The 600-Pound Gorilla

by Ralph Melton

"Where does a 600-pound Gorilla sit?" "Anywhere he wants." This is a hard-hitting Bavaria deck with lots and lots of power and a very tight Government Violent theme.


Group Cards

Plot Cards


You should lead with New York, since it has the highest power of any group in the game, and it has at least two common alignments with all your other groups, making it good for you, and it has a high Resistance, making it inconvenient in the hands of your opponents. However, if you bounce on the lead of New York, you shouldn't be too distressed; the C.I.A., Texas, or the Pentagon will also do as well.


The midgame should be one of slow, steady growth. On each turn, you will probably make an Automatic Takeover of one group, spend an Illuminati action to take over a Resource, and make one Privileged attack to control from your hand, and spend an action when necessary to move a group next to the Illuminati.

Your Resources are all roughly equally useful. The Cyborg Soldiers double the power of two of your Groups (one of the Cyborg Soldiers should almost certainly be on New York, of course), but the Clipper Chip adds to the power of all your Groups, so it is also very useful. The Center for Weird Studies' power to reload action tokens can also be very useful.

With two common alignments, New York should have at least a 9 or less to take over any of the groups in your hand, or more once you've managed to get out a Cyborg Soldiers for New York, or a Clipper Chip. You should obviously bring out your higher-powered Groups first; Manuel Noriega is not as important as the other groups, for example.

Remember to make your attacks Privileged! I an many other players I know tend to forget about Bavaria's special power; using your Privileged attack when you make attacks from your hand will greatly reduce the amount of meddling you get, and help you save your action tokens for defense.

Feel free to use your NWOs to help your attacks, but do remember their uses in the endgame. NWO: Fear and Loathing is particularly valuable to you, because all your groups have two common alignments with each other.

It is important to save your action tokens for defense, and for drawing plots. The reason is this: very quickly, you are going to start looming, and people are going to become nervous. You need to be well-defended, and as importantly, you need to look well-defended in order to deter attacks.

On the other hand, while all your plots are nice, none of them are separately necessary. Therefore, it can be very useful to discard a plot to power the Center for Weird Studies. Two main ways you might want to use the CfWS:

If you do get attacked, your best defense should be Good Polls; all of your groups have a high Power and Resistance, so they benefit greatly from Good Polls,and all of your groups can defend each other with their Good Polls-increased Power. Furthermore, Good Polls lasts until the beginning of your next turn, so a single Good Polls will defend you well until your next turn.

Your +10 boosters are also more likely to be used defensively than offensively.

The high power and proximity to the Illuminati of your three places will provide an adequate first line of defense against Disasters. The only Disasters that might be really effective would be something like Giant Kudzu--but there, you should have enough action tokens and defensive plots to thwart such a disaster.

Above all, don't be too greedy in the midgame; do your conservative growth, and stand around looming in a way that says 'I'm too well-defended to be worth attacking.'


This deck does not have a sharp delineation between the midgame and the endgame. The best way to express the turning point is this: The larger the leap to victory that you make in a single turn, the greater the chance that someone will be able to block your bid for victory. On the other hand, there comes a point when you've grown so large that the other players feel that they have to attack you or have no chance of fending off a victory. You should attempt to make your push for victory at your last opportunity before your opponents band together to bring you down. This point should certainly be influenced by your own experience, but a reasonable rule of thumb is to try this bid for victory when you have 37-41 points of power at the beginning of your turn, and you can see your way to getting 50 points in one turn.

Your bid for victory will be like your other turns: an ATO, a resource takeover if you don't have one already, an attack or two from your hand, using your ability to make Privileged attacks, and the playing of one or more NWOs to boost your power.

Your plan is to win by the amount of power you control. Period. You don't have enough groups to have a real chance at winning by number of Groups controlled.

However, you shouldn't have too much trouble getting to 50 points of Power, because if you get all your Groups and your Power-boosting cards out, you would have 76 points of power. Practically, you shouldn't expect to get all of that out, but you should feel comfortable that you don't have to have everything go perfectly in order to win. As a rule of thumb, this deck is probably robust enough to be winnable with one major catastrophe, like someone else taking of destroying one of yoru groups, or playing NWO: Don't Forget to Smash the State. It probably can't handle much more.

(A side note: if you have all your Resources and NWOs in play, then New York will have a base roll of 42 or less (!) to control Manuel Noriega, and Manuel will have a power of 8 after he's taken over. It is for these reasons that I included Manuel, who would otherwise be more puny than usual for a Bavaria deck.)

Potential problems

One obvious fact about this deck is that it uses an extremely small Group deck. This has the benefit that every Group card you draw is a really good Group card that will serve you well. The disadvantage is that if the game is prolonged, you will cease to be able to draw new Group cards.

It should be noted, though, that this Group deck is actually small enough that it does not need to worry excessively about Group-deck menaces like the Society for Creative Anarchism. The reason is this: Unless you bounce on your lead puppet three times or more, you will draw your last Group card on your second turn. In order to use the SCA against you, someone would have to use the SCA as your lead puppet, use the SCA as their ATO on their first turn, or attack to control the SCA and use a Blitzkrieg. None of these combinations are very likely.

Losing groups, though, is Bad News. An Upheaval! would be a major catastrophe for you, and would be well worth playing a Hoax or Secrets Mand Was Not Meant to Know if it happens. By the same token, it is well worth defending all your groups to the hilt.

A deck design corollary of the small plot deck is that none of the Plot cards that require discarding Group cards to play were included in the Plot deck.

Other things that can happen:

Other People Bring Out Your Groups

All of the high-powered groups that you have are reasonably popular. Other people may play them first.

If that happens, wait for a time when the group appears to be sparsely defended, and make a deadly all-out Privileged attack to seize control, with multiple common alignments (ideally, doubled with NWO: Fearand Loathing), +10 boosters, and your Agents for the group. It will be a stiff fight, because the other player will have his own defenses, but you can probably succeed. This can be an excellent thing to do in the endgame, particularly if your target controls other groups.

The Discordian Society

As you have probably noticed, all your groups are Government. This means that the Discordian Society is almost entirely immune to you.

Your best solution is just to outgrow the Discordian Society, while defending yourself from any attacks that he might make. You do have one Swiss Bank Account, which you can use to make a somewhat-effective attack on the Discordian Society.


Shangri-La is most likely to inconvenience you by playing Kinder and Gentler on your Groups, with two effects:

To provide a chance of countering these, the deck includes a Backlash and an Assertiveness Training. Hoax and Secrets Man Was Not Meant to Know are also useful.

NWO: Don't Forget to Smash the State

This NWO will cut deeply into your total power. This is the major reason that two copies of NWO: Law and Order were added. NWO: Law and Order only adds four points to your total power, but the sheer inconvenience of NWO: Don't Forget to Smash the State makes it worthwhile to have a yellow New World Order to get rid of DFtStS.

NWO: Interesting Times

This blue NWO can thwart your victory by making only the basic goal count for victory. This is a great inconvenience, because you don't stand much of a chance of getting to the 10-12 groups of a basic victory. Your blue NWO: Fear and Loathing plots are effective for eliminating NWO: Interesting Times, as well as adding +8 to most of your attacks from your hand.

There are also a few cards provided to let you thwart other players who seem to be getting uppity:

Lets any of your groups make a devastating attack on a Media group.
Your pumped-up Government Groups should be able to provide a powerful enough Sniper to blast a personality who's right next to the Illuminati. If you really feear Discordia, you might replace this with a Car Bomb, since Discordia is immune to a New York-powered Sniper but not immune to a New York-powered Car Bomb.
If someone else brings out Bill Clinton, Bill's bonuses to control your groups might be worrisome enough to suggest a Sniper.
Meteor Strike
This Disaster was included because it can be played on any place, even Moonbase and Orbit One.
Giant Kudzu
This Disaster was included because of its large power. It can either be used to drain a target of action tokens by playing it when that player has lots of action tokens, or to destroy a place when the owning player has very few action tokens with which to defend it.

Variants and Substitutions

An obvious way to adjust this deck would be to add some more Group cards; frankly, this deck is fairly far out on the small-group-deck end of the spectrum.

If you were going to add groups, Government groups (particularly Violent Government groups) would be ideal, because of your large bonuses to take them over and the power bonuses they get from the Clipper Chip and NWO: Gun Control.

Some particularly attractive Groups might be:

Bill Clinton
Bill has an excellent power to take over all your Government groups. Unfortunately, his Resistance isn't as good, and he's not Violent.
NASA's special power to give their token to one of your Government Groups is a useful way to recharge for another attack, to allow a group to be moved after being controlled, or to increase your defensive power.

I debated about whether to include the Perpetual Motion Machine or the Center for Weird Studies, or both. The extra action token that either can provide is extremely useful. The Perpetual Motion Machine, though, is a Rare card, and it is a Gadget, which means that it can be destroyed by a Deasil Engine or a Weak Link. It's also fairly popular in my play group, which means that you may not get to have it.

I decided on the Center for Weird Studies because it's less popular, and once it's in play, the only way it can be torn from you is through Forgery. Its extra cost of requiring Plot discards is undesirable, because you won't be drawing many plots, but tolerable, because there are no Plot cards that are really crucial to you.

Back to the Classic Decks.

First posted: February 15, 1997

Last modified: February 15, 1997

Ralph Melton