Author - People's Champion
When FFG released their worlds schedule, there were a couple of side events on there that really caught the eye, being Standard 40/40, and Infinite 40/40 Highlander. This was intriguing because it is the first time that FFG has designed a sanctioned constructed format other than the original (now we have Alliances added to the mix, which sounds super interesting). And while most people understood what was going on and started spinning decks in the back of their minds, it wasn't until the rules were officially published that we could start putting our mad concoctions together.
But once the rules dropped--and I learned that they inexplicably did not ban Solidarity from the singleton format--I knew exactly what my first deck would be: Darth Vader-Terror to Behold, and Palpatine-Unlimited Power. My two favorite characters in the game currently, both independent threats that you don't want to leave to kill last, and both iconic characters. Finally the duo could hit the table together, and I wanted to see what sort of magic I could make happen. So here is what I came up with:
Darth Vader-An absolute terror, and a character you don’t want to have around all game. He has in-your-face power levels that cannot be denied, and health that makes him a tank. If he is left alone your damage output should be consistent and you should be able to take down characters left and right. If he is targeted first he should be able to live long enough for Palpatine to become a nightmare.
Palpatine-The infinitely scaling character. A wise opponent will target him first because he has lower health, but if left alone will be difficult to take down late game, especially once you get your shields rolling. It’s worthwhile to invest in defending him early so that you can get his defensive upgrades rolling and use him for all that he’s worth.
Solidarity-In this deck there is no negative to playing this plot. If you are playing Vader and Palpatine then you are already commuting to a mono colored team. And since Highlander is already singleton all opponents you face will be similarly handicapped. I was honestly surprised Solidarity wasn’t on the ban list for this format because any team that is mono colored can use it without restriction. But to be fair, my surprise did not turn into sadness since I can now run my team elite.
Lightsabers for Darth Vader so that he can run down the hallway slashing the Rebel troops to bits.
Dagger of Mortis-In a meta of shields, the Dagger of Mortis is a great upgrade. And with redeploy you can comfortably play it on Palpatine to keep him alive longer, then continue your defenses on Vader once he is defeated.
Darth Vader's Lightsaber-What is scarier than Darth Vader-Terror to Behold in the late game? The same with his lightsaber, getting the extra modifier damage and being able to resolve his monstrous dice three times per round. And don’t forget the ping damage when you use the ability on this dice. No one wants to see that.
Palpatine's Lightsaber-This is less for Vader, and more for the free dice on Palpatine. The synergy is so beautiful that you definitely want to put this in the deck.
Lightsaber Pull-If your opponent plays wisely and targets Palpatine, you need to make sure Darth Vader is as threatening as possible, and for that you need his lightsaber. But with 39 not-Darth-Vader’s-Lightsabers in the deck, you need to up your odds of being able to play it. Hence Lightsaber Pull. It is essentially a second copy of Darth Vader’s Lightsaber when you need it to be. Or it’s Palpatine’s Lightsaber if you want to get that and play it for free. Really it becomes a flexible second any lightsaber you wish, which is really nice.
Palpatine wants his upgrades. Palpatine needs his upgrades. And so we have plenty of upgrades here for him to play with.
Force Focus-The special chain starter, with the focus for your dice, and the ability to manipulate your opponent’s dice too. It’s pretty amazing in a deck with a lot of specials like this one.
Force Jump-A one cost ability for Palpatine that helps keep him alive into the late game? Sign me up!
Force Push-An older ability, with two 2 range sides and a special that allows you to turn two of an opponent’s dice to any side. And keep any side, not blanking, in mind, as it will come up later.
Force Speed-A free ability, with a fifty percent chance of letting you action cheat, and it doesn’t absorb an upgrade slot. Between this and Sith Holocron it’s no wonder they waited for rotation to make this version of Palpatine.
Force Storm-Palpatine’s most infamous ability. High damage, and when able to roll it back in with his ability, absolutely busted. And it’s definitely worth trying to hit the special at least once a round to ramp up the damage.
Force Throw-Perhaps one of the most powerful abilities in the game, letting you remove an opponent’s dice, and deal damage to them equal to its value. Throwing Yoda’s 4 shields for 1 back at him is extremely satisfying. And remember when I said that Force Push’s ability to turn a dice would come back up? Imagine blanking one of Vader’s dice, flipping the other to the 4 for 1, and immediately throwing it at Vader. A difficult combo to get mad at, so long as you're playing it.
Force Wave-The odds of facing a three wide in this format are high. Force Wave should help you dish out all the damage you want to do.
Makashi Training-Lots of damage for its low cost of two. And if you're facing a melee deck, you can remove one of your less important melee sides for one of their more important ones with its oft forgotten ability.
Niman Mastery-The only ability I would consider playing on Vader while Palpatine is alive. Since you are limited to one form per character, I would let Palpatine have the defensive form Soresu Mastery, and let Vader be aggressive.
Niman Training-Another low cost health for Palpatine, and another great dice to get your special chains going.
Sith Holocron-This is the card you absolutely want to see in your opening hand. This will make Palpatine absolutely insane to deal with. Free abilities every round without having to pay for them, never running out of room, stacking health infinitely. This is incredible value. Play this as soon as possible and use it as much as possible. Value that is tough to beat. And even if you don’t have any abilities in your hand to play with the special, just having it in your pool could force your opponent to remove it in case you play a Force Storm absolutely free.
Soresu Mastery-Defense to keep Palpatine alive. Removing a dice upon play with lots of shields and removal to go with. Hard value to beat on Palpatine.
Soresu Training-Using the special to gain two free shields is pretty good for a two cost upgrade, and the extra health Palpatine gets is pretty great too.
Forbidden Lore-There are few viable resource generation cards for mono blue. Forbidden Lore works excellently in this deck since it gives you a resource off of playing an ability, and it gives you a card draw, which is important in the extra large singleton format deck.
It Binds All Things-Sure, it’s not great late game. But it’s amazing early game. And in my limited experience with the format the games go longer because of the extra health pool and less streamlined decks. So it gives you a bigger window in which to play this and still get value.
A Tale of Tragedy-This doesn’t often see play since the dice you usually want to focus are the Sith dice. And blanking an opponent's character dice is just inconsistent enough to keep this out of play. But with both Palpatine and Vader being Sith, you can focus either of their dice so long as both are still alive, which is strong. I played this first round one game to focus both of Vader’s dice to 2 resources, giving me an effective start of five resources that game. Big ramp potential on Palpatine. Also really good for getting those necessary damage or focus sides.
Draw Closer-The thing to remember with this is that the standard value is three damage for two resources and a card. That means without Niman Mastery, you really want to be resolving Vader’s 3 melee or it’s not worth playing. With Niman Mastery, however, any of the melee sides is worth resolving. But turning a 3 melee into an 8 for two resources is insane value.
Fatal Blow-Playing this card is extremely contingent on timing, since you want to play it when Palpatine is at the maximum number of upgrades, which means right before he is defeated. But hitting for an additional five damage can really swing a game.
Fear and Dead Men-Imagine how many three plus wide teams will show up in a 40 point format. That means this will have huge value against almost every deck.
The Power of the Force-This is an old card, and another one that needed to rotate before Palpatine could see play. It allows you to resolve a dice treating its value as equal to the number of blue upgrades you have in play. Given how many that could actually be by the beginning of round three, imagine being able to, for one resource, resolve a resource dice and get eight. Or resolve that much damage to spike a character. Or focus that many dice. Incredibly flexible and incredibly powerful.
Anger-With all of the dice you can get into your pool, the odds are you’ll be hitting a couple blanks. Turning those into aggression and mitigation in one go is very powerful. Honestly, if this were reprinted I wouldn’t be surprised if it were errata’d to force you to remove those blanks. In any case, very powerful if you can meet the play condition.
Bacta Therapy-Healing on Palpatine, so that when he has five abilities on him he doesn’t just have fifteen health, he has effectively twenty, an absolute monster to take down.
Dark Ritual-Resurrecting one of the big bad villains of the Star Wars universe and making your opponent take them down for a second time is extremely good, especially if your opponent unwisely decides to target Vader first. Also, anyone want to make speculations about resurrected Palpatine?
Deflect-Removal and damage. Sure, it only removes ranged damage, but when it removes ranged damage it is of great value. Can you imagine deflecting a Shadowcaster 6 for 3?
Doubt-Pure and simple value mitigation. Getting rid of a dice for zero resources is good.
Feel Your Anger-Turning your opponent’s bad roll into an even worse situation, removing the good dice and leaving them with blanks. Or better yet, resolving both Force Speed and Force Push specials so that you blank two dice then have the immediate action to remove two other dice.
Force Illusion-Technically an ability, but don’t count on this for health on Palpatine since you’ll need to discard it to use it. The ability nature of the card means you can play it on him and not worry about the upgrade limit. And it’s fantastic for keeping him in the game long enough to become a threat.
Hidden Motive-Do I really need to explain why Hidden Motive is in this deck? Free mitigation is fantastic.
High Ground-Having control of the battlefield is sometimes difficult. But being able to remove any damage dice is great. And if it’s a character dice being able to deal a damage in return is awesome. I personally always go for character dice with this.
Indomitable-Once you’re left with one character left, why not make them scarier by giving them three shields for one resource.
Isolation-One cost to remove any character dice. And you don’t have to worry about spotting a blue character because both of your characters are blue.
Lack of Faith-Requires a blue character worth fifteen points or more. This deck has two, so it’s always on. And for two resources you can remove all of a character’s character dice, which is pretty good value, especially if you find yourself facing off against other big bad characters.
Manipulate-Blanking one of your dice to blank one of your opponent’s. It does have a cost, but if you were planning on rerolling Vader’s 2 Shield side anyway, might as well get some value out of it. And you can use this to set up plays like Feel Your Anger or Anger.
Overconfidence-This was a blue staple before rotation, giving you a reroll on two dice and removal on the one that had a lower value. Particularly potent against specials, but good all around.
Rise Again-Healing five damage and pulling an upgrade from your discard pile for free. More difficult to play than Bacta Therapy, but with a higher upside if you can afford it.
You Were My Friend-You should have plenty of blue cards on the table. So this can be either targeted removal of a character dice, or you can use it to simply turn one of your dice to the desired side, if that’s what you really need.
One thing I noticed about playing a 40/40 singleton deck is that it’s incredibly inconsistent. There are too many unique cards in the deck to be able to reliably look for anything. And so I can't give you specific details for what you should do in this deck. But I can give you general principles on how to play this. Your goal is to keep Palpatine alive long enough for either Vader to have put out enough damage that he can close the game, or for Palpatine to be too tanky to be defeated, depending on who they target. So while Vader is going to be the consistent backbone of the deck, Palpatine is where the focus is. Playing upgrades, healing him, etc. is how you will win. And with that in mind you can look for a few general things in your opening hand. Mitigation is good, and upgrades to start your ramp. But what you really want to make sure you have is one of your resource generating cards, being either It Binds All Things, Forbidden Lore, or my favorite, Sith Holocron. This can really empower Palpatine early to start being defensive, drawing out the game for your damage to really take hold, whether coming from Darth Vader’s character dice, Palpatine’s abilities, or from your damage out of hand options like Fatal Blow.
It is a lot of fun to be able to field a team made up of both iconic Star Wars villains, bent on conquering the galaxy together. And with the potential these two have, you might just be able to do that.
Thanks for Reading!
Author - People's Champion