Fantasy Flight Games and Legends: it’s complicated
Fantasy Flight Games is a gaming company that in 2011 acquired the license to make card, miniatures and role-playing games for the Star Wars franchise. They also make board games but as Hasbro has that license they aren’t allowed to sell them on their own website, as well as some other limitations, but the specifics are not known to the public and it isn’t relevant to what I am going to be talking about today.
What I am going to talk about is whether or not you should support them if you are a fan of Legends and only Legends. Well as the title states, it’s complicated. On the one hand they have made ships for their miniatures game that were from the Legends Universe and in that regard are one of the few licensees to have made Legends content since the decanonization in 2014. On the other hand they also include ships and elements from the new canon, or make ships that originally appeared in the EU but release the canonized versions of them. So if you are a fan of Legends and want to avoid the new canon, what should you do and what should you buy?
Well as they received their license a couple of years before Disney bought the Star Wars Franchise and the full decanonization of the EU wouldn’t happen until April of 2014, I think it can be stated that all games and expansions released until April of 2014 won’t contradict with Legends. So, games like X-Wing, and Edge of the Empire are Legends right? Well not exactly. Just about all of their early games have had expansions and new additions added to the games since the decanonization of Legends. Furthermore, newer games like Age of Rebellion, Force and Destiny and Armada have parts of the games that are legends. So what is Legends and what is canon?
Well to answer this question in a broad sense I am going to use a conversation I had with FFG Founder and CEO Christian T. Peterson. This was from when I spoke with him briefly after the In Flight Report panel at Gencon 2016, and given that it has been a couple of years I will have to paraphrase. Basically, when I asked him if the Star Wars games were canon or not he told me that it was FFG’s job to make good games, and Lucasfilm’s job to decide what was canon. He went on to say that while they did receive some restrictions from Lucasfilm, they had a lot of freedom, and that just because they make something in their games, does not make that thing canon. Until LFL says it’s canon of course.
So, lets take a look at the different games types they make. Firstly, the RPGs. I generally think this is the most safe type of game to play if you want to avoid canon all together. RPGs are meant to be choose your own adventure stories so you can easily construct a legends only campaign. Even the Force and Destiny core rulebook has an entire section on incorporating legends into your stories (not to mention the retcon that fixes all the issues with TCW). However, as I have not personally combed through every book I would still advise you to treat them as S-Canon as there are canon elements in the games as well as Legends.
The card games are probably the least safe. They have both canon and Legends like the RPGs but they are more in your face about it and playing competitively without incorporating the canon cards is difficult. If you want to stay in the realm of legends these are games you will probably find difficulty in playing.
Now comes the miniatures games which I am more familiar with as I play Armada and collect X-Wing. With these I would say Wookieepedia is your friend. The core games for each are mainly OT focused. Though the core game for Armada comes with a Victory Class Destroyer which is originally a Legends ship. However further expansions seem to revolve around particular ships. Sometimes they are individual ships and sometimes they are a few different ships bundled in the same expansion. As such simply look up the ship, see where it is from and make your decision based on that.
However again if you want to play competitively you may have to look more into it than that as these games have features where you can upgrade your ships with cards, and sometimes the best cards for a ship aren’t included in the same expansion for that ship. A great example is the Phoenix Home Expansion for Armada, which includes a Pelta Class frigate from TCW and Rebels, but also has an upgrade card Flechette Torpedoes which when put on a Raider Corvette (A FFG original ship that was later included in the newest battlefront game) along with Ordinance Experts makes them borderline broken against Rebel Starfighter heavy lists. Other times EU characters and ships are included in expansions that also contain canon characters and ships. A good example of this is the Rebel Fighter Squadrons II expansion for Armada, which comes with 8 starfighter squadrons, 2 VCX-100 Freighters and 2 Lancer Class Pursuit class from rebels, each with ace pilots also from the show, but also has 2 E wing squadrons and 2 Z-95 Headhunter squadrons, not to mention Corran Horn (who is absolutely OP and I have never flown a rebel list without him since he came out). Here the Armada and X-Wing wiki’s are your friend as they list everything that comes in the expansion including the card names and effects. I haven’t played Legion so I am not as familiar with it but I’d still follow the same rules and look at what is included in the expansions and do your own research.
So, if you are a fan of the Legends Universe should you support FFG? Well, yes, absolutely. They make great games and even if you don’t play their games their ship models for their miniatures games are so well made and detailed that they make great display models. However, if what universe something comes from matters for you then I would say do your research before you buy and see if what you are looking at is the right purchase for you.
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