Air War

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Chip and Hedda break out a stack of cards for a game of 5-card Air War

Air War is a card game involving two (or more?) players, each with their own deck of cards. The game is/was played by members of the air-force of the Kingdom of Faq, as it does not require players to share or exchange cards.

How to Play


You will need

  • One deck of cards per player. This can be a standard 52-card deck or any deck in which the cards can be easily ranked, such as a tarot deck,
  • (at least) Two players.


  • Deck - This begins the game as a complete set of cards for each player. The deck is shuffled before play but is not shuffled again during play. Throughout the game the deck remains face-down. The deck will be depleted as players lose to their opponent(s). The game is over when a player is unable to draw a complete stack.
  • Stack - The stack is a hand of five cards, drawn from the top of the deck at the beginning of each engagement.
  • Engagement - This is a round of the game, which begins with each player drawing a five-card stack. The engagement is completed once the stack has been played. There will be several engagements to a complete game.

Order of play

Each player draws a stack of five cards from the top of their deck, face up, and shows them to the other players.

The stack is then hidden from the other players view and re-arranged into any order the player desires before being placed face-down.

Each player then reveals the top card from their stack and compares it to their opponent's card. The higher card wins and the suit is not important. (It should be declared before play begins whether aces are high or low.) The winning card is placed face down at the bottom of the winner's deck and the losing card is discarded.

In the case of a tie the next card is drawn from the stack and compared. This continues as necessary. If the stack has been totally depleted then cards are drawn from the top of the deck until the tie is broken. If a player has no more cards to draw then they lose the game. All of the winning cards are placed in order at the bottom of the winning players deck and all the losing cards are discarded.

An engagement is over when all cards from the stack have been played and any ties have been broken. At this point a new engagement may begin.


Player 1 stack: [A Q 10 4 3]

Player 2 stack: [K Q J 9 3]

Player 1 draws Q, Player 2 draws Q; this is a tie so each player draws the next card from the stack. Player one draws 10, Player two draws K; Player 2 has won and places her Q and K at the bottom of her deck. Player 1 discards his Q and 10.

Player 1 draws A, Player 2 draws 9; Player 1 wins and places his A at the bottom of his deck. Player 2 discards her 9.

Player 1 draws 4, Player 2 draws J; Player 2 wins and places her J at the bottom of her deck. Player 1 discards his 4.

Player 1 draws 3, Player 2 draws 3; This is a tie and each player draws the next card from their deck. Player 1 draws 8, Player 2 draws 6; Player 1 wins and places his 3 and 8 at the bottom of his deck. Player 2 discards her 3 and 6. The engagement is now over and a fresh stack of five cards can be drawn.


It is a very good idea to keep track of the cards that have been returned to opponents deck and the order they are in, as well as what cards have been depleted. This information may be invaluable for predicting the outcomes of end-of-engagement tie breaks.

It is not recommended to simply play your cards in order of strength unless you are sure of overwhelming victory. To do so will make you entirely too predictable to your opponent.

Keep an eye on how many cards in your opponents stack each of your cards is capable of beating. A card that is capable of beating any card in the opponents stack can be used as a tie breaker or placed immediately after any of your high level cards at risk of a tie.

Use your weakest cards as sacrifices against strong cards in order to preserve strength. It is better to lose to a J with a 3 than a 10.


Air War is a card game. It is one of the few that can be played while mounted on separate gwiffons, as players do not share or exchange cards.

In 5-Stack Air War, each of the two players shuffles his own deck. For each engagement, players draw a stack of their top 5 cards and show them to the other player. Then each player arranges his stack into a secret battle order and places it face down. One at a time, the players turn over and reveal the top card in their stack. The higher card wins, and is placed at the bottom of the winning player’s deck. The losing card is discarded and removed from play. In the case of a tie, the next card in the stack is turned over to join the fight and break the tie (or the next, etc.) If the stack has been fully depleted (all cards played), then players draw tie-breaker cards from the top of their deck (automatically losing the game if they have no more deck cards to turn over). Once a tie is broken, all the cards played by the losing player are discarded, and all the winner’s cards go to the bottom of his deck. Players never shuffle their deck, but keep drawing a stack from the top of their deck. The engagements therefore get more fierce (and more prone to ties) as the game goes on and lower cards are eliminated.

The game is over when one player cannot field a stack of 5, making the other player the winner.

(Source Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) Episode 35)