Product Type: other board games
Newest Review: ... you are with dice rolls, you will only be delaying the inevitable. So to sum up the board game Risk, I would definitely recommend it to al... more
Be top dog, not dog meat
Member Name: marcel_beren
Date: 27/03/01, updated on 10/07/01 (313 review reads)
Advantages: see op
Disadvantages: see op
Fed up with being made into dogmeat at Risk? I would be too. So, as with my opinion on chess, my purpose here is not to describe the game, or convince people not familiar with it to go out and buy it. Other reviewers have already done that, admirably.
I thought it would be useful, given that usefulness is what we all strive for here in Dooyoo, to provide some techniques and strategies for improving your play in Risk, particularly if you are an inexperienced player. There may also be an occasional nugget here for the experienced player - you may also disagree with a suggestion or two - feel free to comment, I could do with learning a thing or two myself.
I'll also throw in a couple of alternate rules along the way - one of the beauties of Risk is experimenting with the rules to try to improve the game.
So, I apologise if you don't know the game at all. I know I'm risking you clicking NU because the op won't be useful to you (yet... not until you buy it anyway) but I throw myself upon your mercy and consider the impact it may have on someone who is fed up with getting beaten.
I come to you with experience with improving another's skills. I used to routinely thrash my partner at this game. Since sharing some words of wisdom with her... she's (somewhat embarrassingly) better than I am.
So, let's see if you find any of the following tips useful. Because Risk, as its name implies, entails a large slice of luck, there's no guarantee of winning, even if you are a tactical expert and your opponent is a complete novice. But you can significantly improve your chances by following these simple tips.
~~Allocating your armies~~
At the start of the game, you have the chance to distribute your armies.
If you play by the classic rules, you can place your armies where you lik
e, so long as at least one army is in each of your territories.
I strongly advise you to place your entire contingent in one or maximum two territories, with a clear game plan in mind for what you wish to achieve with them on your first one or two turns.
This should be a simple and single ambition. (See overstretching, below)
Of late, I have been playing a rule variation, which allows a maximum of five armies on any territory at the start of the game. This makes life much more interesting and challenging. If you play this rule, try to keep a cluster of 5 army territories handily placed to achieve the aim as outlined above.
In the 2-player game, you have the opportunity to use neutrals. The classic rules allow you to place 2 armies in each neutral territory.
A slight variation allows you and your opponent to distribute these armies 50-50.
Use neutrals as buffers, to dissipate enemy attacks before they reach you, or build up a neutral force in a single territory on a continent the opposition dominate.
However, the best way to use neutrals in my experience is to agree a rule change that no neutrals are placed after the start - they just clog the board. An illustration of this - there are just 2 neutral territories left and you have 10 neutral armies to place. Think about it.
One BIG tip with neutral. Don't attack them, especially in your first few turns, unless you REALLY have to. Your opponent will be laughing if you lose precious armies, at no risk to him or her.
~~Your mission, should you choose to accept it~~
Risk allows you to play for World Conquest or to achieve a specific mission.
There are two problems with missions - one is that they are unfair (some more difficult than others), but you can't do much about that except don't use them or change them.
The other problem, which I can help with, is giving
them away. Too many inexperienced players go hell for leather for their task and make it blindingly obvious what they are doing. Remember, some players (I am not one!) "know" all the missions and spend all their time speculating silently on what you're doing. Make it too obvious and you'll be solidly blocked.
To accomplish any mission, you will need to establish yourself first. Conquering Australia (see below) is never a bad idea, even if your mission card says to conquer 2 continents, neither of which is Australia.
In addition to giving you the clout with which to complete your mission, establishing yourself on the board will make it difficult for the others to predict what your ultimate aim is. Be sly!
Both attackers and defenders have the choice of how many dice to throw.
Most times, attacker will throw as many as possible (up to 3).
The rules (in my edition anyway) do not state that the dice should be thrown simultaneously. I play a variation that they should, as this speeds the game up.
If you play a variation where defender can see what attacker has thrown and then decide how many dice to play (a common variation) when you play defender, look at attacker's second highest die before you decide on whether to throw 1 or 2 (the maximum).
Because defender wins in the case of a draw, if attacker throws a 4 or less, the odds are in your favour and you should throw 2 dice. If a 5 or 6, the odds favour the attacker, so throw 1 only.
Redeploying at the end of your turn is CRUCIAL. So don't forget.
Shift your armies around, keep them mobile and don't get too bogged down defensively. As in chess, attack is the best form of defence.
An excellent rule variation is to allow limited or unlimited (you decide) redeployment among "contiguous" territories, i.e. a group of territories that borde
r one another that belong to you. This helps with achieving the mission(s) about placing 2 armies minimum on x territories.
The most common fault that causes beginners to lose is overstretching. They try to achieve too much in one go, or refuse to concede a battle until all is lost.
Do not weaken yourself by continuing to fight when you have few spare armies left. If not all has gone well, content yourself with what you have achieved and stop there. An all-out assault when your losses are piling up is simply pride and you will pay for it.
It is not easy here to define overstretching, but now that you know to watch out for it, you can begin to develop your understanding of the issue. Watch your opponents' tactics too and try to learn from them, when they stop suddenly.
Leaving a force of five armies on a territory allows you to defend, provokes your opponent to worry about how to defend against them and of course provides a great springboard for your next attack.
Think about it.
These are quite simply crucial.
You'll already know that unless circumstances are dire you must ensure you gain a card each go by taking at least one territory.
However, it's less well-known how to USE sets when they arrive.
Generally, you obviously want to get a set worth ten armies, rather than 4, 6 or 8. But if your 3 cards are identical, should you hang in there and try to make up the set or trade them?
Consider the maths. With 5 cards, you have to hand in a set. So, (excluding jokers) your next card will have a 2 in 3 chance of being different. That's a high probability. However, the chances of the card after that being different again, allowing you to have a set worth 10, is just 2/3 x 1/3 = 2/9 or 22%. Slim. You'll probably end up with 4 the same and 1 other, or 3 and 2, not the 2 and 3 you hoped for. (Bear with m
So it's more important to think about how to use that matching set to its best advantage. Look at the territories it encompasses. Possessing all three will give you a 6 army bonus, making your set worth as much or more as the 10 army set - and ready now.
The other issue is timing. Use the bonus armies from sets to DO something, not bolster defences or nibble away at an irrelevancy. Make an initiative with them.
If you are not ready to make an initiative, whether you have a set worth 4 or 10, hold on to your cards (unless you have 5, in which case you can't.) The only exception to this concept would be if you risk losing (or nearly losing) on your next go. Quite clearly, in that case you want to get your armies on the board now!
Use your set to crash through a defence or blitz some specific ambition. Go on... it's what it's there for.
~~Continents - General Lee~~
Generally, (sorry about the pun) the continents are what you need to win. They'll provide you with a regular source of "income" of armies. Similarly, baulk your opponent's attempts to grab a continent.
The characteristics of each vary enormously. You need to get a grip of this...
~~Continents - G'day~~
Ah! Australia. The favourite continent of a Riskpert. Why? Well, although it only gives 2 armies per turn, it is unique on the board, that it can be attacked from one direction only, through Siam.
If you take Oz and bung a large number of armies on Siam, it pays dividends.
The concern is that just as it is easy to defend, it is difficult to break out from. If your opponent mops you up elsewhere, you can be stuck in Australia and powerless to get involved on the far side of the board.
I favour defending in Siam and then immediately pushing a separate force a little West or North and leaving them ready to move across the board to deal with anything.
~~Continents - Gut morgen~~
Europe's 5 bonus armies may seem an attractive prospect, but I think North America offers better value.
The problem with Europe is that it can be attacked from so many territories. It's supremely vulnerable. It's also a crossing point for armies trudging North/South or West/East.
A sly way to take advantage of Europe is late in the game, if you can conspire to send a large army group through Europe to attack (say) Brazil and en-route take the continent. If there's a huge battle for Brazil and you're in a 2-player game, you've a good chance the opponent will concentrate on Brazil and not notice you've won a continent. Hey presto - you get 5 bonus armies next go. But don't try too hard to defend it.
~~Continents - Das V'danya~~
Asia is a monster.
It's so vast, they allot 7 armies for taking it.
I have rarely seen this done, except right at the end of a world conquest game. But you can use this continent in other ways.
There are often plenty of single army territories you can pick off for easy turns when all you want is a Risk card. You can also use the threat of the 7-army bonus to force your opponent to take his eye off (say) Africa and plonk some armies in Asia.
And don't ignore that crucial link from Kamchatka to Alaska. It's extremely useful.
~~Continents - Hey Bud~~
North America is a good bet. You can defend it on 3 fronts and the 5 bonus is a hefty sum.
It's particularly good if your opponent has concentrated on Australia. He'll find it very hard to get any sizeable force already on the board marshalled against your Yanks.
You can also feint taking North America in order to take the much easier...
~~Continents - Buenos Dias~~
...South America. Nice. Defended on 2 fronts, so not as easy to hang on to as Oz, but much mo
re strategic. Brazil is a useful territory (North Africa even more so).
Argentina can be a great place to build up forces if you've been caught in a multi-player crossfire.
~~Continents - Jambo~~
Amazing what you can find on the net - Jambo is Swahili for hello, apparently.
Africa suffers some of the same problems as Europe, but is worth less and a little easier to defend.
Versions of the game vary as to whether Middle East connects with East Africa (as well as Egypt) or not. This makes a huge difference. I prefer the answer to that question to be a yes, so you need to defend 3 territories, rather than 2, for your 3 bonus armies.
If you hold Africa, you're onto a good thing, because by definition you also hold a good number of territories.
And as mentioned already, North Africa is a crucial territory, linking 3 continents.
Surviving and capitalising.
In the early stages of playing with lots of people/teams (say 4+) try to survive. Move towards your aims VERY conservatively, husband your armies. Weaklings are picked off viciously.
Capitalise on surviving by finishing off a weak opponent. This brings you the riches of their Risk cards. Even one extra Risk card can make all the difference and leave you the overall winner.
As with any strategy game, surprise is essential.
Plot attacks that are not telegraphed. Make feints. Be unpredictable.
A nice variation is to decide on a territory card or cards (or the jokers) that can be used additionally as "parachute" cards. Upon showing them, you can attack from anywhere to anywhere, disrupting everyone else's plans. Fun.
So there we have it, a user's guide to improving your Risk play.
Please don't complain if you still lose. Those dice are annoying (and in the older sets, have biased defensive dice
in my experience) and can defeat the best-laid plans.
Anyway, good luck Napoleon. Hope you don't meet your Waterloo. Too often.
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