The Carol McFadden War

Carol McFadden strategy for the game of War.

English: 8 of diamonds.

English: 8 of diamonds. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

War is a card game typically involving two players. It uses a standard French playing card deck. Due to its simplicity, it is played most often by children.

The deck is divided evenly among the two players, giving each a down stack. In unison, each player reveals the top card of their deck – this is a “battle” – and the player with the higher card takes both the cards played and moves them to the bottom of their stack.

If the two cards played are of equal value, then there is a “war”. Both players play the next card of their pile face down and then another card face-up. The owner of the highest face-up card wins the war and adds all six cards on the table to the bottom of their deck. If the face-up cards are equal, then each player adds two new cards as before until one player’s face-up card is higher than their opponent’s.

Most descriptions of War are unclear about what happens if a player runs out of cards during a war. In some variants, that player immediately loses. In others, the player may play the last card in their deck as their face-up card for the remainder of the war.

Many think that since there are no choices in the game, and all outcomes are random, it is not considered a game by some definitions,[2] however the rules don’t often specify in which order the cards should be returned to the deck. The decision of putting one card before another after a win can change the overall outcome of the game. The effects of such decisions are more visible with smaller size decks as it is easier to card-count, however the decisions can still affect gameplay in standard decks.

If one has one card say a jack, and you both pull a jack out, if you can’t war, the game ends in a draw.

Being a widely-known game, war has picked up many optional variations, some of which are listed below.

Add On – Players may flip additional cards each war, but bust if going over 15 (face cards are valued as 10).

Three-player War – With three or more players, a war occurs only when the two highest cards tie.

Automatic War – A certain card, typically a 2 or a Joker causes an automatic war.

Threes Beat Faces – In this variation, a 3 wins against any face card, but still loses against other cards higher than it.

Fours Beat Aces – Usually played alongside the above variation, here a 4 beats an ace, but loses against other cards higher than it.

Slap War – A certain card, usually 5 if playing with the above rules, has no numerical significance, and when a 5 is played, the first player to slap it collects the cards. If two players play a 5 or a war is caused in some other way, the person to slap the 5 wins regardless.

Underdog – When a player has lost a war, he may check his three face down cards for a predetermined underdog card, usually 6 if playing with the above rules, and if one of the cards is a 6, he wins the war.

Casino War – A simple variation played for money in casinos.

Peace – A simple variation played the opposite of War. Lowest Card wins. Instead of 3 cards being laid down in a peace (a war) 5 are, 1 for each letter in peace.

Quatro – A drinking game variant in which four players are dealt three face down cards. The players turn over one of their cards in unison. The player with the lowest card is eliminated and must drink. The players continue with their remaining cards until all but one are eliminated. In the case of a tie, the players participating in the war are immediately dealt three additional face down cards and must turn over one card in unison. The player with the lower card must then finish his or her entire drink. In the case of multiple simultaneous wars, the battle between the highest cards takes precedent and the other battle is void.

Strategy War – Players choose which card to play from their hand. Hand size varies from 5 to the entire unplayed deck depending on the exact variant chosen.

Instant War – Any card that loses a battle is dead, or eliminated from the game. The card that wins returns to the original owner. When cards tie, only one card is played by each player in the war. A draw is possible, and game play is much quicker.

Five Straight Battles – If a player wins five straight battles, his opponent gives him his next faced down card.

Simple Math (only optional when 3 players are playing) – If the card of the winner of the battle is greater than both losing cards together (i.e., the winner had a King, and the losers have a 5 and a 4), each loser hands the winner their next faced down card.

Two Card War – Players place two cards each battle instead of one. If one of them is a king a queen or a jack then the player with the highest card wins. Otherwise the player with the higher value of cards (added value of both cards) wins. This game is meant to teach adding to children.

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