To Bid or not to Bid, that is the ultimate question. Bidding in Star Wars Legion is simultaneously one of the most basic yet challenging aspects to building a list. At its core, bidding is simply determining how far below the maximum of 800 points you want to be. Your reward? The choice to either be the blue or red player, both of which come with their respective benefits and drawbacks. I will not be discussing bidding amounts, as this topic is in constant flux and has been covered previously in other blogs and podcasts.
Fight on Your Terms
The first and most obvious advantage of choosing blue player is being able to utilize the battle deck you brought with you. Running a Pathfinder and Han list? You want to guarantee that Recover the Supplies has the potential to be present. Choosing the right cards to bring with you is a topic in and of itself, and there’s a great Notorious Scoundrels podcast episode about this that I suggest you give a listen to!
Additionally, just knowing what cards are likely to turn over and what deployment options are available gives you a leg up in the game, and transitions nicely into the next benefit: picking the table edge.
When approaching a table you’ve never played on before, being able to choose the board edge gives you an advantage from the offset. Armed with the knowledge that most deployments begin in the bottom right corner for the blue player, you can help to mitigate your chances of being pinned down in a corner with no cover or even find that long sight line that overlooks the middle Key Position. Being able to avoid unfavorable deployments is a skill that can single-handedly save you losses when it matters most.
Picking the battle cards and deploying your army in Legion is generally referred to as Turn Zero. As the blue player, once the cards flip over, you have the first choice to remove one of the active cards from play. Not only can this be useful in removing an early objective that would create a disadvantage for you, but it also presents an opportunity to engage in mind games with an opponent. Removing a card that your opponent does not expect or bluffing for a card in the third row can unnerve your opponent and potentially force he or she into a mistake.
Once the cards are decided and it comes time for objective and unit deployment, the next advantage appears. Being able to place the first vaporator or box allows you to screen out large areas of the board from your opponent, potentially pinning one of their vaporators into a corner or forcing them to place a box just a little too close to your army’s deployment. And speaking of deployment, as blue you get to put down the first unit. As I’ll discuss later, this is not always the best option, but a well infiltrated Pathfinder, or even Jyn if you’re bold, can give you a great option for an alpha strike or smash and grab on an objective.
One thing that will quickly become clear as you progress in your Legion career is that objective ties become commonplace in the higher tiers of play. When victory points (VP) are tied, the first tie breaker comes down to points destroyed, commonly referred to as MOV (Margin of Victory). However, if this score is tied as well, the blue player claims victory. This situation, or the threat of it, frequently comes into play on Sabotage the Moisture Vaporators. Because of the even numbered, defensive nature of the objective, it consistently ends in a VP tie, and forces the red player to push forward and make something happen, giving a huge positional advantage to the blue player. A wonderful example of this can be seen in the World Championship final match, which is available on FFG’s YouTube channel.
Not all is Blue
All of this is not to say that there are not significant advantages to claiming red player. The first, and most immediate, is having the final say on battle card selection. Because the selection process goes blue – red – blue – red, the red player has the option to make a final decision without fear of reprisal.
The larger advantage manifests once the cards are down and the minis start hitting the table. Deploying second allows you to react to placements by your opponent to ensure you have a counter for their placements and movements. Crucially, this also means you have a good chance of having the final deployment of the phase. This is a great opportunity for Pathfinder infiltrates, recon intel Deathtrooper advances, or pointing Luke or Boba towards an opponents weak flank.
Blue or Blue not, it’s not that Hard
There are a few simple guidelines to help streamline the choice of player color. If you approach a table and quickly realize one board edge presents a significant advantage, go blue. If you have Boba or Sabine and your opponent doesn’t, strongly consider blue to ensure Recover is an option. Basing your decision on battle deck choice holds especially true on off-kilter lists that have specific weaknesses to condition cards; for example, Flyboys probably don’t want Hostile Environment in the post Deathtrooper and Bossk world. Finally, if you expect your opponent is of a similar or higher skill level and a VP tie is likely, go blue to force them to be proactive.
Declining blue and choosing red can also be the right way to go. If you feel comfortable with starting on either board edge and want the option to choose the final card and deploy second, red works well. The final consideration for red vs. blue can also come down to activation count. If your opponent outnumbers you in activations, acting as the red player can allow you to avoid giving up multiple deployments in a row.
I hope this guide was a helpful introduction for the red-blue dilemma. The common theme of this, and most things in Legion, is to take every advantage that you can muster. If you have any further questions or want some clarification, there are tons of folks on The Legion Discord more than happy to help, so please come join us there!
Zach has been kind enough to allow me to come on board and continue to write for the Jedha Journal, and I look forward to answering any questions and interacting with you all in the future!