A deck box labeled "FALLING" shows a cartoon man falling while clutching an anvil.

Everyone is falling. And fighting. The object is to hit the ground last. It’s not much of a goal, really, but it’s all you could think of on the way down.

Players: 4-8 (one dealer, 3-7 “fallers”) // Age: 12+ // Time: 90 seconds // Price: $10


FALLING is the original real time card game from James Ernest. It’s a fast, wild, and cutthroat game of nimble fingers and clever cardplay. One player deals while the others fall, and there are no turns. Players are always active, you can play cards nearly everywhere, and the dealer controls the speed of the game.

Players can play cards on each other, or on themselves. These cards are called “riders,” and they change how the dealer will deal. A “Hit” means “Give me two cards.” A “Skip” means “Don’t give me anything.” And so on. Those Skips come in really handy at the end of the deck, when the dealer starts handing out the Ground cards. Catch a Ground card, and you’re dead.

An average game of FALLING lasts about 90 seconds. Just like the real thing.


A cartoon man dressed in brown slacks, a brown bomber jacket, white scarf, and brown hat and gloves falls through the air. Books surround him. He adjusts the blue goggles covering his eyes with his right hand.Originally released in 1998 with artwork by Brian Snoddy, FALLING is out in a shiny new edition illustrated by Val Mayerik as of Fall 2014.

The original edition of FALLING is available for free as a print-and-play. You can also order a copy of the original edition through DriveThruCards for $10.

In addition to the art, James tweaked a few things in the new edition. The original “Grab” and “Push” cards have been combined into one card, called “Move.” Three optional “advanced” cards were added. All are permanent riders, which means that the dealer does not sweep them. The Anvil is a permanent Hit, the Parachute is a permanent Skip, and the Goggles are a permanent ride that do nothing.

The oldest version of "Falling"; the Polish version of Falling ("Spadamy!"), which shows a falling cow with a tiny pink umbrella; and the goblin edition of "Falling" showing a falling goblin with a serrated sword.

FALLING was nominated for an Origins award for best traditional card game of 1998, and was listed in the GAMES 100 for the same year. For its tenth anniversary, it was reimagined and offered by Paizo in a goblin edition.

Fun Fact: If you speak Polish (or feel like learning eight Polish words) and manage to find a copy, you can also play SPADAMY!, which is the same game but with cows.