I've recently introduced The Generals (a.k.a Game of the Generals) to my girlfriend's brothers. They took to the game pretty quickly and we three end up doing matches with one of us as referee or arbiter to determine who wins a battle.

However, when they want to play by themselves, they can't, because no one would arbitrate battles for them whenever their pieces clash.

I wanted to know if there is a way to play The Generals without a referee that still keeps the secrecy of the pieces whenever they battle.


The referee's job is fairly simple, so a computer can fill in for them.

There was an electronically-assisted version released in the '80s, which did exactly that. You may still be able to find a copy online, but be careful to check the condition — some may have busted electronic components.

Wikipedia suggests that there are online clones of the game as well, probably under the name "Salpakan."

Stratego is a commonly-available game with a lot of similarities, that simply has players reveal the pieces to each other when they clash. It's also got different special pieces (including, notably, immobile 'mine' tokens). Depending on the particular dynamics of play you enjoy, you may find it a good alternative or a pale imitation.


The Generals should always have an arbiter, try asking anyone else in their household if they are interested in arbiting the game (who knows, they might be interested in actually playing some day). The arbiter could just have the rulebook in-hand for easy reference of what piece beats what, and could be doing something else when pieces aren't clashing, albeit with some difficulty, as pieces clash fairly regularly.

Failing that, I've come up with a protocol whenever pieces clash, the players should run through these things to determine who wins:

  1. Both players check if their own battling piece could be removed by a Private. If it can, the player/s removes the piece. (this removes spies, tied spies, tied privates, and flags)
  2. Check if their piece can be removed by a Sergeant.
  3. Check if their piece can be removed by a 2nd Lieutenant...
  4. Continue up the ranks until one or both pieces are eliminated.

It takes fairly long to resolve one clash, and it slows the game to a crawl but I think it's the only way to play without an arbiter. So always try to get one.


Your link doesn't go into to much detail on the rules, but if each unit has a strength, and the highest strength wins, then you could use the following method: get a column the height of the highest possible strength. The attacker puts in a rod the height of its strength, and the defender puts in a rod the height of the highest possible strength minus the defender's strength. If the total height is more than the column, then attacker wins. If it's less, the defender wins.

But it would be simpler to just use an app.


If you still require to play it physically, it comes with the detriment of having to say the rank of the piece when you move in to kill the opponent's piece. It's in the rule book, so have a read on it because it details it there, or if not it's in the limited edition set manual but still applicable if you so wish to.

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