Total Diplomacy Risk Game Strategies

When Should You Stop?

By Ehsan Honary :::: Monday, September 8, 2008

:: Article Rating :: Strategy, Beginners

As a Risk player you have to deal with many issues in your ongoing strategy. Just about any time in the game, you want to have more and more armies so you can invade more players and get what you have been planing to conquer so that at some point you can win the game. If you are playing with escalating cards (when their value increases over time), you may progressively receive more armies as more cards are cashed. This is the army you have been waiting for. You start invading, capturing and expanding. The question is; when should you stop? In other words, how far should you go before undoing all the advantage you got with the sudden rise in your power.

To find the answer we need to look deeper into the problem and what you are actually trying to do.

Risk is about balance. If you break your balance in the game, you will lose. What does it mean to be in balance? It means to be strong enough to lead but not the strongest to scare others into action against you. It means to be weak enough for others to leave you alone but not too weak so that they actively scheme to eliminate you.

How can you make sure you stay in balance? The answer is, by spending the appropriate amount of armies at the right time against the right players. The best time to do this is when you actually have some armies which means you have a choice. That's when you come into possession of a lot of armies after cashing cards.

Now going back to the main topic, if you start invading others, when should you stop? The answer is when you are back in the right balance. Sounds simple, but really, that's all there is to it. Sometimes you may become too weak due to sustained attacks by others. When it's your time, you should retaliate only to restore your balance, not to attack as a revenge. Put the emotions out of it. You need to follow your strategy with discipline. Don't get carried away just because you have 20 more armies than the next guy. He or she may cash cards in the next turn and attack you heavily. So you need to anticipate others' moves and stick to your own strategy.

The following will help you to know when to stop when invading others:

  • Aim to restore your balance, not to be too weak or too strong.
  • Do not over expand. If you have lots of territories which only have one army in them, all other players will start biting into your territories because they are cheap to conquer. Don't give them an incentive.
  • If you keep your armies in concentrations, you have more options to roam the board when it is necessary. That option works both ways. You have more control and you are constantly threatening others with virtual power. Other players think twice before they go on an adventure since they know your sizable army can go after them easily. On the other hand if your armies are spread across the map in 5 clusters, non of them is going  to be a threat and it will be unlikely for you to use them collectively against a single player.
  • A great tip to know when to stop, is to aim for elimination. Concentrate your armies and grow little by little making sure you get a card every turn. Then spot a weak player that you can take. Take that player and STOP. Reinforce and hope that someone else doesn't come to eliminate you. Place yourself on the map in such a way to give them the least amount of incentive to take you out.
  • Always count the total number of armies of all players. If you are playing online, this is much easier as this is done for you automatically. When attacking, make sure that your total armies doesn't drop below the second highest ranking player. Remember you have just cashed in and you want to look reasonably powerful. What do you think will happen if others cash after you and see you as a weak player. You will get zapped out of the game in no time. It is Ok if you end up as the most powerful, but make sure that is not by a large margin. If it is, then attack the next most powerful player to balance the game by reducing the armies of the two most powerful players. The last thing you want is for other players to gang up against you.
  • Keep your territories well connected, so that when you stop you can reinforce strategically and prepare yourself for the nest turn.

Knowing when to stop when you are ahead is almost an art. Interestingly, it is also a critical life skill everyone should master. If you are in business, you should know when to stop expanding, when to research and develop or when to churn out more products. If you are ahead of the competition, you should work hard to establish your credibility because competitors will catch up soon and will steal the trophy from you. It is much the same in Risk, and the lessons you learn here can be easily applied to real life. No wonder why we love Risk so much!