By Christian Wedge
The idea for this deck is the particularly dirty trick of making the Ninjas Straight. Well, OK, that in and of itself isn't such a dirty trick, but if you have Gun Lobby out and the Pinks, you can (hopefully) make a failed attack on the Ninjas, which gives you a plot card and gives the Ninjas an action token, which the Pinks then steal and make another failed attack on the Ninjas, which gives you a plot card and gives the Ninjas an action token, which the Pinks then steal and ... (repeat until entire plot deck is drawn)
I decided on going with a Straight Conservative theme since two of the three key groups of the combo would be nicely inconspicuous, plus the added bonus of Ross Perot's ability to make his puppets Straight (and Conservative) makes the combo even easier to put into effect. Any Illuminati would be possible, but I went with Shangri-La for it's defensive bonus and special goal.
This deck doesn't have much of a midgame. It's pretty much setup and endgame.
There isn't any specific group you should lead with. Just don't lead with the Ninjas - you want to save them for the endgame. Religious Reich, Ross Perot, or Gun Lobby would be decent leads. I'd prefer Gun Lobby because it gets people used to the idea that it's there, rather than getting worried when it comes out later, and makes it seem more like you're going for a defensive strategy, which you are. If you have a Fear and Loathing in your first three plots, you might want one of the other groups as a lead and try to pull off two attacks to control on your first turn.
You'll also want to bring out either the Stencil or the Center first turn, and the other resource on the second turn, by using Illuminati actions - you'll want your ATO for groups. You might want to bring out the Center and use it to reload and retry a failed attack, or use it to make people less fearful of you by discarding some potentially powerful plot. In general though, if you're not planning to use the Center, then it's better to bring out the Stencil if you have it. With only 9 groups cards, you're guaranteed of getting at least one of your two resources first turn.
In your first two turns, you'd like to get out the Gun Lobby, Ross Perot, and the Pinks, at least. It's nice to have Ross controlling the Pinks because it will make the Pinks Conservative - so you'll draw a plot from Gun Lobby if someone attacks them, and it'll give them two like alignments with the Ninjas when you bring them out off of Ross's other control arrow. You'll probably also get two other groups out - not essential to the central trick, but useful for defense and something to discard if someone plays an Upheaval!.
The Religious Reich or the Church of Middle America both have a 10 or less to control the Moral Minority - even without Fear and Loathing. If you can make one of these attacks on your first turn, you might as well do so. It's better to save up the NWO's for the endgame or defense, although you'll probably want Fear and Loathing out on your second turn for an attack then. I'd probably hold off on bringing out the Church of Middle America only because a Shangri-La with absolutely no peaceful groups seems much less threatening. This will probably give people the impression that you're playing a Straight/Conservative deck, which you are. Giving people the impression of something that is actually the case is good. :) They won't expect something really sneaky and underhanded (hopefully).
In general, try not to look too threatening, try to look impossible to attack, and try to look open to deal-making and you'll probably get through the first couple of turns pretty easily. People might get suspicious at your small group deck - you might want to imply that there should be more groups and mumble about not being able to get enough for victory. After an ATO and an attack to control on your first and second turns, you'll have 6 groups (counting your Illuminati group), and you won't be close to any particular Goal, except perhaps Let Them Eat Cake (and since you're Shangri-La they shouldn't worry about that) or Power For It's Own Sake. Try not to play too many power boosting plots, and try to hold off on playing Law And Order. You might want to expose Anti"Bob" if you have it simply to make people less nervous about other goals.
If you get a Citizenship Award or a Grassroots support, save it. If you get both, save at least one, and try to save a +10 or two. Only use them for defense. If you get the Messiah, you might want to play it on Ross to make him harder to pick off. If you draw any Kinder and Gentler's you're probably best off putting them back on the bottom of your deck, so people don't see them.
You should be able to have Ross Perot, the Pinks, and the Gun Lobby out and ready on your third turn, as well as the Center for Weird Studies and Sacred Stencil. Look around - if people are low on action tokens and especially if someone recently tried to win, you can go for the trick this turn - otherwise just make an ATO of your other non-Ninja group and knock if you think it'll get back around to you. There will probably be at least one attempt for victory and hopefully it will be thwarted and draw out many of your rival's actions and plots before it gets back to your turn.
When you actually decide to go for it, ATO the Ninjas off of Ross Perot. If you have a Grassroots Support or a Citizenship Award, play it on the Ninjas now. If you have a Good Polls, you should play that now too. You're about to attack to destroy the Ninjas. If your opponents are smart, they'll try to aid the attack, so that you actually would destroy the Ninjas. All your groups can defend the Ninjas, there's your Shangri-La bonus, Sacred Stencil, the Ninjas' bonus against destruction, and with 2 common alignments and Fear and Loathing in play, there's an additional -16 to the attack, but if you think they might a chance of making the attack strength positive, you should probably use the Center for Weird Studies to reload the Ninjas before the attack (provided you boosted their power to 6). Use your discretion here, because a token on the Ninjas at power 6 will help defend them rather well, but an extra Illuminati action a little later might be even more useful. Play +10s in defense before spending action tokens - if you pull this off you can draw your entire plot deck, so action tokens are more useful than plots.
Assuming you pull the trick off, the rest should be easy. Put a few of the more useless plots on the top (or bottom ;) of your deck to power Secrets and March on Washington. You can use a March on Washington to power a Kinder and Gentler on one of your groups. If you don't have the Church of Middle America out, you can probably attack to control them easily. You also have the Attitude Mutation to turn one of your groups peaceful. Exposing the Anti"Bob" goal at this point will get you another Illuminati action that you could use to power yet another Kinder and Gentler. You can turn 5 groups peaceful and there's at least one peaceful group in play - this should be plenty of peaceful power to win with Shangri-La's special goal. Especially with a Law And Order out, and possibly a Peace In Our Time.
There are a number of things your opponents can do to stop you. If they manage to make the attack to destroy the Ninjas successful, the trick is stopped. You might try to go for a shared victory with someone at that point. The trick is similarly stopped in the Pinks or the Gun Lobby get destroyed. Try to be defensive enough to fend off attacks and hope you have a canceller if someone tries to play a Comet Hail-Bob on an important group.
If someone else controls one of your key groups, between your alignments and agents, you may be able to get it from them. You might also want to work out some kind of trade.
If someone takes out Ross Perot, you're not totally stopped. There's still the Straighten Up in the deck, but it's tough to get. I was hoping the defensive nature of the deck and the general inoffensiveness of it would be enough to keep your groups, but Ross is a personality, and might be a target simply for that reason. One of the reasons I put in 2 Are We Having Fun Yet's is to counter strong anti-personality attacks.
If the Ninjas lose their violent alignment, as Shangri-La you cannot attack to destroy them. The Attitude Mutation might save you in this case, but otherwise you're probably stopped. You might want to put in the OMCL's but they tend to be a target, especially in the hands of Shangri-La. You might also want to play a different Illuminati. As Ralph pointed out, you can easily put an Unmasked! and a Shangri-La in the deck and still go for the Shangri-La victory conditions - in which case the UFOs would be my next choice for the starting Illuminati, but you don't have the defensive bonus in this case, and I had a hard enough time trimming down to few enough plots at it was. Plus, the UFOs by nature are suspicious - at least in my play group.
If someone is playing a deck with a lot of Upheaval's then you're likely to lose one of your key groups. There isn't much you can do to stop this aside from a greater number of plot cancellers and/or a Nevermore, and Nevermore can backfire on you when you're trying to Kinder and Gentler multiple groups.
If Nevermore is out, there is still some hope. One Kinder and Gentler and an Attitude Mutation can turn Ross Perot and the Moral Minority (your two potentially most powerful groups) both Peaceful. With their power increased to 6 and Ross as Messiah, and the Church of Middle America in play, that's at least 23 Peaceful power - possibly as much as 28. With a Law and Order in play you're over 30 in either case.
The 3 Fear and Loathing's are in there not only to make sure you get one early on, but to get rid of any annoying Interesting Times that might be played. In the event that more are played than you can replace or cancel, then you and probably half the other players are stopped, and you all have a new enemy. :)
You might want to add more groups to make your deck seem more "standard" and to make it possible to win with number of groups controlled. If you do so, you'll probably want the Fraternal Orders (probably as lead) so you can make sure you get the important groups in time, plus their Conservative alignment fits with the deck. Also, if you do this, you might find yourself wanting to rearrange your power structure more often, so Bermuda might be a good Illuminati. As far as other groups to add, Vatican City might be a good choice, and the Citizens for Normalcy fit the alignment theme very well and their special ability is quite powerful - simply having them in the deck could be useful as a bargaining chip. MI-5 might be useful to keep your plans secret, and to protect your plots in general. If you're expecting some Media groups, Dan Quayle could also be a good addition, and there are a number of other Straight Conservative groups.
Ralph points out that a Necronomicon linked to the Ninjas would both make them harder to destroy and can give you another very powerful peaceful group when going for the win (keep in mind the Necronomicon may be linked to any Magic group - not just violent). It would only arouse suspicion to bring it out early, though, and in the final turn I think the Illuminati action would be more useful. Possibly not, though. I personally prefer simply having the smaller group deck.
As for other plots, you can tailor the deck to your playing group. More plot cancellers might be appropriate, or maybe more Good Polls or NWOs. An Or Kill Me might be handy in the endgame, but it might be the case that there's no one to play it on or that the only ones to play it on have a handy Peaceful group they'd love to discard..
If you're worried about Ross Perot, you might want to add some more personality defense to the deck, or you might want to forget about him completely and and go with just using Straighten Up. Getting it could be a problem - Rosicrucians are suspicious. You might just want to put several Straighten Up's in the deck, or you could have Templars, which would be less suspicious, and some Crop Circles.
The centerpiece of the deck is really the Gun Lobby, Pinks, Ninjas combo - you can do a lot around it. You can change the theme totally and go for something Violent, with the Pinks being the surprise group, and although simply drawing all your plots isn't necessarily going to give you victory, it certainly helps. :)
First posted: December 28, 1998
Last modified: Fri Jul 3 13:32:18 EDT 1998Ralph Melton firstname.lastname@example.org