OK, so it's not actually FROM the seventeenth century but was definitely still played then. Nine Man Morris (it sometimes goes by other names) is a game that dates to the Roman period and has never really gone away. So, to drown out sadness about missing the re-enacting season this year (thanks, Covid), Sir Thomas Tyldesley's, plus a pesky Parliamentarian, had a go at playing over Zoom!
It’s really easy to play and you could draw out a board on a bit of paper at home, get creative with ‘gameshow’ style boards (stick a large board on the wall and blu-tack your counters on to it) or just play an online version, which, on reflection may have been the more sensible option. I understand that apps are available!
You'll quite often see this game being displayed or played in our living history displays and it's a really good way to get involved with this part of our hobby on your first day as the rules are so easy to pick up.
Playing the game
The aim of the game is to try to remove your opponent’s ‘men’ from the board. You can remove one of their pieces by creating a horizontal or vertical ‘mill’ by having three of your counters adjacent to each other.
Three key rules:
• In a turn, you must move a counter. This should be either horizontally or vertically to the next point.
• You may not ‘jump’ another counter that is blocking the way.
• If you form a mill (three counters that are horizontally or vertically adjacent), you may remove one of your opponent’s counters. You may not remove a counter that forms part of your opponent’s mill.
Each player has nine counters or ‘men’ and decide between themselves who is going to go first. They take it in turns to put their counters on the points on the board. Any mills that are formed during the set up cannot be used to remove an opponent’s piece.
Each player takes it in turns to move one of their pieces. This should be either vertically or horizontally to the next point. If the player can make a move, they must do so.
If a mill is formed, they may choose one of the opponent’s counters to be removed. They may not remove a counter that is already part of a mill.
The game is over when one player is either unable to move or only has two ‘men’ left on the board, which would therefore make it impossible to form any mills.
We even got experimental and tried to play online! Take a look for some excellent strategy and a chat about pikes! Plus, if you want a laugh, it turns out that I go weird and awkward on camera.