This deck is shamelessly tongue-in-cheek, a parody of the simple children's card game War, taken to an extreme. With such suits as Peace, Love, Unity and Diversity, and the caricatures that form the face cards themselves, it's hard to tell just where the irony sets in. But it is at least clear that this deck undermines even as it celebrates the simple, naïve vision of a world without war.
Beyond the images, there is also a card with rules for playing the game of the same name. The point is to lose all your cards, but the simple rules belie a fair amount of, I think, intentional self-contradiction. In the firstplace, with all your cards being peaceful and joyous, the object of losing them all is insidiously antithetical to peace. And there are other touches. Rule #2, for instance: "When players put down cards of the same rank, instead of having a 'war' right away, they cooperate by trading decks, then have a war." Now that's a civil war, as George Carlin might say. War is certainly not averted, but first the players have to go through a sham of unity and diplomacy. Then they can kill each other after all. I can't help but believe that the creators of this deck knew about, and delighted in, all of their oxymorons and irony.
The stage is set well by the description of the game, from the back of the box:
Now, after reading how modern War now incorporates Peace and Love, how could anyone look this deck in the eye with a straight face?
The modern Version of an Age-Old Card Game
War has changed dramatically over the years, but the card game that bears its name hasn't changed since it was first played in the late 14th century - until now. For the first time, War incorporates Love, Peace, Diversity and Unity. Players compete to get rid of their cards first, while trying to avoid the heavily-armed joker [above, right] (the weakest card in the deck).
The game is great fun for adults and children, and it's perfect for home or travel.
All images © 1996, University Games, displayed here for commentary,
analysis and appreciation only.