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"Life Is a Game But Risk Is Serious!"
As you saw in Part 1, the initial start in Risk is quite critical and if you don’t get it right you can fail spectacularly. Opening moves in Risk are much like Chess. They set the pace of the game, define the strategic positions which would come to define the rest of the game. It is always possible to get away with a single mistake, but a series of mistakes is lethal. If you realise you have already made a mistake, beware that you can’t afford to risk anymore and need to play conservatively thinking about all possible consequences before you make your decision. Let’s analyse the game further to see what happened and what went wrong.
Risk can be surprising and in the course of a game, you may always have a heart sinking feeling of imminent danger and fall. In fact, this is what makes Risk so exciting. Anyone can win which means even experienced players must be on guard all the time otherwise can easily lose.
The opening stages of a game are quite critical. If you start badly or make mistakes, you are very likely to get kicked out and the game and lose. You must pay constant attention to your opponents as well as your own position in comparison with others. The best way to learn opening moves is by example. Let’s consider the game shown above.
This game is played on a non-Earth map. The card sequence is escalating which means that the rate goes up by 2 every time someone cashes a set. We are going to analyse this game in an abstract way, so don’t worry too much about the details. Assume that similar to the Earth map, the bigger the continent or the higher the number of its borders, the more bonuses you get.
Assume you are Red and the map above was the starting position.
What would you do?
As a Risk player you have to deal with many issues in your ongoing strategy. Just about any time in the game, you want to have more and more armies so you can invade more players and get what you have been planing to conquer so that at some point you can win the game. If you are playing with escalating cards (when their value increases over time), you may progressively receive more armies as more cards are cashed. This is the army you have been waiting for. You start invading, capturing and expanding. The question is; when should you stop? In other words, how far should you go before undoing all the advantage you got with the sudden rise in your power.
To find the answer we need to look deeper into the problem and what you are actually trying to do.
New players sometimes think that to win Risk they need to work out a winning strategy and follow it every time. The problem with this approach is that it ignores what other players are going to do. You can’t say I will do these series of manoeuvres and I will do them no matter what. To win Risk, you need to know how to respond to different situations and to know this you need to know your priorities. Sounds very simple, but you will be amazed how many players don’t follow this simple rule. If you ever play online Risk, you are bound to come across many who simply follow a fixed strategy, like ‘Get continents’, ‘Go for cards’, ‘Just keep growing’ and so on. These strategies are good but they are too fixed to get you to win the game. You may get by very well in the early stages of the game and then get kicked out not knowing what hit you.
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.
You have battled your way through the game. It wasn’t easy and you are glad that you have survived. You really want to win. You have now come to a really decisive point. You have an advantage and you don’t want to blow it up.
End-games in Risk are quite tricky. There is only one winner and when you get to a certain stage, a single mistake or a missed opportunity means you will lose the game and leave the trophy for someone else.
Consider the dilemma you may face in the following game where you are playing as Red. You have eliminated a player who was dominant in North America and have cashed in his cards. You have a choice to place armies on the map and carry on with your march. But you want to pause and think for a second. What are your options? How can you make sure that you will win by choosing the best move possible? You don’t want to leave it to chance. You want that trophy really badly!
While playing Risk with random initial positions, sometimes you may find yourself all over the place owning a country in just about every continent! You blame your luck and wonder how other players managed to get half of some continents already and seem to be way ahead of you.
Consider the following configuration. You are playing as Red and you are indeed scattered everywhere. Is there anything you can do to get out of this dilemma? How can you turn your weakness into strength?
Over time, experienced players develop a recipe of actions that they go through in every turn of every game. They perform a number of evaluations to get a feel for how the game is developing and if the timing is getting right for their plans. These evaluations are more like questions that you need to ask yourself. I have drawn up a number of standard questions that you must answer to yourself and in doing so, plan your next moves.
I am glad to announce the release of Risk Map Editor. You can now use this tool, to make Risk maps to illustrate your games for other players. The tool lets you create a map, place armies, arrows and notes and generate an image which you can later attach to your forum posts.
Find out more about Risk Map Editor by starting from the Guide
Your views on this tool are welcome and much needed. Please share it with us and other users.
You look at the map. Your current position looks good (you are playing as Red, A). You decide to go for Africa. You have lots of hope. You think in a few turns you get yourself established in the continent and will be ready to make a challenge for others. All is going according to plan. Excellent! Later, just by accident, you bump into a fortune teller who wants to predict your future. She looks at your hand (and probably the map) and says, “My son, I am afraid I have some bad news for you. I see darkness ahead. The more distant I look, the more darkness I see. You ought to be careful with who you deal with. Look around, never lose site of the distant world and try not to get carried away by your own strength.”
The fortune teller leaves you in deep thought. What did she really mean? Not to get carried away!? Distant world? All too confusing. You consider her comments for a moment, but you need to move on. The game is waiting for you. Maybe later you will realise what she meant. Hopefully …
You start with this map and make your move. [These maps are illustrated in BOMS Graphs].
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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A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.