September 18, 2018
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Genre: Board & Card
Min OS X: 10.3

May 16, 2006 | Marcus Albers

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When I first looked at Solavant from developer Smallware, I wasn't impressed. I've played an inordinately large number of solitaire games on both Macintosh and Windows, and I have seen some very impressive presentations. From 3D graphics to cards flipping all over the place to sparkly particle effects to hordes of monkeys, some solitaire games go all-out in the graphics department. So, what could possibly make me want to give Solavant a second look?

Solavant may not have the flashiest graphics around, but when you get past that, you will find a solitaire game for the true solitaire purist. This game is hard. And when I mean hard, I don't mean "sit down a win a game occasionally" hard. I mean "I've played 20 games and haven't won one yet" hard. Let's put it this way. Solavant organizes its solitaire variants with "Hard," "Harder," and "Hardest" categories. If that hasn't scared you away yet, then continue with me into the heart of a true solitaire game.

This game offers an unheard of, mind-numbing two hundred (if that doesn't seem big, then look at it this way: 200) different solitaire variants. That is a game a day for nearly seven months! Solitaire fans out there should be drooling like Pavlov's dogs at the mention of so many games. Some of them you have heard of, like the venerable Klondike, Canfield, and such. Others such as Honeybees (one of my personal favorites), Provisional, and Assimilation are ones that you will find nowhere else, since Smallware has seen fit to make them up all on their own.

Now, granted, there is only so much you can do with any number of decks of cards, so some games may seem similar to others that you have played. But there is usually enough of a difference in the rules—or a nasty little twist that another game doesn't have—to make the variations stand well on their own. I can't say that I have played all two hundred different games in Solavant, but of the large number that I have played, I've found different things to keep me coming back to many of the variations. If you don't like something about a particular game, take a look at the games that Solavant says are similar, and try them out. You'll be surprised at what you may find.

Of course, two hundred games are a lot to navigate through every time. What if I find one that I really like and I can't remember which of the two hundred different games it was? Luckily, Solavant solves this by allowing you to set games as "favorites," giving you instant access to the ones that you play the most. Or decide how big of a challenge you are up to and choose from Solavant's built in categories. The designation of "Hard," "Harder," and "Hardest" seems to be based on the chance of getting a win from any particular deal. While some of the hard games depend as much on the cards you have been dealt as the order you play them, the hardest games seem to depend a great deal on strategic play.

Another nice thing about the game selection is the fact that there are rules accompanying every game, making it easy to see at a glance what the gameplay is like as you scroll through the list. The rules are also readily available during gameplay, should you forget about some nuance of gameplay mid-game. Solavant also keeps track of stats on each game, including the number of wins, number of times played, and quickest games. You will soon begin to see what games you are good at, and what games offer nothing but frustration. You can reset the stats at any time, should they become too depressing.


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