Building a Star Wars™: Legion Army

Before the Battle: Building an Army

By: John Smith, Guest Blogger



So you’ve got your Legion Core Set, assembled the minis, begun some painting, and maybe played through the learning scenario a time or two. Hungry for more, you’ve decided to take the next step: field a full army of up to 800 points! Of course if you’re starting with a relatively small collection, your army may practically build itself; at first you might be bringing nearly every unit and upgrade you own just to approach the 800 point limit. But as more and more unit expansions are released and your own collection grows larger, choosing what to bring to the tabletop and what to leave behind can become more and more difficult. Sometimes you may wonder where to even begin!

Where to Start?

There is really no wrong place to start when it comes to building an army list, but a good first step is recognizing if you want something with a good chance to win (perhaps to take to a tournament or for a competitive league), if you want something more thematic to best capture the feel of the Star Wars films, or if you simply want to experiment and try something new. Whatever your motivation for building a new list, it can help inform the rest of the list-building decisions you make.

When it comes to actually adding units and then upgrades to your list, you might ask yourself the following questions:

Which Commander(s) do I want to use?


Choosing a Commander is a natural place to begin. You are required to take at least one, and often their command cards and abilities affect the rest of your army. Whatever your reasons for choosing one Commander over another, you should identify how they can support other units in your army, as well as which specific units can benefit most from that support.

Sometimes these interactions are obvious: Leia can use Take Cover 2 to provide trooper units with dodge tokens, and Rebel Troopers with Nimble can use these dodge tokens against repeated attacks. Sometimes they are a bit less so: Darth Vader doesn’t typically offer much support to other units beyond simply issuing orders, but New Ways to Motivate Them can allow a T-7 Ion Snowtrooper or HH-12 Stormtrooper unit to recover and regain use of its heavy weapon in addition to aiming and then attacking.

Regardless of whether or not the first unit you add to your list is a Commander, you ought to think about where you want them to be on battlefield. Do they thrive when they are at the center of the action, or should they hang back and try to stay safe? If your Commander is going to be charging the enemy, you need units that can keep pace as well as fire support to suppress and punish the enemy if they focus on your leader. If your Commander would rather keep their distance, you may need to invest in upgrades like Long-Range Comms or Commanding Presence so you can still issue orders to your front line and flankers. You might also want a bodyguard-type unit to dissuade enemies from getting too close.

As you play more games and gain more experience, you will almost certainly come to prefer certain units over others. When you start crafting a new list you may find yourself automatically plugging in your favorite Commander. If you do, then I would suggest resisting the temptation. Instead, set aside some points and leave the Commander slot empty while you build the rest of your list first. Then you can take a look at your assembled forces and decide which Commander can best accentuate its strengths and shore up its weaknesses.

Do I want a “centerpiece” unit? 

Sometimes you might want a unit (or small group of units) to be a “centerpiece” of your army. This could be a Heavy unit like an AT-ST, a group of Support units like a trio of AT-RTs, or a powerful Commander like Darth Vader. You can then begin to fill out your list with units and upgrades that will help support this centerpiece.

Part of the purpose of a centerpiece is to draw attention to itself. With a sufficiently dangerous combination of units, your opponent may become so preoccupied that they overlook other elements of your army. But be forewarned: if you are relying too heavily on just one or two units, then your army can quickly come apart if things go wrong.

Can I reliably score objectives?

Some objective cards favor having more unit leaders, especially trooper unit leaders. Though you can bring as few as four trooper units (one commander and three corps), concentrating all of your points in just a handful of units can put you at a severe disadvantage. Make sure you have enough units (especially trooper units) to score victory points even if you take some losses.

What will I use this unit for, and what upgrades will help it perform better?

An important part of army building is spending points efficiently, and a good way to do that is by having your units specialize. With only one or two actions per activation, your units should be focused on specific tasks. Usually it’s best if the upgrades you add also focus on doing that task better.

How often will I be able to use this upgrade?

Many upgrades can only be used under certain conditions. Grenades can only be used when attacking at range 1. Targeting Scopes are useless if you don’t have an aim token, or you only have two attack dice. Many upgrades exhaust on use, requiring a recover action before they can be used again. If you take an upgrade, will you even be able to use it? Try to be realistic; you probably shouldn’t base your decision on best case scenarios.

Do I need a bid?

Whichever player has fewer points in their army gets to choose between being the red player and the blue player. The blue player gets to choose the side of the table they want to be on, but since this happens before the Deployment cards are even dealt there is little to be gained here. The red player gets a slight advantage during Battle Card selection and Deployment, as they get to go second and react to their opponent’s choices. As a consolation the blue player wins the final tie-breaker-- but this will rarely come into play. In my view, it is better to be the red player, but unless you feel getting the last deployment is crucial to your strategy, it is hardly worth actively bidding for.

With these considerations in mind, let’s build a Rebel army.

Building an Army from Scratch

 We will begin by choosing Leia Organa as our Commander and determining how other units can benefit from her supporting abilities. As noted above, she can support nearby trooper units with Take Cover 2; not only can Rebel Trooper units capitalize on this, but Luke Skywalker needs dodge tokens to activate his Deflect keyword. She also can remove suppression tokens using Inspire 2, helping one or two trooper units to more consistently use both their actions during their activation.

Finally, we note that Leia’s 2 pip command card, No Time for Sorrows, allows up to two trooper units to make a move during the Command Phase. This can help troopers that ended their turn out in the open move into cover, and is also helpful for units that have short ranged weapons, like Luke, Leia herself, and Fleet Troopers.

Finally we consider where she might end up on the battlefield. Take Cover requires her to be at range 1 of a friendly unit. Between Sharpshooter 2 and Pierce 1, her ranged attack is actually pretty dangerous, but it’s limited to range 1-2. To get the most use out of these abilities, we’ll want her to be close to the action, but not necessarily too close.

With all this in mind, we decide that we will also bring Luke Skywalker. He won’t be doing much to support our other units, but the threat of his lightsaber and Son of Skywalker is hard to ignore. Hopefully this will draw fire away from our real leader, Leia. She can support Luke by feeding him dodge tokens and suppressing units that try to gang up on him whenever he’s not engaged in melee.

We will equip Luke with Force Reflexes and Jedi Mind Trick to further this effort, and now a broader strategy starts to emerge: increasing our army’s survivability by stacking dodge tokens and dishing out suppression tokens.

Next we decide to bring four Rebel Trooper units; if any of them is in danger we will try to use either Leia’s Take Cover ability or Luke’s My Ally is the Force command card to bolster their defenses. We will equip these units with Z-6 Troopers; each of these units can deal suppression tokens to two enemy trooper units by splitting their fire.

At this point, we note our lack of weapons with Impact. We will add a pair of Laser Cannon AT-RTs to deal with any armored vehicles we might face.

After including these, we have just over 100 points left to work with. This could go toward another AT-RT or more trooper units, as well as any additional upgrades we might want to take.

In this case I have chosen to add an extra trooper upgrade to our four Z-6 squads, which should allow us to keep the Heavy Weapon troopers on the table a bit longer. Two of these squads will take Targeting Scopes; I’m hoping that Leia’s Inspire 2 and Luke’s Return of the Jedi command card will keep suppression tokens off of them and allow them to aim before shooting multiple times throughout the match. The other two are equipped with Concussion Grenades. Along with Luke, these squads will be my front line, so this will let them blast through cover once they are in close. Finally, I’ve added a fifth Rebel Trooper unit. This unit is mostly filler, but could be useful for grabbing an objective in a pinch.

The last step is choosing our command cards. Since we have two Commanders, we will have to decide if we want to keep any of the generic cards. The most important consideration for this list is probably whether we want to have a high priority card than can issue orders to one of our AT-RTs, but since they will mostly aim and shoot at range 4 I don’t think this will be too critical.


Here’s our final list:

Skywalker Command

Total Points: 800

  • Leia Organa (90 pts)
  • Luke Skywalker - Force Reflexes, Jedi Mind Trick (180 pts)
  • Rebel Troopers - Z-6 Trooper, Rebel Trooper, Targeting Scopes (78 pts)
  • Rebel Troopers - Z-6 Trooper, Rebel Trooper, Targeting Scopes (78 pts)
  • Rebel Troopers - Z-6 Trooper, Rebel Trooper, Concussion Grenades (77 pts)
  • Rebel Troopers - Z-6 Trooper, Rebel Trooper, Concussion Grenades (77 pts)
  • Rebel Troopers - (40 pts)
  • AT-RT - AT-RT Laser Cannon (90 pts)
  • AT-RT - AT-RT Laser Cannon (90 pts)


Command Cards:

  • Son of Skywalker
  • Coordinated Bombardment
  • My Ally is the Force
  • No Time for Sorrows
  • Return of the Jedi
  • Assault*
  • Standing Orders


Now that we have an army built, it’s time to take it to the tabletop! Join me again next month as I cover the important pregame decisions of Battle Card selection.

John Smith is a lifelong gamer and Star Wars fan. You can read more of his thoughts about Star Wars: Legion on his blog, Prepare for Ground Assault.

*At the time of this writing, Leia Organa's 3 pip command card is unspoiled; in all likelihood we would include it in place of the Assault command card.