Nine drinking games for your next night in

Nine drinking games for college students

Whether it's water or something more you're imbibing, games from Pong or Cheers to the Governor can warm up a chilly winter gathering.
Published: February 9, 2023
Students play cards in their dorm

Februaries in Syracuse can keep even the bravest souls indoors on the weekends. What better way to ward off cabin fever at college in Upstate New York than by playing drinking games? From the high-stakes and quick-action of Pong and Flip Cup, to the intimacy of Straight Face and Never Have I Ever, there are drinking games for any group and enough to get you through the winter and back to your regularly scheduled nights in the Lucy’s backlot. Whether it’s to get closer with new friends or make new memories with old ones, any of these nine drinking games can turn up the heat on a Syracuse winter weekend.

1. Pong

Let’s start off with the most iconic drinking game. Typically played in pairs, pong requires a table, four ping pong balls (although extras are recommended) and 20 total cups. Ten cups need to be organized in triangles (one cup at the top, four cups at the bottom) at each end of the table and filled about a third of the way with any beverage. All of the cups must touch, or “kiss.” Before the game officially starts, one member of each pair will close their eyes and shoot at the other pair’s cups. The first pair to make it in goes first. After this point, pong is very simple. The first team to make it in all of the other team’s 10 cups wins, with each successful shot resulting in that cup being taken off the table and being drunk by the opposing pair. There are more intricate rules to the game, such as getting another round of shooting if both team members make their shots in the same turn, but pong in its simplest form is recommended for beginners.

2. Cheers to the Governor

Cheers to the Governor is a game that requires nothing but a drink and the ability to count to 21. Gather your friends in a circle and one by one take turns counting to 21. Anyone who messes up and says the wrong number has to drink. Once the number 21 is counted off, everyone yells “cheers to the governor” and drinks. So what’s the catch? Whoever says the number 21 in each round gets to make a new rule for the rest of the game, such as “the person who says seven has to drink.” If someone forgets a rule or messes up, they drink and the counting starts over from one. The game ends when there is a rule for each number.

3. Never Have I Ever

The perfect game to get to know more about your guests, Never Have I Ever is the classic game of questions intent on revealing your group’s deepest (and usually dirtiest) secrets. All that’s needed are drinks and five-to-ten people to play with. Once everyone playing is together in one room, each person will take a turn saying something that they have never done. If someone else in the group has done that, they take a sip of their drink. The last person to finish their drink wins the game. An example statement that would fit for never have I ever is “Never have I ever been to a baseball game” (although we’d recommend getting deeper than this if you really want things to get interesting). If anyone in the group has been to a baseball game, they take a sip.

4. Russian Roulette

5. Beer Ball

Though beer is in the name of this fast-paced game, any four canned drinks, along with a table and a ping pong ball, will do the job. Like pong, beer ball is played in pairs, with each duo standing at opposite ends of the table. Each person will take a can and place it upside down directly in front of them at the corner of the table. Make sure NOT to open the can. After you’re done setting up, one pair starts with the ball and both members get one turn per round. The objective of this game is to throw the ball across the table and hit the other team’s cans. If you hit a can, you chug your drink until the opposing team is able to recover the ball and place it on the table. The first pair to have both members completely finish their drinks wins.

6. Flip Cup

This high energy game has no max capacity and is therefore good for bigger groups. It needs two plastic cups and a table. Two opposing teams (of any number of people) will line up on each side of the table, with one empty plastic cup in front of one member of each team. The two people with the cup in front of them will put it upside down on the edge of the table and attempt to flip it to an upright position. Once they successfully flip the cup, they pass it down to the next player in line on their team. The first team to have every member flip the cup wins, and the other team has to finish their drink.

7. Straight Face

All that’s needed for this easy game are cut up pieces of paper, something to write with and a place to play. Each player picks up five slips of paper and writes something funny that they think will get the other players to laugh. Next, all of the slips of paper with writing on them get mixed up into a hat. Each player will then go one by one and pick a slip of paper to read aloud with a straight face. Each time someone laughs, giggles or reacts in any way, they have to take a sip of their drink. The last person to finish their drink wins.

8. Golf

Just like spending a bright sunny day on the links, the objective of this card game is to score as little as possible. A standard deck of 52 playing cards is needed, as well as two or more friends. Every round, a dealer is chosen who gives each player (including his/herself) four face down cards in the shape of a square. The remaining undrawn cards are put in a pile on the table, with a space next to them for the discard pile. Each player is allowed to look at the two cards at the bottom of their square but cannot tell anyone else. When everyone has had a chance to look at their two cards, play begins. There are four total rounds in Golf, where each player will have the opportunity to exchange one of their cards in their square for an undrawn card or a card from the discard pile. A player can also knock to signal that they want to keep their current square of cards. At the end of the four rounds, whoever has the highest total score loses and has to drink. (Note: aces count as one, kings count as zero, queens and jacks count as ten and number cards count as their face value).

9. Detective

A game that requires wit and attentiveness, Detective is sure to make you question just how much you trust your friends. From a deck of 52 cards, the dealer must select one ace, one king and enough face cards so everyone playing receives a card. (For example, If eight people are playing, the dealer would select six face cards, one ace, and one king. The dealer is not allowed to play.) The king card represents the killer, whose goal is to “kill” all the players before the detective can catch them. The killer ‘kills’ by staring at a player for three seconds, after which the dealer says “someone has been murdered” and that player exits the circle. The detective’s job is to catch the killer before they eliminate everyone, so they must watch for stares and long pauses. If the detective thinks they have discovered the killer, they tell the dealer. If the detective is right, the game ends and all other players must drink. If the detective is wrong, the game continues and the detective drinks. If the detective can’t discover the killer before all other players are eliminated, they lose and have to finish their drink. To have the most fun while playing Detective, all roles should rotate and the dealer must know which players are the detective, killer and face card holders.

No matter what game you and your friends choose, you are guaranteed to have a great time playing without suffering through the harsh weather and blow to your wallet that Syracuse bars entail. These eight games are classics for a reason, able to be played again and again. Next time you or your friends are having a chill night in, come back to this list and find the perfect way to take your night to the next level.