That’s Not How the Force Works is my look into the confusing rules of Legion and attempting to sort them out in the easiest way possible. Since the Rules Reference for SW:L is a living document, things may change! Hopefully not too quickly, though.
If you’re just starting out playing Legion, you’ve probably asked yourself or your opponent one of these questions:
- Wait, do I cancel these hits because of cover now or later?
- When do I reroll my dice?
- When exactly does Impact take place?
And you would absolutely be in the norm for asking these things. I know, because I even made a few mistakes writing this article. The naming conventions for FFG’s dense (but helpful, once you’ve sat with it) Rules Reference document can often be obtuse, and lead to confusion. This makes it difficult to successfully go through an attack when there are a lot of moving pieces and abilities to contend with.
Thankfully, FFG has outlined ten steps for attack timing that, once you’re used to them, will answer all of your questions – like why rerolling your dice doesn’t officially count as “modifying” them.
The scope of this article is going to be from the moment the attacker rolls the dice, which isn’t the first official step. In future articles I hope to go over Line of Sight, Cover, and a few other topics, but let’s start with pew pew fun pew for now. Good?
Ten Steps of Attack Timing in Legion
1. Declare Defender
2. Form Attack Pool
3. Declare Additional Defenders
4. Roll Attack Dice
Finally! We’ve arrived at the actual attack, four steps into the process. There are three things that must happen first if they are to happen at all:
- Roll your attack dice
- Reroll any attack dice
- Convert any surges
And they have to happen in this exact order. Note that rerolls happen here, not in the section titled “modify your attack dice” – that’s a very confusing instruction, all things considered, but rerolls are the second thing that can happen when you attack. They are considered a roll, not a modification.
5. Apply Dodge and Cover
Before the defender even rolls dice, they get to apply cover and use any dodge tokens if they have one and feel like using it. Once you get past this step in attack, dodge tokens can’t be used until a subsequent attack, so think carefully before you roll those dice!
Unless specified by a card, dodge tokens and cover can only cancel regular hits. Any critical hits that came about from the roll, reroll, or surge phases can’t be canceled here normally.
Cover, as you may have guessed, will warrant its own Not How the Force Works article soon enough. It’s a beast. For now, do your best alongside your opponent. We’re all just trying to do our best out here.
Abilities that affect cover, like Sharpshooter X, are applied here as well. If your unit is attacking with a weapon that has Blast, it may ignore cover in this step! Read carefully.
Note that armor is different than dodge and cover, and isn’t applied to cancel out hits until Step 6.
6. Modify Attack Dice
In this step, we’ll start to use card abilities that modify attack dice for both the attacker and the defender. There is a specific order to this happening:
- The attacker modifies attack dice
- The defender modifies attack dice
As of writing this article, however, there are only two keywords that fit the bill for Step 6:
- While attacking a unit that has ARMOR, change up to X hit result(s) to (a) critical hit result(s).
- While defending, cancel all hit results.
- While you are defending, each friendly corps trooper unit at range 1 gains Guardian X (While a friendly unit at range 1 is defending against a ranged attack, you may cancel up to X hit results. For each result canceled, roll one of your defense dice. Convert surges, then suffer 1 wound for each blank result.)
After Step 5, any remaining hits are eligible for Impact, up to the total amount provided by the card. Say you’re attacking an AT-RT, have Impact 1, and you’ve got two hits remaining at this stage – only one of those hits can be turned into a crit. With Impact 2 you could change both remaining hits to crits.
Since the timing in Step 6 dictates that the attacker modifies their dice first, and then the defender can modify them, Impact happens before Armor. Armor and Guardian happen at the same time.
7. Roll Defense Dice
Now, seven steps into the process, the defender gets to try their luck (assuming, of course, that cover or armor didn’t wipe out all of the hit results from the attacker).
Count up the number of hits and crits that have not been cancelled up to this point. That’s the number of dice the defender will be rolling. Much like in Step 4, we’ll now follow three steps:
- Roll defense dice
- Reroll any defense dice
- Convert any surges
Again, this must be done in order.
8. Modify Defense Dice
Just like with Step 6, here are two distinct phases to Step 8, but in reverse order:
- The defender modifies defense dice
- The attacker modifies defense dice
Once the defender’s abilities (as of posting this article, there are none) have all been accounted for, it’s time to see if the opponent has anything to say.
The attacker could then use keywords like Pierce X to alter or remove any remaining block results.
9. Compare Results
1 block cancels 1 hit or 1 crit. Count ’em all up – who came out on top? If there are more hits or crits remaining than blocks, then the defender takes that many wounds.
10. Choose Additional Attack Pool
And finally, if you’ve got a mini with a special weapon that didn’t contribute to this attack or a keyword like Arsenal X, you get to do the whole thing over again. Splitting the attack pool will, like cover, probably be a post unto itself.
Now, let’s take a look at a simple example scenario using Tabletop Simulator:
These green Rebel Troopers have decided to fire on some entrenched red Stormtroopers in order to take an objective instead of playing defensively. It’s risky as hell, but they see no other option. For their turn, they take an aim action and then fire on the enemy unit.
They fire with 5 black dice. On the first go around, they get 3 hits, 1 surge, and 1 blank. Since Rebel Troopers don’t have offensive surge, they use the aim token to reroll the surge and blank, resulting in 1 hit and 1 blank. In all, the Rebel Troopers have scored four hits. This is all contained within Step 4 of the Attack Timing Chart.
In Step 5, we note that the Stormtroopers are behind barricades, giving them heavy cover and negating two of the hits. They have no dodge token to spend, so nothing else happens here. Two hits from the Rebels remain.
Step 6 arrives, but the Rebel Troopers have no abilities to modify the attack dice, so we skip to Step 7, with the Stormtroopers rolling defense dice (red, in this case) against the two uncancelled hits. They roll 1 block and 1 blank. They have nothing to surge and don’t have any abilities or cards granting them a reroll.
For these two units, nothing happens in Step 8 because neither unit has an ability that modifies defense dice (such as Guardian or Pierce).
Step 9 has us comparing results: 2 hits on attack to 1 block on defense, meaning that the Stormtroopers lose one unit and take one suppression.
There are no other weapons or Arsenal considerations (which would grant an extra attack with a separate weapon, something the AT-ST is very good at) for Step 10, so we end the Rebel Troopers’ attack there. It’s the Imperial player’s turn to activate a unit!
Hopefully this helps you better visualize the attack timing chart, and will prevent you from spending (or failing to spend) a dodge token at the wrong time or attempting to reroll after you’ve already modified your dice.
It’s confusing to be sure, but once you’ve practiced the flow a few times it’ll be a cinch to remember without needing a reference.
Best of luck in all of your attacks, Commanders!