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How to Play: Forty Thieves

Like Sudoku and other one-player puzzle games, Solitaire can be a great way to challenge yourself or simply spend some free time. Klondike is the classic version of the game that most people are likely familiar with since it's been included as a default game on Microsoft PCs since Windows 95, and our site offers it as a free online game. There are actually many different versions of the game that have been played for centuries.

Books filled with Solitaire games started appearing in the 1800s, and many suggest (likely erroneously) that Napoleon played the games as entertainment in exile. Our site's creators were inspired to offer free Solitaire games online after one discovered their mother-in-law was a huge Solitaire fan who could no longer find her favorite game online. As a provider of these games hosting dozens of variations ranging from casual games to the truest test of your card skills, we hope you can find a version that's right for you.

One popular and challenging version we offer is Forty Thieves Solitaire. This version itself has variants, including Thieves of Egypt, but our tutorial will stick to the main version. This game is perfect for those who have played Solitaire for a long time and are looking for a version that relies on strategy nearly as much as luck. The game sometimes goes by the nickname Le Cadran, Napoleon at St. Helena, or Roosevelt at San Juan.

The Object of the Game

40 Thieves can be considered one of Solitaire's hard game modes. Like many versions of the game, your goal is to move cards from the tableau to the eight foundation piles. This has to be done in sequence from Aces to Kings, and you have to stick to the same suit for each foundation. In other words, you'll have to complete two full sequences of each suit to win.

The Pack

The Forty Thieves card game is played using two standard decks of cards (52 cards each with the Jokers removed). This brings the total number of cards used for play to 104. While it's certainly possible to play with custom or novelty decks, and our site even lets you change the appearance of cards, this guide will use terminology adherent to standard suits (spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs) and card values.

The Deal

Shuffle the decks like with any new Solitaire game. At the start of the game, you'll need to build the tableau by dealing 40 cards (these represent the thieves from the game's namesake) in ten columns of four cards each. Every card in the tableau columns should be face up. The remaining cards are set aside as the stock pile. You'll need to leave enough space for eight foundations above the tableau piles as well as a space next to the stock pile to form the waste pile.

The Play

Unlike some Thieves Solitaire variants, the Forty Thieves card game rules dictate that only one card can be moved at a time rather than stacks of cards. Additionally, only the top card of each column can be moved, either to the foundation or to another tableau column. The only time you're allowed to move a card to a different tableau pile is if it's one number lower than the card it's being played on, and it has to be the same suit. For example, a Queen of Spades could be played on a King of Spades but not on a King of Clubs.

If you see no available card on the tableau, you may draw a card from the stock and add it to the discard pile. The top card of the discard pile is available for play at any time. Whenever there's an empty column on the tableau, any available card may be played in the empty space. The game ends and results in a loss if you exhaust your options from the discard pile without completing the foundations. There are no redeals in this game.

Experienced Thieves Solitaire players try to empty tableau spaces as soon as possible to give themselves more options. Aces and twos are fine to move to the foundations immediately, and it's generally accepted that you should move as many low cards as you can first. It's also best to stick to playing cards that have already been dealt first whenever possible instead of relying on the discard pile.

We hope you enjoy our Forty Thieves Solitaire free game and rise in the leaderboards. Don't forget to look at our other games like Spider Solitaire and our new FreeCell as well.


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