Collectible card games

Illuminati: New World Order

Players 2-8
Age range 12+
Playing time Approx 2 hours
Random chance Some
Skill(s) required Card playing
Basic Reading Ability

Illuminati: New World Order (INWO) is a collectible card game (CCG) that was released in 1994 by Steve Jackson Games, based on their original boxed game Illuminati, which in turn was inspired by the 1975 book The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. INWO won the Origins Award for Best Card Game in 1997.

Card contents

Cards come in several types, including Illuminati, Plots, Groups, Places, Personalities, Resources, and New World Order cards. The various cards are printed with two differently colored backs and are collectively referred to as simply "Groups" and "Plots". The premise is that you play one of the Illuminati groups (the Adepts of Hermes, the Bavarian Illuminati, the Bermuda Triangle, the Discordian Society, the Gnomes of Zürich, The Network, the Servants of Cthulhu, Shangri-La, and the UFOs) bent on world domination. You seek to control a predetermined number of Groups (such as the Boy Sprouts (many groups are spoofs of real organisations), the Men in Black, the CIA, etc.) and/or complete a Plot to achieve your goal before your opponent(s)...

Product information

INWO is often said to be more difficult to learn than most CCGs, but it is infused with much more humor, similar to other Steve Jackson games. As with most CCGs, deck building, aggressive play, and sheer luck are keys to winning. However, intrigue, negotiation, deal-making, and deviousness are also important elements.

INWO was released as a 409-card main set in double [starter decks] (suitable for two players) and sealed packs, in both Limited (1994) and Unlimited (1994-95) editions, 3 Promo cards were released for the Limited edition making a total of 412 cards. There was also a boxed set called The Factory Set or One With Everything (re-print non-collectable) which contained one of each card from the limited edition in a new color scheme, multiples of the Illuminati cards and 20 blank cards for a total of 450. One 125-card expansion was released called Assassins 123 in packs and 2 promos , as well as a factory box set 100-card expansion called INWO Church of the SubGenius or SubGenius which can also be played as a stand-alone game.

There are common, uncommon, and rare cards in the main set and in Assassinswhich also includes 10 "ultra-rare" cards. All cards in both factory boxed sets have basically the same rarity. Packs of blank cards are also sold for those who wish to create their own cards, an activity that has proven so popular that online collections of homebrew INWO cards now list thousands of cards. The INWO Book, by Steve Jackson, is the official guidebook to the game.

Alignments in INWO

There are 10 official Alignments in INWO in each of the Group cards (Illuminati, Organization, Personality). Groups gain a bonus when attempting to control other Groups with the same alignment but incur a penalty when attempting to destroy Groups with the same. Conversely, these bonuses are reversed when attempting the same activites against groups with opposing alignments. These bonuses are cumulative for all alignments for both Groups.


The game was released in 1995, but two of its cards contains imagery that could be considered reminiscent of 9/11. One of those cards, "Terrorist Nuke", shows an explosion in one of a pair of skyscrapers, however this could be a reference to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing . The card for the Pentagon shows orange smoke emerging from its center, which could also be interpreted as fire.