Before making choices of Strategy Cards, Nicholas takes a moment and reviews his current situation and actually plans out a winning strategy.
His current score is 5. To win he needs to get to 10. In the Status Phase of the game he could score for one of his Secret Objectives and one of the Public Objectives.
He also has the Speaker Token and will get to go first when selecting Strategy Cards. This means he can select the Imperial card and ensure himself of 1 more Victory Point this round. That leaves 4 more to win.
This Secret Objective should be achievable. Unless Steve builds a new Space Dock somewhere else, Mecatol Rex should be defeated this round. That would add 2 more points, leaving only 2 to win.
But there's a catch. The Diplomacy Strategy Card could be picked by Steve. If that were to happen any chance of invading Mecatol Rex this turn would be thwarted. So Nicholas would need a way to prevent that from happening. And easy choice would be to select the Diplomacy card first instead of the Imperial card. But there's another interesting option.
Nicholas has the Public Disgrace Action Card. He could let Steve select the Diplomacy card and then play Public Disgrace causing Steve to have to put it back and choose another card. That would ensure putting the Diplomacy card out of play. At least for the first round of selecting Strategy Cards. It does mean that Nicholas would have to choose the card for his second Strategy Card choice to keep Nicholas from picking it as the 2nd Strategy Card.
This Public Objective should be achievable. If Nicholas is able to accomplish the 2-point Secret Objective "Merciless", he should be able to do this one as well.
There are not that many planet systems adjacent to Mecatol Rex. And Nicholas already has ships present in some. He would have to carefully move Carriers and Ground Force units this turn but should be able to accomplish this objective for another 3 points.
If he can do all this he will have 11 points by the Status Phase. More than enough to win.
Proceed to the Strategy Card selection.