Stratego. Both opponents have 40 units each at the start of the game. My question is, is it real to destroy/kill/capture all forty enemy units during a single game? By "destroy" I mean also passive or mutual destruction, not necessarily an active kill. For example, if the opponent's spy is attacking our general, it is still counted as we have killed him.

  • The spy attacking your general will result in the general being killed, not your general. The spy always wins when attacking, and always loses when defending... – mmathis Dec 7 '17 at 18:26
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    @mmathis No, the Spy only wins when attacking the Marshal (and the Flag). He loses against anything else. – Dennis_E Dec 7 '17 at 20:34
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    @Dennis_E huh, guess I was playing wrong for decades! – mmathis Dec 7 '17 at 20:42
  • @Dennis_E Is it possible that an old version of the game did have mmathis's version of the rule? I can't find an official source, but I also played that way decades ago and here's an unofficial source which uses that rule: howdoyouplayit.com/391 – Benjamin Cosman Aug 9 '19 at 13:11

According to the official rules of the International Stratego Federation, it is impossible to capture all 40 pieces of your opponent:

12 The end of the match

12.1 A game ends when:

  • one of the flags is captured.
  • at least one of the players has no movable piece anymore. A movable piece is a piece that still has at least one legal move.

So if your opponent has a flag and one moveable piece, there are two possibilities.

  1. it's your move: capturing either one of those pieces will win you the game.
  2. it's his move: losing his last moveable piece also wins you the game.

In either case, the position is won for you with at least one opponent piece standing.

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  • @anonymous downvoter: please indicate how I can improve this answer. – TemplateRex Aug 9 '19 at 11:30
  • Wasn't me, but: "The ISF Game Rules are based on the Jumbo Stratego Original Game Rules".. Might be the wrong kind of official rules. – npst Aug 9 '19 at 12:16
  • The Travel Rules i.e. lists under the original rules section "You also win, if your opponent can't move anything" which would be the case one round later nordicgames.is/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/… – npst Aug 9 '19 at 12:20
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    Thanks a lot, TemplateRex. I've played a zillion of Stratego games and yes, it seems like it's really impossible to capture all forty enemy units. 39 is the maximum. Thus your newest answer is totally correct. – Alexander Aug 12 '19 at 12:33

As Dennis_E mentioned, it is possible, but I would say it is improbable.

To destroy all enemy units, you would have to avoid the flag until the 40th capture. Additionally, one of the enemy's non-stationary pieces must be the 39th piece to be captured, and it must suicide itself on one of your pieces. Otherwise, the game would have ended beforehand as the opponent would have been unable to move any piece during their turn, thus losing before you could destroy all 40 pieces.

What makes this improbable is that without assistance from your opponent, you would have to identify all the non-flag stationary pieces and destroy them before destroying the flag while ensuring the opponent maintains an additional non-stationary piece, which they must voluntarily throw at a piece that would destroy it on a turn preceding one where you are able to capture the flag.

I really cannot see a human opponent not forfeiting at this point unless they were colluding with you.

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  • sorry, but this answer is incorrect under the official game rules, see my answer below. – TemplateRex Aug 8 '19 at 15:01
  • @TemplateRex how so? The 39th capture is done by the opponent, on their last turn – Caleth Aug 8 '19 at 16:19
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    Technically, TemplateRex is correct. The game is over when your opponent suicides his last movable piece. In some computer games, you can still capture the Flag because the programmer just didn't know. I do it all the time just for fun. Everything else in this answer is still correct, though. – Dennis_E Aug 8 '19 at 19:32

I question the "improbable" about this. We've had lots of games where all the miners were eliminated, leaving it to the blood kill. (Yes, we know the importance of keeping a miner for the end--dummy flags are dangerous weapons.) If the weaker side has no scouts left this goes down fairly rapidly. If he does, we've seen drawn games due to the minimum number of pieces required to catch a scout (seven on the open board).

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    I always wondered how to catch a single scout in Stratego. Your answer contains much appreciated information. – Alexander Dec 17 '17 at 8:59
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    It is improbable if you want to eliminate all pieces, not just the moving pieces. – Toon Krijthe Dec 17 '17 at 10:23
  • @ToonKrijthe: I considered that a higher-order typo as in the rules as I recalled them you lost immediately on losing your last moving piece and therefore loss of all pieces is not possible. – Joshua Dec 17 '17 at 19:12
  • You lose if you have to move and you have no movable pieces left. So it can be done. – Toon Krijthe Dec 17 '17 at 19:21

Possible? Of course.
Realistic? That depends on your opponent's level.
Computers for example are really bad at Stratego. Against a computer, you can win almost every time by capturing all pieces. Against a decent human player, you should focus on capturing the flag ASAP.
But if you are so far ahead that you are in a position to utterly destroy your opponent, your opponent can just concede the game before you get the chance, especially when playing in a tournament setting.
I don't think it happens very often.

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    Computers can now beat humans at go and limit poker. I don't think a human stands any chance against a real AI in Stratego – Andrey Aug 8 '19 at 18:34
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    @Andrey I would think so, but it seems no one has made a smart enough Stratego A.I. yet. The best one is probably Probe and that one is easily beaten. Also, Go and chess are open games; there is no hidden information. And Poker is a game of statistics. – Dennis_E Aug 8 '19 at 19:00

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