Sometimes I want a .war file but just with a few static files. While I have been known to use the hack of "zip the folder, rename it .war", that really requires a few extra files be inserted by hand into the folder (like META-INF etc) to do properly. Since I have ant on my system, I should use that.
If I have a folder of files, I just add this build.xml, and then typing ant makes me my "mything" war...
<project name="mything" default="build">
<war destfile="mything.war" needxmlfile="false">
That's about as simple as it can get and still be doing the right thing, I think.