The Great War – A New Card Game

MacGowan & Lombardy’s The Great War™

TGW BackThe Great War™ is a collaborative effort of Hall of Fame graphic artist Rodger B. MacGowan  and award-winning game designer Dana Lombardy.

Dana publishes World War One Illustrated magazine for the educational non-profit World War One Historical Association. TGW™ is to publicize the centennial of WW1 (2014-2018) and help raise awareness and support for WW1HA.

Rodger graciously agreed to work with Dana on this project by allowing many of his outstanding WW1 illustrations on the cards. It is a great way for Rodger’s fans to collect his WW1 art.

Dana wanted the greatest possible number of people to back this project.  Therefore the decks are dual-purpose:

  1. Regular 54-card decks usable for popular games such as poker, bridge, solitaire, etc.
  2. A new card game! The Great War Game™ is easy to learn and quick playing, It has enough strategy options to challenge an experienced gamer but will remain fun for someone who does not play wargames.

Historic Graphics

The artwork for the playing cards’ letters (A, K, Q, J), symbols (diamonds, hearts, etc.), and numbers are all from actual playing cards from the 1914-1918 era.

Some historically important aspects of the playing cards include: major artillery are on Kings since artillery was the “king” of battle. Major infantry units are on Queens because infantry was the “queen” of battle. Major commanders are Jacks, and Aces—well, obviously they represent aeroplane fighter pilots. Jokers are wild cards.

Game Play

TGW Artillary and AeroplaneDana used a number-based game design. It adds the value of a card to any extra strength points to supplement other cards or cancel opposing cards. For example: the 8 of spades is a German Reconnaissance Aeroplane that may be played with a German artillery card. The 8 of spades therefore has a “battle point” value of 9 and this BP number is shown on the card.

The player with the highest BP number wins that round. At the end of the game, players add the BP numbers of their cards and captured enemy cards, then compare BP totals to determine the victor of the game.

Game play is not just about playing cards that are worth more points than you opponent. Certain cards can enable you to play more than one card at a time. If you have an artillery card (King) and two Reconnaissance Aeroplane cards in your hand, you could play all three cards at once and possibly turn a losing situation into a winning round.

Some cards can cancel enemy cards which then prevents the play of any other cards played with the canceled card that round. A player can play a Spy (Joker) immediately when an opponent plays a Jack (commander). This cancels the Jack (turns it over so you don’t count its BP) and prevents the opponent from playing any additional cards at the same time with that Jack.

There are many variations of card additions and cancellations. These keep game play fluid and unpredictable — and hopefully a lot of fun. You may discover some interesting facts about the First World War by playing The Great War™.


Sign up to receive an email when the game is launched on Kickstarter. There will be more details about the game, downloads of the playtest rules with sample game play, a video and more on the Kickstarter.

The Future of The Great War™

This is not a collectible card game, but there are plans for new decks and individual cards as future releases. Russian, Turkish, and American decks and cards are already in development. There are rules for deck building using each card’s BP value, and historical scenarios as well as solitaire rules.

Click here to download a PDF of the rules, including an illustrated sample of game play showing a complete round.

Check out the photos and comments posted on this page from the playtesters. Updates will continue until the launch of the Kickstarter.

After the publication of The Great War™, we’ll be posing answers to questions, additional scenarios, etc.

Sign up for email updates in the right hand column above.

Dana and Rodger appreciate your support!

TGW Playtest

Dana (left) and Eric Hosler playtesting The Great War™ – Eric admitted “My first impression of the game was that there was probably going to be too much chance—luck of the draw in the game play—rather than strategy. But there is a lot more to it: when to play your nationality cards or the neutral cards, and bluffing like poker. I like the nuance.”

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