The Emperor card game is a highly challenging version of Solitaire. It’s part of the Napoleon at St. Helena genre.
This game requires a great deal of patience, planning, and foresight in order to successfully build sequences and move cards around the tableau.
In this guide, we will provide an overview of the game, explain how to set it up and play, and offer some tips and strategies to help you succeed.
How to Play Emperor?
Emperor Solitaire is a solo card game, meant for one person. However, no one is stopping you from solving it together with someone else. The game requires two standard decks with the jokers removed. The total will be 104 cards.
Setting Up and Dealing
- First, make sure to combine the two decks and shuffle them well.
- Secondly, prepare the playing area by clearing some space. It doesn’t have to be a huge area, but it should be comfortable enough to accommodate the movement of many cards. A neat and tidy table is ideal.
The are four essential parts to setting up the layout: the foundation, the tableau piles, the stock pile, and the waste pile.
This is a row of 8 piles. However, during the setup, there are no cards placed here yet. Just make sure you leave enough room for this row.
The tableau rows will be below the foundation.
- Place 10 cards in a row face down.
- Lay two more rows on top of these.
- Finish off with a fourth row of face-up cards.
You will end up with 10 piles of 4 cards. Make sure all cards only partly overlap each other.
The remaining 64 cards form the so-called stock pile. This is one pile of face-down cards.
This is where you move cards that you are not going to play (discarding). During the setup, no cards are placed here yet.
The objective of Emperor is to build eight foundation piles from Ace to King in the same suit, by sequentially moving one card at a time. It is a challenge that requires strategy and a good understanding of the gameplay, which we will explain below.
Let’s begin the game.
You can move cards between the tableau piles in order to reveal new cards. The rule here is that the card you want to move needs to be of a different color and one rank lower.
For example, if you have a 5♣ that you want to move somewhere else, it has to be placed on a 6♥ or 6♦.
Cards from the tableau piles can also be moved to the foundation.
- Foundation piles need to start with an Ace, so as soon as you see an Ace, move it to the foundation.
- Foundation piles are built up from Ace to King of the same suit.
For example, A-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K. All being spades.
Stock Pile Moves
The top card from the stock pile can be moved anywhere. The stock is used when you are not able to make any tableau moves anymore.
Waste Pile Moves
If the card you took from the stock pile can not be played anywhere, move it to the waste pile. This means laying the card face-up right beside the stock pile.
Eventually, this will create a new pile of face-up cards, of which the top one can always be played.
Ending and How to Win
There are two possible outcomes, you either win, or you run out of possible moves.
To succeed and win, it is necessary to place all 8 Kings on the foundation and build up the 8 Aces in the right order.
When you’ve reached a dead end and can no longer move any cards on the tableau, it’s curtains for the game. In some cases, the game is simply unbeatable. Just accept it and start a new game.
A brief overview of the Emperor card game rules can be found below.
- Two decks must be used.
- Players can only move one card at a time
- Kings can not go on top of Aces.
- When a tableau pile becomes empty, any card can be moved into the empty spot.
- Cards played into one of the tableau piles can not be discarded.
- Cards played into the foundation can be moved back into the tableau (worrying back).
- The are no re-deals. When the deck runs out, that’s it.
The table below visualizes from where-to-where you are allowed to play.
|From > To
Strategy and Tips
Emperor is quite a challenging version of solitaire. Some strategy is needed in order to complete the game.
Uncovering Cards in the Tableau
To maximize your success, uncover as many cards as you can in the tableau. Doing this allows you to create more opportunities to move cards to the foundation piles.
Use Empty Tableau Piles
To maximize card exposure, try to keep some tableau piles empty. This way, you can move Kings onto these piles, freeing up other tableau piles and allowing more cards to be revealed.
This strategy can be very helpful in giving you greater access to cards that you might need.
Be mindful of your decisions. Imagine how each move will affect the rest of the game, and use that knowledge to your advantage.
Always remember that your moves should help you progress toward your goal of moving more cards into the foundations
Don’t Shift Cards Needlessly
Refrain from moving cards only to make a move unless it helps increase the number of cards on your foundation piles or reveals more cards in the tableau piles.