG are currently less popular than some of the newer units, I believe they still are competitively viable in the right situation. If nothing else they are a fun unit to play and I hope people are encouraged to get them on the table!