I barely remember this TV commercial for Milton Bradley’s “Stratego,” but I sure remember the game. (Thanks to Youtube user Lokke for posting it online.) When I was a kid, I used to think of it as “pre-chess” — the strategy game that kids played before they graduated to that paragon of all games — even for adults. (I was quite the chess enthusiast when I was in gradeschool, which is odd, because I wasn’t exceptionally good at it.)
My skill at Stratego was similarly undistinguished, I guess. I pretty consistently relied on the most obvious gambit … planting my “flag” piece in the corner and surrounding it by “bombs.” (To keep my opponent guessing, I’d sometimes pull a switcheroo and plant my “flag” in the other corner.)
My older brother had been playing Stratego for longer than I had; it was his board game, after all. So he regularly sent his “miners” and expendable pieces straight for my predictable strongholds to ultimately win the game. (Come to think of it, the kid next door got wise to my standard gameplay pretty early on as well.)
But I still loved it. Stratego was hella fun. (Yes, I am back on the “hella” train.) I remember being in my early 20’s and being delighted when it was mentioned on “The X-Files.” It was in the Season 2 episode “Colony,” in which Fox Mulder’s long lost sister returns. (Or does she?) The first thing the putative sibling does when she she spots her brother is joke about Stratego. That felt like a shout-out just for me.