I'm a big Thomas Dolby fan. When I saw the 'Blinded by Science' goal, I knew I had to use it. I mean, the guy on the card even looks like Thomas Dolby. Unfortunately, someone in my gaming group (who will remain nameless, but his initials are Ralph Melton) beat me to it, and everyone was on guard against it for a long time afterwards.
I've also been trying for months to build a deck that could conceivably win in three different ways, since, as Miles Vorkosigan (among others) says, no battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy.
Thomas Dolby's music is known for mixing things that just wouldn't seem to go together - acid guitar with big band backing, for instance. This, combined with the lyrics to "She Blinded Me with Science", made it obvious that the goal should be put in a Bermuda deck. Add in the fact that much of Dolby's music is based on synthesizers and computerized sounds, and you get something a lot like this:
The big pain in the butt with the Bermuda special goal is growing fast enough. You have all these unlike alignments, which makes it tough to take things from your hand except through ATOs. This deck solves that problem by having huge bonuses to take over computer and science groups - which, you'll notice, pretty much everything is. While we're at it, we might as well have two other ways to win with these cards - by Unmasking as the Network, or Blinding everyone with Science.
The beginning: Lead with Japan, especially if someone else is playing Shangri-La or the Network. (If someone's playing the Network, you are probably in Big Big Trouble, but see below.) If that bounces, try Hackers. If Hackers then bounces, I'd recommend you go with Finland. The most important groups to have out early are Japan and Phone Phreaks - if that's all you've got, then you'll have a +12 bonus to take over computer groups from Japan.
Try to get Eliza and the Black Helicopters out, with the latter and possibly the former linked to Japan. (Linking the former makes it a bit obvious that you can make two near-certain privileged attacks to control every turn; you might want to link Eliza elsewhere for a while instead. Or, you might just want to make it obvious and take things over quickly - it'll depend on what'll look better to your gaming group.) Take things over with an eye towards increasing your bonuses, not towards increasing your power or number of alignments out - if you can look completely nonthreatening 'til the very end, all the better.
This is fundamentally an isolationist deck. Try not to piss people off. Don't get involved in attacks unless a) you need to help prevent someone from winning, or b) you can gain a lot of favor by doing so - if you can pull off something like "I'd like to throw in sixteen points of power but I'd need the assurance of everyone that they'd leave me alone if I so weakened myself" (and the deal-makers will stick to it), it's probably worth it. Try not to bring out the Nuclear Power Companies unless you absolutely have to - even if you resist the temptation to use their special power, people will still want to kill you just because everyone (and I mean everyone, including my grandma, who doesn't even play INWO) hates the NPCs.
You must protect Japan. That's what most of the +10 boosters, the Computer Securities, the Near Miss, the Beach Party, and the Annual Convention are for (Use Annual Convention as a stick to threaten people with, as long as you don't think they have Go Fishes hidden away...) International Weather Organization helps with protection as well. You might even want to substitute more anti-disaster cards for the +10 boosters and other duplicate cards. If you lose Japan, you can still make a go at it with Finland, but not nearly as easily. Atomic Monster is not in there so much for its use as a disaster as for defense against the Robot Sea Monsters.
Never bring out the Science Alarmists. Their sole purpose for existence in this deck is as an Agents if someone else has them.
Played properly, this deck can win three different ways: you can make Bermuda's goal of controlling one group of every alignment and a minimum of 35 points of power. Or, you can control six Science groups (AMA, Clone Arrangers, Evil Geniuses, FBI, International Weather Organization, Nuclear Power Companies, Phone Phreaks, and Phone Company are all Science). Or, you can Unmask as the Network, letting Japan, the Phone Company, and Hackers count double. Let your opponents think you're going for the Bermuda goal; early on in the game, complain loudly about not being able to get enough alignments out, and not having the right groups to get the power you need. (Later on, cut down on the complaining; after a few turns you may be in a position to make a bid for victory with the Bermuda goal, and it wouldn't do to draw your opponents' attention to this.) If they suggest that you might have Blinded by Science, or that you might plan to unmasked as Network, look surprised and say "huh. that's actually not a bad idea. Wish I'd thought of it." (My gaming group is always strictly honest, so I can't say the last part - I have a reputation for being good to my word that has kept me alive through many rough games - but even if you play with the same policy, you can say the last part, because I'm the one who thought of it...) In the worst case, you can say "okay, you've found me out. I had actually planned to [unmask as the Network / play Blinded by Science]. But I can see you're too clever for that, so it just won't work. Look, I'll discard the card that would let me do that, just because if I do that, I have a chance of being able to win, oh, five or six turns from now, whereas if I don't you'll just beat the crap out of me."
The primary problem with this deck is that it is very difficult to get to the plots you need when you want them. You could try adding Crystal Skull, Rosicrucians, or the Shroud of Turin, but they don't really fit in the deck, and in my gaming group they're far too popular to be relied upon. Make the best of what you get, and try to use negotiation whenever your plot cards aren't what you need. The Savings & Loan Scams are there to provide you with a quick way to move through the plot deck, but you can't rely on them - you could conceivably go through an entire game without ever seeing them.
Making Bermuda's special goal can be tough. All alignments are represented at least twice in this set of cards except Fanatic; Hackers are your only Fanatic group. The Frankenfood is provided to make up one missing alignment; this is especially useful to replace the Fanatic alignment if the Hackers are eliminated. The Nuclear Power Companies are in there just to provide a backup for Corporate and Conservative; since the deck is isolationist in nature, I recommend you not play them unless necessary. You have enough Computer defense cards that you should have a fairly easy time defending most of your groups, though. If you do lose a group that is vital to the Bermuda goal, complain loudly about how stupid you were to include so few Conservative/Peaceful/Corporate/Fanatic groups and now you'll never be able to win. (Be sure to include the part about how stupid you are. People seem more willing to believe it if you add that part. Or maybe that's just me...) Meanwhile, change your focus to another goal.
If you end up playing against the Network, I suggest you get him or her on your side as early in the game as possible. Tell him/her that you've probably got a lot of duplicate cards but that if you work together you can probably share a victory. As a negotiating tactic, this has the advantage of being true: you can pull a Blinded by Science win with only two cards which are likely to stick in Network's craw, Phone Company and Phone Phreaks. You can even deal with this without giving away your secrets - offer to just hand him/her a computer group (or two, or three) at some later point in the game if s/he'll help you get the alignments you need to make up for it.
You'll no doubt notice that there are several duplicates in this deck. If you have two Blinded by Sciences, you should definitely use them both - losing one (or discarding it as a show of good faith) is then not so painful. With the exception of Computer Security, and Savings and Loan Scam, the duplicates are Common. You can substitute things in for any of them; the best bet is to put in other good defensive cards. Savings and Loan Scam is just there to help you get through your plots when you need to. You can certainly play this deck without it.
Flesh Eating Bacteria is in there just as a particularly nice disaster - if you're lucky, it becomes reusable. However, you could substitute another disaster.
Groups are harder to deal with. None of the resources are absolutely necessary (although I can't think of anything as effective as the Eliza/Black Helicopters combination), but the groups have to satisfy multiple constraints: they have to help you fill out alignments and help you towards 35 points of power for your Bermuda goal, help you towards your Network goal, and help you towards the Blinded by Science goal, and make it easier to take over more groups in the future and defend the groups you have. Nothing really satisfies all of those constraints, but do the best you can.
First posted: 4/1/97
Last modified: 4/1/97Ralph Melton email@example.com