War is a classic and straightforward card game that players of all ages can enjoy. It’s a two-player game that doesn’t require much strategy, making it perfect for a quick and casual gaming session.
To start the game of War, you need a standard deck of 52 playing cards, which includes all 13 ranks – 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace – in each of the four suits: Spades, Clubs, Hearts, and Diamonds.
The deck is shuffled and split evenly between the two players, creating two face-down stacks of 26 cards per player. Each player reveals their stack’s top card in front of them. The player with the higher-ranked card wins that trick, takes both cards, and adds them face-down to the bottom of their stack.
The order of card ranks from highest to lowest is Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2.
If both players reveal cards of the same rank, war ensues: Each player adds three face-down cards on top of their face-up card and plays a fourth card face-up on top. The player with the higher-ranked fourth card wins all the cards in the war. If there’s another tie, the process continues until a winner emerges.
The game goes on with each player taking turns revealing cards. If one player gets all the cards, they win the game!
Typically, War is a non-scoring card game, meaning there is no point system in place to keep track of wins and losses. That is likely due to the fact that success and failure are very luck-based in this game.
War is an easy card game suitable for players of all ages and skill levels. As such, it enjoys international popularity and appears under multiple names: In the United Kingdom, it is better known as Battle instead of War, and in German-speaking areas, it is played with 32 cards under the title Tod und Leben (meaning “Death and Life”). Of course, there are many more variants with slightly modified rules and names out there.