Stratego Returns!

March 20, 2011 at 6:28 pm Leave a comment

For the past six months, one of the most frequent questions we’ve gotten at Eureka has been, “Do you have Stratego? I loved it as a kid, but I can’t find it anywhere!”

We love Stratego too, and it has been with considerable regret that we have had to explain that nobody in the United States carries this timeless game of intrigue. The reason offers a glimpse into the often surprisingly intricate politics of the board game world. For the past fifty years, the game giant Hasbro has overseen American manufacture of Stratego through the label Milton Bradley. Our older patrons may recall the original 1961 Milton Bradley version, with its Napoleonic-themed soldier pieces:

Stratego, c. 1961

But Stratego is not an American game. It derives from the French game L’attaque (which itself traces its origins to the traditional Chinese board game Jungle, although the game has evolved substantially from this ancestor) and was first marketed as Stratego in the Netherlands; this was also the first version to use Napoleonic-themed pieces. The French company Jumbo Diset owns the copyright, and has been licensing Hasbro for half a century.

Last May, Jumbo dissolved the partnership, citing – extraordinary as it may seem – creative differences. Since then, Stratego has lingered in publishing limbo, and countless Eureka customers have walked away disappointed. Now, however, Jumbo has licensed the smaller company Spin Master to produce the game, just in time for a 50th anniversary edition.

Stratego, c. 2011

The new, revamped Stratego has a futuristic theme, but the gameplay remains the same intriguing blend of tactical maneuvering and hidden information. For those who have never played, Stratego gives both players a force of soldiers with rankings from one to ten. When soldiers meet, the higher-ranked piece always captures the lower. The trick is that your pieces are concealed from your opponent’s view – through trial and error and careful deduction, you must counter your opponent’s most powerful pieces, navigate the bombs laid in your path, and capture the hidden flag to claim victory.

Stratego is back on the Eureka shelves, so if you’ve been waiting for this classic game to return, or want to try it for the first time, now is the time to pick it up!

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