Today I was appalled to find that Double Solitaire, a game my family has played since time immemorial, does not exist on BoardGameGeek.com or anywhere on the Internet. There are a few obscure games that call themselves Double Solitaire but are not the same game at all. This is a very fun real-time card game that is one of my family’s favorites, and even though I don’t typically play many playing-card games, this is one exception that I will gladly play at a moment’s notice. It may remind you of Speed but it is very different and better IMO. So without further ado:
Double Solitaire is a card game that uses a standard 52-card deck per player. It is a real-time game where players manipulate a personal area (with rules from the famous single-player game, Solitaire/Klondike) while competing with the others to play cards in a central area that give them points at the end of the game.
Each player starts with a standard, 52-card deck of playing cards. The decks must all be of different designs (so that they can be sorted out at the end of the game for scoring purposes). Then each player places 12 cards face-down in a pile on his left, with a 13th card face-up. This is the player’s stack. Then deal one card (each) face-up into four different slots to the right of the stack. These four piles, along with the stack, are the player’s “personal area.” In the middle of the table, it is important for there to be plenty of space between the personal areas for the shared area. It starts with no cards in it. The 35 cards remaining are the player’s deck.
The goal is to have the most points at the end of a round. Points are determined by the number of cards from a player’s deck that end up in the shared area in the middle of the table. Points are deducted for the number of cards remaining in a player’s stack, so it is also a goal to eliminate cards from the player’s stack. There are multiple rounds until a player reaches 100 points.
When all players announce they are ready, one player counts down from 3, and then all players start play simultaneously. Each player constantly decides to do one of two things: manipulate their personal area, or sift through their deck.
The Personal Area:
In the personal area, players may move cards in the four piles according to Solitaire rules (i.e. a black 8 may be played on a red 9). Series of cards may be transferred between piles so long as the resulting series follows the rules. Cards from the stack may be moved onto any of the 4 piles, but cards may not be moved from the piles onto the stack. One of the goals of the game is to deplete your stack. Each time a card is moved from your stack, flip the next card face-up.
At any time that an Ace is in a player’s personal area, he may move it to the shared area. Also, any top cards (the top card in a series or the stack) may be played from the personal area to the shared area on top of a card that is one rank less than it of the same suit (i.e. a 2 of hearts may be played on an Ace of hearts). This is usually done as soon as possible, as cards in the central area give the player points at the end of the game.
The Shared Area:
Often, players will be competing to play their cards in the common area as soon as a position is available (i.e. a 2 of spades is face-up. Two players have a 4 of spades and therefore are waiting for a 3 of spades to be played). In these cases, whichever player places his card on the valid slot first wins, and the other player must put his card back where he took it from. The deciding factor is the player who places his card underneath the other player’s card; however, it is strictly forbidden to purposefully push the other player’s hand out of the way during play. Also, if the players pushed some cards off of another pile during a conflict, the winning player must reorganize the scattered pile. He may ask for gameplay to be paused if this requires more than two seconds.
Also, whenever playing in the shared area, players must only use one hand. This prevents a player from playing a 3 of hearts with his right hand immediately followed by the 4 of hearts with his left. Other players must be given a fair opportunity at the new slot.
Sifting the Deck:
If a player has no moves he wishes to make in his personal area, he goes through his deck. He holds his deck in one hand, with all cards face-down. Then he plays two cards face-down in front of him and plays the third one face-up. He then decides if he wants to play the third card anywhere in his four piles or in the shared area. If he does not, he flips it face down (on top of the other face-down card) and then repeats (plays two more cards face-down and the third face-up). When he gets to the end of his deck, he always flips the final card face-up, no matter if it was a first, second, or third. He now picks up his deck again and repeats the process. (Alternate rules for easy-mode: the player goes through his deck one at a time instead of only seeing every third card.)
Game End and Scoring:
The game ends when one player takes the final, 13th card from their stack, plays it on one of their piles or in the shared area, and yells, “out”! That player does not necessarily win. All other players count the number of cards remaining in their stack; they count as negative points against them. Then players help to sort out all cards in the shared area by whose deck it was played from (turning the cards over to see the backs makes this easier); these count as points for players. Each player subtracts their stack points from their shared area points and that is their score. A scorekeeper tallies their score and that is the end of the round. If one player has reached 100 or more, the game is over and the player with the highest score declared the winner. If multiple players are tied for first, they play a final round between them.
Other Miscellaneous Rules:
If a player suspects that a rule has been violated or is confused about the validity of an event, he may ask for the game to be paused. If he does, all players must stop play entirely and discuss what has happened. Once a consensus is reached and any corrective action has been fully implemented, then the player implementing the corrective action announces “go,” and play continues. Note: a player may not request a pause for any reason other than a suspected rule violation, such as time to think. Thinking quickly is the basis of the game.
If a player is younger or new to the game, the players may vote to allow him to play with less cards in his stack. Typically they allow him to have only 9-down, 1-faceup instead of the typical 12-down, 1-faceup.
Any number of players greater than 1 may play this, provided they have a deck for each player with a unique design. Such games are called “triple solitaire”, “quadruple solitaire”, etc., but follow the exact same rules.
Occasionally, a player may get “stuck.” This happens when he cannot play any cards from his personal area to the shared area, and he has gone through his deck twice since this first happened. If one player is stuck, he must wait till another player plays something in the common area that he can play on. If all players agree that they are, then all players shuffle their decks and then continue at the same time. [Alternate rules: players pick up their decks and look through them as they please.]
That’s it! If you like this game, please share it with your friends, and vote for it and review on BoardGameGeek.com! Also let me know if you want any rules clarifications OR if you think future posts on strategy would be cool/helpful.