I think you'll agree that few games are as tedious as the card game war. Unfortunately, my eight-year-old daughter likes the damned thing. So I cooked up some new rules, which make the game considerably more interesting and quicker to resolve.
(What does this have to do with the themes of this blog? Um. If widely adopted, the new rules will substantially reduce humanity's card-game-related dyshedons!)
War with Deck Management
Simple Rules for Two Players:
Deal the 52-card deck face down, 26 cards to each player. As in standard war, each player turns their top card face up on the table. High card wins the trick (ace high, suit ignored). The winner of the trick collects the cards face up in a pile. In case of a tie, there's a "war", and each player lays three "soldier" cards face down then one "general" face up. The highest general wins all ten cards. If the generals tie, repeat. If there aren't enough face-down cards to play out the war, each player shuffles their face-up stack of won tricks and draws randomly from that stack to complete the war, then turns the stack back face up. If a player has insufficient cards to play out the war, that player loses the game.
When both players are out of face-down cards, one round is over. Each player counts their face-up cards openly, for all to see. The player with more cards then discards enough cards to equal the number of cards in the pile of the player with fewer cards. For example, if after Round 1, Player A has 30 cards and Player B has 22, then Player A discards 8 cards of his or her choice, so they both have 22.
Each player then turns their stack face down and shuffles, then plays Round 2 by the same rules as Round 1. After all cards are face up, the player with more cards again discards to match the number of cards in the stack of the player with fewer. This is repeated until one player runs out of cards and loses.
Advantages over Standard War:
Rules as above, except that players may arrange their face down cards in any order they wish. Once the cards are arranged face down, they can't be rearranged, and any wars that require drawing from the face-up pile are still based on random draw from a face-down shuffle.
Tactics: Since the top card will never be a soldier, you might want to make it your ace. But then if the other player does the same, you'll have a war. Anticipating that, you might make cards 2-4 low and card 5 high. But maybe you know your general will lose if the other player employs the same tactics, so you might surprise them by putting your 2 on top, so that the ace you think they'll play will be wasted gathering a low card. Etc.
Rules for More Than Two Players:
Divide the deck equally face down among the players. Any leftover cards go face up in the middle, to be collected by the winner of the first trick. High card wins the trick. If the high card is a tie, then the two (or more) players with the high card play a war. Any remaining player sits out the war, playing neither soldiers nor general. Winner takes all cards.
The round is over when at most one player has face down cards remaining. Any player out of face down cards before the end of the round sits out the remainder of the round, neither losing nor winning cards. At the end of the round each player counts their total cards. The player with the most cards discards to reduce to the number of cards held by the player with the second most. For example, if after Round 1 Player A has 22, Player B has 18, and Player C has 12, then Player A discards 4 so that Players A and B have 18 and Player C has 12.
When a player is out of cards, that player is out. As in the two-player version, this can happen either because the player wins no tricks in a round or because the player does not have enough cards to complete a war. The game is over when all but one player is out.