“Are you seriously playing Solitaire with tarot cards?”
This is an adaptation of the popular Klondike game of solitaire for use with your favorite Tarot deck. I find this game is fantastic for observing the numerology, rapid recognition of cards, and cultivating a grounded relationship with your deck. If you’ve felt slightly out of touch with your tarot deck, or are new to tarot or bought a new deck recently, playing a game with the cards can be a great place to begin familiarizing yourself. The tarot pack is built for game playing, after all.
Play might be difficult at first, since the number and suit aren’t clearly visible at the top of most Tarot packs the same way they are on standard cards. Playing a lot will help you know your deck intimately, but the first game can easily take an hour as you check suits and reduce high trump numbers, especially if its not a pack you’re already familiar with. With practice, I’ve played the game well under a half hour.
HOW TO PLAY
What you Need
- A 78 card Tarot pack with 56 minor arcana and 22 major arcana cards. The typical suits in a Tarot pack are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. The Major arcana cards are also called the Trumps, and are numbered from 0 to 21.
- A fair amount of table or floor space. Many Tarot decks are over-sized compared to standard cards, so the game can take quite a lot of room.
Object of the Game
To place each card from the deck in order from Ace to King, or from Magician (1) to World (21) in the case of the Trumps, into 5 piles (Foundations) from lowest to highest.
There will be 9 stacks of cards. Above them, I keep the remaining cards (The Stock) and the discard pile to the left, and room for 5 stacks of cards (The Foundations) to the right.
Deal nine cards face down left to right. Do it again, flipping over the last card on the 9th pile. Repeat, except ending and flipping over the card on the 8th pile. Repeat until you flip over a card on the first pile, and lay the stock aside on the top left of your playing area.
- Cards are played onto eachother from the 9 stacks in descending order and alternating suits. Moving a card also moves any cards above (on top) of the card.
- Descending order is as follows: King, Queen, Knight, Page, 10, 9, … Ace.
- Descending order for the Trumps is from The World (21) down to The Magician (1).
- All 10s may be played either as a 10 on a Page. or as an Ace on a 2. A Nine is required to continue the stack above the 10, even if it is played as an Ace.
- All trumps over 10 are played as the sum of their digits:
Card No. Value Justice 11 2 Hanged Man 12 3 Death 13 4 Temperance 14 5 Devil 15 6 Tower 16 7 Star 17 8 Moon 18 9 Sun* 19 10 Judgement 20 2 World 21 3 The Sun plays as any other 10, so it may be played on any 2.
- Pentacles and Cups may only be played on Swords and Wands and vice-versa.
- Trumps may be played on any suit, and any suit may be played on a Trump. The number value of the trump must still be in order, like any other suit.
- The Fool is completely wild, allowing it to be played on any card and any card to be played on it.
- Beginning with Aces and the Magician, you may play the top card from any stack onto it’s Foundation.
- Revealed face-down cards are immediately turned over and enter play.
- Kings, The World, and the Fool may be played on an empty spaces. Only the Fool may be removed from an empty space.
- To play from the Stock, turn over the top 2 cards face up onto the discard pile. If only one card remains in the stock, play that card on the discard instead. The top card on the discard may be brought into play on any stack or foundation where it fits. Once the Stock is empty and you wish to draw again, simply turn the discard pile upside down and start over.
TIPS AND VARIATIONS
- 2s are important, since tens can be played on them. Don’t give them up to the foundation too easily!
- Using trumps early to reveal more cards is a good strategy. Later in the game, I like to consolidate my trumps by juggling the stacks.
- By juggling the Fool card around, it essentially becomes a free 10th stack. Sometimes I place it to the side just to make the game area a little clearer.
- Stacks can get very long. Juggling stacks to distribute them more evenly can clear up the game area.
- As in normal Klondike, all games might not be winnable, and its technically possible to play yourself into a corner. I’ve found this happens much less than in the standard game, but If you run out of moves try drawing fewer cards at a time from the stock before giving up completely.
For an easier game
- Don’t lay down the first line of all face-down cards. This increases the stock by 9.
- Pull 1 card at a time from the stock. This makes the game much quicker and easier, since the stock is effectively your hand – sometimes I leave it face up when I play this way.
For a more challenging game:
- Pull 3 cards at a time from the stock. This makes the game slower and more difficult, but I also think more fun.
- Instead of Wild, make the Fool card the ‘ace’ for the trumps – It can only be played to begin the trump foundation. This makes the Magician the only ‘1’ in the game which can’t be immediately played onto a foundation.