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Additional pieces added to Stratego

10 replies [Last post]
Joined: 11/01/2008


I'm pondering a variation of Stratego which involves replacing some of those useless 9's with some of the following pieces. Note that this will require that a d10 (0-9) be added to the set.

When any enemy unit first enters his cell or vice versa, both units are destroyed.

Loses to any enemy unit entering his square.
Can take one of two actions on his turn in addition to move. Note that he is not identified when this action takes place.
1. Target a single enemy unit within line of sight.
2. Destroy any targeted unit if it is still within line of sight. Cannot destroy Bombs or Flags.
3. Fire on an enemy unit within line of sight. Roll a d10. If the number exceeds the Manhattan distance between him and the opponent, the enemy unit is destroyed. Cannot destroy Bombs or the Flag.

Squares with mortars are identified at the beginning of the game by placing a marker on the square. Have no effect unless a unit is sitting in that square. Taking the mortar involves destroying the unit in the square. Note that either team can use a mortar, including the opponent's.
Mortars cannot move. They are like Artillerists except that they can target any enemy unit regardless of line of sight.
Possible rules:
1. Target a single enemy unit.
2. Destroy a targeted unit if he has not moved since he was targeted. Can destroy Bombs.
3. Fire upon any enemy unit. Roll a d10 and subtract 1 for every unit in between the mortar and the unit under fire. If the number exceeds the Manhattan distance between the mortar and the opponent, the enemy unit is destroyed. Can destroy Bombs.

1. If two like numbers meet, both are destroyed.
2. If two unlike numbers meet, subtract the lower number (stronger unit) from the higher number (weaker unit). Roll a d8. If the number is lower than the difference the stronger unit wins. Otherwise, the weaker unit wins. Artillerists and Suicide Bombers count as 10.
3. Spy/1 rules do not change.

I haven't test-played it. What do you think?

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Just some other ideas...

Have you thought of using a RANDOM HEX generated board like "Survive: Atlantis"? That could take things up a notch with water areas, marshes, grasslands, hills and even mountains! That could ADD some more variety in that you could CONFIGURE the layout of the game a bit.

In addition to your other Pieces/Engagement rules.

If you change it, why not make it more DYNAMIC too! Just a thought...

Note #1: Water could be traversable by soldiers but not mortar. Mountains could be impassable to all. Hills can give a +1 Bonus to the player on a hill. Marshes could also give a +1 Defensive Roll Bonus...

Things like that... Cheers!

Joined: 11/01/2008
Stratego with a hex board

Stratego with a hex board with 6 on each side would actually be pretty interesting. It could still be played with the traditional 40 pieces. You may want to put a couple of rows in the middle between the two armies so there won't be just one row between the two forces.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
I made a variant for

I made a variant for "Stratego: Duel Masters" many years ago. It's should be available on my website here in the variant section:

If you don't find it, I can look further on my computer.

The original Stratego: DM gave a special power to some units where some of them were too much or not enough powerful. I have redesigned and reassigned certain abilities to make it more balanced. We playtested a bit and it seemed to work well.

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011

A couple things come to mind about your changes. I wouldn't consider them as complete replacements but rather the beginnings of a game that has a completely different focus.

Well... You could make the argument that the 9 can be used to reveal your opponent's army, to provide for red herrings and bad guesses... If you don't play to those strengths, then sure: the 9 is useless.

That being said...

This is a moving bomb. If used in place of bombs, then it might be okay. Personally I think having a lot of these on the board would be over-powered, since in my view the Spy plays this role when in a savvy player's hands.

I really want to like the Mortar. It reminds me of the Cannon from BattleMasters. But personally I think these two types of units change the flavour of the game dramatically, so much so that it's like this has become a completely different game. If you're cool with that, then sure, give it a try! It could be a pretty frantic and tense skirmish.

The advantage to the Artillerist in particular is that it likely encourages quick movement to opponent territory. The disadvantage is that it doesn't tease out any units... It just indiscriminately defeats. Except for the Bomb and Flag, which are somehow immune... But how does that make sense? And is there any ammo limit?

The interesting thing to me about the Mortar is that it provides players with an additional command point of which they'll want to maintain control at all times (unless you implement an ammo limit, of course).

Your two-shot rule is interesting, but a unit packed in among others has no chance to survive if they are surrounded, since a second mortar attack is a guaranteed hit. What I think would be interesting is if instead of using dice, use a counter on the spot on the board targeted. This means a shell has been launched. Add a token to the spot targeted at the start of every turn (even if the shooter has since lost control of the Mortar, as the token indicates the target and the shell is already airborne). When a spot has three tokens on it, anything within is utterly destroyed and the space becomes inaccessible to land units.

This is similar to questccg's ideas of varieties of terrain. In this case, the Mortar creates a smoking crater. Its placement could be both offensive and defensive in nature. You can also experiment with one-shot-only rules, as well as craters of a larger size - the shooting player chooses to annihilate the target square and any three of the squares adjacent to it, for example.

Again, it seems like the addition of dice changes the tenor of the game significantly. I wish more people had a chance to play Lew Pulsipher's Hastings 1066 (difficult to do unless you picked it up through Kickstarter) because that brings out the "outrageous fortunes" of using dice to resolve combat, with sometimes drastic and dramatic consequences. Generally speaking though, any game that uses the throw of a single die can help you understand the same concept. Hastings 1066 is just a recent example, and a good game.

If you want to go for a dice-fueled "slugfest" (as he calls it), then sure, test it out. But in my mind, it ain't Stratego anymore. This is not a bad thing, I feel I must add.

Best of success on your design...! :)

Joined: 11/01/2008
Remember that the Suicide

Remember that the Suicide Bomber can only be used once. This is different from the regular Bomb units, which can be used more than once. I've always interpreted the Bomb units as minefields.

With that in mind, you can see why an artilleryman can't destroy minefields. Artillery is good against enemy soldiers but not against land. Allowing a bullet to capture the Flag makes the game too easy.

Giving the Artillerist and Mortar an ammo limit makes sense: maybe 5 shots each per unit If they miss, too bad. And two Mortar shots to a hex make it impassable. Note, incidentally, that we CANNOT allow three hexes to be obliterated as in theory you can use them to destroy the three hexes surrounding the Flag and make it impossible for the enemy to get there. There is a consistency issue though: what happens if the hex with the Flag is destroyed by a mortar? Draw? Defender wins due to opponent cheating?

I like your idea of hills and valleys. Offense gets a +1 bonus on a hill and a -1 penalty in a valley. Hexes with hills and valleys are chosen a random but are symmetric for the two sides. Higher terrain always blocks line of sight. We can have water areas as well, also chosen symmetrically.

As far as the Mortar and Artillerists being too powerful, keep in mind that range matters. If we use a d8 instead of a d10 the odds of a miss go up pretty fast if you get further than 4 hexes or so away. And the ammo limit should help a lot. Now in theory we can make it so that the unit running the Mortar (or the Artillerist) can move adjacent to the Flag to pick up more ammo -- a risky move given that it may identify the Flag. Finally, remember Mortars do nothing if unoccupied and Artillerists will lose hand-to-hand to any infantry unit, including 9's.

I'm wondering if the Mortar should take three turns: aim, fire and mark the target hex, and wait for the projectile to land. I'm concerned it may be too powerful otherwise, and it will allow defenders a chance to get out of the target area.

One additional rule I thought of: whenever someone takes over a Mortar hex, the occupying player has the option of using a turn to destroy the Mortar to make sure it is not used against him or her later on.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
I discovered that there was a

I discovered that there was a chineese game that Stratego was inspired on while browsing available android board games.

The main difference in this game is that needs a referee to play, because you cannot see the opposing unit's strength after battle. The only thing you know if that you won or lost.

Not convenient as real board game but playable as a video game. It's seems more interesting because you could try to bluff and have some mind game.

Another modification is that the flag position is fixed. There are 2 position, one is the real flag, and one is the decoy.

Joined: 11/01/2008
I was debating a refereed

I was debating a refereed version of the game where the enemy's unit value is not revealed. Hard to play with two players in person though.

Joined: 11/01/2008
Another possible modification

Another possible modification now that we have the d8 in it.

If the Mortar or Artillerist misses, roll a d8 indicating where the shot landed. 1 - 2 hexes short, 8 - 2 hexes long, and 2-7 - the six hexes surrounding the intended target.

lewpuls's picture
Joined: 04/04/2009
Stratego variations

Keep in mind, Stratego is a slight post-war modification of L'Attaque (1909) - a Dutchman added four pieces and a column. H P Gibsons published it in the UK, along with derivatives Dover Patrol, Tri-Tactics, Aviation. They were still in print in 1979, not now that I know of. They also published, about 1980, my Swords & Wizardry which is roughly Stratego. My Doomstar (video, STEAM) is a much-changed, vaguely Stratego-like game (allows two fighters to move at once and combine their strength, among other things).

This doesn't account for Star Wars Stratego and LOTR Stratego (IIRC).

There's a website somewhere that lists many Stratego variations.

Jumbo (Dutch, they own Stratego) have a shorter variation that may include cannons. There's also Waterloo Stratego. And a four player Stratego using plastic castles to hide identity when there are three other players.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Here is the original chinese

Here is the original chinese game I was talking about:

Here is my stratego variant I was talking about. Some contains new abilities, while some abilities are just reassignments of abilities.

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