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How To Play Stratego


Stratego is a classic board game of battlefield strategy that combines elements of deception, tactical manoeuvring, and memory. The game is designed for two players, each with an army of 40 pieces representing individual officer and soldier ranks in an army. The objective is to capture the opponent's flag while protecting your own. Here's an overview of how to play Stratego:


The game board consists of a 10x10 grid. Some versions of the board feature lakes in the center, which are impassable.


Each player has 40 pieces, differentiated by color (traditionally red and blue), representing different ranks within an army. The pieces are two-sided, with one side showing the rank to the player and the other side blank to keep the rank hidden from the opponent.

Arrangement: Players arrange their pieces on their respective sides of the board (the first four rows closest to them) in any configuration they choose. The arrangement should strategically place higher-ranking officers, scouts, and bombs to protect the flag while allowing for offensive moves against the opponent.


Players take turns moving one piece per turn. Pieces can move one square horizontally or vertically (not diagonally), except for the Scout, which can move any number of squares in a straight line.


To attack, a player moves their piece into a square occupied by an opponent's piece. Both players then reveal their pieces' ranks:

- If the attacker's rank is higher, the defender's piece is removed from the board.

- If the defender's rank is higher, the attacker's piece is removed.

- If the ranks are equal, both pieces are removed.

- Special pieces like the Spy and the Miner have unique abilities. For example, the Spy can defeat the highest-ranking piece, the Marshal, if it attacks the Marshal, but loses to any other rank.

- Bombs destroy any attacking piece except Miners, which can defuse bombs.

Winning the Game

The game is won by capturing the opponent's flag. Alternatively, if a player cannot make any legal moves or has no movable pieces left, they lose the game.

Strategy and Tactics

Effective strategy in Stratego involves a combination of offensive and defensive positioning, bluffing to mislead your opponent about the identity of your pieces, and remembering the identities of pieces that have been revealed during the course of the game. This discussion delves into strategies for positioning key pieces and employing the Spy effectively, followed by illustrating how deception plays a pivotal role in Stratego.

Initial Placement of Key Pieces

Flag: The Flag is the most crucial piece. A common strategy is to place it in the corner or one space away from the corner, surrounded by Bombs and protected by high-ranking officers a few rows ahead. This setup complicates the enemy's ability to reach and correctly guess the Flag's location.

Highest Ranking Officers (Marshal and General): Position these officers so they can quickly respond to threats across the board. Keeping them slightly behind the front lines allows them to counterattack effectively once the opponent's strategy is partially revealed.

Miners: Since Miners are invaluable for defusing Bombs, they should be spread out to prevent their early elimination. Positioning them a few rows behind the front lines ensures they are available when needed to clear a path to the enemy Flag.

The Spy: The Spy is a unique piece capable of defeating the highest-ranking officer, the Marshal, but only in attack. It should be used strategically, often kept hidden until the Marshal is located and then attempting a surprise attack.

Scouts: Scouts are versatile for both offense and defense due to their long-range movement. Placing Scouts on the flanks can provide early reconnaissance and threaten enemy lines, prompting premature reveals of key pieces.

Bombs: Bombs are perfect for protecting valuable pieces, including the Flag. Positioning Bombs around the Flag and in unexpected places can catch advancing high-ranking officers off-guard, removing significant threats early.

Strategic Use of the Spy

The Spy is a game-changer, capable of removing the opponent's strongest piece, the Marshal. However, its effectiveness lies in its timing and the element of surprise. One tactic is to keep the Spy back initially, moving it sparingly to avoid suspicion. Observing and remembering engagements can help identify the Marshal. Once identified, use a Scout or another piece to bait the Marshal into a vulnerable position, then strike with the Spy. The threat of the Spy can also be used to intimidate an opponent into being overly cautious with their Marshal.

Strategy and Tactics summary

Stratego demands not only strategic planning and tactical positioning but also the art of deception. By mastering the initial placement of key pieces, leveraging the unique abilities of the Spy, and employing deceptive manoeuvres, players can outwit their opponents and secure victory. The dynamic between revealing and concealing information makes Stratego a deeply engaging and endlessly replayable game.


Stratego offers a rich strategic experience that requires players to think ahead, adapt to the evolving game state, and outwit their opponent. Each game is unique due to the initial setup's variability, making it a challenging and engaging board game for strategy enthusiasts.