Greetings Imperial Warlords of the galaxy! (And all you other warlords too)
Lately there’s been a lot of talk in the world of Competitive Star Wars: Legion that Empire isn’t so great. In fact, in the latest shakeup of the Legion world – only 7 of 80 players in Invader League Single Eliminations are playing Empire.
So what’s the deal? Why is the faction of the unbeatable shoreline seeing diminishing performances and what can you do as an Imperial Player to get back to the top of the heap? Let’s dive in.
The Shoreline Nerf – The shot across the bow
At LVO 2020 we saw the Imperials hit the meta with one of the biggest sledgehammers the game has seen. The Imperial Shoreline was in form (alongside the Rebel Antagonist list of Triple Taun-Tauns). After LVO we saw Shoretroopers, the best infantry unit available to the Empire in cost and effectiveness get a points increase along with it’s mortar. Additionally, the Comms Relay/Coordinate chain on mortars was errataed to prevent token replication (allowing you to throw down 4 orders on your 1 pip turns, does that sound familiar? hmmmmmm, I’m looking at you Fives and Generics). And finally Strict Orders and Aggressive Tactics were increased substantially in price, both of which were included in most shoreline lists and provided the surge token and suppression mitigation glue that held the lists together.
The 2020 Points adjustments – Reinforcements have arrived?
In the Fall of 2020 we saw massive sweeping points changes across the board. The Galactic Empire and Rebel Alliance were mostly hit with points reductions, while we saw standby sharing and the Galactic Republic mostly go up in cost.
Here’s the latest iteration of points adjustments on the Empire side of things:
Here we can see that everything on this list with the exception of Scout Trooper Strike Teams, DF-90 Mortar Troopers, and T-21 Blaster Rifles go down in points cost. Most of these adjustments hit units that aren’t seeing play or would not be considered “viable” in a competitive setting. It’s noteworthy here that basically all of the “non viable” units are still considered “non viable” units and these adjustments either did not go far enough or are irrelevant to why they aren’t being taken.
What’s interesting here is that the core of the Imperial Army, outside of Shoretroopers, remains largely untouched or cheaper than it used to be. Additionally, Boba Fett and Op Vader, 2 focus pieces available to the Empire have come down significantly in cost. Perhaps more notably, many of the options to the Stormtrooper unit have been significantly reduced in price.
The Late 2020/Early 2021 Meta
The Meta as of late has been mainly dominated by the Grand Army of the Republic and Confederacy of Independent Systems. This has caused a bit of a struggle in the Galactic Civil War era factions that Rebels have been able to handle up until this point substantively better than Imperials. The problem stems from the fact that both high profile factions are significantly different in how you have to beat them on the table. Clones with surging red saves are particularly vulnerable to pierce – making a list like the Cassian gunline particularly good against them. Separatists with their mass amount of bodies require the complete opposite – mass hits are the order of the day. Rebels have been able to adapt to this in the current environment well, and we can see that in many of the Invader League Single Elims lists that Rebels brought this season. We see many of them forgoing strike teams and moving on to Wookie and Mandalorian units. What’s the difference in that swap? The fact that they can flex – they provide the pierce you need against clones, and the raw dice you need against Separatists. Trust me, that’s not a coincidence.
Putting it all together, where does Empire need to go next?
So how does Empire start building new competitive lists? Right now many Empire lists have been sidelined due to the perception that they can’t deal with either CIS or GAR. Let’s take a look at a few examples that might be able to do that.
This list focuses on keeping orders on Bossk while having significant firepower loaded into it’s corps units. It maintains the pierce backup for clones with Bossk and the snipers, assisted by the officer, and then can load tons of dice into droids with the 5 – 6 man Stormtrooper squads. If you want you can bump this down to 10 and trade in the officer for Veers(It’s notable you’d get Imperial Discipline to recover your captains and Offensive Pushes in the at version)
This list is similar but trades out Bossk and some upgrades for the Dark Lord of the Sith. Op Vader require a bit of know how to play, but with his range 2 scatter attack he can very easily force enemy units into the open for your supped up Stormtroopers to eat for breakfast should he not be able to engage. Again, we’ve got at least 4 units with Pierce and some hefty dice pools.
Here we have my latest iteration of what a Palpatine list might look like. The addition of Force Barrier and the costs reductions to storms make it so that we can fit 5 corps units with heavy/medics in along with maintaining our 3 sniper teams and pull the strings to deal with heavy red save skews. This list is undoubtedly a little more fragile than the other two.
The Backbone of the Empire is the Stormtrooper
At the end of the day, it’s become more and more clear that in order to have a fundamental Imperial army that can go toe to toe with other factions is the Imperial Stormtrooper. Shores are now too expensive to get enough bodies in your list to maintain dice advantages and mortars are table fodder for Arc Strike teams. The Stormtrooper is going to be your bread and butter to see this through to the other side. They allow you the dice you need, particularly with the Captain and Offensive Push variant, to keep droids in check, while keeping enough pierce in the tank for clones.
So here’s the lesson – Empire Players: Stop trying to make Shoretroopers and Character skews work – Stormtroopers and a focus piece are what you need. Get. Back. To. Basics.
Good Luck and May the Dark Side Be With You, Always,
Michael “Dashz” Barry