Grimes

Introducing Grimes Score History

The big new thing in Grimes v1.3 is the score history. Here is a quick introduction to this feature.

To see your score history touch the score icon at the bottom of the screen. You will also see the score history at the end of each hand (unless you change this in settings, under the G icon at the bottom left).

Score History

At first glance the score history can look a bit daunting. The score history tracks your results separately for each number of cards in the reserve pile at the start of the hand (from 10 to 24 cards, which will cover 99.989% of all games). Scores are tallied in 10% blocks (0-10%, 10-20% etc) and 100%.

This makes for a lot of information. It is shown as a heat map, with the colour indicating the relative frequency of the item (red is most frequent). Touching the map gives detailed information on a particular cell, row or column.

The top row shows the score distribution for all hands (in this image, the most common score was in the 60-70%. The left most column shows the distribution of games by the number of cards in the pile (so here the most frequent was 17 cards).

The right most column is a bit different. It shows the relative winning frequencies for each row. So in this example, the 24 card row is the reddest because I have won the one and only hand of this type (so it has a winning frequency of 100%)

If you look at the score history while playing a game it will highlight the row relevant to the current game. At the end of a game it will highlight the score you just achieved. Other times it will give a general summary of the history.

When you first start accumulating history all of the cells may be the same colour (red). This is because each item has the same count (i.e. 1 game) so has the same relative frequency. As you play more you get a wider range of values and so a wider range of colours.

The score history keeps track of all games of Grimes (not Demon) completed on the device. It doesn't synch across devices or differentiate between players. You can clear your score history at any time from settings (under the G icon at the bottom left).

I hope that you find the score history interesting.

The story behind Grimes

Grimes has been in the App Store for a couple of days and has been downloaded from across 17 countries. I thought that now would be a good time to share some of the story behind the app and the game itself. After all, does the world really need another patience/solitaire app?

The game of Grimes patience has a special place in my heart. All of my family know it, and it has been part of family life for as long as I can remember. It was a regular part of family holidays, particularly those typically Tasmanian shack holidays when the wet weather sets in for a couple of days. But it would also come out when somebody needed to pass some time or provide a distraction. In my family playing a couple of hands of Grimes is a little like curling up on the couch to re-read a favorite old paperback (perhaps a Desmond Bagley).

Perhaps part of my affection for the game is that we only know one other family who play this game, the family who taught the game to us and after whom we have always called it. The Grimes app is my way of spreading the word.

All sentimentality aside, it is also a great form of patience. The full rules are described here, but the key to the game is that you get to pick up and rearrange the piles of cards that form the tableau of the game. This adds a larger element of strategic planning than in other games. Which piles, how many piles and the order in which you see them is determined by the deal and changes from hand to hand.

The number of chances to see a pile is the key indicator of how hard a hand will be. This is determined by the number of cards in the reserve pile after dealing the hand. Less than 13 cards in the pile makes it very unlikely that you can get it out, and many in my family would simply redeal at his point.

Regardless of the number, it is a challenging game. It is hard to get out, and all the more rewarding when you do. There is definitely an element of luck and you can end up with just a handful of cards to go and still be unable to get it out. This is frustrating, but also part of the fascination of the game.

There is also something satisfying about the look of the game. The game is played with a grid of six by four piles of cards (the layout is pictured here). Traditionally, once you have seen a pile of cards you return them to the tableau rotated 90 degrees so that you know which you have seen. Knowing this is important when deciding which card to play and deciding which pile to look at if given an option.

When writing the Grimes app I experimented with various other ways of indicating which piles had been seen, but couldn't find a better way than the traditional.

One challenge I had writing the app was what to do for cards, but that is a story for another post.

I am pleased with how the app has turned out. It has been fully playable for the last couple of months and we have enjoyed thoroughly testing it throughout this period. Testing is a great excuse for playing hand after hand. Despite having spent so much time on the code, I still find that I quickly forget about the app and just focus on the game, which is a good thing in my book. I hope other people find the same thing.

I really hope that people try and enjoy both the app and the game itself. If you have read this far and have an iPad, why not try the app (after all it's free). If you don't have an iPad, why not try playing Grimes the old fashioned way. The rules page gives enough detail to let you deal Grimes by hand.

However you play it, I hope you enjoy Grimes patience.