Zen and the Art of Power Structure Maintenance

by Steve Hatherley

Managing your power structure is essential in the course of world domination. A well thought out, balanced structure provides good defensive bonuses and group support with opportunity for expansion. A poor power structure with groups clashing and no coherent strategy means one of three things. Either,
a) the player has no real grasp of the game -- and if he cannot master his power structure he is hardly suited to dominate the world, or
b) a Reorganization is in the pipeline and he will bring order out of chaos, or
c) you're not cleared for that. Fnord.

As the game progresses and your power structure grows, arranging your groups perfectly is not always possible. This article, based on cryptic notes stolen from the Bermuda Triangle, exposes some tricks in reorganizing your groups and reveals the sort of sneakiness that separates those who are fit to rule the world from those who are not.

Is Structure Essential?

Your groups dictate how your power structure should be organized. Many groups give bonuses to masters and puppets, and their location is an important weapon in an Illuminati's arsenal.

Control Arrows: The simplest reason for keeping a careful watch on your structure is to keep your control arrows open. Poor structure leads to blocked control arrows and limited opportunities to expand. A powerful group, such as the Multinational Oil Companies, is nearly useless if other groups block its control arrows. You should keep at least one arrow free -- if only to prevent your enemies from guessing which group will be attacking them next.

A good strategy is to keep groups with many control arrows close to your Illuminati. This usually provides the best defensive bonuses, which is important if that group has several puppets -- and they also have puppets. The loss of that single group could be disastrous.

Defensive Bonuses: Closeness to your Illuminati and matching alignments both provide defensive bonuses. Illuminati bonuses only count when the group is controlled directly either by the Illuminati or by one of its puppets. Alignment bonuses (where a puppet shares alignments with its master) occur anywhere in your structure.

While proximity to the Illuminati may seem like the safest position to be, sometimes this is not so. If a puppet has two matching alignments with its master it gets +8 to defense -- and if your Illuminati directly controls its master, it gets another +5. Net total is +13, better than its master's +10 closeness bonus.

(A word of warning about matching alignment bonuses -- they don't apply in an Attack to Destroy, which is worth bearing in mind when the Servants of Cthulhu are on the prowl.)

Saturday Morning Cartoons, Ross Perot, Secret FisTemple and Daycare Centers all give themselves, their master or puppets matching alignments, all helping defensively.

OverMan Philo Drummond makes his Weird puppets SubGenius. As this is not an alignment (SubGenius is an attribute instead) it does not count for defensive bonuses. However, Drummond's puppets are now eligible for the Drs. for Bob free move defense . . .

Several groups give other defensive bonuses. Prince Charles and his puppets are immune to Privileged attacks, a Media group controlling the Intellectuals cannot be captured, and any puppet of Wall Street, TV Preachers or SubGenius FisTemples has an additional Resistance bonus. Illuminati University, Connie Dobbs and Teddy Kennedy all give defensive bonuses to their puppets and masters.

Other Groups

As well as the defensive groups mentioned above, several other groups require careful positioning in your power structure. Action Tokens: Three groups (China, Brazil and Hawaii) give their Corporate masters additional action tokens each turn. Loading up one group to let it amass action tokens is tempting, but risky. First, that group screams "Target" at the top of its voice (and if that goes, you lose four groups in one attack). Second, that group cannot control any more groups -- all its control arrows are blocked. On the other hand, if the actions power a special ability, the fact that they block the control arrows is of no concern. The Nuclear Power Companies is a typical beneficiary, but other groups are worth considering, such as the Fnord Motor Company, Las Vegas, Drug Companies and the Liquor Companies. (The list grows longer if you Privatize other non-Corporate groups.)

Local Clenches also gives its master an action token -- but only if it is SubGenius. Of course, with OverMan Philo Drummond in play, that's not necessarily a problem.

Disasters: The token-giving groups are prime targets for Disasters, and you might consider having those Places control Al Amarja, the Red Cross or the Survivalists, all of whom give bonuses to their masters against Disasters. Alternatively, stock up on Near Misses and A Brief Attack of Conscience.

Controlling Personalities: The Clone Arrangers have the ability to clone (take control of) any just-killed Personality. Similarly, to use your Vampires, they need an open control arrow for grabbing Personalities. Therefore you need to make sure that they have control arrows ready for use. Otherwise you may as well control the Boy Sprouts.

Power: Local Police Departments, Lyndon LaRouche, Dittoheads, Church of Middle America, South American Nazis, and the Libertarians all have abilities that increase Power, either their own or their puppets/masters.

Plot Cards: The Pentagon and Orbit One both grant additional Plot cards while they control groups of a specific alignment or attribute. Again these groups are both Places, so some Disaster protection might be a good idea.

Attacks: Manuel Noriega can "borrow" his alignments for the purposes of making or aiding an attack. This becomes particularly useful with Truck Bomb which needs a Violent group to use it. If you want to use Truck Bomb with a non-Violent group, then simply move Manuel Noriega and borrow his alignment for the attack.

Structure in Offense

The above points cover group management. However, two sneakier tricks rely on a flexible power structure and are employed by the truly illuminated.

The Direct Attack (known in Illuminated circles as "The Big Slurp"): This method of offense revolves around a single group with a large bonus for direct attacks. Madison Avenue has a +10 for direct control of any Media group. If you also control Big Media, this gives a total of +14 to control any Media group. If you can arrange for Madison Avenue to get an additional Action token each turn (Center for Weird Studies, say), you can almost guarantee controlling two groups a turn. Once the Direct Attack strategy starts rolling, its biggest problem is keeping Madison Avenue's control arrows open -- which is why this is a favorite tactic for the Bermuda Triangle . . . Attack, then clear the control arrows at the end of your turn, ready for the next.

One weakness of the Media-based Direct Attack is that only Madison Avenue has the +10 bonus. Lose that and your strategy falls apart. Luckily, the following combinations are less vulnerable.

Computer: Several cards give "any attempt" bonuses to control Computer groups -- Finland, Hackers, Library of Alexandria, Phone Phreaks, Science Fiction Fans, Silicon Valley, Video Games and Wargamers. Japan and Finland also have +6 "direct control" bonuses. Combined with the Science Fiction Fan's +6 for its master's attack, and you have an ideal combination for the Network or anyone opposing them.

Government: Bill Clinton and the Congressional Wives have huge bonuses for direct control of Government groups. Combine them with the United Nations and NATO (who both have "any attempt" bonuses for control of Nations) and you have a steamrollering Empires deck. Disaster protection in this deck is essential!

Green: Canada and Al Gore lead a Green Direct Attack, supported by the Green Party, Bigfoot and Anti-Nuclear Activists. The Assassins expansion makes this deck stronger with cards such as Oil Spill, Global Warming and Earth First! But beware of World Hunger -- it kills Green decks.

Other cards: The Computer, Government and Green Direct Attack decks all rely on Government groups for their "direct control" bonuses. Two cards are especially useful for this strategy: NASA gives its action token to other Government groups and Black Helicopters makes their attacks Privileged.

Direct Attack strategies are also available for Space groups (L-4 Society and NASA) and Magic groups (Adepts of Hermes, Library of Alexandria and Der grosse Magier -- a German Personality with +10 to control Magic groups).

Defending the Direct Attack is not easy. Whatever you do, make sure you don't become the target of those big guns. The best strategy is to try to destroy the offending group (if Cthulhu is in play, offer to help him destroy it). Where alignment is involved, the Orbital Mind Control Lasers can be essential in negating that massive bonus. Zaps, Attribute Freezes and Paralyze cards may also work, but predicting which particular Direct Attack monster you will be facing is difficult.

The Discovered Attack: A Discovered Attack works when the pieces for your strategy are in full view in your power structure and simply need assembling. The key to adopting this strategy are groups that change alignments or increase Power. That and the ability to reorganize your power structure completely. (This strategy works best if you are playing to twelve groups -- any less and a rival might win before you are ready.)

The South American Nazis give +3 power to Weird Science groups they control. This ability is useful for the Discordian Society (or anyone with the Hail Eris! goal) as Weird groups of Power 3 or more count double. The only existing Weird Science groups are the L4 Society, Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow, Illuminati University and General Disorder. None of these have a power greater than 2 and so are not worth double to Discordia -- unless the South American Nazis control them.

A Discovered Attack strategy would therefore consist of waiting until you have three groups left to go, and you are already controlling two Weird Science groups. Make an automatic takeover of the South American Nazis, reorganize so that their groups count double and you've gone from seeming relatively innocuous to a winner! (And if you use Hail Eris! who's going to suspect anything?)

As the South American Nazis only have two outgoing control arrows, you might want to use Let's Get Organized and pull a win from even further back.

Local Police Departments: A similar trick can be pulled with this group, although as they do not specify a particular alignment or attribute they can also be used with Corporate Groups (such as the Liquor Companies) for the Gnomes of Zurich or the E.F.F. for the Network.

Libertarians and Lyndon LaRouche: These groups inherit their masters' power (given certain restrictions) and can work as a Discovered Attack for Bavaria (or the Power For Its Own Sake goal), especially if you can convince your rivals that you are using the Libertarians for their other special ability.

Ross Perot: Ross makes his puppets Straight and Conservative, which is particularly useful with Let Them Eat Cake! For example, suppose you have already destroyed Canada and California (aren't Disasters wonderful?) but your power structure is a bit of a mess with three Liberal and three Conservative groups. Well, play Ross Perot and rearrange your power structure so that he controls two Liberal groups. Suddenly you have control of six Conservative groups and have destroyed two Liberal groups, which is a win for Let Them Eat Cake!

Liberal-Conservative decks also benefit from Fred Birch Society and the Triliberal Commission, although they lack subtlety and your rivals may wise up to an upcoming Discovered Attack (particularly if they have also read this article).

(A sample deck that uses a combination of a Bill Clinton direct attack and a Ross Perot Discovered Attack can be found at I am Not Left-Handed! and is just one of many fiendish decks kept at the Deck of the Week site.)

Saturday Morning Cartoons: The Hand of Madness and Up Against the Wall goals require controlling Violent groups, and the Saturday Morning Cartoons makes its puppets Violent . . . do you see a link here? These two goal cards also require the destruction of Peaceful or Government groups. As Japan, Canada and the Center for Disease Control all fit the bill, destroying them counts for both goal cards, possibly fooling your rivals still further.

Up Against the Wall requires the destruction of Government groups, and you can be extra sneaky by building a vicious Corporate deck (including the Corporate Masters goal for good measure) and smash several Government groups "for fun" before playing Saturday Morning Cartoons.

Other useful cards: Dittoheads and Daycare Centers adopt their masters' alignments and the OMCLs and Gay Activists are obviously essential. Rewriting History makes sure that your destroyed groups have the appropriate alignment, and Alien Abduction brings Ross Perot into play without using an Automatic Takeover.

The beauty of the Discovered Attack is that you don't look threatening until it is too late.

The best defense against the Discovered Attack is keeping a careful watch on the groups in play. Keep a particular eye on those groups that add or change other groups' alignments or power -- and destroy them if you can.

Reorganizing -- How and When

Unfortunately, not everyone is perfect, not even the Illuminati. Groups are sometimes controlled in the wrong order and an ideal structure can prove difficult to achieve. Luckily, there are a number of ways to rearrange your power structure, starting with the best . . .

Bermuda Triangle: The Bermuda Triangle can rearrange its power structure at the end of its turn for free. For nothing -- it doesn't cost anything to do this. As a result, the Triangle should do it every turn. It does not matter if you already have your groups arranged in their best positions, just switch everything by 180 degrees. Why? Because you can. Also because your opponents will become weary of your constantly moving groups and they may miss an important change as you set up your victory conditions.

The Direct and Discovered Attack should be important in a Bermuda Triangle game plan, mainly because its Illuminated Goal is difficult.

Antitrust Legislation: If you're not the Bermuda Triangle and you don't have a Corporate-heavy power structure, then this New World Order is the best way to reorganize your power structure. Why? Because it's free. And the fact that your rivals will also be reorganizing is immaterial --after all, you have a plan while they are merely making the best of what they've got.

Evil Note: Antitrust Legislation is the only card that lets you reorganize during an attack -- which can be useful if you also have Connie Dobbs or Teddy Kennedy in play. A truly Illuminated (if risky) trick is to combine a mid-attack reorganization with the Arise! goal . . .

Elders of Zion: A poor man's Triangle, the Elders of Zion's special ability lets you reorganize your power structure -- except that this requires not only their Action token, but the Illuminati's as well! However, despite the Triangle's predilection for changing groups every turn, you only need to reorganize occasionally. For an Illuminati like the UFOs, the Elders of Zion might be the best way to work a Discovered Attack.

Reorganization: If you neither are the Bermuda Triangle nor control the Elders of Zion, then the Reorganization Plot card is your best bet. The advantage of this card is that it is unexpected. Unfortunately, in order to rely on Reorganization you need to use Crop Circles or the Rosicrucians to ensure it is in your hand when you need it.

Offshore Banks: This group can move a single group to another control arrow in your power structure. This can be invaluable if you have just controlled a group and want to move it to somewhere more defensible. As this is a free move, it is always worth moving something (as if you were Bermuda) to conceal an upcoming Discovered Attack.

Phone Phreaks: The Phone Phreaks have a similar ability to the Offshore Banks but theirs costs an Action token -- and you can also move your rivals' groups. This ability makes the Phone Phreaks very useful in offense and if you need them to reorganize your groups they are wasting their abilities. However, link Eliza to the Phone Phreaks and they can quickly become an integral part of a computer Direct Attack plan for anyone other than the Bermuda Triangle.

Evil Note: You can use the Phone Phreaks to force a rival to discard a group: if you move a group so that its puppet overlaps with another group, that puppet must return to its owner's hand. This means that the Phone Phreaks is one of the few cards that can actually prevent a rival from winning!

Action Tokens: Groups may also be moved by spending an action token -- theirs, their new master's, their old master's or your Illuminati's. This is an expensive way to rearrange your power structure and because you can only do this during your turn, your groups may look vulnerable.

The Dallas Catacombs: This group allows you to be lazy and not worry about whether your power structure's control arrows are blocked. It is useful if you have several groups with few control arrows, but is not really suitable for a Discovered Attack.

Let's Get Organized: This and Let's Get REALLY Organized, its rarer cousin, give additional outgoing control arrows to weak groups. While it can be played on a group such as Bjorne, who gains Action tokens for each Media group he controls, it works very well on the Direct or Discovered Attack -- Finland and Saturday Morning Cartoons become much more powerful if they have three outgoing control arrows.

Why Reorganize?

Well, you don't have to rearrange your power structure at all. You don't have to make the best of your groups, you can ignore sneaky Discovered Attack strategies -- and maybe you will even win the odd game here and there.

Taking good care of your power structure results in maximizing your groups' effectiveness as well as the occasional game-winning strategy. Even if you are not playing the Bermuda Triangle there are always ways of moving groups. Your power structure is flexible: use it to its full potential.

Article publication date: January 15, 1999

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