How to choose an online solitaire game

By Neal - 8/19/2020

When choosing a free online solitaire game , there are a few important features to consider.

Using undo and redo

Probably the best thing about computerized Solitaire over playing cards is the ability to undo and redo moves. This isn't some cheap stunt; I'm not just saying, "Win your games by hitting Undo and Redo!" To use them effectively actually takes a bit of planning and consideration.

The undo feature remembers the last move(s) you made, so you can reverse them, usually using Ctrl-z or just the U key (on a PC, and it varies of course on other machines & devices). Redo also remembers your moves, as well as your undos, so you can make those moves over again, after undoing them, usually using Ctrl-y or the R key.

Not only can you just undo bad moves, but you can try things out, and then undo what you tried, even if it’s just to see what cards are underneath the exposed cards in a column. (That may break a rule there, but I don't see it in my books.)

Here’s an example: Moving a black 2 from a column onto a red 3 in another column isn't always a good move; one may need the red 3 on its Ace pile before needing the black 2 on its Ace pile. But obviously you want to uncover what's below the 2, and other moves may open up also which outweigh the difficulty encountered when covering the red 3.

Sometimes, one of two moves can be made. For instance, below you see both of the red 5s at the tops of their respective columns, and one black 6 at the bottom of another column. By undoing and then redoing several possible moves, you can decide between the two choices. (And btw, sometimes the best decision is simply to wait to see what shows up later.)

Back to the beginning? Watch your stat’s

If you want to click on “Start Over”, that is, restart the current game, this may lower your win percentage, whereas just holding down the undo button back to the beginning generally won’t.

Trying out a new Solitaire program or app?

Here are things to look at if you download a trial program, as well as the points above. Most choices are just matters of personal preference, but some can make the game more interesting - or less.

Undo & redo

This is an important feature, if only because we all make mistakes. A redo key is also nice; otherwise you have to remember the moves you had made before.

Check how many undos can be done. Infinite (back to the beginning of the current game) is best.

I realize that using undo and redo to test out moves may break or bend some of the original rules; the game’s creator(s) probably didn’t envision so many changes after making a move. But things are different now, and with RAM and microprocessors we have the opportunity to rely on more than just chance, but on skill as well, and win more games.

What if you knew a game was winnable?

This is an interesting feature - either all games are winnable, or you can specify before each game that you want a winning game dealt out. It didn’t sound right to me at first, but I realized that when I just couldn’t find the last few moves, I knew they were there, or that earlier moves could have been done differently. So it makes for an interesting challenge. Otherwise of course, you don’t know whether you can win, and eventually it gets too time-consuming to know with certainty, so you have to move on to the next game. Some will also remember which games were lost, so you can go back to them later and take another shot at the 100% win rate.

But they're not all easy to win. In the version I use on my PC, the developers made the first few games played right after installation easy, and then they get more complicated. If you're really serious about winning the more complex games, a system for tracking moves may be required, like the Algebraic Notation (AN) used for chess games (article here). But this is more complex than the 64 spaces on a chessboard (which of course, are not simple to begin with). Also, the cards - or "game pieces" - are initially laid out differently for every game, with many face-down (and therefore not playable). The seven columns are one thing, but when you consider the numbers to assign to cards to indicate how far down they are, it's going to get hard to visualize effects of various moves.

A computer program would certainly help, but is there enough marketplace demand to warrant writing such a program? Probably not. And right now, I doubt there's agreement among developers as to what even are the winnable games, let alone how to win them. For example, the matter of taking cards back off the Ace piles - just throwing in that capability no doubt adds hundreds (if not thousands) of ways to win.

The “Hints” option

Hints during play are nice; you can click or tap on a Hints button and a card that could be moved will display some animation. No matter how many games you’ve played, you’ll still miss a move occasionally.

Appearance

When playing a game on a small device, it helps if the cards are spread out nicely on the screen; it gets hard to see what you have if they're crammed together. The graphics can make a difference too; I had an Android Solitaire app in which all the suit symbols were so big, it was hard to spot which suit a card really was.

We recommend…

It goes without saying, but we created Solitaired, with all of this in mind. We have great card graphic, hints, and undos, along with many other features. Soon, we'll be adding redo as well!