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Don't Fight the Last War! Part 1 of 3

Don't Fight the Last War! Part 1 of 3
Diplomacy, Strategy, Online Risk Games, Series

Article Rating:::: 8 Ratings :::: Thursday, October 30, 2008

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.



This game started with 8 players starting in random positions. It was an online game and if anyone dropped out, their armies turned to neutral, shown in silver. The game was played with escalating cards incrementing 1 army at a time and players could make one fortification move between any connected territories every turn. The early map of the game is shown above.

Green was the luckiest player since he could easily capture a continent well before anyone else had a chance.

Total Diplomacy - Risk Game - Last War 2

Meanwhile there was a competition going on for Africa. Brown wanted it badly, so did Red and Yellow. Eventually, Red quit the arms race and left. However Yellow carried on building up in Middle East. This was an excellent move. It meant that as soon as Brown spent any army to get Africa, Yellow could follow suit to get his place. Brown’s response was simple; keep building up and concentrate armies for the eventuality.

Total Diplomacy - Risk Game - Last War 3

Meanwhile, Green was building up rapidly.

Total Diplomacy - Risk Game - Last War 4

The question was if he could keep his lead. After a few turns Green made up his mind and decided that it was better to go for Africa. This was not an easy decision. He had a lead and he needed to cash it in as soon as possible by expanding to another continent. He positioned his armies.

Total Diplomacy - Risk Game - Last War 5

At this point, Blue dropped out of the game. All his armies were converted to neutral. As you may know, no one wants to fight the neutral armies because you simply get weaker against your competitors. By dropping out, he effectively made Australia a useless land.

Yellow made a move towards East. It seemed that he was interested in Australia despite the high cost of getting it.

Now, brown had an issue. What should he do? He wanted to get Africa but not against a potentially more powerful player who was determined to expand to this continent. If you were Brown what would you do?


Once you have solved it, you can go on to read the next in the series:

Don't Fight the Last War! Part 2 of 3

Don't Fight the Last War! Part 3 of 3

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Table Talk   By Table Talk @ Friday, October 31, 2008 1:01 PM
Funny you mention settling in Africa. I've experienced many African "Crusades". For Brown, the best thing to do right now might be to hunker down and prepare for seige. There isn't much of an organized threat to green, so trying to diplomaticly get a attack on the northern front would be tough. Europe and Lower Aisa are engulfed in a "Civil War", so abandoning African isn't a sane idea. But other than that, Brown's already in a tight spot, so you got to make dp with the best of what you got.

Great Alan   By Great Alan @ Saturday, November 1, 2008 7:30 AM
Let me anaylze the general situation,I won't just talk about brown,but every players' situation.

Undoubtly,green have the best position.He can expand his power more rapidly and become more stronger than the others.However,green made the unwise decision:Expanding to Africa.That's really bad when he just control the small-value SA.
He have to spending heavy loss in the war with brown,which will surely weaken him.Also,he may take Africa,but he can't hold it with weakened force.The others surely won't let him occupy Africa so easily.Therefore.If I'm green,I would have the friendly relations with brown(whether he can capture Africa) and focus in NA,then capture Kamchatka and crush blue at Europe(if he capture it).But watch out brown's betrayal to me at Africa.

brown's position is indeed not too bad.If I'm brown,I would try to negotiate with green,persuading him to focus on NA instead of Africa.If he don't listen,then I have to ally with yellow and blue.Since blue would occupy Europe.I can easily persuade yellow to cede Greenland to blue,concentrating his force in NA and "contain" green from the back.After secure my alliance with blue and yellow,then gathering the powerful force to counter-attack and secure North Africa.That's the combination of the diplomatic-military way.Even green refuse to make peace with you,you can have yellow-blue as your backup.

For blue,taking Europe is his priority.After capturing most of Europe,he can easily persuade the Greenland garrison(yellow) to leave.And then I strongly recommence the two-edged blade strategy.If green obtain the great advantage in his war with brown and firmly control NA,I suggest negotiate with him first,secure the treaty with him.Then you can fully expand to NA without obstruct.If this process well,you can threaten green from his back,enable you to deal with the powerful green effectively.If he refuse to negotiate and even invade your terrtories,then ally with brown to against green(However,don't spent too much force to fight with green,leaving some troops for your conquered plan.Otherwise,this only benefit brown).Once green-brown are both exhausted,then it's your showtime!Sweeping Africa and SA,let them perish under your sword!After conquering both,red and yellow are no match to you and you're victory!

To yellow,it's more obvious.Collecting enough force to capture Australia.Then you even don't need to ally with anyone,just silently watch the situation and keep the "balance of power"(don't let green or other force to capture Africa,and keeping NA unoccupied by anyone),let them fight ferociously while you keep growing.Once they suffer the devavstating loss at their war.It's time for you to "break the balance" and win the game!

Red is the weakest in the game.Maybe he can take advantage of the green-brown war,yellow-blue war or other possible conflicts in the future.

Great Alan   By Great Alan @ Saturday, November 1, 2008 7:34 AM
Oh,I have to modify my viewing about red.Red actually have the excellent position.Beforehand,I ignore the fact that red army's concentration is high enough to make the large-scale move.He would be the powerful ally of blue and even brown(in against green).red can concentrate on occupying NA and then have treaty with either blue or green.

Ehsan Honary   By Ehsan Honary @ Saturday, November 1, 2008 7:49 AM
Thanks Jeffrey for your comment. Good analysis. I know what you mean by African "Crusades" ....

Alan, really good analysis. You have addressed many issues and you seem to be on target.

Unfortunately I cannot comment on the validity of solutions as you have to wait and see what happens in the next part.

RedzoneRacer   By RedzoneRacer @ Tuesday, September 15, 2009 5:33 PM
If Green actually does follow suit with his plan by moving those 15 armies to North Africa, Brown should make a run for Europe. There is little going on there, and once he conquers it, he makes a treaty with Green over the Africa/Europe border and go for N.A.

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