01 October 2010

The Untouchables

Ever since it first came out, I wanted a copy of Steve Jackson Games' Strange Synergy. This strategy board game gives you a deck of 100 cards with super powers and "gadgets." You are dealt nine cards and have three warriors on which to distribute the powers/gadgets on the cards. And to make it even better, the character art is by Phil Foglio.

The game came out in 2003 and was unfortunately not a hit. It's gone out of print and now costs $100+ in new condition. I only recently found this out and immediately created an eBay search to see if I could snag one. The very first one it notified me of was a used copy with a starting bid of $6.00. No one else bid on it! A week later, the game (literally) arrived at my doorstep.

My first game was against my 12-year-old son. I figured I'd give him a better chance of winning I played the Mad Scientists. Each team has a unique ability and theirs is merely to carry unlimited gadgets. Turns out he didn't need any help. I was only dealt one gadget and little in the way of offensive powers.

He managed to get the abilities Inner Peace, Stunning Beauty, and Acrobatic Evasion. Inner Peace prevents any opponents from hitting the warrior until he attacks someone. Stunning Beauty makes the recipient so beautiful, opponents require a roll of the die just to attempt to attack him. Then you have to roll again to actually land a hit. Acrobatic Evasion lets the warrior automatically avoid one attack per turn. Naturally he gave each of his warriors one of these. By the way, except for Stunning Beauty, these abilities are secret until you attack the warrior with them.

Only because one of my warriors had Flameblast (an initially secret offensive power), Two Heads (gives two attacks per turn), and Trick Shot (allows attacks on diagonals and is secret until used) did I manage to even damage his warrior with Acrobatic Evasion. Unfortunately, that was the first warrior he killed, so after that things went downhill for me quickly. (The only other offensive weapon/power I had was a boomerang.) At least he had a good time and wants to play again.


  1. Sounds cool.

    I used to have Steve Jackson Games "Illuminati", but never played it (no one wanted to play with me *sniff*) and so it was eventually given away.

    I'd love to find that again.
    But sadly, I still have no one with whom to play role-playing or "weird" games.

    Glad to hear that you scored a dream item AND have someone with whom to appreciate it.

  2. Hurm...
    I had my "Illuminati" game (which came in a plastic clamshell pack) back in 1982 or so.
    After a quick ebay hunt, it seems that the game is still in use but has a new "deluxe edition".


  3. I wouldn't say I was a big gamer, but I was very interested in RPGs and such in the '80s and '90s. I was introduced to and played Illuminati at college. I bought the original game and all three expansions (although I don't think I ever played a game using them all). I've still got them all, but haven't pulled them out in years.

    One of my college friends got the Deluxe Edition. It's essentially the same as the the original, but with bigger cards and includes some of what were originally expansion rules and cards.

    In the collectible card game (CCG) boom of the mid-'90s, Steve Jackson released Illuminati: New World Order, a CCG version of the original. I only actually played it a couple times. Something about getting married and having kids kills your free time. And I don't see the friends who play games so much any more. My oldest is just now getting to the appropriate age for these games.