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Dave Grant

Vader, Meta (and other ramblings)

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I have read a lot of posts, heard a lot of podcasts and seen a lot of videos about Legion that talk about what is / isn't competitive or "meta". I thought I might share some of my thoughts.

 

Most people will have no idea who I am (rightly so), so I present my credentials as to why you may wish to hear what I have to say:

I have been playing "competitive" war-games for 24 years, and generally do quite well. 

I am from the UK originally but I have travelled a lot with work (currently live in Hong Kong) and played games in many places

My work keeps me very busy, and not much of a gaming scene in Hong Kong so my only games of Legion have been in the past 5 months in the US (Adepticon) and UK (4 smaller events, including an RPQ). Total 17 games.

I have only ever taken Vader (because he's awesome), and only ever have 8 activations when playing legion and in my 17 competitive games I have won 16! The only loss was against Luke Cook (current World Champion) at Adepticon. Now many of those games could have gone either way, but I never felt I didn't have a chance when I saw my opponents force - even when they were "top tier meta lists"

 

So that brings me to the point of the post: Many content makers seem to have decided what is "good" when it comes to Legion... what forces you should take if you want to win. Many people read this content and so the 'myth' propagates (currently trooper spam + snipers if you want to win). Whilst I don't disagree generally with their points I have found that there are many more competitive options if you have a plan, and can execute it well.

 

In the events mentioned I have played 2 main variations (some minor changes between events) of Vader lists: Vader + Boba and Vader + Tank. Full approximate lists (for anyone interested) are below:

Vader / Boba (3 events in March, 9-1 record)

Vader: Force Push, Sabre Throw, Force Reflexes

Boba Fett: Hunter, Stimms, Recon Intel

Snowtroopers: Flamer, Frag granades, Officer, Recon Intel

Stormtroopers: Frag granades, Medical Droid

Stormtroopers: Recon Intel, Frag Granades

Royal Guard: Electrostaff, Tenacity, Environmental Gear

Strike Team: Sniper

Strike Team: Sniper

 

Vader / Tank (2 events in July, 7-0 record)

Vader: Force Push, Force Choke, Anger

Snowtroopers: Flamer, Frag

Snowtroopers: Frag, Astromech

Stormtroopers: Medical Droid

Death Troopers: DLT, Hunter, Config

Strike Team: Sniper

Strike Team: Saboteur, Recon Intel

Tank: Rifle Pintle

 

I believe both lists are strong, can deal OK with any list and I would suggest are very "non-meta". So take what you enjoy, have a plan, make it work :-).

 

Don't get me wrong if you enjoy taking a load of troops and snipers then do it, this is for the other guys who want something different, but worry it won't be "competitive" - just 'do you' and make it work :-).

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I’m nowhere near as good, but I always play something not meta. You bring Vader, I frequently use the AT-ST.

I think **almost** everything is playable. I’m still not sold on the T47.

In either case, the only reason I wouldn’t bring a heavy is because I’ve spent too many points on heroes.

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I tend to agree on the meta/myth building.

Sadly alot of players I see so the misstake of deciding if a unit is good or bad depending on if they won or lost. When the real factors of deployment, objectives and what their opponents did dosen't get taken into account.

On the topic of Vader. His drawback much like the at-st is the point cost so if you don't use him to his full potential, you might as well used weers or krennic and bought 1-2 more units instead. I have faced lists with vader and at-st were I won easily and others where I lost or at least struggled to win. 

I agree that the "meta" and "top teir" is much influenced by group think. There is however some truths in games like this that some units will be less optmised in their design and some get all the great abilities in one effective package. 

Good post though and I hope it gets more people playing varied lists

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Vader is awesome... I could very much understand who some people struggle with him but he is a really, really good piece: but your list and tactics need to be built around him - you have to be very clear what he is there for, and what you want him to be doing. 

 

I guess that’s the point of what I’m saying. He (like other units) may be hard to use, but can beat any “meta” list when used well.

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Very often the "meta" in a game allows players in the middle range of tactical skill to inflate their abilities.  "Training wheels" if you will but not meant as a pejorative.  They also let you mitigate some of the swingyness of the dice.  By the way, I'm putting myself into about the 40th percentile of players so none of this is me saying "those scabs need the crutches, I don't."

Pierce lets you ignore defense dice.  Low profile lets you ignore attack dice.  Sharpshooter lets you ignore cover, Healbots let you ignore defense dice but also let you come back from poor choices.  

An incredible tactician (with some average to good dice luck) doesn't need those things as much.  A middling player who uses them will often have advantage over another middling player who doesn't.  

Similarly Vader is a high skill level commander, both tactically in general and specific to how to use his bag of tricks.  

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5 hours ago, Dave Grant said:

So take what you enjoy, have a plan, make it work :-)

Key to fun; key to victory.

1 hour ago, Zrob314 said:

Very often the "meta" in a game allows players in the middle range of tactical skill to inflate their abilities. 

I both agree and disagree with this. I agree that this happens; however, I also think there are otherwise fine players who feel the need to play a meta-list and that is their downfall since they don’t know what to do with it. So, yes it can inflate a middling player, but it could also make one a middling player.

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I don't believe there are unplayable units. I'm not sold on the T47 either from a competitive stand point but I don't see anything else as being uncompetitive personally. You could build a bad army, but the trooper/sniper spam is probably just the easiest to navigate.

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I haven't seen mentioned what I feel is the main reason you do not see many Vader or Palpatine lists at competitive tournaments, and that's time limits. In the past couple of months I've played over 25 tournament matches, many at events with top players (I'm in Luke/Chris Cook's area and play with them often), and I would say well over 90% of all matches never see a round 6, most barely get to round 5 and many end in round 3 or 4. That's the main reason I have not played Vader or Palpatine in tournaments; they rarely affect a match until round 4+ and with most matches never hitting round 5, why take the chance? Not one game made it to round 6 in the last event I attended, and most did not enter round 5.

Legion games take WAAAAAY too long to complete 6 rounds in the 2.25 hours most tournaments allocate for a round. A lot of this has to do with snipers. Sniper Heavy Weapon Teams allow for very high activation counts without sacrificing offensive output like a naked core would, they are extremely difficult to kill, and their attacks and cover placement take more time to execute in tournaments than all other units. LOS at range 4+ takes time, and keeping one mini out of LOS from every enemy unit is too important to just plop them anywhere. You'll often see players looking at every enemy LOS to their sniper placement, adjusting, and rinsing and repeating, over and over....

I'm a huge proponent of getting rid of Heavy Weapon Teams entirely. It fixes 2 issues, their auto-include and prolonging already long games due to high activations and difficulty to destroy.

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Could you expand on how those lists are played please? I don't understand how they work. With very few heavy weapons on the corps units they won't have the fire-power to push damage past cover. With very few sniper teams the enemy snipers will win the sniper war very early on and then have a field day with the rest of the army. You are also going to be out activated in almost every match up. How do you approach a meta list without getting completely shot to pieces before your army does anything of substance?

@Dave Grant

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Most people will win more often on average with the 'meta'.

There is always that one player in 10 that can make a certain combo of units work really well for them, especially if they understand the type of play styles they like.

I won a tournie with a non-meta rebs list, and really enjoyed the list as well.

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2 hours ago, Thraug said:

I'm a huge proponent of getting rid of Heavy Weapon Teams entirely. It fixes 2 issues, their auto-include and prolonging already long games due to high activations and difficulty to destroy.

I honestly think the correct answer is to just make teams similar to a detachment, where you have to bring the full unit somewhere. Even if it’s not used with standard deployment rules (like they can be deployed at different distances than a true detachment).

That way, it’s impossible to have more than one sniper team (and keep a theoretical three max of snipers - one in each full unit and one in a fire team). But those cost more, which lowers the activation count to compensate.

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3 hours ago, L3rr1s said:

Could you expand on how those lists are played please? I don't understand how they work. With very few heavy weapons on the corps units they won't have the fire-power to push damage past cover. With very few sniper teams the enemy snipers will win the sniper war very early on and then have a field day with the rest of the army. You are also going to be out activated in almost every match up. How do you approach a meta list without getting completely shot to pieces before your army does anything of substance?

@Dave Grant

 

Your question raises another good point about non-meta lists... often the opponent won't know how they work. Especially in competitive events where you play vs strangers they wont know your list, style etc and that can give you a definite advantage versus a "meta" list that tends to play a certain way.

 

As for tactics with those lists it comes down to some basic fundamentals:

Play the objectives - I think only one of my wins were on points, and often had less kills than the opponent

Use cover/range, protect your units - often the opponent would have several 'combat' activations that weren't really doing anything useful in a turn

Be clear what you want units to do: I'm a big fan of "objective grabbing" units being cheap and lean on points. I see many people use expensive 'combat' units grabbing objectives etc and rarely use that expensive gun they paid for - doesn't seem effective to me

Get stuck in - I tend to play very close to the opponent, with a lot of melee range 1 etc. If they back off, I can then just sit on the objectives etc.

Use Vader - I think every game I won Vader was heavily in melee and defeated multiple units during the game. His command cards are all really good (Motivate on Royal Guard is just awesome). That said Vader dies in at least half my games - but usually has won me the game by the time he goes.

 

How that is applied then changes between different lists, missions, set-ups etc.

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The recent qualifier that the notorious scoundrels hosts were st, one of them was won with an ion meta vader/bossk list. Another strong anti sniper list involves IRG/Death Troopers double medic, with strong saved which makes it hard for snipers to push through dmg.

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I've often wondered how much of what's good comes down to table size and terrain density.  I think most things are pretty viable personally, but what's good is definitely in part designed by the in box terrain being a bunch of heavy cover walls to create a trench warfare strategy.  A lot of what's considered bad gets pretty powerful when units are at RNG 2 of each other.  Vader is certainly one of those pieces, though in that case he's still grossly outshone by his son.   I do still find Vader to be pretty bad, or at least, requiring too much work to be fun.  He can't be played aggressively at all, which limits his slow speed even more than it already is.  Dropping back to long range output lists just makes it feel like the game mechanics are no longer fighting against me.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/29/2019 at 4:11 PM, LunarSol said:

 ... He can't be played aggressively at all, which limits his slow speed even more than it alreeady is...

I would disagree to that. Since the release of Royal Guard and Medics, he does not depend on line of sight blockers as much anymore. You only need one los blocker halfway between you and your opponent. He is able to reach the opponent in turn 3, with advanced positions sometimes even turn 2. With future releases like the Operative's command cards, the Operative's abilities and Force Guidance, Vader will definetly become one of the most competitive units in the game.

As a caveat I have to mention that I played Empire only in three games at a small event, but I won all three games quite clear. The standard "stand-and-shoot-meta" is usually not prepared for more than one melee unit that hits the opponent in turn 2 with New Ways to Motivate Them. That takes away a lot of pressure from Vader.

I used:

Vader, Saber Throw, Force Push, Force choke (225)

Krennic, Improvised Orders (100)

2 x Royal Guard, Tenacity, Environmental Gear (2x107)

Sabs with Stims (50)

2 x Stormtroopers with medic (2x63)

Snows, Flamer, Recon Intel, Frag Grenades (75)

790 

In hindsight it would have been better to drop the frag grenades to be relativly sure that Long March and Vaporaters are out of the battle beck, but other than that I honestly think the list was not too bad.

 

 

Edited by M.Mustermann

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On 7/28/2019 at 5:12 PM, Thraug said:

I haven't seen mentioned what I feel is the main reason you do not see many Vader or Palpatine lists at competitive tournaments, and that's time limits. In the past couple of months I've played over 25 tournament matches, many at events with top players (I'm in Luke/Chris Cook's area and play with them often), and I would say well over 90% of all matches never see a round 6, most barely get to round 5 and many end in round 3 or 4. That's the main reason I have not played Vader or Palpatine in tournaments; they rarely affect a match until round 4+ and with most matches never hitting round 5, why take the chance? Not one game made it to round 6 in the last event I attended, and most did not enter round 5.

Legion games take WAAAAAY too long to complete 6 rounds in the 2.25 hours most tournaments allocate for a round. A lot of this has to do with snipers. Sniper Heavy Weapon Teams allow for very high activation counts without sacrificing offensive output like a naked core would, they are extremely difficult to kill, and their attacks and cover placement take more time to execute in tournaments than all other units. LOS at range 4+ takes time, and keeping one mini out of LOS from every enemy unit is too important to just plop them anywhere. You'll often see players looking at every enemy LOS to their sniper placement, adjusting, and rinsing and repeating, over and over....

I'm a huge proponent of getting rid of Heavy Weapon Teams entirely. It fixes 2 issues, their auto-include and prolonging already long games due to high activations and difficulty to destroy.

Magic 8-ball says...  “A chess clock would fix that!”

Huh, an oddly specific answer. 

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I play quite quick, and generally finish my games. 

Hate the idea of chess clocks

 

I too play Vader very aggressively - it most certainly can be done... but can be “high risk”, which some don’t like.

 

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On 7/28/2019 at 11:12 PM, Thraug said:

I haven't seen mentioned what I feel is the main reason you do not see many Vader or Palpatine lists at competitive tournaments, and that's time limits. In the past couple of months I've played over 25 tournament matches, many at events with top players (I'm in Luke/Chris Cook's area and play with them often), and I would say well over 90% of all matches never see a round 6, most barely get to round 5 and many end in round 3 or 4. That's the main reason I have not played Vader or Palpatine in tournaments; they rarely affect a match until round 4+ and with most matches never hitting round 5, why take the chance? Not one game made it to round 6 in the last event I attended, and most did not enter round 5.

Legion games take WAAAAAY too long to complete 6 rounds in the 2.25 hours most tournaments allocate for a round. A lot of this has to do with snipers. Sniper Heavy Weapon Teams allow for very high activation counts without sacrificing offensive output like a naked core would, they are extremely difficult to kill, and their attacks and cover placement take more time to execute in tournaments than all other units. LOS at range 4+ takes time, and keeping one mini out of LOS from every enemy unit is too important to just plop them anywhere. You'll often see players looking at every enemy LOS to their sniper placement, adjusting, and rinsing and repeating, over and over....

I'm a huge proponent of getting rid of Heavy Weapon Teams entirely. It fixes 2 issues, their auto-include and prolonging already long games due to high activations and difficulty to destroy.

People should learn to play faster... six rounds can easily be done in the standard 2:15.

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6 hours ago, Derrault said:

Legion games take WAAAAAY too long to complete 6 rounds in the 2.25 hours most tournaments allocate for a round.

All tournaments in my area are 2:15 for a standard 800p. (plus give or take 5-10 extra minutes for setup, it varies). After a year of playin I had one, maybe two games that didn't reach turn 6. It was always surprising to me that so many people complain about time restrictions, as for me and others in my community reaching time limit is really rare.

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Not sure what to say. I've been to a dozen tournament in the past couple of months and over 90% of the games didn't even come close to finishing. I don't know how you guys are seeing otherwise.

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42 minutes ago, Thraug said:

Not sure what to say. I've been to a dozen tournament in the past couple of months and over 90% of the games didn't even come close to finishing. I don't know how you guys are seeing otherwise.

I'm not sure either. I know I make my turns pretty quick, but this applies not only to me. For just one example, on the last tournament we had 10 people, we played 3 rounds, and only 4 games (out of 15 total) went to time iirc (I should, I was the TO), one on turn 4, other 3 on turn 5. It was allowed for players to finish round if it already went to activation phase when time was called.  We had 2h15mins per turn, and I announced pairings 10 minutes before start of each game to allow people to find their tables and begin setup.

Worth mentioning, it was a casual event. On more competitive tournaments I plan on announcing pairings with 20 minutes head's up - 5 to find your table and opponent, 15 to setup, including OCD choice, then 2h15m of straight play.

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7 hours ago, Shanturin said:

All tournaments in my area are 2:15 for a standard 800p. (plus give or take 5-10 extra minutes for setup, it varies). After a year of playin I had one, maybe two games that didn't reach turn 6. It was always surprising to me that so many people complain about time restrictions, as for me and others in my community reaching time limit is really rare.

That wasn’t me you quoted, it was Thraug (who I quoted)

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