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Learn the Rules of Stratego

by: Amy Carson ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 5/25/2012 • Leave a comment

Got questions about Stratego rules? Here's a quick rundown of the rules for Stratego, along with clarifications of some common rules questions.

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    Stratego Rules & Clarifications on Rules for Stratego

    strategocover-ama   Stratego is a capture-the-flag style board game whose origins date back to 1908. The version we're most familiar with was first published in 1961 by top board game publisher Milton Bradley. Stratego rules have changed little since then, much as the game itself hasn't — but that's what makes it a classic. We're going to briefly go over the rules for Stratego, give you some great resources for fully-detailed rules, and, most importantly, clarify unclear rules.

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    Your Army

    In Stratego, a 2-player game, you have one flag that you must protect using six immobile bombs and 33 moveable pieces of ten ranks. The game ends when one player finds (captures) the other player's flag.

    The pieces include:

    1. Marshal – Highest ranking and most powerful. Only the Spy (or a bomb) can take him out.
    2. General, Colonels, Majors, Captains, Lieutenants, and Sergeants – These rank from two to seven and are only more powerful than a lower-ranked piece.
    3. Miners – Rank eight, the Miner's primary ability is to defuse (remove) mines.
    4. Scout – Rank nine, the Scout has a special ability — he can move several spaces at once in a continuous line. The downside is that this reveals his identity to the other player.
    5. Spy – Vulnerable to every other moveable piece on the board, the Spy's special ability is to kill (remove) the Marshal.
    6. Bomb – Cannot move. Destroys any enemy piece that attacks it.
    7. Flag – Cannot move. Game ends (and opponent wins) if the enemy attacks it.

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    Setup

    Each player selects a color and then places all 40 of their pieces, facing themself, on their side of the Stratego board in the first four rows. The middle rows of the board begin empty. Once set up, you are now arrayed for battle.

    On your turn, you either move or attack.

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    Movement

    4997697306 c318ca53e8 t   Red goes first, then blue. You may move one piece one space per turn. Exception: the Scout, who may move any number of spaces, as long as they are open and in a contiguous line. You may not move diagonally, nor may you move into an occupied space. You may move backwards as well as forwards (or sideways).

    Remember, bombs and your flag can't be moved, so place them carefully during the setup phase and guard your flag carefully!

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    Attacking

    If you're in the space next to an opposing piece, you can attack it on your turn instead of moving. Tap the piece. Both players reveal their pieces, and the lower-ranked piece "loses" and is removed from the board. If a bomb is revealed the attacker, if not a Miner, loses. The winner, if the attacking piece, moves into the space left by the loser (bombs, of course, stay where they were).

    The Spy may win over the Marshal only by attacking the Marshal first. If the Marshal attacks the Spy, the Spy loses and is removed from the board.

    Players continue moving and attacking until one player's flag is attacked, ending the game.

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    Rules Clarifications

    Can the Scout move and attack on the same turn? – No. Some editions of the rules clearly state that the Scout cannot move and attack on the same turn. Other editions have included a rules variation that players may agree to use that allows Scouts to move and attack in the same turn.

    Does the winning piece always move into the space vacated by the losing piece? – No. Some editions were unclear on this, but it was later clarified that only the striking piece moves into the vacated space if it wins. If the defender wins, it remains where it was. And bombs, of course, never move.

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    Reference

    A very clear set of Stratego rules: http://woz.commtechlab.msu.edu/courses/346fa02/stratego/rules.html

    Official rules for Stratego: http://www.hasbro.com/common/instruct/Stratego.PDF

    Image credits:

    1. Promotional image courtesy of Amazon
    2. http://www.flickr.com/photos/bunnyhero/4997697306

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