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Place your pieces on board, form lines or rows of 3, and leave your opponent either with 2 pieces or 0 moves!
The game is based on the “Nine Men’s Morris” game-play.
Nine men's Morris is a strategy board game for two players dating at least to the Roman Empire. Nine Men's Morris, also known as Merrills, Mill and Merels, is an old English game that goes back to antiquity - evidence has been found for the game in ancient Rome and possibly Ancient Egypt. More recently, references in the works of Shakespeare have given it an image of the archetypal medieval board game. The game has also been called cowboy checkers and is sometimes printed on the back of checkerboards. Nine men's morris is a solved game, that is, a game whose optimal strategy has been calculated. It has been shown that with perfect play from both players, the game results in a draw.
The Rules of Merels or Nine Mens Morris
Nine Men's Morris, also known as Merrills, Mill and Merels, is an old English game that goes back to antiquity - evidence has been found for the game in ancient Rome and possibly Ancient Egypt. More recently, references in the works of Shakespeare have given it an image of the archetypal medieval board game.
Like most of the best games, Nine Mens Morris rules are simple, the objective being to capture opposing pieces by forming lines of 3. It is an under-rated game of skill that is easy to learn but sometimes requiring deep thought - a bit like grown-up tic-tac-toe (or noughts and crosses). It is an entertaining game for beginners and veterans alike and something for older children and adults to enjoy.
Player's toss a coin to decide who will play white - white moves first and has a slight advantage as a result. Play is in two phases. To begin with, players take turns to play a piece of their own colour on any unoccupied point until all eighteen pieces have been played. After that, play continues alternately but each turn consists of a player moving one piece along a line to an adjacent point.
During both of these phases, whenever a player achieves a mill, that player immediately removes from the board one piece belonging to the opponent that does not form part of a mill. If all the opponents pieces form mills then an exception is made and the player is allowed to remove any piece. It is only upon the formation of a mill that a piece is captured but a player will often break a mill by moving a piece out of it and then, in a subsequent turn, play the piece back again, thus forming a new mill and capturing another piece.
Captured pieces are never replayed onto the board and remain captured for the remainder of the game. The game is finished when a player loses either by being reduced to two pieces or by being unable to move.
How to Play
Nine Men’s Morris is the original three-in-a-row game, but with much more strategy than tictac-toe. The object is to try to form “mills” by making a line of three of your men,
horizontally or vertically. When a mill is formed, the player who made the row of three is
allowed to remove one of their opponent’s men from the game. You win by reducing your
opponent’s men to just two.
Phase 1: Placing Men on Empty Points
- Draw your board and gather your pebbles.
- Decide who goes first (you can toss a coin and call heads or tails, or you can let the youngest player start).
- Take turns placing men on the points on the board – one play per turn.
- Watch your opponent carefully, and try to prevent her from making a row of three!
- If a player is able to place three of his men in a straight line, vertically or horizontally, he has formed a “mill” and may remove one of his opponent's pieces from the board and the game. You can choose any man to remove from the game, except a man that is part of a mill.
- The act of removing your opponent's man is sometimes called "pounding" the opponent.
- Once all men have been placed on the board, the game moves to the next phase.
Phase 2: Moving Pieces
- Now on your turn, you slide a man on the board to a nearby point. But, you may not "jump" another piece, or skip points on the board!
- Players continue to try and form mills by sliding a man each turn, and removing your opponent's men the same way you did in the first phase of the game.
- A player may "break" a mill by moving one of his own pieces from an existing mill.
- If your opponent does not move his man in to keep the mill broken on his turn, you can actually move your man back and form the same mill on your next turn, and still take of one of his men!
- When one player has been reduced to three men, phase three of the game begins.
Phase 3: Moving Pieces
- We like to play this game by the rules in a 19th century games manual, which means we make it easier for the player who is down to three men.
- Therefore, when a player is reduced to just three pieces, the way men are moved changes: The player with only three men can make the men "fly", "hop", or "jump" from any point to any other vacant point on the board. No more sliding to the next point! This helps balance out the end of the game, though true Nine Men’s Morris players of the 19th century called this version “rustic”!
Winning Nine Men's Morris
The first player to get their opponent down to two pieces or to block their opponent from making any legal moves is the winner.
At the beginning of the game, it is more important to place pieces in versatile locations rather than to try to form mills immediately and make the mistake of concentrating one's pieces in one area of the board. An ideal position, which typically results in a win, allows a player to shuttle one piece back and forth between two mills, removing a piece every turn.