Author - People’s Champion
Palpatine-Unlimited Power has one of the most interesting design spaces in the game currently, being able to stack abilities and health over the course of the game, becoming an absolute monster by the end. The challenge that he faces is that in standard, he doesn’t have a huge number of damage dealing abilities he can play. Early in the Convergence meta the strategy with him was to turtle up until you could play Force Storm and ramp it to deal fifteen damage in one turn. But that strategy was so overwhelming that Force Storm got errata’d so that it’s special would only ramp once per round. It’s still a beast of a card, but it leaves Palpatine looking for more damage potential. And unfortunately Spark of Hope didn’t give us much in the way of abilities. There were two abilities in this set that could be played on Palpatine: Niman Training and Niman Mastery. Both of those cards are incredible on Palpatine, being low cost, giving him an extra health each, and having strong dice fixing specials, but they do not bring much damage to the table. All of this is to say that Palpatine is looking for more cards to help him out, but in the mean time, I wanted to build a deck with him that would be fun and might be able to do some damage.
As for a partner for Palpatine, it is hard to find someone better than Wat Tambor. While Wat’s ability is a wash in this deck, he gives you access to ramp having two resource sides, and he gives you access to consistency with two focus sides. And perhaps most importantly he gives you access to red, which gives you a lot of beneficial support cards to make Palpatine work.
Force Storm-While this card ramps only once per round, it still has enormous damage sides. And the other thing to remember is that while the special only increases damage once per round, it does still reroll the dice instead of removing it. So you can resolve the special multiple times the first round you play it for one damage each time. It is still a card to be feared.
Force Wave-Three wide teams have become extremely common, and so Force Wave is a powerful tool, giving you the opportunity to deal six damage to an opponent. But even if you are having to deal the one damage to yourself, it gives you a huge swing of damage.
Palpatine’s Lightsaber-The only non-ability upgrades in the deck, but their power level on Palpatine is such that it is worth not getting the health for playing them. They also have a low damage cap of 2, but that is solid if you can play them for free. And the dream scenario is to play one on Palpatine when he has two abilities, using It Binds All Things to pay for it, then get refunded two real resources, essentially allowing you to get paid to play this card.
It Binds All Things-Every single one of the upgrades in this deck can be discounted by this card, giving it huge value, especially if you play it first round.
Forbidden Lore-This card can give you a discount and a replacement card when you play an ability, which means any round you draw it you can use it, and help Palpatine become even more powerful.
Niman Mastery-Niman Mastery acts as both aggression and as defense. Its special allows you to turn a character and an upgrade dice to any side. That can be yours or your opponent’s. So while you generally want to use Niman Mastery aggressively to special chain with either Force Storm or Force Wave, you can also use it to blank your opponent’s dice. It is also good because of its lack of blanks and because it has a two melee side that can increase your damage output. And finally, it allows you to use the extra abilities on the new moves, most importantly Pushing Slash.
Niman Training-This is a really solid one cost ability upgrade. It has a one melee side, a resource, allowing it to pay for itself, and a special that can be used aggressively or defensively on upgrade dice. The special can also allow you to play Niman Mastery for free, but you have to discard Niman Training. Usually that is a fantastic trade, but since Palpatine has unlimited power, and can play any number of abilities, and they give him health, the only reason you would use the overwrite part of the special is if you need to fish one of your Masteries from your discard pile. And since they are not a form, you can play two Niman Trainings and a Niman Mastery on Palpatine without breaking the play restrictions.
Counterintelligence-This card is not aggressive in itself, but rather protects your aggression. Both of your characters meet the spot requirement, leaving it on all game. You can use it to pull an important piece of mitigation from your opponent’s hand before you roll a fully loaded Palpatine into the pool. This could be replaced by Probe, but Probe you want to play late, and is random, while Counterintelligence is a bit more proactive, and takes the best event from their hand.
Pushing Slash-This is one of the new Niman Mastery moves, and it is best with Niman, but it is also very good on its own. It allows you to activate a character then resolve one of their dice. And then if you have Niman Mastery you can flip one of their dice. It allows you to sneak past mitigation, and control your dice. But the funnest combo I’ve thought of is using this, rolling in a special on Force Storm, resolving it, and then fixing it when it rolls back into the pool for another special.
Force Jump-Defensive upgrades only really work in mill decks, since they give you the longevity you need to close out the game. Otherwise they only make the game longer, without advancing your win condition. Force Jump generally doesn’t see play since it takes one of three precious upgrade slots but doesn’t make you win the game any faster. But, on Palpatine it really shines since it allows you to play the defensive upgrade, gain a health, and it doesn’t take up a slot to do so. It’s perfect for him.
Doubt-It’s free mitigation with the risk of hurting you big.
Isolation-Solid mitigation that can really hurt decks that rely on their characters.
Hidden Motive-Either soft of hard mitigation. You removed the dice when it hits the least desirable side, or it stays in the pool on any other side.
Rout-Given that Palpatine can add a ton of dice to the pool in one action, this card turns on and turns on big really quickly. You can easily remove two dice with it, if not more.
The Best Defense...-After the first two rounds of ramp, Wat becomes mostly a focus bot. Using him to soak up your opponent’s damage is a worthwhile endeavor.
Salt Flats-There isn't a battlefield that particularly shines with this deck, but Salt Flats can be rather strong, either turning one of your dice (both of your characters are leaders) or defensively blanking an opponents.
There are a couple cards that I would love to play in this deck, seeing as they almost perfectly fit Palpatine, but I could not find room, namely Bacta Therapy and Fatal Blow. Standard value is one card and two resources for three damage. Both of these would become standard value when Palp has three upgrades. But with as many cheap upgrades as this deck has, both can easily go above value very quickly. And while Bacta Therapy caps at healing five damage, Fatal Blow has no cap, meaning that it can be an absolute killer card at the end of the game.
Another card you might want to swap in is Vader’s Fist. Sometimes Palpatine gets burst down before he can become the monster we all know and love. That leaves Wat Tambor with a lot of useless upgrades and no way to close the game. If you include Vader’s Fist, it gives him the chance to close out the game on his own.
The idea of this deck is to play defensively until you can get more damage oriented upgrades into play. Using your Niman upgrades, Force Jump, and Bacta Therapy to stay alive until you can play Force Storm and Fatal Blow is the long and short of how this deck wants to play.
One important thing I see many people forget is to use Palpatine’s power action until they have Force Storm on the table. Obviously if you have Force Storm on Palpatine, you power action that dice. But if not, rolling in Niman Mastery or Force Jump a second time can give you an advantage, whether forcing mitigation or being able to mitigate yourself. On Palpatine, the options truly are unlimited.
There are alternative characters you can play with Palpatine, but none of those decks are ones I have put a lot of thought into. Conan Moti, Sly More, and Wattowould all be solid partners with an elite Palpatine. But one thing I have considered is that running a single dice Palpatine would be really good. Palpatine's second character dice was good before the Force Storm nerf because it gave you another 2 focus side, which meant another resolution and ramp of the Storm. But since the nerf, Palpatine's second dice seems a lot less valuable, especially since it will cap out at two damage. Instead you could run a regular Palpatine with two other characters and aim for a rainbow team, bringing Watto and a First Order Stormtrooper, or a Mudtrooper and an Enfys Nest's Marauder. These options can expand the card pool you can draw from, opening up more possibilities.
I do want to reiterate that I do not think that this deck is very strong in the current meta. While defensive upgrades work on Palpatine, he needs more offense than is currently available in the ability suite. Hopefully Covert Missions will provide him with a powerful offensive ability to add to his suite that will give him a power spike.
Until then, Palpatine is still fun to play. Being able to roll in eight dice on one character activation is a lot of fun, and really does give you the feeling of unlimited power.
Thanks for reading!
Author - People’s Champion