War (card game)
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|Card rank (highest to lowest)||A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2|
|Playing time||10–40 min.|
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 one or three cards of their pile face down, depending on the variant, and then another card face-up. The owner of the higher face-up card wins the war and adds all six (or ten) cards on the table to the bottom of their deck. If the face-up cards are again equal then the battle repeats with another set of face-down/up cards. This repeats 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. However, the rules often do not specify in which order the cards should be returned to the deck. If they are returned in a non-random order, 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 for a player to card count, however the decisions can still affect gameplay if taken in standard decks.
After one million games were run with a computer program, the following results were achieved using a variation where a war is played with each player putting three cards face down and a fourth face up:
|Average battles per game:||253.314|
|Average wars per game:||15.0961|
|Average double wars per game:||0.756801|
|Average triple wars per game:||0.042637|
|Average quadruple wars per game:||0.002265|
|Average quintuple wars per game:||0.000113|
|Average sextuple wars per game:||0.000001|
|Most battles in a game:||2958|
|Most wars in a game:||155|
|Most double wars in a game:||12|
|Most triple wars in a game:||5|
|Most quadruple wars in a game:||2|
|Most quintuple wars in a game:||2|
|Most sextuple wars in a game:||1|
|Fewest battles in a game:||10|
Presumably, the game with ten battles was the game with the sextuple war, which would have left the loser with one card. The loser of that war would then win a battle, then lose two in a row to eliminate all its cards.
After 625,675,000 games were run with a computer program, the following results were achieved using a variation where a war is played with each player putting three cards face down and a fourth face up.(Same as above)
|cards||Win percentage||Average length of game||Simulated games|
|1 card vs 51 cards||.77427||11.75163||500,030,000|
|2 cards vs 50 cards||1.701||23.089||18,230,000|
|3 cards vs 49 cards||2.8914||35.432||25,624,000|
|4 cards vs 48 cards||4.4654||50.091||2,150,000|
|5 cards vs 47 cards||6.6534||69.149||9,153,000|
|6 cards vs 46 cards||8.6976||86.097||2,698,000|
|7 cards vs 45 cards||10.6818||101.56||1,008,000|
|8 cards vs 44 cards||12.6777||116.439||2,022,000|
|9 cards vs 43 cards||14.7575||130.802||2,004,000|
|10 cards vs 42 cards||16.7984||144.098||1,000,000|
|11 cards vs 41 cards||18.8846||157.151||6,924,000|
|12 cards vs 40 cards||20.9518||168.16||2,198,000|
|13 cards vs 39 cards||22.9975||180.165||1,222,000|
|14 cards vs 38 cards||25.1775||190.961||1,804,000|
|15 cards vs 37 cards||27.2335||200.224||1,807,000|
|16 cards vs 36 cards||29.2295||208.464||1,732,000|
|17 cards vs 35 cards||31.3345||216.445||1,853,000|
|18 cards vs 34 cards||33.4198||223.645||2,237,000|
|19 cards vs 33 cards||35.4847||229.671||2,306,000|
|20 cards vs 32 cards||37.5163||235.222||1,493,000|
|21 cards vs 31 cards||39.613||239.88||1,178,000|
|22 cards vs 30 cards||41.7168||243.316||1,235,000|
|23 cards vs 29 cards||43.7876||246.506||1,006,000|
|24 cards vs 28 cards||45.8475||248.286||1,015,000|
|25 cards vs 27 cards||47.3655||249.633||1,442,000|
|26 cards vs 26 cards||50||250.04||32,304,000|
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.
Finiteness in the card game of War. http://arxiv.org/abs/1007.1371
- "Here comes the science". Rajgiri.net. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
- Costikyan, Greg (1994). "I Have No Words & I Must Design". Retrieved 2008-08-17
- Lakshtanov, Evgeny (2011). "On Finiteness in the Card Game of War". Retrieved 2008-03-26
- McLeod, John, ed., War, Card Games Website
- McLeod, John, ed., War Variations, Card Games Website
- This site lists several varieties of variations of the card game War.
- Predictability in the Game of War
-  Simulations of War using MATLAB
-  Another good explanation of a War simulation using C++