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How to Play Stratego Rules if you hate rulebooks

Want to get Stratego started quick but hate reading the rulebook? I compiled this essential How to Play Stratego rules guide to help you get started quick.
If you are looking for an overview of the game Stratego, click here to find out more about

Click here to view the official Stratego Classic rules pdf / rulebook

What is the goal?

  • You command your army and win if you are the first to capture your opponent’s flag.

Game setup

  • Select which player will command the Blue Army and which will command the Red Army.
  • The Red Army always goes first.
  • Place the blue side of the game board in front of the blue player, the red side in front of the red player.
  • The players place their 30 pieces on the board, one piece per square in the first three rows in front of them (10 across by 3 deep). Only the two rows in the middle are unoccupied
Rules to Stratego - how to play stratego pieces
  • Every piece’s “S” side should face the opposing player, so only the commander of each army can see where his/her piece is placed

Note: How you place your army at the beginning is important and can determine whether you win or lose.

Playing Pieces

Only the pieces shown below can move on the game board. Each piece is labelled with its rank, with 10 (Marshal) being the highest and the Spy being the lowest.

Stratego playing pieces


Players alternate turns. The Red Player takes the first turn.

Each turn, a player does one of the following:

  • move their selected piece or
  • attack with their selected piece

No moving and attacking in the same turn.

When none of your pieces are able to move or attack, the game is over and your opponent wins.

Stratego Movement Rules

  • During a turn, only one piece can be moved (except Scouts, see “Specialist Pieces“). Only forward, backward, and sideways movements are possible.
  • Two pieces cannot occupy the same square at the same time.
  • Pieces cannot jump over or move through an occupied square.
  • There are no squares in the Lakes area in the center of the board. Pieces must move around these areas, not over them.
  • After a piece is moved to a square and the player’s hand removed, it cannot be repositioned.
  • The same piece cannot be moved back and forth between the same two squares three times in a row. The player who started this must stop first.

The Flag and the Bombs cannot move.
These pieces must remain where they were placed at the start of the game.

Stratego Attacking Rules

You can attack if one of your opponent’s pieces occupies a square in front, beside, or behind yours. You cannot attack diagonally. Attacking is optional.

Attacking in Stratego

  • pick up your piece and tap your opponent’s piece,
  • call out your piece’s rank (name and number).
  • Your opponent must call out his or her piece’s rank
  • The piece with a higher rank wins the attack and captures the opponent’s piece. The winning piece now occupies that square.
  • Your piece is captured if it has a lower rank than your opponent’s. The opponent’s piece remains on its square.
  • Both pieces are captured when the rank of your piece matches that of your opponent’s.

Captured pieces are immediately removed from the board.

When attacking a Bomb in Stratego

The attacking piece loses and is captured. The Bomb remains in its square.

Only a Miner can attack and remove a bomb! See “Specialist Pieces”.

NOTE: The Flag and the Bombs cannot attack.

Stratego Specialist Pieces


Stratego 1

Scouts can move forward, backward, or sideways across any number of open squares, but only in a straight line. They cannot move diagonally. Scouts can move and attack in the same turn, but only in a straight line.
The Scout’s identity is revealed if it moves more than one space. To hide your Scouts’ identities, move them one square per turn.


Miner Rules for Stratego

An attack by a Miner removes the bomb from the board. It then moves into the bomb’s square.


Spy and Marshall in Stratego

When a Spy attacks a Marshal (10), the Marshal loses and is eliminated. The Spy loses if the Marshal attacks him first.
There is no rank for a spy. If it is attacked by any piece, it is removed.

How to win?

  • A player attacks and captures his/her opponent’s flag. The attacking player is the winner.
  • A player cannot move a piece or attack. The opposing player is the winner.
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