The Empire's Moment of Glory
Generally, when I'm building and playtesting a deck for the Star Wars Trading Card Game, I'm doing it for competitive reasons. For a long while, especially during the Qualifier and World Championship season, deck-building became just a little too much about the competitive side of the game, and I lost focus on why I'd originally begun to play -- because it was fun. So when I saw all the intriguing (to say the least) cards in the Return of the Jedi set, there were two things I wanted to do: 1) playtest a lot of the new cards, and 2) just have some fun with the game for a few months.
When I first saw the set, the one card I most wanted to see in action was Emperor Palpatine. I'd been waiting a long, long time to get an Emperor Palpatine, and I knew before I ever even saw the card that I had to use him. And so, the majority of the cards in this new deck eventually fell into the "Imperial" theme.
The Character Arena
I'll start off with what I consider the most epic arena, Character. Here, I knew I wanted to focus on the Emperor. Emperor Palpatine (C), with his Force Lightning ability, was the first to draw my attention. His stats are decent for his build, but when you add in his key ability, he really begins to soar above the rest. Force Lightning is amazing for two reasons -- the damage cannot be prevented by most units, and it cannot be Intercepted. The latter benefit is often overlooked, but your opponent's ability to choose who you attack can get aggravating at times.
The next Emperor to catch my attention was Emperor Palpatine (E). He has the ability to place a corruption counter on a unit, and once all of your opponent's deployed units have corruption counters on them, you win. I didn't want to focus on this ability too much for fear of straying too far from my idea for a non-competitive deck, so I only added two copies. The card can be very useful if you get your opponent down to just a few units and then start placing the counters.
I added Emperor Palpatine (D) to the deck purely for stacking. This also allows you to draw through more of your deck during the initial set-up.
Next, I put in the Elite Royal Guards. They didn't have real strategic significance, but they're solid units that also fit my Imperial theme.
However, after playtesting the evolving deck for about ten games, I realized that the Emperor and the Elite Royal Guards hadn't won the Character arena once. They needed some sort of protector -- a bodyguard, so to speak. Thus, I included Darth Vader (C). Now I had the Emperor, the bodyguard, and the guards.
The Ground Arena
Ground was a little tougher to put together than Character. I didn't really have a unit on which I wanted to focus, so I flipped through the pages of my cards, looking for Imperial Ground units. Three that struck my interest from Return of the Jedi were Royal Guards, Death Star Battalion, and Endor Regiment. All three fit into the deck theme, didn't have too high of a build cost, and could win the arena if necessary.
A fourth unit, Jabba's Sail Barge (A), didn't really fit the theme. However, during playtesting, I found that I had a consistent problem of never drawing the right cards. So I decided that Jabba's Sail Barge (A) did fit after all, because it was from Return of the Jedi and offered me the ability to draw (a stretch, but so be it).
The Space Arena
Now, Space was an arena I definitely wanted to win. I've always firmly believed that if the Dark Side could win Space, it could almost always win the game.
My first unit was the Executor (A) -- a must-have, if you dare call your deck "Imperial." It gives all your Imperial units +2 power and delivers a devastating punch in the Space arena. Unfortunately, it doesn't possess the power to capture the arena single-handedly.
I then struck gold when I found the Endor Imperial Fleet. It was from Return of the Jedi, was also Imperial, had the amazing Hidden Cost ability, and could deliver yet another powerful punch in Space.
I still had a problem, though. The two big units were dying easily. I needed something to increase their survival rate, and I found that very something in Intercepting TIE fighters. They were Imperial, gained the +2 power bonus from the Executor (A), and could take damage for my big units.
I also appreciated the Scythe Squadron (A) from the first time I saw it. The ability to remove all damage from itself poked me immediately, like a thorn. The squadron is quick, Imperial, and from Return of the Jedi, meeting all the necessary requirements.
The deck's lack of Force threatened to reduce its capability for fun. The Endor Imperial Fleets needed Force for Hidden Cost, the TIE fighters needed it for Intercept, Vader needed it for Intercept and Evade, and the Emperor and his Guards needed it for Evade, Corrupt, and Lightning. There just wasn't enough Force to go around. So considering that all of my Characters had the Jedi subtype, I included Jedi Master's Meditation.
It really helped to be able to tap any of my Characters for 3 build to gain the amount of Force for which they cost. I also added the Locations Occupied Coruscant and Occupied Endor to gain a Force each round for each one I had deployed. Having these particular Locations from Return of the Jedi not only allowed me to have one, two, or three out in play at the same time, but also gave me the versatility to replace my opponent's Locations.
My deck also lacked in the build department, so I decided to go back to an oldie -- Departure Time. I could sack my TIE fighters in Space, my Royal Guards in Ground, and my Elite Royal Guards in Character to gain 4 build when absolutely necessary. I also included three Change in Destiny cards, since lacking the ability to Disrupt cost me several games. Adding this card alone increased my chances to win by at least 10 percent.
Of course, it's difficult to have fun with anything if all you ever do is lose, so I playtested this deck until I could win with it at least half the time. I feel comfortable playing a majority of Light Side decks out there with this deck. Although it may not be what most would consider Tier 1, it's a fun deck to play with, and it has the capability to devastate your opponent.
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