How to Play Minesweeper
This classic game was first introduced as a part of the Microsoft Windows 3.1 operating system in 1992 to teach players to use the right-click as they flagged cells. It’s a logic puzzle that requires strategy, and a bit of luck, to win the game.
The goal of minesweeper is simple — uncover all the numbered or blank cells on the minefield grid in the fastest time possible without detonating a mine. If you click on a mine during gameplay, you lose the game. Numbered cells indicate how many mines there are in the eight adjacent cells.
The top left box lists the number of mines on the grid and the top right box is a timer that begins once you click the first cell. The number in the top left will decrease as you flag cells. You can click the smiley face in the middle to start a new game.
There are three difficulty levels:
- Beginner: A 9x9 grid with 81 cells and 10 mines
- Intermediate: A 16x16 grid with 256 cells and 40 mines
- Advanced: A 30x16 grid with 480 cells and 99 mines
Starting the Game
To start the game, click anywhere on the grid, though it’s best to start somewhere near the middle. Once the first cell is revealed you can click additional cells, flag cells that you think are mines, or mark cells with a question mark if you’re unsure.
- To flag a cell right click or ctrl + click (Mac). If you’re on mobile, you can hold the cell to flag it.
- To add a question mark right click or ctrl + click (Mac) the cell twice.
You cycle through the symbols: The first click is a flag, next click is a question mark, and the next click makes the cell blank again".
Ending the Game
The game ends either when you click a mine or you’ve opened all the safe blocks. You must open all the safe blocks to win, even if all the mines are flagged.
As you become more familiar with minesweeper, you will begin to recognize patterns and probabilities. Commit these to memory to make it easier and quicker to win the game.
- If a number is touching the same number of unclicked cells and the rest of the adjacent squares are revealed, all those cells are mines. For example, if there are 3 unclicked cells next to a 3 cell and the other 5 are already clear, you should flag the unclicked cells.
- 1 corner: If there is a 1 in a corner, the cell diagonal to it must be a mine.
- 1-1 pattern: If there are two 1 cells starting from an edge, a clear parallel row on one side of the 1s, and an unclicked parallel row on the other side, the third unclicked cell diagonal to the second 1 is a safe cell.
- 1-2 pattern: If there are 1-2 cells next to each other, the unclicked cell diagonal to the 2 is a mine, assuming the remaining parallel cells are clear.
- 1-1-1: If there are 1-1-1 cells next to each other, the mine is parallel to the middle 1, assuming the remaining parallel and adjacent cells are already cleared.
- 1-1-1-1: If there are 1-1-1-1 cells next to each other, the mines are parallel to the first and fourth 1s, assuming the remaining parallel and adjacent cells are already cleared.
- 1-2-1 pattern: If there are 1-2-1 cells next to each other, the unclicked cells parallel to the 1’s are mines, assuming the remaining parallel cells are already cleared.
- 1-2-2-1 pattern: If there are 1-2-2-1 cells next to each other, the unclicked cells parallel to the 2’s are mines, assuming the remaining parallel cells are already cleared.
Remember, Minesweeper is a puzzle game of logic, and some luck. Over time, you'll learn to win the game more often and faster. As you get familiar with the game, take your time and use reasoning to determine which cells are mines and which are clear. Good luck!