This article will go over the top 8 lists from the recent World Open Qualifier at the NOVA Open.

Last weekend, 59 players competed at the NOVA Open, yours truly included. The NOVA open is my home territory, held this year at the Washington Hilton in downtown Washington, DC.

This year, NOVA Open was formatted as a nine round tournament, with six rounds before the cut and up to three afterwards. Though it made for a grueling schedule, everyone was guaranteed at least two days of Legion and the six rounds of swiss before the cut allowed for the crowd pleasing “mulligan” game where you can go X-1 and still advance to the cut with one loss.

I’ll hit the top 8, then discuss some brief thoughts on my experience, including a last minute waffle that I came to regret.

1- Josh (FluffySaurus)

Lord Vader’s Special Snowflakes

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Josh swiftly proved that despite the bevy of nerfs it received in the last balance update, Blizzard Force is still good. It looks a bit different (Commander Vader instead of Operative, different weapon mix on the HRUs, 9 activations instead of 10) but is still very effective. Commander Vader was never as reliant on Force Choke as Operative Vader, and he’s still a force to be reckoned with when he gets in, especially on objectives like hostage. Josh also had two medics to make sure Vader stays nice and topped off.

As with previous iterations of Blizzard Force, Josh’s post-nerf take still relies heavily on the objective deck and other battle cards to create a favorable situation. Most players don’t want to play Bombing Run or Breakthrough into four speeders (with good reason), so they often have to “settle” for Hostage into Vader. Uh oh.

I just wanted to add that Josh and Joseph Lohmolder both hail from the Portland area, the latter of whom won our local get together in the Pac NW the “Evergreen Open” in August. I was content with the fact that Izzy, Bobby Joe Thomas, and myself had a little streak going where we would go down to Portland and win their locals but clearly they have upped their game and Seattle will have to respond in-kind. – Doc Velo

Congrats to Josh on winning this year’s grueling nine round NOVA Open, and I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll see of him in these top cut articles.

2 – Sam McHenry

Anakin and Padme sittin’ in a tree, F-I-S-H-I-N-G (RIP Grappling Hooks)

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Sam ran the newest version of the “classic” Anakin/Padme gunline with Pykes, very similar to what I’ve been running. Unlike me, however, Sam didn’t make the mistake of trying to replace Padme, sticking with the tried and true model and reaping the benefits. Sam piloted it very skillfully, as the only player to go 6-0 in the Swiss part of the tournament.

Basically, this list is an attrition monster; it generates a ton of dodge tokens, many of which can be shared across units, and there are no fragile units other than the easily hidden Pyke Capo commander. Sam even took Barrier to deal with those pesky High Velocity snipers, something a list like this would normally have some issues with.

Top 4

Kentucky Dan

Cache Me Outside

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Speaking of tokens, Dan here has managed to math out a list that generates a silly amount of them, both aims and dodges. Dan eschews the more typical Capo personnel upgrades for the extra man with Cache: Aim, which is also substantially cheaper and allows all six corps units to be beefed out while still leaving room for Bossk. Bossk leans even further into the attrition game, with his solid Range 4 fire power and potential for bounty.

At the start of the turn, a given Pyke unit can have up to five dodge tokens (3x Aid from Capos, one saved from Vigilance, one for their own Independent: Dodge) with a sixth in the hole from Prepared Supplies, and the potential to gain four more over the course of the turn (3x more Aid, dodge action). Good luck getting through that without High Velocity.

Nick Bodnar


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Speaking of High Velocity, Nick has brought it in spades. Cassian combined with Ahsoka has become a very successful template for Rebels, with the maximum saturation of High Velocity/Pierce at long range as well as some Range 4 critical (vets) and solid Range 5 firepower (the FDs). This list just absolutely owns the Range 4-5 poking game, and mostly doesn’t care about those pesky dodge tokens from GAR or Shadow Collective.

Ahsoka brings some useful objective play as well as doubling in a linebacker role against close range threats.

Top 8

Kyle Crosser

Global Warming Force 3.0

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Kyle’s take on the new Blizzard Force looks a bit more like the traditional model, with the RTC/DLT version of the HRUs and Ions on the snowtroopers (as well as obviously replacing Choke with Saber Throw on Vader). This is a tried and true template now, which Kyle was skilled enough to pilot to the top 8.

Joseph Lohmolder

Master Yoda & The Big Steppers

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Full ARCs were a bit trendy going into NOVA, and Joe brings them alongside Yoda for maximum shenanigans. Joe likes to use the RPS troopers to fire support at Range 4 into the sniper shots, delivering a surprising and effective five dice sniper shot with Lethal and Sharpshooter for some excellent poke at a range where you thought you were safe from Fire Support.

Yoda is also, of course, very good at objectives and just generally putting the game on his back. To fit the ARCs and the Clone Commander, Joe has to cut Chewie, which is worthwhile for a list like this that is built around those Fire Support opportunities.

Mike Barry

We’re the Good Guys – Right?

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The godfather of full ARCs himself has brought two of them as well, alongside Anakin and some more clones. Mike pivoted away from 501st so he could bring Boil, who is an absolutely amazing tool in the GAR tool box that more players should be taking advantage of.

Mike opted here for the “just dodge armor” strategy, eschewing Saber Throw in favor of Barrier and forgoing the RPS entirely. Only one player at NOVA brought the triple ST Tempest force, and only one more brought Dark Troopers. Where all my armor players at?

Kyle Dornbos

The only thing worse than sand is glitter

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Yeah alright, it’s Anakin for me again. I’ve found something with this template that I really like, which is simply a very efficient list that is good at killing things.

I got a bit too into that though, wondering if I could drop Padme for another beefy trooper unit. I swapped her out for the full ARCs, and they are very good at attrition, as advertised.

However, Legion is actually a very well designed game at its foundation, and that means you can’t just murder your way to victory. It turns out you have to actually play the objectives too, and my new version of this list is really not very good at that. It’s terrible at objectives where you have to move and it’s also quite surprisingly bad at Hostage, which I found out the hard way (I lost to Josh on Hostage despite being up on kill points). I went into this in more detail on the recent Notorious Scoundrels podcast, but Padme gives you some nice hedges in the objective game. Secret Mission allows you to flip the script on some missions and deployments that you would normally veto out of hand, and her two pip lets you at least pull even on objectives like Hostage that need your units to be getting some free moves. The Full ARCs certainly make the list very good at killing things, but it was already very good at that, and they’re really just taking something the list already excels at and pushes it into overkill territory.

That is a long way of saying if I were to play Anakin again, I would bring Padme along, because it turns out he really can’t live without her.


And that’s a wrap for the NOVA Open top 8. Congrats to Josh, and I look forward to seeing everyone next year!

2 thoughts on “NOVA Open 2023 – Top 8

  1. StuartyAlec says:

    Great write up, good to see GAR doing well. Im the only GAR player in our local META.
    Whats the reasoning behind Boil being taken in every list? What makes him a must take?

    • Kyle Dornbos says:

      He allows you to focus the damage into one unit (usually one that doesn’t have a heavy upgrade and is therefore cheaper/less important) away from your more expensive/more important units. In a list with Pykes he also helps mute the impact of that first or second hit before their danger sense gets charged up.

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