Paper & Pencil Games


Printable version

A game for two players.

Each player requires a pen or pencil and a copy of the sheet with both maps. Each player then places their sheet of themselves so it cannot be overlooked by his opponent. Each player has the following forces:

2 Heavy gun batteries

4 Squares each

1 Anti-aircraft


Any 5 adjacent squares

1 Ammunition dump


Any 7 adjacent squares

1 Battleship


2 Cruisers


2 Submarines


1 Aircraft Carrier


4 Aircraft


as in

Each player marks the position of his/her own forces on the upper map by outlining the squares in any position they choose. Each force may be placed vertically or horizontally but once the game has begun the positions can not be altered. Also forces can only be placed according to the following rules:

  • (a) The land forces may only be positioned on land.
  • (b) The sea force may only be positioned on sea.
  • (c) Aircraft may be positioned on land, on sea or land sea, land/sea.
  • (d) Any of the force may touch the extreme edges of the map.
  • (e) No force can touch another force, so there must be at least one blank square between neighbouring forces.

    Players now take one shot each, in turn, (player to start being decided by the toss of a coin). To take a shot. a player calls out the co-ordinates of the square he/she wishes to hit by using the number and letter reference of that square. for example the reference F-11 will strike the bottom left hand corner of the land peninsula. His or her opponent must then inform him whether the shot was a hit or miss depending on whether that square is occupied by one of their forces. The player firing the shot then marks the square in question on the lower map using a stroke "/" or "-" for a miss or an "H" or star for a hit. The opponent may also find it useful to keep a record on their own upper map of where their opponent has fired.

    As soon as a force has been completely destroyed. That is every square of that force has been hit. The owner of the force must inform his/her opponent what it is that has been destroyed.

    All forces must be completely demolished by hits into every square of each of the forces. The winner of the game is the first player, to demolish the whole of his enemy's forces. Therefore a total of 63 actual hits is required to complete a game.



    At any stage of the game, as his/her turn to play, a player may in place of his normal shot, elect to drop a "blockbuster" into one particular square. Each square touching that square is covered by that one shot thus the "blockbuster" shot covers nine squares. Only one blockbuster shot may be fired by each player in each game.

    Salvo - battleships

    This is a faster version as each force available on the map can fire a shot in a single turn (that is at the start 14 shots can be fired). Each time a force is completely destroyed they are no longer able to fire a shot and reduce the number of possible shots that can be fired in each go.

    Battleships - Navy only

    Players create their own map by marking out two 12 by 12 square grids and numbering the columns 1-12 and the rows A-L.  There are only ships used in this version so no land has to be drawn in.

    Each player then secretly places his fleet on his grid. 

    1 Aircraft carrier 5 Squares in length
    1 Cruiser 4 Squares
    2 Destroyers 3 Squares
    2 Minesweepers 1 square each

    Each ship should be marked out by shading the appropriate squares on the grid. The battle now begins with players alternately lobbing shells at each other by calling out single squares, e.g. 3D, 1OG, 8L and so on. If a shell lands on a ship the loser must say so and cross the square out. The accurate firing player will continue to fire at the target until he has sunk it an eventuality which the loser must declare. The game continues until a player loses all his fleet.




    Bingo/Lotto is used as a fund raiser and readily adapts into an educational game and has been used educationally since the 1800's.

    Bingo is well known in the UK for its association with seaside amusements and now a bigger business as seen with the Bingo Halls in Europe, Australia and the US. Bingo derives from the Italian lottery Lo Giuoco del Lotto d'Italia which started in 1530. A version of the game called le Lotto was noted to be popular with the French intelligentsia in 1778, which used cards with 3 rows of 9 squares, each row had 5 numbers in it (15 numbers in all) between 1-90. No numbers were repeated on each card and each card was different. Wooden counters numbered 1-90 were drawn randomly from a cloth bag and the number drawn called out. The aim was to be the first to complete a horizontal row.

    In the US Lotto was adapted to 'Beano' using cards marked in a 5x5 square arrangement, with a number in each of the squares except for the middle one which was blank or 'free'. Edward Lowe, a toy salesman, came across Beano being played and started to market this as Bingo after a friend while playing this accidentally called 'Bingo' out instead of 'Beano'.

    For the 5x5 arrangement the aim is to complete any vertical, horizontal or diagonal line and only the numbers 1-75 are used. Other patterns/arrangements now exist.

    The origins of the game also explain why in the UK and Australia, the 3x9 cards are used, while in the US you will find the 5x5 cards.

    European Lotto

    It's possible to buy ready made lotto sets, but if you want to make your own you'll need to create 90 counters, each one numbered from 1 - 90 and placed in a cloth bag so that person who draws them out does so at random and is unable to see which number to pick out.

    Cards are 9x3 grids (3 rows of 9 squares) with 15 numbers randomly picked from 1-90 (none repeating) printed in 15 of the squares, so that there are 5 randomly placed in each row occupying different locations (4 grid spaces are always empty in each row). You will need to create a set of different cards one for each player or if planning to play this several times a different one for each player each round.

    A caller picks the counters from the bag, calling out the numbers as he/she does so. The first player to have 5 numbers on one of their 3 rows called out, shouts 'bingo' or 'Lotto'.

    Adapting Bingo to other games

    Bingo is normally played with each player having a different card (That is each card has a different set of numbers in different locations) to provide an element of luck, but it may suit your purposes to use cards that are exact duplicates of each other depending on whether you want this random element of luck or not.

    Arithmetic Bingo

    Instead of creating counters with the numbers on them, why not create a set of simple (or hard if you are feeling evil) arithmetic sums which equate to the values of 1-90? Call or write these out. Players then have to complete the sums to work out which value was called.


    Dice Code Game

    Any number of players. Two dice, dictionary for settling queries.

    Mark out the following code on a piece of paper

  • 2 = A

  • 3 = E

  • 4 = I

  • 5 = O

  • 6 = U

  • 7 = D

  • 8 = H

  • 9 = N

  • 10 = S

  • 11 = T

  • 12 = Y

    B is a free letter and can be used without using the dice.

    At beginning of a round choose how many letter are going to be in a word.

    Throw the dice and try to make up a word to the required length using the letters in the code. Keep throwing the dice until a player has produced a word. First player to complete a word is the winner and throws the dice for the next round.

    Dictionary Game

    aka: Call My Bluff

    Paper and pencil game that requires a bit of preparation before hand. Divide into two teams. Each team goes through a dictionary and finds a few obscure words and writes down the word with their actual meaning. They then also create two incorrect meanings for that word. 

    Taking it turns each team presents a word they've chose to the other team with the three possible meanings without saying which the correct one is. The opposing team has to then work out which is the correct meaning. The team that gets the most right wins.

    A well known TV show called "Call My Bluff" plays this game between teams of celebrity guests.

    Flag Dice

    Sent in by Pat Adams

    [Ed: There's an old game that I remember called 'Flounders' that uses the same principle where you had to assemble a fish depending on your dice roll. But it shows how easy it is to adapt the game to your own needs.]  

    Created for games evening themed around Canada. We gave groups of 6 girls paper, a red and a black crayon and a dice. They threw the dice and the first person to throw: 

    6 drew a flagpole
    5 drew the outline of the flag
    4 colored one red bar
    3 the other bar
    2 drew the maple leaf outline
    1 colored the maple leaf. 

    The team jumped up and screamed "Canada" when they were finished. Simple and they really liked doing it.


    Well known paper and pencil game in the UK. One player think of a word and draws a line for each letter in the word and shows this to the other player/s. E.g. if the word is thought of was "church" they would draw six lines

     _ _ _ _ _ _

    Players then have to guess what the word is by carefully choosing possible letters one at a time. If a letter in the word is mentioned (eg in this case "C") the letter is written in the appropriate places.

    C _ _ _ C _

    However every time a letter is mentioned which is not in the word this letter is written down at the top or side of the paper and part of a hanged man is drawn. You could choose something else to draw in stages, but it is traditional to use the following sequence.

    1.   2.  3. 4. 5.

    6.   7. 8. 9. 10.


    (Sometimes to give more lives you can also draw in the face by stages and/or add feet hands.)

    If the hanged man is completed before the whole word is guessed the players guessing loose and the player who challenged them has another go. Other wise the player who guessed now takes their turn to think of a word and have a go.

    Heads and bodies

    Each player draws the head and neck of a person, animal or bird at the top of a piece of paper and then folds the paper over so that only the end of the neck they have drawn is visible, before handing their paper onto someone else. The next person then draws the arms, torso/body and start of the legs of a person, animal or bird and again folds the paper over before handing onto the next person, who now draws the legs and feet

    Once drawn get players to unfold what they have created and see the oddest creatures revealed.

    Jumbled Fruits

    Give each player a list of fruit and vegetable with their names in a jumbled (anagram) order eg Cabbage = BEGABAC. Players have to unscramble the letters to work out what the fruit is. You could play this with a fruit bowl / basket at one end of the room which players then have to get the fruit when they have worked out the letters.

    Number pictures

    Get players to write the numbers 1 – 10 on a piece of paper and then get them to draw pictures in the most imaginative way possible using the outline of each number as part of each picture. Winner is the one who can come up with the most imaginative and/or most amusing picture.


    Equipment: Paper and pencils.
    List of items preferably on a similar theme.

    Players sit in teams, the first player of each goes to the leader who whispers the first item. That player then has to go back to their team and attempt to draw what the item is so that their team can guess it. The person doing the drawing may only answer `Yes’ or `No’ to questions. The player guessing the item then goes to the leader and gets another item. First team to complete the list of items wins. Teams should guess quietly so that the other team does not overhear.


    'Play-dough' Pictionary

    A variation of Pictionary but instead of using paper and pencil, try playing it with Play-dough or Plastercine where player have to make models instead of drawing the ideas.


    A real IQ-tester. Players must 'move' on paper from one word to another by changing one letter at a time - but producing proper words all the time. As an example, they could be asked to move from

    SOAP to BATH:

    The player to find the shortest route in the fastest time is the winner.

    Word making

    Pencil and paper game. Think of a long word and then ask players to create as many words and the longest word they can from the letters available in the word they’ve been given.