The Illuminati

This week I am going to kick off my Marvel Universe set in Review. Each Marvel Universe Set review will focus on a team within and a deck created to support that team chemistry. Decks will incorporate; mono, dual and non-affiliated characters, plot twist and locations, but only within the Modern Age format of Versus System. I will try to stay away from the decks that are standard fare or the creations of another as seen on the net as I am not a big fan of net-decking or simply modifying someone else’s creation in order to pass it off as my own. Granted the deck ideas are limited within the Modern Age format I often find it easy to look at what others may not have noticed within the Meta, which I will also try to address.

The first team in review, The Illuminati!

Dr. Strange

The Illuminati is advertised as the overlords of the set, so I wanted to create this deck and see just how will they oversaw the Marvel Universe. Coupled with the fact that Black Bolt, Sub-Mariner and Dr. Strange are on this team I felt like they were well worth creating a deck for.


The name of the game for the Illuminati seems to be CONTROL, through clever plot twist and character effects the Illuminati truly do have that Theme down to a science. Cards like; Iron Man, Protector of the Reality Gem, The Infinity Gauntlet, Clandestine Operations and even the Elektra Situation are large pieces to that control scheme, the biggest piece probably being, The Infinity Gauntlet.

The Infinity Gauntlet

The Infinity Gauntlet is a card from hell; opponents will definitely be gunning for this card with answers like Pathetic Attempt, which could place you in a real bind if it remains the focal point of control in your deck, so it is important that you exercise timing when playing this card. The Infinity Gauntlet’s power can not be denied in the game as a means of control. Exhausting six members of the Illuminati in order to play is a heavy cost, but well worth the rewards.

KO Target Character,
KO Target Resource, or
Target Player Discards His Hand

The card also points to a sub-theme for the team which is under-dropping. There is no way on Turn 5 you will be able to effectively use this beast without having all the members in play. Luckily all the members of Illuminati have versions with a cost less than 5 so you can recruit a member or two every turn so you can get the effectiveness of this card. It’s pretty safe to say this card will be a staple of any Illuminati deck. If this team has a showing at worlds I expect it to increase in value as well.


The only question with all of these control options is what is this deck stalling for? There are no 8-cost characters or 9-cost characters that are stamped to the Illuminati, I decided to look for one and found Onslaught, Psionic Spawn of Xavier and Magneto, it’s effect was very powerful back in the day and it still is now, especially in Modern Age. I like this card the most because it allows you to manipulate two cards I believe we will see a lot of in the Meta; Superhuman Registration Act and Underground Movement. You may run into problems if these two are not in play, but it will still have a huge impact in the late game even if it tends to affect some of your characters in play, the Illuminati have a lot of affiliations.

Silver Surfer

Next we needed an 8-cost character that would be just as effective as our 9-cost character. There were a lot of characters, but I like Silver Surfer, Norrin Radd the most for his ability to steal initiative leveraging advantage and decision as well as being a big body. Fair enough that one of the most important team-up’s that will need to take place in the deck will be with Fantastic Four. We are served greatly in this because many of the Illuminati members in this set have the Infinity Watch affiliation and 3 of the members (Dr. Strange, Sub-Mariner and Mr. Fantastic) have a dual-affiliation with the Fantastic Four, so getting this online will not be too difficult.

I like Marvel Crossover, Team-Up a lot and decided to go with that. I really like both Superhuman Registration Act and Underground Movement, but I am not too fond of playing with my top card of my deck revealed, so I chose to tech the deck with Underground Movement. It will enable search in the early game as well as getting any non-hidden characters to the hidden area.

This is pretty much how the late game stall condition was decided for the deck, next was just looking for effective means of stalling until then within the modern age.

Black Bolt


In order to get to the late turn there had to be a number of ways in order to prevent large amounts of damage being dealt directly to endurance totals, on top of that ensuring that there were as few attacks as possible coming from across the board at characters in order to maintain the Illuminati’s presence. Chilly Reception from DC’s World’s Finest set quickly came to mind as a means of doing just that, Professor X, World’s Most Powerful Telepath also came to mind from one of the debates over at TCGplayer. A 7 cost character that fulfilled the role of maintaining Illuminati members and at the same time exhausts effects in order to control your opponent’s board. Aside from these two options the easiest one to include in the deck came in Clandestine Operations. A very good ongoing plot twist that secured the control needed to stall until the late game. Iron Man, Protector of the Reality Gem is a shoe in on turn 5, with his exhaustion effect and Illuminati fit.


Coming up with the curve of characters was the hardest thing to do for this deck as getting everyone on the board by turn 6 was looking really slim, especially given all the characters at a couple choice locations. Each Illuminati member has an Infinity Watch affiliation character version which should mitigate the possibility of not being able to search for them and team attacking and reinforcing should the need arise.


The curve I came up with is by no means the most optimal just how I see the game going. It makes use of all the available versions of the various members of the Illuminati in the Modern Age. I had to work backwards from 7-cost characters to figure out what exactly the curve should be. There are a lot of Illuminati cards; if I played a lot of Silver Age Versus I could come up with a deck a hell of a lot stronger. This optimizes your ability to play an Illuminati member when you can and where you can.


4x Black Bolt, Enemy Within
4x Professor X, Mutant Benefactor
3x Dr. Strange, Secret Avenger
4x Mr. Fantastic, Protector of the Power Gem
3x Sub-Mariner, Protector of the Time Gem
2x Black Bolt, Protector of the Space Gem
2x Professor X, Protector of the Mind Gem
2x Dr. Strange Protector of the Soul Gem
2x Mr. Fantastic, Haunted Genius
1x Iron Man, Mighty Avenger
3x Iron Man, Protector of the Reality Gem
1x Sub-Mariner, Uncertain Ally
2x Dr. Strange, Ally of the Four
1x Professor X, World’s Most Powerful Telepath
1x Silver Surfer Norrin Radd
1x Onslaught, Psionic Spawn of Xavier and Magneto

36 Character cards



This part of building the deck was no easier than coming up with a viable curve. I’ll explain some of my choices here quickly. The Infinity Gauntlet is somewhat of a cornerstone to the deck. It is a lynchpin and I guarantee you your opponents will be looking to Pathetic Attempt any such play. Timing is essential. When it comes online around Turn 5 or 6 depending on how you played out your curve it will be very useful. Dr. Strange, Ally of the Four will allow you optimize multiple copies in your deck. Chilly Reception was a nice control card for the early going at the very least trying to ensure you don’t get hammered too hard in the early turns. Reset was nice. There may be the occasion where someone gets into your hidden area, there is a bit of hidden hate in the game still from Skreeee to Wolverine you want to make sure that if they manage to get into your hidden area you are able to maintain board presence and stop those attacks. The Team-up is there strictly to Team-up the Infinity Watch with Fantastic Four and X-Men, is it absolutely necessary, not until the late game when you are looking to take advantage of Silver Surfer. Alias Investigations, Birthing Chamber and Xavier’s Institute were good ways to accelerate what was going to be in hand.

Chilly Reception

Plot Twist

4x the Infinity Gauntlet
2x Clandestine Operations
3x Chilly Reception
3x Marvel Crossover Team-Up
2x Silent War
2x the Elektra Situation
3x Reset
4x Secret Government


1x Alias Investigations
1x Birthing Chamber
1x Xavier’s Institute of Higher Learning

I want you all to consider this as a draft. I plan on meeting up with some of you to play against your decks this week. Onslaught is a secondary thought to the Silver Surfer, but should be a great piece of Tech if you see your opponent relying on cards like Superhuman Registration Act or Underground Movement. This is not a competitive deck need I mind you at least in its current incarnation, but it should get the thought process going for anyone out there looking to build Illuminati decks. The strength of this team in MUN alone is not so much what you can’t do, but what you can do. There is a lot of what you can do with the team and the hardest part is deciding what you want to do with them. There are not a lot of late game ending options in the current Modern Age, but Silver Surfer attacking at weakened opponents is not a bad idea.

Have Fun, Up Next our favorite Green Stomping Machine!

Leave your comments and feel free to stop by TCGplayer to discuss this deck.

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Anonymous said...


It was a pleasure meeting you and talking with you at last night's sealed draft at the Gecko's. I like this Illuminati build a lot. I'm sure you considered Omnipotence to call out Pathetic Attempt. Please post your final version, and break a leg at World's!

Great site!

Ralph (short Dad in the hawaiian shirt)

NEIL04 said...

thanks Ralph, i remember you unfortunately we didnt get to play seems like everyone but me drew a melissa gold. I look forward to Worlds and coming back to Groovy's for some more events.


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