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Are you looking for activities you can do with just a pen and a piece of paper? If yes, continue reading to learn more about these best pen and paper games for friends.
Want to spend time with your friends without having to leave your house? Disconnect from your devices.
Are you looking for entertaining games that don’t need any setup or special equipment?
Here are 20 enjoyable pen and paper games that you can use for everything from entertaining visitors to killing boredom on a boring evening.
What are the 20 Best Pen and Paper Games for Friends?
Possibly the most well-known 2-player game that many people still don’t understand.
The mansion, Apartment, Street/Swamp, and House are MASH. There are many different living conditions that one could find themselves in.
How do you play MASH?
Write MASH on a sheet of paper.
Step 1: Choose several categories, such as your spouse, profession, pet, the nation in which you’ll be residing, and so on. On a piece of paper, jot them down.
Step 2: For each category, both players come up with three choices, one of which they like and two of which they don’t. Under each category, these choices are listed in a column.
Player One begins to close their eyes in Step 3 as Player Two begins to make tally marks.
When One says “Stop” after a brief delay, Two is required to stop drawing tallies instantly.
How many marks have been made? Count them.
Step 4: Cross off the items based on how many marks they receive.
If three tallies were drawn, you would cross out every third item, for instance.
The category names do not count; each letter of MASH counts as one item.
Step 4 should be repeated until each category has just one item left.
The remaining objects now represent Player One’s future, and Player Two can select their future from the possibilities crossed off.
Alternatively, you can keep going with the crossed-out possibilities and reduce the list until each category has exactly two choices.
The futures of the players can then be determined by what remains and what is crossed out.
Divide into two teams and give each team a blank sheet of paper.
Each slip of paper must have a different phrase written by each team. The phrases can be well-known quotes, books, movies, or song titles, but they should be terms that most people are familiar with.
Ask both teams to deposit their prepared slips in different bowls or boxes once they have finished.
After that, one team A member draws a slip from Team B’s bowl and attempts to act out the sentence while the other Team A members try to guess what it is.
To try to decipher the sentence, the team gets three minutes.
It can result in some HILARIOUS situations, as you can imagine.
By the way, did you know that the popular birthday party game Charades?
3. Tic tac toe, squared
Let’s get to it. A reasonably large piece of paper is required.
Draw a large grid of tic tac toe pieces extending to the paper’s edges.
Draw a mini tic tac toe grid in each of the squares of the main grid.
Say “X” first to begin. They mark a square on one of the smaller grids with an “x.”
Now, “O” must place “o” someplace on the smaller grid, which is positioned in the square of the larger grid where “X” placed their “x.”
For instance, “O” would have to begin from the smaller grid in the middle right square of the bigger grid if “X” placed the first “x” on the grid in the middle right square of their chosen smaller grid.
As a result, “X” must follow “O’s” example, and so forth.
A smaller grid’s winning player gets to put their emblem there.
The winner is the player whose symbols appear in the bigger grid three times a row.
This game is also known as ultimate tic tac toe and nested tic tac toe, depending on who you ask.
4. Who am I?
This game is quite basic.
Each participant receives a sticky note with the name of a well-known individual attached to their forehead.
And by asking everyone else a few straightforward “yes” or “no” questions, they must infer the name of the individual whose name is written on their forehead.
It might involve queries like, “Am I female?” Do I belong in history? Am I still alive?
You may ask another inquiry if the first one is answered in the affirmative.
If the response is “no,” it’s the subsequent person’s chance to pose inquiries and make an attempt to identify the name written on THEIR OWN forehead.
The winner is the first player to identify their mystery person correctly!
The remaining players can continue competing for second and third place, or you can begin a brand-new round with brand-new mystery players.
Make a square grid on a piece of paper; I’d recommend making it at least 5×5.
Give a different colour pen to each player (there must be more than one) at this point.
The game’s object is to connect two neighbouring dots on the grid with a single line drawn by each participant.
Please be aware that diagonal lines are prohibited.
The player who finishes a square gets to put their initials and play one again. They receive one point as well.
The game goes on until all of the dots are connected.
This Slavic word game can be played without paper and a pen.
A minimum of two players is required, but the more, the merrier!
One person first says a word with more than two letters. After that, the subsequent speaker must utter a word that begins with the final two letters of the previous word.
The challenge is to avoid using words that end in “ka,” as the one who gets to utter “kaladont” is the winner of the round and receives a point.
This is the final word that can be pronounced in any round because no words in any Slavic language start with the letters “nt.”
You can also attempt to play the game in English!
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The popular game is simple to play with a piece of paper and a pencil. During World War I, it began as a pencil and paper game.
This game has two players.
Step 1: On 4 different pieces of paper, draw 4 grids (I suggest 10×10 grids).
Everybody receives two grids.
One keeps track of their fleet, the other of their strikes.
The players settle on a fleet composition in step two.
One carrier, one battleship, one destroyer, one submarine, and one patrol boat are the typical members of a fleet.
There will be a set of position requirements for every type of ship.
A carrier, for instance, could need to occupy 5 squares, a destroyer 4, and so on.
Pro tip: You can make the grid bigger and each ship bigger. A carrier might require a 5×2 grid, but you can choose a 15×15 grid, for instance.
Step 3: Each player deploys their fleet on their respective fleet grid.
Please note that the players’ grids shouldn’t be visible to one another.
Overlapping ships between players is OK.
Step 4: Players declare “strikes” on specific squares and note them on their strike grid.
If any other player’s ships have been “struck,” it is announced.
A ship is said to have “sunk” when all of its squares have been “struck.”
A player loses if their entire fleet sinks first.
Players pick up pieces of paper with various roles printed on them from a hat as part of the game’s concept.
At least two of the participants will be Mafiosi, while the other participants will either be residents of the town or innocents.
The mafia “murders” one of the innocents during “night,” and the innocents search for the “murderer” during “day,” which alternates between the two stages of the game.
The Mafiosi are eliminated one by one or until there are more of them than the remaining town residents, whichever comes first.
Although the rules of this game are a little too complicated to describe in this blog post fully, it can be a lot of fun. Therefore, if you choose to play it, we advise you to look up its precise rules online.
Pro tip: Groups of seven or more players will have the most fun.
9. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!
Smaller parties are better suited for playing this paper chit game.
Write anything you wish on multiple slips of paper. Random phrases, idioms, and events are acceptable as long as they’re brief.
Make the number of chits equal to a multiple of the participants. For instance, if there are 6 players, there should be 18 chits, resulting in a 3-round game.
The chits should be put in a dish.
Now instruct everyone to become familiar with the NATO Phonetic Alphabet.
Once they indicate they are finished, ask them to select a chit from the bowl and read the NATO alphabet message.
Anyone already familiar with the alphabet will need to skip this.
10. Hot and Cold
This game can be played by as many players as you’d like and doesn’t need any props.
When it is the player’s turn to play, they leave the room while the other players devise a hidden action to perform when they return.
When the player returns, they must determine what to do based on the group’s responses.
The player essentially starts doing whatever they choose, and if they approach the mysterious action, the others exclaim, “getting hotter!”
The others answer, “getting colder!” if they veer off course.
Only cheering and booing are permitted; speaking or offering advice is prohibited.
This game has no winners or losers, so you can keep playing it as long as you like or until everyone has had a chance to play. The main objective is to have a blast!
11. Can you cartoon?
Another group game using paper chits, although this one is more active.
Write down commonplace acts on slips of paper and place them in a bowl, such as turning on the faucet or chopping vegetables.
Ask the participants to take out a piece of paper and read the description of their actions. Read, but keep it a secret from others.
The player’s challenge is to act as it would appear in a cartoon (comic exaggeration).
They can also make an effort to determine what the action is.
This is a classic that almost everyone is familiar with.
There can be two or more players in this word-guessing game. The guidelines are quite basic.
Player 1 suggests a word and then doodles the appropriate number of dashes to represent the word’s letters.
Layer 2 then begins speculating on possible letters in the correct response.
Player 1 enters the letter in the proper location for each accurate guess.
Inaccurate answers result in drawing a bodily component onto a tiny stick person hanging from the gallows.
If Player 2 correctly guesses the response before the stickman figure is finished, they win. Player 2 is free to do so at any time.
If not, Player 1 takes home the prize.
If you wish to play this game with young children, you may create an apple tree with 10 apples and mark off an apple each time the incorrect letter is identified.
13. Blind man (Person) Drawing
Suitable for all players that wish to participate.
I’ll explain the game if the name didn’t already give it away.
Each participant chooses one item from the space. They examine it carefully.
They must next draw the thing on a piece of paper while wearing blindfolds.
Ask the participants not to remove the pencil from the paper while they are drawing if you want to make it a little more entertaining.
14. Rock Paper Scissors
There is no need to introduce this game; chances are you played it in elementary school.
It is a game for two players where each person simultaneously forms one of the three shapes (rock, paper, or scissors) with an outstretched hand.
Scissors are a V formed by the index and middle fingers, while rock is a closed fist, paper is a flat hand, and paper is a rock.
Paper covers the rock, scissors smash paper, and paper crushes scissors.
This game has only two outcomes: either one of the players wins, or a tie occurs. You can play two out of three, three out of five, keeping score, or playing until one of you gets a forearm cramp.
Another straightforward yet extremely entertaining game. Suitable for just a few players.
First, choose four categories. From “girls’ names” to “Chicago cuisines,” they can be anything. (As a side note, check out our story on the Four Chicago meals for 2021 if you haven’t had any Chicago cuisine yet.)
Choose a letter in step two.
Step 3: Players have two minutes to think of as many items in each category that start with the selected letter as they can (you may set a timer on your phone for this).
Step 4: After the allotted time has passed, have each participant read out their items according to category.
Crossing out occurs when more than one player selects the same item.
The player with the most unique (i.e. not crossed out) objects wins.
16. Pantomime Games
There are numerous straightforward pantomime games that you can play with your children in addition to the game of charades that we previously discussed.
One person makes different gestures while the other tries to mirror them in the Mirror Game.
Passing the face
Passing the face is yet another easy pantomime game.
One group member makes a hilarious or emotive expression to the individual seated next to them. Then, to the next person, they create a variant of the same face, and so on.
A different kind of Charades
On slips of paper, you can list various activities that you can combine in a hat.
While everyone else tries to guess the activity, each person draws a piece of paper and tries to act it out.
Anything from calling a taxi, pretending to open a Christmas present you’ve been anticipating all year, to acting as a fireman dousing a fire with a water hose.
Children’s pantomime games don’t truly have victors or losers. The main purpose of these activities is to promote enjoyment and closeness with your children.
17. Two truths and a lie
Simple, yet it trains players to pay attention to details and react quickly—a characteristic shared by Chicago’s most popular escape room.
Each person presents three claims about themselves to the group.
Out of the three, two are accurate, and one is untrue.
The other people must determine which is the fake one. Each one identifies which they believe to be false and explains why.
Children throughout the world like playing this game, which goes by a variety of titles.
Each participant stands in a line, and the person at the front of the line whispers a brief message into the ear of the person next to them.
The second player then whispers the message to the next person, and so on.
The final person in line must inform the entire group of what they heard.
Most of the time, you’ll discover that the message has taken on a rather amusing makeover by the time it gets to the final recipient.
The game also has a negative aspect. Each individual in the line has the ability to purposefully alter a portion of the message so that the final product is radically different.
It’s a basic game, but your kids will have a blast playing it.
19. Fix it!
Teams of two or three people each should be formed from the group. Give each team a pen and a sheet of paper of the same size.
Create a challenge for them. It could involve anything from quickly putting in a rack to making dinner for a party.
Each team must give its solution on its own sheet of paper.
20. Lip-Reading Challenge
This game’s name pretty much explains itself.
You can play this game as a single group for fun only, or you can divide it into two teams and play against each other.
A hat should be filled with a variety of words and phrases that have been written on slips of paper.
The team needs to assign one member the task of donning headphones and turning up the music so loudly that no one else in the space can be heard.
The person wearing the headphones tries to read the words as the other team members take phrases out of a hat and speak them aloud.
The teams can draw a set amount of cards each or alternately take turns in 2-minute intervals.
The winning team is the one with the majority of accurate responses at the conclusion.
You’ll be laughing so hard that you’ll be gasping for air at the crazy things people say!
Bonus – online game to play with friends – virtual happy hour
This is perfect for use in an online virtual meeting. Intended for WFH types.
Choose a theme. Friend, say. The better, the more specific.
Give each player a character to play.
The goal is for each player to prepare a drink that corresponds to their persona.
They must first disclose their drink and how it ties to their persona.
Pro tip: Since we’re playing pen and paper games, I recommended: “prepare a drink.” Be my guest if you want the players to mix the beverages!
We hope these games help you and your friends have a good time together while bonding over entertaining activities.
Which do you prefer among them?
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