Rules for Thieves

Basic Play

When you start Thieves, you are dealt seven columns of five cards each, face up. The next card is dealt face up in the center of the bottom of the screen (the stack) and the remainder of the deck is fanned on the bottom left of the board.

The object is to "take" all 35 cards off the table. The card on your stack can take any card on the bottom row of the table which is one card greater or less than the card on the stack. For example:
  • 7's can take 6's or 8's.
  • Jacks can take 10's or Queens.
  • Jokers can take or be taken by anything.
  • Kings cannot take Aces or vice-versa.
To take a card with the card on the stack, simply point to the card you want to take with the mouse and click the left mouse button. The card you took will be placed on the stack, which you can then use to take another card on the table. Points are awarded to you whenever you take a card off the table, unless it is a joker.

If you can't take any cards with the card on the stack, click on the stack and a new card will be dealt. When you run out of cards without clearing the table, the game is over.

You start with two jokers in your pile of new cards. If you clear the table, your level goes up by one, the deck is reshuffled and a single joker is put somewhere in your pile of new cards. Your score keeps increasing as you take more cards. If you clear the table again, you start again without any joker in your new card pile. There's always a joker on the table, regardless of the level you get to.

Undo

The Undo button on the menu bar is only active when you've taken cards from the board. You can undo each card you've taken from the board in reverse order since the last time you drew a new card. You may not undo getting a new card from the deck.

Scoring

The point value of each card is based on the difficulty of taking the card, since cards at the ends of the suits are harder to take than those in the middle. Specifically, the points are given as follows:
    Card Points
    Ace 8
    2 6
    3 6
    4 4
    5 4
    6 2
    7 2
    8 2
    9 4
    10 4
    Jack 6
    Queen 6
    King 8
    Joker 0
An extra fifteen points is awarded each time a player takes all the cards from the board.

Strategy

The strategy of Thieves changes with the cards, the player's mood and the alignment of the stars. Over-all strategy is probably best learned by playing the game for several hours at a time while you really should be doing something else, but here are some ideas:

Generally, the smallest and largest cards are the hardest to take, since aces can only be taken by twos and kings can only be taken by queens. It is usually best to take those whenever possible.

It is usually better to take cards from the columns with the most cards in them. I.e., it is better to take a card from a pile of five cards than from a pile of two cards, in order to uncover four cards rather than one.

It's sometimes better to not take cards which will help take other cards later. For example, you might want to leave a queen behind to use to take a king later.

It's usually better to take a joker that's covering other cards than to save it.

Of course, there are exceptions to all of the above recommendations, so if at first you don't succeed, keep playing.