Illuminati Card Game - Do You Want to Play?

Posted on 10/07/2017
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The game Illuminati was inspired by 1975 book The Illuminatus! Triology. The game creator Steve Jackson and his regular freelance cover artist Dave Martin were admiring the book Triology, and suggested a game. In September 1981, the discussion about the novel became reality. The difficulty of adapting a novel with such convoluted plots and some game rights lead the game to turn into something different. The game about the secret-conspiracy behind Illuminatus was created. If you research the Illuminati and conspiracy theories you will get a lot of material for a complex game as this one is. The game got on the market in July 1982. In few next years three expansions of the game were published. The first two were incorporated into the deluxe edition, while the third became Illuminati: Brainwash. One of the game creators Robert Shea added a four paragraph instruction for the Illuminati Expansion Set 1 (1983): "Maybe the Illuminati are behind this game. They must be—they are, by definition, behind everything."

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The game includes:8 Illuminati cards; 83 cards representing other Groups; 15 Special cards; 4 blank cards; 160 money tokens, representing megabucks (MB); two dice.

The object of the game is for Illuminati to take over control of the world. Player starts with a single Illuminati card which represents its own secret conspiracy. During th game the player takes over other Groups which are added to players structure and bidding, unless a foe takes them. One can win by controlling enough Groups or by fulfilling the special goal of Illuminati.

You can make alignments, there are ten which can be created:

  • Government is the opposite of Communist.
  • Liberal is the opposite of Conservative.
  • Peaceful is the opposite of Violent.
  • Straight is the opposite of Weird.
  • Criminal has no opposite alignment.
  • Fanatic – Any two Fanatic Groups are considered “opposite” to each other.


Play goes counter-clockwise around the table.

  1. Collect income on all cards that have an Income number.
  2. Draw a card. If it is a Special card, the player keeps it. If the card is a Group, it is placed face-up in the uncontrolled area.
  3. Take two “actions.” See list, below.
  4. Take any “free actions.” These do not count against the two actions allowed during each turn. They may be taken before, between, or after the two regular actions. See below for list.
  5. Transfer money. Part or all of any Group’s money may be moved to an adjacent Group. Two money transfers are allowed per turn.
  6. Take special-power actions.
  7. Add targets. Draw cards until there are two uncontrolled Groups. Discard any Specials drawn.


Regular Actions: Attack a Group (to control, neutralize, or destroy); Transfer money; Move a Group; Give a Group away. Free Actions: Drop a Group; Give away money or Specials; Use a Special (Exception: Bribery is a regular action.) Passing: A player may choose not to.


Attack to Control. Defending Group’s Resistance is subtracted from attacking Group’s Power, including any Transferable Power from other Groups aiding in the attack. Only members of attacker’s own Power Structure can aid the attack. Modify this number for attacker’s or defender’s special powers, for money spent by both sides, and for other factors shown below. Using two dice, attacker must roll this number or less. A roll of 11 or 12 is an automatic failure.


Bavarian Illuminati Control Groups with a total power of 35 or more (including their own Power of 10).

Bermuda Triangle Control at least one Group of each alignment.

A Group with more than one alignment counts for each of its alignments.

Discordian Society Control five Weird Groups.

Gnomes of Zurich Collect 150 megabucks (in the whole Power Structure’s treasuries). The Network.

Control Groups with a total Transferable Power of 25 (including their own 7).

Servants of Cthulhu Destroy eight Groups.

Society of Assassins Control six Violent Groups.

UFOs At the beginning of the game, after players choose their Illuminati, the UFO player picks the Special Goal of any other Illuminati group. He writes it down, keeping it secret from the other players. 


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Hear out what the game creator Steve Jackson had to say about the game: 

onspiracy is an ancient pastime; so is the study of conspiracy. Secrecy in itself is harmless, but it always attracts attention. And many “known” secret groups are powerful indeed! Try to envision the criminal world without the Mafia, the American civil rights movement without the Ku Klux Klan, or an American college campus without Greek-letter societies. An estimated 15 million Americans are involved in secret (or at least secretive) groups of one kind or another. A number of excellent sources are available for those wishing more information about (a) the Illuminati; (b) people who believe in them; and (c) people who enjoy leaving false trails to confuse people who believe in the Illuminati. Any good encyclopedia will include articles on the historical Society of Assassins, Bavarian Illuminati, and Freemasonry, and the connections, known and speculative, between them. The Illuminatus! trilogy, by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, is required reading for any conspiracy buff. Wilson is this century’s foremost public authority on the Illuminati, though his books conceal their information within great masses of humor, lies, and philosophical speculation. His Schrodinger's Cat trilogy is entertaining but relatively uninformative. Cosmic Trigger (Final Secret of the Illuminati) is scientific/philosophical commentary, laced with discussion of conspiracy and Strange Coincidence. Masks of the Illuminati is fictionalized history (or historicize fiction). More recently, Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum illustrates the folly of looking too deeply into any conspiracy . . . or into your own mind. A History of Secret Societies, by “Arkon Daraul,” is an interesting primer, discussing many Illuminated, pseudo Illuminated, and totally unconnected Groups. It should not be taken as gospel, but makes a good research guide. The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon, is a classic study of alienation (and a lot of fun!). If one accepts the Illuminati, can the sinister minions of Tristero be far behind? What Pynchon does not say here is far more important than what he does. Principia Discordia, by “Malaclypse the Younger,” is the bible of Discordianism. More entertaining than most holy books, it also contains a number of interesting truths, not all of which were intended by the authors. SJ Games publishes an edition of the Principia, and will gleefully sell you a copy! The Illuminoids, by Neal Wilgus, is an examination, not of the Illuminati themselves, but of the men and women who study and believe in the various conspiracy theories. Holy Blood, Holy Grail, by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln, argues that an unrevealed conspiracy has, in fact, been working among us for 2,000 years. The recent thriller The Da Vinci Code recycled the idea for the mass market, with more explosions. Alan Moore’s brilliant graphic novel Watchmen mingles super heroics with conspiracy. Power can indeed corrupt, no matter what its nature. World Revolution, by Nesta H. Webster, is a turgid text by a woman who was chasing Illuminati long before most of us were born. She takes the Bavarian Illuminati very seriously, citing them as the guiding force behind Communism, the French Revolution, and so on. A bigoted and alarmist book, which strongly warns of “the danger now threatening civilization.” Rare, but available in some large libraries. Also from the 1920s, Charles Fort’s The Book of the Damned and Lo! cite numerous cases of the strange and inexplicable: showers of frogs, vanishing men, impossible coincidences. His favorite theme: factual reports suppressed by “authority” because they cannot be explained. A typical conjecture: “I think we’re property.” Another early piece of conspiracy literature is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This is an anti-Semitic hoax first propounded early in this century; it purports to be the minutes of the meetings of a Zionist conspiracy to (what else?) take over the world. Oddly, many “conspiracy buffs” still take the Protocols at face value. Martin Gardner’s Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science contains detailed, if unsympathetic, treatments of a number of “fringe” cults, pseudosciences, and peculiar phenomena. It could well inspire a reader to invent groups stranger than anything in the game. Finally, the writings of the survivalist/financial author Howard Ruff contain many references to (or debunking of) modern theories of economic conspiracy. What really happened to silver prices in 1981-82? Why did the stock market crash in 1987, and why doesn’t it crash now? Why does inflation keep on inflating, and who benefits most? Those who remain interested in the mystery of the Illuminati will no doubt go on to more serious research involving the works of Alister Crowley, Abd al-Azrad, Tirion Palantir, “Bob” Dobbs, O.K. Ravenhurst, Kilgore Trout, and so on. Please don’t write to tell me what you learn. I don’t want to know. And don’t blame me if you vanish on some foggy night, never to be seen again. After all, it’s just a game . . . isn’t it? Fnord. – Steve Jackson 

Lets get into seeing how the cards look, and could be possible that the deck was actually predicting some of the events which were about to happen. Keep in mind that the latest ones were created in 1990-91 when the internet was taking off and when the attacks started to happen. Most of the card have that dooms day feeling, because on most of them you can see great monuments and touristic attractions being destroyed. Is it this just a coincidence or is there more to it? Conspiracy theories are easy to find in almost everything, but is this just a clever way of hiding something at the plain sight?


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