Hello beginners and veterans alike!
As promised many months ago, it’s time to talk about one of the most obtuse and unintuitive rules in Legion: determining how hard your enemies are to hit once you start firing, otherwise known as “cover.”
Cover has changed even since Legion began earlier this year. At first, it was through ethereal email chains with the game’s creator, and then we finally received an official rules update a little over a month ago.
Of course, you should look at the most up-to-date Rules Reference first because for all I know this will be retconned as soon as I post it! (Hopefully we’re set for the foreseeable future, but who knows.) The game updates itself over time, and this article won’t always be accurate.
Buckle up, ’cause there’s gonna be a whole lot of text followed by just a couple of pretty pictures to break things up.
Step 0: Before the Game
While most of your cover-related woes won’t take place until the game is well under way, one of the most important steps to figuring out cover takes place before the game even begins.
As I discussed in my Understanding Terrain in Legion article, each piece of terrain on the board has certain qualities that are decided by the two players in the setup phase. One of the qualities you can assign to terrain is whether it gives no cover, light cover, or heavy cover. (The only exception to this is official FFG barricades, which are always heavy cover.)
Light cover has the capacity to negate one hit (Cover 1), while heavy cover has the capacity to negate two hits (Cover 2).
Especially in a competitive environment, it is crucial that you see this through and assign terrain cover so you’re not trying to figure things out after the shooting has already started!
Step 1: Determining the Number of Obscured Miniatures
Now, we’re in-game. One unit is shooting at another unit. How do we determine whether or not they have cover?
Well, before we can do that, we’ve got to determine how many minis in the defending unit are “obscured.” Per the Rules Reference, here’s how we do that:
The player checks line of sight from the attacker’s unit leader to each mini in the defending unit. If any part of a defending mini, including its base, is blocked by a piece of terrain, the player then traces an imaginary line from the center of the base of the attacker’s unit leader to the center of the base of the defending mini. If the imaginary line crosses the piece of terrain that blocked line of sight, the defending mini is obscured. The player repeats this process for each mini in the defender to determine how many of those minis are obscured.
Rules Reference, Pg. 23 – Cover
So we’re looking at three steps:
- Check Line of Sight from the attacking unit’s unit leader (this is from the top middle of the mini). From this LOS, is any part at all of the defending mini blocked by a piece of terrain, ground vehicle, or emplacement trooper (e.g. Laser Cannon or E-Web)? If yes, move to bullet 2.
- If the attacking unit leader’s base is touching that piece of terrain but the unit leader can still see the enemy mini, ignore it.
- If the defending mini has a clear peg (like Speeder Bikes and Airspeeders) supporting the mini itself, the peg and base do not count as part of the mini.
- Draw an imaginary line from the center of the attacking unit leader’s base to the center of the defending mini’s base (Update 11/20/18: The new Rules Reference specifies that this line is drawn as if from a top-down view.) Does that line go through the terrain, ground vehicle, or emplacement trooper? If yes, the unit is obscured!
- Repeat for all minis in the unit.
Once you’ve finished those three bullets for all minis in a unit, move on to Step 2!
Step 2: Determine Cover
Count up the number of obscured minis in the unit. Is it at least half of the unit or more?
If yes, the unit gets cover! If not, the unit does not get cover.
Here are the three cases of determining how much cover is now granted to the defending unit:
- Cover provided by ground vehicles and emplacement troopers is LIGHT COVER
- Cover provided by official FFG barricades is HEAVY COVER
- Cover provided by custom terrain is DETERMINED BEFOREHAND
It’s worth mentioning two more important things:
- Having one or more suppression tokens increases a unit’s cover by 1
- There is always a maximum of heavy cover (cover 2) for all units
So even if a unit has two suppression tokens and is granted heavy cover by barricades, it can still only go up to heavy cover (cover 2).
Now, we make use of the cover granted to us.
Step 3: Apply Cover to Rolled Attack Dice
In my Attack Timing Chart article (which you should definitely read now if you haven’t already), I show how applying cover happens in Step 5 of the attack timing chart.
Because nothing in life is easy, this also happens in two chunks – first adding up cover (to a maximum of two) then subtracting cover due to relevant abilities.
- Resolve ADDITIVE unit abilities that positively affect cover TO A MAXIMUM OF TWO, such as:
- Cover X improves a unit’s total cover by X, to a maximum of 2
- Low Profile improves a unit’s unit’s cover by 1, to a maximum of 2
- Any cover provided in Step 2
- Resolve SUBTRACTIVE unit abilities that negatively affect cover, such as:
- Sharpshooter X lowers a defending unit’s cover by X, to a minimum of 0. The initial value that Sharpshooter affects cannot be more than 2.
- Calculate the sum
- Light cover (1) cancels one hit result
- Heavy cover (2) cancels two hit results
- Crit results can not be cancelled by cover
(If you’re thinking – that doesn’t sound right, I’ve never seen that maximum of two/heavy before! – it’s because that rule is weirdly buried under Sharpshooter, not Cover.)
For instance, an attacking unit with Sharpshooter 1 (-1 cover) is shooting at a defending unit which has light cover (+1 cover) and one suppression token (+1 cover). The calculus is 1+ 1 – 1 = 1, leading to a grand total of light cover (cover 1).
In another example, a unit is firmly behind a barricade (+2 cover) and is suppressed (+1 cover), and the same unit with Sharpshooter 1 (-1 cover) is attacking them. Because the additive effects max out at +2, you subtract the Sharpshooter -1 from 2, granting a total of light cover (cover 1).
To check if a unit has cover (and if so, how much), we follow two steps:
- Check to see how many of the defending unit’s minis are obscured
- If it’s more than half, they have an amount of cover predetermined by the thing obscuring them
When you say it like that, it’s not so bad, right?
Two Visual Examples
Example one. Does Luke have cover from this looming AT-ST?
For our first step to determine whether or not he does, we take something like the above image from the AT-ST’s presumed top-middle and look at Luke to determine LOS.
In this image, Luke’s mini (base included) is not obscured at all by the barricade because of how tall the AT-ST is. While a lower-to-the-ground trooper unit might be shooting at Luke through cover, because the first step of checking LOS for obstruction returns a negative response we know that Luke does not have cover in this situation.
Example two. Do the Rebel Troopers have cover from this Stormtrooper?
First, we check LOS obstructions: well, two minis appear to be obscured somewhat by the barricade. So we do indeed move to the next step.
Next, when we draw a line from the Stormtrooper’s base to each mini’s base, we find that two of five troopers are obstructed by the barricade.
However, 2/5 does not meet the “half or more” threshold to assign cover, so the Rebel Troopers do not have cover.
If, however, we move one of the exposed troopers behind the barricade (let’s assume he’s in cohesion), we find that three of five troopers are obstructed.
This meets the half or more threshold and these Rebel Troopers do have cover. Since barricades are naturally heavy cover, they will be able to block two regular hits from this Stormtrooper’s unit.
I hope that you found this guide helpful. While cover can seem incomprehensible to new players, with a bit of time and practice you can usually eyeball whether or not a unit has cover.
If you’re in a tournament setting, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a Tournament Official (or judge) to determine cover. It’s tricky, and sometimes heavy cover vs. no cover can completely change the course of the game.
But for now, that’s all. Leave your comments and questions below, and share if it helped you.
Happy covering, Commanders!
P.S. – Don’t forget to read the follow-up to this article, Advanced Cover Scenarios!