Thursday, July 22, 2010

Stratego Variant Rules

Independent Variant Rules to Stratego

Stratego is a classic game.  Nearly everyone I know knows Stratego and has played it at some point as a kid.  I almost feel bad adding a few rules to spice it up a bit, but not bad enough that I won't do it anyway.

The most recent copy of the game I got was a fancy one that's made to look like a leather bound book.  It's pretty cool, if only a little bit ostentatious.  In there they have a few alternate rules, but they're pretty typical, as far as alternate rules go.  "Attacker wins ties", "Reach the other side to rescue a lost piece" and "Defender doesn't reveal his rank during an attack against anyone but a Scout".  That last one is a pretty cool idea, but I feel like I would just end up getting more frustrated not knowing what I keep losing to.  They also don't touch on what happens if it's a bomb.  I guess that means you're just throwing wave after wave of men at what turns out to be a minefield.

Most of the pieces in Stratego don't do anything special.  The Marshal is mostly unbeatable, so that makes him special, but he doesn't do anything special.  Really only the Miner, Spy and the Scout are unique in any major way.  More over, the Spy basically can't do anything!  The Spy is just a terrible hassle to deal with.  If anyone attacks him, he dies.  If the Marshal attacks him, he dies.  The only way he is worth anything is if he gets the first strike on one specific piece.  So, my thinking is why not give him a little bit for use?  In battle, while most are running around swords and guns blazing, the spy is remaining aloof.  He sneaks around and gathers information and that is the basis behind this variant.

Informant Spy Variant
One per turn, you may force the other player to reveal the ranking of any of his pieces that is adjacent (not counting diagonals) to your Spy.  This does not count as your move for that turn and you may move any of your pieces, the Spy included after the opposing piece is revealed.  You do not have to reveal the location of your Spy when using this action.

This makes the Spy work similarly to a Scout, but without having to sacrifice himself, although he is still at risk by being adjacent to the opposition.  The rules for the Spy attacking and being defeated in basically every situation don't change, but this at least gives the Spy some added use and even some extra defense if a piece moves next to him.

Rather than place all pieces on the board at the start of the game, a player is allowed to leave some pieces off the board, to bring them in later, as reinforcements.  No more than 3 pieces are allowed to be set aside for reinforcements.  Instead of moving a piece, a player may take one of his reinforcements and place it anywhere along the edge of his starting area (the back wall or side within the 4 x 10 region).  Reinforcements may only be placed in open squares and only one reinforcement may be played per turn.

The idea behind this rule is that it allows for a bit of sneaky strategy.  You can leave some pieces off of the board and spring them on your opponent if they are getting too close to your flag.  The benefit is that you have  some reserves if your opponent's Marshal rampaged through your territory.  Your reinforcements are safe from any attack until you need them.

River Travel
Any piece may use the lakes and rivers of the battlefield to get around faster.  Any piece adjacent (not counting diagonals) to one of the two lakes may move into any open square next to (not counting diagonals) the other lake as his movement for that turn.

Not every Stratego map I've played on has had rivers, but they all have the lakes, at least.  So if the board you play on doesn't have river connecting the lakes just use your imagination.  The idea is to give pieces the opportunity get across the board fast when they need to, but restrict it to only a certain region of the map.

I've played around with some ideas in giving each piece a small ability, like the Miner, but it ended up getting too unwieldy and complicated, so as it stands I'll live with most of the pieces not doing anything special.

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