Today I’m going to discuss the greatest thing to hit merchandising since ewoks: Grogu. Get ready for what might be considered a hot take because I’m going to make a case for why he is good and you should consider taking him in a rebel army!
Before we dive too far into the analysis lets take a quick look at the 2 new keywords that accompany this cute companion. First up is Hunted. This keyword comes into effect when Grogu is defeated. When that happens his mini is replaced with a The Asset token which can be picked up by your opponent for a potential victory point. While this seems risky (and we’ll talk more in depth about that later) an important thing to remember about this new keyword is that while only enemy units can gain the VP by holding a claimed The Asset token, EACH trooper unit gains the ability to claim the token so you can pick it up yourself to prevent your opponent from claiming it. Also remember that your opponent only scores the VP if they have a claimed token at the end of the game.
Latent Power is the 2nd new keyword that Grogu brings to Legion. This keyword is a bit of a gamble and will most likely be very inconsistent. At the cost of a suppression (which is not the end of the world for either a courage 3 unit or a droid trooper) you can roll a red defense die at the end of your activation. On a surge result (1/6 chance) you can choose an enemy unit at range 1 of Grogu to gain 2 suppression and 2 immobilize tokens. On a blank result (2/6 chance) you can remove a wound or poison token from a friendly non-droid trooper mini at range 1 of Grogu. On a block result (3/6 chance) this ability has no effect at all. The most important thing to remember with this keyword is the range of the effect is from Grogu himself, not the unit, so you cannot measure range from the mini is his a counterpart to. Also note that the heal effect does not use the Treat keyword so it can only remove a wound or poison token, it cannot Restore a defeated mini.
At first glance Grogu appears to be more of a handicap to your army than an asset. At 17 points he is not cheap and he doesn’t naturally contribute anything to your unit on attack or defense. His Latent Power has a 50% chance to do nothing and an even higher chance of not doing what you want it to do in a given situation. The Small keyword has some great benefits and can allow you to do some cheeky things but when you add in the fact that he can turn into a potential victory point for your opponent you are probably asking “why should I even bother taking him?” While far from an auto include, the downsides to Grogu may not be as bad as they initially appear and he does come with one very powerful tool: his command card.
THE HAND THING
Arguably the biggest argument for taking Grogu, this 2 pip command card can help get valuable dodge tokens out to your important units when they need them and also threaten the attacker with Deflect. There’s a lot to digest with this card so let’s dive in and break it down.
The first thing to pay attention to with this card is that it actually cannot be selected as a command card during the command phase. This makes it a “dead card” in your command hand in terms of issuing orders and determining priority, but given that there are only 6 rounds in a standard game (5 in skirmish) and your command hand consists of 7 cards you are always going to have 1 that doesn’t get used anyway. In terms of cards that you want to be excluded from use in the command phase, a 2 pip is probably going to be your best choice. Assuming a card isn’t played specifically for it’s effect, 1 pips are more often than not played to try and win priority and 3 pips are played to try and lose priority. An early turn Standing Orders is also going to eliminate one of your character specific command cards from being played so having one that can be used outside the command phase is a nice way to get full use out of your command cards.
Now that we’ve talked about when we can’t play it, let’s look at what happens when we do play it. The trigger for using this card is when one of your friendly units at range 1 AND in line of sight of Grogu is declared as a defender against a ranged attack. Note that while the range and LOS check is from Grogu specifically, not his unit, the card does not specify that the defender must be ANOHTER friendly unit so The Hand Thing can be used on the unit that Grogu is a Counterpart to. When this card is played, the defending unit gains 2 dodge tokens and also gains Deflect during that attack.
Who doesn’t love free dodge tokens with the ability to deal wounds back to the attacking unit?! While this effect is quite powerful there is one important detail to take into consideration, the card must be played when a friendly unit is DECLARED as a defender of a ranged attack. Declaring a defender is the very first step of the Attack sequence so it is done BEFORE attack dice are rolled and even before the attack pool is formed. This means that your opponent gets to choose which eligible minis/weapons to attack with and then roll those attack dice AFTER you have decided to use The Hand Thing. In a list without Vigilance or on an attack late in a round this could backfire on you as the attack roll could turn out to be poor and either roll no hits or have all the hits bounce off of cover, leaving you with unused dodge tokens and a tool in your kit already used. Does this mean that The Hand Thing is bad and should never be taken? Of course not. What it does mean is that you should be tactful about when to use it. If your opponent is attacking one of your units in heavy cover with only a 4 man squad using The Hand Thing there would be a waste. But if the defender is out in the open and is taking an attack from a unit with access to a big heavy weapon or a large base dice pool this would be the perfect place to play The Hand Thing.
WHERE CAN I TAKE HIM?
As a Counterpart upgrade, Grogu cannot be taken in an army by himself, he must be taken as an upgrade to a specific unit. Grogu had Counterpart: Din Djarin natively on his counterpart card and if you are running IG-11 with “Nanny” Programming Grogu gains Counterpart IG-11. This leaves us with 2 units that Grogu can be a part of. In my IG-11 article I mentioned that I don’t think there is ever really a case for brining Grogu with IG-11. IG-11’s command cards encourage him to move into close range and potentially even destroy himself. The scenario where you would bring Grogu with IG-11 is in a list where you simply want IG to sit at range 3 or 4 and attack from a distance. The only real benefit you get from Grogu in this scenario however is The Hand Thing has is Latent Power cannot heal Droid Troopers. The extra health is nice but 17 points just for that is a bit expensive, especially when you can take two R5 Astromech Droids for 16 points (at the time of writing). Outside of a jank list or some weird combos, this leaves Din as the main spot to take Grogu for me.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
I promised you at the beginning of the article that I would make a case that Grogu is good and that you should consider taking him. Most of his benefits come with sizable drawbacks and there is the looming threat of giving your opponent a victory point, So why should you take Grogu? Well to start with the potential for him to turn into a VP for your opponent is just that, a potential. It is far from a guaranteed thing and if you play smart it can be unlikely to happen.
Let’s recap what it takes for your opponent to gain a VP from Grogu: first they need to defeat Grogu, which with the rules for allocating wounds to a unit with a counterpart means you have to deal 5 wounds to either Din Djairn or IG-11, both of which have red defense dice (surfing to block in Din’s case) and Impervious. Then your opponent needs to move into base contact with The Asset token (if they are not already) and then use an action to claim the token. After doing that, your opponent must hold onto The Asset token and have it claimed at the end of the game. The easiest way for your opponent to claim the token is if Grogu is defeated close to one of your opponent’s units. It becomes less and less likely that your opponent will be able to claim the token the farther away it is from them when Grogu is defeated. So if you happen to lose him to a big early ranged attack, that VP is probably safe. Remember too that you can pick up your own The Asset token, making your opponent have to defeat another unit just to have the opportunity to pick it up again.
The other thing that can make it tough to defeat Grogu is his Latent Power. While not the most reliable, you still have a 2/6 chance to heal a wound from Din if you are running Grogu with him. Wounds against Din can be hard to come by and any that are healed off make it that much tougher for your opponent to get to the 5 needed to defeat Grogu. The other benefit of Grogu being tough to defeat is that it makes Din or IG-11 tougher to defeat. While you might lose Grogu, that 1 extra wound could be all you need to keep either of those units around for another activation. Another important note is that since Grogu is a counterpart to an operative unit he cannot be target by Force Choke.
The other big tool that Grogu brings to his unit is the Small keyword. The main benefit of this keyword is that Small minis are ignored for determining range to, line of site to, and cover for their unit during non-area ranged attacks. For Grogu specifically this is helpful because his abilities are measured from his mini specifically so you can place him wherever you need to while keeping his companion hidden out of side or in cover if needed. For the unit he is attached to, this increases the range of any effects that would be measured to that unit (Take Cover, Vigilance, etc.) as well as effects that would be measured from that unit. The latter that I am going to highlight here is Standby. Cohering a mini with the Small keyword forward extends the range with which you can trigger standbys from that unit. Combine that with the Overwatch upgrade to increase that range even farther.
This is probably a more useful trick with IG-11 than Din as IG is able to attack at range 4 whereas Din’s attacks are capped at range 3 if he uses Longshot, but it is still a nice trick to use to make your opponent think and potentially play more cautiously. Din probably isn’t too upset about giving the edge to IG in this instance because he comes with his own upgrade which might provide an even greater benefit than increased standby range: the Amban Rifle. We’ll save the detailed discussion of the Amban Rifle for a dedicated Din article, the important part of it for our purpose here is that it is an effect that targets a unit “in line of site” and since it is not specified that LOS must be drawn from the Din Djarin mini, any mini in the unit can be used to determine LOS. This would allow you to keep Din himself hidden while peeking Grogu out to try and deal a wound with the rifle. This would keep Din safe from almost everything but another Amban Rifle at long range.
This is one of the only kind of builds I would really feel comfortable bringing Grogu as a Counterpart to IG-11 with. Play the long range game keeping Grogu as far away from the enemy as possible. Cassian is also a great target for The Hand Thing as Danger Sense gives him more dice for Deflect. Keeping him close to Grogu does also give you a target for Latent Power if you are feeling lucky, but make sure you keep an eye on IG-11’s suppression because even though he won’t be suppressed as a droid trooper he can still panic with 4 suppression.
This list focuses on the close range fight. Normally bringing Grogu towards your enemy can be dangerous but with enough other units to support or even take the attention away from The Child, giving your opponent a victory point shouldn’t be too much of a concern.
Grogu is an expensive piece and a tricky one to use, but he is far from bad in my opinion. He is not going to find a home in every Rebel list with Din (and fewer with IG-11) and can up the difficulty level of the unit you are running him with, but if used correctly I think he can be a strong asset in the right hands. The most important thing with him is not to be reckless. He does accompany fairly durable units but at the end of the day dice will be dice. A couple swingy rolls can wreck your day if you are caught out of position with him. But as long as you are careful and play around it, you shouldn’t be gifting your opponent a free VP.