La Belle Lucie Solitaire - play for free

La Belle Lucie is a card game where (like a lot of games) the object is to get the cards to the foundations. Where it varies quite a bit is that you can completely randomize the cards on the tableau at any time (but with standard rules, you may only do this twice).

playing La Belle Lucie by hand

You will need a single, shuffled card deck without the Jokers.

You will be creating 18 total piles ("fans") over the board (of 3 face-up cards each, except for the 18th "pile" which is a single faceup card). The physical arrangement is not important given that each pile is autonomous, but the common layout is to have 5 piles across for 2 rows down, and then a third row with 2 complete piles and your final single-card pile.

On both the tableau and the foundations, cards are built by suit, with the foundations going from Ace to King, and the tableau going from King to 2 (since Aces are immediately moved to a foundation once uncovered).

One huge difference of La Belle Lucie from most cardgames is that you may only ever move a single top card at a time regardless of whether it's part of a sequence or not. This makes strategy quite important in some situations, as otherwise you may completely block yourself in a given round.

Speaking of rounds, in La Belle Lucie's traditional rules, you only get 3 total chances to get all of the cards to the foundation piles. You can think of each chance in general as a round. When you've exhausted all available moves in one round, you hit redeal (if you're playing on a computer of course) or, in real life, you pick up all of the cards on the tableau. The cards on the foundation always stay put from one round to the next. Now either you or a computer will shuffle those tableau cards thoroughly and then put them back onto the board in groups of 3.

Depending on how you want to word it, you get 3 rounds or you get 2 complete redeals (two ways to express the same concept). Now, here on the La Belle Lucie Solitaire site, you can actually change the number of redeals to be unlimited if you want. This can be a great way to play when you're first getting accustomed to the game and it basically makes the game impossible to lose (since a redeal never messes with the cards that are already in the foundations, you can eventually get everything to the foundations given enough redeals).

In addition to the biggie about only ever being able to move the top most card in a pile, another big caveat about La Belle Lucie is that empty spaces (cleared piles) are useless. You can't move any cards there. This means that once you've uncovered the last card in a pile (or your single-card 18th pile when you first start the game), there's no real benefit to moving that card to another pile (other than to organize things visually (just make sure you're not blocking other moves by doing this)). So once you're down to the last card in a pile, you might as well leave it alone and start building on it with impunity.

Strategies can vary but I tend to try to attack from the top by looking at the Kings going downward when I start a game. In a given round, Kings can only ever be moved by getting them to a foundation pile (as opposed to when they get shuffled and moved in between rounds). Since it's unlikely you'll be getting any King to a foundation in the first round, I generally consider any cards under the King to be lost causes in the current round. So then I'll start building on top of any exposed Kings.

Here's a fun factoid: if you're in the last round and a King is covering a card of the same suit, you might as well quit because you are never going to win (of course, you could also change the rules to allow for another redeal).

Another possible early game strategy is to make a mad dash to uncover all the Aces, making subsequent rounds easier.

Regardless of skill, there are going to be some games that will simply be impossible because you're given unwinnable situations in each round (such as when a King covers a card of its suit).

Good luck and have fun!

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