"Restaurant napkin games" (minimalist abstract strategy pencil-and-paper games)
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Recommend
24 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
I'm fascinated by minimalist games, i.e. games with super simple rules and equipment.

In that vein, let me define a genre of games I will call "napkin games" (Brits should feel free to call these "serviette games" since that is the British English word for napkin!).

A napkin game is a game you can easily play on a restaurant napkin with a single pen. So, no hard-to-draw hexagonal cells. No grids over 9x9 in size. No need for pre-printed game sheets. No need to erase marks (so, pieces and/or lines cannot move, once placed). No need for different colors of inks. You get the idea!

This is a quite restrictive category -- much more restrictive than other pen-and-paper geeklists I have seen (but if you know of another geeklist like this one, please post a link in the comment section below).

Feel free to add games that meet the criteria!

P.S. I know you can draw a square grid functionally equivalent to a hex grid, if you offset each line of squares off by half a square from the lines above and below. Still, that is a pain to draw, so I'm not allowing hex games to count as "napkin games."
Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
1. Board Game: Squava [Average Rating:6.97 Unranked]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is my go-to napkin game. Only 10% more complicated than Tic-Tac-Toe, but 1000% better. Learn in seconds, but there is significant strategy. Great clarity; it's easy to look ahead several moves.

If you have three players, you can play Squava on an 8x8. It's one of the best three player abstracts there is (not just one of the best three player napkin games).
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
2. Board Game: Tic-Tac-Toe [Average Rating:2.61 Overall Rank:15666]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Adding this to be thorough, but you should play any other game on this list instead!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
3. Board Game: Boxes [Average Rating:4.62 Overall Rank:15399]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Despite its reputation as a kids game, there is depth here.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
4. Board Game: Lynx [Average Rating:7.07 Unranked]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A brilliant game that turns dots-and-boxes into a connection game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
5. Board Game: Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe [Average Rating:6.15 Overall Rank:11028]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
An innovative twist on Tic Tac Toe.

Rules here: http://www.colorku.com/Documents/TicTacKu%20Directions.pdf

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
6. Board Game: Morro [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A fun game. I play with slightly different rules. The player in the lead plays two pieces a turn, the player behind plays three. If both are tied they play two.

You can also play with three players:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1376896/morro-three-pla...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
7. Board Game: Sprouts [Average Rating:5.78 Overall Rank:11182]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is a classic. I'm completely awful at playing it, though!

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
8. Board Game: Xodd [Average Rating:7.18 Unranked]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I haven't tried this but it looks good.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
9. Board Game: Stop-Gate [Average Rating:6.53 Unranked]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
10. Board Game: Traffic Lights [Average Rating:4.96 Unranked]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You can adapt this for pencil and paper.

Let one vertical mark = green; make a horizontal line through the vertical line ("+") for yellow; then make a slanted line to creat an asterisk for red.

The board is even smaller than a Squava board -- just a 3 x 4 grid, which you can draw with 5 lines (only one more line than Tic-Tac-Toe needs!)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
11. Board Game: SNORT [Average Rating:5.92 Unranked]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
AKA "Cats and Dogs"
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
12. Board Game: Chomp [Average Rating:3.88 Unranked]
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Another simple and analyzed combinatorial classic.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
13. Board Game: Go-Moku [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:5279]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is usually played on a 19x19 or 15x15. But it might work on a smaller board, though I think that would enhance the first player advantage. There are ways to mitigate that, however, e. g. Renju's opening protocol or a pie rule in which the first player plays three black and two white pieces and then the next player decides which color to play.


On a different note: another game to play = Atari Go (aka Capture Go). Play on a 9x9. Usual Go rules but first to capture wins. (It seems possible that players could end up with several large groups each with two eyes. I presume the rule is that you cannot pass, and thus one player must eventually be forced to play into one of the eyes of a formerly safe group of his, thereby giving the opponent the capture. However, a variant would be to allow passes, and if two players pass, count the score as you would in regular Go.)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
14. Board Game: Connect Four [Average Rating:4.84 Overall Rank:15635]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A better game than it is given credit for.

Easily played on paper. No need for real gravity!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
15. Board Game: Quax [Average Rating:6.97 Unranked]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A good connection game played on a square grid. It's better on bigger grids but still a good game on 9x9. It's probably best to use Xs and Os and write them inside the cells (instead of on intersections). Diagonal connections cost a turn; draw them in with a line connecting diagonal Xs or diagonal Os.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
16. Board Game: Crossway [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A square grid connection game that is even simpler than Quax. I'm not sure how good it'd be on a small board though.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
17. Board Game: Slimetrail [Average Rating:5.52 Unranked]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Use an open circle for the piece that moves. Fill in the circle of its previous location after a move.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
18. Board Game: NoGo [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
19. Board Game: Zuniq [Average Rating:5.88 Unranked]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Looks more fun than Dots and Boxes to me!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
20. Board Game: Mole Hill [Average Rating:5.95 Overall Rank:7681]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A souped-up version of a Slimetrail-like game by Reiner Knizia. Rules are available here.

As suggested by Kelly Bass in the comments to this geeklist:

chockle wrote:
You could play half a game of Mole Hill on one napkin. Then use another napkin to switch roles (mole/gardener) and then compare scores.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
21. Board Game: Spangles [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:10297]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Can be done in ink. After the first triangle, each new triangle takes just two lines to draw, since new triangles must share at least one side with an already-played triangle. Just write Xs and Os in the triangles to show whose is whose. I suppose the only trick will be to draw nice equilateral triangles, otherwise things might get a bit misshapen.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
22. Board Game: Minimize [Average Rating:6.57 Unranked]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The BGG page for this game reports that it can be played on a square grid.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
23. Board Game: Airport Football [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
24. Board Game: Cercas [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
25. Board Game: TacTix [Average Rating:5.12 Unranked]
Craig Duncan
United States
Ithaca
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A variant of this is Dox: played on a 5x5; same rules except that the center square begins already crossed out.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.