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
- 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
- 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 (email@example.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.
Back to Ralph's INWO Page.
Last Modified: July 29, 1997
Ralph Melton <firstname.lastname@example.org>