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Illuminati: New World Order card game ‘predicted’ 9/11, Trump presidency and COVID

An out-of-print card game released over 25 years ago appears to have eerily foreshadowed COVID-19 and Donald Trump’s election.

An out-of-print conspiracy theory collectible card game released more than 25 years ago appears to have eerily foreshadowed current events, including the coronavirus pandemic, civil unrest in Washington DC, and political correctness.

Sealed decks of Illuminati: New World Order (INWO) cards currently fetch up to $1300 on sites like Amazon and eBay.

Some sought-after individual cards – such as “Terrorist Nuke”, which depicts a scene uncannily similar to the 9/11 attacks – go for more than $50 apiece.

Internet users and conspiracy theorists have drawn attention to the cards over the years for the apparent prescience of the irreverent, apocalyptic artwork – notably after September 11, 2001, due to an image resembling the explosion as the first plane hit the World Trade Center, and another depicting flames coming out of the Pentagon. A long-time favorite of collectors, INWO, released in 1994 by Steve Jackson Games, is a Magic: The Gathering-style spin-off of the company’s Illuminati board game, which was based on the 1975 Illuminatis! Trilogy novels by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.


Other cards – 330 in total – have been highlighted on social media more recently for their apparent relevance to current events. They include Donald Trump’s presidency – a blond-haired “Charismatic Leader” depicted speaking to a large crowd – the COVID-19 pandemic, violent riots and protests in the US, and images of a militarised White House surrounded by wire fencing. One card, “Epidemic”, depicts a pile of body bags, a face mask, gloves, disinfectant, and the word “quarantine”.

“Disaster! This is an Attack to Destroy any Place,” the text reads. “If the attack succeeds, the target is Devastated. This attack cannot destroy the target.” Another card, “Center for Disease Control”, reads, “As its action, the CDC can supply Relief to one Devastated location each turn. If the CDC makes a direct attack to destroy a Place, it can use biological warfare to get a +15 (!!) to its attack.

A card dubbed “Political Correctness” depicts two men hanging by nooses with signs reading “used insensitive pronoun” and “ate the flesh of dead animals”. “Good thoughts are now required,” the card says. “Increase the Power of all Liberal groups by 3. All Conservative groups with a Power of 0 or 1 become Criminal as well.”

Several cards relate to unrest in the streets, including “Upheaval!” which depicts a protester punching riot police, and “Law and Order”, which features a cop swinging a baton at a cowering person.

Other cards include “Market Manipulation”, “Sweeping Reforms”, “Rewriting History”, “Gun Control”, “March on Washington”, “Combined Disasters”, “Media Blitz”, “Urban Gangs” and “World War Three”.

One supernatural-themed card appropriately features a “Plague of Demons” swarming around the US Congress building, while the “Watermelons” card reads, “One-time Communists, looking for a new cause, drift into Green movements. All Green groups are considered Communist and vice versa.”

Game designer Steve Jackson, writing in Dragon Magazine, has previously described the origins of the Illuminati games. He wanted the tone to be “tongue-in-cheek rather than serious”.

“It’s possible to get deadly serious about conspiracies and assassinations,” he said. “I didn’t want that. Among all the material I’d read, the articles with the wacky theories were the most fun to read, even if they were presented thoughtfully. Logically, then, a wacky game should be more fun to play.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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