It’s hard to know what to buy first when you’re breaking into Star Wars: Legion. Let me give you some quick tips you’ll need to get the most bang for your buck as you take your first steps into a larger (tabletop gaming) world. We’re going to begin by going over what Core Sets, Battle Forces, and Neutral Expansions are, then dive in to each of the five factions in the game.
Also, there is a video version of this article that you can watch, if you’re into that sort of thing.
What’s in a Core Set?
There are two Core Sets to choose from. The original, which contains Rebels and Imperials from the Galactic Civil War Era, and the Clone Wars Core Set, which has Clones and Droids. Every Core Set has a commander, support unit, and two corps units for each of the two factions inside, as well as the dice, tools, tokens, and barricades you’ll need in order to play.
That’s a huge bang for your buck, and depending on what sort of army you want to build, you may end up wanting to buy two or even three Core Sets. If you know someone else who wants to collect the opposite faction as you, it can be really cost saving to split these.
What’s in a Battle Force Expansion?
There are currently five different Battle Forces available for purchase. They are: Echo Base Defenders for Rebels, Blizzard Force for Empire, the 501st for Clones, Separatist Invasion Force for Droids, and Shadow Collective for Mercenaries.
What you get in each of these depends on which Battle Force you choose, but in general you can think of these as an almost-army-in-a-box. Buying a Battle Force (or two) plus a neutral expansion called an Essentials Kit (which will give you all the tools you need to play the game) is another great way to economically enter the game.
Before we do the faction-by-faction breakdown, let’s briefly look at what’s in the various neutral expansions.
First of all, there are two Upgrade Card Packs that you can purchase. Upgrade Card Pack 1 is full of a variety of upgrade cards for your units that would have otherwise been found spread across multiple expansions. It came out around the same time as the Clone Wars Core Set, and was generally designed to be purchased by Rebel and Empire players who weren’t going to be buying into the Clone Wars factions. Upgrade Card Pack 2, on the other hand, not only has neutral upgrades, but also the Mercenary versions of previously released unit cards. If you want to run Bossk, Boba Fett, or Cad Bane, you should buy a copy.
Next are the Priority Supplies and Vital Assets Battlefield Expansions. Both of these give you access to new objectives, deployments, and conditions for your 800-point games, plus some great minis to bring your games to life. Both of these expansions are totally unnecessary to start playing the game, and from a competitive standpoint you really only ever need to buy them if you like to play objective-focused armies (as opposed to armies that are more focused on trying to just damage your opponent as much as possible).
Lastly are the Downed AT-ST, Imperial Bunker, and Crashed X-wing expansions. These expansions are just pieces of terrain that have some scenarios you can play that go along with them. There is also a Crashed Escape Pod scenario expansion, but you should be aware that this expansion also includes R2-D2 and C-3PO, who are a playable Operative Unit for both Rebels and Clones.
Team Relentless’ Helpful Tools
Team Relentless has a habit of making helpful tools for the community, and there are two that I suggest you look at as your build your Star Wars: Legion collection.
The first is called the Legion Synergy Tool. This tool allows you to—with the click of a button—ask the question, “If I really want to play X unit, what else goes well with it?” If I were just getting started in Legion, this tool would be my best friend as I worked on building a collection of synergistic units that I’m personally interested in playing.
The second is the Buy-In Army Sheet. This is a spreadsheet of exactly what expansions you need to buy in order to play a particular theme of army. It’s important to note that every army list was made with budget in mind. In other words, some lists are missing certain upgrade cards that would make the armies better. It should also be noted that the cost of each Core Set has been divided by two, the assumption being that you’re able to splitsies it with a buddy. Lastly, note that the prices are based on the official Asmodee online store (i.e. they are full MSRP—no discounts or deals).
Building Your Rebel Alliance Collection
Rebel armies have great theme, incredible heroes, cool vehicles, and tons of viable competitive options. They tend to be a little squishier and rely on clever command cards and strong synergy among units.
If you’re wanting to buy into Rebels, congratulations, you picked the faction with the battle force that has the absolute most bang for your buck. Echo Base Defenders actually has a whopping fourteen units in it. I know you don’t play the game yet and don’t really know what that means, so let’s just say that it’s A LOT.
If I was buying into Rebels right now, it would be a total no-brainer to buy a copy of Echo Base Defenders and an Essentials Kit. After that, I would simply add to my collection whatever units seemed like they’d be the most fun to play.
Building Your Galactic Empire Collection
Imperial armies are arguably the best faction out there right now, although the S-tier lists that people are winning major tournaments with tend to be on the pricier side. In general, Empire armies are more durable and rely on overwhelming firepower to win games.
The Imperial Battle Force is currently the strongest battle force on the table, but also the worst one when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck. It only has 7 units in it, which basically means you can’t get away with only buying one.
If I was buying into Empire right now, I would try to find someone to split one or two Core Sets with, and then pick up a copy of Blizzard Force. After that, I would prioritize getting one or two Imperial Specialists expansions.
Building Your Galactic Army of the Republic Collection
The Galactic Army of the Republic, commonly just called GAR or Clones, is a faction that typically relies heavily on the synergy between its Clone trooper corps units and playmaking jedi like Obi-Wan, Yoda, or Anakin. When played correctly, clone armies can be incredibly difficult to push wounds onto, making them the most durable armies in the game.
If I were buying into Clones right now I would try to find a Droid player who wanted to split two Core Sets with me. After that, I would either pick up a 501st Battle Force if I wanted to add a lot more Clones to my army, or begin collecting Yoda and Wookiees for a Kashyyyk-themed army.
Now I do need to mention something here that is a little unintuitive. There are Mercenary units in Legion that can be taken by multiple factions, and it just so happens that the Pyke Syndicate Foot Soldiers and Capos go really nicely with Clones. If this sounds interesting to you, be sure to check out the Anakin, Padme, and the Pykes buy-in army on the buy-in army sheet.
Building Your Separatist Alliance Collection
The Separatist Alliance (also commonly called CIS or Droids) is an extremely well-themed faction that relies on hordes of battle droids backed by powerful villains or the infamous AATs first seen in The Phantom Menace.
The Separatist Invasion Force battle force is really fun to play and lets you take eight units of B1 Battle Droids (in a normal army you can only take six). It is also probably the best way to play AATs. If that sounds fun to, be sure to look at the Battle of Naboo buy-in army list on the sheet.
If I were buying into droids right now I’d start out with splitting two Core Sets with a friend, and then pick up a Separatist Invasion Force (assuming my budget was that large). Buying these will give you the ability to run a huge variety of different lists. I’d also prioritize getting one or two Separatist Specialist expansions in the future as well.
Building Your Shadow Collective Collection
The Shadow Collective is a unique Mercenary Battle Force, many of whose units can be played across multiple factions. They’re led by robo-legs Maul and backed by the Pyke Syndicate, Black Sun Enforcers, and Mandalorian Super Commandos.
If Shadow Collective is what you’re wanting to play, congratulations; you have the absolute easiest way to get started. Buy two Shadow Collective Mercenary Starters and an Essentials Kit and you’re good to go.
What you choose to expand to after these initial purchases is entirely up to your personal preference, but I did throw some army suggestions in the buy-in army sheet.