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Your aim in Risk is winning but it is important to know this is not an abstract idealistic view like winning when you are playing chess. In chess you can think of perfect moves against your opponent’s moves. So long as you are making an ideal move, it doesn’t matter who you are playing against; you are more likely to win. Risk, and similarly life, is different. You are playing against humans with minds; minds that can have weaknesses which you can exploit. Unlike chess, in Risk you are not searching for a perfect move; instead you are searching for a way to control your opponent’s mind. The sooner you can do that, and the more successful you are in doing it, the more likely that you win the game. This is exactly the same in everyday life when you deal with your colleagues, the team that works for you, the stakeholders that you report to and the market at large.
You are playing Risk. You have acquired a good size continent for this stage of the game and are busy strengthening your position. You tend to be cautious. You like to have a solid base before expanding to the rest of the map. You also don’t want to invade other Risk players for no reason. You are afraid that they will immediately retaliate and you don’t like to provoke them. The desire not to expand contradicts your overall objective which is to expand and conquer the whole world. These two opposite aims will create indecision in you. Each turn you tell yourself that if all goes well you may start expanding in the next turn. When the turn comes, you feel even more vulnerable than the last turn and decide to stay put and buy time. The indecision starts to bother you but what can you do about it? You don’t see a way out.
You still clearly remember your last Risk game. It is still fresh in your mind. You won, and won spectacularly. There was a tight moment in the game, but you made a calculated decision to counteract an invasion and turned it on its head. You made a player stretch too far and then attacked his home continent. After that, there was no stopping you.
You think that this was a fantastic strategy and are now about to play another game. Your success in that game makes you think that you can do it again. Your plan is to play the same strategy. It worked so well last time, so why not try again.
You have played Risk for a long time. You think of yourself as a good player. You decide to join a new Risk game site to play Risk online. You join a game and in this game you find yourself playing against a number of players who have a fairly high overall score. You still think nothing of this. After all, you are fairly good.
There are tons of people that constantly think there is one magical way to succeed. Once they learn the way, they follow it and will become successful. Then, they can happily live ever after. The only problem with this mentality is that it is only a dream that will never come true. Sure enough, people become successful every day, Risk players win every day, people become rich every day; but not because of following a magical strategy. It’s a bit more involved than following a simple recipe.
In the sixteen’s century, Spain was at its peak. It had the largest naval power and having found the New World, it was extremely busy with various conquests, exercising its military and colonial power. Philip II, the Spanish king, disliked Protestantism and was determined to restore Catholicism to England. Meanwhile, England was in deep financial trouble. When Elizabeth I became the Queen, she decided that the only way to bring stability was get rich. A rich country could counteract the threat of its rivals such as France and Spain. Without money it was doomed. Step by step, Elizabeth worked to increase the wealth of the country through economic reforms. In particular she was very wary of a standing army’s expenses and was determined to stay out of costly wars. After all she wanted the country to get rich and there was no way to get rich if she was constantly at war or preparing for one.
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.
History has many lessons to teach us and when it comes to strategy and you can get a lot of insight from it. In 1218, Khwarezm was a prosperous empire covering modern day Iran and Afghanistan. Shah Mohammad II ruled from his wealthy capital of Samarkand. At this time, the Mongols on his East approached him to make a deal on reopening the Silk Road. This would bring even more wealth, to the empire so Shah agreed to it.
Later, Mongols sent an envoy to buy expensive gifts for their court from the empire. Shah suspected the convoy as spies and killed them all. Genghis Khan, leader of Mongols responded by sending their ambassador to the Shah requesting an apology. Shah did not consider the Mongols as an equal power, so he was outraged by a request to apologise. He had the ambassador killed as a symbolic move to show that he was in charge of a superior empire. Naturally, this meant war.
The classic definition of grand strategy is “purposeful employment of all instruments of power available to secure a community”. In other words, it is your ultimate plan to win. In Risk, this can boil down to the following:
“What is it you want to do and how do you want to do it?”
The ultimate goal in a classic Risk game is always very clear; conquer the whole world. This makes it relatively easy at first look, but is it that simple? Remember, in real life if you ever come to conquer the whole known world, you may not be too bothered about what happens the next time the world in conquered. You will not live to see it because these events happen so rarely (if at all) and last for a long time when they do that the question may not matter. However, your ultimate goal in Risk is not just to win one game, but to win repeatedly. This is your ultimate goal which you must consider when you are formulating your grand strategy.
Grand strategy has been discussed extensively in history by the likes of Clausewitz and followed meticulously in major recent events such as World War II and the Cold War.
Grand strategy has the following main five principles. You must implement as many as you can in your grand strategy to be successful and get best results.
While playing Risk, quite often you may find yourself negotiating with other players. Negotiation is a skill that can prove extremely useful when you want to avoid direct conflicts and save your armies and resources for better use later in the game. However, negotiations can be tough. Some people ignore them altogether. Others actively argue that there is no need to negotiate or make deals with other players because these deals can be broken. These player find negotiation difficult and as such either avoid it or to try to justify their negativity philosophically. Remember, negotiation is just another tool. You are not forced to use, nor do you have to avoid it exclusively. Just be good at it and when the right circumstances arise, use the tool to get ahead of others.
Most people learn how to negotiate in the field without much systematic training. There are many established guidelines to follow for better results, though many still fall to the trap of old ineffective approaches. Consider the following example negotiation…
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