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Capture - Paper and Pencil Game Rules

The complete rules for Capture, a strategy game played with pencil and paper.


Capture 16x16

Capture 16x16

Image © Erik Arneson
Capture -- also known as Boxes, Squares, Dots and Dashes, or Paddocks -- is a simple game that can be enjoyed by children as young as six years old.


Capture is usually played by 2 players, although it can also be played by 3 or 4 players.


Paper and pencil.


To be the player who captures the most boxes when the game ends.


Ideally, Capture is played on graph paper. If graph paper is not available, a board can be made on any piece of paper by drawing a series of dots in the shape of a square.

The board can be of any size. The smaller the board is, the shorter the game will be. Beginners might like to start with a 2x2 or 3x3 board to learn the basic tactics and strategies. More experienced players may prefer a board of 6x6 or even 10x10.

A 16x16 Capture board is available at this site and can be printed out. It can be used to play games on smaller boards as well.


At the start of the game, the board is empty. Players take turns, adding a single horizontal or vertical line between two unjoined, adjacent dots (corners on graph paper).

When a player completes the fourth side of a box, she writes her initial (or some other distinguishing mark) inside the box and gets to take another turn.


The game is over when no more lines can be placed. At that point, the players each count the number of boxes they have claimed.


The winner of the game is the player who claims the most boxes.

If the event of a tie, the player involved in the tie who went later wins. This is because players who go earlier have an advantage.

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