I started this blog 7.5 years ago talking about an old CCG from the 90s, Steve Jackson's Illuminati: New World Order (INWO), focusing on solitaire play in particular. My final post covering INWO, so many years ago, presented the final version of a solitaire version, which I called INWOSolo.
I mentioned in that old post that INWOSolo captured the feel of the multiplayer game well and indeed it does. Recently however I've been reflecting on why, if the above were true, have I not played more solitaire INWO over all these years?
Despite the normal excuses of real life commitments, I realized that the problem with CCGs in general is the time sink of deck creation from a large pool of options. Deck creation drains the player of any enthusiasm to play and my solitaire rules for INWO exacerbated this by requiring the creation of twice as many decks as a normal, multi-player game!
The rules for solitaire INWO on the Downloads page of this blog still stand but now all cards are played from one Plot or one Group Deck, as appropriate. I'm in the middle of a playtest and so far the results are great.
In order to construct a Plot and Group Deck for solitaire INWO, some specific rules should be followed to maximize the challenge. These rules should replace paragraphs (1) to (4) in the "Beginning the Game" section of the INWOSolo rules.
First, choose your Illuminati. Next, select 1 to 5 (recommend 3) rival Illuminati cards to form the core of the Plot Deck. Set these aside and begin creating a Group Deck of 49 cards.
First, choose two non-opposed alignments that will feature prominently in the deck. At least one of these alignments should correspond to your Illuminated goal (if applicable). Next, for each of the two alignments and the respective opposing alignments, select six cards Group cards, plus an additional seventh Group card that duplicates one of the six. You should now have 28 of 49 cards selected. Choose an additional 12 Group cards for flavor. These cards should generally be of different alignments to the four already represented; typically these cards will be selected based on Attributes. Criteria for inclusion includes having Attributes necessary for any Illuminated Goal (yours or your rivals!) or Attributes that have appeared already in the first 28 selected cards. Once these cards are selected, bringing the total to 40, select nine Resources to round out the solitaire Group Deck. Eight of these Resources should be different, with one duplicate of a Unique Resource. Since any Resource could be drawn either for or against the solo player from the same deck, certain Resources should not be included (for example, the Bronze Head).
The Plot Deck consists of 64 cards, starting with the rival Illuminati. Next, add two of the +10 booster cards (i.e. Albino Alligators for Weird groups) for each of the four chosen alignments, one each action token reload cards (i.e Reload for Violent groups) for the four alignments, two each alignment changer cards (i.e. Fundie Money for Conservative), and two each "set Power to 6" cards (i.e Self Esteem for Liberal groups). This should add 28 cards to the total, along with the rival Illuminati for a count of around 30. Next add one Disaster card for every Place and one Assassination plot for every Personality in the Group Deck. Add six New World Order cards, two of each color. Add any desired Goal cards, focusing on cards that will facilitate a win for you and those that help the rival. All these additions should bring the total to around 50. The remaining plots are chosen for flavor and usefulness. For the most satisfying game, choose cards that are useful to both you and the rival powers (Swiss Bank Account is a great example, as is Sucked Dry and Cast Aside).
The INWOSolo rules remain relatively unchanged with a few exceptions. First, to start the game, after drawing the normal three Plot cards, draw seven Group cards and select one as your initial lead group. Also, an Illuminati card can never be drawn into the solitaire player's hand; if revealed during the Plot card discard/draw phase of the player's turn, the Illuminati card is played to the table as a threat, as detailed on page 3 of the INWOSolo rules.
For those of us with large INWO collections but no opponents, I hope this makes the solitaire experience a little more palatable. If you try these rules, let me know what you think. Personally, I think they're a hoot.