- Pretty Good Solitaire

What is the difference between Carlton and Milligan Harp Solitaire?

Q: What is the difference between Carlton and Milligan Harp Solitaire?

All descriptions of the two versions of solitaire seem carbon copies of each other. Can someone please point out the difference between these two games? Thanks in advance ;)





  • edited July 2020

    Good question. I also struggled to see the difference between Miss Milligan and Carlton.

    Incidentally the stock locations are wrong.

  • edited July 2020

    Just subtle differences in the layouts.

  • Richard, Butler,

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my question! It's greatly appreciated!

    @butler77: for extra confirmation, am I understanding correctly then that the difference between Milligan Harp and Carlton is appearance only, not actual game play? The answer from Richard -referring to the word "wrong"- made me suspect that perhaps it's a misunderstanding originating from a display bug, such as a reserve not appearing after the final deal (such as it happens in Miss Milligan) ...

    Sorry for pestering you guys with these questions, but these solitaire games are causing more fun than originally anticipated, so now I am after full understanding ;)


  • edited July 2020

    Sorry Mike, but that does't qualify them as different games any more than if the backs of the cards had been different. The rules are the same.

    Carlton is rated at Hard 5% whilst Milligan Harp is rated at Medium 75%. When you deal Carlton you see all of the cards face up, but Milligan Harp has only the lowest card of each column visible. It follows that Carlton is easier than M.H. because being able to see all of the cards makes forward planning possible. Is it perhaps that Tom forgot to allow redeals in M.H. ? The error of the stock location was duplicated.

    Cue The Rolling Stones, "What a drag it is getting old"

  • Dear Sir Richard of Scotland,

    Thanks for the reply! I think that perhaps I am starting to understand the source of confusion. You say that Carlton is dealt with all cards face up? My reference was the online game on goodsol (, which starts of with all cards except the bottom one face-down and the rules mentioned on politaire which also state the face-down version ( I suppose that this must be a "bug" of the online Carlton versions and that you are using a different code source?

    If this is true and indeed Carlton = Milligan Harp with all face-up cards, then the difficulty rating indeed seems interchanged, or perhaps the benchmarking solver that was used to determine these numbers was "fixed" in the meantime?


  • Consistently inconsistent? 😊 Deal for game #1 of Carlton attached.

    We'll have to wait until Tom (the owner) sees this thread and tries to resolve the problems.

  • Richard is correct about the difference: Carlton has all the cards dealt out, Milligan Harp does not.

    This makes a significant difference in how a human being can solve the game (ignore the estimates in the help file - these are just estimates. Better is to look at the online scores).

    Carlton in other sources might look more like the game "Old Carlton".

  • Thanks Goodsol, Richard & Butler for clarifying this to me! I see now that I should rely on for most accurate rules, rather than the "play" section or the play&help sections (there also Old Carlton is face-down :O)

    ... Yesterday morning I would never have imagined that I would enjoy having a discussion about solitaire. ... Shows that you just never know what surprises the future may deal to you ;)




    So the difficulty indicators are estimates? ... I am not surprised ... I was already wondering what the mechanics of a "solver" program would be, in particular for games with an open card tableau and/or if any card can be moved (as for Old Carlton) ... reaching accurate estimates with such a solver may actually turn out to be more difficult that perhaps first imagined ...

  • edited July 2020

    There are some solitaire solving programs out there. Invariably games in the Freecell genre.

    When new games are about to be added to the collections, we establish to some degree just how difficult they are likely to be during the Beta Tests. It's not unusual for testers to play 50 or so consecutive games to try and get a reasonable estimate. Of course if you "cherry pick" and look for easy looking deals, you can get higher win rates.

    Btw, it would amaze you just how many things we talk about in our forums. This is the third one. Some people, not me, have a wicked of humour. 😀

    Support is Tom, and Butler is Mike. He's got an incontinent dog called Trump.

  • edited July 2020

    Oohhh my ... poor Mike! It must be a day job cleaning up after the mess that Trump leaves behind :O

    The point you make about solvers for Freecell genre games is exactly the reason why I don't really like those type of games. After the initial deal you could take a snapshot and have a solver calculate the steps ... as a player your just going through the steps, then. I've been thinking about it a bit last couple of days to try to understand why some solitaire games are more fun than others. My conclusion is that the most fun games should contain:

    1) elements of unpredictability (randomness/chance), for instance with face-down cards, the presence of a waste pile, deals, shuffles

    2) elements of choice, e.g. multiple decks, different build options such as up+down or down with multiple valid child cards

    For games with very few of these elements it just seems like the outcome is determined almost by the initial deal and the user should just go through the motions to get to the inevitable success/failure (another example that gives me this feeling is Scorpion). ... But I suppose this must be my shortcoming: Freecell is one of the most popular games on the site .. ;)


  • Mike buys masks in great big boxes. 😉

    Myself and Larry (Lars) have played enormous amounts of games like Forty Thieves. We are currently massacring King of Egypt in numerical order. We are disappointed with even 80% win rates per 100 for this game. Currently in the 3700 set.

    Your analysis of what makes a good solitaire game agrees with ours. Even "skill/luck balanced" games have a higher degree of luck than we are looking for. You can develop strategies and tactics for all of the games of skill.hat's what makes solitaires addictive. Incidentally, few of us bother to post our stats online.

    The only time I play Freecell is if someone posts one they can't win.

  • Games with all face down tableau cards tend to behave differently from those with all face up. For another example, try playing Seymour against Agnes Bernauer (both are in PGS). They have exactly that single point of difference. (That gives me a possible future game idea: Persimmon with the tableau all face up - call it "Peach" if you will.)

    What you say might explain why Persimmon, for example, became addictive to some of us even after initially turning it down. There's a lot of unpredictability and choice among the tableau, waste, and two reserves that just might make one retread one's steps before achieving a clear victory.

    Scorpion might have a few crucial points where a single move might determine whether one makes it or breaks it; getting to such a point is the "a-ha" moment that some might enjoy, and sometimes I play it for this reason.


  • Hi Bastiko,

    Hope I'm not flooding you with my garden photos. 😊

    I don't agree with the rating for Persimmon. It's clearly not "mainly skill" because there are seven cards in the upper reserve and you sometimes only get to see the top one. Similarly when spaces can only be filled by Kings, it's a lottery whether of not you have one to use. It's skill/luck balanced at best. I still like it despite that.

    We all seem to find games that we really enjoy. We are spoiled for choice. One man's meat etc. 😋

  • Richard's right. We all have the games we love. For me, I LOVE Corona! (And with the pandemic, I'm probably the one person in the world who is saying that right now...)

    Btw, Richard, I know I'm feeding the beast by saying this but the joke about Mike's dog was pretty hilarious!

  • edited July 2020

    Ha. Glad my joke made you laugh Ken. Perhaps it's just as well I gave the canine's opposite sex a wide berth 😂

    Btw, did Paul manage to migrate from the previous forum?

  • You posted this on July 2:

    Pail and Bastiko have managed to enrol.


    But I haven't seen Paul (or Pail, as you like to call him) anywhere.

  • edited July 2020

    Richard and I did play the first 500 Carltons about 7 years ago and won 56% (rated Hard 5%). Top scores page average at 6.2%.

  • edited July 2020

    All I was doing was pointing out the obvious. Since I don't usually get to comment on games before the Elite players do. I thought I would chime in.😁

    And my Doberman is named Anubis. And has no political choices. He just likes people. Especially. Well done.

    I have been playing Persimmon. As we have discussed. That's why Thomas has included so many different game. Richard and Ken and Larry and many other like games that I am not good at. I keep it simple. I like quick games.

    And it's great to have a new voice in the Forum. Ask all the questions you want.

  • hmmm.... there are some exchanges here that I think require insider information? Do you people know each other personally?

    Anyway, in the responces I read some names of games that I've never even heard about and will certainly go and check them out in due time. To be honest, until three or four weeks ago the only solitaire games I knew about were Patience (Klondike) and Spider. To me it's quite surprising to see how many fun-to-play games can be made with just one or two simple card decks .... No expensive PlayStation required ...

    Currently what I am trying to wrap my mind around is coming up with an algorithm to recognize when it is game-over. Simply identifying possible moves is trivial, of course, but flipping back-and-fourth a card between two legal parents ad infinitum is not something I would want to recognize as a "valid move", unless if it opens up new opportunities. In most games it is easy to filter out such "useless" moves (most meaning the ten or so versions that I have been trying out previous two weeks). However, at first sight Spider, in particular the one and two suit versions, seems more challenging due to the element of full sequence building with possibly four or eight identical cards in the game. I don't know ... at the moment my thoughts are purely philosophical. Probably I should play the game more in order to start recognizing the patterns ;)

    In response to BP348: Perhaps I was doing injustice to Scorpion, I've only played it four times or so (at least, started playing :O), with the first attempt(s) just to figure out the rules of the game ... I am wondering though what such a "make-or-break" situation would be? So far it seemed to me like the game was offering very few choices for the player to make. After all, there is only a single candidate that fits unto the bottom cards, and with only a king that can be moved to an empty pile ...


  • edited July 2020

    We have at least two questions. Does "C" want to share his/her name? In which country do you live?

    To the best of my knowledge none of us have ever met in person. The possible exception to that could be Tom and Gregg both of whom work in development and support of Goodsol Solitaire products. Usually they are too busy counting their money though. I think it was Mike who told me that. 😁

    The regulars have a shared interest in Solitaire games, and we each own and play Pretty Good Solitaire. We invariably abbreviate that to PGS.

    This is the third Solitaire forum that we've had. The first dates back to 2002. All of our paths crossed over the years when asking or answering questions regarding games that we'd not won yet or games that people wanted help with. "Is it winnable" was born way back then. Posting photos of ourselves became a no-no after a couple were modified and arguably improved by some shameless villain. ☺️

    Everybody is entitled to have an opinion, even Mike, albeit not domestically. 😄 I don't know how/why he puts up with us. That guy Ken is the worst culprit. 😉 None of us are keen on Social Media and one of our number even refers to it as Facepuke. What I enjoy most about PGS is that the sound can be turned off in Options. Peace is allowed to reign.

    You aspire to come up with an algorithm to recognize whether games are winnable or not. Does knowing that death is inevitable detract from or improve life? Developing an algorithm that could tackle over 1000 different games that have complex rules will be an impossibility I fear. The Chess one, Deep Blue was an enormous undertaking and it was only dealing with a single game that has very simple rules. Nothing gives me more pleasure than battering away at a difficult deal until it cracks. Larry and I can spend hours and hours on a single game before we agree that we've exhausted all the possibilities. As I said yesterday, we are currently playing King of Egypt from game #1. We are about to tackle the 3800's. Our worst results were when we had a 77% win rate for one set of 100. Mike and Ken play other games that they prefer. We've chosen our own poisons.

    Bastiko won't mind that you believe you've done Scorpion an injustice. There are some games that I dislike intensely, so I've probably slated them unjustly too. Nobody died. I have nothing against Scorpion. I played game #1 a few minutes ago and it took me a while until I uncovered every card except three in the first column. Up until that point you always have the sense of anticipation that your next card could be the one that unlocks the door.

    Solitaire is fun. I've said it before and I don't mind repeating it; PGS is the best thing I've bought in my entire life. Nothing gives me more pleasure.

    Live long and prosper.


  • haha ... You are tremendously overestimating my ambitions. At the university I had a colleague who was thinking about creating a chess engine to calculate the "best" next move, and already then I thought it would just not be worth the gargantuan amount of effort. No ... what I had in mind was just a simple function that would tell me after(!) a move has been made if it makes sense to continue, or if I am just wasting minutes of my life ... :O

    I am from the country where the Peace of Utrecht was signed. If I would tell my first name you would basically know everything. As far as I know I am only one in two people with this name. I suppose Jonathan would do: it would be both true and generic ;)

    Why is this forum nr 3? What happened with the previous 2?

    Anyway, as I now recognize that this one is alive and questions get feedback, I have another one that I would like to pose:

    The version of Klondike that I originally got to learn all those years ago when it was still played with actual cards instead of with keyboards and computer screens, has three passes through the stock, with three cards turned over onto the waste when dealing. When there were fewer than three cards left on the stock pile one would go cyclically through the waste+stock, i.e. turn the waste around, place the remaining stock cards on top, and only then turn over three cards to the (now empty) waste. However, in all card games on goodsol with a waste I see that remaining cards on the stock are simply turned over onto the waste before starting a new pass through the stock. Is this the original and officially recognized procedure, or just a choice in this software implementation? Wikipedia is ambiguous about this aspect ...


  • Jonathan, In a previous life, I used to work for the airlines, so I've been to Europe 13 times. When people ask me where my favorite place was that I visited is, it's an easy answer: Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam.


  • :D ... I grew up in a less than 20 minute bike ride away from that place ... 👍️

    ... still miss it ... I had to move away for my job :S

  • edited July 2020

    I already know someone called Johnathan so would the following suffice?

    Mike, Get your guitar out and learn that one. It's a while since you even serenaded us in a Christmas video.

    There already is a mechanism that tells you that a bad move has been made. We've all got one, but some work better than others. A cynic might tell you that there is another variety. Mike has one. Ken,Larry and myself have been spared. I hope Sue misses this post.

    I'm a bit rusty regarding the Treaty of Utrecht, but it's nice to have another member who can pronounce that and Loch correctly. The lawyers who drew up that treaty forbade the French king from giving support to the deposed British king James II. They couldn't have included his son Charles though as some French troops fought on the Jacobite side at Culloden just 30 years later.

    Software updates and new PC programs sounded the death knell for the previous two forums. Everything comes with an expiry date these days. The suppliers want to keep selling you things.

    Ken and Mike will confirm that it's totally out of character for me to cuss about people who don't even acknowledge having a response to posts they've made. It must be some other guy who does that. 😄

    Tom, Thomas Warfield in Support is the man who will tell you all you want to know about games like Klondike. I would just muddle the issue up further.

    Ken says he's flown across Europe 13 times. He has this recurring dream about being a tail-gunner in a Flying Fortress. Just humour him. I may be slightly jealous but don't tell him that.😉

    I saw the following and thought of you Mike. 😷

  • Get serious. Only Jimmy Hendrix could do that song. And I am far below anyone with that talent. I don't even play that much anymore.

    Some of us would like to meet sometime. But at my age it is probably not going to happen. But it would be fun. At least for an hour or so. Then I would need a nap. Richard would have to do some gardening. And Ken would have to look at his bike. I doubt that I will ever get to Europe again. If I did it would be to Scotland. And probably Ireland. But travel is out for a while.

  • ... So ... I see the name Forty Thieves pass by a couple of times in this thread, and so I go and check out the rules of this and similar layout games as described on goodsol pgshelp ... and ... to my surprise there is one among them that triggers me on the earlier question of my name ... :O

    I will not continue describing the hint, because I think that anyone here would be able to figure it out immediately ...

    But, my-oh-my, this really seems like a very tough game to me :O I'm afraid to try it out myself. How long would an average game take you to complete?

    Anyway, reading through the rules sections I again would like to iterate the original question in the title of this thread, but now for the games "Forty Bandits" and "Josephine". From the pgshelp pages:

    Forty Bandits: " ... Move groups of cards only if they are in sequence down in suit. ..."

    Josephine: " ... Groups of cards can be moved if they are in sequence down in suit. ..."

    Also in the rest of the text I see essentially the same but rephrased. So ... what is the difference between these two games, or are they the same game, just different names? I really tried hard finding the delta in the two description, but ... failed.

    Thanks again for the help. Soon I will start to feel guilty in taking up your precious time with all these silly questions ...

    Kind regards,


  • The difference is that on Forty Bandits the waste pile cards are laid out on the bottom so that they are all visible, making it easier to spot where to undo to.

  • There is a hint function in the options selections at the top, but I believe it just makes the first available legal move which might not be the right way to go.

  • Forty Bandits and Josephine are practically identical except in the latter you can only see the top card of the waste pile. In Forty Bandits the cards in the waste pile get laid out in a line when they've been discarded, and because they are all visible it helps players with forward planning some moves, and therefore makes it a bit more winnable.

    I never time how long it takes me to play or win a game. A player would probably take around 20 minutes to play a deal of either of those carefully. It's common to play a deal several times before you win it or reach the conclusion that it is unwinnable.

  • A simple example of something make-or-break in Scorpion is when you have multiple Kings available (early on) to put into a space. Moving one King too early might lead to a dead end, while another might lead to a winning solution. A more complicated example is when you have cards of the same suit that are stacked in reverse order in one pile (for example, 4 of Spades followed by 5 of Spades) and especially if they have a few cards in between. You may have untangle the cards carefully to achieve victory.

    Lars is correct about the functional difference between Josephine and Forty Bandits.

    PGS used to have a "game is lost" message for certain games when there are assuredly no more moves available, for example Golf (plus its cousin Putt Putt) and Five Piles, but I find that the message seems to give the impression that the game cannot be won, when one may have simply stumbled onto a wrong path. I'm glad that this has been removed for those games. Two games where this does matter are Strategy and Travellers Clock, as for the former the player arranges cards and then everything gets moved automatically, and if it doesn't work one has to try all over again, and for the latter the path is obvious.

    I'd love to meet my cohorts in Europe and Tom and Gregg in the U.S., but I'm in Asia and can't do much with limited budgets.


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