Combat: A Battle-Oriented Playing Card Game

1850 playing card Атласная_колода_экстра_дама_бубниThe first combat-oriented game I have discussed on this website is called “Battle.” This post will discuss a newer game I invented called “Combat.” Like most combat-oriented games, players take turns drawing a card, attacking, and playing cards. In this case any card can be played as a soldier or farm (resource), but only the Ace, Two, Three, and Joker can be played for a special ability (with a temporary effect). If a card is used for a special ability, then the card is put into the discard pile.

The main game rules

The following is a short introduction to this game:

Starting the game

Each player starts with 20 life and 7 cards in hand.

Players take turns using the following turn order:

Sideways cards are turned right-side-up.

  1. Draw a card.
  2. Attack with soldiers.
  3. Play cards.


Cards are usually right-side-up (vertical), and sideways cards are horizontal. There are certain situations and costs that require players to turn a right-side-up card sideways, and cards that are sideways are not as useful as they would be otherwise.

A sideways card:

Turning a card sideways:

A right-side-up card:

Farms and costs

Farms are played face-down, and only one farm can be played each turn. Farms are used to pay costs. A number of right-side-up farms must be turned sideways equal to the cost of a card in order to play that card. Cards of a suit that cost 1 or more can’t be played unless the player already controls a soldier with that suit. For example, a King of hearts can’t be played unless the player already controls a soldier of hearts.

Soldiers, strength, and speed

Soldiers have a cost, strength, and speed. The strength determines how much damage the soldier deals, and the speed rating determines when the soldier deals damage in combat. Soldiers with the highest speed deal damage first, followed by soldiers with the next highest speed, and so on.

The strength and speed of each soldier is mainly determined by how high it ranks in card games generally, except the Joker is the weakest soldier, followed by the Ace, followed by the Two, etc. The King has the highest rank. Each soldier has a cost, speed, and strength:

  1. All spot cards (the Ace and all cards with numbers on them) have no cost, and any number of them can be played in a single turn. They have 1 strength and speed equal to the number printed on them. The Ace only has 1 speed.
  2. The Joker has 0 cost, 1 strength and 0 speed.
  3. The Jack has 1 cost, 2 strength, and 10 speed.
  4. The Queen has 2 cost, 3 strength, and 10 speed.
  5. The King has 3 cost, 4 strength, and 10 speed.

Special abilities

The special abilities are the following:

  1. Ace: Draw 2 cards
  2. Two: An opponent destroys two of his or her soldiers of that player’s choice. (Destroyed soldiers are put into the discard pile.)
  3. Three: Destroy a soldier.
  4. Joker: You gain control of a soldier controlled by an opponent of that player’s choice.


Any soldiers can be used to attack any opponent. Those soldiers are turned sideways. The opponent then decides which right-side-up soldiers he or she controls will block, and which soldiers will be blocked.

Next, soldiers that are blocked enter combat against the soldiers that are blocking them. A soldier can then deal damage to any soldier that it is in combat against, but soldiers that have the highest speed deal damage first, followed by the soldiers with the next highest speed, and so on. Unblocked soldiers deal damage to the defending players. Players that are dealt damage lose that much life, and any player with 0 life or less loses the game.

Comprehensive rules

The comprehensive rules can be downloaded in PDF format here. It includes rules for making your own deck, various events, ways to play as teams, and how this can be used for tournaments. (Updated 4/8/13)

Rules cards

The following three rule cards can be used for a quick reference:

197198 199

An example of a couple turns

Katherine and Marsha play a game of Combat. Katherine shuffles the deck of playing cards, and they roll a six-sided die to see who plays first. Katherine rolls higher, so she gets to play first. (In a two player game, the first draw step is skipped.) Then both players draw 7 cards:

Katherine draws an Ace, Two, Three, Four, Jack, Queen, and King. They are all of diamonds.

Marsha draws a Two, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, and King. They are all of clubs, except the King is of hearts. Marsha hopes to draw a free soldier of hearts, so that she can eventually play the King. Cards with costs can’t be played unless the controller already has a soldier of the same suit.

Katherine takes her first turn. She plays the Three face down as a farm, and it’s put in front of her on the table. She then plays the Four as a soldier, and turns the farm sideways to play the Jack as a soldier. (She couldn’t play the Jack without another soldier of that suit.) Those cards are put in front of her face up on the table. She then passes her turn.

Marsha takes her first turn and draws a Three of clubs. She plays the Four face down as a farm because it’s the weakest card in her hand. She then plays the Five, Six, Seven, and Eight as soldiers. Those cards are put on the table face-up in front of her.

Katherine takes her second turn. She draws a Five of diamonds. She attacks with her Jack, which is turned sideways. Marsha blocks with all four of her soldiers. The Jack deals damage first because it has 10 speed (which is more than five, six, seven, or eight). It deals 1 damage to the Seven and 1 damage to the Eight. Both those soldiers are destroyed (they are put into the discard pile). Then the Five and Six deal a total of 2 damage to the Jack, which is enough to destroy it (so it’s put into the discard pile).

Then Katherine plays her Five face-down as a farm. She now has two farms and turns them both sideways to play her Queen. She then passes her turn.

Marsha takes her second turn and draws a Five of hearts. She plays the King face down as a farm, and turns both her farms sideways to play the Ace’s special ability. The Ace is put into the discard pile, and she draws 2 cards (a Four of Hearts and a King of clubs). She decides to keep the Four of hearts in her hand, so that she can play her King next turn.


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