Hello all and welcome back! It has been quite awhile since my last post. Four months to be exact. I continued to play Star Wars Legion through out these last four months but not to the degree of which I was prior to November. There are several reasons I attribute to my absence. Firstly, I had burned myself out in the start of the taun/shore dominated meta. Second, I married my wife in November and it took awhile to settle back into a groove. And lastly, I received Gloomhaven for Christmas and it has been taking much of the time which I would have normally been playing Legion.
Anyways, you come here for the content and I”m jumping right into the pool of goodness I’m very excited for. That pool of goodness being the Vital Assets expansion and all the new variations of games that will come along with the release of more set up cards. This time, we’ll be looking at the new objective, Hostage Exchange. In the weeks following, we’ll be diving into each other objective.
This is in no way a comprehensive guide. My aim is get you thinking deeper about this upcoming objective. And maybe you’ll be fired up enough to play a match using this objective.
The Objective Card
This card is a lot to take in. Compared to the objectives that came with the release of the game, (looking at you breakthrough) there’s a lot going on here on this card. To help with visualization, the objective tokens in this game are the hostages and during an exchange, things went south and now opposing forces are fighting over securing their hostage or both if they can help it. In the preview picture FFG gave us, two minis can be seen, which can be assumed to be the hostages. Lets break down the set up part of the card into a list of steps, to make it more digestible.
Assume you are the blue player.
- You and your opponent should mark the exact center of the battlefield
- Each player selects one of your own corp units.
- Blue player, take your opponent’s selected unit, place the leader on center point of the battle field
- Perform a speed 1 move with your opponent’s unit
- Your opponent (red player second) takes your chosen corp unit and does the same with the corp unit you selected
- Opponent’s control of your chosen corp unit ends
- Both players place one objective token, claimed side up, on the battlefield in contact with their chosen corp unit’s leader
- Equip the Hostage upgrade card to your chosen corp unit which has the objective token
The set up of the objective is now complete, and you and your opponent would move onto set up of the condition if any set up for condition exists.
The Hostage Upgrade Card
The hostage upgrade card (or downgrade?) begins attached to whatever corp unit you had chosen. This hostage card is in a sense, the objective token. Being that, if you have a unit that controls an objective token, then that unit will have this upgrade card attached to it.
Note at the bottom of the card, it says, ‘unequip this card if you do not have a claimed objective token’. This most likely will mean the unit in control of the hostage has died, but, don’t forget when a unit panics, it drops any claimed objective tokens. This meaning that the panic would be at full speed and the corp unit would have unequipped the hostage upgrade care.
Fear not, if you drop the hostage due to death or panic, you can reclaim the hostage with any trooper unit. The objective card, much like recover supplies, states each trooper gains claim. Interestingly, this means while the hostage will begin the game claimed by one of your corp units, its possible the hostage ends the game with a hero such as Luke or Krennic.
This claim of the hostage does cost an action.
Two stat changes come with the hostage card. Plus one courage and minus one speed. The minus speed is a real jab, especially considering your corp unit starting with the objective token and this upgrade card are starting a speed one move away from the center of the field and in a direction of your opponent’s choice.
Lastly on the card are more turn 1 rules.
Turn 1 Rules
There are special rules applied only on the first round when playing Hostage Exchange. The first rule is found on the objective card, which states…
During round 1, Units cannot use the Detonate keyword
The other rules are found on the Hostage upgrade card. Again these rules are for round 1 only.
During round 1, enemy units cannot start a melee with or attack you, and you gain Immune Enemy Effects.
These round 1 rules create an immunity for the corp unit you had chosen to start the game with the hostage attached to. The “Immune Enemy Effects” keyword was added to the RRG in the recent rules reference update. Just as it sounds, it means the unit is immune to all card effects which include abilities, keywords, and text on unit cards, upgrade cards, and command cards controlled by an opponent.
After turn 1, it’s all fair game!
The highest point total that can be earned from Hostage Exchange is four. Scoring is only marked up at the end of the game. There are two objective tokens on the field and each one can net you a max of two points.
- Each player gains one point at the end of the game for each claimed objective token they control.
- An additional point is awarded if a player has their claimed objective token(s) fully within their own deployment zone.
How It Might Play Out
That wraps up explanation of set up, scoring, and the special hostage upgrade card. So now, we can ponder on how a game of hostage exchange will play out. I expect games to start in one of two ways.
- A turn two blood bath in which armies clash hard and the hostage carriers get killed on turn 2, making each side trying to scramble to get the hostage back and run away.
- Both sides get their hostage back into their deployment and hidden, making it a tied game in terms of objective points. Similar to Sabotage the Moisture Vaps, blue player will have the advantage. If both players hide a unit holding the hostage in their deployment zones, it will come down to points destroyed. If points are tied then blue wins.
A Match Full of Variables
How it plays out will be highly variable, depending on terrain set up. The deployment zone you have will also have a big influence on the game flow. Going back to the post set up picture from earlier, on battle lines, at the end of turn 1, you can expect the hostage carriers to have flip flopped their position. Battle lines is easiest to envision. But on any deployment, math tells us each hostage carrier making two speed one moves means they’ll flip flop positions.
Each unit moving at speed one would put them at approximately 4 inches from the center of the battle field, 4 inches closer to their deployment zone. On battle lines, this means the hostage carrier is approximately two speed one moves from being back to their own deployment zone, and is just range two and half from opponents’ deployment zone.
This means, even if you don’t move units out of your deployment zone, range 3 units will be able to shoot the hostage carrier easily on turn 2. Finding line of sight blocking terrain to hide behind will be necessary to preserve your hostage carrier.
More so considering turn 2, a suppression could cut the hostage carrier’s speed in half. You’ll want your carrier hidden if possible. It’s also possible that the corp unit starting with the hostage has courage 2 (Phase IIs, officer upgrades) which could prove useful.
When You Would Want Hostage Exchange in Your Battle Deck
This objective at a glance seems to be a balanced objective. Time will tell though I expect blue to have a slight advantage due to winning objective ties. If you’re blue player post Vital Assets, you’re looking for ways to make your battle deck favor your army’s strengths.
This objective is one where troopers are important for picking the hostage up, however, its very possible one corp unit can do all the objective play by themselves. Meaning a naked corp unit for 40 points or so, can cover the entire objective side of the game. (assuming they don’t die).
This is a welcome change from the OG objectives in which a higher number of activations often meant a higher number of points you can score. (Breakthrough)
Or you needed many activations to contest the objectives. (Intercept, Key positions) All this said, you may consider this objective if you think you’ll have fewer activations than lists you face.
You’ll also want to consider this objective may take a corp unit away from you. You may prefer this objective if you have a corp you can dedicate to running away and hiding with the hostage. Or, as an example. You might not like this objective if you’re running a x3 shore x3 mortar list. Shores being one of the more expensive corp units ran today. You’d have to throw one of your shores down for the objective. Preferably your shores are shooting each turn.
Cunning may be powerful in this objective. As mentioned earlier, turn 2 is when the guns can turn towards the hostage carriers. Cunning will give you a huge edge on getting priority on turn 2. With priority, you can high tail your corp unit out of the hot zone and hide them. This may set you up to be in a defensive position for the rest of the match. A defensive position is often the desirable one. Krennic and Count Dooku may shine on this objective. Krennic also brings compel to the table which could help you move your suppressed hostage carrier.
Force users have some tools that will be very strong. One tool they can all bring is Force Push. With it, you’ll be able to move their objective carrier around. Possibly pulling them back towards you, or pulling them out of hiding.
With Force Choke, you can choke the unit leader holding the hostage objective token. This makes the token flip back to its unclaimed side. There’s more the dark side can offer! Vader’s Might, could allow you fling the hostage carrier back to a position you can kill them.
The faster force users with jump could make some big plays. They could make a big push at the ideal time to jump onto hostage carriers and kill them. This could be a play held back till closer to the end of the game. When armies are but scraps remaining and they can’t deal with a Luke or Obi taking the hostage away. Or this may be a dive you want to take on turn 2. Few units holding the objective will be able to survive the Son of Skywalker nuke. Dropping the nuke at the right time however, could be the win.
Rex and Scouting Party
This objective will shine for you if you have Rex. If you’re opponent has Rex, you’ll want to avoid this one I’m sure. Rex with recon intel + scouting party, could get to range 2 of your hostage carrier after he scouts. This then would give your hostage carrier a scout 2. This scout 2 plus the hostage carrier’s two speed 1 moves on turn 1, ensures the clones have a defensive set up. This sounds similar to why so many avoid recover supplies against a Boba or Sabine. Only, this will likely feel worse. It is possible however, that this play will not be optimal for the clone player. It may expose Rex too much on turn 1. How effective it proves may be terrain dependent.
There will be much to learn about this objective. I encourage you to take time to think about how it might play out. Think about tactics or units you believe will be strong, and plan to implement those tactics/units in your future matches. As I contemplated on this objective, I realized that it’s very much open for exciting moments and big plays. And this makes me excited and optimistic that this will be a good year for Legion.
Thanks for reading!