Ralph's INWO Consultants Page

I occasionally run into the following situation: I have a fiendish and cunningly illuminated idea for a deck, but I have trouble developing it into true evil glory. I want to talk to someone about the idea, but I don't want to talk about it with someone I am likely to play the deck against. Nor do I want to post about it on the INWO list, because many of my likely opponents also read about the INWO list.

For that purpose, I have created this web page to serve as a directory of INWO consultants. All of these people listed here are people who have volunteered to help other players with INWO deck construction and strategy.

If you'd be willing to join this list, please send me e-mail at ralph@cs.cmu.edu. I'd like as much of the following information as you're willing to provide:

Editorial policy: I let people write their own blurbs. I may edit them; I will attempt not to change the content by doing so. I will also allow any person who is on this list to make comments about other people on this list. Again, I will edit the comments; in particular, I will try to keep this page free from name-calling, although polite criticism is appropriate.

In the following descriptions, 'I' should be interpreted as referring to the person who is being described, since I let people write their own descriptions. Where I have guessed at information or written it myself, I have tagged it with my initials: (RLM)

Glen Barnett
Home page: none, but check out:
Location: Sydney, Australia
Blurb: I have come second in a tournament, but I don't claim it was due to good deck design.
I designed the "No Beer!" disaster, and got a second prize in the Pyramid design-a-card competition for "Choose Now!".
I write the INWO Quiz on occasion, which may imply I know the cards pretty well.
I created the "Take on a 10 list" (see the link above), which is handy when you are creating decks, and the "Disasters vs Places" Table, which is also handy for certain decks.
I seem to have a slightly different approach to some people - sometimes I can spot the less-obvious thing to do.
In play (when I can manage to get a game) I have occasional bursts of cleverness, interspersed between longer periods of mental deficiency. I can design a half-decent deck, though.
I mostly play no duplicates with a few sealed deck games thrown in, but I've played normal games as well.
Duane E.K. Bridges
Newport, RI
Habits: I play mostly with version 1.0 of the rules, with one house rule: a four card duplication limit. I own two full sets of the Limited Edition, one for play, and one as a collection. I own all Assassins cards, but I rarely use the Zaps or Freeze cards. All my opponents have also had complete sets to build decks from. I am used to long sessions involving truly vicious feuds and brutal combats. No isolationists are ever allowed to win.
Terry Chilvers
Perth, Western Australia
Hello, my name is Terry, and I am an INWO addict....
Lots of consultants seem to be bragging about their card collection, so I may as well join in. I have 2-3 ULE sets, and need only No Beer! to complete my Assassins collection.... That feels good, kinda locker room thang !
I tend to play a focussed deck, built around one or two key groups, and including duplicate plots as appropriate. I know the cards fairly well, and act as the local rules lawyer. There are still occasional miscarriages of justice however.
I organise and referee tournament sessions, so might be useful to others in this regard. I also maintain a web page which has details on INWO variants, Glen Barnett's tables, Glen and Ralph's INWO quizzes and a few other useful goodies.
Colin Clark
John Davis
James Eddleman
Atlanta, Georgia, USA (I think --RLM)
Blurb: I ran 3 games at DragonCon over the weekend (Jun 29, 1996, I presume--RLM) and I had the best time doing so. I would love being part of this page so I would be kept on my toes and have a smaller chance of missing 'obscure' sections of the rules. For example, my group hardly ever moves groups around, especially to another player's power structure. This came up during the one game I played and I was sure that this coudn't be done. Live and learn.
Don Fnordlioni
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Habits: Generally, I don't play Bavarian Illuminati, or going for Power for Its Own Sake, mostly because a) Playing Bavaria is just too high profile, and b) PfiOS seems too darn easy. Also, I don't have/play with many Assassins cards (They're kinda silly, mostly).
Experience: I've played INWO for about a year and a half, and have had spurts of frenzied activity on inwo-list. I maintain the HTML version of the INWO Unoffical FAQ. And I play with Ralph.
Ralph says: Don Fnordlioni is a worthy opponent of mine. He usually plays decks that are amusing and fairly effective. I am proud to share with him the honor of having a Deck of the Week whose fundamental principle has been invalidated by the official rulings of the INWO Masters. His comments on the INWO list are worth reading. I look forward to teaming up with him again in another attempt to achieve a Fratricide.
David Gillberg
Kalmar, Sweden
Blurb: I've played INWO for three years, my first (and still) favourite deck is based round servants but I also play discordian, network, bavarian, bermuda and adepts. I play regularly (at least 5-6 times/month) with five of my closest friend and sometimes with some other.
Peter Gleeson
Home Page: None (sob,sob)
Geographic Location: Auckland, New Zealand (you know, off the right hand side and down a bit from Australia)
Blurb: I haven't played in any tournaments because they don't seem to run them in NZ. I have been playing INWO since it came out, and before that used to play Illuminati. I have 2 Factory sets (because they were cheap - well $25 US) and am about 4 cards away from completing my Assassins set. This will all change when I win the Pyramid Card Contest and have all the cards I ever dreamed of. When I started playing, I tried all of the different Illuminati, and the various themed decks (with appropriate goals), but now I play mostly for fun, not to win. I play usually once every 2 weeks or so, when I can rouse other gamers out of bouts of apathy. I have a fairly good knowledge of the cards from both the basic set, and Assassins.
Steve Hatherley
Leeds/Chester, England
I've been playing INWO since it was released, and was a fan of Illuminati before that. I also maintain the INWO Unoffical FAQ, that heretical tome the secret masters refuse to endorse. I actually prefer random games (such as OMNI and OBD games) to designed deck games, but that's because my strength is in getting the best out of strange combinations. I also like to see Agents for cards such as the Boy Sprouts and Margaret Thatcher, and you just don't get that in a built-deck game!
Ralph says: Steve participates actively on the INWO mailing list and the INWO cards list, and his contributions are worth reading. I remember him particularly for his discussions of ways to make INWO less isolationist, and of ways for players to share victories. He also maintains the INWO Unofficial FAQ, which is a big service to INWO players everywhere. With his penchant for random games, he might be a good consultant for players with relatively few cards.
Albert Huang
Home Page: http://www.imsa.edu/~lucifer
Chicago, IL, USA
I'm a pretty heavy INWO collector/player. I've got 2 complete ULE sets, and i'm 6 cards away from a complete assassin set. I have multiples of cards that I often play with (like secrets or +10 cards) so I do know how to play with recursive decks.
As for my playing style, i tend to dislike short (2 turn) games. i prefer 4-6 player 4-5 turn games. The reason: my friends and I used to each own decks that could usually win by turn 2. But fast decks usually aren't interactive decks, so that took the fun out of INWO.
Hence, we set up house rules governing deck construction which I will gladly share upon request. Nowadays, I usuallly build decks that can win with two or even three methods while maintaining a moderate defense.
Sam Kington
http://www.illuminated.co.uk/ (main page) and http://www.illuminated.co.uk/inwo (INWO Homebrew)
I've been playing INWO for about a year and a half now, mostly every week but with some long periods of inactivity. I have a factory set and all the Assassins cards apart from some ultra-rares, with sufficient duplicates of the most useful cards. I rarely win as I actively dislike weenie decks, but instead try and go for devious decks that win in surprising ways. My current goal is to have played with all the cards at one point or another. Perversely, despite maintaining a web page full of 2000 homebrew cards, our group doesn't play with homebrews.
Jamie McDonald
Washington, DC
I've only been in the game about a year, but I gave up Magic: Crack Gathering for it so there must be some affinity between myself and the Secret Masters. As far as Illuminati go, I don't use the Gnomes or Cthulhu so don't ask. Since my Ultimate Plan involves a lot of weirdness, I usually practice by using Discordia -- though not in any sort of wimp isolationist manner. I just like weirdness. For wimp isolationist wins I use Shangri-La. =)
The Zaps I use are limited to "Sorry, Wrong Number" except for the attribute freezes I throw in for defense or the final win. I love playing obscure cards that work well in combination. (How many times have I turned someone's group weird and then wallopped with the Comic Books, not an oft-played card in my neck of the woods.)
Anyhoo, that's me. Wish I had a cool name like "fnordlioni," but my own will have to do.
Ralph Melton
Home Page:http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~ralph
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Blurb: I've been a regular player of INWO since August of 1995. By now, I don't want merely to win -- I want to win with style. I've developed a reputation within our regular playing group for always having something up my sleeve.
I will not brag about the size of my INWO collection, because I worry that the secret of my success may be the size of my collection, rather than my skill. It will suffice to say that I can build almost any deck that I want.
I am hoping to be an INWO consultant because I want to encounter other people's clever tricks, cunning ideas, and Mad Schemes for Global Domination! Muahahaha!
Glen Barnett says: Ralph's knowledge and understanding of the rules is as good as you'll find on the INWO list, I'd only rank Aaron and Lynette quite as good for rules knowledge. He knows more about the cards than me, and scores disgustingly highly on the INWO quizzes.
Nik Olah (aka DJ MotorFudge)
Toledo, OH USA
I have been playing Illuminati ever since it first came out (what is it, 10years or so now?) I even have my autographed Law of Averages card still. Law of Averages works like Murphy's Law or Assassination (original rules--Illuminati not INWO) but retroactively changes dice rolls to 7. Steve was a guest of honor at BASHCon 87 or 88 (don't remember what year it was.....). I most enjoy theme decks, even if they don't win too often. I currently am having fun with my 'Space Race' deck including one of every satellite resource, 2 Supernovas, 2 Frankenfoods, etc...
Rev. Pee Kitty
Tampa Bay, FL
I wish I could brag about my card collection as well; none of my local stores carry INWO anymore, as it never sold big down here. Thus, 80% of the Assassins cards I use are blank proxies. I happen to be a very avid pro-proxy person; one thing I hate about some games and groups is the competition to collect as many Rares and Chase Cards as possible so you can pummel your opponent into the ground. With INWO, most of the 'killer cards' are Common anyways, and degenerate combos are usually stoppable.
I've been playing INWO since Limited was first released, and my Deck of the Week ("Your Money is in Good Hands") is still one of my favorites. The UFOs come second...I like seeing how many different Goals I can make viable in one deck. I'm eagerly awaiting the SubGenius expansion; at the last SubGenius X-Day Drill I was fortunately enough to get a shot at the playtest cards--they are good! :)
My current INWO hobby is designing a homebrew In Nomine expansion for INWO, with the help of Alex Yeager, Sam Kington, Jesse Rooney, Marc Sherman, and the others on the INWO-Cards list. The final result will be up on my website when finished.
Christian Stenner
Bochum, Germany
I probably know anything about constructing decks. I own every card as often as I possibly need it. I win half the tournaments I attend. I`m the actual and past winner of the German INWO-championships. My favorite playing style is nowadays to play ordinary groups working together without plots and plots that prevent other player`s victory (not the attempt) and then grab the whole pie. I also organize tournaments and translate the upcoming SubGenius. One might ask me especially about German cards, but I know almost everything about the little nasty holes in the rules. Look for my infamous Essen deck somewhere on the net.
Kevin S. Tyrrell
Boston, MA
A database developer by trade, I'm a real statistics nut when it comes to INWO, dreaming up all sorts of "what if" scenarios for deck design, e.g., "How many Communist Coastal Nations can I make Fanatic and Magic with Big Prawn, Frankenfood, Sufficiently Advanced Technology and the Nutrition Nazis?" It was this trait that earned me my 15 minutes of fame, when a scant 2 weeks after its release, I compiled a huge list of Assassins cards with the help of a few dozen players on the Net, and determined which cards were the Ultra-Rares from the frequency distribution. I've got copies of all the English language cards and enjoy testing out other people's decks for them--I've tried out many of the DotW's--when I'm not developing my own Fanatic Magic Communist Coastal Nation theme decks.
Note: Though I use the handle, Kestrel, I'm not to be confused with Kestrel, the Fairly Decent Dragon (aka Andrew Getting), who also posts frequently to inwo-list.
Mike Williams
Rogersvilee, TN (a.k.a. the Middle of Nowhere).
If you are a reader of Pyramid Magazine you could have possibly heard of me. I made it to the final match, finishing sixth overall, in the Multi-player Global Domination Tournament at GenCon '95 (Pyramid issue 16). At the Global Domination Tournaments in '96, I finished fourth in both the Head-to-Head and Multi-player events (Pyramid issue 22). And I must say, Paul Mehle (reigning world champ) is perhaps the greatest INWO player that I have ever ran up against. I have sets of the limited, and Assassins. At GenCon '96 some of my prizes included the CONspiracy promo card as well as numerous German cards unique to the Greman edition. I am focusing my trading, as well as deck building, on German cards and German related cards presently.
Alex Yeager
Detroit/Ann Arbor (MI)
I've been running convention events (including Illuminati past and present) for 12 years; I'm the proud owner of two sets of Limiteds and Assassins (and some of those nifty back-misprint cards!), and also regularly play within my circle of friends. Strengths are in teaching INWO to first-timers, inventing instantaneous rule clarifications (correct and otherwise), and occasionally creating, but always admiring, those breathtaking strokes of genius represented so well in your typical Deck of the Week. I also work for a performance improvement company. Keep sending in those surveys, mortals.

Some other resources for INWO strategy ideas:

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Last modified: May 28, 1997

Ralph Melton ralph@cs.cmu.edu