Thursday, September 29, 2016

Freecell

It’s odd that Epinions would have Freecell available for review. It’s not like you really have much of a choice in acquiring this product. Either you get it or you don’t. Freecell usually comes with the more recent versions of Windows. (Older versions have the generic solitaire.) A lot of people either don’t know that Freecell is there or don’t really play the game that much.

For those that have never seen Freecell, some of the solitaire rules apply, but others don’t. For instance, all 52 cards are dealt out in eight columns. The first four columns have seven cards each and the remaining four have six each. Above the eight columns are eight spaces. The four on the left are your free cells, which is where the game gets its name. On the right are the four spaces where all of the cards are supposed to eventually end up. (I’ll go into greater detail later.)

The 52 cards are laid out randomly. The rules for moving them are like the solitaire you may be used to. If you want to move a card, you start with the bottom card. It can be moved to any card that’s one higher and of the opposite color. (Jack is like eleven, the queen is equivalent to twelve and the king is played as thirteen.) The two of hearts can either be moved to the three of clubs or the three of spades. The ten of spades can be put on either the jack of hearts or the jack of diamonds. If a column is empty, you can put any card there. If you need to get at a card, you can use the free cells to hold cards. (Each cell can hold only one at a time.) If you have an alternating series, you can move any part of the series that you have space for. That’s where the free cells come in. To move a series like that, you are theoretically moving one card at a time to the free cells and back down again or to free columns. You’re limited by the number of cells and columns you have available. I’d suggest keeping as many free cells open as possible. (If you’re good, you can find ways around this, but you’re still going to need either free cells or empty columns.)

Like the solitaire you may have played as a kid, the object of the game is to get all of the cards to those four spaces on the top right that I mentioned before. You start with the ace of each suit. There’s one space for each suit; the order doesn’t matter. Once an ace is placed in one of these spaces, you move on to the two of the same suit. (The aces are always automatically moved up once they become available. The rest of the cards are moved up once they serve no other purpose.) You can move the two up as soon as the ace is there, although it’s not always a good idea to move cards up as soon as they become available. Once all of the cards are in these four columns, you win. When the game is over, you can be dealt either a random hand or you can choose one by number.

It sounds easy, but it’s not. They say it’s possible to win every hand dealt to you, but it’s more than likely that you’ll lose, and that’s done when there are no possible moves left. There’s no actual scoring, so you either win or you lose. It will take you a while to get the feel of the game. You’ll find that there are certain strategies that work and some that don’t. I’ve found it’s best that you keep at least two of the free cells open at all times and try to keep at least one column open if possible. Also, don’t move a card just for the sake of moving a card. Make sure you know what you’re doing.

The game is very easy to learn and play on the computer. (I don’t know that I’d have the patience to do this with a real deck of cards. Moving the cards would be too difficult.) A big advantage of playing on the computer is that it keeps stats. After 641 games, I’ve one 55% of them. My longest winning streak was 9 games and the longest losing streak was 7. There’s no way to keep separate stats for different people except to clear the stats. (You’d have to write down your stats before someone else clears them.)

This is a great game only because of its simplicity. If you’re looking for a way to waste just a few minutes, play Freecell. You may find that you’ll be wasting several hours.

1 comment :

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