Gameplay Total Beginner's Guide

Imperial 101: Early Meta Armies (Summer 2018)

What are Imperial commanders playing in this early meta? Let's find out.

In the “101” series, I’m going to take a brief look at each faction’s Core Set minis as well as the first few expansions for each. This is not intended to be an in depth strategy guide, but more a general primer for each faction’s units and play style.

So you’ve purchased your way to a bare bones 800 point army and have played your first game. Now, you’re wondering which units to buy first so that you have something a little more competitive. Presented below are a few of my favorite lists from the initial Legion meta. A meta that is, of course, hampered by the limited number of units at our disposal in these early months.

It’s worth noting that this game seems to have less of a competitive bent so far, at least compared to other FFG games like X-Wing. By no means should you view this article as Gospel Truth – you can and should feel free to play whatever the hell sounds fun to you out of the gate.

Nor should you feel the need to chase the current trooper-spam meta if you don’t have the means or desire to. As other units get released (and certainly, the recently announced E-Web and Laser Cannon units seem ready to shake things up) and new types of objectives are announced, we may well see a decrease in the average number of trooper units in play.

But if you’re looking for timely, proven lists for your first tournament, or just ideas to remix on your own, this list is for you.

Top Suggestion: Maximum Firepower

  • General Veers
    • Esteemed Leader
    • Commanding Presence
    • Environmental Gear
  • Stormtroopers x 5
    • DLT-19 Stormtrooper
    • Stormtrooper
  • 74-Z Speeder Bikes x 3
    • Long-Range Comlink
  • (793 Points)

At nine total activations, this list is a sight to behold. What it lacks in the flash and firepower of an AT-ST or fully kitted out Vader, it makes up in sheer number of units. If you’re counting, that’s an astounding 37 minis on the board for this army. With Veers’s inspire and free aim tokens (he’s a supportive commander, not a brash front-lines warrior), your Stormtroopers can make better use of defensive moves and dodge tokens to maximize their lifespan.

Further, the three bike units with long-range comlink allow you a massive amount of board control. They are glass cannons, yes, but can almost cover the length of the board in two turns thanks to their compulsory three-speed move. They take care and practice to utilize well, but once you’ve got a groove with them you’ll find that they rip through enemy support units and entrenched troopers with ease.

It’s not a cheap list to buy into, though: you’ll need two extra Stormtroopers, Veers, and an extra bike. This will give you a massive amount of flexibility in the long run, but may be a hard sell upfront.

You might consider swapping one or two of the Stormtrooper units out with the following:

  • Snowtroopers
    • Flametrooper
    • Snowtrooper
    • Impact Grenades

It brings your total to 799, all but guaranteeing you’ll have the highest point total, but gives you a unit that is slow and yet absolutely devastating at range 1.

I personally have had success with a variant of this list which involves an AT-ST and a bike instead of three bikes plus the aforementioned Snowtrooper swap, but the list here is considered more of a meta list. Some players have a lower view of AT-STs than others, but I love them.

The 501st 

  • Darth Vader
    • Saber Throw
    • Force Reflexes
    • Battle Meditation
  • Stormtroopers x 3
    • DLT-19 Stormtrooper
  • Stormtroopers
    • Impact Grenades
  • AT-ST
    • AT-ST Mortar Launcher
    • 88 Twin Light Blaster Cannon
  • 74-Z Speeder Bikes
  • (798 Points)

Not only is this perhaps the easiest list to acquire if you followed the Buying Guide I posted earlier (requiring you to buy only an AT-ST), it’s also an excellent first-time list because it gives you a little bit of everything to play around with.

Vader is the obvious focal point of this list: he’s mean, flexible, and hits like a semi truck. He’ll be out on the front lines – perhaps with the unit of Stormtroopers equipped only with impact grenades – ruining enemy troopers or taking down heavy and support units with his impact 3 and pierce 3 capabilities.

Meanwhile, your AT-ST and Speeder Bikes give you some great options via direct assault (the former) and devastating speed flanks (the latter) that you can keep in reserve until turn three or four if necessary.

The list lacks in generic Stormtrooper support, though, and you’ll want to avoid objectives like Recover the Supplies that will spread your objective-capturing trooper units spread thin. But objectives like Intercept the Transmissions, where you can use your AT-ST’s suppressive power to pick one or two tokens and control them, will be your bread and butter.

Vader & Veers 

  • Darth Vader
    • Force Reflexes
    • Saber Throw
  • General Veers
    • Commanding Presence
    • Environmental Gear
  • Stormtroopers x 5
    • DLT-19 Stormtrooper
    • Stormtrooper
  • Snowtroopers
    • Flametrooper
    • Snowtrooper
    • Impact Grenades
  • (798 Points)

Admittedly, this is a list I’ve not yet played. It’s seen some mixed success, though, and definitely merits inclusion here.

Whereas the Rebel meta is heavily featuring double commander lists (“the Twins”), it feels much less necessary for the Empire. This is primarily because Vader is expensive, and if you’ve already got him in a list Veers doesn’t bring a ton to the table that an additional trooper unit or bike unit couldn’t also provide.

This variant of the list, though, has already maxed out Corps units (3 minimum, 6 maximum at 800 points), and brings two commanders who are also classified as troopers. This gives you a very good edge when playing capturable objectives like Recover the Supplies or Sabotage the Moisture Vaporators.

Maybe you’ll find that the increased flexibility of having two commanders to issue orders (and therefore the ability to leave generic command cards at home) outweighs the drawbacks of this list, a list that is generally weaker than its Rebel two-commander counterpart. Or maybe you’ll find that this play-style doesn’t quite work with you. Either way, it’s more than worth a try.

BONUS: Veers Walks the Dogs 

  • General Veers
  • Stormtroopers x 2
    • DLT-19 Stormtrooper
    • Stormtrooper
  • Stormtroopers x 2
    • Stormtrooper
  • AT-ST x 2
    • 88 Twin Light Blaster Cannon
    • AT-ST Mortar Launcher
  • (798 Points)

A list I’ve only played on Tabletop Simulator but love all the same: double AT-STs.

To be upfront: do I think this list is good enough that you should rush out and buy two AT-STs? No. Not even kind of. Do I think this list is fun as hell? Yes.

Equipping each AT-ST with the mortar launcher and the light blaster cannon means you can effectively deal with both trooper units and armored units. Push them up front early and make your opponents deal with them, then have Veers support your troopers while they grab objectives.

It’s clunky, awkward, and it doesn’t always work. Most seasoned players will spend the match ignoring your AT-STs and wiping out your troopers behind plenty of cover. But… when it works, it’s a beautiful massacre.

Plus, it just looks cool on the table.


If you’ve got any additions to these lists (or changes to the ones I’ve shown), throw them in the comments as a resource for others.. Good luck out there, Commanders!

5 comments on “Imperial 101: Early Meta Armies (Summer 2018)

  1. Dirgepiper

    I love the idea of Veers walking the dog!

    Im curious as to your view on the ewebs, and if it might help counter the Rebel troop swarm lists

    Like

    • Thanks! I think if anything coming out this year does it, it’ll be E-Webs. HQ Uplink offers some insane gameplay changes, and barrage generator should also be great. I really want to test the Triple Bikes list, but with Triple E-Webs instead

      Like

  2. Played against a 2 X atst list. Killed Veers, panicked the troopers off the board and won the objective. Not a shot fired at the atsts.

    Like

  3. Why does no one put grenade launchers on their AT-STs? I would think BLAST as a keyword would be great for a mobile AT-ST.

    Like

    • I started using the AT-ST with the grenade launcher instead of the blaster cannon, to be honest. But I was more passive with my AT-ST, and found that the blaster cannon helped me better deal with AT-RTs and other AT-STs. I think if you play more aggressive, though, there’s absolutely a good reason to use the grenade launcher.

      Like

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