Balance of power is an important element in the game, and you need to think of many potential manoeuvres well in advance. Suppose you have an enemy that you want to weaken. If you can convince someone else in doing the fight for you, then you don't have to do it yourself. For this to succeed you need to shift the opinion of many players. You need to create a coalition and make its objective the destruction of ‘your’ enemy
. Recent history shows that this is indeed a fashionable method and it usually succeeds in getting the war you want. Examples are Gulf War I, Kosovo War and Gulf War II.
Now, in Risk, suppose you are in control of South America and you need to expand to Africa (see figure below). One way to achieve this is to put lots of armies into Brazil and prepare for war. However, you may wish to avoid getting the other player alarmed. Instead of placing your armies into Brazil, reinforce your only other border which is Venezuela. Brazil is then left with the same balancing armies as North Africa. When you are ready to invade, you can move your armies into Brazil from Venezuela either for backup or the preparation for invasion.
However, while your armies were in Venezuela, the player in control of North America can get paranoid and start reinforcing Central America to balance power in Venezuela (see Figure below). Your army in Venezuela acts as a magnet force.
It forced your opponent to place his armies in a place defined by you even though he may have needed it elsewhere.
There is however a problem. Once you decide to move your armies away to start the African campaign, you will be left with a possible threat
from the North American attracted armies
that are no longer balanced by you.
A neat solution is to use diplomacy. Before starting the African invasion, make a deal with North America suggesting that “It is a waste of armies to build up in Venezuela/Central America border and we don't really want to invade each other. So why not moving them away and reduce the balance”. Historically, this is similar to ABM treaty (Anti Ballistic Missile) which intended to reduce the stockpiles of nuclear weapons. There are two possibilities:
- If North America agrees, you are free to move your armies and use them in the African campaign as shown below. If you get this far, it means that everything went according to plan and you are now effectively conquering a rather valuable continent.
- If North America does not agree with you, you can turn the whole argument around and make a deal with Africa. Reinforce Venezuela and prepare for war in North America. This will be trickier since the number of armies at stake is high. If you go for a fight with North America, you may win the continent, but you may become very weak temporarily which may have undesirable consequences.
As you can see, performing diplomacy in advance can be advantageous. All you need is to be far-sighted.
Remember, if you want to get into a conflict with someone, the crudest method is to invade him at your will
. Instead, if you use diplomacy, you may get better results. For example, let him attack you first rather than starting an invasion. This is achieved by weakening one of your borders. If you start the invasion, others may develop a negative view of you, while if you have been invaded by someone else they will sympathise with you. Let him start the invasion and tell everyone that you have all the rights in the world to defend yourself! Only then deploy your armies (which you have prepared all along for this invasion anyway).
This is in fact a standard practice in diplomacy; to pretend that you are the innocent while you are not.