Product Review: Solitaire Till Dawn X
What with today being MondayI thought we could all do with something to relax us. To that end I am going to recommend a nifty piece of software that has helped relieve quite a bit of my work related stress. So, here is my review of the wonderful card game, Solitaire Till Dawn X.
Creator ~ Semicolon Software
Website ~ Download STDX
Price ~ $20
Summary of features
The best aspect of this product is its wide selection of games. There are currently 90 different versions of solitaire that you can choose from, ranging from the commonplace like Klondike, FreeCell and Spider to the exotic like Indian, King Albert and Miniature Golf. Some are very easy to play and can be picked up in a few seconds, like Pyramid, while others have a steep learning curve and can take an hour to play, such as 40 Thieves (a personal favorite).
Additionally the games are quite varied as well. Some are offshoots of Klondike and other favorites where the main change is fewer cards or more relaxed rules. But quite a few are completely different and sometimes quite obscure. I have been playing this for almost a year and still haven’t tried out all of the games. Many of the card games listed come from different countries or time periods and thus might not be very familiar. One such example is La Belle Lucie, an old gambling game that could be found in many river boat casinos. The object was to get rid of as many cards as you can. You “buy” the deck from the dealer and every card you are successfully able to remove from play he would pay you a certain amount. So, if you were good enough to remove more than 85% of the cards you would make money, otherwise you would loose some money depending on how good you were. It is a wonderful game that is quite amusing to try your hand at.
Now that I have given you a taste of some of the games let me explain why playing is such a joy.
First, there is the massive help section which gives extensive details of each game. These details include how to play, a short history of the game, variations, aliases and what category it would fall in. Second, and most important, are the smart cards, marked cards, bookmarks and walk through features. Now, let me explain each in turn.
Smart cards, this is a feature that automatically moves a card to the discard pile if it can moved there. So, if you are playing a game and you need a King of Hearts to place on the discard pile (and assuming you have this feature clicked on) then as soon as a King of Hearts come up in the draw pile it will automatically be discarded. Now, sometimes this feature can get in your way and sometimes it makes a legal move but not the “best” move for your game. This is due to the fact that it would pick up the first King of Hearts and discard it while the better move might be to wait for the second King or not to play it at all, follow me? But, on the whole, this feature can radically speed up your games allowing you to get another 3 or 4 rounds in before you lunch break is over.
Marked cards are very cool because when this feature is activated a small semi transparent blue square appears over the symbol (in the upper left hand corner) of each card that can be played. This is very nice when dealing with large games in which you might miss a potential play. With this feature you can instantly see any card that can be put into play.
Bookmarks and the walkthrough buttons are features which go hand in hand. As you play each move of a card is considered a turn. So, if you play to a point at which you get stuck and thus lose, you can step back through your entire game one card play at a time to see if you made a mistake. You then can take over from the point of that mistake and replay your game. Bookmarks allow you to “remember” a certain spot in the game. Here is an example. I am playing 40 Thieves and have made 35 moves. I am at a juncture where I have a choice to make as to whether or not to discard a Jack. If I do discard it and a 10 comes up in the next few dealt cards then I will need to go back and undo that discard of the Jack. If I don’t get a 10 soon then I should just keep playing. This spot is a perfect play to put a bookmark. Additionally, when I am at move 113 and I decide to go back to move 35 I can click backwards one card at a time or I can click the “speed undo” button and watch my entire game played backwards before my eyes. And it will automatically stop at any bookmark.
Wrapping it up
This is a wonderful piece of shareware that everyone needs to try. It is free to download and well worth a look. Oh, and just in case you were wondering here is a small list of my favorite games:
40 Thieves (very tricky, lots of skilled needed to win, on average, more than 10% of games)
La Belle Lucie (cool concept)
Fortress (very difficult and not for the faint of heart)
Miniature Golf (fun and short)