So this guy cropped up in Spirit of Rebellion, and people got REAL excited. I was not one of them. My first take on ole Palpy was that he was too fragile, and even with 15 health and very strong dice he just wouldn't be good enough to see competitive play. He was instantly off my radar as a serious contender for winning tournaments.
A week or so after the set released, however, a strange thing happened. My buddy, cousin-in-law, and in-person play test partner, Brian, showed up at my house with his two shiny new Palpatines itching to sleeve them up. In an effort to help him out, I thought I would give Mr. Krinkleface a whirl, and see what I could do with him
After some brainstorming about the theory on what makes The Man strong, it occurred to me that Palpatine literally has five damage sides. Ranging from 5 to 2 damage each, simply resolving one of his dice advances your game plan of killing the threats to galaxy-wide order. To me, that means he doesn't really need to load up on guns; Darth Sideous is his own load up on guns. That meant I didn't have to throw a lot of aggressive upgrades into the deck. Force LIghtning and such were unnecessary.
Not having to load up on cards to power up Plagueis' Apprentice meant I could devote more card slots to addressing his weakness; namely, the 15 health. I said to myself, "Self, you might have the makings of the first true control deck in the game. Let's pick out the best dice control cards, and get to shuffling."
Heavily influenced by Our New World Champion Dan's theories on the game (your limiting factor is resources rather than cards) I started flipping cards into a pile. Many iterations and games against Brian later, I settled on this build:
This is a true control deck, and you start on turn one. With most decks you're trying to get your guns on the table so you can start hitting your opponent. Sheev's guns are on the table to start the game. Your opening hand should include as much removal as possible. You can keep a two cost upgrade if the other four are removal, but if you have a hand of upgrades pitch them all. Against decks that don't care if you're blanking a die (Poe/Maz) prioritize dice removal (Doubt, Isolation, etc) over changing them to blanks. 3-Cost force powers, Rise Again, Take Cover, and Rejuvenate are all auto-pitches.
How to Play the Deck
Always, always, always be prepared to remove your opponent's dice. If you've only got removal that costs 1, then do not play an upgrade. Save your upgrade playing for spots where your hand has zero cost removal.
Learn to predict the damage coming in. Without Premonitions it's going to require tight play to know that two turns from now you're going to need Rise Again. Even if you don't have it in your hand, play like it's going to show up when you need it.
When deciding what to pitch for a re-roll, think about when you're playing Rise Again. If it's coming next turn, don't hesitate to bin a Force Push to return after untaps.
If you need a Rise Again, don't hesitate to pitch your whole hand, including removal, at EOT. You will get more removal, and you will maximize your chances of hitting that back breaking Rise Again.
With this much removal in your deck, Use the Force is a legitimate attack card. Try to save it to blast your opponent for 5, but don't hesitate to use it for protection if it's all you have left.
Be patient, especially on cards like your upgrade specials. There is nothing more frustrating for your opponent than staring into a Force Push or Force Throw special that's just sitting out there.
You can certainly re-roll your Sith Lord's dice, but don't push too hard to hit his guns every turn.
Actions are incredibly important. Carefully plan out what you're going to do for the entire turn up front, with contingencies for what your opponent is going to do or roll.
Abuse your battlefield. If you are in position to claim and have a solid feeling that one their characters is going down next turn, don't hesitate to move a non-redeploy to it. In that same vein, work to blow up cards. Constantly claim and stack the fourth upgrade on one of their guys.
Enough rambling; let's get to the games.
Game 1 eSheev vs. Junkar
Game 2 eSheeve vs. Qui-Gon/Rey
Let's go over some of the choices I made for this deck. Specifically, cards I didn't include.
Cards That Were Too Aggressive
CrutchesHolocron in particularly, will probably end with the most disagreement from the community at large. While I am still open to being wrong about Holocron, I feel like both of these cards are trap cards, and you are better off simply becoming a better player who doesn't rely on crutches like these to make up for loose play.
Let's start with the less contentious one, Premonitions. With 30 cards in your deck, devoting two spots for cards that do nothing means that you're handicapping yourself on cards that would do something by almost 7%. Assume for a moment that you play with Premonitions, and exist in Magical Christmasland where you hit Rise Again on Premonitions every game. That means you devoted three cards to healing five damage, or an average of 1.67 damage per card. Now, take the two crappiest defensive cards you see in my list. For argument's sake we will take the lowest damage mitigation ones, Rejuventate and Take Cover. Instead of three cards to heal/prevent 5 damage, now we have three cards to heal/prevent 7 damage. That's 2/3 damage per card better than the previous iteration. In a deck where every point of health matters, that is a huge swing. And this doesn't even take into account how holding a Premonitions without a Rise Again screws with your ability to play cards. Holding onto do-nothing cards turn after turn means you're drawing fewer replacements that will actually keep your character alive. "But, Trey!" you might say, "What about how awesome it is to get a free Rise Again?!" To that I would respond, "Get better. Stop leaning on crutches to play the game, and simply get better at resource, turn, dice, and card management so that you no longer need the training wheels of cards like Premonitions."
Hmm, I think I'm going to save Sith Holocron for its own post. It's not completely useless like Premonitions, but I don't think it's an auto-include every time. Consider this: