How to Play Forty Thieves

Learn how to play Forty Thieves

How to Play Forty Thieves

Forty Thieves is a popular and challenging solitaire card game. With less than a 10% chance of winning, even if you play well, we find this particular solitaire game very satisfying when we win! For those who are interested in a bit of trivia it's also sometimes known by the names Big Forty, Napoleon at Saint Helena and Le Cadran.

Setting Up Forty Thieves Solitaire

Forty Thieves is card game played with two decks of cards with all jokers removed. As you can see from the picture below 40 cards are dealt face-up in columns that consist of four cards. All the remaining cards are left in a waste pile that can be used later. As two decks are used you will often notice duplicate cards after setting-up.

Forty Thieves Set Up

 

Rules of Forty Thieves Solitaire

To win a game, the goal is to move every card onto the eight foundation piles. Each foundation starts with an Ace of a particular suit and rises up to the King of that suit. So after an Ace of hearts is put into a foundation pile, it would have to be followed by the two of hearts and so.

The rules are very simple. You are only allowed to move cards one by one. When you move a card it must be in placed in descending order and in the same suit. For example you can move a 10 of clubs only onto a Jack of clubs. When a column is empty you can move any single card onto it to start it off. You can turn over a single card at a time and put them whenever you decide you want to or if course if there are no possible moves for you. You are only allowed to pass through the waste pile once and of course you can only use the top card of the waste pile.

How to Win Forty Thieves

Right, so now you've got your head round those simple rules let's help you win!


- It's all about the empty columns! Empty columns allow you to restack more cards together, hopefully freeing up a card or column in the process.
- Move lower ranked cards first, as once a higher ranked chain of cards is created it gets much harder to move later on. Having said this, if an empty column presents itself you may find it best to put the higher ranked cards there and work your way down trying to build up the full column.
- Of course always send Aces and twos to the foundation piles immediately. Be careful with other cards, as sometimes you can have two columns of cards in suit, but can only choose one set to place on the foundation. Pick the set that opens up the most possibilities for you.
- It's usually preferable to play cards that have been dealt first, rather than cards in the waste pile. There is a caveat, as you reach the end of the waste pile, you may wish to move those cards as it may end up being tricky going back through the cards you could not use earlier.
- The key is planning your moves. You are always looking out for options that will free up cards that will assist your progress, and that takes a little bit of thought.

 

We hope you have much more success playing this card game after reading this guide.

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