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How to Play Stratego? Rules & Strategies

Stratego is one of those classic 2 player board games that has captivated people for years. It’s a veteran of board game nights and successfully combines multiple different genres. Stratego may seem like Chess and first glance, but it plays very differently. 

If you’re a fan of strategy games, then Stratego is easy to recommend. Getting to grips with the gameplay may seem challenging at first, but Stratego is suitable for children 8 and up. Our guide will be sure to help outline the Stratego rules for you as well. 

What is Stratego?

Stratego Rules

Stratego combines elements of war and strategy games but also contains puzzle-like elements. The game was created by Jacques Modendorff, in the early 1940s. It was sublicensed to Milton Bradley, who was later bought out by Hasbro. 

While there are numerous different variants of Stratego available nowadays, the classic version still uses Napoleonic themes and imagery. In Stratego, each player will have their own army composed of 40 pieces. 

Some pieces can move while others are immobile. In Stratego, players can win by capturing their opponent’s flag. Or by capturing enough of their opponent’s pieces that they can’t continue to play. If you like Chess or Shogi, then Stratego is definitely something you’d enjoy. 

What You’ll Need 

If you want to give Stratego a try, then you’ll need a game board/ set. Stratego might not rival Monopoly when it comes to themed sets, but there are still plenty of options. However, since we’re focusing on classic Stratego, finding a set shouldn’t be too difficult. 

Some sets come with plastic pieces with engravings/ designs which identify them. While others will use stickers that you affix to them. There is a lot of variation to the artwork as well, but these are generally just cosmetic differences. The two products below are great examples of Stratego sets to try:

Stratego Original Strategy Game
On Sale Stratego Original Game

The Pieces 

Each team in Stratego will have 40 pieces. One team is red while the other is blue. In Stratego, the pieces need to be placed so your opponent can’t see the engraving/ sticker that identifies it. This makes using the pieces more strategic. 

Because unlike Chess, you won’t be able to see what piece your opponent is moving. There are a lot of different pieces in Stratego, but most move in the same way. They move one space at a time. Scouts are the only pieces that can move more than one square in any direction.  

Each moveable piece in Stratego carries a numbered rank. Pieces of a higher rank can take lower pieces. The strategy comes into play because you won’t know whether you can take a piece till you attempt to take it. 

Immovable pieces are called bombs. These pieces act as barricades to other pieces unless they are disarmed. This can only be done using the Miner piece. The grid below details the information you need to know about the Stratego pieces. 

Ranking PieceNo. Per PlayerProperties 
10Marshal 1Can only be taken by the Spy. 
9General 1No special properties. 
8Colonel 2No special properties. 
7Major 3No special properties. 
6Captain 4No special properties. 
5Lieutenant 4No special properties. 
4Sergeant 4No special properties. 
3Miner 5Can take/ defuse bombs. 
2Scout 8Can move more than one space. 
1Spy 1Only piece that can take the Marshal. 
BBomb6Immovable and must be taken by the miner.
FFlag 1Immovable taking it wins the game.

The Game Board

Stratego boards contain a lot of squares. Although when you start most of these squares will be holding a piece. The middle of the board will have two blocks covered with water which players can’t move on. 

This is done to make direct assaults more difficult and thus ensure more strategic gameplay. At the start of a match, players can arrange their army however they like. As long as it only covers their side of the board. Let’s now take a look and how you play Stratego. 

Stratego Rules and Gameplay 

Stratego Rules

The Aim of The Game 

Winning Stratego can be accomplished in two different ways. The most direct way is to capture your opponent’s flag. However, you can also win by taking enough pieces from your opponent as well. 

This can be done by effectively blocking your opponent’s pieces behind bombs. Or by trying to take every movable piece they have. Like many war games, a good strategy is key to victory in Stratego. 

Setting Up 

To start with, choose red or blue and then set up your army. Remember your pieces should be facing you so your opponent can’t identify them. You can set up your army however you like so think carefully. 

Once done the red player will move first, then blue. You can’t pass in Stratego every player must move on their turn if they are able to. Players can take other pieces by moving horizontally or vertically onto the square the target piece is occupying. 

When doing this both players should turn their pieces to reveal their identity. The lower-ranked piece is then removed from the game. If both pieces are the same rank they are instead both removed. 

Bombs will immediately destroy a piece if another piece attempts to take them. These need to be disarmed by the Miner to remove them from the board. The highest-ranked movable piece is the Marshall who can only be taken out by the Spy. 

The Spy is the lowest-ranked piece and each team only has one Marshall and one Spy. This means players will need to try and identify their opponents Marshall quickly. And then use their Spy to take it.  

Winning The Game 

The most common way to win Stratego is to capture your opponent’s Flag. Since this piece is unmovable, your aim should be to identify it as soon as possible. Then you need to move a piece to it and take it. 

Now it won’t usually be this simple. A good Stratego player will likely protect their Flag with other pieces like bombs. Aside from capturing the Flag, you can also win Stratego by attempting to take all your opponent’s movable pieces. 

This might sound difficult, but if you do this quickly you can block your opponent from moving certain pieces. Because pieces in Stratego can’t jump over obstacles you can use bombs to block your opponent. 

This strategy is more difficult to pull off. But with the right planning, it can take players by surprise and better guarantee your victory. 

Stratego – A Wondrous Wartime Strategy Game  

If you like war games, then Stratego is a must-play! It can seem a little overwhelming at first but it’s much easier than you might think. Like all good strategy board games, it’s deceptively simple. There is a lot of room for strategy which helps ensure no two games are ever the same. 


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