These next two tips are from Ken McElhaney. Thanks Ken.
Killer Pack - I group four pieces together, two on the front line and two behind, to form a strong unit. For example:
These four pieces work together to dent the opponent's line. Variations include substituting a Sergeant with a Major and the Colonel with the General if the Spy is nearby.
Variation of the Shoreline Bluff: Remove the Bomb on the inside and keep the Marshal nearby. This sacrifices some offensive firepower, but keeps the Flag a little safer, in my opinion.
These next comments are from Daniel Wakabayashi. Thanks Daniel.
I think you should mention the importance of mobility. I generally set up my pieces in a fashion similar to Triple Threat or Corner Fortress. I am a strong believer that pieces that don't move should be pushed toward the back and corners. I find that these setups preserve my ability to move appropriate pieces toward or away from the action (or at least bluff that I am pulling over a big gun or running away). Also, this makes it easier to call on reserves that are initially placed toward the back, like the end-game Scouts.
Additionally, I try to occupy territory between and beside the lakes. This allows me room to swing pieces back and forth on my side of the lakes.
Along with the idea of preserving mobility, I almost always start my Marshal and Spy in the middle of the board. This allows me to counter a big threat on either edge. Since the Marshal is so important, I don't think he can adequately be balanced by the General in a split forces strategy as you suggest.
This next tip is from Catherine. Thanks for writing.
Take your Spy and place him in the 3rd row behind your General and when the opponent's Marshal comes alone, lure the Marshal in by moving your General next to your Spy and then attack with your Spy.
These next tips are from Don Lowe. Thanks Don.
When possible, keep the Spy behind the lake areas to prevent him from being nabbed by curious enemy Scouts.
Set up Scouts in the columns unobstructed by lakes and Bombs to maximize their movement and usefulness.
If your opponent is fleeing from one of your powerful pieces, try to move your piece in a position to threaten multiple pieces. Your opponent will only be able to save one of those, and you can capture the other. Conversely, avoid this if you are fleeing a powerful piece yourself, unless you have a counterattack planned.
This next tip is from Keith Ayen. Thanks Keith.
I've noticed just in the few games that I've played on-line thus far, stronger players like to target my Majors and Colonels for attack. I've found it difficult to adequately defend more than two at a time from an attacking General or Marshal. I've also found it extremely difficult to beat a strong player that has managed to nab a Colonel or Major of mine - due to his ability to simply trade down when faced with my high-ranking officers.
Because of this I've recently been experimenting with setups that deploy all three of my Majors in the back rank - so they may be used later - they're too weak really at the beginning of the game to have much impact and they're too strong to be lost wantonly like a Scout or Sergeant. As for my Colonels, I usually hide one and hope he is not needed and use the other one for bait.
Most attackers expect your Spy to be guarding your General - so it can be a nice surprise when an enemy defeats your Colonel - only to find out that he was defended by both your Spy and your Marshal!
Wade Oliver sent in this next tip. Thanks Wade.
I use the corner strategy when setting up my Flag, but I like to set up a 'dummy' Flag in the other corner using an expendable piece instead of the Flag. Often your opponent will hit a Bomb, think it's your Flag, waste all his time on that area, while your Flag sits in the other corner unfazed. I like to put a higher-ranking piece within this "Bomb' fortress. Your opponent will send in a Miner to get the Flag, and while he's picking through your Bombs suddenly he meets, for example, a Lieutenant and thinking it's your Flag, he meets his demise.
This similar tip is from Patrick McFarlan. Many thanks.
I like to have similar Bomb structures on opposite sides of the board, one being a used as a decoy. I also like to place a few high-ranking officers in front of my Flag for protection late in the game.
Cliff Peshek provided the following tips. Thanks Cliff.
First, there are many "cute" setups, but that is all they are. They really don't offer any real logical defense other than maybe keeping the game going a few more minutes. I find most games are over right in the middle, once a high ranking advantage is obtained, or a numerical superiority in the middle ranking pieces. The only benefit of one of the cute setups is just to prolong the game after this.
I have a set up that really DOES have a logical advantage and it can win you the game even if you fall behind. Also, it can buy you some time to get an attack going when you are backed up. I call it the Double Bomb Defense. You have enough Bombs to make two complete rings around your Flag. You have to put the Flag in the corner with two Bombs around it.
Then you put Sergeants or Lieutenants around them. Next, you put a complete diagonal of Bombs defending the entire corner. Your opponent will need at least two Miners to get through, and in most cases he will need three or even four. You will surely capture one or two Miners before they get up to your Bombs, so I am pretty confident I will not lose any games when I use this defense.
Go for you opponent's Miners with a vengeance.
Move a lot of different pieces. You opponent will not forget what you have if you only move one or two pieces at a time. Make sure you don't have single men running around; they are way too easy to keep track of. Have multiple attacks going and move lots of pieces up from the rear.
We can thank Philip van Dijk for these next tips.
Let's face it, the Lieutenants are usually quite expendable and useless in a game. They don't have any cool maneuverability, like the Scouts, or any Bomb-defusing ability, like the Miners, and yet their rank is too low to really take anyone out in an attack. Well, I have devised a way to get absolutely the most use out of them as possible. Put a line of them between your Flag and a shield of Bombs that protect your Flag. The reason for this is three-fold:
First, if a Miner comes down to break through your wall of Bombs, you are right there with a Lieutenant to take him out. And what can be more insulting than killing a Miner with a Lieutenant! It's classic.
Second, your opponent usually does not expect any sort of counter-attack, at this point. After all, he thinks he has won the game! But your Lieutenant is there to kill off the Miner, giving you time to get some better pieces over to assist.
Third, you can use your more valuable pieces in other attacks instead of having them trapped behind Bombs for the entire game.
Send out a group of four men, one high-ranking officer and the rest just duds. Only attack with your high-ranking officer so your opponent thinks you have a whole group of high-ranking officers. This works well because not only will your opponent be intimidated by this "army" you have sent out, but they may think all of your high-ranking officers are attacking and underestimate your strength back on the home front. They may try to attack around the back, just to find out you are very well prepared for him/her.
Seal off the two sides of the board with Bombs so nobody can penetrate them. This ensures the main battles, at least at first, will take place in the center of the board. You can then just stack the center with all of your high-ranking officers and blast your opponent. By the time your opponent brings his/her Miners over to defuse the Bombs, the game will be all but over.
Send a Miner and your Marshal across the board as your main attack pieces and then let the Scouts jump clear across the board and dictate which pieces you should attack before you actually attack them.
This tip comes from Robert. Many thanks.
Place your Flag in a corner protected by two Bombs. In that same area of the board, place a Bomb in the front row which is also the same column in which you have your Flag. Next to the Bomb place your General, behind the General place your Spy. Now, behind the Bomb place a Colonel. You've just locked down that area of the board for the game - if you play it right.
Leave your Marshal to defend the center of the board and place the three Bombs you have left on the opposite side of the board from where your Flag is located. These Bombs, if positioned properly, will act as a solid line of defense, but don't waste them in the front or rear rows. Place one of your Majors to the side and one behind the Marshal and place the last Major between the Marshal and the Bombs (which are defending the weak side).
The goal of the game is to remain in a strong defensive position and in this scenario going up a Major is enough to win, playing your cards right. The Scouts should also be placed in the center of the board, behind the Marshal where they can scan what is opposing the Marshal when the time is right.
These come from David Phillips. Thanks Dave.
I put Sergeants and Lieutenant in the front rows. They aren't very useful to begin with, so they might as well be used to "scout" the opponent's front lines without sacrificing an actual Scout.
Similar to Wade Oliver's tip, use two dummy Bomb setups, one in each corner. Then place your Marshal, General and Flag in the middle somewhere. Your opponent will probably concentrate his/her attacks on the corners - where your Flag is not.
This piece placement was sent to anonymously, with no comments.
I myself would never set up my Flag this way. Remember, there are two ways to win at Stratego and capturing your opponent's Flag is only one of them. The other way, of course, is to prevent your opponent from moving by capturing all of his moveable men. This setup locks in all three of your Majors, one of your strongest officers.
Unless your opponent uses a Miner to destroy one of the Bombs (except the upper-rightmost Bomb) these officers are effectively "trapped" for the entire game. If you and your opponent each lose your Marshal, General, and Colonels, his three Majors will reign supreme and will easily win the game for him. - Ed
This tip comes from "Sonic." Thanks.
When you opponent reveals his/her Marshal, send a Scout to follow him. You should be able to make him/her believe this Scout is your Spy. Assuming you can then trap the Marshal in a corner, you may now have time to attack with your high ranking officers and make a serious attempt to locate the Flag, before he discovers that your shadow manuever with your Scout was just a bluff.
Many thanks for these comments from Kenneth Grimmer.
I believe some of these tips are quite good and very effective but greed often foils well thought of plans of defense. You must admit it still holds true - the best defense is a good offense.
You must continue to probe and try and confuse your opponent's memory of the locations of you key pieces, and learn when to trade down, power, and when to bait & wait.
Don't move too much too soon, since it often allows your opponent to visualize quite accurately your Bomb placement and most probable Flag location.
Make them waste their Miners whenever possible.
These tips were provided from Denis Brilliant.
Your Spy should be treated as an "XO" and never left more than a space from your General. That way when/if your General is killed by the opposing Marshal, your are able to eliminate the opposing Marshal with your Spy on the next move. I also would assign a Major or Captain to travel with this group, for Spy protection and extra flexibility. This grouping can become obvious as you move them all together, so I usually designate my General as a more "defensive" piece, and my Marshal as more of an "offensive" one.
Decide early on if your strategy is to capture the enemy Flag or decimate his ranks. If you choose the latter, move quickly to eliminate enemy Colonels and Majors. If successful, follow up by sacrificing your own Marshal and General in exchange for those of your opponent. This way you will have "command of the board."
Immediately after having such command, designate one "invincible" officer to "Flag detail" and use another to seek out and destroy pieces/the Flag in enemy territory. If your strategy is to capture the enemy Flag, play somewhat more defensively and let your opponent bring the battle to you. It often becomes apparent where your opponent's Flag is by his movements.
Place Sergeants next to Bombs to quickly eradicate enemy Miners.
Scouts become more useful later in the game. Note the Spy is nothing more than a slow-moving Scout after the enemy Marshal has been eliminated.
The Marshal and General are much more valuable in the middle of the board. It's often a bad idea to position them too far to one side.
Thanks to Dan Burkhart for this tip.
I am a big fan of bombed-in Sergeant misdirection. One handy setup I discovered is a Sergeant-Flag combination double misdirection.
This is the setup in the corner of my board:
Most of my opponents seem to like attacking the extreme left and right columns. When a Miner gets down this far, 90% of the time they'll diffuse the leftmost bomb in the illustration above, rather than the center one. I then kill the Miner with my Sergeant, and most opponents assume this was a typical Sergeant trap and totally ignore this side of the board (even if powerful pieces like the Marshal are with the Miner).
This can provide a valuable period of confusion as the opponent focuses on my other bombed-in Sergeant trap at the other end of the board. This strategy usually allows me to not have to protect my Flag at all (which further adds to the illusion in my opponent's eyes), and I can deploy all my high powered pieces in the middle and on the opposite side of the Flag.
Thanks to Allen Butt for the following tips.
Play aggressively! The best defense is a strong offense and you can really intimidate your opponent! Put all of your high-ranking officers in the front two rows. That way you can kill him! Slaughter his army and he can't get you! Go after your opponent's Miners with a vengeance! If you can take out his best officers while protecting your own Miners and Scouts that weren't used for probing, then you can't lose! Also, your Majors and Colonels are your best officers for early attacks; they kick butt yet you can afford to lose them!