Ultimate Kings Cup: Ruleset Compendium

(Part one can be found here. )

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Below is the most comprehensive list I can think of for Kings. Mix and match appropriately for your group. Unless otherwise noted, the regular format for all of these is either "the last person to do this drinks", or "the first person to mess this up drinks". First are the rules that rhyme / alliterate, then are misc rules that can go anywhere.

Also, we take no responsibility for consequences of these rules. Select and use at your own risk.

Ace

Space. You announce a location, like "places to ___". People go in a circle naming a place to ___. Usually antireq with "categories".

Face. Everybody must be touching somebody else's face.

Race. When drawn, everyone must run to a (pre-chosen) location and back.

Usually, Ace is Waterfall or "never have I ever".

2

You. Point at someone. They drink.

Double. Point at two people. They drink.

True. Ask someone a question. They must either answer truthfully or drink.

3

Me. You drink.

Glee. Start singing a song. If most people join in, those who don't must drink. If nobody joins in, you drink.

4

More. After a countdown, everyone points to who they think needs more drinks. Whoever gets the most votes drinks. In a tie, both drink.

Vore. Everyone must put anything into their mouth that does not normally go into their mouth. Caution.

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.

Herbivore. Vegans and vegetarians drink.

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.

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.

Guys. Starting with you, everyone names a guy they hate until someone can't think of one.

Guys. Masculine people drink.

High Five. Everyone puts their hands together. The last two people [or one person] to get both of their palms against someone else's palms must drink.

6

Chicks. Femme people drink.

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.

Trix. Everyone gets the chance to show off a weird thing their body can do. If you don't. If you do, also drink.

7

Heaven. Everyone immediately puts their hand up ASAP.

Eleven. "7-11." Go to the corner store for refreshments. Or refill your drinks.

8

Date (Polyamorous). 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.

Date (Kismesis). 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.

Date (regular). Choose someone to be your date. When you would drink, they drink too. And vice versa. This lasts until the next 8 is drawn.

Late. The most recent person to arrive at the house/location/game circle drinks.

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.

yeah there's not much for 9, usually it's just rhyme or one of the misc below.

10

Pen. There are n-1 pens in the center, where n is the number of people playing. Last person to grab drinks.

Pen. The person to your left tells you what to draw. Everyone else has to guess what it is. Anyone whose first guess is wrong drinks, unless everyone's wrong - then you drink.

Traditionally, 10 is categories, as listed below.

Jack

Snack. Everyone takes turns listing someone they find to be a snack. First person who doesn't drinks.

Smack. You must smack yourself anywhere on your body. Anyone who laughs drinks. You don't need to announce that you have drawn a jack until after the smack. You drink if nobody laughs.

Jacuzzi. Everyone says something they like about the person who drew the card. The person who drew the card drinks in honour of themselves.

Traditionally, Jack is "thumbmaster" or equivalent. Listed below.

Queen

Questionmaster. I hate this one, but it's here for completion. If you ask someone a question and they actually give you an answer, they must drink.

Questionmaster II. Same as above, except people are allowed to answer your questions if they say "____" first. (the phrase can be whatever your group decides on before the game.)

Quench. Drink some water you wild animal.

Queen of Dance. Same as 5's Jive, listed above.

Royalty. You must be referred to with royal monikers like "your majesty" and w/e. Anyone who doesn't, you MAY sentence them to drink if you choose. Hard mode: you must use the royal "we" when referring to yourself.

King

Rule. Invent a new rule that stays for the rest of the game, or until the next King is drawn (if they choose to overwrite your rule). 

Long Live! Everyone else raises a glass and cheers in your honor, saying, "Long live the king!" They drink to your name.

King's Cup. The OG. There's a cup in the center. Every time a King is drawn, pour some of your drink into that cup. When the last king is drawn, that person must drink the entire cup. I personally find this rather gross, but now you know why it's called King's Cup.

King's Cup II. There's a particularly expensive or good drink in the center of the table, in 4/3/2/1 portions (remove kings from your deck to match). Drawing a King means you get to drink that bonus drink.

- You may also do Royalty as listed above, if you want.


Misc: rules that can work for any card

Waterfall. You start drinking, then the next person, etc. The next person can't stop drinking until you stop. And so on. I don't really like this one for older groups since alcohol tolerance drops a bit. 

Cultmaster/Thumbmaster/Viking. Describe a prompt and the action that must follow, then continue the game as normal. Once, at any time afterwards, you may suddenly do that prompt and everyone must follow the described action. The slowest person to follow drinks. You can be as subtle or obvious as you want with your prompt.

Slap. A variant on "Heaven" - everyone must slap the table. Last person drinks.

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]. Usually used for Queens.

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, feel free to change rules.] Usually used for Queens.

Never Have I Ever: Say something that you've never done. Anyone who has done it, drinks.

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. Usually used for 10s.

Rant: 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!] Usually used for aces.


Ideas for New Rules If You Draw A King

Wingman: You must cheer whenever the person to your left has to drink. If you don't and you get called out, you drink.

Rhythm: When you drink, you move to the beat of w/e music is currently playing. If called out, drink again.

Tilt: Choose a number. Whenever that number is drawn, whoever most recently drank must take another drink.

Codenames: Everyone must refer to one another by any name except for their first or last name.

Born To Die: Whenever a Lana Del Rey song comes up on the playlist, the last person to salute the nearest flag drinks. (this is pretty specific but can be adapted to your needs...)

Eco-Friendly: If using the "drive" rule for 5's, everyone uses bikes instead of cars. Now the sound is "brrring" and "erh" instead of "vroom" and "erh".

Communism: If using the "3 = me" rule, drawing a 3 now means "we" instead of "me".

Scry: Instead of drawing one card each turn, that player draws two cards and chooses one to use. The other one goes into the discard.

Justice: Whenever someone hits someone else, they must pour themselves a shot of TrashBad for their next drink. (Before the game, mix a cup of TrashBad that's basically a poor-tasting bad alcohol. IE moonshine+arizona+wine.)

Tiny Man: (Warning: ppl hate this.) Everyone must pretend there's a tiny man on their cup. You must remove the man to drink, then put the man back on. Otherwise you drink again. 

Undominant: People must pick up their drink with their non-dominant hand.


In general, rules should not be stuff that prevent people from talking or interacting with each other - unless your group is the type where restrictions on talking make them want to communicate even more.

Feel free to also do rules that only concern specific card draws, or specific events in the environment around you. They don't have to be massively pervasive stuff. One group of friends likes a rule where you must be dancing when in the kitchen, for example.

If you have any additions you'd like us to add, comment below and we can update. This is I think the most comprehensive list of King's Cups rules that exist online - hope you enjoy :D

Stay lofty!

Guide: Deckbuilder Tips for Beginners + Prompts for the Experienced (Part 3/3)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

So you're already a strong builder of decks thanks to the past two tips. I've only got one left to give you, one that will (hopefully) keep you improving forever. It's only listed #3 because I like the narrative structure of it being last - IMO, it's actually the most important of all.

Tip #3: Don't Play Every Game to Win

Don't click away! I promise this is still about optimizing your win rate and getting better at deckbuilders. This isn't me saying "remember to have fun, it's just a game. :)" Because while yes, that's true, I know that's not why we're here.

This tip should IMO apply to everything you do in life, but deckbuilding is a good place to start because their design rewards experimentation much more than other games.

Dedicate games to experimental strategies that you'd normally avoid. In order to grow, you must view cards/strategies from new angles, in case you discover something better than what you're doing now.

i understand the fear of trying something strange

i understand the fear of trying something strange

There's a kind of tension for players who are concerned about playing well, and it's this: if you care a lot about victory and defeat, and you're grinding out lots of games to try and improve, you'll naturally start adopting patterns of play. Developing patterns is mostly good: save mental energy by formulating frameworks and strategies to follow, right? You had a great run with a specific card, so every time you see that card, you remember what synergies generally worked and try to replicate them. 

But adopting patterns creates problems when you start to accept too many things as a given. For example, "thin decks can be good with certain cards" can easily become "always keep your deck thin". Or "This card combo is pretty strong" becomes "I see this combo is available, so I'll ignore other potential strategies".

My theory is that some games cause humans to generate a lot of inaccurate 'rules' whenever game variables have a massive influence on your outcome but are ALSO so numerous that it's hard to account for each variable at once.

For example: what if your OP card combo five games ago only worked because there wasn't another card in the available pool that your opponent would have otherwise grabbed in response to your strategy? That one game 'proved' that your strategy was strong, so now you're stuck with a big head and a big miscalculation of power level.

No good.

If you're like me, it's ridiculously hard (and kinda boring) to look at every single card combiniation available and ascertain all of the theoretical synergies and counters that are possible. And to do such a thing every turn would make your playgroup hate you. It's arduous to perfectly logically think your way through this stuff. (Which is by design - if you could, the game would be "solved" and become stale.)

experimentation doesn't always pay off, but it's always worth trying

experimentation doesn't always pay off, but it's always worth trying

So what do you do instead? The answer is, essentially, the scientific method: just play through a bunch of games and try out different strategies in different contexts, and make internal note of your observations. If you keep your attention open, you'll start to formulate (almost subconsciously?) the nuanced contexts that make a certain strategy better/worse in different scenarios. And that's how you get better.

Whenever you play to win, you'll find yourself kind of "locking in" a set of rules for yourself to give you what feels like a consistent game. But if you never have experimental games, if you never try out something new, you'll never open yourself up to evolving layers onto your strategies. On the obvious level, you might learn that you undervalued a certain card. But on a less obvious level, you might learn that you had overvalued your go-to combo and can produce an equivalent effect by doing some other thing.

Finally: yes, if you can give yourself "win conditions" such as having fun or seeing how far you can take some janky strategy, you'll probably just have more fun with the game overall and avoid burning out. So that's nice too.

Now get in there and do some science! :)

+: Seriously, Keep Experimenting

This one's going to be short because, by design, this third tip is something that you'll probably be doing 'forever' if you really want to get good.

In any half-decent game, you'll never really stop benefiting from experimentation. Yes, after a point you'll get diminishing returns. But if you always do the same things, you'll always get the same output. Sure, you won't get lower results by staying the same... but you give up the chance of higher results too.

At a higher level of play, your experimentation just gets more complex and nuanced. For example, maybe you'll start testing the quickest turn that the opponent's strategy can adapt to a change in your own strategy when doing x deck vs y deck with abcd cards in the pool.

You get the idea - there's always something to experiment with. Just introduce more contexual variables and you'll have a new experiment. 

BUT. This only works if you keep an open eye to your results. Trying an experiment multiple times is important to see the same strat across tons of contexts. Taking internal note of what you see - more than once, ideally - is the key to improvement.
I guess just in general, that's how you learn in real life too.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading this series, and hope this information can be useful to you. And I especially hope that I've made you excited to play some deckbuilders!

Good luck out there. :)

Guide: Deckbuilder Tips for Beginners + Prompts for the Experienced (Part 2/3)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Whether you're getting into Slay the Spire, Monster Hunt, Dominion, Star Realms, Hero Realms, To Arms!!, Ascension, Legendary, or any other deckbuilder, I've got some sweet tips for you. Even if you're already good, some of these tips might help reframe your approach if you've hit a plateau in your skill level.

Tip #2: Know Who's Faster

answer: buy a blender, never use it, buy a smoothie every week

answer: buy a blender, never use it, buy a smoothie every week

For the sake of transparency, I must disclose that I learned this from a Magic: the Gathering article a few years ago. You can find it here if you'd rather hear it from the source instead of my sultry writing tone.

I should also say that I found this article about Dominion right before publishing this blog post. This is also a fantastic source of knowledge about understanding deckbuilders. I'm going to go broader than the above article, but it's worth a read if you care about Dominion specifically.

Anyway. The moment you make a different decision from your opponent in a deckbuilder, the God of Chance and Tactics (Let's name them "Pag") has already decreed who is fated rush faster and who is fated to scale farther. You must know your relative position to your enemy, and lean into the advantage you've been given to secure victory.

Here's my shot at the most broad explanation possible:

In any competition, one person is always fated to have a better return on resource investment than another. If your long-term resources won't be as good as your opponent's, your only option is to finish the game before you get outscaled.

Outracing your opponent means focusing more on acquiring cards that are easy to obtain/use (but tend to be weaker). End the game before the opponent's plans come to fruition. You'll likely still invest resources in early scaling, but you need to be able to switch gears before your opponent has time to outscale or outlast you.

Outscaling your opponent means focusing more on acquiring cards that are stronger (but tend to be harder to obtain/use). You must predict how "greedy" you can be with investing your resources in scaling effects before your opponent wins. You must plan to start cashing in on powerful card synergies/effects before your opponent closes out the game on their terms. Some games provide block/heal effects that slow down the enemy long enough to get your own engine rolling.

With either strategy, some deckbuilders let you disrupt the opponent through effects that make their plays worse (like curse or discard effects). If your aggressive opponent would get in that last trickle of damage/points next round, or that slow-rolling opponent would slam down some massive combo next round, disruption makes their plan (whatever plan it is) get delayed by a few turns, giving you a window to sneak in a victory. 

I bet you already have an intuitive grasp of this concept. Let's invent a game to demonstrate an example of how you already know this:

You’re dueling a computer AI. Both of you have 10 health. The computer deals 1 damage on round 1, then 2, then 3, then 4, etc. This means you’ll lose all of your health by round 4.

Now let’s say on turn 1 you can either play “deal 5 damage” or “deal 1 damage every round, starting next round”. Since the opponent deals more damage every turn, you can’t afford to be slow. You KNOW you’ll lose if you let the game go on too long, so you need to sacrifice the cool long-term damage to just deal 5 damage right now. 

In this example, you’ve successfully identified yourself as the aggressor. You’ve recognized your opponent will win a long game no matter what, so you have to win before that happens.

During a game, you must constantly compare your plan against your opponents'. You must ask yourself: "if I let the game continue on for a few more rounds, will I become more likely to win or will my opponent?"

 

Recognize what round your opponent's deck will reach its "peak" over yours, and when yours will "peak" compared to theirs. End the game before their deck becomes stronger than yours - or, stall out until your deck becomes stronger than theirs.

Every deckbuilder makes you decide between quicker payoffs now or stronger later payoffs later. Knowing if you're aggressive or not will help you make those decisions.

 

 

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That's all for beginner tips. Destroy your enemies!
(Or read on for gritty details.)


+: Moment-to-moment planning

Here's a problem: the god of Chance and Tactics decrees that your deck' relative power and speed are actually quite difficult to figure out, especially because the variables change from round to round. Maybe you were the aggressor before, but your opponent just made a weird card acquisition that made you realize you really need to slow down and establish a long-term plan. This is especially tough because you need to track not only yourself, but each opponent as well. It's tough knowing whether you should be acquiring a card that pays off in the future vs now, and it's also tough knowing whether you should be playing a card that (pays off later/now). Here's some prompts that I've found around the internet and through talking with players.

- Calculate the relative number of deck shuffles left before the game's over. For games where you can buy stuff, if the game will end after 2 deck shuffles, that means you'll only draw that +$$ card twice, meaning you'll only draw whatever it could purchase a single time! In this case, you might as well just start buying pure damage to end the game. The extra $$, in this case is useless. For games where you directly buy victory points or play single-use cards, clogging your deck with victory points or exhausting your one-use cards around <2 shuffles definitely seems worth it, since they'll hardly get in the way that much.

- Calculate the minimum amount of setup needed to consistently execute your plan. The manifestation of this depends a lot on the specific plan, but basically what I mean is this: if you're planning on going aggressive, you already know that even fast decks need to buy a few +$$ cards. But when do you stop?
The answer: only buy however much you need to afford your planned "capstone" cards.
The next question: how do you figure out the "capstone"?
The answer: the most expensive thing you can afford to buy AND get to play for a few turns before your opponent outscales you with their own plan. The % of health total per attack card is the vague calculation you'll need to make.

In games like Slay the Spire, swap out +$$ with block cards and "purchase" with "safely play".

The above is my example if you've realized you're the aggressive player. If you're the slower player, you must think these resources in reverse. Even a terrible aggro deck that buys total junk and hardly scales has a "clock": for example, a "4 round clock" means that your enemy's average damage will kill you in about 4 rounds (if you do nothing about it). If you think they'll win in about 8 turns through early damage, you better have a plan to either stall them out so you can slowly ping them down, or assemble a "win the game instantly" combo by turn 7. People who like to build their card synergies (like me) have a problem where we spend too much time assembling our card engine. In doing this, we neglect to realize that we passed the window where we *could* have had a power spike and steamrolled our opponent. I'll build a $50-per-turn deck that's perfectly ready to transition into buying attacks/victory points... but then turn it into a $100-per-turn deck instead of getting around to actually winning.

- Every turn, re-evaluate if you need to start racing your opponent or not. Regardless of anything else you've read in this article, variables and unforeseen combos and weird circumstances sometimes mean that you very suddenly NEED to race your opponent to victory to have any shot at winning. Leave your fate to Pag, because "playing it safe" after a certain point just means "losing slowly" instead of playing risky for a shot at victory.

The following infographic can hopefully help illustrate the relative power curves of different strategies, as well as how disruption (theoretically) works to slow the opponent:

Disruption can be useful for any archetype if used correctly.

Disruption can be useful for any archetype if used correctly.

I hope some of this knowledge comes to good use! It's not necessarily stuff you can just plug into your games and directly reap rewards from, but from knowing some deckbuilder theory you'll hopefully find yourself being more self-assured with your choices and more adept at recognizing your areas of improvement.

Good luck out there! :)