Tanks for the memories
March 23, 2009 7:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to figure out the name of a table top game we played as kids with just pencil & paper and involves cannons, tanks and soldiers...

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature has a piece of short fiction that includes a description of the game I remember:

"Eddie had shown Seemueller a cool game. Each of the boys meticulously drew an army on the side of a sheet of paper, and then took turns scratching a pencil line as fast as he could across from his guys to Eddie’s guys. Scritch! and Seemueller’s cannon takes out a line of infantry guys. Eddie’s turn, scritch! The black pencil line runs right through a tank."

I'd love a description as intricate as the Wikipedia paper football entry.
posted by hrbrmstr to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Our version (NJ, learned from a friend around 1977) didn't involve soldiers, just tanks, and was called "Tanks" or after one friend made a slip of the tongue, "Tinks".

I wrote up the basic rules some times ago (good lord, nearly 10 years ago according to the date in the file).

Does that help?
posted by fings at 8:19 PM on March 23, 2009 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: @fings it most definitely helps! i completely forgot about the movement part. it's precisely what i was looking for!
posted by hrbrmstr at 8:49 PM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

The version of this that I played in junior high was called STAB. The basic rules of play were the same as in fings's description, but instead of a field of rocks you drew large islands connected by bridges, and instead of a row of tank dots, you started with the letters S T A B. Each letter stood for a different unit: Subs could only travel on water and could go under bridges, Tanks worked the same way fings describes but couldn't travel on water, Airplanes could move whatever they wanted, and Boats also only travelled on water. There was definitely a difference between subs and boats but I'm not sure what it was - possibly boats couldn't go under bridges. Instead of drawing a circle to represent units, you drew the letter of the unit. For larger games, multiple pieces of looseleaf were taped together and people used different coloured pens or pencils to distinguish their teams.
posted by oulipian at 9:00 PM on March 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

Around 1981 I played a post-Star Wars variation of this in Northern California where the only units were angular space fighters. You would flick your finger against the pencil to make your starfighter cut through another ship and move to a new spot. I wish someone would write a Flash version of it.
posted by Kirklander at 9:21 PM on March 23, 2009

Ooh, STAB sounds like fun! Out of curiosity, when and where did you guys learn your games? The whole thing strikes me as one of those pieces of childhood culture, passed from kid to kid for generations, evolving over time.
posted by fings at 9:23 PM on March 23, 2009

This is, quite simply, the coolest thing I have ever encounter on Mefi. Bar none.
posted by phrakture at 9:28 PM on March 23, 2009

I'm 18 years old, and I played this all the time in middle school in Texas (read: five years ago). So it's definitely still being passed along.

And yes, it's pretty cool.
posted by Precision at 9:39 PM on March 23, 2009

I played the same version as oulipian, in singapore, during the 80's.
posted by nomisxid at 6:39 AM on March 24, 2009

STAB was something I learned from junior-high classmates in Atlantic Canada in the early 90s.
posted by oulipian at 7:51 AM on March 24, 2009

Response by poster: @oulipian STAB == double-plus good!
posted by hrbrmstr at 11:20 AM on March 24, 2009

Response by poster: @fings I learned my variant in grade/middle school. Friends shared it with me.
posted by hrbrmstr at 11:29 AM on March 24, 2009

« Older Car Jail   |   Spain vacation Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.