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How to Win in Risk or Any Competition - Part 2

How to Win in Risk or Any Competition - Part 2
Psychology, Diplomacy, Strategy, Series

Article Rating:::: 16 Ratings :::: Tuesday, June 5, 2007


This article is part of a series of articles that show you how to win in any competition, including Risk. In the previous article you were shown how to be in command of your own mind. Control the mind and you can control everything. Here, the focus is on your opponent's mind. You will learn how to control it or even break it.

Your Opponent

Your opponent wants to do everything he can to beat you in a competition. Your objective is of course not to lose and there are two areas you need to focus on: his mind and the execution of his decisions. If you disrupt his thinking process, you don't even need to disrupt the execution of his plans. You have made it. If you only disrupt the execution, he will eventually realise that his ideas don't work and will think of a new plan to beat you. You shouldn't let that happen. You should make him feel that he hasn't got any chance in winning against you and he should simply quit. Here are a number of techniques that may help you to achieve this:

Get him to become emotional

An emotional player can easily make mistakes. In high-level competitions, a single mistake makes the difference between winning and losing. Anger, greed and envy can all lead to disastrous decisions.

Risk game example: Players usually get carried away as soon as they receive a large number of armies when they cash in the cards. They feel far more powerful than others and greed sets in. They start to invade several territories at once and perhaps attack a number of players simultaneously. Attacking everyone at once is not wise. An emotional player responds quickly to events. Play on his ego and get him to become enemy of everyone. Now, sit back and watch him go down as everyone will contribute towards his downfall.

Break his mind

An opponent that is not confident about his moves is not going to get anywhere, because he thinks he can't. You can exploit this. In high-level competitions, the result of the mind game decides the score. Think as if you are your opponent and aim to see everything from his point of view. Understand his fears, weaknesses and anxieties. Once you know what he is afraid of, exploit it.

Risk game example: Your opponent in Risk may have just conquered a continent. Remember the last time you did that yourself. It is a vulnerable position and you just hope that no one will attack you for a couple of turns so that you can secure the continent in a way they can't threaten it. Your opponent will feel the same. His anxiety and fear can lead him to make bad decisions which you should be able to exploit instantly. In a multi-player game such as Risk, you should be able to act quickly when openings occur. If you don't take advantage of a weakness of your neighbour, someone else will and in the process becomes a bigger threat to you than your current neighbour. If you want to win, you may need to be ruthless.

Make him give up

A hopeless player doesn't have any ground to stand on. He feels that he is doomed and there is nothing that can be done to save him. Being doomed can be all encompassing. His mind gets blocked and he can't see any way out of his miserable position. There might be opportunities if he looks for them, but since he already believes there is no way out, he will automatically dismiss them before he has even thought of them. Make your opponent feel he has lost and he will do the rest for you.

Risk game example: An attacked player in Risk can become quite vulnerable. Reinforce the feeling of hopelessness for a player who is weak. By your efforts, he starts to believe that there is no point in trying anymore and will give up making any meaningful moves. Remember, if he doesn't feel doomed, he may easily decide to target 'you' to get back to the game and that's 'exactly what you want to avoid.

A Risk example is when you are playing online. How many times do you see that when some players get convinced that they are not going to win, they simply quit. If they quit, you get all the scores as a result. You can artificially create the same feeling in another player. There is an exception to this rule. If the purpose of playing is purely to have fun and you don't really care who wins, don't make the players feel like losing. In fact you need to do the opposite. Your objective is what matters most after all.

Make random moves

Regular moves can become predictable. Good players tend to understand patterns very well. Just like a game of poker, a Risk player can also take advantage of patterns of game play and guess the next moves. In order to disrupt your opponents' predictions, you need to break your own pattern. This is simple in principle. All you have to do is to make random moves. Every now and then, just for the sake of it, make a bold move. Your move has to raise eyebrows and make people think that you are up to something. Of course, they may become aware of your game play and start to watch you closely. In the end nothing may come of your move because it was random. However, when you make a bold move next time, they won't know if this is for real or is just another strange move by a strange player. Since they don't 'know what you are up to, they won't know how to prepare against you. This position allows you to make deceptive moves and keep your opponents in the dark at all times. A player who thinks he can be attacked anywhere, wont be able to defend everywhere. On the other hand, if he knows where you are going to attack, he can easily defend it. 

Risk game example: A typical example in Risk is to suddenly attack your neighbour signaling everyone that you have a huge interest in his continent. In the next move you can do a completely different move for another continent. Now, other players may either take you as:
  • An undecided player. This is good since they will underestimate you.
  • A player who attacks everyone. This is not that good, unless you manage to stay friends with your original neighbour who you attacked. An attacked player doesn't want to be attacked again. He will be happy to see that you have changed your strategy and are going to attack someone else. However, you need to watch that player as he may plan a revenge on you.
  • A newbie. Which is also good as they may ignore you.

Now you should know how to control your own mind and how to influence your opponents'. Experiment and practice these skills until you can master them all.

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About the Author

I am a board game and Risk game enthusiast. I like thinking and talking about strategy in games which has led me to the creation of this website. Although Risk is a classic, I feel one can never get tired of playing this game. Read about what I think of the game and I am always eager to know what you think.

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My father said: "You must never try to make all the money that's in a deal. Let the other fellow make some money too, because if you have a reputation for always making all the money, you won't have many deals."

Jean Paul Getty