So Frankly...

So Frankly...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mass Market Mêlée – Risk: Revised Edition

Most of my friends and acquaintances have two games they consistently know, and one of them is Risk.  This is the Epic Game for most of them; the game that produced most of the fond (or not!) memories.  I have to admit that I really like Risk, and I am glad to have played it.  Past tense.

Photo by Leo Zappa
A few years ago, Hasbro floated a small print run game to the gaming community:  Risk: Black Ops.  It was a very hot item, and it is said it was really a marketing study for the revised rules they were considering for a revision to Riskitself.  Regardless, the rules from Black Ops were incorporated into the rules for the 2008 edition of Risk.  This has taken a game I have always enjoyed but was too long for most evenings to a new level: a new game I will play anytime! The new rules introduced cities and capitals.  The overwhelming power of the cards was reduced.  Lastly, objectives were introduced, which now define the game end and winning condition.   I am going to take the liberty of assuming you know how the original game worked.

Cities and capitals change the count for armies at the beginning of the turn.  Cities are placed on the board randomly at the beginning of the game, and each player places his or her capital in a territory they control at the beginning of the game.  Rather than just count countries at the beginning of their turn, players count countries and cities, then divide by three to get newly recruited armies.  Another army is added if the player still controls their own capital.  Armies are still gained for controlling continents.

Cities and capitals go on the board at the start; some of the bonuses from objective go on too. (Photo by Liang Roo Wang)

Gone are the massive armies generated by turning in cards.  Cards have one or two stars on them, and the number of stars turned in determines the number of armies received.  Any number of cards can be turned in, totaling a maximum of ten stars.  However, you won’t want to hold onto your cards that long!

Objectives are the biggest change by far.  They give the cities and capitals even more importance, as they shape the endgame and victory conditions.  At the beginning of the game, eight objectives are placed on the map.  These objectives may include taking over an opponent’s capital, controlling a certain number of cities, conquering an entire continent in one turn, or some other goal.  This is the biggest change to the game, because the first person to achieve three objectives wins!  Forget about wiping people off the board!

The combination of these changes results in a game that is very familiar yet far more fun.  The combat dice rolling is still there, as well as most of the major elements.  However, this game now plays in 90 minutes, and after many plays I have never seen a player eliminated!  Never again will people be sitting around for hours to find out the winner of the game they were eliminated from hours ago!

Strategically, there are important differences.  First of all, there is “turtling” in Australia or South America: building up a massive horde to OVERRUN THE WORLD IN STEEL AND BLOOD!  Mwahaha! – er, um, yeah.  No, if you are building up a massive army, you are losing time to those who are skirmishing and raiding to take those objectives (some of which give a combat bonus).  You will lose.  The name of this game is opportunism.  It is probably a little less strategic and a little more tactical than the original, but it is much more fun!

For the family gamer, the new Risk  is excellent for age eight and above.  The only issue with children is the emotional one; some kids are just not ready for Mommy or Daddy to grind them down and seize their cities and capitals.  Tears may be the result.  However, children approaching 9 or 10 could easily grasp the rules.  Given that most people could be given a three minutes explanation of the rule changes, and would know the rest, I believe this game is a must have for the casual gamer.  It will easily bring back those epic games of the past.

One additional note:  This is the same game as Risk: Onyx Edition.  However, the line between Iceland and Greenland is missing in the Onyx version.  This is a misprint: the line is supposed to be there.
Vital Statistics:

Risk (Revised)
                Ages:                    10 and up
                Time:                     90 minutes
                Players:                 3-5

It’s Your Move!

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