This holiday I learned how to play backward Stratego — a variant of the old strategy game. We used a set which has wizards, elves and dragons, but I’m sure it would be just as fun with a standard set. I expected it to be frustrating, but it was surprisingly fun.


  1. Set up the pieces facing your opponent without looking at them
  2. Then take turns with one person facing away, the other makes sure that the flag is in the back row, has a trap in front of it and a 8,9,10 or trap on each side, with a fair arrangement of strong pieces. If you have to make a choice, ask your partner “pick A or B” or “a number between 27 and 39” and then apply that to your choices so that it is suitably random. The idea is to make the game fun by being equally challenging.


Take turns moving pieces. You need to tell your opponent if he or she tries to move a trap (or a mine in the standard set). Once you know what a piece is, you turn it around to face you. Aside from trying and failing to move a trap or a flag, the only way to identify a piece is to attack with it (or be attacked). You can also pick a piece and ask if it can fly (to identify a dragon), but that takes your whole turn if it isn’t. We also decided that if you run out of dwarves (miners) then you can use the next higher piece to take out traps.

board layout

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