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 Boardwalk: How To Play

All Boardwalk games apply the same basic set of rules.  At first, these may seem foreign, but once they are understood, all variations of "Hopscotch" will be made available.  This should take four minutes to learn. 

With another few minutes of learning, one should know how to use a "hand",  where the player gains power and a larger world of variations will be made available.  Further elements will be easy to pick up, making additional variations available.  Some of these elements can be found in the software's documentation on creating new games.

You may also create and play your own variations using these elements.

Boardwalk Basics

  • The Boardwalk Deck

  • Stacking by Rank

  • Columns

  • The Walks (upper, lower)

  • Standard Plays

  • Rule of Ascending Order

  • Slide Plays

  • "Hopscotch": off you go!


  • Playing with a hand
    • To the lowerwalk ("Lucky" variations)

    • To the upperwalk ("Scotsi" variations)

  • Coaxing and Favors ("Cheshire" variations)



The Boardwalk Deck

All variations of Boardwalk draw their cards from the total Boardwalk deck.  This deck includes five-of-a-kind of each of twenty one ranks.  The fifth suit is called "oceans" (which tends to be used on very large game boards).  Three of these ranks are wild types: Wilds, Frees, and Jokers.  While these types are free of rules of ascending order, they will still have to be accumulated by rank wherever they are used.  For further details on this, please see the "Ranks" section in the software documentation for creating new games.

Unless otherwise stated, for all of the instructions contained herein, we will be using a standard 52-card deck. 

Stacking By Rank

Boardwalk is derived from the traditional game of "Clock Solitaire".  What is unique to this type of game is that the cards are never stacked on foundations by sequence or suit.  Like Clock, cards in Boardwalk may only be stacked on foundations by face value, or "rank".  Aces may be stacked on one foundation, Deuces on one other, and so forth. 


The Boardwalk board is comprised of "columns".  Each column includes one tableau over one foundation, vertically arranged.  At the beginning of the game, there are four cards dealt face-down on each tableau.  At the end of a perfectly scored game, each tableau will be empty, and each foundation will have accumulated four-of-kind. 

A Column


The Walks

Boardwalk always includes two sets of columns; one upper and one lower.  Upper and lower columns operate in distinctly different ways.

The Upperwalk

The upper, or "lead walk" is the set of columns dealt across the top of the board.   Here, the top card of each tableau pile is always flipped up and available for play. 

On the upperwalk, a given column's foundation cannot be stacked upon until its tableau has been emptied.  Once a column's tableau is emptied, its respective foundation becomes available for freely stacking your choice of one rank upon it.   As such, at the beginning of the game, all upperwalk foundations are blocked from play.

Stacking a card on an upper foundation is called "filing".  An upper column's last tableau card may be filed upon its own foundation, since the block on the foundation is removed in the act of initiating the play.

Upper Column

The Lowerwalk

The lower, or "live walk" is the set of columns dealt across the board directly beneath the upperwalk.  At the beginning of the game, all lowerwalk foundations may be stacked upon.  This is done by placing a card upon a column's foundation, as inseparably followed by flipping up, in place, the top card of its corresponding tableau pile.  When the last of a kind is placed on a column's foundation, the last card of its corresponding tableau pile will flip up (and be made available for play).

There cannot be two face-up cards on top of any one tableau pile at a time.  If there is a face-up card on top of a column's tableau, then its corresponding foundation is "blocked".  The face-up card on the tableau pile must be moved, i.e. played elsewhere, before its respective foundation may be stacked upon again.

Stacking a card on a lower foundation and flipping on the tableau above it is called a "live play".  A lower column's blocking card may be played live to its own foundation, since the block on the foundation is removed in the act of initiating the play.

Lower Column

Standard Plays

Face-up cards atop (row 1 and 3) tableaus may be stacked upon available (row 2 and 4) foundations. 

The player chooses which rank they will accumulate upon each foundation.  These selections are called "declarations".  Once one card has been stacked on a foundation, only cards of the same rank may be stacked on top of it, and not upon any other foundation.

Each card placed on a foundation can no longer be moved, and will score one point at the end of the game.  When row 1 is cleared, the player scores a "win", and when all tableaus are cleared, the player scores a "perfect game".

An Example of 52 Cards on the Deal

Rule of Ascending Order

Aces are always the lowest rank in the deck.  For a given Boardwalk variation, one may be required to never stack a higher rank to the left of a lower one, or a lower rank to the right of a higher one, on a given walk.   One should generally expect this to be the case on the lowerwalk.  In a percentage of Boardwalk variations, an ascending order rule may also apply across the upperwalk. 

Ascending Declarations

The "Slide Play"

On row 3 where the lower tableaus reside, when a stack location has no cards upon it, the player has the option of "sliding" one face-up card from any row 1 or 3 pile to that spot.  The card moved will still be available, as source, for further play.  In effect, any one blocking card on the board may be moved to that opening.

Hopscotch: Off You Go!

Hopscotch is the root class of Boardwalk variations, and from what you have seen thus far, you are ready to give this game a go.   All variations of Hopscotch apply the ascending order rule on the lowerwalk only.

There are various ways to deal Hopscotch.  The recommended introductory variation is "Hop 45", a.k.a. "Boardwalk Tic-Tac-Toe".   This game has three cards each of nine ranks - from Ace to 9, for a total of twenty-seven cards.  Each of nine tableau piles begin with three cards, and at the end of a perfect game, this board will be arranged as three-of-a-kind on each of nine foundations.

Hop 45 on the Deal

Playing With a Hand

The "hand" greatly expands a player's power in Boardwalk. 

We will effectively remove one column from the board, and take its tableau cards as the starting hand.  These cards will be dealt in a row below the lowerwalk, or if using a physical deck of cards, then you can just hold them in your hand.  The hand is also sometimes called "row 5".

When making a play using the hand, one hand card will be placed upon the board, and one card from the board will be moved, or "returned" to the hand.  At the end of the game, the hand score is a card count of its most frequently occurring rank, making four-of-a-kind a perfect hand score.

52 Cards on the Deal

52 Cards Perfectly Scored

Playing the Lowerwalk From the Hand

A card from the hand is placed on a lowerwalk foundation, and a card from a lowerwalk tableau is returned to the hand. After the return card to the hand has been selected, as in any live play, one must flip up the top card of the tableau above the foundation played.

When the column played is blocked, the blocking card must be returned to the hand, and the next card on the column's tableau flipped up, in place. 

When the column played is not blocked, any other blocking card from row 3 may be returned to the hand. This is known as a "power play".

There is also the "blind play" to an unblocked column, where the player chooses to return to the hand the card that will flip on row 3 before seeing what it is.

As depicted at right, the Four and the Jack in the hand may be played live on the lowerwalk.  Where the Four is played, it is stacked on the Fours foundation.  Since that foundation is blocked (by a Five), that Five must be returned to the hand, so that the next card underneath it can (and will) be flipped up.

Where the Jack may be stacked (far right), it is not blocked.  One may return any one of the four face-up tableau cards to the hand, followed by flipping up the next card above the Jacks.  As a blind play, one may also choose to return the tableau card that is to flip above the Jacks to the hand before seeing what it is.

Lowerwalk and Hand

You now know how to play the Boardwalk variations known as "Lucky ...".  These games get their name because hand cards may only play live upon the lowerwalk, so if any card in the hand cannot play there, it will have to stay in the hand for the rest of the game.  In these variations, the ascending order rule applies only to the lowerwalk. 

Playing the Upperwalk From the Hand

Boardwalk variations known as "Scotsi ..." allow playing both walks from the hand, and due to the power granted to the player, they are accompanied by the additional requirement that each of the two walks must be declared in ascending order. 

Having to coordinate two ascending order walks in tandem may seem cerebrally intense at first, but this sense of the game should tone down after playing it a couple of times.

A card from the hand may be (legally) stacked upon a row 2 position.  This is a "trump play".  Where an upperwalk column is completely void of cards (on both rows 1 and 2), a card from the hand may be placed upon that column's row 1 position.  This is know as a "high trump play", and also as "juggling". 

A hand card filed on a row 2 position scores one point and is done moving for the rest of the game.  A hand card placed upon a row 1 position will still be available as source for further play.

At right: The Threes in the hand can be stacked in the open upperwalk "slot".  To start, place one of them upon the row 1 or 2 position as desired, and return your choice of face-up row 1 card to the hand. 

At right: Continuing the game above, a Three from the hand has been filed in the opening.  In this example, the Queen from atop the third upper tableau was returned to the hand, followed by a Two flipping up next on the upper tableau.

At this point, the row 1 spot is no longer available for play.  The next Three in the hand can be filed on top of the former, and the player's choice of row 1 cards can be returned to the hand.

The Perpetual Play Rule: Since it is possible to play high trump without having caused any other card on the board to flip, it may be possible to do so back-and-forth without end. And so, where a high trump play does not induce a flip, the card played to row 1 cannot from that time forward be gathered back into the hand until at least one other card anywhere on the board has flipped.

Coaxing and Favors

When we introduce "coaxing" and "favors", there will be one small retraction from standard Boardwalk rules.  On the upper tableaus, we will not automatically flip up the top cards.  What will happen here is that the act of flipping up a card atop an upper tableau will be called "taking a favor". 

Below: Standard 52-Card Cheshire takes two favors on the deal, and requires the player to take one more favor as the first play of the game.

52-Card Cheshire on the Deal

... And with one "favor" taken

"Coaxing" is a type of hand play.  Unlike high trump, coaxing is where a row 1 stack has no face-up card on it, but does have face-down cards.  In this case, the player can stack a card from the hand to the top of that stack, returning one face-up card from row 1 to the hand.

The Perpetual Play Rule applies to coaxing just as it does to high trump plays.

You now know how to play Cheshire.