Top Ten: Drinking Games

Summer’s finally here and soon you’ll find yourself at a BBQ, beach or maybe just your basement with some friends looking to have a good time. Today I’m going to take a quick look at some games you can play if you’re really looking to get college level drunk.

I’ve always enjoyed drinking games. The competitive nature, the group setting, the beer. I don’t know if I’ll introduce you to any new games in this article, but these are my personal favorites. I did the majority of my drinking (at least in organized games) during college as is the case with most people. I still enjoy the occasional game, however, they seem fewer and farther between as I get older. This makes me unhappy, but my liver couldn’t be more pleased.

I’ve put a ranking out of ten next to each game to indicate how much you’ll be drinking for each game (1 meaning not drinking much at all, 10 meaning nearly constant drinking). Let’s get onto the list.

10. Boxing (10 out of 10)
This game is a lot more hardcore than most drinking games and I actually didn’t discover it until years after college. The game is played head to head and each player gets a shot glass of beer. They have a partner (their ringside coach) who fills their shot glass for them as they drink it. Each player rolls a die and whomever gets the lowest number has to take the shot. Gameplay is fast and furious and is played in three one minute rounds with a thirty second break between rounds. Apparently the hardcore will play until someone pukes. Again, this game is a little intense, especially for someone out of college, but I think watching this game is quite hilarious and as test of pure drinking skill separates the men from the boys. The non-drinking contestants really make or break the game as they pick their favorite and really start to cheer.

9. Asshole (3 out of 10)
There are a million drinking card games and Asshole is can be one of my favorites. You generally don’t have to do too much drinking and it can be played with a large group of people. For those of you who know how to play you know that the amount of fun you have is largely based on whether or not you’re one of the lucky players to be the President or Vice-President. As the game is designed to keep the power players on top, it can be a long hard road for those stuck at the bottom. It’s a pretty simple card game, however, for sake of brevity here’s a link to the rules if you don’t know how to play.
The main issue with asshole besides getting stuck as either the asshole or vice-asshole is that I’ve seen a number of games where people’s feeling get hurt. If you have the right group and everyone is having fun it can be a good time, however, if people take things too seriously it losses all of it’s fun. Also, there can be a million rules. Make sure everyone knows the rules ahead of time!

8. Power Hour (10 out of 10)
I’ve never seen more people throw up from playing a drinking game then when attempting a power hour (or a century club for the more advanced). The game is remarkable simple- pour a shot of beer and drink it every minute for an hour. Most people can make it through about 30 before the pain really starts to creep up on them. If you make it through all 60 and you have been using a 1.5oz shot glass you will have drank seven and a half beers. Only once in my life have I been able to make it the full century (12.5 beers in an hour and forty minutes). At some point the quantity of liquid and carbonation will catch up with you with devastating results. As a group we’ve created our own power hours which really make the game fun- whether it be a Power Hour podcast or a custom video, the rapid fire activity usually help make the hour go by faster. I’ve yet to find a better game to get you completely drunk in a shorter period of time. At the end of the day though, this game is terrible for you and really is too much beer in too short a time. When the game is done, people generally don’t want to keep drinking, they want to curl up in a ball and die.

7. Beer Darts (8 out of 10)
I learned how to play this game on a trip up to Minnesota. Now, the rating of an 8 is really only if you keep playing without taking a break, so you can limit your intake in the game. Again, for the sake of keeping this (somewhat) short, here’s a link to the rules. Now when I first heard about this game it was pitched to me as, “people are throwing metal darts at each other!” it sounded incredibly dangerous. The fact is, however, that no one got hurt and we were playing with some people who could barely walk let alone throw a dart accurately. The game has some notable downsides- you need to be outside (lots of beer spills) and you need a decent amount of equipment (the metal darts, backup darts when they break and lawn chairs). On the other hand, the game is a ton of fun. There’s obviously skill involved which I appreciate, and it does the trick of getting you drunk. I could see this game moving up my list if I was in a position to play it more often.

6. Civil War (5 out of 10)
This is a modified version of Beer Pong. You play with four people to a side with three to four cups in front of you in a triangle or diamond shape. The game is played with four ping pong balls and instead of taking turns each team can shoot as quickly or as slowly as possible. If during the game all the cups in front of you are knocked out, you’re out of the game. You’re not allowed to throw if you’re still drinking your beer and it seems the general strategy is to go after the best player first. The team with a player left standing at the table wins. This game introduces some additional strategy and allows for eight people to play instead of the base four. The action is fast and furious and can get loud and physical depending on who is playing. I discovered this game only recently and really haven’t played it all that much, but when I have it’s been a riot.

5. Circle of Death, aka, Kings (5 out of 10)
This is my favorite of the drinking card games by far. I’ve played Screw the Dealer and Bullshit Pyramid but those games lack the varying rules and dynamics of Circle of Death. For reference, here are the rules, When we play, we never have the gross concoction or beer in the middle. Inevitably we’ll be playing with a group of girls and they will simply refuse to chug the middle drink. I do love all of the rules and how every game you play is different. It’s also great because people can come and go and you can play with any number of people. One last reason I like this game is that set up is easy, you just need a pack of cards. My criticisms would be that the game is too long (people tend to get bored by the end) and sometimes you’ll have someone who implements a non-creative rule. As a side note if you’ve ever played this game and have some cool rules, add them in the comments. Discovering new rules is always the coolest part about playing with new people.

4. Mario Party (5 out of 10)
Drinking Mario Party is how I spent the lion’s share of my evenings my senior year in college. The game is great for both girls and guys and can really get out of control depending on the drinking rules you put in place. The game is mainly luck, but has some skill components so it’s great for both newbies and seasoned gaming veterans. I use a very specific rule set and I swear by playing Mario Party 5, my favorite in the series. You can read here about my rules and why I think MP5 is the best game to play. Mario Party was uniquely perfect for my house in college as it is best played by exactly four people, and ideally people who want nothing more than to sit inside playing and getting drunk. Because of this, I don’t play the game much anymore as many of the downsides to the game have been made apparent. If you have more or less than four people the game is pretty terrible. Additionally, playing with a good buzz makes the game what it is and if people are just playing and not drinking much, the fact that the game is pretty terrible shines though. Regardless, Mario Party will always have a special place in my heart (and liver) for all of the long evenings I spent playing in college. Waiting with baited breath to see if someone would forget to hand out their drinks for getting a star and then having to take ten drinks was amazing.

3. Taps, aka, Flip Cup (7 out of 10)
If you have a big group of people, a picnic table, and a keg of beer, there is no better game to play than taps. Here’s a quick link to the rules Taps is best played with a rowdy group looking to have a good time. It has become a yearly tradition for our group of friends to play taps during our camping trips. The benefits of taps are that it can be played in any size group with girls or guys. Additionally, the team aspect makes the game pretty intense as it gets down to the “anchor” or last person flipping. I enjoy flip cup as you can regulate with your partner how much beer you’re going to drink every round so you can play for hours and hours at a time. The only real downside to Taps is that it’s a messy game and beer pretty much gets everywhere. You’re basically restricted to playing outside, which can limit the time you can play it in cold weather spots. I also feel that the skill level is pretty low in that it is not overly difficult to flip a cup, and while I do enjoy the team aspect, with large teams you have very little impact on the whole.

2. Sink the Biz (8 out of 10)
When I wasn’t playing drinking Mario Party I was usually at Nick’s in Bloomington at Indiana University playing Sink the Biz. Nick’s is one of the few bars in America that allows encourages their patrons to binge drink. If you visit Nicks you will undoubtedly find everyone in the bar playing their signature game.

A quick rant; I can’t believe there isn’t a Wikipedia page I can link you guys to. I might need to create that next. Anyway, for the uninitiated, you play the game with an official Nick’s bucket, and then drop a smaller glass in the bucket which will float. You take turns going around the table pouring beer from your own glass into the floating glass. Whoever sinks the glass has to drink the glass. Like any great game, Sink the Biz is incredibly simple to understand and difficult to master. The main additional rules are that you must have a steady stream from your cup to the floating glass and if once you’re done pouring and the table counts to three, if the glass sinks it must be drank by the person who was next in line. Additionally, if you pour too close to the bucket and someone else around the table can swing the handle up and hit your glass, you have to sink it and drink it. A swing and a miss means the swinger has to sink it and drink it. This should be treated like a check swing in baseball.

I love Sink the Biz for a number of reasons. The connection to IU cannot be denied. It’s incredibly cool that this awesome drinking game is played at this great old bar at my alma matter. It’s tradition to go back and play with all your friends from college and it’s a shared experience by anyone who attended IU. Beyond the emotional ties to the game though it’s a blast to play. There’s an incredible amount of skill involved and making the perfect pour is a great feeling. In addition, I’ve always been able to walk away from a game at the bar and been astonished by how little it costs to play. The tab is always split so the more you drink, the less you pay overall. If there are any downsides it’s that you have to drink more than most are willing to do so, and it requires having the bucket to play. Regardless I believe it’s earned its reputation as The greatest drinking game at the greatest bar at the greatest University in the world.

1. Beer Pong (7 out of 10)
I’m not even going to link to how to play this game because if you’re reading this article you already know how. As much as I love Sink the Biz the popularity of Beer Pong cannot be denied. The main reason I put it number one though is the combination of skill and teamwork required to be dominate at the game. I’ve been stuck with terrible partners and carried us to victory which felt great, but ideally you’ll be partnered with a teammate who can play on a high level like you can. Holding a table for hours can be especially thrilling when the inevitable trash talk starts up. I’ve seen a ton of variations on setup and re-racks, however, I like a ten cup start with constant re-racks. This moves the game along as quickly as possible and helps to alleviate the games’ main problem: only four people can play at a time. While you do rotate in and out, two teams of especially bad (or drunk) players can have games lasting for much too long. The game can also be a bit of a mess and requires some equipment (the ping pong balls being the hardest to get), but despite all of this it’s still the best and most played drinking game on college campuses.

So there you have it, my top ten drinking games. What did I miss? What games do you enjoy? Let me know in the comment section!

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