The Hired Gun

by Don Fnordlioni and Ralph Melton

The original version of this deck is a deck that Don Fnordlioni played in a Play-by-email game some time ago. I've played it myself a few times since, with some changes. I often give it to new players, because it's a strong and relatively simple deck, and it's highly interactive. New players often feel good about being able to play competitively and whomp up on other players.

The key to this deck is the Up Against the Wall goal, the only control/destroy goal for which there is a large number of groups that fit both categories. Plus, Government groups (and in particular, Government Places) are common enough that it's very likely that you should be able to find suitable targets.


Group Cards

Plot Cards


Lead with the CIA. There's a good chance that it'll make people bounce, but that's not too bad. If you bounce, try to get something that's Violent and Government with a decent amount of power and at least one control arrow.

During the early part of the game, you should grow with reasonable speed on the basis of your common alignments. Each turn, you should spend your Illuminati action to take over a Resource; you have several Resources to get out.

The Robot Sea Monsters will almost certainly require an automatic takeover to bring them out. They are very good for boosting your Disasters, and well worth the ATO.


Play opportunistically, with an eye towards picking off Government groups where possible. You will usually have a Disaster in your hand; use them freely, but remember that your goal is to destroy, not Devastate.

There's a good chance that you will have some groups duplicated with other players; use your agents either to control or destroy, whichever is more convenient for you. An attack to control has the advantages that all your groups can participate, you probably get two common alignments, and you might be able to take off a large piece of a power structure; the advantages of an attack to destroy are that you get bonuses for such an attack, and destroyed groups need less protection than controlled groups.

Some words of advice about specific cards:

Secret Service
Wise players will not bring out Government Personalities while you have both the C.I.A. and the Secret Service in play. But there are enough useful Government personalities (particularly Bill Clinton) that you may be able to hold the Secret Service in reserve until someone brings out a Government Personality, and then bring out the Secret Service and use the C.I.A. to make a painful Assassination with a power of 24 or so.
Robot Sea Monsters
If the Society of Assassins is in play, it may be possible to stymie them by playing New Blood on the Robot Sea Monsters. It may also be possible to trade the Robot Sea Monsters to the Assassins in exchange for suitable favors.
The things the B.A.T.F. is good at killing (Fanatic Groups and a few specific other groups) are not Government except in unusual cases. So you can use the threat potential of the B.A.T.F. as a bargaining chip--for example, if the Assassins have plenty of Fanatic groups, you can offer them amnesty from the B.A.T.F. in exchange for their help. Or you can just use the B.A.T.F. to smack them if they get uppity.
The Necronomicon is obviously useful for making attacks, but even when it backfires, it can still be useful for you. When the Necronomicon backfires, you still get a Plot (two if you have Hitler's Brain), and it still counts towards your victory conditions and your Goal card. The Necronomicon's boost can also be used risk-free for defense. Play it safe by not using the Necronomicon on offense when the group with the Necronomicon is controlling other groups.
Crystal Skull
The combination of the Crystal Skull and Hitler's Brain means that after every successful attack to destroy, you can go up to six cards deep in your deck to look for two useful cards. This is immensely valuable; with a vigorous course of destruction, it is quite possible to completely turn over your deck one or more times during the course of a game. Your usual habit should be to take one card and put the other two on the bottom, unless you expect to need the other two soon. Remember what you put on the bottom, because you can also use Mossad to let you get to that card.
Israel's bonus to take the Mossad lets you get two groups quickly by taking over Israel, and then taking over the Mossad.
Saddam Hussein
Saddam's action-cancelling ability can be very useful. Judge when to bring him out based on how many ornery Government groups you're seeing.


There is no special action for the endgame; there is merely an increased excitement as your opponents become more fearful of your victory (particularly once they figure out the Up Against The Wall angle) and as you become more ferocious.

It is a very real option to destroy your own groups; with the exception of the Robot Sea Monsters, they will all continue to count for your Up Against the Wall, and you will get a Plot or two for doing so. The disadvantage, of course, is that you lose the benefits of their tokens--but even so, destroying a group of your own is far preferable to losing it to another player.

Potential problems

This is a very solid deck, particularly since most of your groups can defend each other.

Discordia can be an irritation, since she will be immune to essentially all of your groups. Use your Disasters to pick off her places, if she has any, and otherwise do your best to ignore her.

NWO: Don't Forget to Smash the State and NWO: End of the World can reduce your power enough to deprive you of action tokens. If one of those comes out, bringing out your Clipper Chip should provide you enough power to get your tokens back.

If no one else plays Government groups (unlikely, but possible), you can destroy your own Groups for your Goal: Up Against the Wall.

Variants and Substitutions

Trimming this deck down to 45 cards has involved a lot of tough choices. Here are some of the other cards I've considered:

NWO: Australian Rules
You can probably attack other people more than they attack you. This would make NWO: Australian Rules a winner for you, especially when you have the Crystal Skull.
Murphy's Law
Murphy's Law has obvious defensive uses, but it can also be used on an attack of your own to cause the Necronomicon to backfire.
Yellow NWO
This deck is somewhat vulnerable to the two big anti-Government NWOs of Don't Forget to Smash the State and End of the World. If you expect to see them, packing a Yellow NWO might help avoid that. There are no particularly appealing Yellow NWOs, though.
Rewriting History
Rewriting History would let you convert a non-Government destroyed group to a Government group for your Goal. This could be particularly useful if you actually use the special abilities of the B.A.T.F.
Weather Satellite
Don Fnordlioni's original version had a Weather Satellite for extra Disaster impact. It got taken out because the deck is a bit Resource-heavy as it is. However, if you're in a situation where you don't have automatic takeovers, a Weather Satellite might be easier to take over than the Robot Sea Monsters. If you make that substitution, you should probably take out one of the other Resources and add another Group.

In general, this deck is rather heavy on Resources and light on Groups. Keep this in mind when you're adjusting the Group deck, and when you are considering adding Plots that require Illuminati actions.


In conclusion, I would like to leave you with these words from Don Fnordlioni's use of this deck in a play-by-email game:

"Don't hate me because I'm 500 feet tall and smell like carp."

Let these words be a guide to you as you play this deck.

Back to the Deck of the Week.

First posted: May 6, 1998

Last modified: Wed May 6 17:35:40 EDT 1998

Ralph Melton