This is an Adepts of Hermes deck built on the premise that once you've set up the machinery, you can crank out squishies fast enough to win the game. Although the card listing below contains some multiplication of cards, if you don't have the cards, it's easy to adjust the mix to make it work. Since a large chunk of the deck is Magic resources, if you are missing any of them, you can throw in any old Magic resource, more or less (even the Bronze Head, which has a power useless to the Adepts).
The Adepts of Hermes
You have two choices for lead - both of which commit you to a different strategy. The usual lead should be the Fraternal Orders - you'll need their ability to draw Groups fast and still leave you an Illuminati action for the rest of the turn. A fun alternative is Count Dracula, which commits you to trying to pair him up with Stonehenge.
Either way, you won't be giving much away to the other players as to the style of deck you are playing.
This deck is not designed to win with groups, hence there are just enough groups to allow you to get within "the safety zone" (a group on each control arrow of your Illuminati: the strongest defensive position). Plus, the groups that are present look like fairly obvious choices in an Adepts deck, and unless your opponent has come across Artifactories around, they will assume a fairly reasonable mix of groups and Artifacts.
You must disguise the fact that you have so many artifacts in the deck. Always look disapprovingly at your group hands. Ideally, you should be seeming optimistic until you draw your group cards, but don't worry if you don't do this. Just an old poker trick I learnt in the 'Nam... wait a second. I'm too young to have been in 'Nam. Hmmm.... memory malfunctioning.
Your plots fall into three categories:
Don't make too many enemies in play, if you can help it. Defend yourself if necessary, but don't use vicious abilities unless you are confident that your defense is strong, or you know you need to start slowing someone down.
Your objective is to achieve the following steps:
Assuming you were already in the safety zone this will give you 9 groups. If this is not enough to win, you will have to play a few Resources before making the bid for victory. Try to play ones that will be of use to you - The Holy Grail if Stonehenge is in play; the Shroud of Turin if you need specific Resources and the Crystal Skull if you need specific Plots. If you have Dracula protected by Stonehenge, then you can link anything appropriate to him for protection.
If anything goes wrong, try and sit safe till your next turn and make up the missing groups then.
If the game is going along fast, you can use the backup plan. Rather than going for four resources in one turn, go for a steady buildup. This needs to be played offensively. Use NWOs to slow your enemies, if possible, and take control of as many Resources a turn as possible, holding onto the Illuminati Action only if you need it to power something.
Offer to team up with the underdogs to help them get groups off the winning sides. Don't take anything for yourself; rely instead on the steady buildup of Resources in play.
Many decks pack some Resource defenses, so be prepared for a few casualties. Remember, you can win back a destroyed one with Cover of Darkness, and a Suicide Squad can be hit with Murphy's Law to make it fail and be destroyed.
If someone has a squad in play, and you have a Murphy's Law, you can always try and goad them into using their squad ASAP, using whichever reverse psychology you think will work best.
The most common time you have to use this strategy is when your Warehouse 23 is taken out. If this happens, and you aren't going to play the deck again, pretend that you can't win without it, and try to be the biggest mercenary you can. With luck, you can romp in under their radar and win anyway.
If you are playing to a lot of groups (say 12) the following alteration is useful: Swap out your two least favourite Plots cards and swap in the Evil Geniuses For A Better Tomorrow and a Perpetual Motion Machine. By getting the former into play and the latter linked to your Illuminati, you can go for what is commonly known as "The Stockroom of Doom".
Use the Factory victory plan, but take a Fifth Resource by using the Evil Geniuses Action to take the Soulburner, and a Sixth Resource by using the second Illuminati Action to power another Stars Are Right.
If anyone succeeds in the Stockroom of Doom, please let me know. I made five once, but never the magic six.
You have two obvious weaknesses with a deck of this kind. Firstly, you cannot afford to be ganged up on. With a little cooperation, you can be stripped of groups and out of the game. However, since the deck packs a fair supply of defensive cards you can usually survive well enough. Similarly, anyone targeting your Resources all out will be a problem, but there should be more than enough to go around.
The deck's strength lies in the distance it can leap to victory. Four (or six!) groups in a turn
is usually more than the average opponent expects to see in a single turn. Also, unless there
are a lot of players, you are unlikely to be stripped of more than 1 or 2 Resources, which
makes it hard for people to take you away from victory (something the Adepts share with
Your biggest worry should be another Adepts player using a lot of Artifacts (which is, after all, fairly common). This can be an asset, however, since a timely use of The Weak Link and Cover of Darkness can net you an extra Resource. Multiple Cthulhu players can be a problem, as they frequently size you up as easy prey and decide to try and destroy your entire power structure. If this happens, draw attention to the fact that they are getting lots of kills and try and turn the rest of the table against them.
I consider this to be a more or less prototypical Adepts deck, but that doesn't make it any less effective. Unfortunately, it has a fair number of Rare cards in it, but you can make a fair stab at the idea even without those cards, provided you have Warehouse 23 and a Flying Saucer. The Adepts have been my favourite Illuminati for some time, and a well tuned Artifactory (which I'm not claiming the above is) is a joy to play.
As with all my deck designs, I recommend playing around with the card mix to get what you want. Certain cards are liked by certain players more than others - they suit their play. Personally, I often pack an Annual Convention instead of Withering Curse, but I happen to have a passion for that card.
Whatever works for you.
Felicitas per Dementiam