Oblique strategies is a set of cards created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt used to break deadlocks in creative situations.

Each card contains a (sometimes cryptic) remark that can help you resolve a creative dilemma.

Whenever you're stuck you draw a card and ponder how it applies to your situation. You may draw as many cards as you wish.

This website is an online version of the deck, containing many cards from the printed editions.

For more information see Oblique Strategies on Wikipedia


(Organic) machinery

A line has two sides

A very small object -Its centre

Abandon desire

Abandon normal instructions

Accept advice


Adding on

Allow an easement (an easement is the abandonment of a stricture)

Always first steps

Always give yourself credit for having more than personality

Always the first steps

Are there sections? Consider transitions

Ask people to work against their better judgement

Ask your body

Assemble some of the elements in a group and treat the group

Back up a few steps. What else could you have done?

Balance the consistency principle with the inconsistency principle

Be dirty

Be extravagant

Be less critical more often

Breathe more deeply

Bridges -build -burn

Call your mother and ask her what to do.


Change ambiguities to specifics

Change instrument roles

Change nothing and continue with immaculate consistency

Change specifics to ambiguities

Children's voices -speaking -singing

Cluster analysis

Consider different fading systems

Consider transitions

Consult other sources -promising -unpromising

Convert a melodic element into a rhythmic element


Cut a vital connection

Decorate, decorate

Define an area as `safe' and use it as an anchor

Describe the landscape in which this belongs. (9 August)

Destroy nothing; Destroy the most important thing

Discard an axiom

Disciplined self-indulgence

Disconnect from desire

Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them

Discover your formulas and abandon them

Display your talent

Distorting time

Do nothing for as long as possible

Do something boring

Do something sudden, destructive and unpredictable

Do the last thing first

Do the washing up

Do the words need changing?

Do we need holes?

Don't avoid what is easy

Don't be afraid of things because they're easy to do

Don't be frightened of cliches

Don't be frightened to display your talents

Don't break the silence

Don't stress one thing more than another

Emphasize differences

Emphasize repetitions

Emphasize the flaws

Faced with a choice, do both

Feed the recording back out of the medium

Feedback recordings into an acoustic situation

Fill every beat with something

Find a safe part and use it as an anchor

First work alone, then work in unusual pairs.

From nothing to more than nothing

Get your neck massaged

Ghost echoes

Give the game away

Give way to your worst impulse

Go outside. Shut the door.

Go slowly all the way round the outside

Go to an extreme, move back to a more comfortable place

How would someone else do it?

How would you explain this to your parents?

How would you have done it?

Humanize something that is free of error.

Idiot glee (?)

Imagine the music as a moving chain or caterpillar

Imagine the music as a series of disconnected events

In total darkness, or in a very large room, very quietly

Infinitesimal gradations

Instead of changing the thing, change the world around it.

Intentions -credibility of -nobility of -humility of

Into the impossible

Is it finished?

Is something missing?

Is the intonation correct?

Is the style right?

Is the tuning appropriate?

Is the tuning intonation correct?

Is there something missing?

It is quite possible (after all)

It is simply a matter or work

Just carry on

Left channel, right channel, centre channel

List the qualities it has. List those you'd like.

Listen in total darkness, or in a very large room, very quietly

Listen to the quiet voice

Look at a very small object, look at its centre

Look at the order in which you do things

Look closely at the most embarrassing details and amplify.

Lost in useless territory

Lowest common denominator check -single beat -single note -single riff

Magnify the most difficult details

Make a blank valuable by putting it in an excquisite frame

Make a sudden, destructive unpredictable action; incorporate

Make an exhaustive list of everything you might do and do the last thing on the list

Make it more sensual

Make what's perfect more human

Mechanize something idiosyncratic

Move towards the unimportant

Mute and continue

Not building a wall but making a brick

Once the search has begun, something will be found

Only a part, not the whole

Only one element of each kind

Overtly resist change

Pae White's non-blank graphic metacard

Pay attention to distractions

Picture of a man spotlighted

Put in earplugs

Question the heroic approach

Remember those quiet evenings

Remove a restriction

Remove ambiguities and convert to specifics

Remove specifics and convert to ambiguities

Remove the middle, extend the edges

Repetition is a form of change

Retrace your steps

Revaluation (a warm feeling)


Short circuit (example; a man eating peas with the idea that they will improve his virility shovels them straight into his lap)

Shut the door and listen from outside

Simple subtraction

Simply a matter of work

Slow preparation, fast execution

Spectrum analysis

State the problem in words as simply as possible

Steal a solution.

Take a break

Take away as much mystery as possible. What is left?

Take away the elements in order of apparent non-importance

Take away the important parts

Tape your mouth

The inconsistency principle

The most important thing is the thing most easily forgotten

The tape is now the music

Think - inside the work -outside the work

Think of the radio

Tidy up

Towards the insignificant

Trust in the you of now

Try faking it

Turn it upside down

Twist the spine

Use "unqualified" people.

Use an old idea

Use an unacceptable color

Use cliches

Use fewer notes

Use filters

Use something nearby as a model

Use your own ideas

Voice your suspicions


What are the sections sections of? Imagine a caterpillar moving

What context would look right?

What do you do? Now, what do you do best?

What else is this like?

What is the reality of the situation?

What is the simplest solution?

What mistakes did you make last time?

What most recently impressed you? How is it similar? What can you learn from it? What could you take from it?

What to increase? What to reduce? What to maintain?

What were the branch points in the evolution of this entity

What were you really thinking about just now? Incorporate

What would make this really successful?

What would your closest friend do?

What wouldn't you do?

When is it for? Who is it for?

Where is the edge?

Which parts can be grouped?

Who would make this really successful?

Work at a different speed

Would anyone want it?

You are an engineer

You can only make one dot at a time

You don't have to be ashamed of using your own ideas

Your mistake was a hidden intention