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How to Play War

War is a great card game for young children. The object is to acquire all the cards, which you can do in different ways. To play War, you need the following:

  • Two players

  • A standard deck of 52 cards

Start by dealing out the deck one card at a time, face-down, so that each player gets 26 cards. Keep your cards in a pile and don’t look at them. Each player turns over one card simultaneously; whoever turns over the highest card picks up the two cards and puts them face-down at the bottom of his pile.

The cards have the normal rank from highest to lowest: ace, king, queen, jack, and then 10 through 2.

The game continues in this manner until both players turn over a card of the same rank, at which point you enter a war. A war can progress in one of three ways.

  • Each player puts a card face-down on top of the tied card and then one face-up. Whoever has the higher face-up card takes all six cards.

  • Each player puts three face-down cards on the table and one face-up card, so the competition is for ten cards. This option speeds up the game, which often drags a little — especially for children!

  • Each player puts down cards depending on the rank of the tied cards. If the equal cards are 7s, you each count off seven face-down cards before turning a card over. If the equal cards are kings, queens, or jacks, you turn down 10 cards before flipping one up and squaring off. For an ace, count out 11 face-down cards.

  • If another tie results, repeat the process until someone achieves a decisive victory.

If a player runs out of cards in the middle of a war, you have two possible solutions: You lose the war and are out of the game, or you turn your last card face up, and these count as your played card in the war.

Whoever wins the cards gathers them up and puts them at the bottom of her pile. The first person to get all the other player’s cards wins.

You can play War with three players. The dealer gives out 17 cards to each player, face-down. The remaining card goes to the winner of the first war. The players simultaneously flip over one card each. The highest card of the three takes all three cards. If two players tie for the high card, they each place three cards face-down and then place one face-up, and the highest card collects all the cards in the pile. If you have another draw at this point, you fight another war. If all three players turn over the same card, a double war takes place; each player turns down six cards and flips one up, and the winner takes all.

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