The Art of playing Minesweeper

One new skill I’ve gained ever since lock-down was playing a game of minesweeper. Best part is, I know how to win it! Umm, most of the times (I make a lot of silly moves). We all played minesweeper when we were kids. Clicking on random boxes without knowing how to actually play the game. Even now, most of us do not know the tricks or the working of the game. What do the numbers represent? How do we know where the mines are located? I started playing this game as a stress buster of my college work and god, I must say it worked because now I am worried about how to win the game.

Let’s start now. What to the numbers indicate? The numbers indicate the number of mines in the surrounding boxes of the numbered box.

Let us take this particular example. How many mines do you think are within this range? Since the mines overlap through the numbers, we cannot directly guess the number. Hence, we need to keep flagging the possible location of the mines.

The 1 indicates that there is one mine within the surrounding 8 boxes. The 3 indicates that there are three mines within the surrounding 8 boxes and so on. Now, knowing this is not a big deal. How to win the game? I will try to lay out few of my best tricks here.

First thing, flag. Flag the possible location of the mines. Right click your mouse to flag.

Now, these are the very obvious locations of the mines. Once you know that the mines are in these locations, all you have to do is tap on the boxes where the mines won’t be present. How do we approach this? In the second last row and third last column, you have a 1. Now, that 1 is already in contact with a mine that you are 100% sure is there. So, click the remaining boxes in its range. Similarly, do the same for the 2 at the top.

Voila! We solved these boxes. Next, check the possibility of remaining mines within the range.

Click again on the boxes with no possibility of mines and continue to steps and do not forget to mark the mines by flagging them.

The rules are only so much. The game is also based on hunch and strategy. Which box to click first? I click on a random box in between but most people start the game by clicking on the bottom left corner box. From there we proceed with the game. In a few combinations, the location of the mines is obvious but no one tells you this and you only learn after playing a few games and notice the combination.

In figure 4, after tapping on the surrounding boxes, we end up with figure 5. Look at the (2, 3, 3) in the second row of the tapped boxes. Look 3 and its surrounding boxes. We already have one flag and now we need to find two more. It is obvious that the two remaining boxes in its surrounding are mines. Flag them. Look at the 3 to its left. After flagging two mines, and since it is already in contact with another flag, it is safe to say that all the mines in the surrounding have been marked. And the 2 next to the 3 will come in contact with two flags and thus, you can again tap the surrounding boxes.

This is what you end up with after the taps, next few steps are based on hunch (as you do not know the exact location of the mine) which you will understand after playing a few more games.

After a few more taps and ending up here, there is another obvious combination to talk about. When you have (1, 2, 1) in a row or column and only three boxes untapped as you can see in the middle of the image, the mines will be above the two ones.

Figure 8

Tap! Flag! Tap! Flag! again and again and you end up here.

Figure 9

Another one here, the mines above 3. Most times, when you are in the flow of the game, you tap on these obvious mines. So always remember to flag.

Figure 10

When you see multiple 1s in a row like this, the safest box to tap is the one above the third 1. This box will always contain a number.

From here on, the more games you play, the more tricks you learn.

It is no fun giving the entire cheat sheet. Find more combinations as you play. Do not get frustrated when you lose the game. You are just starting out!

Hope this article helps. Bye!