Besides the friendly competition of the game, it taught and reinforced basic counting skills, and forced me to think and compare the numbers as quickly as I could so the game would continue. Sure, mom could have helped me out, but she wanted me to get more out of the game than just entertainment.
As I got older, my mom changed the rules of the game on me. Instead of winning by having the highest card, she turned it into a multiplication game. Playing was a little different, of course. To start, we used two separate decks with the face cards removed. Then during each round, we each laid down two cards each and had to multiply them together. Whichever player had the higher total was the winner of the round. If the products matched, then a “war” was on. Each player would put down four more cards, two facing down. The product of the two cards facing up would be the determining factor of who won all the cards, including the first four. That was a major win!
Now that my boys are getting older, I've started playing the original War game with them, but I look forward to the more intense multiplication version I used to play with my mom. It's a cool way to learn multiplication and spend quality time together.