Painting and Modding Vader

It’s not every day you stumble across a video tutorial this amazing.   I am declaring this to be the best paint job in all of Star Wars Legion.

If you found that video insightful, here are some more triumphant videos from previous years.

About this same time every year I put out some of my finest content.   Stay tuned for more next year!

 

 

Squadron Foundations – From Planning to Deployment

Squadrons are an crucial part of virtually every game of Armada.   Weather you are going heavy on squadrons, light on them, or focusing more on dealing with enemy squadrons, they are something that every build needs to consider.   In this article I’m going to talk about some of the cornerstones of a squadron build.

Plan

The first thing you need to do is figure out an overall plan of what you are trying to accomplish by adding squadrons to your fleet.  This will help guide how many you need to add,  what keywords you’ll want to include, and what overall point cost you should be shooting for.

One common strategy is to bring some bombers.   Bombers are most effective at hurting your opponent’s ships, but they tend to be weaker when compared to enemy fighters, so you’ll want some supporting squadrons as well.   You may want to consider some Escorts, for example, which will increase the number of squadrons you’ll have to bring overall.  Bomber-Heavy builds tend to usually run alot of squadrons and push very close to that 134 point limit.

Perhaps you only want to bring a few squadrons, merely to help slow down your opponent’s squadrons from hurting your ships.  A handful of TIE Fighters or Z-95s will usually do the trick, but you’ll generally want an even number, since you’ll get more of a deployment advantage by having multiples of 2.   In these cases it can be a good idea to bring at least 2, but perhaps even 4 or 6 if you want a more versatile fleet.

Synergy with Rest of Fleet

Once you have a plan you’ll want to make sure your selections match up to the rest of your fleet’s capabilities.  Make sure that your ships can actually activate your squadrons.  You wouldn’t want to have only Arquitens, or CR-90s and also have 12 Squadrons to support.  Ideally you’ll want to have your carriers, (generally ships with higher squadron values) be able to activate nearly all of your squadrons if they all performed a squadron command.   If you aren’t running carriers, you could also consider running a pair of squadrons with the Rogue keyword, which wouldn’t require squadron commands.

You may also want to add some upgrades to your fleet that enhance your squadrons.  A Bomber Command Center staying near your bombers can have a tremendous impact on your offensive capability.  Similarly, adding Instructor Goran to an Imperial Fleet that also includes Dengar, can have a very high boost on your fighters’ ability to counter attack.

Variety

Adding a variety of squadrons to your build will greatly enhance your flexibility and allow you a greater chance of overcoming most fleets that you face.   Any fleet that has for example, only bombers, might suffer due to their lack of offense to other squadrons.  Any fleet without even a small squadron force, won’t have much to defend against a swarm of enemy squadrons and will quickly face what is often known as “Death by a thousand cuts”.

Intel is one of those keywords that really gives you tremendous flexibility, in that it can prevent a single enemy from locking up your entire squadron force.  It helps bombers attack ships and avoid interruption, and keeps your fighters mobile.  Relay is another keyword that gives you the ability to stretch your squadrons further away from the safety net of your ships.    Adding multiple keywords to your fleet allows them to stay flexible and effective.

Deployment 

Most of the time it is best to include even numbers of squadrons, due to the fact that you deploy them in groups of two.  If you have enough squadrons, you can out-deploy your opponent and delay your important ships until the end.  This is known as Deployment Advantage.  Deploying 2 squadrons, in place of a ship, is one of the biggest advantages in the early game, and it’s a mistake that many new players tend to make, by forgetting their squadrons until the end.  It is almost always best to save your biggest ships until the end when you deploy, and taking larger amounts of squadrons allows you to delay your ships, gives you intelligence on where your opponent is deploying, and allows you to protect your valuable ships.

If you are interested in more information on how squadrons can influence deployment and give you deployment advantage, check out this video demonstration!

 

 

Legion – Barebones AT-RTs

The AT-RT is one of those units that can go from very cheap to very expensive with just a single upgrade.   The price of hard-points tend to be significant, and units that have the ability to take them, often very much want to do exactly that.   But at what point should you leave that slot empty?

At only 55 points the AT-RT is the second cheapest unit available for the rebels at launch.  But it’s price dramatically increases as you add hardpoints.  In fact, you can bring it up to 100 points with enough upgrades – which is almost double the starting price.   This may be a bridge too far for many lists, in which you’ll want extra activations more than simply extra upgrades.  It may be easier to pass on   Let’s take a look at each hardpoint available.

The Extra Guns

F

The AT-RT Rotary Blaster comes in at 30 points, and is the most general purposed hardpoint available.  Like all of the weapons that you can add, it has Fixed: Front, restricting it’s fire to the frontal 90 degrees only.  It does however, offer five black dice, which paired with the AT-RT’s offensive surge to crit, can do some great damage to enemy targets.  It doesn’t have any additional keywords however.

The AT-RT Laser Cannon is the most expensive and has the longest range of the AT-RT’s weapons.   It only has 3 dice, but one of them is red  and combined with the surge ability, this means the AT-RT is virtually guaranteed to get some damage in.  And with it’s Impact 3 keyword, it can be a great tool when used against enemy targets with the Armor keyword.  The downsides are that this weapon can’t be used at Range 1, and that it is the most expensive, at 35 points, nearly the cost of an entire rebel trooper unit.   Is it worth sacrificing nearly an entire unit’s worth of troops and firepower just for an alternate weapon that you can’t use up close?

The Flamethrower has the opposite problem that the Laser Cannon has.  It ONLY works up close.   It makes up for this weakness by costing only 25 points, which might be easier for some to pay for.  Against larger formations of troopers, this weapon can potentially roll the most dice and deal the most damage out of all available options, if you can make it work.   But if you end up not making it work, are those points wasted?

Leaving the Slot Empty

One thing to keep in mind, is that the AT-RT doesn’t have the ARSENAL keyword, like the Snowspeeder and AT-ST.  This means that the AT-RT isn’t sacrificing a free weapon being fired, by leaving the slot empty.  Those other vehicles are virtually required to take at least one hardpoint due to the opportunity cost of missing out on what is effectively a free attack.  The AT-RT doesn’t miss out on this attack.  It still can shoot at Range 3.  It still has an offensive Surge, which means it still has a reasonable chance of being able to suppress enemies that are fairly far away.  And it still can do serious damage to enemy units if it can close into melee range of them.

 

Support

Freeing up points also allows you more room in your squad for extra units – which could go towards another AT-RT.  Having an extra unit can often be more advantageous than simply having an upgraded unit that has several options on which weapon to use.  This is especially true when you consider the survivability and support that AT-RTs can provide your other units.

Troopers behind an AT-RT will receive light cover.  Having a front line of AT-RTs can help keep your troopers safe while you are advancing toward the enemy, or when storming an objective.  And keeping them up front also allows them to have early opportunities to engage enemies with the three red dice from those terrible Grappling Claws!

 

Front Line List

I like the idea of being able to run Naked AT-RTs so much I made a video list about it.   Check it out if you’d like to learn more!

Building Your First Legion Squad

So you just picked up Legion and you are trying to figure out what to do next?  This guide should help you get started putting your first squad together to wage war against the rebel scum or the evil galactic empire!

 

A standard game is 800 points, so you are going to need more than just a core set.    For most people interested in full 800 point games, that’s going to mean buying multiple core sets, and possibly a few expansions as well.   For now, I’m going to assume that you’ve either bought 2 core sets or split two with a friend, and have at least one other expansion to round out your army.

 

Commander and Command Cards

Selecting a commander is going to be an important part of your overall strategy.   For now however, since each faction only has one readily available, you are going to be stuck with either Darth Vader, or Luke Skywalker.  However, General Veers and Leia Organa are on the horizon, and will soon offer new, cheaper options.    You can have up to 2 commanders, so we may see dual commander lists fairly soon.

Command cards go hand in hand with choosing a commander.  You must have 7, and must include a Standing Orders card.  You must also have two of each “pip” cards, so two 1-pips, two 2-pips, and two 3-pips.   Additionally you cannot duplicate any command cards, so you can’t include two Ambush cards for example.  This means at launch, you won’t even have any choices here, since Luke and Vader offer you exactly enough to get you up to that minimum requirement.  Once the next wave of commanders comes out however, you’ll have some choices to make.  It is worth noting however, that you won’t be able to use Leia’s command cards, if she isn’t in your army.  The same holds true for any character specific command card.

The Corps

You need a minimum of 3 Corps units, and a maximum of 6.  So at least 3 rebel troopers, or 3 stormtroopers.  If have more than 6 you won’t be able to use them all in a standard game.  Once we have fleet troopers and snowtroopers, players will have more diversity in their corps options.  For now, there are multiple ways to outfit your existing corps troopers and make them cheap, diverse, strong, or tough.

The corps troopers are crucial to winning the game.  If your commander is the head of your army, the corps is the backbone.  This game is not just about killing the enemy.  It is about accomplishing the mission and completing objectives.   Most of the mission cards favor builds that have the most unit leaders – and the troopers you’ll get at launch are the cheapest way to get unit leaders.  You may want to maximize their numbers by running very few upgrades.  You may also want to help ensure their survival by adding extra miniatures to their ranks.  Try to outfit your initial corps units in various different ways for the first few games to get a feel for what works best for you.  You may want to swarm troopers with no upgrades.   You may want to give them all extra weapons to split up their fire.  You may want to run every one of them completely different!  It is important to get a good feeling for the corps units because they more than likely will be the difference makers in the games that you win.

The Rest of Your Squad

We haven’t seen any Special Forces units announced yet, so for now, that just leaves Support and Heavy.  These are the larger units that are going to give your army a battlefield presence to really help it stand out!   These are the units that may tend to be more focused on one particular play-style, and may even require you to build your list around them.  Vehicles in this game are going to be extremely fun, because they represent one thing that wasn’t really well done in FFG’s last ground game, Imperial Assault.  Vehicles here are absolutely gorgeous and having a few of them on your battlefield can really help make your game come alive.

Vehicles tend to be more expensive than troopers, so it’s generally a good idea to have fewer of them, in order to facilitate a more balanced list.  Running two fully loaded AT-STs might look cool, but would leave you with very few points for the rest of your list.  Generally, newer players may want to limit their first builds to only one heavy, and at most two supports.  You’ll want enough points to allow you some hardpoints and other upgrades, especially on those vehicles with the ARSENAL keyword, which allows your attacks to use additional weapons.

Videos

If you want some additional help, here are some videos to walk you through the process.

Rebels:

Empire:

X-Wing Wave 14 Announced!!!

Wave 14 is finally announced and it’s going to have the long awaited T-65 fix!!!   So much goodness here!

It’s an entire Rogue One theme!   TIE Reapers, Saw Guererra, Partisans!   Oh, and by the way NO SCUM!   WHAT?!?!  Maybe some scum will come soon.

A 2-Pack for the rebels includes yet another place to pick up X-Wings and they actually seem to have movable wings!   Numerous upgrades in here and several of them say “S-Foil” so we are almost certainly getting that long awaited X-Wing fix!   And also apparently some love for U-Wings as well.

And the TIE Reaper looks amazing!   Look at this thing OMG!   It is so big for a ship that’s riding on a small base!   And you can put Palpatine here as well!

 

Here’s my video breakdown of the wave!

More painting!

Armada Wave 7 has finally come out and I’ve made it a point to paint at least ONE of each of my rebel ships.    Since I recently did one of each Imperial ship I decided I’d follow up for the rebels with an Oceanic theme to represent the fine Mon Calamari people, but accent it with some flames to represent burning oceans, or their fighting spirit.

Picture of painted rebel ships
Some of the first rebels I did with the “Blazing Oceans” theme.
More Painted Rebel Ships
Another Batch, including Wave 7’s MC-75. I didn’t give the MC-75 the flames yet, not sure if I will.
Close up of MC-75
The MC-75’s Armor was fun to do, taping off everything else, and multiple layers of light grey and mixtures of darker black and hints of blue.
Picture of all Armada ships, painted.
Here’s all of my airbrushed ships.

Scanned Images

I’ve had a few requests for Scanned Images of the Wave 7 cards and tokens as well.  My scanner isn’t the best, but hopefully this will work!

Armada Wave 7 in hand!

Armada Wave 7
Look what Santa Brought!

It was just a normal night, in fact I was getting ready to play some Armada with a friend.   When suddenly, my doorbell rang.  It was late, and the kids were already in bed.   Curious as to who could have been at my door this late, I opened the door to see that nobody was there, but instead a package was laying at my door!  FFG had sent me these two ships to review!   I showed my friend and immediately we knew that the game we wanted to play was going to have to wait so we could dive right in to these expansions!

Armada wave 7
The Profundity and Chimaera are gorgeous!

First the Chimaera – I was really pleased at the fact that the paint job is on both the top AND on the bottom.   A really nice touch.  This expansion really does a lot to emphasize large ships and make them more competitive, which has been one of my top complaints in the game so far.   Additionally, the explanation of raid tokens that comes with the rules, clears up all of the speculation as to how we can get rid of them.   You can either spend a command token to get rid of a matching raid token, (Making commanders like Tarkin and Garm more useful) or you can spend an entire dial, to get rid of ALL raid tokens.   Additionally the Gauntlet Fighters are gorgeous, and Gar Saxon’s ability to finally harass squadrons with Intel or Relay, begin to address my other concern with this game, in the form of Relay.

Another thing that is great about this set is the fact that it comes with enough new Star Destroyer cards to outfit itself and 2 additional Star Destroyers, so you can take 3 brand new ships into battle using the cards that come with this expansion!   Considering that you get all that plus two new squadrons, this is one heck of a value for a single box!

Now the Profundity expansion was really something special.   First off, I think this ship may be the best looking ship the rebels have in game up to this point.   Honestly, it is just jaw-dropping.   Like the Chimaera, it comes with lots of good cards that will really help large ships, and some duplicate cards that means rebels players won’t have to buy the Chimaera just to get a copy of Strategic Adviser.

Additionally, cards like Bail Organa offer a asymmetrical counter to cards like Governor Pryce.   And considering new Hyperspace Jump mechanics, that show up with the Profundity title and Admiral Raddus himself, the rebels gain a unique tactical advantage in their ability to deploy ships almost anywhere on teh battlefield!  With an emphasis on large ships and tokens, this looks to be a truly amazing ship!

Is this going to be an amazing wave or what?

Here are some higher rez pictures of the unspoiled cards:

Star Wars Legion – Excited to Start Painting

As Legion gets closer and closer to reality, I find myself at a loss because I still haven’t decided on a color scheme for my armies!  It’s got me thinking more and more about how I’m going to approach painting and customizing the game once it arrives.

When to Paint

I’ve made the mistake in the past, of getting a game and refusing to play it until I’ve finished painting it.   There are several problems with this approach.  The most obvious of which is that it means I’ll have a brand new game but not actually be playing it for awhile.  The second problem is that I’ll be anxious to play, and perhaps be tempted to do rush jobs on my miniatures just so that I can get them finished and start playing.  Additionally, this doesn’t allow for an intermediate time of reflection.   For example, if I painted one squad of miniatures, then went to go play a game or two, I might see some other paint jobs that could inspire some variation on future models.   This helps establish some depth of variation and design.

So this time around, I’m going to assemble everything right away, and possibly even prime them immediately, but I don’t think I’ll have that much of a rush to fully paint everything before playing.   If you are torn on this, I could suggest a black prime and maybe a light dry-brushing, just to bring out the detail on your models to hold you over until you decide to sit down and hammer out a squad or two of troopers.

Pink Stormtroopers?

Do I want everyone to be standard?  I generally do, or at least I think I do.  When I got into playing X-Wing, I remember going nuts and painting a ton of my ships in all sorts of wild colors, like red X-Wings, purple TIE Fighters…  and now as I look back on these I think I was overanxious to do something different.   For now, I think I’d rather have the majority of my troops looking standard.  But there’s something to be said for doing a squad or two with some special paint scheme.

The key is (in my opinion) not doing a paint scheme that will overwrite something that’s likely to show up in the future.  I wouldn’t paint my stormtroopers black for example, because that might make them look too similar to Death Troopers if those show up.   Same goes for Chrome, as if they ever do sequel trilogy units, I wouldn’t want confusion with Captain Phasma.  So while I may not go so far as to do Pink Stormtroopers, I think some variation may certainly be a think.  Dirty stormtroopers, Sandy Stormtroopers, and maybe even some regular stormtroopers with a touch of snow on their uniforms for my Hoth terrain.  (To hold me over until snow

Bases

It looks like the figures don’t actually come attached to their bases.  This will help people who want to customize their bases have more freedom to do so.   The only risk with doing that however, is that it might look strange if you end up playing on new terrain at some point.   In my case, my terrain is all going to have a snowy theme, so weather I’m on Hoth, Starkiller Base, or the snow-crested mountains of Alderaan, my snowy terrain will be appropriate.   However, if I made all of my bases snowy, it might look strange when I eventually bring an army to a tournament and play on an urban setting, or an Endor map.  I may just paint all of my Imperial bases in grey, and all my rebel bases in tan, like I did for Imperial Assault.

Additionally, I won’t want any base decorations to cover up the sides of the bases.   This is specifically for the outer rings, which I plan to color differently for each unit.   One stormtrooper unit, for example, will have a red ring around it’s base.  Another might be blue, then purple, then green, etc.   This will prove helpful when units get close together and will help players differentiate between them.  This might be less of an issue for rebel units, which are more likely to have uniform variation between them.

Magnetization

In a recent videos by Sorastro, you can see the bases from below, and it appears that they have a recessed section that would allow for easy placement of a magnet.   This would be great for metal trays, and transporting armies.

This is something that could provide a ton of ease when transporting armies in a manner that will keep them mostly locked in place, and also look pretty cool to your friends.   The downside here, is that gluing a magnet into every miniature is likely going to be expensive, and time consuming.  It will also require a metal tray system for storage, which is great if you already have one from previous wargames, but if you are just getting started here with Legion and don’t have a system like this, you may want to wait a bit before magnetizing your miniatures.

 

Are you as excited about painting and playing Legion as I am?   It’s looking like February is going to be the month that we finally see it!   I’m hoping it’s not delayed!   There’s a lot of painting to do!

 

 

Type O Negative Fleet

Growing up, my favorite band was Type O Negative.  This was a major influence on me and why my favorite colors are black and green.  (Also helps that Luke in ROTJ was basically those same colors as well).  So when I got an Airbrush for Christmas, my first major project was going to be to repaint some of my Armada ship that I’d previously screwed up on and wanted to repaint them.

Here’s the video of the Livestream if you are interested:

The end result wasn’t half bad.  Here’s how they came out.

So the next day I went back and added some details.  I did some panels in grey, and then added tiny white dots where I thought lights should be.  I think it came out pretty good!

Here are some more closeups:

This is part of the reason I’m now trying to manufacture reasons to use these 3 ships in a list!  Might have to repaint some squadrons soon!