DEATH To Deadheads!

by Terry H. Jones

Much has been said about Steve Jackson's Illuminati, and all of what's said is positive. Many feel Illuminati is the finest thing since sliced bread, and believe me, I am not one to argue with the huzzahs and handclaps. I love the game, too, honestly, I love it . . . but . . . well . . .

If you obtain the first two expansion sets to the game you will have 96 cards: 81 groups and 15 Special cards. This gives the game variety, since different groups show up each time it's played, but the card mix also leads to less powerful, often less useful groups dominating the playing area, groups referred to locally as "deadheads." Deadheads are turned up, and then just lie there like short people in gym class: always the last ones picked.

How to eliminate these deadheads? I wondered. How to make the game full of nothing but useful, desirable groups, groups players would fight over? Why (like any good wargamer), by creating a table, a table that lists groups to be eliminated when you want to pare the game-world down to its essentials.

The following table outlines a system for culling the deadheads. It is divided into three sections, and how far down the list you go depends on how small a group pool you wish to play. Eliminating those in the first list reduces the world to 64 groups, axing those in the second brings it to 53, and removing those in the third section leaves you with 42.

Special cards are handled differently: Simply shuffle them separately, keep as many as are called for in the table, and then shuffle them back into the deck. Do not look at the Special cards, neither those to be used nor those discarded, since too much knowledge of these cards reduces bluffing.

General victory conditions remain the same: Acquire the required number of groups based on the number of players. Special victory conditions (listed for each step in the reduction) had to be modified to suit the smaller deck and different resource distribution. For instance, with the deadheads gone, the average amount of power in play goes up and the Bavarians have an easier time; but the Discordians are handicapped, since many of the groups dropped are decidedly Weird. (The UFOs, of course, are at home in any situation.)

A less playable, but rather odd, variant of this culling is to use only those groups listed in the tables. In this Deadhead Variant, resources are limited, and your Illuminati group's abilities are often all you have to work with. The timely play of a Special card can easily determine the victor. To play the Deadhead Variant, use 7 Special cards and all 39 deadheads. General victory conditions: acquire 7 groups in addition to your Illuminati group. Special victory conditions are listed below. Any number can play, but things really get bogged down with more than four players.

Finally, any Illuminated player knows there are groups unrepresented in the game – possibly (probably) the groups that are really controlling the world. The makers of Illuminati knew they'd missed a few, and added blank cards so that we, who know where the true power lies, can add those missing groups. I've devised several, but I leave you with my favorite, the

Banana Republics:

   Power      2
   Resistance 2
   Income     2
   Alignment  Special

This group has the alignment of the group which controls it. If control changes, so does the alignment; if the control group has several alignments, all are used. For example, if the Republicans control them, they're Conservative; if Fnord Motors gets them, they're Peaceful; and if the AADA takes them over, we're probably all in a lot of trouble.


Table 1

Deck Composition:
Eliminate:

  • 17 groups
  • 3 Special cards

Total:

  • 64 groups
  • 12 Special cards
  • 76-card deck

Groups To Eliminate:

  • American Autoduel Association
  • Antiwar Activists
  • Boy Sprouts
  • Eco-Guerrillas
  • Flat Earthers
  • Fred Birch Society
  • Goldfish Fanciers
  • Gun Lobby
  • Hairdressers and Interior Decorators
  • Intellectuals
  • Libertarians
  • Local Police Departments
  • Morticians
  • Parent Teacher Agglomeration
  • Punk Rockers
  • Society for Creative Anarchism
  • Wargamers

Victory Conditions:

    Bavaria   Acquire 31 points additional Power
     Gnomes   Acquire 170 MB
    Network   Acquire 10 additional points transferrable power
  Assassins   Same as regular game
Discordians   Acquire 4 Weird groups
    Cthulhu   Destroy 7 groups
   Triangle   Same as regular game

Table 2

Deck Composition:
Eliminate:

  • 11 more groups
  • 2 more Special cards

Total:

  • 53 groups
  • 10 Special cards
  • 63-card deck

Eliminate all those in Table 1, plus the following groups:

  • Cattle Mutilators
  • Comic Books
  • Fnord Motors
  • Joggers
  • KKK
  • Moral Minority
  • Nephews of God
  • Psychiatrists
  • Reformed Church of Satan
  • Robot Sea Monsters
  • Survivalists

Victory Conditions:

    Bavaria   Acquire 34 points additional Power
     Gnomes   Acquire 180 MB
    Network   Acquire 19 additional points transferrable power
  Assassins   Acquire 5 Violent groups
Discordians   Acquire 3 Weird groups
    Cthulhu   Destroy 6 groups
   Triangle   Same as regular game

Table 3

Deck Composition:
Eliminate:

  • 11 more groups
  • 2 more Special cards

Total:

  • 42 groups
  • 8 Special cards
  • 50-card deck

Eliminate all those in Tables 1 and 2, plus the following groups:

  • Anti-Nuclear Activists
  • Convenience Stores
  • Fiendish Fluoridators
  • Health Food Stores
  • Junk Mail
  • L4 Society
  • Phone Phreaks
  • SMOFS
  • Trekkies
  • United Nations
  • Underground Newspapers

Victory Conditions:

    Bavaria   Acquire 41 points additional Power
     Gnomes   Acquire 195 MB
    Network   Acquire 14 additional points transferrable power
  Assassins   Acquire 7 Violent groups
Discordians   Acquire 3 Weird groups
    Cthulhu   Destroy 5 groups
   Triangle   Same as regular game

Table 4: Deadhead Variant Victory Conditions

    Bavaria   Acquire 8 additional points Power
     Gnomes   Acquire 75 MB
    Network   Acquire 2 additional points transferrable power
  Assassins   Acquire 5 Violent groups
Discordians   Same as regular game
    Cthulhu   Destroy 5 groups
   Triangle   Acquire 8 alignments (there are only 9 in the deck!)

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