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The Art of Minesweeper

You are responsible for the lives of your team, but you must not let this emotion affect your judgement – level headedness is absolutely critical.

Stephen R 14 January 2013


When greeted with an empty field it is extremely important not to be overawed by the mission ahead. You are responsible for the lives of your team, but you must not let this emotion affect your judgement – level headedness is absolutely critical.

The first sector that you clear will always be safe; the enemy has afforded you this one luxury, but do not be fooled into complacency – this will bring you closer to your grave.

Your second clearing is very important and will determine the future course of your plan. Do not step in the top left perimeter of the field at this time. The odds of uncovering a mine in this location are 50% higher than any other sector in the field.

At this point there are two strategies one may follow. A rookie minesweeper will take incredibly high risks in order to uncover a safe portion of the field, whereas the more experienced sweeper will act more carefully and calculate where next to proceed.


Speed is extremely important; there are many fields to clear and every passing minute the enemy approaches. One must clear as soon as possible without taking unnecessary risks. There are two ways to clear sectors:

  • Mass production – flag all detected mines before clearing any more sectors
  • Sprint – alternate between clearing and flagging

Ultimately it is a combination of the two that will give you the maximum speed required to clear the field in the shortest time.


Mavericks are always to be found in the defence forces and the minefield is no exception. If you have seen ‘The Hurt Locker’ and respect SFC James’ method, let me send you a home truth – that is Hollywood. It is not real. Minesweeping is not a game – it must be taken seriously as there are many lives at risk.

There are two common traits found in mavericks:

Non-flagging – mavericks believe that marking sectors with flags is a waste of time and that the positions of mines can be easily recorded in one’s memory bank. This is fraught with danger and minefields are paved with the remains of egotistical intentions.

Guessing – some mavericks will take 50/50 risks when there is simply no need. Clearing a mine 20 seconds more quickly is not worth the destruction of an entire squad.


Even the most experienced sweepers will sometimes need to take a 50/50 guess. Unfortunately this is a dangerous business and the minesweeping squad is not filled with part time grocery stackers. If you are presented with no other option but to guess the position of a mine, do not delay this decision. Clear your many as quickly as possible and sacrifice yourself if need be. By clearing the rest of the field first and leaving the guess until the end, you have simply delayed the inevitable and potentially wasted time that could have been used clearing other fields.


‘Chording’ is an advanced technique whereby you can clear a number of sectors in one sweep once you have flagged all mines in the area. This technique takes practice and should not be used without careful initial practise. One must learn to crawl before they can walk – respect the chord. It is not my place to teach you the one-point-fiver tactic. It will come to you when you are ready.


Minefields can be large and test the stamina of even the fittest troops. Remain hydrated at all times and ensure you have an adequate supply of energy bars. Stay focused and do not allow your mind to wander with thoughts of Budweiser or your ‘gal back home’ – you will be with her soon enough. You are protecting your nation and that is a privilege you should never take for granted.


Whack on your aviator sunnies! You've earned yourself a drink and deserve a back-rub back at camp. Mine-sweeping is not a job for boys and today, you have shown yourself worthy to be called a true ‘Minesweeper!’ Compare your time against the big boys and prepare yourself for your next big mission!

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