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The Illuminati Card Game: Eerily Predictive

ILLUMINATI is a standalone card game made by Steve Jackson Games (SJG), inspired by The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea.

In September 1981, Steve Jackson and his regular freelance cover artist Dave Martin discussed their shared admiration of the Illuminatus! Trilogy, and the latter suggested a game. After doing research on the Illuminati and conspiracy theories, the game went on the market in July 1982 in the Pocket Box format (a plastic box the size of a mass-market paperback) which was at the time the usual for SJG. Over the next few years, three expansions for the Pocket Box Illuminati game were published—the first two were substantially incorporated into the deluxe edition, while the third was an earlier version of what would become Illuminati: Brainwash. The current version of the game, Illuminati—New World Order, went on sale in 1995.

As it turned out, Jackson had created a game that would prove to be very prescient, uncomfortably close to the actual plan of the Illuminati to propel the world into a New World Order. So much so, that in 1991 his premises were raided by the US Secret Service and computers and other equipment were seized.

Apart from naming names and secret societies, Illuminati includes scenarios that we have actually witnessed being played out over recent years—and some that haven’t… yet! Two of the game’s cards foretold the attacks of 9/11. Others depict the Gulf Oil Spill, the ongoing Global Eugenics agenda, Alien Disclosure… and the point where the “Tape Runs Out”…

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The ‘Combined Disaster‘ Card... and the Waco tower in Ginza, Tokyo

Did the Illuminati Game predict the Fukushima disaster? Well, the card for Combined Disasters depicts an earthquake—in what looks like an Asian country—with a falling clock-tower in the background. On closer inspection you will see that the clock-tower is the Waco tower in Ginza, Tokyo. The hands on the clock point to 3 and 11. Could this be interpreted as March 11th, or March, 2011? The Illuminati love elevens…

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More about the game

Illuminati is a classic Steve Jackson game of world domination. Each player takes on the role of a secret society attempting to spread its tendrils into special interest groups throughout the world.

Illuminati_terror_cardsThe game is played with a deck of special cards, money chips (representing millions of dollars in low-nominal unmarked banknotes) and two six-sided dice. There are three types of cards: Illuminati, groups and special cards.

The players take role of Illuminati societies that struggle to take over the world. The Pocket Box edition depicted six Illuminati groups: The Bavarian Illuminati, The Discordian Society, The UFOs, The Servants of Cthulhu, The Bermuda Triangle, and The Gnomes of Zürich. The deluxe edition added the Society of Assassins and The Network, and the Illuminati Y2K expansion added the Church of The SubGenius and Shangri-La.

The world is represented by group cards such as Secret Masters of Fandom, the CIA, The International Communist Conspiracy, Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow, California, and many more – there are over 300 official cards available. Every group and Illuminati has some Power, Resistance and Income values; most of the world groups have an Alignment. The game is written with the usual SJG humor. The game uses a multitude of conspiracy theory in-jokes, with cards such as the Boy Sprouts (where sinister youth leaders influence the world leaders of tomorrow), the Orbital Mind Control Lasers, the Mafia, two headed Anti-Nuclear Activists, or Trekkies.

Special cards represent unexpected phenomena and features, for example increasing Income or Resistance of a group.

The game is played in turns. The primary Illuminati (player) activity is taking control of groups. During an attack to take control, the attacker must overcome the Resistance of attacked groups with combined Power of his groups (affected by Alignment of attacker and attacked), money spent, and influence of special cards. The attacked group can be defended by spending money and special cards by other players (especially by the controlling Illuminati if the group is already controlled). After a successful attack to take control, the card is placed (along the special markers) next to Illuminati, or another already controlled group forming a power structure.

Each group has its own money, best marked by placing each group’s money counters on that group. Money is moved slowly, only one step at a time between groups once per turn. Money in the Illuminated group is accessible for defense of or attacks on all groups in the entire world. Money in the groups can only be used in attacks by or against that group, but gives double defense bonus when spent.

Other types of attacks are attacks to neutralize (a neutralized group is removed from attacked Illuminati power structure and returns to the table – to the world) and attack to destroy (destroyed groups are removed from the game).

Besides attacking groups and themselves the players can trade, form alliances, and many other activities. In one variant of the game, players are allowed to cheat, steal money from the table and do anything it takes to win.

The aim of the game is fulfilled when Illuminati build a power structure consisting of given number of cards (depending on number of players), or when Illuminati fulfill its special goal, such as controlling at least one card of each alignment (the Bermuda Triangle), controlling a combined power of 35 (the Bavarian Illuminati) or hoarding 150 megabucks of money (the Gnomes of Zürich).

Although the game can support two to ten players, a group of four or five is considered ideal. Some Illuminati might seem unbalanced, such as the extremely high-income Gnomes and the low-level Discordians, but sometimes their true value is not visible at first or valuable only in certain circumstances. Planning the power structure is important, since groups close to the Illuminated core have a defense bonus. Also, groups can “block” each others control arrows, through which groups control other groups. The flow of money is also important, as a large lump of it will boost defensive/offensive of the owning group when spent. Tactics such as playing opponents off each other, backstabbing and concealing your true motives are encouraged in this game.

The game has attained cult status in some circles, been referenced in some geek media (like User Friendly comic strip). It is also mentioned in Dan Brown’s novel Angels & Demons, which concerns an apparent attack by the revived Illuminati; the game is referred to as an online computer game, but references to Steve Jackson make clear that the reference is to this game.

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