Freeze-Dried Games Pack:
Miscellaneous Games

This is an ongoing project to collect rules for interesting games that can be explained in no more than 100 words, and which (mostly) require no more than a deck of cards, six dice and a pen and paper. Any ambiguities can be rehydrated through common sense (eg. if a game uses points but specifies no winner, the most points win).

See all 86 Freeze-Dried Games

Needs: misc

The Dictionary Game

The Reader selects an obscure word from the dictionary, reads the word aloud (checking that no player knows its meaning) and copies the definition onto a piece of paper. The other players write their own definitions on identical papers. The Reader collects the papers to read aloud in a random order. Going clockwise, other players vote aloud on which definition they believe to be correct. Then: score 1 for selecting the true definition and 1 for each player who selected your false definition. If nobody guessed correctly, the Reader scores as many points as players. Take turns to be Reader.
4-6 players
Needs: misc


Take an empty crossword grid. Players take turns to write a word or crossword-suitable phrase into an empty clue space. First move must be into one of the shortest spaces, subsequent moves must cross at least one existing word. The first move scores 2 points per letter in the word or phrase; subsequent moves score 1 point per letter, multiplied by the number of words the move crosses. Continue until both players resign; the first to resign gets a 10 point bonus.
2 players
by David Parlett
Needs: misc


Prepare as many cards as players: two "Mafia", one "Detective" and the rest "Citizens". A Moderator deals these out secretly then moderates repeating Night and Day phases. Night: Players close their eyes, the Moderator asks the Mafia to open theirs, silently nominate a player, and then close their eyes. Moderator asks Detective to open their eyes and indicate a player, and gives a thumbs-up if they are Mafia. Day: Everyone opens their eyes, the Mafia-targeted player is eliminated and players vote on one player to eliminate. Mafia lose if eliminated, and win if only two non-Mafia remain.
7+ players
by Dimitry Davidoff
Needs: misc


Rule 1: Going clockwise, players take turns to roll a die and add the result to their score, then propose the enactment, repeal or amendment of any rule. Rule 2: When a proposal is made, every player must vote for or against it; if the vote is unanimously in favour, the proposed change takes immediate effect, otherwise the proposer loses 10 points. Rule 3: If players disagree about rule interpretation, the player to the left of the current player resolves the dispute. Their decision is binding. Rule 4: The first player to reach 100 points wins.
4+ players
by Peter Suber (adapted)
Needs: misc


Players start with identical pools of coins (standard is 4 pennies, 3 nickels, 2 dimes and 1 quarter). On your turn, play one coin from your pool to the middle and (if you can) take back change up to one penny less than the value of the coin you played. If your pool is empty at the end of your turn, you are eliminated.
2 players
by James Ernest
Needs: misc


Pick any medium (coins, words, drawn shapes, etc) for constructing small, unambiguous "koans". The Master picks a secret rule (eg. "a circle surrounds a square"), and builds one koan that fits the rule and one that doesn't, marking which is which. Students take turns to: build a koan, and optionally call for all Students to privately guess whether it fits the rule. The Master marks whether the koan fits, correct guesses earn 1 point. On your turn, you may spend 1 point to guess the rule; if wrong, the Master builds a koan that disproves it; otherwise you win.
3-6 players
by Kory Heath

Show only: Pen-and-paper games, card games, dice games, miscellaneous-prop games, spoken word games, or two-player or more-than-two-player games.

Games with a gold border are personal favourites. Those marked as "adapted" have been crowbarred a little to be playable with a standard deck of cards, or to fit within a hundred words.

Thanks to those who suggested games: Raven Black, Jo Coleman, Martin Griffiths, Guilherme Töws, Alex Fink, Parker Glynn-Adey, Halceon, John and Jeevan. Other invaluable sources include David Parlett's Penguin Book of Word Games and Penguin Book of Card Games, Reiner Knizia's Dice Games Properly Explained, Walter Joris's 100 Strategic Games for Pen and Paper, and Jim Gladstone's Games to Go.

If you know of some good games I should include, or have any feedback about how well I've described the ones I've got, let me know.

The Freeze-Dried Games Pack was started in November 2012 by Kevan Davis, and last updated on the 14th of September 2022. The most recently added game is Speed.