Rules for Cruel

Family: Forty Thieves
Categories: Popular, Thinker's
Also Known As:  

We added Cruel to Solitaire Till Dawn X at the urgent request of some ardent fans who had played the game on Windows computers. Cruel is aptly named, and mindless play will make wins rare; but good players may hope to win one game in five or more.


Lay out the four Aces in a column to the right to start the four foundations. Shuffle the remaining cards and lay them out in twelve tableau piles, four cards to each pile, face up and fanned down.


Top cards of tableaus are available for play on foundations or other tableaus. The tableaus build down in suit; the foundations build up in suit to the King. You may not play any card to an empty tableau.


Whenever you please, deal by clicking the deck (the face-down card at the upper left of the window). Although Solitaire Till Dawn X will deal for you when you click the deck, you should understand how to deal with real cards because it will help you learn how to win more often.

Here is how to deal with real cards:

First gather all the cards from the tableaus. Do this by picking up the tableau piles in reverse order, bottom-right to upper-left. Turn each pile over as you pick it up, and stack it on top of the other piles you’ve already picked up. Do not shuffle the cards! When all the cards have been collected, lay them out again, four cards per pile. If you have played some cards to the foundations you may have fewer piles than before, and the last pile may contain fewer than four cards.

If you do it right, dealing will change the layout only if you have moved some cards since the last time you dealt. This means that you are stuck if you can move no cards after dealing, because dealing again won’t change anything.

You may redeal as often and as many times as you like.


The goal is to move all the cards onto the foundations.


Beware of the first tableau pile (the one at the upper left). If it ever contains a King on top of any other card of the same suit, you cannot win the game.

Similarly, don’t create an in-suit build in the first pile with a lower-ranked card of the same suit underneath it. Sych a build cannot be moved, and will block the same-suit card beneath it.

These first-pile blockers can happen unexpectedly when you deal, but you can guard against them by keeping an eye on the next couple of piles. If you move cards from the first pile, cards from the second pile will appear atop the first pile the next time you deal. Don’t let any of those cards be blockers!

Dealing is really the same as evening out the cards so that all piles (except perhaps the last) have four cards, and without changing the order of the cards. (If this doesn’t make sense to you, pay attention to how Solitaire Till Dawn X deals in Cruel, and it may become clear to you.) If you learn how this works, you can predict the results of dealing. This is an important skill if you really want to do well at Cruel.

By looking ahead to see how the next deal will come out, you may find that you should not make all possible moves before dealing. Leaving some movable cards in place may give you a more advantageous position after the next deal.

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