A solitaire card game. It uses a standard deck of cards with the Jokers removed.

SETUP: deal the deck into three separate stacks. Two stacks will be of 17 cards; these are the ENEMY. The final stack of 18 cards is for the PLAYER. Set the two ENEMY stacks in front of the player with a little distance between the two of them. Draw the top card off each of the ENEMY stacks, and place them next to one another. The player then draws the first six cards off the top of the PLAYER draw stack and sets them in front of the player in a row. Now you’re ready to begin.

thirty-six, game setup

thirty-six, ready to play

OBJECT: You want to score more than 36 points. You do this by collecting more valuable cards than you let go when you face off against the enemy.

GAMEPLAY: look at the total of the enemy cards that are face-up. Number cards are their face value, Aces are 1, and Jacks, Queens, and Kings are all worth 10. The ENEMY total is what the player wants to “meet or beat” to claim cards. The player chooses any number of their face-up cards and adds them together.

thirty-six, gameplay

If the player’s card total is equal to or greater than the ENEMY total, the player moves their cards to their own collection stack and one card of their choice from the two face-up ENEMY cards. The remaining ENEMY card goes to the ENEMY collection stack, and is out of the game.

In other words: if the player wins, they keep the cards they played as well as one of the ENEMY cards as a trophy.

thirty-six, player wins

If the player’s card total is less than the ENEMY total, the player must take one of their row cards and add it to the ENEMY collection stack. Then move their one remaining player card to the player collection stack. The remaining ENEMY cards go to the ENEMY collection stack.

thirty-six, enemy wins

In other words: if the player loses, they lose a card to the ENEMY collection stack from the player row.

Once the winner is determined, if any face-up cards remain in the ENEMY play area they go to the ENEMY collection stack.

At the end of that turn, draw one more card from the PLAYER stack and add it to the cards in the player row.
thirty-six, end of turn cleanup

If the player has no more cards in the player row at the end of a turn, they instead draw a full complement of up to six cards to create a new player row. An example of this is shown below:

thirty-six, gameplay continues

thirty-six, gameplay continues

thirty-six, gameplay continues

If a player’s PLAYER stack is empty and they need to draw cards, shuffle the player collection stack and make that the new PLAYER draw stack.

The game ends when the ENEMY stacks are empty.

At the game’s end, count up the points in the PLAYER collection stack. Number cards are 1 point, face cards are 2 points, and Aces are 3. If the player has more than 36 points, they win the game.

thirty-six, scoring

Played repeatedly, an experienced player will begin to win most of the time, and losses will be due mostly to the luck of the draw. At that point, variations are recommended to increase the challenge.

To increase the difficulty, try any of the following, or make your own:
– allow only three cards to be added to the player row once the row is empty of cards.
– the player must always discard the right-most card from their row if they lose a turn to the ENEMY.
– the ENEMY always wins a turn if they show an Ace.
– the player must always “beat” an ENEMY hand with a face card in it to win that turn; they can’t simply “meet” the tota

I call this game “Baltimore Solitaire” because it reminds me of that town. When I first designed this game, I had moved to Nashville, Tennessee, after living in Baltimore, Maryland for over 15 years. Now that I’m back in Baltimore, I’ve revisited the game to build in more thematic elements. Add the following to your game for a significant challenge:

  • The player’s row can be only 4 cards at most.
  • ENEMY cards are worth double if they’re of the suit of Clubs. For example, if the enemy cards are 9D and 3C, their total that round is 15.
  • If the ENEMY shows 2 cards, both being Clubs, they automatically win that round and take all of the cards from the player’s row.
  • A Heart in the player’s row counts double, just like Clubs for the ENEMY. However, the player doesn’t automatically win if they show all Heart cards.
  • Whenever the ENEMY wins against the player, the player must add their lowest-value card from their row to the ENEMY score pile. This means that if the player loses against the ENEMY and an Ace is in the player row, they must always surrender that Ace (or one of the Aces, should they have more than one in their row).
  • Finally, think of the ENEMY as the police, and the game makes perfect sense.

Have fun!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *