According to over 150 Critic readers, these are the definitive King’s Cup rules for Otago students:
2: You, with 93.6%.
Nominate a drink.
3: Me, with 93.6%.
You must drink.
4: Whores, with 61.8%.
People identifying as female must drink.
5: House Rules, with 70.0%.
Whatever you want.
6: Dicks, with 61.8%.
People identifying as male must drink.
7: Heaven, with 91.8%.
Last player to point up must drink.
8: Mate, with 97.3%.
Nominate a mate for the rest of the game. When you drink, they drink. You may create chains of mates.
9: Rhyme, with 94.5%.
The card-drawer starts with a word, and players go around the circle rhyming it until someone fucks up or repeats a rhyme.
10: Categories, with 57.3%.
The card-drawer starts a category with an example, and then players go around the circle adding examples until someone fucks up or repeats an example.
Jack: New Rule, with 31.8%.
Create a new rule for the rest of the game.
Queen: Question Master, with 85.5%.
Until someone else draws a Queen, you are the Question Master and anybody who answers a question of yours must drink. If they respond with “fuck you Question Master,” you must drink.
King: Some variation of ‘Add to King’s Cup,’ 98.3%.
When a king is drawn, donate to the King’s Cup. The fourth king drawn must finish the King’s Cup, and thus also the game.
Ace: Waterfall, with 89.1%.
The card-drawer starts drinking, then the person to their left, and so on. When everyone is drinking, the card-drawer may stop, and then the person to their left may stop, and so on.
And here’s a breakdown of every possible rule submitted to us:
A & B: Whoever drew the card closes their eyes, and another player nominates two people from the circle as "A" and "B". The card-drawer can be nominated. Then, without peeking, the card-drawer picks a task for A & B to complete, or for one to do to the other. ex: "A & B must..." or "A must do ___ to B".
Arrogance: Pour as much as you like into a vessel, and flip a coin. If you call the toss correctly, pass the vessel and coin to your left. They must then pour, bet, and drink if incorrect. Pass until someone loses.
Back to Back: The card-drawer nominates two people to stand back to back. They are asked questions along the lines of "who is more likely to..." or "who is better at ___?" They must point to themselves, or over their shoulder to the other person. If they point to the same person, everyone in the circle drinks, and if they don't, they each must drink. This continues until they get three questions correct.
Boxhead: You must wear an empty box on your head until someone else becomes the Boxhead.
Categories: The card-drawer names a category. Go around the circle until someone can't contribute, or repeats something that's been said.
Celebrate: Cheers! Everyone drinks.
Chicks: People identifying as female must drink.
Dicks: People identifying as male must drink.
Drive: Everyone puts both thumbs up. Start by saying "vroom" and point your thumbs left to pass it left. The next person may then say "vroom" and point in the same direction to keep the game moving, or say "skrrt" and point back to the sender to turn it around. Bonus: say "crash" and point across the circle to send it over there.
Floor: Last player to touch the floor with their hand drinks.
Gecko: Last player with three limbs touching a wall must drink.
Guys: People identifying as male must drink.
Hot Seat: The card-drawer may be asked any question by any player for 60 seconds and must answer. Questions asked at 59 seconds must be answered.
If I Were You: Everyone nominates a dare: "If I were you, I would..." and then whoever drew the card must complete one of the dares.
Jew: Jews drink.
Jive: The card-drawer does a dance move, and the next person must repeat it and add to the end. This continues until someone fucks up and drinks.
Mate: Nominate a mate for the rest of the game. They must drink when you do, and you may create chains of mates.
Never Have I Ever: Played with either three or five fingers.
New Rule: Make a new rule for the duration of the game, or until a new rule is made.
Odds: The card-drawer says to someone "odds you ___." The other person supplies a number, say "10," and at the count of three both players say a number between 1 and that number. If they say the same number, the selected person must complete the task. If not, the card-drawer drinks.
One Frog: Open to interpretation, I guess?
Photographer: Count down from three, and take a picture. Anybody not in the picture must drink.
Question Master: Whoever drew the Queen is the Question Master, and if anyone answers any of their questions, they must drink. However, they can respond "fuck you Question Master" to make the Question Master drink.
Scientist: The group chooses a drink for the card-drawer, and they must blind taste-test it. If correct, everyone else drinks. If incorrect, they drink again.
Shoot, Shag, Marry: The card-drawer must choose between three names (supplied by the others) to shoot, shag, and marry.
Snake Eyes: If you make eye contact with whoever has "snake eyes", you must drink. Also known as "Medusa".
Space Cadets: Everyone makes goggles with their fingers and card-drawer starts by saying “boop” and passing to their left. Players say ‘boop’ to pass to the left and ‘boowooop’ to pass to the right until someone fucks up and they drink.
Thumbs: Place your thumb on the table. Last to do so drinks.
Toilet: Whoever holds the toilet card is the Toilet Master and everyone else must ask them for permission to use the loo.
Vikings: The card-drawer quickly puts two fingers on their head like a viking helmet. Last player to start paddling must drink. Alternate rules apply.
Waterfall: Starting with the card-drawer, start drinking until everyone is drinking at once. You may not stop drinking until the person to your right stops drinking, and the card-drawer is the first person who can stop drinking.
Whores: People identifying as female drink.
You: Nominate someone to drink.
What we can agree on (~90% of the vote):
Almost everyone plays with 2 as ‘You’ (93.6%) and 3 as ‘Me’ (again, 93.6%). The 6.4% of people who disagree with that usually play instead with 2 as “If I were you,” and 3 as “A & B,” which sounds like a lot more fun if you ask me. There’s a small cabal of people that play 2 as “snake eyes,” and one flat actually plays 2 as “Jew”. Wonder what that’s all about.
We can’t agree on 4, 5, or 6, but 7 is surely ‘Heaven’. Just like 8, almost everyone (91.8%) agreed on this rule. The ones that don’t stick ‘em up on sevens instead play “Never Have I Ever,” “thumbs,” or “gecko”. One person - and only God knows why - plays this as “Question Master”. And if that wasn’t bad enough, this person also plays Queen as “mate” and 8 as “thumbs,” which makes absolutely no sense. Which fuckin’ one of youse does this? Were you raised by wolves or something?
8 was almost uniformly ‘Mate’, which nobody seemed to have a problem with. Only three people didn’t say “mate,” and they instead said “gecko,” “thumbs,” or “celebrate” (celebrate sounds like way more fun, tbh). 8 as ‘Mate’ is a very safe bet, but if you’re not seriously committing to getting absolutely fucked by a 4-person chain of mates, then what’s the point? There are plenty of alternatives. Shake stuff up a bit.
9 was ‘Rhyme’ by a wide margin (94%), though it did receive some hate in the comments. The biggest variation in 9s was whether you must rhyme a single word or an entire sentence, and the vast majority of people opt for a single word. If you don’t play rhymes, you opt for “Never Have I Ever” (2 responses) or “Snake Eyes” (one response).
Queen was “Question Master” with 85% of the vote, no surprises here. ‘Question Master’ was pretty heavily debated in the comments: A few people said they absolutely frothed it, but most of the attention it got was negative. The same people who threw shade at ‘Question Master’ also disliked ‘Snake Eyes’, another popular role-based card. If you don’t play ‘Question Master’ or ‘Snake Eyes’ here, you play ‘Never Have I Ever’ or ‘Categories’.
Ace: I’m gonna chalk this one up to a lack of creativity, but 89% of us play ‘Waterfall’ on ace. Why? Surely not because it’s all that great, because I know from experience that I’ve seen about as many full-rotation waterfalls as I’ve seen real-life waterfalls (not many). Comments section agrees: “Fuck waterfall,” and “why play it if nobody drinks?” Another option for ace is “Arrogance,” while one flat opts instead for “Shag, Shoot, Marry,” and one flat just tans half a bevvie every time there’s an ace. One flat suggests simply “anything but Waterfall,” and I couldn’t agree more. If you’re looking for a chance to shake up your game: this is it. Ditch Waterfall, play with a real rule.
HERE’S WHERE IT GETS MESSY
What we can’t agree on:
“Guys and Chicks” or “Whores and Dicks?”
Here’s the best part of the data, in my opinion. Almost everyone that plays divides 4’s, 5’s and 6’s the same way: one number is for boys, one number is for girls, and one number is an oddball rule. The majority of us (62%) play with 4’s as ‘Whores’ and 6 as ‘Dicks’, with an oddball rule on 5. But, there is this smaller contingency of people (30%) that opt for the “pussy rules,” saying that five is ‘Guys’ and six is ‘Chicks’ because I guess they don’t want to say “whores” or whatever. This leaves the 4 open for their oddball rule. “Alright, whatever,” you say, but this small difference in lexicon actually has a huge impact on the game.
We’ve gotta talk about 5s
By playing the “clean” version, you use up 5’s and 6’s for “guys” and “chicks”. With an open space on 4, every single person (except one) who played with the “pussy rules” also plays 4 as “floor” and 7 as “heaven,” which seems pretty redundant to me - that’s a lot of pointing. However, by playing 4s as “whores” and 6 as “dicks,” you free up the 5 rather than the 4, and the 5 has way more options for play than 4 does. A free 5 opens the table to all sorts of wild shit like “vikings”, “space cadets” or “jive” that you don’t see on any other numbers (besides maybe on Jack - but we’ll get to that).
“Guys” won 5s with only 30% of the vote: the lowest majority vote of any card. The remaining 70% of people have some sort of creative rule for 5, so we made an executive decision: instead of our official list having “guys” on 5 and “dicks” on 6, we chose to leave 5 open as a “house rule”. The wide range of submissions for 5 split the vote into dozens of smaller splinter cells, and the minority of sneaky bastards (30%) playing 5 as “guys” ended up stealing the election. Thus, our final list would've featured 5 for “guys” as well as 6 for “dicks,” which we didn’t think was much fun, so we cut it. Besides, the data tells us that if you were to initiate a game of King’s Cup in Dunedin, you probably wouldn’t be playing 5 as “guys,” anyway. So, if you’re looking for a bit more fun, here’s the breakdown of all the possible rules for 5 if we ignore the losers that said “guys:”
What’s ‘One Frog’? I have no idea. They didn’t elaborate. I’m extraordinarily curious.
“What do I do on 10?”
When I surveyed people in person, 10 was the third-most commonly forgotten rule, behind Jack and 5. Most people here (69%) play ‘Categories’ (or ‘Ship Came Into the Harbour’, if you prefer), but a respectable 3 in 10 people play something else on 10. This is where ‘Waterfall’ makes a surprise appearance, alongside the consistently second-place ‘Never Have I Ever’. The “Toilet King” (long-lost cousin of other “role” cards such as Question Master and Snake Eyes) makes an impressive showing. Check out the range of other options for 10:
What’s the deal with Jacks?
The votes for Jack were really, really close. ‘Never Have I Ever’ loses out yet again to ‘Make a Rule’ by a meager 1.8% of the vote - very nearly a tie. I’ll leave it to you, educated reader, to decide which rule to go by. These two options account for about two thirds of the votes, and if we ignore them, we’re left with the remaining third: a wasteland of wild rules similar to the landscape of 5s. To boot, a fair few people couldn’t remember anything at all. Take a look:
The King’s Cup
This leaves us with the King. Pretty much everyone agrees that when a King is drawn, a few things happen: if there’s a King’s Cup, you add something to it, and 16% of people also take this opportunity to make a rule. In this most popular style of play, the poor soul that draws the fourth King must skull the King’s Cup. If we break it down, we find a few variations in the rule:
Only 23% of people specified that there’s some sort of consequence for breaking the circle, and while the ‘fourth King skulls it’ style of play dominates the Dunedin scene, there are some fringe groups:
Notably, some people opt for playing with tins instead of a large vessel that progressively fills. You’ve probably seen it before, but just to clarify: in this style, an unopened tin sits in the middle and players wedge their card under the tab until the stack of cards builds and breaks the seal. Playing this way means that nobody drinks anything too revolting (unless that’s what you’re into), and frees up the King for alternative rules such as ‘forehead,’ in which you stick the card to your noggin’ and can boss people around until it falls off.
Another way to play is to balance cards on top of a central bottle, with at least two corners of each new card needing to hang freely off the edge of the pile. Is this still King’s Cup? I can hear some of you are shouting “no”.
Also, a shoutout to the degenerates that found a way to turn things up a notch: every single time a card is drawn, you add to the King’s Cup, and any time a king is drawn someone has to skull the whole thing. Four King’s Cups per game: fuck me, right? You were so preoccupied with whether or not you could, you didn’t stop to think whether or not you should, and I appreciate that madness.
The creative geniuses behind the ‘four King’s Cups a game’ strategy also play with ‘Snake Eyes’ on Queen, but other groups stray further from the standard rules. One particularly creative group substitutes the rather boring ‘Me’ on 3 for ‘New Rule,’ and drops ‘7: Heaven’ for the more chaotic ‘gecko’ playstyle. Their oddball rule on 5 is “High-5,” and Jack becomes ‘Boxhead’: two rules played by nobody else. To top it off, with this playstyle, “buffalo” rules always apply, so watch those hands.
There is no correct way to play King’s Cup, despite everyone insisting that their rules are somehow sacred. That being said, these are Critic’s rules, and the only rule that matters is rule #1: have fun. Cheers :)