In Media Res

By Steve Hatherley

My favourite part of INWO is the mid- and end-game, when you have lots of groups and lots of things you can do. I also enjoy the difficulty of trying to manage a balanced power structure. When you’re playing to 10 groups (which is what we normally do because we like a quick game), the game can be over before this happens. So this variant changes that by increasing the number of groups you start with.

Variant - Set Up

Before the game: Compile an In Media Res deck consisting of 20 or 30 groups and resources at random. They should generally be low-power cards (no greater than 3 power) and ideally cards that you don’t normally use. There should be no duplicates (apart from non-Unique cards such as Eliza or Dittoheads). Personalities are great.

Setup: After selecting starting groups, do the following:

  • Deal four cards from the In Media Res deck to each player.
  • Each player chooses two cards (which must not be any of the starting groups), and returns the rest to the In Media Res deck.
  • Put all the cards on the table so everyone can see them.
  • Decide who is going first.
  • The first player chooses one of the cards and adds it to their power structure.
  • Then each player in turn does the same.
  • Once all players have done that, the process is reversed. That is the last player to choose, takes the next group or resource and places it in a legal place in their power structure. And so on.
  • The groups and resources must be placed legally - if one can’t be placed legally (eg the UFOs take Eliza but don’t have a Computer group yet), then it goes into that player’s hand.

Play: Play to two more groups than you normally would.


  • I think this would work well with an uncontrolled zone. Increase the number of starting group cards to 3 per player, and whatever is left is in the uncontrolled zone.
  • This will increase the number of cards moving between players. This is always a problem with INWO, however. It’s not a problem if one person provides all the cards (often me).
  • I briefly experimented with going to four groups, but that seemed like madness.
  • My original version had the groups not counting for goals while they remained in their original power structure, but that adds more complexity than I’m happy with. If you load your In Media Res deck with desirable cards you may wish to reinstate this!
  • I think this may make it easier to attack rivals - bigger power structures (their extremities particularly) tend to be vulnerable to attack, and anything that encourages attacks on other players is a good thing in my book.


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