This is part X of a 5-part mini series titled: “Salt Cast: Galactic Empire in 2021”.
Perhaps no rank and file military unit in any sci-fi universe is as ubiquitous and pronounced as the Galactic Empire Stormtrooper (and in usual Star Wars fashion, their single-climate alternatives the Snowtrooper and Shoretrooper).
In a game largely dominated by trooper units (thanks to a combination of rank requirements, order control, and action-thirsty objectives), you can expect to see a battalion of white-armored, red-defense dice troopers at the forefront of all Imperial list-building.
In this article I’ll be reviewing what exactly makes (and breaks) the Galactic Empire, with some tips for improving your lists and games, and some musing about how the faction could be improved.
The Basis of Corps
Corps, the most “basic” rank in Star Wars: Legion, are a thematic imperative for the game: a standard 800-point match in fact even requires you enlist at least 3 (to a maximum of 6) Corps units in any list.
In rough terms, that means you can expect the following minimum in list building:
3x Stormtroopers (or Snowtroopers): 132/800
1x Shoretrooper, 1x DF-90 Mortar Trooper, 1x Stormtrooper: 134/800
You have a few different options as a result of this list building restriction:
Just run unequipped basic troopers, and invest your ~668 points elsewhere
Add just a few “support” upgrades otherwise to unequipped troopers
Stick to a minimum amount of Corps (3), but stock them up with heavy weapons
Expand to 4-6 Corps, often equipping the majority of them with heavy weapons
Before analyzing individual units and upgrades, I want to talk about the various reasons you’d want to run a Corps, and what they can contribute to the battlefield.
Actions and Objectives
This is probably the simplest to explain: most games of Star Wars: Legion are going to have some mechanic other than “enemy units killed” to define the winner of the game (though often - for a variety of reasons - the player with the most surviving unit leaders correlates with the winner of the game).
Let’s review a subset of the objectives and their action requirements:
Note all move actions below assume a “straight” speed-2 move unencumbered
Sabotage the Moisture Vaporators
Two move actions and two objective actions per, or 8 spare actions
Bombing Run, Breakthrough
Varies based on deployment; averages around 24” of movement (~5 moves)
Recover the Supplies
Two move actions, one objective action per “safe”, or 6 spare actions
Three move actions, one objective action per “center” (4 spare actions)
The remaining three objectives are more movement neutral (though hostage exchange requires a corps to be essentially “spent” entirely on moving towards your side of the battlefield). As you can see above, it’s not rare to need at least 4 full turns of actions (assuming no suppression) to compete: the less corps you have, typically, the more you need to use expensive, specialized units.
Additionally, even independent of mobility objectives, corps are often the cheapest units that can accomplish various “trooper-only” objectives such as Intercept the Transmissions, or have the best chance at overwhelming center objectives like Key Positions.
It’s possible to play your Corps mostly as support units, where you take a few personnel upgrades that support the rest of your army and then focus your actions on the aforementioned objectives. What that usually entails is either taking:
Smoke Grenades (2): Can grant temporary cover on the battlefield.
This is a situational upgrade. I’d consider it if your local meta has more barren tables, or if you’re specifically concerned about terrain cover while moving in on objectives.
Electrobinoculars (8): Can grant an aim token to a more valuable unit.
This is a situational upgrade, and largely army dependent. Essentially, you are transferring an action, using an action on one of your Corps to give an aim to a more valuable (or better positioned) piece. I call it situational, because Veers and the generic Imperial Officer are probably better picks; I can imagine taking this as a 1-of though.
Portable Scanner (6): Can grant a dodge token, often to a lightsaber wielder.
Similar to above, though Empire has even fewer units that would largely benefit from a dodge token: optimum targets are usually Vader or Iden (with nimble).
FX-9 Medical Droid (19): Grants treat: 1, capacity: 2
You can probably guess: this is a situational but common upgrade. Standard corps units don’t benefit a lot from being healed (there is value to bringing back a heavy weapon, though), but Empire does typically have other high-cost units (Vader, Palpatine, Boba, Death troopers) that could love a patch up: expect to see 1 to 2 in lists with those units.
R4 Astromech Droid (9): Grants repair: 1, capacity: 2
And similarly, the astromech. You typically will see these with either an AT-ST or Occupier tank: both are fairly cost-effective investments as a 1-of; 2 might be pushing it.
These can result in a Corps unit that is roughly 52 to 60 points without a heavy weapon: compare that with Clone Troopers, which essentially have Electrobinoculars and Portable Scanner “built-in”, or B1s, which can do the same thing for ~44 points instead.
It can be effective to have 1 or so “support” Empire corps, but often not more; the points add up fast, and there are very few other Empire units that can afford a 60 point “support” unit feeding them tokens or healing wounds.
Attrition & Trading
It’s important to understand the subtleties of attrition and “trading” in Star Wars: Legion, especially at this point in the game where there are a variety of mitigations employed by multiple factions. Luckily, I’ve written a whole article just on this topic:
The Imperial Corps Hierarchy of Needs
If you remember almost nothing else, review this quick hierarchy of needs:
Imperial Corps need Heavy Cover. They have red saves, but are typically expensive once upgrades are added, and there is a prevalence of Sharpshooter/Pierce combo units in the current game and meta: a corps unit with only light (or no) cover is getting 2 minis removed, per turn.
Imperial Corps need to be able to Move. Sometimes it is possible (or preferable) to just stand and shoot, but the current objectives in the game and less supportive of this strategy. Being able to move allows more interactions with objectives, as well as the ability to move - attack or attack - move; both of these are important to staying safe yourself, and removing or reducing cover and LOS.
Imperial Corps, especially with a heavy weapon, need to be able to Attack. They are too expensive to just sit and wait behind a wall, and they tend to still have a (tiny bit of a) range advantage over other Corps. Even just range 4 pings are better than nothing, often.
Imperial Corps, especially with heavy weapons, need to be able to Aim. A single aim token can add nearly a whole dice pool to a Stormtrooper unit, and is still effective for Shoretroopers as well, thanks to Critical 1 and solid Black dice. Without an aim token, it becomes much more difficult to break cover.
Imperial Corps often want an order token. Shoretroopers in particular are the most advantaged here - they gain an aim token and an extra face-up token on the DF-90 Mortar Trooper. A face-up order can also provide other benefits, such as a surge token with Aggressive Tactics, and suppression mitigation with Strict Orders.
What is the take-away? Your corps want 3 “effective actions” in a game where most receive only 2, and where a single suppression token has a 2/3rds chance of reducing you down to 1. How can you achieve this?
For any army with multiple heavy-weapon armed Imperial Corps, you’ll want some access to suppression mitigation: Strict Orders can often be a minimum, but having access to Inspire (Veers, Imperial Officer) or native Courage 2 (Imperial Officer Upgrade, Gideon Hask Heavy Weapon), or the Stormtrooper Captain can be necessary to get more than 1 action on important turns.
For an army with Shoretroopers, make sure you have a steady access to Corps-focused order tokens. You don’t need 3+ orders every turn, but Shoretroopers tend to do best with trooper-focused commanders such as Krennic, Veers, or Palpatine, and less-so with commanders such as Vader or operative-heavy lists.
For an army with Stormtroopers, you’ll want to have access to external aim sources, such as Veers or an Imperial Officer, often with Electrobinoculars. Another naked Stormtrooper with Electrobinoculars can also be helpful in a pinch.
For an army with Snowtroopers, you’ll always be able to move and attack thanks to Steady, and aim tokens are a little bit less helpful thanks to white dice and mostly short-ranged heavy weapons. Units like Director Krennic or DTF-16 with Compel can help a lot, as can Palpatine or Vader with keywords and command card effects.
There are other, much more in depth individual unit analysis with fancy excel tables. Instead, I’m going to give some practical no-nonsense advice targeted at the average player.
Best Overall: Stormtroopers with RTC-97, optionally with a Captain or Specialist.
For most armies, the RTC-97 will the most dangerous, despite being the weakest against armor or dodge-heavy armies. The RTC-97, especially with one of the two specialists, is one of the few units that statistically wounds nearly any enemy, even behind heavy cover, and can double or triple that number if you can get out of cover shots.
Most Versatile: Stormtroopers with the T-21
For dealing with pesky Tauntauns or shorter-ranged armor, the T-21 Stormtrooper is a great value: it averages 2 crits per attack, and pumps that up to nearly 3 with a single aim token (via Electrobinoculars, or a captain/specialist).
Soulless but Effective: Stormtroopers with the DLT-19
One of the cheapest heavy weapon options for Empire, it’s time has faded as dice pools have gotten bigger and scarier, and I’m not sure the price accurately reflects that. In any case, having 2R at range 4 with Impact 1 can still be a useful deterrent.
Honorary Mention: Stormtroopers with the DLT-19, added Specialist
This unit sacrifices raw efficiency in order to add a bit more survivability, as well as a bit scarier of a range 3 pool (more often breaking cover, especially with an aim).
Garbage Dump: Anything with the HH-12
Cumbersome is bad. This weapon is going to sound really cool, and as soon as you play a competent enough player who knows how Cumbersome works, you’ll rarely get more than 1 attack per game with it (even 1 is sus).
Best Overall: Snowtroopers with the Flametrooper
This is the bread and butter of Snowtroopers, and probably the reason you bought a box. This unit, equipped with Grenades, can do a terrifying potential attack of up to 8B 4R, with blast, against an 8-man B1 unit, statistically wiping it.
Even taken “cheap”, 64 for 5W with Steady, with the ability to flex at range 1 is huge.
Most Versatile: Stormtroopers with the T-7 Ion Snowtrooper
An interesting variant, it grants a 1B 6W attack with Steady, adding Ion 1 and Impact 1. I find both of those keywords fairly situational, but 7 dice with steady at range 3 is still interesting enough to keep it competitive, even against biological troops.
Soulless but Effective: Snowtroopers with the 5th Trooper
Previously unmentionable, this unit has an attack that will often break light cover, and can aim (or receive an aim) to almost always break heavy. Plus its the same cost as a naked Shoretrooper or P1 Clone Trooper. I wouldn’t take 6 of them, but they can be interesting in smaller numbers, and allow “peek-a-boo” type mechanics.
Honorable Mention: Loaded Snowtroopers with Gideon Hask
This unit is priced only a tad less than Bossk, but has some interesting interactions thanks to Steady, and the ability to self-order - clamber - attack - clamber - recover in a single turn, chucking 2R 5W at range 3. Additionally, Gideon Coordinates to another Corps trooper, such as a valuable Shoretrooper.
Best Overall: Shoretroopers with the T-21B Trooper
Even after various nerfs/point adjustments, this is still one of the scariest corps units in the game - packing 2B 2W Critical 1 at R4, and 6B 2W Critical 1 at R3 - that’s a bigger dice pool than some heavy vehicles.
Honorable Mention: Shoretroopers with Del Meeko
This is a more situational unit that combos best with heavy vehicle of your own (to repair), and decent order control - you’ll want the free aim on the Shoretroopers in order to use Del Meeko’s Lethal. I can’t recommend this unit for every army, since you pay more and lose the more well-rounded T-21B.
DF-90 Mortar Trooper
This is not a great unit, but it’s a necessary one in many lists to push your activation count further, and to give some interesting (but situational) interactions with suppressive, fire support, and crit-fishing.
Be prepared to dodge/standby behind a wall against opponents with long range, as this is one of the easiest units in the game to remove, and your opponent will be looking (especially early in the game) to reduce your activation count - it’s not worth forcing a single wound but then losing your mortar.
Where to go from here?
I hope this was a useful overview of the benefits (and deficiencies) of our Corps. They are certainly viable, and have some interesting interactions, but mostly suffer from being (a) expensive, (b) action reliant, (c) easily suppressed, and, IMO, about 5-10% over-costed for what they do compared to other factions.
We’ll have an overview of commanders in an upcoming Salt Cast, with more synergy explanations - so stay tuned and consider subscribing (it’s free, and always will be free) for more content.
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