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Tabletop Game / Game of the Generals

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Game of the Generals (also named GG, GOG, The Generals, or Salpakan in its native language) was invented in the Philippines by Sofronio H. Pasola, Jr. as an educational war game. The game features of a 9 × 8 square board and two players with 21 pieces each. Pieces represent individual officers and soldiers in an army. The objective of the game is to either find and capture the opponent's Flag or to move your flag all the way to their side of the board. Players cannot see the ranks of each other's pieces, so disinformation and discovery (and last but not least, memory) are important elements of the game.

When it's your turn, you may move one of your pieces one square in any of the cardinal directions. If an enemy piece is next to one of your pieces, you may "strike" it with your piece, and the lower-ranked piece is removed (unless their ranks are equal, in which case both are captured).

Sounds somewhat familiar? Well, there are a few key differences that set this apart from Stratego. There are far less pieces on the board, no squares are inaccessible to any piece, and a third party is required to ensure fair play.

Each player's army consists of the following pieces, ranked from high to low:

  • 1 Flag (unlike Stratego, you can move this, and it can capture only the opposing flag if it moves first)
  • 1 5-Star General/General of the Army
  • 1 4-Star General/General
  • 1 3-Star General/Lieutenant General
  • 1 2-Star General/Major General
  • 1 1-Star General/Brigadier General
  • 1 Colonel
  • 1 Lieutenant Colonel
  • 1 Major
  • 1 Captain
  • 2 Lieutenant (1st and 2nd)
  • 1 Sergeant
  • 2 Spies (can capture any piece except Privates)
  • 6 Privates (the only piece that can capture Spies)

Captured pieces are taken out of play. Capturing pieces move into the square of the piece they just captured.

Each player gets 27 squares to place their pieces on that are closest to their side, but they may arrange them in any way they see fit. Smart piece placement is crucial to victory. At the start of the game, a "privacy screen" may be put on the board between the two players, so neither can see what the other is doing, but due to the shape of the pieces, privacy can still be ensured. When both players have finished their formations, any screen is removed and the game begins.

This game contains examples of:

  • Bavarian Fire Drill: You can trick your opponent into believing one of your pieces is much stronger than it actually is - for example, by making it look like it's "going after" one of his stronger pieces. If your opponent is gullible enough, you can block off a significant section of the battlefield with a Private, low-ranking officer, or even the Flag. A quite literal version of Impersonating an Officer.
  • Block Puzzle: Gameplay can sometimes resemble this; especially in the early stages, a piece you want to move may be surrounded by a lot of other (friendly) pieces. You'll have to shuffle them around carefully to get that piece where you want it.
  • Cannon Fodder: Subverted with Privates, who have the lowest rank, as they are essential to capturing Spies. No, the "honor" goes to junior officers from the Major down to the Sergeant. Of course, given Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors, they can also serve to protect Spies/the Flag from Privates.
  • Capture the Flag: The entire point of the game.
  • Character Death: Any piece that gets captured stays off the board for the rest of the game.
  • Faceless Goons: You can't see who's who on your opponent's side. Only the arbiter is allowed to know the ranks of each side, and even then is only allowed to say who wins in a challenge between two pieces.
  • False Flag Operation: Unlike Stratego, you can totally do this since you can move the Flag, and is in fact an important factor in playing this game depending on your planned win condition. One example is having a Private or low-ranking officer impose as a "scared" Flag piece. Or, more daringly, move the flag like it was an officer to avoid being challenged.
  • Frontline General: The number-Star Generals are among the most powerful pieces on the board, and are often placed on the front lines for this reason. (Of course, it's dangerous for them to get too aggressive because of the risk of getting captured by a Spy.)
  • I Know You Know I Know: While pieces cannot be specifically identified like in Stratego (except for specific scenarios such as when your 5-Star General is captured by an opponent's piece, after which it's obvious it can only be a Spy), players can get an inkling of what rank each opponent's pieces are. Communication between players is also possible, allowing for the chance to dispense dubious intel. This, of course, influences strategy.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Unlike Chess, you're allowed to do this.
  • Instant-Win Condition: The Flag. Even if you've only got a handful of weak pieces left while your opponent still has most of their army, if you capture the Flag, or if you bring your flag to their side of the board (and they can't challenge it on their next turn), you win.
  • Overt Operative:
    • Picture the scene; a suspected Spy has been neutralizing officers left and right, and the opponent knows this since they already lost a 5-Star General to them. Of course, this is downplayed as there are six Privates and a player can only have two, so getting captured by a Private is just as likely.
    • Another scene would be the 5-Star and 4-Star Generals destroying everyone around them. Over the next few moves, the opposing player begins to make a "path" on the opposite side to the Marshal, then a single piece makes its way through. No prizes for guessing who that can be! Of course, False Flag Operation and I Know You Know I Know can still make for some uncertainty (for a 4-Star General as the opposing piece can be a 5-Star General instead of a Spy).
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: In any duel, the higher-ranked piece wins. With equal ranks, they each destroy the other.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: All the Officers outrank Privates, who are the only pieces that can capture Spies, who in turn can capture any of the Officers.
  • Taking You with Me: This is how equal pieces fight. Unless they're flags, in which case the aggressor wins.
  • Variant Chess: In a drawn-out endgame, the focus of gameplay can shift so heavily to clever maneuvering that it almost resembles a game of chess, especially when the flag is on the move.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: From each player's perspective, if their own Flag is ever captured, the game ends.
  • Weak, but Skilled: The Privates are the only pieces that can capture Spies, who are capable of taking out even the 5-Star General.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Downplayed for the Privates once both enemy Spies are gone. Since players aren't supposed to know what their opponent's pieces are, they can still serve as distractions, pull False Flag Operations, and capture the flag.