Emperor is a more complex and challenging version of solitaire. It’s played with 2 decks of cards. The goal of the game is to move one card at a time in order to build sequences. Playing doesn’t require much set-up, so deal yourself a game of Emperor whenever you’ve got time to spare.
EditDealing the Cards
- Clear a playing space. While you don’t need a ton of space, a comfortable playing surface helps. Emperor involves moving and stacking lots of cards, so it can get a little messy. Leave enough space for 10 splayed piles of cards, 8 stacks above that, and 2 more stacks somewhere to the side.
- The 10 piles are the tableau piles, which are used to build descending sequences of cards.
- The 8 stacks form the foundation, where you build upon the Aces.
- The other 2 stacks are the stock pile, where you draw cards to play, and the waste pile, where you throw away unplayed stock cards.
- Shuffle together 2 decks of cards. Emperor is played with 2 standard decks of 52 cards. Remove the jokers if they’re among the cards.
- Deal a line of 10 face down cards. Keep the cards separated for now. The 10 cards form the tableau piles where most of the game is played. You don’t get to look at these cards yet.
- Deal 3 more cards face down on each pile. Lay each card so it exposes a little bit of the card underneath it. This way, you can easily see how many cards are left in a pile. Each pile should now have 4 cards in it. Again, avoid peeking at these cards.
- Flip over the top card on each pile. Expose the first card on each of the 10 piles. These cards are what you’ll use to begin the game.
- Place the remaining cards in a separate pile. Keep the remaining cards together and place them near you. Flip over the top card. These 64 cards are your stock and, starting with the top card, can also be added to the tableau piles.
EditBeginning the Game
- Move the cards in the tableau first. When you start playing, your first move is to work on the tableau piles. Transferring the face up cards to different piles enables you to make more moves, including flipping over face down cards and clearing piles. Look for the aces first to move them to the foundation. Then spot any tableau cards of similar rank but opposite color.
- Place aces in the foundation row. Leave a space above the tableau to store the aces. For now, move any aces exposed on the tableau. When you start drawing from the stock pile, add any aces you get. Place each ace side by side to form 8 separate piles.
- Match cards of opposite color and one lower rank. Cards moved to the tableau piles follow a specific pattern. First, the card on top has to be a number one less than the bottom card. Both cards also have to be opposite colors.
- For example, if you draw a ten of spades, you can only place it on a jack of diamonds or hearts.
- Move the top cards in the tableau to unlock face down cards. Tableau cards can only be moved one at a time. Moving the face up card exposes or “unlocks” the top face down card under it, which can then be flipped over and played. Do this anytime you uncover a face down card during the game.
- Draw cards from the stock pile when you’re out of moves. In addition to the tableau cards, your other main playing option is the stock pile. When you have no more moves left on the tableau, pick up the top card on the stock pile. Each time you draw a card, it can be placed on the tableau, foundation, or waste pile.
- If you draw an ace, move it to the foundation. Otherwise, you may add it to a foundation pile if it is matches the suit and is one number higher than the card beneath it.
- Discard unused cards in a waste pile. Cards from the stock pile can’t always be played. Check the tableau first, and if you can’t play the card you drew, place it face up next to the stock pile. Every card you discard goes face up on top of the last one. That top card is always playable, so look for opportunities to move it to the tableau after moving other cards.
- Once cards are in play on the tableau, they cannot be discarded.
- Move sequences of cards as needed. As you play the game, you’ll build sequences of opposite color cards of descending rank on the tableau. At any point you can pick up all or part of this sequence and move it to another pile. The same rules apply, so the sequence has to be played on top of a card of one higher rank and alternate color.
- For instance, if you have a sequence of cards from a 6 of hearts to 2 of spades, you can place the entire sequence on a 7 of clubs or spades.
- For a tougher game of Emperor, stick to moving only one card at a time.
- Replace cleared piles with any available card. After a while, you’ll be able to eliminate some of the tableau piles. Count this as an empty space and fill it as needed. Any card available to be played can be moved there to start a new pile. During the game, you are always allowed to keep 10 tableau piles.
- For instance, you move all 4 cards from one pile so you only have 9 tableau piles left. Move a face up card from the tableau, a tableau sequence, the stock pile, or waste pile to start the new pile.
EditBuilding the Foundation and Winning
- Build on the aces in an ascending sequence. The goal of Emperor is to move cards from the other piles to the foundation during the course of the game. Unlike the tableau, foundation cards are piled in ascending order. All of the cards in a pile are from the same suit.
- Any exposed card on the tableau, along with the card you draw from the stock pile and the top card on the waste pile, can be moved to the foundation when they’re in sequence.
- For example, you have an ace of spades in the foundation. The only card you can place on top of it is the 2 of spades. Then you’ll need to play the 3 of spades.
- Win by completing the foundation piles. To win the game, all you need to do is complete the foundation by moving all 8 kings there. You’ll have to build up all 8 aces in sequence, clearing out the tableau, stock, and waste piles to get there.
- End the game when you have no moves left. During some games, you’ll run out of moves. When you are unable to move any cards on the tableau and therefore can’t complete the foundation, the game is over. Shuffle all the cards together and try again!
EditThings You’ll Need
- Playing space
- 2 decks of cards