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I never pictured myself as someone who would sneak in a game or two of Solitaire at work, yet here I am, just seconds removed from playing Big Fish Games' amazing Fairway Solitaire, a game that blends the standard rules of solitaire and golf to create an addictive puzzle game with a surprising amount of depth and strategy. The game is available now for iOS platforms, as well as PC and Mac (which you can play for free here).
Many of you are probably rolling your eyes and saying "Dude, I played that game ages ago." If you are one of these people, you are only partially right. Fairway Solitaire is the poorly named sequel to 2007's Solitaire. If you download it on iOS, you'll get a handful of courses free, but will have to pay 99 cents to unlock the entire game.
I am hopelessly addicted to this game's uniquely crafted challenges and pursuit of lowering my overall handicap for each course. Cards can only be removed from the field of play in numerical order, but unlike solitaire, you don't worry about stacking by suit. The cards left on the field of play are the number of strokes you used to complete that hole. To clarify, if the hole is a par 3 and you leave two cards behind, you shot a birdie. Each hole brings a different challenge that relates to the game of golf. You'll run into cards that are buried in the rough, requiring an extra stroke/card play to remove, and also cards that are submerged in water. If not cleared, these cards will add an extra stroke to your total at the end of the round. If the cards are not falling the way you want them to, you can always turn to your golf bag and pull out a numbered iron. The different iron numbering reflects the numbers on the cards (but only for 2 through 9). When a club is pulled out, its number becomes your next card. So, if you need to clear out a 7 card from the field, you should play an 6 or 8 club.
Figuring out how to approach a hole (or set of cards) is where the strategy comes into play. Do you hack away at a card in the rough, or clear out another card with the same number? Since challenges are sectioned off as courses consisting of multiple holes, determining when to use clubs (which have a cool down timer on them) is a factor as well.
Check out the video below, and above all else, give the game a shot. I can't stop playing it.
Email the author Andrew Reiner, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.