Cardinal's Guards

Players 1
Length 20 minutes
Equipment Required single standard piecepack, cup or bag, paper and pencil
Designer Michael Schoessow and Stephen Schoessow
Version 1.1
Version Date2003-12-07
License custom license: Cardinal’s Guards, Copyright © September 2003 by Michael and Stephen Schoessow. These instructions may be copied and distributed as long as the authors are credited, or this header is left in place.


Can you help the four Musketeers escape from the castle of the Cardinal's Guards.


Reviews & Comments

Runner up in the SolitaryConfinement contest.

"Another game I tried was a runner-up in the competition: Cardinal's Guards. The designer had perhaps something do with my selection, as I have enjoyed Michael Schoessow's card game Pond. Cardinal's Guards was a rather interesting game. At first it seemed almost impossible, but in the end I managed to search every chamber and ended up with a score of 44/56. It was quite satisfying and if I'm in a need of solitary puzzling, Cardinal's Guards is a good choice." (./) (./) -- Mikko Saari at Gameblog

Without doubt one of the most memorable solitaire games available for the Piecepack, Cardinal's Guards challenges the player to move the four pawns across the 5x5 board (the gap lies in its centre) in straight lines until they are stopped by another pawn or by one of the coins that completely surround the board (one per tile, the four leftover coins build a small reservoir of stops that can be placed on the board at will during the game). If the coin shares the colour with the pawn, it can be left there or added to the reservoir of stops within the board, and if it doesn't it will be eliminated. The gap serves as a tunnel to all four corners (movement is continued from them on) and as the way to eliminate coins that are within the board. The ultimate goal of the game is for the pawns to reach the tiles of their suit in numerical order (0 to 5, tracked by the dice), to leave the board afterwards and to have eliminated as many coins as possible in the process. If a pawns leaves the board before going through its sequence of tiles because it can't be stopped on its way out, the game is lost.

While it is relatively easy to reach all the tiles and move the pawns away, eliminating every single coin requires some welcome planning: issues to consider for the player are whether they want to advance all suits at the same time or they would prefer to focus on one or two suits at a time, whether they want to gather "friendly" coins early in the game or leave them beside the board to be captured later, or how to set up safe ways for the pawns to enter the tunnel repeatedly and thus clear remaining stops inside the board.

Even though the long description of the topic gives the first impression of what could be a long, heavy solitaire, it is actually longer than the description of the actual mechanics (rather elegant and entirely summed up above). The game takes flight immediately, stays gripping until the end and is short enough to invite a second try once it has been finished.

--Antonio Recuenco Muñoz

Rules Questions

Are castle guards removed in the same ways as perimeter guards -- if they stop a musketeer, they are defeated or taken into the supply? The variant rules "Escape From The Cardinal's Guards" ( says no, but the Print and Players review ( says yes.

ANSWER: No, castle guards are not removed in the same way as perimeter guards. Castle guards may only be defeated (removed) when one of the musteteers (pawns) travels through the secret castle tunnel. Quoting from the rules: "Because the guards have no knowledge of the secret tunnels, whenever a musketeer travels through a tunnel, he may remove any one castle guard (not a perimeter guard) currently on the board. These guards are not returned to the player’s supply, but are considered defeated, and are placed off to the side with the other defeated guards". When guards are defeated by stopping a musteteer's movement, this applies only to perimeter guards, not castle guards. -Stephen Schoessow

Does a musketeer on emerging from a tunnel continue in the direction he was moving when he enters it? (

ANSWER: Good question. No, a Mustketeer's direction of travel is lost when going through the subterranean tunnel. When emerging from the tunnel onto a corner tile, the musteteer may continue his movement in any of the 4 orthogonal directions. Mustketeers do not automatically stop after emerging from the tunnel. As stated in the rules "Musketeers move as “run-away rooks”. That is, they move orthogonally, and they keep moving until they come up against another musketeer or a guard". The musketeer may only stop on the corner tile if moving up against another musketeer or guard. -Stephen Schoessow


BGG page:

CategoryGame SolitaireThemedGamesCategory ThemeWarCategory