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Store:  Strategy Games, Card Games
Series:  Illuminati
Genre:  Negotiation & Diplomacy
Format:  Card Games


deluxe edition

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Ages Play Time Players
13+ 60-180 minutes 2-6

Designer(s): Steve Jackson

Manufacturer(s): Steve Jackson Games

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  • WARNING: Choking Hazard - Small Parts

Product Description

They're all around us. Secret conspiracies are everywhere, and where can you find the only truth? Certainly not in the game of Illuminati. Fnord.

By popular demand, Deluxe Illuminati (not to be confused with the trading-card version, INWO) is back in print! This new edition features full-color cards and improved money chits... but it's the same game you know and fear, of secret conspiracies battling for world control.

Product Information

Illuminati has the following expansions available:
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Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.3 in 18 reviews

by Colby Hershberger
Warning: Contents are addicting
September 26, 2011

In my senior year of high school i started a chess club with our advisor being my equally nerdy chemistry teacher. One day he brought in this game and we played through it; i don't think we played a single game of chess after that night because we were all consumed by this game. This game is for the kids who always played banker in Monopoly because they liked to steal money when nobody was looking and for the kids who always made new rules..and then convinced everyone else they were real just to win an upperhand. This game is for the forward thinker, backstabber, and diplomat. Easily one of the greatest table games ive ever set hands on.

by Schey
Great Game
February 25, 2004

that holds up well. People make it sound like this game is like playing the original Risk. I've NEVER played a game of Illuminati that lasted for more than 3 hours, and the cards are great, the interaction is great, and the premise is about as unique as they come. I love SOME of the German games (Puerto Rico) and hate others (Settlers is like craps without the cash) but for variety this game is a great part of my collection. Oh, and Cosmic Encounters is still one of the best games I've played, right up there with anything. What's wrong with a 3 hour game? Is our attention span that short in the 21st century? Maybe it has something to do with the 'fluoride' in the toothpaste . . .


Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Bob P
The Rock Star of Games
September 15, 2003

I'm completely captivated by this game!

If you want a game where people sit silently and are polite to each other -- then don't play this game. If you want a game where you can play a fixed, tried and true, by the numbers strategies -- then don't play this game.

BUT, if you want a game where ONLY diplomacy can win; where lying, conniving, backstabbing and bluffing are considered good form; where fate can deal you a foul lot and you know that you can still win -- then play this game.

It's the rock star of games. A little brash, noisy, rough around the edges -- but it's where fun people go for hours and hours of delight.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Great fun. Real Conspiracies.
August 01, 2003

This game is an essential for any household.

Not only is it fun and addidictive, but it also teaches us the real-world organizations that are influencing our lives everyday. These unseen puppet masters are the power groups that control all of the worlds power, money and politics. They are real.

They are everywhere.

They are watching.

Trust no one.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
I like it, but I am not quite sure why.
July 31, 2003

The first time we played this, it was with a large group - 7 players.

Big mistake. The game went on from 8PM until 2AM. We enjoyed it, though - we would have quite otherwise, but that is a bit too long.

This game should really only be played with 5 or 6 players, not 7 or 8, as larger groups can make it possible for the game to go on and on.

The ganme is fun, and the cards and groups available can create various comic situations and witty remarks, however, there is one problem with the game.

If any player gets close to winning, it is easy for the other players launch an attack and snatch the victory away. This means that near the end of the game the vinal victory will usually be determined by pure luck - there may be several players close to winning, and it is all just a matter of a dice roll or two.

Sure, strategy matters, but there is a significant luck factor too. I don't like games determined by luck, but nevertheless Illuminati is fun enough for me to award it 4 stars.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Can last forever
April 15, 2003

This is a witty game, first of all, and for that it deserves credit. The premise of worldwide conspiracy is well carried out, and I had fun playing it for a time-- until that one dark night, in 1987.

We started at 9 p.m. Experienced gamers, and experience Illuminati players all, we never failed to point out when it was possible to stop some other player from winning. And we stopped them-- every time. At 6 in the morning, all of us admitted we weren't actually having fun, that we would happily have someone else win if it would only end it all.

My wife now takes one of the expansions and attaches a skull to it with rubber bands, leaving it out as a warning to people who come to our game day. The rest of the game remains hidden, becuase we like our friends.

There's actually something appropriate and in-theme about the fact that the mere mention of the game sends any of the four who played that night screaming from the room.


Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Overrated marathon game whose race is run.
December 11, 2002

People used to think that Illuminati was a good game...back 20 or so years ago. This was when your only options were the Parker / MB monoliths, with precious few independent / unique offerings out there. In that environment, how could Illuminati fail to impress?

Now fast forward 20 years. The German invasion is upon us, great games can and often are played in less than an hour, and each and every one of Illuminati's mechanics has been improved upon and updated somewhere else. Why bother wasting three-plus hours of your life playing something with huge end-game problems when you could have run through three or even four other hugely satisfying games instead?

Want back-stabbing? Play Intrige. Want cool cards with unique effects? Play Magic. Want a game that has just as many bash-the-leader problems and endless repetitive gameplay? Um...I guess you've got me there. Can't think of another game that accomplishes THAT as well.

Bottom line: Friends don't let friends play Illuminati.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Simply the Best of the Best
November 09, 2001

It's hard to imagaine that the first edition of Illuminati was released 20 years ago. It's even more hard for me to imagaine why I have never played this game during the past two decades. No other multi-player card-based design that I know of so successfully combines strategy, resource management, diplomacy, and humor as does Illuminati.

Even more amazing, this game seems to appeal to both the Euro and war game crowd. Refined rules and clever artwork further contribute to a very positive experience. Gametime is about 2 hours, and is filled with lots of player interaction.

I can't say enough good things about Illuminati. If, like me, you avoided this game because it looked too silly, consider giving it a try--a solid and fun strategy design awaits you.

In my book, Illuminati ranks as the best of the best--my hat goes off to Steve Jackson for this one.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Once-great, but past its prime
September 03, 2001

This game was the cool game... 20 years ago.

Back before the 'third generation' of boardgaming ('German' games and the streamlined, quicker-playing offerings of today), this game dared to be different. Much like Cosmic Encounter, the then-new premise was that each player could bend the basic rules a little, depending upon the special attributes of their 'playing piece' (in this case, an Illuminati group). The fact that each group had different victory conditions was so avant garde back then, that every gamer just had to try (and, if they had any sense at all, love) this game.

But, looking back, it doesn't hold up well. There have been so many advances in boardgaming since then that this game (like Cosmic Encounter, Diplomacy, and most Avalon Hill titles) seems to be quite a dinosaur. It's fun and silly to talk about the innocent (and not-so-innocent) groups banding together to be the behind-the-scenes rules of the world. But it's not really a fun game. It's still turn based, like most old American games. It still depends upon attacks/combat (who should I kill now?) as the means to victory, rather than the modern tactic of choosing among various constructive ways to advance (which option advances my position more?).

Maybe I'm jaded and have been brought to the dark side of kinder, gentler games which rely on advancement of your own position rather than destruction of your opponents'. Maybe I've been won over by the 'multi-player solitaire' games of today. Whatever the case, Illuminati no longer holds as much charm as it did all those years ago.

If you want to hold onto the past, or you simply want to find out what was considered 'new wave' back at the turn of the 80s, go ahead and jump on this game. But if your tastes run towards the current crop of 'German' games, don't waste your time.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by JDW
Great mix of politics, strategy, and scheming
June 28, 2001

Illuminati is a classic game of 'help your neighbor, then turn around and stab him in the back'. This game has no pretenses and no illusions. When you play it, you are creating your own conspiracy against everyone else. Even the 'recommended forms of cheating' in the rules make the game fun, because it means you have to pay that much more attention. A perfect game if you need to test your abilities as a strategist or a schemer.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Scheme your way to victory
April 22, 2001

This is a superb game with impeccable design. Your strategy must vary wildly depending on which group you choose at the beginning and there are always multiple paths to victory. There are enough cards that you will be surprised each time. Grab at least three friends for the best experience. The true joy of this game will come in making (and breaking) alliances, tricking opponents, and manipulating the cards in play to hurt your enemies.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Great Game!
March 17, 2001

As the rules state at one point, play it with really good friends, or people you will never see again!

I love the comical factor involved in the cards. After almost every game, my friends and I will flip through the cards that never got out and laugh. You would think that after a few dozen times of scanning the deck, this would get old, but it doesn't!

Love to play the game and have many times, and will many more.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
The greatest game of conspiracy ever, fnord!
February 23, 2001

The reissued deluxe edition of Illuminati collects three of the four expansion sets of the original Illuminati card game (the fourth expansion set took the game in the wrong direction). I can still remember the first time I played this game as a teenager back in the mid-eighties... it has stuck with me ever since. It takes at least one full gaming experience to get a handle on the complexities of this game, but once you play, you get it... and are hooked for life. Although the instructions claim this is a game for 2-6 players, it really needs to be played with four or more for the complete paranoid experience. This is a true game of conspiracy, trust, deceit, and interpersonal skills. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll get very very very angry, and you will always be surprised by tactical and unpredictable turn of events. If you've got one to two hours or so to spare, at least three other bright, conniving 'friends', then come become the Discordian Society, the Servants of Cthulu, the Network, or many other power groups and hold on as the Orbital Mind Control Lasers take control of Texas, and the Boy Sprouts of America get held in check by the Mafia... this is an awesome, awesome game. Highly recommended.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Best 5 player game ever created
December 21, 2000

Illuminati is a great game with 4 or more players. You always have a general sense of how close everyone is to winning and all players can contribute to bringing the leading player down to the same level. Generally speaking, all players but one will be within a turn of winning as the game finishes. The games are quick and competitive. Winning depends on strategy and interpersonal skills.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Entertaining once, but loses interest fast.
December 12, 2000

Illuminati is a very amusing game the first time through. Some of the conspiracies were truly inspiring and worth a laugh or two. Game play was a little turgid however. It would not play well with less than 4 people, and gameplay is fairly predictable. There are a couple of cards that are too powerful and some of the factions can win more easily than others. Overall, this game does not have long-term replayability and will only be amusing to new gamers. I would not recommend buying this game new.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Jeff
But who REALLY controls the Post Office....
May 15, 2000

Let me begin by saying that this is a FANTASTIC multi-player game. Do not play this game with two players, and it isn't quite as good with three. Where this game really excels is with 4, 5, and even 6 players!

Illuminati is a game of conspiracy. Each player controls a different 'illuminati' agency, each with their own special powers and with their own unique victory conditions. The player then expands their network by siezing control of other groups (such as the Phone Company, The Democrats, the Post Office, the Mafia...) that are either uncontrolled or controlled by other players. The newly acquired groups can then be used to gain control of yet other groups. You can have the I.R.S. group controlling the Mafia who then control Video Games.

Throughout the game all of your groups will have a set income that they generate per turn. The groups can use the money to increase their power during attacks on other groups, or the money can be used to assist their defense from attack. The money can also be used to assist other players to attack one another or to even assist in another players defense. The money can be transferred from group to group and the exact amount that each group has is kept secret from the other players.

This is why this game is a fantastic multi-player game. Every player has a chance to make and break alliances by assisting or harming other players. The goal of the game is to fulfill the special victory conditions specific for each Illuminati agency. They can range from collecting a certain number of groups, or destroying a certain number of groups, or even having a certain amount of money amassed during their turn.

Illuminati is a great beer and pretzels game that is quite humorous and usually always lively! The card illustrations are fantastic and are quite comical! I have played this game dozens of times and each game has been very close with no predictable winner up until the end. In fact, most of the games have ended in a surprise 'come-out-of-nowhere' victory. There are many different strategies to take and the game is always different every time you play due to the vast number of groups and the random distribution of Illuminati agencies to start the game with.

If you were to buy only one card game this year, you cannot go wrong with Illuminati!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by David
We know you read this
April 06, 2000

This is a fantastic card game of conspiracy and powerbase building. It plays very smoothly compared to the collectible version but it is not for the faint hearted. It is much more complicated then the average card game but a lot more satisfying and repeated playing will make everything second nature. Each player picks an Illuminati group to start with. Some of these are more powerful then others but it is not always good to be the stronger as everyone will be gunning for you. You draw and lay out groups, Professional Sports, Republicans, Yuppies etc., to build your powerbase and try to take over or destroy groups of the other players. When groups try to take over or destroy other groups there are quite a few factors involved. There are different characteristics to each group such as Liberal, Conservative, Weird, Criminal etc., and these affect bonuses when attacking. How close you have placed the groups to the Illuminati, how much you want to spend and whether or not other groups will get involved all add to the bonuses. Add to this special cards that can change things and different bonuses for attacking to control or to destroy and you end up with a fairly complicated game. This is still very much worth the effort. The card art is very good and adds greatly to the game. My personal favorite is the group 'Cattle Mutilators.'

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Joe
Illuminati is greed and distrust defined.
January 30, 2000

Illuminati is a wonderful game that I don't recommend playing with close friends. It can become so intense that you start catching yourself not trusting your friends in real life.

However, if you want to risk your friendships it's one heck of a game.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

Other Resources for Illuminati:

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