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INITIAL STRATEGO PIECE SETUPS
13 setups are all taken from the
A conventional alignment, the Cyclone Defense holds Scouts in reserve, and places Miners in position for an early foray against enemy mines. The Flag is encased in a Bomb Shield, while the remaining explosives lurk in the front lines.
The Tempest Defense
Deceit is the key to the Tempest Defense. High-ranking soldiers and eager Scouts dot the front lines; the Marshal and one Colonel form a mini-strike force. One layer of Bombs and another of ranked pieces enclose your Flag.
High-ranking units and a deployment of Scouts fill the front lines, while Miners are held in reserve. A formidable array of Bombs clots the back row, where your side's standard also dwells.
Several Scouts share the front lines with your army's top officers. Bombs are scattered randomly through your defenses, posing a deadly challenge to reckless intruders.
Jagged Bomb placement is sure to cause the enemy discomfort. Potent pieces hover on the Flag's flanks. Captains and Majors in the forward ranks are poised for action.
Defensive deception is displayed in forward Flag placement. A Bomb occupies each flank, while the remaining Bombs are scattered throughout the lines. Several high-ranking troops are stationed near the Flag, offering further protection. Reserve Scouts are posted to the rear.
A diagonal line of Bombs and nestled Sergeants shields your Flag in once corner. Scouts deploy in the front ranks, along with a group of high officers on battle alert.
Your Flag is wrapped in a Bomb shield in the center of your defenses. The Marshal, General and a sprinkling of Scouts occupy forward positions, while Colonels and Majors lurk just behind. A corps of Miners is in reserve.
A formation of high officers prepares for the attack on lake's edge, while a cluster of Miners waits for the call. A smattering of Bombs turns your rear ranks into a most deadly destination.
Wheel of Danger
An odd combination of Scouts and Bombs populate the forward lines. A number of high officers wait in reserve, while the Flag is encapsulated in a Bomb rectangle.
Your most powerful pieces assemble in the first row; several Miners join the forward deployment. Well-dispersed Bombs are a smoking black invitation to an an opponent's recklessness.
While five of six Bombs are grouped around your standard, Scouts and top officers ready for the attack. Miners are poised to one side, and Captains and Lieutenants populate the rear.
Man the Barricades
Pairs of Bombs nestle in the front lines, while your Marshal guards the Flag in one corner. Woe betide the aggressive foe! High officers make up the forward alignment; Miners and Scouts bide their time in reserve until the call for duty sounds.
The following setups were sent to me from others:
This setup comes from Philip Atzemoglou.
This setup comes from David Phillips.
The pieces are evenly balanced. The Flag is guarded by the Marshal while the General leads an attack up the middle and the Colonels attack on each side.
Bombs are placed in each corner to mislead the opponent no matter which corner is approached because the Flag is in the middle somewhere.
The Flag is intentionally placed behind a lake so Scouts held in reserve cannot jump on the flag from across the board if the Marshal needs to go after the opponent's charging General.
|Scouts are placed at the front to test the opponent's defense and then in the back as reserves where they can become very useful in the endgame. The Flag is very well protected by the Marshal on one side and by a Colonel on the other. The Bombs in the center are used to force play to the sides. The right side is rather weak, however, that is countered by the placement of the Bombs preventing any aggressive horizontal movement. I also have several Scouts on that side to test the strengths of my opponent's pieces, making sure my Colonel and Major are not taken by surprise. Most of my opponents bypass my Flag and are surprised to learn that it was in the first row after I defeat them.||This setup
Anthony, has never failed him.
It's a variation of the Shoreline Bluff.
This setup comes from Brandon Clark.
|I send my front line out to try to get an idea of where his pieces are, then I try my best not to let him penetrate my 2nd line. I hold a lot of Miners and Scouts for later in the game. I have my Spy in a key spot so he can't get to my Flag.|
|The following is from Mike Rowles.
Here are a couple of Stratego setups from when I was a kid.
The first one is an older setup when I had a one-dimensional style of play. The strategy was to hit hard on the left and hopefully his counterattack would run into the Bombs.
The second setup was from a later period when I was naming setups after airplanes, hence the name B29. (I know it seems kinda silly now but I was 13 or 14 at the time.) This second one is really close to a tip from a guy named Robert on your site.
This setup comes from Johnny O'Donnell
|This setup aims to swallow up all your opponent's Miners before the Flag can be reached. It is an aggressive players nightmare.|
is a real aggressive setup where you hope to eliminate
his Miners and flood him from one side.
comes from Bill East
Always have at least one or two scouts saved for the end game as well as about three miners.
Have a miner in position for each of the three aisles if needed.
Spy should be available to protect the general if needed.
The second or third row should be cleared as soon as possible to move pieces horizontally.
Each piece should be protected by a higher ranking piece or be able to retreat to such protection.
Don't move the spy much. Use a fake spy instead.
If your opponent clears a column he probably intends to use it to probe with a scout so don't leave any important pieces exposed that way.
Instead if he clears a column use it to probe with your scout. Just be sure you have one in place as soon as he moves the last piece to clear the column.
It is a good idea to back up your scouts with a lower ranked piece or another scout so that if it is taken the attacking scout can be retaken.
Bluff early and bluff often until your opponent knows you do this then don't.
In the end game if your opponent has any scouts be sure your flag is protected.
Hide the positions of your important pieces as long as possible.
Set some scouts in the front line spaces not blocked by the lakes. Setup anywhere from three to six scouts in these positions, especially if you suspect your opponent's flag is on that side of the board. Because of their attack by distance property, you can learn a lot about your opponent's initial setup by utilizing these scouts early in the game.
Leave at least two miners in the back row or two. Keep these miners separated by at least one piece, preferably at least two pieces. Miners are relatively weak pieces but can determine the outcome of games in late stages. In the back row, miners are relatively protected. Keeping your miners separated will ensure that your opponent's higher ranking piece will not wipe out both before you form a counter-attack
Keep two or more scouts in the last two rows of your board and within close range of direct lanes to attack your opponent. Scouts come in real handy at the end of games where their ability to attack from far away can surprise your opponent.
I have read strategies that recomend placing the Marshall on the other side of your board from the General (One guarding the left side, and the other guarding the right side). I personally recommend using this strategy for less than 40% of your setups, but if using this strategy you should keep both colonels in the middle defending this ungaurded area. I usually set both my Marshall and General in the center of my board. They can usually reach the right and left sides of my defense lines without my opponent reaking too much havoc.
A great way to catch your opponent off-guard is to setup your spy next to your general. Use your general to attack your opponent's pieces in its vicinity, then move your general back to it's original location next to your spy. You can also move your spy up to back up your general, as long as there are other pieces surrounding your spy.
It is a generally good idea not setup same ranked pieces adjacent to each other. You are generally not gaining much by keeping the same ranked piece adjacent to another, since you can only attack by one piece. Also, your opponent's higher ranking piece can easily blow through your formation if they are all the same value. Generally, space your pieces out across the board.
A general rule I live by in any setup: make sure your flag is guarded (with either bombs or high ranking officials), but if guarded by bombs, try to avoid placing these unmoveable pieces in the center of the board, blocking the movement of your other pieces to other areas of the board. You want to be able to move your pieces from one side of the board to the other without too many obstacles in between.
Given a choice of attacking your opponent's known lesser ranking piece, attack first with pieces you've already attacked with, as your opponent might still remember what this piece is. If given the choice of removing your opponent's piece with two pieces your opponent has not seen yet, attack with the less ranking (higher number) piece, as this piece is more affordable to lose if your opponent has a counter-attack.
Try to keep track of all the pieces your opponent has moved in the game. If you are able to get the advantage of having an invincible piece (ex: a Marshall once you get rid of his Marshall and Spy), you can use this indestructible piece to eliminate all your opponent's moved pieces.
Particularly, keep track of your opponent's high ranking pieces (4 or less). Since these are crutial pieces to winning, you will want to take out these pieces first before worrying about lesser ranking pieces.
Keep track of what opponent pieces have been removed and how many of these pieces he started the game with. Use this to determine how many of each valued piece he still has, and alternate your strategy accordingly.
If you have an invincible piece, trade off your lesser valued pieces with equal valued opponent's pieces. (For example, with a invincible Marshall, attack your opponent's Colonel with your Colonel to remove both of them). This will reduce the number of pieces you have to pay attention to, so you don't go and blow up your invincible piece with a bomb.
At the begining of the game don't try to capture your opponent's flag if you 'think' you know where it is. Use the early time to find out where his higher ranking pieces are located. Only later once a lot of your opponent's pieces have been removed can you guess the pattern of his bombs and flag. Only then should you make a serious attempt at capturing his flag.
Remember which of your pieces you have moved and which ones have not moved. If your opponent puts himself in the position to defeat two closely ranking pieces, move the piece that has moved. Your opponent might not attack the other piece, as he might think it is a bomb.
Always have a goal before moving a piece, especially pieces you are moving for the first time. Pieces that you have not moved can always be left alone to act like they are bombs, which your opponent will generally avoid attacking with anything except a miner or low valued piece.
Once your Marshall is exposed, watch out for your opponent's spy. Generally players play the spy different than any other piece, usually guarding it with another piece. Once your Marshall is exposed, you can usually guess which of your opponent's pieces is the spy just by its movement. A great piece to take out the spy is your scout, since it has the attack from a distance attribute.
Once your opponent's Marshall is removed, your spy becomes the weakest piece on the board. Instead of using my scout to engage unknown opponent pieces, I send my spy, as the scout can become very important in the end game due to its attack from a distance property.
Guard your General with your Spy. Use your General to attack your opponent's lower valued pieces that come close to your general, then bring him back to the square adjacent to your Spy. If your opponent attacks your General with his Marshall, you counter-attack with your Spy.
Pay careful attention to your opponent's reactions to your moves. He will often use his strong pieces to defend the area where his flag is located.
If upon starting the game, your opponent has bombed off one of his front lines, it is usually a good idea to leave them bombed off, as this is an area you don't have to worry about during the game.
Sometimes, you can bluff your opponent to get him to move one of his strong pieces away from your territory. If you know your opponent has not seen one of your weak pieces, and knows that you still have a piece stronger piece than his, use this unknown piece aggressively, as if it is going to attack your opponent's strong piece. This should at least buy you some time to mount a counter-attack on the other side of the board.
Stratego is a game played in two phases. The setup phase is much faster than the actual playing phase that follows, but just as important. One of the most crucial decisions you'll make is where to hide your flag. Here's a rundown of your options, and the pros and cons of each:
PRO: The corner flag placement has a few things to recommend it. Most obviously, your flag in the corner can only be approached from two sides, as opposed to three or four. The flag is thus very easy to defend without needing many of your bombs or power pieces, by occupying the two spaces adjacent to the corner space.
Unless the enemy eliminates most of your back row, your corner flag is only vulnerable to a direct frontal assault, so it is easy to stack powerful defense there. And finally, if your opponent happens to focus forces on the wrong side of the board, your flag will be safe for a while.
CON: The corner flag placement is probably the most common flag placement in all of Stratego, for the reasons listed above. And the problem with this is that if your opponent has played Stratego before, you may be facing down a focused assault on your corners. A low number and a miner to defuse bombs can make quick work of your edge columns.
CONCLUSION: The corner is a good place for your flag. But don't put it there more than half the time, or you will be predictable and easily defeated.
Up the Side
PRO: Not predictable like a back row placement. Your opponent certainly won't expect your flag to be on the edge of the second or third row.
CON: All the negatives of corner placement, but worse. If your opponent expects a corner flag placement, you'll still be facing an edge assault. Having your flag further up in this case just means your opponent will find it sooner on a march down to the corner.
CONCLUSION: Avoid this flag placement; the only reason it's unexpected is because it's a terrible idea.
Middling Back Row
PRO: Flag is only vulnerable from three sides, instead of four. You can still defend this without expending too many of your power pieces. Opponents will have to fight through three rows of your defense to reach the flag. And due to the flag's placement towards the center, you can pull in additional defenders from either side.
CON: The center of the board is the most natural place for an enemy attack. Forces from either side can be brought to bear after advancing up the left or right flank, in addition to the initial forward movement in the center. But this is a small drawback.
CONCLUSION: Another good flag placement, but like the corner, be sure not to use this more than half the time, or you will be too predictable.
Middle of the Muddle
PRO: Unexpected. Most Stratego players hide their flag somewhere in the back row, whether in a corner or not. By putting your flag in the second or third row, you may be able to avoid the ill effects of a back-row sweep. In addition, not having a flag anywhere expected will allow you to set up decoy flagposts to lure in your opponent.
CON: Four sides of vulnerability mean that you're going to use either a lot of power pieces or a lot of bombs trying to defend this. In addition, pieces in the center often start to move very quickly once the game begins, so if yours don't (because they are flags and bombs) it may look suspicious.
CONCLUSION: A reasonable occasional strategy to throw off your opponent.
Front Row Blocked
PRO: Often overlooked, the four spaces behind the impassable river squares make an interesting choice to hide a flag. Opponents rarely bother clearing your entire front row, since flags are almost always further back and defended. This means that most assaults will continue down one of the six open columns, leaving your flag in the front row untouched. This placement likewise leaves you plenty of space to defend decoy flagposts.
CON: If the opponent happens to move sideways in that top row, you are going to lose.
CONCLUSION: A risky play, should only be used rarely, ideally after a few games of corner placement.
When it comes to setting up your board in Stratego, the position of your bombs should be a key consideration. Cleverly placed bombs can be devastating to an opponent by destroying their best pieces, or even guarantee you a victory if the opponent has no way to disarm them. Here are the general types of bomb placement options, and why you might want to use them:
Bombing the Flag
PRO: Bombing the flag is the term for surrounding your flag with bombs on all sides. Obviously, this takes fewer bombs in a corner than it does in the middle of your board. But generally speaking, bombs are the best defenders in the game, victorious against every piece except miners.
For this reason, it's obvious that putting your strongest defenders around your flag is a good play. As an added bonus, if you manage to destroy all of your opponent's miners before the bombs next to your flag are defused, you have guaranteed that the opponent cannot capture your flag.
CON: Because bombing the flag is such a strong and obvious strategy, most players who run into a bomb (especially in a likely flag area like a corner) will immediately send stronger reinforcements to defuse the bomb and explore further. A bomb is like a bright neon sign that tells the opponent "I'm defending something valuable!"
CONCLUSION: Predictable though it may be, bombing the flag is definitely one of your strongest Stratego setup strategies. (And just try saying that five times fast.) The defensive power of bombs is so strong that you should use them to guard your flag most of the time.
PRO: As mentioned above, bombs near a corner are likely to attract your opponent with reinforcements. For this reason, it's a common ploy to place bombs next to a corner with no flag in it. Your opponent's forward troops will die to the bomb, and then if and when reinforcements finally break through the bomb to the corner space, you may have another surprise waiting for your opponent. At the very least, the opponent will have wasted some time attacking an area that isn't your flag.
CON: Uses a few bombs in the back row that you might want for something else. If your opponent never reaches that corner, you've possibly missed an opportunity to explode some troops.
CONCLUSION: There's no real drawback to decoy flagposts, especially since your opponent can't walk away from what might be a flag. If you don't need the bombs elsewhere, a decoy flagpost in the corner is pretty much always a good idea.
Two Wave Corner
PRO: If bombs defending a flag are good, more bombs defending a flag are better! This strategy requires making two diagonal rows of bombs in front of your flag, with a layer of troops in between to kill any miners defusing the first row. In this diagram, F is your flag in the corner, B is your bombs, and X is your other troops:
The defensive power here is very strong. The first wave of bombs will likely kill a troop or two before a miner is sent in to fix it, at which point you can kill the miner. Your hope is that nobody makes it through the second wave of bombs.
CON: You're pretty much putting all of your eggs (or egg-shaped bombs) in one basket with this strategy. With no bombs anywhere else on your board, your opponent will likely figure out that heavy resistance likely means a flag nearby.
CONCLUSION: Worth trying occasionally. It's not very subtle, but if you can defend your bombs or kill the opponent's miners, this is a tough defensive wall to crack.
PRO: Putting five of your bombs in the front six spaces is going to kill some early opposing troops. (You can't put all six there, or you'd immediately lose the game for having no legal move.) If your opponent was playing aggressively and leading with powerful pieces, so much the better.
Additionally, if your opponent has buried the miners deep in the backfield, you'll have a long time before you have to worry about defense. With only one open lane into your troops, you can focus your power.
CON: If your opponent starts with a scout or two that explode when hitting a bomb, it may become clear what you are doing. Additionally, this strategy can backfire if your opponent decides not to defuse the bombs and your pieces end up trapped behind them.
CONCLUSION: Not a great strategy, even if it does make for a funny opening game.
Bombs One Row Back
PRO: This strategy is more popular with many Stratego players, as it allows you to more fully defend all six open columns. Placing a row of pieces in front of your six bombs blocking the open lines means you can still do a lot at the beginning of the game. Ideally, you'll be eliminating your opponent's weak pieces and miners, so that only powerful pieces can reach the second row to be destroyed by your bombs.
CON: Uses your bombs so you don't have them for flag protection or decoys.
CONCLUSION: If you're looking to try something a little different, this strategy can be highly effective.
PRO: Your opponent cannot outguess you if your bombs are placed randomly.
CON: Your bombs don't work towards a larger strategy if placed randomly.
CONCLUSION: Random placement is a last resort, only use against opponents who keep figuring you out.
There are 3 sections. Center left and right.
(In the version i have 1's and 2's are the most powerful and 9's move like rooks, 8's are minors, etc so bear with my directions and reverse them)
I generally like to cut off the flank and center with a mix of bombs and and decentely powerful pieces. I place the flag at the bottom of the unprotected flank with a wealthly guard. Scatter any extra bombs in interesting entrance/vital locations. Keep the spy near the flag or in the corner. Dont move him! Make people think its a bomb or something. Back up your bombs with the pieces that can kill minors.
Use your nines sparingly. They are very important for faking out your opponent and locating bombs. Move them one at a time head first into the enemy.
On your open flank use a powerful piece, not a 1 or 2, like a 3 or 4 to gobble up opponents and get a piece advantage.
Keep the 1 near the flag and the 2 on the closed flank to prevent
Move as few pieces as possible till you know what your opponent has.
This creates the illusion of bombs.
And the scattering of extra bombs makes your opponents life difficult in the other matches
Keep the identity of your Spy a secret for as long as you can. If your opponent correctly guesses the location of your Spy, or if your Spy becomes a casualty of war, your opponent's Marshal becomes much more powerful.
It's usually a good idea to save your Miners for the late stages of the game, after most of your opponent's Bombs have been identified. For this reason, I usually deploy most of my Miners in my back two ranks.
I usually keep my Marshal on one side of the board, and my General on the other. If I kept both of these two officers together, then one side of the board would be quite weak and undefended. Keeping these two officers apart helps to distribute my resources. My Spy is usually nearby my General, to give him some backup, in case my opponent's Marshal is lurking nearby and desires to give my General some trouble.
Keep you eyes on the arrangement of your opponent's pieces. After a short period of time, usually you can get a pretty good idea where his Flag and Bombs are, simply by noticing which pieces he has not moved. For this reason you may wish to be sure to not move a few of your pieces, in the hopes that your opponent is keeping an eye on which pieces you don't move.
Your Marshal, General, and to a lesser degree your two Colonels are too valuable to lose and therefore should rarely go exploring into enemy territory. These pieces should only attack pieces that a) have already moved and b) you know or strongly suspect are of a lesser rank.
The strength of the Scouts increase near the end of the game, when most of the board is free of pieces and the Scouts can fully utilize their power of rapid movement. For this reason you may wish to initially place a few of your Scouts in your rear rank.
Killer Pack - I group four pieces together, two on the front line and two behind, to form a strong unit. For example:
These four pieces work together to dent the opponent's line. Variations
include substituting a Sergeant with a Major and the Colonel with the General
if the Spy is nearby.
Variation of the Shoreline Bluff: Remove the Bomb on the inside and keep the Marshal nearby. This sacrifices some offensive firepower, but keeps the Flag a little safer, in my opinion.
I think you should mention the importance of mobility. I generally set up my pieces in a fashion similar to Triple Threat or Corner Fortress. I am a strong believer that pieces that don't move should be pushed toward the back and corners. I find that these setups preserve my ability to move appropriate pieces toward or away from the action (or at least bluff that I am pulling over a big gun or running away). Also, this makes it easier to call on reserves that are initially placed toward the back, like the end-game Scouts.
Additionally, I try to occupy territory between and beside the lakes. This allows me room to swing pieces back and forth on my side of the lakes.
Along with the idea of preserving mobility, I almost always start my Marshal and Spy in the middle of the board. This allows me to counter a big threat on either edge. Since the Marshal is so important, I don't think he can adequately be balanced by the General in a split forces strategy as you suggest.
Take your Spy and place him in the 3rd row behind your General and when the opponent's Marshal comes alone, lure the Marshal in by moving your General next to your Spy and then attack with your Spy.
When possible, keep the Spy behind the lake areas to prevent him from being nabbed by curious enemy Scouts.
Set up Scouts in the columns unobstructed by lakes and Bombs to maximize their movement and usefulness.
If your opponent is fleeing from one of your powerful pieces, try to move your piece in a position to threaten multiple pieces. Your opponent will only be able to save one of those, and you can capture the other. Conversely, avoid this if you are fleeing a powerful piece yourself, unless you have a counterattack planned.
I've noticed just in the few games that I've played on-line thus far, stronger players like to target my Majors and Colonels for attack. I've found it difficult to adequately defend more than two at a time from an attacking General or Marshal. I've also found it extremely difficult to beat a strong player that has managed to nab a Colonel or Major of mine - due to his ability to simply trade down when faced with my high-ranking officers. Because of this I've recently been experimenting with setups that deploy all three of my Majors in the back rank - so they may be used later - they're too weak really at the beginning of the game to have much impact and they're too strong to be lost wantonly like a Scout or Sergeant. As for my Colonels, I usually hide one and hope he is not needed and use the other one for bait. Most attackers expect your Spy to be guarding your General - so it can be a nice surprise when an enemy defeats your Colonel - only to find out that he was defended by both your Spy and your Marshal!
I use the corner strategy when setting up my Flag, but I like to set up a 'dummy' Flag in the other corner using an expendable piece instead of the Flag. Often your opponent will hit a Bomb, think it's your Flag, waste all his time on that area, while your Flag sits in the other corner unfazed. I like to put a higher-ranking piece within this "Bomb' fortress. Your opponent will send in a Miner to get the Flag, and while he's picking through your Bombs suddenly he meets, for example, a Lieutenant and thinking it's your Flag, he meets his demise.
I like to have similar Bomb structures on opposite sides of the board, one being a used as a decoy. I also like to place a few high-ranking officers in front of my Flag for protection late in the game.
First, there are many "cute" setups, but that is all they are. They really don't offer any real logical defense other than maybe keeping the game going a few more minutes. I find most games are over right in the middle, once a high ranking advantage is obtained, or a numerical superiority in the middle ranking pieces. The only benefit of one of the cute setups is just to prolong the game after this.
I have a set up that really DOES have a logical advantage and it can win you the game even if you fall behind. Also, it can buy you some time to get an attack going when you are backed up. I call it the Double Bomb Defense. You have enough Bombs to make two complete rings around your Flag. You have to put the Flag in the corner with two Bombs around it. Then you put Sergeants or Lieutenants around them. Next, you put a complete diagonal of Bombs defending the entire corner. Your opponent will need at least two Miners to get through, and in most cases he will need three or even four. You will surely capture one or two Miners before they get up to your Bombs, so I am pretty confident I will not lose any games when I use this defense.
Go for you opponent's Miners with a vengeance.
Move a lot of different pieces. You opponent will not forget what you have if you only move one or two pieces at a time. Make sure you don't have single men running around; they are way too easy to keep track of. Have multiple attacks going and move lots of pieces up from the rear.
Let's face it, the Lieutenants are usually quite expendable and useless in a game. They don't have any cool maneuverability, like the Scouts, or any Bomb-defusing ability, like the Miners, and yet their rank is too low to really take anyone out in an attack. Well, I have devised a way to get absolutely the most use out of them as possible. Put a line of them between your Flag and a shield of Bombs that protect your Flag. The reason for this is three-fold: First, if a Miner comes down to break through your wall of Bombs, you are right there with a Lieutenant to take him out. And what can be more insulting than killing a Miner with a Lieutenant! It's classic. Second, your opponent usually does not expect any sort of counter-attack, at this point. After all, he thinks he has won the game! But your Lieutenant is there to kill off the Miner, giving you time to get some better pieces over to assist. Third, you can use your more valuable pieces in other attacks instead of having them trapped behind Bombs for the entire game.
Send out a group of four men, one high-ranking officer and the rest just duds. Only attack with your high-ranking officer so your opponent thinks you have a whole group of high-ranking officers. This works well because not only will your opponent be intimidated by this "army" you have sent out, but they may think all of your high-ranking officers are attacking and underestimate your strength back on the home front. They may try to attack around the back, just to find out you are very well prepared for him/her.
Seal off the two sides of the board with Bombs so nobody can penetrate them. This ensures the main battles, at least at first, will take place in the center of the board. You can then just stack the center with all of your high-ranking officers and blast your opponent. By the time your opponent brings his/her Miners over to defuse the Bombs, the game will be all but over.
Send a Miner and your Marshal across the board as your main attack pieces and then let the Scouts jump clear across the board and dictate which pieces you should attack before you actually attack them.
Place your Flag in a corner protected by two Bombs. In that same area of the board, place a Bomb in the front row which is also the same column in which you have your Flag. Next to the Bomb place your General, behind the General place your Spy. Now, behind the Bomb place a Colonel. You've just locked down that area of the board for the game - if you play it right. Leave your Marshal to defend the center of the board and place the three Bombs you have left on the opposite side of the board from where your Flag is located. These Bombs, if positioned properly, will act as a solid line of defense, but don't waste them in the front or rear rows. Place one of your Majors to the side and one behind the Marshal and place the last Major between the Marshal and the Bombs (which are defending the weak side). The goal of the game is to remain in a strong defensive position and in this scenario going up a Major is enough to win, playing your cards right. The Scouts should also be placed in the center of the board, behind the Marshal where they can scan what is opposing the Marshal when the time is right.
I put Sergeants and Lieutenant in the front rows. They aren't very useful to begin with, so they might as well be used to "scout" the opponent's front lines without sacrificing an actual Scout.
Similar to Wade Oliver's tip, use two dummy Bomb setups, one in each corner. Then place your Marshal, General and Flag in the middle somewhere. Your opponent will probably concentrate his/her attacks on the corners - where your Flag is not.
I myself would never set up my Flag this way. Remember, there are two ways to win at Stratego and capturing your opponent's Flag is only one of them. The other way, of course, is to prevent your opponent from moving by capturing all of his moveable men. This setup locks in all three of your Majors, one of your strongest officers. Unless your opponent uses a Miner to destroy one of the Bombs (except the upper-rightmost Bomb) these officers are effectively "trapped" for the entire game. If you and your opponent each lose your Marshal, General, and Colonels, his three Majors will reign supreme and will easily win the game for him. - Ed
When you opponent reveals his/her Marshal, send a Scout to follow him. You should be able to make him/her believe this Scout is your Spy. Assuming you can then trap the Marshal in a corner, you may now have time to attack with your high ranking officers and make a serious attempt to locate the Flag, before he discovers that your shadow manuever with your Scout was just a bluff.
I believe some of these tips are quite good and very effective but greed often foils well thought of plans of defense. You must admit it still holds true - the best defense is a good offense.
You must continue to probe and try and confuse your opponent's memory of the locations of you key pieces, and learn when to trade down, power, and when to bait & wait.
Don't move too much too soon, since it often allows your opponent to visualize quite accurately your Bomb placement and most probable Flag location.
Make them waste their Miners whenever possible.
Your Spy should be treated as an "XO" and never left more than a space from your General. That way when/if your General is killed by the opposing Marshal, your are able to eliminate the opposing Marshal with your Spy on the next move. I also would assign a Major or Captain to travel with this group, for Spy protection and extra flexibility. This grouping can become obvious as you move them all together, so I usually designate my General as a more "defensive" piece, and my Marshal as more of an "offensive" one.
Decide early on if your strategy is to capture the enemy Flag or decimate his ranks. If you choose the latter, move quickly to eliminate enemy Colonels and Majors. If successful, follow up by sacrificing your own Marshal and General in exchange for those of your opponent. This way you will have "command of the board." Immediately after having such command, designate one "invincible" officer to "Flag detail" and use another to seek out and destroy pieces/the Flag in enemy territory. If your strategy is to capture the enemy Flag, play somewhat more defensively and let your opponent bring the battle to you. It often becomes apparent where your opponent's Flag is by his movements.
Place Sergeants next to Bombs to quickly eradicate enemy Miners.
Scouts become more useful later in the game. Note the Spy is nothing more than a slow-moving Scout after the enemy Marshal has been eliminated.
The Marshal and General are much more valuable in the middle of the board. It's often a bad idea to position them too far to one side.
I am a big fan of bombed-in Sergeant misdirection. One handy setup I discovered is a Sergeant-Flag combination double misdirection.
This is the setup in the corner of my board:
Most of my opponents seem to like attacking the extreme left and right columns. When a Miner gets down this far, 90% of the time they'll diffuse the leftmost bomb in the illustration above, rather than the center one. I then kill the Miner with my Sergeant, and most opponents assume this was a typical Sergeant trap and totally ignore this side of the board (even if powerful pieces like the Marshal are with the Miner). This can provide a valuable period of confusion as the opponent focuses on my other bombed-in Sergeant trap at the other end of the board. This strategy usually allows me to not have to protect my Flag at all (which further adds to the illusion in my opponent's eyes), and I can deploy all my high powered pieces in the middle and on the opposite side of the Flag.
Play aggressively! The best defense is a strong offense and you can really intimidate your opponent! Put all of your high-ranking officers in the front two rows. That way you can kill him! Slaughter his army and he can't get you! Go after your opponent's Miners with a vengeance! If you can take out his best officers while protecting your own Miners and Scouts that weren't used for probing, then you can't lose! Also, your Majors and Colonels are your best officers for early attacks; they kick butt yet you can afford to lose them!
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.
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.
put marshall and spy behind flag??