Subject: Online troop placement
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PxerUser is Offline


08 Jul 2008 6:46 PM  

Another situation I have found myself facing online recently is that when playing with five or more players, they all sometimes pile on their troops on one territory (or very nearly so).  What is the best way to adapt to this situation?  Surely countering the opponent placement on a small continent will only lead to the destruction of both you and your opponent as you are sure to weaken each other, especially if there is no clear route of retreat or your opponent is stubborn.  I have also tried to locate my forces in the depths of Asia, but with so many players focusing all their attention on their continent, I am put at a huge disadvantage by not getting early reinforcements and have to get lucky that they will attack each other frequently or that I get lucky with both the dice and my cards to have a shot at the prize.  Also, breaking up my armies into two different areas is difficult as I am almost certain to face an army more than twice my size that is lurking nearby.  With which strategy would you find more effective, or is there an alternative I am missing.  Better yet, what can I do to influence my opponents to not attack me as I find online players are bolder and at times more reckless unless they are very experienced.  You'd think it would be easy to defeat more inexperienced opponents, but online, sometimes you have to depend on luck to get you through many games if your opponents go mad.

PxerUser is Offline


08 Jul 2008 11:55 PM  

Well, I applied the strategy of building up against someone in a situation to start off in a way that came off as stubborn. And the strategy actually worked well for me and I understand why people do it. In games with the extra territories that make the map more spherical, some players are bound to have bad starting areas and with seven people, not everyone can have a continent.

Roaming is a difficult thing to do and requires a lot of patience and a lot of space around your central area of troops (even more difficult with more than 6 players when playing online). The seven player game I played tonight was interesting as I built up all my forces in Australia in response to an opponent building up in Australia. I came across as hostile and threatened him to get out of the continent or else. And you know what, the tactic worked and he placed his last three troops in Asia. In hindsight, I think I should have attacked this player right away as I now had the advantage in Australia, but I convinced him to leave my continent without a fight which cost him one attack and two power moves. He eventually regrouped to afghanistan after I had taken all six Australian countries and traded in cards to fortify my borders. I had one threat from South America, but other than that, I was isolated from any major forces.

SA and Africa both were strong and left their borders with one army apiece in an obvious alliance. I was able to get lucky as someone failed in taking out an opponent who had 3 cards (I had three cards) and was able to trade in cards mid-turn and really expand my borders while pressuring the major players. The opponent who I had run out of Australia then hit a great run of good fortune set up by him roaming and avoiding conflict while amassing one giant force. He traded in a set and ran over the strongest player in the game (Africa) and eliminated him and was able to trade in again, and took out another player allowing him to cash in yet AGAIN! This basically set green up in a great position as he controlled most of asia and owned Africa with a huge force ending up in Greenland and in North Africa. At this point he had four cards, I had two, one opponent had 3 in SA and one player had 3 in Europe. Eliminating one of these players would not help me as I would have to sit on my cards and victory was looking great for the new superpower.

Surprisingly, SA player traded in and tried to take the cards of the EU player and fell short by two armies, sealing the game for the superpower who double cashed and we conceded the game to him for time's sake.

All in all it was a fun game with mostly solid players and a couple inexperienced players to start and I had fun exploring the stubborn brute force strategy and understanding the rationale behind it. I later asked the opponent who started in Australia with me about why he backed down in the very beginning and he said he normally would face up to me, trying to get lucky enough to survive (though my turn came before his in the game), but he felt like his game would be short-lived since his turn came after mine, and he wanted to experiment with roaming in a large game. It turned out well for him as he ended up in the right places at the right times and the best players made it to the end of the game.

I think I may have to apply his strategy if I am put in that position again and try to be as diplomatic as possible to convince the other player that we should not kill each other off.


For those who are not familiar with it, here is the Risk II map we used with the extra territories (ignore the armies on the board, as this was from a game different from the game I played tonight and explained above):

Great AlanUser is Offline


09 Jul 2008 4:08 AM  
Dear Pxer,

You really show the excellent battle report and strategic topic.I hope that I may give you some precious advice.

To decrease your opponents' pressure toward against you,the best method is negotiating with him,such like signing "non-aggression treaty" or ally with him.Then you can gather more force to counter the other fronts.If you find that negotiation is not work,and is too weak to defend your terrtories,then just concentrate your army and seize any opportunity to expand your power as you can.

Indeed,the inactive players probably benefit you sometimes.Because of their inactive,you can enlarge your influence without their interference.But if you find that there're too many inactive players,then try to encourage them to attack each other if possible.

Don't fight the multi-front wars if possible,that's undoubtly the silly and destructive action except you're the superpower that dominate the whole world in the game.

Anyway,keep writing about your game and strategic discussion.And me,too.

The Risk player,
Great Alan
Ehsan HonaryUser is Offline

Site Admin

09 Jul 2008 7:46 AM  

Pxer, this is an excellent exploration. I quite agree it has become more of a trend in online game and that's simply because it works. As you spotted well, this is largely because very good players and new (almost random) players are mixed in one game. It is natural to feel vulnerable in the face of random attack, so when you have nowhere to go and no continent to grab, you pretty much have only one choice; stay put and hope no one notices you.

I am a long time fan of 'avoiding attack strategy' as I talk about it all the time, so roaming, turtling and the like are all going be popular strategies. Stay away from the battles and you are more likely to win. You just need to know how to deal with players who use such a strategy once you are confronted with them, which is more difficult than it sounds.

I once had a very long conversation on another forum on the use of continents versus cards. Without going into too much detail, the argument was that continents lose their value very rapidly in escalating games (when cards go up incrementally) and that you are much better off going for cards right from the beginning anyway. The idea was that the cost of securing a continent is not worth the hassle because by the time you secure it, cards are high enough for others to come and attack your continent rubbing you off your bonus. Over time you end up behind because you are fighting more often that those who simply collect, wait and eliminate to get cards.

This is indeed the fashion of the day at the moment, especially in games where most players are experienced. I think it is very sound, though as always depends on some other critical parameters that you should consider before embarking on this strategy:

  • Who are you playing against?
  • What are the rules for this game?
  • How does the cards escalate?
  • What is the map?

and of course the circumstances you are in. I.e. your turn order, your starting position and how likely you are to miss a turn. Given these, you can then decide if you want to roam. Hopefully, all others are not doing what you are doing, or you are in for a long long game.

Ehsan Honary
PxerUser is Offline


09 Jul 2008 2:12 PM  
I agree; simply avoiding the conflict (sometimes with the use of diplomacy) is definitely the safe bet. Alan, I should have mentioned, too that many of the games I join make a strict no teams rule (diplomacy can still be used, no doubt) but any obvious longterm alliances are difficult to be had. Not to say, agreements cannot be reached (sometimes even tacitly) but an outright treaty is frowned upon and I do like to go along with the spirit of the game to keep things fun (most regulars follow this rule). What I try to do is use chat techniques to get to know the people I am playing which can lessen their agression toward me, and I like to keep my comments light-hearted.

Even still, I must realize I can't win them all. I reviewed some of your articles and think that gaining an extra three territories or more can be critical if I have the opportunity to roam or and keep my borders strong. I definitely agree about continents losing their value, but again it depends on the game. Sometimes continents are nearly useless if there are agressive players and one player has a chance to eliminate one or more opponents early on. If the sets are ascending by normal rules, this can be especially valuable.

You make another great point Alan about inciting attacks amongst inactive players, which can be as valuable as avoiding conflict has the same relative result: strengthening your army count in relation to your opponents'. The timeless quality that Risk brings is that we never know how a game will play out if it is a good one, and so many factors allow for infinite possibilities, whereas a game such as Axis and Allies which is more complex, often yields similarly-played games despite the possible permutations. Many outcomes are repeated when playing a scenario board game like A&A (not that it is not fun, either ;] ). Thanks for the tips.
Dan12User is Offline


11 Jul 2008 2:27 AM  

Posted By Pxer on 09 Jul 2008 2:12 PM
The timeless quality that Risk brings is that we never know how a game will play out if it is a good one, and so many factors allow for infinite possibilities, whereas a game such as Axis and Allies which is more complex, often yields similarly-played games despite the possible permutations. Many outcomes are repeated when playing a scenario board game like A&A (not that it is not fun, either ;] ).


Well said Pxer. Simplicity is elegance in design. No point to many rules when you can have few rules but with the same permutations and fun factor.  Risk rules !!!!

The PlayerUser is Offline


08 Sep 2008 5:01 AM  
Recently I was playing a game online and I was shocked to see how many players were following this sort of strategy. Most of good players seems to hold back and simply pile up until the right time and then they go for it. I think its a good strategy but it is also a gamble. Others may take the initiative and attack and if you are attacked a couple of times in a single turn in the early part of the game, you may have huge difficulty to catch up with them again. The only way out of this dilemma is to escape to some far away part of the map and hope for the best.
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