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.
- New York
- Robot Sea Monsters
- Saddam Hussein
- Secret Service
- Clipper Chip
- Crystal Skull
- Hitler's Brain
- Annual Convention
- Atomic Monster x2
- Combined Disasters
- Deasil Engine
- Giant Kudzu
- Good Polls
- Ketchup is a Vegetable
- Martial Law x2
- New Blood
- Nuclear Accident x2
- Secrets Man Was Not Meant to Know
- Seize the Time!
- Senate Investigating Committee
- Sorry, Wrong Number
- Terrorist Nuke x3
- Truck Bomb
- Goal: Up Against the Wall x2
- NWO: Fear and Loathing
- NWO: Gun Control x2
- NWO: World Hunger
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.
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
- 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
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