How to Play War

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War Rules & Instructions

dealing the card game war


Number of Players: 2

Duration: 10-45min

Supplies Needed: Full deck of 52 standard playing cards

Card Rank: Aces are high (A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2)


To start the game, deal 26 face down cards to each player so that the deck is divided evenly. You should not look at your cards while they are stacked in your hand or mess with the order once the game has started.

The game is played with in a series of rounds.

At the same time, both players will take the top card from their deck and reveal it in a “battle”.

Whoever has the higher value, gets to keep both battle cards and move them into a pile that is separate from their deck.

Note: values are solely based on card rank and suits do not matter. If both players reveal a card of equal value, then there is a war (hey, like the game’s name. Neat.).

war gameplay demonstration

How to do a War

Each player places three additional cards face down after their played card. Then, they place a fourth card turned up. Whoever has the highest value gets to keep all of the cards on the battlefield including the ones that were face down. If the face-up cards are equal, then you repeat the process until a winner is declared. This is best way to gain a huge advantage on your opponent.

Once you run out of cards from your original dealt pile, you take your won cards from the side pile, shuffle them in a random order, and continue playing.

Tip: to keep each other honest have your opponent cut the deck after you shuffle from your side pile.

war card game battle example

Player two would win the war and get to keep all eight cards in play

The Endgame

You win War by having all 52 cards in your hand leaving your opponent with none. Typically, the player with the most aces has a significant advantage to win, unless they can win them back in a war.

Additional Rules & Notes

  • War is a game of all chance – you don’t get to make any strategic decisions. It is purely the luck of the draw
  • You can easily make of variations of War such as having the lowest card win or modifying how many face down cards are used in war battles
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