Stratagem is an abstract simulation of international conflict. You control a country in a specific historical period and use its resources to accomplish certain objectives. You earn Victory Points by reaching these objectives. The player with the most Victory Points at the end of the game wins.


The class is divided into groups. Each group has a moderator who runs the game and does the record-keeping for that group. Each remaining student takes a country. The moderator and the players receive Scenario Instructions.


Stratagem is played in Game-turns. A Game-turn proceeds as follows:

Each game lasts for a specified number of Game-turns. The game is over after all of these have been completed. The players total their Victory Points and the winner is determined.


Resource Factors (RFs) represent a country's military, political, diplomatic and economic strength, and its willingness to use it. RFs are similar to the pieces in Risk and checkers.

Your goal is to attain the objectives listed for your country in the Scenario Instructions. You do this by deploying RFs. Each turn you will receive a certain number of RFs. You then deploy your RFs wherever you wish. You may deploy RFs in your own country, another player's country, or in a territory not represented by a player. You must deploy all RFs received on that turn in that turn. After deployment, you cannot move RFs. You cannot give them to another player. After deployment you may use your RFs to attack RFs belonging to another player.

To deploy RFs, tell the moderator where you want to put them. The moderator will then record your deployments on the Scenario Chart in accordance with your instructions.


After placing RFs, you can use them to attack your opponents. These attacks represent everything from simple threats to major invasions. Attacking is never required. Attacks can be made when you and another player have RFs in the same country or territory. You attack by first indicating your target (the defender). Both you and the defender then remove an equal number of RFs. You decide how many RFs are removed. The moderator records these activities on the Scenario Chart.

After you are finished with this attack, you may attack a different opponent's RFs in that territory if you have any RFs left there. You may attack in as many countries or territories as you wish, as long as you have RFs in them.


You have a Presence in a country or territory when you have at least 5 RFs there at the end of the game. A Presence represents situations such as trade agreements, spheres of influence, alliances, satellites, or annexations. More than one player can have a Presence in a country or territory.

You usually achieve Victory Points by obtaining a Presence in certain countries or territories. Sometimes you can earn Victory Points by preventing a Presence. You can never have more than one Presence anywhere. The Victory Points for an objective depend on its historical importance to the country involved.


You cannot win Stratagem unless you negotiate with the other players. Whoever makes the best deals usually wins. However, trust no one! Lies, betrayals, threats, broken deals, and bluffs are all allowed and encouraged. It is recommended that you look through Machiavelli's The Prince before the exercise.


A game of Stratagem normally lasts 6 Game-turns, unless specified otherwise in the scenario. After the last Game-turn, the players compare their RF deployments with their objectives listed in the Scenario Instructions to determine their Victory Points. More than one player can receive Victory Points for a territory. The player with the most Victory Points at the end wins.


Stratagem offers scenarios that cover historical eras from the Age of Discovery through World War II.

Scenario Instructions include a list of player countries in the scenario, game-length, historical information, and a Scenario Chart.

Stratagem was inspired by James F. Dunnigan's "Origins of World War I" (found in Sid Sackson's A Gamut of Games, 1969) and Origins of World War II (The Avalon Hill Game Co., 1971). Both are highly recommended for the classroom.

Stratagem is designed by Peter L. de Rosa, and is Copyright, 1998. All rights reserved. Reproduction allowed for nonprofit educational use as long as this copyright notice is included.


Any of the following can be used either singly or in combinations. Make sure everyone knows which rules are being used in a particular game.

RFs can be deployed simultaneously. The players write their deployments out and give them to the moderator who will record all of them at that time. Resolve conflict in the normal player-order. Repeat this each turn.

Players can communicate with each other only through written messages.

Normally, one player controls one country. To simulate the problems some countries have in making decisions, more than one player can be assigned to a democracy, or to a nation where internal disunity was a significant factor.

The instructor can require all players to record their diplomatic contacts with other players. They are collected at the end of the game. Information from these records (documents) can be surprising.

Any game can be lengthened beyond 6 turns at the instructor's discretion.

You cannot attack another player elsewhere if that player has a Presence in your home country. You must remove the Presence from your home country first. You can then attack him normally in other territories.

If one player has 10 RFs in a territory, and no other player has any RFs there at all, then the first one has Control of that territory and no player can deploy RFs there for the rest of the game. Two players can agree to split Control of a territory, but they must both establish Presences there on the same Game-turn. Both players get Victory Points in this situation.

An attacker loses one less RF in an attack than the defender. For example, the attacker could destroy 4 defending RFs, while losing only 3.


To make Conflict Resolution more unpredictable, resolve attacks as follows:

After RF deployment, the attacker identifies the defender. The number of the attacker's RFs is compared to the number of the defender's RFs and the odds are computed. Divide the number of the attacker's RFs by the number of the defender's RFs to get a ratio. For example, 10 RFs attacking 5 RFs would be 2 to 1. Always drop fractions. For example, 14 RFs against 5 RFs would still be 2 to 1. 15 vs. 5 would be 3 to 1.

After computation, roll a die and resolve attacks on the following table:

Die Roll 1-2 1-1 2-1 3-14-15-1+
1 X D D D D D
2 X X D D D D
3 X X X D D D
4 A X X X D D
5 A X X X X D
6 A A X X X X

Example of Play

After several Game-turns, the situation on the Scenario Chart looks like this:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 5 10 8 5
Yurt 6 - 2 5
Zen - 5 - 11

Ariel gets 10 RFs per turn. He puts 5 in Xenophobia and 5 in Yurt:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 10 10 8 5
Yurt 11 - 2 5
Zen - 5 - 11

Ariel then attacks Beauregard in Xenophobia with 5 RFs (each loses 5 RFs) and Chas in Yurt with 2 RFs:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 5 5 8 5
Yurt 9 - 0 5
Zen - 5 - 11

Ariel next attacks Chas in Xenophobia with 2 RFs. (remove 2 RFs from each):

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 3 5 6 5
Yurt 9 - - 5
Zen - 5 - 11

Now is Beauregard's turn. He gets 15 RFs. He puts 4 in Yurt and 11 in Zen:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 3 5 6 5
Yurt 9 4 - 5
Zen - 16 - 11

Beauregard then attacks Ariel in Yurt with 4 RFs, and Dirk in Zen with 11:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 3 5 6 5
Yurt 5 0 - 5
Zen - 5 - 0

Chas now receives 20 RFs. He puts them in Xenophobia:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 3 5 26 5
Yurt 5 - - 5
Zen - 5 - -

Chas attacks Dirk with 5 RFs, and then Beauregard with 5 RFs, all in Xenophobia:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 3 0 16 0
Yurt 5 - - 5
Zen - 5 - -

If this were the end of the game, Chas would have a Presence in Xenophobia, Ariel and Dirk would have Presences in Yurt, and Beauregard would have one in Zen.

Stratagem Instructor's Guide

Stratagem Main Page

AGR Title Page