Psellos
Contemporary Development With Functional Programming

Cassino Touch Interface

This page explains how to play Cassino on the iPhone. It explains how to select cards to make a play, and how to interpret what is being shown on the screen.

This page describes only how to use the Cassino touch interface. For an explanation of the rules see the rules page. For strategy suggestions, see the strategy page.

How to Make a Play

The screen of the Cassino app, as seen in Figure 1, shows the current state of the game. The face-down cards at the top belong to your opponent, the computer. The face-up cards at the bottom are your cards. The slightly smaller face-up cards in the middle are available for capture by either of the players. In a game with real cards, the middle cards would usually be on a table between the players, and so we will say they are “on the table.”

Figure 1, making a play

Figure 1

Making a Play

When you touch a face-up card, it is selected. Selected cards are shown with a blue border. In Figure 1, the king in your hand and the eight and five on the table are selected. When you touch a selected card, it is deselected (the blue border disappears). Using these touches, you can select any one card from your hand and any number of cards on the table.

To make a play, select the card you want to play from your hand. Then select the cards from the table that are part of the play. If you are capturing, you select the cards you want to capture. If you are building, you select all the cards that will be part of the build. If you want to trail a card, you don’t select any cards on the table.

As you select and deselect cards, the blue buttons at the bottom change to show the legal plays for the selected cards. In Figure 1, the selected cards can be used either to capture or to build, so there are two play buttons. Touch the button for the play you want to make, and that’s it!

If no blue buttons appear, there are no legal plays for the cards you have selected. A common reason for this is that the selected cards on the table don’t add up to the right value for a build or capture. Another possibility is that you are attempting to trail a card when you have a build on the table. You need to capture your build before you can trail a card. See the rules page for a full description.

If all else fails, you can ask the computer to suggest a good play. See below, where we discuss this a little more.

Other Parts of the Screen

Figure 2 shows a few other parts of the screen that help you keep track of the state of the game. At the top right is the current round number, out of the total of six rounds in a game. In Figure 2 the game is in its second round.

Figure 2, other screen features

Figure 2

Other Screen Features

At the top left are buttons for viewing the rules of the game and your cumulative won-loss statistics. When viewing statistics, you have the option to clear them, i.e., to reset them all to 0. When you are finished viewing rules or statistics, touch the Done button to continue the game.

Your score is displayed at the position of your rightmost card, and the computer’s score similarly. In Figure 2, your score is 7 and the computer’s is 5.

A build on the table is labeled with its value—A, 2, 3, and so on. Your builds are labeled in blue, and the computer’s in pink. In Figure 2, you have a build of queens (Q), and the computer has a build of kings (K).

Computer’s Play

After you make your play, the computer will make its own play. If there are a lot of cards on the table, it might have to think for a little while first. After it decides what to do, it turns over the card it plans to play and selects the cards from the table. It announces its decision near the top of the screen, then moves the cards to make the play.

There is an advantage to making the first play in Cassino, and so the computer (politely) lets you play first in every game if you want to. Before you make your first play, a Pass button appears. If you touch this button, the computer will make the first play. In a game with real cards, the two players ordinarily take turns playing first, which keeps things fair.

You can see the Pass button in Figure 1, which shows the situation at the beginning of a game. After the first play is made there is no need for the Pass button, because you and the computer just play alternately from then on.

Quit a Game in Progress

You can quit a game in progress by touching the Quit button, which appears each time it is your turn to make a play. If you have already clinched the game—i.e., you have more than 26 points—the button title says Claim. If the computer has clinched the game with more than 26 points, the button title says Concede. Touching the button in these cases allows you to end the game as soon as the winner is determined, if you like.

If there is no clear winner yet, the button title says Quit. Touching the button in this case simply ends the game with no winner. You can see the Quit button in Figure 2, which shows the situation where neither player has a sure win.

Asking for Play Suggestion

At any time, you can touch the Suggest button at the bottom of the screen to get a suggested play from the computer. The computer forgets its own cards for a minute and tells you the play it would make if it were you. Although this might seem suspicious, the computer will not cheat. It looks at your cards to give you an honest suggestion, and then forgets your cards. (A computer is just as good at forgetting cards as it is at remembering them.)

Figure 3, suggested play

Figure 3

Suggested Play

Figure 3 shows one situation after touching the Suggest button. The computer suggests that you capture your ace build with one of the aces in your hand. It selects the right cards for the play, and highlights the play button for its specific suggestion. The highlight is helpful in cases where there is more than one possible play, as there is here.

One way to learn to play Cassino is to ask for suggestions frequently at first. You can even ask for a suggestion for every play. If you take the computer’s suggestion every time, you can watch the computer play against itself. After a while you’ll start to see how to make your own plays, and won’t need to ask for suggestions.