The Emperor himself. This is the man at the head of the entire Galactic Empire, calling all the shots - if he has joined the fight, the stakes are high. The Emperor is a truly terrifying sight on the battlefield, he dominates in almost every category destroying enemies at range and up close, and influencing opponents plans on a grand scale. In Star Wars: Legion the Emperor is an Imperial Commander and a force to be reckoned with, but comes at a steep price.
Base Unit Summary:
Damage Output - Ranged: Average: 3.75
Damage Consistency - Ranged: Above Average: Pierce 2, Surge to Crit
Damage Output - Melee: Average: 3.75
Damage Consistency - Melee: Above Average: Pierce 2, Surge to Crit
Damage Resistance: Above Average: 66.8% + Immunity Pierce
Wounds: Below Average: 5
Attrition: Above Average Average: 5/figure
Range: Below Average: 1-2
Speed: Below Average: 1
Courage: Above Average: 4
Role: Commander, Ranged, Melee, Control,
Emperor Palpatine is a force to be reckoned with. He does a large amount of damage in a moderate sized area. Because he is slow he is best suited for projecting his threat as area denial and control or focusing on one key target. Practically you can think of him similar to Darth Vader, but trading survivability for threat projection and influence. Palpatine’s main role is as a commander and a denial control piece.
Base Unit Analysis:
The Emperor is the single most expensive unit to date - but what does that really get you when all of his stats are more or less average? A lot actually, but it comes at an additional cost of more than just points, Palpatine also has a high risk/reward built into his play style. Palpatine does an average amount of damage, but between Surge to Crit and Pierce 2 Palpatine is pushing a lot more damage through than you might expect. Just as a comparison an average unit will put out 4 damage and the defender would cancel 2 meaning 2 damage gets through - with Palpatine the defenders 2 cancels would be canceled meaning all of your damage goes through making his throughput double the average and able to kill entire units at medium range under the right circumstances.
Palpatine also has the best damage resistance in the game at the moment. He stops 66.8% of all damage coming through and opponents cannot mitigate that with pierce. Palpatine is also a single small based figure meaning that he has the best chance to get cover and block LoS to himself when needed. This combination should make the Emperor easily one of the hardest figures to defeat - however he has a fairly limited health pool so any damage that does slip by is quite serious. One of the best ways to be extra sure Palpatine is safe is to accompany him with Guardian units - this adds to his opportunity cost but despite the additional cost, he is still quite powerful and effective.
One of the key abilities of Palpatine however is a new action - Pulling the Strings. This action gives another trooper unit an out of activation move or attack action. On turns that Palpatine isn’t able to attack himself, he can often Pull the Strings so that a nearby unit can. Ideally this is used on a high value unit like Darth Vader, Royal Guard, or Snowtroopers who all double down on this efficiency and can additionally use their free move to generate a free attack. However this is just as great on long range units like E-Webs and DLTs who can be used to double their efficiency at range. It is hard to determine a point value for an ability like this, but the ability is quite powerful. Although the ability can target Palpatine, because it is specifically an attack action and not just an attack, it does not allow the Emperor to attack twice in a turn.
And Now… You Will Die: initiative 1, Palpatine only; this command card allows Palpatine to suffer one wound and one suppression to perform a free attack as many times as he would like, these attacks deal an immobilize token in addition to the other normal effects of Palpatine’s attacks. This card is powerful and versatile in more ways than you might think. The most obvious use is to spring it on a key unit the opponent moves too close to Palpatine and to focus fire on it until it’s no longer a problem. It is super effective and can come from further away than people might expect. Because the attack is not an action it means that Palpatine can double move into range and then start attacking, but if the extra move isn’t necessary to get the range then Palpatine can use that second action to use make a normal attack action saving a wound on Palpatine or to move back to safety after doing the work that needs to be done. Palpatine can’t spend his final wound to make an attack thought, because as soon as he takes the wound as the cost to attack, he is defeated and therefore no longer available to attack. So this limits Palpatine’s maximum number of attacks to five if he spends one action to attack and then spends four wounds on non-action attacks - giving him an approximate damage output of 18.75 for the activation. But if Palpatine has the Anger upgrade equipped this number is bumped to an obscene 23.5 due to the free aims with an effective pierce value of 10. If you focus all of that on one target, there is nothing in the game that can repel firepower of that magnitude. If the opponent gives you multiple targets you can spend Palpatine’s life force for attacks to destroy all of them, however that can often be quite a steep trade seeing as the Emperor costs well over 200 points - you would have to ensure that you win the attrition trade at the end of the attacks either by removing all of the targets (or at least 200 points worth) or by guaranteeing that you score a victory point. When presented with multiple targets, it is often best to use this card to splash damage around the enemies and take advantage of the immobilize tokens it grants to allow the Emperor to retreat back to safety and allow more of your forces to intervene. The most powerful use of this card though, is the psychological one. Your opponent simply knowing that you are holding this card will often cause them to pause when considering if they should commit units to take the point that the emperor holds. If you never use this card because your opponent is too scared to come in close, then this card has accomplished more than you could have hoped for in playing it.
Give In To Your Anger: initiative 2, Palpatine Only; this command card allows you to dictate to an opponent the order they activate in. It can be absolutely devastating in the right situations, but it is a high risk card with a lot of opportunities to just not do much. The ideal situation is to play this early game on a unit that has short range weapons and then focus more suppression on them until they panic and flee or hope they move away from the table edge into a position you can lay fire into them - any of the commanders at this point would be good targets. Another ideal scenario is to play this card late in a game when targets to attack are limited, forcing an enemy unit to move or panic away from an objective. Although these are the ideal scenarios, in reality they are not how the card will be use - In actuality both those outcomes will be rare and easily mitigated by a clever opponent, so the real use of this card is simply to deny and deny an opponent their ideal order of operations. If they have a synergy combo, to force them to activate in in the wrong order, or if they are holding a key piece until later in the turn, to force them to activate it first. The suppression is just a bonus if it happens and a trap for players who can’t find a way around it, and shouldn’t be your primary focus for the card. If you can force an opponent to activate their anchor piece early or activate a synergy combo in the wrong order, you have gotten as much as you can hope for out of this card and cost your opponent a sub-optimal turn. Under this point of view, the ideal outcome is to force an opponent to activate their anchor piece first, before the rest of their army, forcing them to keep their anchor back hidden and safe for an additional turn or to move them forward anyways so that the Emperor’s forces can focus them down. This is also useful when an opponent has a key piece that they are expecting to get back to safety using a low pip card, you can force them to activate something inconsequential first, giving you the opportunity to destroy their key piece or tie it up in melee using the Emperor or another melee piece like Vader or the Royal Guards.
An Entire Legion: initiative 3, all eligible units; This card is fairly straightforward - you issue an order token to each friendly unit within command range of Emperor Palpatine (range 3 unless assisted by Comms upgrades, Commanding Presence, or Battle Meditation). This is a moderate ability, but that is okay with how powerful the Emperor’s one and two pip cards are. This card essentially gives you perfect control of your order of activations, which is an edge you can give yourself during list building - however if you didn’t build this edge into your list, for example if you have multiple operatives, elite, and specialist units or if you have units that gain benefits from being issued an order then this could be useful.
Unique Upgrade Analysis:
palpatine has no unique upgrades at this time
The Emperor has three Force upgrade slots and one Command upgrade slot. Considering the Emperor’s Master of the Force 2 ability allowing the Emperor to ready 2 force abilities at the end of each turn, it is a good idea to consider taking at least 2 force powers to maximize the points you’ve already spent on the base cost of Palpatine.
Anger is a new Force upgrade that comes with Palpatine - it is ideal if your playstyle focuses around using Palpatine as a threat or denial piece and pairs really nicely with And Now… You Will Die but is not of use most other turns. Its low point cost means that it is a great addition to the Emperor if you have room for it, but it is not essential on him.
Force Push is a strong upgrade choice for Palpatine, giving him more control over the enemies units. Allowing the Emperor to make moves with the opponent to set them up to run off the table, move them away from objectives, or line them up for the rest of your forcest to handle. Force Choke is also a strong choice on Palpatine for similar reasons, allowing Palpatine to inflict specific wounds to key models and control the opponent. Both Take advantage of Master of the Force 2 and are strong choices on the Emperor.
Force Reflexes is almost mandatory on Palpatine. He is going to be a fire magnet for the opponent and any wounds you save are essential to how well he functions throughout the game.
Battle Meditation is a Force upgrade I would normally advise away from, but it has an interesting interaction on the Emperor that we should cover. When the Emperor takes Royal Guard he can issue one additional order to a Guard at range 1-2. Because Battle Meditation doesn’t specify that the order has to come from your command card you could use Battle Meditation to issue that order to another unit anywhere on the board. Not an especially strong tool, but one worth looking at. Update 1.2.0 states that Entourage has to go to the named unit, so Battle Meditation does not work in this way anymore, but you can still use cards like An Entire Legion to issue orders to everything in range, move the order that would go to the guard to a unit out of range, and then use Entourage to issue an order to the guard
Lastly is Palpatine’s Command upgrade slot. If you have a varied list and plan on taking advantage of An Entire Legion then Improvised Orders could be a strong choice for your list. But in most cases Esteemed Leader or Commanding Presence are better choices. Consider Commanding Presence if you have multiple units of Royal Guard to offset the need of Esteemed Leader - but if you find that you often have your guards away from palp and doing work then pick up Esteemed Leader to use some Corps units as human shields.
This is a lot of upgrades and scenarios to consider, so for an easy place to start the recommended build for the Emperor is Palpatine with Anger, Force Reflexes, Force Push, and Esteemed Leader for a total cost of 245.
Emperor Palpatine is a nightmare on the table - nothing in his path is safe. However Palpatine is relatively slow and so you must be very purposeful when deploying him at the beginning of the game. You should have an idea of where he will go and what he will be doing the entire game from that point on. Generally it is best to deploy him as near the objectives as possible and then move him as directly and swiftly towards those objectives as he can go - ensuring that he is likely to encounter the most enemies and make the most use of his powers there, or that he can persuade them to not contest that objective granting you points.
Make sure you are advancing cautiously with Palpatine - making sure to keep behind cover, use force reflexes, and keep Guardian units within range 1 at every step. Whenever possible Palpatine should take advantage of the safety of melee to keep him from getting focused upon by the enemy. The dodge token will go a long way towards increasing The Emperors survivability vs shooting, but if he is able to make it into melee he is relatively safe and doesn't have to use force reflexes if it is he has more important Force upgrades to recharge such as Force Push or Force Choke. Often it is a good idea to use Force Push to pull a unit into melee with Palpatine even if he can't make an attack that turn because being safe vs shooting is often more important than getting stuck in melee with a unit you might not have wanted to engage - especially if you can use Force Push on the following turn to be able to move freely again.
mastering timing and positioning is the key to unlocking The Emperor’s maximum potential. The range 2 on his Lightning and the range 1 that is common among Force upgrades is something to constantly keep in mind. It can be devastating to have a plan that hinges on using all your abilities against one target and then realizing that half of them are out of range. It is also crucial to ensure that you are always within range 1 of your guardian units to ensure that the Emperor doesn’t fall victim to stray blaster fire.
Keep in mind when playing Palpatine that he is relatively slow and that means that you often won't make it to the best tactical location every turn and this will leave him vulnerable to being shot. Similarly it's important to keep in mind that Palpatine only has so much movement he can make in a game and so when planning his strategy for the game you should assume he is only going to make it halfway across the board - pick a reasonable objective or defensive point and hold it.
It is also important to think about the effect that Palpatine has on opponents tactical decisions, often they will go out of their way to avoid him with their units. Knowing all of these pieces of information leads us to using Palpatine as a denial and control piece more than an offensive piece. One of the strongest ways to play the Emperor is to aggressively move him towards an objective and then keep him there as a deterrent. He is an expensive scenario piece, but he is completely worth it if the enemy avoids that objective all together because of him, and it is also worth it if they move units in towards the objective to be cut down by him and his guards.
Palpatine is best played with a strong escort. Generally this will be Royal Guard as he has extra synergies with them, but if he is equipped with Esteemed Leader then most units will do. The main idea though is to have a guardian unit close at hand to be a shield to the Emperor when the opponents focus fire on him. It also allows you to get more use out of the Emperor’s Pulling the Strings ability which allows you to make an out of activation move or attack with a trooper unit. Usually this will be Royal Guards who ideally could move and then use a charge attack, but this could also be Stormtroopers with DLT or Snowtroopers with Flamethrower, or if you somehow manage to have the points this could be Darth Vader.
The main takeaway is that Palpatine is incredibly powerful but is also a resource hog to make him sustainable and efficient. He will reward patient players or players who like to gamble on high risk high reward scenarios like a commander with a single health left.
When playing against the Emperor he should be your priority target. Not only because of the amount of damage he can cause you when he closes the distance, but also because the opponent has invested a large amount of points into him and his bodyguards and is counting on the high investment to work together and pay off. If you are able to take Palpatine off the table early then you are much more easily able to suppress and panic the enemy troops into futility.
Killing the Emperor can be tough, but it’s not impossible. The best way to kill Palpatine is at range, and because of Guardian and Force Reflex it is better to send high crit chance dice at him - mitigating his defensive tech. Because Palpatine is so slow and has to plan his movements so far in advance, it is fairly likely you will be able to position troops to take shots at him while he is out in the open - when you do start dedicating resources to taking out the dark lord you should go all in - keep shooting until he is down. But be wary of his counter strike if you fail to defeat him.
If Palpatine does manage to close the gap and make it near your troops, or if the situation of the particular objective scenario demands you to move in close to him, there is nothing wrong with engaging him with a bait unit to tie him to a position where the rest of your forces can attack him after he has cut down that unit. Keep in mind that between Force Push, Force Lightning, and whatever units he brought as bodyguards though that the diversion wont last long.
When facing Palpatine never forget about his 1 and 2 pip command cards. Although his 1 pip can do a lot of damage and is scary to think about, his 2 pip card is generally the one that will interfere with you plans the most - especially if you were planning on using your activation advantage as part of your strategy.