The 9th season of Invader League is upon us, so let’s look at some charts!
I’ll admit it: I’m part of the “TTS” generation of Legion players.
I began learning this game in late 2019 a bit after Clone Wars released. I remember that time fondly, my brother Greg and I had absolutely no idea what we were doing, to the point where I was constantly bemoaning how broken General Grievous and Droidekas were (heh…sorry CIS players). We would be setting up 6×4 maps with minimal terrain, just kinda shooting away and very slowly learning that Obi-Wan probably shouldn’t “Guardian” every roll and even more slowly figuring out that the Clone Trooper keyword was busted at the time. I didn’t even realize that they could share standbys until I heard some bunch of chuckleheads yapping about it on Notorious Scoundrels on some episode. I did get to play one real life tournament and was excited to do more when this…thing…happened.
Putting aside the actual hardships that so many went through during the pandemic, the game itself is still recovering in many ways. The release schedule remains messy due to supply chain concerns and only in the last year have real life tournaments felt truly “normal” again thanks to vaccination. But for all that time from the spring of 2020 to now, we’ve had Invader. It’s absolutely true that Invader is a somewhat different game from real life legion, one where measurements are exact, maps are nearly universally of high quality, and where players have time to prepare for a match. It’s this latter item that I would argue is the most consequential, planning for a map and an opponent ahead of time makes a world of difference compared to the real-life situation where your Jedi list may be suddenly faced with a massive gunline on a table that only has scatter terrain.
Pictured: A more well-balanced map than you’re likely to see very often IRL
Does this mean that a player must be “better” to succeed in real life play compared to TTS? I think that’s a fair statement. But I also think that Invader tests slightly different skills, and perhaps more importantly is a forum where players across the entire world can play each other in one ongoing event. I’ve played four complete seasons so far and each time I was knocked out of single elims from someone in a new region of the world: Texas, Germany, Idaho, and Australia. That’s a variety you probably won’t approach until we have Worlds again, so if anyone reading this may be on the fence about playing “fake Legion” I’d encourage them to give it a shot for the competition alone.
This season (the 9th!) is extra-interesting because we’re using spoiled-but-not-released units such as Din, Rebel Boba, gun-less Dark Troopers, Din, Super-charged Imperial Boba with new command cards, IG-88 with no command cards (they got spoiled too late), Din, Cody with no command cards (argh), and finally, Din. This post is being made at the beginning of Invader so we only have a meta snapshot without knowing how everything did (we’ll be back for that) but let’s stop cogitating and start looking at some numbers. Step aside Dr. Ustick, you may have your numbers and statistics and stuff but I found a template on Powerpoint that I think looks neat and I sort of figure out how to use it.
To me the most surprising aspect of this is the relative paucity of Shadow Collective. We all know how ridiculous Pykes are, and the only way to squeeze all the juice out of that silliness is to play this Battle Force (especially my list, more in a moment on that). On top of that, Evan Bulriss’ recent success with a vehicle/suppression heavy list is one that only works with Shadow Collective, the man himself agrees that swoops make little sense in the other two factions that are allowed to take them, especially Republic which already has speeders that are far superior (To the Stabcast punks: yes this includes the Fluttercraft).
Battle Force Breakdown
I would have expected Blizzard to take the cake here, and while it makes sense that High Velocity is quite valuable in a dodge-heavy meta I didn’t expect quite this much “Invasion.” An AAT is quite hard to kill, and with so many lists being based on characters who aren’t Jedi players may find it difficult (Bossk with an aim feeder excepted) to punch through all that health over the course of six turns. Echo Base is probably more of a known quantity at this point, in my mind it’s a solid list that has some large flaws (such as a need to adhere to particular Battle Cards) that will take excellent play to overcome, time will tell if we will see such success here. 501st is…501st. If either of you two makes elims I will buy you a Fifth Trooper token set myself and write a god-dang sonnet telling tales of your bravado. Good luck, and, you’re crazy, but I love you for it!
Commanders: Rise of the Generics…and Han?!
Speaking of Republic, I was heartened by how many are sticking with it. I didn’t and I’m normally a die-hard for the clone boys, I just got tired of playing the one list (Anakin) that has shown consistent success. As we can see, they generally have low activations and low bids which makes things tough when the units (especially the Phase 1/2 Clone Troopers and Arcs) are also very vulnerable to a meta where GCW snipers have made a triumphant return. Case in point, as a percentage of being chosen within a particular faction Anakin was the second most common. The most common was Darksaber Maul, who won’t appear in the below stats (which are raw counts of each unit) because he’s still technically an operative until the game starts:
So yeah, we’ll put the fish issues (fissues) aside for the moment. Iden’s value has basically somehow only grown as time has gone on, high velocity plus marksman plus aims is a combination that will serve you well against pretty much everyone from Jedi to vigilance/independent spammers of all kinds. Tactical Strike is probably the most powerful command in the game right now (even eclipsing Clankers from the previous RRG in my opinion) and Inferno’s extraordinary efficiency when free tokens are added is hard to ignore. Han is the real surprise here, it’s heartening to see him be the most common unique Rebel commander. A review of his upgrade stats shows that a huge part of his appeal is that he is an effective fighter who can carry a copy of vigilance. Up close and personal x2 shots plus teamworking them to Chewie does sound darn cool, even if there are several units out there who will laugh at a Pierce 2 shot when one or both results will get melted by a dodge on the regular. I’m rooting for you Han players!
A Bevy of Bounding Bounty Boys
You’re reading this right, a full 41% of lists have bounty hunters in them. This is obviously unprecedented for the game, and to be honest I think this number would be even higher if the currently known spoilers for IG-11/88 were available for this season of IL. The numbers are more staggering when you break things down by faction:
Go figure that the bad guy faction likes the bad guys, but this is unreal. I took a peek at every list in writing this up, and there was a point at which I was legitimately surprised every time I ran across an Empire list that didn’t have a bounty hunter in it. When you factor in that four Empire players took Blizzard Force which isn’t even allowed to take any bounty hunters, you end up with over three quarters of eligible Empire lists containing the keyword. Rebels in a way are even more mystifying, since the bounty keyword in their case is held by exactly one character. CIS at 27% and Shadow Collective at 16% are much more aligned with what one may normally expect, although it’s worth noting the wave of Bossk + droids we predicted months ago does not seem to have materialized in the way we thought it would. Republic, naturally at 0% bounty, is feeling just a TINY bit left out.
I don’t want to hear “but you have two secret missions” when both those characters are extremely killable by highly mobile piercing shooters with free tokens and insane command cards. AND ANOTHER TH Not now Evan – Kyle
Might As Well Jump
As a short aside, check out how many lists have a fast jumpy character! Perhaps one of Rebel Boba’s rumored gear upgrades will be a ketogenic diet and he can join the club.
Pyke Place Market
We’re far beyond re-hashing the obvious: Pyke foot soldiers are good, and they’re cheap for what they do, and almost everyone can take them. The faction-based battle forces were excluded from the above which means that Pykes are present in a full 31% of the lists that are allowed to take them. Do I think this is good for the game? Not unless I’m misremembering how many iconic moments in Star Wars involved gilled drug dealers.
Am I going to try to take advantage of it while I can in my own list for this season? NO…ok, maybe.
Yep, IRL this list would require buying one box of full Shadow Collective and then another eight Pyke boxes. No, I’m not so insane as to have done this in actuality. Yes, I may be asking around to borrow some fish leaders when I go to the San Francisco qualifier this November. What can I say, they get a lot of dodges! Do I see the irony in a clone player trying out Lead by Example on street hooligans before even considering spending that many points in a GAR list (the art shows an iconic Rex moment)?
Nope, I do not.
It should be noted that Black Sun Enforcers, who are only in 12% of eligible lists, have a much lower footprint despite the fact that their tournament performance is not far off from their aquatic counterparts. Don’t worry though, if the Pykes get adjusted down someday and Black Sun does not I’m sure we’ll be seeing a different variety of free tokens en masse in no time flat.
When it comes to looking at the numbers of something so tactical (rather than strategic) in nature I figured it would be best to just show the rawest of the raw numbers. Above you can see the breakdown of just out common Outmaneuver is in the Invader meta. In some ways I was pleasantly surprised that critical hits will still “work” against dodges the vast majority of the time, but when you consider the fact that SA in particular is something that usually goes on the most valuable units a roster has the prospects of doing damage with a crit-dependent unit like the E5-S Battle Droids starts to dwindle significantly.
The Anti-Band Wagoners
I don’t want to brag but I think I did a pretty good job with these Powerpoint templates, for those confused by the way the pictures here are of the units not the players themselves.
My favorite example from the above is Pulse Four who didn’t just take a couple of B2’s, HE TOOK FIVE OF THEM. Th0r 2 impressed me as well, taking two dark trooper units despite the fact that their heavies have not been revealed and thus he is walking around doing four actions a turn with 6 wounds-worth of red save armor and throwing…three non surging black dice at range 3. TFT’s own Bushfacts is actually in my pod, I’m looking forward to editing this post to complain about how he beat me with his two flamers despite the fact that no one else in IL thought that was a good idea.
EDIT: Damn it he totally did
A Truly “Unique” Meta
As we recounted at the top, Invader is different. The games are planned, the player pool is enormous, and in this case the meta is one that will never actually exist in real life (since it’s only here that units that are partially spoiled are allowed in games). The re-work of the older bounty hunters along with the impending release of three new ones along with several other upcoming uniques is something that will likely push the game in a more “hero-centric” direction for quite some time, although that’s being slightly counteracted by the incredible efficiency of Pykes at the moment. I hope you enjoyed the doughnut charts, we’ll be back when the Round Robin stage is over to provide some insight, until then let’s just hope that the games are spicy!
3 thoughts on “Invader League 9 Meta: By The Numbers”
“Perhaps one of Rebel Boba’s rumored gear upgrades will be a ketogenic diet and he can join the club.”
I’m dead. Deader than Rexstar.
Fun and well written article. Keep it up Evan, they might just bring you on full time.
Thanks for the kind words, but if you’re dead then please stop haunting me you ghost!
loved this article! Especially the “Pyke place market” graphic and commentary, haha! looking forward to the post round robin breakdown!
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