Games for the Variously Inebriated
November 5, 2013 6:33 AM   Subscribe

I have friends who enjoy basic card games like poker and Gang of Four but are interested in trying something new. The catch is the place we're most likely to play games is out at bars with friends in various states of intoxication, and sometimes we have a bunch of people. What are some good games that work in this situation?

Just to clarify the above -

- We only do this at bars with tables that aren't going crazy, so a little table space is available
- Big boxes and fiddly pieces are out
- Sometimes we might have one person who has to leave early or is further gone, so games that work if people come and go are appreciated
- Simple rules are good, few people are really into serious games
- Games with common pieces or commercial boxed games are both fine
- Doesn't have to be cards, but portable + easy to keep track of is good
- Typical group size is 4-8
- No interest in drinking games like Kings

We don't usually do poker at bars, but Gang of Four, Daifugou, Liar's Dice, and Bullshit all get significant play. I asked about this in a MeFi thread back in April and got a few replies, but figured I'd go fishing for more. Thanks for any help you can give!
posted by 23 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (32 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Werewolves (won't work with 4 but fine with 8).
posted by emilyw at 6:36 AM on November 5, 2013

My games-playing friends have boxes of Fluxx and Cards Against Humanity with them wherever they go.

I also love Monster Factory, but I'm about as good at games as my cat is.
posted by xingcat at 6:36 AM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

We had great success with cards against humanity. Perfect for the variously inebriated.
posted by Lafe at 6:37 AM on November 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Or dice games. Easy to carry the dice and not too much thinking involved for later in the night when a few pops have been imbibed.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:44 AM on November 5, 2013

Cards Against Humanity is a lot of fun and, while there is a scoring aspect, it's more or less incidental so it doesn't really matter if someone drops out.
posted by dismas at 6:44 AM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice on Cards Against Humanity, but the group has various cultural backgrounds and levels of English competence so any heavily language-based games are out.
posted by 23 at 6:45 AM on November 5, 2013

Best answer: Cosmic Wimpout?
posted by rmd1023 at 6:47 AM on November 5, 2013

The perfect playing-cards-with-friends-and-drinking-beer card game. Time-tested and true.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:52 AM on November 5, 2013

Hearts, especially double-deck (if you have five or six people).
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:52 AM on November 5, 2013

You can play a betting game called Bingo. Give each player 5 cards and put five down on the table. Each card has blackjack values. Your total is the sum of the cards in your hand. If four or fewer players then play high-only if more, then play high-low. Gradually turn over the cards in the middle with a round of betting after each turn. Highest (and perhaps lowest) hands win.

You can also play Acey-Ducey (the card game), Knock (also known as thirty one) or 7-27. Ratfuck is also a good game but I cant find the rules.
posted by shothotbot at 6:54 AM on November 5, 2013

Fluxx might work well, but the thing with that game is that the rules get steadily more complex and byzantine as the game goes on. This sort of makes it a great drinking game, but can easily frustrate some people, and essentially the main point of the game is navigating the rules, not winning. People either love it or hate it. Major bonus is that someone can join in at any time during the game and not be at any disadvantage. Someone can even put their cards down, go to the bathroom and have a couple turns skipped without an issue. They may even win the game while in the bathroom. The game size is just a deck of cards in a box, and every player holds their own hand, but you will need some space on the table to lay out the rules.

Bang! may get too into the fiddly pieces realm, but would work well as a bar game. You do need a small amount of setup space in front of every player, but generally smaller than a restaurant placemat. Can play up to 7, but won't work well with fluctuating players during the game, and games can last over an hour.
posted by LionIndex at 6:56 AM on November 5, 2013

Oh, also, I've seen a version of the Mille Bornes card game that posits one is selling dope called Grass.

You might also check out offerings from Looney Labs.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:56 AM on November 5, 2013

Best answer: Seconding Euchre! It's a four-person game, but games are short, so there's ample opportunity to switch players in and out. Here are some rules that seem about right, or if you can find somebody from Ohio, Indiana, or Michigan, they should be able to teach you.
posted by gueneverey at 7:13 AM on November 5, 2013

Uh, UNO?
posted by DarlingBri at 7:15 AM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Shithead or Old Maid are good card games for what you've specified.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:15 AM on November 5, 2013

Best answer: The Great Dalmuti is probably a good one. Card game, plays as many as you want (you probably want 5+ but it can be ok with 4), people can drop in and out, easy to learn and play.

Note that it does require changes in seating in between hands (you have to get up and move around the table if you do well or do badly in a given hand), but it shouldn't be a big deal.
posted by markslack at 7:17 AM on November 5, 2013

Set checks all of your boxes. Maybe also Mao? You can engineer it so it's more forgiving at first, and it gets more fun with a group that learns the rules and adds new ones over time. (But ymmv because this is also a game that enrages people.)
posted by clavicle at 7:21 AM on November 5, 2013

Seconding Mao.
posted by vasi at 7:31 AM on November 5, 2013

You could try Apples to Apples, which is like Cards Against Humanity, but cleaner. There's also Apples to Apples Jr, which is designed to be "family fun" and include kids, so the vocabulary is not as complex.

Additionally, the best way to improve language proficiency is small challenges. To boot playing a card that you think means one thing, but turns out to mean another might win you the round because of hilarity.

My vote is with the word cards, because they're really fun.
posted by bilabial at 7:47 AM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Pit—kinda like a fast-paced version of Bullshit.

Also, thirding Euchre. One of best things I learned as an undergrad.
posted by she's not there at 7:49 AM on November 5, 2013

Best answer: Love Letter and Coup are perfect for this. Coup especially has a lot of the bluffing of poker.

As well, Hanabi is a lot of fun. It's a cooperative game that gets harder with more drinks, but that can also make it a lot more fun.

Also, if you're looking for a more traditional game for exactly 4 players: Tichu. It's like a combination of Euchre and Asshole.

Finally, it's a little more than just a deck of cards, The Resistance is a great game for 5+ drunk people and is a sightly more structured version of Werewolf/Mafia.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 8:06 AM on November 5, 2013

There are a lot of classic dice games that require only a set of regular dice and are easily grasped by the drunk and partially drunk -- they are traditional tavern games, in fact. One of these I know as Buck, which requires three dice. Before each game, someone rolls a single die to establish what the buck point is; let us say it is a 4. The players then take turns rolling three dice. If your roll does not include a single buck (in this case, a 4), your turn is over and it goes onto the next player. If your roll includes a single buck, you declare "Buck!", score a point and roll all three again. If your roll include two bucks, you say, "Buck buck!" and score five points and roll again. Rolling three bucks wins you the game instantly. As I say, any roll that includes no bucks ends your turn and you pass the dice to the next player. The object is to reach fifteen points without going over.

It takes people about ten seconds to learn the rules, there is no language barrier, and both children and the inebriated enjoy the shouting "Buck buck!" aspect to it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:07 AM on November 5, 2013

If you think score-keeping would work with inebriation, you could try Dice 5000. Also called Farkle or Zilch.
posted by CathyG at 9:30 AM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding Shithead - I've played it in exactly this sort of situation and it works well.
posted by gnimmel at 9:45 AM on November 5, 2013

Best answer: Here are several games that require nothing more than pen and paper. Some would work better than others with "various cultural backgrounds and levels of English competence" in mind.
posted by duffell at 10:14 AM on November 5, 2013

Best answer: Oh, and Dixit would be perfect for this. It works surprisingly well across language barriers. Dixit Odyssey allows for groups of up to 12.
posted by duffell at 10:16 AM on November 5, 2013

Shithead, Uno or Hanabi would all work well, I think. I've played Hanabi a couple of times with the others at my volunteer gig (a generation older than me, with a bit of a language gap) and it's been great. I've also enjoyed Quixx with them, a dice game that packs up small and is quick to pick up.

A short, silly game: Drecksau. A deceptively simple number-cards game: Lobo 77.

I haven't played Category 5 (aka 6 nimmt!) myself, but it works up to 10 people and the table playing it at the last games night I went to were having a lot of fun. (Why does this game have 6 in the name for every language but English?)
posted by daisyk at 11:26 AM on November 5, 2013

I was going to recommend farkle, but it's already been mentioned.

Other dice games, I've played (and taught!) at various stages of inebriation:
ship, captain, crew
posted by kookywon at 12:56 PM on November 5, 2013

Bohnanza (aka Bean Trader) is a pretty fun card game for 8, and the rules are simple enough for the moderately drunk.
posted by zug at 1:59 PM on November 5, 2013

Spot It! in all its flavors is great. Fairy Tale is one of our favorite restaurant games (but wtf Amazon, it's a $10 game at your FLGS.)

(And hey, Bang! has some pieces but it's thematically appropriate, as you drink beer to regain health!)
posted by xedrik at 5:51 PM on November 5, 2013

Left, Right, Center is another quick dice game. I last played it with a woman in the first stages of dementia, so it should work for drunk players, too. You can get it at Walgreens.
posted by CathyG at 7:37 AM on November 6, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone! For the time being I've picked up 6 Nimmt and Avalon: Resistance and I will give them a go. I'm interested in The Great Dalmuti and Cosmic Wimpout, but I haven't found a local supplier yet (I'm in Japan). I was also pretty sceptical of Dixit but on inspection that looks really promising.

While looking up all these games I remembered one I played about a year ago that's kind of like Bingo in that it involves calling out numbers, but is strategic in that you have to place the numbers on a track while trying to keep them in order; it's called Streams. Because, like Bingo, there's no direct player interaction, the game can go on even if someone falls asleep partway through, which can be handy sometimes.

Anyway, thanks again for all the help!
posted by 23 at 5:27 PM on November 10, 2013

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