~ 6 Minutes

How to Play the Card Game Freecell

Freecell is an addictive Solitaire game invented by Paul Alfille. While it is fun, it is dependent on skill. Luckily most Freecell games are winnable with great gameplay. Freecell Solitaire is the most popular of all the solitaire games out there. It is much similar to Baker’s game, only that in Freecell, cards are built down using alternate colors, and in Baker’s game, they’re built in suit. Although this can seem like a small difference at the first glance, it affects how often a player wins the game. Freecell has more solvable deals compared to Baker’s Game.

Freecell and Klondike became popular when they were introduced in Windows 95. The Freecell game in this software was designed by Jim Horne, who developed its numbering system. If you’re thinking about playing this game, you should understand the basics to get a grip of it, especially if it’s your first time. Here’s everything you need to know about this game.

Game Setup

Freecell uses a single pack of 52 cards. Once a player thoroughly shuffles the deck, they start the tableau with a row of 8 face-up cards. Then, a player deals with another five rows still made up of 8 cards, each on the top of the first. The layout should then be eight rows, each with six cards. As long as a player can see which cards are beneath the top card, they’ll continue overlapping. And this is where the difference between Freecell and Klondike solitaire comes in. Additionally, players are to choose a temporary space for holding four cards. Then, you should figure out how to create 4 stacks of ascending cards from Aces to King to make the foundation piles.

When playing, use the four suits of Aces and try moving them into a foundation row as fast as you can. Create descending cards in lines in each column that alternate between red and black. For instance, if you have a black ten of spades, place onto it a red nine of hearts. By placing cards into the free cells, you can access and move those in the columns to access the Aces. When you’re creating foundation piles, try creating them evenly and have cards in them as soon as possible. The number of cards reduces each time you put a card in the free cells. Players win Freecell once they place cards ascendingly from Ace to King in each foundation suit.

Freecell Turns

There is not a limited number of moves you can make. However, as always, making fewer turns is better than moving frequently. Now, there are several deals on Freecell: the Random deal where cards are reshuffled randomly and consequently, the Numbered deal where players select a number to compete with others, and the Winning deal that has at least one winning solution.

Players can make three legal moves on Freecell. You can move an Ace of any suit to a homecell or any free card to a free cell or one free card to another free card so long as it’s the opposite color. The first thing to do is to move any free Aces and clear out columns using fewer free cells. While you can move one card, if you have a sequence with alternating colors, you can move them at once with enough free cells. Also, note that players can only move 1 card at a time to a free cell or from different stacks. Therefore, it’s not possible to move three cards or more at a time. But, players can move a group of cards if they’re in a proper sequence and they have enough empty tableau piles.

Freecell Rules

Freecell’s objective is for players to place every card face up on the foundations, with each building an ascending sequence. You can only place Aces into an empty foundation. As well as only being able to add the higher card on the suit to that foundation. Movable play cards are those on top of a tableau column or a single one that was placed in a free cell. Additionally, you can move cards to the foundation from a free cell or the tableau. Players can move any card to an empty tableau column or free cell. You can also add one card to a column that isn’t empty in the tableau so long as it has a lower value than the one you’re placing it on and is of an alternate color. E.g. you can put a 6 of diamonds or hearts on top of a 7 of spades for black suit.

We should also mention that for players selecting Casino Scoring in the settings menu, the scores are awarded based on the common wagering scheme. Additionally, players can move a sequential card group in online games if they have enough empty cells for holding each group. This is a quicker game play method; otherwise, you could move each card at a time to achieve the same goal.

How to Win

Luckily, almost every Freecell game is winnable. Note that Freecell games use a basic numbering system to eliminate un-winnable games. #11982 is Freecell’s first game that can’t be won. After, the only games that are not solvable out of the first million available are #781948, #512118, #495505, #186216, and #146692. This simply means that only about 1/8 of the games are not winnable. Usually, low number games are those that give players a hard time, which are #178, #617, and #1941. Nevertheless, with an effective strategy, you can tackle even the most challenging plays. Here are some strategies to help you win regularly.

  • Don’t make any move before analyzing your tableau. Remember that even obvious moves can be misleading.
  • Prioritize freeing up Aces and Deuces first, especially those behind the higher cards by moving them to home cards.
  • Try keeping your cells empty as you can’t maneuver when they’re filled.
  • Always target to have an empty column for storing a complete sequence. And if you can, you should fill it with a sequence in descending order.
  • Avoid moving cards to homecells without carefully thinking about it.

Note that while you can solve gameplay on Freecell quickly, some need more time to solve. But you can replay similar shuffles in several different ways as that can help you complete challenging deals fast. The key is to play this game often to improve your skills.

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