The Adepts of Herpes

by Don Fnordlioni

Section I: The Deck

Herpes is a horrible, incurable social disease, often contracted during consensual play, and like its viral counterpart -- its constant stream of ATOs lets it grow without check, and it's hard to get rid of once you've come in contact with it.

What a bunch of baloney. I just like the pun.


Group Cards

Plot Cards

Section II: Strategy

Weenie Adepts decks tend to grow rapidly, and rely very little on the dice. This one in particular typifies the standard isolationist Adepts strategy: Hoard Resources, protect them, and cruise on to victory. Winning with Resources is particularly difficult to stop, because of the difficulty inherent in getting rid of Resources.

The simple overview is this: Get out one of your Flying Saucers as soon as possible! Every turn, then, you can ATO a group, use the Flying Saucer to take over a Resource, spend an Illuminati action for another Resource, and knock with most of your action tokens left. Don't make attacks out of your hand -- rely on ATOs, a Power Grab, and a Seize the Time. If you get attacked, use the +10s for defense, but half of your groups are Secret, which is an excellent defense in itself.

But rather than go into a detailed beginning-middle-end strategy, I'll be going over some card combinations and tricks this deck is particularly good at. It's more interesting anyway, and should help a newbie shape his own style of play. Also, it's pretty pointless to dictate what should happen when -- your Group deck is huge (16), so there's a good chance some cards (as many as 3) might not even surface during the course of a normal 3-4 player game.

Section III: Tricks and Ploys

"The Grail Family"

This gambit revolves around ownership of the Grail, and maximizing its protective abilities. The idea is to control the Holy Grail, Stonehenge and Dracula, with Stonehenge as the secret location of the Grail, and Dracula linked to the Grail. This creates a very handy ring of protection: Dracula protects the Grail from ever being destroyed or stolen, the Grail protects Stonehenge from ever being destroyed, and Stonehenge protects Dracula from ever being destroyed. Now, all you have to do is worry about (non-Magic) attacks to control...

"The Lestat Effect"

If you're familiar with Anne Rice books, the vampire Lestat becomes ridiculously powerful over the course of 4 books. With some luck, Dracula can do the same. First off, it only makes sense that Dracula gets New Blood at some point (the ironic plot name alone is worth the play). If you also link the Necronomicon and Book of Kells to him, control the Church of Satan, and play Messiah, Dracula becomes a whopping Power 18/18, Resistance 13 monster with two tokens a turn, whose protected Resources count for your goals and are never in danger of getting nuked. For added fun, link him to the Death Mask so he can interfere with nearly attack (with his Global power) after the dice are rolled.

As an aside, you might notice that with the Book of Kells, Dracula can't make any attack to destroy. This is a Good Thing -- never, never, ever let Dracula roll the dice, because every time he does, he has a 1 in 12 chance of getting eaten by the Necronomicon, losing his Resources in the processes. This would be devastating, to say the least.

"The Old Templars-Mutilators combo"

This might be one of the oldest group-card combinations ever used, but it's still pretty devastating. Just in case you've been living under a rock for the last 3 years, you use the Cattle Mutilators to expose a rival's entire hand, and the Templars to discard the ones which are most useful to said rival (like Goals). Giving one or the other the Book of Kells makes the gambit even more painful -- and injecting a Seize the Time in there will make your rival wish he had MI-5. Use the Cattle Mutilators to expose someone's hand, use two Templar tokens to discard two Plots, Seize the Time, and do it again. Boom.

"Hidden Agendas"

If you're chugging along nicely, other players may start to get panicky about your Resources and Groups controlled. For this very reason, you are packing an extra Goal, which will allow you to win with even fewer Groups controlled. Hail Eris is good for W.I.T.C.H. (which counts naturally), and the Reformed Church of Satan (which counts after a decent powerboost, from, say, the Necronomicon[1]). Jake Day can supply the last Power => 3 group -- if you've paid a lot of attention to Dracula, he's a good candidate. (Jakeing him will also give him an extra +4 to get the Vampires, adding to your already huge +16 bonus).

Personally, though, I wouldn't try to get three Weird groups to count double, at least not until I'm about to declare victory -- it pretty much spells out what you're going to do, and hurts the element of surprise.

"Magic Hoarding"

By the middle (or even better, the end) you're actually not too bad at stealing other people's Magic Groups -- and if they're linked to Magic Resources, all the better for you. Don't ignore that +6 any attempt bonus, -- it makes attacking your own groups out of hand worthwhile, if you feel like it -- and if you fail, it's not all that awful. You spent a token, and everyone else knows its in your hand, but that's all you lose. Such attacks, even if they're only at a 5 or 6 target number, might mean the difference between a loss and a shared victory.

As for Resource hoarding, you're pretty good at stealing other people's property, what with your three Forgeries or a Weak Link/Cover of Darkness combo -- However, I'd save the Covers of Darkness for defense, to make sure nobody else tries to blast your stuff. Finally, The Stars Are Right might let you leap up from starting a turn 4 groups behind to declaring a quick win.

"Masque of the Red Death"

The Red Death, for you, is The Magic Goes Away. This is extremely, extremely bad for you. No ATOs, your Resources don't work anymore, and your Magic groups all lose a point of Power. Boy, does it suck. For this reason, you are packing two Red NWOs, which suck for everyone else BUT you -- Solidarity and Apathy make attacks on other players pretty darn difficult, which shouldn't bother you, because you have very little reason to attack anything or anyone.

Also inconvenient is Peace in Our Time, since a few of your groups are Violent or Criminal (Dracula, W.I.T.C.H., Cattle Mutilators), but it doesn't hold a candle to The Magic Goes Away.

"Magic for Magic's sake"

Access to cool Magic plots and abilities is the best reason, in my opinion, for playing an Adepts deck to begin with. Unlucky 13 is annoying as hell (especially after you deplete your victim's hand with the Templars/Mutilators), Backmasquerade lets you shrug of irksome Zaps (most notably, Lab Explosion), and Crop Circles / Rosicrucians can let you pick exactly the plot you need at the moment (such as a Red NWO, a Forgery, Stars are Right, whatever).

Section IV: Substitutions

The deck construction is open to lots of manipulation, depending on what you like to play with. You could throw away all the Magic groups, for all I care, except for Dracula. None of the other ones deal directly with Resource acquisition. As for Plots you might like to include some plot-stealing cards, in order to fuel the Flying Saucer, but as the deck stands, there's very little in there that you can't stand losing yourself, save for the Red NWOs, the Goal, and maybe the Forgeries. In short, this isn't the only Adepts deck you can play -- I'm of a firm belief that the Adepts are a pretty versatile Illuminati, more so than some people will have you believe.

Section V: Rules Problems.

[1] -- Can you, the owner of Dracula, voluntarily relink a Magic Artifact to another group you control? The relevant text is, "No Magic Artifact linked to him may be lost by him or taken away by any means..." I'm just not sure of the word choice, here. If you give someone your car keys, you're not really "losing" them, and nobody's "taking them away" -- you're just lending them out. But, it's something to think about -- if you can't relink his stuff, then don't give him the Necronomicon to begin with, if you plan on winning with the Hail Eris. Leave it for the Church of Satan. It's less dangerous, anyway.

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First posted: July 28, 1997

Last modified: july 28, 1997

Ralph Melton