Pyramid Solitaire is a unique spin on traditional Klondike Solitaire, in which the cards are arranged in a pyramid format in separate columns. The objective is to clear the tableau by organizing cards into foundation piles. Although they have similar end goals, the two are radically different games.
To win Pyramid Solitaire, you need to remove pairs of exposed cards that add up to 13 and clear the entire tableau – compared to traditional Klondike Solitaire, in which you can organize cards into stacked piles.
Pyramid Solitaire is a simple variant to get to grips with. Its fast-paced tempo and short game length make it a perfect mental challenge for when you've got moments to spare.
However, understanding how to navigate the pyramid is crucial to improving your game.
Pyramid Solitaire is different from other forms of Solitaire. There are certain rules specific to this type that you need to bear in mind.
Kings can be removed from the pyramid without a pair – Because a king is valued at 13, it can be removed from the pyramid on its own – letting you open up options across tableau.
Only exposed cards can be removed – Only cards that are not overlapped by cards below are in play, meaning you can pair them with other exposed cards. If a card is overlapped with another one, it isn't in play – the face card overlapping it will need to be removed first to expose it.
Cards in the foundation pile cannot be reused – Once a pair that adds to 13 is placed on the foundation piles, they are eliminated from play and cannot be used further or brought back in.
Use the waste pile – If the face-up card on the waste pile matches with any of the exposed cards on the pyramid, they can both be moved to the foundation pile.
Limited pile recycling – Typically, players can cycle through the stockpiles to find matches for exposed cards in the pyramid and progress. However, players may only do this three times – exceeding three cycles counts as a loss.
You cannot fill empty spaces – Unlike traditional Klondike Solitaire, the gaps left behind by removing cards can't be used to move or store other cards – you must play from the pyramid as is.
To start the game, examine the bottom row of the pyramid and see if the value of any pair of cards can be added together to make 13. If so, remove them from the tableau and place them in the foundation to eliminate them from play.
If no cards match, turn up a new card from the face-down pile – known as the stockpile – to see if any of these can help break down the pyramid. If this card doesn't match, place it to the side and create a waste pile. Continue sifting through the stockpile until you can make a match with the exposed cards on the pyramid. Cards are only available when they aren't covered by any other card.
The game ends when three end conditions are met. Players win the game by clearing the pyramid, waste pile, and stockpile onto the foundation. The game ends when a player has cycled through the stock and waste piles three times or when there are no longer any moves that can be made with the cards available.
Knowing the tips and tricks goes a long way to giving you the best chance of winning a game of Pyramid Solitaire.
Following these simple tips, you can see drastic improvements in your game:
Spot any blockers – A blocker is a card or series of card formations that hamper your progress at best – at worst can kill a game and make it unwinnable. For example, a seven surrounded by all four sixes means the game is immediately unwinnable, so be wary. Although helpful most of the time, kings are also blockers, so get them out the way when you can. Many versions of online solitaire highlight blockers and filter out any unwinnable games to save you time and hassle.
Don't wait to play kings – Because a king is already valued at 13, there's no reason to keep it in the pyramid. Kings can block a potential path to victory if not removed as soon as possible – so despite being helpful, they can cut against you.
Don't match between piles straight away – Using memory is crucial in Pyramid Solitaire because you can only cycle through the stock and waste piles three times. However, the cards are always in the same order, so only sift through them when you remember where a card you need might be hiding. Waiting until later into the game gives you the best chance to clear as much of the pyramid as possible before matching cards from the piles.
Play the discard pile first – Even if a card turns up that you can match with a card on the pyramid, put it into the discard pile first. You can play the move from the discard pile while revealing a new card at the top of the deck, giving you additional information to work with.
Gather as much information as possible – Delaying your moves and getting more information about your stock and waste piles opens more doors in the game. Don't pass up a card you need, but if you can get more information before committing to pairs, you'll be able to better adapt to your game situation.
Keep it even – If possible, try to pair off cards evenly on both sides of the pyramid. If you've over-committed to one side, you’ll be unlikely to get the exact cards needed to eliminate seven rows of cards on the other side later on.