Games You Can Make At Home – Nine Men’s Morris


Approx. Time Required: 30 minutes

Where Did The Game Come From?

No one really knows; Nine Men’s Morris is in the running with Chess and Go for one of the oldest games in the world. A board for it was found cut into a wall in the temple at Kurna, in Egypt which dates to 1440 BC. The dating of this is dubious as to its accuracy however, as Coptic Crosses were also found carved there which could not possibly have been put there by the Egyptians of the time. However, this game has achieved worldwide popularity across the ages, with three variations existing; Three Men’s Morris, Six Men’s Morris and Twelve Men’s Morris.

You Will Require:

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The Stuff.
  • A large A3 or similar sized pad of paper (in which you can store all the games you make)
  • A ruler, at least 30cm in length
  • A pencil (I recommend a mechanical one)
  • Coloured pens/pencils (optional)
  • Time – about half an hour
  • Plenty of space – either a clear table or big wooden floor

The Process:

You should start by measuring out a square on your paper. I went for one that was 9″ x 9″ as it filled the space quite nicely without being too big.

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Standard, boring large square.

Because Nine Men’s Morris has three squares in it and I’m a little OCD, my next step was to ensure the proper spacing of the squares. So I drew two diagonal lines, dividing the square into four triangles:

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*NOTE: with a 9″ x 9″ square a regular 30cm ruler will not be long enough to draw these diagonal lines. I went hunting for something longer, and ended up using a box edge.*

Once the diagonal lines are drawn in you need to measure up them and make two marks; one for the middle square, and one for the inner square. I measured 2 inches up each each line, from the outside corners for the middle square, and then another 2 inches for the inmost square.

As soon as you have all the marks, simply join them up nice and neatly and there you have all three squares – nearly finished!

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Okay, there’s only a few lines left to draw before you have a complete Nine Men’s Morris board, but before you draw them you should erase the diagonal lines, leaving only the small cross that marks the middle of the board, like this:

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The small cross in the middle is very useful for drawing the last lines. The board needs vertical and horizontal lines that go through the middle of each side of the board, essentially dividing it in half along the horizontal and vertical middle lines, but leaving the center of the smallest square completely blank. The small cross makes this easier by showing where the middle of the board is, so all you have to do is lay your ruler straight across it horizontally, and then vertically, and mark the lines.

It should look like this:

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If you’re rushing to finish this then at the point you could declare yourself finished, and set about playing the game, but if you have a few more minutes, you should take the time to make it a bit prettier.

Finishing Up:

First thing’s first! Go over all your lines with your ruler and a black pen. This is the most important part of finishing up. Next go over the name of the game in nice colourful pens so that it stands out, and so you don’t forget which game it is in the future.

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Lastly, erase any still-visible pencil lines that mar the beauty of your finished game!

The Final Product:

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Okay, it doesn’t look like much I admit, but this game is really good fun – and quite challenging if your opponent is any good at it. The last thing you need is to either make or find twenty four flat tokens, twelve in one colour, and twelve in another (typically black and white similar to Checkers). I suggest buttons as an excellent substitute for actual tokens from another game. If you have any, a few large buttons would make perfect pieces for this game!

As with Snakes and Ladders you can make the game as colourful, or plain, as you like, there’s plenty of space around the edges for doodling or sketching, and you could even colour in the board if you felt so inclined!

I do intend to make copies of the three other variations of this game and post them here, although I may do them all in one post, as the the system will be fundamentally the same as how I drew out this one.

If you’re interested in how to play Nine Men’s Morris check out the full review post we wrote about it here.

One Last Note…

These posts are entirely non-profit, the idea behind them being to suggest creative ways that bring assorted games into the house if you don’t have the money/space to buy beautiful wooden, or printed copies. The games I am writing about are all old and in public domain.

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