ToysBulletin.com reviews the latest twist on the game of Stratego from Patch Products Inc.
We love the game of “Stratego,” which was first introduced to the US market back in 1961. As you may know, the game of “Stratego” pits two armies against each other on a 10 x 10 square game board, with each player controlling 40 pieces of differing ranks. “Stratego Battle Cards” eliminates the game board and reduces the 40 playing pieces in each army down to 23 cards per army. Each set of cards is identical, except for their color, red or blue. The object of the game is the same as the original game-to capture the opponent’s flag, which is generally done by eliminating the other player’s army one by one.
The 23 cards are made up of the following types:
- 1-Spy (rank 1)
- 4-Scouts (rank 2)
- 3-Miners (rank 3)
- 3 Sergeants (rank 4)
- 2 Lieutenants (rank 5)
- 2 Captains (rank 6)
- 1 Major (rank 7)
- 1 Colonel (rank 8)
- 1 General (rank 9)
- 1 Marshal (rank 10)
- 3 Bombs
- 1 Flag
This new version of the game has its own set of rules, and it stands up nicely to the original. To set things up, each player shuffles their deck of 23 cards (blue or red). Next, each player selects 8 cards at random from the deck, and chooses 5 of those 8 cards to form their front line, which are placed face down in a row in front of them. The remaining 3 cards form a player’s starting hand, and the unused cards are placed face down nearby. Players alternate turns by choosing a card from their own front line, and then tapping one of the face down cards in their opponent’s front line. The two cards are compared and the card with the higher rank defeats the card with the lower rank. The losing card is removed from the game, and the winning card returns to his front line face down. The losing player must replace the lost card from his front line with any card from his hand, and then draw another card from his deck to return his hand to 3 cards. If there is a tie in rank, both cards lose and both are removed from the game.
The game continues until one player is able to compare his card to the flag card, which always loses, and declare victory. However, there is a bit more strategy to the game than just comparing ranks. For example, if a Bomb card in the front line is the tapped card, the attacking opponent is blown up and his card must leave the game. The weak Spy card (rank 1) loses to all ranked cards, except the Marshal, who he defeats. Also, the Scout (rank 2) can be used to reveal 2 cards in an opponents front line, and the Miner (rank 3) is very smart and will defeat a Bomb if encountered. Keep in mind, that even in victory, winning cards are in peril, because the opponent now knows where the high ranked cards are located, and can plan an attack with some certainty, but again, he must have the right cards in his front line to insure success.
Another dangerous and aggressive action is reserved for the Flag card. If a player dares to place his Flag card in his front line, which could mean certain defeat, and survives until his turn, he can make a very bold move. He can reveal the Flag to his opponent (no attack), allowing him to pick up all of his front line cards, reshuffle all of them with the cards in his hand, along with any remaining cards in his face down deck and reset things like at the start of the game. This means that anything previously discovered by the opponent (ie. front line card identities and locations) will be lost completely. However, cards previously defeated do remain out of the game. It is kind of like throwing the “Hail Mary” in football. It might provide a chance to regain strength and surprise as the game continues.
As you can tell, we really enjoyed playing “Stratego Battle Cards.” It is fast, fun and portable…near perfect for two players ages 8 years old and up. As a bonus, the game cards are packaged in a nice plastic case, that will easily fit inside a pocket. “Stratego Battle Cards” retail for $9.99 and can be purchased at the Patch Products website.