HINTS AND TIPS FOR FREECELL
Trust me on these ones. I've played FreeCell basically nonstop for hours before. And these hints are the best I could come up with:
- The best way to start is by not hitting right-click to bring all possible cards up to the top-right piles. (Note: I only know that the right-click trick works in the newest version of Windoze. Which, coincidentally, does not even deserve a name.) Only put cards in the top-right piles if they are no longer required, or you have absolutely no moves left.
- NEVER use the four free cells at once, except if you are definitely going to move them back the next move. Even using three free cells is iffy.
- Before clearing a column, think to yourself: "Hm. That three of diamonds can be moved onto the four of clubs... I can't do much with the seven of spades, so I should see if there's a red eight around... Nope, they're buried, and I only have one free cell." Don't clear that column.
- Before you start the game, look where the small cards (ie. threes and below) are clustered, and where the high cards (ie. jacks and above) are clustered. If they're in the same spot, try clearing columns to start. If they're not, or if they're all scattered, try and get the lower cards going first.
- Don't be afraid to build long columns (ie. in excess of ten cards), and certainly don't be afraid to build on a column that has an ace in it, if it means a column is cleared. If you play your cards right (pun fully intended) it'll all come out in the wash.
- I tend to find that I can win games once I get rid of 11 cards (ie. 41 cards remain). However, this is certainly not true in all situations. Most, yes. Some people tend to prefer more, or less. YMMV.
- Don't play it for hours on end. Otherwise, you'll go on to something easier to solve (say, a Rubik's Cube) but still have your mind on cards. Trust me, it doesn't work well to go from FreeCell to the Rubik's Cube.
- Play it in real life as well. That way, you will learn just how many cards you can move with the free cells and empty columns you have. This is particularly useful when you're dealing with a version of FreeCell that doesn't show you illegal move hints, such as "That move requires you to move X cards. You only have enough free space to move Y."
- If, for some reason, you're trying to move a pile of cards (say, four) with only two free cells (maximum of three cards), and there's a column with only one card, move that single card to a free cell. You have the same amount of empty spaces, but you can now move your four cards. Think about it.
- Finally, IMHO it's good to look at each of your moves in terms of net gain or net loss of free cells and/or cards. Say you're looking at three cards, and you put two up into free cells to move the third, you have a net loss. Bad move. If you can move those two cards afterwards, it's neither a net gain or loss. Go for that move. If one of the two cards is an ace, it's a net gain, unless of course the other card has to be moved into a free cell and can't be moved back down again later. (You still with me? If so, you've done well. Have a marshmallow.)
Don't be afraid to break the rules. If these strategies aren't working out, go with an unorthodox
approach to the whole thing. Go against your strategies, my strategies, Jim next door's strategies if you have to. Thank you for putting up with me yet again. Have another marshmallow.