Here’s a fabulous 2-player game that I’ve only just discovered – Shooting Stars. I found it in The Lost Art of Having Fun by Gyles and Saethryd Brandreth. 

All you need is a piece of paper and two pens.

Start by dividing the paper into three equal sections. You can just fold along the lines, or draw a line to mark out the sections, if you prefer. 

Shooting Stars setup

Players should sit opposite each other. The end of the paper that is closest to you becomes your ‘home’ area. The space in the middle is ‘no man’s land’. In your home section, draw ten small circles. You can put them anywhere you want – all spread out, in a cluster, or at regular intervals. Then you place a small star somewhere along the border of your territory.  Now you’re ready to play. 

Players take it in turns to play. On your turn, starting at your star, moving through no man’s land and reaching all the way through your opponent’s area, draw a straight line quickly and assertively. Just swipe your hand in a straight line as swiftly as possible. Warning: The game doesn’t work if you move slowly!

Your aim is to draw lines that don’t hit any of your opponent’s circles. If you manage this, you score a point. If you do hit a circle, your opponent scores a point instead. Keep playing until one player hits 5 points. They are the winner.


This simple game can be embellished upon in so many ways. Try some of these ideas, or develop your own.


  • Make the circles bigger.
  • Make the paper smaller.
  • Require players to avoid lines they’ve already drawn (you must go a different direction each time). 
  • Your opponent chooses where your star should go. 
  • Substitute some circles for triangles – these are more dangerous and give your opponent 3 points instead of 1. (You’ll probably want to change the victory condition to 10 points.)
  • Introduce other shapes that cause different things to happen when you hit them. For example, squares could mean that your opponent takes two turns immediately. Or chevrons could mean that your opponent must do a line that bounces off the far edge of the paper and back to no man’s land – doubling the jeopardy.

Shooting Stars in progress

This game is harder than it first appears! It’s very engaging because it requires more skill than you may assume and the excitement level remains high throughout. Brilliant.