6 Pen and Paper Games That Rock the Shazbot

Picture it: there you are, trapped in the middle of Chicago-O’Hare on a four-hour layover, alone but for your two cranky and travel-weary kids. Somehow your phone is bricked, your laptop charger is fried, the TV’s are all playing infomercials, and the hand-held games are in the checked luggage. (Also imagine the airport’s out of both Benadryl and whisky—shame on you for thinking it! Bad parent.)

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. How will you survive?

Your only hope is to go boy scout versus doomsday survivalist on it.. Remember: you’re resourceful, resilient, always prepared, etc., etc.. You’d turn the Alaskan wilderness into a backyard barbecue with naught but a hatchet and a tarp. So too with Chicago-O’Hare. Your hatchet is a pencil (you know, the pointy thing that leaves a trail of graphite when scratched against a light-colored surface of certain friction), and your tarp is paper.

Here are six options for using said paper and pencil to merrily kill nearly infinite time. (Your first puzzle is trying to determine where one column’s caption stops and the next starts.)

1. In a grid like the one below, one player is trying to connect white dots to move from the right side of the board to the left; the other player is trying to connect black dots to move from the top of the board to the bottom. 2. Take turns drawing short, horizontal or vertical lines. 3. You can’t cross your opponent’s lines. Don’t get blocked!

1. In a grid like the one below, one player is trying to connect white dots to move from the right side of the board to the left; the other player is trying to connect black dots to move from the top of the board to the bottom. 2. Take turns drawing short, horizontal or vertical lines. 3. You can’t cross your opponent’s lines. Don’t get blocked!

 

1. Start with a graph-paper game board of any size. 2. One player is X’s and the other is O’s (write lightly in pencil). 3. Start with the position shown. 4. Take turns placing your symbol. On each turn, you MUST trap an opponent’s symbol between yours (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally), which you then flip to your symbol. (If you cannot trap at least one of your opponent’s symbols, you lose your turn.) 5. Once all squares are used, the player with the most symbols wins.

1. Start with a graph-paper game board of any size. 2. One player is X’s and the other is O’s (write lightly in pencil). 3. Start with the position shown. 4. Take turns placing your symbol. On each turn, you MUST trap an opponent’s symbol between yours (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally), which you then flip to your symbol. (If you cannot trap at least one of your opponent’s symbols, you lose your turn.) 5. Once all squares are used, the player with the most symbols wins.

1. Start with two or three dots on a page. 2. A move consists of two steps—draw a line between two dots (or to itself); and mark a new dot anywhere on this line. 3. Your new line may not cross any existing line. 4. Once a dot has three lines coming out of it, it is closed. 5. Whoever makes the last possible move, wins.

1. Start with two or three dots on a page. 2. A move consists of two steps—draw a line between two dots (or to itself); and mark a new dot anywhere on this line. 3. Your new line may not cross any existing line. 4. Once a dot has three lines coming out of it, it is closed. 5. Whoever makes the last possible move, wins.

1. Imagine the grid below were an open board of the kind used to play Connect Four®. 2. One player is X’s and the other is O’s. Take turns “dropping” your shape into the game board, where it falls down to rest on the lowest open spot. 3. The first person to make four in a row, wins.

1. Imagine the grid below were an open board of the kind used to play Connect Four®. 2. One player is X’s and the other is O’s. Take turns “dropping” your shape into the game board, where it falls down to rest on the lowest open spot. 3. The first person to make four in a row, wins.

1. Start with a matrix of dots, as shown. 2. Take turns drawing a line horizontally or vertically between dots. 3. Your goal is to make closed squares. If you close a square mark it as your own (place an X or an O in that box). 4. If you close a square, move again. 5. Once all squares are closed, the player with the most symbols wins.

1. Start with a matrix of dots, as shown. 2. Take turns drawing a line horizontally or vertically between dots. 3. Your goal is to make closed squares. If you close a square mark it as your own (place an X or an O in that box). 4. If you close a square, move again. 5. Once all squares are closed, the player with the most symbols wins.

1. You need four boards like the one shown, two for each player. 2. Draw your five ships on the board (as shown). 3. Take turns shooting, by naming grid spaces (i.e. “E-3”). The opponent calls a hit or a miss. Mark your shots on your blank grid and your opponent’s shots on your ship grid. 4. Continue until one player sinks the other’s ships.

1. You need four boards like the one shown, two for each player. 2. Draw your five ships on the board (as shown). 3. Take turns shooting, by naming grid spaces (i.e. “E-3”). The opponent calls a hit or a miss. Mark your shots on your blank grid and your opponent’s shots on your ship grid. 4. Continue until one player sinks the other’s ships.


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