Rules for Fortress

Family: Fortress
Categories: Thinker's
Variants: Chessboard, Beleaguered Castle, Streets and Alleys
Also Known As:  

Fortress is one of a fascinating group of games in which no cards are ever hidden. The entire deck is laid out, face up and visible, at the start of the game.


Shuffle the deck and lay out all the cards in ten tableau piles. Each tableau pile fans sideways, with all cards face up and visible. Arrange the tableaus in two columns or “wings” of five piles each, one wing on the left and one on the right, with a vertical column of four foundations in between them. The top tableau of each wing starts with six cards; the others with five each. The foundations start out empty.


Top cards of tableaus are available for building on each other, either up or down in suit. Aces may be played to the foundations, which build up in suit. Empty tableau piles may be filled with any available card.


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


You should create and keep an empty tableau pile as soon as you can. Use it as a “way station” to move a build from its original pile to a third, destination pile. Peel the build off its original pile into the empty pile, then peel it off the empty pile and onto the destination pile.

More often than not, a Fortress layout will leave you stuck within a few moves. Because Solitaire Till Dawn will not record a score if you make no moves in a game, we like to examine a new layout before deciding whether to try it. If it looks unplayable, we just click the New Game button and look for a more promising shuffle. This may be cheating (don’t tell!) but it allows us to win an average of around 30% of the games we actually try to play.

We also recommend frequent use of the Snapshot button. Any time you need to make a dangerous decision, take a snapshot. If you later get stuck, use the Undo to Snapshot (<<) button to rewind to the decision point, and try a different move.

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