by Glen Barnett
One day, nearly two years ago, an evil idea came to me. It still makes me smile. This deck is the most recent incarnation of that evil idea.
Premise: Shangri-La giving gifts. Nothing surprising there, right? What harm could there be in accepting a couple of plots, anyway? Perhaps more than they bargained for... when those plots are Unmasked! and Shangri-La. One problem with playing Shangri-La is that it works really well when there's another Shangri-La player, but you don't know that you'll have one - except with this deck.
This works best in a large game. The deck as it stands was designed for a 5-6 player game, though suggestions are given for using it in smaller games. This isn't a deck I'd use very often, but it can be a lot of fun; if I was in a tournament where I could play this, I'd definitely consider this deck for one of the rounds... as long as you get to advance, right?
What some of the cards are for:
The aim is to not look dangerous while you get some Unmasked and Shangri-La cards in hand and give them away to likely dupes (sorry, I mean compadres). You slowly turn the world a nice shade of Shangri-La, and there's not much they can do about it. Once everything is ready, you should be able to jump about 20 to 30 points of Peaceful power in one go, and win.
Look at the other Illuminati. If there's another Shangri-La, then play this as a more normal Shangri-La deck - you should have only a moderate overlap with the Shangri-La player, yet you can still contribute a lot of Peaceful Power when needed. The deck's tricks can be used in an emergency if the two of you get into trouble.
Lead with the Rosicrucians, if you can. I'm not a big user of the Rosicrucians myself, but in this deck they are important. Failing that, you'll need to get the Crystal Skull out early, because you really need plot-control. If the Rosicrucians are really popular with your group, you should consider a different method of getting those important plots.
Try to avoid playing your Peaceful Groups early. If they come out in other people's power structures, that's fine. Play the non-Peaceful groups instead. If you didn't get the Rosicrucians, get Pentagon, the NPC's, Hawaii and NASA out. If the game doesn't look too dangerous, put the NPC's off the Pentagon, and Hawaii off either the Pentagon or the NPC's (I'd suggest the Pentagon; you don't want people zapping your NPC's just yet). You can draw a couple extra plots a turn this way - and if you get the Crystal Skull, that should give you a good chance to succeed with the deck. (Actually, the specific groups are almost incidental to the deck - I just used groups that I thought would work in my play group.)
Look as innocent as you can. Avoid cancelling with the NPC's if you can; make deals not to use them unless attacked. You should keep the Peaceful Power low while you set things up. Bring out the OMCL's late in the midgame, and don't use them unless you have to.
Start to collect Unmasked and Shangri-La cards. You shouldn't run short of plots, as you'll be drawing more than usual. When you have both, it is time to make the first gift. The first one is a little delicate, so choose your mark with care. You want someone who will see tha advantages of having a Shangri-La and an Unmasked in their hand or deck, but who won't be so suspicious as to discard them right away. When you offer them (don't let anyone else see what you offer), say something like: "If you want these, you can keep them or put them anywhere in your deck, but if you don't want them, I'll hang on to them."
It is important not to give away the concept of the deck just yet, so be very careful. As far as that first player knows, they are the only one getting this offer. If possible, pick someone with a deck that will work well as an Unmasked Shangri-La, so the advantages are more obvious. Failing that, just pick someone you can trust for a turn.
Once the cards are safely given over, you should lose little time in getting out the next set of cards. Once they are in hand, secrecy is less necessary. Two sets of giveaways are usually plenty, but there is a reserve. If you use all three sets, you may even want to auction the last set. You may want to hold back on the second or third sets while you set up some things ready for your endgame. Put endgame cards in your plot deck where you'll be drawing them on your last turn if you can't keep them all in hand. Once two players can Unmask as Shangri-La, they should worry that they won't Unmask in time. If they are slow on the uptake, you have that third set on hand...
If you find out that another player already has Unmasked and Shangri-La in deck, they are ideal to give them to - because they'll want to Unmask, and this way they can get them where they need them.
At this point, you have at least two other players with Unmasked and Shangri-La in their hand or deck, and it is possible that one of them at least has Unmasked already. If not, and they haven't worked it out yet, make sure they know there are at least two of them. The fear of maybe missing out should get them Unmasking with some speed. Give away a Kinder and Gentler if you can, but you have some good groups to use them on. Use the Big Prawn on California for preference, adding Peaceful.
The Big Sellout should be used in the turn you attempt victory, because you have a lot to do. You have a couple of action cancellers, and this turn is when you may need them. Get out the Clipper Chip, turn the Pentagon and the NPC's Peaceful with a Kinder and Gentler or the OMCL's, and play at least one of your New World Orders. You should be able to push past 30 Peaceful Power without difficulty, because you aren't fighting everyone else - at least half the players should be helping you.
If for some reason it doesn't come off, don't panic - you have some other players helping you now - they can be relied on to help keep the right NWO's out, and to aid in other ways. You should still be able to salvage a win.
Apart from having the Unmaskeds and Shangri-La's, and the necessary plot control, you can substitute freely as long as you can get enough power to win (with a buffer) by the end. Of course, not everyone will have 4 Shangri-La cards and 3 Unmasked cards (though you should manage with 3 and 2), so there are other things you can do - such as use "Stealing the Plans" when someone discards Unmasked after using it. You could even Hat Trick your Stealing the Plans, though you'd only need to do that if you had 3 Shangri-La's in your plot deck.
Adapt the cards to suit your group's play style and favourite cards - make the deck work around what you are going to meet; the card list given worked in my play group, but if I played it somewhere else, the deck would look different. For example, I already expected that there'd be a few Peaceful groups about, and there probably wouldn't be a Cthulhu. If I thought Cthulhu was likely, I'd have changed things a little - of course, Cthulhu could be co-opted.
Nobel Peace Prize could easily make an appearance in a deck like this; don't leave it out just because I did. It would be great on Hawaii if you turn it Peaceful for example.
You'll need fewer Shangri-La and Unmasked cards, but the game will probably be quicker, so you'll probably want more Peaceful groups - you could easily omit the NPC's, and some of the Resources. You may want to change some of the other plots as well, to suit the different style of game. Less subtlety will be required.
First posted: August 26, 1997
Last modified: August 26, 1997Ralph Melton email@example.com