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How would I set up a good placement in Stratego, especially with bombs and the flag? What is a good strategy for varying the placement?

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12 Answers 12

I find that the key to Stratego lies in-

  1. Cover your flag with bombs
  2. Kill all enemy miners.
  3. DO NOT MOVE a new piece when moving an old one will suffice.

Of those, I find that #3 is the most crucial. Most players have a very hard time attacking pieces about which they have no information; every time you touch a piece, or even visibly consider moving it, you inform your opponent that that piece is NOT a bomb.

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+1 for "you inform your opponent that that piece is NOT a bomb." –  WillfulWizard Oct 21 '10 at 21:59
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This can work the other way 'round, though, if you can convincingly appear to consider moving a piece that is, in fact, a bomb. –  Andrew Vandever Nov 8 '10 at 14:41
    
@AndrewVandever: On a sidenote, some may consider this close to cheating. So make sure the people you play with do not mind being "tricked" like this. –  mafutrct Sep 26 '12 at 11:13
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@mafutrct As long as you don't actually touch a piece that can't move, I don't see how it can be considered cheating.... I'm just looking at my pieces and thinking. Whatever you choose to read into it is clearly entirely up to you. –  GWLlosa Sep 26 '12 at 13:12
    
@GWLlosa That's how I see it too. I like applying little mind tricks like these. Just some of the people I played with seemed to be unused to it, and slightly annoyed ;\ –  mafutrct Sep 26 '12 at 22:42

There is no hard and fast answer for a good placement in Stratego, in part because as soon as someone learns your regular setup they can easily counter. Many good strategies can work once but not regularly.

In general, common logic is to keep the flag in the back of your field surrounded by bombs. Corners are also great because they only require two bombs instead of three to cover. Both are excellent strategies with the weakness being predictability. It is still a good idea to protect a flag on as many sides as possible with mines. Setting up dummy flags with a Sergeant in wait for a miner is also common.

One of my favorite ploys is to leave the flag behind one of the lakes unprotected, or protected only on one side or both as not to be conspicuous. Many players will assume that the flag is in the back row and go charging past that ignored Lieutenant or Sergeant.

I also commonly pick one of my three entrances and double bomb it off. If the other player is set to attack all three fronts evenly it can throw a kink in their plans as they need to move a miner in to clear the way. Also the miner is sure to be gobbled up as soon as it defuses one of the mines to clear a path.

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double bombing off an entrance is great if you can find a way around the loss in maneuverability. Really gives you a solid defense. –  Gordon Gustafson May 3 '11 at 23:49
    
This is a good answer and check out mine! –  danilka1 Jan 1 '13 at 18:24
    
Blocking your own entrances (any) is self-defeating in my opinion. It is something which can easily be overcome by the enemy (although probably at the cost of a miner) and you lose all control over what happens behind the barrier until your opponent clears a path. Loss of maneuverability, loss of control. It's not worth it. –  Diego Deberdt 21 hours ago

If you play the same person more than once, the most important setup strategy is to avoid being predictable. If I play someone who always surrounds their flags with bombs, I'll beat them almost every time because discovering the location of a bomb (or better yet several bombs) means there's a good chance the flag is nearby.

In order to avoid being predicable, I tend to rotate between the following types of setups:

  • 2-3 bomb clusters located far from each other (flag behind only 1 of them)
  • 2-3 bomb clusters located far from each other but flag NOT behind them, so opponent wastes a lot of time and effort cleaning up bombs that protect 7s.
  • semi-random bomb placement where no 2 bombs are placed adjacent or diagonally.
  • a single bomb cluster protecting the flag with the rest placed semi-randomly
  • One bomb protected side of the board that has lots of poor ranking pieces, leaving me free to concentrate my attack on the other side of the board.
  • I also occasionally do something truly wacky like place the flag in the front row NOT behind a lake. I've won most times I've done this because it is unexpected and is assumed to be a bomb, which is then usually ignored/avoided, though I'm usually also protecting it with a strong piece or two.

I've found that more important than flags/bombs is the placement of your best pieces (1, 2, 3, 3, and Spy in the old, original version). If your best pieces are too far back and separate from each other, you'll be at a big disadvantage to the player who comes barreling through your front ranks with a concentration of good pieces.

If you're playing someone for the first time, it's important to get a sense of how much they've played and what bomb strategies they employ, if they're willing to tell you. For example, if you're able to determine they've never used or played against the semi-random bomb setup, you're very likely to win if you use that set up.

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[B][5][6][3][1][7][6][6][6] 
[7][B][6][S][2]
[B][7][B][F][3][4][5]
[7][B][7][B][9][9][9][9] 

Above you have a classic 6 bomb matrix - your opponent will have no choice but to position 8's and 6's to get through it. This should give you plenty of moves to attack. Use the top row 7's and 6's to test enemy units. then use the row nearby 1,2,3... to kill enemy units once you know what they are. Leave the spy near the flag as a failsafe. Keep the nines close to each other to make a little 9 highway, they can get out of the way of each other very quickly.

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I'm confused by the diagram. Is it just that a bunch of pieces are cut off from the right side? –  Alex P Jan 16 '12 at 15:37
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@Alex P, I was doing it from memory, so I don't remember all the other pieces. The left hand side is what's important. –  iterationx Jan 16 '12 at 15:41
    
What happened to the right hand side? –  danilka1 Jan 1 '13 at 18:25
  • Use a diagonal of bombs backed by sevens to protect your flag. I go back and forth between a pyramid toward the middle or a diagonal on each corner, with a six or above instead of a bomb on one side.
  • Use your one for one aisle, your two and spy for another, and at least one three for the last. Try to keep enough space clear that you can maneuver these pieces around. Once you've really pinched all three aisles, it's hard to lose.
  • Save some spies for later.
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The diagonals+6s has always been one of my favorite strategies. If you can wipe out their 8's, it's not a definite win but sure helps. –  CaseySoftware Jan 1 '13 at 20:06

This will work with all versions:

  • Put bombs as decoys, so 2-3 bombs can protect your flag, as for the decoy, put the next strongest guy, so that you can kill the miner
  • Try placing most of the bombs in the front row and leave 1 or 2 spaces with movable pieces (I recommend the scout) so the opponent will have to get all his miners up front who can then be destroyed so the opponent could never reach the flag
  • This is pretty obvious but remember never to put the flag up front Thanks for the reading!
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This strategy makes me think of the Marginot Line. Putting most of the bombs in the front row seems like a formidable fortification defense, but your opponent will simply ignore your bombs and walk past them. –  Diego Deberdt 21 hours ago

Here are plenty of good tips for stratego: http://www.ultrastratego.com/tips.php

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Welcome to the site and thanks for the answer! It might be useful to provide more content to your answer than just a link. That way, if it becomes a dead link, future users will still benefit from your contribution. Feel free to modify your answer and improve it with some key content from that site. –  Johno Jun 21 '13 at 14:11
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While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. –  corsiKa Jun 28 '13 at 15:25

Great setups are nice, but are secondary to TACTICS. All placements have advantages and disadvantages. Generally, I don't like grouping bombs much in the first 2 rows because it impedes movement of your troops, likely will only kill lower ranked pieces, and gives away the location of your bombs too soon. Obviously you shouldn't NOT ever put bombs in the first 2 rows, just keep it to a minimum IMHO. Also, I save my Scouts for the end of the game by keeping them in the back rows. You will want them when you are at the end of the game and you have NO IDEA where to attack.

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NOTE: This is an old school set so bear with my strategy if you have the new ones.

All of y'all's strategy is good, but I have a good one too :)

  • Guard your flag with an X of bombs (make an X out of bombs, have the flag below the middle bomb, your marshal to the right of the middle bomb, your 3 left of the middle bomb, and your 4 on top of the middle bomb. Place further 4s to the right and left of the bottom X corners).

  • ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS have your spy with your general, this way when your general is taken out by a marshal (obviously) take your spy (next to your general which is now next to the marshal) and kill him.

  • A lot of people actually have their 9s in the front which is not a bad idea, but it's also not a bad idea to have a number like 4-7 as infantry.

  • Never attack a non-moving piece. Even though it could be a bluff (like the non-moving piece could be a bomb or 1-S ) just don't attack them. Instead, have your scout see what the piece is then determine whether to take your miner or 4-7 to attack that piece.

This may not be good for you but it's how I roll and how I win xD

Btw it's an old school set so bear with my strategy :D

All I can say now is enjoy the strategy and the game ;)

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"this way when your general is taken out by a marshal". unfortunately, this seems to be the first rule drilled into everybody's head, and as a result I have never had anybody's marshall attempt to take my general when the spy is waiting next to it. –  Michael Mar 27 at 18:54

Here are a few key principles. It's important to play "systematically".

  • Flag should always go in the back row and be protected by bombs.
  • 6, 5, 4, 2s should go in the front row, however limit to just 1 six in the front row. Don't waste twos early on save them for mid-game. Opponents rarely put pieces worth knowing in their front row.
  • You will lose the game if you go down a 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10. Play carefully with these pieces. 9 and ten should be on opposite sides and be on the second or row and be able to reach the middle easily.
  • You want to clear the front row out quickly and use it as a path to organize your pieces.

Make sure you evenly distribute your major pieces (e.g. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). That means 1 six on the left, 2 in the center and 1 on the right and the same with your other pieces (7, 8, 9, 10). Once you reach end game you want to be able to quickly bring these pieces to the flanks between the lakes.

We outline more of how to play "systematically" in our e-book and also offer a lot of free content. Check out Strategy for Stratego

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Hi Paul. Thanks for disclosing your affiliation with your product and providing an otherwise useful answer - or at least, I think so; I don't play stratego! If you haven't read them already, please bear in mind our advertising policy when you post here - though it seems like you might have already done so. See the 'Avoid overt self-promotion' heading at the bottom. –  Jonathan Hobbs Feb 9 at 12:17
    
I agree that the front row should be cleared out quickly. Maneuverability is your best defence. –  Diego Deberdt 21 hours ago

Bomb Decoys. I play an updated version with and 8x10 board and only 30 pcs per side. I always stack 4 bombs on one side and put the flag in the corner with the other two bombs. put your spy near the decoys so when your opponent thinks he has discovered your flag he sends in his ten. your opponent will put several 3s and 1s to uncover ur bomb.

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hide flag with bombs, make decoy bombs so they think your flag is hidden somewhere else, hide 4/5/6's near the decoys to kill any 3's they use to defuse the bombs, don't waste all your 2's at the start of the game, you will need them later on, 2's are great for finding out which piece is the spy - AND TWOS KILL THE SPY- so then your 10 is safe so you can go rampaging around killing anything that they move Finally they will be out if moving pieces and forced to surrender- you win!!

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