Welcome to the Game Night Blog Carnival for March! You can get more information about the carnival at the main Game Night site.

Stratego is a classic board game where 2 players take the role of military commanders facing off on the field of battle. The version I have has a Napoleonic theme, but there are also versions based on Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and other settings from books and movies. Based on a quick Amazon search, it looks like the most recent version has a futuristic theme and a few new rules.

Stratego is similar to checkers and chess in many ways. It is played on a 10 × 10 grid, and players take turns moving pieces and attacking by moving a piece into another piece’s space. Like chess, you win by capturing a special piece – a flag rather than a king like in chess.

Despite those similarities to chess and checkers, there are some important differences. First, pieces have strength values that determine which piece wins a combat. For example, a sergeant (rank 7) will always lose a combat against a general (rank 2) no matter which piece was the attacker. The other major difference is that pieces are only identified on the side facing their controlling player and you can set up your pieces any way that you want. This means that you don’t know what a rank a given piece in your opponent’s army is until you fight against it, and even then you need to track that piece and remember its rank as it moves around the board.

These differences make Stratego a very different game that involves a different skill set. Rather than just predicting what your opponent will do next, you need to try to guess where they placed their pieces and use your memory to track their pieces throughout the game.

One limitation of Stratego is that it is only for 2 players, so it really isn’t a good match for a large game night unless you’re okay with other attendees playing a different game while you and an opponent face off against one another. That said, it is an enjoyable game for 2 people to play and as a classic board game is widely available and relatively inexpensive.

List of blogs participating in the carnival

Next blog in carnival: The Learning DM (Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards Duel at Mt. Skullzfire)

Previous blog in carnival: Wombat’s Gaming Den of Iniquity (Car Wars: The Card Game)

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2 thoughts on “Game Night: Stratego

  1. Great article about a great game! You wrote: “One limitation of Stratego is that it is only for 2 players…” This is true of classic Stratego, however, variants exist.

    For 3-4 players, there’s a variant called “Stratego 4” by Koninklijke Jumbo B.V.[1] It’s documented on BoradGameGeek[2]. In this variant, the objective is to move your flag to the top of the castle in the middle of the board before the other players. It adds mounted Captains that move like Knights in Chess. And it adds Canons that can fire over water and at anyone three spaces away but lose to any attack. You collect a point for every piece you capture and you can use six points to resurrect a dead piece.

    For solo play, there are two excellent AIs available: “Probe” by Immer Satz won the 2007, 2008 and 2010 “Computer Stratego World Championship.” It is available as a free Windows EXE file from the author’s website[3]. “Master of the Flag 2” by Sven Jug won the 2009 championship. You can play this AI free online at the author’s website[4]. Koninklijke Jumbo B.V.’s official Stratego website has an Adobe Flash version of the game[5], but I have not tried it yet.

    If you want to play against another human over the web you could try OnlineStratego.com. If you want to run your own internet server, there is a VASSAL module available[6].

    If you’re interested in playing competitively, the StrategoUSA wiki[7] has information about Stratego Tournaments.

    It is also worth checking out the Wikipedia article on Stratego, for other useful information and pointers.

    [1] B.V. or “Besloten Vennootschap” is Dutch for “private (limited liability) company.”
    [2] boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2978/stratego-4
    [3] http://www.probe.imersatz.com
    [4] jayoogee.dyndns.org/masteroftheflag
    [5] beta.stratego.com/home.html
    [6] http://www.vassalengine.org
    [7] http://www.strategousa.org

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