"War card game!" "Rules, Variations, & How to Play"

War The Card Game: Rules, Variations, & How to Play the Game

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Looking for instructions on how to play the card game “War”?

Great! You’ve come to the right place.

The card game War is an extremely easy card game for two people to pick up quickly and start playing immediately. 

card, joker in focus

Though mainly a game of luck, this game of cards can have a lot of fun moments that will keep you and friends laughing throughout the game.

There may not be much skill involved – but it sure is a fun game of cards! Especially if cards are a hobby of yours :).

The Object of the Game: 

Similar to a game of Slapjack – You want to collect all of the cards!

Once one player has collected all the cards from the deck, they win the game of War.

Each player plays a card and collects the cards played for the round depending on the rules of the game.

hands holding an open deck of cards

How to Play a Game of War:

You start playing War by dealing each player an equal amount of cards until the deck is completely given out.

  1. Each player takes a card from the top of their personal deck, and face the cards face up in front of them.
  2. Review which player revealed the higher value card. Aces are the highest card available (or joker if you’re playing with them) and 2’s are the lowest card
  3. The player with the highest card collects both cards and adds them to a new pile beside them.
  4. When the players run out of cards to play in front of them, take the pile of won cards, shuffle them together, and continue playing.
  5. Repeat until a player owns all of the cards.

You might be asking “But what happens when each player plays the same value card?”.

Well…WAR!

playful fighting, woman hitting man with boxing glove

Rules for war:

This is when the real fun begins when playing the card game War.

When both players play a card of the same value, this instigates a game of war.

The rules for how to resolve this part of the card game are as follows:

  • Each player will draw 2 cards.
  • The first card gets laid face down, while the 2nd card is played face up.
  • Review who has a higher value (new) face-up card. The player with the higher face card wins ALL cards. (including the face-down card from the other player)
  • If the face-up cards played during war match again, you start another battle of war!
  • Repeat until someone wins all of the cards.
hands holding an open deck of cards

Winning a Game of War:

A player will win the game of War by rounding up all of the cards within the deck, leaving the other player with none.

This game is great to play when you’re bored since it can take some time to finish. However, someone will be victorious at some point.

That’s what makes it so fun to play though!

Card Game of War Online:

man with dreads playing video game, sparks flying

You can play the card game of War online if you so choose. I don’t know how exciting it will be, but you do you, friend!

Visit the following websites to play War online:

Game of War – Final Instructions:

  • War is primarily a game between two players. There is a 3 person variation that has rules as well (see below).
  • Standard 52-Card Playing Cards Needed
  • Have fun!

Variations to Playing War

There are several ways people have shaken up the rules for how to play War. These give an interesting twist to this classic card game.

Egyptian War Card Game

card tower stacked and dice

Egyptian War is played similarly to the original game of War. Each player will play a card face up and sequences happen thereafter.

Each person plays a card. Nothing happens for any card played between 2-10.

Once a “Royal Card” is played by a player, the other player has a certain number of chances to play their own “Royal Card”.

If the player fails to flip a “Royal Card”, the first person to play the “Royal Card” wins the pile.

For example:

  1. Player 1 plays a King. Player 2 now has 3 chances to play a Royal card of their own.
  2. If Player 2 fails to flip a Royal Card, Player 1 wins the pile.
  3. If player 2 does flip a Royal Card, Player 1 now needs to flip their own Royal Card.

Egyptian Royal Cards

  • Jack- One Chance to flip a royal card
  • Queen- Two Chances to flip a royal card
  • King- Three Chances to flip a royal card
  • Ace- Four Chances to flip a royal card

Three or Four Player War

You can absolutely play War with more than 2 players if you so choose.

Deal equal amounts of cards to each player. Each person will then place 1 card face up.

As is the case with the normal game of War, the player with the highest card wins.

War breaks out at any time if two or more players have a matching card. EVERYONE plays war, not just the two players with the matching cards.

Once a war is won, that player collects all the cards played.

Repeat until one player holds all the cards!

man holding cards in front of table

Steal War Card Game

This is a very popular version of the traditional card game of War. It involves playing more than one card at a time, and also includes the seldom-used Jokers! (treated at the highest card in the game)

How to Play Steal War

This game is played similar to the traditional game of War. Deal an equal amount of cards to both players and each player will play their cards in front of them at the same time.

You won’t be playing one card at a time. You’ll be playing 4 cards in total, round.

4 aces played on table, deck of cards
  • Cards that are won are sent to a new pile next to the winning player, with a card of their choice face up.
  • In the next round, each player can choose to look at the card they’re about to play, before placing it down.
  • Using their next card, they can either play as normal or instigate a steal of the other players’ “side pile” or “capture pile” – provided your card is higher than the face-up card of the capture pile of the other player.
  • It’s possible both players will steal the other player’s capture pile at the same time – essentially trading capture piles.
  • Once a player’s face-down deck is out of cards, they will take their face-up “capture pile”, shuffle those cards and make it their new face-down pile to play from.

Pagat.com has a good tutorial on how to play steal war here.

Casino War Card Game

Typically this game is offered while visiting a casino. This card game is about as simple as you can imagine.

A player places a bet and is dealt one card face up. The “house” deals a card to itself as well.

The higher card wins the round.

card symbols club heart spade diamond shiny

Ties in Casino War

If the player matches cards with the house, they have two options on how to proceed.

  1. Surrender: Player loses half their bet and moves to the next round.
  2. Go to War: Player matches their original bet played. 3 cards are played face down, followed by a face card dealt with each player. The winning player will have a higher face card.

Visit the Poggs Casino War Guide for more information on how to play and odds to win.

Final Thoughts

So are you ready to play a game of war – card style!? This card game is a great way to waste some time on a slow and boring night with a friend.

So, bust out that pack of cards and get playing!

Need to Play:

  • 2 Players
  • 52-Card Deck of Standard Playing Cards
  • A good sense of humor! (kidding…sort of)

Other Resources: