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I've found myself with a whole lot of freetime at work. Unfortunately, our workstations are pretty locked-down and internet usage is monitored, so I'm stuck doing nothing. And by nothing, I mean minesweeper.

I've got a pretty good rhythm going for clearing the minefield, but I'm having a really hard time improving my time.

Should I be taking more educated guesses? How can I prevent "mine freeze" (i.e., where you just lock up and can't figure out where to click)? Any other tips you've found helpful?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Turn off the Question marks. They only slow you down. Once you have all the bombs in a square marked you can click both mouse buttons to clear all adjacent squares. Learn to recognize patterns so you can mark or clear stuff as quick as possible.

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Turn off question marks! Brilliant! Any suggestions on patterns? –  JJ Caldwell Dec 2 '10 at 0:59
    
Actually I don't see how using two mouse buttons contradicts with using question marks. The only way question marks can slow you is when you first set a mine and then changed your mind. Also sometimes you arrive at the point where you have to make suggestions of the possible mine locations and then check them. You can do it with the flags, but it is very easy to leave a false flag and lose. I would recommend to leave question marks on and to learn how to use them instead. –  Malcolm Jan 26 '11 at 10:34
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Question marks can be useful when you're figuring things out, but once you get the basics, if you accidentally mark the wrong thing it takes 2 more clicks to get it back to "off" rather than 1 w/out flags. If you're going for fast you don't have time to mark flags to figure things out, you should be able to figure it out just by looking. –  aslum Jan 26 '11 at 22:21

I usually start by trying to click about a dozen widely scattered squares at random. Quite often this hits a mine right away, but once in a while, maybe 1 in 10, you will open a couple of large areas this way. Large open areas are good b/c you have all those 1-mine corners to start working from.

The alternative, trying to work carefully starting from a single non-mine, or just a small open area, takes GOBS of time to get going. In 30 seconds with the multiple random stab approach, you can easily get to a starting position with just 2-3 seconds on the clock, that's as opened up as working carefully with all 30 seconds, or more, on the clock.

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Agreed. I start out randomly hitting squares until either I hit a mine or an area opens up. –  Loren Pechtel Jan 26 '11 at 18:13
    
I do this as well, however I'll usually only click 2-3 times, much more and you're wasting time and might as well start over. –  aslum Jan 26 '11 at 22:22
    
well, basically i just hit stuff until something opens. usually it's boom in 2-3 clicks, sometimes i can get away with a dozen or so. just doesn't seem like any point in being cautious getting out of the starting gate. –  JustJeff Jan 27 '11 at 0:24

You shouldn't forget that you don't need to place all flags, you just need to open all squares without the mines.

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Start in the corners. Working from the middle to the corners is more likely to require a lucky guess, so work from the corners to the middle instead.

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Start in the center sqares, then randomly once you get the easy ones. Most importantly, '1's are the most excluding indicators. Squares with smaller numbers should be used before higher numbered squares. Go quickly, watching for patterns, but be alert for exceptions. Useful patterns: a "1" diagonal to a square is usually pointing to that square holding a bomb/flower; three "3"s in row usually indicate three bombs/flowers beside them. Ken

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