The Solitaire Conspiracy Review – Jack Of All Trades

As I played The Solitaire Conspiracy, I couldn’t help but wonder what other classics of tabletop gaming would benefit from the treatment that the solo card game receives here. Story-driven checkers? Chess with hero characters? Mancala with a leaderboard? The latest project from Bithell Games reimagines solitaire as a means of espionage. And while the FMV story that frames each hand is pretty predictable, the mechanical ramifications of this conceit make for a fantastic take on the traditional card game.

You are an unwitting spy, kidnapped and put to work by Protega, an intel organization working outside the confines of any nation’s government. Protega is represented to you by Kinda Funny’s Greg Miller as Jim Ratio, your handler and constant companion throughout the campaign. Ratio tells you that you need to take down a mysterious figure called Solitaire, who has shut down Protega’s means of communication with their operatives out in the field. It’s your mission to regain control of this spy network.

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Your spy work plays out through games of solitaire. According to the credits, the versions of the game that The Solitaire Conspiracy takes inspiration from are Beleaguered Castle and Streets and Alleys. These variants are less popular than Klondike or Spider, to be sure, but they’re intuitive enough and easy to pick up. The board is made up of three columns, each with four rows. In the central column, you place the ace for each suit that’s currently in play, then build on it until you reach the King. You draw these cards from the outer columns, where the cards are dealt in piles. Unlike in some other popular solitaire variants, you can only move one card at a time, rather than picking up the furthest consecutive card in and moving the stack. But, you can move each card to any pile, regardless of suit, as long as the numeric value on the card is lower than the topmost card on the desired pile. These core rules are fairly simple, and will be easy to pick up for anyone who’s played a hand or two of solitaire before. But that simplicity provides a solid framework for Bithell Games to use as it builds out its unique, hero-based take on solitaire.

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