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When playing Risk, you can generally adopt three kinds of strategies; passive, aggressive or assertive. Each of these has its own style of play and has certain consequences. It is well known that in order to successfully communicate with others, you need to be assertive and this also applies to Risk as well. However, what does it mean to be assertive? How can you optimise your strategy to take advantage of the benefits of assertiveness?
In this article you will be introduced to the APA model (Assertive, Passive & Aggressive) and explore various issues and parameters that you must be aware of when you are dealing with other Risk players.
Risk is all about attacking and that’s what you do most of the time in this game. However, as you know, direct attacks are costly and over time come to erode your armies. Some players are naturally more aggressive than others and usually pick on the weak and vulnerable intending to eliminate them. What should you do if you find yourself in a position where you are threatened by a stronger player? Should you keep a low profile and hope for the best? Should you go for a direct attack and hope you get lucky? What is the best strategy to contain a stronger player and extend your life in the game?
Imagine, one afternoon, by some magical coincidence you find yourself in a room where a number of ‘players’ are gathered around a world map, playing Risk. What’s unusual about this game is that the players are not ordinary people like me and you. They are in fact the heads of states of some of the most influential countries in the world and they have gathered together in the UN to ‘play it out’, over a Risk game.
(Rules: using escalating cards and connected fortifications)
You are an excited observer and can’t wait to see what happens next and how it will all play out especially since a new person is now in charge of one of the most powerful continents.
This is the last part of the 3-part series. As you saw earlier, many players suddenly made bold moves and expanded in different directions. The cards meant that the game was unstable and anything could happen. The above shows how the world looked like.
As you saw in Part 1 of this example scenario, Brown had a dilemma and needed a compromise. This is how the world looked like. Follow with this example to see what happened next.
Every now and then I come across Risk games that stand out in memory for a long time simply because of the way they unfolded and provided sheers entertainment. The following is the story of one of these games.
The game captures the essence of timely decision making. In Risk, players need to be robust and continuously recalculate their position in respect with others. Unfortunately not all do, and as you may imagine this will cost them the game. In effect, they fight their last war and get eliminated!
The following example will illustrates this beautifully. This is the first part of a 3-part series. You are encouraged to suggest solutions. A few days later, the next part will be published and you can all compare your potential solutions with what actually happened.
All of us have experienced Risk games that have gone smoothly. We also have experienced games that haven’t gone that smoothly at all despite our good initial positions or fortunes. What happened in these games that we ended up losing so badly, especially if we were still using the same strategy as in our other games? Is it just bad luck, or is something more sophisticated going on?
Risk is a game of politics. To win you need to be able to influence the opinion of others. Of course good players are good at this, so when you are playing against them, anything goes; manipulations, deception, vague remarks, fuzzy justifications, you name it, it’s all there. There is always more to see than just the map in front of you. If you only rely on the map and the armies placed on it, you are limiting yourself from all that you can use to make good strategic judgements. So, what more is there to see? The answer is motivation. It is other players’ desires, wants and needs. If you can work this out you will be much more prepared for what is to come. There is indeed an elegant phrase that captures the essence of this.
You won! You just keep winning. You must be a great player if not the best. It wasn't easy. Some players in your view were just plain bad. You had some arguments with some other players in the game, but you don't think of it much. You think it's just part of the game.
Sometime later, you go back to the online forum only to discover that there is a whole amount of conversation going on about you from certain players who did not approve of what you did or said in the game. In effect they are spreading rumours about you and your character and trying to destroy your reputation. As you know, winning Risk repeatedly is all about reputation and any damage to that will have all sorts of serious consequences for you when you are online next time to play. So you need to be able to control the rumours. The question is, how?
The situation is the same if you were not playing the game online. Rumours can spread behind your back and when you get back to your friends next weekend to play with them, you realise (quite late of course) that they have already plotted to remove you from the game, perhaps to teach you a lesson.
All of this means that you need to be able to control your reputation and spread of any rumour. Here, you will learn a number of techniques to achieve this.
Sometimes in the course of a Risk game you may come across a player that you need to make a deal with. After all, diplomacy is key and with that you need to engage with other players. Some players are inherently deal-makers and would be interested to listen to you. Others may not be willing at all thinking that deal-making is a waste of time. What can you do to convince them, so at least they give it a try?
Even when you negotiate with those who are receptive, you may end up in a dead end where you need to convince them about your idea. What if they are stubborn and unwilling to change? What can you do to move them from the position they have taken to accept yours.
It turns out that are indeed a number of techniques you can use to break a stubborn person's stance. They are as follows.
Winning Risk isn't really that difficult. You just have to play it a few times, pick on some newbie player and, hopefully, one day it would be your day. You conquer the whole map and feel invincible. Well, at least for a while.
Back on that great satisfaction, you want to play again, sometimes with the same people. Of course this time you are marked, and you literally have no chance. Wining Risk once is one thing, winning it over and over again is a whole different issue. The ultimate challenge for a Risk player is to win consistently against the same set of people. Anyone achieving this monumental task should appropriately be called "The God of Risk".
For the rest of us mortals, we need to focus on our skills to get by. The question is what are the ultimate skills or habits of a highly successful Risk player who can win consistently.
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About Dr. Ehsan Honary
Diplomacy is the art of restraining power.
Henry A. Kissinger