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The Zachtronics Solitaire Collection
  opened by paleface at 01:35:01 02/04/23  
  last modified by paleface at 22:02:19 02/07/23  
  paleface [sys=PC; cat=Puzzle; loc=NA]

Spent some time editing the game:
- The options screen doesn't show numeric values of the volume slider positions; fortunately they can be seen and adjusted in a text file that the game places in your Windows User profile folders
- The volume level of some of the music and sound effects are 2-3x louder than the rest, making for a very uneven listening experience; fortunately they're all in .ogg format, editable in Audacity or whatever
- Toggling from "High (4K)" to "Low (2K)" detail, even when running in 1080p as I am, makes a seemingly random smattering of the game's cards and UI elements slightly blurry (and, for some reason, one card that stays sharp gets one pixel shorter); I'm paranoid about this after starting to give myself eyestrain trying to play back-to-back slightly blurry Mahjong solitaire games recently (both from Sunsoft, both 20 years apart, both with slightly blurry 2D tile art ; PP), so I deleted the folder holding the game's 62 MB of blurry textures; now the game can't be switched to the blurry setting because that crashes it instead--problem solved ; D
^ Aside from those and a few more minor issues, the game's presentation is absolutely gorgeous.
The solitaire variants are arranged from easy to hard going left to right on the main menu; Sawayama Solitaire is the one on the far left. It's also the most like regular Windows 3.11 or whatever solitaire, except that you can only draw three cards at a time and go through the deck once, you can hold a card in place of the dealt deck, you can drag any movable card to an open column, and it starts with dealt cards face-up rather than face-down. I thought I'd made some fatal error four or five moves in, when the agonizing began in earnest:
- oh no I've screwed up I'm going to be out of moves in 3-4 moves
- well let's just make the best of it anyway
- agonize over the options
- finally get sick of the agony and go with one
- okay now I'm out of moves, oh well I got a little farther
- ...wait there's one move left there
- repeat
And I kept squeezing through these emotional cliff gaps all the way to the end, exhausted yet somehow triumphant!
And so at last I beat the easiest solitaire game. = o
Also those pixel art card queens are just so darn cute.
The Collection doesn't save card games in progress from session to session, but it does keep track of your wins per game.
  paleface 23:35:21 02/04/23

Once I wrapped my head around the alchemical symbols and sequences (took me a while to realize that tiles don't have to be adjacent for matching, and that you do have to go through the quicksilver-to-metal matches in the metal sequence, so first matching quicksilver and lead, then quicksilver and uh whatever the next one in the diagram is, etc), Sigmar's Garden actually became rather easy: just let the lead-to-gold sequence guide your direction of attack, and remember that if you make one salt match with an element, you'll have to make a second one as well later, so you don't end up with just one of that element that then can't match anything.
Even though it's easy, it's fun and pretty, and I seemed to want to keep clicking those little round tiles.
(I adjusted the volume levels of the music and some of the SFX that were too loud; they're .ogg files so I just used Audacity's Amplify effect to tone them down a bit.)
The game never actually tells you the English names of the elements and all of the metals. But I guess as far as the elements go, red is Fire, light blue is Air, aqua is Water, and green is Earth.
  paleface 23:26:54 02/06/23

Once I got the rules down, Sigmar's Garden, Proletariat's Patience, Cribbage Solitaire, Kabufuda Solitaire, and Shenzen Solitaire felt too easy, to the point where I feel like I'm just shuffling cards around and could be playing something a little more interesting instead. Yes I am playing Kabufuda on the Easy setting but somehow just being more and more limited in how many cards I can move around at the harder difficulties doesn't seem compelling.
Cluj Solitaire defeats me. I can't seem to get it; probably doesn't help that I can't seem to remember the V, D, K, T face card sequence; my brain also can't seem to handle the possibilities opened up by the "cheating" mechanic where you can put any card out of sequence on any other card, but then can't play anything onto it and have to play it back into something in-sequence. The black and white minimalism doesn't help me get into it and I don't think I'm going to keep trying.
That leaves Sawayama and Fortune's Foundation. Sawayama still feels hard to me; plus, it's the only one where at least at the beginning as you deal from the deck, you can't see all the cards, leaving that feeling of mystery, romance, and anticipation that is probably kind of vital to standard Klondike solitaire. And after dealing off the deck, you probably have a longish sequence of cards to work through, and if you do get through it, it feels like you've been on a journey.
Fortune's Foundation feels insanely thick and complicated: you're building up not just the four Aces, but also a 0-21 Tarot sequence--from both ends simultaneously, ideally--and even stacking numbered sequences is agonizing, because you can choose to stack them in EITHER increasing or decreasing values--yet, you can't move stacks, only single cards, so re-organizing any stack probably involves exceedingly complex gyrations around your few precious hold cards. In a seeming nod to the difficulty, you are granted the only undo function in the Collection--but it's just a single card undo, and it feels like you have to think so far ahead in FF that a single card is pretty much nothing--it's just taunting you. But man, if I could clear it...
(From reading Steam discussions, the key thing for FF seems to be to get a column free: once you've done that, inverting stacks is simple. And the bottom option on the Options screen even makes the card flow when inverting automatic! Oh and the second-to-bottom option changes the numbers on the Tarot cards from 1, 2, 3 etc (forgot these are Arabic numbers duh) to Roman numerals I, II, III etc.)
  paleface 21:40:16 02/07/23

The description of Fortune's Foundation says it was "inspired by Fortress," and players in the Steam community forum compare it to FreeCell.
When I had first looked at Fortune's Foundation it seemed impossible; the big breakthrough here was realizing that the space in the middle, under the crystal ball, is not just a single-card hold space, but a regular stack-holding play column, left blank by the initial deal.
And I only figured that out because I'd switched the "Tarot Movement" bottom option on the options screen from the default "SINGLE CARD" to "ENTIRE STACK," as recommended by posters on the Steam forum for greatly reducing mouse clicking necessary to flip stacks of cards over--which you need to do sometimes, since in FF you can make stacks of cards in either descending OR ascending order. And that works hand-in-hand with the big gameplay tip I got from that forum, which is to always have an open card column--for flipping stacks, and so forth! And I hadn't realized the game STARTS you with an open column until I clicked what I thought would just be a single card in there, but since I'd toggled that "ENTIRE STACK" setting, it also moved the card that had been under (above) it in there, so suddenly there was a two-card stack in what I'd thought had been a single-card holding spot, and I was like, waaaaaaaait a sec...
The first deal I happened to get put both ends of the tarot in reach. : ) But it took a lot of digging to get the 2!
It was fun, though; Fortune's Foundation turned out to be just the kind of thing I was looking for when I first started looking at CCGs: a procedural, turn-based fantasy strategy game with lovely art. : ) CCGs didn't work out 'cause, like RPGs, they seem obsessed with covering the art with migraine-inducing flashing VFX; Zachtronics doesn't have those, though, just lovely smooth art. ^ _^ And you DO feel like you've been on a journey by the end. Will it hold up now that I've got the rules down? I think so; Sawayama Solitaire in this Collection, which is shorter, has been holding up just fine; that's kinda of the quicker, funkier change of pace to FF. : )
And I guess I still sort of enjoy Sigmar's Garden, even though it's uh USUALLY pretty easy. ]_]. Got a nice look and different approach to it.
Oh, it isn't the suit of "stars" in tarot, it's the suit of Coins: . Tarot decks were invented in 15th century Italy, not ancient Egypt or anything--that was later propaganda. ; )
Oh heck this whole time I thought the mouse pointer in this game was being captured by OBS. Oh wait it is in Sawayama... Not Sigmar's and FF, though. HUH. Great, that's gonna make that long "pondering" section SUPER boring. = P OKAY I'll just have to enable the cursor capture option in OBS then, shoot.
· Solitaire Forever II (PC)

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