by Darrin Bright
The first thing I tend to look at are the rare groups. Your rivals are not as likely to have these groups and they can be important building blocks for the rest of your power structure. In this case, I didn't see much I could do with either the Int'l Communist Conspiracy or the Libertarians. There were three other Communist groups - Russia, Clone Arrangers, and the Semiconscious Liberation Army, but not enough to build a strong deck with. Besides, a lot of the cards for building a strong communist deck are in the Assassins expansion (Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Lenin's Body, and Watermelons, etc.) As for the Libertarians, the New York combo came to mind but there are no power doublers and New York is almost always immediately the target of a disaster or agents card, and while it's hanging out on one of the Libertarian's control arrows, it's an easy target. There were no other cards that would work well with the Libertarians, so I'd say use these two rares to trade for something you really want or use.
As someone pointed out earlier, there's enough Corporate cards for a Corporate Masters or Gnomes deck, but I ruled out using the Gnomes without the Federal Reserve, Savings and Loans, or the other Gnomes power cards. There weren't enough magic groups or resources for an effective Adepts deck, so the two choices as far as Illuminati were the UFOs or Cthulhu.
There were plenty of bonuses to attack groups, so there might be enough here for a Cthulhu deck. There's the Cycle Gangs, Urban Gangs, Semiconscious Lib. Army, and groups like the Voudonistas and Joggers for Assassinations, so there's a lot here that could be the basis for a bonus-to-destroy deck, but I decided that there weren't enough good disasters/assassinations, and there weren't enough big groups to lend support to the smaller violent groups. A bunch of power 1 violent groups are easy pickings for a trigger-happy Shangri-La player.
That left the UFOs. There's only two goal cards to work with, but this keeps things simple. The Corporate Masters seems easy enough, but unfortunately there aren't any good power-boosters for Corporate groups. Wall Street is the only group that satisfies the Corporate Masters goal without any power-boosters or alignment changers. Luckily there was a Privatization, so if any of your other groups were up to power 4 or more, then they could be privatized. Mob Influence could also be played on Junk Mail to increase its power to 6. So the Corporate Masters goal seemed pretty workable.
I wasn't sure Hail Eris would work when the only powerful Weird group was Witch, but when I looked through the plots again, there was a Weird Turn Pro. That would get another Weird group to count double. For a third Weird group, Mob Influence could be used on the Semiconscious Lib. Army. So Hail Eris looked like it would work as well.
There are four groups that should form the basis of your power structure: Madison Avenue, Int'l Cocaine Smugglers, Wall Street, and WITCH. Madison Avenue is your best lead group, and is good for slurping up your Corporate Media groups. Int'l Cocaine Smugglers have a +8 to take either the Cycle Gangs or the Semiconscious Liberation Army. Wall Street can be a good lead if Madison Avenue bounces, and the +10 resistance can be used to help protect any groups you're afraid of losing to any rivals. WITCH is a good place to attack to control Weird groups and you can use its action token to power any Crop Circles.
Try not to focus too heavily on one particular alignment. If you bring out nothing but Corporate groups your first few turns, your opponents will decide you're going for Corporate Masters and go after your Corporate groups. If you bring out nothing but Weird groups, they'll think you're after Hail Eris and do the same. Keep your opponents guessing about which goal you're leaning towards, if they're indecisive about stopping you then you'll have more time to set up a victory.
The most important thing you need to do at this point is find Mob Influence, either via Crop Circles or the Rosicrucians. Don't play it until you decide which goal you're going for, but either way, you're probably going to need it for either goal.
At this point, your opponents will be suspiscious of either Hail Eris or the Corporate Masters. If either of these goals is exposed and your opponents mount a concerted effort to thwart it, consider exposing the other one. Then you can feint back and forth between the two goals and try to confuse them. Be wary of any rival Discordia or Gnomes players! If both Discordia and Gnomes are in the game, then play them off one another. Offer to help either one against the other. Tell Discordia you'll help defend his Weird groups if he'll help you attack the Gnomes' Corporate groups, and vice versa.
Another thing to consider during the midgame is taking the offensive. Your opponents won't have as much power/tokens to interfere with you if they're trying to defend against attacks to destroy. With the Cycle Gangs out, your disasters have a +4 bonus, and you can use your Media groups for Bimbo At Eleven, Eat The Rich, and Whispering Campaign. Upheaval could also be used to thin out the ranks. Although this hurts you as much as your rivals, you have the advantage of knowing when it'll be played and can decide beforehand which group you can afford to lose.
When you've decided which goal to win with, bring out Mob Influence. If it's Hail Eris, play it on the Semiconscious Liberation Army. If its Corporate Masters, play it on Junk Mail. Another possibility if Junk Mail isn't available would be playing it on the Semiconscious Liberation Army and Privatizing them. If you're still short Corporate groups, boost one of your Weird groups to power 4 with the Weird Turn Pro, then Privatize.
As someone already pointed out, there are the makings of a great Criminal Overlords deck here. Begging, borrowing, or stealing a Criminal Overlords might really help this deck, and would make an excellent third goal for the UFO's special ability. If you can get ahold of a Criminal Overlords card, then I'd put in New York and the Clone Arrangers. However, these two cards are extremely popular and very easy to sandbag. I think you'd have more success with some of the less popular violent criminal groups, like Manuel Noriega or the Loan Sharks.
There's two rare cards I didn't use, Int'l Comm. Consp. and the Libertarians. These are excellent trade material, I'd try and trade them for some Cyborg Soldiers or a PMM, although some more powerful weird groups like Cattle Mutilators or MIBs would be good as well.
First posted: November 17, 1997
Last modified: November 18, 1997Ralph Melton firstname.lastname@example.org