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edited 2013-07-07 08:56:39 in Media
Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human

I'm not sure why I ended up finding this out, but here goes.

In Windows 7's version of Solitaire, there are a few key features:

A. Undos are free, and you can undo as far back as you want.

B. The game has a hint system.  The hint system will suggest to you one of the following moves, in the following priority order:

1. moving a card to a stacking pile (the ones on the top right)

2. moving a whole display pile (the face-up cards at the bottom, each pile being one or more cards) to another, to reveal a face-down card beneath that pile.

3. moving a card from the face-up draw pile (top second-to-left pile) to the display area, adding a card to an existing pile (or adding a King to a blank pile).

4. drawing a card from the face-down draw pile and placing it on the face-up draw pile.

Notably, the game will not suggest when to move parts of piles, nor will it suggest pulling cards down from the stacking piles into the display piles.  Nor will it suggest playing a card from the face-up draw pile onto a display pile when that same card could be played onto a stacking pile, even if playing that card on a display pile would allow another display pile to be moved onto it.

C. the game can tell whether there are no more forward moves (i.e. all moves other than undo) that would, in some combination, result in first maximizing the number of cards in the stacking piles and second minimizing the total size of the draw pile (i.e. face down + face up, or basically, "the deck at the top left").  However, notably, it will not suggest certain moves (see above) that could accomplish these goals, so sometimes you'll find the hint system simply suggesting you draw a card, over and over again.  But if you DO run out of forward moves, it WILL tell you, with a big fat game over sign, giving you the option to undo moves.

It turns out that the score-optimizing way of playing this version of Solitaire is almost the following: H enter H enter H enter H enter H enter H enter H enter H enter H enter H enter H enter H enter H enter H enter H enter H enter H enter H enter H enter H enter etc..  There's a rhythm to it, though it sometimes takes longer when an animation takes longer (such as moving a huge pile of cards or a card going from the bottom left display pile to the top right stacking pile).

Basically, this means, do whatever the hint says.  Over and over again.  (Pressing enter will automatically take the move highlighted by the hint command, which is pressing H.)  The only things you need to watch out for are: (1) branch points (such as when you have two display piles that could be moved onto one target display pile), and (2) obviously better moves (such as putting that three of diamonds on the four of spades when you have a two of clubs around, rather than putting it into the diamonds stack, or reserving a spot for a king of a certain color), and (3) noticing when you're cycling through your deck more than once and the game over screen hasn't come up yet.

Because, frankly speaking, at least 80% of the time, the most optimal move is what the hint suggests.  If you do that, and simply manually fix the other 20% or so, you go from scores of about 3000-5000 points to scores of well over 10000.  Because the game really docks you for taking long, and if you can automate "knowing what to do with a given card", then you suddenly have a far more time-efficient strategy.

My record so far:

base score: 674
time: 35 seconds
time bonus: 19985
total score: 20659

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