This article originally appeared in Pyramid #9


Steve's progress report on

Yes, I admit it. I'm jumping on the bandwagon. We're doing a collector card game.

As somebody who was actually offered the chance to invest in the original Magic: The Gathering -- and turned it down -- I know when to say Whoops. So, before Christmas, you'll see Illuminati: New World Order . . . or, as we're calling it to save trees, INWO.

This is a redesign of the original Illuminati* game to fit the collector-card paradigm. There will be around 400 cards in the original release, in four or five levels of rarity.

The cards will be beautiful, but they have to be playable, too. Original art is being prepared by Dan Smith (and others) and colored by Derek Pearcy and Jeff Koke. The cards will have brilliant colors and readable type. Almost all the art will be original . . . we're going to re-use a few really great pieces from our most recent books, but only because we like them . . . not to cut corners. And yes, we'll number the cards -- subtly, but the numbers will be there.

This project has me really excited. Illuminati is still my favorite design. This gives me the chance to do three things that I really want:

(a) Speed up play, and make it easier for you to interfere during somebody else's turn.

(b) Add a whole bunch of twisted new cards.

(c) Sell so many copies that I can use Krugerrands for money tokens.

The game will still play a lot like the original Illuminati, but faster and nastier. Everybody will have their own deck, so you don't know what you're going to be facing. (And nobody can build a single killer deck and win over and over . . . if you know what somebody's going to use, you can build your deck with the right cards to smash him.)

So, whenever you select your cards for a new game, you should think about two things . . . how they'll work together to let you conquer the world, and what you expect your foes to try to do! And don't get predictable, or you're history.

Besides the variety that we get from the sheer number of cards, there are two big rule changes. First, there are no more neutral groups -- no uncontrolled cards. If you want to take a card, you've got to draw it from your own deck, or attack somebody else!

The second change is the Plot cards. These are like the special cards from the original game, but there are hundreds of them. They can change the alignments of groups, give you a better attack, change your victory conditions . . . and the special New World Order cards can change the rules for everybody.

The other big question: How will we sell the cards? We're not sure yet, but here's what we're thinking. In general, it will follow the pattern set by WOTC with Magic: The Gathering** . . . there will be starter decks and booster packs. Prices will be competitive, whatever the heck that means. The starter deck may be double-sized, because that lets us make the rulebook bigger.

I think that Illuminati cards will be found only in starter decks. Booster packs will have a higher proportion of rarities, but will be a little bit more expensive per card.

* Which won all kinds of awards, yada yada blah blah blah, and was a big seller for us right up to the day we took it out of print to make room for the new version.

** For which we give them a big Thank You! WOTC has taken the attitude that collector card games ought to become a whole genre. They're not trying to hog the market; they're doing their best to help other games get started. They have been sharing information with us freely and giving good advice. That meets my definition of a Class Act.

Article publication date: October 1, 1994

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