How to Play Stratego

Stratego is a two player game that requires memory and strategy skills. The goal is to be the first player to capture your opponent’s Flag or to capture all of your opponent’s moveable pieces. You do this by attacking your opponent’s army pieces with your own army pieces.[1] Each army piece has a different rank and some pieces have special abilities. During your turns you can either move a piece or attack one of your opponent’s pieces. Get the game, learn the rules, and you will be all ready to start playing Stratego.


[Edit]Preparing to Play the Game

  1. Set up the board. Each Stratego set comes with a 10X10 board to play on. The board is large enough to accommodate both players' armies plus non-moving pieces. The board has two 2X2 lake areas on it that pieces cannot move through and that act as the barrier space when you first set up the game. Do not place any pieces on or near these spots when you set up the game. Keep the two center rows of the board empty until the game has started.[2]
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  2. Get familiar with the army pieces. Each Stratego game comes with two sets of army pieces (one red and one blue). Each army has 33 army pieces and every piece is ranked from 1-10 (1 is the lowest rank and 10 is the highest rank). Each set also includes 6 Bombs and 1 Flag, but these pieces are not ranked and they do not move. Only the army pieces may move and attack. Each army set includes: [3]
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    • 10: 1 Marshall
    • 9: 1 General
    • 8: 2 Colonels
    • 7: 3 Majors
    • 6: 4 Captains
    • 5: 4 Lieutenants
    • 4: 4 Sergeants
    • 3: 5 Miners
    • 2: 8 Scouts
    • 1: 1 Spy
  3. Choose your army color. Since there are two sets, you and your opponent will each have to choose a color before you can set up the game. Try choosing at random by holding two different color pieces in each hand (so your opponent cannot see them) and ask your opponent to choose one. Whatever color your opponent chooses will be his or her color for the game.[4]
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  4. Put up the fortress screen. Before you set you your army pieces, you will need to set up the fortress screen to prevent your opponent from seeing how you are positioning your pieces. Do not remove the fortress screen from the board until you and your opponent have finished setting up the board.[5]
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  5. Set up your pieces. As you set up your pieces, make sure that they are facing you and not your opponent. Your opponent should not be able to see the types of your pieces and you should not be able to see the types of your opponent’s pieces. After you have set up your pieces, you are ready to play.[6]
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[Edit]Playing the Game

  1. Understand how gameplay works. During each of your turns, you may either move or attack an opponent’s piece. You may not do both. If you find yourself in a position where you cannot move or attack, then you have lost the game and must announce your defeat to your opponent.[7]
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  2. Move your pieces. Take turns moving your pieces in vertical or horizontal directions. Pieces may not move in a diagonal direction. Pieces may only move one space, except for the Scouts which can move an unlimited distance. Just keep in mind that because only scouts can move more than one space per turn, moving a scout more than one space will reveal its identity to your opponent and may cause your opponent to attack that piece.[8]
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    • Pieces cannot jump over the lake or over other pieces. They also may not occupy the same space as another piece.[9]
    • Pieces cannot move back and forth between the same two spaces over three consecutive turns.
  3. Attack your opponent’s pieces. Attack your opponent’s pieces to reduce his or her numbers and capture your opponent’s Flag. You may only attack pieces that are directly next to your pieces. They may not be a space away or diagonal to one of your pieces. They must be right next to each other in a vertical or horizontal direction.[10]
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    • When you attack your opponent (or your opponent attacks you) you must both announce the rank of your piece that attacked (or was attacked). Whatever piece has the highest ranking wins the fight. Remove the losing piece from the board. If both pieces have the same rank, then remove both pieces from the board.
    • Place captured pieces in the tray as you play. Doing so will help to keep them organized for future games.
    • Place the winning piece on the space that was occupied by the losing piece.[11]
  4. Observe the special attack privileges of certain pieces. Some pieces have special attack privileges that make them capable of attacking more powerful pieces. Make sure that you observe these special attack privileges as you play the game.[12]
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    • The Spy can capture the Marshal if the Spy attacks first. If the Spy is attacked by the Marshal, then the Spy is captured instead.
    • Scouts can move and attack on the same turn. No other pieces can do both in the same turn
    • Miners can disarm Bomb pieces. All other pieces must be removed from the board if they attack a Bomb piece.
  5. Win by capturing your opponent’s Flag or all of your opponent’s moveable pieces. Whoever captures his or her opponent’s Flag first wins the game. But you may also win the game if your opponent reaches a point where he or she cannot make any more moves. For example, if all of the player’s moveable pieces have been captured or blocked, then that player would lose the game.[13]
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[Edit]Using Strategy

  1. Protect your flag with Bombs. A common strategy in Stratego is to surround one’s Flag with Bomb pieces to prevent players from accessing it. However, this strategy may fail if your opponent uses a miner to defuse these Bombs and then captures your Flag. If you do surround your Flag with Bombs, make sure that you have some high ranking, moveable pieces nearby to take out any approaching pieces.[14]
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  2. Keep your Miners in play. Since surrounding the Flag piece with Bombs is a popular strategy, you will benefit from keeping some of your Miner pieces in play. Having Miners on hand will help you to defuse Bomb pieces later in the game and hopefully capture your opponent’s flag.[15]
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  3. Position some Scouts in the first two rows. Scouts are helpful in identifying your opponent’s frontline pieces, so it is a good idea to keep some Scouts in your front row. Since Scouts are low-ranking pieces, you can afford to lose a few in the first few turns if it helps you to identify some of your opponent’s higher ranking pieces.[16]
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  4. Make some higher ranking pieces available for movement. Although you do not want to have all of your high-ranking pieces up front, it is wise to have a few in your first two rows so that you can use them if necessary. Otherwise, your opponent’s high-ranking pieces may take out an entire row of your low-ranking pieces before you can stop him or her.[17]
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  5. Pay attention to the positions of pieces that do not move. Stratego requires you to use your memory skills and pay attention to what pieces are where as your opponent attacks. It is also helpful to note the pieces that never move during the game. These pieces are likely to be Bombs, so you may want to send your Scouts to check them out or send Miners to defuse them.[18]
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  • Try different arrangements every time you play the game to see what strategy works for you. If you often play the same opponent, make sure that you change your strategy often.


  • Do not line your front row with bombs because they cannot move! If you block yourself in, then you lose the game.

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