Game Review: Illimat

Age range: 12+

Players: 2-4

Playing Time: 15-60 Minutes

Style: Card Game

Publisher: Twogether Studios

Gameplay: Gathered around a dark and mysterious scrap of cloth, players anxiously count up their cards, waiting for the perfect play. A bronze tooth, a tiny bath tub, a toy soldier, and a little boat wait in the center of the cloth for a savvy player to claim them. A well-timed turn sweeps the cloth of cards, and, with the flip of an orange tarot-sized card, the whole game begins to change.

Illimat is a game that thrives on the weird. Played on a decorative cloth divided into four quadrants known as ‘fields’, it was devised to imitate the kind of card game that an ancient secret society would play. Players use their hand to discard, pick up new cards, or build bigger card stacks, until they have cleared a field. At this point a decorative ‘luminary’ card is revealed in the cleared field, introducing changes to the rules that may help or hurt the player’s strategy. When the deck is exhausted points are tallied for each player, and another round of the game begins. Play continues until a certain point total is reached.

Verdict: Quick to teach, Illimat is a classically styled trick taking game that will feel familiar to those who have played Gin Rummy or Euchre. This gives it great cross-generational playability for families. You could easily get parents and kids, or grandparents and grand kids, together at the table for this game. It was conceptualized by the band The Decemberists, alongside artist Carson Ellis. If your library has circulated the Wildwood book series, written by front man Colin Meloy and illustrated by Ellis, the game can provide some cross-promotional opportunities, as well. It’s a visually striking game with unconventional components that draw the eye. Anytime this is out on a table, people want to wander by and figure out what exactly is going on. Given time to dig in, they won’t be disappointed.

This review was submitted by Emma Fish. Emma Fish is a Library Assistant working at a small rural library in Lebanon, Oregon. She spearheaded a project to add a games collection to her library during COVID shutdown in Spring of 2020, and has been excited to see it grow and develop!

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