Eight off is very similar to the popular game Free Cell, characterised by the special “Cell” piles which can hold any single arbitrary card from any pile. Just like the classic foundation building games, the game is won by moving all cards to the foundations, which are built up in suit, from Ace to King. You’ll need to free up cards in the Tableau to play to the Foundation piles, by moving them to other Tableau piles, when allowed by the building rules, or moving them in and out of the Cells, which can be used to hold any single card.
Unlike In Free Cell, you can build Tableau piles down by alternating colour (red on black), in Eight Off, the building is more restricted, and can only be done in the same suit. This means there’s less options to build within the Tableau, but this is balanced by having more Cells available to hold cards. Like in Free Cell, you may move sequences of cards between Tableau piles, but only if there are enough cells empty so that each card in the sequence may have been moved individually. So when you start filling up your cells, you can only move smaller sequences between piles. When Tableau piles are empty, you may move any King, or King-headed sequence to it.
I’ve found it very tempting to try to free all the Aces right away, by moving cards on top of them to the Cells, but it usually hurts me, as it blocks a lot of Cells right away, and blocks opportunities to build and move large sequences of cards within the Tableau. What I find works better is to only free Aces that are buried by a single card if possible, and then look at which piles will cause trouble later, because they have a higher card of a suit, above a lower card of the same suit in a pile. The larger the sequence built on that higher card, the harder it is to free the lower card later, and it’s impossible to move them to the foundation while that lower card is blocked. I try to free those lower cards as much as possible, and guarantee that I won’t get blocked later in the game. After that, I concentrate more on building sequences in the Tableau, than moving cards to foundations – as the sequences are revealed, you’ll generally find that cards go to the Aces by themselves.
I always use the 4 colour deck with this game – it’s set up a per-game deck preference so it’s automatically switched in when the game is chosen. The 4 colour deck makes it very easy to see where my suit sequences are, and I can easily find cards I need to build that are buried in other piles.
Available now in all versions of Allgood Solitaire
Corners always has a special place in my heart, as it’s one of the first Solitaire games I ever learned, with a lovely symmetric layout, mixing foundations and tableau piles in the same grid.
Foundation piles sit in the corners of the grid, and build up in suit until all cards of that suit are in the pile. At the start of the game, a random card is dealt to the first foundation, which becomes the starting value for all the other foundation piles. After a king is played on a pile, you may play an Ace on it, to wrap around.
The Tableau piles in the center, may be built down, ignoring suit, and only one card may be moved at a time. When spaces form, you may play any card to them, which can be really useful as a staging area for combing two smaller piles into a larger one, when you are able. The more gaps you’re able to create and keep, the more chances there are to restructure piles in the Tableau.
During play, the top card of the stock is always available, it may be played into the grid of Tableau and Foundation, or simply moved to the discard pile – the top card of the discard pile is always available for play.
There are no reseals in this game, so once a card is placed to the discard and covered with other cards, you can’t get at it, without playing the cards on top of it. As a result, you often don’t want to fill gaps in the Tableau quickly, it’s useful to have them available in case cards come up in the stock that you will need soon on a Foundation pile, and will probably block that foundation if they’re buried in the Discard pile.
Available now in all versions of Allgood Solitaire
This unusual game has become one of my new favourites games when I have 5 minutes free, and just want to play something quick that is a nice distraction, and I don’t have to get too involved in figuring out a deep strategy, like Free Cell, or Forty Thieves.
It’s nicely familiar in some ways, where the goal is to move all the cards to foundation piles, which build up in suit from Ace to King, but has the Tableau is developed through unique suit-based mechanics.
The layout is arranged like a compass rose, with foundations in the North, East, South and West directions, with each foundation owning four Tableau piles arranged near them. You can’t build cards onto other cards on Tableau piles, you may only move cards to empty Tableau piles, and only if the card matches the suit of the nearest foundation. Since there’s only space for four cards in the Tableau for any particular suit, when thinking about placing cards there, you’ll need to think ahead about what other cards you may want to use those spaces for.
The initial deal distributes the cards randomly, without regard to suit. As spaces develop by building up foundations, I’ve found that since you don’t need to move cards to their own suit areas, it’s often advantageous to wait, and do this only if you need to make a space in the area the card currently resides in. I don’t move cards from Tableau piles to other Tableau piles, unless I want to move a card from the Discard pile into the Tableau, and I need to make a gap for them.
Since there’s two runs through the deck, it’s often useful strategy to use the first run to allow the lower value cards to play to foundations, and use their spaces to move mid-valued cards into the Tableau, preparing for the second run through the stock, freeing up those cards, leaving the face cards, and other high valued cards in the stock until the very end, as they will generally block gaps in the Tableau that you’ll need for smaller cards.
For advanced players, try one of the 4 colour deck options with this game, it makes it very easy visually to distinguish which cards belong where.