Board Game Classics: Stratego


I thought that I would mix it up a bit this week with a board gaming classic, Stratego. It is a bit difficult for me to write about Stratego because it is a game I feel people should at least be somewhat familiar with, unless your like 7... in which case I am wondering how you ended up on my website.... shit. Anyway, writing about Stratego like it is some new or unknown game has the same feeling as if I was suddenly saying "Hey, have you heard about this game called Monopoly? Oh man, it is a hoot." which is to say, it's weird. For those of you that don't know what Stratego is, go get yourself a glass of milk and a pop-tart and make sure your parents still can't tell your roaming free on the internet, for the rest of you skip here.

Stratego is a military strategy board game, that has elements similar to a mix of Chess and Guess Who, only instead of finding a bald guy* with glasses, you find a bomb or a knife in your face.

*bald and balding are the fucking same in Guess Who.... I shouldn't have to say “Is he balding?” and “Is he bald?” to eliminate some bald fuck that has a bit of tuft over his ears you cheating bastards! If I ask “Is he bald?” and you say "No.", any chrome dome, regardless of side hairs, gets eliminated on my board, it's not that specific of a game. If you don't I am going to start leaving people up and pretending they are transgender when you ask“Is he a man?” “Oh I am sorry, his full lips, robust hair, and penchant for pink, possibly silk, shirts made me think that perhaps he was born with a toad and a hole if you get my meaning... so no I thought he wasn't a “man” so you should have left Raul up."


moving on....
Pictured: Bomb waiting for you in the shadows

Two players sit across each other and place their pieces on the board, each piece represents a member of your military all the way up from Scout to General with a numeric order of 1-9 with 1 being the strongest 9 being the weakest. There are also bombs (mines w/e) spies, and a flag.

The object of the game is to advance your army and capture the enemies units, and ultimately the enemy flag while defending your own flag from capture. When you move to attack you move a unit above your enemies and declare its type, they defending player will then reveal if you are at a loss (Your number is higher than the unit you attacked), exploded (you hit a damn mine), or if you captured the enemy unit (their piece had a number higher than yours) or flag (you win). It's lots of fun and you should go buy one of the 1 million different versions of it out their, you're old enough to have a paper route by now right?

Now that we are all up to speed, I will tell you a bit about why this is one of my favorite games, and why you should play it.

First of all, the proper way to play this game is like chess; sitting across from each other, snacks and beverages at the ready, the warm glow of ambient lighting filling the room. Really it's how you should play any board game. Stratego is serious business so make sure you have some time to come up with your strategy and have time to think about your maneuvers before you make them.

I prefer the Imperial British set up...

but American standard also has its merits.

This is a proper war, no silly boats or trees to muck about with, just good clean lines of upright chaps shooting at each other.

The first time I was introduced to the game was in my best friends basement, many, many years ago; back in the days when playgrounds were still built with metal bars, old tires, gravel, and asphalt. This was in the same basement where I was introduced years later to RoboRally and a plethora of other games, a sort of dark under-lair for young geeklings. It was a good basement; 70's shag carpeting, a wood-burning stove, tribal masks on the faux wood panel walls, and a mini-bar turned lego room with a sink that would back up with sewer gas every once in awhile forcing us strapping young lads out into the sunlight every once and again to enjoy a pepsi and a pop-tart.

You may think I am going on a tangent, but this is important. It was in this setting that I was taught the difference between a children's game, like Candyland, and a board game. A children's game is one that can only be played in a certain context and at certain age levels without it being to silly or to simple. Stratego was/is a game that you could play with adults, and as an adult without it loosing it's appeal. Stratego and other true board games are just as at home in that basement next to a Lego room as they are on a folding table in a dorm, or a card table in a den. They are games you can play for life, and each time you play you can remember that early, first time you played, the first time it actually meant something to win. I can't tell you how many times I have won or lost at Candyland, but I can sure as hell tell you those statistics for Stratego. 

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