Hear me out! It’s not just a boring reskin. There are new ideas and some of them are pretty good!
I’m going to let you peek behind the curtain for a little bit here. When I sit down to do my research for what games to feature, I often don’t really know what I’m looking for. Sometimes I have a theme or concept in mind, and sometimes I know exactly what I want to talk about. But other times, I dive in head first and just go hunting in the dark. When I spotted Stratego: Star Wars I expected literally nothing except just normal Stratego. Don’t get me wrong, I like Stratego. I have a fairly fancy copy of it, in fact. But I expected it to be in the same vein as Monopoly: World of Warcraft or Clue: Rick & Morty, both of which I also have.
But when I looked closer, there was something new there. Nothing groundbreaking, but still some very fun ideas. Sure, it’s still functional as basic Stratego, but there are several alternate game modes available, which are all pretty clever!
For sake of expediency, I’m going to assume everyone knows Stratego. And it goes without saying how the teams of the Star Wars version are broken up, so let’s just jump into what’s new. For some scope, though, the game was released in 2002 by Hasbro, so it mostly follows the prequel trilogy.
The first main optional rule is unit powers. Many of the units have some power they can activate instead of moving. Each unit must be revealed before using said power, and some of their powers are just being able to move farther than normal. For example, Mace Windu, Han Solo, Count Dooku, and Baba Fett have the Charging power, and can move any number of squares in a single direction. There is also the Quickness power, which basically allows the unit to make 2 orthogonal movements with a single move. And the Advanced Leaping power allows movement in a single diagonal line.
Frankly, these are the uninteresting powers. Movement in a strategy game is important, sure. But it’s not flashy. The flashy powers are Vision and Advanced Blaster. For the record, since I know you’re wondering, there is no Basic Blaster power, nor is there a Basic Leaping power, as the names Advanced Leaping and Advanced Blaster suggest there might be. Anywho…
The Vision power belongs to Yoda, Luke, Darth Sidious and Darth Vader. It allows them to force any piece within 2 squares to be revealed. It’s fairly short range, but makes a large aspect of the game shift in how it is approached. So much of the game is blind attacking to just see what your opponent has lined up. But remember your turn consists of using a power OR moving/attacking. So it’s not like using the power every turn is viable.
What is fairly viable to use each turn is the Advanced Blaster power, which belongs to Han Solo, Chewbacca, Boba Fett, and Greedo. As you might expect, this is a ranged attack that puts the attacker under no threat to use. If the attacker’s rank is higher than that of the defender, the defender is removed. Otherwise, nothing happens. Plus the attack can be used on the diagonal.
This adds a neat rock/paper/scissors aspect to the game since now units with advanced movement powers would be best suited to take on units with the Advanced Blaster power.
Finally, The Rise of the Empire gamemode has a special rule. The game begins with Anakin on the board on the Light Side. However, once 10 Light units are lost, he switches sides and joins the Dark Side. If at any point he is eliminated while on the Dark Side, he is returned on the next turn as Darth Vader. Again, this is nothing ground breaking, but it is very thematic and does add a new layer of strategy to the game. The Light Side is encouraged to be more aggressive in the first half while they have Anakin on their side. But must be ready for when he switches sides, and not to have him in an advantageous position when he does.
Overall, Stratego: Star Wars does a good job of taking a classic game and adding a few new ideas and features to spice it up. And if you don’t play much Stratego, I do recommend it. It really is an underappreciated classic of a strategy game.
Thanks for reading!