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How to Play War Card Game – Rules & Strategies

If you have a deck of cards, grab them now. Got ’em? Good. Now get yourself another player and shuffle the deck. Cut the deck and shuffle it again. 

Today, we are learning how to play War card games

Back in the day, 1700 and something or other, a man called Charles Lamb said, “Cards are war, in disguise of a sport.” Not a truer statement could be said about this particular card game appropriately named, War.

War is a simple card game usually played by two players, but this doesn’t mean that other people can’t join in on the fun. 

Despite its name, this game is only as serious as you let it be. It is designed to be fun, competitive and entertaining.

How to Play War Card Game 

There are many variations of this card game. It’s flexible rules make it easy to change the game and play it however you want.

For simplicity’s sake, we will explain the most common rules of the game.

From there, you are free to change the game as you see fit. Make sure to have some fun and try at least a couple of alternate versions.

The Object of the Game

The goal in the game is to win all of the cards.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? 

Well, there’s a bit more to it, let us explain a bit more.

The Setup

For this example we will be assuming that you want to start a two-player card game.

Grab a standard deck of playing cards.

Remove the Jokers and shuffle the deck.

Cut your deck and shuffle again. 

In a two-player game the deck is dealt evenly at 26 cards each. 

If more than two players are joining in, simply deal the cards out evenly to each player.

Players should keep their cards facing down; you don’t want your opponent to see your cards.

At this point, someone will undoubtedly say, “What are the rules? I haven’t played this since Reagan was in office.” 

Do you need any skills?

Simplicity is the name of the game here folks.

Familiarity of the value of the cards is really the only skill needed. 

Suits do not contribute to the cards’ value; only the number value and the rank of the card are important. 

So, for example; say you draw a four and your opponent has a two, the four is obviously larger than the two, meaning the four would win the round. 

Likewise, a King is more valuable than a Jack but an Ace is the top value card and wins out over all other cards. 

This is actually a very good game to play with younger children to help them learn numbers and how they compare to one another. 

So, without further delay, here are the rules. 

War Card Game Rules

  • All players should have the same amount of cards.
  • Each draw of the cards is done simultaneously.
  • The highest value card wins the draw.
  • If both cards are equal in value, War is declared
  • In War, four new cards are drawn and placed face down on the table.
  • Both players choose one card from the four and turn it to reveal its value. The highest value wins. 
  • All cards played in the War go to the winner.
  • If, in the instance that the chosen cards match again, War is played again and the highest value card wins.
  • The game of War ends when one player has won all of the cards in the deck.

In-depth Rules:

Everyone draws out their cards at the same time.

The player should take the top card of their stack and place it face up.

At the same time both (or all) players turn over their card to reveal its value.

The player with the higher value card wins the round and collects all the cards on the table.

The winner should place all of the newly won cards at the bottom of their stack. 

Continue with the game until you reach the point of both players flipping the same value card. 

Two cards with the same value neither win or lose so the play shifts into, War. 

With War, both players draw four of their cards and leave them face down.

Each will choose one card to flip and the value of that card will determine who is going to win. 

Again, the highest value card wins.

With War though, the winning card wins all the cards on the table used for that play. 

So, not only the two matching cards played but all four of both players cards. In total, the winner gets ten cards in a two-player match. 

If during War the two cards chosen happen to also match, then you simply leave all the cards as they are and lay down an additional four and try again. 

Obviously, this means the winner potentially wins a lot of cards. But thats the thrill of the game. It means you can lose a big part of your cards in one turn!

Once the winner of the War is determined, you simply continue to play as normal. Keep going until the next War or until one player has won all of the cards.


The winner is the player holding all of the cards. The opponent should not have a single card left to play.

It is customary for the winner to stand up and sing Edwin Starr’s song, War and dance around proudly while the losing player gathers the cards and shuffles them.

The loser usually ends up dealing the next round.

Losing players often suggest playing a different game, such as Go Fish or maybe Slap Jack. And we also suggest you to try them. They are fun games that are a part of our childhood. 

However you play it though, we are sure that you will love it as much as we do. 

We’ve given you the basic War card game rules and we’ve shown you 

Now it’s up to you to win the rights of singing and dancing around after the game. So shuffle that deck, deal out the cards and win the War!

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