INWO Variant: Illuminati Shuffle

This is a writeup of my variation on the INWO One-Deck Rules for use with a One Medium Deck (one of the 120-150 card decks based on Aaron Curtis' contest -- see INWO One Big Decks). This variation is intended for a One Medium Deck which is balanced for all Illuminati (such as my "Something for Everyone"); however, it will work if with as few as 6 viable Illuminati in a four-player game.

In addition to the One Medium Deck, prepare an Illuminati deck with two of each of the Illuminati you are using with that deck. The reason for having two of each is to balance the risk of Illuminati agents against the number of choices available for your starting Illuminati -- if you are dealt both copies of a given Illuminati you have two choices instead of three, but one of those two choices will be safe from Illuminati agents.

Without further ado, I present....


A One-Deck INWO Variant by Steve Brinich

The following is a summary of my variation of One Deck INWO, which is based primarily on INWO SubGenius. The steps for beginning the game and taking each turn are laid out in full; the other differences between this style and standard INWO are summarized.


(1) Separate the deck into Group cards (with a puppet back), Plot cards (with a puppeteer hand back), and Illuminati (same back as the Plots, with an Illuminati group on the front, recognizable by its black background and four outgoing control arrows). The Group and Plot cards will be the ones selected for the One Deck in play. The Illuminati deck will typically include two of each Illuminati in play. Shuffle each deck.

(2) Deal three Illuminati cards, three Group cards, and three Plot cards to each player.

(3) Each player starts with an Illuminati group chosen from the Illuminati cards in his hand. All players reveal their Illuminati at the same time (play them face down, then turn them face up when everyone has chosen).

It can happen that more than one player has the same type of Illuminati...which means they represent different factions of the same conspiracy. Such rivals will have a +5 bonus for attacking each other. The remaining Illuminati cards dealt to each player remain in the players hand. They may be used during the game to Unmask! or to play an Illuminati agent. They count toward the limit on the number of Plot cards that may be held in hand, and may be used to meet a Plot card discard cost.

(4) Each player chooses one of his Group cards as a "lead" the first puppet of his Illuminati. All players reveal their leads at the same time. Unlike standard INWO, you may lead with a Resource. If there are duplicate cards in the game, any leads which are chosen by more than one player are set aside. Those players must make alternate choices which don't duplicate any leads already attempted or exposed. This continues until there are no duplicate leads. (If someone tries all three of his Groups and still does not have a lead, he may keep trying them, even though they duplicate previous attempts.)

Each player holds his other two Group cards in his hand until his first turn. At that point (see "Turn Sequence" below), they will be placed in the "uncontrolled area" in the middle of the play area. Any player may attempt to take over or destroy Groups or Resources in the uncontrolled area.

(5) Each player rolls two dice. The one with the highest roll goes first.

At the beginning of the game, you may not do anything to a rival who has not yet completed their first turn! You may not use Plot cards or special abilities on them, interfere with their attacks, or play any cards that injure them (except NWOs). Exception: If someone attacks you during their first turn, you are free to respond against that player in any way you can.


(1) Draw the top card the Plot deck. If the Plot deck is used up, shuffle and recycle the discards.

(2) If there are 8 or fewer Group cards in the uncontrolled area, draw the top card from the Groups deck.

At this time, or during the action phase (phase 5, below) of your turn, you may draw additional Groups or Plots by spending Action tokens. Each card costs one Illuminati action or two actions from other Groups. Action tokens from Resources may not be used for this purpose.

You may draw an Illuminati card by spending an Illuminati action (but not Group actions).

(3) Make one automatic takeover, if you wish. Choose any Group or Resource that you placed into the uncontrolled area this turn. You take it over automatically no die roll is required.

A red card with Control Arrows is a Group. Put it on any outgoing arrow of your Power Structure. You may not make an automatic takeover of a Group that duplicates a card already in play.

A purple card, with no Control Arrows, is a Resource; put it beside your Power Structure. You may not duplicate a Unique Resource already in play.

Note: If you take an automatic takeover, you will be deprived of an Illuminati action token this turn.

(4) Place Action tokens. Normally, you will place one Action token on each of your groups that doesn't have one. No group can ever have more than one token unless its special ability, or a Plot card, specifically gives it an extra action.

If you took an automatic takeover this turn, you will not get an action token on your Illuminati. Exception: If your Illuminati is the UFOs, they get two Action tokens if you did not take an automatic takeover or one Action token if you did.

(5) Attempt attacks or other actions, as explained below. Each Action token allows one action you can attack, or use a special ability, or draw more cards. Plot cards, in turn, may give you extra attacks or other actions. Groups that don't act during your turn can use special abilities or Plot cards to act during the other player's turns! When a group acts, remove the Action token from its card.

(6) Take any remaining "free moves" you want. Free moves (see p. 6 of standard INWO rules) don't count as actions. You may take free moves before, between, or after your actions.

At this point, if you have achieved one of your Goals and intend to declare victory, you must say so, to give other players a last chance to stop you by spending their actions or playing Plot cards. If they can't stop you, you win. Otherwise....

(7) Knock. Rap on the table to alert the next player that you're finished. An evil laugh is appropriate here.

If somebody announces a victory, the game now ends unless the rest of you can stop his schemes. Otherwise, the next player (to the left, proceeding counterclockwise) now starts his turn.


The following are the main differences between standard INWO and this style of One Deck game (based primarily on INWO SubGenius rules).


Any player may play an Illuminati card from his hand that duplicates a rival's Illuminati as an Illuminati agent. The cost of playing an Illuminati agent is to discard three Plot cards from hand.

As in standard INWO, an Illuminati agent gives you +3 for attack or defense against the entire Power Structure of all Illuminati of that type.

The UFOs may Unmask! as one of the other Illuminati in hand at any time.

Illuminti cards may be discarded as Plot cards to pay a "discard N Plot cards" cost.


As in standard INWO, you may only hold a limited number of Plot cards in hand when it is not your turn (this limit is typically 5, unless modified by a Plot or special ability). Any excess Plot cards must be discarded at the end of your turn; unlike standard INWO, you may not return them to the deck. If the Plot deck is exhausted, shuffle the discards to form a new Plot deck.

If you eliminate a rival playing the same Illuminati as you, you get the Plot cards in his hand as well as his Resources.


The Secret attribute does not provide any protection against attacks. However, a Plot or special ability that adds or removes the Secret attribute, or provides a bonus for or against Secret Groups, works normally. The Secret attribute is used to determine which Groups count double for the Society of Assassins goal.


Unless the players agree on some other number, the default Basic Goal is 10 Groups in a multiplayer game or 12 Groups in a 2-player game.


Certain cards require changes in their special ability in a One Deck environment, including:


Adepts of Hermes: Once per turn, you may reroll a failed Attack to Control a group from the uncontrolled area. The second roll counts.

Shangri-La: Shangri-La's special goal is reduced to 23 Peaceful Power in play (i.e. in somebody's Power Structure; the uncontrolled area doesn't count). If using a deck particularly rich in Peaceful groups or cards that can make groups Peaceful, raise this requirement to 25, or even the standard 30 decide and declare this in advance.

UFOs: The UFOs may Unmask as any other Illuminati in your hand at any time (i.e. replace the UFOs Illuminati card with the new Illuminati from this point on, you are playing the new Illuminati for all purposes, including victory).

The UFOs normally get two Action tokens per turn; if they take an automatic takeover, they still get one Action token that turn.


IRS: Change the text to "At the beginning of your turn, you may 'tax' any one rival for a Plot card from his hand. He chooses which one to give you. This is not an action for the IRS."

Red Cross: Unless the One Deck in use includes Disasters, replace the first sentence with "The Red Cross gives all Places in your Power Structure +3 against any Attack to Destroy.".


The Bronze Head: Same as "Adepts of Hermes".


Bribery*: Change the cost to "To use this card, you must spend all action tokens on your Illuminati (minimum of 1) or discard three other Plot cards from your hand."

Commitment: You may play Commitment on a Group in the uncontrolled area.

Fnord*: Change the cost to "To use this card, you must spend an Illuminati action or discard three other Plot cards from your hand."

Hoax: Change the cost to "Use of this card requires action(s) by group(s) with a total power of at least 6. You must also discard two other Plot cards from your hand."

March On Washington: Change the cost to "However, you must discard two other Plot cards from your hand."

Murphy's Law*: Change the cost to "To use this card, you must spend all action tokens on your Illuminati (minimum of 1) or discard three other Plot cards from your hand."

Secrets Man Was Not Meant To Know*: Change the cost to "To use this card, you must spend all action tokens on your Illuminati (minimum of 1) or discard three other Plot cards from your hand."

*The alternative cost is based on the corresponding INWO SubGenius card; if they are available and fit the deck theme, it might be simpler to use those instead.


Illuminati: New World Order, INWO, and INWO SubGenius are registered trademarks of Steve Jackson Games for its card game of conspiracy theory. The INWO and INWO SubGenius rules, on which the above is largely based, is copyright by Steve Jackson Games. SubGenius is a registered trademark of the SubGenius Foundation, Inc. Fnord.

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