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You are playing Risk. Due to your starting position, bad luck with dice or bad luck with other players picking on you, you find yourself in a position where you are one of the weakest players in the game. What would you do now? Should you stay put where you are and hope that your luck turns? Should you concentrate on fortifying your continent so then you can have a stronger foothold in the game? Would you try to use diplomacy? What should be your main strategy?
To answers these questions, let’s have a look at an interesting battle that took place recently, in World War II.
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.
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.
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.
More about Ehsan Honary (Ethan)
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What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy.