Freeze-Dried Games Pack:
Spoken Word 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 83 Freeze-Dried Games

Botticelli

The Thinker thinks of a person and says the first letter of their surname. Others take turns to ask a yes/no question where the asker has a person in mind for "yes" (who fits all confirmed information about the mystery person); the Thinker either says "No, I am not [name]", naming someone who fits but is not the mystery person, or concedes. If conceding, the asker reveals who they had in mind and may ask direct yes/no questions to the Thinker until they answer "no" to one. If the Thinker answers yes to "Are you [name]?", the guesser wins.
2+ players
Traditional

Breakfast Combo

The Server thinks of an object. Another player makes a guess as to what this object might be, and this automatically becomes the best guess so far. Other players then make guesses. For each guess: if it is closer than the current best guess, the Server announces that this is the new best guess; otherwise, the Server declines it but names something that the guess has in common with the object. (eg. "A wasp?" "No, a calculator is still the best guess, but like a wasp, my object has a sharp point.") A correct guess wins.
2+ players
Traditional

Convergence

Each player thinks of a four word key sentence. Each turn, a player announces a "test sentence", and their opponent tells them whether each word in that sentence is alphabetically before ("up") or after ("down") the corresponding word in the key sentence. (For example, if a player's key sentence was "HAVE A NICE DAY" and the other tested with "LET THERE BE LIGHT", the player would answer "down, down, up, down".) Repeat until a sentence is guessed. To shorten the game, announce when a word has reached the correct initial letter.
2 players
Traditional

Jotto

Each player secretly notes down a five-letter word. Players take turns to call out five-letter words, their opponent responding by saying how many times the called word's letters appear in their secret word (eg. a call of WORLD against a secret word of HELLO results in "3"). If the called word is the secret word, the caller wins. Players may note down an alphabet and cross out letters as they are eliminated, for reference.
2 players
by Morton M. Rosenfeld

Kolodny's Game

One player chooses a secret rule that any given sentence may or may not fit (eg. "ends with a vowel"). Other players ask yes/no questions, which the rule chooser answers with "yes" if the question sentence fits the rule and "no" if it does not. The first player to guess the rule wins.
2+ players
by David Greene Kolodny

No More Jockeys

Players take turns to name a person and then exclude a category that the person belongs to, such as "Buster Keaton: No more actors." Categories can be qualities of the person, or of the words or letters of their name. Once a category is excluded, people it covers cannot be named. If a player can't think of a person, or has the next player correctly challenge them for a move that breaks earlier exclusions, they are eliminated. (Upon excluding a category, a player may be asked to "name another" who also fits it; if they can't, they are eliminated.)
2+ players
by Alex Horne, Tim Key, Mark Watson

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.

The Freeze-Dried Games Pack was started in November 2012 by Kevan Davis, and last updated on the 6th of July 2020. The most recently added game is No More Jockeys.