Starter Set Deck Tech: Darth Vader

Starter Set Deck Tech: Darth Vader

This is the first of two articles built around the Two-Player Starter Set, releasing March 8th. Deploy Your Leader Gaming will be giving away one of these sets (Retail value $34.99) on March 1st. No purchase necessary.  All you have to do is subscribe to the Deploy Your Leader Gaming newsletter, which you can do from the pop-up or at the bottom of any page. Full contest details here

Hey all! This is JustJack from Golden Dice Podcast!

Well we are official into February which means we are in the final stretch to Star Wars: Unlimited’s March 8th release!

I know a lot of different people are going to take a lot of different approaches to buying Spark of Rebellion – with some doing 6+ boxes, others doing a box, maybe people will do draft and sealed, and some might even just do singles. Yet I think everyone above will likely end up buying the Two-Player Starter Set! It offers several cards that you can only get in this product, so it will be a must buy for any SWU player.

This week and next, Kevin from Roll On Gaming and I are going to take a crack at each leader from the Starter Set. We'll discuss how they play out of the box, what your gameplan should be piloting each deck, and how you can update each deck for your weekly play!

Kevin wanted to test himself by not writing about a villain leader, so he is going to hit you with a Luke article soon. This means I will cover Darth Vader!

Dark Lord of the Sith

To kick it off we might as well talk about what the starter deck looks like for Vader! The image below is the 50 card deck included in the two-player game:

Click here to view this deck on

Shoutout to SWUDB as always for having a feature like these deck images! So now that we have the list, what are some standout cards?

  • Superlaser Technician (SOR 83)Starter Set comes with 3 copies – This guy is a big deal to this deck. His ability of “When Defeated: You may put this unit into play as a resource and ready” is going to help you win games because this means Vader comes out faster!
  • Resupply (SOR 126)1 copy – This does a very similar thing to the Technician but a bit worse in that it comes in exhausted.
  • AT-ST (SOR 232) 2 copies – In the starter matchup, this card can really swing the game! As you play more you will find you want your 6+ cost units to have effects when they are played, but for a starter, this is going to cause the Luke player issues.
  • Overwhelming Barrage (SOR 92) – 1 copy – This card is a blowout! It buffs one of your units and lets you deal that damage across lanes, so if you are struggling to kill space units, you can buff your ground unit and deal that damage to a space unit.

To me these are some of the highlights of the deck, but there are definitely some other solid cards like the Stormtroopers who work well with Vader’s ability. There's also Cell Block Guard (SOR 229), who is nice for sentinel, and Emperor Palpatine, Master of the Dark Side (SOR 135), who can really help close out games!

Tips for Playing Against the Luke Deck

So when crack open this box on March 8th and sit down with a friend to play, there are definitely some things to be worried about for what the Luke player will be trying to do! I think these decks are balanced and a good experience against one another, but I might give the slight edge to Luke if they can pilot it well. So what do you want to avoid?

  • Don’t let the shields get out of hand! Luke can give out shields to any heroism units he plays that turn, so be sure to ping those shields off with Vader’s ability.
  • Watch out for exhaust mechanics! Luke has the ground unit Leia Organa, Defiant Princess (SOR 189) and the event card Asteroid Sanctuary (SOR 218). Both of these can be blow outs if you deploy Darth Vader and get hit with one of these. Ramping while at 6 resources to get to 7 when your opponent doesn’t expect it can help you dodge this stuff.
  • Waylay! In the FFG demo game they streamed while debuting the Starter Set, we saw the Vader deck struggl when it finally got to play an AT-ST only to have it returned to hand with Waylay (SOR 222). Be careful of playing big stuff when your opponent has full resources! Your units are beefier than those in their deck, but they have ways to delay them from hitting.

Overall, the Vader deck is much scarier than the Luke one, but as you will learn, Cunning can be an annoying aspect to deal with!

Time to Upgrade

So you two play your first few games, and YOU LOVE IT! Because who doesn’t love SWU? After gaming with the starter deck for a bit, you decide to maybe buy a few packs or even want to upgrade with some singles of cheaper stuff. So let's take a look at some really good options at the Common and Uncommon rarities to upgrade the Vader deck with!

Command Villain Upgrades:

  • Overwhelming Barrage (SOR 92) - Straight up get to 3 of these in your deck immediately! You will notice the difference and see just how impactful this card is. The starter is balanced at having 1 of these, but you pretty much want it as a 3-of in every Command Villain deck you play. With this being an Uncommon it shouldn’t be too hard to get.
  • Seasoned Shoretrooper (SOR 81) - This guy may not seem like much, especially as a 2 attack and 3 willpower, but late game (which Vader wants to get to more than Luke) he will get 4 attack and be able to trade very well or threaten good base damage. This card is common!

Aggression Villainy Upgrades:

  • Fifth Brother, Fear Hunter (SOR 131) - Love this guy. He just comes out, and your opponent will want to kill him fast because it can get out of hand how much damage he can do with his pings and Raid keyword. He also has the force trait which can open up some cards in your deck to run as well. He comes in at Uncommon!
  • Force Choke (SOR 139) - Honestly one of the best removal cards in the game, and if you have Fifth Brother or Vader out it only costs 1! Like I said, Force trait is awesome. It does feel a bit sad to give your opponent a card, but I have found it to be worth it for hitting for 5 damage. This is an uncommon as well!
  • Ruthless Raider (SOR 134) - This is an awesome space unit to have in your deck as it can create awkward situations for your opponent. They will want to kill it but might hate having to deal with its “When Defeated” ability (which deals 2 damage to an enemy base and 2 damage to an enemy unit). This comes in again at Uncommon!

Single Aspect Command Upgrades:

  • Resupply (SOR 126) - Going to 3 Resupply in your deck can certainly help you ramp faster! This is a common card so certainly will be easy to get ahold of.
  • Strike True (SOR 127) - Another common card and this one just helps out if you feel like you need more removal in your deck. Aggression Villain already has some good ones, but if you need more this is worth a shout!
  • Reinforcement Walker (SOR 119) - I like this card a lot more than the Blizzard AT-AT (SOR 88). It has the same cost, but you can immediately heal your base to help prolong the game so you can play more big units!
  • Consortium StarViper (SOR 112) - Another common card great for this list. W hile needing the initiative to get the Restore 2 may seem rough, it can be very clutch in helping your base health up while you get to 7+ resources!

Single Aspect Aggression Upgrades:

  • Disabling Fang Fighter (SOR 162) - You will learn that card upgrades can be really good in this game, so having some upgrade hate in your deck will be nice!
  • Force Throw (SOR 167) - This can be a bit tricky to include, but it has a super powerful effect! You will only want to play this while Vader or 5th Brother are on the field though so you can complete the full card effect and deal damage to a unit. 

So an updated Vader list with new Commons and Uncommons might look something like this! A big thing, too, is trying to make your deck more consistent with having more 3 and 2 ofs in the deck unlike the starter set, which has a lot of random 1 ofs.

Click here to view this deck on

If Money Were No Object

Alright. You get a few more weeks of playing SWU under your belt and are enjoying being a bit more competitive at your locals. Next step, completing your deck! Vader has a lot of awesome rare or legendary options you can add to further boost the deck's power. Of course, these cards might likely cost a little bit more to add in, but they would certainly be great to have!

Rare Cards To Add:

  • Energy Conversion Lab (SOR 22) This is a 25 hit point (hp) base (instead of the common 30) that is a rare card, but its ability more than makes up for the loss of the 5 hp. It gives any unit costing 6 or less the keyword Ambush. Which means they can ready and attack another unit instantly! This is awesome with cards like the StarViper, Superlaser Technician, Rukh, etc. It can only be used once per game, though, so make it count!
  • Fallen Lightsaber (SOR 137) – Adding this to Vader or Fifth Brother is going to turn them into a beast! Even just giving this to someone like a Seasoned Shoretrooper will help you take control of the ground arena!
  • Seventh Sister, Implacable Inquisitor (SOR 133) – I have gone back and forth on her a lot, but lately she has been killing it for me! She is another Force unit so that also helps making Force Throw a lot more consistent.
  • Rukh, Thrawn's Assassin (SOR 85) Rukh is interesting card because he has a deathtouch ability when attacking. That is, whatever he deals combat damage to while attacking is defeated, even if he didn’t do enough damage to kill them. He can kill a lot of pesky sentinels or bigger units during the late game. He pairs great with ECL (Energy Conversion Lab), but can often be a bit too slow after that.
  • Traitorous (SOR 122) This rare upgrade card can be a menace in games. Its power level can go back and forth, but being able to steal your opponents units with other upgrades on them can be worth it enough to see how annoyed they get!

Legendary Card To Add:

  • Darth Vader, Commanding the First Legion (SOR 87) –Yes, you can have both your leader Darth Vader in play along with this Vader as well! Uniqueness checks the title as well as the name! Let me be the first to tell you that this card is insane! His ambush helps clear units, and he can also grab a unit from the top of your deck that helps you the most in any situation. It feels awesome to grab those Season Shoretroopers late game, or maybe even a Cell Block Guard to give yourself sentinel when you didn’t expect it. This card is awesome, and if you add anything to your list, you should make it him. Unfortunately, this Vader unit will likely be a top 3 legendary card in price while shopping for singles. (Editor's Note: Check out our article that's all about this awesome Vader Unit!)

We are still waiting to see if Aggression Villain gets any legendary cards, so there's nothing to look in for that aspect yet in regards to other Legendaries. Command Villain, though, also has Devastator, Inescapable (SOR 90), but getting to 10 resources is a lot to ask, even of a deck running 3x Laser Technician and 3x Resupply!

So here is what a fully upgraded Vader deck – including a 10-card sideboard – might look like:

Click here to view this deck on

This is just my personal take on the list, but I encourage you to even build it and try it out on a website like Forcetable before buying singles. It's a cost-effective way to try out some of the cards you think are interesting!

Now, Release Your Anger.

I hope there are many days of destroying rebel scum in your future should you choose to pick up and play Darth Vader in Star Wars: Unlimited!

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Check back next week as Kevin from Roll On Gaming gives us his thoughts on playing and improving the Luke Skywalker Starter Set deck. 

One last reminder to ENTER OUR GIVEAWAY for a FREE Two-Player Starter Set. No purchase necessary. All you have to do is subscribe to the Deploy Your Leader Gaming newsletter, which you can do from the pop-up or at the bottom of any page. Full details here

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