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How to Play MASH - Mansion Apartment Shack House

Who doesn't remember this timeless classic game played by elementary, junior high, and high school aged kids? MASH, or M.A.S.H. if you like, is an acronym that stands for Mansion Apartment Shack House. To find out which one of those dwellings you're going to live in someday, and other things like what kind of car you'll drive and who you'll marry, you have to play MASH!

MASH can be played with just a pen, some paper, and a friend. Keep reading to find out how…

Here's how you play MASH

  1. Choose the story categories.

    The four basic story categories written on paper

    First, choose the categories that will make up your final story. The number of categories you put in will change how long the game takes to play and how long your story will be. If you only have a few minutes to play, start with the basics: four categories (you choose these), and four options for each category (your friend chooses these). This part should go in the top half of your paper (leave space at the bottom of the page).

    Start at the top and write each of these four categories, moving clockwise on the page.

    • M A S H. The letters M A S H go at the top of the page. Write these with some space between each letter.

    • Potential partner. This is who you'll marry or end up with someday. Two of these should be someone you'd want to marry, one person you're indifferent about, and the last should be someone you would never, ever want to end up with.

    • Number of children you'll have. In the classic game you'll just write the numbers 1 2 3 4 - this will line up with the M A S H that you put at the top.

    • Type of car you'll drive. This last category will go at the left of the page. Choose two cars you'd really want, one you don't care about, and one you'd totally hate.

  2. Draw a spiral to determine the "magic number".

    A spiral drawing

    Tell the other person to close their eyes while you draw a spiral (from inside to outside) on the bottom half of the page. The other person should say "STOP" when they want you to stop drawing (he can open his eyes now). Count from outside to inside the number of lines you drew. It can help to draw a line through the center of the spiral and count how many times that line crosses your spiral, too. The number you come up with is your magic number.

    The number of spiral segments
  3. Count each of the category options until you reach the magic number.

    Start at the M at the top and, moving clockwise, count each option (A, S, H, each of the names, each of the numbers, each of the cars) until you reach the magic number. Cross off the option you land on.

  4. Continue around the page, skipping over the marked off options.

    Start the count over with the spot just after the option you crossed off in step 3, then keep moving around the paper, counting each option as you go. Every time your count hits the magic number, cross off the option you landed on.

  5. Circle the final option in each category.

    Final results

    Each category will end up with all options but one eliminated.

  6. Use the final options in each category to tell your friend his or her MASH story!

    You can add as many or as few embellishments to the story as you like. Your story could go something like: "In your future you're going to marry Niall Horan and live in a Mansion! You'll have two kids and drive a Porsche!"

Make your story longer

The classic game of MASH is even more fun when you make the story longer. Add extra categories to tell a more detailed future.

(For older kids and grown-ups waxing nostalgic, you might even put when and how you'll die. Gasp!)

Thanks for reading our how-to guide about playing MASH: Mansion Apartment Shack House!

Playing MASH without a pen and paper

Did you know you can also play MASH without a pen and paper? If you have an iPod touch, iPad, iPhone, or Android device (even a Mac or Windows computer), you can play our MASH app!

Our MASH app is a digital update to the classic pen and paper game. Save trees and pens! You can play the free version of MASH which comes with more than twice as many categories as the classic game described in the how-to guide above.

MASH is available to download for the following platforms:

Play MASH Online Free

You can also play MASH online for free in your browser! Click here!

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