No-Prep Games

My last post was targeted at a pretty narrow crowd… here’s one about games that more of you will enjoy.

It’s always nice to know a few games that require little or no preparation and easily acquirable parts. Unfortunately, for most of us the first games that come to mind are childhood diversions that we’re tired of by now, like 20 Questions, hangman or crazy eights. I’ve compiled a list of the more unique and/or creativity-enabling games that I’ve found.

The list (with links for each) is below. Please comment and let me know about any low-prep, creative games that I missed!

Just People
Ghost is a word game for two (and possibly more) players. Be warned – it has been solved, so your opponent may be cheating.

The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is great if you’ve got movie buffs together… probably better if you play it two-ended, so Kevin Bacon doesn’t have to be involved. Need some help? There are engines online to figure these out for you.

Werewolf (also known as Mafia) is a game of guess-who for four or more people; groups of ten to twenty seem to work best. Requires a person willing to be the narrator, and traditionally a deck of cards is used to randomize roles, though you can do this in many ways. Highly customizable!

Pens and Paper
1000 Blank White Cards (also known as the Blank Card Game) is an essentially objective-free game where players draw on index cards and then play them, often to hilarious effect. Play this with the craziest, most creative people you can find. Various rulesets and card archives can be found around the web.

Dvorak is a more structured version of 1000 Blank White Cards, for a more focused game. For the more strategic among us.

Paper Penguins is a pen-and-paper variant on the commercial strategy game Hey! That’s My Fish!. Multiple colors of pens is recommended, but not required.

Rumble is a game for 2 or more players where you bid on custom superpowers and then duke it out with other players. Can be extended with cards, dice, or any number of ways.

(If you ask me, it’s a crime that there aren’t more elegant games written for pen and index cards (and maybe some coins, and a pair of dice). It is hereby my goal to write one by January 2011.)

Ordinary Playing Cards
Ascot is a horse-race for two players with a 52-card deck.

Checks is a new card game for two players.

Cribbage never gets old, works equally great for 2, 3 and 4 players and can be scored with pen and paper. For a twist, play it as a golf game.

Cuttle is one of the earliest combat card games for two players.. It plays a bit like a CCG (Magic the Gathering, or Pokemon) but using a 52-card deck and without the fanboy factor.

Dracula is a card placement game for two to four players using 54 cards (you need your jokers!).

Mao is a card game with mutable rules, where the trick is to figure out what the rules are.

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