Ultimate Kings Cup, Part I: What Makes A Good Drinking Game?

With regards to party games, I feel that in general there are two poles that a gathering can lean towards: beer pong (sportlike, competitive, easy to play vs strangers), or kings (friendly, creative, gets conversation going). 

With regards to the latter, I think there's a lot of interesting flexibility in how you construct a game of Kings and I think it's worth digging into. It seems like a small thing, but I do think a well-planned drinking game can be a great way to start an evening depending on the size and type of your social circle. 


Drinking games are funny because I wouldn't really call most of them "games" as much as "rituals". I think they're kind of their own category, and that's why [in my opinion] purchasable games that specifically revolve around drinks tend to fall flat.

For starters, here's a few observations about drinking games. For the sake of simplicity I'm going to look at Kings Cup specifically, which I consider the epitome of what a drinking game means.

  1. The "goal" of most drinking games tends to be not-losing, rather than explicitly winning.
  2. In these games, the penalty of losing a round is to simply take a drink and continue.
  3. Since the purpose of drinking games is to drink, this creates a tension where performing well at the smaller goals means performing poorly at the larger goal [to have an excuse to get tipsy+].

This explains why playing drinking games too competitively is a social mistake in many circumstances - such individuals are forgetting that most drinking games are more of a ritualized set of fun actions rather than a competitive sport. 

Unlike a lot of other games, the point of drinking games is pretty much entirely to socialize. Drinking games are a means for people to get comfortable talking and interacting with each other. So when designing a set of Kings rules, I think the worst decisions you could make are rules that prevent or discourage people from talking to each other.

On that note, I also try to avoid mechanics that encourage people to play until the end - IMO, a good game of Kings is one left unfinished because people got buzzed enough to feel comfortable making their own conversation.


Overall rule guidelines for a nice game

 You'll want a different set of rules if you're at the soup kitchen compared to the brawler's guild

You'll want a different set of rules if you're at the soup kitchen compared to the brawler's guild

  • Everyone is allowed to have their own definition of what "one drink" means; nobody should be goaded into drinking more than they're comfortable with. (I've had a house rule where people must drink something though, so if they don't want alchs I get them water)
  • Don't punish people for socializing.
  • Avoid buzzkillers and bummers.
  • Read the room with regards to what rules are most suitable for the mood - Sabotage-style stuff for competitive people, "compliment circle" type stuff for conflict-averse people, etc. Getting the wrong mood makes for a bad time.
  • Include a variety of minigames/rituals to keep things fresh. This means having a healthy mix of both simple and complex / philosophical and funny / memory-based and reflex-based games, so that every card draw feels fresh and has a higher chance of being interesting.
  • None of the rules should be so complicated that a drunk person wouldn't be in the mood for thinking so hard. Or, if it can't be done right, it should at least be funny.

First I'll write out a set of rules that I use with a small group of 5 friends. We know each other well, and we're all in relationships, and we're all conflict averse, and we're all okay with quiet contemplative conversation. As such, this one is markedly more relaxed than the other list below this.

A- AC Drinks: I drink. You could change this to match the occassion, like "host drinks", "birthday guest drinks", etc. Or, send an email to cloudfallinteractive@gmail.com informing me that you drew an ace.
2- You. Choose someone to drink.
3- Me. You drink.
4- More. After a countdown, everyone points to the person who needs a drink the most RN. That person drinks.
5- Drive. The person goes "vroom" and steers their wheel to the next person, who must then either go "vroom" and steer towards the next person, or "ERR" [screech] to change direction to the previous person. First person to mess up drinks.
6- Fix. Describe a problem of yours and the other people take a few seconds to describe how they'd fix it. Best [funniest] solution doesn't drink, everyone else does.
7- Heaven. Everyone raise their hand, slowest person drinks.
8- Date/Mate. First person to draw 8 is "ready to mingle" and drinks. Each subsequent 8 drawn joins the relationship; whenever an 8 is drawn, all people in the relationship drink.
9- Rhyme. Say a word. The person after you must say a word that rhymes, and then the next person, etc. First person who can't think of a rhyme drinks.
10- Categories. Say a category, then something in that category. People will add to the list of things in that category. First person who can't think of smth drinks.
J- Jacuzzi. Everyone says something they like about the person who drew the card. The person who drew the card drinks in honour of themselves.
Q- Would You Rather. Ask a 'would you rather' question. After a countdown, everyone puts out 1 or 2 fingers to declare their vote. The people of the minority opinion drink. In a tie, the questionmaster drinks. [you can make it majority opinion if that feels more subversive to you].
K- Your'm Majesty. Whoever drew this must be referred to with some kind of royal moniker or else the referrer must drink. [Bonus rule: the Majesty must use the royal "we" pronoun or else they drink.]


Here's a set that I used for another friend group who was a lot more antagonistic to each other for fun. Specifically, this one is designed to allow more chaos, light physical risk, and the ability to mess with others.

 Some people enjoy a bit of lighthearted rivalry.

Some people enjoy a bit of lighthearted rivalry.

A- Rant: [Yeah, we didn't care much for alliteration or rhyming.] Other people decide on a topic and you need to rant about it for 30 seconds. IE chairs, Tim Horton's, the colour orange, etc. If you can't fill up 30s with a rant, you drink. [Avoid bummers!]
2- You. Choose someone to drink.
3- Me. You drink.
4- Floor. Everyone must put their hand on the floor. The slowest person drinks. Hard mode: Everyone lays their entire body down flat on the floor.
5- Jive. Perform a simple pose/dance move. The next person does yours, then adds theirs. The next person does yours, then the other person's, then adds their own. The next person.... etc. If people start groaning, just make 5's = Drives instead, or even "Guys" (name a guy you hate, if you can't, drink).
6- Chicks. If you are femme OR if you are attracted to femme people, drink. 
7- Heaven. Everyone raise their hand. The last person to do so drinks.
8- Date. Choose someone to be your date. When you would drink, you can make them drink instead. When they would drink, they can make you drink instead. 
9- Rhyme. Say a word. The person after you must say a word that rhymes, and then the next person, etc. First person who can't think of a rhyme drinks.
10- Categories. Say a category, then something in that category. People will add to the list of things in that category. First person who can't think of smth drinks.
J- Thumbmaster/Viking. The Jack describes a prompt. Next time they do that prompt, everyone must follow the described action, and the slowest person to catch on drinks. [This is a one-time use, unless you trust your friends to not spam it every two seconds].
Q- Paranoia. Whisper a question to someone. That person answers out loud. If you want to hear the question, you must drink. [Once people can no longer think of creative questions, change it to Your'm Majesty, described above.]
K- Rule. Invent a new passive rule! People must abide by that rule until the next King is drawn. New Kings may choose to either add to, or overwrite the previous rule[s]. Next article I write about this will include a section on good/bad rules. :)


So as you can see, there's a lot you can do to mess around with the general format of the game. The most important thing to remember about drinking games are for getting the party going - they're not the place to show off your sweet gaming skills, and they're not for peer pressuring others into drinking. Even the DD should be able to benefit from the relaxed atmosphere that a drinking game can allow.

Next week I'm going to make a big master post of every Kings Cup rule that I know so you can make the ultimate Kings ruleset for your own parties/social gatherings! Until then though, I hope my templates can inspire you!