Nine Men's Morris

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Nine Men's Morris initial positionNine Men's Morris is an abstract strategy board game for two players that emerged from the Roman Empire and persisted throughout Europe and beyond. An oldie if there ever was one.

Nine Men's Morris is played on a special board with 24 cells connected with lines indicating valid movements as in the diagram.
There are two players: White and Black. White moves first after which player's alternately move.
The board is initially empty and each player has 9 men of his color 'in hand'.

The object of Nine Men's Morris is to capture at least 7 opponent's men or to block all opponent's men completely.

There are three stages in the game:
  • Placing the men.
  • Moving the men.
  • Flying the men.

Placing the men:
  • Each turn consist of placing a man on a vacant cell.
  • The aim is to create a 'mill': a row three men on any line drawn on the board. If a player forms a mill, he may remove (capture) one of the opponent's men from the board. However, a man in a mill may not be removed unless all of the opponent's men are in mills, in which case any man may be removed.
  • A single placement may create more than one mill, but only one man may be removed.

Moving the men:
  • After all the men have been placed, each turn consists of moving a cow to a vacant adjacent cell.
  • As before, completing a mill allows a player to remove one of the opponent's men. Again, this must be a man which is not in a mill, unless all of the opponent's men are in mills, in which case any man may be removed.
  • A mill may be broken and reformed repeatedly by moving a man back and forth. Each time the mill is reformed, one of the opponent's men may be captured. If the same move breaks and forms a mill, the man may be moved back and forth, creating a mill every time.
    Of course, by breaking the mill the player exposes the men which were in a mill to the risk of being captured by the opponent on his or her next turn.

Flying the men:
  • If a player has only three men remaining, desperate measures are called for. This player's men are allowed to 'fly' to any vacant cell, not just adjacent ones.
  • Of course, if one player is down to three men and the other player still has more than three, only the player with three men is allowed to fly.

End of the game:
  • A player wins if his opponent cannot move, or is down to two men.
  • If both players are down to three men and neither player captures within ten moves, the game is a draw.

Nine Men's Morris exampleHere's an example of a 'double mill' where white can capture every time the white man moves. This is allowed in Nine Men's Morris but not in Morabaraba. Each time it moves White may capture an opponent's man. Oh joy.

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