Enlightenment thinking is knocking on the door of 18th-century Europe but the powers-that-be within the Holy Roman Empire work to suppress any revolutionary ideas or reforms. That’s where the players in Pax Illuminaten come in, using their position within the Order of the Illuminati to recruit the continent’s best minds and secretly usher in a new era.
Pax Illuminaten is a card game of interconnected schemes and maps of influence where one to four players seek to satisfy their unique win conditions before any of their opponents. Described as “crunchy” by publisher Ion Game Design (the company behind sci-fi deduction title Stationfall), Pax Illuminaten is equal parts love letter to history and challenging fight to control territory where the contested areas are Europe’s brightest thinkers.
18th-century Luminaries fill the play area in facedown rows, and players must use the multi-suited cards to build networks of connections according to randomly assigned victory condition cards doled out at the start of the game. Luminary maps will also generate resources, provide extra actions and lead to battles between opponents as the map of influence grows and expands.
As an Areopagus of the Illuminati, players will consort with scholars, the clergy, artists, magistrates and even members of nobility, spreading their influence tokens carefully amongst the 57 possible Luminaries that compose Pax Illuminaten’s board. Event cards will throw wrenches into players’ carefully laid plans and give others opportunities to bluff their way into a better position.
Pax Illuminaten was designed by Oliver Kiley, who previously worked on 2013’s Hegemonic and Emissary: The Red Frontier. Kiley and the team at Ion Game Design claim that historical accuracy and a curiosity for a specific time period are run through their design. All of the players are rival members of the Illuminati as it was imagined by University of Ingolstadt professor Adam Weishaupt, a Bavarian scholar who imagined a better society out from under the rule of the Holy Roman Empire.
Artwork for Pax Illuminaten’s cards and other implements was provided by Madeline Fjäll, while Robin Spathon Ek helped develop it. A Kickstarter campaign funding a physical run of the historical card game runs through November 6th, and copies are expected to begin fulfilling to backers in September 2024.
Other language versions will be published after the English-language production run, but specific details are not available at this time. Copies of the game should be available in retail around the same time or just after backer fulfilment begins.