Tuesday, 11 March 2014

29. 'RISK;' remeberance and review. The Cardboard Cartograhpher issue 5.

Welcome back to the Cardboard Cartographer!

My apologies for the brief hiatus, but I find it is better to write when in a fair mood than to force yourself to write when in a foul one. So without further adieu, issue 5!

This issue sees us cover an old classic

For those of you that have never played, or even heard of RISK; where have you been!?
RISK is very much a mainstream board game.
 It has numerous variants on various different platforms, as well as corporate sell out versions (Lord of the Rings, Halo, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia... the list goes on).

But here we're just going to focus on the core system; the one inherited from the original

RISK Review

'Risk is a strategy board game produced by Parker Brothers (now a division of Hasbro). It was invented by French film director Albert Lamorisse and originally released in 1957 as La ConquĂȘte du Monde ("The Conquest of the World") in France' - Wikipedia

RISK is turn based strategy game for two to six player. Players take turns in deploying reinforcements, attacking enemy territories and reorganising their armies in order to achieve specific goals.
There are three different game types in classic risk;
Conquer the world - pretty straightforward,
Capitals -  Players must hold 'x' amount of Capitals; secretly nominated territories, to win,
Missions - Players must complete a set mission(s) to win. These can vary from control 'x' amount of territories, to control 'y' continent and 'z' continent at the end of a players turn.

Game Play.

The game itself isn't too difficult, but it does take a while to explain (like all good board games =D).

Players roll off to decide who goes first and the territory cards are dealt out, then take it in turns in placing their remaining troops on locations they own.
Players proceed to go round the table in turn order taking their turn.

A turn consists of the following actions;

Receiving reinforcements.
A player gains reinforcements equal to the amount of territories he/she owns divided by three, to a minimum of three.
Player A has 15 territories, thus receives 5 reinforcements.
Player B has 4 territories, thus receives 3 reinforcements.

Players also gain extra reinforcements if the control every territory on a continent. Continents are colour coded, so it is easy to track which territories belong to which continent. There is a legend on the board which indicates the value of each continent.
Player C owns Europe. This grants an extra 5 reinforcements, as well as any gained by the amount of territories owned.

In addition to this, players may also hand in 'Sets' to gain extra reinforcements (this is one of the largest areas in RISK where there have been many different variations).
They all revolve around a system of drawing a face down card at the end of a player turn, but only if that player conquered at least 1 enemy territory.
In this review I'll be going over the classic system of reinforcements;

Players can hand in a set of three cards to gain extra troops. The amount gained is based on the symbols shown on the card
If all 3 cards are Infantry, then the player gains 4 extra troops
If all 3 cards are Cavalry, then the player gains 6 extra troops
If all 3 cards are artillery, then the player gains 8 extra troops
If the player has one of each card, then the player gains 10 extra troops.
Note: There is a 'Joker' card. This may be used instead of any card, as any card. For example; if a Player has a joker, two infantry and a cavalry, then the player may used the joker as either an infantry to complete an infantry set for 4 reinforcements or as artillery to make a set that gains 10 reinforcements.

Once a player has placed all their reinforcements they then may choose to attack a territory.

Players attack a territory by rolling dice and comparing them to their opponents roll. For every dice roll that 'wins' the relevant player looses a troops. In the case of drawn rolls the defender wins the roll.
Example; Player A is attacking and rolls 3 dice. He gets 1, 5, and 6
Player B is defending and rolls 2 dice. He gets a 4 and a 6.
Player B's 6 beats the attacking 6 of player A. Player A losses 1 troops
Player A's 5 beats player B's 4. Player B losses 1 troop.
The third dice is discounted.

The amount of dice that can be rolled is determined by the amount of troops a territory has. If a territory has 1 or 2 troops it can only roll 1 dice, if it has 3 or more it can roll up to 2 dice and if it has 3 or more it can roll up to 3 dice.
Rolling more dice increases the chances of a player winning a roll off, but also increases the risk of taking more casualties.
In addition, when a territory is conquered, the attacking player must move a minimum amount of troops corresponding with the amount of dice rolled; if you rolled three dice and conquered a territory, you must move at least 3 troops.

This goes on until the attacker decides to stop or the territory is taken.
If by taking a territory a player is knocked out of the game, the attacking player takes their cards and discards down to five (max hand size).

This process goes on until a player wins.

First Impressions.

 It is difficult for me to give a honest account of my first impressions of this game. The first version I played was the 80's version:

The pieces were basic, but it was simple, clear and easy to get to grips with. Locating the territories could be a pain, but you do get used to it.

Since then little has changed.
The territories may have had name changes, the pieces may look a little different and the variants add new mechanics and elements, but the visual aesthetic and the overall game play remain the same.

I think as the game has matured it has become more visually appealing, and simpler to understand what exactly is going on. Which can only be a good thing.

Personal Opinion.

 RISK is the game I love to hate to love.

I love it because It is a classic. It has luck, it has strategy and its main mechanic is based on player vs player conflict. This keeps up the intensity and makes sure you're always on edge. The combination is an exciting but stressful gaming experience.

I hate it because it is RISK. It is old as time itself, and thus, inherently flawed.
Firstly, if you fall behind in the game for whatever reason, you probably won't recover. While I like this in the sense that it makes you think through your actions, it can sometimes be a result of sever bad luck on part of one player.

This would be so bad if it wasn't for my second issue...
The game last forever! Even if you have players being super aggressive, there is only so far you can go with limited resources. This doesn't pose a huge problems from Capitals or Missions, but in a conquer the world game it is a nightmare. You will sink hours upon hours into this game. If you went out early, you will probably end up going home (unless you are hosting, where you are screwed).

Third. Tactics, or the lack of variables.
RISK would at first seem to have a wide variety of tactical nuances, but it really doesn't. You either tank you reinforcements, go all out attack, or something in the middle. The last one is the only viable tactic if you ever hope to get anywhere.
So then it becomes a question of placement. To which there are 'terrible' places to be. South America, for example. If you start in South America, you either need to; get out, or give up.
On the flip side, if you manage to take and hold Australasia for a turn or two, you've pretty much won. All you need to do is slowly expand and break other players continents.

This may come across as a very narrow view of RISK in action, but from what I've experienced in over a decade of playing RISK, and from what I've read, this is pretty much the consensus.
 Newer versions of risk, and its variants try and address this issue, with a varying degree of success. In the original version, it just becomes a game of predictability. The only thing that keeps you guessing, is when the other players will stab you in the back.

So what do you guys think?
What is you favourite version of risk?
Do you have a memorable moment?

Let me know in the comments, or hit me up @DarKHaZZl3 on Twitter
Until next time.