True American Rules & How to Play This Fun Drinking Game

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True American is a popular drinking game known from the TV show ‘New Girl’. If I were to describe it, I’d say it’s a unique “Floor is Lava” drinking board game ! Here, I’ll take you through the True American rules so that you can play it in real life.

Your Game Information




20-30 party cups, 2+ ping pong balls


5-10 minutes







How to Play True American

In True American, you move through a playing field made of furniture while avoiding touching the floor because it’s lava. Players move around the room and take beers from the Castle as they go.

Once all the beers are gone, there’s one final objective: reach and take a sip from the King (the central bottle of liquor).

It can be played with a small or large group, and the number of beers in the Castle can be adjusted based on the number of participants.

Setting Up the Playing Field

The True American playing field is usually a complete room with a table in the middle (the Castle). The area outside the Castle is divided into four areas, each containing at least five pieces of furniture that function as ‘no-lava zones.’

You must navigate these spaces while adhering to the game’s rules, so a good layout is key.

The most important structure of the playing field is ‘The Castle’. It’s the main goal and obstacle around which the game evolves. You set it up as follows:

1. The Castle

To set up ‘The Castle,’ place a table or plateau at the center of the room.

Place the bottle of liquor in the center of the table. This bottle is ‘the King.’

Arrange four lines of beers radiating outward from the King. These beers represent the ‘Pawns.’

Tip: I’d advise having at least three beers per player.

2. The Four Zones

Mark four zones stemming from the castle. These zones can be marked with cushions, tape, rope, or other safe objects.

In these zones, place five pieces of furniture where players can stand. The center space must be the closest to the castle and the only space from which players can take beers from the castle.

True American Rules

Mark four zones stemming from the Castle. These zones can be marked with cushions, tape, rope, or other safe objects.

In these zones, place five pieces of furniture where players can stand.

The central space must be the closest to the Castle and the only space from which players can take beers from the Castle.

1. Shotgun Contest

True American starts with a shotgun contest. The winner will kick off the game.

If you don’t have cans, you can do tornadoes or normal chugs.

2. The Opening Ritual

The first player starts by shouting, “One, two, three, JFK!”, followed by all other players shouting “FDR!”.

Everyone then grabs a beer (Pawn) from the Castle and jumps onto a piece of furniture to avoid the lava floor.

This initial scramble sets players up for their journey around the game area.

3. Taking Turns

Players move in a clockwise direction along the board. At all times, players must hold at least one and at most three beers.

Following the opening ritual, players take turns in a clockwise manner.

At your turn, you’re allowed to advance one spot forward, also in a clockwise direction as shown in the image above.

Players not at turn must win challenges to earn their right to move forward, which I’ll describe next.

4. Winning Right to Move Forward

After taking their step forward, the player at turn initiates one of these three challenges:

  • The Count: Count from one to three aloud, and then all players display a number of fingers on their foreheads. Players who show a unique number (not shown by anyone else) win one move.
  • Complete a Quote: Start saying a famous quote from history or pop culture. Any player who correctly completes the quote in tandem wins the right to move two spots.
  • Something in Common: Shout out two seemingly unrelated things, such as people, places, or objects. Anyone who quickly states a common link between the two wins the right to move three spots.

5. Next Player’s Turn

After the player at turn has moved forward and initiated one of the challenges, the turn goes to the next player to their left.

6. Winning the Game

Your main objective is to be the first person to take a sip from the central liquor bottle (the King). This is only allowed when all other beers (Pawns) are removed from the Castle and consumed.

Beers can only be removed from the Castle by someone who’s standing on one of the four spots closest to the Castle. Players must always hold a beer in their hand and can have no more than three beers at a time.

Once the beers are gone, a player must land on one of the central spaces, finish their current beer, and then take a swig from the King. The first player to do this wins the game.

Losing and Penalties

You can lose True American when:

  • Someone catches you without a beer or holding an empty beer.
  • You step into the lava.

To re-enter the game after losing, you must drink a full beer and start again from a space chosen by the other players.

Wrap Up

Originally, this game is from the series New Girl and not a real game on itself. However, by following these True American rules, you’ll see that it can be turned into a fun drinking game that you can play with your friends!

I’d like to remind everyone to enjoy drinks responsibly and to be mindful of each other’s well-being. Remember, moderation is key for a healthier and more memorable experience. Also, let’s keep an eye on our friends and loved ones – a small act of care can make a big difference. Let’s ensure our gatherings are not just fun, but also safe and supportive for all.

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