Unlike many other solitaire games, Spider is played with two 52 card decks. There are no foundations to build on and 10 columns are used for play. The computer deals 54 cards into 10 columns and only turns up the top card on each column at the bottom. The first 4 columns have 6 cards in them and the last 6 have 5 cards each. The remainder of the deck is placed at the bottom as the draw pile.
Columns are built descending from King to Ace and neither suit nor color matters. The way cards are moved is a bit tricky, but works like this. A top card can be moved individually among the columns. If there are two cards packed or sequenced, as in Jack-10, the 10 can be moved alone onto a Jack, or the Jack-10 sequence can be moved together onto a Queen.
If the pack or sequence exceeds 2 cards, things change. If there is a Jack-10-9 sequence or pack, it must be moved as a unit. The 9 cannot be chosen leaving the Jack-10 behind. It is all 3 or none at all. When a column contains nothing but a 13 card fully packed sequence run (King descending down to Ace) and nothing else, it is removed from the board.
As a top card is removed from a column, the face down card beneath is turned over to be placed into play. When the board becomes unplayable and a player clicks the pile, a card is dealt face up to each column from the draw pile consisting of the remaining cards from the original deal. The number of cards dealt is controlled by the number of remaining columns.
The object of the game is to complete all 8 of the 13 card sets so that all cards are removed from play. If the reserve pile is depleted, the player must work with the cards that exist in the columns. There is no replenishment of the reserve pile.
Strategies and Rules
Considering that a 3 card pack or sequence MUST be moved as a unit, packing of cards is not always the best choice. This is because you may only need an Ace or a 6 to complete a 13 card sequence, but it has baggage of a 3-2 in the case of the Ace or a 5-4 or 8-7 in the case of the 6. You can only move partial cards in a two card run.
After a column is emptied by completing a 13-card pack, you have more flexibility in organizing other runs and packs. Another thing to understand is that the 13-card pack is not removed if it has face down cards above it. It cannot be considered a fully packed run until all the face cards in the column have been exposed. The column must contain ONLY 13 cards in order to qualify for removal.
It is important to carefully consider all moves before clicking on the reserve deck because any runs you have in place will be affected. In other words, if you have a sequence run in a cleared column of King descending down to 4 and you click the reserve, a random card is placed which destroys the integrity of the run making further play more difficult.
Spider Solitaire is not as easy as it may first appear. However, it is challenging and skill will come with practice.