It was a steamy night at the local game store. I was sweating, slightly. Nerd sweat. The smelliest kind. The kind produced by a tense game of Star Wars: Legion.
Vader was bearing down on Luke. The
whiny farmboy hero of the Rebellion was in melee against a lone stormtrooper, the sole survivor from a squad Luke had diced up the previous turn. If Luke was to avoid certain death having to fight his father, he needed to murder this valiant solider liberate this one last stormtrooper from his servitude before running away tactically retreating. Six black dice, surge to hit. No problem, right?
“Wouldn’t it be funny if I whiffed?” I asked rhetorically, as I habitually cupped the dice near my face and blew some luck onto them. Sorry, some good Force vibes into them. I am one with the Force. The Force is with me. This is a Star Wars game, right?
Evidently superstitious luck-inducing rituals don’t always work, because, well, I threw the dice dramatically on the table and… six blanks.
“What are the odds of that?!?” I exclaimed in disbelief.*
Welcome to Never Tell Me The Odds, a numbers based look at Star Wars: Legion.
Disclaimer: There are quite a few excellent Legion blogs out there, to which I will attempt to give shout outs if I am duplicating any content.
The focus of Never Tell Me The Odds will be a granular, quantitative look at the units and weapon profiles in Legion. The most common, easiest, and generally most useful way weapons and attack pools are analyzed in Legion is average hits. This is generally going to be sufficient for most of the decisions you need to be making in game. However, we will attempt to go beyond average hits and answer questions like the following:
- What are the chances of scoring a particular number of hits with a given weapon?
- What are the most point efficient units for specific targets?
- How much damage does a unit actually avoid by being in cover?
- Why does everyone love to hate the T-47?
Why is any of this important?
Dice games are about two related things: risk management and efficiency. Before I touch on these two items I want to give a shout out to The Brown Magic blog by Nick Nanavati,which addresses these elements in much more detail than I will here. It’s a 40k blog, but the principles are the same and translate well to Legion. I would definitely recommend checking it out.
In a game of Legion, you are going to throw a lot of dice. You are going to love them. You are going to hate them. Occasionally, they are going to flip you the bird and say “I know you really wanted that outcome. Go suck a lemon.” When that happens, you need to be prepared. The best way to do this is to build in redundancies. If you really, really need to kill something, plan to shoot it with twice as many units as you think you will need to kill it. If the first volley takes it out, fine; you now have a free unit to do something else with. If your dice go cold and you whiff, you’ve just stacked the odds to make sure you achieve the outcome you want. This is why probabilities are important to know.
For example, suppose your opponent has two stormtroopers on an objective. You really, really need to kill those stormtroopers. You know that your nearby rebel trooper squad with a Z-6 averages four hits. Since stormtroopers have a red defense die, you know that on average, they will take half your hits as wounds. So you average four hits, they average two saves, you should take out that two man squad. On average.
But you roll your dice, he rolls his dice, and after all the dice have settled, one stormtrooper is still standing on that objective. “Dangit, I should have killed him! Screwed again by the dice!” You’re right… you should have. On average.
But what if I told you the chance of actually doing two or more wounds to a stormtrooper squad was only 62%? Would you stake your game on a 38% chance of failure?
It’s better to identify your most important objectives on a given turn and focus more than you think you need on achieving those limited goals, than to try and accomplish many different things and fail in a key spot when the dice betray you.
In Star Wars: Legion, you have 800 points to spend on plastic that goes on your table. You have to use that plastic to do stuff, which usually involves killing bad guys, taking objectives, and preventing said bad guys from taking objectives. Since you only get so much plastic to do that stuff with, you need to make sure what you are taking accomplishes your goals in the most efficient way.
There are several “per point” stats that we are going to look at to attempt to analyze this. The three primary ones to start with are net hits per point (hpp), net impact hits per point (ihpp), and wounds delivered per point (wpp). The latter will be by target, since different targets have different saves and different defensive abilities (notably armor).
Below is a chart detailing these items for some of the more common unit/weapon combinations you see in Legion. When a heavy weapon is part of a squad, we are going to assume that your intent is to do maximum damage to your target, so the dice of the supporting squad members are included with that of the heavy weapon. Splitting fire will be addressed in the individual unit articles, as will more specific upgrades like grenades. We will also look at the impact of things like aim, dodge, etc. in other articles. These calcs do include the impact of pierce, as well as pierce immunity and Boba’s Impervious keyword.
The first chart is with no cover.
Disclaimer: There is a margin of error of about +- 0.50%. If you really want to get into the nitty gritty of how I arrived at these numbers, the methodology is at the end of this article.
Update: The efficiency and wound charts in this post may be outdated. Updated efficiency charts can always be found here:
Chart thingy (no cover):
Obviously those numbers are all against targets that aren’t in cover. That’s not very practical, is it? How often do you find yourself shooting things that aren’t in cover, if your opponent is any good?
Here is the same info, but with the target in cover 2. It accounts for things like crits going through cover, as well as sharpshooter and blast keywords.
Impact weapons: Weapons with high impact are either A) inefficient, or B) exhaustible. By far the two most point efficient impact weapons are the MPL-B and the HH-12, both of which are exhaustible, which means you are paying the cost to fire them more often by sacrificing other actions (or just firing them less). The exception appears to be the Fd 1.4 laser, which has its own drawback, being totally stationary.
Haters gonna hate: Yeah, look at that T-47 line. Lots of read and orange. That’s just its damage output; we haven’t even talked about how fragile it is. It’s actually worse than the AT-RT laser cannon (against infantry!). Sure, it’s fast. But if its so inefficient, does its speed really matter? It’s not like you can’t have fast units that also hit hard for their cost…
Speeder bikes: Yup, they’re good. You probably knew that already. They’re fast and they hit like a truck. We’ll delve into their durability as well in their unit entry.
BBQ time: Close range stuff is more efficient than long range stuff. Especially flamethrowers (and fleet troopers).
Commanders: Even commanders wielding laser swords don’t fare too well in this sort of thing, but they bring so many other things to the table besides just pure damage I think it is impossible to use any sort of per point metrics to evaluate them in isolation. This doesn’t account for burst damage, either. Luke might have slightly less raw damage output than two Z-6 squads, but he can pick up an entire squad in just one activation.
When attacking things in cover, blast, sharpshooter and melee really start to shine. Flamethrowers are still murder. The laser swords start looking a little better. T-47… nope, still terrible. High dice counts help here too; more chances to crit, more raw hits.
Generally, stuff that is points efficient tends to have other drawbacks. It’s either shorter ranged, exhaustible, slow or stationary. So far FFG seems to have done a good job of making it so that some units are not objectively better in all situations than others, a problem I think 40k has not remedied (part of the cost of having 400 units to choose from, I suppose). Maybe not the T-47. Sorry T-47. Your model is so pretty, I really want to like you.
Thanks for reading. These are just a few high level observations to get us started. We’ll get much more involved in the individual unit entries in future posts. Up first will be my favorite
subversive terrorists scrappy freedom fighters, the Rebel Troopers.
Lastly, I would strongly recommend checking out the Legion Discord. It’s a great place to chat about Legion, and it’s also the home of the Invader League, a competitive online league for TTS. Here’s the link: Legion Discord
I’m actually not very good at probability formulas, so I relied on some scripts and the law of large numbers. I had the scripts roll actual (digital) dice for each unit and scenario, and then I had them do it 25,000 times. The law of large numbers basically says that if you do something enough times, your aggregate results will eventually become closer and closer to what the true distribution of outcomes should be.
For example, if you flip a coin once, you will get either heads or tails. If you flip it ten times, you could get heads 10 times, or 6 times, or no times. You might even get 5 heads and 5 tails. The more times you flip that coin, the closer you are going to start getting to the true 50/50 distribution of outcomes. If you do it 25,000 times, you are going to be pretty darn close to 50/50.
*The odd’s of completely whiffing with Anakin’s Lightsaber are 0.28%. In case you were wondering (I was).
Average wounds by target, no cover:
Average wounds by target, Cover 2: