Throughout my time trotting the globe, I have come to learn three invaluable life lessons:
- Having sex in a youth hostel is never a good idea, especially if you’re in the top bunk.
- You can survive for up to three days on a baguette and a handful of coins stolen from a public fountain.
- Everyone loves to get blotto playing King’s Cup.
King’s Cup, 4 Kings, Ring of Fire, Circle of Death – whatever name you may know this sacred drinking ritual by, it is undeniable that its greatness transcends all cultures, nationalities and races. Any global hobo worth his or her weight in passport stamps should know the rules back-to-front. With a beverage in hand, players gather around a large drinking vessel and a deck of cards. Everyone picks a card in a circular fashion and follows its predetermined rules until the last King is drawn, with the ultimate goal of getting absolutely shitfaced. Why? Because despite its side effects – including brawl involvement, public nuisance charges and loss of standards – alcohol brings people together. In just one night, a few bottles of Rosé can transform complete strangers into lifelong friends who will forever treasure that time they got kicked out of a Bar Mitzvah for demonstrating blow-job techniques on a menorah.
Most consumers are happy to ingest alcohol orally, hence the popularity of drinking games; though I did once meet some Swedish girls who preferred to place a vodka-soaked tampon in their armpit. But for everyone bar the Swedes, I have compiled a list of the basic rules for King’s Cup from sources across the globe. Chin chin.
Everyone is to start chugging their beverages. When you stop drinking, the person on your right can too. This pattern continues in an anticlockwise direction until all cups are down or someone needs their stomach pumped – whichever comes last.
2: Most likely to…
Nominate a passé activity, such as watching The Voice or turkey slapping the elderly. Everyone in the circle must then point at whoever they think is most likely to indulge in this activity. Each finger pointing at you equates to one drink.
3: Three fingers
No you susso, it’s not what you think: just drink the level of your beverage down the width of three digits.
Four, whores…it vaguely rhymes. All girls take a sip.
5: Snake Eyes
As the holder of this card, you have been granted the powers of Medusa. That is, if Medusa enforced binge drinking instead of turning people into stone. Every time someone makes eye contact with you, they have to have to drink.
Again – six, dicks – kind of like poetry. All boys take a swig.
7: Stephen Hawking
Oh, political incorrectness. As the great genius Stephen Hawking, you are to flop motionless in your chair. If it’s nearing the end of the game, this shouldn’t be too difficult. The person to your left will be your nurse, and by tapping a finger on the table, you can request that they raise your glass to your lips.
At any point in the game, discreetly place your right thumb on the table. As players notice, they are to follow suit. The last person to put their thumb on the table has to knock back a drink.
9: Bust a Rhyme
Begin a rhyming circle with a word or a statement. Whoever messes up first by making a repeat or skipping a beat has to down their booze. Starting suggestions include ‘silver’, ‘orange’ or ‘purple’.
10: Never have I ever…
Each player says something they’ve never done before, and anyone who has done it has to drink. Once this ice-breaker is drawn, the game will quickly descend into a collective mission to establish just how slutty and immoral everyone is. I fondly recall a friend joking, “Never have I ever had anal on the first date.” In response, the quietest player lifted her cider with a confidence that indicated she thought others would be following suit. When met by a collection of hanging jaws, she blushed, gigged and said, “Well, it wasn’t really a date.”
Get under the table! You are now a troll, and can only be fed drinks by grabbing the feet of other players. But don’t get kinky about it – no one likes a foot fetishist.
As God, you can pass whatever rule you like. Only, make sure you pass ‘Little Green Man’ first, because it’s fun. All players are to pretend they have a little green man sitting on the rim of their cup. This miniature invisible human must be removed before each sip and restored to his righteous place immediately thereafter. If anyone forgets: skull.
KING: Communal Cup
If you have drawn the first, second or third King, pour the remainder of your beverage into the central drinking vessel. If you have picked the last King, sucked in. The game is now over and you have been granted the honour of polishing off the vile concoction in the middle. This part can get super colourful to watch when Baileys has been mixed with beer.