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What is the Card Game War?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 23, 2024
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War is an easy card game that can be played even by very young children. The goal of War is to end up with all the cards. The knowledge required is the order of card rank and the ability to count. Since some people play War with Ace high and others play with Ace low, it is important to agree before beginning.

How to Play the Card Game War
The game of war is usually played with two players, though some people vary it and play with more. A single deck of card, with jokers removed, is shuffled and dealt to the two players, one at a time in a face down stack, so that each has 26 cards.

Both players turn over their top card. They determine which card has a higher rank, and that player takes both cards, placing them face down on the bottom of his or her stack. If the cards have the same rank, no matter which rank it is, there is a war.

If there is a war, each player puts takes the next card from their pile and places it facedown on his or her warring card, and follows it with a face-up card. The face-up cards now on top are compared, and the card of higher rank wins, taking all of the cards in both war piles. If the war cards are the same rank, then another war is waged right on top of the earlier one, with one face-down card and another faceup card on each pile, and the winner taking all cards in the war piles.

Teaching Children to Play the Card Game War
To help children learn the game, a simple chart with card rank can be set beside them to help them remember. Depending on the choice of how the Ace ranks, it would look like one of these lists:

A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K


2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A

If they are not sure which card wins, you can ask them to count from one and see which number comes first.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for Sports n' Hobbies, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
By Melonlity — On Jan 27, 2014

What kid hasn't learned about cards by playing War? It's a simple game that kids love. Parents, however, can quickly get bored with it -- it's a good idea to cover the basic card values with War and then graduate to something that holds interest a little better.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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