Flaming Square Of Death -- The Rules

- wadE

My senior year in high school my Uncle Bob (not to be confused with Uncle Bobby), told me that when I got to college I would learn how to drink beer.

Not only did I learn how to drink beer, I learned how to drink liquor, and wine (well, it was Boone's, does that count?); and I learned how to turn it all into a game.

Whether is was Asshole, Quarters, Up and Down the River, The Century Club, or one of the myriad of TV/Movie related games, drinking games were an easy way to get strangers to interact during that awkward period of not being drunk yet.

It wasn't until my Senior year (Dec. 31, 1996 to be exact) that I learned what has becoming my favorite drinking game, The Flaming Square Of Death.

While I didn't invent the game, I did bring it from the crummy underage parties of Austin Minnesota to my college, and post-college friends.

I learned the game from my good friend Brian Bahl at a New Year's Eve party back in my hometown...in what turned out to be one of the longest days of my life...but that's a story for another time.

Per usual it was a bunch of guys and girls, who weren't very well acquainted, sitting around with an ample supply of alcohol (namely, a keg). It was early in the day (3 or 4 PM) and with nothing better to do until the party started closer to midnight, Brian suggested we all play a drinking game. The younger girls at the party didn't want to play quarters, or asshole, or any of the other games; probably due to previous experiences of "losing" these games to guys who were just looking to get them drunk so they could get into their pants. Hey, this is small town Minnesota, what would you expect?

That's when Brian brought up The Flaming Square Of Death. While the name seemed to scare off most of the ladies, Brian began to explain the rules and implored them to at least try it.

Needless to say the game was a hit, the party was fabulous, the police showed up, and those of us who were 21 got to leave, no questions asked. Good times!

Enough with the background, how do you play The Flaming Square Of Death?!?!

Well the game is an amalgam of different drinking games some of you may be familiar with (F.U.B.A.R. and a couple others). It is played with a standard deck of cards, minus the jokers and 2-7 of each suit. This leaves you with 28 cards (8-Ace of each suit). The cards are placed face down (and shuffled so you don't know which cards are which) on a table usually in 4 rows of 7 (or 7 rows of 4) to make a rectangle. Granted it isn't a "Square", but "The Flaming Rectangle Of Death" just doesn't sound that good. You are welcome to put the cards down however you wish, the point being, put them on the damn table face down!

The next step is to decide who goes first. Youngest person, oldest person, first person who is alphabetical by middle name, whatever.

Play begins with that person flipping up a card and acting based on which card they flipped (more on that in a minute), play continues with the person to the left (clockwise), and so on and so on.

What does each card mean?

8 - If you flip up an 8, this is "The Number Game". The person who flips the 8 starts by saying "one", the person to the left says "two", the next person says "three" and so on. When the number reaches 7, 11, or a multiple of 7 or 11 (14, 21, 22, etc.) instead of saying the number, the person says "Beep", and the count continues, but reverses direction. Whoever messes up first (says a number that should be "Beep", says "Beep" instead of a valid number, says a number or "Beep" when it isn't their turn, or doesn't say a number or "Beep" when it is their turn) has to take a drink. Much easier to understand once you start playing.

9 - "Nine-Rhyme." The person who flips over a 9 says a word, then each person around the table (going clockwise) must come up with a word that rhymes with that original word (including the person who flipped the card if it gets back to them) without using the same word. Generally you want to limit the words to your native language, and if someone tries to pass off a word that people aren't sure is real, everyone gets to vote whether or not it's real. If you are out-voted, you're drinking, even if the word is real! (We aren't playing Scrabble here!) Great choices are silver, orange, and purple... since there is no word in the English language that rhymes with those words. :-D

10 - "Social!" Everyone toasts and takes a drink.

J - "Jack your neighbor." The person who flips over a Jack gets to make either the person on their right or left take a drink. Doesn't get more straightforward than that!

Q - "Category." The person who flips over a Queen picks a category that each person around the table must name a member of that category, starting with the person who flipped the Queen. E.g. Someone flips a Queen and says, "States, Minnesota." Next person says "Iowa", and so on. Good categories are: presidents, beer makers, pizza chains, imaginary numbers (if playing with Math geeks), and types of liquor.

K - The King is the one category that has changed over the years. Occasionally people change 8 as well. Especially if you don't have a lot of people, or if you aren't all that drunk. The number game gets a little boring when you keep reaching 100 without someone messing up. Anyway, originally for the King you placed a large cup in the middle of the table. The first, second, and third people who turned up Kings were allowed to pour as little or as much of their drink into that cup. The unfortunate person to flip the fourth King drank the contents of the cup. This is fine when everyone is drinking the same kind of beer. But occasionally you'd get a nasty Miller Lite/Sam Adams mix, or even worse was when some were drinking beer, and some were drinking cocktails or wine. I think the worst combo I had to drink was a Pig's Eye Lean Beer/White Russian mix. One word: ick. The rule was quickly changed. Currently the rule is that before the game a shot is made, usually secretly so no one knows what they might have to drink, and the first 3 Kings are a "free pass". The fourth King drinks the shot. Feel free to be creative on this one!

A - "Make a rule." Each person who flips an Ace gets to make a rule that lasts until the final card in the round is flipped and the round is over. Aces can be used to cancel other rules, alter the rules of the game, or just about anything. It's always good to set a rule that is fun and not boring to others. Great choices are: players cannot use the word "drink", if they do they must drin...um, imbibe themselves; players must refer to each other as "Lamont" instead of their actual names, feel free to use your own stand-in name in case you are playing with an actual Lamont; each player must act like the person they've known the longest at the table, this one can be fun but not appropriate for all groups. While anything goes, try to stay reasonable. Don't make a rule that you don't have to take a drink for the rest of the game, that's kind of counter-productive isn't it?

So, those are the rules on the Flaming Square Of Death. One helpful hint: try to avoid drinking in between your turn and your commanded times to drink. While you may have to wait a round or two before you start to feel anything, you'll eventually get nailed, just trust me!

And of course, drink responsibly... and only if you are of legal age! Of course if you are underage in Wisconsin, just make sure your parents say it's OK.


- 10/07/2003

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