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How Illuminati Works

Illuminati Actions in Detail
Special cards like this one are good to have at your disposal.
Special cards like this one are good to have at your disposal.
Photo by Elizabeth Johnston/

Since there are so many actions one must take in a game of Illuminati, it's easy to get confused about what to do when (and to whom). Here's a simple list of the actions you'll choose from on the third step of your turn. Remember, you can choose two:

  1. Attack to Control: Subtract the defending group's resistance number from the attacking group's power. Check the chart provided in the game for modification of numbers. Roll the dice, and if you get this number or less, you take control. A roll of 11 or 12 is an automatic failure.
  2. Attack to Neutralize: Same thing, except the attacker gets 6 points added to increase their chances.
  3. Attack to Destroy: Same as the first two, except subtract power number instead of resistance number from the defending group. Put any destroyed groups in a "dead pile," where you can cheerfully ignore them for the remainder of the game.

First off, you're only attacking groups. That means that you're not attacking Illuminati cards themselves (those black ones that you start the game with). A player must announce who they're attacking; that is, you can't hide your intentions of what action you're taking. You also must say when you're attacking (so no saying you're going to attack someone and sneakily taking it back).

While you're adding and subtracting power and resistance numbers to determine the success of the attack, keep in mind that you can also spend your money to increase your chances of winning. One Megabuck adds one power point to you, making your odds of a victorious attack that much greater. You can also help or hurt another player's attack by spending your Illuminati money. (Group income can't be used.) For each dollar you spend, it affects the die by one point. You do need to declare when you're interfering. No covert aiding of the enemy.

As with every play in Illuminati, don't you worry; there's a way around it. You can declare your attack "Privileged" by discarding a Special Card, which means no one is allowed to interfere. Wait, Special Card? Yup, you still have a lot to learn. Let's take over the next section first, where we'll learn what those cards -- and the words on them -- really mean.