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10 drinking games every student should know

Make conversation? Surely not!? No pre-drinks worth its salt is complete without drinking games to set the mood. If you're lacking inspiration, here are some of the best... 

beer pong

Drinking games have long been a staple of the student lifestyle. They're the trusty friend you can always count on to ease any awkwardness at the start of a pre-drinks.

People who had previously only spoken when they passed on the stairs, will soon be egging each other on like the best of friends thanks to a few playing cards or plastic cups.

On that note: Don't ever feel pressured into taking part in drinking games or downing your drink if you're not up for it. You know your own limitations, and your friends will appreciate you more for saying no than they will if they have to carry you home at midnight. If you're worried, try making a weaker concoction of your normal drink, or even a booze-free beverage, and chances are, no one will even notice.

But we all know it's quite easy to get bored of playing the same games week in week out. By semester two, you can't help but groan when someone suggests yet another game of Ring of Fire.

Have no fear, we have a plentiful stock of drinking games here, ranging from the classics to some more unusual ones you might not have heard of. And don't forget to save money on your alcohol with our pre-drinking budgeting tips. 

10 of the best drinking games

  1. Ring of Fire

    ring of fire drinking game

    We'll start with the daddy of all drinking games, the classic Ring of Fire. Also going by the name of 'Kings', 'King's Cup' and various other aliases, you can't go wrong with this one.

    All you need is a pack of playing cards and some large beverage container - typically a pint glass, but if you're low on glasses (which student house isn't?) you can use a jug, vase or even a frying pan.

    Spread the cards around the glass in a circle facing downwards, and moving around the room, take it in turns to pick up a card.

    Each card number corresponds to a different action or task (colour/suit doesn't matter in this game).

    Now, the main problem with Ring of Fire is that the exact rules vary around the country and often lead to disagreements. So without further ado, we can proudly present to you the Save the Student *official* version, to help you solve any arguments.

    Ace - 'Waterfall' - One player starts drinking, then the player to their left starts to drink, and so on. Once the whole circle is drinking the person who started the chain may stop, but you cannot stop drinking until the person before you stops.

    Two - 'You' - Nominate a person to take a swig of their drink.

    Three - 'Me' - Take a gulp of your own beverage.

    Four - 'Boys' - All males in the circle drink.

    Five - 'Thumb Master' - When you put your thumb on the table everyone must follow. The last person to put their thumb down, drinks. You remain Thumb Master until someone else picks up a five. Ooh the power!

    Six - 'Chicks/Girls' - All females in the circle drink.

    Seven - 'Heaven' - The same as Thumb Master, except you put your arm in the air. The last person to do so drinks.

    Eight - 'Mate' - Pick someone who has to drink whenever you have to drink (until someone else picks up an eight).

    Nine - 'Rhyme' - Choose a word, and the person to your left has to think of a word that rhymes with it. It then continues round the circle with everyone taking a turn with a rhyming word. Whoever hesitates first or repeats a word that's already been said, drinks.

    Ten - 'Categories' - Similar to Rhyme, pick a category (such as breeds of dog), and everyone must go round the circle taking it in turns to name something within that category (poodle, for example). The first person to repeat or hesitates drinks.

    Jack - 'Make a rule' - Make up a rule of your own and it must be followed on penalty of drinks for the rest of the entire game. The more ridiculous, the better of course.

    Queen - 'Question Master' - If you ask a question and someone answers, they have to drink. The idea is to catch people off guard by asking causal questions they'd answer without even thinking - 'What time is the taxi booked for again?'

    King - 'Pour/Drink' - The first three kings to appear indicate you have to pour some of your drink into the glass in the middle of the table. The final king means you have to down the lot! The final king can be the destroyer of many a good night out so take it easy - and make sure you're not too far from the bathroom.

    Also take care to not break the circle of cards, or the rules dictate you must down your entire drink. And who are we to argue with the rules?

  2. Friends and Enemies

    friends and enemies drinking game

    Not for the faint-hearted, this game has been known to break even the best of friendships.

    Take a pack of cards and deal them out evenly to everyone in the circle - each player needs to keep their cards hidden.

    Whoever goes first picks a card and places it in the middle of the table, saying someone in the group's name as they do so. That chosen person must drink for as many seconds as the number on the card (five seconds, for the five of spades). Again, the colour and suit are irrelevant here.

    However, there's a twist! If someone else in the group has a card with the same number (the five of hearts, for example) they can 'save' the chosen person and pass the drinking on to someone else (gaining a friend, but also making an enemy).

    The best part is the numbers stack up - so when they pass on the drinking it doubles up to ten seconds, and so on until all the fives have been dealt. This means if the odds aren't in your favour, you could be drinking for up to 20 seconds! (or 40 seconds for the higher value cards)

    Rules to watch out for:

    • All picture cards (Jack, Queen and King) count as tens. Because we're not monsters.

    You can't save yourself! If you've been chosen to drink, you can't save yourself with one of your own cards. You have to wait and hope someone else saves you instead.

    • You don't have to play your card. If someone has been chosen to drink for seven seconds, you don't have to save them with a seven if you don't want to. It's called Friends and Enemies for a reason...

  3. Never Have I Ever

    never have I ever One Direction

    Credit: The Ellen Show/ CBS

    Depending on who you're playing this with, Never Have I Ever can either be a fun way to find out interesting and potentially scandalous facts about new people - or it can be a way for your friends to show off about just how much they've done in their brief time on this planet.

    Everyone takes it in turns to say a sentence which starts with "Never have I ever..." and the more embarrassing or brutal end to the sentence, the better.

    So for example, you might say: "Never have I ever gone without showering for three or more days." If this is true for anyone in the group, they have to take a drink.

    You can understand why this is a Fresher's Week favourite - it's the perfect way to indulge your nosiness and find things out about your new flatmates.

  4. Irish Snap

    Irish snap drinking game

    You need to stick to a small group of people for this one because, believe us, things can get violent.

    Make sure everyone is sat round a table and is able to reach the centre. It's also best to try and clear the area as much as possible, keeping drinks on the floor, and removing any hand jewellery such as rings (you'll see why soon).

    Dish out all the cards so everyone has an even amount (put any spares to the side) - but don't look at your cards! Keep them face down in your hand or on the table in front of you.

    Take it in turns to go round the circle placing a card in the centre of the table, only turning it upright as you put it down.

    When you place down your card, you have to say a value as you do so, starting with Ace and going all the way up to King before starting again.

    So the first person to play their card says 'Ace', the second says 'two', the third says 'three' and so on and so forth.

    The snap bit comes in when the number you say out loud matches the number on the card you put down. Everyone must shout snap and place (or violently slam in most cases) their hand on top of the pile of cards in the middle of the table.

    The last person to do so has to drink, and take all the cards from the pile in the middle. The aim of the game is to get rid of all your cards first. The drunker you get, the harder it gets.

  5. International Drinking Rules

    cheers drinking

    Credit: Gaby Av - Flickr

    If you don't want the stress and hassle of an 'organised fun' drinking game, or there's simply too many people to make it feasible, then International Drinking Rules is the perfect in between.

    With this one, you simply carry on socialising as normal, but with a few rules to remember - break them and you drink! You can customise them as you wish, but here are the standard rules:

    • No swearing

    • No saying the word "drink"

    • No calling anyone by their name

    • No pointing (with your finger or thumb)

    • Everyone has to drink with their 'weaker' hand (so if you're left handed, you have to drink with your right)

    • Your drink can't be put down on the table less than a thumb's length from the edge of the table, and other drinkers can challenge you if they think their thumb could reach it (and if it does, you've got to drink)

    • Empty glasses can't be put down on the table - they have to be refilled, or you have to stand around like a pillock with an empty glass in your hand.

  6. Task Master

    fresh meat quote drinking alcohol

    Credit: Channel 4

    This is a good one if you're pre-drinking in halls or in a public place, as it involves approaching some random strangers.

    The game starts with a game of rock, paper, scissors, the winner of which is appointed the first Task Master of the game.

    The Task Master then has the duty (or privilege, shall we say!) of appointing a task to someone in the group that involves people who don't know you're playing a game.

    For example, the Task Master could tell someone to ask to borrow some underwear from the opposite flat or something.

    The rules are: if you refuse to do the task, you need to drink your entire drink; if the task fails (i.e. you give the game away to the person) you drink half your drink; if the task is a success, everyone else in the group takes a drink, and the role of Task Master is passed onto you!

    Quick hint: This game is also a great one to play while you're actually on the night out! Set everyone one task to do over the course of the night and watch everyone attempt (and fail) to complete their challenge. You can then discuss it during your morning debrief.

  7. Picolo

    app drinking game

    Credit: Picolo

    Yes, drinking games now come in app form. Picolo is great if you're ever caught short without the usual drinking game paraphernalia like playing cards and cups.

    The app is free to download, but only comes with the basic level - you have to pay to download other levels (which you will inevitably do when you've had a few drinks).

    All you have to do is type in everyone's names, select a level and get going. The app tells you what you need to do!

    The 'Getting Started' level the app comes with can be quite tame, with Ring of Fire-style tasks like rhyming and categories, or things like 'Guys who are currently employed, drink 2 times' or 'Give out 2 sips if you've ever had surgery'.

    If you splash out and download other levels like 'Getting Crazy' and 'Caliente' things get a bit more exciting, with tasks including things like 'the floor is lava', 'waterfall' and 'would you rather's'.

    Just remember, using this app is one surefire way to drain your phone battery just before a night out, so try and keep it plugged in if you can!

We gave Picolo a go in episode six of our podcast! Give it a listen to see how it works and what we thought of it...
  1. Drinking Jenga

    drinking game jenga

    Credit: Mack Male - Flickr

    This one takes a bit of pre-prep, so grab some sharpies and let your creative juices flow!

    Oh, and you'll need to invest in a Jenga set too (if your flat are all partial to a drinking game, do a whip round so your digs can have its very own drunk Jenga set!).

    Write a different command on each Jenga block, and set the tower up as normal. For every block that's taken from the Jenga tower without it toppling, the person who removes the block must do the command that's written on it.

    Before you begin, everyone pours a bit of their drink into a pint glass. As you probably guessed - whoever topples the Jenga tower has to down the entire glass!

  2. Around the World

    dealing playing cards

    This game has literally a million different names and variations. In fact, according to Wikipedia it's known as Irish Poker, Chico High Low, Monkey Balls, Foam Game, North Carolina, Up and Down the River, Canon Ball, John Theis, Harry Curie, Tim de Withen, Charleston Special, Death Valley, or Unlucky 'Sevens' Seven.

    Not to complicate things further, but we've also heard it referred to as 'The Four Card Game'. Who knows?

    Anyway, the first round is pretty simple. The dealer places four cards in front of the player, who has to guess something about each one before it's turned over.

    They have to guess if the first card is red or black, then if the second card is higher or lower than the first, then if the third card is in between the first two cards or not, and finally they have to guess the suit of the fourth card.

    Each time, if they guess correctly they can give out drinks, if they guess wrong they have to drink.

    For the second round, the dealer places eight cards on the table in two columns of four - a 'give' column and a 'take' column. Each card is turned over one at a time, alternating between the two columns. If one of the card numbers matches a number on one of the cards dealt in the first round, the player either takes or gives drinks, depending on the column.

    How many drinks is up to you. You could give out drinks corresponding to the number on the card, or to the level of the column the card is in (one, two, three or four). As long as people are drinking, you're doing it right.

  3. Beer Pong

    beer pong game

    Last but not least is Beer Pong - the one drinking game which requires some actual physical skill.

    Set up a table with 10 plastic cups at each end, arranged in a triangle shape (like ten pin bowling).

    Fill each cup with beer (or whatever your choice beverage is), but not to the brim - there's a lot of downing involved here!

    Split into two teams. Each team takes a turn at trying to throw the ping pong ball into one of the cups at the opposite end of the table.

    If the ball lands in the cup, one of the members of the opposing team has to drink it. The first side to get rid of all the cups wins, and gets bragging rights for the rest of the night. (Or maybe the year if it was a particularly spectacular victory).

So that's the pre-drinks sorted, but what about when you arrive at the club? Here's some tips on how to save money on your night out!

Have we missed any? Let us know about any drinking games you play at uni, and we'll add them to the list!

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