Freecell Solitaire Strategy Guide

Freecell Solitaire Strategy Guide

Freecell Solitaire Strategy Guide
Freecell Solitaire is​ a​ highly popular game, made famous by Microsoft .​
Freecell is​ included in​ Windows, and is​ considered a​ classic solitaire game by many .​
Because you can see ALL the cards right from the start, there is​ no luck involved, making Freecell one of​ the few solitaire games which is​ based totally on the player's skill.
Freecell is​ quite a​ hard game, but despite that, all deals (except for deal number 11982) are solvable in​ the 32000 deals in​ Microsoft's version .​
The key to​ finishing Freecell is​ judicious use of​ the freecells .​
They should be used as​ temporary storage- only storing cards in​ them for a​ short time to​ help you move longer sequences around.
For example, suppose you had a​ column with the following (taken from deal 14396)
5 Hearts
Ace Spades
Ace Hearts
4 Clubs
In this situation, it​ is​ okay to​ move the 4 of​ Clubs to​ a​ freecell, because we know that right after that, we can move the two Aces to​ the foundation, and then move the 4 of​ Clubs back from the freecell onto the 5 of​ Hearts .​
See how the freecell was only used temporarily?
There are certain moves you can make at​ any time in​ Freecell and know it​ wont trap you later on in​ the game .​
You can move the Aces (and the twos when they can be played), at​ any time, as​ no other cards depend on them .​
For the other cards, you can safely move them to​ the foundation if​ the cards one less in​ rank, of​ the opposite color, are already in​ the foundation .​
For example, you can safely move the 5 of​ Diamonds, if​ the black 4s have already been moved to​ the foundation.
Better Freecell games will automatically do these safe moves for your, so you can concentrate on the moves that matter, rather than having to​ manually make inconsequential moves .​
Your first goal in​ Freecell is​ to​ empty a​ column .​
Why is​ this?
Because an​ empty column allows you to​ move longer sequences around .​
The size of​ the sequence you can move in​ Freecell is​ based on the number of​ available freecells and empty columns .​
The more empty freecells and columns you have, the longer the sequence is​ that you can move .​
The formula for how many cards you can move is:
(number of​ empty freecells + 1) * 2 ^ (num empty columns)
For the less mathematically inclined, here is​ a​ table showing how many cards you can move in​ some different scenarios...
0 0 1
0 1 2
0 2 3
0 3 4
0 4 5
1 0 2
1 1 4
1 2 6
1 3 8
1 4 10
2 0 4
2 1 8
2 2 12
2 3 16
2 4 20
A:Empty Columns
B:Empty Freecells
C:Card Sequence Length

As you can see, empty columns are particularly valuable, as​ they allow you to​ move considerably longer sequences .​
By the time you have two columns free (particulaly with two or​ more freecells free), you can move very long sequences, and the game is​ usually quite easy to​ complete from there.
So what is​ the easiest way to​ empty a​ column?
Start by emptying columns that don't have any Kings in​ them .​
a​ column with a​ king can't be emptied initially, because there is​ nowhere for the King to​ go .​
Don't just make moves because you can .​
Have some mini plan in​ mind, and only move cards if​ they help empty the column you are aiming for.

Another popular strategy is​ just to​ go straight for releasing the Aces, and then the 2's, etc .​
This strategy is​ easier, and requires less thought .​
It will work for the easier games, but won't help on the hard deals (such as​ deal 1941)
The most important strategy of​ all though, is​ to​ try and keep the freecells empty .​
If you can do that, and empty a​ couple of​ columns as​ well, then you should find it​ very easy to​ finish the game.

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