War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.
--George Orwell, 1984

Ignorance is Strength

by Ralph Melton, Aaron Curtis, and Glen Barnett

Recall the novel 1984, by George Orwell. In particular, remember the Ministry of Truth, the government agency responsible for controlling the media, controlling the minds of the citizenry through rewriting history and censorship.

The Ministry of Truth--Minitrue, in Newspeak--was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, three hundred meters into the air.
1984 (emphasis mine)

You are Minitrue. Your control of the Media gives you the edge you use to win over your rivals. The ignorance of the citizenry is your strength.

This deck preys on other decks that revolve around a specific alignment, but it does not depend on having a rival of a specific alignment. As such, it offers a new insight on how to subvert boring isolationist decks.


Group Cards

Plot Cards

The Grand Scheme

This is the Grand Scheme of Minitrue, not known even to the workers who toil changing the text of long-written books. It is presented first, instead of in the endgame, because you should have this in mind as you play the deck through the beginning and middle of the game.

We assume that at least one player will be playing a deck with a theme of one particular alignment. We also assume that at some point in the endgame, they'll have an arm in their power structure that has at least three groups.

When that happens, we will do the following things:

To make this plan achievable, we combine several things:


Lead with Madison Avenue, for its bonus to take over Media groups. If that bounces, be wary; you're probably going up against another Media deck. Your second lead should be Big Media, which will probably also bounce--but you want your opponent not to have Big Media. Your third choice should probably be a Straight group (to play Censorship when Big Media or Madison Avenue comes into your hand), either Bank of England (if Zurich isn't playing) or TV Preachers. California, which can also play Censorship, might be another possibility.

Alternately: if you have a Censorship in your first three Plots, consider leading Big Media. If someone does lead Madison Avenue, you should be able to use Censorship to take Madison Avenue for yourself.

Keeping your Rivals Ignorant

As early as you can do so, bring out the Perpetual Motion Machine, then Center for Weird Studies. Not only are the extra tokens extremely useful, but the PMM acts as a lightning rod for your rivals' gadget-destroying plots. This will protect your OMCL somewhat when you bring them out later for your endgame ploy (see below).

Now, Madison Avenue can attack to control most of your other Media groups on a 10 or less, and all of them if you have Big Media. Use your free privileged attack every turn. This allows you to take an extra group into your power structure each turn at the cost of only one token. This allows you to keep your action tokens and +10 cards for defense, putting you in the best of situations: strong growth, high defenses, and if your defenses are enough to discourage your opponents from attacking you, lots of plot draws. Linking the PMM to Bavaria significantly improves this strategy: two 10/10 action tokens are daunting, and give you one plot each if unused.

On most turns, this will be all you do. Unless your opponents work hard attacking you, you will run out of control arrows on Madison Avenue. Do spend action tokens to move groups away from Madison Avenue, unless you need those action tokens for defense. Try to end your turn with one or no puppets under Madison Avenue (to avoid making a target), unless they control the Intellectuals. Note also that it works well to put the Intellectuals on the side arrow of Madison Avenue, and then use the arrow opposite to the incoming arrow to take groups.

Groups to bring out early: Big Media, Intellectuals, TV Preachers. (ATO the Intellectuals, since they are extremely helpful and you have no bonuses to take them over.) Once you have a few Media groups, ATO the Subliminals. Once you start feeling defensible, bring out Bank of England and California (with ATOs, probably). Control your other Media groups as needed for offense or defense.

The Orbital Mind Control Lasers should be brought out late in the game, though early enough that you should have an action token on them by your end-game ploy. The reason for bringing them out late is to give your Perpetual Motion Machine bait some time to work, and to try to arrange it so that you can forge someone else's OMCLs instead of having them forging yours.

During the midgame, you should be thinking ahead about likely victims for your endgame ploy. You should be trying to use your massive amounts of Global Power to influence your victim's growth; ideally, your victim should be growing large enough that you will be able to steal several groups when the time is right, but should be running short enough on action tokens that he can't rearrange his power structure into safer configurations.

Don't be afraid to use a Censorship or two in the midgame; they'll look innocuous enough in a Media deck. Similarly, your Plot deck doesn't have many cards that should be terribly surprising, so you shouldn't be too worried about players looking at your deck or hand.

It would be a good (though not wholly necessary) thing to have NWO: Military-Industrial Complex in play during the endgame, because that would allow Madison Avenue to power a Censorship itself for a +25 on an attack on a Media Group. Military-Industrial Complex also improves your defensibility and allows your Scandals to be doubly effective against Government or Corp decks. It would also be worthwhile to use NWO: Military-Industrial Complex to replace a yellow NWO that hurts you (NWO: End of the World, or NWO: Don't Forget to Smash the State).

Interesting Times

(We are at war with Eastasia. We have always been at war with Eastasia.)

Your control of the Media allows you to easily change the worldview presented to the world. As the text of Interesting Times states, "No one, not even the Secret Masters, really knows what's going on." And this is exactly your plan.

Save all your NWOs for later in the game (though still the midgame). Ideally, you will play Interesting Times to prevent a rival from winning, or to replace a NWO that is being used to hurt you. Choose option A, because option B will allow a rival to win with a cheesy Blinded by Science or Power For Its Own Sake goal. Once it's out, try to keep a Secrets or second Interesting Times in hand to prevent a rival from putting the game into Sudden Death Overtime.. The idea is to keep Interesting Times in play for the remainder of the game. This has several useful effects:

  1. Nobody will care about how much power you have.
  2. Nobody will spontaneously win by surprise (except you, in your endgame ploy).
  3. The game will take longer. Since you've been going slow-and-steady, you're ready for a longer marathon.
  4. Power structures will grow to eight, nine or even ten groups without anyone batting an eye.

It is the last which is most important for the endgame. You will be able to grow to within three groups of the Basic Goal, while your rivals will be encouraged to grow power structures that include arms with three groups on them.

(We are at war with Eurasia. We have always been at war with Eurasia.)


The endgame ploy has already been described: once you have enough groups to make a coup, and a large enough monochromatic target to enable you to win with your coup, you play Scandal to denude the target of action tokens, Media Connections to make a key group Media, and Censorship to make a Privileged Attack against that key group.

Note, though, that this plan is very flexible; you do not need to assemble all the pieces to make it work. The intent of this deck is to be able to create coup opportunities when your opponents aren't giving them to you, but you should also be alert to the other coup opportunities that may come to you:

If you've got enough action tokens at the end of the turn of the player just before you, you can start the plan before you get new tokens. Things you can do to start the ploy: 1) Play Savings & Loan Scam to draw more Plots, 2) play the Scandal (with OMCLs or Strange Bedfellows to give your Media group the alignment it needs) to remove most of the tokens of another player's power structure; 3) play the Media Connections to make your target in someone else's power structure Media.

Then, on your turn, use Madison Avenue and/or Censorship to make an overwhelming Privileged attack to control that takes out a large part of someone's power structure.

A note of caution: When you plan your attack, make sure that you will be able to fit all the groups into your power structure! Ralph has had the unpleasant experience of taking over an arm, and then not being able to fit all the groups into his power structure, and having to discard some. This can happen particularly when making the attack from California, because it only has control arrows leading from the side.

Potential problems


One problem is that this deck is light on defense. There is lots of global power for groups to defend each other, but most of the groups are low on Power and Resistance. This means that it's hard to look more defensive than you actually are; it's hard to harbor a Good Polls, for example, because it doesn't provide much defense to a group with the relatively low power and resistance of most Media Groups. This deck might well like to have a Commitment in reserve to protect against attacks to control, but attacks to destroy can be just as bad.

Most of the +10 boosters should be used for defense, or for the end-game attack.

The cards that provide the most general-purpose defense in this deck are probably the Perpetual Motion Machine and the Orbital Mind Control Lasers. The Perpetual Motion Machine allows you to keep an extra 10-point action token around to look defensively solid, and the Orbital Mind Control Lasers let you neutralize alignment bonuses that players may be using to attack you, or prevent players from using +10 boosters and so forth. Once you have Empty Vee, the OMCLs can also be used to turn an attacking group Straight to protect your Media Groups.

The Discordian Society

This version of this deck does not have a Group that can power Censorship that Discordia is not immune to. This makes the deck mostly ineffective against Discordian decks, although you should be able to take Comic Books and/or Punk Rockers away from them if NWO: Military-Industrial Complex isn't in play, and Strange Bedfellows can be used to reverse the alignments of Big Media or California to allow them to play Censorship as Conservatives. You could also use the OMCLs to turn Madison Avenue into a Conservative Corporate Group to let them power a Censorship on Discordia. Note that if the other players aren't playing Government/Straight decks, they can stop Discordia, and if they are, you can ignore Discordia and perform your Scandal/Media Connections/Censorship combo on them.

If you expect to encounter Discordia decks, then you might consider including a Group that is Conservative but not Straight or Government. Good candidates might be the Fraternal Orders, the Republicans, OPEC, or the Vatican City.

Secret Decks

A power structure with Secret groups as puppets of the Illuminati (most likely in a Society of Assassins deck) may be a tough nut for you to crack. Your only Secret Group is Subliminals (which, however, should be able to acquire enough power to prevent the Assassins from counting more than one or two groups double). You also have Junk Mail, which can attack Secret groups but which cannot play Censorship without modification. (NWO: Military-Industrial Complex, Strange Bedfellows, or the Orbital Mind Control Lasers would allow Junk Mail to play a Censorship.)

If you fear a Secret deck, you might include the Tabloids, which would let you make a Privileged Attack on a Secret Group with the full force of your Power Structure.

Self-destructive Decks

Some decks depend upon destroying their own groups to win in a final end-game orgy of self-inflicted violence. Usually, it's most desirable to thwart such a deck after it has destroyed most of its groups, but before the final bid for victory. However, with this deck, you would like to prevent such a deck from even starting its orgy of destruction. The reason is simple: if someone destroys most of their own groups, you can't take those groups from that player.

The remedy, though, is already present in the deck: NWO: Interesting Times. Just be willing to play Interesting Times at the beginning of someone's self-destructive urge rather than at the end.

Variants and Substitutions

Other cards that might be useful in this deck:

Phone Phreaks
Glen Barnett suggested including the Phone Phreaks to adjust another player's power structure to let you make a larger coup. Ralph liked the idea, but held off, because he couldn't find a way to defend the Phone Phreaks.
With your good alignment control with the Orbital Mind Control Lasers, you can use the Pollsters to good effect to meddle with other's alignment bonuses. You can increase the effectiveness of this even further with NWO: Fear and Loathing, but note that that does conflict with NWO: Interesting Times.
Useful against Secret Groups, as mentioned above.
Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton could be effective at taking over California and the Bank of England, and capable of making very powerful attacks against Government Groups, which tend to be popular groups to have at the basis of a power structure. And Bill Clinton can power Censorship. However, Bill is a popular group, and somewhat vulnerable.
Punk Rockers
Their special ability can be useful to stymie defense. But they don't have very much power.

Another card to vary: The choice of red NWO is far from clear. There's no Red NWO that increases the power of your groups, and it seems unwise to include an NWO that would probably benefit others more than you. Australian Rules seems like an invitation to other players to go against your weak defense. Solidarity and The Magic Goes Away would both slow down your opponents more than they would slow down you; normally, this would be a good thing, but in this case, it complicates your plan to exploit others' growth.

One possibility would be to use NWO: Apathy, as a defensive measure. This shouldn't be too much of a problem for your endgame ploy, because you're expecting to be able to use a single Censorship to make an effective takeover.

NWO: Solidarity seems preferable, though, even though it's not as effective defensively, for the following reasons: Under Apathy, any successful attack will use at most one action token; therefore, players will either not grow, or will grow with plenty of action tokens left to rearrange for defense. However, under Solidarity, players can still grow by using more action tokens than usual, so even though their growth will be somewhat stunted, they will be able to grow, but have more difficulty rearranging their power structures defensively.

Isolationist Bavaria Variation

One variation on this deck would be to take this deck in an isolationist direction. With ATOs, Censorship, and a free Privileged attack each turn from Madison Avenue, you could grow very quickly towards the Basic Goal.

Note also that if you have Comic Books, Tabloids, and Intellectuals, you can make an automatic takeover of California and move the Intellectuals to the Comic Books, and suddenly have three groups that count double towards Goal: Hail Eris!

Alternatively, with Media personalities and groups like Hollywood and Cable TV, you could make a fast growth towards 50 points of power from interacting power bonuses. (In an extreme case: With California, Subliminals, Hollywood, Cable TV, Recording Industry, and Empty Vee, each Media Sensation you take over contributes 9 to your total power.) NWO: Law and Order might also suit well for your Conservative/Straight side. Remember the words of O'Brien:

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness; only power, pure power.

Two-Player Play

This deck works fairly well in a two-player game (or other game without ATOs). It is especially important to start the game with Madison Avenue, to start bringing in groups. Once you get off the ground, though, the large amount of Global Power makes midgame growth fairly easy. You can use your Privileged Attack to good effect, which will leave you with lots of action tokens (and Global Power) to use to defend yourself and slow down your opponent's growth.

Your non-Media groups will be harder to take over than in a game with ATOs. Your best bet is to wait until the midgame, when you can apply lots of Global Power. The Subliminals will probably have to wait until you can use Junk Mail to attack them.

The endgame ploy is still valid, and just as effective. You may even be able to make a winning coup without the combinations of this plan.

Final Words

In conclusion, we leave you with the words of "Emmanuel Goldstein", from his book within the book 1984:

... it is the chance of seizing this or that fragment by a sudden stroke of treachery that dictates the endless changes of alignment.

Enjoy the possibilities that doublethink can provide.

Back to the Deck of the Week.

First posted: August 8, 1997

Last modified: July 23, 1998

Ralph Melton ralph@cs.cmu.edu