Circle of Death is a popular (at least on my campus) college drinking game. It can be played by as few as four and as many players as you can fit around a table. The floor works just as well as any table (better, if there are too many players).
There is no real winner in Circle of Death, nor is there a loser. The object of the game is to get as many people as drunk as possible and to have a good time doing it.
Firstly, and most importantly, make sure everyone has a drink. You go through drinks quickly in Circle of Death, so it may be a good idea for everyone to have an extra or two on deck.
Circle of Death uses one standard deck of 52 playing cards. Players arrange themselves in a circle around the table or some focal point on the floor. The cards are spread out in a circular pattern in the center. Make sure the circle is continuous, as this comes into play later.
Starting with the youngest player (or oldest, or soberest, or tallest; it doesn't really matter who goes first), each player takes a card from the circle. Each card has some rule associated with it, and this rule must be carried out before moving on to the next player. Play continues clockwise until all the cards are gone, or the players are too inebriated to continue.
The key to Circle of Death is what is done for each individual card. Any time anyone violates any rule, they have to drink. Each card is listed below along with its rule. They are, for the most part, easy to remember, but it may still take a few times before the entire set is committed to memory (especially since you'll likely be wasted by the time the game is over).
- Twos and Threes: Make a Date and Break a Date. Whichever card is drawn first, a two or a three, is the Make a Date card, and will remain so for the rest of the game. The player who drew the card assigns any two players as "dating". Any time one of these people drinks, for any reason, the other must also drink. The person drawing the card need not include themself in the date, nor must they follow any sexual orientation any other players may have in assigning dates. When other card is drawn, be it a three or a two, that player is allowed to Break a Date, nullifying any existing relationship of their choosing.
- Fours: Whores. All females present drink. Simple enough.
- Five: Jive. When a player draws a five, they become the Dance Master. Any time this player begins dancing, however subtlely, all other players must also dance. The last person to do so drinks. When a new five is drawn, that person is the new Dance Master.
- Six: Dicks. All males present drink. Turn about is fair play.
- Seven: Sevens Game. Starting with the person who drew the card, the players count upwards starting with "one". Any time a number is reached which is a multiple of seven or has a seven in it, that player states "Fuck you", and the counting direction is reversed. Take the following four-player example:
It sounds easy, but trust me, someone will screw up. And probably a lot sooner than you think they should. This gets crazy if you make it up to the 70s, although that rarely happens.
C: Fuck you.
D: Fuck you.
C: Fuck you.
C: FUCK! /me drinks.
- Eight: I Never. We've all played rounds of "I Never", and this card works the same way. The person who drew it says something that they have never done, and the others must drink if the have. An alternate way of playing this is having red eights be "I Never", and black eights be "I Have", forcing drinks upon anyone who has not done whatever the person says they have done. These statements are often of a sexual nature.
- Nine: Rhyme. The person who drew the card says a word, and one at a time clockwise, the remaining players must come up with a rhyming word. Play continues until someone can't come up with one, and drinks. Of course, the first person could always be a dick and say "Orange", forcing the player to their left to drink.
- Ten: Social! Everybody drinks, usually with copious amounts of glass chinking beforehand. Everyone loves a social.
- Jack: Make a Rule. Potentially the most powerful card in the game, it is usually used to make people do something stupid. The only rule in using this card is that you cannot alter any other card's rule. You can, however, alter or nullify a previous rule declared when a Jack was drawn. Common rules include words or phrases that everyone has to say after every sentence (I once did this with the phrase "Play that funky music white boy", the other players were not happy with me), declaring certain words unspeakable ("drink" is popular for this, it's tough to remember to tell people to imbibe every time they screw up), variations on the Little Man rule (there is a Little Man on top of your drink which must be removed every time you drink), and anything else you could think of. Failure to comply with any rule laid down results in more drinking.
- Queen: Question. When a player picks up a queen, they become the Question Master. Any time the Question Master asks someone a question, that person must respond with another question or "Fuck you." Screw it up and you drink. When another queen is drawn, that person becomes the new Question Master.
- King: Category. When a king is drawn, that person comes up with a category and something within that category. Listing continues to the left until someone can't come up with another one. There is no limit to the number of elements within a category, as long as you don't pick something like "numbers above zero". The first person who can't come up with something drinks. I've heard things like "Disney movie villains", "Beatles songs", "Sexual positions", and "Brands of beer". Anything you can come up with.
- Ace: Waterfall. This one gets you fucked up. The person who drew the ace begins drinking. Once they've started, the person to their left starts drinking and cannot stop until the person before them stops. This continues all around the table until the last person has stopped drinking. An optional addition to this is "My way". When the ace is drawn, the first person adjacent to the drawer to shout "My way" has the waterfall begin in their direction. This is advantageous, as the person on the other side of the dealer will be that unlucky sonuvabitch at the tail end of the waterfall. Also optional, if anyone around the circle finishes their drink before the person before them stops, then everyone before them in the line also has to finish their drink. This works best with beer cans or solo cups which do not allow the other players to see how much of your drink is left.
I've played the game many times, and seen two additional, optional rules.
The first is Breaking the Circle. This is why your circle needs to be continuous when laid out. The first person to break the circle, that is, cause two adjacent cards to no longer overlap, allowing a path between the outside and the inside of the circle, must chug their drink immediately.
Also, you can place a beer can in the center of the circle. When cards are drawn, instead of simply being discarded, they are slipped underneath the tab on the can. Eventually, the can will pop open. The person who placed the final card must chug the beer.
And that is Circle of Death. The more players, the more drinking, the more better. Have fun and please drink responsibly!