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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 17th day of Celebrating, Yr 19
The Neopian Times Week 9 > Articles > Can You Be a Grand Master?

Can You Be a Grand Master?

by Docktor

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This week: Sakhmet Solitaire
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This is a variation on one of the oldest solitaire games, variously known as Klondike or Patience. Side note: the Patience games comprise many similar games, but the Klondike variety was so popular that it also garnered the name for itself.

Grand Master ranking for Sakhmet Solitaire is a cumulative total like several other Neopian solitaire games. The rankings are:

0 Beginner
500 Amateur
1000 Novice
2000 Expert
4000 Master
15000 Grand Master

So, though you can just play low scoring games forever and finally get to Grand Master without ever winning, you can also get some trophies for winning 2 or more games, and for winning two in a row. We'll look at some strategies here for how to win the game and get 860 points.

You have two choices for how to go through the cards, either one at a time, once through the deck, or three cards at a time, three times through. Each style has its advantages and disadvantages, but there's less strategy to going through one at a time, so we'll mostly discuss the 3 at a time play.

In one card at a time play, you do need to bring the cards down to the tableau (where the rows of cards start out) or up to the foundation (where the Aces go) if at all possible, because once buried in the discard stack, the cards may never be seen again.

When you're playing three at a time, you can think a bit differently. You can always see all three of the cards that you draw, so you know if it's important to uncover some of the triplet. If it's not important to get to those, and it's optional whether to play a card on the tableau or from the draw pile, play on the tableau.

Most of the time, because the draw pile is visible and the cards on the tableau are unknown, you want to try to uncover the tableau. Two cards are important to uncover and make use of: Aces and Kings. The King is the only card that can go to an empty column, and the Ace is the only card that can start a foundation stack. Without these available, you simply won't win.

If you have a choice of which King to play, pick one of each color even if you don't have any Queens visible. You always want at least one stack of each color. There's nothing more discouraging than having an entire tableau showing red cards and draw more red cards in the deal. Variety is important. If you don't have an advantage to combining two stacks into one, don't. You might be able to play some other card onto the middle "join" card instead.

One other thing that you should keep in mind, when playing three at a time, is the effect your plays have on future runs through the deck. With only three trips, it's not easy to implement this strategy, but remember that using one card of a triplet will make the lowest cards of all subsequent triplets available on the next trip through the deck. It may well be worth passing over a chance to use a card, just to know that you'll get a whole set of unplayed cards next round. That's really important if you have an Ace or Two hiding down there.

Okay, so about that score. Apart from personal satisfaction and artistic merit, there's nothing great about loading up most of the cards down on the tableau. The only way you get points in this game is to get them moved up to the foundation stacks.

So, here's another thing to remember about the way Neopets has implemented their game. You can always move cards around on the tableau. So, if you really need the five of spades, but it has the four of diamonds on it, and the five of clubs is free, you can move the four and anything below it over to the other black five, and play the five of spades.

This procedure will not only free up cards to the foundation, but properly done will also allow some exposure of hidden tableau cards just by shuffling stacks back and forth. You also want to uncover cards from the shortest stacks first, if you don't have open spaces or all four Kings deployed. That way you're more likely to have room to move a King up when you encounter one.

The only way you get points... Oh, I said that already. Well, get to moving those cards up to the foundation then. You get points as follows for doing that:

20 points for each Ace
10 points for each card 2-Queen
85 points for each King

That's a total of 860 points for a win, but 340 of that comes from just putting those four Kings up there. Of course, once you've got all the draw pile deployed and all the tableau cards uncovered, it's just a matter of tediously moving the cards to the tableau. Where's that "finish for me" button?

Okay, that's about it for this game. Main strategy? Play a lot and you'll make Grand Master. But work on winning, and you'll have some more bronze, silver and gold in the trophy cabinet.

Next: Chute

Other articles so far in the series: Nimmo's Pond, Pyramids, Swarm!, Scarab 21 and Pterattack.

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Docktor is Grand Master of Sakhmet Solitaire and several other games. He holds the Grand Master position in the new "Game Strategies Guild" where strategies such as presented in this article are discussed among the members.

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