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"Life Is a Game But Risk Is Serious!"
As you saw in Part 1 and Part 2, there has been a long story of board game development and the need to produce a game that is enjoyable and simple but equally challenging and realistic. It would be great to learn something new every time we play and also to use our own life experiences and knowledge to play a better game.
Let’s explore the requirements of an ideal game. Board games can be categorised across three areas; luck, strategy and diplomacy. Some games are very strong on only a single dimension while others are strong in two or all dimensions. Each of these dimensions leads to a completely different game and playing style. Let’s look at some examples:
As you saw in Part 1, as mankind progressed technologically, there was a need for a game with strong strategic element.
The word strategy is derived from Greek word strategos which means general. Hence, the roots of the word go directly back to military use. In game theory, strategy is defined as one of the possible sets of options that a player can choose from. Hence, strategy is all about a successive series of actions and choices that a player must go through to get closer to the final goal.
Much of our early history is about wars and expansions. Life consisted of being ruled by successive kings each with their own agenda. As years passed, people became more familiar with strategy. The world needed a game that symbolised this new lifestyle better and this lead to the creation of one of the most famous strategic games of all time. The game was chess.
The story of board game development throughout the history is truly fascinating. It took a lot of effort and evolutionary development over many generations before we ended up with modern board games and more recently world conquering real-time strategy simulation games.
This series of articles present interesting and critical developments in history that eventually led to the creation of Risk, the great game we play today. We will travel across thousands of years and over many empires and explore the quest of mankind for the ultimate board game!
The story of board games goes a long way back, around 5500 years ago. The oldest modern board game, backgammon goes back 5000 years ago. Archaeologists found a set of backgammon with 60 pieces in the rubbles of the legendary Burnt City in ancient Persia which is now situated in Sistan-Baluchistan province, South-Eastern Iran.
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.
In Part 1 you saw the initial distribution of armies and despite a good start discovered that you had a competitor who was even in a better position than you. Let’s examine this state and evaluate the move.
Risk is all about balance. If you become too weak you will be attacked and eliminated. If you become too strong, you will be ganged up on until you become a weak player and we know what happens to weak players.
However, balancing the game is an art. It requires full understanding of the rules, the map, the psychology of other players to some extent and of course impeccable timing. Players who get this right and go on to win, usually feel that they won not because of one crucial clever move or a sound strategy. Instead, they feel more like indirectly guiding a set of people towards the path of their choice without others realising what is happening to them. It is this feeling that makes Risk so enjoyable and so rewarding, not to mention so addictive.
In this series of articles, we are going to examine a complete game and look at the critical moments and various options you have in these situations. Each part of the series raises a number of questions asking you to suggest what happens next. Please provide your inputs and discuss it with the fans. A few days later the next part will be published and you can see the progress of the game and provide your comments.
Suppose you are playing Risk on a non-Earth map. The bigger the continent, the more bonus you get and cards are set as escalating (the cashing sequence is 4,6,8,10,...). The map shown above is your random starting point playing as Red.
What is your strategy? What would you do?
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.
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.
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