Beer Die - Bowdoin College, 1989
Singles (one on one)Teams (two on two)
|Setup time||2 minutes|
|Playing time||15 minutes - 2+hours|
|Skill(s) required||accuracy, hand–eye coordination, reaction time|
|Material(s) required||Plywood, or "borrowed" Colby plastic table, Pint Glass or Solo Cup, Dice|
Beer die is a table-based drinking game where opposing players stand, or sit, at opposite ends and throw a die over a certain height with the goal of either landing the die in their opponent's cup or having the die hit the table and bounce over the scoring area to the floor. The defending team attempts to catch the die one-handed after it hits the table, but before it touches a non-table surface. The game typically consists of two two-player teams with each of the four players having a designated cup on the table.
There are three distinct attributes which define a beer die hurler: offensive, defense, and stamina. A good offensive player throws many legal throws and often will put pressure on the defense by throwing near the opponents cups and edge of the table. A good defensive player consistently catches routine throws, and often will snare "hot tosses". A player with good stamina is able to drink often over a period of many games without his or her game diminishing. When constructing a beer die team it is advantageous to bring different facets to the table.
Beer die involves quick thinking, quick reaction time, precision throwing and awareness. However, most of all, beer die requires a love for drinking with friends and a stomach that can handle it.
- The first rule: Beer Die (Snappa) is a Gentleman's Game. (Note that this does not preclude women from playing. It is intended to encourage a gentlemanly demeanor i.e. no arguing over decisions, no bending the rules, etc...)
- The die table itself should be wooden, 4ftx8ft and a height of 3 ft. The cups may be at the corners, approximately 6 inches from the side of the table and a foot from the end of the table; or centered on the table, spaced the width of a glass apart. Cups are preferably pint glasses, but red solo cups may often be used.
- Each player's cup is filled with beer.
- Throwing order: If a winning team of the previous game stays on, they have honors.
- The game is won by the first team to reach 12 with a 2-point lead. (i.e. if the score is 12-11, the game continues.)
- Before each throw, all cups must be on the table.
- All shots must be thrown above a predetermined height, typically at least as high as 10 feet. A shot thrown too low is called a "height check" and results in a lost turn by the offending team. A height check must be called by the defending team before the die hits the table, and the call is non-contestable.
- A shot that is thrown high enough and hits the table, bouncing off the defensive end (OR the side of the table, provided the dice hits the table past the half way mark on the table) without being caught is one point for the offensive team.
- A made shot (the die landing in one of the cups on the defensive side), depending on the location of the game, can count as 0, 1, or 2 points. When made, both players on the hit side must finish and then refill their beers. This is called a "splash" or "sink".
- The defending team may catch the die to nullify potential points scored (i.e. if the throw hits the table and bounces off the end, but is caught, no points are scored.) Only one hand may be used to catch. Using two hands or "trapping" (catching against one's body) is illegal and will result in a re-throw for the shooting team.
- The defending team may never reach over the plane of the table while defending a shot. Doing so results in 1 point to the shooting team.
Drinking is unrelated to scoring. Each team will drink together and finish their beers together based on the predetermined number of drinks per cup (typically 5). Drinking will then occur:
- Each time a player shoots and misses the table completely (called "Heinous" in some parts of the country) (1 drink)
- The opposing team throws the die and hits your cup (known as a "Plink" or "Body") (1 drink)
- The opposing team sinks your cup (known as a "Plunk")(finish)
Once a beer has been finished, the team must refill, and the drinks per cup are reset to the predetermined number.
The origins of beer die, often being the subject of debate, have and continue to be shrouded in uncertainty. Legend claims that the game started in the 1970s by the Ragin' Bulls of VFA-37. At the time, the game was played with greater formality where an official "God" was appointed to judge and enforce the rules of the game. "Jesus" would assist "God" in judging the game and "Moses" would refill the cups. Furthermore, players were expected to request that "God" grant them a "Natural" in the event they needed to use the bathroom, to belch, to break wind, or to puke.
Although many colleges have claimed to be the first campus to play a game of Beer Die, the regional popularity of this sport among the colleges of University of Colorado, Sko Buffs, and in particular at Bowdoin College, Colby College, and Tufts University imply that the claims laid by colleges like University of Cincinnati are unfounded. Indeed, according to verified chapter records, the Kappa Chapter of the Zeta Psi Fraternity at Tufts University, unanimously adopted beer die as its "House game" in 1978 by a vote of 76-0, with one abstention. In the American Mid-West, recent research compiled by the Beer Die League traced back the origins of the Dixieland version of beer die to University of Colorado Boulder, with the first published accounts of the game having been played at the Pi Kappa Phi House in 1986. The first account of the game on the west coast is from a 1980 regional tournament hosted by the Beta Epsilon chapter of Theta Xi at UC Davis. This crowdsourced project was conducted in February 2014 and has claimed to be the only unbiased research conducted on this topic to date.
The Durward Invitational is a prestigious beer die tournament that takes place annually on St. Patrick's day weekend at East Carolina University. Entry into the event requires elite skills and a championship mentality. There have been six hall of famers who participated in the invitational. It is one of the most difficult events to organize on campus in terms of risk management. 
In the state of California, seated beer die is often called Snappa. At Santa Clara University and University of Wisconsin-Madison, students play a much more active and competitive beer die standing up, and with very different rules. Standing beer die has spread across the state of California. The rules below do not reflect the original rules set by students of SCU. The Santa Clara University Library Archive has definitive proof of the games inception with the Sheath Boys back in 1974.
- Games are played to 12, and the winning team must win by two.
- A cup is placed on all four corners of the beer die table, with each player standing on their respective corner.
- The team who throws first must throw the die above a certain pre determined height, most usually higher than the tallest person standing up whilst their hand fully extended towards the sky.
- A point is scored when the offensive team throws the die up and it lands on the defender's side of the table, rolls off, and is not caught one handed by either teammate.
- If the defending team successfully catches the die with one hand (no bobbles allowed), no point is awarded. Players can not reach over the table to catch die. If the die lands on the opposing side and rolls off your own side, the other team must catch it, or it is a point. In some variations bobbles are allowed but traps against the body are prohibited. Also, once a bobble occurs, the opposing team has the right to interfere with the catch through responsible physical contact.
- If a die is thrown up and hits a cup at any time, it is an automatic point. If the die falls off the table without being caught, 2 points are awarded to the throwing team. One for the "plink" and one for the successful fall.
- If a player splashes the die into either of the opposing teams' cups, it is 3 points.
- If the die lands on the opposing side of the table and rolls back between the throwing team's cups, that is considered a field goal and 2 points is awarded to the throwing team.
- Beers are to be finished every four points if playing to twelve or sixteen.
- There are no re-tosses. If you throw a die up and it lands on your side or the halfway line, it is automatically dead.
- In the case of a splash: When a team splashes (lands the die in one of the defending team's cups), the defending team must finish their drinks. The one whose cup was splashed must drink his beer with the die in the cup. In variations, the player whose cup was splashed must in addition "spit his fate" see the following rule.
- Biz: the rule of biz is uncommon and only in use in certain areas/college campuses. If one follows the rule of the biz, while the die table is "live" (games are being played). No man or women in the vicinity is allowed to utter the word "five". Instead those in the vicinity must say "biz". For example, one player asks another player what time it is, he must say 2-oh-biz instead of 2-oh-five. In addition, the number five may not ever show on a die face-up on the table whether by placement or by rolling. The penalty for uttering or putting the die down on five is one beer shotgunned by the offender. Finally, if a player misses the table 3 times in a row, he is required to roll a die on the table and shotgun if 5 is rolled. This is known as "rolling one's fate". It is unknown where this rule originated.
If a team gets skunked (12-0), it is a nude lap around the house as well as a loss.