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13 drinking games every student should know

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No pre-drinks worth its salt is complete without drinking games to set the mood. Here are some of the best, with the key drinking game rules to know.

beer pong drinking game

No one wants to play the same drinking games on repeat at the start of every night out. Anything but another game of Ring of Fire.

If you're in need of a bit of inspiration to switch things up, we've got plenty of drinking games to choose from – ranging from the classics to some more unusual ones.

Fun drinking games

These are the best drinking games with the rules of how to play them:

  1. Friends and Enemies

    snake on a branch

    Not for the faint-hearted, the Friends and Enemies drinking 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 the name of someone in the group as they do so.

    The chosen person must drink for as many seconds as the number on the card (five seconds for the five of spades, for example). 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. That means that 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 even longer 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...
  2. Irish Snap

    Stick to a small group of people for Irish Snap.

    Make sure everyone is sat around 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). Make sure you 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 around 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.

    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.

  3. Mr and Mrs

    You might have seen Mr and Mrs played at weddings, but it actually works pretty well as a drinking game too. It's a game that works best in small groups of people who know each other quite well (or where everyone has at least one person they know well). It's perfect for playing with housemates.

    Take your first pair of people and sit them back to back. You then ask them a series of questions such as "Which of you is the messiest?" and "Which of you is the biggest lightweight?".

    If the person thinks it's them, they raise their glass in the air. If they think it's the other person, they put their glass towards the floor.

    If their answers match, they win!

    So, for example, if Georgina thinks she's the messiest and her friend Claire also thinks Georgina is the messiest, they're fine. But if they both think the other is the messiest (or both consider themselves to be the messiest), their answers don't match and they have to drink.

    If you're clever with your questions you can make this really funny and potentially quite controversial too. Just try not to ruin too many friendships while you're at it.

  4. Around the World

    shuffling playing cards

    This game has 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', 'Cannon Ball', 'Charleston Special', 'Buja', 'Death Valley' or 'Unlucky Sevens'.

    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.

    For each correct guess, they can give out drinks. But if they guess wrong, they have to drink.

    In 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.

    The number of 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.

  5. Fuzzy Duck

    Looking for drinking games without cards? Fuzzy Duck is a really easy, minimal-effort drinking game that's quick to get going. However, it can get boring after a short while, so don't expect to be playing it all night.

    Simply sit in a circle and go around clockwise saying "fuzzy duck". At random, someone can say "does he" on their turn, at which point everything reverses and, going anti-clockwise, everyone has to say "ducky fuzz" instead.

    When someone says "does he", the direction switches once more and you're back to "fuzzy duck".

    Of course, the tricky part is staying switched on enough to quickly respond when things change and not getting your words mixed up so you accidentally end up swearing instead (but that's the funniest bit).

    It goes without saying, mess up and you have to drink.

  6. International Drinking Rules

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

    With this one, you simply carry on socialising as normal, but with a few rules to remember – and if you break them, you drink!

    You can customise them as you wish, but here are the standard rules for the drinking game:

    • 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 placed on the table less than a thumb's length from the edge of the table. 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 with an empty glass in your hand.

  7. Task Master

    Task Master is a good drinking game 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 is then 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.

    The drinking game 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 hungover morning debrief.

  8. Loose Tongues

    You might have heard this called something different, but Loose Tongues is essentially a game based on being able to think fast.

    Take two players, count down from three and show them a playing card. They then have to think of a word that starts with the same letter as the suit of that card.

    For example, if you showed them the seven of hearts, they could shout out "HOTDOGS", "HOUSE", "HAMMER" and so on. Whoever is the slowest to think of a word loses and has to drink.

    You can make it more difficult by introducing categories or naming words that begin with the second or third letter instead.

    Of course, when the panic sets in (combined with the alcohol), people tend to shout out the weirdest words, which is what makes this one so funny.

  9. 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 (watch out, you might be tempted to do this 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 on the app can be quite tame, with Ring of Fire-style tasks like rhyming and categories, or things like "Guys who are currently employed, drink two times" or "Give out two 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. These tasks could include 'the floor is lava', 'would you rather' and similar.

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

    If you're interested in Picolo, check out episode six of our podcast where we play the game.
  10. Drinking Jenga

    handmade jenga blocks

    Credit: Mack Male - Flickr

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

    You'll need to invest in a Jenga set. If your flatmates are all partial to a drinking game, split the cost with them.

    Write a different command on each Jenga block, and set the tower up as usual. 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 glass.

  11. Never Have I Ever

    Depending on who you're playing this with, Never Have I Ever can 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 just how much they've done in their brief time on this planet.

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

    For example, you might say: "Never have I ever pulled an all-nighter". If this is true for anyone in the group, they have to take a drink.

    You can understand why this is a freshers' week favourite. It's the perfect way to indulge your nosiness and find things out about your new flatmates.

  12. Ring of Fire

    Ring of Fire is the ultimate drinking game. 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 a large beverage container. Typically this means a pint glass, but if you're low on glasses, 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 turns picking 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 for the drinking game vary around the country and often lead to disagreements. So without further ado, here is the Save the Student *official* version, to help you solve any arguments.

    Ring of Fire rules

    • 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' – 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 around 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 turns to name something within that category (poodle, for example). The first person to repeat or hesitate takes a drink.
    • 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 casual questions they'd answer without even thinking, like "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, make sure you don't break the circle of cards, or the drinking game rules dictate you must down your entire drink. And who are we to argue with the rules?

  13. Beer Pong

    Last but not least is Beer Pong – the one drinking game which requires some actual physical skill. This 36-piece Beer Pong set is ideal.

    Set up a table with six plastic cups at each end, arranged in a triangle shape (a bit like 10-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 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).

Note: Please 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.

Plus, for some people, hangovers can come with feelings of anxiety (a.k.a. hangxiety). If this applies to you, it's worth going easy on the drinks.

If you're worried about having to drink too much in drinking games, try making a weaker concoction of your normal drink or stick to non-alcoholic drinks. The chances are no one will even notice.

And always have eyes on your drink, especially around people you don't know.

That's the pre-drinks sorted, but HOW do you survive the morning after? Well, fragile friends, it's time for the hangover cures (that work).

Jessica Murray

WRITTEN BY Jessica Murray

As an Editor of Save the Student, Jessica Murray has written extensively on student money news and money-saving tips. She was co-host of our podcast, No More Beans, and is now a journalist at the Guardian. Her tips and insights range from fun guides for freshers, to information for graduates entering the workplace.
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