There are a lot of solitaire games out there, and these days it's rare to find one that stands out. 4 Thrones is one of those games. Kurt Bieg of Simple Machine was challenged by his wife to make a brand new game in two weeks, and he rose admirably to the challenge. The idea of the game comes straight out of Game of Thrones: there are four stacks of cards, each representing kingdoms, and the goal is to play as many cards from your deck onto these stacks as you can.
All cards can be played on cards of lower value. Jacks are friendly folks, and any card of lower value can be played on them. Queens can be plied with love or jewelry, so you can play lower hearts or diamonds on them. Kings are strong, and only lower spades can be played on them. Aces represent assassination, and they can go anywhere they please, since they're both high and low. You get a preset number of skips, and once you run out of moves, the game is over.
On its face, 4 Thrones seems like a simple sorting algorithm, and once you get the hang of it, Single mode is just that. The other game modes are what add strategy and nuance to the game. In Endless mode, your deck and skips replenish after you play every card, and the goal is to last as long as possible. But the real jewel of 4 Thrones is Kings mode, which plays like Endless mode except for the scoring. In Kings mode, you can only score points when there's a king atop one of the kingdoms. Each visible king is worth one point, but that point gets scored every turn it's still there, and it gets multiplied by the number of turns you've had a king on the board. Suddenly, there's a whole lot of strategy involved. Do you play that three of spades on one of your kings and potentially keep the game going longer, or do you play it on the two of hearts to keep the multiplier high? The integration of scoreboards and the unlockable themes provide further incentives to keep playing. The interface is lovely, there are no advertisements or in-app purchases, and the themes are wonderful and varied. 4 Thrones is a unique take on the solitaire genre. And it lends itself quite well to imagining the face cards as actual kings, queens, and princes, which is always a plus.
NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the LG Optimus L9. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.