How to Play the Board Game Stratego

Illustration of the game Stratego

Illustration: The Spruce / Bailey Mariner

Stratego is a classic board game by Milton Bradley, played on a 10 by 10 grid. Players each have an army of pieces with hidden values, which they move around to try to capture the flag of the other player. The game is played between two people. The goal is to capture the opposing flag by moving onto it with one of your pieces.

Game Components

The game is made up of one board, containing a 10 by 10 grid of squares, with two impassable areas in the middle. There are 80 pieces, 40 for each player, including one flag, six bombs, a spy, and military pieces ranging in value from one to nine. Some newer editions of Stratego reverse the rankings, making higher numbers stronger instead of weaker, and using 10s as the Marshalls. Make sure to check which edition you have when playing.


Each player takes all the pieces of one color. Secretly arrange your pieces so their values are facing you, and your opponent only sees the blank backs. Set up your side of the board by placing one piece in each space in the back four rows.

You'll need to carefully consider where to place your flags and bombs on your side of the board.

Once both sides are set up, choose a starting player and begin.

How to Play Stratego

On your turn, you must move one of your pieces. Flags and bombs are immobile, and can never be moved. Other pieces may move one space in any of the four directions (not diagonally), so long as they land in either an empty space or a space containing an opposing piece. The two water formations in the middle of the board are impassable obstacles and not valid spaces to move in.

Scouts (marked with a nine in the original edition) may move any number of spaces in a straight line but must stop on the space with the first enemy piece they encounter.

When a piece lands on the same space as another piece (referred to as "attacking"), the values of the two pieces are compared. The piece with the worse rank (higher number, in the original edition) is defeated and removed from the board. In the case of a tie, when a piece attacks an opposing piece of the same value, both pieces are removed from the board.

If a piece attacks a bomb, the attacking piece is immediately defeated, unless the attacker was a Miner (marked with an eight in the original edition). In that case, the bomb is defeated.

If the Spy attacks the opposing Marshall (marked with a one in the original edition), the Marshall is defeated. If the Spy attacks any other piece or is attacked by any piece including the Marshall, the Spy is defeated.

Game End

If you attack your opponent's flag with any piece, you win the game. If you cannot move a piece on your turn, you immediately lose the game.