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"Life Is a Game But Risk Is Serious!"
The story of board game development throughout the history is truly fascinating. It took a lot of effort and evolutionary development over many generations before we ended up with modern board games and more recently world conquering real-time strategy simulation games.
This series of articles present interesting and critical developments in history that eventually led to the creation of Risk, the great game we play today. We will travel across thousands of years and over many empires and explore the quest of mankind for the ultimate board game!
The story of board games goes a long way back, around 5500 years ago. The oldest modern board game, backgammon goes back 5000 years ago. Archaeologists found a set of backgammon with 60 pieces in the rubbles of the legendary Burnt City in ancient Persia which is now situated in Sistan-Baluchistan province, South-Eastern Iran.
This article is followed from Part 1. Ideally you should read the first part and answer the two questions proposed before reading this part which explores the concepts and analyses the results.
We are confronted with decision making every day. When making decisions, we usually use what is known as a heuristic approach, we simply use our instincts to respond to situations. Are we always right? Is it always easy to decide? How does this relate to decision making in Risk?
Let’s look at the results obtained in Part 1.
In the previous part, you timed the elimination of another player really well and collected his cards. This got you the critical momentum which you needed to deal with the next set of challenges.
Because of your balance management, you made Purple stronger until eventually Purple became too strong even for you. Now you had to confront it. The situation looked like the above.
In the last part you saw how you managed the balance of power by weakening the strong players and letting weaker players to become strong. You found yourself in the position shown above and were wondering what to do next.
In Part 1 you saw the initial distribution of armies and despite a good start discovered that you had a competitor who was even in a better position than you. Let’s examine this state and evaluate the move.
Risk has expanded greatly in recent years. Risk began its life in the 1950s and the fact that it is still widely available and popular is a testimony to its success. In its relative long history, as far a modern board games goes, Risk rules have been updated countless times and many varieties have been created and use especially when Risk has been introduced in different countries.
As computer technology progressed, official Risk games started to appear on computer games and these in turn introduced a variety of new options and maps that people could use. However, it wasn’t until the advent of unofficial Risk games that Risk and its endless amusing varieties took off. Many Risk game providers simply started their life by introducing classic Risk and an ability for players to play on different maps. Later, they made it easier for players to make maps and suddenly a whole variety of fan made maps from Star Wars, to Lord of the Rings to some elegantly topologies appeared on these sites.
Players liked these new trends so much that they simply started to ask a new question; “if we can change the maps, can we change other rules?” Today, many of competing unofficial Risk games differentiate themselves from one another by the variations they provide as well as the potential options available. Good options get replicated and certain varieties prevail or become the new standard.
This article systematically examines Risk variations and explores all areas were variations have been introduced. This will help those eager players who are constantly in search of making something new to get inspired by these custom Risk games and get more millage out of their games.
Risk is all about balance. If you become too weak you will be attacked and eliminated. If you become too strong, you will be ganged up on until you become a weak player and we know what happens to weak players.
However, balancing the game is an art. It requires full understanding of the rules, the map, the psychology of other players to some extent and of course impeccable timing. Players who get this right and go on to win, usually feel that they won not because of one crucial clever move or a sound strategy. Instead, they feel more like indirectly guiding a set of people towards the path of their choice without others realising what is happening to them. It is this feeling that makes Risk so enjoyable and so rewarding, not to mention so addictive.
In this series of articles, we are going to examine a complete game and look at the critical moments and various options you have in these situations. Each part of the series raises a number of questions asking you to suggest what happens next. Please provide your inputs and discuss it with the fans. A few days later the next part will be published and you can see the progress of the game and provide your comments.
Suppose you are playing Risk on a non-Earth map. The bigger the continent, the more bonus you get and cards are set as escalating (the cashing sequence is 4,6,8,10,...). The map shown above is your random starting point playing as Red.
What is your strategy? What would you do?
As you saw in Part 1, the initial start in Risk is quite critical and if you don’t get it right you can fail spectacularly. Opening moves in Risk are much like Chess. They set the pace of the game, define the strategic positions which would come to define the rest of the game. It is always possible to get away with a single mistake, but a series of mistakes is lethal. If you realise you have already made a mistake, beware that you can’t afford to risk anymore and need to play conservatively thinking about all possible consequences before you make your decision. Let’s analyse the game further to see what happened and what went wrong.
On the outset, Genghis Khan had the fastest army on the planet. His genius was to take full advantage of his fast moving armies against well-established disciplined armies many times their armies. These armies were also backed by resources of an empire which made the task even more profound. Genghis Khan used the ancient Chinese Strategy of “Slow Slow Quick Quick” as his grand strategy. Let’s see how this worked in practice.
Sometimes choosing between options is not easy, especially when you have to deal with probabilities. You may think each option has its own pros and cons. The situation gets even more complicated when you realise someone else has these options and are wondering which one they are going to choose. In Risk, decision making plays a significant role and it is ideal to have a deeper look at this topic.
To start this investigation, let’s do an experiment. To get good results, please follow these instructions carefully.
Below, you can see two links. Each of these links leads you to a simple question. Please answer the first question, then come back to this page and then answer the second question.
Note: Please answer both questions one after the other, so we can get consistent results.
Risk Decision Making Question 1
Risk Decision Making Question 2
Once you have voted, you can read the next part of article in Part 2.
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About Dr. Ehsan Honary
Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment.