6 More Weird Ancient Possibly Deadly Drinking Games

A while back we told you about some bizarre, and possibly deadly, drinking games from ancient times. You know, games where you have to try to knock a target off its base with the dregs of your drink while also lying down, probably in a toga. (Then there’s also that fun southern Italian game where a “boss” and his second in command elect people to drink while the whole crew insults each other. Fun times.)

Well, the world of drinking games is rich and generous, so we’ve got six more games for you to learn— though, yeah, we never actually play almost all of them.

Bear Paw

Bear Paw

Quite possibly the most insane drinking game in the world. Totally frills-free, totally brutal. The rules are pretty simple: sit around with a bunch of your bravest and/or most reckless friends with a cup of beer and a cup of vodka, plus extra supplies (you’ll be drinking a lot.) The cup of beer is passed around the circle and everyone takes a sip, so if you’re squeamish about sharing or don’t hate your liver, this game isn’t for you. After each sip of beer, the cup is refilled — with vodka. After a while, the cup should become mostly vodka, plus a bit of backwash. At that point, you do the same damn thing backwards: everyone takes a sip of vodka, topping the cup off with beer. It goes around in a circle like this until the cup is once more filled with beer, everyone passes out, or reason sets in.

Pon/Toma

Pon Toma
The Pon/Toma dreidel, photo courtesy of FoodandOtherThings.com

Pretty sure this game was invented when some resourceful, and possibly bored, people happened upon a children’s toy and decided to do the right thing: use it for drinking. The game originated in Mexico and centers around a dreidel with six sides. Each side bears a different command: “pon uno” (give one), “pon dos” (give two), “pon todo” (give all), “toma uno” (take one), “toma dos” (take two), “toma todo” (take all). In the kids’ version, you spin the dreidel and surrender either one, two, or all of whatever adorable tokens you’re using to play. (You run out, you lose.) In the adult version, you spin the dreidel and either fill up or drink the contents of a cup, typically filled with beer. (You pass out, you lose.)

Sumbel

Horn

Less a drinking “game” than a lot of wordy, drunken toasting. So yeah, you’ve probably inadvertently played this game at pretty much every wedding you’ve gone to. An ancient Nordic ritual, the “sumbel” was actually an occasion during which attendees would take turns drinking from a horn (because that’s how Vikings roll) and giving elaborate, often poetic or musical toasts. Since the horn in question would typically be filled with mead (ancient honey wine), we’re guessing the toasting got a lot less eloquent as the night went on.

Sapo

Sapo Frog
Sapo Frog board, photo courtesy of TravelTalesofaLife.com

Sapo is a drinking game the way Cornhole is a drinking game. You don’t have to drink when you miss, but you probably will. Another difference: Sapo has roots in ancient Incan folklore. Pretty sure Cornhole doesn’t. Though like Cornhole, Sapo involves a specific board, almost like a wooden throne, with a metal frog or toad at its center, its mouth open in perpetual “ribbet.” There are also holes around the metal frog. The object of the game is to toss coins into the frog’s mouth. In the drinking game version, if and when you miss (it’s ridiculously hard to feed this frog), you take a drink.

Buffalo

Buffalo

Not as ancient as some of the other games, since it (probably) originated in the American Wild West. Though unlike the other games here, this one lasts a lifetime. The rules of Buffalo are incredibly simple: once you become a member of the Buffalo club, you must always drink with your non-dominant hand. If another Buffalo member catches you doing otherwise, you have to chug the rest of your drink. (We’re guessing ambidextrous people are automatically disqualified from membership.) The origin story of Buffalo involves cowboy gunslingers, who theoretically wanted to keep their shootin’ hands free and would drink and lasso things with the opposite hand.

Tiger Has Come!

Tiger

Another Russian drinking game, and another Russian drinking game that requires seriously high tolerance. The name of the game is actually what’s announced at each round, but we’ll get to that. First you get a bunch of friends (and a bunch of designated drivers) and they bring cash and you provide vodka. One person is elected leader, and that lucky bastard only has to drink every other round since one thing we all require in a leader is moderate sobriety. Everybody “buys in” each round, kind of like poker, tossing some money into a collective pot. As everybody takes a shot of vodka, the leader shouts “tiger has come!” and everyone (reasonably) ducks under the table. The challenge — and how the winner and losers are determined—is getting back up from under the table as the game goes on.