Gameplay Terrain Total Beginner's Guide

Understanding Terrain in Legion

Once you've painted and assembled your armies, you'll need a place to battle with them. So what exactly is terrain in Legion?

One of the most interesting parts of any Legion battle is choosing how your units contend with battlefield terrain. Savvy positioning and creative use of buildings or other obstructions can completely turn the tide of a game.

But if you’ve never played a game with such a flexible idea of what an obstacle or obstruction is (looking, once again, firmly at you X-Wing), then coming to grips with what exactly constitutes terrain in Legion might be daunting.

So in this article we’ll explore three different questions:

  • What qualifies as terrain?
  • What qualities does terrain have?
  • What’s required for competitive play?

Once we’re through, you’ll know exactly what you need to set up any battlefield correctly. On we go!

What Qualifies as Terrain?

The answer is: quite a bit.

If you’re lucky, your Friendly Local Gaming Store probably has plenty of pretty, painted terrain built up from their years of catering to Warhammer players, and you can feel free to throw this on your board. Having these detailed structures can give an amazing environmental feel to your game.

But what if they don’t, or if you play in your own space? Purchasing and building terrain on that scale (and with that level of detail) can be expensive and time-consuming; not exactly an exciting prospect for a beginning player.

Fortunately, because of FFG’s flexible rules, we don’t have to rely on intricate models to have viable terrain in a competitive game. From the Rules Reference, here’s the basic primer of what counts as terrain:

Adding terrain to the battlefield presents unique gameplay challenges and opportunities. Just about anything can be used as terrain, from model train trees to wooden blocks and other toys. Many players even build their own custom terrain from craft supplies.

For the purposes of Star Wars: Legion, all that matters is that players agree on which terrain to use and the rules governing that terrain before playing the game.

Rules Reference, Pg. 8 – Additional Terrain Rules

So theoretically this means you could just plop a circle of green felt down on the map, and as long as you and your opponent agree that it should be a forest that doesn’t block LOS but provides light cover to any mini in base contact, for one example, you’ve got viable terrain!

The key will always be that you and your opponent decide ahead of time what is and isn’t terrain. Then, together you’ll decide how it works.


What Qualities Does Terrain Have?

Once you’ve picked out whatever piece of terrain you’re using, you and your opponent have to define its qualities. Based on the Reference, there are three main traits on which you need to decide upon during the game’s setup, before you actually place the terrain:

Cover Type

  • No Cover
    • No effect to defense
  • Light Cover
    • Adds Cover 1 to eligible unit
  • Heavy Cover
    • Adds Cover 2 to eligible unit

Movement Difficulty

  • Open
    • No impediment to movement
  • Difficult
    • Reduces speed of unit by 1, to a minimum of 1
  • Impassable
    • Unit cannot move directly through. Must climb or go around.

You can and should set different movement difficulties for each type of unit: trooper, ground vehicle, and repulsor vehicle.

For instance, a fast-moving river might be impassable for troopers, difficult for ground vehicles, and totally open to repulsor vehicles.

Line of Sight Obstruction

  • No obstruction
  • Partial obstruction
    • E.g.: A crashed X-Wing’s body blocks LOS, but its wings do not
  • Total obstruction

You can mix and match obstruction based on you and your opponents’ tastes, the details of the terrain in question, and your tolerance for ambiguity. Either way, it’s important that you decide before the game what blocks LOS and what doesn’t.

Note: if part of a piece of terrain or an entire piece of terrain blocks LOS, it automatically provides heavy cover.

At least one of these three qualities must be something other than null, or else it’s not terrain!


What’s Required for Competitive Play?

Obviously when you are playing Legion with friends, you can play by any rules you want. But if you want to go by the competitive standard you’ve got to go back to the Rules Reference, which provides quite a bit of illumination as to what’s required for competitive gaming and what can be left up to the players.

We know that at least a quarter of the battlefield must be covered by terrain:

The players set aside an even number of terrain pieces that cover roughly a quarter of the battlefield, choosing some pieces that will block line of sight and some that will simply provide cover.

Rules Reference, Pg. 9 – Competitive Terrain

This is probably more than you’re thinking, as evidenced by the longstanding Legion forum thread. The easiest way to tell is to mark off a 1.5 foot section on one end of the long side of the board (which should be 3′ x 6′), draw a line across to the other long side, then fill that 1.5 foot section with terrain. That’s 25%.

Realistically, though, that’s it.

There are no strict requirements for types of terrain, how much should block LOS versus how much shouldn’t, or in what direction they must be arranged. The only direction is that your terrain – whatever form it takes and which must be agreed upon by you and your opponent – has to cover a quarter of the table.

Ultimately it will be up to you and your opponent, taking turns one after the other, to create your own unique and interesting battlefield with terrain. You will naturally find that you prefer certain setups and will inevitably create lists which may be strengthened by either wide open spaces or narrow corridors. Deciding how you play the space you’ve created is an incredibly important aspect of any war game.

I hope this helps demystify the not-so-complex nature of terrain in Legion!

In upcoming articles, I’m going to be taking a look at how you can make some cheap terrain to get started.

1 comment on “Understanding Terrain in Legion

  1. Pingback: Terrain Tutorials: Area Terrain – Imperial Discipline

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