Kings Cup Drinking Game: Rules & How to Play With Playing Cards

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The Kings Cup drinking game, also known as ‘Ring of Fire’ or ‘Kings’, is one of the most popular drinking games out there. It’s a perfect combination of sipping and doing fun activities in a group setting.

This game starts with a central, empty ‘Kings Cup’ around which an uninterrupted circle of face-down playing cards are laid. Each card comes with a specific challenge, rule, or minigame. Think about drinking rules, the categories game, snake eyes, etc.

Players take turns grabbing a card from the circle and doing whatever its face says. King cards tell you to pour a random amount of your drink into the King’s Cup, which is the end boss of this game.

The game ends with the first person to either draw the fourth King or break the circle of cards. The loser must drink the King’s Cup!

It’s a great game to play with larger groups of people. Although it’s playable as a two-player drinking game, it’s really the most fun with at least four.

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How to Play King’s Cup?

To start playing King’s Cup, all you need is a large cup or tankard that can function as the King’s Cup, plus a standard deck of playing cards.

Alternatively, you can choose to go for the ready-to-play version as shown in the image below. It’s a great gift for party game enthusiasts. It’s played exactly like the classic King’s Cup with cards, but then comes with more unique challenges and questions.

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In case you just want to play the traditional card version for free, look no further. The rest of this post will take you through the complete rules and gameplay of King’s Cup with playing cards.

King’s Cup Set Up

Setting up King’s Cup is very easy. Simply do the following:

  1. Grab a standard deck of playing cards and remove the Jokers.
  2. Place a large tankard or cup in the middle of the table.
  3. Lay the deck of cards face down in an uninterrupted circle around the central cup.
  4. Grab enough drinks for everyone.

Now you’re ready to start playing. In the next section, we’ll continue with the actual gameplay.


The Gameplay

The King’s Cup rules and gameplay are very simple and highly customizable. In general, this is how it goes:

1. Drawing a Card

When it’s your turn, simply draw a card from the circle. Make sure NOT to break the circle, as doing so will result in losing the game. Hence the name ‘Ring of Fire’.

Each card face comes with a rule, minigame, or challenge that must then be carried out.

After drawing a card, show it to everyone. The person who knows the rules can then explain what your card means.

Of course, you can also print the rules and place them where everyone can see them.

2. Follow Card Rules

Each card comes with a rule, and you’ll have to carry out the rule that’s on the card you drew. Below, you can find the standard Kings Cup card rules.

In one way or another, these rules will lead to you or others taking sips.

For example, it can be a drinking rule that everyone must follow before they take a sip of their drink. Anyone who breaks it must drink. Rules like this often last the entire game.

Another example is that everyone plays a round of Sevens. The loser then drinks, after which the card’s rule is fulfilled.

3. Next Player’s Turn

This two-step process repeats in a turn based manner going clockwise.

Losing King’s Cup

You cannot win King’s Cup. There’s only one big loser who must drink the contents of the King’s Cup.

Losing the game happens when you:

  • Draw the fourth King
  • OR break the uninterrupted circle of cards

Drawing a King means that you must add a random amount of any random drink to the King’s Cup, so there’s a total of three possibilities to do so.


Kings Cup Card Rules

It’s worth mentioning that these card rules for King’s Cup are just the most popular and widely used rules. Feel free to change them up to you liking.

Just to make things easier, we have made a screenshot-able image that you can use to keep close. This way you don’t need to scroll through the list of rules every time!

Rules for number cards:

  • Two: Give two sips.
  • Three = Take three sips.
  • Four = Thumbs. At a random moment, put your thumb on the edge of the table. Everyone must follow. The last one drinks. 
  • Five = Quizmaster. No one can answer your questions. If they do, they must drink. Ask stealthy questions!
  • Six = Drinking buddy. Whoever draws this card chooses someone who must drink every time you do so. 
  • Seven = Sevens game. The person who draws this card starts the counting round with 1. Each next person counts up, excluding any numbers that include 7 (7, 17, etc.) or are multiples of 7 (14, 21, etc.). The first person to make a mistake must drink.
  • Eight = Pointy Fingers. Everyone points their finger in the air. At the count of 3, everyone points at someone who must drink. The person who is pointed at the most drinks.
  • Nine = Rhyme. This player says a word, and everyone takes turns going around the circle saying words that rhyme with it. The first player to fail drinks.
  • Ten = Category game. Choose a category. Each player takes their turn to name something in that category. The first player who takes too long or names a repeat must drink.

Rules for picture cards:

  • Jack = Rule. The player who drew the card creates a rule that everyone must follow throughout the game. For example, take the invisible man off your glass every time you drink. Anyone caught not following that rule drinks. These rules stack!
  • Queen = Rise of the Queen! At a random moment, you must throw your hands in the air and shout, ‘Rise of the Queen!’. Everyone must follow. The last player drinks.
  • King = Kings Cup. Pour some of any drink into the King’s Cup. The player who draws the fourth King card must drink the contents of the King’s Cup.
  • Ace = Turn around. It’s now the turn of the player before you, as the playing order is switched.

More Kings Cup Rule Ideas

Here are also some other alternative rules that you could include in your game.

One-person rules

  • Remove rule: One rule no longer holds. This rule is often included, but we like to keep it out of our game to make it more difficult. 
  • Presentation: The person who draws this card must talk about a subject for one minute straight. No ‘uhms’ or moments of silence. If the person doesn’t succeed, their drink will be drunk.
  • Sherrif: At a random moment, this player must say two random names. Both players must stand up and shoot at each other with their invisible pistols. The person who gets shot first must drink.
  • Eight is mate: The same as the ‘drinking buddy’ rule, but then for drawing the number 8.
  • T-Rex Rule: Players must hold their elbows under their shirts, mimicking T-rex arms.

Multiple player rules

  • Fiver: Take turns counting to 3, like with rock, paper scissors. At 3, everyone chooses to open or close their hand. The player who counts says a multiplication of 5 or 5, thereby predicting how many hands are opened. Each hand counts as 5. If this number is right, that player is out of the game. The person who is last must drink.
  • Waterfall: Everyone starts drinking at the same time. You can only stop drinking when the person before you stops drinking. The player who draws this card counts as the starting point. In other words, bad luck for the person to the right!
  • Five Drive: Everyone acts as if they are holding a steering wheel.
    • The player who drew this card starts by saying ‘Vroom!’, after which they steer in the direction of another player.
    • The next player either says ‘Vroom!’ to continue in the current direction or ‘Screech!’ to turn the wheel in the reverse direction.
    • This continues until one player messes up and needs to drink.
  • Vikings: This one is similar to five drive, but slightly more difficult.
    • The players who drew this card points his two index fingers in the air as if they are wearing a horned Viking helmet, and repeats ‘Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo!’
    • The players on their both sides, act as if they are paddling the boat, both pointing their paddles in the opposite direction.
    • The rest of the players are the water, and make a wavy movement with their hands.
    • At a random moment, the Viking points at a different player who now becomes the Viking.
    • All players then switch their roles accordingly.
    • The first one to mess up loses and must drink!
  • Find the Queen: All players randomly draw a card from a deck containing one jack, one queen, and numbered cards. When all eyes are closed, the Queen must drink a shot from the middle of the table as quiet as possible. Afterwards, the Jack must vote for who’s the queen.
  • Shot Roulette: Instead of ‘take 3’ or ‘give three’, it can be fun to introduce shot roulette. Simply spin a bottle, or use one of the pre-made shot roulette’s.
  • Sky: All player point to the sky, last one drinks.
  • Nicknames: Each player assigns a nickname to the person to their left. If someone uses a real name instead of a nickname, they must drink.
  • No Phone rule: If you touch your phone during the game, whoever hosts the game can send a text from it to anyone in your contacts.

Wrap Up

Kings Cup can be really fun to do, but it’s important to play it responsibly and respect the limits of each player. Encourage players to drink at a comfortable pace and know when to take breaks if needed. 

Bend the rules however you like. You could let everyone make a rule or just use the rules that we have described above. It’s all up for change, as long as you keep the rule of the Kings Cup, of course!

Sometimes it can be refreshing to switch games so that it doesn’t get repetitive. There are many other drinking games with cups that you can try!


Other Fun Games Like King’s Cup

Do you love the King’s Cup drinking game due to its wide array of challenges and situations? The following games follow the same concept, so you will definitely love them as well:


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