The Sacred Asprin Commercial

A Discordia/Shangri-La deck by Mad Chris

For the origin of this name, see 'A Sermon on Ethics and Love', Principia Discordia, p38.

The Sacred Aspirin Commercial is a varient on a standard Discordia isolationist deck which essentially is designed to look like a Discordian isolationist deck until you Unmask as Shangri-La and win instantly. This can be a problem with other Shangri-La players, since they may win before you can, and hence you should adjust your strategy accordingly if someone else is playing Shangri-La.

By far the best way to build this deck is to ignore the listing I give and modify an existing isolationist deck that other people have seen to include enough of the appropriate cards to allow you to use the Shangi-La schtick to win. The basic tenet of this deck (along with many INWO decks) is surprise, and if your cover is blown you will suffer for it. To this end, the more effective you are at convincing the other players that you are playing an isolationist deck, the better.


Discordian Society (with Shangri-La in your Plots deck once or twice).


plus one duplicate of either Bjorne or Elvis, according to your own personal tastes and one other group of your choice. Go for something with a cute special ability, and preferably something that is Peaceful, or at the very least, not Violent.



Bluff Plots


Vatican City is a key card in this deck - it is used to provide protection, it's an obvious isolationist card and it contributes to the Messiah subplot. However, many decks also use Vatican City, so be careful. Usually, you should lead with Vatican City and fall back on either Japan (if the people you are playing with are fairly slow on the uptake) or your choice of Goldfish Fanciers, Supreme Court or Stonehenge, according to which you think will be the best defence against the other players. Play one of these latter cards if you think doing so will convince everyone that you are playing an isolationist deck. Deception is the key!

Why two Vaticans?

This is a key card to the deck, and you want to be able to protect it if it is out (this is also why the Red Cross is in the deck, and two Early Warnings), or have a good chance of stealing it off other people if they have it. Stealing the Vatican helps further the image of you being an isolationist and not Shangri-La, and is therefore a generally good idea most of the time.

Early Play

Don't give the game away! To this end, be very careful about using the following cards in the early stages of the game:

Kinder & Gentler
Nobel Peace Prize
Peace in Our Time

If you have got the Vatican in play, then you might be tempted to use the Kinder & Gentler to protect yourself from the largest Power group in play, and to get you on the way to your Shangri-La victory condition. Don't do it unless you think you can get away with it convincingly! Ideally, you should play at least one of your bluff cards before considering playing Kinder & Gentler.

Do not be tempted to play SMWNMTK unless it is absolutely necessary! These cards exist only to protect the use of Unmasked in the Endgame.

Bluff Cards

These are cards to make you look like a standard isolationist deck. MIC will protect you from Corporates, and Nationalisation will neutralise another group in play. These cards are not useless (they will protect you from certain groups) but you should make an effort to play these cards ASAP, to preserve the illusion that you are being an isolationist.


The OMCL are there for defence (change groups to Governement or Straight) and for victory (change a high power group to Peaceful). The Crystal Skull really helps you get to the plot cards you need when you need them - which is an important element of this deck design.


By the mid-game, the peaceful Power total is probably starting to mount up, and you can start working your way towards victory. It is at this stage of the game that you want to use Savings and Loan Scams and your Action tokens to start drawing plots. You need to get Unmasked and Shangri-La into your hand. The Big Sellout should also be used now, to clear out dead Groups from your hand in exchange for tokens. Use these tokens to draw more plots or save a token on Discordia for the Endgame.

You may want to start using Kinder & Gentlers and Nobel Peace Prizes, if you think you can get away with it without giving the game away.

The Messiah Sub-plot

By far the most satisfying way of winning with this deck is to use the Messiah card. I often play with two Messiah cards and two Elvis cards (at the expense of some of the general flotsom) because making Elvis the Messiah always appeals to me (and because the boosted Church of Elvis is such a useful asset). The Messiah sub-plot can become obvious, of course, as the Churches mount up. However, you have a damn good reason for the Vatican, and with a little skill, you can convince people that you are either:

  1. planning to kill Bjorne for cards or
  2. going for a Power For Its Own Sake goal card.

In general, you do not want to play the Messiah card until the last minute. It has no cost, so the only thing to watch for is someone Secrets or Hoaxing it.

The Endgame

The perfect endgame happens when you have in your hand:

Then, on your turn, you Unmask and then grab the extra peaceful power. As mentioned, it is nice to do this by way of Messiah, if you can. Bjorne is already peaceful and so does not present a problem. If you are doing it by Elvis and do not have an OMCL on hand, you may have to Messiah first and make him Peaceful to win with a Kinder and Gentler. Another useful Endgame card is Peace in Our Time, which can give you the missing Power quite easily.

Don't forget that you can use your Martyrs to boost a group to help power a Kinder And Gentler.

Is This a Dagger I see Before Me?

If there is another Shangri-La player in the game, you will need to keep them under control. Get the rest of the players to work with you to keep the peaceful Power down reasonably low. Ideally, you want to keep the Power to the point where you don't think they can push it over the top in one turn, but you're pretty sure you can.

Do not be tempted to play a Shangri-La card as an Agent. You could end up giving the game away, or discarding a vital plot.

Strengths & Weaknesses

The Sacred Aspirin Commercial has several weaknesses. The first is that it relies very much on the fact that your opponents don't see through your disguise like a pair of grandma's underpants. It is for this reason why it is better to modify an isolationist deck that other player's have already seen than to use the deck template above - if the charade fails, the game is probably up. Second is that it is actually quite difficult to win if you don't become Shangri-La. Chances are - unless someone leaves a branch of their power structure vulnerable - you won't win without Unmasking.

To compensate for this, there are several strengths. The first is that even pretending to be isolationist is good defensively, and therefore you can often find yourself having to worry only about other people getting to the goal before you. The second is that the element of suprise is always an advantage, and the more you make yourself seem like something you are not, the more likely you are to slip in under their radar.

You may notice that the Strengths and Weaknesses are a little contradictary. Deal with it.

Final Comments

Having read this far, you're probably either faintly interested, bored and unimpressed or off out for pizza. Which you are probably depends on how your group usually plays INWO, and how the people in your group use Unmasked. If Unmasked sees a lot of use, this deck is probably a waste of time, unless they usually use Unmasked as a way of getting in an extra option, rather than a totally hidden goal.

If your group usually plays a very cut-throat game, with little deals and agreements, this probably isn't the deck for you. If, like me, you usually find half of your INWO game time is spent negotiating with the other players and passing private notes, this deck should work for you fine. You can secretly "confide" in people little pieces of information about your deck, and happily mislead people away from your true goal.

One final word: don't be tempted to tighten up this deck too much. If it gets too tight, people will work out what it's doing. A good Sacred Aspirin deck should make no sense until you win.

Remember - Felicitas per Dementiam.

Mad Chris

Discordia Inc.


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