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Illuminati (game)

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Some dare call it
Icon conspiracy.svg
What THEY don't want
you to know!
Sheeple wakers
The Terrorist Nuke card.
—Cutting Edge Ministries[1]

Illuminati: The Game of Conspiracy is a tabletop card game designed by Steve Jackson in the 1980s. Each player takes the role of a secret society vying for world domination (e.g. the titular Illuminati) and plays with various cards that take comical looks at conspiracy theory memes beloved by the tinfoil hat brigade: subliminal messages, the Knights Templar and so forth. The game was inspired by the Illuminatus! Trilogy books, written by Robert Shea and Robert Wilson in the mid-1970s.

In a hilarious turn of events actual conspiracy theorists, such as David Icke and Cutting Edge Ministries, failed to see the satire, noticed the similarities between the cards and their own beliefs and concluded that Jackson knows the truth.

This is based largely around two cards in particular. One, titled Terrorist Nuke, shows two skyscrapers resembling (in the way any grey blocks would) the World Trade Center, one of which is exploding in roughly the same place that it was hit by the plane in real life. The other is titled Pentagon, and shows the building in flames. Although admittedly striking, Occam's Razor says coincidence.[note 1] (Also, the Terrorist Nuke is from the 1995 Illuminati: New World Order trading card game, and the WTC had been already the subject of a terrorist bombing attack in 1993.Wikipedia)

There is also the fact that the World Trade Center was destroyed by two airplanes, not a nuke, but this didn't stop Cutting Edge: "One can only ask: was a micro-nuclear device used at the base of the Twin Towers as well? That kind of small, but nuclear, explosion would account for the sudden manner the reinforced concrete and steel shell simply crumbled into dust as it fell."[1] An "ex-Satanist" claims that the broken fuselage and wingtips of an airplane can be seen in the drawing,[2] but the grey chunks could just as easily be bits of the building.

How many games are there, actually?[edit]

The original Illuminati was released in the 1980s and there have been several re-releases. The game has also several spin-offs and expansion packs, but the conspiracymongers usually assume that there is a single game and mix all the cards despite that they have been released in different years as parts of different products. This is significant because some of the claims center around the dates of events and the (assumed) release date of the game, claiming that particular cards are prophetic of those events.

Other cards[edit]

A lot of the weird interpretations of the cards are underpinned by the interpreters' lack of general knowledge, especially about things and events predating the twenty-first century.

  • A card named Backlash shows a man at a podium being pelted with paint (or possibly rotten fruit); this has been taken to predict either the then Danish prime ministerWikipedia having red paint thrown at him by anti-war protestors in 2003[3] or Barack Obama, whom the man in the drawing vaguely resembles.[4] The fact that different commenters insist that this drawing matches two people who look nothing like each other in real life indicates the levels of pareidolia involved.
  • Population Reduction shows a giant skull formed from smoke or smog hovering over a cityscape: "The fact that this card shows a demon face in the smoke of the Twin Towers in 1995 demonstrates that the Illuminati planned to make the Twin Towers a Fire Sacrifice that would call up Fire Demons", says Cutting Edge. "This card predicted it, and the demons manifested themselves through the fire."[1]
  • Bimbo at Eleven depicts a blonde(!) woman with glasses holding a notepad and pencil, presumably some kind of reporter or journalist. One commentator has taken this to represent Monica Lewinski,[5] despite the fact that the woman in the drawing looks absolutely nothing like the brunette Lewinski.
A card taken to predict, variously, the 2005 London bombings, the 2011 tsunami in Japan, the 2011 riots in England, and an atrocity that was supposed to occur (but never did, unsurprisingly) during the 2012 Olympics at London.
  • Combined Disasters is probably the most talked-about card beyond the two that allegedly suggest 9/11. It shows several buildings collapsing, including a clock tower. At one point this was interpreted by some as predicting the 7 July 2005 London bombings, with the clock tower being Big Ben[5] (despite the fact that Big Ben was not damaged in the attack, and a terrorist attack on Parliament featured both in the cult 1973 novel Christie Malry's Own Double EntryWikipedia and in actual plots going back to the 17th century). Later it was taken to represent the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, showing the Wako clock tower in Tokyo[6] although, again, this was not damaged in the disaster, and the mostly dark-skinned people in the drawing do not look particularly Japanese. More recently it has been taken to refer to the 2011 England riots - which once again, did not involve the destruction of Big Ben.[7] A video posted to YouTube in 2010 takes it to predict some catastrophe that will take place at the 2012 London Olympics, as the five figures in front are wearing the colors of the Olympic rings.[8] This also failed to occur as planned.
  • Nuclear Accident shows a Simpsons-style nuclear power plant with a crack down one of its cooling towers.[note 2] Apparently none of the conspiracy theorists have ever heard of Chernobyl (1986) or Three Mile Island (1979), because despite looking nothing like Fukushima (which had no cooling towers at all) this has also been taken to refer to the Japanese disaster,[9] as has Atomic Monster, which shows a Godzilla parody destroying a city.[10] This, er, didn't actually happen.
  • Oil Spill, showing a seabird covered in oil, has been connected to the BP oil spill of 2010. However, the card depicts a sinking ship (presumably an oil tanker), rather than a sea-floor oil gusher.[11] (Oil tankers sinking and spreading crap all over the coastline is nothing new. See for example the Torrey CanyonWikipedia disaster in... 1967, or the iconic Exxon Valdez disaster of 1989.)
  • Count Dracula shows our favourite Bram Stoker baddie (somewhat resembling a cross between Christopher Lee and Bela Lugosi) posing in front of a Gothic castle. One person comments that "I remember reading somewhere that the Illuminati do, in fact, worship vampires" and links to a promotional image from the film Twilight, remarking "Compare these two images. Anything similar?" A reply to this post says that "in the satanic secret societies, when you reach a certain level, there are people who start drinking human blood as a satanic ritual and vampires are a representation of demons".[12]
  • Eliza, depicting some kind of digital blue woman who could have appeared on the cover of any number of eighties science fiction novels, has been interpreted as predicting the film Avatar.[12] What Avatar has to do with the Illuminati is unclear. (The card itself is a reference to artificial intelligence and the ELIZAWikipedia chat-bot program.)
  • Unmasked! shows a man removing a mask that looks like an ordinary human face, only with glowing yellow eyes. For some reason, one theorist connects this to Lady Gaga's pointy facial bones.[13] You'd think the reptoid believers would be all over this one, but...not this time.
  • Feminists shows a burning bra. This has also been taken to represent Lady Gaga, who shot flames out of her bra in one music video;[14] however, bra-burning has been equated with feminism since the 1970s, but is actually a myth.[15]
  • Midas Mill depicts an underwater machine with gold pouring out of it; the text on the card states that it is turning seawater into gold ("black gold", get it?). Absurdly, one theorist suggests that this is predicting the discovery in 2007 of an undersea oil field near Brazil - a theory based partly on the fact that a completely unrelated card mentions the natural resources of Brazil.[12]
  • Post Office, which shows a postman firing a gun, has been connected to real-life postal shootings.[12] But since these were occurring years before the game was released the image is not particularly prophetic.
  • Elvis and Church of Elvis, which both show characters claiming to have seen Mr. Presley, have been taken as "evidence" that the King is still alive.[16]
  • Mass Murderer shows a newspaper with the headline "TWEEZER SLAYINGS RISE TO 23: NOBEL LAUREATE SOUGHT FOR QUESTIONING". This has been connected to the 2011 Oslo attacks because Oslo is the city where the Nobel Peace Prize is handed out.[17] Oddly though, none of the killings in Oslo was done with tweezers.
  • Some of the more outlandish cards, which clearly do not portray current events, have been taken to predict future occurrences. One of these is Tape Runs Out..., which shows the world splitting in half above a text box mentioning the Rapture.[18]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Or that bin Laden's scheme was inspired by a card game. Yeah, let's go with coincidence.
  2. Which are not actually radioactive; it's literally just hot water coming from those towers.