An Adepts of Hermes / Bavarian Illuminati / Bermuda Triangle / Discordian Society / Gnomes of Zurich / Network / Servants of Cthulhu / Shangri-La / Society of Assassins / UFOs deck (whew!) by Pol Jackson
Before the Assassins expansion, there were only two reasons to hide Illuminati groups in your Plots deck. You could use the Unmasked! card (along with an Illuminati group from your hand), and give your entire power structure a facelift. Or you could use them as agents cards, for that little extra "oomf" against a particularly nasty opponent.
Now, there's a third reason: The Thule Group. With their special ability to use the printed power of a group (or groups) from your hand in any attack (including instants!), you suddenly become a terrifying force against your opponents. And given the fact that this includes Illuminati groups out of your hand, you can use the Thule Group to completely overwhelm your opposition!
First things first: decide on a starting Illuminati. (decisions, decisions.) Adepts of Hermes worked well for me during playtest; groups I couldn't take over went back into my hand (more fodder for the Thule Group). Society of Assassins works as well; The Thule Group is secret, so that's one for the Assassin's special goal right there. In retrospect, I'd use the UFO's. The extra token is damn useful for drawing an extra group, and you don't really need a lot of power to make attacks (that's what Thule is for). But choose your favorite Illuminati; they each have their own special strengths and weaknesses.
Your beginning group, always, is the Thule group. It's the centerpiece for your deck; don't leave home without it.
Keep pretty much to yourself until midgame. If you use Thule's power too much early on, you will seriously regret it later when you have no group cards left. It's easy to get carried away, so be careful. Don't be the first to try and grab a win; the other players will be all over you like a pack of hounds. If another player comes close to a win, offer to use Thule's power to destroy his groups--provided that the other players are willing to "donate" group cards from their hands to fuel Thule. Remember, Thule's special ability can even be used to add power to Disasters, letting you destroy an opponent's places out of turn.
Your Groups deck is filled with the most powerful groups in the game, likely to be held by other players as well. if you bide your time, you can probably use your own groups as agents cards against the other players, making this a rather effective "sandbag" deck.
Take over groups that could count double for you, either now or after Unmasking as another Illuminati. It doesn't matter if you don't have that particular Illuminati in your hand at the moment; that's what Crop Circles are for (see below).
Link Hitler's Brain to Thule as soon as you get it; you may even want to play Crop Circles to dig it out of your Groups deck. Keep a Crop Circles in reserve, though; you'll probably want it for the endgame.
Beware the red NWO: The Magic Goes Away! Make it go away, with either Australian Rules, SMWNMTK, or 18 1/2 Minute Gap!
Recycling Centers, if you get it out, is great for getting back those groups you've burnt with Thule.
...And don't underestimate the power of W.I.T.C.H. to change die rolls!
Keep an eye out on the other players. Sooner or later, one will make the fatal mistake of hanging too many groups off one arm of their power structure. Take them from him. If you've been fairly conservative up until this point, you should be able to add more than enough power to make the attack succeed. If you're smart, you've been saving up Illuminati groups in your hand to burn them for one big attack. I've added up to forty (!!) power for one attack with this strategy, easy. Along with Unmasking to make up to three of your groups count double, you should have no problem meeting the Basic Goal. The plot cancelers (18 1/2 Minute Gap, SMWNMTK) are to prevent people from stopping you; use them. If you can drag 4 groups off someone else's power structure, you only need eight to win--five if three count double for you. Remember, you can combine the Criminal Overlords goal card with any other Illuminati goal that counts certain groups double. Just remember not to burn the Illuminati you want to Unmask as with the Thule Group!
The one card you absolutely cannot substitute in this deck is the Thule Group. The bad news is, it's an Ultra-Rare. (Perhaps your playing group will be nice, and let you use a proxy if you don't have the original card.)
The good news is, everything else in the deck is pretty flexible. Your Groups should all have a very high printed power; include Hitler's Brain if you have it, if not, include something else to protect the Thule Group. To be honest, you don't really need one of each Illuminati in this deck. It actually works better with multiple high-powered Illuminati (Mostly Bavaria, say). But it has a certain pleasing symmetry to include one of each.
Unmasked! is a truly useful card to have. If you don't have at least one, make sure you start with an Illuminati that works well with your groups. Criminal Overlords can be replaced with Corporate Masters or Hail Eris; any Goal that lets groups count double for you. Population Reduction works well, especially if you are the Servants of Cthulhu. Make sure you include a Red NWO to combat the evil effects of The Magic Goes Away, or at least keep a plot canceler in reserve for that purpose.
The German Deck: Add Germany, South American Nazis, Nutrition Nazis, and Blitzkrieg to give the deck a European feel. And what Illuminati should you start with? Bavaria, of course!
The Cthulhu Deck: Why bother with subtlety? Stack the deck with Assassinations and Disasters. Boosted with the Thule Group, you've got a guaranteed kill every time; and since they're instant attacks, there's bloody little anyone can do about it! Make them tremble with fear at your very presence! Addendum: If you're willing to go through the trouble of making the Thule Group violent, you can achieve some impressive results using the Truck Bomb plot.
The Sandbag Deck: As mentioned before, you can use this as a sandbag deck, using your Groups as agents cards against identical groups held by your opponents. This deck contains many powerful and popular groups, so it's likely that at least a few of them will be in your opponent's decks as well. You can take advantage of this by adding Convenience Stores and several copies of Faction Fight to the mix.
Stupid INWO Trick #3: Heck, why bother with the win? Changing Illuminati is much more fun! Stack your deck with Unmasked!, and change your hat frequently and often. If you're lucky, the other players will be so distracted by your schizophrenic antics they'll be totally unprepared when you casually remove four or five groups from their power structure and win with the basic goal. But it's all in good fun, right?
Please send comments, questions, critiques and illuminations to firstname.lastname@example.org
First posted: December 28, 1996
Last modified: December 28, 1996Ralph Melton email@example.com