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Star Wars Legion: Boots on the Ground

Ok, so I played a game of Star Wars Legion today. This is the first game I’ve played since the Big Bang despite preordering a copy for release day. I have loved how the models looked since day 1 and built up a decent collection of which I’ve also largely painted the Imperial side. I played at Game Kastle in Ankeny, a somewhat unpleasant 20 minute drive since I could just WALK to Mayhem in 5 minutes but I had Today off so it could have been worse.

For my opponent I matched up with a gent named Tim who is a regular there and who brought his 3 kids. His kids also designed the list for them and I probably owe them a drink or something because they did me right. Near as I can reconstruct it was this (missing some upgrades as he had next to no bid.

Tim’s list, minus some upgrades I know he had but cannot recall and not sure what his other command cards were.

I on the other hand got some excellent advice from a friend who knows his stuff and coaxed me from 8 activations to 9 which ended up being pretty decisive.

For Iden I ended up going with Seize, Situational Awareness and the DLT-20A because… clones.

My original list had one fewer stormtrooper unit and a BUNCH more upgrades, especially filling every training slot.

For the mission it was Key Positions, Battle Lines, and Rapid Deployment with him putting his naked clones in reserve and me putting a DLT Storms in the bag.

Deployment I put my objective as close to the middle as I could and Tim put his way out. On reflection we should have reversed that, he probably would have been better served with a deathball to share tokens while I wanted to spread him out to prevent that. Either way we ended up with the token placement we kinda wanted just not the efficient way. He deployed his 2 Phase 1 squads and Rex well out on the flank with his objective, with the Phase 2s supporting somewhat towards the middle, ready to flex either way. Yoda was in cover closer to the middle and the Arcs were just past the midline of the board. I deployed Shores with their mortars from the center line to the left, with Iden backing them up, then Vader, with Storms to his right, and the Special Forces in front of him.

Turn 1 was mostly us shuffling around. I played Darkness Descends, giving Vader his much-needed Surge tokens, Tim played Air Strike which he used to throw some damage around. With some long-range speculative shots, he picked off one of my ISF troopers and put a couple wounds on Iden I took down an ARC trooper, a couple clones, and laid out a bunch of suppression. For those not familiar, suppression is the way the game represents friction and it’s a neat mechanic, below a unit’s courage, there’s no effect, from 1x to 2x a units courage, they lose one of their 2 actions, which makes everyone less effective, above 2x they panic. Units lose suppression at the end of their turn and can shed some (1/3 chance) at the start of their move. I tried to focus on getting multiple suppression on a couple units to ensure that the effects persisted. Also he dropped his naked clones WAY out on my right, his left, and I countered by putting mine flanking them, pincering him between the two Stormtrooper squads (either of which had more firepower than him to begin with.)

Turn 2 was nasty for him. I played Pulse Scan and he played Size Matters Not. He blitzed out with Yoda, putting 3 wounds on Vader and double Force Pushing my ISF well out of cover. He moved Rex out ahead of his troops but forgot Rex’s jetpack (until the end of the game in fact) leaving him exposed while the two clone squads behind him milled about in cover. He put some shots on my ISF but a lucky token pull got them in cover and landed more wounds on his ARCs leaving Fives on 1 wound. More fire on Rex left him with a couple wounds. Throughout the turn I focused my fire on unactivated units early, landing a lot of hits and, more importantly, suppression, on units that still needed to go, forcing him to give up several actions from his army due to higher levels of suppression. Iden activated late in the round and moved up to the exposed Rex, putting a bolt through him, leaving the brave Clone Commander dead in the dirt. When Vader went he managed to completely fail to wound the Jedi Master, but Force Pushed him away, triggering Iden’s standby which… whiffed. She needs aims. However the shore troopers behind her put 2 wounds on Yoda, losing one of their own to a deflected blaster shot.

By this point the game was really leaning in my favor. I had 2 squads ganging up on one of his out on one flank, with 1 of mine camping an objective. My dice had been blistering hot (my ISF had rolled 4 black 4 white and landed 7 hits, my shores fired 6 black and 2 white and landed 8 with 3 crits… just absolutely unreal amounts of luck) while my opponent was probably under 33% saves with red dice and a bunch of surge tokens.

Going into turn 3 Yoda was wounded in the center of the board with a wounded Fives in cover behind him. Tim played There is no Try. I played Implacable. Yoda and 1 other trooper squad (his Phase 2s) got orders, as well as a dodge, Outmaneuver and Relentless. I got an order for Vader, as well as a Dodge. By playing a 1 pip I ensured I went first. I activated Vader and the Dark Lord of the Sith took an Aim token, Walked up to Yoda and hit him for 6. Burning his dodge he rolled 5 saves, needing to make 3… and made 2. Yoda fell under the crimson blade, Vader then threw Fives out of cover and into the open. Tim then activated his Phase 2s and moved them up. He wanted to attack Vader, who had taken a wound to shuffle his token back in the stack, but they were his 1 basically undamaged unit, and he didn’t want to eat a bunch of deflected shots so he blasted away and the out of cover ISF unit. His dice totally betrayed him and only 2 of the ISF troopers fell, leaving the squad leader and the heavy weapon. My mortars threw out more suppression, my shores did more damage, and Iden picked off 5s with a disrespectful shot.

At this point Tim’s sons had finished their games, and it was getting close to closing time. We called it and shook hands with 2 objectives firmly under Imperial control and the 3rd about to fall. It was a crushing victory but it really came down to the top half of turn 2. I felt that there were a couple things that really hurt Time and really helped me. First: My luck was absolutely unreal early, and his was awful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game of any type where my dice were THIS hot and my opponents were THIS bad. Red dice are 1/2 in defense 2/3 on surges, which he had tokens for, and they just refused to cooperate. I doubt he’d have won even without his mistakes the way the dice were rolling.

But he also had some things he did wrong, he didn’t know his list, which, I get, your kids come up with a list, you play it, suboptimal or not. 7 activations wasn’t great, and it meant he had to get the most out of them and I *FEEL* in my inexperienced state, he didn’t always do that. He put too many shots into units that had already activated and spread his suppression out, so I rarely had to worry about it. In fact, I think I lost only 2 or 3 actions over the course of the game, and I feel like he lost far more due to suppression each turn after the first. Second, he didn’t focus fire, which was harder to do with fewer units and widely spread out both physically and by the terrain. He couldn’t bring his army together which from what I’ve heard the clones REALLY want to do so they can form a token-sharing deathball. I feel like if he’d grouped up more and focused his firepower on my troops to eliminate units before they could activate, or at least suppress them, he could have done much more to slow me down.

On my side, I did a better job utilizing suppression and I am looking for ways to maximize that going forward. I did deploy my mortars poorly and, while I used them to some effect, had they been better located they’d have contributed more, and they were SUPREMELY lucky to not get vaporized. I’m talking one finished the game without a single wound token despite having to roll 9 saves. I need to really think more about objectives and how to take advantage, Tim did me a big favor not putting all 3 on top of each other (to the extent he could) which would have forced me to face a big death ball of token sharing clones. Not ideal.

But it was a great learning experience. I am going to tweak my list, I’m sure he’s going to come up with something spicy and hopefully next week we will both do better! Also I will take pictures, not video as the free WordPress DOESN’T LET YOU INSERT VIDEO/GIFS GRAAAAAAH!

Why Napoleonic Wargaming?

Ok, I saw a post on r/wargaming with a prompt that was just too juicy. There’s others in the post I’ll be stealing but this one should really be the lead for the series so here we go!

Can you discuss what makes the strategy, tactics, and feel of the Napoleonic battles different to those of other popular black powder era was such as ACW, AWI, French & Indian etc.

dboeren on Reddit

Great question. The answer to this question is: Yes.

What?

FINE.

Gros Freres

First, the feel of the Napoleonics. The awesome and terrible pageantry of 19th century warfare peaked early, and it peaked here. A well-painted Napoleonic army is an absolute joy on the table, and something that has to be seen to be believed. Regiments wore a bewildering array of brightly colored uniforms that contrasts sharply with later wars as uniforms became more drab.

See the source image
16 Different Uniforms for 14 regiments of ONE type of troops!

These armies also featured very professional officers. Despite some of the reputations that came from the war, from Battalion command on up, there were few truly awful officers, and while some armies struggled to comprehend Napoleon’s way of war (Sorry Mack) there weren’t many mistakes due to poor soldiering. At the same time, command and control was basically writing a note and sending it with a rider to whoever was carrying it out. Many games model this quite well, with General d’Armee / GdB doing it particularly well.

Strategically and Tactically the Napoleonic wars come at a very interesting time. Infantry combat featured both fire and shock tactics, requiring different formations, changing formations and maneuvering under fire, intricate marching, timing, communication under the most dire circumstances, and situational awareness in a field covered by noise and black powder smoke.

Cavalry formed the apex of military strength, with the Heavy Cavalry of the Cuirassier, Carabiniers, and Heavy Dragoons being nearly unstoppable, with infantry forced into densely packed squares simply to defend themselves. Artillery could be devastating, being able to roll up and unlimber within canister range and unleash withering fire, especially in the tightly packed columns and squares of the more shock-oriented infantry formations. Infantry remained the bulk of most armies, and could deliver its own devastating attacks in close formation, or spread out in long lines to deliver impressive short-ranged firepower of its own, and with a good ruleset all of this is modeled quite well.

There are varieties among troop types. Line infantry differs from Light or Grenadier infantry, Guard troops often have their own rules, setting them apart. Conscripts often represent the most and least enthusiastic troops. Some are willing to die en masse leading the charge and some aren’t willing to even smell powder lest it affect their delicate constitution. Light cavalry darts around the edges, often struggling to make much impact, but presenting a real threat to exposed units, and forcing their enemies to account for them, battle cavalry presents more of a threat but lacks the fleetness of foot of their light brethren, or the strength to face heavy cavalry, which are the true monsters of the field. Artillery forms the last of the major components, dealing long range fire, in attack and defense, to support the line or create breakthroughs against vulnerable elements of the enemy army. Additionally, it comes in several varieties, foot artillery comes in regular and heavy batteries, you also have horse or light artillery which moves faster without sacrificing much in striking power, and Austrians get the Wurst artillery.

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Not a comfy chair

Which neatly brings me to national character. The armies of this era each has their own national flair, which I’ll go deeper into later but to give you an idea, in 1805 alone you have: A French army that consists of a mix of new, but well-trained and drilled soldiers, veterans from Italy, the elite Imperial Guard, and massive artillery. The Austrians have a much more ponderous army, with far less in the way of light troops and skirmishers to screen their movements and keep the enemy at arm’s length, but their units are large and their morale tends to be quite good. The Russians have equally large battalions, but their training is awful. This is mitigated somewhat by excellent morale and massive artillery batteries. Finally you have the Prussians who are slow, poorly led, and not that well supplied in support troops, but they do have high morale… until Jena…

So, I hope I’ve adequately answered the question presented by dboeren. I know I didn’t really compare the Napoleonic wars directly to the others, and perhaps that would be a good article for later on, but for now I think I’ve adequately covered what I wanted to.