War rules title

OBJECTIVE OF WAR: The objective of the game is to win all cards.


NUMBER OF CARDS: standard 52-card

RANK OF CARDS: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2

THE DEAL: Each player receives 26 cards – dealing one at a time. Each player places his stack of cards face down, in front of him.

TYPE OF GAME: Shedding



War uses a standard 52-card deck. Shuffle the cards sufficiently before playing, especially if the deck is brand new. Either player can be the dealer or a third person. Deal cards back and forth so that each player has 26 cards. Do not look at your cards.

To play, count down from 3 and flip cards at the same time so that they are face up. Only flip the top card, no peaking! Other cards must remain secret. The player with the higher card wins and collects both cards, returning the cards to the bottom of their personal deck. If players flip the same card, the war begins.

war rules turn


During a war, each player places three more cards, face-down, on the table and after, flip over a fourth card so that it is face up. Whoever’s card is the highest is the winner, they collect all the cards, 10 in total, and the next round begins. If the fourth cards are also the same, repeat the previous instructions until there is a winner.

war rules example

If a player does not have enough cards for the war they must place their last card face-up.



If you wish to play with 3 or 4 players, follow the same directions listed above. However, when dealing each player should have 17 or 13 cards, respectively.

A war in a three or four player game: If there is a 3 or 4 person tie for highest card, each player places a single card face-down followed by a single card face-up. The player who has the highest card wins. If it results in another tie, follow the rules previously stated and another war shall commence.

Steal War

Some variations include Jokers in the deck, they are considered the highest card that beats all others, including the variation Steal War, developed by Gary Philippy and Hayes Ruberti.


In Steal War, the game is somewhat of a hybrid between the original game and Stealing Bundles. It is based on normal War, where wars consist of three cards face-down and one face-up, however with the addition of the high-value Jokers to the deck. Another difference is that after a war has been one, instead of collecting cards and placing them at the bottom of one’s deck, they are placed in a separate pile face-up. Cards that are newly won are placed on top, and the winner can decide which to place directly on top.

As opposed to the traditional game, players look at their cards from the face-down pile before playing them. If the value of your card matches the top card of your opponent’s face-up pile, you have the opportunity to steal that pile. Place your card on top of the pile you wish to steal, steal it, and place the new deck on top of your face-up pile without changing the order of any of the cards. The game continues.

Once a card is played you lose the opportunity to steal, however, you may choose to play and not steal. You may choose to play if you have a greater opportunity of winning a war rather than stealing a small pile.

In multi-player, if your card matches more than one of your opponent’s deck, you may steal both decks.

During War, the three cards played face down can not be looked at or used to steal a pile. However, the fourth card can be used to steal.

If the face-down pile runs dry, the face-up pile shall be shuffled and used to continue the game. If a player runs out of cards during War they automatically lose the game.


In Război, the Romanian version of War, the number of cards used in the war is determined by the number on the card which initiated it.

For example, if 2 (or more) players flip an 8, place 7 cards face-down in the war, and the eighth face-up.

In this variation all face cards have a value of 10, so during a war 9 cards should be placed face-down and the tenth face-up.

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What is the ranking for War?

The ranking for War the card game is Ace (high), King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2 (low).

What happens if you both flip the same rank of card?

If the same rank of card is flipped, then a war begins. To complete a war each player will deal three more cards to the center play area face down, and after those are dealt will deal a final 4th card face up. These two cards are compared and a winner is declared, the winner will collect all 10 cards and place them at the bottom of their deck. If the 4th card that is flipped is also the same rank for both players, then 3 additional cards are dealt face down and an 8th card is flipped to determine a winner. This continues until a clear winner is found.

How do you win War?

The player that collects all 52 cards into their deck wins the game.

How many cards does each player start the game with?

Each player starts with half of a 52-card deck, so 26 cards each.

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