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Relay Drinking Game: Rules and How to Play?

Are you planning a party and running out of good party game ideas? You certainly cannot go wrong with the classic Relay drinking game.

This funny game is easy to learn and can be played almost anywhere. Since it’s mainly popular with beer lovers, it’s sometimes also called Beer Relay. But don’t worry, if you’re more into shots, wine, or mixed drinks like myself, you can enjoy this game just as well.

Similar to Beer Ball or the classic Baseball drinking game, Relay pulls you out of your chair and immerses you in dynamic action. It also has an excellent level of competitiveness.

Nevertheless, the game’s primary purpose is to have fun, so you’re free to adapt the rules however you like. In this guide, you’ll learn how to play this game according to the most popular rules but also how to spice it up with a few additions or alternative options.

What You’ll Need to Play Relay Drinking Game?

One of the reasons behind the drinking Relay’s popularity is its simplicity, which allows you to improvise and set the game up without any significant preparations. All you need to play Relay is:

  • A good amount of drinks (mixed cocktails in paper cups, wine in glasses, or beer in cans – the choice is yours).
  • A sufficient drinking area (a table, a bar, etc.).
  • Good mood and a bunch of volunteering participants.

Setting Up

The setup is very simple, so it’s perfectly fine if you start with it only in the middle of the party when you’ve already had a drink or two.

First, divide the players into two teams. The teams should be equal, so the best scenario is playing the game with an even number of players.

Tip: If you’re playing in a larger group, feel free to create as many teams as you wish. Just make sure that each consists of at least two players.

Next, each team prepares a set of drinks. Again, these can be cans of beer or any other drinks of your choice. These drinks, however, should be comparably strong, and they must also correspond to the number of players in the team.

Place the sets onto the gaming surface. If you play in two teams, each can occupy the opposing end of the table. If you play with more teams, you must be creative.

How to Play the Relay Drinking Game? Rules and Gameplay

How to Play the Relay Drinking Game Rules and Gameplay

Once you’re ready and everyone is in their place, the fun can begin. The gameplay is super-easy with a clear objective: Drink all the drinks in your team’s set faster than the opposing team drinks theirs.

Here’s how the gameplay proceeds step-by-step:

  • All the members of each team align near their side (or area) of the table, facing their set of drinks.
  • Each team nominates one of their players to compete first.
  • Everyone counts down the beginning of the game.
  • When the game starts, the first players from each team simultaneously raise their drinks and start drinking.
  • When the player’s drink is empty, they turn the empty cup (or can) bottoms up on the table or bar.
  • At the moment when the first player flips their empty cup or can, the second competing player from the same team can start drinking the next drink.

Note: The opposing players don’t wait for each other, but they must wait for the predecessor from their own team to finish their drink entirely before being able to start themselves.

Continue in the same manner until every player in the team has their drink. The goal is clear: Be the first team to finish all the drinks from your set!

Additional Rules & Tips

Of course, the tension and wild atmosphere of the relay race can lead to various mistakes, accidents, and funny situations.

One of the most common missteps in the game is when a player spills their drink. In this case, their cup must be refilled, giving the opposing team a huge advantage.

The same punishment awaits for a player who forgets to flip their cup or can – or flips it before it is thoroughly and completely empty.

Yes, if you’re too hasty or chaotic, you can get drunk considerably faster than your teammates in this game!

Nevertheless, while drinking games like Relay are certainly hilarious, don’t forget about the basic rules of responsible drinking:

  • Make sure that each participating player is okay with the amount or volume of the drinks in the game.
  • Never play the game with someone who is not old enough to drink legally.
  • Never play drinking games with people you don’t know or trust. Similarly, don’t play these games in a potentially dangerous or unfamiliar place.
  • If you or any other player feel they’ve had enough, do not force or persuade them (or yourself) to continue. Alternatively, continue playing with non-alcoholic drinks.

Drinking Relay can be modified in many different ways. If you’re looking for some inspiration on how to modify the game to make it even crazier or more intricate, here are some of the most popular variations:

Hand Switching

Players are obliged to switch hands they’re using to hold the drink every time. When they make a mistake, they are penalized by a refilled cup or a can of beer added to their set.

Added Movement

Add mandatory actions after every drink. For example, players are obliged to squat, jump, or run around the room after finishing their drinks. Only then their next teammate is allowed to start drinking.

Blind Drinking

If you find the classic drinking relay too mundane, try to blindfold one of the players in each team. They will need their teammates to verbally navigate them toward the drink and then finish it without spilling.

Drink Swapping

Teams pick drinks for their opponents to see how they’re doing with the unfamiliar tastes or aromas. Of course, the teams should have comparably strong (or mild) drinks to make the competition fair.

Who Wins?

At first sight, the drinking Relay game is all about speed. The first team to finish all their drinks, which is confirmed by their collection of cups or cans turned upside down, wins the game.

Nevertheless, the truth is that the winner is each and every player who thoroughly enjoys this crazy game, letting go of their troubles for the moment and simply enjoying the bonding experience with their friends or colleagues.

Drinking Relay is an excellent addition to any get-together, whether it’s a bachelor/bachelorette party, an office party, a Christmas or New Year’s Eve party, and so on.

If you enjoy it, you could also try some excellent alternatives like King’s Cup, which also requires a deck of classic playing cards, or Slap Cup, played with two cups and a ping pong ball. Make sure to check out some of the fantastic Korean drinking games, too, which work as reliable ice-breakers for any group of players. Enjoying your favorite drink as part of a game definitely feels much better.

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