I don’t ever recall meeting anybody that doesn’t know how to play the card game War. I also don’t recall ever playing War for fun. It’s only played in cases of extreme boredom, mostly on road trips. That makes the game of War perplexing. Nobody likes playing it, but everyone knows how to play.

I like to think that is why this game is called War. Think about it, nobody likes real wars (this side of defense contractors), but everyone knows about wars and the general rules of combat.

The card game War is boring for the following reasons:

  • You cannot see your cards
  • You cannot reorder your cards (although you can always count on your sister restacking the deck, always.)
  • The game drags on and on. And on.

A New Way to Play War

Back when I was a high schooler in Dubuque, Iowa, I was constantly sitting on a charter bus. The bus took me to much more exotic locations such as Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and Iowa City to participate in some sporting event or another. To pass the time, many of us would play Euchre. Dubuque is Euchre Crazy.

But Euchre requires four. There weren’t always four awake enough to want to play. As you could imagine, an occasional game of War would erupt. One of the many problems with this is that when with Dubuquers, only half decks of cards are readily available. The game of Euchre only uses Aces through nines.

With such a small deck it became a natural idea to me that both players should look at their cards and play their hands accordingly. A new, more intelligent version of War was born.

My playing partner that day was Chris (he soon headed off to West Point) and we kept adding wrinkles to the game. What if 9’s beat Aces? Nice. What if 10’s beat Kings? Sweet Chaos.

A new game was in town. We only needed a name. Sporadic Missile Fire seemed to stick.

The Complete Rules for Sporadic Missile Fire

Number of Players: 2 Deck: Use a Euchre Deck. That means the following cards remain in the deck. Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks, 10s, 9s. Object: To capture all of the cards, leaving your opponent with nothing. How to Play:

  • One player takes all of the Red Cards to start, the other takes all of the Black. This way each player knows what the other has from the start, and each starts on equal footing.
  • Both players will select a card from their hand and lay it facedown on the playing surface of choice. I recommend a table.
  • As soon as both players have selected their card, both players will flip their card over revealing what the other player played.
  • The player with the winning card, captures the card from the other player and places both cards facedown on the playing surface. A player CANNOT put those cards immediately into their hand.
  • If there is a tie in the cards played, each player will play two cards facedown on the table. They will then play a third card to determine who wins all of the cards. For example, if Kyle plays a King and Courtney plays a King, each player must put two card on the table. Kyle chooses both of his Jacks. Courtney her two Queens. Then each will select one card to face off for the entire bounty. Kyle plays a King, Courtney an Ace. Courtney wins this hand, and takes all eight cards and places them facedown on the playing surface.
  • Players must play from their hands and CANNOT play any of the cards they captured until all cards in their hand have been played. As soon as all of the cards in their hand have been played, they may pick up the reserve pile and play from the reserve card.
  • If a tie occurs when a player only has two cards left and none left in reserve. They lose as they don’t have enough cards to finish. If there are cards left in reserve the player must play their remaining cards before playing cards from their reserve.
  • This process is repeated until one player captures all of the cards from the opposing player.

Hierarchy of Cards:

  • Aces are the highest card and only lose to 9s, and it really sucks when that happens to you.
  • Kings only lose to Aces and 10s, but beats everything else.
  • Queens beat Jacks, 10s, and 9s.
  • Jacks beat 10s, and 9s
  • 10s beat 9s and Kings
  • 9s only beat Aces, but isn’t this enough?

There you have it. However, if you are confused, please leave a comment and I will try to sort it out for you. But in trying Sporadic Missile Fire you will be saved from War. Peace be with you.