How to Play Stratego

A summary of the basic rules for the board game Stratego

Here are the basic rules of Stratego. Barbara Alper / Getty Images

Stratego is a classic board game by Milton Bradley, played on a 10x10 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.

Here are the basic rules of Stratego.

Players: 2


1 board, containing a 10x10 grid of squares, with two impassable areas in the middle.80 pieces, 40 for each player, including one flag, six bombs, a spy, and military pieces ranging in value from 1 to 9.


To capture the opposing flag by moving onto it with one of your pieces.


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.

Here are some tips on flag placement strategy and bomb placement strategy.

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

How to Play

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.

Scouts (marked with a 9 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 8 in the original edition). In that case, the bomb is defeated.

If the Spy (S) attacks the opposing Marshall (marked with a 1 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.

Note: Some newer editions of Stratego reverse the rankings, making higher numbers stronger instead of weaker, and using 10s as the Marshalls.