• Classic
  • Infinite

Understanding Minesweeper Patterns: Advance to Victory in the Grid

Minesweeper Patterns Banner

If you’ve caught the bug that provokes you to dive deeper into the game’s strategic areas, you’ve likely realized that you’ll have to gain a decent understanding of Minesweeper patterns to have a better chance at winning. It doesn’t take long before you realize you need to know a thing or two about patterns common to the game to progress and avoid a sudden end from those pesky mines.

As you’re probably already aware, guessing can only get you so far while playing the game, and one click on a mine can bring your progress to a screeching halt. Though there is an element of guessing throughout a round of Minesweeper, the need to do so should be few and far between (typically toward the end of a round).

Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate player, this page will help you learn several patterns you can equip yourself with to have more fun and make better progress per round of this classic computer game. Not all of these patterns will be easy to remember, so make sure to bookmark this page for quick refreshers when needed.

Now, let’s check out some of Minesweeper’s patterns! We’ll start with some of the easier ones and work our way to those that are considered a little more complex.

Basic Minesweeper Patterns

Minesweeper is a game of logic and pattern recognition with a side dish of luck. The more patterns you become familiar with, the easier it becomes to reason your way to the finish line. The more patterns you can recognize, the better your progression, and the faster you can get through a game successfully (for all those who live and die by the timer).

Simple, Frequently Occurring Patterns

Note:

The following patterns can be flipped or mirrored. In other words, the same concepts apply whether a pattern appears starting from the left or right wall of the grid. This is also true in terms of up and down the grid.

1-1 Pattern

1-1 Pattern

The 1-1 pattern is an incredibly common occurrence consisting of a straight line of three 1s typically played off the grid’s wall. In this instance, the mine will be found either over the first or second 1 closest to the wall, leaving the third 1 able to be cleared.

The logic behind this is that a 1 block can only have one mine either adjacent to or diagonally from itself. This eliminates the possibility of a mine being adjacent to the third 1, making it safe to open.

The logic behind this pattern will remain true anywhere on the board. When a pair of 1s is coupled, one mine will be adjacent to one of them, and a clearable cell awaits diagonally over the block beside one of them. Frequently, narrowing down a greater number beside a 1 is possible, enabling you to treat it like a 1-1 pattern (see the reduction section below).

1-2 Pattern

1-2 Pattern

The 1-2 pattern is another one that can be found in any given game you wind up playing, so this will come in handy. Starting from the grid wall, you have a pattern of three numbers, with a 1, 2, and any other number on the third block. We know there is at least one mine either over the one or the two because there has to be a mine waiting either adjacent or diagonally over the 1.

Because we know that there is a mine in the proximity of the 1, the 2 being beside it tells us there must be 2 mines in any of the three spaces above it (adjacent and diagonally left and right). In this pattern, you’ll need to flag the cell adjacent to the third numbered cell because there must be a mine in there to support the 2.

Also, since we’ve flagged one of the two mines related to the 2, and the second one is adjacent to either the 1 or the 2, the cell diagonally touching the 1 opposite the 2 can be cleared.

1-2-1 Pattern

1-2-1 Pattern

The 1-2-1 pattern consists of said numbers in a row on the grid. Because the 1s surround the 2, you can’t have both mines side by side to satisfy the 2 without loading up on one of the 1s.

But you can satisfy the 2 by placing flags on either side of it, adjacent to each 1. Because all three of the numbers have been satisfied, all remaining blocks associated with any of them can be cleared safely.

1-2-2-1 Pattern

1-2-2-1 Pattern

Another common occurrence is the 1-2-2-1 pattern found in a row. This is a great pattern to come across as it satisfies a greater chunk of the grid in one eyeshot quickly and predictably. The logic used here is more focused on the 1s than the 2s. Two flags will satisfy both 2s, but only one can touch any of the cells connected to the 1s.

Flagging the two cells adjacent to the 2s will satisfy the 2s and also the 1s. From there, you can clear the rest of the remaining cells connected to the 1s, as there won’t be any more mines to worry about in those areas. Ultimately, all you’re doing to satisfy this pattern is using the 1-2 pattern twice, once normally and once in reverse (1-2, 2-1).

Reduction

When dealing with Minesweeper patterns, reduction happens as you eliminate possibilities. For example, larger numbers (3, 4, 5, 6, +) can be determined by the process of elimination. If you flag a mine connected to a 6, it becomes an equivalent to a 5. Flag another connected to the same 6, and now it’s equivalent to a 4.

The more mines you’re able to flag, the closer you are to closing out that large numbered cell. For a great reduction example, let’s refer to the 1-3-1 corner pattern above. As soon as the cell diagonally to the three just outside the corner is flagged, the 3 essentially can be considered a 2 since one of its three mines has been located, leaving two mines to be discovered.

Holes

Utilizing hole patterns when they happen can potentially clear up to six cells at most or a minimum of three cells, all hinging on certain combinations. The simplest way to think about holes would be a “hole in the wall.” This is when you have a break in a wall, such as an open cell.

1-Hole

1-hole pattern

The 1-hole pattern to look for is when there is a break in the wall under a 1, with a 1 also inside the cell. Because of the break, we know that there has to be one mine on one side of the break or the other. That mine will satisfy the 1 above and also the 1 within the break.

With the 1 inside the break (or hole) satisfied, the three cells touching the 1 opposite the opening can be cleared safely. If another 1 happens to be opened up, being the next in line down the hole, it is already satisfied by the same mine that satisfied the previous two 1s.

2-Hole

2-Hole pattern

This instance works much like the 1-hole pattern, but rather than using 1s, it’ll be 2s. The 2-hole pattern is a bit easier to figure out because it’s easier to determine where the 2 mines are than finding one out of two cells.

When you have a 2 over a 2 in the hole, there is only one way to solve this. Both mines will be found on either side of the break because they are the only 2 cells touching the top 2. These same mines will satisfy the 2 in the hole, which means that the three remaining cells touching the 2 in the hole can be cleared safely. If a 2 is revealed adjacent to the 2 in the hole, another row of three can be cleared as the first two mines flagged will satisfy that third 2.

Triangles

1-1 Triangle

The 1-1 Triangle pattern

The 1-1 triangle pattern is essentially the 1-1 pattern listed above, but it is positioned in such a way that you can guess which cells contain a mine, allowing three cells to be opened. The pattern is when you have three uncleared cells in a row, with 1s over the first and second cells, followed by an uncleared cell. Above the 1s would be 2 uncleared cells.

Essentially, there are three cells to choose from as far as flagging goes. Because there are two 1s side by side in this particular pattern, one mine exists within the 1 cell above the 1s or the two cells beneath the 1s. Because we know this, the three cells remaining touching the second 1 can all be cleared.

2-2 Triangle

2-2 Triangle pattern

This pattern has the same setup as above but uses 2s rather than 1s. As with the 1-1 triangle pattern, only three cells will contain the mines: one above and two beneath the 2s.

Knowing that the mines are within those three cells, the three remaining cells touching the second 2 can be safely cleared.

3-3 Triangle

3-3 Triangle pattern

Again, this setup is just like the previous two. However, because we’re dealing with 3s, all three of the cells above and below can be flagged since the one above and the two beneath are the only available cells touching the first 3 and automatically clear the second. All remaining cells touching the second three can be cleared.

Combination Triangles

Combination triangles consist of two primary patterns (the 1-2 and the 2-3 pyramid patterns) and can be slightly more complex.

1-2 Pyramid

1-2 Pyramid pattern

The setup of this pattern resembles a combination of a triangle and a hole pattern. You’ve got a 1 in the hole or in a break in the wall. Above the 1 is a 2 with an uncleared block to one side but an opening on the other. Above the two is a single block with no adjacent uncleared blocks touching it.

Because of the 2, you know two mines are at play, one of which will be interacting with the 1. There are only three spots within the 1s reach where that mine can be, leaving the cell above the 2 available to be flagged. Because we know of the three possible locations for the last mine, the three remaining cells touching the 1 can be cleared.

2-3 Pyramid

2-3 Pyramid pattern

The 2-3 pattern uses the same setup as the 1-2 pyramid pattern but with a 2 in the hole and a 3 above it. Like before, we can assume that the cell above the three can be flagged as only two mines can touch the 2. Three cells containing 2 mines remain at play, so the three remaining cells touching the opposite side of the 2 can be cleared safely.

If you’re lucky, a 1 might be revealed under the 2, and all cells touching that 1 can be cleared since the 3s mines will be satisfied with one of the possible two locations touching the 1.

High Complexity Patterns

The following are some patterns that are a little more complex but are great for avoiding problems and maneuvering across the grid.

1-3-1 Corner Pattern

1-3-1 Corner Pattern

This pattern may leave a bit to chance, but it will at least help you narrow down some options. It consists of a 3 located on an inside corner, with a 1 on either side. In one corner direction, there has to be a mine adjacent to either the 3 or the 1, with the same rule applying to the same 3 and the other 1 on the other corner wall.

As far as the 3 is concerned, that leaves one mine unaccounted for, but only one cell to choose from, which would be the cell diagonally to the three just outside the corner. That is the third mine and needs to be flagged. Similar to other 1-based patterns, all other cells not directly adjacent to the 3 and 1s can be cleared, leaving you to figure out where the other two mines might be nestled behind the 4 remaining uncleared cells.

2–2–2 Corner Pattern

2–2–2 Corner Pattern

This pattern occurs when the inside of a corner is all 2s in both directions of the corner, with two or more 2s in each direction. Now, there can only be one mine per each leg of the corner; otherwise, one of the inner 2s would be overloaded.

Because we’ve roughly located where the two mines are, which will satisfy the three innermost 2s, the corner cell can be cleared. There will likely be mines that need flagging on the third cell down from the corner in both directions (particularly if there are four 2s in each direction).

1>2<1 Pattern

1>2<1 Pattern

You’ve got a wall of cells with one bump (an uncleared cell). That bump happens to be surrounded by 1s two rows tall from the bump, with the exception of a 2 located on the other side of the bump.

Because there are two 1s above the bump, we know a mine is in one of the two adjacent cells beside the 1s. On the other side of the bump is the 2, followed by a 1. Due to that combination, only one mine must be in the wall beside the 2 and the 1. This leaves the mine required to satisfy the 2 to reside either in the bump itself or one cell adjacent to it (diagonally from the 2).

T–Pattern

T–Pattern

The T-pattern is a practice of reduction, a process of elimination. Three numbers, 4, 3, and 2, are in a row surrounded by unopened cells, except for a break under the second number. Beneath the 3 inside the break is a 1, with a row of 1s underneath it.

To solve this pattern, you start with the cells on either side of the break surrounding the e1. There has to be a mine in either one or the other. Because there are more ones under the wall, the second cell from the break is also a location for a mine. The mentioned cells can be set aside for later.

Shifting up to the 2, three cells are touching above it, and 1 cell to its side will have one mine somewhere within them. So, we know there are mines within the four surrounding cells around the 2.

Beside the 2 is the 3. The only remaining cell we haven’t discussed is the one that would be diagonally touching the 3 placed over the 4. This will have a mine and will need to be flagged. That being done, we’re left with a mine connected to the 1, 3, and 2, and another that needs to be connected to the 2 and 3. This allows for the cells connected to the far side of the 2 to be cleared because they wouldn’t contribute to satisfying the three.

Last Turns

Mine Counting

Mine Counting Pattern

One method that can be utilized at the end of the game is mine counting. When you’re down to your last five or six flags, you look over the grid and find any places you can get away with clearing by counting the number of mine locations you can find, equaling the amount of flags you’re still holding on to. Places that you deem to not have any mines hiding can be cleared.

Tips

  • The first click is always safe. When dealing with a fresh grid, anywhere you click will either be a blank or a numbered cell. That said, all bets are off after that, as the board is now activated and mines are dispersed.
  • Starting on a corner is a great way to begin a fresh game. If you click one corner and it only yields a number, opening only one block, try another corner for the potential to open a greater space of clear blocks, revealing more numbers and more info for you to make better-educated moves before laying down your first flag. Bear in mind that the more corners you opt to reveal, the more chance you’ll hit a mine, so measure your risks accordingly.
  • If you get stuck, don’t dwell. You might frequently find yourself in a spot requiring you to start taking guesses, often winding up with a 50 percent chance of further progression or an instant end to the game. When the odds are at 50/50, it’s better to look elsewhere on the grid to see if you can progress elsewhere. From time to time, you’ll find yourself canceling out the need to guess by eliminating areas around it, exposing cells that will give you greater clues about which block needs to be cleared.

Conclusion

There’s something about these classic staple-type PC games that brings out the competitor in all of us, and that could be for several reasons. Perhaps it’s the measured level of progression involved that improves as one becomes better at whatever the game (in this instance, Minesweeper). It could also be the strategic elements that fuel the addictive nature of these games that have kept them in play for decades. The challenge that Minesweeper presents makes victory all that much sweeter! If you utilize the patterns above, you should notice a significant improvement in your game and find it easier to move your way across the grid and, ultimately, to victory. There’s a lot of info above that you might have a hard time retaining from one sitting, so make sure to bookmark or save this page so you can return to it as a refresher of the list of Minesweeper patterns to help you out of a jam in a future round!