Why Should Criminals Have All the Fun?

Destroying the world, your way.

by Aaron Curtis

For those of you who think the Servants of Cthulhu are all about Violent Criminal Overlords destroying indiscriminately, let me show the error of your ways. When I was curator of the INWO Deck of the Week, I received a lot of decks, including several for Cthulhu, that I never published. The reason why is that they all looked the same: powerful Violent Criminal groups backed up with a Criminal Overlords, The Hand of Madness or Up Against the Wall goal. This is, in my opinion, boring. Cthulhu can be a lot more, in fact the Servants of Cthulhu can be the most versatile Illuminati in the game. Let me elaborate.

First, let's take a look at the card text for the Servants of Cthulhu:

Power 9/9
Goal: For every group you destroy, reduce by 1 the number of groups you need to control in order to win. You may also count rival Illuminati which you destroy by removing their last group. If you destroy 8 groups, you win, regardless of how many you control!
Ability: You have a +4 on any attempt to destroy, even with Disasters and Assassinations. Draw a Plot card whenever you destroy a group!

There are three important thing to note here:

  1. Unlike the various "control foo groups, destroy antifoo groups" goal cards, Cthulhu's goal works with the basic goal.
  2. Unlike most other special goals that combine with the basic goal, Cthulhu's isn't limited to three.
  3. Unlike some Illuminati, your special ability works directly in helping you achive your goal of destruction.

So, the secret of designing a winning deck for Cthulhu is to work in both directions at the same time: take over groups from your hand while destroying groups in your enemies' power structures, both helping your toward your goal.

Focusing a Cthulhu deck

It is far too easy to build a Cthulhu deck that can destroy anything but is incapable of controlling anything without an automatic takeover. It's also easy to build a deck that isn't particularly designed for Cthulhu, such as the aforementioned Violent Criminal Overlords type decks that would work as well for Bavaria. What a true Cthulhu deck needs is theme. Concentrate on destroying certain kinds of groups rather than indiscriminant killing. Here's a list of the groups that give large bonuses to destroy a limited category of groups:

  • Anti-Nuclear Activists, +6 on any vs Science, Common
  • B.A.T.F., +8 on direct vs Fanatic, Uncommon
  • Big Media, +4 on any vs Media, Common
  • C.I.A., +4 on direct vs Government, special assassination power, Rare
  • CFL-AIO, +10 on direct vs Corporate, Rare
  • Center for Disease Control, +15 on direct vs a Place, Uncommon
  • Deprogrammers, +4 (each) on any vs Weird or Fanatic, Uncommon
  • Eco-Guerrillas, +6 on direct vs Corporate, Common
  • F.B.I., +10 on direct vs Criminal, +4 on any vs Criminal, Common
  • Fast Food Chains, +6 on any vs Green, Common
  • Fiendish Fluoridators, +5 on any vs Straight or Conservative, Common
  • Gordo Remora, +10 on direct vs Weird, Common
  • KKK, doubles power of Violent destroying Peaceful, Common
  • L-4 Society, +4 on any vs Science or Space, Uncommon
  • Local Police Departments, +4 on any vs Criminal, Uncommon
  • Phone Phreaks, +6 on any vs Computer, Common
  • Psychiatrists, +6 on any vs a Personality, Uncommon
  • Rifkinites, +2 (each) on any vs Corporate, Science, Space or Computer, Rare
  • Robot Sea Monsters, +4 to any vs Corporate, Government or Coastal, Uncommon
  • Science Fiction Fans, gives its master +6 on direct vs Computer, uncommon
  • Secret Service, +10 on any vs Government Personality (incl. Assassination), Rare
  • Society for Creative Anarchism, +4 on any vs Straight, Common
  • The Men In Black, +4 to aid any attack to destroy, target permanently dead, Rare
  • Voudonistas, +8 on direct vs a Personality, Uncommon
  • Autonome, +10 on any vs Government, German Edition card

That's quite a list, isn't it? Many popular decks are vulernable to one or more of the cards listed above. The good part is, the groups that help you destroy you favorite targets tend to work well together. Here's one example:

Gaia's Revenge

Collect all the Green and Liberal groups in the above list. You get Anti-Nuclear Activists, Big Media, CFL-AIO, Eco-Guerrillas, Gordo Remora, Phone Phreaks, Rifkinites. The emphasis seems to be on destroying Corporate, Science and Computer groups, with options on Media and Weird groups. The temptation is to increase the scope of destruction to Conservative and Straight groups by adding Fiendish Fluoridators and Society for Creative Anarchism. The danger is concentrating too much on destruction and not enough on controlling groups from your hand, or protecting your power structure from attack.

Instead, add groups that help you control Liberal and Green groups, or protect them: Canada, Al Gore, Feminists, International Weather Organization, California, France, and Bigfoot. Include appropriate NWOs to help you: Chicken in Every Pot, Fear & Loathing, and several Political Correctness. You now have a deck that can grow quickly, and has several targets to choose from: Corporate decks, Computer decks, or even Media decks in a pinch.

Here's another example:

Big Brother is Watching You!

Collect all the Conservative and Government groups in the above list. You get B.A.T.F, C.I.A, F.B.I., KKK, Local Police Departments, and Secret Service. The bonuses here work against Criminal, Fanatic and Peaceful groups and Personalities (with Secret Service, the C.I.A. has a strength of 24(!) to Assassinate a Government Personality, without the use of a plot!). Include some powerful Violent Government groups: New York, Texas, Pentagon. Add Bill Clinton and a few of the following: Bank of England, Center for Disease Control, Federal Reserve, I.R.S., MI-5, Mossad, N.S.A., Supreme Court. For resources, use Clipper Chip, OMCL and Cyborg Soldiers. Include the following NWO's in your plot deck: Law & Order, Fear & Loathing, and Gun Control, with multiple copies of each if possible. Include some Censorship (to add Media to the target list), some Nationalization (to make Personalities Government), and plenty of Martial Law and Terrorist Nuke. With a lead of Bill Clinton, you now have the ability to control extra groups from your hand every turn, either from Bill, New York, Texas or the Pentagon, and once you have the appropriate killing groups out can start destroying your chosen targets (Shangri-La, a Violent Criminal deck, or Personalities) with ease.

There are other examples, as a glance at the list above will show. More opportunities for specialized Cthulhu decks should arise when Assassins is released. Just decide what you want to destroy, and go to it!

A word of warning

The greatest danger to a Cthulhu player is another Cthulhu player, since he gets a +5 to attack you, and will tend to save his disasters and assassinations for you. This is where a focused Cthulhu deck really shines through, because you will be able to grow faster in the early turns and then crush him with the +5 you get against him. Or, if his groups don't fall into your range of prefered targets (say, your Gaia's Revenge vs his Violent Criminal Overlords) you can make a truce with him, then follow up by out-growing then out-destroying the other players. Just be sure to save your Hoax for his instant attacks if you don't have any defenses out.

-Aaron Curtis

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