A Preliminary Taxonomy of INWO Decks

by Ralph Melton

First posted: July 28, 1997

This is an attempt to enrich the vocabulary of INWO by describing some common deck patterns and giving them names. The INWO book makes a start on this; I hope to extend that work.

Note that many of these words are not exclusive; a single deck may easily fit more than one of these themes. And note also that this is not a comprehensive list; it does not even capture common patterns like a Shangri-La deck that pacifies groups in other Power Structures, or an Adepts of Hermes deck that makes no attacks while it pulls down lots of resources.

The INWO Book defines "degenerate" thus: "A 'degenerate' deck is one that contains many duplicates of just a few cards. The point of a degenerate deck is usually to exploit a loophole in the rules, or to take advantage of a card that is so powerful that it's just better than most of the alternatives." I prefer to use this narrower definition instead of the broader definition that's sometimes used of "a deck that must be abusive, because it can beat me!" (Such decks I tend to refer to as "weenie" decks.)
The INWO Book says: "An 'Isolationist"' deck is one that is designed to play without interacting with the other players. The player intends to win just by taking over groups from his own hand, as quickly as possible."
Almost every deck needs to be able to do some growth by takeovers from hand, of course. But I propose identifying two particular types of decks that rely on growth by takeovers from hand:
Big Slurp
A "big slurp" deck is a deck based around a single group with a large bonus to control most of the deck's groups. For example, a Government deck centered around Bill Clinton, or a Media deck centered around Madison Avenue would qualify as "big slurp" decks.
The Bermuda Triangle is an excellent Illuminati for a big slurp deck, because of its special ability. See Aaron Curtis's comments on the Bermuda Triangle for more information about the use of Bermuda Triangle for this type of deck.
Spawning Behemoth
A "spawning behemoth" deck is a deck that accumulates lots of 'any attempt' bonused to control a particular type of group, so that any group in the power structure has a good chance to take groups from hand.
Typical examples include Gnomes Bank decks (if the Gnomes have the Federal Reserve, that's a +10 to control any Bank), and Computer Decks (Lots of Computer groups have bonuses to control Computer groups). Less common possibilities would include the Adepts of Hermes with the Library of Alexandria (+11 to control Magic groups), or a Nation Behemoth with the United Nations, NATO, and one or more Rogue Boomers (+15 or more to control Nations). A deck that shares two alignments among most of its groups can also qualify as a Spawning Behemoth, particularly if it uses NWO: Fear and Loathing.
The INWO Book says: "A 'predator' deck is one that is designed specifically to attack the other players to get what it needs." This definition specifies a deck that attacks other players, but people do refer to also refer to decks that use Plots or special abilities to steal cards from other decks as 'Plot predators' or the like. (For example, see Aaron Curtis's Deck of the Week Double Predator.)
My proposed resolution is to accept both uses, but qualify the second use with the type of thing it steals, i.e., "Plot Predator" Do see my comments under 'Plot Killers' below, however.
Some specific types of attacking predator:
In the words of the INWO Book, "Usually this will be a deck for Cthulhu, but you can also use it with a Goal that involves destroying a lot of one alignment."
The INWO Book says: "A 'control' deck is one that depends for success on certain cards coming up ... and is designed to make sure you can pick those cards when you need them." I find there are three main approaches to Plot Control (which of course may be combined):
The Perfect Pick
This approach uses cards that let you search through your deck. Prime cards for this approach are Rosicrucians and Crop Circles. Note, though, that you will rarely be able to pick all of your cards.
Multiple Choice
This approach uses cards that give you some choice on every Plot to improve the quality of all your draws. Good cards for this approach: Crystal Skull, Mossad, and Shroud of Turin.
Shotgun Draws
This approach is based on drawing enough cards to be able to get the ones you want, without having any special control over individual draws. Good cards for this approach: Bank of England and Savings & Loan Scam.
This type of deck is based on being ultra-defensive. The INWO Book describes this under the name "U Can't Touch This."
I have also called this style of deck 'turtle'. Jess Judge (jessj@microsoft.com) suggests the name 'Rhodan':
In my circle of players, we tend to use the term "Rhodan" to refer to these decks. Much like the creature Rhodan, players with these decks tend to save their action tokens from round-to-round and hide themsleves inside their wingspans until they are ready to unveil their final plans. Many times during our games you'll here cries from would-be attackers, "So-and-so is Rhodaning again."
Good Illuminati for this purpose include Discordia and Shangri-La. Good cards include anything that confers Immunity or canceling abilities.
I use this word by inspiration from Aaron Curtis's Deck of the Week Attack of the Plot Bandits. These decks are based upon meddling with other player's Plots. (Other types of card banditry are possible, but harder. They could be referred to as 'group card bandits' or whatever.)
I know of these recognizable aspects of banditry, based on what type of meddling they do (though these will usually be combined to some extent):
Plot Predator
The Plot Predator intends to steal other player's Plots. Good cards: IRS, Las Vegas, Auditor From Hell, Embezzlement, Arms Dealers, Go Fish.
Plot Killer
The Plot Killer plays not so much to steal Plots, but to force rivals to discard cards. Good cards: Templars, Wargamers, Internet Worm, Go, Lemmings, Go!, Agent in Place.
A judicious use of Stealing the Plans can help a Plot Killer deck function as a Plot Predator.
A Spy deck is not based on removing Plots, but on knowing what every player has in their hand or deck. Dan Myers Deck of the Week God Knows, but We Can Find Out" is an excellent example of this sort of deck. Good cards include the N.S.A., the Great Pyramid, X-Ray Specs, the Phone Company, the Post Office, Spy Satellite.
I propose the word 'monochromatic' to describe a deck based around a single Alignment. So, for example, an all-Peaceful Shangri-La deck, or an all-Weird Discordia deck would fit this description.
Monochromatic decks can be very effective, since the common alignments give bonuses to control, allow groups to defend each other, and make it easy to use +10 boosters and Good Polls.
A heavyweight deck relies on a few very large or powerful groups. A Bavaria deck based around New York, Texas, the Pentagon, and the C.I.A., with the Necronomicon and some Cyborg Soldiers, is a prime example of a heavyweight deck. Bavaria is well-suited to heavyweight decks; Cthulhu is another good candidate for such decks.

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Last Modified: July 29, 1997
Ralph Melton <ralph+@cs.cmu.edu>