Milton Bradley's Stratego, the celebrated military-themed game of skill, has been on a collision course with home-computer entertainment since the TRS-80 allowed computer gamers to play tick-tack-toe without the need of a human opponent. Like that much simpler recreation, Stratego stubbornly resists solitaire play. This clash of armies hinges on hidden movement, which can't be implemented without another intelligence to administer the other side.
Now Stratego is available to the solo gamer in this sensitive and satisfying electronic edition. Five skill levels, ranked in expertise from sergeant up to field marshal, let the game's challenge keep pace with the player's improvement. If repeatedly besting the sergeant inflates the gamer's ego too much, a round at a higher level often restores humility.
The gamer can play with the standard rules of the classic board game or choose the campaign game, which follows tournament rules. Options like "aggressive advantage," which awards victory to the striking piece in case of a tie in rank, open new vistas while remaining faithful to the true essence of the game. The "Silent Defense" rule, which reveals the rank of only the striking piece, uses the data-tracking power of the computer to produce a valid variation that would be difficult, if not impossible, in the nonelectronic version.
Stratego comes with a wide range of quick setup options, though advanced players can rapidly assemble the troops in any desired pattern with the drag-and-move system. A stored setup can be laid on the board with the flag to the left or right at the touch of an on-screen button. This further increases the variety of readymade openings.
The graphics are simple, effective and appropriate to the game. The user can select from three boards and two piece styles. The board is shown from a top-down perspective in a large window on the left, and an array of captured units apears in a smaller box to the right. The individual tiles are well-drawn, and they are no harder to distinguish than their counterparts in the board game.
Stratego isn't flashy. It lacks the multiple perspectives, animations and other frills of the top chess titles. Perhaps Accolade will offer a deluxe edition someday. Even without these trimmings, the computerized Stratego is an outstanding electronic board game.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP