Those Crazy Eights!

January 28, 2006

Ah, it’s a lovely treat. Since I’ve swept the Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert ranks so nicely, I’ve migrated to a Custom field. My choice Custom field? Same dimensions as the Expert field but with 140 mines rather than 99.

Why do I play Minesweeper? I play it not for the high scores, although they’re a nice bonus here and there. I play for the numbers. Ones, Twos, and Threes are common. Fours, too. Fives show up here and there as a reminder of just how easily you could lose. After all, at that point there’s more mines around than not. Six! Uh oh. But then we get to the more elusive top numbers, those not so common (so long as you’re not in the Custom 435, where they are pretty much the only non-mine squares).

There is the Seven. Seven mines around that square plus one non-mine. A bit of a treat. Like “Whoa, holy shit! A Seven!” Takes you by surprise. But even the regal Seven falls just short of the mighty one…

Eight!!! The magnificent, elusive Eight. The Fortress itself.

I opened this one just earlier. Yay! Always a treat. As you can tell, I later hit a mine, but screw it. I opened an Eight!

And then come the deep thoughts. An Eight touches no other number. An Eight cannot be opened via that simultaneously clicking method. You know, when you’ve got a number that already has the correct number of flags around it, so you click the left and right mouse buttons at the same time to open the rest of the squares around it. Nor can that method be used with an Eight. You cannot know for sure if a square is an Eight until you’ve opened it. And that in and of itself is a risk of finding that the square there surrounded by eight mines is just another mine itself. This is called a Nine Square.

Eights are lonely and just want someone to play with. Eights are mysterious and misunderstood. Eights are rare. Eights don’t often show up on a winning mine field but are so happy when they do. Yet Eights are bold and daring. Eights live completely surrounded by death. Eights are like where Trapper was standing in that one episode of M*A*S*H when he was trying to save that Korean boy from the mine field. Eights are definite, in that you know where all the mines around it are, for the squares are all mines. Eights were grey in Windows 3.1 and 95. They turned skinny and black in Windows 98 and NT. Then for Windows 2000 and XP they returned to the Classic Fortress, the classic thick grey Eight.

On the really rare occasion, there is more than one Eight on the mine field, although obviously not such a rare phenomenon in the Custom 435 (which, by the way, is a 16 by 30 mine field with 435 mines in it, the highest allowed). It’s like you open one and are like “Woo hoo! Eight!” Then, in the course of playing a bit more, “Whoa! Another Eight!” It’s a beautiful thing.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more amazing Minesweeper phenomena. What will I discuss later? The changing views as Windows operating systems progressed. The divine Minesweeper terminology, decided solely by me. The ever-present mine traps and how much they suck. Best times. General playing tips. And much, much more!