Monday, December 3, 2007

An overview of life-size stratego, as played in High Park on Saturday.

There were 22 of us, and though I'm still picking the burrs out of my leg warmers, I was well impressed.

STRATEGO! is an outdoor game based on ....well...the board game Stratego. It’s like Capture the Flag in that the objective of the game is to capture the other team’s flag, but this game has additional rules and awesomeness! The main differences include:

1) Player Ranks – There’s a hierarchy of players which determines who can “kill” whom. Each rank has a certain number of “lives”;
2) There’s no Jail – You start with a certain number of lives. Instead of getting “captured” when a (higher-ranking) opposing team member attacks you, you lose one of your lives.
3) “Territory” is less important – All attacks can happen anywhere. The only thing your territory determines is where you can place your flag. Safety is conferred by numbers and your higher-ranking team-mates.

Before the game begins, each player is assigned a team. Each team then:
1) Hides its flag;
2) Assigns a rank to each member -- Ranks are *secret*: members of the other team won’t immediately know who has been assigned which rank in your team.
3) Huddles to discuss strategy.
4) The Playing Begins!

How do you kill someone?:
1) An attack is initiated when one person touches another;
2) The two people reveal their ranks to one another;
3) The player with the higher rank wins. The player with the lower rank loses. If both players have the same rank, they both lose. Losers;
4) The losing player(s) lose one of their “lives”;
5) Players who lose but still have lives left are given a grace period of around thirty seconds to escape.

To win in STRATEGO! your team must accomplish one of two goals:

1) Touching the enemy’s flag. Note:
a) Bombs can’t do this;
b) The defenders of the flag can protect the flag by:
i. Having three people linking arms around the flag;
ii. No more than two of these people can be Bombs.

2) Your team takes all of the other team’s lives.

The ranks in STRATEGO! follow a basic hierarchy with a few important exceptions. In general, lower ranks have many lives and higher ranks have one or two. Also, in general, players with higher ranks can kill players with lower ranks. The following list is written from highest rank to lowest rank.

1) Field Marshal
The Field Marshal is, by rank, the most powerful person in the game. The FM can be killed by the other team’s field Marshal. The FM may also by killed by the Spy.
2) General
3) Colonel
4) Major
5) Captain
6) Lieutenant
7) Sergeant

8) Miner
Miners can kill Scouts and the Spy. They are also the only rank which can kill Bombs.

9) Scout
The role of the Scout is to provide intelligence. Though they don’t have any special abilities they have more lives than any other players and can therefore afford to attack people in order to discover the identities of their opponent.

10) Spy
The Spy is another interesting player. They are at the lowest end of the hierarchy yet have only one life and are therefore extremely vulnerable. The unique ability and mission of Spies is to take out the Field Marshal.

11) Bomb
Bombs are unusual players. Bombs cannot attack or take the flag. They do not fit into the regular rank structure as the only person who can eliminate them is a Miner. Any other player who attacks a Bomb loses a life.

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