Developer: Keesing Games
Price: $6.99
Version: 2.4
App Reviewed on: iPad 3

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Since I’ve never touched Stratego in any shape or form ever in my life I was going into the iPad port totally blind. I had absolutely no idea what to expect other than “strategy,” but what I found turned out to be pretty cool. Aside from the single player half of things, that is.

For the unfamiliar/uninitiated like myself, Stratego is like a strange mixture of Risk and Chess with a little bit of Guess Who? thrown in for good measure. Each player has a flag, some bombs, and an assortment of other military units with various strengths and weaknesses depending on the rules of a given match. More pieces means a larger selection of units but also more to keep track of, that kind of thing. The overall goal of each game is to capture the enemy’s flag or wipe out all of their soldiers. The catch is that neither opponent can tell what the other’s pieces are until they get into a fight, and even then they go back into hiding if they survive the encounter.

There’s an awful lot about Stratego that’s less about the overall rules, which are pretty simple all things considered, and more about an individual’s approach to a match. Much like Chess, it’s a game that relies on one’s ability to read the other player, to try to get inside their head and perform a little misdirection, that sort of thing. When playing against another person in either a ranked or quick match games can be particularly exhilarating. Especially when a risky maneuver pays off with a win.

So Stratego can be great fun when playing against another person, even with numerous losses due to playing against people who actually know what they’re doing, but the single player should be avoided at all costs. Perhaps it’s because I’m a total rookie, and maybe veteran players will have better luck, but every single game I’ve attempted against the AI ended in utter failure due to the computer’s apparent clairvoyance. Seriously, that thing knew exactly where my flag was every single time and cut a swath through my forces in only a few turns. Every. Single. Time. At least when playing against a person there’s a chance that they might not have it figured out from the first turn.

As an initiate to Stratego, I’ll admit my skills are fairly nonexistent and the total absence of an in-game tutorial didn’t help matters. That hasn’t kept me from enjoying myself when squaring off against other people as each victory and loss is a learning experience. I’d just suggest new players and possibly veterans with a short temper stay far, far away from the single player or they might end up turning their iPad into a projectile.

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