Cuius Testiculos Habes

by Ralph Melton

Making deals is good. But it's difficult to have the card that another player would find most useful. Therefore, to be in the best bargaining position, you should go to the other players' decks for your deal-making potential.

This deck depends on having at least three players in the game for two reasons: firstly, it really needs automatic takeovers, and second and more important, it's much much harder to make profitable deals in a two-player game; the other player tends to be suspicious of your motivations for some reason.

The name of the deck is due to a Terry Pratchett book, Small Gods. The full quote is "Cuius testiculous habes, habeas cardia et cerebellum," which Pratchett translates, "When you have their full attention in your grip, their hearts and minds will follow." The correct translation was supposedly featured on a sign in the office of Chuck Colson, one of the Watergate conspirators, which brings the circle back to Illuminated conspiracy.

In this deck, I am following the example of Rudi Gross in presenting a core deck with a set of 7-card 'sideboards'. In this deck, though, the sideboards encapsulate a very customizable winning strategy for the deck.


Group Cards

Plot Cards


Your first priority is to have the Rosicrucians with the Book of Kells. This ability to choose two plots per turn is critical to the success of your deck.

Towards this end, you should lead with the Rosicrucians. If you suspect that someone else will also lead the Rosicrucians, you should attempt to bribe them into letting you have the Rosicrucians. One reasonable bribe you can offer: offer to take over a Resource for them in exchange for them letting you have and keep the Rosicrucians. (This is also has the beneficial effect of getting people into the habit of dealing with you even before the first turn of the game.)

If for some reason, you bounce on the Rosicrucians, lead with the N.S.A. or the Great Pyramid, and plan on spending UFOs actions to draw Group cards as quickly as possible so that you can get the Rosicrucians first.

If you have a Power Grab by the time you make your first Automatic Takeover, go ahead and use it; both your ATOs should be Groups. If you don't have a Power Grab, but you have the Book of Kells in your hand, use an Illuminati action to take over the Book of Kells and link it to the the Rosicrucians.


During the midgame, your turns will be relatively boring. You will almost always do one of two things on your turn: Either a) use the Rosicrucians to find a Power Grab before your ATO, and ATO two groups, or b) make an ATO and use your Illuminati action to take over a Resource. This will be sufficient for you to grow at a quite respectable rate; in fact, you should be careful not to grow too fast, because if you're the leader of the pack, you may get pounded. You should take over your groups in approximately the following order, depending on circumstances, and with appropriate interleavings of groups from your variable victory sideboard:

You should try to take over the Cattle Mutilators and the Arms Dealers at the same time, since they work best together.

You should certainly use the free abilities of the N.S.A and the I.R.S. on every turn.

Deal-making for Fun and Profit

While you're doing relatively little on your turns, you should be doing a great deal (pun intended) on everyone else's turns. You should attempt to always keep one action token that will let you draw a plot and one action token on the Rosicrucians; this will let you get at any Plot in your deck at any time.

Be creative in your deals! There are many things you can offer in deals:

Similarly, there are many things that you could accept from others as part of a deal:

These plots are intended principally as bargaining chips for your deal-making, although they may certainly be used for your own purposes. The selection of these plots should be customized heavily to those plots which promise the best deal-making potential for your play group.

Note that Hoax, Secrets Man Was Not Meant to Know, Bribery, and Murphy's Law must be played immediately after the event they affect; you can't use the Rosicrucians to go fishing for them. It's probably worthwhile to keep a Secrets in your hand as a safety precaution.

I put in more Secrets than Hoax because another player can always power a Secrets with plot discards, and if you need to power it yourself, you can usually do so with an Illuminati action without risking a discard.

But you won't always have the exact plot that another player would find most convenient. For that purpose, you have various plots and cards designed to let you learn about and raid other people's decks and hands, or to let you draw more plots of your own to deal with (though you could certainly use these as bargaining chips):

The Auditor From Hell
Either the N.S.A. or the I.R.S. would be a good group with which to power this. You'll almost certainly want to steal a card instead of exposing the plots, especially because there are fewer cards that work on exposed plots than hidden plots.
Bank of England
This falls the squarely into the 'draw lots of plots of your own' category.
Cattle Mutilators / Arms Dealers
You can use this combination to expose all of an opponent's Plots, and then force a trade for those exposed plots. If you convince a third player that all your plots are good, perhaps you can get them to give you some disposable plots for your dealing.
This can be best used when you know what card someone has drawn because of the N.S.A. See if another player will give you a disposable plot to power the Embezzlement.
The Great Pyramid
This lets you see the first card each player draws on each turn. Since this doesn't require the Great Pyramid's Action Token, its token can be used to interfere with attacks as part of your deal-making.
Go Fish
You should only use this when you know a card the player has in their hands; ideally, you would know what cards in their deck they'll be discarding, too. If you want to force them to discard the top cards on their deck, see if another player will make you a deal for a card that you can fish for.
The uses of the I.R.S. as a plot Predator should be reasonably obvious. I elected not to put NWO: Tax Reform in this deck, because a) I considered NWO: Apathy too useful as a bargaining chip, and b) This deck doesn't have enough defensive ability to handle the concerted attacks that Tax Reform provokes. If you choose to include NWO: Tax Reform, you should make plenty of deals to give some people their taxes back, so that Tax Reform works to their benefit as well as yours.
Since the I.R.S.'s ability doesn't require its action token, the I.R.S. can be used to power plots or to interfere with attacks.
Mutual Betrayal
As Dan Myers has pointed out; Mutual Betrayal need not be all that mutual; it gives you a chance to look at another player's hand, and if you choose not to expose any cards, only you know what you have seen.
This is an excellent tool for learning what people are about to draw; this knowledge can guide your use of the I.R.S., Go Fish, Embezzlement, and An Offer You Can't Refuse.
An Offer You Can't Refuse
Your Group deck is small enough that the cost of not drawing any Groups that turn is not too high. Again, you should have some information about what Plots you're drawing.
Savings and Loan Scam
This is just a way to get more plots cheaply and rapidly.

The other plots provided are mostly for defense, or perhaps a single attack. Your first line of defense should be your willingness to make deals with everybody, though. In particular, you should try to get people to negotiate with you before they play Instant attacks on your groups, particularly since, if the negotiation breaks down, you can fish for a plot card to improve the target's defense before the hammer strikes

Seize the Time! is essentially just another ATO for you. You should do the usual things of spending your action tokens before you Seize the Time, and knocking immediately after your ATO without making any attacks.

Blind Auction Deal-making

A particularly effective technique for deal-making is what I call the 'Blind Auction' technique. Here's an example of how it works:

Suppose player A is attacking Player B. Player A shows you a plot card and says he'll give it to you if you help him attack Player B. Before you accept, you turn to player B and ask, "Player A has made me an offer to have me help him attack you. Would you like to offer me something not to get involved with the attack?" If he makes a counter-offer, you can turn to Player A and repeat the process.

The key is that the two parties involved should not state their offers aloud, and you should not state their offers aloud; you only state which offer is better at the moment. This means that the two parties vying for your services do not know what the other player has offered, so they can't judge how much to sweeten their offer to make it slightly better than the other player's offer. It also means that you are free to decide which offer is better based on other factors, such as who needs to be thwarted, or which offer will better promote rivalry between other players.


With so much fun making deals, it's possible to lose sight of the fact that the goal is to win. This is where the sideboards come in.

This deck is very versatile, and the awesome Plot control provided by having two action tokens on the Rosicrucians makes it possible to pull off a lot of stunning surprise victories. You should pick one of these victory setups beforehand, when you build the deck--and then change it the next time you play, to keep people guessing.

This deck (in all its variations) is also very good at shared victories, particularly when you can offer bargains like 'if you give me a group, I'll give you back your Goal...'

The Adepts of Hermes Sideboard

ATO New York at some point during the midgame, and take over the Crystal Skull to give you extra Plot control. You can Unmask as the Adepts of Hermes to make the Book of Kells and the Crystal Skull count towards your victory condition, let New York take over Manuel Noriega at a 17 or less, and then reveal your Goal: Criminal Overlords, which makes New York, the Arms Dealers, and Manuel Noriega count double.

An Assertiveness Training might not be amiss, to let you turn the I.R.S. or the Cattle Mutilators into Criminal Overlords.

This sideboard gives you a bit of power to share a victory, since you can exchange a Group for a Magic Resource and be no further from victory.

The Shangri-La Sideboard

You can generate 30 points of Peaceful Power out of the blue if you've previously taken over a Clipper Chip. Here's how it works:

  1. ATO New York.
  2. Kinder and Gentler a Power-6 group belonging to someone else with an Illuminati action.
  3. Unmask as Shangri-La
  4. Use an Illuminati action to bring out the Big Prawn. Link it to New York, and use it to make New York Peaceful.
  5. New York then attacks to Control Japan, at a 16 or less.
  6. When you're done, New York is at a power of 16, Japan is at a power of 8, and the Power-6 Group brings the total up to 30 points of Peaceful power.

You can rearrange the order of these actions based on what people will think is risky and what they will be able to counter. For example, if someone has a Hoax or Secrets Man Was Not Meant to Know, you should Unmask before there's a lot of Peaceful Power in play; if someone has the Nuclear Power Companies, you should bring out the Big Prawn before it appears that that will be horribly threatening.

This variation also offers a lot of room for shared victories, particularly with other Shangri-La players.

The Gnomes of Zurich Sideboard

With a Clipper Chip and NWO: Chicken in Every Pot, the Bank of England, the I.R.S., and the Federal Reserve will all count double for the Gnomes of Zurich, even if someone plays NWO: Don't Forget to Smash the State.

One liability of this approach is that it only gives you three groups counting double. This can be compensated by the fact that fewer cards are required, so you can put in more useful plots, and by playing this variation in games to fewer groups.

The Society of Assassins Sideboard

With the Clone Arrangers, the N.S.A with a Clipper Chip, and a Mob Influence on the Cattle Mutilators, you should be able to have three most-powerful Secret Groups. This variation falls into the same liability of the Gnomes of Zurich victory that at most three groups count double.

(Bonus hint: with any of these approaches, you can often make the following deal if the Assassins are in the game: "Give me your Clipper Chip, so that the Assassins' Clone Arrangers don't count double for him.")

The Power For Its Own Sake Sideboard

Did you realize that if you have New York, Clipper Chip, and NWO: Gun Control, New York has at least a 22 or less to take over Manuel Noriega, and that once they do, Manuel has a power of 8? This variation is a fairly standard Government/Violent/Gun Control combination.

There are more possible sideboards for this deck, with new and original ways to win. However, five is a fine number, and I want to keep a few secrets, so I will list only these five combinations. Please let me know about the others that you find.

Potential problems

The biggest potential problem is that you don't have the power to make more than one successful attack. This means that you really have to win with a surprise victory.

If you get thwarted in your bid for victory, start dealing for a shared victory immediately, since it will be hard to win on your own.

If you've picked a variation that runs into conflict with another player, you may have problems. If you picked the Shangri-La variation, this is much less likely to be a problem, of course.

Variants and Substitutions

There is a lot of room for variation in this deck. In particular, the deal-making cards should e adjusted to fit what's most useful in your play group.

Some plot-predator cards I left out:

I deliberately left out all the cards that force a rival to discard cards, such as the Templars, the Wargamers, and the Psychiatrists, and the Internet Worm. The reason: If you force an opponent to discard cards, then you can't make deals with him to give them back.

Some deal-making cards I left out:

Back to the Deck of the Week.

First posted: April 26, 1997

Last modified: April 26, 1997

Ralph Melton