Mission Debriefing: Piloting Palp to the Finals of the PA $1K

Mission Debriefing: Piloting Palp to the Finals of the PA $1K

This article comes to us from ScottE over at Golden Dice Podcast. Be sure to check ScottE and the GDP crew on YouTube and Spotify for more great Star Wars: Unlimited content!

Welcome everyone to this special installment of “Mission Briefing”, a series of articles centered around organized play (“OP”) events for Star Wars Unlimited.

All four of the Golden Dice crew recently had the opportunity to head up to the Banish Zone in Wernersville, PA to participate in their $1k event. This is my story…

The Deck – Choosing a Color

If you’ve listened/watched/read our content recently you would know that I was lucky enough to pull a showcase Emperor Palpatine at the FFG Celebration event back in February. As such, I am contractually obligated to run Palpatine at events in perpetuity. Those are the rules, after all.

Emperor Palpatine, Galactic Ruler (SOR 6) is a hard control style of Leader, coming out at a whopping 8 resources. Control is not my normal preferred mode of play, so that heavily influenced my thought process in picking an Aspect to pair Palpatine with.

Cunning? You get some jank and some good units, but it really doesn’t offer enough at present for my tastes.

Command? You get more ramp being able to easily play Command, but your unit and event roster are going to be a bit too limited.

Vigilance? If you want to go full court press on control this is the place to be. You get the unit removal suite of Power of the Dark Side (SOR 41), Takedown (SOR 77), and Vanquish (SOR 78). You can get some healing. You get a nice finisher in Avenger, Hunting Star Destroyer (SOR 40). But you can be a little slower and sometimes get bogged down.

Aggression? Palpatine really likes abilities that put damage out on opposing units as it facilitates his Epic Action, which allows him to steal an opposing unit. Ruthless Raiders (SOR 134) are monsters with Palpatine, as they can facilitate his corruption while also advancing the actual win condition of base damage. You have some good removal in Open Fire (SOR 172) and Force Choke (SOR 139), and can side in Force Lightning (SOR 138) for some additional late game removal if needed. And you gain a great finisher in unit Emperor Palpatine, Master of the Dark Side (SOR 135), who also turns on your Royal Guards (SOR 82) as he has the official trait.

So I went Aggression to hedge some of the control tendencies inherent in the leader while still maintaining the ability to keep the board clear enough to advance the game into the late turns.

The Decklist

 View on SWUDB.com

Here is the decklist in full, and I’ll highlight some of the choices I made below.

  • Viper Probe Droid (SOR 228) x3: You need the 3 attack against more aggressive builds in the early game. But the hand knowledge is also extremely valuable to a control deck in the later game as well.
  • Consortium StarViper (SOR 112) x2: Another inclusion for dealing with more aggressive decks, as otherwise you are waiting until 4 resources for the Imperial Interceptor (SOR 132). Getting this down and taking out a Red Three, Unstoppable (SOR 144) plus Restore 2 can be huge in stabilizing the board.
  • Fallen Lightsaber (SOR 137) x1: This one is a little cheeky, hence why there is only 1. But if you happen to have it in your hand when you flip out Palpatine, it can change the dynamic of the match as now you have a 7/13 carving up the board.
  • Traitorous (SOR 122) x1 MB x2 SB: This card has good utility in most matchups, but can be really good in to other control (especially other Palpatine decks). There are a number of extremely strong 3 cost units. Maybe you can even live the dream and steal your opponents Superlaser Tech (SOR 83). Watch out for Fang Fighters (SOR 162) though.
  • Devastator, Inescapable (SOR 90) x2 SB: Love the card, but it isn’t needed except into the most heavy of control mirrors. Even then, it isn’t strictly needed; you’re fully capable of out controlling control.
  • Either Common Red Base: Tarkintown (SOR 25) works with what the deck does for sure, but you want the extra 5 health more than the reactive ability to remove something that is damaged.

The Gameplan


There are no two ways about it. Palpatine comes out on 8, you need to get to 8 quicker than just putting down one resource per turn. Resupply (SOR 126) and Superlaser Technician are the cards you are looking for in your opening hand. But unlike Boba Green, you aren’t looking to make a timing play out of it, so it’s not as paramount. You can afford to draw into them. But you want to ramp at least once if not twice a game.

Murder their Leader.

Palpatine can take control of any powerful unit your opponent plays, but the Leader is not corruptible. You need to get their leader off the board with great haste as it’s going to be their safe haven for XP, upgrades, buffs, etc.

Don’t rush out Palpatine.

Yes, you want to rush to 8 resources, but once you are there you don’t have to immediately bring out the big guy. If you have a relatively stable board, or a way to stabilize the board without him, holding him can heavily limit what your opponent can do. This is especially true in control matchups where your goal is to control with the threat of Palpatine as opposed to actually using him.

When in doubt, Ruthless Raider.

Ruthless Raider is one of the best cards in the deck, maybe even the best card in the deck because of what it enables. Overwhelming Barrage (SOR 92) might be at the top of any tier list, but it does nothing without a body on the board. A 4/6 space unit is a very stable platform for OB.

In control mirrors, the amount of passive damage playing 2-3 of these will do to your opponents base will leave them flummoxed for where all the damage actually came from. Play Raiders early and often and you will win more games.

My Tournament Matches

I apologize to all of my opponents ahead of time, I do not remember names very well.

Round 1: Luke/Vigilance

This is a very favorable matchup for Palpatine. Luke Skywalker, Faithful Friend (SOR 5) is a mid-range Leader, but with Vigilance he becomes more of a control deck. This deck also runs a number of upgrades and ways to grant XP to their units.

This presents a problem for the Luke player as Palpatine loves stealing buffed units. This makes the only safe haven for those upgrades and buffs to be the deployed Luke Leader. So ultimately the game will come down to how effectively I can remove Luke before he gets out of hand. In both games I was able to take out Luke relatively immediately, and that resulted in me taking the victory 2-0.

Highlight was playing Traitorous on a Guardian of the Whills (SOR 61) with 3 upgrades on them.

Won 2-0 : Record 1-0

Round 2: Sabine/Command

As much as Luke/Vigilance is a favorable matchup for Palpatine, Green Bean is an unfavorable one. It can be extremely difficult to even make it to 8 resources in this match up, and the window to attempt to Ramp just is not there. That is not to say it is unwinnable, but a lot has to go your way and the Sabine (SOR 14) player has far more paths to victory than you do.

This match was streamed, and I went down very quickly in Game 1. I was in Game 2 and could have taken it if I had played my Palpatine turn better. I brought out Palpatine for minimal benefit just to start getting his base down. This allowed my opponent to U-Wing Reinforcement (SOR 104) and repopulate their board. I should have been more patient and held my flip for this eventuality.

Lost 0-2 : Record 1-1

Round 3: Boba/Command

Probably not what most people want to see after taking a loss in Round 2, but I think Palpatine/Aggression has a favorable match-up into the boogeyman that is Boba Fett, Collecting the Bounty (SOR 15).

The key is to minimize the damage from their 5 resource turn, which will typically occur on Turn 3. You have to get leader Boba off the board before he gets a second opportunity to refresh resources. Force Choke, Open Fire, and even Overwhelming Barrage are all viable options. If you can prevent your opponent from getting a second round of resource refreshes you can typically stabilize.

From there, your main worry is Fett's Firespray, Pursuing the Bounty (SOR 184) sneaking through the last damage they need. You’ll want to make sure you hold answers for its inevitable deployment. Playing Unit Palpatine or Overwhelming Barrage on a 4-attack unit are your best bets here. Both will clean up the Firespray in a single action.

It's always fun to drop a Traitorous on Boba Fett, Disintegrator (SOR 179) as well.

Won 2-0 : Record 2-1

Round 4: Tarkin/Command

Probably one of the spicier combos at the event. GDP teammate Jack (on Sabine) had just lost to this the round prior so I was interested in how Grand Moff Tarkin, Oversector Governor (SOR 7) would play into the very opposite end of the spectrum vs Palpatine.

Unfortunately for my opponent, a Leader who is all about buffing other units with XP probably can suffer a little bit into a Leader that can steal those units. And that’s largely how the games played out.

My opponent did make some adjustments in game two and pressured well with some buffed up TIE/ln Fighters (SOR 225) which are hard for me to deal with effectively, but it wasn’t enough.

Won 2-0 : Record 3-1

Round 5: Boba/Command

This is it, the "win and in" round to make Top Cut.

You know how I said, "when in doubt, Ruthless Raider"? Well that worked well this round. I think my opponent grew to hate them even more than Brian (GDP Scuttlebutt) does.

Overall, like my previous Boba match, this came down to matching his ramp and minimizing his 5 resource turn advantage, and then just answering the Firespray when it came out.

Won 2-0 : Record 4-1

Top 8: Boba/Command

Another Boba Green match up – my 3rd of the day. While I think Palpatine has a good match-up in to this deck, I am worried that eventually I’ll end up on the other foot in this matchup and be unable to respond well to the Boba flip.

But that wasn’t the case this round. Ultimately it was more of the same from the previous two matches vs Boba. I was able to settle into the same play pattern that had won me games previously and ride that to the 2-0 victory. Force Chokes were the big MVP here.

Won 2-0 : Record 5-1

Top 4: Krennic/Command

This was a brutal match-up for my opponent, John. His Director Krennic, Aspiring to Authority (SOR 1) deck is designed to reactively respond to early and mid game pressure with his removal events and an early leader flip with Restore 2. Palpatine, though, doesn’t really care if you remove his early game units with events; a clean board state in the early turns is exactly what he wants.

Krennic's earlier flip also doesn’t threaten much in the way of damage due to his defensive stat line. I’m more than happy to trade a Resupply for a Resupply. Vanquish my Ruthless Raiders all you want. They still put out damage just by coming in and leaving play.

Our Game 2 showed the extreme of how Palpatine can overpower other control decks. We both ramped, we traded some units and events, and in the end John is left staring at an empty board with only big stuff in his hand and Palpatine just waiting to take it.

Won 2-0 : Record 6-1

Finals: Sabine/Green

This was what I wanted to avoid. I was really hoping any of the other decks in the Top 8 were going to take out Sabine as I liked my odds into everything else way more than I like my odds here.

To win this match-up, I have to play well and get a bit lucky. Neither really happened. Late tournament fatigue had set in for both of us, for sure, and Sabine is way more forgiving of misplays into Palpatine then the reverse. My opponent was also extremely aware of the importance of taking initiative as opposed to pinging with his Leader ability.

I was able to take 1 game, largely because my opponent missed an early drop.

But hey that’s how it goes. Better the bad match-up in the finals then earlier.

Lost 2-1 : Record 6-2

Deck Recap

Overall the deck outperformed my expectations. I won every match-up 2-0 except for my absolute worst match-up, and I really can’t ask for more than that at the end of the day. There were definitely some close games in the rounds I won, but there were more games where I was in the driver’s seat from start to finish. I definitely benefited some from my opponents unfamiliarity with the match-up, but that’s part of the reason you take a non-Tier 1 deck to an event.

My mindset when playing the deck is to force my opponent off of their Plan A and then to come out on top in the scramble. I think Palpatine really works well with that play style because his flip forces them to not only answer a big body (like most leader flips), but also answer whatever unit you take from them. And they have to do so down an answer of their own, because you just took it.

The above mindset unfortunately doesn’t work well for Sabine. Her Plan A is extremely redundant and fast. If I were trying to tweak the deck further to help into Sabine, I think the Fallen Lightsaber (SOR 137) has to become another StarViper and the Rukh (SOR 85)/Seventh Sister (SOR 133) split needs to be Agent Kallus, Seeking the Rebels (SOR 115). Not that I think these changes make a huge difference, but another answer in space and a more proactive option in the 5-slot is better than what is there currently.

Otherwise, looking thru the present Spark of Rebellion card pool you have:

As you can see I’m starting to grasp at straws there, so if you have any ideas I’m all ears.

If you are looking to pick up and play this deck my advice is this:

  • Get reps with it. This is not likely a deck that you can pick up and immediately have good success with. First, you have to get used to playing with such a late flip on your Leader. Second, you need to get comfortable with not flipping your Leader even when at 8 resources. Allow the threat to limit your opponents plays. Third, if you are playing in events you need to be able to play the deck at a suitable pace. If you’re winning games, naturally those games are going to go more turns, which means you need to be taking your turns efficiently.
  • Don’t be afraid to use Palpatine Leader ability. Because of the card draw attached to it, the unit you are sacrificing can be essentially replaced. Be mindful that you do need a unit on the table for Overwhelming Barrage, but don’t think you should only be sacrificing units on 1 HP.
  • Avoid building your deck too heavily towards the top end control. Palpatine covers a lot of that need just by himself. This means you can give yourself more options to cover the early and mid-game, which is paramount, as you need to be able to survive to 8 resources. And ultimately you want to get to 8 resources and not have to panic flip Palpatine.

If you’ve made it this far I really appreciate it. Hopefully you enjoyed this look into Palpatine/Aggression. Now if only the rest of the Golden Dice crew would start putting up some results...

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