How To Play: Nefarious

Our Nefarious strategy guide covers everything from unboxing the game to mastering strategies for victory. We discuss how to choose inventions wisely, make the most of twist cards, and balance cash with actions. The guide is packed with tips on observing opponents and adapting to the game's flow.


Welcome to our ultimate guide for mastering ‘Nefarious’! Whether you’re a newbie looking for the basics or a seasoned player aiming for the win, we’ve got you covered. Inside, you’ll find a clear outline of the game rules and our top strategies for claiming victory. So gather your friends, roll up your sleeves, and let’s show you how to play Nefarious—and win.

What’s in the box

  • 1 Game Board
  • 90 Innovation Cards
  • 36 Twist Cards
  • 4 Spy Figures
  • 4 Player Aid Cards
  • 50 Coins
  • 12 Energy Cubes
  • 1 First Player Marker

How To Play Nefarious: Rules Summary


  1. Gather your friends and pick a mad scientist character each.
  2. Place the game board in the center of the table.
  3. Deal out two Twist cards to each player. These cards change the game’s rules in fun and unpredictable ways.
  4. Everyone gets a certain amount of cash to start with. This is your seed money to fund your devious plans.
  5. Shuffle the invention cards and place them face down. Draw a few to create an available pool.


  1. Players take turns in clockwise order. On your turn, choose one action: Work (get cash), Invent (pay cash to build an invention), Research (draw cards), or Espionage (spy on opponents).
  2. After everyone has taken a turn, check if any of the played inventions trigger effects.
  3. Refill your hand to three cards if necessary.
  4. Play proceeds in rounds like this until someone wins the game.


  1. The first player to score 20 victory points from their inventions wins the game.
  2. Points are mainly earned by building inventions. Some inventions have special conditions that can earn you extra points.
  3. Keep an eye on your rivals’ points. Sometimes, it pays to invent something just to prevent someone else from winning.

Special Rules & Conditions

  1. Twist cards can completely change the game’s dynamics. Make sure to adapt your strategy accordingly.
  2. Some inventions have effects that trigger immediately, while others have ongoing abilities.
  3. If players tie on points at the end of the game, the one with the most cash on hand is the winner.
  4. Always be ready to change your plan. Flexibility and quick thinking are key to mastering How To Play nefarious.

This guide will get you started, but remember, the path to becoming the most nefarious mad scientist is fraught with surprises. Pay attention, adapt, and maybe you’ll outsmart your friends!

Best Nefarious Strategies

The Master Blueprint to Selecting Winning Inventions in Nefarious

Choosing the right inventions is key to dominating in Nefarious. Here’s how you can ace it:

Identify Synergies Early On

  1. Look for invention combos that boost each other’s value.
  2. Align these combos with your twist cards for maximum impact.

Keep an Eye on Your Rivals

  1. Adapt your strategy based on the inventions others are aiming for.
  2. Block or outpace them on critical inventions when possible.

Adapt to the Game’s Flow

  1. Be ready to switch strategies if your initial plan falls through.
  2. Utilize the spy action to disrupt opponents’ plans and steal key inventions.

The Secret Sauce: Mastering Twist Cards in Nefarious

To win at Nefarious, understanding twist cards is crucial. These game changers can, well, change the game. Here’s how to master them:

1. Know Your Cards

  1. Read each twist card carefully before the game starts. Knowing what each one does helps you plan better.

2. Adapt Quickly

  1. Once twist cards are revealed, adjust your strategy. If a card favors inventions, shift your focus there.

3. Observe Opponents

  1. Watch how others respond to the twists. Sometimes, the best strategy is playing defensively against their moves.

4. Flexibility is Key

  1. Be ready to change tactics mid-game. The best players adapt their strategies to leverage the current twist cards’ advantages.

Remember, mastering twist cards in Nefarious requires flexibility, observation, and a deep understanding of how they alter the game’s dynamics.

The Golden Rule: Balancing Cash and Actions in Nefarious

To win at Nefarious, you’ve got to get the balance right between raking in the cash and taking decisive actions. Here’s how my crew and I mastered it:

Plan Your Moves

  1. Start by planning. Think two steps ahead, like a chess master eyeing the board.

Keep an Eye on Your Cash

  1. Always know your finances. You don’t want to go broke, but hoarding cash won’t win the game either.

Strategic Spending

  1. Spend wisely. Invest in actions that offer the best return, whether it’s building an invention or sabotaging a rival.

Mastering the Mad Science

And there you have it, folks. From choosing your inventions wisely to striking the perfect balance between hoarding cash and taking bold actions, these strategies are your ticket to becoming the ultimate mad scientist in Nefarious. Remember, the key is not just in knowing the rules but in predicting your opponents’ moves and adapting your strategy on the fly. So, gather your friends, set up your lab, and let the inventions come to life. Who knows? You might just be the one to laugh maniacally as you claim victory. Happy scheming!

Want to know what we think of Nefarious? Read our detailed review of Nefarious here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.