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Single-Player Card Games

by | Nov 7, 2018 | Interesting Facts |

What Are Single-Player Card Games

Playing single-player card games might seem super weird to most of you but still some folks just love to kill the time while peacefully playing solitaire with the afternoon espresso. One thing to be said here: single player card games do not exist just to entertain people missing an opponent to play against. Not in the least. They were originally invented with a lot of thought and logic behind, so they tease your brain in a unique way. Single player card games can be pretty engaging in fact, keeping all your brain cells on alert to make them compete with your own creative instincts and strategic thinking.

When speaking of single-player card games, sure the first name that always comes to mind is the old good Solitaire (called also patience outside the US). To make it clear, by definition “Any of a number of card games played by one person” is solitaire so this means practically that any single-player card game operating with the traditional deck of playing cards is considered to be solitaire. So nowadays, tons of solitaire variables exist and they even have different names. You can find many of them online or you can always practice them at home. You’ll be astonished and never bored if you google “solitaire single-player card games” or “single-player card games besides solitaire” and go through the results.

Solitaire Categories

According to the rules variations and the number of decks, there are plenty of solitaire categories and here is a wikipedia list arranging all types of solo player solitaire card games in alphabetical order not to miss anything on the way:

  • Adding and pairing solitaire card games‎
  • Bisley solitaire card games‎
  • Carpet-like solitaire card games‎
  • Castle solitaire card games‎
  • Demon solitaire card games‎
  • Double-deck solitaire card games‎
  • Fan solitaire card games‎
  • Forty Thieves solitaire card games‎
  • Freecell solitaire card games‎
  • Klondike-like solitaire card games‎
  • Non-builder solitaire card games‎
  • Pocket solitaire card games‎
  • Single-deck solitaire card games‎
  • Spider solitaire card games‎

If you go through the article and explore some other single player card games besides solitaire that we have listed, you will sure confess that there are very entertaining variations with smart rules and catchy goals that can make you play all by yourself for hours.

List of Popular Solitaire Games

Let’s now dive in the world of solitaire and get to know in details about the specific layouts and objectives of few popular single-player card games besides the traditional Solitaire. Here is what we have listed for you:


Wish Solitaire

Brief:

Wish Solitaire is a curious version of single player solitaire games that is played with 32 cards only. For this purpose, you need to remove all 2s – 6s cards to get a deck of 32 cards.

Layout:

After shuffling all 32 cards, you deal 4 cards face down in a pile and place them on the table. Then the whole deck is dealt into piles of 4 cards, lining the piles up so that there are 8 total piles in a row from left to right. Place each top card of each pile face up. Start taking any cards that form pairs of the same type – two Queens, two Aces, etc. to clear them away. Once a top card has been cleared, turn the next card in the pile face up to make it a top card.

Object:

The object of this single-player card game is very simple. To win the game you have to figure out how to clear away all piles in pairs following all rules.


Emperor

Brief:

Emperor is a more complex and intriguing version of the original solitaire. It requires 2 decks of cards (standard 52-card packs) to play and the set-up is very fast and easy so it makes it flexible to play whenever you have some time to kill. No time for advance preparation needed.

Layout:

Deal 10 piles of four cards each, dealt by rows, the first 3 rows face down, and the last row face up. The rest of the cards left are settled in a pile to build the Stock. The gameplay of this single-player card game besides traditional solitaire is very catchy. Cards are turned up one at a time from the top of the Stock so you may put them either on the piles or the foundations. Cards from the stock that cannot be used are positioned face up in another pile below the rows to shape a waste pile. The top card of the waste pile is always available for moving onto the piles or foundations. The player may overlap the waste pile cards so all of them become visible. As long as the player is enabled to release them from the piles, all aces are to be put in a foundation row above the ten dealt piles. Only the top card of a pile may be moved. The removal of a card releases the one below it. A card may be placed only on a card of the opposite color and next-lower in rank.

For instance: A 7 of Clubs can be placed on 6 of Hearts or Diamonds only.

A king may not be built on an ace, and aces must be laid as foundations the sooner the better.

Object:

Your goal is to form foundations in suit and sequence from Ace through King. After any of the 10 piles becomes entirely cleared, you are allowed to put any movable card in the space.


Napoleon at St. Helena

Brief:

Napoleon at St. Helena is a very curious one-player card game believed to be the type of solitaire played by Napoleon. It’s played with two standard 52-card packs shuffled together and is also known to be called Forty Thieves.

Layout:

Ten piles of four cards each are dealt by rows. All cards are placed face up and have to overlap so that they are all visible for the player at all times. The cards left over are settled in a pile to build the Stock. Cards are turned up one at a time from the top of the Stock to be placed on the piles or foundations. Cards from the Stock that cannot be used are positioned face up in a pile below to form the waste pile. The top card of the waste pile is always available for building onto the piles or foundations. The player may overlap the waste pile cards so that all of them can be seen. All Aces should be placed in a foundation row above the ten dealt piles straight after the player can release them from the piles. Only the top card of a pile becomes movable. You release a card below by clearing a card above. Notice that a card may be placed only on another of the same suit and next-higher in rank.

For instance: A 7 of clubs could be placed only on 8 of clubs.

A King may not be built on an Ace, and Aces must be placed as foundations as fast as they become movable. When any of the ten piles is entirely cleared away, you can then settle any movable card in the space.

Object:

The objective of this solo player card game is putting Aces in the foundations as soon as they become movable, build sequences and discover a way to build up all eight foundations from Ace through King. You can only move one card at a time.


Devil’s Grip

Brief:

Devil’s Grip is definitely a must-try single-player card game besides traditional solitaire. It’s engaging enough to involve your full attention and put your logic skills in action.

The aim of this single-player card game is to place the entire deck into the piles on the grid, winding up with Jacks on top in the top row, Queens on top in the middle row and Kings on top in the bottom row.

Layout:

Two standard 52-card packs missing the Aces which makes 96 cards overall. After shuffling the pack, 24 cards are dealt face up in 3 rows of 8 columns. Cards may be moved at all times in the 3x8 grid by altering each other positions. What’s left of the pack is settled face down to build the Stock.

Cards can be placed on top of one another if they are of the same suit and keep one of these bottom-to-top orders:

258J
369Q
4710K

The order seems quite random, you would say, but you will spot that it actually makes visual sense put on the grid: 2s in the top row, 3s in the middle, 4s on the bottom row, then in the top row, 5s, middle row 6s, and so on.

Object:

You only play by the time when no more cards can enter the grid. Empty spaces are very important and appear after moving one card on top of another. Then you draw the top card of the stock to replace it. This is how the base cards make it onto the grid. Otherwise, if empty spaces are missing, the cards are moved in the traditional solitaire manner by groups of 3 and left face up in the pile as the so-called “talon”.


Streets and Alleys

Brief:

This is another interesting to try single person card game. Since the entire deck is visible at the very start, there are no hidden cards neither big surprises. It’s still a bit tough variation of traditional Solitaire requiring a solid dosage of logic skills, strategy planning and concentration.

Layout:

A column of 4 cards is dealt at the center of the table, slightly to the left. A column of 4 cards is then dealt at the right of the center. Don’t forget to keep enough space between these two columns for another column. All cards are positioned face up. The player continues placing the cards in columns of 4 alternately to the left and right, overlapping outward from the center with the already dealt cards. After the whole pack is dealt, each row on the left side should contain 7 cards and each row on the right side – 6 cards.
The four aces build up the foundations. You build foundations according to suit and sequence. After releasing Aces, they are moved into the center between the left and right rows that were already dealt. Notice that only the outermost card of each row is available for transfer. A card may be moved onto the outer end of a row only if it is in descending sequence with the card there, regardless of the suit.

For instance: The 5 may be positioned on 6♦, 6♥, 6♣, or 6♠. Any available card can be put on a space.

Object:

You win when you find out how to finish with all cards built onto the foundations.


Accordion Solitaire

Brief:

Accordion Solitaire is one of the most challenging single player card games of the solitaire kind besides the traditional solitaire. It is projected a bit difficult to win but it allows you to think a few moves ahead and take strategic decisions that will help you get closer to the final goal. Due to its difficulty level, it is sometimes called Idle Year.

Layout:

All 52 cards are laid out in a single row. To use the space better, cut the row into three separate rows. The game exists in two variants. In the first type – the cards are settled down one by one and are immediately put into play if possible and in the second type – the cards are spread out in one line.
Although the game is played in 2 variations according to the layout, in both cases, the same general rules appear: a pile can be moved on top of another pile instantly to its left or separated to its left by two piles as long as the top cards of each pile are of the same suit or rank. Gaps left behind are filled by moving piles to the left.

Object:

You aim to compress the entire deck into one pile of 52 cards by moving cards (and stacks of cards) onto one another following the game rules. As achieving this goal is very difficult when cards are dealt one at a time, Alfred Sheinwold advises in his book 101 Best Family Card Games that a win is considered when there are no more than five piles or less left at the end of the game.


Klondike

Brief:

Klondike Solitaire (mostly for North America) or also referred to as Canfield (traditional) is considered to be the most popular Solitaire single-player card game of all times, especially in US and Canada. It’s believed to be an approximately 300-year-old solo player game and its popularity is most probably due to its easy access, simplicity, and player-friendly rules. The gameplay engages players pretty much while restraining their strategic skills and concentration to the limit.

Layout:

Firstly, lay out 7 cards in a row – all of them with face down excluding the first card. Secondly, place the eight card face up on the second card in the row until the row is completed with face-down cards. Afterward, you need to put a face-up card on the third pile and complete the row in the same way. Continue until you have a face-up card on every pile. Notice that Aces are the lowest in this version of single player solitaire card games.
To start with, scan through the entire spread and move any cards you can to the foundation row. Start with Aces and any cards you can build on them.
You can also build cards on the layout itself. Only the face-up cards are available for this building, and they are as well required to be exposed cards of the pile. Then you can start building downwards in alternating colors. Spaces can be filled only by the King but it can be any available King you have at your disposal. After being completely done with the moves you can take, continue searching for more cards in the pile stock to build onto the foundations and the layout. If you can’t place the card, it goes face up onto a waste pile, and the top card of the waste pile is available for play.

Object:

A game is made of 5 rounds. To win the game you need to find a way how to line up the cards on the table in descending order by using alternate colors and forming complete suites starting with Ace and ending with King, all of the same suits, on one of the four foundations.


Spider Solitaire

Brief:

Spider solitaire is one of the most lovable one-player card games and one of the most popular solitaire types besides traditional solitaire. What makes it very attractive is the fact that the difficulty can vary from easy to challenging depending on the number of decks you decide to include.

Layout:

You need two standard decks of playing cards for Spider Solitaire although this makes the game very difficult. The Tableau consists of 10 stacks with 5 and 6 cards in each stack. Both decks are duly shuffled together, 4 rows of 10 face-down cards are dealt to form the tableau columns. Afterward, 4 more cards are dealt face down to the 4 leftmost columns and then a face-up card is dealt at the end of each column of the columns. What’s left is then placed face down to form the stock.

Object:

You aim at removing all cards from the table, assembling them before removing. So your object is building cards of descending suit sequence from King to Ace within the tableau columns ( King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8,7,6,5,4,3,2) and Ace in the columns of the tableau to automatically remove one of the 8 foundations. The game is considered won, if all 104 cards have been played to the foundations and removed as eight separate sequences (King to Ace).


Baker’s Dozen

Brief:

Being another version besides the traditional solitaire, Baker’s Dozen reminds of Klondike as it is a standard deck single person card game played with 52 cards.

Layout:

You are considered done with the setup when you get all the fifty-two cards in thirteen columns. You have to deal thirteen cards with their faces up in a row and afterward deal three more rows which will be a part of the earlier row. The Aces are put above the entire setup or the tableau. You are allowed to play the cards from the same suit in the increasing order on all the Aces and play only those cards which are totally uncovered on the foundation. You are not permitted to remove a card already played on the foundation. Notice that a column which gets empty during the course of the game remains empty till the end of the game.

Object:

To win the game you need to build the 4 suits in different piles. The suits should be arranged in a descending order from the Ace to the King in these separate piles.


Canfield

Brief:

Canfield is also one of the most popular and enjoyable one player solitaire card games.

Layout:

You need to ensure that 13 cards are dealt in the reserve after the cards are duly shuffled. The tableau should consist of 4 cards which are in a single row with their faces up. The initial foundation pile starts with a single card dealt up above a row. An important rule to keep in mind while playing: all the foundation suits will start with a particular rank (number).
Provided that the stacks contain no cards in the course of the game, a new card is added from the reserve cards.

Object:

This game has different rules of setup from the other solitaire games. Your main goal is to find out how to arrange all cards in their foundation piles.


Pyramid Solitaire

Brief:

It is a popular single player game also known as Solitaire 13 and Pile of 28. It’s very easy to set up and the rules are simple and clear to get. The gameplay is very dynamic as it takes just a few minutes to play each hand.

Layout:

This solo player game, an alternative to the traditional solitaire, requires arranging 28 cards face-up in a pyramid-shaped tableau of seven levels. The remaining cards are used to
build a draw pile.

Object:

The final goal of the game is removing all of the cards from the pyramid by pairing them with a combined value of 13 points. The pairs may be built by two exposed cards in the pyramid or by forming pairs between a pyramid card and another card as long as it is drawn from the draw pile. In this point scheme, the Ace is low (only 1 point), the King is assigned a point value of 13, the Queen is 12 points and the Jack is 11 points. The remaining cards are considered at face value.


Single player card games are definitely one great and challenging way to train your brain and refresh your math skills and logic. Not only do they keep your concentration sharp, but they also ensure that you kill your time in a fun and productive way. Winning in a single player card game is not an easy task to achieve. A lot of practice and knowledge in the game specifics is required.

Have you ever played some of those single player card games?
Did you use to play another great single player card game variation besides traditional solitaire?
Feel free to help us extend our single player game list by sharing other involving one player card games that we have missed to mention.

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