|Learn to Play Freecell the Dreamagic Way is a Dream Machine Site|
The Dream Machine --- The Imagination of the World Wide Web
Before we get into those, let's look at some simpler guidelines. You should always be on the lookout for Win-Win moves. That is, if a move or series of moves advances the game without filling any additional buffer slots, then by all means, take that move or those moves IMMEDIATELY. Later, you may not have enough free space to do it. Some of these sequences may involve temporarily filling buffer slots or holes, but should eventually restore the state in which you started to be truly Win-Win. Clicking either of these buttons, or , will bring up fully animated examples of a couple of Win-Win situations.
The partial animation script below...simply hit the space bar to advance the script and the backspace key to back it up...will illustrate this principle in more detail.
The second of these primary principles we will call the Hole Principle. The reason is clear. A basic rule of Free cell is that you can only move one card at a time. However, Freecell allows you to take a shortcut when you are moving a stack from one column to another, moving the whole stack at once...if you have enough free space. The following animation demonstrates what actually is taking place when you move a stack.
Freecell allows the shortcut because it would be boring and pointless to make you do it moving only one card at a time.
There are four empty buffer slots at the outset. This means you can move at most five cards at a time. You can fill all four slots and then place the top card of one of the columns in sequence on one of the other columns. This is important when moving stacks from column to column, since it means that you can move at most five sequenced cards at a time. Now, however, suppose that one of the columns is empty as well. In that case, you can move a stack of TEN sequenced cards, since the first five could be moved to the empty column, the next five to the target column followed finally by taking the five cards from the previously empty column to the top of the target column. The rule is simple...the number of free spaces is the number of free buffer slots plus one times the number of holes plus one...or...
In any case, making holes, stacking and playing cards to home is exactly what we meant when we said "advancing the state of the game."
By the way, a Hole is simply a empty column, one from which all cards have been played elsewhere. It is a little surprising that the least important subgoal is to play the cards to home, when that is the final goal! Are these principles cast in steel? No they are not. The secret of becoming really, really good at playing Freecell is to know when these "rules" must be ignored. In relatively easy games, this is not important. They almost play themselves once you have gotten used to playing. It's on those devilishly difficult games that these rules...and when to break them...becomes paramount.
Below is an entire game along with explanations of each move. Go through it, then go back to the home page and play a few games at random, to see if you have learned well so far.