Stratego: Classic Strategy Gaming For The Rest Of Us
The first time I ever played Stratego was only a few months ago. As a kid I was way more caught up in the monetary machinations of Monopoly. Back then I thought that Stratego was a simplified form of Chess, a game I already knew. Turns out that there's much more to the game than that.
Stratego is a battle fought on a 10 x 10 square grid. Each player deploys their troops to protect his flag, but the ranks and abilities are secret from their opponent. As players move around the board, they uncover their opponent's troops one by one. Not only is memorization important, but you can also plant misinformation by how you move your pieces - make your opponent think there is a bomb where there isn't one, lure him to a piece that might be your flag when in fact it's a heavily fortified garrison There's more to this game than meets the eye.
The Milton Bradley version stormed these shores in 1961, though similar games date back to about 1910. The board pictured here is an early set with wooden pieces which were quickly changed for plastic. The change wasn't just an economic one - the plastic pieces have a more stable base and are not as prone to tipping over. In recent years Stratego has seen many branded versions for Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, electronic and video game flavors... though the latest issue of the original board game has blank pieces with stickers that you have to put on yourself. That's a far cry from the classy metallic printing of every version that came before.
Many of my friends are into elaborate wargaming, I can't wrap my head around all the gaming-related paperwork. When I asked them where their interests began, many cited Stratego and Risk. They also said that even for seasoned gaming veterans, there was still plenty of interest in such "simplified" war games. Having said that, there are many groups who take Stratego very seriously, creating websites with strategies and organizing tournaments. So maybe it's time to lay down our video game controllers and our 20 sided dice, and duke it out in one-on-one battle.