The word “war” can mean differently to a lot of people. Generally, it signifies a series of conflicts or battles to gain something victory over something precious, such as a nation’s stronghold of wealth or the independence of the same. If you happen to be a French kid (or a kid in any of France’s other territories in the world), however, the word “war” could literally refer to child’s play.

Object of Play

The “war” card game is much like its namesake. There are at least two players involved, and the outcome of the game is highly dependent on chance or luck. Apart from this, the card game and the concept of war itself is similar in the sense that the object of the activity is to invade or kill off as many of your opponent’s soldiers or cards as possible. (Although in the case of the “war” card game, the goal is to race each other to get all the cards in the deck.)

One key difference between the card game and war itself is that the former does not require nearly as much strategy for a decisive victory. As the following card game rules will show, your success in this card game is more dependent (literally on the cards that you have been dealt) on luck more than anything else.

How to Play

The mechanics of the game are simple enough. To begin, you will need a typical deck composed of 52 playing cards. The suits (e.g., clubs, spades, hearts, and diamonds) of the playing cards do not matter in this game, but there is a value assigned to each card. The card with the highest value is the Ace, followed by the King, Queen, and Jack cards. The numerical cards are next, with 10 having the highest value and 2 the lowest.

The entire deck of cards is shuffled and divided between the two players, each player should end up with a hand of 26 cards. Take note that the cards should be dealt face down so that neither player can see the order of the cards. After all 26 cards have been dealt, each player should consolidate their cards into a deck, keeping the cards face down the whole time.

During the first round of play, each player takes the card at the top of their deck and places it face up on the table. Whoever comes up with the higher card wins both of the cards from that round and adds it face down to the bottom of their deck. For example, if player A drew a Queen and player B drew a 10, then player A gets both cards since the Queen card trumps any number card. Player A will then be able to take both the Queen and the 10 card and add it to the bottom of their card pile.

However, the game becomes slightly more complicated when each player draws up a card that is equal in value to that of the other player (i.e., if player A were to draw an Ace or if player B were to draw an Ace as well, regardless of the suit of either card). In the case of equal cards, there would be “war”.

Both of the equal cards would be set aside momentarily, and another round where each player draws two cards off the top of their deck begins. The first card drawn in this next round is placed face down on the table while the second card drawn is placed face up. The player who drew the second card (the one that is placed face up on the table) with the higher value gets to take all of the six cards that are currently on the table (the pair of cards with equal value from the previous round, and the remaining four cards on the table). All six cards then go face down into the bottom of the winning player’s deck.

If it so happens that the face up cards also are of equal value (i.e., two 7’s or two King’s), the four cards are set aside along with the pair from the previous round. Both players will have to draw two cards again, placing the first card face down on the table and the second card placed face up on the table. Whoever drew the face up card with the higher value ends up taking all the cards that were previously placed on the table.

Goal (How to Win)

There are two ways for either player to win in the game of war. One is through winning back all 26 cards from your opponent to reform the complete deck of 52 cards. This happens if you are lucky enough to draw the card with the higher value throughout most of the rounds played during the game. It should be noted, though, that this way can take quite a long time.

The other way to win is if your opponent ends up with insufficient cards to play a game of war. For example, if Player B was down to his or her last card and both Player A and B drew a seven, Player A wins despite the tie since Player B has no more cards left to play a decisive round of “war” with.

However, if both players happened to run out of cards at the same time, the game would end in a draw or a tie. There is also another rare scenario where a player who has run out of cards during a round of “war” can continue playing. For example, if Player A and Player B end up playing a game of war over drawing two 5’s in the past round, but Player A is down to his or her last card, then that card is placed face up. Player B, on the other hand, will continue to draw two cards, placing the first one face down on the table and the second one face down. If Player A drew a King for the last card, and Player B’s face up card turned out to be a 6, then Player A wins that round and gets all five cards on the table.

A Strategy for Winning

Many people think that since war is a game where luck plays such a huge role, it would be impossible to use a strategy. However, there is a way where you can subtly skew the game in your favor by changing the order of the cards that you place into the bottom of your deck after winning them.

Statistically speaking, those who end up winning “war” card games usually end up picking out cards that follow a certain progression: high, low, low, high, low, low, high, low, low, high, etc. Thus, whenever you end up with a winning hand, position the cards that you end up with in an order that is as close to that progression as possible. For example, if you end up with a King, a 3, a 10, a 2, and a Jack as five cards from a round of “war,” reposition them in the suggested order depending on their value (King, 3, 2, Jack, 10) before placing them into the bottom of your deck to up your chances of winning.


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