Rules for Eight Off

Family: FreeCell
Categories: Popular, Rewarding
Also Known As:  

Here’s a game in the same family as The Towers and FreeCell, and just as addictive. Other solitaire programs for the Mac have helped to make Eight Off popular, and we are pleased to respond to many customers’ requests by including it in Solitaire Till Dawn.

A good player should be able to win the majority of games, at least if you are willing to make patient use of the Undo and Redo buttons. We recommend that this game be treated as a puzzle: feel free to back up and try a different approach whenever you get stuck.


Shuffle the deck and lay out 48 cards in eight tableau piles, face up and fanned down, so that there are six cards in each tableau. Above the tableaus are the eight piles of the reserve, and to the right are the four foundations in a vertical column. The four remaining cards are placed face-up in four of the reserve piles; the rest of the reserve and the foundations begin the game empty.


Tableaus build down in suit. Top cards of tableaus are available for play on other tableaus, on foundations, or on the reserve. Any card may be played to an empty tableau.

(The correct and more difficult rule is that only Kings may be played to an empty tableau; but we believe most Mac users are used to the easier rule. If you prefer a harder game, you may voluntarily follow the Kings-only rule.)

An empty reserve can hold any card, but each can hold only one card at a time; and of course such cards can be removed only by correctly playing them back onto tableaus or foundations.


The goal is to move all cards to the foundations.


As in all games of this type, empty piles are tremendously important. Eight Off gives you eight reserves, which sounds like a lot (actually it is a lot), but only four of them start the game empty. So be a little bit careful in how you use the reserves. It’s best to fill a reserve only when you already know how to get that card out of the reserve again. Of course you won’t always be able to do that, and sometimes you’ll have to put a card in the reserve “until further notice.” When you have to do that, it’s a good time to take a snapshot of your position in case you never find a way to remove the card again.

If you use the liberal rule that lets you put any card into an empty tableau, then an empty tableau acts like a reserve—only better, because you can build on the tableau. Conserve the reserve by moving multiple cards from the reserve into a single empty tableau when you can. (The cards you move will have to be in suit and in sequence, of course, so you won’t always be able to do this. But it’s great when you can!)

As a shortcut Solitaire Till Dawn will let you move full or partial builds provided you have enough empty piles available to have accomplished the same move one card at a time.

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