Ancient Secrets

New Conspiracies for Illuminati: New World Order

by Martin Lækes

It has been quite a while since the Church of the Subgenius set was released. With the Bavarian Fire Drill expansion on indefinite hold, the thrilling sensation of using new cards looks far off indeed. This article contains just two new cards, but the kind of cards that make the greatest impact on the game: Two new illuminati. Hopefully these cards will make players reach for their collections and start devising new devious plans.

Design Snags

Creating such influential cards is tricky, especially ones that will not be dismissed as homebrew nonsense. An appealing new illuminati needs to be balanced, represent a "real" organization, and have a natural feel to both the parts and the whole. If you can base decks on both the goal and the special ability, then so much the better!

Fasces Romanum and Atlantis were based on the two remaining basic victory conditions: Resistance and global power. The resistance-based illuminati became the Fasces Romanum -- a real world secret society which believes that unity is strength. Atlantis was chosen as the illuminati whose secret plan revolves around global power -- inspired by the network in standard Illuminati. The Atlanteans have ignored the surface world for too long, and need global power to regain influence.

The Goals

There already exist quite a few "foo counts double" goals, and there are only so many tricks these decks can pull, so creating goals based on a total acquired amount made for more interesting decks. However, getting the balance right proved problematic.

With the Fasces Romanum, the problem was that pesky NWO: Solidarity, which doubles all resistance in play. If the amount of resistance required by the goal was set too low, then any deck using Solidarity would be a winner. But, if the amount was set too high, then only decks using the NWO would be viable.

The solution became to do a "doubling" goal, but with the Society of Assassins spin, so that your groups only count double if they have the most resistance in the game. This removed Solidarity from the equation entirely. With Atlantis, finding the right amount of global power was also quite a struggle. It seemed impossible to make the goal balanced in both casual and competitive play. Then again, neither is Bavaria's total power goal! In a completely degenerate play, this official illuminati can win on the second turn.

I finally got the idea of connecting the goal to the basic goal. By reaching 35 global power, the player gets a 3 group discount towards the basic goal. This ensures that the basic goal can not be circumvented, forcing players to spend a few turns on expanding.

The Special Abilities

Coming up with a natural special ability reflecting connections and alliances was easy. Drawing 2 group cards per turn seemed a perfect fit -- it is a simple ability with many applications. While extra group draws is a handy ability for an unmasking Adepts player, he could already do this by playing the UFOs, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Atlantis illuminated ability became to expose two plots, reflecting the supreme wisdom of the Atlanteans. Exposing is a fundamental mechanic in the game, which made it an obvious choice for an illuminati ability.

Fasces Romanum

The Fasces Romanum was (and is) a pagan illuminated society, based on the idea that unity makes strong, and founded in the days of ancient Rome. Through the centuries the members of the Fasces have remained loyal to each other, and their web of influence has grown considerably. The ideology behind the Fasces was seen in the fascism of 20th century Italy.

Their symbol is a bundle of 23 sticks. One by one they are easily snapped in half, but together they are unbreakable.

Power: 9/9

Goals and Ability: You have allies everywhere. You start your turn by drawing two group cards.

Standing together will help everyone connected to the Fasces, so any group counts double towards your total number of groups controlled, as long as none of your rivals control a group with higher permanent resistance.

Playing the Fasces

Your special goal is both a blessing and a curse. Taking over high-resistance groups from hand is quite cumbersome, unless you've got matching alignments or a bonus to control to help you. Drawing two groups each turn opens up some interesting strategies to you. Resource heavy decks become a lot more viable, as do sandbag decks. If your lead bounces, then you have a better chance than your rival of getting it first.

Two-player strategy: In a two player game you're best off ignoring high-resistance groups. Instead, you should modify the resistance of your groups after you've taken them over. Pack a few sandbags in your deck -- if you get one right, you could cripple your rival in one fell swoop.

Multi-player strategy: High resistance isn't all bad in a multi-player game. If you can build up a good defense against attacks to destroy, then your rivals may have to look elsewhere for easy pickings. You need to be able to pull off an attack to destroy if a rival has a group with higher resistance than yours.

Beware: Don't forget about power altogether, or you will be on the receiving end of an attack to destroy. Rely too much on duplicate plots for resistance, and you'll realize that one Nevermore! is all it takes to ruin your plans. Be prepared to destroy a rival's Australia!

Power gaming: There are plenty of high resistance groups that also have high power. Play some of these and you should be able to compete with the strongest rivals.

Subtlety: Never Surrender and Commitment are great for working towards your goal, but they can also be used to ruin your rivals' attacks to control from hand.

Deck Building

Key Groups: Wall Street, TV Preachers and SubGenius FisTemples increase the resistance of their puppets. Local Police Departments and Dittoheads both add to the resistance of their master. The Comic Books card ignores the resistance of its weird victims, making it easier to take over high-resistance groups. Australia has resistance 24 on a weekend!

The Convenience Stores card is good in a sandbag deck, and those extra group draws can also be used to power the Thule Group. Nephews of God,, Burschenschaften, and Fraternal Orders will let you draw even more groups.

Good Resources: Few resources work directly towards goal, but in a weird deck, the Principia Discordia is a monster. The Orgone Grinder will increase a personality's resistance to 10.

Good Plots: Commitment, Never surrender, and especially Messiah will add to your resistance -- and all of them are free to play. Peace in Our Time adds to +3 resistance to all peaceful groups. Fake Healing will make it easier to take over a high-resistance group, and Resistance is Useless will momentarily prevent a rival's group from overshadowing yours. Partition will let you play two Australias, or one if a rival has one already.

Goal Cards: If you are sandbagging, then there is probably a control/destroy goal that fits your deck. Or perhaps a back-up doubling goal will take your rivals by surprise.

Degenerate deck: Without a doubt: Low-resistance fanatic groups and multiple Never Surrenders -- just look out for Nevermore! Also, a somewhat degenerate group composition can be based on several Dittoheads, or on slurping multiple low-resistance Trading Card Games, and replacing them with other groups.

Opposing the Fasces

Remember that resistance has no effect on attacks to destroy. Try to outpace him -- if you spend a little power to mess up his attacks, he may be very hard pressed to take over those high resistance groups. Also, build a single high-resistance group if you have the means -- and protect it.

If he is using conspicuously many weird groups, be prepared to destroy the Principia Discordia. If he uses mainly peaceful groups, then hang on to your red NWOs.

Cards to use against Fasces Romanum: Backlash can undo a Commitment or Never Surrender at his moment of triumph. Resistance is Useless will postpone his victory 1 round, which should hopefully be enough to bring him down. If he is sandbagging, then Xanadu will keep you safe. The Magic Goes Away will reduce him to a crawl, if he relies on high-resistance groups.


Plato was the first to describe the lost continent of Atlantis. Atlantis housed a prosperous and advanced civilization, until it was suddenly swallowed up by the sea some three and a half millennia ago. In a single fateful day, a horrific natural disaster wiped Atlantis from the face of the earth -- the sur-face, that is.

The Atlanteans had foreseen the apocalypse, and managed to survive. Isolated in the depths of the ocean, the Atlantean society has evolved -- safe from the ravages of time and from the outside world.

Their symbol is a golden monolith, submerged and covered in seaweed.

Power: 7/7

Goals and Ability: You seek to regain control of the world that you have ignored for too long. Control of groups with a total global power of 35, including your own, reduces your basic goal by 3.

To help you in reaching your objective, you can expose 2 plots each turn, as a free move.

Playing Atlantis

Most of your groups will have global power, which makes your power structure very flexible. Use this to ruin your rivals' attacks, or just threaten to do so. Your ability to expose plot cards will be more useful to you if you control a group which can get rid of them. On the down side, your deck will probably lack matching alignments, so get a bonus to control from another source.

Two-player strategy: If you can manage to save a few tokens, then you can use them to foil your rival's takeovers. Exposing (and destroying) your opponent's plots is a particularly aggressive ability, which is perfectly suited for two-player games. In a tight game it may very well clinch the victory.

Multi-player strategy: Focus your exposing on the player, who you think will be your main competitor. Going after several players will just get you too many enemies to handle. Don't just use your global power to get enemies! It can be used to make friends too.

Beware: Even though your global power is flexible, your rivals may well have more regular power, so look out for incoming attacks.

Power gaming: Most groups with high global power also have a lot of regular power. However, one or more powerful groups, with doubled power turned global, is probably your best power play.

Subtlety: There are many groups and plots that grant or modify global power. With the right hand you can go from innocent to game-winner in a single turn. Global power is useful when working towards many of the goals. If your rivals are too busy counting your global power, they may miss what you're really up to.

Deck Building

Key Groups: Democrats, USA, and Xists all have a global power of 5 -- great if you're going for a straightforward approach. If you want to trick your opponents, then use groups that can change their global power, like Cable TV, Hollywood, and Subliminals. Templars, Wargamers, Psychiatrist and League for Obvious Decency can get rid of exposed plots, and MWOWM can be used to steal a plot that you've just destroyed. Finally, Arms Dealers and Copy Shops do other interesting things with exposed plots, and Great Pyramid might tell you which player's plots to expose.

Good Resources: Big Prawn, Cyborg Soldiers and Necronomicon can double power -- which is very useful if you can also make it global. Fortunately Lenin's Body, Three-Fisted Tales of "Bob" and Midas Mill do just that. Book of Kells and Hidden City will add a little to Atlantis own global power.

Good Plots: Your best plots are the ones that turn regular power into global power, like Media Connections, Hidden Influence, Head Launching, and Nental Ife. These combine well with anything that increases power, including NWOs. Overman is also quite good. Use Cover of Darkness to protect your key resources, and Supernova, The Stars are Right and Saint of Sales to take over even more. Foiled, Psychic Pstench and Nice Idea -- It's Mine Now will let you get rid of a goal card that you've exposed, and Stealing the Plans can salvage a rival's plot that you've just destroyed.

Goal Cards: Your global power can help you achieve most goals, so always have a ?plan b? in your deck. Power for its Own Sake may help you if your rivals manage to prevent you from turning regular power into global power. Degenerate deck: Build a high-power deck (Bavaria-style), and then stack your deck with plots that grant global power. Using multiple Forgery, Cover of Darkness, and resource destroyers is a moderately degenerate way of making sure that nobody else gets your key resources.

Opposing Atlantis

When Atlantis boosts its global power, resources and plots will be more important than the printed global power of his groups. If you have a Suicide Squad, Atlantis is a prime target. Knock out the groups that he uses to get rid of exposed plots. Losing plots is a lot worse than just having them exposed. Don't be afraid of attacking. If there is a target with the right alignment, you'll have more attacking power, than he'll have global power to defend it with.

Cards to use against Atlantis: Anything that lowers power will eventually lower his global power too -- Angst is awesome, but quite a few New World Orders will do nicely too. Canceling actions or plot cards will keep him from creating too much global power, and Nevermore! will ensure that he only uses each such plot once.

Article publication date: December 19, 2003

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