Cardboard Cinema: 'Star Wars: Legion' Miniatures Game Coming In 2018

(Welcome to Cardboard Cinema, a feature that explores the intersection between movies and tabletop gaming. This column is sponsored by Dragon's Lair Comics & Fantasy in Austin, Texas.)Fantasy Flight Games and the Star Wars license are a match made in heaven. The company behind some of the biggest, glossiest, and most thematic tabletop games in the world paired with the most popular science fiction universe in pop culture? It's a license to print money. And a license to make great games, since FFG's Star Wars-related output has been downright startling in its quality so far.

And now, they've announced their next game set in a galaxy far, far away: Star Wars: Legion, a new miniatures game focused on combat between the ground forces of the Rebel Alliance and the Empire.

star wars legion 1

What is Star Wars: Legion?

The news came from Fantasy Flight Games' annual press conference at Gen Con (North America's largest tabletop gaming convention) in Indianapolis, where the box art and components were revealed. You can take a deeper dive into the game with the official announcement, but here are the basic details.

Star Wars: Legion will be a miniatures combat game where two players face off in a ground battle, with one side representing the forces of the Rebel Alliance while the other controls the Galactic Empire. Players will be able to construct their own armies of individual units (especially since numerous expansions will arrive down the road). The core set doesn't have an official release date yet, but it's set for "early 2018." And to be clear, "early 2018" could easily translate to "summer of 2018," because that's how this industry rolls.

But that core set will be jam-packed with stuff. 33 figures worth of stuff, to be specific:

Like other miniatures games, Star Wars: Legion also gives you the chance to build a unique army. Before the game begins, you'll select the exact heroes, villains, troopers, and vehicles that you want to use. Within the Core Set alone, you already have choices to make with thirty-three miniatures, including Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Rebel Troopers, Stormtroopers, an AT-RT, and 74-Z Speeder Bikes.

But before you break out your credit cards, there are a few things you should know. Star Wars: Legion looks to have a steeper entry point than many of FFG's other Star Wars games. Unlike X-Wing and Armada, the miniatures will not be painted, requiring players to break out some brushes if they want their Stormtroopers to look like Stormtroopers. And while the core box will contain some unspecified terrain, expect to have to build a battlefield on your kitchen table if you want to experience a proper battle.

To be fair, Fantasy Flight Games does have your back. A painting guide has already hit YouTube:

In other words, Star Wars: Legion looks to be very much a game being made for those looking to dip their toe into a deeper level of the tabletop hobby. In many ways, this can't help but feel like a shot across the bow of Warhammer and Warhammer 40K, which have dominated the miniatures combat game market for so long. Like those games, you'll have to sink money into the hobby and devote a lot of time to painting if you want to really get into the game, but unlike those games, it's freakin' Star Wars. Everyone likes Star Wars!

However, it should also be noted that this core box seems to consist entirely of smaller ground forces – anyone hoping to field an Imperial walker may have to wait for future sets. And right now, Legion will only showcase characters from the original trilogy, leaving prequel fans and anyone wanting to play as Rey, Finn, or Poe Dameron high and dry. Honestly, Star Wars: Legion looks like a game with a very specific audience in mind: slightly older gamers with expendable income, lots of free time, and a nostalgic attachment to the original trilogy.

Feel free to peruse the gallery below to take a closer look at the miniatures. They look great! They also look like they were painted by someone who knows what the heck they're doing.

Your Other Options

Okay. Some of you are probably salivating right now. For many geeks, a Star Wars miniatures game where you can paint the figures and field unites of Stormtroopers and rebels sounds like a dream come true. Go with the Force! I get it!

But I'll be perfectly honest with you: I'm not sure if Star Wars: Legion is for me. If this box came with a giant AT-AT to maneuver on my table, I could be singing a different tune. But right now, at this moment in my life, I'm perfectly happy with the Star Wars games I already have in my life. Legion will probably be a really cool game, one that will sell like whatever Star Wars characters eat instead of hotcakes, but it could be a hobby unto itself. And I know from my Warhammer-playing friends that miniatures games like this aren't just something you do on the side. They're a proper commitment.

Thankfully, it's not like we're wanting for great Star Wars games right now. Fantasy Flight Games has ensured that we're awash in them and I'd heartily recommend just about all of them. If the thought of a Star Wars board game or miniatures game appeals to you, but if you think Legion may be just a bit much, here are some other options.

star wars games x-wing

Star Wars: X-Wing

Fantasy Flight Games' flagship Star Wars game is still one of its best. Two players command squadrons of Rebel and Imperial ships, engaging in dogfights that blend tactical decision-making with just enough luck to keep things dramatic. The models themselves come fully painted and assembled, which is a bonus. However, the base game alone probably won't satisfy you – you'll need to buy a few expansions to increase your ranks. Thankfully, you have a ton of options from across the Star Wars saga to chose from and adding the Millennium Falcon, Slave 1, and a number of other ships to your roster is actually fairly inexpensive compared to other miniatures games. But be warned: even without painting, this game can be a money sink. A delightful, beautifully designed money sink.

star wars games armada

Star Wars: Armada

My favorite of FFG's Star Wars games, Armada pulls the scale back from X-Wing to focus on battles between massive Star Destroyers and Rebel Cruisers, along with their swarms of tiny fighters. Unlike X-Wing, which plays with the ferocity of an up-close-and-personal dogfight, Armada is essentially a naval game. Your giant ships move like boats and there's nothing as satisfying as cornering your enemy and unloading your broadside cannons into their exposed hull. What sounds more exciting to you: Top Gun or Master and Commander? That question will determine whether you should buy X-Wing or Armada.

star wars games imperial assault

Star Wars: Imperial Assault

If it's characters you want, Imperial Assault will supply them in spades. This is very much a traditional "dungeon crawler" dressed up with Star Wars art. Most of the players play a single hero as they work together to complete a series of missions connected in an overarching campaign. Meanwhile, one player controls all of the Imperial forces, actively working to destroy them. The set-up sounds like an RPG, but it's distinctly different. Unlike a game of Dungeons & Dragons, players aren't working together to tell a story, but actively competing against each other. The Imperial player isn't a forgiving Dungeon Master, but someone who wants to crush them! If that dynamic sounds fun (and you're willing to wade through some complex rules that still make my head spin), there's a lot to treasure here...especially since the numerous expansions allow you to add all kinds of enemies and allies to your line-up. Also great: the "skirmish mode," where you can build armies and just fight over objectives. In other words, uh, Star Wars: Legion. Quite frankly, my investment in this game is a huge reason why I won't be picking up Legion.

star wars games destiny

Star Wars: Destiny

The newest member of the FFG Star Wars family is one that I recommend with a caveat. Players build decks of card representing characters and scenarios from the Star Wars universe, some of which come with dice. Players then battle it out in quick, fun games that will send you scrambling to rebuild your deck after your opponent finds a flaw in your set-up. It's fun! It's also a collectible card game in the same vein as Magic, meaning that you have to buy booster packs full of randomized cards to expand your collection. They're reasonably priced, but this collectible aspect should be taken into careful consideration before you commit, especially since the other games mentioned here don't ask you to blind buy anything. However, this is definitely the game for fans of the new trilogy: the starter sets highlight characters like Rey and Kylo Ren.

It should be noted that FFG also publishes the Star Wars "living" card game (where cards are collected via expansion packs, not random boosters) and, while it has a fanbase, I don't like it enough to give it my full recommendation. I'm also fond of the company's line of Star Wars RPG books, which are thick and glossy and complex and offer players an infinite sandbox to explore, should they have the time to learn the rules.

In the meantime, we can look forward to early 2018 to see how Star Wars: Legion connects with gamers and movie fans alike.