Illimat is a game designed to feel like a relic from another time, a mysterious game you might find in your grandparent's attic. Designed in partnership with Caldecott-winning illustrator Carson Ellis along with Colin Meloy and his band The Decemberists, Illimat is reminiscent of classic card games like Hearts or Rummy—but with dynamic new twists and an enigmatic flavor.
As we prepare to attend the ALA conference in DC for the first time, we wanted to put together some program resources for libraries that add Illimat to their collections. But first, some details about the game:
Number of Players: 2-4
Recommended age: 12 + Up
Play Length: 15 min for a round, 30-45 for a complete game
Complexity Weight: Light to Medium
Illimat is said to have been created by the mysterious Society of Luminaries and played in secret corners of the world throughout history. Illimat is played with a five suited deck and you collect, stockpile, or sow cards into one of four fields on the board to collect victory points. However, seasons change during play, changing the actions that can be performed in each field. As fields are cleared of cards, luminary cards are revealed; these beautifully illustrated cards temporarily change the rules of the game, adding an element of unpredictability. Points are awarded at the end of each round; a full game continues for 2-3 rounds, and players need 17 or more points to win.
Who is This Game For?
Illimat is a multi-generational game for both experienced modern gamers and those who enjoy playing classic card games like Hearts, Gin, or Cribbage with friends and family. The game instructions identify an "easy" mode to play for first time or young players. As the game is played in rounds, rules are reinforced through repetition; by the second round all players should have mastered the basic gameplay. The dynamic turning seasons and the temporary effects of luminaries create interesting tactical choices and high replay value for the experienced modern gamer. Although we recommend the game for ages 12+ up on the box, many Illimat fans have had great success with kids 10 and over taking a break from screens for a round of Illimat. The game is well balanced for 2, 3 or 4 players with solitaire and other rules variants available in our Victory book.
Theme & How This Game Came to Be
In 2009, the band The Decemberists were working on promotional images for an upcoming album. Searching for an intriguing theme, they decided that they would be a secret society playing a mysterious game in unusual places around Portland, Oregon. Carson Ellis worked with photographer Autumn DeWilde to create an enigmatic game board to use as a prop in these images. Years later, the band approached us and asked if we could use this board as the basis for an actual game. From the beginning, the goal was to make an accessible game that felt as if it was plucked out of time. Carson Ellis's illustrations for Illimat are inspired by the album The Hazards of Love, a bittersweet folktale of a changeling who falls in love with a human.
Pairs well with book lists of these themes:
ALA Game Week Sponsors
Inspired by Music
Illimat was designed in collaboration with Carson Ellis (Home, Du Iz Tak) and Colin Meloy (Wildwood Chronicles, The Whiz Mob And The Grenadine Kid). It is an enigmatic game tied to a fictional secret society, and gameplay draws on the theme of changing seasons.
Board Game Night Ideas:
Society of Luminaries Game Night - Teens
Classic Game Night
Family Game Night
Escape Room/ Lock-in
Illimat will feel familiar to anyone who's played a classic card game, despite adding new and dynamic elements to gameplay. It's an excellent family game. A game night focused on Illimat could be tied to the Society of Luminaries, the (fictional) secret society said to have played the game throughout history. Why not dress up in your finest?
Maker Space Project Ideas:
3D Printer: Make your own Okus Token and score marker
Sewing Machine/Screen printing: Make your own personal Illimat Board
In Illimat, each player presents an Okus token—a small object with personal significance that they wager in the game. The game comes with four, but customizing your set, making it personal is a fun part of making the game personal. A 3D printing program could encourage people to create their own unique Okus token or counter.
We’re proud to be sponsors of ALA Games Week and to bring Illimat to the ALA Conference for the first time. Join the vibrant Illimat community on Facebook to share ideas and connect with players. Learning to play resources for Illimat can be found here.