Solitaire – or, as it’s known here in Blighty, Patience – has been popular since the late 18th century. (Unlike the people who play it, arguably). By far the most popular version is “Klondike” solitaire, which was supposedly invented by bored gold prospectors in Canada.
But what happens when you don’t have the time, space or indeed patience to set up a physical deck of cards? Well, there are hundreds (and that’s no exaggeration, believe me) of apps you can download for your solitaire fix. Here are the five best free solitaire apps we’ve come across.
Solitaire Journey (Android and iOS)
With its cartoony Japanese artwork and simple cards, Solitaire Journey is one of the best-looking solitaire apps out there. This is backed up by relaxing sound effects such as birdsong – although the loud plink noise when you move a card quickly becomes irritating.
Moreover, the inevitable coin-based system feels superfluous when you just want to complete a level to continue your “journey”.
Purists should also note that it only includes the TriPeaks version of the game, which involves clearing three “peaks” of cards, but it’s still an interesting visual twist on what can be a stale genre.
Microsoft Solitaire Collection (Android and iOS)
Despite missing a few of the bells and whistles of other games, Microsoft Solitaire Collection is a one-stop shop for patience devotees. As well as including the classic Klondike solitaire, the app also features the Spider, FreeCell, Pyramid and TriPeak versions.
All of these are presented on a classic green background (more themes are “coming soon”), with attractive cards and a satisfying click when you make a move. If you like simple visuals, Microsoft is the way to go.
One of the app’s best features is the ability to take part in timed daily challenges and earn awards for your efforts. There are also regular events – such as the Solitaire World Tour – where you can test your skills against other players.
Solebon Solitaire (Android and iOS)
Marketed at “refined solitaire players”, Solebon’s offering includes almost every variation of the game under the sun. You can while away the minutes by playing everything from Accordion to Yukon, via Creepy Crawly and Russian Revolver. You’ll probably never end up playing some of the more obscure options, but it’s nice to have the choice.
In terms of design, Solebon has kept it simple: the playing area is a no-nonsense green table, while the playing cards are standard issue. Extra features are also thin on the ground: you can play matches against friends and keep track of statistics, but that’s about it.
Still, the sheer breadth of content on Solebon Solitaire should earn it a place on your smartphone.
Churchill Solitaire (Android and iOS)
As opening sequences to solitaire apps go, Winston Churchill’s “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat” speech accompanied by a patriotic Second World War montage is a strange choice. But, then again, Churchill Solitaire is a strange game.
Supposedly invented by the wartime prime minister, the game claims to be “the most diabolical version of solitaire ever devised” – which is a tad hyperbolic. What’s truly devilish, however, are the prices you’re expected to pay for upgrades ($4.99 for a normal version of the game?! 79¢ to skip a level ahead?!).
Criticisms aside, the free “Campaign” version of the game is entertaining. You begin as a young Sandhurst Cadet and are quickly led to a 3D solitaire table, which looks great – the backs of the playing cards even feature tiny portraits of Winston. The music is equally over the top and wouldn’t feel out of place in a Total War or Call of Duty game.
Come for the novelty value, stay for the great gameplay and design.
Solitaire – Grand Harvest (Android and iOS)
Once you’ve started playing Grand Harvest, it’s nigh-on impossible to stop. “I’ll just complete this level,” you’ll say – before looking up to find that a week has passed. The word “addictive” doesn’t do it justice; “all-consuming” is probably a better choice.
A cross between Candy Crush and FarmVille, Grand Harvest sees you navigate across a sunny Midwestern farm full of animated puppies and cheerful guitar hooks. That may sound nightmarish, but you’ll quickly get sucked in by the gameplay. Unlike other free titles, the emphasis here is very much on speed and credits. The former will win you “streaks”, while the later will allow you to splash out on further levels and other shiny gubbins.
The fact that you can spend a lot of real-life money in the game is a touch cynical, but that’s the way of the freemium world. There’s more than enough in Grand Harvest to make dull commutes pass in a heartbeat. Just don’t blame us if you develop a fully fledged addiction.
READ NEXT: What’s the best free Mahjong app?