You win! You're awesome.
Eight Off is a version of the usual Classic Solitaire game. It is actually the original precursor to the very popular FreeCell style card games (FreeCell has four spots available to place single cards into). Solitaire is a great basis for many different games, and it’s possible to branch off almost continuously.
Solitaire was originally just a card game, but ever since the era of computers came into being there have been playable digital versions. Early windows computers came with solitaire pre-installed, and many still do. This doesn’t even include the hundreds of different websites where solitaire and its counterparts are available to play.
It’s amazing how many card games are actually playable online, just like with chess or other games. Solitaire was built to be played alone, unlike games like chess, but now you can play it faster and more efficiently on the computer.
Eight off was developed by a mathematician, but don’t let that get you quaking in your boots just yet. It’s not as popular as say, Bakers Game, or its grandchild FreeCell. But it is the original version, which is pretty cool.
It’s meant to be a bit more challenging than the average solitaire game, but not too hard. As long as you’re patient and pay attention, it is definitely quite winnable.
Eight Off starts a bit different than regular solitaire. It utilizes all the cards of your deck on the playing field and has them immediately available.
Get your cards shuffled and then take 48 of them and lay them out into the tableau in eight piles. They need to be face up and fanned downwards. That should be eight piles with six cards each fanned.
Above the tableau you will have eight spots, or cells, to place your reserve into. Four cards will be dealt into the cells randomly while the other four cells are left empty. To the side of your tableau will be your four foundation slots to place your Aces as you break them free.
This layout is what can make the game a bit more complicated. You don’t have to have the cells on top and the foundations to the side, you can place them wherever they feel most comfortable for you.
The goal is to get the Aces into the foundation and then count the suit upwards to top with the Kings.
Once you have all your cards laid out and ready to use, it is time to play.
Cards can be moved around in the tableau and into the free cells. Remember those eight spaces up at the top? Those are the free cells, and they can only hold one card at a time in place. This is a great place to put cards for a moment and can really help you maneuver as you go.
The tableau can hold many cards, more than the original six placed there, but they have to be built downward by the suit. So to move cards around if you have a 6 of Hearts, then you need a 5 of Hearts to move onto it and then a 4 of Hearts.
Much of what you are doing is moving the cards around the tableau, so it’s good to keep a clear image of what is going on in your columns.
If you want to get specific, then only one card in the tableau is a moveable piece at a time. But once you factor in the cells that are open then you have more playable cards. If there are two cells open, you can move two cards into those cells and one card down in the tableau. So it is actually a game with a bit more maneuverability than other versions.
Since you need to count down your cards by suit in each column, if you manage to extricate yourself a free column you can’t just put any card there willy nilly. You would have to move a King to that free column and then start counting down from there.
That’s why it would be a good idea to put a King or two up in your free cells. A huge part of this game is keeping your eye on all the moving pieces. It can be complicated but satisfying.
Once all your Aces are in the foundation you should work on organizing your tableau. Once that is set up more or less you can just start squaring cards into the foundation. If only it were as easy as that, but that’s pretty much your goal to play.
By the end of the game you want all your Aces squared up to Kings by suit. This means if you have an Ace of Diamonds then you must follow with a 2 of Diamonds, then a 3 of Diamonds, all the way until you reach the King.
Eight Off is a very satisfying game to beat because it has such heavy organization necessary.
Solitaire has been and always will be a game based on strategy, and that is why it is a game that has stood the test of time and modern conveniences. People will always love to pit themselves against the game because the satisfaction of coming out on top is so worth it.
The first thing to do is spot where all your Aces are. If need be, drop one into a free cell space in case you need it to help monitor a King. Getting all your Aces in a row in your foundation not only gives you more space to move but helps put the first plan into place.
Once the foundation is ready, lesser cards can start moving up into it. You’ll want to keep your foundation squared more-or-less about the same. This is so that you don’t run out of any lower cards you might need when sorting in the tableau.
The cells come in handy here because you can put cards up there for safe keeping that might help you more later on.
Keeping a few Kings in your free cell spaces is definitely not a bad idea. This is because if you use all the cards from a column you cannot start a new one without a King to hold sway over the rest. This game is precise in its ordering process by suit and number sequence.
You could let the free column space go, but then you have significantly less space to work with the rest of your cards in your tableau. If you have that extra King to restart a column though, you’ve given yourself a bit of an edge when you might have missed out.
Once you have a few cards out in your foundation and you have more room to play, try organizing the columns the best way that you can. This is your best bet because you have these free cells to play around with that give you more opportunities.
Once you have your tableau as efficient as you can get it, then start squaring up your foundation for the win. The more cards you have that you can just toss in together the easier it is to keep organized.
Often there are terms which are well known to the average card player. It is important to know the right terminology so that you can play the game properly and be informed enough to know what you’re talking about.
Basic card terms:
Available Cards: Cards that have no restrictions and can be played.
Base Card: The first card that can be placed down to start playing; like the Aces in the foundation.
Marriage: Placing a card in the same suit on the next number, lower or higher.
Released Cards: When you use a topmost card and the one beneath becomes accessible.
Suitable Cards: Cards that fit into the game and can be played from the position that you’re in.
Some basic solitaire terms:
Cells- Meant for the "FreeCell" style of games. There are cells which only allow one playing card to be placed in them. Luckily any card can be placed there; they are good for moving cards around.
Fanned: The cards are spread out in a fan like shape, overlapping over one another. The card suits and numbers can still be seen.
Foundation: The topmost row in front of you. It’s where you start squaring up your cards from Ace onwards.
Reserve: The cards pulled from the stock available to play.
Squared: The cards are stacked in a way that the edges are aligned with one another.
Stock: The pile of cards from which you draw your next card.
Tableau: The row of cards in front of you from which you start your game. Some are face up, some are face down, and you sort them.
Waste: The pile of cards where the stock goes after you’ve drawn your cards into play.
Instructions for building are pretty straight-forward. Here are a few examples:
By Suit: Cards have to be placed on their same suit.
By Suit Sequence: Cards have to be placed on their same suit in order of numbers.
By Color: Cards have to be placed on like colors.
By Alternating Colors: Cards have to be placed back and forth on alternating colors.
Bakers - Another original version that came before FreeCell but you build down in suit instead of the normal alternating colors.
Eight On- Meant to be a more difficult variation of Eight Off. The Aces start off at the bottom of the piles and you have to break them free.
ForeCell- Just another grandparent to FreeCell where the cells can only be used by Kings.
FreeCell- This game actually got popular thanks to Microsoft. It gives you four cells to have cards moved around into instead of the eight that Eight Off gives.
Seahaven Towers- A game similar to FreeCell but with a completely separate layout, and you must build down in suit.
Is Eight Off really just FreeCell?
No, Eight Off Solitaire actually is one of the grandparents of what we now know as FreeCell. It was created quite a few years beforehand and has spawned many variations. FreeCell just happens to be one of its more prodigious offspring thanks to Microsoft installing it into their computers.
Why were the cells created?
The cells were created because a common complaint of Solitaire and its many variations was that you could get stuck with no room to maneuver the cards within the tableau. Though this is still a possibility when playing Eight Off, you are given many more chances to organize your cards.
For those who are just learning strategy, or just aren’t that good at it yet, the cells give more room error and manipulation of the cards. The cells are a great tool to utilize and can help prepare a player for the more challenging games ahead.
Why do the cards have to be organized by numerical suit?
This is because there still needs to be a bit of game and strategy. Having eight free cells to use and manipulate your tableau with gives quite a strong advantage. For a lot of people that’s the advantage they need to learn and understand the game better.
But then where is the challenge? Solitaire has always been about strategy and challenge, so having the limited maneuverability in the columns of the tableau is great. It helps to make sure there is still enough challenge to whet the appetite of those who need it.
Can any card go into a cell?
Yes, any card can be placed into a free cell. But only one card may be placed into each cell at a time, even if they have the rest of their connecting suit.
This is because it wouldn’t be fair to the spirit of the game and would lack a real challenge. Other versions of this game have different restrictions though.