Risk

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A terrible, terrible board game of Napoleonic world conquest where you move around tiny plastic soldiers and cannons and pretend you're making any sort of strategic choices. Even though the pieces are different, every unit is exactly the same. All your fate depends on dice rolls and how soon you manage to hog the best territories. It is the World War I of board games, and about as much fun as actual trench warfare.

For all the awful shit that is Risk, most of us were raised on it, and learned tactics by playing it, much the same way a caveman learns that banging one rock on another makes noise. Or a kid learns what tastes good by putting everything in their mouth.

What Parcheesi is to race games, Monopoly is to trading games, and "Asshole" is to trick-taking games, Risk is to wargames.

Rules[edit]

Pieces

  • Units are a bazillion identical plastic bits. Everyone has plastic bits of a different colour so you can tell who owns what. Some plastic bits are different, but those just represent five or ten units. Some others are different because the dog chewed them.
  • five six-sided dice: three red for offense, two white for defense.
  • the map of territories. Every territory is adjacent to at least one other territory. The territories are grouped into "continents," and there's a bonus for owning an entire continent at the start of your turn.
  • a deck of cards. Each card bears the name of one territory and one of three symbols, or few cards have no territory and all three symbols. The symbols are used for making sets; the latter cards are like "wild cards."

Setup

  • Divide 120 by the number of players; that's how many units in each player's starting army
  • Players take turns placing one unit each on an unoccupied territory.
  • When all territories are occupied, players take turns placing extra units in territories they occupy.
  • Keep going until everyone's deployed their starting army.
    • Alternatively, you can set people's starting territories by dealing cards from the deck -- this stops That Guy from occupying bottlenecked continents like Australia or South America.

Turns

  • At the start of your turn, you get reinforcements. These reinforcements can be distributed among any territories you occupy.
    • one unit for three territories you occupy
    • some more units if you still own an entire continent (around 1 unit for each 2 territories, depends on the map)
    • even more units for trading in a set: three different symbols, three identical symbols, or any two cards with a "wild card". The first time a player does this, it's worth 4 units, then 6, then 8, 10, 12, 15, 20 and +5 more each step. If you hold five cards at the start of your turn, you MUST trade in a set right away.
    • +2 armies on any territory you occupy that is mentioned in a card set you turn in; this is an exception to the "any territories" mentioned above.
  • Now you get to attack as many times as you want or can get away with.
    • Pick a territory that you own with more than one unit in it. Pick one of it's neighbours that you don't own. Declare that you're going to fuck shit up.
    • You commit one, two or three units to attack. The defender commits one or two units to defend.
    • Each side rolls as many dice as units they committed to the fight (usually red for attack, white for defense).
    • Compare the highest die from each side. Lower number removes a unit from the attacking/defending territory as appropriate. Defender wins ties.
    • If the attacker and defender each committed at least two units, compare the 2nd higest dice. Remove units, blah blah.
    • Commit units again, lather, rinse, repeat, unless attacker decides to stop early.
    • If defender is eliminated, the attacker must move in at least as many units as dice she rolled in the last attack.
    • Attacker must leave at least one unit behind; that means if you're attacking from a territory that has only two units, you can roll only one die, and you must stop when only one attacking unit is left.
    • If you still have a surplus of units, repeat the attacking thing from the same or another territory.
  • When you're done being a bully at your neighbours, you may take one card if you conquered any territories this turn.
  • At the end of your turn, you may fortify a territory by moving one group of units from a territory you own to an adjacent territory you own. You must leave at least one unit behind -- you can never abandon a territory.

Winning

  • When you've eliminated all the other players.
Since you need to attack to really move your units around, and you can only do a fortify move once, and card sets explode as the game drags on... the game REALLY drags on. And it's no fun for the players that got kicked out early, and when it's down to two player's it's pretty obvious who's gonna be whose bitch. The only person who wants to keep playing at this point is the bitch, who thinks for some reason their next card set of 55 units might make all the difference even though the other guy owns Asia AND Europe.
Or there's some fucker who's been sitting in Australia doing nothing for the past six hours and proceeds to rain shit onto Asia, then invade North America and Europe at the same time, making the game take even longer because he doesn't have the balls to finish the job and the guy who should've won the game is now stuck trying to take down the most annoyingly defensive prick in the game.
If you play Risk as a drinking game, people care less about how long it takes.
Any game that needs alcohol to be good enough to play is made of suck, Q.E.D.

Maps[edit]

Most "improvements" on the game just create new maps instead of actually fixing or adding to the mechanics.

Variations[edit]

There have been many versions of Risk made, because people keep believing that there's a good wargame somewhere in this simulation built with twigs and grass, and by god they keep looking. And failing. The only successes at making Risk into a somewhat deep or stimulating game all move it far enough away from Risk that even the play-map becomes unrecognizable.

Variations you buy[edit]

  • Castle Risk: uses capital cities, and action cards you play out of hand.
  • Narnia Risk: WORSE than the original, somehow managed to make it even more dumbed-down for the kiddies.
  • Risk Godstorm. You get four superunits that are Greek gods. Your dead armies are reinforcements in an "afterlife" map where the dead duke it out for a chance to return and reinforce on the real map.
  • Risk Revised Edition: The official "Risk plus splatbooks." Has optional rules for missions, castles, new units, etc.
  • Risk Transformers. Not as cool as it sounds.
  • Risk: Star Wars. Three sides: Rebels vs. Empire vs. Hutts, each with a different deck of cards. Force-meter to swing advantages to Rebels or Empire, different objectives for each side... this isn't Risk anymore.
  • Risk: Star Wars Clone Wars. See Risk Star Wars, only it's just The Republic vs. Separatists, and The Republic is fucked when Order 66 happens.
  • Lord Of The Rings Risk: Strongholds, Leaders, action cards, a time limit and not the default rules all make it the best Risk game that's actually still Risk. Although because there's only Good and Evil models, you'll be wondering why you're fighting elves vs elves and orks vs orks. Also, without the Trilogy edition or Minas Tirith add-on, you're missing Gondor and Mordor. Which is really stupid.
  • Risk Édition Napoléon. One player is Napoleon and everyone else tries to beat him up. Tries to be historically accurate, only, y'know, Napoleon isn't an idiot this time around. Or nearly as short.
  • Risk Halo Wars Collector's Edition. (gagging noises.) This game took the wierdest game mechanic (useless support models) and took a shit on them, magnifying the importance of retarded and utterly useless models. Also, you need to spend victory points to do anything interesting, like fire ordnance.
  • Risk Starcraft is superficially similar to the Lord of Rings version, with leaders, bases and action cards that are faction specific and make it a little bit assymetrical. It also adds mineral resources which count for extra reinforcements. The main difference is objective based gameplay, rather than trying to table your opponent which could take all night, which means that with the right setup and tactics you could win the game in three turns.
  • S.P.Q.RisiKo! Risk of Ancient Rome. Only sold in Italy; seems someone else has the copyright on Julius Caesar in America.
  • Risk 2210AD. Actually a good game, and doesn't look or feel like original Risk at all. Surprise surprise.
  • Risk Balance of Power. 2 player wargame with missions and a third dummy player. Again, better than Risk by being not Risk.
  • Risk Express. Risk without the armies or the world map. Just dice and drink coasters. I'm not making this up.
  • GoCrossCampus. Risk as a LARP. I swear to god I'm not making this up.
  • Axis & Allies. Okay, not actually Risk, but Risk looks up to A&A and wants to be like that when it grows up.
  • Risk Legacy: Starts out as normal Risk however the actions taken affect later games, including adding and removing rules, area effects on a location tearing up cards, and BURNING THE GAME.
  • Doctor Who Risk: Dalek Invasion of Earth: Play as different factions of Daleks. Adds a time limit before Peter Capaldi arrives and fucks everybody's shit up. "Come the fuck in or fuck the fuck off!"

House Rules[edit]

  • Card "Balance": the most basic house rule, enforced by certain vidya adaptations. Turning in card sets only grants a set number of reinforcements, typically 5, regardless of how many sets have been turned in. Your mileage may vary on whether this rebalances or unbalances the game; I've heard it both ways.
  • Hyborian Risk: same old risk, with a Conan-themed map. Hell, just change the fucking map; everybody knows the Classic map is broken.
  • Nuclear Risk: each time the player's turns have gone around the table once, draw the top card of the territories deck. All units in that territory are eliminated, and the territory is uninhabitable. When sets are turned in, shuffle those cards into a 'nuclear-only' deck that is used when the normal deck is exhausted. Last person standing wins.
  • Time Limit: play until every player has had X turns. Whoever has the most territories wins.
Well, that would make the game suck less.
How so?
Because you're playing it less!
DOHOHOHOHOHOHO!
  • Assassin Risk: Before the game starts, everyone puts one army unit in a cup, and each player draws a unit without looking. Do NOT show the other players what you drew, unless you drew your own colour -- then show the other players, draw another unit, and put your own colour back in. As soon as a player is eliminated from the game, whoever secretly drew that player's colour wins the game. This eliminates the long boring endgame between two superpowers, and increases the levels of paranoia between players.

Also, the 40k Dawn of War games Dark crusade and Soulstorm implement the same structure but instead of a territory's conquest determined by 1-4 dicerolls, it is determined by a 5 to 40 minute game of 40k. Needless to say, it's much better.

Board Games
Classics: Backgammon - Chess - Go - Tafl - Tic-Tac-Toe
Ameritrash: Arkham Horror - Axis & Allies - Battleship - Betrayal at House on the Hill - Car Wars
Clue/Cluedo - Cosmic Encounter - Descent: Journeys in the Dark - Dungeon!
Firefly: The Game - HeroQuest - Monopoly - Snakes and Ladders - Risk - Talisman - Trivial Pursuit
Eurogames: Agricola - Carcassonne - Settlers of Catan - Small World - Stratego - Ticket to Ride
Pure Evil: Diplomacy - Dune (aka Rex: Final Days of an Empire) - Monopoly
Others: Icehouse - Shadow Hunters - Twilight Imperium