How to Play Twenty-One!
Twenty-One (21) is a drinking game that is easy to learn, hard to master, that everyone will love. Players sit in a circle and work together to count up to 21, with the numbers being slowly replaced by crazy rules – it’s harder than it sounds.
Players: 5+ players
Required Supplies: None
Sit in a circle and open your drinks. Someone volunteers to go first.
Rules to 21:
The first person says “One.” Then going clockwise each person says the next number “Two,” then “Three,” then “Four,” etc. all the way up to “Twenty-One.”
When the count reaches the end and the last person says “Twenty-One!” everyone must shout “Twenty-One!” then cheers the group and drink. The person who called 21 now gets to replace any number 1 -> 20 with any rule they want. They may not replace or add to a number that already has a rule, and number 21 is saved for last.
Example rule: “Instead of saying ‘Seven’ that person quietly takes a drink.”
From now on when someone says “six” the next person has to quietly take a drink (without saying ‘Seven’). The next person must recognize this as ‘7’ and continue the count by saying “Eight.“
If at any point someone makes a mistake they must take one drink, and the count resets – but all rules remain active until the game ends. The next person in line restarts the count with ‘One’ (or whatever the current ‘1’ rule is) and the game continues.
There is no help allowed! If someone is not paying attention or can’t remember a rule they can take a guess. Any mistake results in one drink and the count restarting. After someone sets a new rule (and everyone paying attention understands it) there is no further explaining or hinting at the rule. If someone is stuck and someone else hints at, or explains, the rule both people have to drink and the count restarts at 1.
The goal is to slowly replace all 21 numbers with rules. To complete the game the group must make it to the end when all 21 numbers are rules.
If a player leaves the game either temporarily or permanently just continue to play with less people. If someone returns to the game or joins part way through they cannot ask what rules they missed, but instead must figure it out by observation (and screwing up).
This game is as fun and difficult as you make it.
Some of my favorite rules to use in the Twenty-One Drinking Game:
Instead of #__:,
- Quack 3 times.
- Point at anyone and they must continue with the next number.
- Scratch your nose and the direction of the game reverses. (Reverses continue even if the count goes back to 1, and flip again when the reverse rule is reached.)
- Say that number in a different language.
- Turn to the person on your right and tell them why they’re face is beautiful, without repeating what someone else said. (This gets awkward and hilarious quickly.)
- Instead of #15, cheers the person who had #3 this round.
- Instead of #20, do a drum-roll. (It builds excitement for 21!)
- Instead of #12, say 13. (The person after ’12’ often screws up by saying ’14’ because they just heard ’13’ which is actually just the rule for ’12.’ See it’s even confusing to explain!
You get the point – basically anything goes.
This game is great for long hangout sessions because you can easily have side conversations – just don’t screw up your turn!
Good luck, and have fun! Always drink responsibly.
Navigating his vessel through the storm, The Captain pushes the party to its limits and brings his crew safely home at the end of the night. The Captain is one of the original founders of the Drinking and Stuff website.