Monday, April 11, 2022

A to Z 10 Year Update: I is for Illuminati

This post has been slightly updated from the original version posted on April 10, 2012.

A to Z 2012: Gaming in the 1980s


Steve Jackson Games provided the games that filled many of our playing hours.  The two products that were probably my favorites were OGRE and Illuminati.  OGRE was a futuristic war game featuring a cybernetic tank that was close to unstoppable while Illuminati was a card game of conspiracy and world domination.  As a side note, SJG was somewhat know for the diversity of their products and these two are just the beginning; there was also others such as Car Wars and Raid on Iran. 

I know what you're thinking - what is so great about another card game?  Well, this is not your typical card game.  Each player controls one of the mastermind orgnanizations - the Bavarian Illuminati, Gnomes of Zurich, Servants of Cthulhu, etc. - that are trying to control the world.  Each one of these groups had a different victory condition such as controlling one group of each alignment, earning a certain amount of megabucks, or destroying a certain amount of groups. 

Other activities in the game involved controlling smaller conspiracy groups to build a power structure.  This could be groups like the Boy Sprouts, the UWA, the Post Office, etc.  Each of these groups was matched up with your starting master group one of the sides and each group had up to one arrow on each side that would allow the power structure to continue to grow.  Illuminati was actually more like a board game with the cards being placed on the table as play went on so the board was forming and changing during play.  The arrangement of each power structure determined what groups could aid other groups during your turn. 

This game actually seems to encourage players to think outside of the box and try to form alliances with other players, forge treaties, and even downright cheat their way to world domination.  It wouldn't be uncommon for some players to try to work out alliances or plans before a game was taking place.  I know I am not doing the game justice with this description but it's hard to do so because I haven't played in a while and the play goes beyond the rules in the box.  The best way to describe this game just may be to take a glimpse at the SJG catalog and read the following:

"Two to six players compete to take control of groups ranging from the FBI and CIA to the Dentists, increasing their wealth and power for further takeovers, until one rules supreme. Every player has different victory conditions! No ploy is too devious, no stratagem too low, as you scheme your way to victory."

Doesn't that sound fun?

I did get into Illuminati: New World Order, the collectible card game version, in the 1990s but that was more of a collector than a player. It wasn't for a lack of effort, but everybody was into Magic: The Gathering and played it like that was the only game in town.  Steve Jackson Games has released a version of the original game in a somewhat larger format, but they haven't done an updated version similar to OGRE or Car Wars.  If you're interested in the game, you can always check the official website at Illuminati: The Game of Conspiracy at the SJG site.