This article will cover the top 8 lists and players from the Star Wars: Legion tournament at PAX: Unplugged.
PAX Unplugged is a massive board gaming convention in Philadelphia, PA. The Legion tournament there is relatively new, but has already drawn enough consistent interest to become a World Open Qualifier (WOQ) and featured 59 players this year (it was full at 64 but had last minute drops). There was also a wildly successful learn to play even held on Friday night, which drew more than 30 players.
This article won’t recap my experience (if you want a run down of that, feel free to listen to our latest episode of Notorious Scoundrels); but I know you’re all clamoring for a listicle, so here you go.
PAX was just six straight rounds of swiss, there wasn’t an elimination style cut, so these rankings are based purely on the final record and subsequent tiebreaker, which is strength of schedule (SoS). If you want to rank them by “win path,” which is what you’d get if you broke it down by how long into the tournament each player got before they suffered a loss, it would look like this:
Top 8 – Ryan Sliwoski, Kyle Dornbos, Jonathan Grizaniuk, Patrick Balco
Top 4 – Michael Barry, Christopher Lewis
Final Table – Sam McHenry, Richard Lavery
Without further ado, here is the top 8 as ranked by final Swiss ranking in Game Uplink:
1st – Sam McHenry (6-0)
“Proof that everyone who sits on the council is a master”
Sam took the “standard” Anakin/Padme/Pyke formula and cut an activation to give the clones Situational Awareness (plus an extra health and suppression mitigation with the Phase 1 captain) as well, making it so that all the relevant “beef” units in his list were capable of dodging crits, something that a lot of anti-GAR tech relies on. He also has Barrier on Anakin instead of Saber Throw, making the units in this already durable list even more so.
Every unit in the list is tough or difficult to reach, making breaking a tie by killing something a challenging proposition. Sam also took DC-15s to make it so that everything in this list could engage at Range 4. It’s a tough nut to crack.
2nd – Ryan Sliwoski (5-1)
Hey look, Tauntauns! Tauns aren’t any less fast and deadly than they used to be, and Ryan puts them to good use in this Echo Base list. He still has the requisite 3/3 Vets/MkIIs with an FD to take some advantage of the excellent Hold at Any Cost, along with Leia to keep the vets alive and get some surprise kills with Coordinated Bombardment, because I’m pretty sure people have forgotten how good that card is.
Ryan took a reasonable bid here to ensure he can use his battle deck, which is pretty critical for Tauntauns.
3rd – Michael Barry (5-1)
Luminous Dead Dudes Are You
Mike is the modern godfather of the Yoda/Padme gunline, and he puts a twist on his own list here with the addition of Cody, dropping a full ARC for him. For those that haven’t experience the terror that is the Yoda gunline, it’s kind of like an Anakin gunline, but much more flexible, mobile, and better at forcing devastating Fire Supports.
Mike treated Cody like a mini-Bossk, feeding him aims to fuel his Range 4 surge/crit pool and using him to kick off Fire Supports. Mike is the one that handed me my only loss and I can confirm that Cody was incredibly effective in that role.
Mike did say that he regretted not having the Full ARCs in his matchup against Sam, where Cody’s critical was far less meaningful into the saturation of Outmanuever and dodges that Sam was running.
4th – Richard Lavery (5-1)
Fast and the Furriest
Would you like some Wookiees with those Wookiees? This list concept is painfully simple. Simply painful. Painful and simple? Anyway, Richard has designed this list to just bury you in an avalanche of Wookiees, and that is exactly what it does. Richard logged almost 3400 kill points over the course of the tournament, which is just wild for a six game tournament. Richard’s Wookiee avalanche was only finally stopped by Sam’s immovable object of a list.
5th – Kyle Dornbos (5-1)
I Hope I Can Still Play Rebels
I played Rebels for the first time in more than two years, and did better than I expected. I designed this list as a clone counter, trying to stack as much long range Critical, Pierce and Sharpshooter as possible while throwing Han in there to mess with Yoda’s command card timing. Ironically my only loss was to Mike and his Yoda gunline, the thing I was trying to counter. On the plus side, the list performed much better than I expected it to against things that I thought it would struggle into, such as wound saturation melee skews (I faced both a Kashyyk Defenders list and 14 activation Bright Tree Village). I built it as a pokey long range list but the aggregate firepower here is actually quite strong despite it lacking the wombo combo ability of a GAR list.
The commandos were the real standout for me; they really shine at full strength but degrade quickly when losing models. Chewie was instrumental in keeping them alive and throwing those full dice pools.
I wouldn’t say Han was great, but he was better than I expected. His pistol is still garbage with the new cover rules but his command cards are still fantastic.
6th – Jonathan Grizaniuk (5-1)
Jonathan brought a more “traditional” take on the Yoda gunline (it’s really only been a thing for a little over a month but it’s already a staple archetype) with two full ARCs alongside Padme, Echo, and some Phase Is. It’s a tried and true formula at this point that is flexible, durable, and destructive.
7th – Patrick Balco (5-1)
Patrick brought something that is not quite a 501st list, lacking the required random support unit (as well as packing Boil, who is not allowed in that Battle Force). Otherwise this is built exactly like a 501st list with Phase IIs, ARCs, a Clone Commander, and no Padme. By giving Anakin saber throw it loses some durability but is built to leverage fire support and that customary efficiency and durability that the Chosen One brings to the table.
8th – Christopher Lewis (4-2)
E-bears are ruining my life
Wowza, that is a lot of Ewoks. Christopher’s list is build to just swamp you in scoring units and challenge you to do something about it, and he has Han and Chewie in here for maximum shenanigans. I had the pleasure of facing Christopher in the last round of swiss, and I can confirm… this is a lot of Ewoks. I got a bit lucky with some full commando shots into light cover that denied low profile and picked up five ewoks in one shot, but even then it’s just so many furry bodies.
I will say, I think this list needs a bit of a bid. I was able to use my deck in our game and it made a big difference that I didn’t have to contend with a 14 activation Ewok deck that almost certainly would have made scoring while down so many activations a difficult proposition.
Let’s close out with some stats. Here was the overall faction breakdown for the tournament:
That is… a lot of Clones. GAR is clearly the hot thing right now, and it isn’t rocket science why. They got some (necessary at the time) points cuts and buffs in the last balance update, but they also got indirectly helped in a bevy of ways by many of the new rules changes. The new cover rules make defensive tech even more effective and pierce/high velocity weapons less so (since those have small dice pools), the pass mechanic takes the sting out of those low activation lists, and there have been a slew of more minor things that have helped them like the choke nerf (which removed a primary counter to stacking defensive tech) and the Deflect nerf (which didn’t effect any GAR Jedi since their deflect is all build into their custom masteries). Basically, it’s been an accumulation of things on top of some recent buffs that have taken them over the top and the player base is responding accordingly.
The other distribution is more mixed, with Shadow Collective (Mercenary in the chart; Ewoks are Rebel lists in Game Uplink) and Separatists bringing up the rear in representation and Empire and Rebels falling right in the middle.
For some additional context, here is the win rate by faction, excluding faction mirrors:
Republic: 46-27 (63%), Mercenary: 17-15 (53%), Rebels: 22-25 (47%), Separatists: 11-15 (42%), Empire: 18-32 (36%)
Small sample caveats always apply, but those numbers are certainly staggering. Republic and Empire especially; I pointed out on the last cast that when Republic (ARCs most specifically) is good, Empire is bad, and that seems to bear out in the data. Empire has been great most of the year so time will tell is this is a blip or not, and they are getting a lion’s share of releases in 2024 that look exceptional, so I’m not panicking yet.
Overall, PAX was a great time and was exceptionally run by Nick and his crew (Nick provided all 32 tables by himself!). I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at the next one!