Don’t get trapped in a Deadfall!

Recommended Age:12+
Our Recommended Age:10+
Play Time:20 mins
Guest Blogger:Jeremy Z
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post below are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Many board games provide the strategy and it’s up to the player to figure it out. There’s little luck and knowing the game inside and out is the best advantage you can get. Deadfall, a fun little card game from Cheapass games, is not one of those games and that is a great thing!

Deadfall is a quick game with very simple rules and very complex interactions. Much like poker, learning the game only takes a short while but understanding how other people play the game will not only take considerable time but lead to a considerable amount of fun.

Deadfall seems to be recommended for ages 12 and up, although the mechanics are simple enough that much younger players could play. However, even though younger players could play, they may have issues reading the other players or situations.

Deadfall contains just 55 cards in a card box (and instructions of course). The card and box are nearly identical to a standard deck of playing cards in size and construction. The box and instructions also mention that you will need to provide coins, chips or some other similar scoring mechanism on your own.

The 55 card deck is a very specific construction – it has cards numbered 1 through 10 and there are as many of each card as their number. Or, in a less confusing way, there is one card numbered 1, two cards numbered 2 up to ten cards numbered 10. This deck is also referred to as a Pairs deck and there are apparently a number of other games that can be played with the deck.

The artwork on the box and cards is fantasy-themed and has absolutely no relevance to the game itself. That being said, it is fantastic artwork and I would much rather be looking at it than a blank card or some random pattern.


Get the most coins! Or all the coins! You should probably set an end-of-game before you start, but whenever the game ends, have the most coins.


Shuffle the cards and deal six to each player.  Alternately, deal five if it’s a 7-player game or seven if it’s a 2-player game. That’s it!


Each round starts with an ante – every player puts a coin in the center of the table. Next, each player chooses a door card which is used to determine who will play first during the round. Each door card is played face down on the table and once they’re all chosen they’re flipped over simultaneously and whoever played the lowest card goes first.

If there happens to be a tie then each player plays another door card with their previous card acting as the tiebreaker.

Once the first player is worked out then the game proceeds with each player taking a turn. On a player’s turn, they can do one of two things – play a card or call another player. When playing a card you simply play your card face up on top of your previous cards making sure all those cards are still partially visible. Calling another player is where Deadfall gets interesting.

When you call another player you’re declaring that the card they played most recently is “dead”. A card is dead when no more copies of it remain in any players’ hand. Due to the way the deck is constructed, it’s much easier to know when a card with a low value (1, 2, 3) is dead compared to a card with a higher value (8, 9, 10). Once a player is called the hand is over and each player reveals their remaining cards.

One of two things will happen when you call another player: you’ll either be right and the card is dead or you’ll be wrong. If you’re right then you get the ante and coins from the called player equal to the number of the card you called them on (if a player plays a 5, you call them and you’re right then you get 5 coins).

If, however, you’re wrong then the player you called wins the hand. Instead of you, they get the ante and you have to pay them coins equal to the number of the card (again, if the card was a 5, you call that player and you’re wrong then you have to pay them 5 coins).


Once you reach some agreed-upon point (one player has all the coins, one player runs out of coins, some number of rounds has passed) whoever has the most coins is the winner.

As I mentioned before, the rules of the game are fairly straightforward but knowing when to call another player and how to trick other players into calling you turns Deadfall into a sneaky fun bluffing game that will certainly make plenty of appearances at our gaming table.

Show us how sneaky you can be! @MyGeeklings #Deadfall @cheapassgames

“We all agree on the necessity of compromise. We just can’t agree on when it’s necessary to compromise.”
~ Larry Wall

Author: sandyz