The Sorcerous and Larcenous Spawning Behemoth

by Lemar Johnson

This is an Adepts of Hermes Criminal Overlords deck, pure and simple. It breaks Illuminated Tradition by being exactly what it seems: impressively and dangerously powerful.

Both the facts that most of the groups in this deck are Criminal and this deck's power structure grows quickly contributed to the name. Once they face it, your opponents will have all sorts of names for it, too. In fact, they'll have all sorts of names for you...


The Adepts of Hermes




Basic Strategy

Attack lots of groups from your hand and use an Illuminati action to make a takeover of extra resources every turn. Make a deal during a massive final attack that's too good to pass up and then play I Lied. Win with a huge number of resources and the Criminal Overlords. Laugh evily.

This deck is what I call a "steamroll" deck - the more groups you have, the more you can gain easily and you can always gain more groups. It can destroy things, but destruction slows you down.

From Turn 1 On...

Lead with New York and look innocent as you do such a predictable thing. If possible, slap down the Necronomicon or Cyborg Soldiers to it quickly; if not, you will probably have plenty of other resources to get into play. If you can, lean towards attacking Violent/Criminal groups (New York's bonus to control such will be +8) and make automatic takeovers of groups with more errant alignments; this will be doubly good advice in the endgame when everyone realizes you're about to pound them to dust. Remember, your parents were right: it's o.k. to fail...especially when the group you failed to take over goes back in your hand.

Note: you could lead with the Mafia - your roll to control Criminal groups would be one higher than with New York. However, that Criminal group wouldn't get a +1 to power, as it would if New York is on the table.

The point of this deck is to grow as much as possible - it is essential that you take over one resource every turn. Then watch your opponents' faces as they realize what's happening. Wait for the first attack.

Then play Upheaval!.

They'll look at you funny, then they'll become annoyed. After a turn, do it again.

This may seem pointless, but there is actually a very good reason behind it. If you can gain an extra group every turn in the form of a magic resource or an attacked group (or both) and you have a massively powerful central group that can always have a good chance of capturing groups out of your hand (like New York), you will not be slowed down much by Upheavals!. Your opponents, however, who have culled their decks to have the most useful groups possible, will find their plans quickly evaporating. The thing to remember is you don't care about any group except that one Violent/Criminal group that's leading all of your attacks; everything else is just cannon fodder. For more on Upheaval!, see below.

Don't use your normal automatic takeover for resources, if you can help it. Extra group actions are usually more useful. Don't be afraid to use Illuminati actions to do so, however.

Card Purposes

The following is a list of why some select cards were included in this deck:
Great to play during an attack after your foe has played Good Polls; playing it on the target of the attack makes the Good Polls card significantly less effective. You will need to already have the Orbital Mind Control Lasers out before it can be played, however. (Editor's note: Lemar has pointed out that playing Angst during an attack is illegal; Angst instead should be played before the attack begins. 8/3/97)

Botched Contact
This and Sabotage are around to keep anyone from beating you at your own game. If anyone is growing rather quickly, use Botched Contact and pick off one of his groups next turn. If they persist, draw up a coalition with other players, Sabotage his next takeover and destroy one of his more important groups. (This is easier said than done, but with this deck it should not be impossible).

Cattle Mutilators
Along with the Templars, this group is meant to Expose/Remove opponents' Plots. This ability should be used for three reasons:
  1. To make sure someone you are about to attack has no tricks up their sleeves.
  2. As revenge or a threat to someone who is doing unpleasant things to your power structure.
  3. To help out others during attacks by doing #1 to their opponents, or to use as a threatening bargaining chip; don't attack me and I won't expose your plots.

Clone Arrangers
If you absolutely must make an attack on another groups' power structure, this Secret group is the one to use. If New York controls it (and the Orbital Mind Control Lasers make the alignments right) it would be possible to suck up or destroy almost any group on the table. The reason New York needs to be its master is so it can interfere with a Secret group's attack.

Crop Circles
Hold this card until near the end of the game. Use it when you have the opportunity to pull lots of Plots - if you can pull more than one, you can look through your deck for them all at the same time!

Crystal Skull
Use the Crystal Skull as much as possible and learn where all of your cards are. If you know you have a duplicate of a Plot in your hand and need to get rid of it, discard to the bottom and remember the order of things.

Death Mask
A sneaky use of this lies with the Ninjas. Boost the Ninja's power to 6. Attack them every turn with another group to give them an action token. Make an extra attack to control or destroy per turn with the Ninjas linked to the Mask so they can interfere and make success nearly assured. This ability also makes a great bargaining piece with other players. (In fact, if your circle of players is known for its diplomacy, put Hidden Influence in the deck to give the Ninjas Global Power. Then auction off a "sure-win attack" to the highest bidder every turn.)

I Lied
This is a tricky one. Because you will obviously appear powerful throughout most of the game, most people won't trust your deals...but neither should they. Therefore, you should smile. Be nice. And, above all, keep your word. Speak softly and make lots of deals that show what a nice guy you are. Once you play this card, however, realize that every man's hand will be against you.

At that point you become fanatical when it comes to growth.

This group is only in here as cannon fodder: for Upheavals, and if it is absolutely vital you destroy something. Use the Lasers to make the target peaceful and wear some old clothing to keep the splatters from being to severe as the carnage begins. If you don't need to destroy things, don't put out this group at all.

Nuclear Accident
This is useful if you need to attack something and the Nuclear Power Companies keep canceling your actions. What this is really for, however, is to turn Stonehenge into so much road gravel (metaphorically speaking, of course). In fact, play Botched Contact the moment someone plays Stonehenge, if possible. Then save up actions and use the Crystal Skull to get to this card, because eventually Stonehenge will be played.

NWO - Fear and Loathing
Play this as soon as possible, especially if there are peaceful groups in play. Not only will your attacks to control be easier (thereby speeding growth), but it will be easier to destroy peaceful groups. There isn't much point to doing the latter unless Shangri-La is in play, however. Favor your increase over an opponent's decrease.

Perpetual Motion Machine
Eventually, you will run out of group cards in your hand. It is important that you make two takeovers every turn, so use this device (linked to your Illuminati) to pull another group card with the extra action.

Privileged Attack
The most efficient use of this card is after you've made an astounding number of automatic takeovers in the endgame and are going for the win with an attack out of your hand.

See Botched Contact.

Seize the Time!
The implications of what just one of these would do for your speed to the win is relatively staggering. I would advise against using this free turn as a method to attack others; just grow big and use those actions to pull a lot more plots next turn. It also makes a great recovery tactic for when you've expended most of your action tokens already. Note: if after you play this card you are two or less groups away from winning, but still haven't won, you're going to look like the largest threat in the game. You probably will be.

The Stars are Right
This card is great in the endgame or the very beginning; in the middle of the game, it looks threatening. If you can claim the last groups you need to win with a hard to stop automatic takeover, so much the better.

Threaten people about to attack you with this card. When they finally do attack you, feel no reservations about playing it. Because almost all of your groups can help one another, the foe will probably have already thrown most of his own groups into the attack. Upheaval! gives him two choices: get rid of a group that contributed Power to the attack or get rid of a group meant to protect his power structure after the attack. The more finely-tuned his groups are, the more devastating Upheaval! will be to him. In addition, promising to make everyone lose a group every time you are attacked will not endear the attacker to his fellow players. Note: Before you get in a situation where you will play Upheaval!, make sure the chaff of your power structure is on the outskirts. That way, when you discard them, you won't have any puppets to lose as well.


Whenever possible, keep a Secrets... and a Good Polls in your hand; especially after a large number of takeovers or having exposed someone's Plots. Some people just don't take such things in the spirit of fun. The reason I support always holding onto the Secrets MWNMTK is that I personally see very few attacks that aren't supported by Plot cards - usually +10 cards.

Attach the Perpetual Motion Machine to your Illuminati as soon as possible; it can literally be the reason for your win.

Never favor attacking a foe over attacking something from your hand if the options run about equal. This deck really is isolationistic at best. Smile quietly. No, I'm not being funny. Noisy people get nailed; the best way to tell someone to shut up is to knock him out of the game. Help others to destroy things. Apologize to the victim.

In the endgame, be very quiet and professional. Your foes may simply forget to look at how big your Power Structure is.

Always be cognizant of how close you are to winning; if you have three Violent/Criminal groups in your power structure, all you'll need next is five magic resources if you are holding the Criminal Overlords goal (and you're playing to twelve groups). Those can be obtained in three turns or less. If you have any groups that don't count double at that point, it might be wise to play Upheaval! and slow down the game some.

Special Circumstances

Rival Adepts. If there is another Adepts player, forget everything I said about being isolationistic and attack him constantly. Be completely sociable to the other players (it makes the I Lied more unexpected). Cancel his attacks and cards and play both Botched Contact and Sabotage on him. Knock him out as soon as possible with attacks to destroy - other players will be more willing to help you do these than attacks to control. Guard against the threat he represents with Good Polls and the use of Forgery in the most spiteful ways possible. It might be best to finish him off as a privileged attack - the other players will not appreciate the intrinsic beauty of you gaining his resources at his downfall.

Another Violent/Criminal deck. Can you say Sabotage? I knew you could. Every time the foe puts out something you have in your hand, reevaluate the situation and see if you can't take it from him quickly. One particularly nasty strategy would be to offer to help him in massively overextended attacks, expose his plots, and then attack him! (I've done this before, but not with this deck. The principle is the same, though. If you can promise not to attack him and then play I Lied, so much the better).

Against Bavaria. This is probably the only deck that will be more intimidating than this one on the table in terms of sheer power. Foster hatred towards the Bavarian player. Slow down his growth. Play Angst on him. If necessary, draw fire to yourself while holding Good Polls in your hand; show the opponent the folly of the wasted effort with an attack following his own.

Alternate Cards

I have been blessed with a lot of good cards, many of them rares, so I have many cards here which are hard to come by. Nevertheless, I lack some good cards. I've included Seize the Time and the NWO: Gun Control, yet I don't own either of these cards (nevertheless, I've won with this deck without those cards). Some possible targets of replacement include:

This rare is just a spoiler; place your favorite nasty card here if you need a substitute. I would put in Good Polls or a Plot cancellation card.

Cattle Mutilators
The Phone Companies - or no exposer at all. They are not very essential to the deck but make a great bargaining chip as described above. Note that if you don't have them, the need for the Templars is minimal as well.

Crystal Skull
The Rosicrucians will work here in a pinch, but they don't have as much long-term effect on your ability to control your deck...and you can't pay an Illuminati action to lay them down. It's still nice to get the card you want when you want it...

Cyborg Soldiers
There aren't many good equivalent replacements for this card, but see below for a list of cards that are generically good for this deck.

Death Mask
As Cyborg Soldiers, above.

Because this is a magic artifact, this is a bigger loss than the Cyborg Soldiers. Nevertheless, one has to use the cards one has been dealt (please excuse the pun).

Secrets Man Was Not Meant to Know
Hoax and 18 1/2 Minute Gap.

Seize the Time!
Power Grab is the best direct equivalent.

Good Polls or the IRS. If you're going to throw in the IRS though, why not put in the Center for Weird Studies? And if you're going to go that far, why not add Tax Reform?...

Wargamers. See Cattle Mutilators.

Generically Useful Cards

Hat Trick (In case you don't have the duplicates you need for cards...or if you have the duplicates and you love redundancy).

Hidden Influence (See the Ninjas note above).

Kinder and Gentler (For the KKK especially).

The Library at Alexandria (Especially good if another opponent is the Adepts).

Meteor Strike

Midas Mill (Give New York this and the Necronomicon and watch your opponents give you wonderfully uneasy looks).

Pentagon (If you choose to put in the Nuclear Power Companies for some reason, this makes a good companion piece. If you don't already know, the Pentagon lets you draw an extra Plot card for each Corporate group it controls. This, combined with the Crystal Skull, could give you a lot of control over your Plots).

Shroud of Turin (For those true control freaks. If you have this and the Crystal Skull, you can discard to the bottom of your Plots, then pull the bottom Plots when you need them).


Another Goal: The Criminal Overlords

More Good Polls (I love these, as you can tell).

More The Stars are Right (There's a reason why I didn't do this. For one thing, I only have one copy of the card. For another, if I saw someone using this card every single turn, I would declare the player a power munchkin and lead the holy crusade against him with the other players backing me up. That's just me. It's nothing personal - it's all about how incredibly fast you'd grow. In addition, you'd eventually have to use Illuminati actions to pull more group cards; this would leave you vulnerable when the attack inevitably comes. And unless you're pulling three groups a turn, the fact that you have another The Stars Are Right will become redundant - you won't need the card at all).

My Experience With This Deck

I've played this deck only once before, but without Seize the Time! and Gun Control. It wasn't much of a game. My opponents didn't make a very fast start and didn't jump on me fast enough. Even if they had, there wouldn't have been much they could do about it. I had out the Clone Arrangers attached to New York; the latter group had the Necronomicon attached to it. I could therefore make an attack with a Secret group and New York with a total basic power of 20. I also had the Perpetual Motion Machine out and the Ninjas and W.I.T.C.H. I was slowed down only with the fact that someone else had the Nuclear Power Companies (the Discordians) and didn't admire the elegance of my deck. I fixed that in the endgame with a Nuclear Disaster (the target of my attack, Japan, was completely unscathed, but the NPC's action went bye-bye). It was almost silly once one considers how invulnerable I was - I played no more than three Plot cards the entire game (the first was Power Grab). I won on groups controlled and the Criminal Overlords, but I had to hunt through my deck to find the latter by spending lots of actions on Plots (if you don't seem to have this card when you need it, put two in or the Rosicrucians).

The funny thing was, when I made my last takeover of an opponent's group, that opponent threatened to respond by playing Upheaval! of all cards. I had two Upheaval!s already in my hand.

Overall, it was hideously easy...but I'm sure it would have been tougher had the other players made more flexible decks.

Not much tougher, but tougher nonetheless.

Deck design by Lemar Johnson, a.k.a. Jabberwocky.

Last modified: August 3, 1997
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