What is Tri Peaks?
Tri Peaks Solitaire, sometimes simply called “TriPeaks”, is a game in the Solitaire genre of card games. Like most other games in its family, Tri Peaks is intended for solo-play as a time-waster. Anyone with a deck of cards, a steady surface to place cards onto, and some spare time can play this game.
How to Play TriPeaks Solitaire?
Tri Peaks is played using the standard Anglo-American 52-card deck. The setup for the game is quite simple.
Setting Up the Play-Zone
Once the deck has been thoroughly shuffled, deal out a row of cards, face-up, that is 10-cards long. These cards represent the base of the “Three Peaks.”
Upon these ten cards, Player should build three different pyramids of cards, using these face-up cards as the base. Each Pyramid should have four cards at its base, with each Pyramid sharing its end cards with the other pyramids.
Three cards should be placed, face down, In a row of 9 cards on top of the 10 face-up cards. Then, two more cards should be placed on top, with gaps between them, and finally each Pyramid completed with a final card to cap off the pyramids.
All the remaining cards, known as the “stock” should be placed underneath the Pyramid for ease of drawing cards.
Once this setup has been completed, there should be three ten-card pyramids, for a total of thirty cards on the play-zone.
To the right of the stock, Players should designate the “waste-zone”. The goal of the game is to get every card in the pyramids into the waste zones. Only cards that are face-up may be placed into the waste zone.
For the first card placed into the waste-zone, Players may choose whatever face-up card that they desire. As Players play more cards, more cards in the pyramid will be revealed. If there are no cards covering a face-down card, it may be flipped face-up and then played regularly.
In order to place a card into the waste zone after the first, that card must either be ranked one higher, or one lower than the card currently at the top of the waste zone. For example, if there is a King in the waste zone, Players may either play an Ace, or a King.
Keep in mind that Aces are both high and low in Tri Peaks, and are also allowed to “wrap around.” This means that an Ace can have a King or a 2 played on it.
Suit does not matter in TriPeaks solitaire. As long as the card is one higher or lower in rank than the top-card of the waste, it can be discarded there.
If no legal moves can be made with the currently face-up cards in the pyramids, then Players may deal one card to the waste at a time. Players may do this as many times as they need to in order to make a legal move, however, once the stock has been depleted it is not reshuffled.
Ending the game
Like in many Solitaire games, it is possible to lose due to the deal of the cards. If a Player does not manage to clear all of the pyramids, and cannot make any more legal moves nor deal cards from the stock, then that Player loses and receives a score. This score is explained below in the “Scoring” section.
If Players manage to clear all of the Pyramids, they are considered to have won the game, with a “score” of 0.
A summary of the Tri Peaks rules can be found below:
- Cards must be one higher in rank, or one lower, and must be face-up in order to be placed on the top card of the waste.
- Cards cannot be revealed unless all of the cards immediately below them on the pyramid have been sent to the waste zone. Generally, most cards will have two cards below them that must be cleared before they can be played.
- Players can only make one move at a time.
- Once the stock has been depleted, it is not reshuffled. This means that it is possible to lose a game of Tri Peaks Solitaire.
- The Pyramids should have a total of thirty cards, ten cards in each Pyramid from base to apex. Pyramids are organized into 4 cards on bottom, 3 cards above that, 2 above that, and one at the apex.
As with most other Solitaire games, there is a scoring penalty that will be applied to Players that too not manage to succeed and win the whole game. These scoring systems are more of a personal gauge, so that each Player understand the general performance of a game.
Although there isn’t much skill in Tri Peaks, there is enough that an individual Player can have an affect on their outcome, though there is always an optimal way to play that becomes obvious in hindsight as more cards are revealed.
Score in Tri Peaks is bad, with a higher score seen as a “worse” score. The closer to 0 a Player is, the better they did, and Players that clear all three pyramids are seen as “Winners” with a score of 0.
Imagine the following is the bottom row of cards in a game of Tri Peaks:
3♥ 8♠ Q♣ 8♥ 5♠ K♠ 2♠ 5♦ 10♦ 3♠
As Players are allowed to place whatever card that they wish into the waste zone first, try to look for cards that will create a chain or combo of cards in that initial move without needing to draw from the stock.
As such, Players can either play the 3♠ or the Q♣. These cards are the best choices, as the 3♠ can have the 2 placed on top of it and the Q♣ can have the K♠ placed on top of it.
After these moves however, Players will be forced to draw from the stock.
Strategy and Tips
- Players should always try to make moves that can have at least one extra card placed into the waste. Making a move that cannot have any already face-up cards to continue the chain should only be done if there are NO better opportunities on the table. Otherwise, you might lock yourself out of that chain and only be rewarded with a single discard for the effort.
- Draw from the stock whenever its necessary, as many times as necessary. Do not be afraid to use the stock, but be sure to ONLY do so when it is required. Don’t be discouraged, even if you must cycle through the stock a number of times, particularly as it nears the end of the game. The less cards in the pyramid, the less valid cards there will be in the stock.
- There are 8 possible cards in the deck that can be played on any given card in the waste. This gives Players a 4/26, or about 22%, chance of drawing the necessary card. These odds increase even further as more cards are wasted that are not within these 8 cards. Any given individual card has fairly good odds of being wasted.