BT Livermore

To get you started, the Mercury Winter Drunk-a-Lympics Committee has compiled and crash tested drinking games from around the world for your handy reference—games to play with friends, your TV, in bars, or out of bars. Plus, we've also included the latest in hangover cures—since you'll probably be feeling like doo-doo in the morning.

So release the doves and let the games begin!

*The Mercury does not literally advise you to abuse alcohol, and remind you be an adult about this, avoid drinking and driving, know your limit, blah, blah, blah, blah, SNORE.

The "International Drinking Rules" Game

If one were to abide by all the rules prescribed by this UK-centric game, you would not be able to say or do anything at all without being penalized by taking a drink. An extremely restrained sampling of the rules:

• Nobody may utter the word "drink" in any grammatical form or tense (drinking, drank, drunk, etc).

• Nobody may utter another player's name.

• Nobody may swear, blaspheme, or express disrespect toward the Queen of England.

• No pinkie fingers can touch a glass, so you must drink with pinkie extended.

• No player can touch any part of their body with their hand—one must use another player or object to scratch itches, for example.

• No player can accept anything from another player by hand; anything given must be first placed on a table or other surface.

• At any time, a player can drop a coin into another player's drink, at which point the owner of the drink must shout, "God save the queen!" and polish the entire thing off as quickly as possible.

• A player is appointed the Thumb Master, and can at any point put his or her thumb on the table. The last player to notice and follow suit must drink. There are infinite variations on this, the cutest being the Jive Master, who at any point can do a little dance, which the other players must imitate. A less polite variation is to appoint a Question Master—any time the Question Master asks a question, the only correct answer is "Fuck off."

• When the minute hand of the clock is on the left half of the clock face, every one must drink with their left hand, and vice versa.

See what I mean? And that's not even a fraction of the rules. To take on all of them would be foolhardy, and super annoying. However, we found that just taking one rule (we used the "drink" one) can be a fun thing to tack on while you play other games. Plus, if you find yourself unnaturally gifted at playing drinking games, and thus, sober, you can always just say, "Fuck this, I need a drink," and penalize yourself.

Asshole

This card game is common across the US. It's included for its essential nature, and a good choice to start out an evening of gaming, because it establishes a hierarchy that can save a lot of time and bullshit when you're trying to start new games and arguing over who plays first. Here are the rules to one basic version of Asshole; don't bother writing in to tell us it's "wrong." Variations on Asshole are, coincidentally, a lot like actual assholes—being that everyone has one.

This game requires a minimum of five people to play. The first hand of Asshole is the establishing hand. This will decide who will be the President, Vice President, Normal People, and the Asshole for the next round. Seven cards are dealt to each player. Twos are high. The player to the left of the dealer plays one of their cards by laying it face up on the table. The next person has two options: (1) to play a card higher than (but not the same) as the previous card. (2) To pass on that turn. For example, if a four is played, the next player must play a card higher than a four, and the next player has to play higher than that. A new hand starts when all players pass, or when someone plays a two (the most powerful card). The last person to play a card leads the next hand. This proceeds until all players are rid of their cards. The first player out of cards is the President for the next round, the next out becomes the VP, the next players out are Normal, and the last person out is the Asshole.

The roles for each player are as follows:

• President: can make any player drink at any time, and no one may make the President drink except the President. The President is the first player to start each round, and the President should never have to refill his or her own drink.

• Vice President: can make any player, except the President, drink at any time. No one, other than themselves or the President, can make the VP drink.

• Normal People: These players can make each other drink, as well as the Asshole. They play in the order they finished the previous round; first normal out follows the VP, second normal out follows the first Normal, etc.

• Asshole: This player has to deal and sweep the cards, and cannot make any other player drink. The Asshole plays last in each round.

We recommend changing seats every round, and sitting in the order of hierarchy. It's less confusing that way, and better for your circulation. Also, stick with it—by the 30th round or so, your friends' true colors start to come out and shit gets really fun. If you are using Asshole mainly to establish a pecking order for the rest of your gaming, pre-decide how many rounds you are going to play, so whoever ends up being perma-President is truly arbitrary.

Aussie Coin Flip

Simple and deadly, this Australian game requires no skill or strategy, just plenty of booze, shot glasses, a quarter, and the desire to get really hammered really fast.

Take turns calling heads or tails and flipping the coin. If it lands on your side, your opponent(s) take a shot. If it doesn't, you do. The first person to puke is the loser, and "has to get a smack across the head." (Hey, we didn't make the rules.)

By the way, if you have anything else at all on the agenda for the night, either don't play this game, or pussify it by taking sips rather than entire shots. However, it's pretty boring to play it that way, we found, so we recommend going all the way or not at all.

Bangkok Drinking Game

Start out by standing in a circle with at least six people and a deck of cards. Choose someone as the Thrower, who will chuck the entire deck of cards into the middle of the circle. The Thrower will then call out a number and a suit, and whoever finds that card first shouts out "BANGKOK!" Whichever card the person finds determines how many seconds they have to drink. (For example, if a person finds a 10 they have to drink for 10 seconds (Jack=11, Queen=12, King=13 Ace=14). The Thrower gets in on the game if they repeat a card that they have already called out. Eventually you will go through 52 rounds or more.

Keep in mind that this game will suck if you don't have the right attitude. It is meant for people who are actively trying to get drunk, and therefore are motivated to find the Thrower's cards. And be careful: After a few rounds of this, your chances of bonking heads while diving for cards dramatically increase.

Baseball

A combination derived from two of America's favorite pastimes: Baseball and Quarters.

You'll need a beer, four cups, each one larger than the other, and a quarter. When the quarter is bounced into each cup a different type of hit is rewarded. The smallest cup is a single, the next largest is a double, the second largest is a triple, and the largest is a homerun. If you sink the quarter in the cup, the other team has to drink that cup. If you miss all the cups, it's an out. Three outs equal one inning, just like baseball.

This has a whiff of frat boy to it, but in the best sort of way. Everyone in our test group enjoyed it, and as far as drinking games go, it's downright athletic.

Grenade Master

This is one you can tack onto your evening while playing other games, or if you're feeling really energetic, play it over and over until everyone is wiped.

Begin by selecting one person to be the Grenade Master. At any point they wish, the Grenade Master can shout, "Grenade!" Everyone must dive under the nearest table, and the last person to take cover has to finish their drink. They then become the new Grenade Master.

Like so many fun things in life, this charmingly ridiculous game gets dangerous fast, especially if you have a lot of people and small tables, and especially if those tables also have sharp corners. Still, hella fun.

The Name Game

Sit in a circle, and begin moving clockwise, with the first person naming a celebrity. "Tom Hanks," for example. The next person has to name a celebrity whose first name starts with the first letter of that celebrity's last name. "Hilary Duff," let's say. If someone names a celebrity whose first and last names both start with the same letter, such as "Donald Duck," the game's movement switches direction, to move counterclockwise, or vice versa. No celebrity names can be used more than once. When it is your turn to produce a celebrity name, you have to constantly chug your drink until you've thought of one.

Harder than it sounds, especially under the influence. And drinking 'n' thinking at the same time? Not a match made in heaven.

I Am Spartacus

If people are mincing around, being wimpy about drinking at your drinking game party (the nerve), this "game" will quickly accelerate things.

At any time, any player can stand up, say, "I am Spartacus," and polish off their drink. After which, every other player must stand up, raise their drink, say, "I am Spartacus," and also finish their drinks.

Though the simplicity of this is so extreme that it barely qualifies as a game, it is deceptively strategic. Someone who has just gotten a new drink is extremely vulnerable, so the trick is not only to "pull a Spartacus" when your drink is almost gone, but to time it so your drink is near-finished while others are still full. See... you have to be smart to play drinking games.

Bouncing Ball

Begin with everyone sitting in a circle. Only three words can be spoken: "whiz," "bounce," and "boing." The first player starts by saying one of the three words. If they say

• Whiz: it is simply the next player's turn, going clockwise.

• Bounce: the game skips a player and goes to the next person.

• Boing: the game reverses direction and the player sitting counterclockwise goes next.

We all unanimously hated this game, partly because after playing close to 10 other drinking games before we got to it, most of us were getting kind of dumb, and it was hard. That made us feel dumb and mad. Only play this game if you are still sober enough to count from 20 backward in less than 10 seconds.

Buzz

This game comes from Iceland—which is interesting because it's actually difficult to find games from hardcore drinking countries that last longer than five minutes, and don't end with someone vomiting, passing out, or dying. Some of the ones from Scotland make you want to vomit, pass out, and die just reading the rules. Thus, the Icelandic ability to marry drinking with actual math is evidence of comparable tenacity.

Sit in a circle. The first player says "one," the next "two," etc. However, when the numbers reach a multiple of seven, instead of saying "seven" or "21" or "70," you say "buzz." If you fuck up, you drink.

Legend has it that the highest number achieved is over 1,200. Which isn't really all that impressive when you think about the fact that those nerds didn't end up getting drunk, which, we thought, was the point.

Death Ring

Play this one with two decks of cards. Everyone is in a circle. The first person draws a card. The next person draws a card. If the card is related to the first card drawn (related meaning it is the same value or suit), then both players must drink the number of sips on their card (Jack=11 drinks, Queen=12, etc.). If they both have the exact same card, then they have to drink double the face value. The next person in the circle is the one who gets to count the sips the first two are drinking, as fast or slow as he/she wants. But, if one of the drinkers finishes their drink before the counting is done, then the person counting has to finish their own drink. Next, the third person draws, and if the card is related to either the first or second card, then all three have to drink while the fourth player counts. Again, if the exact same card that has already been drawn comes up, the players with matching cards still drink double the face value. As the game continues around the circle, and a card drawn fails to be related to any of the previous, the ring is broken, and you start again from scratch. If the ring does make it all the way around the circle, the first guy gets rid of his card and becomes the counter, then is next to draw a new card.

Again, don't end the night with a game like this, because it will confuse the piss out of you if you are already dumbed down with alcohol. People who have drunk themselves stupid get angry when made aware of their stupidity. However, if played in an unencumbered (at least for long enough to get it) state of mind, this is a fun and effective way to get to the land of stupid.