Author - People's Champion
I had determined a while ago I was going to bring Palpatine to my local Prime Championship this last Saturday. And I had determined that I was going to bring yellow Palp due to the lack of Admirals in my collection. Other than that my final deck was elusive, that is until I saw the Portland Prime winner’s decklist.
When I saw that I began to comprehend the brilliance of what he had designed, but my next week of testing and trying different things to try and improve the deck really showed me how brilliant the design was, and has completely changed how I perceive Palpatine-Unlimited Power decks. Ultimately, after trying many things, I ended up with 98% netdeck, changing Formidable in the original deck for a Protective Suit in my deck. Ultimately, I felt like Formidable wouldn’t give me enough of a power boost, and with Palpatine winning two Primes the week before I assumed that Mind Extraction would be a problem that would show up and could end a game (more on that later).
If you want to read Jeff’s original write up and many comments that were extremely helpful to me, I would suggest checking out his deck on the DB. I will only be adding my own thoughts and comments below based on my experience running the deck.
These six abilities are the core of the deck. Each gives you a health on Palpatine and each scales his important cards like Bacta Therapy and Fatal Blow. You want to play as many of these as early in the games as is possible.
Bartering-Resource generation is really important for this deck, and Bartering has three sides that do that. The best side is the special, but you have to use it wisely. You don’t want to give your opponent a card at the wrong time, but getting the card draw is very important for you too. There is always the chance that when you resolve the special you can gain a resource and draw a one cost ability you can play with that resource. And if you don’t hit one of your resource sides it has a focus side that pairs extremely well with Jabba’s or Palpatine’s 2 focus sides.
Force Jump-I’ve written ad nauseum about why Force Jump only sees play in mill or Palpatine decks: mill because it advances your win condition, Palpatine because it’s downside in most decks—taking an upgrade slot—becomes a positive, giving him a health and higher value to his Bactas and Fatal Blows.
Niman Training-A pretty decent card. The 1 melee and the 1 resource sides are very good for a one cost ability. And the specials can be very good, used either defensively to blank an opponent’s threatening dice, or offensively to start a special chain, hitting the special on Niman Mastery or Force Storm when you need them.
These abilities are here to give you damage that allows you to close out the game, all the while giving you defense in the extra health on Palpatine.
Force Storm-The powerhouse card. It was overpowered with its initial release, and with the errata everyone has kind of cast it aside. But it is still amazingly powerful in a Palpatine deck, and can be surprisingly affordable, more on that later. But here are some numbers for you. On the round it’s played, say you hit the special once, then hit a 3 range side. That’s four damage in one round. But don’t forget to roll it back in with Palpatine, and with a second three range you can get that up to seven damage in one round. That’s almost a full kill on a droid. If you hit the special twice with two resources you can get up to twelve damage, if you take the indirect sides. Sure, you aren’t doing eighteen damage round two like you used to be able to do, but even three special resolutions can lead to so much damage that your opponent will be overwhelmed in two rounds.
Niman Mastery-The advantage Niman Mastery has over Soresu is the one resource cost difference. Niman is easily playable, whereas Soresu takes some work to set up. And Niman also gives you some good aggression, and gives you access to Pushing Slash, which is potentially better then Deflecting Slash.
Sith Teachings-Three sides with the potential for two damage is pretty good for a two-cost upgrade. Removing a dice (even a blank) gives you even better value. And it is oftentimes the best ability to roll back in with Palpatine’s power action until you see Force Storm. Just remember it has a modified 2 melee side, which means you don’t want to resolve all of your melee before you power action it back into your pool.
Cards that allow you to build your board state, giving Palpatine his unlimited power.
Palpatine’s Lightsaber-Gaining a standard two-cost lightsaber dice for free is extremely high value, making Palpatine’s Lightsabers always worth playing on him. But what makes them truly powerful is their ramp potential. Here’s what I mean: imagine you had a slow first round and only played Force Jump and Bartering on Palpatine and had zero resources left over. Your first action round two you can play Palpatine’s Lightsaber on him and get refunded your two resources. Pretty solid value play. But then, for your second action you overwrite the lightsaber with Force Storm, paying the difference with the resources you got refunded from playing the lightsaber initially. That is big. And that’s if you only have one lightsaber. Imagine if you had two. You could play both lightsabers then overwrite one for Force Storm. Palpatine goes form moderately annoying to terrifying in a short amount of time.
Forbidden Lore-Most cards that give you a resource have a play restriction or a downside. While the window for using Forbidden Lore is narrow in the general sense (it can only be used to decrease the cost of a blue ability and you only get card draw if you play that ability on a Sith) in this deck there is nothing better since we meet those conditions no problem. It gives your opponent no bonus (as does Well Connected) and in fact gives you two. Much like Bartering, the odds of drawing into a useful card are so high that it can generate amazing ramp for you.
Well Connected-Giving your opponent a card should make you cautious about playing this, much like with Bartering’s special. But you can fish for it with Jabba, which is good, and if you time it well you can use it to allow you to make big plays.
Typically, in Destiny mitigation means removing dice, which means mitigating how much damage is dealt to you. This deck has a different outlook on mitigation, increasing how much damage your opponent needs to do to make a fatal play on Palpatine. In that sense, every ability on Palpatine becomes mitigation since you can easily turn him into the highest health character in the game with six or so upgrades. But these cards are in the deck to more directly keep Palpatine from death.
Bacta Therapy-This is one of the big reasons that there are so many one-cost upgrades in this deck. It makes it easy to hit five early and get the maximum heal out of Bacta. And remember, it’s any upgrade, not just abilities, that count, so another instance of showing just how good Palpatine’s Lightsabers are on him.
Dangerous Maneuvers-Jabba in many ways is a meat shield for Palpatine. So moving damage to Jabba is very good, because it keeps your carrying character alive. Another instance of this being good is into a deck that wants to play Target Acquired. If you play Dangerous Maneuvers before they can get the target lock on Palpatine, that means you can protect him from that, healing him to full.
Forsaken-Since Jabba is coming with only one dice, it’s very easy to set up Forsaken, then to slow play until you use it.
All of these cards aren’t necessarily Palpatine dependent, but are reactions to the meta, and can be subbed out if the decks you’re expecting to face change.
Protective Suit-As I mentioned earlier, I brought this because I was afraid of Mind Extraction, and a little afraid of Target Acquired, both of which are legitimate threats to Palpatine. It’s very good if you can play it. And it can also be an extra upgrade for Bacta or Fatal Blow if you need it.
Galactic Deception-Reylo is extremely popular right now, and keeping them from getting shields is very good at slowing them down. No Kylo power action, and Rey’s dice become 50% blanks.
Desperate Measures-With so many supports, and so many decks that depend on supports to win, and being able to draw this with Jabba and then put the damage into him, this is incredibly powerful. If the meta ever moves back to agro characters with lots of upgrades this could see less play, but that won’t be any time soon.
Electromagnetic Pulse-Droids and vehicles are very common these days, so this becomes free removal of Chopper’s 2 melee or a Millennium Falcon dice. Again, if droids and vehicles become less common, this would be worth dropping, but today is not that day.
Possibly the most important reason to include Jabba in this deck is so that you can have Lightsaber Mastery. An on-demand Fatal Blow is amazing, and as you’ll see in a bit, extremely potent in closing out games. Pushing Slash is also nice to have on-demand since it can give you some important momentum in a slow deck.
Fatal Blow-With all of the cheap upgrades it is very easy to Fatal Blow for eight damage or more. And that will swing a game wildly in your favor, if not ending it.
Pushing Slash-Pretty solid for gaining momentum. And unless you absolutely need the kill, wait until you have Niman Mastery our so get the full effect.
Theed Royal Palace-Turning Jabba’s discard or disrupt into a resource is really solid. And even if you don’t hit Jabba’s dice, you can always hit one of your many one-cost upgrades with all of their blanks. But in reality shields are almost always better to take if you win the roll off.
So far this has all been the theory of how the deck works, my thoughts going into the Prime. After the tournament report I’ll share some more realistic thoughts moving forward with this deck. But first I want to say thank you to Desert Sky Games for putting on an awesome event, and for adding prizing of their own to the already awesome pool.
-------------On to the games ---------------
Round 1- Francisco-Reylo
This game was a lot of chip damage back and forth. He never really threatened Palpatine, and I consistently poured damage into Kylo, getting him to nine damage with no shields, and having Rey at three damage from a Force Storm 4 indirect earlier in the game. Toward the end of the round, I focused into 2 melee on Palpatine and his Lightsaber each, threatening lethal on Kylo. Francisco had been waiting to activate Rey until the Dagger of Mortis had redeployed for efficiency. But he was surprised when I played Fatal Blow for eight damage, killing Rey and leaving Kylo defenseless before the remaining 2 melee in my pool.
Round 2- Brian-Reylo
Having come off a Reylo victory, I was feeling rather confident. I started to build up Palpatine, but was hit with a Mind Extraction, forcing me to dump a couple upgrades. It hurt, but I pushed forward, hoping he only brought one or that I could pull my Protective Suit in time. But neither of those were true. I had twelve damage, four upgrades, two Bacta Therapies, and four resources when he played his second Mind Extraction, killing Palpatine instantly.
Round 3- Ben-Reylo
Going into this match I was decidedly less certain, knowing that I could get hit with Mind Extraction again. But this match was much less of a contest. I played Force Storm round one, and was able to hammer damage into Kylo, killing him round two. I was very methodical about Force Storm, using all of my two focus sides to ping damage getting amazing value out of it. With Kylo dying so early, he didn’t have much hope.
Round 4- Sage-Plowoks
After three back-to-back rounds facing Reylo, and facing over half of the Reylo decks in the field, I was ready for something different. Unfortunately, if Reylo was my second most feared deck, Ewoks, especially Plowoks, was my first. And I knew Sage had taken down the previous week’s Prime, and so his deck was good. His first round started strong. I blocked all of his direct damage to Palpatine for fear of Target Acquired, and put all of the indirect into Jabba. After two Ewoks, Plo, and Strength in Numbers, Jabba had nine damage, and was finished off by a Chain Lightning. But Palp had started to ramp. I killed both Ewoks round two, and the Hoth Trooper fell shortly after. Once those three are gone Chirpa and Plo simply do not have what it takes to take down Palpatine. So it was just mop up for me.
Round 5- Matt-Kylo2/Anakin
Matt said he was feeling a little under the weather, and between that and five consecutive games of Destiny it showed in his play (both of ours really). He missed Kylo’s ability round one, calling blue when I didn’t have any blue cards. Then in rounds two and three he completely forgot to use Kylo’s ability, which may have turned the game. Instead I again meticulously chipped away at Kylo until I defeated him. Then I used Fatal Blow on Anakin for nine damage, and summarily defeated him shortly after.
Round 6- Agent of Zion-Palpatine/Motti
Had this been earlier in the day I would have been much more stressed about facing someone whose name I’d seen floating around the internet, and whose advice I’d followed in playing my games. But with my record I figured I could take a loss and still make top cut. So it was a Palp off, and it got interesting. My damage was consistent over the game, dealing bits and pieces of damage, while he only managed to deal one damage to my Palpatine by round three. I kept the pressure up, getting him to twelve damage when his Palp had three ability upgrades. I was fairly confident that I could easily roll him off the board at the beginning of the next round when he overwrote Soresu Mastery for Admiral, getting his reset. You are probably of sounder mind reading this than either of us were after six games of Destiny, so it took a couple seconds for me to realize, then mention, that he had killed his Palpatine, since he only had two abilities and twelve damage. He was ready to pack up, but me, missing that he could Theed for the resource he needed to overwrite Treasured Lightsaber instead, decided I could still roll him off the table, and that my SoS was good enough to get me to top cut. Well, getting two resets on a heavily loaded Palpatine meant that he rolled me off the table, killing my Palp that round. But we agreed that my loss would come with an asterisk for letting him not kill his Palpatine.
*After a grueling day, I had made it to top cut, and I had placed 5th, meeting my goal of winning a playmat. I was very happy with my performance through Swiss, and was looking forward to the top cut of my first big tournament.
Top 8- Ben-Reylo
A rematch of my round 3 opponent, who did not have Mind Extraction, and so I was liking my odds. But even with playing Galactic Deception the first two rounds both games, I lost miserably and fast. Total time for both games was under 30 minutes.
How did I lose so miserably you may ask? In both games I played a grand total of one, I repeat one, one-cost upgrade on Palp. And in this deck that is a death knell. Without those upgrades you don’t have the health on Palpatine nor the upgrades to get value out of Bacta. The first game I made a decent showing, dealing a little damage, dragging the game out before I fell to the inevitable damage. The second round was faster, ending in two rounds. Ben pointed out that he didn’t even gain a shield the whole game.
This would have been a disappointing result if I hadn’t already achieved my goal and made it further than I expected in a big tournament. Instead I recognized that I ended up having two fluke back-to-back games where RNG simply defeated me much more efficiently than any deck tech did. I don’t say this to diminish Ben and his victories. He capitalized excellently on my bad luck. And we know he was good, he was in the top 8. But neither of the games compared at all with my other six. I did better facing two Mind Extractions in one game. But in Destiny sometimes you just draw very poorly.
Would I make changes? Certainly. But I have limited knowledge. All day Electromagnetic Pulse felt like a dead card because the biggest dice I could’ve removed with it was a Crait Speeder. In fact, all dice I could have removed with it I removed more effectively with Desperate Measures. So I don’t have much good data on that point. A card that I used a lot was Galactic Deception. Five of my eight matches were against Reylo decks. And while I understand the value, I feel like it didn’t do enough against Reylo, and it did nothing against other decks. This would be my first cut in testing, and I would rotate in two copies of Ancient Magicks to grow my one-cost ability to eight cards, almost a third of the deck. This would solve my problem that I had in my top cut rounds of not getting enough of the to make the deck work. The other flex pick I had was the Protective Suit. And my suggestion is that you commit either way. Either play two to ensure you beat the Mind Extraction, or you play zero to make room for other cards. The final card I am considering is Formidable. I’ve heard it’s fantastic against Droids for getting rid of a pesky Chewbacca's Blaster Rifle, but again, not facing Droids competitively, I cannot advise you there.
Looking back, I had a lot of fun. It was a good day of Destiny, and I found a deck that was very enjoyable to play. Palpatine/Jabba/LM really has legs, and I would be unsurprised to see it taking more Primes over the next few months. I know that I will be spending some time with it tweaking and fiddling to see what I can make happen. And I would not at all be surprised to hear that this deck makes a good showing at worlds. Have fun, and may the card draws be with you!
Thanks for reading!
Author - People's Champion