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War Card Game Rules (& Variations): A 2023 Beginners Guide

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

Great! You’ve come to the right place on how to learn this classic 2-player card game!

The card game War is an extremely easy card game for two people to pick up quickly and start playing immediately when you’re looking for some to do

Though mainly a game of luck, this game of cards can have a lot of fun moments that will keep you and your 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 :).

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Ward Card Game Rules how to play1 1

See also: 7 Key Benefits of Hobbies

What You Need to Play War:

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

War Card Game Rules

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

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

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

Find the basic rules and instructions below!

hands holding an open deck of cards

How to Play War Card Game

  1. Shuffle cards

    Shuffle a standard deck of 52 playing cards to prepare for playing a War card game.

    You start playing a ward card game by dealing each player an equal number of cards until the deck is completely dealt out.

    You each now have your own “deck”, which is faced down.

  2. Deal the entire deck to each player

    Deal the entire deck evenly among the players. Each player should have a pile of equal number of cards face-down in front of them.

  3. Play your top card.

    The players simultaneously turn over the top card of their face-down pile and place it face-up in the center of the table.

  4. Who played the highest value card?

    Review which player revealed the higher value card.

    The player with the highest card value takes all of the cards that were turned over and adds them to the bottom of their face-down pile.

  5. Winner collects all of the cards.

    Repeat each round until the players run out of cards in their deck.

    Take your new pile of won cards, shuffle them together, and continue playing.

  6. The card game continues until a winner is determined.

    The game continues until one player has all of the cards, which is the ultimate goal of playing War card game. You will have the entire deck when you win!


  • 52-Card Deck of Standard Playing Cards

How to Play War (Card Game)

Have a tie?

playful fighting, woman hitting man with boxing glove

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


Round Tie: Basic Rules

This is when the real fun begins during this fun card game.

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

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

  1. Each player will draw 2 cards.
  2. The 1st card gets laid face down, while the 2nd card is played face up.
  3. Review who has a higher value (new) face-up card.
  4. The player with the higher face card wins ALL cards. (Including the face-down card from the other player)
  5. If the face-up cards played during war match again, you start another battle of war!
  6. Repeat until someone wins all of the cards for that round!
hands holding an open deck of cards

Did you know that games help learning? Find out how

War Card Game Variations

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

Check out this guide for more information on this war card game variation.

Three or Four Player War

kittens playing, kittens fighting, playful

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

3 or 4 player war is essentially the same as a 2 player card game of war.

  1. Deal equal amounts of cards to each player. Each person will then place 1 card face up.
  2. As is the case with the normal game of War, the player with the highest card wins.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 variation is played similar to the traditional game of War.

Deal an equal number 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, per round.

4 aces played on table, deck of cards

Variation Card Game – Basic Rules

  • 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. 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 version of the war card game is about as simple as you can imagine.

A player places a bet and is dealt one card face up.

The “house” (casino) 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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

FAQ, FAQ Section, Frequently Asked Questions

Is Ace the highest card in War?

Yes. Aces are the highest cards in the game.

Do card suits matter in War?

No. Suits do not matter, only the card number/value

How long does a typical game of War card game last?

It depends.

As it’s a game of pure luck, it can last a long while. But that’s why it kills lots of time when you’re bored!

Can a War card game be played with more than two players?


The rules are mainly the same as a 2-person card game of war.

What is a “war” in War card game?

A tiebreaker! When players lay down the same value card and need to battle for the collection of cards.

Is War card game suitable for children to play?

Yes! This card game is easy and fun for children to play.

Where To Play 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, friend!

Visit the following websites to play War online:

Other War Card Game Resources:

Final Thoughts on War

So are you ready to play a game of card game of War?!

This card game is a fun and easy way to waste some time on a slow and boring night with a friend.

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

"war card game!" "rules variatinos & how to play", man in hood holding pack of playing cards, vibrant colors