The red-tinged air sizzles with blaster fire. Your brothers are surging the battlefield by your side, fighting until their last breath. Suddenly you hear the unmistakable sound of a lightsaber igniting, and you know someone powerful has entered the fray. The next move is yours. What will you do next to turn the tide of war that has engulfed the galaxy?
If you’ve ever dreamed of living out some of Star Wars’ biggest infantry battles, like the clash of Republic soldiers and Separatists on Geonosis or rebels versus Imperials on the lush forest moon of Endor, you can finally achieve those dreams — without ever having to leave the house. Fantasy Flight Games recently released The Clone Wars Core Set for the tabletop game Star Wars: Legion, and whether you’re a veteran wargamer or new to the hobby, you’ll find it easier than ever to join the fight.
In Star Wars: Legion, a two-player game, you’re in command of an army from a landmark era of Star Wars. On your turn you’ll move miniatures of troopers, vehicles, and heroes and villains to complete objectives on the battlefield and defeat your opponent. A roll of the dice determines your successes or failures in battle.
While you know the story of Star Wars, Star Wars: Legion lets you explore the galaxy from a certain point of view as you make your way through your own personal battle strategies, customizing miniatures and settings along the way. Not only will you find 39 miniatures of troopers and notable characters inside the Clone Wars Core Set just waiting for you to paint, you can design and craft your own battlefield terrain from the red sands of Geonosis to the shining platforms of Kamino.
Star Wars: Legion designer Alex Davy and game developer Luke Eddy recently sat down with StarWars.com to talk more about the game design, the best ways for new players to get started, and offer some tips that even veterans don’t know for assembling and painting the miniatures.
StarWars.com: Star Wars: Legion appeals to both established wargamers and Star Wars fans. What advice would you give Star Wars fans who have never played a tabletop game like this before?
Alex Davy: That was definitely one of our principal goals when we created this game, to be that sort of bridge for people who had never gotten involved in a tabletop war game before. We tried to make the rules as welcoming and streamlined and simplified as we possibly could. Gone are the tape measures of yore and the six-sided dice that you have to translate, and there are no tables to look up.
Pretty much everything you need to play is contained on the unit cards and upgrade cards that you have in front of you; the dice are a simplified mechanic with special symbols on them. The core rules of the game are relatively simple, all in the spirit of greater accessibility.
For someone who’s just getting into the game, obviously the Core Set is a really great place to start. It has everything you need to play an introductory game. There are two different Core Sets available now, depending on what era you’re interested in. The game launched with the Galactic Civil War era Core Set that pits rebels against Imperials, Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vader, and The Clone Wars Core Set, which is Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Republic versus the Separatists and General Grievous. Both of these products give you all the miniatures you need to start collecting and give you enough of an army on both sides in order to play the introductory game.
So to some extent the best way to learn is to crack open that Core Set, put your minis together, and play the learning battle with a friend. From there, a great resource we always like to recommend is your friendly local game store! A lot of gaming stores that carry our products will have people on hand who can teach you the game; they’ll be able to tell you when the local Legion player base meets up. Usually there’s a set weekly night where people meet up to play games.
One of the great things we’ve found about our communities, especially our Legion community, is that they’re very welcoming and they’re open and interested in onboarding new players because that’s how the community grows. That’s really the lifeblood of the community. [There are also] Facebook groups, the internet, our own forums, there are a lot of resources for newer players out there and people have been very happy to answer questions.
StarWars.com: Would you recommend going in with a friend on a Core Set?
Alex Davy: Each Core Set is evenly divided between two different armies; one of the great ways to get started is if you and your friend split the cost of a Core Set, you get what you need to start your army. That’s a great way to keep the cost low.
If you want a bigger army, you can split the contents of two Core Sets, which gives each player their own dice and movement templates and everything that you need.
One of the cool things about Star Wars: Legion is that you can build the army to your taste. If you really like vehicles, if you like the Empire, and you like big imposing war machines, you could supplement it with an AT-ST and an Occupier tank from Rogue One. Or if you’re more interested in troops and special forces, you can go that direction, too.
So the Core Set is a jumping off point for customizing and collecting your own individual force.
StarWars.com: Can you mix and match factions and heroes between the Core Sets? (For example, Luke Skywalker taking on Grievous and battle droids?)
Alex Davy: You can! While you can’t mix units from different eras in the same army, you can certainly take your army and fight against any of the factions from any Star Wars era. It’s open-ended like that. Luke Skywalker and the rebels could definitely go up against Grievous. You wouldn’t find that in the same Core Set, but definitely in tournament play or around the kitchen table we’re encouraging people to play whatever faction they want.
StarWars.com: Was it difficult to balance gameplay between different eras?
Alex Davy: Definitely more factions can be a challenge. The more content you have for a game, the more different strategies and armies you bring into the game, obviously there are some balance challenges there.
There’s also a lot of opportunity. The fact that an army of mass-produced, cheaply-assembled, not-very-skillful droids is going to play and feel very much different on the tabletop versus a force of elite clone troopers. So you have armies that really run the gamut from a hyper-elite, super well-trained galactic peacekeeping force with few numbers to a vast quantity of battle droids. And what that leads to is hopefully a lot of really interesting experiences that you have to adapt your strategy to whatever foe you have across the table from you.
StarWars.com: For The Clone Wars Core Set in particular, would you say you drew more from the animated series than the prequel films when designing the game?
Luke Eddy: Both, really, the show and the films. It depends a little on which aspect of the game, because visually in the miniatures you assemble, as well as the art, I think our primary source is always the films because we’re striving for a little bit more realism.
In terms of designing what the characters and units and troops actually do on the battlefield, I think we draw sometimes even more from the series because there’s so much more that happens in those [episodes]. It’s just a matter of volume, really. More plots and more battles, more interactions, more confrontations happen in the show, so that really drives a lot of how we add theme and flavor to the game. And the theme and flavor are what shape the mechanics of different units.
Alex Davy: We also follow the Rule of Cool. If something in the show is really cool, even though it doesn’t appear in the movies, we’re inclined to use that. For example, the miniature of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Core Set features his Jedi battle armor, which I don’t believe ever appears in the films but is a major part of his outfit in the show. We just felt that conveyed the sense that a once peaceful order that is now at war would be forced to don armor.
It’s a more military look for the Jedi, and we felt that was important to convey, that they are at war in this point in time. Also, it looks cool!
StarWars.com: Speaking of Obi-Wan, did you try to capture a bit of his sassy attitude in the game?
Alex Davy: Yeah! Of course, the prequels are rich for the meme content, and there are very famous lines that he says, so we kind of cheekily referenced that a little.
It also goes deeper than just meme culture. The way that Ewan McGregor plays Obi-Wan is cocksure, a little bit sassy, and a jocular person. You see that in the movies a little bit, and you especially see that in the TV show. We definitely wanted to convey that sense of brashness and wry humor that he has. He’s brave, but he punctuates those moments of bravery with self-awareness. When he says, “Hello there!” to Grievous and his entire army, it’s obviously a precarious situation for him to be in, but he’s puncturing that tension with a little joke.
It’s a game, so we can’t convey too much of that, but we always want to give a hint of who these characters are in the tabletop areas that we’re playing. And that’s a part of the game mechanics, too. Obi-Wan is protective in nature, he’s a commander who will defend his troops, he cares very deeply about the soldiers under his command. Whereas General Grievous has nothing but contempt for the battle droids that he leads, and that’s reflected in their mechanics. Grievous can use battle droids as shields, sort of cannon fodder, he’s going to pour them into the fight without real regard to their safety. Obi-Wan is going to do his best to protect every single person in his army. And that’s reflected in the way their command cards and game mechanics play out as well.
StarWars.com: A big part of the game is assembling and painting the miniatures. Do you have any tips beyond Fantasy Flight’s helpful videos you share to help new painters?
Alex Davy: A really good tip is to know the difference between super glue and plastic glue. In The Clone Wars Core Set in particular, the clones are made of one kind of plastic and the battle droids are made of another kind. The clones are made of a softer plastic, and you should use super glue; the battle droids, which are a little harder to assemble, they can use plastic glue, which bonds the plastic together and makes them way easier to work with.
If you’re new to these games, jumping in for the first time to The Clone Wars Core Set, there is a little more assembly than the rebel and Imperial Core Set. Also, check out our website for details, assembly diagrams, there are YouTube videos out there that show you how to approach assembling a bunch of miniatures. There are a lot of great resources out there, especially today, that didn’t necessarily exist 10 or 20 years ago.
Another good tip is to put on a podcast or TV show, and just hang out and work on it. Don’t rush it.
Luke Eddy: It can be a very zen experience, yes. It’s a process, but it’s part of the fun.
StarWars.com: Can you share any news about additional miniatures or future plans for The Clone Wars Core Set?
Alex Davy: We had a promo Obi-Wan miniature at [European gaming show] Essen Spiel that had a different look — he’s wearing just his Jedi tunic, standing on a platform with a battle droid next to him… Different versions of characters is something that we’re going to continue to do.
There are so many other characters, too. Coming up we’ll have Captain Rex, and we’ll also have Count Dooku for the Separatists. Those guys will be fun.
Luke Eddy: We’re definitely leaving the door open to multiple versions of different characters because the nature of Star Wars is that many characters will grow, and learn, and change over the course of the saga, and as we expand into different eras as the game continues, there’s a lot of quality content to be gleaned from just visiting these different, important characters at different junctures of their narrative arcs.
Their abilities grow and change as well, so that provides cool mechanical opportunities. Like a partially trained Luke Skywalker versus a Luke that’s really taken on the mantle of a Jedi Knight. He’d have a different power level in terms of the game.
Alex Davy: If you have a favorite Star Wars character, and they’re not in Legion yet, it’s a good bet that it’s on our list of things that we are planning on doing. We’re just big Star Wars fans, and there’s a lot of stuff we want in the game, too.
Star Wars: Legion is now available online and at your favorite local game store.
Kelly Knox is a Seattle-based freelance writer who loves creating Star Wars crafts with her daughter. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox.