The handheld solitaire game I learned as a child is itself a variation on the traditional table solitaire game Accordion. Here the Flexdeck gives an additional twist with the letter cards available.
TIME: 2 minutes
EQUIPMENT: 52 or 56* card Flexdeck
This game can be played in just a minute or two. The object is to eliminate as many cards from the deck as you can.
Shuffle the deck and turn it face up in your hand.
In this game, you always focus in on a group of 4 visible cards. Fan out the top 4 cards. Here are the possibilities:
If the outside cards (the first and fourth cards) match in denomination (if, for example, both are queens), then all 4 cards are removed.
If the outside cards match in color (if, for example, both are red), then just the 2 middle cards are removed.
If a four-letter word can be formed with the cards, then all 4 cards are removed.
If none of those criteria are met, then all 4 cards are retained.
Play then resumes by moving to the next card in and the 3 following cards.
You’ll quickly adapt to the dexterity of manipulating the deck in this way, and backing up a few cards after removing some to check for matches.
A “win” that eliminates all cards is somewhat rare but eminently possible; most likely just a few cards remain, and you can see how well you do with several rounds in just a few minutes.
* When using all 56 cards (even the instructional extra card!), consider that extra card a red joker. Note that if you add the 4 extra cards, the jokers only act as wildcards when forming words; for matching purposes they form their own denomination.
Use one Flexdeck per player for a quick, fun round Hangman. (And for family playing, this version avoids illustrating capital punishment.)
PLAYERS: As many as 8, with 1 Flexdeck per player
TIME: 10 minutes
1 Flexdeck per player
Players draw cards to see who goes first: highest domino total wins.
Each player chooses 6 letter cards from their deck to form their secret word. (No abbreviations or proper nouns.)
Each player places their secret word in front of them, cards face down, so that their opponents will be able to read the words left to right (see illustration).
Each player then takes 9 cards from their leftover deck and stacks them, face down, at the end of their word. These are used for scoring, as each player will have nine incorrect guesses available before elimination.
First player guesses a letter (and designates an opponent if more than one) and if that letter is part of the opponent’s word, all instances of that letter are flipped and revealed. If that guess is incorrect, first player removes a card from their scoring stack and sets it aside, face down.
Play continues to first player’s left, and the next player makes their guess. Correct guesses earn additional (unlimited) guesses, that is, a player’s turn ends with an incorrect guess or a victory. Players are eliminated if their word is guessed correctly and/or all of their letters are correctly guessed and flipped. Whole word guesses may only happen during the guesser’s turn; incorrect word guesses remove two cards from the guesser’s score pile.
Game ends / winner determined:
When one player is left with an unguessed word.
When only one player is left with scoring cards.
All scoring piles are depleted without eliminated players. In that case, the winner is the player with the most unexposed letters.
If all the words are correctly guessed, last one uncovered is the winner.
For a more challenging game, players are allowed to choose 1, 2 or 3 wild cards they can place at the beginning or end of a 3, 4 or 5-letter word. Players always start with 6 facedown cards in front of them.
This original Flexdeck game takes advantage of the Flexdeck’s design, and is inspired by the many variants of poker dice which have been around for at least 125 years, likely longer. The Flexdeck’s design gives each player a virtual ten-sided die, numbered from zero to nine.
TIME: 3 minutes per hand, 5 hands per game, 15 minutes total
One Flexdeck, 55 cards (full set of double-nine dominoes)
Table of Winning Hands (in descending order)
Five of a Kind
5 identical values
Higher die value wins
5 consecutive values
Highest die wins (for example, 0-1-2-3-4 loses to 2-3-4-5-6)
3 of one kind, 2 of another
Highest value of the 3 of a kind
2 of one kind, 2 of another, unmatched fifth die
Highest value of one of the pairs; if still tied, the second pair; if still tied, the highest fifth die value
4 consecutive values, unmatched fifth die
Highest die of the straight wins (for example, 0-1-2-3-9 loses to 2-3-4-5-7)
Three of a Kind
3 identical values, 2 unmatched dice
Highest value of the 3 of a kind
1 pair matched dice, 3 unmatched dice
Highest pair value
5 unmatched dice, no run of 4 consecutive dice
Highest total of all 5 dice
Dealer deals five face-up cards in a row in the middle of the table. The row of dominoes facing each player (one half of each of the five cards) constitute the opening dice roll.
In this sample game, Player 1 (dealer) has rolled a 1,1,2,4,5. Player 2 has rolled a 0,0,2,6,9. So far each player has one pair.
Dealer hands the remaining deck to the opponent, who can then choose to improve their hand by adding one, two or three cards (or none, if the deal was highly favorable) to their half of the tableau. (New cards are flipped off the top of the deck and cover just the player’s half. Only the upper half of the new cards are used, as they cover the lower half of the original cards. The cards must be used as placed and not rotated for advantage.)
Player 2 has chosen to keep the pair of zeroes and roll three more virtual dice by dealing three new cards, covering the unwanted halves. Now player 2 has 2 pair, zeroes and nines, along with a one. (The lower halves of the new cards are disregarded; the yellow box in the sample image indicates the active hand for player two.)
The deck is handed back to the dealer, who makes the same choice. Each player is given two turns to try to improve their hands.
Player one might have chosen to keep the pair of ones and replace the rest, but has instead decided to try to fill the inside straight 1-2-4-5 with a three. Instead a 4 is rolled.
Player two keeps the two pair and rolls one die to try for the full house, and is rewarded.
Player one has one last chance to beat the full house, either trying again to fill the inside straight, or keeping the pair of fours and getting lucky with three new dice. Player one chooses the latter option, but comes up just short, ending with two pair, eights and fours, and an unmatched three. Player two wins this round with a full house.
The existing tableau of cards is gathered with the remaining deck. Deck is shuffled and deal rotates to other player. First player to 5 wins is the victor.
This adaptation of the traditional golf solitaire game is given three additional variations to take advantage of all the features found in the Flexdeck. Golf solitaire has a greater degree of skill versus luck than many other forms of solitaire.
PLAYERS: 1 (Variation for 2*)
TIME: 9 hole round, approximately 25 minutes
One Flexdeck (52-card deck, jokers removed)
Pencil and paper for scoring
The 1st, 5th and 9th holes are played as TRADITIONAL golf solitaire. Rules for this may be found online, but here are the basics:
A tableau of seven columns, five face-up cards each, is dealt, for a total of thirty-five cards. The remaining cards form the draw pile.
Cards are turned face up, one at a time. Fully exposed cards (cards at the bottom of the columns) may be removed from the tableau and placed on the face-up drawn card if they form a numerical sequence with that card (suits are ignored). For example, if the exposed draw pile card is a ten, either a nine or a jack may be placed on it. Aces are low and may only be placed on a two; kings are high and may only be placed on a queen. Wrapping around from king to ace (or vice versa) is illegal.
In the sample image shown, the first card turned from the draw pile is a king, so the queen may be drawn down from the tableau and placed on top of the king. There are no jacks or kings then exposed to make a sequence with the queen, so the next draw pile card is turned.
One pass is made through the draw pile, card by card. When play on the final card is blocked, the number of cards remaining on the tableau is the score for the hole. If the tableau is cleared completely, the number of cards remaining in the draw pile are strokes under par and entered as negative numbers.
The three variations for the Flexdeck all use the same tableau, basic gameplay and scoring.
The 2nd and 6th holes are COLOR CLEAR holes. In this variation cards may be removed if they match the color of the exposed draw card.
In the sample image, there are no blue cards available to match the turned draw pile card, so another draw pile card is turned. If that card is red, for example, then the three red cards could come down. If gold, then all eight matching gold cards could be cleared.
The 3rd and 7th holes are WORD BUILDER holes. In this variation the letters in the card corners are used to form words beginning with the exposed card’s letter. If an additional word can be formed using the last letter of the previous word, it may be formed and removed before turning another draw card. This can continue until play is blocked. Words may also be legally formed with unexposed cards if those cards will become exposed and usable in the correct order; use the upside-down letters to plan ahead! (Standard word disqualifications apply: no proper nouns or abbreviations; words consist of 2 or more letters).
*Special “Q” rule: If a “U” is turned onto the draw pile and a “Q” card is available from the tableau, the QU digraph may be formed in the wrong order, but only if a valid QU word is immediately available by drawing the appropriate cards down.
In the sample image shown, the word “BETA” could be formed by drawing down the “E,” the “T,” and then the “A” that was behind the “T.” Then the word “AX,” etc.
The 4th and 8th holes are DOMINO MATCH holes. In this variation cards may be removed if either end of the domino is a match for either end of the exposed card. However, the use of any double domino, such as 6-6, blocks further progress and forces the turning of the next draw card. This rule includes turning a double domino from the draw pile; a new card must be turned.
In the sample image shown, the first draw card turned is the 5-8 domino. The 3-5 domino is the only match, so it is drawn down. Then any of the exposed dominos containing a 3 or 5 could be drawn down, keeping in mind that if or when the 3-3 double domino is used, play is frozen and the next draw pile card is turned.
A nine-hole score of 50 or less (an 18-hole round of 100) can be considered very good. Holes-in-one (1 tableau card left), zeros (tableau cleared with the last draw card), and birdies, eagles, and other negative scores (tableau cleared with remaining draw cards) are somewhat rare, but of course help the overall score immeasurably.
Variations that would affect the scoring and difficulty:
-Add 1,2 or 3 joker/wild cards, to be used to represent any denomination. This would take the scoring into miniature golf territory.
-On the traditional holes, allow wrapping between ace and king for an easier game; disallow queens from being placed on kings for a greater challenge.
-Within an overall round and after the tableau is dealt, the player may choose their “club” (one of the variations) based on an evaluation of the visible tableau card distribution. The 9 holes of play must still include 3 traditional holes, and 2 each of COLOR CLEAR, WORD BUILDER and DOMINO.
-*Two players play at a time with two decks and compare scores, round by round.
An excellent word card game was introduced in 1954 called “Bali.” Between 1954 and 1980 several different printings from several game companies were sold, but unfortunately this splendid game has been out of print since then. It’s surprising that such a worthwhile game has been out of print for 3 decades; your best bet for obtaining an original Bali game is from a garage sale or finding it used online.
However, you can enjoy this great game using a Flexdeck! Bali may be played as a solitaire game, or with 2, 3 or 4 players. A very satisfying Bali adaptation may be played solitaire with 1 Flexdeck, and 2 combined Flexdecks are used for 2, 3 or 4 players. Or with additional Flexdecks the exact original Bali game can be mapped into the Flexdeck universe.
The Bali game was printed as two identical decks with contrasting back colors, simplifying the combination and separation of the decks for solitaire vs. multiplayer use. Consonants and the wild card (the “Bali” card) have point values. The point values and the letter distribution, as compared with the Flexdeck letter distribution, is shown.
ADAPTING FOR FLEXDECK
Letter distribution between the Bali deck and Flexdeck is similar enough that a satisfying game will result using 1 Flexdeck (including 1 wild card) for solitaire and 2 Flexdecks (with 2 wild cards) for 2, 3 or 4 player games.
However, mapping the precise Bali letter distribution is possible if enough Flexdecks are available. The solitaire version would require adding one each of E, G, I, P, and R from a second deck, and removing one each of H, S, T and X. Creating a precise double deck for 2, 3 or 4 players would require 4 decks, due to the relative Flexdeck scarcity of G, P and R.
Again, precise mapping is not really necessary for a satisfying adaptation; you could also use the extra non-joker Flexdeck card as an E if you wish.
Looking up and adding the consonant point values could become a bit tedious during scorekeeping, but if you want the exact Bali experience, you likely would learn all the point values quickly.
The other adaptation from the original: with the Flexdeck, the letter indices are printed in the lower left-hand corner of the card, so instead of building down the word column as in Bali, for clarity you would build upward in the word column using Flexdeck cards.
These are the rules as printed in the 1972 edition:
BALI: The Best Word Game Under the Sun
Bali is a competitive card word game completely different from any other word game. It is a word-building game and words of great length can be built. The longer they are the higher they score!
Each Bali deck has 54 cards.
Each deck has the following number of letters:
(letter distribution in chart above)
*A Bali card is a wild card. It may be used for any letter but each Bali card must remain the letter it is declared throughout that game.
HOW TO PLAY BALI The two-, three-, and four-handed Bali games are based on the solitaire game; read the solitaire rules to learn how the game is played.
(played with one deck)
The object of the game is to build words of three or more letters and if possible, to use every single card, playing through the deck once. If, at the end of a game, all cards have been used in completed words, the game is Balied and your score is tripled. (Many players have objected to this rule; some ignore it, others allow a doubled score bonus.) On games that end with some words incompleted, the score is based on completed words. All dictionary words are allowed except proper nouns, contractions, abbreviations, slang, and apostrophized, hyphenated, or foreign words. Variations such as plurals, participles, and comparative endings are allowed.
TO PLAY: Shuffle the deck and deal the top 7 cards, face up, in a horizontal row on the table. This is the panel and it must never have more than 7 columns. Build words by moving the panel cards to make words or parts of words, say, as follows:
An opening is made each time a panel card is moved, also when a word is removed. (Completed words can be removed whenever desired, but must not be referred to afterwards to see what letters are gone.) Fill each opening with the top card from the deck. A deck card may not be exposed until there is an opening to fill. Once started a column may not be broken, though it can be moved as a unit.
A game may end before all the deck cards have been turned. This occurs when an opening cannot be made on the panel because no usable combination of the columns or letters is possible and there are no complete words to remove.
Numbers on the consonants show their value. (Point values can be found in the chart above.)
To score a word add the card numbers and multiply by the number of cards. Thus, ROB is worth 9 points—R and B add up to 3 and there are three cards in the word. PROBE would be worth 20 points, THROB, 25 MICROBES, 56 PROBLEMATICAL, 130.
Add all word scores to get your final score. Unused cards are not deducted from the score. Bali solitaire carries the endless challenge of trying to beat one’s own best score.
TWO-, THREE-, & FOUR-HANDED BALI
(played with two decks combined)
Read Solitaire Rules First. All three games follow the solitaire pattern. Two decks are combined and shuffled and separate panels are dealt to each player. Players take turns and play only on their own panels, but they may use other players’ single cards, parts of words, or even whole words! Words are built, removed, and scored as in Solitaire, highest scorer winning. Panels are 7 cards in two-handed games, 5 cards in 3-handed, and 4 cards in four-handed.
1. Player who cuts card nearest A deals the starting panels and goes first. Play passes to the left. Deal opponents’ panels first, from left on around.
2. A player may build on only one of his columns at his turn, but may play any number of cards to that column. 3. You can only capture letters or columns to build down on a letter or word combination in your own panel.
4. When the same letter is available on different panels, a player may choose whichever he pleases. The strategy, of course, is to keep opponents from getting the letters they need (and to capture, if possible, the high value letters that turn up in other panels).
5. A player may use single letters or parts of words from any or all panels, as long as he plays to just one column in his panel. After a turn dealer fills all openings, from the deck, beginning with the panel at the left.
6. Removing a word counts as a turn in itself and is not forced, unless no other play is possible. (Score words as they are removed.) If a player cannot play, he must forfeit one of his uncompleted columns by shuffling it into the deck. The choice of which column must be forfeited is made by the player whose turn follows.
7. A player who builds a combination of letters which apparently doesn’t exist in a word may be challenged. If the challenged player has no real word in mind, he loses his turn, and the cards are returned to their original position. If the challenger is wrong, he loses his turn.
8. When the last deck card is turned up, play continues as before except that no play may be made that does not result in a completed word. Players who cannot complete a word and have no reason to remove one simply let the others take their final turns.
9. A player who Balies his panel (ends the game with all cards used in completed words ) triples his final score. He gets credit for the Bali, even though an opponent makes the play that clears his panel. If more than one player Balies, each or every Balled player triples his score.* (Note: Balies can occur only after the whole deck has been dealt.)
Four-handed Bali may be played as a partnership between players who sit opposite. Partners take turns as a team and play as a team, deciding together what they wish to do. They may build on only one column at any turn, but it can be in either panel. A team may plan to hold words on one of their panels to insure a Bali. When one of a team’s panels is Balled, the partnership score is tripled. When both are Balled (a double Bali ) the partner-ship score is tripled twice.*
*See Solitaire Bali, first paragraph.
FLEXDECK ADAPTATIONS / SIMPLIFICATIONS
Those who might enjoy the gameplay but not the scoring aspect can simply play through and attempt to use all their cards in valid words.
Instead of using the Bali point values, players could agree on simple bonuses based on length of word (1 additional point for 3- and 4-letter words, 3 for 5- or 6- letter words, 5 for 7 or more, etc.).