How about a little change up today?

I’ve discussed how I like strategy games. I play one of the oldest, after all! Not all strategy games are created equal. So let’s talk about Risk.

Risk is a game of global domination. Move armies all around the world and destroy your enemies to win! Battles are simple, and there’s a built in escalation mechanic via the use of “Risk cards.”

Risk started in France in the 50s and was bought by Parker Brothers. Over the years, the particulars of game play have changed, some versions adding random events, others switching to a ‘victory point’ end game.

While I used to love Risk (It was a common family past time), I’ve grown weary of its older iterations of play.

It has almost everything I hate in games. Player elimination in a game that takes hours. High luck factor. Severe king-making.

Let me break those down a bit.

Player elimination is pretty obvious, it’s when a player is removed from the game before it is over. In short games, this isn’t really an issue, but in long games it can create situations where part of the group stops having fun because the game says so.

Luck is one of those things that you sometimes want a little, but too much can create situations that just create bad environments. Specifically, if a good decision can be negated by chance, it’s usually a bad design. War games are particularly prone to this sort of problem.

King-making is a thing that exists in almost all ‘free-for-all’ games. The basics are simple: one player helps decide the winner who is not himself. In practice, it generally means the second place player wins. What happens is one person will all but cripple an opponent, and that person throws their lot in with any other player on the board, effectively becoming a second regiment for that player.

All of this is bad, but most of it gets mitigated in newer versions of risk, such as the ‘Black Box’ Risk. In Black Box, the win condition changes to a victory point system, and the number of units on the board is much smaller. While this increases the luck factor, it does so with the intent of speeding up game play.

So, if you plan on getting Risk any time soon, find the Black Box, or other versions with victory point conditions, such as the new Risk Legacy, Risk 2210, or even further afield, the new D&D board game Conquest of Nerath.

So, who’s familiar with Risk? Have you encountered any of the issues I described here?