Monday, February 18, 2008

Global Conquest

Today I visit a co-worker and his family for a game of Risk, becuase every few months or so, I need a good reminder of why I hate it. Several of you have your own list like this; here's mine.

First, the game is a bit dependent on turn order. whoever goes first, has a chance to conquer other players' territories, which lowers the amount of reinforcments a they get, while the first player gets the maximum amount, becuase by virtue of the first turn, he didn't have any of his terriorties conquered.

Second, do you know what the only thing worse than being eliminated early is? Being nearly wiped out then left for dead with no hope of a comeback.

Third, there's always that weak player in the game who get beaten back to a small corner of the board. This player has no hope for conquest and can't gain a foothold, but his personal quest for relevance, he decides to put his armies on on territory and make hopeless push into oblivion, his sole purpose to wreck the game balance and somehow make a point to THE MAN!!! Becuase THE MAN has been keeping him down, or something. Typically, I find my territories next to this player's territories a lot.

And last, the constant attrition in the endgame. The the last two players' armies wax and wane as they each turn in card sets for 30, 35, 40 or more armies, everybody tyring to make that last push until someone turns in that set that gives them enough force to wipe the map clean. Strategy in this last part is irrelevant. Really, when it's down to two players, they should just roll the dice 101 times, note who got the highest outcome for each roll. Whoever 'wins' the most rolls, Wins the game.

Admitedly, few of these particular occurences happened today, and I'm probably rubbing some Risk die-hards the wrong way, who'll tell me about how they win games with 5-star general calibur battle plans, and the delicate placements of their troops. Yeah, in a big game, that's more important, but in the end, it's who has more guys, and if that's too close, it's who has luckier dice. I'm sure a lot of you want to post a rebuttal, so go ahead, the comments are open.

As for me, I'm hoping to play more Risk 2210, as it addresses some of the above issues:

  • You have to bid for turn order (using Energy, a new resource).
  • The game only lasts for 5 rounds, after which everyone counts up points (primarily based on territories and continents controlled) so once you get the hang of it, games no longer take all day.
  • Before the game begins, 4 random territories have been devistated by nuclear war, and are impassible and cannot be occupied. In addition to the cool nuclear fallout flavor, this gave subtle changes to board each time and warp common strategies just enough to make things interesting without wrecking things.
  • Have you ever head this in a game of Risk?

Defender: **Confidently** "Bam, I rolled a 6."

Attacker: "I roll a 7. I win."

Defender: **Crestfallen** "... but... but... I rolled a 6... I'm defending :-( "

Attacker: "Yes, and I rolled a 7. Pick him up. It's my land now!"

Certain situations let you roll 8-sided dice. The mighty defender-6 is no longer the last word in combat. The defending-8 on the other hand, well...
  • This version of Risk lets you use intersting phrases, such as, "I'm going to attack Western Austrailia... FROM THE MOON!!!". Yes, The moon. All those guys on Siam are looking mighty useless about now, huh Napolean?

One last thing, if anyone reading this blog has any old 1970's edition of Risk, could you dig up the rules for me? there was a dispute about when you have to delcare how many dice you're rolling. In every game I've played, this must be decided before you roll, but my host thinks differently. After the rules confirmed his wrongness, he claimed that they changed the rules in later editions. Has anyone else seen this rule before? I learned to play on a 1980's game where the pieces where all roman numerals (the best pieces were the roman numerals, IMO) but he played on an earlier version with the plastic 'y' and '*' shaped pieces. If you've seen them, you know what I'm talking about. Also, check for any rule about how one has to place bonus armies gained from controling a continent onto that continent only.

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