How the Illuminati Made Me a Better Gamer

Illuminati imageI arrived at my first GenCon with a goal: play a few games I’d never had a chance to try. When I perused the schedule, one game caught my eye: a late-night game of Illuminati, the card game of intrigue and back-stabbing.

That first GenCon overwhelmed and delighted me, and by the time I arrived at the Illuminati game, my feet dragged along the industrial carpet. I debated with myself about the wisdom of matching wits with strangers this late at night. Would I even enjoy myself?

I found my table, and discovered three experienced players who knew each other, plus another newbie and myself. I balked. I didn’t want to be a third wheel, and said that I’d just watch this one. I’d be happy to observe the game’s mechanics, so I could play it well the next time.

One of the experienced players interjected, “No! Join in. That’s part of the fun!” The others nodded.

I gaped. Here was a group of people beckoning me into their private parlor. Me, an outsider. They didn’t care about whether I’d mess up the dynamics. They wanted me to have fun.

So I sat down and they explained the rules. We dove in. I realized I was playing with master Illuminati players, not so much because of their tactics, but because of their trash-talking. One would gleefully back-stab another, who would reply with a blithe, “Oh, thank you veryfuckingmuch.”

We laughed and double-crossed each other until the game tipped whole towards one of the experienced players, and we called it a game. It was late, and we stumbled back to our hotel rooms, exhausted and happy.

That’s exactly the feeling I get from the Gamer Assembly, and it’s an experience I seek to replicate. We’re open, we welcome newbies, and we focus on just relaxing and having fun.

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