Combat-oriented card games, like Magic: the Gathering, can be played with regular playing cards with two to four players. The simplest one I thought of is “Battle.” The main idea of Battle is to play soldiers that can attack or block, and the first player to be attacked five or more times by unblocked soldiers loses the game. Every card in the entire deck can be played as a soldier, and their power level is based on how powerful the card ranks in card games generally, except the Ace has the lowest rank (other than the Joker). The Joker is the weakest, followed by the Ace, followed by the Two, followed by the Three, etc. The King is the strongest.
The comprehensive rules can be downloaded here as a PDF file. 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)
Here are two rules cards that can be used as a quick reference:
Consider the following examples of players starting the game and taking turns:
Jennifer shuffles the deck, and hands it to Samantha to cut it. Samantha and Jennifer both roll a six-sided die to see who goes first.
Samantha rolls highest, so she gets to take the first turn. They both draw 7 cards.
Samantha draws an Ace, Three, Five, Six, Nine, Ten, and Jack. They are all clubs.
Jennifer draws a Two, Three, Four, Eight, Jack, Queen, and King. They are all diamonds, except the King is of hearts.
Samantha takes her first turn. She has no soldiers that can attack, so she plays cards. She plays the Five, Six, Nine, and Ten, so they are put in front of her on the table. She can play one special ability or court card (but not both). She decides to keep the Ace and Three in her hand because they have special abilities, and she plays the Jack.
Jennifer takes her second turn and draws a King of clubs. She plays her Four and Eight, so those are put on the table in front of her on the table. She can play a special ability or court card, and decides to play the Two in order to force Samantha to destroy two of her own soldiers (who currently has a Five, Six, Nine, Ten, and Jack in play). Samantha destroys her Five and Six, so those are put into the discard pile.
Samantha starts her second turn, and she draws a Four of clubs. She has a Nine and Ten still in play, so she can attack. Right now Samantha only has a Four and Eight in play. Both cards are better than Jennifer’s, so they both attack Jennifer. Jennifer decides to block the Ten with her Four and Eight. Samantha’s Ten gets to strike first and destroys Jennifer’s Eight. Now Jennifer’s Four gets to strike and destroys Samantha’s Ten. Jennifer was hit by an unblocked soldier and makes a mark on a piece of paper to record that information. After combat, Samantha plays her Four and uses the special ability of her Three to destroy Jennifer’s Four. Both the Three and Four are put into the discard pile.
Jennifer starts her third turn and draws the Queen of clubs. She has a Two, Three, and Queen of diamonds, a King of clubs, and a King of hearts. She can’t play any court card or special ability until she plays a soldier of the same suit. She decides to play the Three of diamonds as a soldier in order to play the Ace of diamonds as a special ability. She puts the Ace into the discard pile and draws 2 cards. She draws a Four of Hearts and Five of clubs. She plays them both.
- Magic 1393: Battle Using Playing Cards
- Other Combat-Oriented Card Games
- Duel: A Playing Card Game Based on Magic
- Empires: A Combat-Oriented Playing Card Game
- Public Domain Playing Card Images by Byron Knoll