Contributed by Brad Paras

Ants is a war game that involves offence, defense, and progression of your own ant colony. This game involves a good balance of strategy, memorization, and luck.


Be the first player to create a complete ant colony of the same color from Ace through to Ace (A,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,J,Q,K,A).

The play area:

In the centre of the play area there is a draw pile [D] and a discard pile [d]. In addition, each player has 3 storage slots [S] each of which can hold just one card, and a spot for placing their colony cards [C].

ants layout


  • Shuffle the deck and place it in the draw pile.
  • Players take turns drawing and discarding cards until an Ace is drawn.
  • When an Ace is drawn by a player, the color of that card determines his ant colony (Red or Black). The opposite player becomes the other color.
  • The player places the Ace immediately into his colony pile, signifying that his ant colony has begun. The next card that must be placed on the colony is a 2 of the same color.
  • Play continues with players taking turns. In a normal turn, a player draws the top card of the draw pile and either plays it on his ant colony (if it fits) or in one of his empty storage slots, or discards it face up on the discard pile. In certain circumstances there are other actions open to the player: attacking, defending and trading, as described in the following sections.
  • When the draw pile runs out, the discard pile is flipped over and made into the draw pile (no shuffling).

Possible Actions

Storing Cards

  • If a player draws a card that might be beneficial in the future, he may store it in one of his 3 storage slots. Each slot can only hold one card at a time.
  • A player can only store cards of his own color.
  • On a turn, the player may use one of his storage cards instead of picking up from the draw pile.
  • A player may use his turn to put a storage card into the discard pile.

Building the Colony

A player may use his turn to place a card on his colony. The card must be of the correct color, and must be the same rank or one rank higher than the card currently on top of his colony. The card may be the one he picked up from the draw pile, or instead of drawing from the draw pile, he may use his turn to move one card from a storage slot to his colony if it fits.

Attacking / Defending

  • At any turn, a player may attack his opponent by placing a card of his own color on his opponent's colony. The attacking card must be of the player's own color and of the same rank as the top card of the opponent's colony. For example, if Player 2 was the black team and his colony was at 4, Player 1 could play a red 4 on top of his opponent’s black 4, thereby preventing any progression.
  • The attacked player cannot continue building his colony until the attack is fought off. To fight off the attack, the attacked player must use a turn either to place another card of the same rank and of his own color on the colony (thereby outnumbering the attacker and trapping / killing the opponent card permanently), or use a King to fight off the attacker.
  • If the attack is fought off with another card of the same rank, the cards remain in the colony. The opponent is not allowed to attack again with the same rank- nor would it be sensible to do so, since he would then have no card of that rank to complete his own colony. For the same reason, an ace cannot be attacked.
  • If a player plays the King, the King and the attacker are placed in the discard pile with the King on top.
  • To prevent an opponent from attacking, the player may add reinforcements by placing an additional card of the same rank on top of his colony. For example if a player were at 10, he may play another 10 of the same color. His opponent would now be unable to attack since any attack effort would be 2 vs. 1.
  • A card used for an attack, or a card used to fight off an attack, may be a card that the player has just picked up from the draw pile, or may be one of the cards from the player's storage slots.


  • During regular play, the player cannot pickup from the discard pile.
  • If the player has a Queen in one of his storage slots, he may use his turn to Trade the Queen with the current card on the discard pile.
  • The trade takes up one complete turn. If the player wants to place the traded card in his colony, he must use another turn to move the card from the storage to the colony pile.

One-Eyed Jack

  • The one-eyed Jacks (spades and hearts) have a special ability to act as any other card. The player may use the one-eyed Jack of his own color as a wild card to substitute for the next card needed to play on his own colony, either keep the progression of his colony moving forward or to fight off an attack.
  • Once used, the one-eyed Jack can be swapped back into a storage slot in exchange for the card it represents. If the player draws the card that the one-eyed Jack is mimicking, he can place that card in his storage area. In his next turn, he can swap the card with the one-eyed Jack.

Special Ability Card Summary

  • One-eyed Jack - wild card
  • Queen - Trade with discard pile
  • King - Fight off attackers
  • Ace - Starts and ends colony (and therefore cannot be used to attack or defend)

Variation: Ant Colonies

The following variation was contributed by Caleb Jaaniste .

The aim is to be the first to complete a colony which must be built in the order Q, A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Q, K.

The idea is that every colony is founded by a queen ant. As the colony is built, the last number added represents the number of thousands of ants in the colony. So the Ace represents 1000 ants, and so on. Once there are enough ants (10 000), some winged female ants (second Queen Card) must be hatched so that there are prospective queens to start new colonies. Finally, winged male ants (King Card) are last to be hatched to complete the colony, as they are needed to fly out of the colony with the winged females to mate. That way, the females can form a new colony, become queens and lay tonnes and tonnes of eggs.

The layout of all the cards is the same as in the basic game, but the card to start each colony must be a Queen, not an Ace. Impatient players may simply each decide which colour they want, after which the dealer quickly draws and discards cards until a Queen for each player is drawn. Then the game officially begins.

Jacks are not used in their own right in the building of colonies - they are special effect cards only.

  • One-Eyed Jacks (spades and hearts) are used the same way as in the basic game.
  • Two-Eyed Jacks (clubs and diamonds) are used to trade, in place of Queens. If a player picks up a Two-Eyed Jack of his/her own colour, than it may be placed in storage. During another turn the same player may trade that Jack for the topmost card on the discard pile. This is basically the same as trading in the original game.
  • In addition, if the One-Eyed Jack of a player's colour is on top of the discard pile during his/her turn, that Jack can be traded for one of the cards in the player's storage.
Last updated: 10th January 2018