For most of computing history, Windows
has come with at least one solitaire game. This changed with newer versions of the operating system
, which understandably made a lot of people rather angry. However, the choice to offer the solitaire games separately seems to have been made for a reason: the Microsoft Solitaire Collection is far superior to the original "sol.exe". In fact, it wasn't that long ago that you'd need to pay more than $10 for a game with this many features.
Most people are familiar with "Windows Solitaire" and FreeCell, the two most common solitaire games that came with Windows
. Many people aren't aware that the card game played in "Windows Solitaire" is a real card game known as Klondike. Both Klondike and FreeCell are included in the Microsoft Solitaire Collection, along with Spider, Pyramid and Tripeaks. These other three games are also fairly popular (at least among card game fans), so you're not going to be wandering in uncharted territory.
In addition to these classic games, there are also special challenges to test out your skills. The Daily Challenges provide one challenge per card game per day (for a total of five challenges per day), and you'll receive medals and achievements
as you complete them. The Star Club offers more puzzles, though many are locked
until you have earned enough stars by completing simpler levels.
A new feature is the ability to compete in large timed Events, which are large multiplayer competitions. In this mode, you're assigned to a random group of 100 players, and complete challenges to see who can solve every challenge within the Event's time limit in the least amount of time. Many players take up to two hours per Event, so this may not be the thing for everybody.
Fans of card games should really give this one a try.
Classic solitaire staples
Daily challenges & the Star Club
There are hundreds of different solitaire games out there, but the five included in this collection are easily the most popular and thus the most well known of them all. In fact, people are actually angry that newer versions of Windows
don't come with these games preinstalled.
Every day there are five new challenges to test your skill at these card games. You may be asked to play a specific card on the foundation, solve a specific deal, or clear a given amount of a certain type of card over the course of multiple deals. Completing enough of the daily challenges in a given month will net you a medal.
Five card decks, plus the ability to make your own
If the daily challenges aren't enough for you, try the Star Club. It's a similar series of challenges gathered into "packs". Each pack has a theme of some sort, such as a fixed level of difficulty or a specific card game. As you clear the Star Club's challenges, you'll earn stars, which can then be used to unlock more difficult challenges elsewhere in the Star Club.
Currently there are five different decks to choose from. Note that the challenge games use their own deck, so your choice only reflects which designs to use for the regular games. If you want, you can also create your own card deck using pictures on your computer.
Achievements and medals
It may sound utterly ridiculous, but there are achievements
to earn in this game as well as various medals. Each to their own, I suppose.
Do you think you're good at playing solitaire? These Events occur fairly regularly, pitting 100 people against each other in a race to solve challenges. Winners are chosen by the total time they spent playing the game, so you don't need to be the first person to clear all of the challenges to win. You just need to have done it faster than the other 99 players. You'll earn special medals for your progress in these events too!
The premium version is temporary
The trade off for this collection being free to play is that advertisements are displayed in a number of places -- mostly on the menu screens. Every so often, there are also 30 second video ads that you need to sit through before you can start playing. These video ads usually only appear when you first start the App
though, so they don't break into the gameplay.
If the ads really bother you, there is an option to purchase an ad-free version of the game. However, this is a not a one time payment. Instead, you purchase either a month or year of premium membership at a time. Once it expires, you're given an option to buy more time or return to the ad-supported
version. I'd prefer a single microtransaction
and have it over with, but considering everything Microsoft is doing with this game, they probably need to deal with a monthly overhead. That would make a one time fee self-defeating in the long run. I ended up deciding that a year of premium was worth it just so that I didn't need to see the same advertisement for the millionth time.
Premium isn't permanent
Just to make it absolutely clear, I'm repeating myself in this section. The upgrade to the Premium Edition is only temporary, and once the time runs out, the game reverts to the ad-supported
version. On the plus side, it does not automatically renew the Premium membership, so if you do upgrade, you don't need to worry about canceling it when you don't want it anymore.