Game of the Generals
Box cover of the 1981 version
|Players||2 + 1 arbiter|
|Age range||All ages|
|Setup time||2 to 3 minutes|
|Playing time||30 to 120 minutes (player-dependent)|
|Skill(s) required||Strategy, tactics|
The Game of the Generals, also called GG as it is most fondly called, or simply The Generals, is an educational wargame invented in the Philippines by Sofronio H. Pasola, Jr. in 1970. It can be played within twenty to thirty minutes. It is designed for two players, each controlling an army, and a neutral arbiter or an adjutant. It needs the use of logic. The game simulates armies at war trying to outflank and outmaneuver each other. As in actual warfare, the game allows only one side's plan to succeed. Certain strategies and tactics, however, allow both sides the chance of securing a better idea of the other's plan as the game progresses. Players can also speak with others during matches, hoping to make a false impression on where the flag is.
This game was invented by Sofronio H. Pasola, Jr. with the inspiration of Ronnie Pasola (his son). The Pasolas first tried the Game of the Generals on a chessboard. Even then, the pieces had no particular arrangement. There were no spies in the experimental game; but after Ronnie Pasola remembered the James Bond movies and Mata Hari, he added the spies.  Making the pieces hidden was the idea of the Pasolas after remembering card games. The Game of the Generals' public introduction was on February 28, 1973. After the game was made, it angered many chess players thinking that Pasola was trying to remove chess out of fame.
The objective of the game is to eliminate or capture the flag of the opponent, or to maneuver one's flag to the other end of the board.
The player's set of pieces or soldiers with the corresponding ranks and functions consist of the following 21 pieces. A higher ranking piece will eliminate any lower ranking piece, with the exception of the spy, which eliminates all pieces except the private. The pieces are bent at an angle in order to hide the piece's rank or insignia from the opponent.
In plastic sets, the colours commonly used in the pieces are black and white. There are also sets composed of wooden boards and steel pieces. Those pieces have insignias that are either coloured red or blue. In metal sets, the color of the board is commonly brown and the pieces are aluminum colored. The pieces are still bent.
|Pieces||No. of Pieces||Function|
|Five-star General||1||Eliminates any lower ranking officer, the private, and the flag.|
|Four-star General||1||Eliminates any lower ranking officer, the private, and the flag.|
|Lieutenant General||1||Eliminates any lower ranking officer, the private, and the flag.|
|Major General||1||Eliminates any lower ranking officer, the private, and the flag.|
|Brigadier General||1||Eliminates any lower ranking officer, the private, and the flag.|
|Colonel||1||Eliminates any lower ranking officer, the private, and the flag.|
|Lt. Colonel||1||Eliminates any lower ranking officer, the private, and the flag.|
|Major||1||Eliminates any lower ranking officer, the private, and the flag.|
|Captain||1||Eliminates any lower ranking officer, the private, and the flag.|
|1st Lieutenant||1||Eliminates any lower ranking officer, the private, and the flag.|
|2nd Lieutenant||1||Eliminates the sergeant, the private, and the flag.|
|Sergeant||1||Eliminates the private, and the flag.|
|Private||6||Eliminates the spy, and the flag.|
|Spy||2||Eliminates all officers from the rank of Sergeant up to 5-Star General & the flag.|
|Flag||1||Eliminates the opposing flag as long as it takes the aggressive action against the enemy flag.|
Note: If both soldiers are of equal rank, both are eliminated.
Moves and gameplay
The game is played on a board with 9x8 plain squares. The pieces are placed in various locations in the first three rows of each player's home side. Unlike chess or its variants, there is no predetermined layout for the pieces, allowing each player to place the pieces to his advantage. There is also no predetermined order of play. The players can decide who goes first; afterward, the players take their turns alternately.
All pieces have the same move: One space forward, backward, or sideways. Each player can move only one piece per turn.
A challenge is signaled by placing one's piece on top of the opposing piece occupying one of the squares. The arbiter then examines the ranks of the opposing pieces and removes the lower-ranked piece off the board and returns it to the owner regardless of who initiated the challenge. The arbiter must take care not to reveal the ranks of the pieces to the opposition. The game can also be played without an arbiter. In this case, when a challenge is made, both players must state the ranks of their pieces before removing the lower-ranked piece. Therefore, the presence of the arbiter, though not compulsory, is especially important to ensure secrecy until the game is over. It should be noted, however, that official games are conducted with an arbiter.
Determining who wins the challenge
Regardless of who initiated the challenge, their ranks determine which one is to be removed.
- Any one of the player's pieces can capture the opposing flag. This includes the player's own flag.
- Any piece eliminates the private except the spy and the flag.
- Officers eliminate other officers that are ranked below it (e.g. a four-star general eliminates a lieutenant-colonel).
- A spy eliminates all officers (including the five-star general). Only the private can eliminate the spy.
- If both pieces are of the same rank, both are removed from the board.
- If a flag challenges the opponent's flag, the challenging flag prevails.
If a flag reaches the opposite end of the board, the opponent has one turn left although it is not announced. After the turn, the player reveals the flag. If the flag was not challenged, the player wins the game. If it was challenged, the player loses.
The Generals Electronic Strategy Game
In 1980, Ideal released The Generals Electronic Strategy Game. The rules and piece ranks are the same as above, except that the "Spies" are "Agents", and an electronic arbiter determines which piece wins in a confrontation; neither player sees his opponent's pieces. The plastic pieces have selected notches on their bases, which depress certain indentations in the electronic arbiter's twin slots. The lights flash and a short musical phrase plays before a light labeled "battle winner" is illuminated. The losing piece is removed from the board, while the winning piece is placed back on the board. If the flag is placed in the arbiter, it plays "Taps" after the initial musical phrase.
Unlike the original version of the game, if a player's flag reaches the back row in The Generals Electronic Strategy Game, that player wins, even if an opposing piece occupies an adjacent square on the back row.
Unlike the somewhat similar game of Stratego, Generals does not have any bombs, nor miners to defuse them, nor scouts to zip several spaces across the board in one move. Nor does Generals have any immovable pieces (both the flag and the bombs in Stratego are stationary). In addition, unlike Stratego, which features two "lakes" in the middle of the board, all the squares on the board are accessible. Also, each player has two Agents in Generals, while each only has one Spy in Stratego. Finally, Generals inherently requires a third-party arbiter to maintain the game's uncertainty to the endgame.