Solitaire Strategy Guide

Note: Screenshots in this guide are shown using the Simplfied Acid Card Set

Playing to Win

This strategy guide applies to Klondike Solitaire. The rules of Klondike can vary, so we assume below that you are playing AcidSolitaire. However, in general the techniques below will apply to almost any Klondike.

In AcidSolitaire, the goal is to "win" - that is, the goal is to get all cards to their home cells (as opposed to getting a score for a partially completed game), so that's what this strategy guide is geared towards... winning!

This guide assumes you know the basic rules of Klondike solitaire. If you have never played, or forgot how to play, our best resource is the tutorial built in to AcidSolitaire. The solitaire Tutorial is the first thing that AcidSolitaire shows after it is installed, and after watching the 7-step guide you will know all of the basic rules.

Now, on to the strategy guide!

Strategy #1 - Move Cards in Columns Before Going To Deck

Solitaire Strategy #1 - Keep an eye out for easy to miss moves

At the start of any solitaire game, there are typically a handful of moves that can be made right away before dealing any cards from the deck. Make these moves first.

As cards are moved around in the columns, hidden cards are exposed, often leading to more possible column to column moves. The more hidden cards that are exposed, the lower the chances you will get stuck.

It is not uncommon to overlook an easy column-to-column move, particularly when it involves moving a long sequence of cards to another column. Do you see the move pictured above? Hint - it starts with the Jack of Diamonds. If you seem to be stuck, take another look at your columns, there is probably a move there somewhere. If you can't find it, click the Sparkle Hint button - if the sparkle hint tells you to deal, you didn't miss anything. But if you were overlooking something, the sparkle hint will show you where the move is.

Strategy #2 - Delay Moves When Possible

When it comes to solitaire, it is easy to get excited when a possible move is spotted - slow down! Before you make that move, consider whether it is really important to make that move immediately.

When moving a card enables you to move more cards, that's a good thing - go for it. And, when moving a card exposes hidden cards, that is great. Do it. But if you see a move that doesn't lead to other great things, it is often best to hold off on that move until later.

The strategy "Delay Moves When Possible" is particularly useful in Deal One-style solitaire. When cards are dealt one at a time, you always have the option to loop back around to a card later in the game if you decide to skip it initially.

Solitaire Strategy #2 - Delay Moves When Possible

Here is an example of a good time to delay a move. We have just dealt a 2 of Diamonds from the deck, and we see a 3 of Spades in a column below. Your instincts tell you to move that two! But that move won't get you anywhere. The move doesn't enable other moves, and the move doesn't expose hidden cards. So, skip it.

There is a good reason to not move that 2 of Diamonds. Notice that the 2 of Spades is already in its home cell. We could move the 3 of Spades up there if needed, for example if we needed to get at that 4 of Hearts, or if we needed to open up a space for the 3 of Clubs. But if we move the 2 of Diamonds down now, we gain nothing while taking away the option to move that 3 of Spades to its home cell.

Keep your options open - don't move a card if it doesn't get you anywhere and if it doesn't expose hidden cards. This way you'll have more moves available in case you get stuck.

Strategy #3 - Expose hidden cards when possible

AcidSolitaire starts out with 21 cards hidden face down in the columns. The only way to get at these cards is to clear out the cards in front of them. When you get a chance to expose a hidden card, take it. If you are choosing between moving a card down from the deck, versus moving a card from a column that will expose hidden cards, expose those hidden cards!

Solitaire Strategy #3 - Expose Hidden Cards First

In the example shown here, you could move the 9 of Clubs down from the deck. But wait! You could also move the 9 of Spades from the 3rd column. Go for the 9 of Spades. It will expose a hidden card, and you might not get another chance to reveal that card.

Quite often you will be faced with the choice of making a similar move from two different columns. Since you don't know what the hidden cards are in the two columns, there is no need to agonize over the decision, just make a choice. Some people always move from the shortest column first. Others choose the longest column first. Maybe you always choose the leftmost column first. When dealing with hidden cards, there is no magic strategy. Just make a choice, and if you decide it was the wrong choice, you can always use the unlimited Undo to back up and try the other choice.

Strategy #4 - When only one column is empty, make a good King choice

When you empty out a column in AcidSolitaire, it is a good feeling, because at that point you know you're on the road to something good. An empty column is an opportunity to move a King. But moving the wrong King can lead you down the wrong path.

Given the choice between a red King and a black King, pick the one that can lead you forward. If a black Queen is blocking a column, then obviously a red King is what you need. But if a black Jack is in your way, you need a black King (followed by a red Queen) to get you free. This logic goes all the way down - if you need to move odd-numbered cards, then it will take the same color King to eventually get you there. If you need to move even-numbered cards, go for the opposite-color King.

Solitaire Strategy #4 - When only one column is empty, make a good King choice

Take a look at this example. We have an empty column, and we have just dealt a King. Looks like a great opportunity. But at this point in the game, what do we really need? There is already a black King in play. Do we need a second black King right now? Let's take a look.

Of the cards showing, only the 10 of Hearts can be moved to a column headed up by a black King. Since we already have a black King in play, we'll be able to take care of that 10 of Hearts without a problem. The other cards - a 7 of Diamonds, a 3 of Hearts, a 3 of Diamonds, and a 10 of Spades - could only be moved to a column that starts with a red King, that is, a column with odd-numbered red cards and even-numbered black cards.

So in this case, we would prefer to put a red King in our empty column. And, since we happen to be playing Deal One style in this example, we can flip through the deck to see if a red King is available. If not, we can go ahead and play the King of Clubs, or wait to see if we can uncover a red King in another column.

Strategy #5 - Laddering

Solitaire Strategy #5 - Laddering

In this example, we seem to be stuck. The 8 of Diamonds in Column 5 is blocking four hidden cards. In the deck, we have a nine of Clubs, and we also happen to have a 10 of Hearts. That would normally be useful, but we have nowhere to put the 10 of Hearts, so nowhere to put the 9 of Clubs, and so the 8 of Diamonds is stuck.

Laddering is a technique where you move cards from columns directly to home cells one at a time. It is sometimes possible to "ladder up" by alternately moving red and black cards directly to their home cells. Normally we would suggest not moving a card directly to its home cell since the auto-move system does that for you in a strategic way. But when you're stuck near the end of the game, laddering can get you surprisingly far.

Laddering is a useful technique in the example pictured above. There are some opportunities here to move cards directly from columns to home cells. By moving alternate red and black cards we can "ladder" up to the 8 of Diamonds and finally expose the cards that are hidden.

We start the ladder by moving the 6 of Diamonds and the 7 of Diamonds up to the home cells. The 8 of Diamonds is next, but it's blocked by the 7 of Spades, and we can't move the 7 of Spades home yet. But, we can get to the 7 of Clubs. Move the 6 of Hearts out of the way, home the 7 of Clubs, then move the 7 of Spades out of the way. The 8 of Diamonds is now free to be moved to its home cell.

This is an example of an easy ladder, but it is often possible to "ladder up" in this fashion to eliminate a whole bunch of cards. When it looks like a game is lost, but the "YOU LOSE" screen has not appeared yet, look for laddering opportunities.

Does it make a difference what move starts the ladder? Usually it does. If you start to ladder and get stuck, undo and try an alternate ladder. For example, if you start a ladder with a spade and it doesn't work out, go back and try again starting with a club if possible.

Laddering is an advanced, yet essential technique. It is the main reason why we recommend that you delay moves when possible. Moving a low-numbered card to a column can make a future ladder move impossible, so if moving a card doesn't get you anywhere, save the move for later.

Deal Three Style - What Makes Deal Three Style Unique

In Deal Three style AcidSolitaire, your moves are more constrained. When three cards are dealt, you can only move the first of the three cards. The other two cards are stuck until that first card is moved.

Once you move a card down from the deck, however, everything changes. The most obvious change is that moving one of the three dealt cards exposes the second card, making it available. But it will also shake up the sequence of cards the next time you run through the deck. If you think through the effects of this shake-up, you can predict what cards will be available depending on the cards you choose to move.

If you cycle all the way through the deck without moving any cards, then the next time you cycle through, you will see the same three cards dealt each time. If you move one of the three cards, however, then the next time you cycle through the deck, everything will be "off by one" from the point you moved that card. A card that was at the bottom of a set of three will suddenly be at the top of a set of three the next time around... and a card that was at the top will be in second place.

The important thing to note about this effect is that the changeup doesn't really take effect until the next time you cycle through the cards. So, if you're dealing cards in Deal Three style, and you move a card from the deck, pay special attention to the order of the remaining cards in the deck. It will be different next time around, so if you see an opportunity, take it - the card you want to move may be buried the next time through.

This situation of cards being buried, and the sequence of buried cards changing based on your moves, requires special attention when applying the rule of "Delay Moves When Possible." In Deal 3 style, it is still wise to delay moves when possible, but you need to pay careful attention to the fact that a move you're looking at may not be possible the next time through the deck.

And Finally...

You can undo moves all the way back to the beginning of a game if you want. You can redo moves to see where things might have gone wrong. And, if you restart a game, all of your previous moves are available - you can "redo" moves from your previous game after a restart.

If a game is too tricky, skip it! Start a new game. You can always come back to unfinished games at a later time. The stats in AcidSolitaire are "auto-clearing" - that is, if you come back and win a game that you weren't able to beat the first time, you can get your win percentage back up to 100%. AcidSolitaire remembers every game you play, and gives you the opportunity to replay any game you get stuck on.

Have Fun!

If you'd like to try out the AcidSolitaire Collection for Windows, you can download AcidSolitaire (solitaire for Windows), AcidFreecell (freecell for Windows), and AcidSpider (spider for Windows). All of the games in the AcidSolitaire Collection are free to try. If you have feedback for us on this topic or on our games, please email us at support@red-mercury.com.

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