‘Illimat’ offers unique gameplay, astonishing artwork

The Decemberists’ game instantly becomes a favorite

Harris Keekley

“Illimat” was supposed to be a photoshoot with the band, The Decemberist acting as a cult-like society playing an ancient game, later the band realized there the game may have potential and decided to hand it over to Keith Baker to design and illustrate the game.

The player’s main goal is to harvest and earn the most points through special cards obtainable through harvest or collecting Ocus and luminary pieces. The game features some of the greatest illustrations I have seen in a board game and is a great way to spend time while trapped inside. 

“Illimat” also has an expansion named after one of The Decemberists’ best selling albums, “The Crane Wife,” which adds more Luminaries to the game and mixes in some interesting rule bends I have yet to see in another game. 

The artwork for the cards and pieces is beautiful; the designers did a terrific job at making the game feel like it has a long history while keeping on theme with the harvesting of crops and the changing of seasons.

Once a Luminary is flipped over, the game can change for better or for worse. One of my personal favorites is “The Perfect Crime” which allows you to steal a point from someone else, working well with my playstyle. But, with some good comes some bad.ne of my least favorites is “The Rake,” which makes your already weak hand of four cards into three by having each player place a card in its own field at the end of turn, protecting itself from being claimed and making the game slow to almost a halt.

One aspect that I wish were improved on is some Luminaries, that are inherently designed to change the game, either don’t make enough of an impact or do the same as others. For example, “The Butcher” has a unique effect that removes the opposing Luminary from play when flipped but its “when claimed” effect is the exact same as “The Perfect Crime.” Another problem is that the cards and Ocus are supposed to be placed in the middle of the board, yet the box is also supposed to be placed in the middle and move around so I find that the pieces keep falling off and halt the flow of the game. 

With those criticisms out of the way, I can say that although not perfect, “Illimat” is a game that I thoroughly enjoy due to its unique gameplay and astonishing illustrations. I highly recommend anyone to pick it up and play.

“Illimat”: ★★★★☆