You and your opponents control terrifying forces-creatures long thought to be mere folklore-each seeking to destroy the others. Your minions and actions seek to wound your rivals so that you can seize your rightful place as ruler of a ruthless, darkness-choked world.

The one who proves himself the strongest when the ashes finally settle is the victor!


  • 60 starting minion Cards
  • 84 additional minion Cards
  • 84 action Cards
  • 60 Wound Cards
  • 24 Draft Cards
  • 31 Card Dividers (to help organize the cards)
  • 3 Extra Card Dividers (for promotional cards)
  • Rulebook


Shuffle all the wound cards and place them face down in a stack near the middle of the table. Count off cards from the top of the stack equal to ten times the number of players (i.e., 30 cards for a three-player game) and turn them face up, leaving them on top of the wound stack.

Give each player one starting deck, which must have 2 copies of each of the six different starter minions. The rest of the starting cards will not be used in the game.

Shuffle all the draft cards together and deal 4 draft cards face down to each player. Set the remaining draft cards aside, face down.

Each player chooses one of his four draft cards and places it face down in front of him. This card determines each player's first private archive. Players pass their remaining 3 draft cards to the player on their left.

Each player chooses a second draft card from the 3 that were just passed, placing it face down next to the first card. This determines each player's second private archive. Players pass their remaining 2 draft cards to the left.

Each player takes one of these 2 passed cards and places it face down in the center of the table, forming the commons. Place the final draft card in each player's hand back in the "DRAFT CARDS" section of the game box.

Take the deck of draft cards set aside earlier and deal additional draft cards into the commons until there are 8 cards total in the commons. Place the rest back in the "DRAFT CARDS" section of the box.

Turn all draft cards in the commons and private archives face up. Replace each of those draft cards with the corresponding pile of seven order cards to create the archives.

The draft cards are not used during play; they are simply used to help set up the game. Return them to the box at this time. Keep the order cards in separate stacks, sorted by name, making sure to keep private archives separate from the commons. Players will be able to add these cards to their decks over the course of the game.

Each player shuffles his starting deck and draws five cards to form his hand. Determine a first player by any mutually agreeable method. You are now ready for Nightfall!

Game Play

Nightfall is a game of the near future, a game of resolute humans and fierce creatures of horror struggling to seize control of a perpetually darkened world.

Each player has his own personal deck of cards that he uses during the game. Your deck begins with a dozen weak cards. You strengthen and improve your deck by "claiming" orders from your private archives-cards that you will select-and the commons. All players can claim cards from the commons, but only you have access to your private archives.

Players take turns, with play always passing clockwise (to the left). On your turn your minions attack your opponents. Then you may create a "chain" of orders from your hand.

However, your opponents may add their own cards to your chain when you are done. The cards in the chain then resolve in the opposite order that they were played.

Your minions and actions inflict wounds on your opponents. The player with the fewest wounds at the end of the game has proven he is the strongest and wins the game!

Anatomy of the Cards

The diagram below shows the key pieces of information found on every Nightfall card.

Note that minion cards (such as the one shown on the right) have a strength number and health on one or more sides; action cards have neither and use a steel-colored card frame.

The Basics of Nightfall

There are several key concepts that are fundamental to Nightfall:

Decks, Discard Piles, and Archives

You have your own deck of cards. You can only draw cards from your own deck. You also have your own discard pile. You may look through your discard pile at any time, but not your deck. You may not look through any other player's discard pile or deck unless a card allows you to do so.

If at any time you need to draw cards and there are not enough cards left in your deck, draw as many cards as you can, shuffle your discard pile to make a new deck, and then finish drawing cards as needed.

If you empty your deck but do not need to draw any more cards, leave your deck empty. Do not shuffle your discard pile until you need to draw another card.

As your cards are discarded or destroyed, place them face up on top of your discard pile. Any new cards you claim are also added to your discard pile.

Archives are stacks of order cards that are not owned by any player. You can acquire these cards during the claim phase of your turn. Archives are always kept face up and visible to all players.

There are two types of archives. The eight archives in the center of the table are called the commons, and they are available to all players. You also have two archives in front of you, called your private archives. Only you can claim cards from these archives.

Exiled cards are removed from the game and do not return to any discard pile, deck, or archive. This includes wounds that are exiled.

Setup Diagram

The Order Cards

Your deck is composed of order cards. There are two varieties of orders: minions and actions. All order cards have a color, which is indicated by the moon icon in the top left corner of the card. Beneath the card's color icon are one or two smaller moons. These icons indicate the link colors for that card. See Chaining Cards on page 13 for an explanation of how link colors are used.

On the right edge of the order card, next to the card's name, is a large number. This is the influence cost that you must pay in order to claim that card during your turn (see Claim Phase on page 16).

Every card in Nightfall has some game text that explains the effects of the card when played. If the text on a card seems to contradict these rules, the card's text always takes priority over the rules.

Game text that starts with "Chain:" is called chain text, and appears on both minions and actions. This text takes effect when that card is resolved as part of a chain. Game text that starts with "Your Chain:" only takes effect if you started the chain.

Game text that starts with "In Play:" appears only on minions. This text takes effect after the card is resolved and the minion is in play.

Friendly & Opposing

Your private archives, the minions you control, the orders you play, and any game text on those cards are all considered friendly to you. Private archives, minions, orders, and game text belonging to the other players are all considered opposing.

Archives in the commons are neither friendly nor opposing. Individual cards stacked in any archive (whether it is a private archive or an opposing archive) do not belong to anybody and are considered neither friendly nor opposing.


Minion cards represent followers that you bring into play and control. In addition to the normal features of an order card, every minion has a strength value in the upper right corner.

This is the amount of damage that the minion inflicts when it attacks. Each minion also has a keyword that describes which species it is.

Finally, each minion has health, which is the amount of damage it can sustain before it is destroyed. Health is indicated by a number of red slashes on the sides of the card.

The highest health value is at the top of the card. Minions come into play with their highest health value showing at the top. For each point of damage inflicted on a minion, rotate its card 90° clockwise. This reduces the minion's health (shown on what is now the top edge of the card) by one.

Starting Minions

Each player begins the game with 12 starting minion cards in his deck. These minions can be identified by the yellow color of their card title. Starting minions also have a claim cost of 0 next to their card name.

All starting minions have the in-play text "Exile when destroyed or discarded", or "Exile when destroyed". Exiled cards are removed from play and do not go to your discard pile or deck. Thus, barring card effects, a starting minion can only be put into play once; when it gets destroyed or discarded from play, remove it from the game.


Some order cards require you to choose which specific player, minion, archive, wound, or order in the chain is affected. The game text on these cards always uses the word "target". However, you never target cards in your hand or your deck.

Cards that require no choice (e.g., "damage all opposing minions") do not target individual minions or players. Any card effects that alter or prevent targeting do not affect these cards.

Simultaneous Events

Nothing in Nightfall happens simultaneously, though sometimes the game text on a card may make actions appear to occur at the same time. If multiple events are happening at once, the player whose card triggered the event chooses the order in which events resolve.

For example, if a card deals damage to every player, the player of the card chooses the order in which the players take that damage.

Game Turn

Players take turns in clockwise order. On your turn you must play through four phases. Each phase must be completed before the next phase begins. All phases must be played in order as follows:

  1. Combat Phase

    All your minions in play must attack other players. After attacks are resolved, discard your minions from play.

  2. Chain Phase

    You may create a chain of orders by playing a card, and possibly linking additional cards. Once you are finished, your opponents may extend your chain by adding their own cards.

  3. Claim Phase

    You may acquire cards from the commons or your private archives by spending influence.

  4. Cleanup Phase

    You must draw cards, and you may resolve one wound effect. All card effects end.

Once you have completed all four phases, your turn ends. The player to your left now begins his turn.

Tip: Be aggressive. You cannot dominate the savage world of Nightfall by sitting around and waiting.

1. The Combat Phase

If you have any minions in play at the start of your turn, you must use them to attack other players. Each minion attacks one of your opponents. You can send multiple minions against the same opponent, or divide your minions among opponents as you see fit.

You must send all your attackers at once. Once your attackers are assigned, resolve each combat in the order you choose.

Example: It's Scott's turn and he has three minions: Vulko, Ivan Radinsky, and "Big Ghost". He decides to send Vulko and Ivan Radinsky to attack Brad, and "Big Ghost" to attack Janet.

If the defender has minions in play, he can assign one or more of them to block attacking minions. A blocking minion can only block a single attacking minion. However, multiple minions may block a single attacking minion.

Example: Brad also controls three minions. He assigns his "Indigo Six" and his Alton Hickman to block Ivan Radinsky, and his Zacharias Sands to block Vulko. Janet has no minions in play, so the attack by "Big Ghost" is not blocked at all.

Note: Defending minions do not inflict any damage on the attackers. They only absorb damage.

Each attacking minion now inflicts damage equal to its strength. If the attacking minion was blocked, the damage is first inflicted on the blocking minion. If there are multiple blocking minions, the defender chooses the order in which the blocking minions take damage.

One minion must absorb as much damage as possible (i.e., until all the damage is absorbed or the minion is destroyed) before the next blocking minion takes any damage.

The defending player receives one wound for each point of damage that is not absorbed by blocking minions.

Example: Brad gets to decide the order in which his minions block the attacking Ivan Radinsky (who has 4 strength). He wants to save Alton Hickman to attack with later, so he chooses "Indigo Six" to absorb damage first.

"Indigo Six" has 2 health, so it absorbs 2 damage and gets destroyed (it goes to Brad's discard pile). The remaining 2 damage from Ivan Radinsky is applied to Alton Hickman. Brad rotates Alton Hickman 180°, reducing his health to 1.

Meanwhile, Vulko has a strength of 3. Zacharias Sands, who blocked it, only has a health of 2, so Zacharias Sands is destroyed and the 1 remaining damage is inflicted directly on Brad.

Damaging Minions

The current health of a minion is shown by the red slashes on the top edge of the card. Each point of damage reduces the health of the minion by one.

When a minion takes damage, rotate the card clockwise 90° for each health lost.

This reduces the number of red slashes on the top edge of the card by one. If your minion rotates clockwise off its last point of health (away from the side with only one red slash), it is destroyed and placed in your discard pile.

Some card text restores health; rotate the card counterclockwise to restore health to a minion.

Damaging Players

Players do not have health. Instead, wound cards represent the damage a player suffers during the game.

When damage is inflicted upon you, you receive one wound card from the top of the wound stack for each point of damage you take. Always place wound cards on top of your discard pile.

Example: Scott's "Big Ghost" attacks Janet without being blocked, so all of its damage is inflicted directly on the unfortunate player: Janet takes 5 wound cards from the top of the wound stack and puts them in her discard pile!

Blocking Direct Damage

A small number of minions, such as Vulko , have an in-play ability that allows them to block damage inflicted directly on the player who controls them. This includes damage from chain effects and damage that gets past blocking minions after resolving attacks.

These minions have in play text that says: "This card blocks damage inflicted on you". If you have one of these minions in play when a card inflicts damage on you, the minion must block it just like it was blocking an attacking minion.

These minions do not help you when you "receive wounds" as a card effect.

Discarding Minions

After all damage is resolved by all your attacking minions, you must discard all of your minions in play. Your combat phase is now complete.

Note: Some minions, such as "Bad Smoke", are not discarded at the end of your combat phase. These minions have the in-play text: "This card stays in play until destroyed".

2. The Chain Phase

Once all your attacks have been resolved, you may play orders from your hand for various effects. You can bring minions into play, inflict damage on opposing players or minions, or help your cause in a variety of other ways.

Chaining Cards

Order cards are played from players' hands to form a chain. A chain is one or more cards played in a sequence.

At the beginning of your chain phase, you can play any one card from your hand for free, without restriction. This is called "starting a chain".

You can add more cards to the chain, but each card you play must link to the latest card played in the chain. Each card has a large moon icon in the top left corner.

This signifies the card's color. Beneath the color icon are two smaller moon icons.

They show the link colors for that order. You can only link a card to a chain if the color of your card matches a link color on the last card played in the chain.

Example: This Alton Hickman is a white card. It can only be linked to a card with a white link color symbol. Only red and green cards can be linked to the Alton Hickman card in a chain.

Janet begins her chain by playing the Alton Hickman card for free. Next, she adds a Furious Melee card to the chain. She can add the Furious Melee because it is a red card.

You can only link a card to the most recently played card in the chain. You cannot "jump" over other cards to link to a card played earlier.

When you are done adding cards to your chain, each of your opponents has a chance to link one or more cards from his hand, as long as he has a card that can link to the last card in the chain.

Start with the player to your left and proceed around the table. All cards added to the chain must link to the last card played (even if it was played by another player).

Example: Scott begins his chain with a Blaine Cordell card. Since that's his only card, he can add nothing else to his chain.

Brad links a Franz Orlok to Scott's chain (he can link because the Franz Orlok is purple, which matches one of the link colors on Blaine Cordell).

Now Janet can link her Ivan Radinsky (white) to Brad's Franz Orlok, and link a Charlotte Reyes card to her own Ivan Radinsky.

Each player has only one opportunity to link cards to a chain. Each opponent may link as many cards as they like, following the requirements for linking a card to the chain. After each player has had a chance to play cards, the chain is complete.

If you do not play any cards during the chain phase of your turn, there is no chain, and no one else can play cards.

Tip: Play cards in a chain at a 45° angle to show that they have not yet resolved. You can overlap your cards that are linked together in the chain.

Straighten each order to vertical as it resolves. This makes it easy to tell which cards have resolved, which minions are in play, and which order was played last.

Resolving the Chain

Once all players have either linked cards to the chain or passed on the opportunity to do so, all cards played in the chain are resolved, starting with the last card played and ending with the first card.

Remember: Last in, first out.

Start with the very last card linked to the chain, regardless of which player played the last card. Follow the chain text on the card fully (the text that begins with "Chain:" or "Your Chain:"). Remember that "Your Chain" effects only happen if the card was played by the person who started the chain.

When an action is resolved, place it on top of its owner's discard pile. When a minion is resolved, place that minion into play in front of its owner.

Minions in a chain are not "in play" until after the card resolves. This means that any card that affects a minion cannot target a minion card that is still part of the chain.

After the last card played has been resolved, move on to the next card in the chain. Continue resolving cards in the reverse order that they were played (going back around the table counter-clockwise), until each player has finished resolving each of the cards they played. Resolve all orders played by a player before moving to the next player's cards.

Example: The last card played on the chain was Janet's Charlotte Reyes card, so it resolves first. Then her Ivan Radinsky, followed by Brad's Franz Orlok. Finally Scott resolves his Blaine Cordell card and the chain is finished.

If you cannot resolve all effects of the chain text (for example, if you must discard a card from your hand, but your hand is empty), obey as much of the text as you can. That card still resolves, and you continue with the rest of the chain.

You must resolve all chain text on a card even if you don't want to! It is possible that an earlier card in the chain changed the situation in such a way that the chain text on your card has become a disadvantage to you!

Often, the game text on a card will tell you to inflict damage on a player or minion. This damage is resolved the same as damage inflicted during the combat phase.

Tip: Since you can see the card colors of the next player's private archives, try to avoid leaving him link colors that he prefers so he can't add to the chain.


Most orders show a kicker at the bottom. A color is shown to the left of the kicker text.

If you link an order directly from a card of the color shown next to the kicker text, you receive the kicker bonus when the card resolves (even though the card you linked to has not yet resolved).

Example: Furious Melee has a white icon next to its kicker text.

Since Janet linked her Furious Melee to a white Alton Hickman card, she must use this kicker when the Furious Melee card resolves as part of the chain.

She exiles two cards from Scott's Blaine Cordell archive, even though it only has one card left.

3. The Claim Phase

In this phase of your turn, you may claim cards from your private archives and the commons. You cannot claim exiled cards or cards from opposing private archives.

Tip: Pay attention to the link colors being passed your way, and draft some cards to transition from those colors to colors that will feed your chain.

In order to claim a card, you must spend influence. You start each of your turns with two points of influence. You can earn additional influence from some card effects.

You can also discard cards from your hand during your claim phase; each card you discard gives you one point of influence. Note that discarding a starting minion in this manner does not exile the card, because it was never in play.

You can discard cards even if you do not intend to spend the influence earned. This is a method of discarding unwanted cards from your hand.

The influence you must spend to claim a card is shown to the right of the card's name.

Example: This Alton Hickman has an influence cost of 3. Brad needs 3 influence to add this card to his deck. Since he starts his turn with 2 influence, he only needs to discard 1 card from his hand to get all the influence he needs to claim Alton Hickman.

You may claim as many cards as you like, including multiple copies of the same card, as long as you have enough influence to pay for all of them. All cards that you claim are taken from the top of each archive and placed face-up on top of your discard pile.

You cannot claim cards during other player's turns without a card effect. Any unused influence is lost at the end of your turn.

Remember: Influence = 2 automatic + influence from card effects + 1 per discard.

4. The Cleanup Phase

The last thing you do on your turn is draw cards. If you have fewer than 5 cards in your hand, you must draw cards from your deck until you have 5 cards in your hand.

Tip: There is no hand size limit. A larger hand lets you chain more cards, get more kickers, and discard for more influence. Do all you can to get more cards.

After drawing cards, check your hand for wound cards. You may use one effect printed on one wound card in your hand.

You may not use effects on any other wound cards you have in your hand, or on wound cards that you draw as a result of using the first wound effect.

The first Nightfall release only has one type of wound effect, but expect other types to be released in expansions.

Example: Brad draws 2 wound cards during his cleanup phase. He discards both of them and draws 4 more cards. One of these is another wound card, but since he already replaced wound cards once, he can do nothing more this turn.

Finally, all card effects end at the completion of each turn.

End of the Game

When the last face-up wound card is taken from the wound stack and given to a player, the game ends. Finish resolving cards in the chain or damage from attacking minions, depending on which phase it is.

Keep track of any additional wounds received by using the face-down cards in the wound stack (and previously exiled wounds if necessary).

Example: Brad linked a Death Grip card to Scott's chain. When that card resolves, he inflicts 3 damage on a player of his choice. He chooses to have Janet suffer the damage.

She receives the last 2 face-up wounds from the wound stack (the game will, therefore, end after the chain is finished). Janet still receives the third wound from Death Grip, so she grabs a face-down wound. The players then continue to resolve Scott's chain.

Each player totals the number of wound cards he has in his deck, hand, and discard pile. The player with the fewest wound cards wins the game!

If there is a tie for the least number of wounds, count the number of bite, bleed, and burn keywords each person has on their wounds. Each player compares their highest count; the player with the lowest high count wins. If still tied, compare the second-highest total.

If there is still a tie, the person closest to the right of the first player wins.

Example: Brad and Janet are tied at 7 wounds each. Brad has 3 bites, 3 burns, and 1 bleed. Janet has 1 bite, 4 burns, and 2 bleeds. Since Janet has 4 of her most frequent wound and Brad has only 3, Brad wins the tiebreaker.


Secret Archives: Do not replace the draft cards in your private archive with stacks of order cards. Instead, leave them face down until you want to claim one of those order cards. When you do, replace the draft card with the stack of matching cards.

Open Archives: Instead of filling the commons after drafting, fill the commons first with eight draft cards, face up. Then deal three draft cards to the players. This gives the players more knowledge when they draft their private archives.

Common Ground: Players do not have private archives. Instead, the first two cards they draft are placed in the commons. Draft cards not chosen are removed from the game.

End-of-the-World Series: Play a series of games, keeping track of each player's wound score at the end of the game. When the first person reaches 100 total wounds, the player with the lowest total score wins.

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