“Hope you have a whole God damn night to play that game”. This was my introduction to the game ‘Risk’ from a work colleague.
For this task I wanted to test a new game and something a bit more challenging than Monolopy or Trouble, because until that point, that was about as far as my board game career had gone.
So, after spending 15 minutes picking up different board games, looking at the graphics and the pictures of game play on the back of the boxes, I settled on Risk. I had no idea about the specific details of game play, but I knew that I would was already interested due to the title and the graphics on the board.
Risk can be played with 2-5 players and depending on how many players you have, determines what set of rules you follow. Seeing as I could only convince my brother to play with me (it was difficult to find other players due to time constraints) we would be following the rules for ‘Game 3: Risk For 2 Players’ as titled in the rule book (really imaginative name).
Equipment includes a large table top board depicting a political map of the earth, divided into forty-two territories, which are grouped into six continents by colour. In addition to shared boundaries between territories which define routes of attack/defence, numerous special trans-oceanic or trans-sea routes are also marked; for example, the route between North Africa and Brazil.
The game comes with 5 different coloured army troops, with each colour representing a different army. A few different or larger tokens represent multiple (usually 5 or 10) troops.
Also included is a deck of cards, comprising forty-two territory cards, two wild cards, and twelve or twenty-eight mission cards. The territory cards correspond to the 42 territories on the playing board. Each of the territory cards also depicts a symbol of an infantry, cavalry, or artillery piece.
Standard equipment also includes five or six dice in two colors: three red dice for the attacker, and two or three white or blue dice for the defender. There is also a Golden Cavalry piece used to mark the progressive turn-in value of matched sets of territory cards.
At the beginning of his turn, a player receives reinforcement armies proportional to the number of territories held, bonus armies for holding whole continents, and additional armies for turning in matched sets of territory cards (cards are marked with a match symbol analogous to the suit of a playing card) obtained by conquering new territories. In a player’s turn, he may attack, move his armies, or pass. A player may attack across a boundary of any of his territories where he faces an opposing army; some “boundaries” are marked by sea-lanes on the board. Attacks are decided by dice rolls, with the attacker or defender losing a specified number of armies per roll. Battles may go to completion, i.e. one player or the other loses all of his armies at that site, or stop at any point. If the defenders loses all his armies at that site, the attacker takes over his old territory by moving armies onto it, and draws a territory card. If the defender has no armies left on the board, he is eliminated from the game, and the attacker acquires any territory cards he owns. The player may launch additional attacks or stop at any time. At the end of his turn, a player may move armies from one of his territories to another adjacent territory.
The game ends when one player owns all the territories, i.e. they are the only player left.
Risk is a straight forward and fairly simple game. Whilst it does at times require you to think strategically and think three moves ahead, I felt in a way, flat throughout game play. With the title and graphics depicting the game to be one of ‘divide and conquer’ you would expect there to be moments of suspense and where emotions are displayed out loud, unfortunately it lacks these defining moments. I can’t say the game doesn’t have these moments as the other player was only participating because I begged and pleaded them too. I feel let down by my first experience but would be willing to give the game a second chance but only with a full table of players.