Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome enough to keep you busy until Monday, at least.
Fairway Solitaire (Free, iPhone) and Fairway Solitaire HD (Free, iPad) are freemium apps that combines two traditionally single player games into one unique experience. Imagine playing golf with a deck of cards while keeping score in solitaire with par being the expected number of cards one has remaining at the end of the game. That is the game of Fairway Solitaire.
Gameplay is basically as one would expect with solitaire. You can place cards in order from Two to King or from King to Two. The Ace is a pivot card that can lead to either the King or the Two. The game is challenging in more ways than just the luck of the draw. Each “hole” (or shuffle of the deck of cards) has the cards laid out in a variety of different patterns. Some patterns have a limited number of cards exposed that you can pick up to play, and other patterns have cards blocking two paths through the course. There are even hazards on each course where certain cards are blocked from being played until all of a certain type of card, like water hazards, sand pits and the rough, are played first. Having a forced order on how you play your cards on a given hole does impose a certain strategy and can lead to several consecutive draws from the deck revealing unplayable cards.
There are two game features that come into play to give even the worst “duffer” a fighting chance at making par. The first is the ability to take a mulligan. Just as in the game of golf, you can place an ill played card back on the deck in cases where you missed an opportunity to play a better card. The game will even indicate when you have mis-played a card by jiggling the card or cards you could have played. But you only get one mulligan with each hole. The other feature that comes in handy is the concept of managing a bag of irons. Each iron, from the two iron up to the nine iron, represents a playable face card. You can take an iron out of your golf bag at any time and place it on top of the deck. Once an iron is played, however, it is no longer in your bag.
Where this game starts to get expensive is in the Golf Shop. Here you can buy golf bucks that can be used to unlock golfer abilities, as well as purchase additional irons that can be used as wild cards when playing. The golfer abilities help level the playing field and they can show the value of unplayed cards, reveal how many awards are left in the deck, and even increase the frequency which you can purchase or find additional irons.
No golf course would be complete without a meddlesome gopher that keeps interfering with your game. Showing up randomly as you play your cards, the gopher serves as a sort of comic relief, offering up some interesting mini games that can help or hurt your score. What makes this game even more interesting is the back-and-forth banter of the app’s sportscasters that observer your every move. They comment on the cards you play, the shots you miss and even have the odd joke or two that make you feel like you are watching the event on television. Fairway Solitaire is a well thought-out game that really does bring the best of both solitaire and golf together in a very addicting game.