4 Games You Can Play with Only Pen and Paper

Remember “Making Your Own Fun”? It’s what our grandparents did before we’d actually invented anything fun. These days fun comes pre-packaged in all kinds of forms. As a citizen of the Western world in 2013, there is no reason why you should ever experience even a moment of not being constantly entertained with Angry Birds, Words with Friends, Farmville or endless, endless permutations of Tetris.

But sometimes the worst can happen, phone batteries die, or can’t get any signal, and you are left with nothing but some extremely bored company and some pen and paper. Fortunately, with a bit of imagination, that’s all you need.


Noughts and Crosses

This is the classic pen and paper game, and with good reason. The rules are simple and easy, and games are usually over quickly. However, it’s also a game that can get boring quickly. Between two reasonably experienced players you are always, always going to get a stale mate.

However with a bit of imagination you can create all kinds of variations. For instance, change the grid from a 3 by 3 grid to a 7 by 6 grid, and introduce a rule that you can only place your O or X at the bottom of the grid. Suddenly Noughts and Crosses are now Connect Four!


On the other hand, create two ten by ten grids, number 1-10 and A-J along each axis. Then each of you secretly put down Xs to mark:

3 destroyers (2 squares each)

2 battleships (4 squares each)

2 cruisers (3 squares each)

1 carrier (5 squares)

1 submarine (3 squares)

Take it in turns shouting out co-ordinates until you’ve sunk all your opponents’ battleships!  Here’s a hint: You’re statistically more likely to hit a battleship the closer to the centre your guesses are. Unless the person you’re playing has also read this article, in which case go for the corners…


Hangman is of course the ultimate classic in pen and paper games. Think of the most mind bogglingly obscure word you can, and watch the other players go slowly insane as they try to guess it. There is great pleasure to be had in drawing each limb of the hanged man as your friends keep shouting out letters in vain. (Incidentally, “JAZZ” is one that will drive people nuts.)


Less a game than a surrealist, and usually rude joke generator, Consequences is still a great source of hours of fun. What you to do is write down the following:

Adjective for a person

A person’s name


Adjective for another person

Another person’s name

Where they met

What the first person wore

What the second person wore

What the first said to second

What the second replied

The consequence was… (a description of what happened after)

What the world said

Fold the paper at each line, then pass it around, getting each person to fill in a part of the sheet without reading the others. Then simply unfold it and read out the story!


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