Copyright 1998-1999, by Brian Train. All Rights Reserved


Each player takes the part of a decision maker and must work within a team to win the game while fulfilling his or her own motives (aggrandizement of personal power, reduction of the military's influence, etc.: such objectives to be assigned secretly by Control at the start of the game).


There are nine players in three teams:

Government Rebel Foreign Power
Military Minister of Defense (Gov-Mil) "Colonel X" (Reb-Mil) Military Advisors (For-Mil)
Paramilitary Minister of Interior (Gov-Para) Head of Party (Reb-Para) MNC/Ethnic Groups (For-Para)
Civilian Head of State (Gov-Civ) Popular Opposition Figure (Reb-Civ) NGO/Business Interests (For-Civ)

Time and space are very abstracted. Before the coup, each turn represents several weeks or months of assorted activity. Most coups are actually over in a few hours.


One set of fifty unit counters (use index cards), one deck of ordinary playing cards, some poker chips or other small tokens, one six-sided die, and some paper for messages and notes. Unit counters include (firepower rating in parentheses):

Military: Infantry(4) x 6, 2 each of tanks(6), artillery(6), engineer(3), MP(3), air(5), Dummy x 4
Paramilitary: Police(2) x 6, riot police(3) x 2, militia(2) x 4, Dummy x 3
Civilian: 2 each of Media, Labour, Bureaucrats, Business, Students, 1 each of Intellectuals and Religious Group, Dummy x 3


Play at a large table set up like this:

Reb-Mil Reb-Para Reb-Civ
Control Neutral Pool,
Gov-Mil Gov-Para Gov-Civ

Each Government and Rebel player starts with one unit drawn randomly from his or her class of units (Military, Paramilitary or Civilian) and one card. Each Foreign Power player starts with no units and two cards. The unit counters are shuffled and placed face down in their three classes on the table; this forms the 'Neutral Pool.' The remaining cards are also placed face down before Control, who is the dealer.

Players may accumulate any number of units from their own class of units during the game. Each Government and Rebel player may hold only two cards at any one time, and each Foreign Power player may hold only three cards. The order of play is determined anew and randomly each turn (see Charts and Tables).


Team members play in any order they agree on. In a turn, a player can do one thing from the following list:


In the first phase of the game most of the action is confined to card play. A card may be played only against a player's counterpart on one of the other two teams: i.e. a Neutralize card played by Gov-Mil could only be applied against Reb-Mil or For-Mil.

Ace or King: Loyalty Shift. The player played against must return one unit chosen randomly from among his or her available units to the Neutral Pool.
Jack or Queen: Infiltrate. The player of this card may take one card chosen at random from his opponent's hand. He may keep or discard it, but may not end up with more than the maximum number of cards allowed him.
2-10 of Hearts: Leak. the player of this card may look at one card from his opponent's hand, chosen at random. (Also used in Bust attempts: see Optional Rules.)
2-10 of Clubs: Recruit. The unblocked play of this card allows the player to choose one unit randomly from his section of the Neutral Pool.
2-10 of Diamonds: Neutralize. The unblocked play of this card allows the player to choose one unit randomly from his section of the Neutral Pool or his counterpart's pool and delete it from the game.
2-10 of Spades: Block. The play of this card by a player's counterpart cancels any action the player was attempting. It is the only counter-card a player may use. The player whose turn it is must allow his opponents a chance to play a Block before rolling the die, seizing a card, whatever. An action can be blocked by either one of the player's counterparts: for example, a Leak card played against the Reb-Para by the Gov-Para could be blocked by Reb-Para or For-Para.

Transfer of cards: Cards can be transferred to another player on the team only if he or she has less than the maximum number of cards allowed. Cards may be transferred to and from the Foreign Power team.

Recruitment and Neutralization of Units: Units are recruited from the Neutral Pool and neutralizations are made against units of the player's counterpart. Recruiting or Neutralizing with the play of a card is automatic but cards are not necessary: see Charts and Tables. (Optional: only one Recruit or Neutralize attempt [total for the team] per turn can be made by the Government team until the first successful Bust.)


Players can communicate with other members of their own team or the Foreign Power team at any time and in any manner they wish. Any deal that does not contravene the rules of the game may be struck. At the end of every two complete turns there is a six-minute break for conferences with the Foreign Power. Meetings must be arranged beforehand during the round of play, and players may only meet with their counterpart on the other team. Members of the Government and Rebel teams may not meet.


This team does not necessarily represent foreign interests, but rather forces within and without the country that will affect play. Each Foreign Power player may be given a secret objective by Control before the game and a varying number of victory points for satisfying that objective. Use your imagination: double the VP award for military favours done, score extra if the military is below a certain size at the end of the game, etc.

Each Foreign Power player starts the game with two cards. Each Foreign Power player may hold a maximum of three units and three cards . Every time a Foreign Power player transfers a card or unit to another player's control, it comes with a varying amount of poker chips or other tokens, such amount to be determined by negotiation. These tokens represent 'favours' that no doubt will be recalled later, so the receiving player incurs a slight penalty at then end of the game.


A coup must be declared by the Reb-Mil player before the last card in the deck is drawn. When a coup is declared, normal play stops and Control conducts an Affiliation Check on all remaining units in the Neutral Pool to see if they will join either side or remain neutral -- see Charts and Tables. At this time the Foreign Power players may declare support (independently of each other ) for either team and place any units they have under the control of the team receiving their support.

Players then conduct three rounds of combat. The Gov-Mil player sets out all military and paramilitary units face down in a row, in stacks of one or two units. The Reb-Mil player then matches each stack with one or two units of his or her own, but does not have to engage every stack or use every unit. Both players then flip over units in opposing stacks. Any dummy units are immediately removed. The players compare the firepower totals of the opposing stacks. If one side has as many or more points than the other, then each side loses one unit of their choice. If one side has at least twice as many points as the other, then the smaller side loses all its units. The Rebel player then rearranges his or her units face down in stacks of one or two units, and the Government player attacks him in the manner described before. This completes one round of combat. Play two more rounds of combat, and then judge victory. The side with more military and paramilitary units surviving is deemed to have retained or seized power.


The Rebel and Government Military and Paramilitary players score two points for each military and paramilitary unit they have left on the board at the end of the game, five points for being on the side retaining or seizing power, a varying amount for fulfilling the secret objectives given them by Control before the start of the game, and lose 1/2 point for each 'chip' they may have accumulated. The Gov-Civ and Reb-Civ players score three points for each civilian group they control, and lose 1/2 point for each 'chip.' Each Foreign Power player scores two points for each 'chip' held by his or her counterpart on either of the two teams, five points for 'backing the winner,' and a varying amount of points for fulfilling his or her special victory conditions set before the game by Control. The winner is the player with the most points.


Busting: The Gov-Para player must keep separate totals of the number of unblocked recruit attempts the Rebel and Foreign Power teams make on military and paramilitary units in the Neutral Pool. As his or her action on any turn, the Gov-Para player may play a Leak card and attempt a Bust. If the card is unblocked by his or her counterpart and the roll is successful (see Charts and Tables), then the entire team the Bust was attempted against must immediately discard all its cards. After the first successful Bust the limit of only one Recruit attempt per turn for the entire Government team is lifted.

Arming Civilians: The civilian player or any team may, immediately after the Foreign Power Players declare their support for either side, transfer any Student or Labour units under his or her control to the paramilitary player's control. The units are thereafter under the control of the paramilitary player (and count towards his Victory Point total at the end of the game) and have a strength of '2.' These are the only civilian units to appear in combat.


Order of Play Table

1 G R F
2 G F R
3 R G G
4 R F G
5 F G R
6 F R G

Bust Attempt Table

1 to 8 attempts, need a 1
9 to 15, need a 2 or less
16 to 21, 3 or less
22 to 26, 4 or less
27 or more, 5 or less

Affiliation Check Table

1 = loyal to Government
2-5 = remove unit from game
6 = unit joins Rebels

Recruit /Neutralize Attempts:

-- with unblocked card: automatic
-- without card: 1-3



First World War Scenario for STRATAGEM

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