Merels Online Help

In this game, you (white pieces) play against the computer. Each have 9, 11 or 12 pieces to start (depending on game) and the object of the game is to reduce your opponent to two pieces or make it impossible for any of them to move. Pieces can only placed on the the board's twenty-four intersections and moved to an adjacent intersection.

There are two distinct phases to the game:

Placing the pieces

The game begins with an empty board. Players take turns placing their pieces on empty intersections. To place a piece, simply drag it to one of the free intersections, or click on an intersection and the next piece will move there.

If a player is able to form a row of three pieces along one of the board's lines (called a "mill"), he may remove one of his opponent's pieces from the board. Once a piece is removed, it may not be placed again. When removing an opponent's piece, only those not part of a mill may be removed, unless all opponent pieces are part of a mill, in which case any piece may be removed. You will always be informed which are valid pieces to remove by the "hand" cursor over the piece.

Once all pieces have been placed, the second phase of the game begins.

Moving the pieces

To move, a player slides one of his pieces along a board line to an empty adjacent intersection. If he cannot do so, he has lost the game.

As in the placement stage, a player who aligns three of his pieces on a board line has a mill and may remove one of his opponent's pieces, avoiding the removal of pieces in mills if at all possible.

Any player reduced to two pieces is unable to remove any more opposing pieces and thus loses the game.

Options

Before each game starts, you have a number of options:
Game Type
You can choose how many pieces (men) in the game - 9, 11 or 12. The rules are exactly the same for each game but the board for the 11 and 12 variant is different - it has 4 additional diagonal lines added to make it more challenging.
Note that in 12-Man Merels, it is possible to fill all 24 intersections at the end of the placement stage. If this occurs, the game is drawn.
Opponent
Choose from three different opponents each with a different skill level. You can also choose who plays first.
Fly When 3 Left
If you check this option, when you (or your opponent) has three pieces left, on each turn you can move one to ANY free intersection. This option is introduced to help when you fall too far behind your opponent and find it impossible to form mills to remove an opponent's piece.

Basic Strategy

Mobility is the key in Merels. A piece trapped by opposing pieces is useless. There are three types of points on the board: corners, sides, and intersections. Note that the four intersection points are the strongest on the board as they have four adjacent spaces to move to. The sides have three adjacent spaces and the corners only two, making them the weakest spots on the board.

It is not good to continually force your opponent to block you from creating mills in the opening phase. This will likely lead to all of your pieces being blocked and puts you in a weak position for the moving phase.